Friday, May 9, 2014

It's a Wrap... Mostly

The 1958 Harley Davidson ST-165 project Rob, Ed and I have been working on was bought new by Ed's Dad in late 1957. The bike was ridden a lot and was used to teach probably 100's of local kids to ride over the years. this is how she sat in 1969.

Summer of 1969

She was in great shape and a runner until a handful of years ago. Like so many old motorcycles she was disassembled by a well intended "restorer" who later lost focus/interest. Ed's Dad Wally was a child of the Great Depression and a Merchant Marine. That meant he cared for the bike like it would be his last and everything got a generous coating of brushed on boat paint. The negative is Rob & I stripped coat after coat of persistent from everything. The positive is lots of the parts were incredible well preserved underneath.

We bolted together the baskets just enough to assess running state of the engine.
 The ever anal-retentive Rob was careful to well document things like the original paint lines. This served us very well. I can actually look at photos of the restored 1958 ST-165 in the Barber Museum and spot things that aren't quite right. More than a little scary...

It came out very nice. Almost too nice for a bike like this. Ed was very motivated by the cause of preserving an important piece of his family's legacy. He's also pretty committed to making sure it gets used. That makes Rob and I happy as the true value of a motorcycle like this is as a rider. You'd be hard pressed to find a bike that would work better for teaching new riders.

Some diehard vintage bike collectors might be thinking great... but it's not exotic... it's not rare. Who does that excite? Aside from the obvious family attachment the answer should be the same guys that were excited about these bikes when they were new. The young man pictured below comes from a family with multi-generation ties to the Seattle Cossacks. He's passionate about that connection and it's a mighty safe bet he will be an extremely accomplished rider one day. I suspect he'd be pretty damn thrilled to ride a real vintage Harley. This is one he could - today. I saw that same look on my own face when I was about his age. This is exactly what the future of our hobby looks like. Pretty cool.

We still have a few bugs to chase and then it's a wrap. I hope to see Flathead Rob's '48 Chief as the next finished project before long.

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