“THANKS DAD”......Thank you for all of the sacrifices you made in your life, to provide what we needed in ours....
This article is my first, and it is supposed to be about a motorcycle. I read quite a few articles in this very magazine trying to figure out how to write mine, and decided to start at the end. Where most folks give their gratitude to those who have given them help or support along the way, because none of us, no matter who we are or how hard we try, can't get there alone. This article is about what Dads do to prepare their kids for life....the tools....the skills...the drive...
Cliff Scott Jr. brought this 1981 Sportster “Roadster” (super glide tank and all), last fall (2012), with the intentions of a quick “trim.” A smaller tank, some one-off bars, shorty fender out back and an all-over thinning of unneeded parts. After a few days of “playing dress-up” with different parts from the stash, our simple plan veered drastically to the other side of things, leading to an everchanging 9 month build. A sliced up Sporty tank, ribbed, narrowed and lacking any tunnel at all, rests on scratch built stands. I lowered the seat height 2 ½ inches, carved out the upper shock mounts from mild steel chunks laying about the shop, repositioned the upright tubes and made a tidy little battery tray. Another sliced and diced Sporty tank serves now as a combination oil bag, seat pan and tailsection. I made aluminum hose clamps to route the oil lines from random ¾” drops. An old glass lens accessory light found its home on top of the license plate mount. The handlebars are made from the tacky aftermarket ones it came with. I added some small threaded stand-offs to the bars to hang the aluminum headlight fairing that “was” intended for my Evo Sporty. A recycled dirt bike rear master cylinder now serves up front, behind the reused factory headlight, with a handmade lever and some tricky linkage that still needs some refinement. Mounting for the steering dampener, oil pressure gauge and the coil pack are made from mild steel and liberally drilled, as most of my parts tend to be. The exhaust is made from various swapmeet bends, a few cast bits set aside from a hardtailed shovel frame, a shift fork out of a blown up 5-speed and a Model “A” torquetube. The bug catcher on the other end, started life as a 1934 Ford horn. A screen and filter element are in the works.
When it came to paint, I had originally intended on bare metal with industrial grade clearcoat to keep the rust at bay. I was very happy with the sheetmetal work and wanted to show that the details weren't made of mud. When the time came, I decided to throw some color at the tins, as the chassis was to be left “raw.” The contrast was needed. I had Hoppie smooth out the bumps before we handed it off to Toddy-O to lay down the simple panels in some “warm, metal flake earth-tones.” When the fumes cleared, I got out a few brushes and got busy with the letters, lines and assorted graphics.
Anyone that knows me, is in tune with the fact, that I prefer a simple, no frills, user friendly motorcycle. That noted, I decided on another surface finish for the tailsection. I turned to Anna, a local blacksmith, and she suggested root killer. Mixed with with water and applied with a brush to the bare steel, the outcome was as hoped., another earth-tone achieved.
Last on the list was the saddle. I've made a few seats in the past, and starting with an aluminum pan I worked up earlier in the fab stage, an overall simple pan seemed to challenge my novice leathersmithing skills at every turn. I enjoyed learning how similar of a material it is to metal! (the size of your piece will grow as you beat it with a hammer!) After I learned that valuable lesson, amended the unforseen sizing situation and stitched the edge with natural sinew, I conditioned the hide and bolted it on. With a place to sit, the battery was strapped in with a canvas belt gleaned from some antique climbing spikes. The stripped down harness was routed and the fluids were topped off, rounding out the final chores before some long awaited test and tune....
…....I'd like to give Thanks. Thanks to all of the Dads paving the way for their kids. Thanks for passing it on. For working hard. For the personal time lost giving to others. For instilling good values. For the tools. For the memories. I modified this motorcycle with the tools my Dad prepared me with. It's not just hammers and wrenches. It isn't the welders or a drill press. It's the memories of my Dad, working on the cars and trucks. Repairing a tractor or a used hay wagon. Teaching me to weld and showing me how to make things from scratch. Tools I'll carry until my days come to an end. Thanks Dad.....Charles Franklin Elkins, Jr 1951-2013.
A special Thanks to my Dear Christine, to my Mom and my Sister, for their endless belief in me. Through feast and famine. Thick and Thin. To Cliff for letting me have such freedom with this bike. To Murphy for welding help when it got heavy and to Andrew for helping me get the bike to the photoshoot when the hours were running low. Thanks to Fab Kevin for his support, guidance and friendship and to the entire Horse Staff and their faithful Readers. It's been a humbling experience.
If you would like to talk about a project, call or text me to set up a visit at (734)-645-1628 or check out more of my work at sethrosdisorderstudio.blogspot.com It's worth the trip!