Ebay was a little tricky but I was able to get some great deals like the Ness fender struts and the gas caps. The swap meets were OK but a lot of the parts weren't in great shape, but I did find a few items, like the aftermarket brake rotors, which were brand new in the box for only $25. My best deals were through some of the people I knew. Someone always seemed to know somebody that had what I was looking for, and it saved me a whole lot of money because the parts were just sitting in people's garages. The LA Choppers 16-inch Ape Hangers and the Paughco Upsweep Fishtails brand new in a box were purchased from a friend's brother for only $300. The guy decided that he didn't want them and just stored them in his garage. I can go on and on about the rims, covers, etc, but you get the idea.
Once I had the majority of parts together, I started the rebuild by lowering the bike 2 inches in the front and rear. I had picked up a Ness Taildragger rear fender and modified it by cutting the pointed tip and flared lip off. I scored a stretched Springer front fender that bolted right on. I also had a stretched Fat Bob tank that fit perfectly with a stretched dash I had come across. While the Paughco exhaust was an upsweep system, you couldn't see the fishtail tips from the primary side so I cut the pipes just after the upsweep, added about 4 inches to each pipe, then welded them back together.
One of my biggest issues was finding the right person to paint my parts. I spoke to many people and found someone at work: Jason, aka "Strange," who works as a painter at the Metro painting buses. I spoke to Jason about my bike and he pulled out his portfolio and showed me his work. I was satisfied that he was the best person for the job. Jason and I discussed my plans and I briefed him on how I wanted the bike to look. I explained to him that I wanted Pagan Gold and orange paint mixed with metalflake, and to blend the orange on the edges. He agreed that he could do it and took all the parts. A few months later I went to his house and was amazed by how awesome the paint looked. It even surpassed my expectations once I saw the color. Right on the spot, I thought of the name for my bike, "Tequila Gold." I had some out-of-town friends at my house who were pinstripers: Atomik Matt, from Arizona, and Brian Papa, from Alabama. I had them do the silver leaf and pinstripe the outline on the name "Tequila Gold." After Matt and Brian left, I realized my bike needed more pinstriping. I met a guy, Paulie, aka "Stroker," at the motorcycle swap meet that was doing pinstriping, and asked if he would finish the rest of the bike. Paulie did a great job and I was very pleased.
The build was tough at times, especially reworking the electrical harness. I should have just bought a new one, but again, I was trying to save money. Over the years I have collected a lot of tools and equipment which helped me do everything in my own garage, and going back to school to learn about motorcycles helped me make sure I did it right. I added everything up from all the receipts, and the total came out to about $5,000. Imagine if I purchased all my parts from catalogs and/or dealerships! The price would have been double, maybe even triple, the amount. One other issue I should mention is the labor cost that it took to build this bike. Can you imagine the parts and labor cost combined? Boy did I save a lot of money. Tequila Gold was completed in early 2009, and it came out exactly as planned. The only thing that bothers me is that I wish my friend, Mike, was still alive to see my bike; he was one of my biggest inspirations. Back in the '70s, he built a chopper at home and it was featured in a motorcycle magazine. He would have been so proud. It was a great idea for me to build this bike in my garage. I had my critics at home with my family all giving their advice in this huge project. Thanks to everyone for their help and support.