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1928 Shovelhead Project Part 1

Easyriders Of Dallas Looses Control

Photos: Tina Fairless

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In an effort to stay tuned with the rapidly growing and ever changing industry the staff of Bikernet began a project Shovelhead several years ago in conjunction with Randy Simpson of Milwaukee Iron and Arlen Ness. It's been a strange road, but we're now rolling closer to completion with the assistance of Rick Fairless of Dallas Easyriders and his ace fabricator Jim.


The project began with the purchase of a slightly destroyed Mexican Police bike from Arlen a couple of years ago. He had scored some 300 1984 Mexican cop bikes that had been ridden through several revolutions and costly rebellions. The bikes were shot at, dragged, bombed and ridden harder than any V-twins on the planet. When we first purchased the Shovel complete with police sirens and blinkers, we assumed foolishly that we would restore it to it's original fighting condition. Arlen even hand picked our unit specifically with our goal in mind.

Well it's one thing to dream of a restoration, but when the cast iron triple trees are broken, the frame is bent, all the sheet metal destroyed we took a step back and said, Help! We pulled the Engine and sent it to JIMS Machine for a rebuild along with the Transmission. With the cases replaced along with the barrels and heads and all the internals replaced, the engine was ready to rock once more. A similar concoction was mixed for the transmission and a couple of us dressed all in black and prepared to bury the chassis in a shallow grave in the desert outside of 29 Palms, California when the Editor of "Biker" pointed out that we had a valid pink slip. Dean, salivating, over the dying chassis took the entire unit and paid us handsomely for the paperwork. We suspect that he made a rocking chair out of the frame and wheels. During one of our weekly Bikernet meetings we discussed what to do with the Shovelhead drive train, and in the process we started discussing various options and some of the customs we respected the most. Several suggestions were thrust onto the rusting boardroom table. First Randy Simpson had volunteered to help us build an old time looking bike from the remnants of the '84. We voted unanimously to pursue this avenue, since we had always been impressed with the workmanship and design Randy injected into his own 1928 Shovelhead projects, and he had a desire to create a simple chassis kit to build one of these puppies to market to the public. We agreed to help him promote the concept. We also all agreed that a gesture to the community of San Pedro was a necessity since several members of the staff had been arrested and the headquarters were constantly under surveillance, so we decided that Bikernet needed its own private San Pedro Police bike. How else could we crash the local parades. Randy is a persnickety builder who takes great pains to build quality parts for the market. Two years passed and he still didn't have the frame built. He was obviously so successful with his growing line of fenders that his chassis concept was slipping onto the back burner. Arlen Ness was also taking giant strides to build a similar machine and if you picked up a recent Easyriders you would have seen the fruits of his labor in his 50/50 Shovelhead. In addition Chrome Specialties with the assistance of Chico in Southern California had recently completed a similar project around a Sportster (It's called Trick and is featured on Bikernet right now). The competition was stiffening. Randy dropped out, and we moved ahead, and with some research we discovered that a number of reproduction parts are being built in Europe for early Harleys. Early like in 1915.

Devoted to successfully completing this project we picked up a rigid frame from Paughco. This is a standard scale Paughco Rigid for Shovelheads. From there our old part contact was Fred Lange in Santa Maria California. Fred informed us that a European group is remanufacturing 1915 springer front ends, flat track tanks, headlights, fenders and Fred was making appropriate sprung seats for these models. We were in business. We ordered the flat track tanks, the fender for a side car so it could be used for the front and the rear, a hand leathered seat and snuck out of the hills over looking Santa Barbara.


We had a Bad Boy front end, Wheels, etc. We're in the market for some Custom Cycle Engineering lowering rockers. At that point we needed miscellaneous parts, pipes, etc., and we could get this puppy on the road. It was time to call in a favor. Rick Fairless had purchased the exclusive Bandit I Pat Kennedy Built bike from Bandit and part of the deal was parts and labor on a bike project in the future. It was time to call in that note. Then in a stroke of bad luck and good, Marty Ruthman decided to close his shop abruptly due to health problems and he had a massive sale.


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