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GOING THE DISTANCE
"THE THREE FACES OF SALLY"
BIKES ARE LIKE PEOPLE:
Every Harley can have many faces
EXCERPT FROM WIKIPEDIA:
"Dissociative Identity disorder (DID), previously known as multiple personality disorder (MPD), is an extremely rare mental disorder characterized by at least two distinct and relative enduring identities...."
DAVID SNOW ON XLFORUM.NET:
"I dig the Frisco set-up. Was that homemade or a kit, Scott? Also, how come you held out on the Iron Horse readers with these cool shots? Man---a whole issue coulld've been devoted to each picture. Photo credit? Patty?"
Better late than never.
I'd posted some very early pictures of my 1968 Harley-Davidson XLCH Sportster, "Sally The Bitch" at that forum. I admitted to Snow that I'd never thought of using these pictures in Iron Horse. Simple as that. Okay, so I had a blonde moment as an Iron Horse contributor. Leave it to my old Iron Horse magazine editor to edify me, to steer the way to generate more intelligent biker literature. I said to Snow, "Sure, now that you think of a good use for the pics, ya don't have the magazine anymore!" Okay, so here goes, Mr. Editor!
Any motorcycle can fall victim to the multiple personality disorder (MPD), depending on the whims and desires of her biker/owner. In Sally's (my Sportster) case, she underwent multiple changes since the day in 1968 when I picked 'er up at Harley-Davidson of Manhattan, and each of these iterations of Sally's personality reflected my views of what constituted a cool ride at the time. When I took my beauty off of the showroom floor at East 76th Street, Sally had OEM Harley orange paint, and a Bates solo seat and pillion pad. The solo seat and p-pad were changes I requested of the dealer, who was happy to comply. Even though the solo seat and p-pad replaced Sally's stock bench seat, I will call Sally's condition as she left her home at Harley-Davidson of Manhattan, her "OEM Self."
The very earliest pictures I took of Sally, were taken after Sally's OEM Self, had entered a second stage of her personality morphosis. Sally underwent a slight personality change, by the time these pictures were taken of her. It was these photos that Snow referred to. I posted these photos at XLFORUM. net.
Photo by Nancie March
NOT MANY CHANGES: Sally adopted a tall sissy bar and tall seat.
You might've noticed that photo credit was attributed to "Nancie March." This is my ex-wife. I hadn't met my wife Patty, until 1982, when she enrolled in my martial arts school. This picture was taken around 1972, in front of Gem Spa, at the corner of St. Marks Place and Second Avenue in the East Village of NYC. This particular spot was a routine meeting place of bikers, who parked their Harleys in a long row, stretching halfway down the block to 7th Street. It was in fact, our version of England's Ace Cafe (see "Hippie Hangout"). It was also where I met my first wife.
The only changes I made to Sally's OEM Self at this point, were the towering sissy bar and contour seat. I believe (but don't hold me to it, this was 45 years ago) that I bought the sissy bar from D & D Cycle. I am sure that I bought the seat from a company called Cheetah. The link chain I was sporting, was courtesy of Mrs. Feldherr's Hardware Store in Jackson Heights. I used this to secure Sally to lamp posts when I parked her. Mrs. Feldherr's assistant, Herb---who I'd known since childhood, said to me when I bought this long length of chain, "So what are ya going to do with this? Chain chip somebody?" He was kidding.
Photo by Nancie March
FRISCO-MOUNTED TANK: Mounts were homemade, not an aftermarket kit.
You'll notice that I Frisco-mounted Sally's gas tank in these early photos. The brackets that elevated the front of Sally's tank, were not an aftermarket item, although aftermarket companies did offer brackets like these, as the most common method for Frisco-mounting Sportster tanks in the late '60s. The two chromed brackets I used for this purpose were cut from a piece I had hangin' around the toolbox, that I cut to size, and drilled holes in. I can't even remember what this chromed strap was originally for. This type of strut for Frisco-mounting was very popular in back in those days, but I considered this to be a clumsy and inelegant solution. As you will see from one of Sally's later personalities, I devised a much cleaner and practically invisible Frisco-mount for Sally's tank, using a solo seat mounting bracket.
At this point in Sally's mental state, I more or less kept Sally close to OEM condition. I was in the planning stages (meaning, I was "thinkin' about it") of a more extensive modification of Sally's personality, which Snow refers to as, "Her chopperfied self." This would involve a complete disassembly, and molding and painting of her frame, and an extension of her fork. This took place around 1972. I've gotten many positive comments regarding Sally's Chopperfied Personality, but this was my least favorite of her personality states. I even had Sally as a rigid for awhile, using chromed struts, but I have no photos of Sally with these on.
Photo by Genghis
LONG TALL SALLY: That's my niece, Denise Biondo-Kees with her brother, with me and Sally.
Sally's Chopperfied Self took a long time to accomplish. The first thing I did, was to disassemble Sally down to nuts and bolts, in my parents' Chinese laundry. When I first met David Snow at the Iron Horse photoshoot for "Genghis Rides A Harley," I mentioned to Snow that I rebuilt Sally in a Chinese laundry. His reaction was predictable. He said, "Yer shittin' me, right?" No, I wasn't. I really did re-do Sally in my parents' laundry in Jackson Heights in Queens. The store was very long, tracking the length of the two railroad apartments above it. It had an alcove in the middle, where I did the work on Sally. I would later use the store's basement to paint Sally's frame and tin. Credit has to go to Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan, where I did preliminary work on Sally's frame, in preparation for her painting.
This was the first time I'd ever stripped a bike down to nuts and bolts, and had no experience in how to proceed. So I simply had a room full of cardboard boxes and glass jars to hold all the disassembled parts, labeled them---and hoped and prayed that I would remember how to put everything back together, again. After setting aside the engine and various and sundry parts in the safety of the laundry's alcove, I took the frame home to my apartment on East 3rd Street in The City (New Yorkers raised in the other boroughs of Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island, call Manhattan, "The City," even though these other boroughs are integral parts of New York City too). It was here at home that I would begin the preparatory work on Sally's frame.
In the meantime, I took Sally's swing arm, oil tank, brake pedal, chain guard, and motor mounts to Hygrade Plating in Long Island City, for polishing and chroming. Hygrade by the way, is still around. I also bought six inch extended chromed fork tubes from Forking by Frank, the same company I would later buy shortened fork tubes for Mabel, my ever-lovin' Shovel. While this was being done, I started working on Sally's frame at home.
This entailed filing down the protruding parts of the frame. I wanted a smooth, uninterrupted look, which was a popular concept for molded frames in those days. In the late '60s, the coolest look for bikes' frames, was this organic look. Now, I couldn't be bothered with this crap. Now I like the gnarly look of Mabel's (my '71 Super Glide) OEM Harley frame. I can appreciate the Harley frame for its natural beauty, not needing any plastic surgery that give it an artificial look. But back then, molded frames were highly desirable.
I worked in Beth Israel Medical Center's Ophthalmology Department, as a retinal photographer. I found that I had plenty of spare time between patients, so I decided to bring Sally's frame to the hospital, so I could take advantage of the spare time to complete the filing of her frame. After I finished the filing at the hospital, I took the frame home to do the molding, which I decided to do with fiberglass instead of bondo. I'd heard too many stories about the bondo on bondo-molded frames, cracking. So I decided to do the harder thing, which was to apply bulletproof molding that would never crack, with fiberglass.
For this purpose, I bought the fiberglass fibers and epoxy catalyst on Canal Street in lower Manhattan. I took the precaution of wearing protective gear for the job, because I read horror stories in chopper magazines, about what would happen if one got glass fibers into one's eyes, nose, hair and skin. So, I wore a shower cap, goggles, face mask, surgical gloves and long-sleeved shirts, when I applied the fiberglass. After applying the fiberglass, I filed and sanded down the frame to its final, smooth configuration. I then used bondo to fill in the inevitable pin-sized holes. Once this was done, the frame was ready for painting.
This was done back at the laundry's basement, as I couldn't live with paint fumes permeating my apartment. I bought rattle cans of "Kalifornia Kustom" candy apple red and clear acrylic lacquer, at an auto supply store in Jackson Heights called Aid Auto. I suspended the frame from overhanging water pipes in the basement using baling wire, and went to work. Because the basement was so dusty, I hosed down the floor before and in between paint coats. I wet sanded between coats, which resulted in a perfect paint job. After I finished the paint job, I drilled two holes in the frame's neck, and tapped them, so I could insert two screws to be used as fork stops. Didn't wanna ruin the perfect frame by smashing it with the fork, man. Not after all that work!
After I reassembled Sally, the result is her Chopperfied Self as you see in the picture. I added dog-bone type risers, with t-bars. I removed the generator end chromed cover. I dug the cover-less, functional look of the generator. A Bates headlight replaced the OEM visored-headlight. An S & S Super B replaced the troublesome Tillotson carb. Curved rear fender struts from Smith Brothers & Fetrow, replaced the straight fender struts. I radius-cut the stock rear fender to conform to the new struts, and used it. An extended kickstand was added, so that the bike sat at the correct angle. Drag pipes replaced the stock exhaust.
I Frisco-mounted Sally's gas tank, using a solo seat mount bracket. The pivot part of the solo seat mount bracket, fit perfectly inside the Sportster gas tank's front mounting tabs. I drilled holes through the frame's top tube, and with the seat mount bracket resting on the top of the top tube, bolted the solo seat bracket to the top tube. This let me bolt the front of the tank to this bracket which sat on top of the top tube, as if the top tube had a dedicated front tank mount attached to the frame. This resulted in a virtually invisible mount when the tank was mounted. This was a much more satisfying application, than the two chromed struts that I previously used. Although these struts were a popular mod in the late '60s, they stuck out like two sore chromed thumbs.
Photo by Genghis
SALLY'S FINAL PERSONALITY: Low, racy and righteous.
This final personality of Sally's is my favorite. I deep-sixed the extended tubes, sissy bar, and cut down the tall Cheetah seat. I actually cut the seat into two parts, a solo section with a backstop for my butt, and a separate pillion-like section. I mounted the license plate with taillight onto the back of the rear fender. I didn't want the taillight and license plate hanging off the side of the bike like some malignant growth. I wanted clean lines and simplicity, because simplicity is powerful.
I mounted simple highway pegs onto the front motor mounts. You can see 'em in the photos if you look carefully. These pegs consisted of 7 inch long bolts I found in a Canal Street hardware store. I slipped some long, gray plastic sleeves, whose inside diamter happened to be the same outside diameter of the bolts, and epoxied these on. These gray sleeves ran the entire length of the bolts all the way to the motor mounts, and presented a clean and simple look. I painted Sally's cam cover, front drum brake, and the front and rear wheel spokes flat black. If you look at the picture of me sitting on Sally from her left side, you can see how low and racy she looked, after exorcising the long fork.
Photo by Genghis
SALLY'S LOW SELF: Aided by shorter shocks.
I further lowered Sally by acquiring shorter factory shocks, that were 1.5 inches shorter than stock. These weren't Super Glide shocks, but were optional Harley shocks meant for the Sportster. One of Augie's (the owner of Harley-Davidson of Manhattan) sons---I can't remember his name---turned me onto these shocks. He was a real Sportster freak. If you look carefully, you can also see that I painted the end of Sally's generator flat black. Five inch glide risers and drag bars, which I bought from Brooklyn Harley-Davidson, replaced the t-bars, to complete that racy look. These same drag bars, by the way, steer my Shovelhead, Mabel, almost a half century after I bought 'em.
Photo by Genghis
THE BEST LOOKING JOANNE WOODWARD: And Sally's most agreeable personality.
Motorcycles, like people, can have multiple personalities over the years. Without question, Sally's final personality, as characterized by her excellent and quick handling, was the best version of her beauteous self. I've always maintained since I made these final changes in Sally's personality, that function trumps aesthetics. Many have expressed admiration of Sally when she was in her Chopperfied Mode, but clearly, she was best as a motorcycle, in her final state of mind. This was the way she looked, the last time I saw her. Later.