Gary Gardner (grgardner) wrote,
Gary Gardner

It's Just Like Home Remodeling..."As long as its on the lift..."

I decided to take a "me" day today and not do any work.  Last week I heard from my good friend and former colleague Rich, who like me, went through a divorce and major work changes last year, and as a result, bought a motorcycle and started riding.  You might recall Rich was in a little group ride of mine we called "Wild Hogs Redux" last July  (you can read the adventure here: .)  Well Rich and I decided to head out to Fall City to a roadhouse for lunch and to spend some time catching up and riding the roads of the Snoqualmie Valley.  When we chatted on the phone this morning he said it was "sunny" up in Issaquah where he was, while I said it was a bit cloudy here in West Seattle.  By the time I got the 20 miles to Issaquah it was "misting", so when Rich pulled up to the Tully's where we were to meet up, I said "by 'Sunny' you mean it wasn't raining right?"  He laughed and we headed out across the Samammish Plateau.  We spent a good ninety minutes over a good tax deductible lunch and headed out for a ride down WA-203.  During lunch I got word from Downtown Harley that the conversion parts to my Rocker were in and ready to be mocked up and I should go take a look.  I invited Rich but he had to take off to pick up his daughter, so I waved him off as he turned North and I turned Southeast towards Renton.

Now the "conversion" to the Rocker I'm working on is an interesting project.  The Rocker is my "Crimson Red Sunglow" Harley  "sort of" chopper.  It's a gorgeous bike as is, but I've been wanting to customize it a bit more than I already have and make it more of a showy "real" chopper.  When a turn-signal light went out and the module had to be replaced, it opened the door to do some other modifications since the entire rear fender had to come off to fix the signals.  So, much as how fixing the shower in the house lead to a kitchen remodel, which lead to a living room rebuild, which lead to a new garage, all of which was the result of my constantly saying:  "as long as the contractor is here lets..."  A simple turn signal replacement now has lead me to say:  "as long as we have it on the lift and torn apart..." 

This is how the bike looked before we started this project:
As you can see, the rear fender wraps around the top of the tire, the license plate is on the fender, and the seat "floats" in the air over the fender.  What I want to do is lower the seat to meet the fender, chop the fender back, and move the license plate to a side mount on the left side.  And while I've been dreaming of doing this, it took the need to replace the turn signal module, which, in typical complex fashion, required removing the entire fender to do, to start the ball rolling.  Since this was warranty work, I figured I'd save a couple of hundred dollars in labor charges by using this opportunity to replace the fender with the chopped version.  After all, "as long as it's on the lift..."

But just like a home remodeling project, the Rocker rebuild has snowballed way beyond what I envisioned when I started.  "As long as you have it on the lift...." is something that's becoming part of my day-to-day vocabulary.   And just like a remodeling project, there have been "part" issues.  The company building the fender "lost" the first order, setting us back two weeks.  When they finally shipped the fender, they "forgot" the license plate mount.  However, since the plate mount isn't critical, the crew at DHD and I decided to proceed with the mock-up test fitting of the fender parts.  And like a remodel project, it didn't fit right the first time either, nor did it look quite right.  "As long as we have it on the lift...'
The fender rides some four inches above the fat rear tire when we first got it on.  It needs to be much closer otherwise it looks like a dirt bike and not a sexy chopper.  We decided to add a lowering kit (as long as it's on the lift...)  and bring the fender down a bit, as well as adjusting the shocks some to bring it further down (since it was on the lift).  And so after some more tinkering, wrenching and fiddling,  some more additional parts, and me trying hard not to to throw things around and yell like Paul Teutul Sr. on Orange County Choppers,  we got the fender to sit 2.25 inches lower than where we started out.  And given my slightly hefty frame, it shouldn't scrape when I hit a bump or two in the road as it carries 200+ pounds of moi.  And it looks 100% better.
Now it's time to take it all back apart and send the unpainted parts out for painting.  Everything that is unpainted, and in some cases that is painted gray on the bike now (except the engine) will be painted in Crimson Red Sunglow.  This should take about a week, and then they will ship the parts back and we'll put it all back together again -- hopefully with the license plate frame and new turn signal/brake light modules.  With any luck she'll be ready before the final end of the season biker party up in Anacortes.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed -- but like a remodel project, deadlines (and budgets) are meant to be broken.  Especially since "it's already on the lift..."

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