Mr. Lucky Meets Basil

Mr. Lucky Meets Basil

I will never forget meeting Basil. A gentleman in all manners. I spotted him in deep concentration looking at a machine that is very close to my heart. The bike is called Mina. An attention to detail tribute to my mother who passed away, well, a long time ago. I think of her daily as an inspiration to all good things. My mother was aware of my entrepreneurial skill when I was about 6…and I now realize I was to follow in her footsteps. Mina was a pioneer woman actively involved as a real-estate brokerage opposed to the more traditional “sales MAN” of her time. Eventually she succeeded in owning her own real estate agency. This all happened where I tried to grow up in suburban Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Ah the 70’s. I built this tribute bike in her honor in 2008. The Time Machine logo that appears on the tank is also her inspiration to my video website I started in 2008… Called the TIME MACHINE.

Back to Basil looking in awe at the bike. When I approached him smiling, I told him the story and asked him if he wanted to hear it run, a few kicks and the 61 incher is idling perfectly. I’m always stoked and proud of the old 1946 knuckle I call Mina. I think it was about then that he smiled and asked me if I would/could build one like it for him. I had already decided that I would and then he gave me his speech. It went like this… Basil explained that his father indeed was close to his heart and somewhere in the conversation he called him Mr. Lucky. And that’s when it was decided the bike would also be called affectionately MR. LUCKY!

I tore into this project with a whirlwind of ideas and organization. Back up! When I told Basil I could/would build a bike, I told him it would NOT be a knucklehead. Back up! About 10 years ago I bought a polished 55 pan motor from Patty Kramer in Oley, PA. It just looked SPECIAL!!! Back up!! Patty tells me this story how Basil tried to buy THAT same motor for 25 years. Half of its 60 year life… it just been sitting around, till now. Now its Mr. Lucky forever!

Back to the build- the motor was pretty easy. I re-polished all the parts inside and out, bored the original cylinders, I used replacement heads sold by V-Twin with the 54 and earlier plumber style intake– I just like them better than the 55-65 jobs. All stock motor. Polished transmission I had built back in 2005 likely.

V-Twin 1955-1957 straight leg frame. Stock springer forks, and the rest is a combination of parts from many years of HD history and dozens of dozens of hand built components that define what I call REAL SCHOOL mechanics. And some great gadgets. The double ride control, the right side adjustable baffled duel exhaust. Dual acting front/rear right hand brake lever… The new old stock pile got somewhat depleted with the 65 panhead rear left crossover dual exhaust that blended to these unusual upswept trumpets, capped with my pal Ken Curtis’ exotic baffle arrangement. I want to stop right here and tell you I had a lot of fun doing this one.

The overall layout is LOW with LOW and wide double layered custom Tom Faber built bars. These bars resemble the bars on the Mina bike, which is another book. The bike handled so easy with the wide and low. The other look I wanted was to have a lot going on in the headlight area and also something to compliment that on the rear. What better than CHROME. Load it up and put it on!!! In some style!!

Now the paint, Painter John Dills really put in work to do this job, there was a lot of moving parts and changes in a short period of time, starting with the wheel hubs. When all of that is in various stages of completion, our pal Mark Peters is busy stripping the multi layered paint. Nerves of steel. The paint started with off white with some design with detail white on fork /bars/rockers and about a dozen other parts.

Mr. Lucky Meets Basil - Tanks
Then it happened… I was mocking up the look on day 1 or 2 and reached for a pair of tanks close by. They were green with odd paint. A pair!!!!! The realization of two things. One was they were a pair all right, but not matched, BOTH the right side, odd. One was flathead 74 and the other panhead odder, WHAT! What’s the story!? They were painted a long time ago. (Notice dirt dauber nest).

Mr. Lucky Meets Basil - Tanks

The second thing I realized is that I now have the paint scheme that I was unsure of. Time for John to do his magic…The period graphix work well with the two tone and the white. Well anyhow, I like it. Paint done (well almost), chrome on. Ready to run, Damn, this bike started and ran as well as any I have built. FROM THE FIRST STROKE. Proud moment. Then I opened the baffle! No words! Ask Buzz- he was there.

Down the road, works great…Then the dreaded thought, “ITS NOT MINE”.

Mr. Lucky Meets Basil - Tanks

Mr. Lucky Meets Basil

Wall of Death

AR 3charlie

AR3 GradyI met my old pal Kent Wadell in 1978 at a Harley Davidson dealer convention. I was 26, and old Kent was in his 60’s. I was a dealer in MT Vernon, Illinois and Kent’s shop was in Abeline Texas… We somehow struck up a conversation about old motorcycles and a friendship was made.

We would get together each year at the Dealer convention somewhere in the country, and talk about old motorcycles. My first of many trips to his shop was years later about 1985.

AR3 WOD...4I admired his collection of Indians and Harley’s, but always came back to an odd looking yellow and red Indian carnival bike. Kent told me what it was, a “WALL OF DEATH” bike. I asked him if I could buy the machine every time I visited and he always declined, telling me stories of its former glory days on the famous “Wall of Death”.
And years went by, 20 plus years.

AR3 WODKent passed away several years ago leaving his legacy to his son Grady, The old Indian was still leaning in the same place it was the first time I saw it in 1985. It was dirty and grimy then and about the same 30 years later. I told Grady that the Wall of Death was going to be at the Museum in a month and jokingly said we should get it running and put it on the wall. No kidding, to my surprise he said “OK!”

AR3 WOD...5The rest you saw on the show, just as it happened step by step. I am probably not supposed to mention that when we got the bike on Wednesday we knew the only chance to film the bike on the wall would be on Thursday, leaving us 24 hours to sort it out. Well filming TV is like molasses sometimes and we did not start filming until 5 pm. We did miracles in a short amount of time, but after the film crew left there was still much to do.

I won’t go into the details of the locked up transmission that night, but I will tell you what you did not see on the show was the courage that only Bob and I witnessed.

Some of the best moments making television is not on the film, but in our memory.