I received word this morning that our friend Justin McMullen, who had been in a coma since Sat, Sept, 17, passed this morning. Last I heard this past Saturday they had removed him from the brain drain since his heart rate was up and he had regained certain reflexes and was taking nourishment. His body was functioning on its own once again! We were all optomistic in light of this news....until this morning.
Rest in Peace Justin.
You touched many lives and will be missed by many.
Please say a prayer, or send well wishes, whatever your beliefs, for his 4 young children and his family and loved ones.
There is an online benefit auction for his children and family on
Back in '09 when I was building the long chop, I ended up using an old square headlamp. A buddy wanted a round style and had this old square light that I thought was off of an old Japper...hell I didn't know, I was just lookin to help him out and liked what he had to trade.
So here I am a few years after that, putting the bobber back together with a slight bit different look that its had for the past decade. I was running a 7" round light up front and decided I wanted something a bit different. I'd tried the 5" round Bates style back in '05 and it just didn't do it for me, something just wasn't right (incidentally thats the one that I traded off for the square one).
I decided I dug that square light so much that I needed one on the bobber revamp. So, after scouring the innerweb I discovered that they were not as easy to find as I'd hoped. I hit up the guy that I'd gotten the light from to determine what it was off of and he said he had bought it from an old woman selling off her husband's shop's inventory and that when he got it, it was in a Bates box.
So I put a WTB ad on a few online forums and low and behold my buddy John out in MD had not one, but two. They are not the exact same as the one on the long chop, but, they are the same style. Nice and big with a deep shell and side mount and sealed beam. I don't know what make they are....I dont' even know if the one I already had is truly a Bates, but I don't care, they're just what I wanted!
Thanks J-Lo (Draft Cycle Works)!!!
Justin is our riding buddy and was involved in a serious motorcycle accident last Saturday evening. We are unsure of the exact circumstances. Justin was found by himslef laying in the road unconcious, not a scrape on his body, but he hit his head and has been in a coma with brain swelling, high temperature and high blood pressure. He is on life support and in critical condition at St. Francis Medical center in Peoria, IL. The Chopper Underground motorcycle forum is holding an online auction to raise money for Justin and his family in their time of need. Please send good juju towards the heavens for Justin and his family, and if you can lend a hand, please do! Here are the details of the auction.
Pinstripe virtuoso, Steve Kafka with a short video about his restoration of Von Dutch's legendary workshop/bus! Thanks to Irish Rich for sharing this video. I'm a huge Dutch fan, but had no idea of this project until now!
Having been gone so much this summer the bobber got a bit neglected. But since my flat tire a few weeks ago, I've gotten rejuvenated on 'er. Got the carbs cleaned up nice. The drag pipes, man those things were fuggin haggard, gave em a new life by hacking off the worn down, road rashed, slash cut tips. Cleaned up the "old" wheel my Uncle Ed gave me a few years back. Damn, that thing is chrome and like new! Swapped the tire from the Invader that was intended for the 70's hardtail chop...but I be broke and needed new rubber on that bright, shiny rear wheel. Last night I masked and sprayed the repaired rear section. Now its gettin down to the nuts and bolts of putting 'er back to the rideable stage. Here's some shizzy cellephone pics:
Carbs got a nice lemon juice/water boil bath...with a touch of carb cleaner afterwards to taste.
My buddy HB is workin' on a repop of an old AEE "wing" tank for a customer out in Vegas for his deraked Panhead chop. HB contacted Duane Ballard who put him in touch with Dave Brackett via the innerweb. Dave used to have a hand back in the early days with Tom McMullen. The next day Dave called HB about the "wing" tank and they spent about an hour on the phone, Dave sharing cool old stories and tales of the heyday of choppers back when.
I came across this cool print from punk rock artist Raymond Pettibon. You may recognize his work from old Black Flag or Minutemen album covers, among others, or flyers from the heyday of the early CA punk scene. Dig it!
I receieved word yesterday morning that my buddy Justin McMullen had wrecked his motorcycle sometime Saturday night in Peoria, IL. It's pretty heavy. He's in a coma with a 105 degree temperature, and while mostly breathing on his own, is hooked to a respirator. He had brain swelling and fluid on the brain and surgery was done to remove part of his skull to relieive the pressure. Right now, the Doctor's say it is a waiting game.
Justin, we're all pulling for you dude. We've got too many miles left to ride and too many beers left to drink. We'll be here for ya when ya wake up my man. Please keep Justin, his four kids, and his family in your thoughts....send some good juju his way!
I awoke saturday morning with Kari nudging me, saying “Your alarm just went off!!!”. It was right around 7 a.m. and the Flatlanders crew was supposed to be here at 8 a.m. We were riding a 400+ mile round trip to visit our friend Jeff Hammel over in Hamilton, IL, just across the river from Keokuk, IA.
I first checked my phone, yep, slept right thru the annoying wake up call. I also noticed a few texts already from Scrap (our resident early bird) asking: 1) If I was awake and 2) had I heard from the others. The answer to both was no.
I scooped myself outta bed and headed for the shower. Once out of the steamer I’d noticed that the others had since gotten in touch and would be arriving shortly.
I thru some clothes on over my long johns and headed out to the shop to check over last nights doings. Everything was complete and tightened down. After double checking the rear brake adjustment I pulled the chop out to the gravel and kicked ‘er over to warm up a bit. It wasn’t long after I’d grabbed my jacket and vest, a few misc tools that weren’t already in my bag, and my camera, that Chris, Derek and Falldown pulled into the drive. Within about 15 minutes Cody rode up, and the main part of the crew was assembled. Shooting for 8 a.m., we finally hit the road closer to nine, in the usual Flatlander custom.
After our first fuel stop in Heyworth, IL we only made it a few more miles before I began frantically pointing at the McDonald’s as we rolled into McClean, the next town along Rt. 136 headed west. I raced up to the curb, found neutral and leaned ‘er on the stand, bailed and sprinted for the door. Once inside and sitting down I sent a message out to the rest of the bunch....lets just say the coffe and Honey Bun I’d eaten at the first stop wasn’t jiving with the Keithstone’s or Captain that had entered my gut the previous evening.
Back on the road, we cruised thru the corn ‘n beans until we arrived in San Jose, IL. This is where we met Scrap at the Casey’s Station entering town. I don’t think the locals knew what to think as they were rubbernecking and google-eyeing us as we stood next to our scoots in the corner of the lot. My guess is they’d probably been watching too many episodes of Sons of Anarchy.
The rest of the trip to Jeff’s was pretty smooth and enjoyable. We managed to dodge the rain all around us, only having to deal with pesky wet roads and overspray from other vehicles on the road. After a quick lunch stop in Macomb, it seemed like no time at all before we were pulling into the parking lot of Jeff’s favorite coffee spot on the east edge of Hamilton.
We met Jeff at his local coffee stop, where once again I was MIA for about 20 minutes, this time it was due to the tuna sub I had for lunch. It was obvious the little hole in the wall was “his spot” by the way he interacted with the locals and the waitresses, he had us all rolling. After eveyone (but me) had a cup o’ joe he invited us to check out his shop just a few blocks down the road.
Jeff’s is not your typical shop. He rents a place about a block from the carpet store he owns, that shares a building with a cellular store. Being ahead of us out of the java stop parking lot, he greeted us as we pulled into the lot.
We passed thru a wooden gate to a back porch that overlooked a decent sized “pond”. I say pond with quotations as it is an old rock quary and is about 75 ft deep. A canoe and a zip line were the first things that I noticed, then the giant carp and ducks milling about the pond. Jeff thru a handful of feed into the water and both the fish and the birds swarmed around sucking up every last morsel.
Beyond the porch was the doorway to his work space. Once we entered we were face to face with Jeff’s creations. A few XS650’s and a Honda 550 were immediately recognizable. Surrounded by shelves covered with misc parts and gas tanks, pipes and misc. Around the way was another 650 called the “8 ball” and another bike, known as the Barnstormer powered by an MT250 dirtbike motor. This was Jeff’s build off winner for the Chopper Underground’s yearly Build Off. Man, what a sweet little machine. Definately a head turner with it’s clean lines and all of it’s parts showcasing Jeff’s knack for re-purposing.
(the Barn Stormer)
(XS650 "Street Tracker")
We hung around asking questions, sharing stories, and taking in the surroundings for a few hours before deciding we’d better make the trek home. As mentioned we’d left around 9 a.m. and didn’t get to Hamilton until around 2 p.m. so we had another good sized jaunt ahead of us.
(fork lower tail light)
After sucking down a soda and mapping our way home, deciding to take the 4 lane instead of the 2 in an effort to make time, we said our goodbyes and fired up our crop of bikes. Jeff’s lot was quite sloped and covered with rocks leading right onto the main drag. As we were pulling out Chris hit a spot of gravel that showed him no mercy and slammed him onto the pavement. Derek and Scrap were already headed to the station for gas, but Falldown and I killed our motors and jumped off to make sure he was okay as Jeff ran from the shop.
(Jeff, Scrap and Chris)
(Chris & Falldown)
Chris jumped up in good spirits as we lifted his chop from the ground. There was no major damage except for a small dent in the tank. I commented “at least it didn’t fall on the left side”, where he had a Wild Turkey bottle for his coolant overflow. This was the beginning of our journey home.
After fueling up a few blocks from Jeff’s place we hit Rt 136 back east. We then picked up the four lane 336 to shoot south down to I-72 for our trek back across the state. As we merged onto the 4 lane I thought I felt a weird groove in my back tire, but after glancing around to the others in front and behind me, I shrugged it off to a vibe in the road.
Then my thoughts drifted to the previous night. “Did I tighten this? Did I tighten that? What could that feeling be?” We carried on down the highway at about 80 mph where eventually Scrap pointed behind us noticing the other 3 were not in sight.
He and I pulled to the shoulder to wait. I went to put my kickstand down and thought the crown on the shoulder was keeping me from putting the stand down, until I went to push my bike forward and thought I was in gear. I wasn’t.
“Fuck”, I exclaimed, “I gotta flat tire”. We both looked at each other with an expression of ‘what now’. After getting ahold of the other 3 on the cellie to find out they had pulled off for a break, we informed them of my dilema. Ten minutes later they were there with us scratching their heads too. I don’t know how we were running at the speed we were and within 5 min of pulling over I had a flat. I tend to think I may’ve been very lucky.
After the usual hemming and hawing of “what the fuck are we gonna do now”. We decided to head back about 20 miles to Quincy for dinner. We’d made a few phone calls and lined up a buddy, Tim from Springfield, to come get my bike. I told the others to go on ahead and I’d wait but they wouldn’t leave me behind.
I rode the bike down into the ditch along the freeway and tucked it behind some weeds by the exit sign to wait for Tim and the truck. I looked at Falldown and said “You ready honey?” as he was the only one with a 2 up scooter.
After we had some fine dining at Kelley’s Tavern we mounted the steeds once again, me riding bitch on Falldown’s ‘82 Tour Glide, and headed back out to the interstate to sit by my bike and wait for Tim.
About 20 min later Tim arrived, having missed us as he headed north, but making tracks back south once he realized. We had told him we were on 336 but actually we were on 172 as the highway had changed and we didn’t notice...so he didn’t start looking at mile markers until 336 and he was coming from the south! No worries, he was there with the rescue machine and we loaded my ole heap up into the bed and strapped ‘er down. We were on our way home!
A few miles down the road Tim and I noticed the pack start to slow down. No sooner did the 4 bikes in front of us merge to the shoulder. “Damn, we forgot to get gas back in Quincy!” In light of dealing with my tire no one thought to fuel up before leaving Quincy, where’d we’d already ran close to 100 miles, the last fuel up being back in Hamilton after leaving Jeff’s place.
No sweat. Falldown had a Poweraid bottle and I jumped out of the truck, pulled my fuel line and filled it up twice for Chris to fill his tank to get to the next stop. Once again we were on our way, that is until Dirka and Scrap succumbed to the same fate before reaching the truck stop at Barry, IL. Twice again I pulled my line and filled the Poweraid bottle so we could make the station...which we did, eventually.
Somewhere during this calamity I had gotten a text from Kari saying she was already in Springfield with my truck waiting for us. I regrettingly informed her of our woes and said “we’re still close to 2 hours out babe”. No sweat, she was chillin in the truck and just hoped we were ok and safe.
Once we left Barry, IL the pack was gone. With a few gallons of gas and a couple energy drinks those fuckers made tracks. Tim and I were left in the dust gazing at the full moon as we mozeed along the highway. As we were entering Springfield we spotted a side mount taillight in the distance ahead of us. We knew it had to be one of our guys.
As we approached the sideways red light we noticed the TCU emblem on the back of the rider and deteremined it was Chris. “He’s doesn’t have a headlight” I told Tim and once Chris realized it was us he merged to the shoulder.
His throttle cable had busted but he was able to cruise along at about 65mph as it had locked itself in. The other guys must have figured he’d catch up but at this point they were killing 90 mph and it just wasn’t happening.
Chris pushed his bike up under an overpass and we all squeezed in the Ranger before heading onto the Shell station on the east side of the capitol city to meet Kari and the others. We arrived to find eveyone in the parking lot. The unfortunate sight was that of Derek pulling all of his wiring from his XS650.
Apparentlyy he coasted into the lot as Scrap was fending off a local 5-0 that was yelling at him about his head light being out. “I know ya stupid fucker, thats why I’m trying to pull into the station!!!”
I’d lost track of time at this point but it was around 1 a.m. This had been a long day already and the end was nowhere in sight.
After we all put in our 2 cents about Derek’s electrical issues Kari, Scrap, Tim and I decided it’d be a good time to get my bike outta the back of Tim’s truck and into mine. We pulled across the 4 lanes into a car lot with a helluva ditch to make unloading and loading easier.
(Dirka & Scrap TCB)
Once that feat was accomplished it only made sense that we go load up Chris’ chop that had been sitting a few miles back along I-72 for close to 2 hours. Now we had both immobile scooters loaded up in a rescue vehicle and it was time to shit and git with Derek’s. After testing this wire and that wire to no avail, we decided to revisit the battery, which none of us thought was the issure hours prior. Chris, me and the local fella that just happened upon us with a truck full of electrical supplies walked over the Sierra and pulled Chris’ battery out for Dirka to try.
Sure as shit, once Dirka installed the new battery and had eveything hot wired, BAM, that ole XS fired right up, kept running, and the lights remained of solid illumination. All right, we’re back in business! ...well kind of.
It was now around 3:30 a.m. We had left the border of IA at 4:30 p.m. and were still 2 hours away from the So’full Garage. After bidding our adieus, and bungie-ing a mag light to Scrap’s girder to get him across town (he lives in Springfield), we hit I-72 once again in an attempt to make it to a mattress.
After one stop for gas and coffee, we made it back to the compound around 5:30 a.m. We all were approaching being awake for 24 hours with the exception of Falldown, who'd surpassed it at 4 a.m. Kari, Chris and I were cozeed in the cab of the GMC where I’d been hallucinating for about the last 30 miles of the trip from exhaustion...seeing trees, deer (that were construction barrels) and a raised garage door that were not real. All the while Dirka and Falldown were trying to keep their sanity following me.
Inside the garage a few Keithstone’s were cracked as we all questioned, “Did all of that just happen?”.....needless to say we all hit the pillows with force, only to rise a few hours later to deal with the reprecussions of the past 24 hours.
In preparation for the Flatlanders ride over to the Iowa border on saturday, I spent the night in the shop doing some RM I'd meant to do all week. First order of business was setting the valves. So I cracked a can and sat down with the feelers, a flat head and a number 10.
(pickled eggs in Jalepeno juice...a staple in the S.G.)
Once I'd set the valves I decided I'd move on to installing the EI that'd I'd been meaning to swap back to from the points that we'd installed back at the Riders Roost in June. After removing the points cover and pulling out the Martek 440 I had stashed on the shelf, I cracked another can and thought it over....been running these points since June and if something happened on the road I'd most likely be able to get myself going again. But this Martek I'd bought used and didn't know the history of it other than "it came off a running bike". After a few minutes and a few second opinions, I decided to just stick with the points for the time being.
The next and final order of business was the drive chain. I'd felt like I'd been pushing my luck with it all summer...it had gotten to the point where it'd stretch on every ride and I'd been running it for about 2 seasons now. I usually change the chain at the beginning of each season but didn't this year. Once I popped the master clip I noticed that my sprocket was fucked also. Nice sharp shiny points all the way around and the nice u-shaped dips were worn to more of a loose v. Well hells bells!
I started searching around the shop for a runable sprocket. Most every one I found was not much better than the one I needed to replace and I didn't wanna run another shitty sprocket with a brand new chain. Ah hah! I'll yank that one off the Gent's wheel until I can get a new one! So I pull the sprocket off Duane's wheel before realizing its a 630...well shit! Its getting late and this is the last order of business before calling it a night. I start pacing a bit and racking my brain....the cafe!
(bad one on the right, 630 on the left)
I went into the other room with my rachet and lift the back end of the cafe project up onto the jack stands. Then I remove the rear wheel and inspect the sprocket. Sure as shit, its not new, but definately runable so I yank it off the 18" and return to the shop to put onto the 16".
After tightening everything up on the rear end and giving the old gal a final once over, I kicked Keith Stone out and invited the Captain over to hang for bit before calling it a night. We were scheduled to leave at 8 am and I knew the morning was gonna come too quickly.