Monday, March 2, 2009

Girl Haired Cheesy Rider

When I sent Hanna (5 at the time) this photo she told her Brother "Dad has girl hair!".

Morro Bay, CA Circa 1983. I bought this non-running and painted green for some money (a grand?) and a 2 track reel-to-reel tape deck. It was pretty ugly. At the time I also thought it was widely believed that motorcycles should not be green because it was unlucky... ever heard of that?

It was a 1971 (I think) Sportster - one of the AMF years 'half-a-Harley'. One of the few years that was electric start only. While I had it, it didn't have a tach or speedometer. I don't remember it having any instrumentation actually.

It was already chopped so I hardtailed it and spruced it up. A school chum welded the 'bolt-on' hardtail for me and gave me a 1931 Rumley steam tractor leather seat for it. We welded a plain door hinge for the front seat pivot and let the rear ride on springs supported by vertical bolts welded to the frame. It had a 'Girder' front end that differed from a 'Springer' in the suspension mechanism somehow that I don't remember.

It never did have a front brake which in hindsight was a mistake... you can imagine. The only real braking problem I had was when, during hard braking in traffic, the rear (drum) brake support plate disintegrated and I had to swerve into the opposite lane to avoid hitting anyone. Of course I then drove it 100 miles to Santa Barbara with NO brakes to buy used brake parts... downshift and plan ahead man.

I painted everything with Krylon and polished and clear coated it and it came out fine. The parts that would fit in the oven I baked the paint on - I've done it quite a few times and it gives a hard finish - set the oven at 250. Makes the whole house smell like fresh paint... but that's fine with me! Oh... I probably wouldn't use a gas oven. :-)

I rebuilt the engine (really just the top end). Twice. The first time I forgot to turn the mechanical advance up when I timed it, so it was running about 22 degrees too advanced. Hard to start but ran GREAT.... for about 5 miles when it quit due to melted pistons shorting out the plugs.

When I graduated and left California I sold it to some whackjob... said he had just gotten out of prison in Detroit and before he got the state sponsored vacation had a chopped Sportster that was all pearl white with gold trim.

Then he dropped mine in the driveway trying to test drive it.

When he had the money together he called and I delivered it to him and a girlfriend- I rode it up a short flight of stairs and right into the living room of a run-down house with a sagging foundation. He handed me a pile of bills and some change... apologizing that they were 80 cents short because they had to buy a pack of cigarettes.

A few days later the girlfriend came by my house (Later I wondered how she knew where I lived because she hadn't been there and it was sort of out in the country). She had borrowed the money from her Dad and her boyfriend disappeared the day after I delivered the bike. He called me a week or so later asking why it wouldn't go into 1st gear (the shifter sometimes slipped on the un-splined shaft - AMF engineering, lol) and I told him she was looking for him, but I never saw or heard from either one of them after that.

I lived on a twisty road so it was fun dragging the pipe on the corners but it sounded good and was nicest in a straight line on the highway thumping over the expansion joints... Ahhhh. :-)

1 comment:

  1. I have a picture just like that one somewhere in our collection. You looked really cool riding that bike. You and Mike took them to Refugio for Thanksgiving one year, in pouring rain, and camped.