Friday, June 9, 2017
Have you ever heard about a bike from a friend? The kind of bike that was the coolest chopper around, the one Indian Larry and Ron Finch helped build and David Mann drew pictures of it? Or the fastest bike around town, you know the story this bike used to run everyone in town and was the king of the streets. Only one day you see that bike and it doesn’t look like anything that your buddy talked about. I have had a customer name Dave for years. He’s the kind of guy that is straight to the point and is only going to pay what he wants, he’s kind of a hard ass but 14 years in the army will do that to a guy. He has bought a ton of bikes and parts off me over the years. Dave bought a ridged Chopper from me about 7 years ago, he told me, when he bought it, that he had an old generator Shovelhead and he wanted something faster. Dave loved the ridged; he even rode it to Dayton bike week in a winter storm. Had he not left on that bike from my shop I wouldn’t have believed him, the funny thing is he had blown the motor up the week before he had worked on it for 3 days putting a new motor in (one he had bought from me of cores) just to go. But that’s Dave he’s crazy and he never lies about what he has done or places he’s been. Dave and I have become friends over the years and I’ve always heard about this old generator Shovelhead he had. He had been everywhere on this bike and how he loved it so much, but I never seen it. Try as I might Dave would never sell the bike. I tried for YEARS!! Until one day Dave walked in to my store, (I should add Dave is pretty good with his money. He never worries about it, Dave works 100 hours a week and save most his money). He came in with kind of rush and a concern look on his face. I asked Him “what’s up Dave, everything ok?” Dave replied “I just bought a new tool for work and I need some cash to pay it off, would you want to buy two of my shovels? I had to play it cool Dave had a few bikes, and he hadn’t talk about which ones he wanted to sell. So I calmingly asked “which shovel did you want to sell?” Dave said “well How about that old Generator you’ve been after all these years.” My ears perked up and my heart was racing a bit, I had wanted this bike for a long time now and my chance was right in front of me, Dave can be a hand full sometimes to make deals with so I played it cool and replied “yeah”. We made a deal on the bike, and I paid Dave before he left the shop that day as so he couldn’t change his mind. That Monday night Josh, Shovelhead Joe and I made our way over to Dave’s place. He had the bike tucked in the back of his shed. He ran out of room in the garage. We worked clearing snow and moving stuff out of the shed to see the bike. The shovelhead was not what I expected. It was a generator shovel, it was in a swing arm frame but it wasn’t the chopper I had in my head. The front wheel looked like an old Performance Machine wheel. It was running a Narrow glide some old foot controls that looked like GMA’s and a GMA rear caliper along with a chrome oil tank and drag pipes. Dave stood there and said “man this thing is cooler then I remember.” Now this bike was something in its day but by todays standers it was not. I’m not saying I didn’t like that bike, I can see past a lot of things but this was not the bike I had heard all those stories about over the years from my friend. But it was a nice generator shovelhead with electric start. A man in his 50’s can dig it as can I. maybe in the summer I can get it running, maybe riding it will make all those stories come to life. Big thanks to dave for giving the opportunity to make new stories and keep the memories alive!
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
It’s always good to talk to people when selling a bike or buying stuff. You never know what else the guy has or maybe he knows a guy. I had a 1968 Shovelhead for sale on the internet. It ended up not selling, but a guy called me trying to make a deal on it. It was late Sunday night, we went back and forth a bit; he sounded like a man that knew what he wanted and what it was worth, Vern was his name. He was able to tell me on the phone, just from pictures what was OEM parts on the bike and what wasn’t. Vern told me he could be there in the morning about 11:30 am to buy the bike. I was happy to sell a bike and get some money moving; after all I am in the business of buying and selling (something I forget about the selling part). Well 11:30 came and went; I forgot and was dropping off a car to get worked on. I lost track of time but Vern didn’t, Michelle called me to let me know that I had a guy upset standing in my store waiting to buy a bike. I most of broke a few laws getting back across town but I made it before Vern Left. I pulled into the parking lot; Vern was sitting in his truck. Vern was 72 years old but you would never guess it. We started talking about the bike and he filled me in on his plan for it. Vern had a gig restoring old Harley’s. Better yet he was restoring them for Harley Dealer not far from his home. The deal he had worked up was amazing; the dealer would give him a new bike of his choice every year. Not only that he could order whatever extra parts he wanted for the bike, all OEM Harley parts of course. Then the next year he would turn the bike in, and the dealer would sell it as a demo. All he had to do was fully restore any bike that was brought to him. Vern had done almost 100 bikes over the years. Everything from Sportster to Knuckle Heads! He had bought (a few years back) 15 Boat tail for sportsters and Big twins. He had used them all over the years; his last one is on the bike, pictured here. I asked him “got any old parts from any of those builds” Vern replied “hell yeah!” We figured out a time to come down to his house that following Monday. I was all geared up; Josh was ready to hit the road. The Sunday before we were set to go, I got a phone call from a guy in Ohio. He had seen online I had a shovelhead roller for sale and wanted to know if I was up for a trade. I’m always up for a trade, but what did he have you ask? A 2000 Honda Shadow with 12k miles on it and a clear title! How do I say no? Only one problem, he wanted me to bring him the roller the next day. I had already told Vern I would be at his house (I didn’t want to be late again), which was about two hours from us. I wanted to take Josh to see Vern’s parts. Josh as a pretty good eye for parts, that kid can remember anything when it comes to an old Harley. But I needed to trade that roller, a deal like that doesn’t come every day. Lucky for me I got great friends, who love the hunt as much as I do. My buddy Mike Chapmen stepped right up to make the drive and traded that roller for me. He is always hanging around the shop and he has built some killer bikes out of his house over the years. It was a clear morning, and Vern lived way out in the country. The sun was just coming up over the Michigan farms; we had taken a bunch of back roads to get to Vern’s. The house was small but the garage was big. As I pulled into the drive way Vern walked out of a side door on the garage. He led Josh and I inside his work shop. We talked for a bit, When Vern was at the shop he had said how he restored old bikes and I had asked if he had any pictures; when I walked in he had them all laid out on his bunch for us to see. The bikes pictured were everything from 1920 all the way up to 1969. At one point he had a 65, 66, 67, 68 and a 69 FLH. There was one picture with all of them lined up in his drive way. He also had a 72 Super Glide boat tail sitting in his shop. That was so cool, Josh studied that bike for a while, me and Vern just talked away. We started loading parts ups, Vern was cool and helped load everything up. You would never guess he was 72 years old. We were just about done when a chicken walked into Vern’s garage; He dropped what he was doing, ran over to the chicken and kicked it right in the ass!! Vern really was an old biker, still wearing his boots, still not taking shit from anyone or anything.
Friday, March 3, 2017
I don’t always get a phone call from a guy or a lead from someone that walks into the shop. Sometimes I have to go to it the old fashion way go to a bar, sit on a bar stool, have a few jack and cokes and talk to anyone with a Harley shirt on! I do try and hit the internet first thing in the morning, but Shovelhead Joe seems to always be on the internet looking. One day he sent me a link for an ad on a shovelhead parts lot. It was about an hour and a half away from me. Now that’s not that far, but I stay very busy right in my home town, so it’s hard for me to get away. But I thought I’d call the ad and maybe the next Sunday I could get down there. I called the ad and a man name Chris answered. We talked for a bit, the ad was for a shovelhead roller but he said he had other parts too. He wanted me to come right away, I told him I couldn’t and that I would come down the next weekend and check the stuff out. Chris said ok and hung up. The next day I was surprised to see Chris calling my phone. He asked if I was really going to come down, to which I replied “yes of course”. I asked why was he calling and asking? Apparently someone else had called and said they would be down that day. I told Chris “hey if you sell it no big deal” better luck for me next time I thought. Well I guess the guy didn’t like what he seen at Chris’s because that Sunday Sandy, Josh and I were heading to Chris house. It was a nice summer day and what better way to spend the day, family and Harley parts! Chris had all the parts out in front of his garage. As I looked though all the stuff I couldn’t help but noticing all the hot rod shovelhead parts. Dual Fire heads, old clutches, flywheels, all kinds of stuff. I had to ask where did they all come from. That’s when Chris opened his garage, there under a few blankets laid a full blown Shovelhead drag bike! It had an S&S super G with two thunder jets in it. It was a Shovelhead swing arm frame that had been strutted, the fenders were moved down lower almost sitting on the tires. The wheels where a custom 3 piece set, it was all black and looked mean as hell!! Chris started telling me how it was his dad’s bike and they had raced it all over. It was cool hearing all the old stories and seeing the smile on Chris face, going down memory lane, thinking of his dad. As cool as it was I needed to get back, sandy and Josh were ready for lunch and we needed to start planning for the last bike night, not to mention we still had a truck to unload. With the last bike night apron us, it is the biggest night of the year for me; there is always a ton of bikes and even more people that come to it. I hope each year is busier than the year before, when you run an event for 16 years and give away 18 motorcycles; it becomes more pride then financial. There is a ride in bike show for people whose bikes have won at our bike night though out the year, they compete for 6 foot tall trophies. I give out a free dinner buffet for everyone (those rascals ate a 1000 pieces of chicken this year), tons of give a ways from me and our super sponsors (The Horse BC is one of them, they are very devoted people to their friends and their work and that’s why I’m honored to be part of all of it!!). Not only do we do all that but I also give away a bike every year and it’s FREE! All you have to do is walk into the bar sign your name and that’s it, there’s sign in sheets out every bike night so if you come for every 22 bike nights then you have 22 chances to win! People try to put their name in more than once, I go thought them every night and before I give the bike away, if I find your name in there more than once then all of your entries get thrown away. This year was the biggest I’ve had in a while. We stopped counting bikes at 700! Hammer and Mz Debo even made it out. The night went on late and people were drinking like it was the end of days! I may of even had a few, finally it was time to give the bike away, the bar was pack, people were standing as tight as they could. It was almost dead quit in that bar, I called out the first name, once, twice, but no answer. Someone yelled “they just left” sucks to be them I thought. I called off another, this time a girl came running up, she was yelling “I won, I won!” Her name was Margaret, her and her husband come every bike night. It was nice to see them win! It was a long night but I am always sad when it’s over because it means the end of summer is coming. But until winter hits I’m going to keep riding and buying!