Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Indian Jeff - Going Places

Jeff, Julio, & Tom on their annual road trip to Sturgis in 1996. But this time a camera crew is following them from Seattle to the Black Hills. Jeff on his 1946 Chief, Tom on his 1948 Chief; Julio on a 1938 Chief riding the back roads and avoiding the boring interstates full of trailer racers and RUBS, Rich Urban Biker's.

Sometime earlier in the year (2014) someone asked about Indian Jeff. Tom posted the following comment:
"Indian Jeff died a few years back got in a wreck out side of Jackson hot spring in Montana may have hit a cow at night on his BMW Oct cold frosty night laid out all night he was not the same after that. A Good man Loved by some R.I.P. Jeff"

Godspeed Indian Jeff, I'm a little sad I never met you. This video still excites me for the return of warmer weather. We need to get Tom's '48 Chief back on the road too.

Long Acres Hill Climb

The Long Acres Hill Climb was a fundamental annual fund raiser for the Seattle Cossacks. The proceeds were used to fund team uniforms etc. 
Long Acres Hill Climb 1940

Long Acres - 1941
Long Acres Hill Climb - 1941

Monday, December 29, 2014

Crocker Prepared 101 Scout

While sifting through items in the upcoming Bonhams auction I came across this bike and was instantly in love. I was completely unaware of the Crocker/Indian connection until reading through the listing.

 A legend among American motorcycles, the Crocker has assumed almost mythic status with only 60-or-so twin-cylinder Crocker street bikes ever made, each one unique, and today these hand-built masterpieces are among the most collectible motorcycles of all time.

A successful enduro racer and Midwest Indian branch manager, Crocker finally settled in Los Angeles, California in 1928 as agent for the Springfield manufacturer. He moved into motorcycle manufacture in stages, starting out in 1931 making speedway frames to accept the 45ci (750cc) Indian Scout v-twin engine. An overhead-valve conversion kit for the Scout soon followed, but, after 40-50 single-cylinder speedway Crockers had been built, he moved on to fulfill another of his ambitions: a class-leading v-twin roadster. 

Crocker's overhead-valve conversion kit for the 101 Scout started out as an all-cast iron affair before the second series switched to aluminum-alloy for the cylinder heads. Surviving original kits are exceptionally rare, so this bike's builder Gwen Banquer was especially fortunate to acquire (on loan) an original un-machined set of the later alloy/iron type, from which these casting patterns were made.

 101 Scouts are absolutely legendary for their outstanding handling so you know this bike has be a real honey. In some ways this bike would be just as cool or cooler to own than a full-on BT Crocker. And this one could be had at 1/3 to 1/4 of the price based on the estimate. It might well be a candidate for the all time coolest non-racing Indian too. Even the color is just right. If I had deep pockets I'd be all over it.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Battle of the WWII Experimentals

It's not every day you can compare a Harley Davidson XA and and Indian 841 side-by-side.  It's even rarer to find them with a creamsicle colored Studebaker prostreet car as a backdrop. Some things you only find at Lemay. Many thanks to Doug Lemay for the guided tour.

The 841 struck me as being a much more elegant and almost English looking compared to the XA. Obviously I didn't ride them or factor their North Africa campaign worthiness but I'd take the 841. I'd love to go back some day and help them get it started. It would be awesome to hear it running.

Mecum Sidecar

I think I heard Flathead Rob mention missing our 1963 Austin Healey Sprite. This should bolt right up to a Big Twin I suspect.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Tom's Cycles Clock

This was easily one of my favorite Christmas gifts. The clock alone is cool but the story behind it is even cooler. It was once the shop clock in Tom's Cycle.

Several months ago Michael Tom offered the clock to me knowing I'm a pretty diehard Triumph guy. Unfortunately I was a super tight schedule the day I ran into Mike and could never follow up. Flathead Rob knows Mike pretty well from Mike's Seattle Cossack days. Rob later retrieved the clock from Mike and spent a good bit of time cleaning it up, chasing down missing parts and getting it functional. Pretty darn cool.

Mike once mentioned his Dad decided to pick up Triumph in 1963 because he was impressed with the the new Unit Triumphs. Rob noticed the 1 RPM clock motor was dated "1963" so it probably safe to assume the shop got it somewhere near that time. I've seen other shop clocks but never one quite like this one.

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

Seriously though... Why would my Christmas cards make anyone think I'm too motorcycle obsessed?

Incidentally, if you are among us afflicted that could never get too much of a good thing, I strongly recommend checking out the All Alloy 500 Appreciation Society. Ask very nicely and the British Ironworks Alloy Oracle might teach you the close pitched fin handshake.

Captain Lowell Smith

Here's another Douglas World Cruiser related post. One of the eight American crewmen who set out to circumnavigate the earth in 1924 was also an active Seattle area motorcyclist. Captain Lowell Smith is pictured below with his Indian and one of the Douglas World Cruisers. This is an interesting photo to illustrate the sheer size of the World Cruiser. Lowell's Indian appears to have 28" wheels. Compare them to the landing gear.

Lieutenant Lowell Smith & William Byer, Chicago Police Department 1925
Captain Lowell Smith & Lieutenant John P. Richter

Monday, December 22, 2014

Ran When Parked

1969 Harley Davidson - For the guy that must alienate everyone. I didn't realize Harley made a 45" OHV 4 cylinder. I can't even imagine the thought process that lead to this. Supposedly there is even a Steve McQueen tie. Pretty weird.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ran When Parked

1948 Triumph 5T - Man what a great prospective project. I've never seen an improved rear sproket mount like this before.

Flight Of The Douglas World Cruiser

Flathead Rob and I braved the weather to catch the maiden flight of the Seattle II, a task 13 years in the making. Just amazing. It was so cool to be there.

I've mentioned the restoration a couple of times before. The end goal is to recreate the original flight around the world. You can find much more about the project here

The the Lincoln built Liberty V12 1649 cu in engine makes about 400 HP. Cruising speed is probably 40-70 MPH. That's about what I averaged in a UHaul towing my truck on a trailer when I moved. It's gonna be a long trip. It's shocking just how massive this thing actually is.

This is the project of a lone guy (and his unbelievably supportive wife).  I was with two thoughts...

1) The time and materials donations by countless individuals (Flathead Rob is one) is absolutely incredible.
2) Right or wrong I was left feeling like my absolute obsession over motorcycle projects is pretty tame on the grand scheme of things. Maybe I'm not as much of a freak as I once thought.

Check out the project site and consider contributing (money, skills, time, etc.) if you are a fit. He still has a long road ahead before the actual trip begins. Bob mentioned that it costs $3000 just to fill the fuel tanks.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Born With It?

The conversation about whether "gearheadness" is environmental or genetic has come up numerous times recently in multiple different settings. My youngest son is hardcore hard-wired but it's just not really my older kids thing. Flathead Rob has two boys that so far are not really bitten by the bug and Rob is about the strongest argument for environment there is. In all honestly I believe I'm a gearhead because I grew up as Rob's little brother. It amazes me when I meet guys become "gearheaded" without any mechanical mentors. I'm very thankful to have had strong mechanics in my family growing up. Even today I'm amazed how much my Dad knows that I still don't. He's an extremely rare combination of a Ph.D engineer that started as a thoroughbred "gearhead" mechanical tinkerer as a very young kid.   

Earlier this week I forwarded a The Old Motor posting to my dad featuring Portland, Oregon. Having grown up in and around the Portland area I suspected he'd appreciate it. I never expected a response quite this good. The fact that I had been chatting with a friend, in Portland, about how much I learned from my dad mechanically earlier in that week was just the icing on the cake.

Dad & Bunk - Model B Roadster
"The MV Inspection Station brings memories.  I remember my dad talking about brakes on the 1932 Ford Model B roadster.  He would keep driving around the block, crawling underneath and readjusting the old mechanical brakes until he finally passed inspection. Sometimes it would take 3 or 4 tries. He traded for a 1940 Ford, 2-door sedan in 1941.  Ford had mechanical brakes up thru 1938.  The 40 Ford was a bit of a shock.  I remember him looking at the speedometer, and he was going close to 85 mph.  After the Model B, the 40 Ford engine sounded like it was loafing."

Grandma, Dad with unknown rooster & Uncle Doc - '40 Tudor sedan
First of all the story is just awesome. Factor in that my dad is recalling that sort of mechanical detail from events that happened when he was as young as he was really illustrates my Dad's "born with it" aptitude. Thanks to Flathead Rob for supplying the wonderful supporting photos.

It could well end up a legacy my youngest carries on.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Blackbird T-Shirt

It frustrates me that corporate Triumph and Lucky Brand have such depth of subject matter (Lucky Brand has Triumph, Indian, Velocette, Johnson Motors) yet I feel that their merchandise offerings are generally pretty lame. Add to that a complete disregard for historical accuracy and a price that is twice what anyone could consider reasonable for a t-shirt means I look from time-to-time but rarely buy anything. This shirt is an exception, in part anyway. I'm not sure I'll be dropping $50 on one immediately. Granted, I'm probably not the target customer though...
One more comment on motorcycle t-shirts. If your business offers t-shirts/hoodies that are actually intended for the greasy-handed vintage motorcycle riding masses we belong to please don't offer them in white exclusively. I hate having a motorcycle shirt I can't ever wear anywhere near my bike or shop without immediately turning it into a shop rag.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Show Class Magazine - North West Issue Release Party

As promised, here are photos from the Show Class issue release at See See Motor Coffee (thanks Sydney). Awesome event at a super cool venue. It was a blast to be a part of it. Once the placed filled up it would have been tough to take photos of the bikes. As is sort of the point, all the bikes that were there are in issue #22.  Quit being cheap and go buy it!

Thanks Billy and Mark for including me & Olivia. Thanks to Joey, Sydney and Vaughn for tagging along with us.

I absolutely loved this helmet. I wonder if there's a deliberate Charles Wing Kraft influence.

Chris Sharper's killer skinny Triumph