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Apr 27, 2011

Behind the Seat

Some of these custom bikes have the license plate mounted down by the rear axle, turned on end. I think that looks kinda ‘chopper’ and that’s just not the look I’m going for. Looks… Sure… sound, feel, reliability, handling – all of these are important, but looks are way up there for me.

When I was 25 and a single parent, my daughter and I moved in with my mom. My daughter was 2 1/2 – Her mother and I had split as she was well on her way to dying of a heroin overdose some 30 years later. This seemingly off topic digression has something to do with my abhorrence of anything ‘chopper’. My daughter and I didn’t just move in with my mom, but we pooled our rent money together and with my share, there was enough money for my mom to rent a 7 acre little horse ranch. It had a riding ring, barn, some out-buildings and across the road were miles and miles of trails for dirt biking. I bought a 360cc Bultaco. The place was near the south gate of Camp Pendleton in the middle of miles and miles of tomato farms. These tomato farms were about 30 miles north of Tijuana and were somewhat renown for being the most active dumping ground for illegal alien farm workers. I’d love to go on and on about farm workers and perhaps someday I will, but for now I’ll stick to my story of how looks are important to me.

As we were unloading the U-Haul we noticed this Mexican kid was taking boxes out of the rental truck and putting them down in our new living room. My stepfather, who speaks impeccable Spanish, went over to ask the kid just what he thought he was doing. After some lengthy banter the story was translated to us that this was ‘Carlos’. Carlos worked in the tomato fields during the week, and he lived in one of the sheds on our new property. Not only did he live there, but he came with the place as part of the rent! Carlos was our resident handyman and although there was some skepticism at first, he soon became more than our weekend handyman, but part of our family and eventually became like a brother to me. Carlos Reyes de Silva. He was 4 years younger than me, was from way down south in the Yucatan and he had freckles. Carlos would eat any food item without hesitation. We kept a shelf in the refrigerator where our leftovers were placed, and that was Carlos’ shelf. He’d come in from a long day in the sun (or rain) and pile all the random stuff from that shelf into a skillet and heat it and serve it with tortillas. Peas, salad, pork chops, corn bread – whatever was there went in a skillet and he ate it up. With glee.

So one day Carlos announces he’s going to buy a car, would we help him find a good one? Sure. We do. We look in the papers and go see some that he has enough cash for and we find a perfect 1964 Chevy Malibu. Has 60,000 miles and looks like a woman drove it to the golf course once a week. Perfect. Clean, maintenance records – nothing wrong with it. Carlos turned up his nose. Couldn’t put into words what he didn’t like, but said a friend he worked with had a car to show us. This smoking, knocking, ugly-ass white 1967 Ford Fairlane fastback rolls up the drive and it is barley running – 195,000 miles. But… it has huge chrome side-exhaust pipes and little dangly things framing the windshield. Carlos is grinning ear to ear. We implore him to buy the more-reasonable car, but no. This one! Carlos? Why? Why? He says “This one. This one more pretty for me”. End of story. He bought it and drove it for years (just to prove us wrong) – but we got something out of the deal too. We got a cherished family heirloom. A pat phrase. Whenever anyone did something unexplainable we could always excuse it by saying ‘More pretty for me.’

Anyway. Looks. I don’t want the license plate upended, fastened to the rear axle, I want it mounted under the cowl of the bum-stop seat, like I had on the 500 Triumph of the first blog.

Problem is, there is scant little room on this one as the seat is much closer to the tire (which gives the bike the racy, serious-racy look that I have really come to love.

Not only is there not much room for it, the seat pan is made from sheet aluminum and can’t support the license plate.

Before my boss asks for his welder back, I decided to try and fashion some kind of frame-extension for the license plate. I did and it came out exceeding my expectations. There’s enough room and it’s legally visible and topping that off the frame extension is surprisingly strong. Here’s some pics – wish Carlos was here to see them : -)

Spray-can top is about the right clearance
Hanging out there...
Hanging out there…
I can lift the bike!
I think it will work !

As soon as I get the engine and front end installed, we’ll be actually going places!


Instead of building a new chapter, I am just going to add some (related) pictures below. They’re related as I still have not brought the front end back from the mechanic up the road. He  *is*  making progress and the front forks, wheel and brake is going to be fantastic – but we’re not in a rush, once we’re with the mechanic up the road, and besides… there’s still work to be done here, on the rear.

Case in point; the tail lights. I bought these two bullet-looking LED lights that will work as tail/running lights and they have a second circuit that makes them bright as all get out for braking.

Here’s two pictures – one of the mounting detail and the second shows how bright the stop light circuit is… (the white stripe on the seat cowl is in preparation of the red reflective checkerboard stickers that I ordered tonight. When applied, the pattern will match the stripe on the gas tank, but the red squares will be reflective keeping me legal with Johnny-Law. (Note my racy number plates on the wall above, awaiting attachment : -)


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