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.

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