Sunday, November 4, 2012
Today I had some time and an afternoon of good weather to tackle a few projects on my van. The first order of business was removing most of the stickers the previous owner had applied, especially the huge HD emblem on the back door windows. As you can see it was quite the tribal skull abortion. There were also some stylized HA stickers adorning the doors as well as skull door locks and even a skull radio antenna topper. The guy REALLY liked skulls. After a few minutes with the widget and some Windex the goofy images were gone, butI left the largemouth bass. Inside of the van the fish motif continues. There are fish shaped night lights cut out of the same brown Masonite used in the floor, the door panels and dashboard. He also made a handy rack for fishing pole storage. Opening the back doors lets everyone know that the driver has "Gone...Fishin". The platform bed and LED lights added later enhance the magic of the 70s era brown naugahyde and bubble windows. The stereo speakers are cobbled from a home theatre system, complete with a free standing bass cabinet. The HD floor mats really pull it all together. In addition to his love of skulls I noticed that the previous owner wasnt really into basic vehicle maintenance and repair. Body repair from a fender bender is clumsy, but he did a great job of matching the paint. The battery tray was sort of half connected and shoved into the engine compartment. I secured it with a nut and bolt, easy. Next I fixed the radio antenna. Instead of putting it back together he had jammed it in the hole in the fender. No wonder I couldnt get in any stations. Again, it was another obvious and simple job. The real head scratcher came when I checked the tire pressure. The Wranglers called for 35 psi, each tire held around 15. No antifreeze or wiper fluid either. Sigh... Yeah, he was one of those guys. Anyhow, the van runs like a top despite any neglect it might have experienced. I dumped some Sea Foam into the gas tank. Hopefully that will take care of the carb loading up and running rich. All in all, after 2 weeks the van is a real pleasure to drive and I look forward to some new projects. The front brakes need some attention, the door locks need re-keyed, Id like to add jump seats or a removable bench seat, add cigarette lighter and the sliding door freezes half open. Id like to get the windows mirror tinted and it will definately need a real tune up before any major road trips. Oh, and I found a nifty cup holder at Autozone that fits righ in the map pocket. I like those modern conveniences.
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
No way in the world did I think a month ago that the biggest hurricane or extra tropical cyclone, whatever it was, would be hitting Brooklyn like a punch to the face from Randall Tex Cobb. I talked to my buddy Jeff Mowrer on Monday and he was prepared with beer, cigs and dog food aplenty. I havent been heard back from him since the storm hit. His place in the Bushwick neighborhood wasnt in an evacuation zone, so I'd reckon he is fine but probably inconvenienced in a major way. If you look at the map you can see the Bushwick Inlet in Greenpoint in the red zone along the East River. 14th Street, which ends at the inlet, is where Root Gallery, The Gutter Bar and Works Engineering are all located. I haven't been able to confirm it but I fear that all of those places got hit by the storm surge and may still be under water. I hope Im wrong. Those sunny days of September seem long, long gone.
Saturday, October 27, 2012
I completed the trade of my 1980 Ironhead for a 1977 Chevy van the other day. I was sad to see her go after all of the work I put in. But that's life. We build up what we have until we can get to the next step. I have been wanting a van for a while and now I've got one. Though I wont be bikeless. My neighbor is a hoarder of vintage Japanese bikes and set me up with a very cheap, and mostly original, 1974 cb750 sans title and in need of some work. It's a little step back true, but come spring it will be something I can tool around on and will make me some money when I decide to sell it. Im still gathering parts for my Evo Sporty build. Confidentially, it is not as good a deal as I thought previously. The numbers on the case are missing. The stamping numbers next to the oil pump reveal that is an 883 made on March, 15 1990. Despite the pulley in lieu of a sprocket that would make it a four speed. Apparently the belt drive conversion was a popular "upgrade" in early 90s. Bah! Honestly, once I work up to a reliable big twin chop I will be done with building and trading...I promise.
Friday, October 19, 2012
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
I got the sad news on Sunday that Nick Curran had succumbed to cancer at the age of 35. I didnt know him well but had met him in passing a few times. He was always a friend of a friend. My old band shared the stage with him a few times when he played with Kim Lenz & The Jaguars and Ronnie Dawson. Several of my friends that knew him well posted rememberances on Facebook. One picture circa 1997 in particular was striking. Nick is playing my roomate's guitar, a Peavey T-10 while Lisa Pankratz plays drums and Nic Roulette sings. My roomate Hank is sitting in the background wearing one of my shirts. I have a hazy recollection of that night, but I am sure I was there. Even though Nick was 7 years my junior he put out 5 solo albums, played on the albums of others, was the lead guitarist of the Fabulous Thunderbirds for two years and had several side projects. I listen to his stuff and marvel at his guitar chops as well as that amazing voice, a combination of Little Richard, Wynonie Harris and Howlin Wolf. It is pretty sobering that someone from my generation of musicians, within my wider circle is gone. If there is any takeaway I have from Nick Curran's passing is that life is short, live it, do what you want, follow your dreams and dont die with regrets. Thanks for the reminder dude, RIP.
Saturday, October 6, 2012
At a a party last night a bunch of us were standing around drinking beer and discussing bikes. The sub-topics ranged from the intricacies of building Shovelheads, Japanese industrial machinery and various aspects of vintage parts. One comment struck me as somewhat odd; a friend showed me pictures of his recently completed Sportster chopper and said that he was going to sell it because it wasnt "cool" anymore. After Born Free and The Brooklyn Invitational I was very favorably impressed and excited to see a local cat build a bike that had the same bespoke look. I even mentioned that I'd like to shoot it for magazine. "The 60's style chopper is over, all the hipsters are into it", or something to that effect he said. I understand where he was coming from. It is a bit annoying to see the choads in skinny jeans and scarves riding choppers, running up prices on parts and generally diluting the cloistered pool of coolness. But as someone who writes about bikes and has friends who build bikes, make parts and sell accesories, I see those people as a mark of success. For every 1000 metrosexual beardos there is one guy like me trying to make a few bucks and indulge his asthetic calling. Since I was a kid I have been attracted to things that share the same sense of subversive and adventurous danger. Hammer Horror movies, punk rock, metal, Kurt Vonnegut, military history, rockabilly, southern culture, race cars, guitars, Billy Childish, choppers, submachine guns, these are the things that merit my endless fascination and where all of my other wanderings and interests begin. Maybe it is the result of being raised by a family of blue collar hillbillies relocated to a midwestern factory town where cars, bikes, guns, alcohol, country music and stories of overseas service were a pervasive part of daily life. I feel like I was lucky to get the tail end of the old breed, so I try to live my life as an homage while exploring what trips my trigger. It's not always easy, but it is always rewarding. I suppose what I am saying is there some things that I will always dig no matter where I am in life. But it is jarring to think that for some people what I hold hold dear is merely just a whistle stop on the journey of life. I pity them.
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Yeah, I know I should pick just one and not get too overly ambitious. I openly acknowledge that I am a daydreamer and given to flights of fancy. At any rate, I have 3 different projects in mind. First on the list would be hardtailing my Ironhead. But which hardtail to use? David Bird? This a really nice bolt on, well engineered and high quality. It would require the minimum of fabrication and at around $300 the price is right. I'm less than stoked on the drop off that bends down the line of the backbone. But I haven't seen any pics that I "love". I'd probably go with 6" stretch, 2" drop. Led Sled? I like the lines way better, but it's almost 2x the David Bird hardtail, requires some exact cutting, needs to be welded and will still need an oil tank, different brake caliper, battery box and relocating/hiding the ignition components. It's a better result, but more expensive. I also think it might be cool to extend the swingarm, add extended forks, 2-into-1 exhaust, etc. That way I wouldnt have to mess with any of the stock oil system, ignition, etc. I really like Okun's swingarm shovel, a lot... Second on my list would be building a bike around my SB&F The Frame and my cheapo Evo Sporty mill. But jeez, that is a A LOT of fabrication and I am no fabricator. The old guy who sold me the motor isn't returning my calls as of yet. So, I maybe I should just sell all of it to someone who knows what they are doing and pour my time/ money into something more attainable? Lastly, I have been dreaming about getting a van for the last year and a half. I finally have some extra cash and found what I am looking for. Its a little rough, but the price is very right. It could be exactly what I want and worthy of my attention...
Monday, September 24, 2012
Thursday, September 6, 2012
Visibility was a quarter mile or less at times. I missed two turns on roads that I am very familiar with. By the time I had got to the reservoir, where I expected the fog to be thick, it had lifted. This has been the oddest summer for weather; first a drought, then a tropical storm rains out Labor Day weekend, now these soupy fogs and hot humid days normally rare in September. Come on Autumn...
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