In Session: On Any Tuesday

You might not see us around town much. Sure, here and there on nice summer evenings having a beer for a while. While all of us are good for a rave-up story and some beer-fueled antics from time to time, it’s really all about the metal. We like to build machines, improve them, figure out interesting problems. That’s where learning happens. That’s where interest grows and dues are paid.

On any Tuesday night, it usually looks like this. Shop in session.

Jason

Bird's eye view. I've been rebuilding the door on the '59. All internals were shot.

Dan tweaking the RD frame on the welding table

Casey getting his sporty ready for street duty

Rare

If you are running a CV carb and you are looking for the right parts to tune it this is where you want to go: http://www.cv-performance.com/
I put a CV on my Iron Head and could not get it dialed in. Jason shimmed the needle which helped a lot but it still isn’t where it needs to be. I ordered parts from CVP and initially they f-d up the order. I called and left a message and within 20 minutes got a call back from the owner Ken. Ken apologized for the mistake and sent out the correct part asap. He seemed so cool I asked for some free tuning advice which he happily offered and shipped me an additional needle to try out and see if it would help solve the ongoing problem. All he wanted in return was feedback on how the part worked and for me to let friends know about CVP. I rarely run into people like Ken in the general market place. He does good business. And all the CVP parts are made in the US. Thanks Ken.

What is a Greasy Gringo?

I thought it would be easy to describe. And I guess if we were to be perfectly literal, it would be. But there’s something more. An underlying ethos so inseparable from identity as to be defining in itself. So pervasive as to be woven into the fabric of every fold of existence. The red thread in the dark wool suit only evident under close examination. Look closely and it’s everywhere. Pay no attention and it doesn’t exist.

Ever gone to dinner with your wife or girlfriend whilst your mind was a million miles away analyzing and solving a mechanical issue you’ve been working on?

Lain awake nights making step-by-step plans for what you’ll do next time you’re at the workshop until the alarm goes off?

Learned to participate in casual conversation while simultaneously working on something else in your mind, giving not a clue?

Attended a business meeting in a suit and tie with grease in your fingerprints that could not be scrubbed out?

Made detailed sketches of parts and specialty tools that you’d like to make in notebooks, napkins and scrap paper. Saved them in your wallet interminably until you improve the idea and eventually create them?

Taken calls from friends Saturday nights asking you to come out and you’re in the shop and tell them you can’t make it?

Stopped to help a broke down motorist on your way to an important event and taken the time to explain troubleshooting methodology to the barely interested as you fixed their car intuitively? While the rest of the people in your car roll their eyes, not understanding the sickness?

You get the idea.

This is no flash in the pan.

I’ve been suffering or benefiting, depending on one’s perspective, from this mindset since I was six years old and disassembled completely the first bicycle I’d ever gotten by 2pm on Christmas day. My parents, not being able to find me, finally made their way out to the garage to discover me elbow deep in parts and my dad’s tools. They threatened “You’d best have that back together by bedtime or you’ll never get another bike from us again”. I was dismissive, and confident that I’d have it done in time, even then. Of course a few unnecessary parts remained when I was done. That’s no cutesy cover-up. They added nothing to the function of the machine. A few years later I figured out that a hacksaw could cut metal and whole new world opened up to me. I cut some sections out of a couple aluminum lawn chairs we had and made two foot long fork extensions to that same bike. I jammed them on the forks of the bright yellow Huffy and used existing holes in the tubes to bolt on the wheel. Sketchy as hell. And fun! The first couple ramp jumps (if you could see the dodgy crap we assembled as ramps in the neighborhood) proved that modification to be, let’s say, temporary at best. But it didn’t stop me.

Obsession. Useful if you can harness it. At the same time a detriment that can haunt you. Its kissing cousin, perfectionism, amplifies the effects. Perfection paralysis. I also call it Magnum Opus Syndrome. Know what it is? Ever have it? Only perfect is good enough. You can guess where that one might lead. Mostly towards more thinking than doing. But these same traits can also bring meaningful innovation and gainful employment. Everyone’s got something reckon with. I consider myself lucky to have been saddled with these.

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Turkey Pro National

Casey and I had an amazing riding day Sunday. Rode about 170mi. We left promptly at 8a, bundled up good for the 40F weather. At 70mph on the highway, it was REALLY cold. Easy enough to ignore when you know it’ll hit spring temps and be sunny as hell later in the day. Willpower and mental discipline will serve you well.

We hit a couple off-road sections which were fun. Went around a few “road closed” signs. Stopped for coffee a few times. Then we headed to Oley, PA for the 2011 Turkey Pro National, an annual memorial event for Snuffy Smith. Great turnout and even more cool bikes. The kind you don’t see every day. . . Vincents, Knuckleheads, rare Italian bikes, old Velocettes, etc.

Despite the crash on the way home, it was a great day that I’ll remember for some time.

Jason

Casey at Swamp Creek.

In the woods.

In the woods.

My favorite of the day. Amazing.


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PHOTO ESSAY: fitting a 23″ wheel to a late sportster front end

This serves to test out posting through an outside source AND how I fitted a 23″ xr500 wheel to late sportster forks


Wheel as delivered


Cutting the axle to fit the new bearings


Oversized bearings from mcmaster installed and axle fitted


Relaced and trued to less than .020 out of round. Rim polished on the buffer


Brake backing plate all polished up with brackets to adapt to late forks and built in cable adjuster