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.