THE BEST OF THE BEST!
As promised, this issue will be dealing with industry related issues……..well, most of it anyway 🙂
Let’s start out with a recent happening that is actually a precursor to an upcoming event.
I recently received a call from a very talented, and famous (or should I say “infamous”) friend. I’m talking about the one and only “Rob Churchill” !
For those of you who are into custom work, you know the name well. For those of you who don’t, you need only to google his name, sit back, and prepare yourself to get blown away by his work!
Rob called me a few weeks ago to inform me of the upcoming “Airbrush Art Circus”, to be held in San Antonio Texas September 25th thru September 29th.
Many of you will remember The Paint Spot attending, as well as sending several of our customers to one of these events a couple years ago. In that event, “yours truly” actually took one of the classes. Truth be known, although I’ve painted thousands of projects, and done my share of stripes, graphics, flames, and custom paint jobs, I had zero artistic ability!
As a matter of fact, when I was offered the chance to take part in the airbrush class, I told the instructor “I can’t even draw stick people”. “Gary Worthington’s” (the instructor) response was “you will in a couple of days”…………and man was he right!
So, Rob not only informed me of the upcoming event, he offered to do a couple “how to’s” at The Paint Spot……..for free!
Not wanting to “look a gift horse in the puss”, I jumped on it! The first one took place on Saturday August 12th at our Buda location, and the second took place August 19th at the Canyon Lake location.
Although I was unable to attend the first class (I’ll get to that a little later in this issue), I was able to attend the second. All I can say is WOW!!!!!
All of our customers were invited to come in, and have a chance to get up close and personal with a legend.
During the second show, I had a chance to talk to Rob on a more personal level. I brought up the fact that I was impressed with the ability and willingness of the instructors involved in these events. To not only teach a complete novice how to literally create profit on their very first project, but their willingness to take what took a lifetime to master, and freely give it to us.
Rob told me that it wasn’t always that way. He reminded me of something I already knew……….masters at anything considered their technique “top secret”, and definitely NOT to be shared.
That’s what makes this upcoming event so unique. You are literally going to learn how to generate custom art from THE BEST OF THE BEST!
I’ll now include the official flyer for the show. Mention “The Paint Spot”, and you’ll receive a special discount!
A BIG THANK YOU TO ROB CHURCHILL !
As I mentioned in the previous segment, I was not able to attend the Buda show. That’s because I had already scheduled a little vacation / road trip.
About three months ago, a friend of mine mentioned that around the first of August, he was taking some time off work, and was riding his motorcycle to Sturgis, South Dakota.
I guess the timing was right because it instantly resonated with me. I decided right then, that I would be doing the trip with him.
As time went on, several friends became interested in doing the “road trip” also, but one by one, they all fell off. Some had very good reason, and some just knew they didn’t have what it takes (talkers……NOT do’rs).
I basically had 3 bikes to choose from for the 3,000 mile round trip. A 1989 FXSTC that I bought new back in 89 (and gave to my son several years ago), a 1961 Pan head, and a 1951 Pan head. The 89 hadn’t even been started in 6-7 years, and I figured it would be “cheating” to take such a new model machine anyway. The 61 has “ape hanger” handle bars, a “springer” front end, and although it’s the bike that I ride most often, I figured it’s more set up for short distances than a cross country trip. I decided to ride the oldest bike of them all. There were several reasons for choosing this bike…….it is the oldest, it’s the most original, it’s the hardest one to ride (it has a foot clutch, and a suicide shift), it’s “rigid” (no shocks, just a solid frame), and the biggest reason: Because I’ve been told by every so called “expert”, that it couldn’t be done! I heard repeatedly “that bike will never make a trip that far, and under those kind of conditions”, “you’re too old”, “you’ll need a kidney belt”, “your back won’t be able to take it”, “it’s only got 4 gears”, “it’s too hot this time of year”, “it’s 6 volt, and it has points “, “there’s no electric starter”, “the lights aren’t bright enough”, “it’ll break down and you can’t get parts”, “those bikes were never made to do that kind of trip”, and get this………..”you need to ride a Honda Gold Wing”!!!!!
That last comment really got under my skin, and made me hell bent on doing the trip on that old Pan head!
The 51 hadn’t been ridden in 3-4 years, so I got it out and went to work. A friend of mine by the name of “Tim Murphy”, knows those old Harley’s better than anyone on the planet, and he helped get the bike in shape. He also was very positive on the idea of putting it on the highway, and going for it! It didn’t take much to get it in tip top shape. Cleaned the carburetor, cleaned the points, adjusted the push rods, put some of the missing “original” parts back on it and got rid of the “after market”, adjusted the chain, and set the tire pressure, and it was as ready as it could get.
About a week and a half before we were scheduled to “hit the road”, my son asks me if I thought the 61 would / could make the trip. I told him that I knew without doubt that it would, but because it was so bastardized (custom), it would be a very uncomfortable journey. He then informed me that he wanted to go!
My son really never got into the bike thing. Although I gave him the 89 some years ago, he virtually never rode it (once or twice, but very short rides), and he had only ridden that 61 a handful of times (again, very short rides). I decided to get to work real quick on that bike, and change a few things up. I put original floor boards, forward controls, front crash bar, highway pegs on it so he’d have options for his feet. We left the ape hangers, low profile seat, and upswept fish tails on it.
I attempted to convert the primary chain to a “belt drive”, but couldn’t get the clutch to work right, so we changed it back just hours before we left……….”sun up” Saturday 8/4/17.
Shawn had ordered a back pack on line, that was made to fit the “sissy bar” (no, I’m not talking about a place where democrats hang out to drink), so he packed his clothes, some tools, and oh yes………..a 45 caliber 🙂
I had original “saddle bags” on the 51, and the guy who got the whole trip started “Rodney”, had a late model H.D. “Ultra” with a pull behind trailer. We woke up at 4:30am, got our gear secured, kick started those old Pan heads, and hit the road!
We decided to ride during the day only, to avoid the deer and other creatures at night. About 2 hours into it, we ran out of hill country, and into the August in Texas heat!
We did about 500 miles that first day, and outside of having to reset the primary chain on the 61, and it using a little oil, we had no problem. Halfway through the next day, we finally crossed into Oklahoma (the roads suck in that state), then into Colorado. The next day, we crossed into Nebraska and 30 miles outside of “Alliance”, Rodney’s Ultra lost a rear wheel bearing. Not only that, but it seized up at 65 miles per hour, with a trailer attached, and snapped the rear axle! The only thing holding that wheel on was the drive belt and the brake caliper. Luckily, he was able to keep the bike straight and coast it to a stop.
Rodney was pretty much convinced that he was done, as it was not looking good. I was a little more optimistic though. All of the sudden, a guy pulls up and asked if we needed help, and we said yes. The guy calls a friend that owned a motorcycle shop 30 miles back in Alliance, and an hour later the dude shows up with a trailer to pick up Rodney and his bike. Shawn and I followed them back to the shop where Rodney’s bike was promptly put on a lift for tear down. The name of the shop is “Tom’s Auto & Cycle Shop” located at 927 West 3rd Alliance, Nebraska 69301. The reason I put his address in this issue is simply because Tom and his wife are two of the finest human beings I have ever met!
Tom has a complete machine shop, and literally made a new axle for Rodney’s motorcycle. That axle looked like a store bought part, and was several times better than the original! Furthermore, Tom allowed us to actually do much of the labor, in an effort to save cost!
Tom had Rodney’s bike back up and better than before the break down in 1 day. He also shared a lot of secrets related to our old bikes, including why the 61 was using oil. He told me that the rear cylinder had a bad valve guide, and that he could fix it over night. Because we lost a day, and because the 61 valve guide issue wasn’t life threatening, I decided to finish the trip to Sturgis South Dakota (about 300 miles away). In the meantime, Tom ordered head gaskets for the Pan head engine, and a retainer for the clutch that never worked quite right, because our plan was to stop by in a few days on our return trip.
While I was at Tom’s place, he showed me all his “toys”, which included several Harley Davidson bikes (mostly “Shovel Heads”), and an older Dodge pick up. No wonder we got along so good……anyone who likes old Harley Davidson’s and Chrysler products, is my kind of guy! The Dodge truck was pretty tricked out as far as the drive train. The body was in excellent shape, but the paint was horrible. He told me that he had done all the body work, and had a guy at a local body shop do the paint work. I told him that whoever painted that truck either lost the “window” between base coat and the clear coat, or the used some bullshit paint, like Sherwin Williams…………that shit was delaminated to beat the band! It really bothered me to see that pristine truck in such deplorable condition, especially considering the fact that Tom was going out of his for us, and I’m the body & paint guy who couldn’t help him back…………or could I ? I’ll get into that in a minute 🙂
We said our good bye’s to Tom and his wife, and continued on our journey.
About 30 miles outside Alliance (almost where the break down happened a day earlier), I saw a mean storm coming out of the east, and heading west. It was right in front of us, and it looked about 20 miles long. I knew the shit was fixing to hit the fan, took the lead, and continued cautiously. Shawn was behind me, and Rodney was behind him. Since it was a linear storm my gut feeling was that it was more than likely very narrow. I ducted my head down when I started feeling droplets and HAIL, and motioned for my son to follow. In a matter of seconds I was completely soaked, and thank God we had helmets on because that hail was quarter sized. The storm proved to be about 3/4 mile wide, and then the sky turned to bright sun and totally clear sky. I pulled over at the top of the first hill after the storm, and found that Shawn and Rodney were nowhere to be found!
I immediately had a sick feeling in my stomach, and it got worse when I tried calling their cell phones repeatedly with no response. I knew it was suicide to go back into that raging shit storm, which by now, I could clearly see, was no longer heading west……….it wasn’t moving at all!
I couldn’t just sit there, so I reluctantly headed back. Now, the storm was worse than ever, and the hail was in full tilt. I was literally getting the hell beat out of me by the time I spotted the guys. Not only that, there were lots of other vehicles (bikes and cars) stopped along the highway. I stopped right across from them, and noticed they had pulled out a tarp from Rodney’s trailer, and stretched it over their bikes as protection. When I got off my bike and started yelling at them to get on their bikes and get the hell out of there, my engine died. They looked at me like a deer staring into your head lights, and tried to get me to join them. I didn’t exactly have the time to launch a full blown debate, so I yelled “this storm is about 20 miles long, and it’s not moving, if you don’t get on those bikes, you’re going to be sitting ducks for whatever comes next, there’s sunshine less than a half mile from here”. I said all that while trying to kick start my bike, as the water was trying to wash me off the embankment. It finally fired up, I turned around, and I headed toward sunshine.
About ten minutes later, here comes the guys. We dried out for a few, and I let them know how pissed off I was that they stopped instead of sticking together. From the top of that hill, they could clearly look back and see what a foolish decision they had made, but at least we were safe……….which is more than we could say for the rest of those poor saps that decided to just sit there!
A few hours later we were in Custer South Dakota. We were hungry, the sun was setting, and we were still partially wet, so it was getting cold. We found a cabin for $60.00/night, and it had a little space heater, which worked out perfect.
The next morning, we got up, ate, showered, and in a couple hours we arrived in Sturgis!
We intended on being there for a few days, so we set up camp, then went down town. We hit a couple of the local spots, had a couple beers, and went back to the camp site. The town was overflowing with people and bikes, and to be honest with you, it was a depressing place to be compared to all the nature and scenery we had been exposed to during the trip. We decided that we would go back into town the next day, get some souvenirs and our official patches, and leave the day after that.
When we went into town the next day, we parked on main street & 3rd right next to hundreds of other bikes. We were gone about one and a half hours, and when we rounded the corner, Shawn started running………..our bikes were being towed away!
There was a couple of local cops, and a couple tow truck drivers there. My 51 was already on the back of a truck (along with some other guys bike), and Rodney and Shawn’s were getting ready to be loaded. We were told by the tow truck driver “give me $100.00 cash each, and you can have your bikes back”. The two cops just shrugged their shoulders as if to say “we can’t do a thing about it”. That’s when the crowd around us started saying “there’s nothing saying they can’t park here, and ya’ll are scamming these guys”. I was so pissed, I really wanted to kick the living shit out of that tow truck driver. He was a real smart ass, and deserved an ass whip’n. He even said “one hundred bucks cash right now, or you can pay $250.00 at the impound”. Rodney was even more pissed than me, and I could see where this was going………they had a nice little scam going, and the cops were in on it, and if we didn’t bite our tongue, it was goanna get worse!
We paid the $100.00 EACH, and then the cops handed us each, a $10.00 parking ticket on top of that! I had no intention of paying that fricking ticket, and Rodney said “they’ll have a warrant out on you”. My response was “so what”, but Rodney decided to go straight to the city hall and argue the point. When he confronted the clerk with the fact that we were NOT parked illegally, they checked it out, and found that we were right, so they dismissed the three tickets, but couldn’t get involved with the towing scam!
We were so pissed off, and so done with “Sturgis”, we went back to the camp, packed up, and got the hell out of that place!
My take on Sturgis is not good. There’s way too many people, most of which have no business owning a motorcycle, let alone riding one. It’s way too commercialized. It’s all about money. And, there’s obviously way too much corruption. In other words……………….
STURGIS SUCKS !
There’s way too many beautiful places to experience other than that corrupt hole in the wall town. I’ll definitely go back to South Dakota, but I will NEVER enter that town…..EVER!!!!!
We rode past Mount Rushmore, through the Black Hills, saw lots of Buffalo, Prairie Dogs, Deer, lakes, and rivers on our way back. As planned, we pulled into Tom’s shop just before dusk. We had a hard time finding a room, as they were all booked due to the upcoming Solar Eclipse. When we did find a room, the owner informed us of Harrison Ford booking up the majority of the rooms because he was flying in with a whole bunch of friends to watch the eclipse……..imagine that, the idiot actor that wants nothing to do with leaving a big “carbon footprint”, flying his big ass jet into Alliance Nebraska, to entertain a bunch of “Liberal Losers”……what a hypocrite lying prick !
We went out to eat with Tom and his wife, and after that, Tom took us site seeing in his SUV. Have any of you ever heard of “Carhenge”? I remember seeing it once on discovery channel or something, but it’s right there in Alliance. It’s a replica of the original “Stonehenge”, but instead of stone, it’s made out of old cars! Complete cars standing on end, surrounded by corn fields! How cool is that?
The next day Tom completely rebuilt the head on the rear cylinder of the 61, and had it back together in no time. I actually helped in the process, as well as Rodney and Shawn.
We gathered up our gear, and said goodbye to what had now turned into a solid friendship with Tom and his wife, and were on the road.
Other than another primary chain adjustment on the 61 (that chain was getting wore out), the only problem we encountered was a flat rear tire on that bike. We were already back in Texas (west Texas), when all of the sudden Shawn experienced his first flat tire on a motorcycle. A flat on anything is bad enough, but it’s a real “E ticket ride” on a motorcycle! He handled it perfectly, even though he was doing about 65mph when it suddenly went. We had it towed into the next town (about 15 miles), where we had called ahead and found a shop that had a new tube. When we tore the wheel off, we quickly learned the cause. The idiot in San Marcos Texas, where I had new tires and tubes mounted before the trip, put the wrong tube in the rear wheel. The position of the valve stem was on the side of the wheel, and this dumb ass put a center valve stem tube in it! This forced him to twist the tube just to make it fit, and apparently it took 2500 miles before the tube gave out. That idiot doesn’t know it yet, but his little stunt is going to cost him PLENTY!
We pulled into Slix around 11:30pm 8/14/17, as we decided to ride the last couple hundred miles at night. The end of that trip came as “bitter sweet”. “Bitter” because we all knew it was over, and we were definitely going to miss being out on the road.
“Sweet”, for so many reasons: At 61 years old, I actually accomplished this major ordeal!
“Sweet”, because we did it as a real team!
“Sweet”, because those old rigid antiques were just as worthy and reliable as anything built today!
“Sweet”, because as far as I know, we are the only ones who actually rode our bikes all the way there and back………everyone else pulled theirs with trucks and trailers (pussies).
And “Sweet”, because my son was right by my side !
We’re already planning another trip next year 🙂
Oh, and getting back to our new friend “Tom”………….turns out, I can help him with the crappy paint job on his old Dodge pick up.
I sent him a gallon of MPB (Matrix Premium base coat), a half pint of MX-57 (base coat hardener), a gallon of Matrix reducer, a gallon kit of MP-210 (Matrix direct to metal sealer), and a gallon kit of MS-42 (Matrix premium high solids clear coat).
I guarantee this……….it’ll be the last paint job that truck will ever need! I also paid a visit to the local NAPA, where they sell “Martin Senior” (total shit), and schooled them on Matrix Automotive Finishes (I may have started a little war in that town, as “Car Quest” sells Dupont) 🙂
“Whatever it Takes”