I believe that the year was 1973. My wife's brother Mark – who was about 11 years old at the time, worked like a son-of-a-gun grinding, sanding and wrenching on my 1971 Superglide. Yep, one of Willie G’s very own boat-tail wonders.
Well, like just about every other purchaser of that model, I first removed the boat-tail. Then, I shed the fatbob tanks, the original handlebars, controls, front fender and wheel, headlight, etc… and ended up using the rear under-fender as my fender, fabricating a sissybar at a local welding shop, purchasing a custom 2-up seat, purchasing a Sportster tank and fabricating mounts, adding risers and pullback handlebars, going with forward controls, a Bates headlight and a spool hub front wheel. I also extended the front tubes to 6 inches over.
After Mark and I had the frame and tank welds ground down, we custom moulded every joint, including the neck area (which had been ground down completely) and I sent the frame, swingarm, tank and rear fender down to Madison, WI to my good friend John Cardin for paint. John also had connections with a chrome shop in the Madison area, so I had my sissybar and other smaller items sent down for chroming.
When the sheetmetal and frame returned – a beautiful gold over burnt orange, Mark and I reassembled most of the bike in my wife’s father’s basement. Then, we hauled the frame (with engine and tranny installed) up the stairs to the garage and completed the assembly.
No shop manual, no lift, everything diagrammed by hand on paper…
By the way, all of the grinding and fabricating was done by hand back then – I didn’t even have air power tools. Just an electric drill, sandpaper, files and wrenches. I kind of recall making spacers for the front wheel by hand.
I do have to thank Mark for his work – he is still a workaholic – and my father-in-law, Al Czech, for their understanding and patience with me. I was 23 years old and had no idea what I was doing. However, if I had to do it over again…. You betcha!
Dad, Baker Drivetrain Party at the Broken Spoke, Sturgis 2010.