Lock the welder
Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I am now set up at the new shop in Cypress Park, CA. It is about 10 mins from Hollywood, at the interchange of the 110 and the 5 highways. The trip out went well, with a 3 vehicle convoy from CT. A 26' haul hauling all the machinery, parts and materials, and a 18' haul loaded with 5 bikes and towing the '72 dodge charger. Third vehicle was a fiat driven by my roommate Alfredo. The trucks were somewhat speed limited, so the trip took about 4 days, and consumed several thousand dollars worth of fuel. In this new shop, I will only be doing complete motorcycle fabrication, and some engine building. I may or may not resume leather and knife making here. I already have several frame jobs for a local shop in the works as well. Please do not contact me for general motorcycle mechanics, such as wiring, troubleshooting, or small welding jobs. I decided that after almost a decade of doing those types of jobs at the CT shop, that it is simply not worth the effort, financially or psychologically. I am still selling my "leaf spring kickstands", so please contact me if interested. They are in their 5th generation, and are better than ever. Price is still $375 plus $15 shipping.
I have several bikes out here that are currently for sale, "Daddy go Hard", "Knucklegame", and "Interceptor". The bike "Flash in the Pan" is also for sale by its last owner, located in CT. It has very few miles on it and looks/runs like new. The Interceptor is heavily discounted since it has been my daily rider for a while now. Please email me at email@example.com for inquiries. Visit easternfabrications.com for pictures.
The CT shop is currently occupied by a new tenant, so do not go there looking for me! I will be back in CT at some point this summer, but not sure on dates yet. If anyone knows of any good shows in the LA area, I'd love to hear. Id like to get the bikes out to as many local events as possible.
I am back in frozen CT after another CA adventure. This latest trip lasted a little over a month, and culminated with finding a great shop space. The move west will happen as soon as I settle some business here, and pack up the critical tools and furniture from the current shop. Once again, this latest scouting mission would not have been possible without the help of a few good people, namely John, Brooke, Agatha, Steg, and of course Candice and my dad. Without their generosity and input, this move would not have been possible. From storing the bikes, giving Fre and I places to stay, educating us on the ins and outs of LA, and holding down the CT shop while I was gone, I owe them a huge thanks.
Here are a few random shots from the trip:
The trusty "Interceptor" was my chosen transportation out there. I rode it relentlessly, and it performed perfectly.
Getting used to the riding in LA is somewhat terrifying. I don't think I have ever ridden in a place with such bad drivers. Maybe bad isn't the right word, more like intentionally careless. I witnessed at least 5 accidents, all of which occurred right around me! Not bad ones, but slow, casual smash ups. People out there drive as if cars are disposable, and as if occasionally wrecking your car is just a way of life. The average speed is not really any faster than other cities, but the awareness just isn't there. I phones are looked at more than windshields, literally. Riding a high powered bike through the mess is an exercise in restraint for me. Its hard to exploit the occasional stretch of open road, because at every intersection there is some brain-dead housewife or teenager just waiting to ambush you. Making direct eye contact as you approach does seemingly nothing. On a bike, you just don't exist in Los Angeles.
The good news (at least from an east coast perspective) is that you have quite a few privileges that cars don't, namely being able to park almost anywhere, ride between cars, and cut to the front of traffic lines. Come to think of it, I was amazed by how few people were riding bikes, despite the weather being above 60 every single day.
Luckily motorcycles were not the only vehicle I got to play with during my visit. My friend Jackson invited Fre and I go flying with him in a helicopter, specifically an "R44 Raven 2". It is a cool little amalgamation of aluminum, plastic, and a fuel injected flat 4. We flew out of an airstrip in Camarillo, and just flew around the surrounding area for about an hour. Jackson practiced landings, which was probably the most entertaining part for me. here is captain-jackson giving her once-over.
Fre looked a bit skeptical....
I also spent an entire day exploring the "Angeles National Forest", a great spot not far from the new shop location. The main road that winds through it is amazing; an endless series of smooth turns and switchbacks. Unfortunately the "Interceptor" lacked the range necessary to get from one end to the other, so I made a decision a ways in to turn back. I little extra fuel in a jug should get me through it next time.
Thats all for now. Next up: the drive out
Posting this for Matt Olsen from Carls Cycle Supply. This is a contest he is having. I did about half of the cannonball with Matt a few years ago and it was a blast. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWShJCNHb1I
Things are in a state of flux at Efab these days. I am relocating to Los Angeles CA, first seasonally, perhaps permanently. The fate of the Branford, CT shop is uncertain at this time. Without boring everyone with my reasons for moving, let me show you what I will be driving out there: my dream car! Every once in a while I do a car project, and I have a very progressive plan for this one! Ever since I was a kid I looked at the Dodge Charger as the quintessential muscle car. Not based on any particular feature, just the overall design. In particular, the 1971-1974 years. Of course everyone wants the 1968-1970, due mostly to the fact that it has been made famous in so many great movies (bullet, fast and furious, blade, dukes of hazard, etc). I like to be different, and I like the fact that in the later years, the design got a little sleazier.
Of course, I am not going to simply buy a car and drive it stock, its just not me. Also, it doesn't really make sense, environmentally or financially, to drive a car that gets 10 miles per gallon on a regular basis. How can I have my cake and eat it too?
What engine can I put in here that will solve all my problems? I need lots of horsepower and torque, ease of maintenance, decent fuel economy, and low emissions. How about a turbo-diesel?
Modern diesel engines are not what they used to be. They are smooth running, reliable, quiet, have the ability to run a wide variety of fuels (bio-diesels), and make freakish amounts of power.
I am in the process of educating myself on the wide world of diesels now. I have never owned a diesel, or even seen one taken apart. I have a lot to learn before I can make an educated decision on where to begin, but for now I have another task: prep the charger for its cross country drive.
Here she is the day I bought her, coming home from Long Island on the ferry.
As soon as it got to the shop I dove in. Anyone who has ever tried to restore an old car knows the pain I am talking about. Is it safe? what parts are about to fail? Is it going to catch on fire? how is the motor and trans? So many questions, and only one way to find out- start exploring.
One thing that was immediately obvious- the suspension was not up to par. I knew it would have to be upgraded, not only for the trip out west, but also for the heavier engine that will eventually be installed. A phone call to Firmfeel Inc (a mopar suspension specialist) got me several new key components. New heavy duty leaf springs and torsion bars, heavy duty tie rods, rebuilt heavy duty steering box, giant sway bars, a full poly bushing kit, and new stiff shocks. Once these components were installed, it completely changed the way the car drove. Thanks Firmfeel!
Next was the engine, and luckily I have a good friend (Ralph at Kehl Tech), who builds race engines for a living, and is dam good at it. He said the motor sounded good (its a small block 360), but suggested we rebuild the carb, which was a good guess because there was a lot of old gas residue gumming it up, as well as many mismatched parts.
Accessory belts were badly misaligned, so some new brackets had to be made as well. The coil was mounted sideways, so that was relocated too.
Next step was the wiring. As you can imagine, a lot of morons had been inside this car since it left the factory, and it seemed as if every one of them added their own special touches to the electrical system! My god, butt connectors, wires that had melted, electrical tape, stereo components that didnt work, old fuses, new fuses, wires with no fuse at all, and breakers that randomly pop. With my trusty test light I went at it, and after a week I had removed about 40ft of wire that didnt do anything, repaired several melted wires, got 3 non-functioning gauges to work, installed brighter headlights, and got all the critical running lights working. Of course all of this will get redone again when the new motor transplant happens, but it should survive the trip out now.
I cant be seen driving an orange car, and it isnt the original paint anyway, so a quicky repaint was in order. Spay bomb time!
I ripped off the old rotten vinyl roof covering, and molded the pitted metal underneath. I never liked those vinyl roofs anyway. The chromed trim and bumpers were in decent shape, but a scotch brightening session gave them a nice matte finish, similar to stainless steel.
I am leaving next month, so I am driving the car daily to (hopefully) bring any other problems to light before the big push west. Stay tuned for more updates, and remember, not all choppers have 2 wheels!
sorry about the lack of posts, but i have been on the road for what seems like forever! Left Branford 3 weeks ago in a budget rent-a-truck bound for Cali, with a few stops along the way. Michael Lichter was the first stop, in Boulder CO, for photo session with the Speed Fetus and Iron Triangle. Next up was the Artistry in Iron show in Las Vegas. I was invited this year- an honor to say the least. Here are a bunch of pics in no particular order...
more coming soon......
I got a phone call from my friend Matt Olson asking if I wanted to ride out to Born Free this year from his shop (Carls Cycle Supply) in South Dakota. We had 4 days and had to travel approx 1600 miles, and would do it on our rigid bikes. I'm not one to pass up something cool, so I was in. I arranged to have my bike (Icarus), shipped from the shop here in CT to SD, and chose AA Motorcycle Transport to do it. Mind you this was over 2 weeks before we were planning on leaving from Matts. The person on the phone assured me that despite the "remote location" Matts shop is located in, it would be there well before the departure date. I faxed in some forms, gave them the credit card, and a few days later the bike was picked up.
Mind you, anytime I ship a bike I spent over a year of my life building from scratch, with almost $35,000 invested in components and materials, I am a little nervous. This time I had reason to be.
A few days after the bike was supposed to be at Matts, I began to get worried. After the runaround trying to get the right person on the phone, and giving them dozens of confirmation numbers and codes, I was told that because of the "remote location" Matts shop is in, the bike was being held at some shipping terminal in Minneapolis, and wouldn't be to Matts for another 10 days or so. No amount of pleading would motivate them to get it there in time, so Matt sent one of his friends to pick it up for me. This took her over 6 hours of driving, but got the bike safely to the shop in time for us to leave. Thank you Terresa!
Lesson learned- FUCK AA TRASPORT. Don't use them, they tell you what you want to hear, take your money, then don't deliver.
Anyway, here we are at our first fuel stop in SD. Matt is riding his mint 1936 knucklehead.
The trip across the plains of South Dakota and Nebraska are fairly boring, but amazing none the less. Doing this on a bike is an eye-opening experience- so much land. I can't imagine doing this in a covered wagon.
We didn't take much, just a few spare socks, and about 50 pounds worth of tools and spare parts. We could go about 100 miles between gas stops, thanks to both of us having about 4 gallon tank capacity.
We crossed the Rockies in CO, which is the dividing point between tons of flat grass, and tons of flat desert. A welcome change in scenery. The massive changes in elevation and temp forced us to stop often to adjust our carburetors.
There was one problem staring us right in the face- heat. The further into the desert we rode, the hotter it got. Mind you it was hot the whole way, but now it was getting really hot. Our rest breaks were getting longer, we had to stay in long sleeves to keep from getting sunburn, and our bikes were on the verge of meltdown. We had no choice though- Born Free or bust.
By the time we got to Las Vegas, it was 120 degrees. Riding into it is like riding into a hairdryer on full hot mode. We adjusted our carbs full rich to keep the motors cool enough to survive.
Any shade was a welcome sight, like this bombed out crackhouse in the middle of nowhere. It was dead silent, except for the occasional gunshot from deep in the desert.
At this point I stopped taking pics, mostly because I was beginning to see the effects of heat stroke. Once we got across the mountains outside LA, the temp dropped to a survivable 100 or so. I spent the last night before the show curled up in a hotel bathtub puking my guts out and chugging water. Hey, if it was easy everyone would do it!
more pics of the show coming....
I recently returned from another trip to the legendary Carls Cycle Supply, home of Matt, Miss Brittney, And OG Carl. (pictures are all from my dirty I phone, so they aren't great)
I had previously helped Matt on his Born Free 4 winning knucklehead, so I was honored he asked me once again to come help with some fabrication on a new project. This project, unlike the knucklehead, is a type of bike I was not previously very familiar with- a 1923 Harley race bike. Though it has a similar motor to the bike Matt raced in the 2012 "Cannonball", every other part is completely different.
The bike is for his wife, the lovely Brittney, who plans to race it in a series of vintage dirt track exhibitions, along with many other period bike enthusiasts. What makes this bike especially unique is the fact that it has no transmission, and no brakes! It doesn't have a starter either, or any clutch. It is about as "chopper" as it gets really. This is the style of bike that would have been ridden on either wooden tracks (aka board track), or later in the 1920's, oval dirt tracks.
After a series of delays and layovers thanks to Delta, I made it there. First thing to make: a seat...
Now, keep something in mind here; Matts shop is a restoration shop. He and his dad have been building 10 point perfect (and I mean perfect) knuckleheads and panheads for many years. However, it is not a shop set up for heavy fabrication. This means that the tools I am used to using are not available. This includes brake, shear, bandsaw, plasmacutter, plannishing hammer, fixed dollies, and sander.
That doesnt mean I can't work, but it does mean I have to get a bit creative with my methods.
With a sandbag and some hand dollies, it is possible to make most basic sheetmetal shapes. This is also a good reminder to new chopper builders that you don't have to have a ton of expensive tools to make bikes, just some patience and ingenuity.
They do, however, have an awesome mill. Here I am using it to rough out a seat pivot from a block of aluminum I found..
Here is one of the inner tank panels- the easy part...
The tank design is 2 piece, hanging over the backbone of the bike on piggybacked strips, bolted directly into the tube.
The design for the tanks is very mailbox looking; square and boxy but with radiused edges. This immediately made me nervous because trying to keep thin sheetmetal panels dead flat (while curving the edges) is almost impossible! You see, flat sheetmetal is very weak and becomes warped as soon as any part of it is welded. When sheetmetal is formed into a curved shape, it gains body and becomes stronger. This time I had to keep about 80 percent of the tank panels flat, while curving and welding some areas. Did I mention This thing is going to be polished raw metal? ughh
They didn't go for my paint scheme.
Here they are welded and hand sanded to about a 100 grit level.
Now they are down to about 600 grit..
We decided, partly due to time restrictions, to paint the top and side panels of the tank the same color as the frame, and only expose the polished sides of the tank. This was a relief because it meant I could rely on a small amount of bondo to smooth the welds around the gas caps and mounting strips.
The tanks will be sealed before the final side polishing occurs. I left that in Matts capable hands.
I also made a basic sissybar out of steel round stock, and made a little oil tank, which Matt later finish welded and added fitting to.
Then I was back on a plane, headed home after another great trip!
If it looks like I am confused in these pics- it's because I was. I was not very familiar with how these bikes worked. I know a bit more now thanks to Matt.
Here are more random Cannonball pics:
Wow, one hell of a trip! I just returned from almost 3 weeks of motorcycle heaven, minus a bit of driving. Unfortunately my camera ran out of batteries the first day, but I have already found a few pics out there. I drove out with Jay from Acme Choppers, because we both were invited to show our work at the Buffalo Chip, where Mike Lichter has his yearly show. Once the bikes were set up, we retreated to the "Thunderdome", Jay Allens latest venture, where we had our encampment. Dale from Mad Jap was there with us and we set up one booth for all three of us, right inside the dome, complete with Dales purple couch, carpet, and ottoman.
We did a ton of riding over the course of the week, some sponsored rides and some just for fun. Matt Olson took a group of about 20 guys on the "old Iron Putt" as Jay puts it. Matt handed over the routing to Panhead Billy, who legend has it knows every road in America and doesn't need a map-ever. He decided we should ride about 40 miles into the middle of nowhere on dirt roads. I love riding on dirt because it filters out the do-rag crowd immediately, but I don't think there were any with us to begin with. The dust got so thick I cant believe my motor even ran but eventually we reached a clearing, where Jay unloaded a mountain of beef jerkey packets, provided free by a sponsor of his (forgot name of company). We ate them and then all parted ways.
Later in the week when the Lichter show was over, 6 of us got our bikes down from the pedestals and went for a ride, with Mike doing his typical backwards camera position on a guys bagger. The protocall is to simply get as close to each other and the bagger as humanly possible without literally getting tangled together. For some reason Mike always sets the pace at around 75, even though you cant tell in the photos, which makes it even more complicated. It is fun though, especially trying to communicate....
Icarus ran like a champ, held at 75 for about a solid hour in high heat. The homemade rockers and solid lifters are proven in my mind after that ride.
During the week we also rode to Deadwood, Spearfish Canyon, the Badlands, "The Ranch", some random lake in the middle of nowhere east of Sturgis, and endless miles of black hills back road.
It was great to see all my friends who I only see once a year. Special thanks to Mike Lichter for letting us be in your show- it was something I had wanted to be a part of for years.
We also checked out the AMD W0rld Championships. This is the last year the show will be held in Sturgis. Apparently The next version will be in Germany. Here was the winner of this years freestyle, from Thunderbike...
Jeremy Cupps hillclimber. I have a feeling a lot of people didn't look at this bike closely enough. It had exposed valves and rockers with a recirculating oil system plumbed through it.
A lot more pics coming stay tuned....
More random trip pics.... Duel engine triumph land speed'er..
Nice duel linkert setup. I think I see an equalizer tube on the manifolds. Never tried that....
There is a lot of open space out there. No people for miles. Don't break down.
The legendary Steg. That bike is one that influenced me before I built my first bike 11 years ago. He still rides it every day, and it still influences me!
Ats Shinyas shop in CA. The entire shop looks just like his bikes, hard to describe...
He took the time to look at Icarus.
After leaving the show, we headed towards the grand canyon. It is a bit touristy, but non of us had ever seen it. Let me tell you- it is amazing. The size of this thing cant be conveyed on a postcard! The cool part was there didn't seem to be any security, so we could get right to the precarious edge.
We only made it about a half mile from Alfredos house when his bike ran out of gas, and he had to push it up Branford hill to the gas station. I guess the fumes in there weren't enough. As we passed through New Haven, The Fetus stalled and wouldn't start back up, so we dove into with the wrenches in a shitty mexican restaurant parking lot. We realized that the new S and S carb wasn't venting properly, and was getting starved of gas. We dismantled the carb, and found nothing wrong, so we put it back on. Then the bike started up and we rode away... now it seems fine.. weird.
We made it there in a few hours and without any drama.
I had never been to this event before, and found it to be a bit uncomfortable. The old bikes were amazing but it felt like everyone selling stuff had a secret they didn't want to tell you or something. A very strange vibe. I didn't care, it was more of a destination to ride to. There were some amazing machines though.
We met up with my friend Alex when we arrived. We unexpectedly ran into Matt Olsons dad, the Legendary Carl, and Dave from Morris Magneto. We showed Dave our three bikes parked, all of which are powered by his mags!
We passed out at a nearby motel for the night. This place was, lets just say, affordable. Luckily there was a bar across the street, with no one there! Perfect
The next day we woke up, found it to be pouring rain, so decided to head home. 120 mile ride home, pouring rain, neither bike had a single problem. When we got to Derby it had cleared up a bit.
We stopped by the harley dealership on the way home so we could get some supplies to do an oil change, and got the usual confused looks from the skull bandanna crowd. Some got out their cameras when Alfredo kick started the Fetus. We made it home and I hopped on the lathe...
I just got back from a 11 day trip to Aberdeen SD, the home of Carls Cycle supply, where I was invited to help Matt build a dashboard for his born free bike. Matt and his dad Carl are undeniably the best vintage Harley mechanics/restorers on the planet. This bike is going to be Matts entry into a buildoff debuting at the show. I wont give away too many details but the bike is sick. I will be adding more pics soon, but here are a few..
I got in some extra-curricular activity of course...
Funny, you cant tell its running except for the blurry clutch plate...
Headed down to my burrito spot in New Haven between the harbor and 95...
Bikes waiting while we ate our 'ritos...
A few exits on the highway and we're back in my hood. Cant feel my hands or face at this point....
Made it home in time for a visit from Big Dave and an old friend.. the "Fist of Legend"!