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December 2011 News

Season’s greetings!



As another year comes to an end, we want to wish all of our Motohistorians the best for the holiday season and the coming year.  Throughout the month of December, we always receive interesting greeting cards and images.  Some are light-hearted and some are serious.  We always try to share a few.


This year, Doug Strange, a leading light in the Antique Motorcycle Club of America Perkiomen Chapter, has discovered how to hang a wreath that won’t dry out and lose its needles as the season comes to an end.  It is made of an incredibly durable material that will still be in largely the same condition next Christmas if you decide to just leave it up all year.  And, occasionally you can take it down to run the local enduro, then return it to the door.  Doug explained, "My girl friend asked me to put up a wreath this year that looks really nice, so I did."


Restorer and fabrication wizard Paul Brodie has figured out how Santa can cover the whole planet in a single night.  You always knew that reindeer stuff was a lot of nonsense.  Actually, Santa rides an overhead-cam Excelsior board tracker!  By the way, Brodie reminds us that this motorcycle would be an ideal gift for that collector who has it all (including a Brough, a Crocker, a Vincent, and maybe even a Windhoff).  It is for sale!  For a video of this beautifully crafted machine, click here.  To learn if it will fit on your Christmas list for next year, write Paul@Flashbackfab.com.


John Landstrom:

“When you love what you're doing,

you have to pursue it.”



John Landstrom sits behind his desk in the mezzanine office of Blue Moon Cycle, his Norcross, Georgia motorcycle dealership.  He is boxed in by rare beauties.   Facing his desk is an Adler twin (pictured below right). To his left is an IMME (pictured below left).  To his right is a shiny Rumi Formichino (pictured below right).  Behind him, around the mezzanine are some 75 more rare collectible motorcycles, including a TWN a French Ratier (below left), and a Maicomobile (below right).  On the main floor below is an inventory of his modern brands: BMW and MV Agusta, and in an adjoining building are Ural and Royal Enfield.  Summarizing his business philosophy, Landstrom (pictured above) states, “It is not about money.  Money is a means to what you love to do, and no one is luckier than a guy who can make a living by doing what he loves to do.”


Landstrom was born in Chicago in 1953.  Despite the fact that his parents thought motorcycles were dangerous, he got his first—a 125cc Ducati Bronco—at the age of 15.  It was not something that his parents would worry much about, because he never got it running.  Looking back, he says, “I didn't even know the basics.”  But there was a will to learn, and a desire to stay involved with motorcycles, so three years later he got a job at R&M Engineering, installing and re-jetting motorcycles for two and four-into-one exhaust systems.  He recalls, “By then I had owned a 650 BSA, a 750 Honda, a Sportster, and a Super Glide.  I was buying and selling motorcycles about every six months.” 


In 1974, Landstrom straddled his home-built Harley chopper and set out for Idaho to see Evel Knievel jump the Snake River Canyon.  He relates, “As long as I was that far west, I decided to ride on to see what California was like.”  There, he got a job as a machinist in the aerospace industry, and signed up for motorcycle mechanics classes at LA Trade Tech College.  “Joe Minton, who wrote for Cycle magazine, was my instructor, and he really inspired me,” Landstrom says.  “He didn't just instruct.  He was filled with an enthusiasm for how motorcycles work, and it rubbed off on his students.  I think of him as a mentor.” 


At this time, Landstrom also refined his preference in motorcycles when he made friends with a man who owned a BMW.  He relates, “I fell in love with it.  I could see that it was a better motorcycle, so I took my Harley to the Rose Bowl swap meet in 1975, sold it, and bought a year-old R90S.”  That BMW carried him into a vagabond lifestyle, crossing the country and attending rallies until his money ran out.  He recalls, “For about five years, I would ride for six months and work for six months.  I traveled with a tent and sleeping bag and crossed the country at least ten times.” 


Eventually, Landstrom returned to Illinois and became a student at Southern Illinois University, where he paid his way by working in at Cycle Tech in Carbondale while moonlighting by making and selling motorcycle parts.  He recalls, “I lived in an eight x 40 foot mobile home and converted eight feet of it into a small shop.  I paid $40 a month rent and worked at barely above freezing in the winter to keep my expenses down.  I was having the time of my life, doing what I wanted to do.”   But a guy can't freeze forever, so in 1985 Landstrom answered an ad for a motorcycle mechanic's job at Wagoner Cycle Works, a BMW dealership in Lawrenceville, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. 


In 1988, Landstrom hit a deer, totaled his bike, broke his leg, and couldn't work for six months.  When he could return to work, he was still on crutches for another six months.  He relates, “I started restoring a /2 BMW from a wheelchair, which evolved into a hole-in-the-wall repair and restoration business, which became Blue Moon Cycle.”   About the name, he explains, “My sister Carol had her own business called Blue Moon Graphics because she was a great fan of the television show 'Moonlighting,' which was about the Blue Moon Detective Agency.  We shared a phone, so whoever picked it up just said, 'Blue Moon,' then from the conversation we figured out whether it was for Blue Moon Graphics or Blue Moon Cycle.”


Blue Moon Cycle prospered, and in 1993 became a Moto Guzzi dealership, which required no showroom and no signage.  But as a home business, Blue Moon Cycle was both inconvenient and illegal.  Landstrom says, “Bikes were coming through the neighborhood to my house all the time, and that was not too bad because most of them were BMWs and were quiet.  But I was getting UPS trucks twice a day also, and one day a UPS driver ran over my neighbor's dog.  That did it.  They filed a complaint and I had to find another place to do business.”  Landstrom's attorney stretched out the eviction process while his client studied his options, and, fortunately, within the subsequent months Blue Moon moved to a more legit garage on a back street called Skin Alley in downtown Norcross.  A few years later, in 1995, a new building and a BMW franchise became available.


In 1995, Blue Moon Cycle opened in its current Norcross location (pictured above left).  In 1998, it added Ural, then later Royal Enfield and MV Agusta.  In the mean time, Landstrom had begun to feed his love of antique motorcycles by making a couple of trips a year to Europe, to attend leading vintage meets and buy collectibles to ship back to the United States.  The result is a dealership with its own style and personality.  In addition to the new motorcycles, which are easily outnumbered by the collectibles (all of which are for sale), hanging from the ceiling is a large collection of Giant Scale (¼ scale and larger) flying model airplanes (pictured above right).  These, plus a dense display of signs, posters, artifacts, and memorabilia creates a museum-like business that overwhelms the senses.  More than a third of its 18,000 square feet of floor space is dedicated to antiques and collectibles. 


In addition to its Norcross store, Blue Moon Cycle brings a presence to southern AMCA national meets and to the Barber Vintage Festival, where Landstrom also races three 1950s BMW sidecars in AHRMA competition.  Examples from his collection have also been displayed at the Riding Into History Concours, Hilton Head, and Amelia Island, and Landstrom is hopeful that one or more of his best will be selected in the coming year for Pebble Beach.  About Blue Moon Cycle, Landstrom says, “I don't consider this a job.  I love motorcycles and the people who ride them.”  He pauses, then adds, “When you love what you're doing, you have to pursue it.”  


For more history of Blue Moon Cycle, click here.  For pictures of the Blue Moon vintage bike collection, click here.  For a virtual tour, click here.



Motorcyclepedia Museum
featured in New York Times



Motorcyclepedia, the major motorcycle museum opened in Newburgh, New York last April 16, was featured in the New York Times on-line December 23, 2011.  While describing the extraordinary exhibits contained in the 85,000 square-foot facility, author Daniel McDermon focused on Jerry and Ted Doering, the father-and-son team behind the massive project managed under the auspices of the Gerald A. Doering Foundation. 


About the two floors of exhibits, McDermon  states,  “Motorcycle enthusiasts could spend an entire day before visual overload sets in; even visitors with just a casual interest will find plenty to hold their interest for an hour or two.”  He adds, “. . . the museum, like its contents, is likely to provoke a smile of recognition from anyone who’s ever picked up a wrench or twisted a throttle. It is suffused with affection for the machines and a respect for the riders and engineers who built and rode them.”

Motorcyclepedia, located on the scenic Hudson River just 65 miles north of New York City, is the host museum of the Antique Motorcycle Foundation, for which both Jerry and Ted Doering serve as directors.  The AMF sponsors and maintains exhibits at the museum, featuring motorcycles owned by members of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America.  Currently, “Fast From the Past: Racing Motorcycles from Yesteryear” is featured.  It will be replaced late next summer by “Kaizen: The Influence of the Japanese Motorcycle Industry.”

The Antique Motorcycle Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt corporation. Its mission is to support the collection and preservation of antique motorcycles and motorcycle history, and to tell the story of antique motorcycling to the public at large.  For more information, go to www.antiquemotorcyclefoundation.org on the world wide web.

To read the New York Times article, click here.


We visit the

Husqvarna Fabriksmuseum       


By Nick Jeffery


Symptomatic of the modern trend towards globalisation and the power of the ‘Brand’, that legendary Swedish marque Husqvarna is now managed by Germans (BMW) under a trademark licence from Swedes (Electrolux) assembling machines in Italy (thanks to the earlier Cagiva purchase) and looking to rebuild its presence in the USA and other markets.  Yet there beats in Sweden the heritage heart of a proud and formidable engineering concern in the Husqvarna Fabriksmuseum based in an old water mill on the original weapons production site.  As with many motorcycle companies (BSA, FN, Royal Enfield, CZ) Husqvarna started with gun production then evolved, like Peugeot, into producing a wide range of consumer and professional products including bicycles, mopeds and motorcycles.


The museum displays them all – guns, sewing machines, bicycles, chain saws, lawn mowers, outboard engines, stoves, and washing machines.  But the most popular exhibits are motorcycle-related in basic themed zones that includes road machines from the early days, military motorcycles, motocross racers, mopeds, famous riders, and road racers.  There are some 100 complete machines, 20 engines, cutaway parts, drawings, press reports, period photos, publicity material, and trophies.  This is one serious museum for Motohistorians.


Of course, there are all the exhibits one would expect in the form of motocrossers, enduro bikes, and desert racers over the years with the obligatory endless film-showing of Steve McQueen and Malcolm Smith enjoying themselves on classic Huskies in ‘On Any Sunday.’  Even the potent Folan-engined 800cc water-cooled two-stroke twin dual sport prototype is there (pictured above), shelved when Cagiva took over the company.


Yet there is much, much more to Husqvarna.  The ‘glory years’ from the late 1920s up to the cessation of factory road racing activity in 1935 are well covered (right), showing a clear evolution of engines from English JAP origins, as are the works-assisted 500cc GP efforts of Bo Granath in the early 1970s using what was virtually two 250cc MX top ends on a common crankcase (below left). 


Of particular interest in engineering terms is a well-conceived display showing the process by which the Swedish Army selected an automatic transmission, ski-equipped motorcycle with the ability to continue running for 30 seconds while on its side.  This resulted in real innovation being demonstrated by the contenders with single-sided swing arm and front fork to achieve simple wheel replacement and various transmission options being explored:  hydrostatic swash-plate, vee-belt variator and the centrifugally-expanding shoe/sprag clutch mechanism finally selected, as used on ‘civilian’ Husky Auto models that led to Dick Burleson's eight straight US National Enduro titles (below right).


Equally innovative, their engine designer Folke Mannerstedt came up with the ‘Ex-Cam’ system and fitted this to an experimental 250 (actually a 500 vee-twin with the rear cylinder blanked off) in 1934 which is displayed.  The Ex-Cam may be described as a ‘semi-desmodromic’ system where a conventional twin-cam overhead valve pushrod layout has the cams replaced with eccentrics that drive shafts connected to pin-jointed rockers at the top end (below left).  The other ends of the rocker shafts are equipped with cams which oscillate to-and-fro and actuate spring-returned valves.  As the mechanism, apart from at the valve end, is positively controlled this justifies the ‘semi-desmo’ description.  Re-visited in the late 1950s, this system was fitted to prototype 500 cc moto-cross engines constructed by engine builder Nils Hedlund and badged as Husqvarna of which one is shown with the Ex-Cam mechanism exposed (below right).


Not to be missed by anyone who has an interest in manufacturing techniques, there is also a machine shop and foundry display demonstrating techniques for producing cast iron motorcycle barrels, high pressure aluminium die casting of crankcase components, sintering and rifle barrel production.  And if you keep your eyes open you’ll see other evidence of engineering prowess:  a forged lump of RR56 aluminium alloy prior to machining into a racing con rod, together with the finished item; aluminium and titanium frame structures; and many historic pictures taken inside the factory and race shop.


The Husqvarna Fabriksmuseum is based in the town of Huskvarna, near Jönköping, easily reached from major cities using the excellent Swedish bus system.  For a full English-language Husqvarna motorcycle history track down a copy of ‘Husqvarna Success’ by Gunnar Lindstrom (Parker House 2010).  More about the Folan Husqvarna-based modular 500/800/1000 cc engine can be found hereNils Hedlund’s engines may be seen here and drawings and pictures of the Ex-Cam by following the ‘Hedlund’ tab then ‘Hedlund X-Cam.’ 

Photos by Nick Jeffery.




Last month we provided links to 40 renditions of Richard Thompson’s “1952 Vincent Black Lightning.”  This month we decided to offer you a listen to Vaughn Monroe’s "Black Denim Trousers," recorded in 1955.  Here it is by The Diamonds.  Or, how about The Cheers.  And here it is by Sha Na Na with a really campy video. You can read more here about Vaughn Monroe, who really was a motorcyclist, as pictured here. 


West Virginia MountainFest, which has been one of the fast-growing rallies in the nation featuring vintage motorcycle displays, received coverage this year in several national publications, including Thunder Press.  To read our prior feature on the 2011 MountainFest, go to Motohistory News & Views 8/12/2011.


Well, it had to happen!  We all knew that sooner or later someone would make a Gold Wing Rat Bike


You'll find lots of great photos, mostly of small Japanese bikes, at the Marbles Motors web page.


The Potomac Vintage Riders' annual swap meet and bike show will be held Sunday, January 22 at the York, Pennsylvania fairgrounds.  Vendor setup is January 21.  Long a favorite among antique bike collectors, this meet is one of the largest indoor vintage bike events in the eastern United States.  For more information, click here


Ignition3 has just released its video coverage of the 2011 ISDT in Finland.  Here's a clip


Classic Swap Meets will be hosting a meet and bike show at Medina County Fairgrounds on February 18.


Watercolorist Gerald Fitzler is noted for his landscapes, but he also has a passion for motorcycles.  For more information about Fritzler and his work (pictured left), contact the Claggett/Rey Gallery in Vail, Colorado.

Pre-1972 motorcycles will be welcome at the Tennessee Motorama, happening January 14 and 15 in Murfreesboro.  There’s more information on their web site.


Rocky Robinson tells us what it’s like to crash a liner in pursuit of 400 mph!.


Here's a video about the Number One Motorcycle in the World.


Rob Phillips restores a lot more than Huskys at Husky Restorations.  Check out the latest, a 1975 Kawasaki KZ250 plus a lot more at their web site. 


The Motorcycle Classics web site takes you onboard a 1911 Indian for a lap of the Isle of Man with Dave Roper.


The Norton is still with us. 


Go behind the scenes at Cycle World’s 40th Anniversary Celebration of "On Any Sunday."


Todd Trumbore has shared with us his tribute to the late Karl Duffner.  In addition to the nice words, there are great photos.  To read our feature about Karl, go to Motohistory News & Views 11/30/2009 and 12/22/2010.


Here’s a video about the Black Falcon (Vincent) from Falcon Motorcycles.


A 1906 all-original Indian will go on sale at the Bonhams auction in Las Vegas on January 12.

You’ll enjoy "Ghosts of History" at SuperbikePlanet.  There are also many pages of Allan Engle images.  Go to 12/26/11 in the index for the full list.

Do you remember when the Daytona 200 (right) was really exciting?  To enjoy the memories, click here


Through his blog “The Rider Files,” Larry Lawrence brings us shots of Loudon 1984 and a remembrance of the ever-popular Big Bill Spencer.



Japanese motorcycle exhibit       

to open in 2012



In September 2012, the Antique Motorcycle Foundation will open an exhibit entitled “Kaizen: The Influence of the Japanese Motorcycle” at the Motorcyclepedia Museum in Newburgh, New York.  It will be the first exhibit dedicated solely to Japanese motorcycle history and antique Japanese motorcycles to be assembled at a major American motorcycle museum.


The Japanese word “Kaizen” means “beneficial change,” but in post-war Japan, it was more than just a word.  Kaizen was also used to describe philosophy of work and manufacturing that became the key to the quality and innovative design that enabled Japanese brands to penetrate, then quickly dominate international markets with products built to a higher standard.  Under the principles of Kaizen, every worker was encouraged to identify small changes that would reduce waste in a war-torn nation where essential resources were so hard to come by.  It was soon realized that the by-products of the relentless drive to reduce waste was improved quality and efficiency.  Many of the concepts practiced by the Japanese became components of a worldwide manufacturing revolution that became known as “Total Quality Management,” but only after the Japanese proved by dominating markets that they had learned a better way.


The practice of Kaizen not only enabled the Japanese to become dominant in the American motorcycle market, but it resulted in “beneficial change” to the motorcycle industry as a whole when the market became larger, reached a broader range of customers, generated more profit, and improved the public opinion of motorcycling in America.  Consequently, Kaizen, the exhibit, will be more than an exhibit to celebrate the beauty and technology of Japanese motorcycles.  It will also celebrate a philosophy that altered and benefited the worldwide motorcycle industry. 


Kaizen is scheduled to open in mid-September 2012 and will run through August 2014.  It will contain upwards of 50 motorcycles, plus artifacts, posters, and advertisements of the period from the late 1950s through 1980.  At present, the curatorial team is networking among collectors to locate the motorcycles that will be selected for the exhibit.  While both restored and original-paint motorcycles will be chosen, in all cases very high appearance standards will be adhered to.  While the exhibit will run for two years, in some cases one-year loans will be accepted.  A list of motorcycles being sought is published below.  All motorcycles accepted for the exhibit will be insured to an amount specified by their owners. 


Motorcycles being sought for the Kaizen exhibit include, but are not limited to, the following: a late-1950s Tohatsu, 1959 Honda Benly 125-150cc, 1960 Yamaguchi, 1960’s Honda Super Cub C100 or C102, 1960’s Honda Superhawk 250 or 305cc, 1962-64 Honda Dream CA77 305, 1962-65 Honda Trail 50 or 55, 1964  Hodaka Ace  90 or ACE 100, 1964 Marusho, 1965 Yamaha Big Bear Scrambler 250 or YDS-3C, 1966-67 Yamaha Newport 50, 1965-67 Suzuki X-6 Hustler, 1966 W1 Kawasaki 650 Twin, 1965-67 Honda CB450, 1967/68 Honda CT90, 1967/68 Kawasaki A1R, 1968 Suzuki T500 Titan, 1968  Yamaha DT-1 Enduro, 1969 Kawasaki H1 500, 1969 Suzuki TM 250 or earlier RH model, 1969  Bridgestone 350GTR, 1969-70 Honda CB750, 1970 Yamaha RD350, 1970’s Suzuki GS750-GS1000, 1972 Kawasaki H2 Mach IV 750, 1972-7 Suzuki GT750 Water Buffalo, 1973 Honda Elsinore, 1973 Yamaha Monoshock Motocrosser, 1973 Kawasaki Z1, 1974 Yamaha TY250 Trials, 1974 Yamaha SR500, 1975 Yamaha XS650, 1975 Honda GL1000 Goldwing, 1975-76 Honda  400, 1975-6 Suzuki RE-5 Rotary, 1976-78 Honda CB750A Hondamatic, 1976-79 Yamaha RD400, 1977 Suzuki RM 250 or 1978 Suzuki RM400, 1978 Kawasaki Z1-R, 1979 Honda CBX, 1979 Kawasaki KZ1300 Six, 1982 Kawasaki KZ1000R, 1982 Yamaha ZX 500 Vision, 1982 Yamaha XJ650L Seca Turbo, 1983 Honda CB 1100F, 1983 Honda CX650 Turbo, 1983 Kawasaki KZ750 Turbo, 1983 Suzuki XN85D- Turbo, 1983 Yamaha Venture Royale.  The curators are also looking for any memorabilia, advertisements, posters, photos, etc. that illustrate the growth and success of the Japanese motorcycle industry in American up through the early 1980s.


Motorcyclepedia, which opened in April 2011, contains more than 400 motorcycles and memorabilia displayed over 85,000 square feet of floor space, placing it among the leading motorcycle museum in the nation.  It contains a diverse array of motorcycles and artifacts, including the largest single collection of Indian motorcycles anywhere, a large collection of 1960s and ‘70s customs, military and police motorcycles, and periodically changing exhibits sponsored by the Antique Motorcycle Foundation. 


The Antique Motorcycle Foundation is a non-profit organization created to tell the story of antique motorcycling so that the role and influence of the motorcycle in our transportation history and technological development can be better understood and appreciated.  The Foundation seeks to advance the interests of all motorcycle collectors, regardless of the interests in periods, brands, or motorcycle nations of origin. 


The AMF is supported solely by gifts and monetary contributions, for which contributors may receive tax-deductions.  For more information about the Antique Motorcycle Foundation, go to www.antiquemotorcyclefoundaton.org

For more information about the Kaizen exhibit, contact one of the exhibit curators: Roger Smith (rsmith481@yahoo.com) or Ed Youngblood (ed@motohistory.net).

Images from the Roger Smith collection.


Antique motorcycle restoration

goes to college

By Mike Rhodes



It’s been said that the first motorcycle race was held as soon as the second motorcycle was built. Although the historical accuracy of this joke may be debatable, it does illustrate the changing and competitive nature of the motorcycle industry.  Every manufacturer strives to outdo its competitors, and each new product has left behind it a treasure trove of old models and prototypes. These bikes hold a special place in the hearts and minds of the people who rode them, or wish they had ridden them.  Unfortunately, as time passes, we tend to lose critical documentation on these bikes, almost as quickly as the number of qualified technicians who can service and restore them.  This is why McPherson College, in McPherson, Kansas, is working to stem the loss of knowledge with an academic major in Antique Motorcycle Restoration major.


McPherson College has been known since 1976 for is degree in Automotive Restoration.  This industry leading degree has turned out some of the best technicians in the field, such as David Liepelt and Ken Kennedy of the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, or Nate Lander and Nick Antonio with the Mercedes Benz Classic Center in Irvine, California.  It seems likely that grads of the new motorcycle program can expect career opportunities like these within a field that is so badly in need of a new crop of qualified and professionally trained personnel.


Anyone who has tried to get comprehensive training in the motorcycle service field knows that there are limited options.  After shop class in high school, the aspiring young motorcycle technicians will look at Motorcycle Mechanics Institute for a course that takes just over one year, or Wyotech for their seven month course.  Either way, a choice needs to be made in which manufacturer one wants to specialize. These graduates can only earn certificates that say their graduates can now fix . . . fill in the blank with a brand name.  Or aspiring bike techs can look at some online or mail order courses not worth the space here to mention. Whichever way the new mechanics go, the best they can hope for is a certificate recognized by one of the factory’s dealerships or aftermarket shops. 


On the other hand, McPherson offers students the opportunity to learn the hands-on aspects of a wide range of skills in a state of the art facility staffed by experts who know all the ins and outs of their areas of specialty as well as the history and stories that keep these old machines alive.  McPherson Antique Motorcycle Restoration Program grads leave with a well-rounded Bachelor of Science degree that will take them places that a technician’s certificate never will. I believe the industry has been begging for someone to step up with the type of training and degree that McPherson offers.


The motorcycle major has been incorporated into the existing curriculum of the Automotive Restoration Program, spearheaded by Joe Dickhudt, an avid motorcyclist and Assistant Professor of Automotive Restoration.  Dickhudt says about the program, “People who love these classic and beautiful motorcycles of the past sometimes wonder who will be here in the future to preserve the machines, carry forward the memories, and continue the passion. Well, the answer to that question is being shaped right here, right now.  We believe that this is the only college in the United States with a four year program dedicated to antique motorcycle preservation and restoration, and we’re proud of that distinction.  We’re proud of our students, and we believe our graduates will make a difference.   We know they will carry on the passion.”


The school’s stated goals for the program are “teaching the major technical systems of the motorcycle, an understanding of authentic antique and vintage motorcycle restoration materials, methods, and techniques; knowledge of historical motorcycle research material sources, methods, and techniques necessary to complete and document historically accurate motorcycle restorations; proficiency in the use of the materials and tools necessary to complete authentic motorcycle restoration work; the attitudes, knowledge, and skills necessary to pursue a successful business career in antique and vintage motorcycle restoration; and knowledge of the historical role of the motorcycle in modern society.” 


These goals are achieved through eighteen program-specific courses alongside all of the general educational requirements needed for a bachelor’s degree.  Four of the courses are new and motorcycle specific, while the other fourteen combine aspects of motorcycle and automobile restoration.  After so many years teaching automobile restoration, McPherson College has broken the lessons down to ensure nothing is overlooked in the restorations or the teaching. Each class is small enough to ensure that every student gets personal attention. And each aspect of the curriculum is taught by an expert.


The courses that one needs to take to complete a degree include: Introduction To Restoration, which is designed to provide an overview of the restoration core courses, elective courses, general safety, and shop knowledge, along with historical information.  Engine Rebuilding, a course designed to teach students the basics of engine and related system restoration, operational theory, disassembly procedures, diagnosis of mechanical faults, rebuilding techniques, and engine machining processes.  Drive Train Rebuilding teaches the basics of drive train restoration and includes work in basic transmission and differential operational theory, disassembly procedures, diagnosis of mechanical fault, and evaluating transmission and final drive conditions.  Sheet Metal Restoration teaches the basics of welding and panel fabrication and restoration. This course includes work in basic welding processes, techniques, tool operational theory and related fabrication systems, assembly procedures, and evaluating metal body component condition.  Motorcycle History and American Society is a great course on the evolution of motorcycle culture, and the impact of that culture on American society.  Machining Technology students are introduced to blueprint reading, precision measurement, the theory and operation of machine tools, layout techniques and the use of layout tools, the characteristics of common industrial metals used in machining processes, machine maintenance, and nontraditional machining processes.  Chassis Restoration is a course that includes restoration work in basic frame, suspension, wheel, brake and drive train components; also disassembly procedures, diagnosis of mechanical faults, component condition, and brake systems machining processes.  Paint Restoration emphasizes panel preparation, paint systems and paint application, disassembly and documentation procedures, and diagnosis of painted surface faults.  Technical Woodworking is a course that will introduce students to the concepts and practices of basic woodworking, including planning, fabrication, and finishing, while stressing the safe operation of power tools.  It also examines the history and evolution of the American automobile and motorcycle in general and automotive coach building in particular.  Trim (upholstery) Restoration includes work in basic seat restoration. Also included are disassembly procedures, diagnosis of upholstery and trim faults and evaluating the condition.  Electrical and Electronic Systems addresses the characteristics and operations of electrical and electronic systems with special emphasis on their practical application in automotive systems. The course introduces Ohm’s Law, electrical power, circuit elements and magnetism and induction in electrical circuits. Special emphasis is given to the use of this knowledge in the repair, restoration, and preservation of classic and antique electrical systems.  Restoration Assembly Processes allows students to refine their skills from other courses in a comprehensive format.  Motorcycle Engine Rebuilding focuses on rebuilding single and multi-cylinder engines used in motorcycles prior to 1970 as well as various other small engines of similar design.  Motorcycle Drivetrain & Chassis Restoration is a course on diagnosing problems, repairing and restoring motorcycle transmissions and chassis components including forks, wheels and tires, and brakes.  Motorcycle Assembly Processes is designed to allow students to refine their skills from other courses in a comprehensive format. Students will work on vintage motorcycles and their components, rebuilding and reassembling these components. Junior Seminar explores restoration management and research. This course looks at current trends in restoration, how to organize a restoration, and how to properly research restoration methods.   


Then students have a Senior Project and a choice of one of three advanced courses:  Advanced Sheet Metal Restoration - with Motorcycle Option, Advanced Paint - with Motorcycle Option, or Applied Trim & Upholstery - with Motorcycle Option.  And last but not least, students can choose one of the following courses: Finishing Touches, Materials and Processes, or Applied Diagnostics.


With all these courses available, any other school would be hard pressed to compete with McPherson’s degree.  In addition, there is Templeton Hall, the amazing facility in which the courses are taught.  It is one of the most impressive shop facilities I have ever seen.  The building is set up to teach each component and aspect of the restorations.  There are large areas dedicated to drivetrains and chassis, paint, engines, and trim.  In all, Templeton has eleven areas dedicated to the various stages  restorations, including electrical, sheet metal, motorcycles, wood working, trim, drive train, chassis, engines, machining, paint, and final assembly.  I use the term “area” loosely because each area is the size of a shop that any professional technician would be proud to call their own.  Each area is orientated so the completed parts converge on the final assembly area where they are put together by students that have made it through each area of the shop, much like the components they are assembling. By the time students are doing final assembly, they have learned how each piece works and how much time and effort it takes to make each one perfect.


The front hallway of Templeton leads to three classrooms where students learn shop safety and operational theories for respective tools and components, as well as the history and stories about each bike or automobile being restored.  A showroom to display completed projects is included. The fact that motorcycles were incorporated into auto restoration without a hitch demonstrates how well the school manages the shop and the building.


In 2010, McPherson College kicked off the motorcycle program by hosting “Bikes on the Lawn,” which has become an annual show open to the public every September. Students and faculty get to show off the program and facility as well as check out all the bikes and enjoy a lunch provided by the students’ C.A.R.S. club.


As an institution of higher learning, McPherson has answered the call for a program that offers a degree including everything that a new motorcycle restorer needs to know. The automotive service industry has ASE certification for technicians who can demonstrate a working knowledge and sufficient training. This certification tells automobile owners that the mechanic working on their car or truck is trained and competent.  Motorcycle owners don’t have the ASE to help them identify qualified technicians, so they will hopefully be looking for the best degree in the field when they select the person to keep their pride and joy on the road or in the showroom. The bar for such a degree has been set high by McPherson College. It is now up to other schools to follow McPherson’s lead in training new and competent restorers with real degrees and well-rounded educations. 

Anyone interested in more information can check out the schools website at, http://www.mcpherson.edu/academics/autorestoration.php.

Photos provided by Mike Rhodes.        

Stopping at the Seaba Station

Motorcycle Museum
By Tosh Konya


Located almost the center of Oklahoma, right on old Route 66, is Warwick, a near-defunct town of less than 200 people.  Certainly not a busy stopping place on its own merits.  But two motorcycle enthusiasts—Gerald Tims and Jerry Ries—are busy putting Warwick back on the map with The Seaba Station Motorcycle Museum, a beautiful historical presentation that is bringing in more traffic than the town has seen in decades.


The red brick Seaba Station was built by John and Alice Seaba to sell gas and services to travelers in 1921, five years before Route 66 was certified as a National Highway.  Later, John walled in the front bays of the station and turned it into a machine shop.  The property was sold to Victor and June Briggs in 1951, then five years later to Sonny and Sue Preston who converted it into an antique and gift shop.  In 2007, it was sold to Ries and Tims, who is Triumph and Suzuki dealer.  Ries carried out a complete renovation of the property, restoring the historic brick structure to its original condition.  In 2010, they reopened it under its original name as a motorcycle museum.  Occupying 5,000 square feet of display space, the approximately 100 motorcycles on display are mainly from the collections of the museum owners, but about ten percent are on loan from the collections of other local motorcycle enthusiasts.


The Seaba Station Motorcycle Museum promotes an active schedule of ride-ins and special events which, during its first year of operation, generated more than 10,000 visitors.  In addition, due to its location on historic Route 66, it is often used as a check point for poker runs hosted by local clubs.  The Museum has an excellent web site with historic photos of old Warwick, a photo documentary of the restoration of the Station, and pictures of many of the antique and vintage motorcycles currently on display.  Click here to see why Seaba Station is a must-stop for anyone crossing Oklahoma on Route 66.  Plus, it is just spitting distance from I-44, so there is no good excuse not to visit.  Take the Chandler exit.

Photos provided by Tosh Konya.                          



2012: the year

of battling meets



Last month, we reported that AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days 2012 and the Antique Motorcycle Club of America National Meet at Wauseon, Ohio will be on the same weekend of July 20 through 22 despite the fact that the two venues are only 130 miles apart (see Motohistory News & Views 11/30/2011). Now, Vintage Motorcycle Alliance, a newly formed corporation, has announced that it will host a meet March 9 and 10 at the fairgrounds in Eustis, Florida on the same weekend of the AMCA National Meet in New Smyrna Beach, only 60 miles away.


Eustis has been the location for the AMCA National in Florida for many years, but for 2012 the Sunshine Chapter of the AMCA—host for the meet—announced that it would be moved to the Silver Sands Bridle Club in New Smyrna Beach.  Discontent with the decision emerged among AMCA members and vendors to the extent that in late November, a group calling itself the Vintage Motorcycle Alliance announced that it would host a competing meet at Eustis.  VMA is a Florida LLC with offices in Ephrata, Pennsylvania.  In its mission statement, the VMA states, “We intend to promote a massive opportunity for vendors of parts to display their products and offer information for collectors, builders and restorers. The Lake County Fairgrounds provides an amicable sales environment for small and large vendors of all types of motorcycles and parts.”  The statement concludes, “We are not sanctioned by the AMCA but do appreciate those standards.”

When asked about the motivation for organizing a meet competing with the AMCA National in Florida, a spokesman for the VMA said, “We heard a lot of negative opinions from vendors about moving away from Eustis to a venue near Daytona Beach.  However, I am not going to dwell on those complaints because it is our desire to run an upbeat, positive, and friendly promotion, which we believe is consistent with the family-oriented and traditionally friendly atmosphere at the Eustis venue.”  He added, “The last thing on our mind is to hurt the Sunshine Chapter in any way.  They have done a wonderful job and been very good to us over the years.  However, there is a clear demand from the vendor community to remain at Eustis, and we want to offer them that opportunity.”

In the mean time, at least a portion of the Wauseon vs. Vintage Motorcycle Days conflict has been solved.  While the swap meets will remain the same weekend, the AMA has moved its dirt track race at Ashland, Ohio (pictured above right) from Friday to Saturday night, eliminating any conflict with the dirt track and vintage races at Wauseon.  The rescheduling of the Vintage Motorcycle Days race from Friday to Saturday night, with a rain date on Sunday, changes a rider problem to a rider opportunity with two paydays in a single weekend.  AMA Track Racing Manager Ken Saillant says, "The AMA supports more racing choices, not fewer, and we hope this move gives racers more opportunity to get out there and show the fans what classic dirt-track machinery can do."

For more information about the Wauseon National meet and Friday night races, click here and here.  For more information about AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, click here

Image of Ashland race track provided by AMA.


Calendar up for 2012



If you have not gotten your calendar for 2012, it is high time.  Fortunately, there are a number of good options for Motohistorians of various interests


For those with an interest in all types of antique motorcycles—in this case 35 years old or older—there is the 2012 offering from the Antique Motorcycle Club of America.  With a close-up of an Indian Four on its cover, it offers beautiful images of classics from America, Europe, and Japan.  In addition to a large feature image, each month offers several smaller images of fine motorcycles with captions about their owners.  Each page is chocked with notes and important dates, such as the AMCA National Meets and Vintage Road Runs.  This calendar is marketed only to members of the AMCA through the club’s magazine and web site, but it is available to anyone who knows how to push the right buttons on your keyboard to access the AMCA’s on-line store.  It is $12.00 per calendar, plus shipping.  To access the calendar page on the AMCA web site, click here


There’s nothing that enhances old iron like a young lady.  And we’re not talking about the kind of silicone sisters you see on the typical machine shop calendar.  Metro Racing ladies are always like the girl next door.  With Metro’s large format calendar, the year 2012 will bring you hours of pleasure as you stare longingly, imagining what could be….oh yeah, then there's the bikes as well.  They include a pristine Ariel Square Four, a championship winning Honda Elsinore 125, two of the sweetest Rupp's, the trickiest '78 YZ 250 on the planet, along with many more, all printed on quality stock, measuring 11"x17", spiral bound, shrink wrapped in plastic, and cardboard backed so it arrive in perfect shape.  Each shot is suitable for framing after the month is over. It will be almost impossible to pick just one as your favorite; you'll have to hang them all!  For your copy of the Metro Racing 2012 calendar, head on over to the Metro web site Metro Racing web site or call toll free at 877-746-3876. It’s only $10 plus shipping.


If you are a Hodaka fan, the Hodaka Owners Club offers a 2012 calendar with a Hodaka motorcycle or a Hodaka action shot on every page.  It’s $18.95 for Hodaka Club members and $21.95 for non-members. Domestic shipping is $4.95, but you can get up to eight calendars for the same shipping cost.  To order if you are a member, click here.  To order if you are a non-member, click here.  To join the Hodaka Owners Club for $25 a year, click here.  All proceeds from calendars go to support the club and Hodaka Days, its big annual gathering of the faithful. 


Each page of the Penton Owners Group 2012 calendar features a beautiful Penton posed for the camera, or action photos of club members who still ride their Pentons in vintage competition.  There is also a tribute page to the late Dane Leimbach, a member of the Penton family and the brand’s legendary ISDT Trophy Team.  The calendar is an 8 ½ x 11 vertical format with comb binding.  The price is $16.00 per calendar, which includes shipping and handling.  To place your order, click here.  To become a member of the Penton Owners Group, click here.


We’re never surprised to learn how specialized collectors can become toward brands and even models, but we did raise our brows a bit to learn that there’s a 2012 calendar for those of you who care about nothing but Honda CT90s and 110s.  In a large 17 x 11 format, it becomes 17 x 22 inches when hung on the wall in horizontal format.  It has oversized date boxes, plenty of space for notes, and full-bleed, full-color graphics on 110 lb. glossy stock.  To order yours for $18.99 from Café Press, click here.


For many years, the National Motorcycle Museum, US, has produced its “Vintage Wind” calendar featuring fine vintage photos.  But this year they have knocked themselves out with the concept on upgraded, glossy card-stock paper in a horizontal 10 x 11 format.  We can’t help but wonder where John Parham and his staff find some of these wonderful photos.  Clearly, many have come from obscure personal albums, since some photos have bear autographs and hand-written notes.  Date blocks contain extensive notes about upcoming rallies, road runs, and other events of interest to the motohistorian.  To order your copy for just $8.99, click here.


We’ve written before about how much we enjoy the Paul Jamiol’s “Bikers are Animals” series of children’s books.  Now you can enjoy his madcap motorcycling menagerie on a 2012 calendar.  To order it for $20.95, click here.  To read our most recent review about the “Bikers Are Animals” series, go to Motohistory News & Views 10/8/2011.


And for those of you who love the quirky bikes at BikeEXIF, don’t forget that they offer a calendar, which will keep you happy with beautiful motorcycle images all year long.  It’s a deluxe production, sized at a hefty 16″x 10″ (42 x 27 cm), and printed on 128 GSM artpaper with a 260 GSM artcard cover. And it’s delivered shrink-wrapped with a board stiffener for protection.  For more information, click here.


For an even greater selection of 2012 motorcycle calendars, click here.




Reading Motorcycle Club 100th Anniversary History Book

Review by Doug Strange


It’s not often that a motorcycle club’s history can reach back to the beginning of the last century.  The Reading Motorcycle Club in Oley, Pennsylvania is one of only a handful of clubs that can boast this acclaim.  The RMC began as a small social club of like minded motorcyclists in 1909 in the city of Reading but became a fully structured organization in July of 1911 when the club obtained its charter from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.


Celebrating its 100th year anniversary, the club has published a history book detailing its early days right through to the present time.  Ride along with the RMC as the club plays tribute to its history, celebrated riders and notable accomplishments.  The early history of the RMC is intriguing and well documented, derived from old meeting records and original photographs plus recollections from the club’s oldest members.  The club was extremely active in the early days and benefited from having national caliber competitors within the club ranks.  The RMC probably has more AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Inductees in their history than any other motorcycle club in America.  The club has survived the Great Depression and two World Wars, yet has come back strong each time.  Modern members of the Reading Motorcycle Club are a proud bunch and continually contribute back to the club other as well as the community. 


Enjoy and entertain yourself with a copy of the Reading Motorcycle Club 100th Anniversary History Book.  They are available through the club web site.  This hardbound book contains 208 pages of photographs and history, along with four pull out spreads of vintage panoramic photographs from the club’s earliest years.  Price is only $35.00 (plus 6% sales tax if a Pennsylvania resident) plus shipping and handling.


Ben Spies: Taking it to the Next Level,” by Larry Lawrence, is a biography of the American road racing prodigy who started winning when he was in the second grade, earned national recognition at 16, won three consecutive AMA Superbike Championships against the talented and mentally tough Mat Mladen, then went on to carry the Stars and Stripes into World Superbike and MotoGP competition.  Author Lawrence, a respected journalist and American motorcycling's leading statistician, knows Spies probably as well as anyone outside his family since Lawrence has worked for the Spies team as a publicist.  With a foreword by Kevin Schwantz, this 9 x 11 inch large-format, soft-cover book presents beautiful photography on every one of its 160 pages.  It is available for $29.95 from David Bull Publishing. To read our previous feature about author Larry Lawrence, go to Motohistory News & Views 10/12/2006.



Veloce Publishing has come out with a pair of books for the motohistorian who likes tiddlers and around-towners.  They include “The Lambretta Bible” and “Funky Mopeds: The 1970s Sports Moped Phenomenon.”  “The Lambretta Bible,” by Peter Davies covers all models of this storied scooter built in Italy from 1947 through 1971.  In hard cover with 160 pages and 192 illustrations, the book provides complete model history with full technical specifications and details on production changes, previously unpublished photographs, frame number information, paint code information, and examples of advertising and promotional literature.  There is also a chapter about special machines built by the factory to dealer orders.  “The Lambretta Bible” is available from Veloce Publishing for £29.99 UK or approximatley $50.00 US.  “Funky Mopeds,” by Richard Skelton, covers the decade of high-performing sport mopeds that were both created (unwittingly) and killed off by legislation. Packed with photos from past and present, this book explores the machines, the people, the fashions, and even the music of the moped set of the 1970s.  Brands covered include AJW, Batavus, Casel, Cimatti, Derbi, Fantic, Flandria, Garelli, Gilera, Gitane, Honda, Kreidler, KTM, Malaguti, Motobecane, Negrini, NVT, Puch, Suzuki, Tesi, Yamaha, and Zundapp.  The book has received rave reviews and seems to have the power of nostalgia over even those who only remember, but did not own a sports moped.  With more than 300 images on its 144 pages, it is available from Veloce Publishing for £14.99 UK or approximately $24.00 US.


Terry the Tramp: The Life and Dangerous Times of a One Percenter,” by K. Randall Ball, is both a biography of Vagos International President Terry Orendorff and a cultural history of the American motorcycle outlaw club phenomenon from its birth after the Second World War to the present day when our fear-driven, so-called post-911 society has become less tolerant than ever of any subculture that seems to deviate from the norm.  Ball, a former Hell's Angel and long-time journalist of the motorcycle counter-culture, describes his topic with eloquence: “Vagos lived at the junction of the tracks between good and evil.  Even within the ranks, brothers fought brothers over the notion of Brotherhood. . . It was a life that pitted the outlaw's warrior spirit against the evil ranks of criminal minds.  Sometimes the noble outlaw spirit and the evil criminal mind occupied the same flesh-and-blood vessel.  This inner contradiction manifested itself in outward actions.”  Ball explains how the ever-changing cultural environment, from the conformity of the Eisenhower Years to the free love of the Hippie movement to the current obsession with terrorism and security has changed the attitude and tactics of American police organizations, and in turn the organization and sophistication of the outlaw motorcycle clubs with which the police have always been obsessed.  By tracing how the bright but uneducated, compassionate but violent Terry Orendorff survived these decades of change, Ball creates a parable for how the whole movement survived.  Throughout the book, amateurish and grainy black and white snapshots are sparingly but skillfully used to enhance the mood and texture of the tale.   “Terry the Tramp,” 272 pages including index in hard cover with dustcover, is available from Motorbooks for $27.00 US, $30.00 Canada, £20.00 UK.


Many books have been published about BMW motorcycles, but no one has focused solely on the BMW custom, including choppers, bobbers, trikes, and quad bikes – until now.  Although not normally associated with the brand, there are some fantastic customized BMWs out there, new and old.  “BMW Custom Motorcycles: Choppers, Cruisers, Bobbers, Trikes and Quads” by Ulrich Cloesen showcases them in all their innovative glory, including stunning images of singles, twins, and fours from throughout the world.  There are more than 250 color and black and white images on 128 pages.  It is available from Veloce Publishing for £19.99 UK or approximately $30.00 US.    


The winter edition of The Antique Motorcycle is comin' right atcha with a steely-eyed Matt Walksler on an antique board tracker.  The cover story is about how the oldest of the racing machines—the pre-30s, direct drive board track beasts—are spawning a youth movement within a club where the average member is pushing 60.  Also in this issue is how AMCA members tackle the national Ride To Work day, a story about H.C. Morris' triumphant collection of British twins, a feature on the Flying Merkel Model 75, and several national meet reports including Wauseon, Ohio; Oley, Pennsylvania; Denton, North Carolina; and Dixon, California.  There are also historical and technical columns, minutes of the board of directors, an annual financial statement, and want ads.  There's a lot to like about The Antique Motorcycle, but if you are not an AMCA member, you wouldn't know that.  To remedy the situation, just join now.


Jim Babchak's “American Iron Classic” feature in the February issue of American Iron Magazine is about the Indian military Model 841, in this case a beautifully “civilianized” version owned by collector Jim Grove.  The 841, created in response to a War Department demand for a shaft-drive motorcycle suitable for use in Europe and North Africa, had many features that should have endeared it to a post-war customer.  In addition to the shaft drive, it had plunger rear suspension, four speed transmission with foot shifting, and hydraulically dampened front forks.  A little more than 1,000 were built, but none saw action.  According to historian Harry Sucher, they were sold for $500 to Indian dealers in 1944.  Many have been correctly restored in military livery as collectibles.  Some, like Grove's, have been dressed up and fitted out to demonstrate what might have been.  Babchak's words are enhanced by photography by Buzz Kanter.  Also in this issue is Part One of a series by Donny Petersen about Harley-Davidson's historical model and letter designations. For more about American Iron Magazine, click here.


The December issue of The Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Magazine contains a cover story about a complete make-over of a 1982 Honda CBX for a “modern” appearance.  Major changes included Suzuki GSX-R forks, a  Honda VFR750F single sided swingarm, an a Yamaha R1 shock, resulting in a motorcycle 4.5 inches lower and two inches longer than the original.  Builder and author J. R. Luksik says one of his objectives was “to build a bike on the cheap . . . didn't happen!”  There are also stories about the 2011` Barber Vintage Festival, the 2011 Rice-O-Rama, the Motogiro USA, and the Santa Fe Concorso, which featured a slew of sixes by Honda, Benelli, Kawasaki, and BMW.  As always, there are lots of classified ads for collectors and restorers looking for Japanese classics.  This magazine is not available on news stands.  Rather is a benefit for members of the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club of North America.  Join today and the next issue will arrive in your mailbox. 


Issue No. 48 of VMX, the vintage motocross and dirt bike quarterly from Down Under, contains a cover story about Kurt Nicoll's works Kawasakis from 1983, 1987, and 1989, now owned by Italian Claudio Venezian.  Other collectibles featured include the Montesa 250 H7 Enduro, the 1978 Suzuki RM125C, the 1963 Maico 250, and the 1983 Husqvarna CR500.  Event coverage includes a very big feature about the 2011 Goodwood Revival, plus stories about the Yankee Reunion, the Farleigh Castle Vets VMX des Nations, the Australian Classic Motocross Championships, the Stafford (England) Classic Show, and Marty Tripes' Second Annual Vintage Days.  There's also a story by Ken Smith about Broc Glover that features all black and white photography. VMX is an instant collectible, done on heavy stock with beautiful photography.  To subscribe, click here.