Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Busy Learning Things

One of the major activities that go on in The Kiotee Garage is learning.  Learning things which I need to know to actually pull of this Overland Privateer project.  Primary among the skills required is learning the fine art of gas welding.  Yes I know that TIG/MIG is easier, faster and better.   But does doing that really make sense for somebody that is using an engine that was designed in the 1920s? 

So as a way to learn and not burn up good 4130 chromalloy tube I decided to learn to weld by building a bicycle trailer from recycled bike parts.  Yes I am a bicycle geek.  I do love two wheels of any sort motivated be any sort of power. 

While the Montana cold has prevented me from making a great deal of progress on anything directly related to the Overland; I have done some welding.  In my own demented way that is Overland progress.  It’s all little steps after all isn’t it?

I have successfully stuck together the first major parts of the trailer.  It is based on a design I borrowed from Rejuiced Bikes out of Portland, Oregon.  These guys are doing some amazing things with bikes and recycled bike parts.  If you have any interest in cool stuff that is human powered you have to go here;

                                         This is the design from RejuicedBikes I’m trying
                                         to build.  I also borrowed this photo.  If you guys
                                         at Rejuiced object let me know and I will pull it
                                         and apologize to the whole world for being a jerk. 

From RejuicedBikes about page.

Rejuiced Bikes is about recycling unwanted bicycle parts that would otherwise be melted down. Everyday a new concept reveals itself and allows us to see the potential of bicycles. The work featured on this website is by Johnnie Olivan(Artist/Co-Founder/Website Editor). If you wish to try out a product or require a custom design, we will be glad to meet with you. If you do not live in the area we will do our best to accommodate your request. See you Soon!!!

This is not from Rejuiced. 

This is what I have so far.  No I won’t show a close-up of my welds.  They are the ugliest welds in the history of the world.  More like gluing than real welding.  But I’m learning lots each time I strike the torch.  The bits do seem to stay together.  We shall see.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Here in Montana the winter weather has been strange to say the least.  Montana has had cold and snow, even usual Pacific Northwest type rain, yet the temperatures have soared up and down all over the scale.  As a result I have stalled out on the building of the Overland Privateer; nothing terminal.  I am finding that this winter has induced a very pronounced desire to hibernate.  And hibernation has provided me with more than enough reasons to not go out in the cold as hell garage.  But the calm of my sloth has lead me to wonder why I have started this project and having some luck of the pluck I dug out the memories which helped get me here.

I have to credit Paul d’Orleans and his wonderful story regarding the creator of the legendary Captain America chopper.  Read it here:

Reading the history of the builder and then reflecting on what I was doing in those years’ triggered fond memories of a ridiculous teenager drooling over a magazine article about that bike.  And after the drooling stopped thinking blithely, I could build a motorcycle as cool as that.  That was the summer of 1970.  Easter school holidays of 1971 found me in Moscow, Idaho with an old Ziess Ikon in hand loaded with B/W film.   Being not only a rank amateur photographer I was also an idealistic idiot with not only no cause to rebel against but no clue where I was going in life.

The following images and a few other assorted memories are all I have of that holiday.

Now for the average person they might find these incredibly awful photos mildly interesting and I wouldn’t feel offended at all.   However these where taken a short two years after the original movie bike was stolen.   And at first glance you might think that I stumbled onto and photographer the nicked Captain America bike.   Even I can see from the photos that it could not be.  One glaring clue is the single button tuck and roll on the seat.  I’m sure there are other differences.  But it’s a nicely romantic idea that this is the original I photographed.
To me what is interesting is that within a short time of the chopper easy riding its way into film history a pretty decent copy was sitting in the back of a beat up El Camino on the main street of Moscow, Idaho.  The photos I took that day are a record of one moment in time which I can point too and say, “That’s when I decided that I really could build a motorcycle.” 

Thanks Cliff Vaughs for being so talented and thanks also to the unknown builder for his version and deeply confirming in my mind that someday I to could build a motorcycle.  I will give it my best.