Editor's note: One of the joys of being a father is the opportunity to pass on your life lessons and experiences to your offspring to shape their character and develop fortitude. And no matter how old we get or how much life experience we may have, it seems as though even the simplest of those life lessons continue to spring up. Such was the case with Marde Anderson and what he thought was a good score on a Shovel he found on eBay.
There are two old life lessons that this bike has reminded me of that are still true, the first is, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."
I acquired this bike while eBay shopping for some parts for my fully custom '75 Sportster built by my son Chad, owner of Metal Asylum Kustom Finishes (MA) in Glendale, Arizona. While scanning the eBay ads I found what appeared to be a nice old Shovelhead with an extremely low bid considering it was the last day of the auction. Feeling sorry for the guy I thought I would help out by placing a higher bid, that was still so low I wasn't worried about actually winning it. If by chance I did, I knew it was a steal and I would have something to ride until my Sporty was back on the road. Then I could sell the Shovel and make some money. Well, as luck (or lack there of) would have it, I was notified that evening that I was the high bidder. I contacted the owner several times and was assured on each occasion that I would not be disappointed and that the pictures did not even do it justice. Now came the fun of arranging shipping from the East Coast to Arizona
The heavily re-worked engine was dressed up with a mix of brass oil lines, pushrod covers and bolts from Old-Stf Cycle Shop.
The heavily re-worked engine was dressed up with a mix of brass oil lines, pushrod covers
Chad has not only perfected his skills in laying down all styles of traditional paint techniques, but also developed his own line of flat clear called Ace of Suede.
Chad has not only perfected his skills in laying down all styles of traditional paint tech
The bike is a mix of stock parts, eBay deals, and swap meet pieces Chad had lying around his shop like this tri bar headlight.
The bike is a mix of stock parts, eBay deals, and swap meet pieces Chad had lying around h
The bike arrived while I was out of town so it was delivered to the MA shop. When I arrived back in town and viewed the bike for the first time I knew I had been taken. When the previous owner said the pictures did not do it justice, he was right, pictures can hide a multitude of sins and flaws. I decided it looked like I had a lot of decent parts to start another project at a somewhat fair price. I just didn't need another project sitting around waiting for me to have the time to work on it. Chad saw the dilemma I was in and said he would be glad to take the project on in his spare time between his paying jobs as long as I wasn't in a big hurry.
The first lesson "if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is" really became apparent as my son started to strip the bike down. What pictures can't hide, tons of Bondo can. We have seen better welds coming out of a ninth grade shop class on the first day of welding lessons. The amount of Bondo on the rear fender alone could have skim coated a '66 Lincoln. Part of the forward control was wired to the frame. The "freshly" built engine and transmission leaked like a sieve. We decided it was time to totally disassemble and start all over. My only instructions were that I wanted to keep it extremely clean and simple, the way they used to be built. I wanted to go with the old bobber look so the less hanging on the bike the better.
Every time I came into town and had spare time I would stop by my son's shop to work on the bike. I was doing the mechanical end of things and they were doing all the fabricating and assembly in their spare time between jobs. The deeper we got into it the more I found out that I had really been taken. Even the stock cylinders were not .010 over as I was told, unfortunately they were far greater than that and still not right. In the end the engine was a mix of work done by the previous owner, myself, and Highway Choppers and consisted of a JIMS crank pin and pinion shaft that had been balanced and blue printed, H-D .050 over cylinders with 9.5:1 Wiseco forged pistons, ported and polished H-D heads with Kibblewhite Black Diamond Valves, an Andrews B grind cam, S&S oil pump, and a Crane Single Fire Hi4 ignition. A hard to find Andrews Flowmaster carb was used to feed fuel while a custom set of pipes with brass tips were made by MA. Transferring the engine's output to the rear wheel is a four-speed rotary top kick only trans, Tamer clutch kit with an Alto Power Pack clutch disc set, and a Primo open-belt primary.
The Paughco frame, fortunately, had not been molested by the previous owner although it was not powdercoated as originally claimed. The Wide Glide frontend was OK although the seals were leaking and required rebuilding and the Softail oil tank was OK. Most everything else required major reworking or replacing. The shop managed to salvage the tank after major reworking, consisting of Bondo removal and grinding of the welds. A new internal strut rear fender was fabricated. The wheels were replaced with laced Milwaukee Twins 80 spokes and the brakes were replaced. After the powdercoating came back and the tins were fitted and ready to hang Chad asked what I was thinking for the paint scheme. I wanted the old look and had thought about flames, or maybe scallops, or maybe I would just go with some of his Von Dutch style of pin striping. I decided to trust Chad and his taste, after all he has been painting and fabricating for over half his life. For this project he decided to go with a flat finish and then incorporate flames, scallops and pin striping all in one scheme. The flat finish was accomplished with MA's own line of flattened clear "Ace of Suede." The flat burgundy flames were laid on top of the flat black finish and then gold colored scallops (all custom mixed) were added on top to complement the brass accessories I had chosen for the bike. To finish it off, just the right amount of his Von Dutch style of pin striping was added.
We didn't make the goal of having it ready for Arizona Bike Week but it was close enough to have on display at his booth and the simplicity of it drew a lot of attention and compliments. Thanks son and to the crew at Metal Asylum Kustom Finishes.
Oh, and the second of life's lessons I was reminded of "when life hands you a lemon, you can still make lemonade."