Ol’ Drippy started as a beat-up 1973 XLH with flat red Fat Bob tanks, a bunch of flakey chrome, and a puddle of oil. I bought it for next to nothing, and I figured I would take it apart and clean it up. I didn’t plan on doing much to it—simply repaint it and change the tins. Two years later, there isn’t much left of the original bike. My father, Steve Spence, was a huge part of this build. He is a master of damn near everything and has taught me all the things I now know.
I really wanted to build a ’70s-style chopper, with a really long, far-out front end, a huge sissy bar, a crazy seat—the whole nine yards. I began hoarding parts and stashing away things. There was a picture in my head, and I was going to do it. The bike was really nice the year before, and nobody understood why I wanted to tear it all apart again and start from scratch. I had to. Once I got the front end, everything began lining up, and my chopper dreams started to take shape.
We acquired an old gooseneck frame from the ’60s from my buddy Frank and threw a David Bird zero-inch-drop, 6-inch-stretch hardtail on it. I found the 18-over springer at a local antique mall and had my friend Dan at Calculated Customs cut me some new rockers. The bars were made by the lovely Bob Millerleile. The seat was bought from an old dude off Craigslist who got it new in the ’70s and never ran it. The sissy bar was an eBay find that I got re-chromed. My father and I did all the motor work, welding, brackets, tabs, paint, etc. I found the original AMF decals and threw them on a freshly painted sporty tank.
This is the second version of this bike, and I think I am finally happy with it. Still, that will probably change in the future. We put a lot of time and effort into this bike and are very proud of it. It is actually one of the best-handling bikes I have ever ridden, but turning it around was a different story.
Drippy was built over the cold Ohio winter. We went through the whole motor during this time, replacing worn-out bearings, parts, and gaskets. I welded the frame, and my old man did all the molding. New parts were sent out for chrome, and we got to painting. After about four months, this beauty rolled out of our shop just in time for Ramble Tamble in Louisville, Kentucky.
I’ve had my share of ups and downs with this bike, just like everyone else. It has definitely helped me acquire some patience. She never let me down this year and has become an all-around great bike. She will always hold a soft spot in my heart as my first Harley and first build. You always plan to keep your first bike, and so do I. But who knows, you might see it on the Internet someday for sale!