A Sailors Story



The Pirate
Lifetime Supporting Member
Supporting Member
At least tell us what ended up with the bike. The motor and all that good stuff.
Ok guys, I'm over due for an update here so let me get over this next weekend at the ABATE Spring Opener and I'll start this thread up again. Didn't mean to leave you all hanging on this but been busy with the trip over to Idaho then the Redwood Run that wore my ass out and the other little short runs in between. Now that I'm recuperated I'm leaving in the morning again. But it's a relatively short trip. :D

Coming up: Did I win 2 First Place trolphies with this new bike?????????

:cheers: :flag: :flag: :flag: :cheers:
Back in 1977 after I joined the Navy I bought my first street bike. For a 17 year old kid this was a major investment. I don't even remember how much it cost me. My buddy who had a Yamaha 400 2 banger and we rode all over South Carolina including making a couple of Myrtle Beach runs. Of course this was back in the 70's so not as large as it is today.

I quickly grew out of this and upgraded to a HD Sporster and had a great time on that. While I hated South Carolina I did have a great time going to Savanna (my shipmate and I used to tag-team a good looking girl there) and Myrtle Beach and many concerts in Columbia. Hwy 61 was always a good ride around the city plus we would stop in at a radio station that cut us music when we were at sea on the Submarines and we would do some bong hits and get some good music recorded. Great old days.
I rode this bike from South Carolina to Washington State and back in 1979. It was a great run but long and hot and wet and dry.

Prior to joining the Navy I worked in the cannery and put all my money into my car. I had a 1966 Dodge Coronet with a 361 that I re-built into a 383. After ordering a short block with high compression pistons and "Wedge" heads I added a tunnel ram and a couple Carter carburetors’. I was the shit in town "Dragging the Gut"! Have any of you heard or remember that term?

To continue:

In 1979 (I was 20 yrs old then) when I rode cross country from SC to WA and back I was crossing North Dakota and back them the speed limit was 55. But of course I was doing 60 or 65!

I get hit between the eyes by a big Locus (grass hopper). This thing was so big it completely blinded me. It was all I could do to get the bike over to the side of the road and clean my face.

I traveled almost 3000 miles and then got to Spokane, WA at night. I still had a ways to go to Walla Walla so filled the tank and off I went. I got to Waitsburg which is about 20 miles from Walla Walla and ran out of gas.
It was midnight and I got to a phone booth (no cell phones then!) and called my dad. He didn't have a gas can and no stations were open anywhere back then.
So what we did is he brought a garden hose ! We wrapped the hose around the forks and the other end to the hitch on the car and he dragged me 20 miles home in the middle of the night.

I had just come back from a deployment to the East. I was in Holy Loch, Scotland for a while. When I got home I went on a 30 day Leave.

On the way back to SC I got stuck in Shelbyville, KY. I had worn my chain and sprocket down to nothing and it wouldn't drive anymore. I had no money so ended up leaving the bike at a gas station and hitching a ride home. Came back a couple weeks later with my roommate and retrieved the bike.

Shortly after that in 1981 I got transferred to Mare Island, CA.

Somewhere on a cold road.

Leaving this state wasn't very hard for me. As a young kid that grew up on meat and potatoes in Idaho out in the country going to Charleston, SC was a wake-up call. I remember getting off the plane and stepping to the door and finding out I couldn't breathe!!! The humidity was so thick. This was before we had these fancy jet ways, back then in 77 they still wheeled a stairs up to the plane.
I had never had grits, sweet cornbread, hominy, crabs, crawfish or Alligator. Of course I could have done without the cockroaches also!

But I had a good time there. Enjoyed many concert up in Columbia where I got to see the Dobie’s, Eagles, Rush, Head East, America and many others.
Attended many runs and rallies but never made it down to Daytona. It didn't have a very good reputation back in 79-80. Heavy police giving tickets out for anything and everything so left it alone.

I had received orders to some super secret submarine out in Mare Island, CA. Boy didn't know what I was getting into till it was too late! But packed up the bike and hauled ass West for another cross country trip (one way this time).

Got into Vallejo, CA about May. It's about 35 miles NW of San Francisco. I had to re-enlist so found out they were going to give me $16,800 so I did it. I had found a buddy that had an old FL that lived in Napa and we shared an apartment together. Turns out he was from Washington State and my parents now lived there.

Anyway, I take that money that is burning a hole in this 21 yr old kids pocket and head down to the Fairfield Harley Davidson dealer and buy a brand new 1981 FXWG. Took some time to get a salesman to wait on me. I guess they didn't believe I had any money!! But after flashing a wad of bills around I lay down 60 100 dollar bills.

This is the ole AMF bikes and the last year of AMF if I remember correctly. It had a 81 cu in Shovelhead motor with a 4 spd tranny. Made a whopping 65 hp and had a top speed of 101. :D

First day on the road was just like the first day I remember taking my BD out. It was just totally awesome. Road so much smoother than my sporty.
The guys I worked with were having a party over in Novato so on this very first day having this bike I rode over. Had a great time and way after dark I decided to leave and head home. I came over on hwy 37 but missed it on the return and rode up 101. Finally determined that I was lost I stopped for directions up near Santa Rosa and was told to go over here and take this hwy back down to 37. Well after filling up I was coming into a little town called Glen Ellen (red flag on map) and all of a sudden my light dimmed and the bike started losing power. :bang: I'm thinking to myself "boy only had this thing one day and look what it's done to me"! I'm in a place I've never been before, I don't know how to get home, I don't have anyone or anyway to call anybody (no cells back them) so I sit there for a while on this lonely road. Not even a dog barking it was so quiet!
It's like 2 AM and no one is on the road but finally an hour later Sheriff stops and the 2 deputies ask me what’s wrong? I explain what happened and you know what they said..........................

"Guess you shouldn't have bought a Harley" and drove off. :cursin: :cursin: :cursin:

To be continued:

After sitting on the side of the road for several hours a guy finally comes by about 6 am and asks me what's wrong. I explain what happened to me and he says hang tight and disappears. He comes back in a few minutes with a trailer and we load up the bike and take it to his house.
His girlfriend makes me some breakfast and they give me a room to sleep in for a while. About noon they wake me up and in the mean time he has gone over my bike and determines the battery ground wire was never hooked up. Apparently at the dealer they disconnect the ground wire to save the batteries and while prepping my bike they never re-connected it! :angry:

He charged up my battery and then escorts me on his Harley all the way home to make sure I got home safe. I was never able to thank those two and regret never getting their names or a number. They really went out of their way to help a young kid stranded on the road.

It wasn't long before I started "customizing" my bike. I hooked up with this guy in Napa, CA that ran a small independent shop called M&M Cycles. He was a cool guy that let me hang around the shop and work by cleaning the shop and when time permitted he would show me how to do lifter adjustments and other small things. Pretty soon I was doing all the oil changes and lifter, chain and primary adjustments service calls that came into the shop.
Here is a pic in that shop of me working on my own bike about 1982:

A 1981 HD had a chain primary and a chain secondary drive. Mike (the owner of M&M Cycles) wanted to do some custom stuff that just came on the market.
Many of you on here have seen my postings of a great company in Montana that does custom sprockets.
Back in the late 70's Phil Ross started making "DUAL" belt drive kits for Harleys. He is known as "The Man behind the Modern Belt Drive"!

Well I was one of the first to have it done on my Wideglide. The kit entailed pulling all the stock primary stuff and sending in my inner primary for modification as well as removing the swing arm and sending it in also for widening. This was major changes back them. Modern bikes with RSD make it easy but back then with LSD you have to do a lot of modifications! We also moved the shock mounts on the swing arm back an inch to lower the ride. This kit included a plastic clutch hub just like the sprockets he makes today but it did have steel sections in it.

Here is some of his sprockets today:

Here is a picture where you can see the belt drive on the rear of the bike way before HD was doing it! We were always on the cutting end of new technology.

Well it wasn't long before I had to deploy to sea on my new submarine I had just got stationed on. We would be gone for several months and would have NO contact with the world. No TV, no radio, no phones, no newspapers, no port calls! Just many long months underwater doing some fancy missions that may be released to the public in about 100 yrs!! :D

But, so that all the sailors could pay their bills prior to deployment we could request "Advanced Pay". We would be gone over 4 months so we could draw our paycheck all at once to pay rent bills and other things while we were gone.
Well you can imagine all mine when to Mike at the M&M Cycles shop to pay for all this fancy work and even some new custom paint by a lady well know in the Bay area back then as "Spyder Lady". She only did airbrushing so you had your tins painted elsewhere then she would do her magic to them then they would go back to the painter for clear coat.

Here is some of what I did:

The bike was coming along real nice and my roommate and I put a lot of miles on both our bikes running back and forth to Washington St from San Fran on weekends and many other runs within the states of Kalifornia and Nevada. My roommate was doing some fantastic work on his old FL also. I'll get into that in the next segment.

Do you know where your 45th parallel is?

To be continued: :cheers:

My roommate Shag and I were always tinkering with our bikes. Hell you had too to kept them running. Up until the "EVO" came out them knuckles, pans, shovels and Sportsters were basically all the same, you fixed, you rode, you fixed, you rode and cruising faster than 70mph (55 mph National speed limit) was not normal.

While I was doing all my mods to my bike Shag's old 76 FLH was always causing us issues on the road.

So he decided to do something about it. Just as I did, when he deployed he got his BIG check and had a well know builder that worked out of his garage rebuild his FL. He was going all out. First was to pull that old worn out 74 cu in motor and have a wild new stoker kit put in it that was being advertised by S&S motors. With a 4 5/8" stroked flywheel set and a larger set of jugs he could get 93"s out of his motor. This was still back in 82 or 83. While this was being done he had the frame sent out for some new process called "powder coating". Supposedly you could hit it with a hammer and it wouldn't chip or at least that was what the advertisements said.
And to be "one up" on me as far as paint goes he had the builder buy Rolls Royce Black and Silver paint used on the famous RR "Silver Shadow" car! Paint cost him "an arm and a leg" but it sure looked good when he got it all done don't you think?

Up until then Shag always wore "Buckskins" but after he had the bike painted black he shifted to black leathers. Shag was a "Bull" rider in the Military Armed Forced Rodeo so liked the western look.

As I stated before we were always taking every advantage to go home to Washington State on weekends. We would get off the submarines early on Friday then ride home and load up the bikes and hit the road to either Omak or Walla Walla up in Washington State. It was 880 miles and we needed to get in by morning to enjoy a day there before we had to head back another 880 miles to be at work on Monday Morning. We were in the Military so we were never late ever!!!

We always had fun on these trips’s stopping to fix a stuttering carburetor or a loose chain or belt. We probably did over 20 of these runs in the three years we lived together. Here we are in Grants Pass, OR fixing a carburetor again even after having the motor rebuilt. It just never ended. But it was fun and great to reflect on now! :D

But as I said that was the way we had to do it to keep these old design bikes running. The coming of the relative maintenance free Evo brought a whole new type of rider to the scene.

Here is a picture of me on one of these long weekend runs. Notice even back in the early 80's I strapped leather or bedroll to the forks just as I do today. Something’s never change! No helmets back then either!!!! :)

Did I tell you how we partied with Shag's FL bags????? Coming soon!

Shag and I were pretty much hooked at the hips. We went everywhere and did everything together. We had hooked up with these two girls (among many others!) that worked for Purple Hog Leather over in Yuba City. This was a small family operation and they attended all the local swap meets in a circuit that just like gun shows had a show in a different city every few weeks. One of the biggest in the San Francisco area was the "Swap Meet" at the "Cow Palace" in South SF. They hooked us up with all our leathers for cost!

We used to ride up to Lake Berryessa or Lake Hennessey and either go skinny dippin (with the girls) or fishing. We would fill Shags saddle bags with ice and beer or other kinds of drink for the girls. He had lined the insides with foam insulation and they worked pretty well.

We would be riding all over the place and used to enjoy the races at the Sacramento Dirt Track. We used to watch a young kid by the name of Jay Springsteen who rode for Harley Davidson. He dominated the Sacramento Mile and other dirt track races back in the 70 & 80's. He was the first rider to reach 30 national victories by winning the Sacramento Mile in April of 1982.

As most of you know there was a very large population of "Hells Angels" in the area. They were always putting on fundraising events making money for kid’s charities. We used to hook up with them and tag along at the end of their long lines of bikes many times getting police escort.
Here's one of the events we went to. You may notice the main prize was a brand new "Video Cassette Recorder". That was some new technology backs them. :D Looks like I went with a girl named Barbara. Oh, I didn't win the prize!

We were still making some long hard runs up to Washington St and this one year we went up and attended the famous "Omak Stampede". Shags family lived in Omak and his dad was on the city council and was on the "Board" that organized the Stampede. He employed us when we would make it up. We worked the arena directing the gates and such.
The Stampede was made famous in a Disney movie years back for its famous "Suicide Race". Its main event is the horse race where young Indians (some white boys but not many) would race their horses 100 yards to the edge of a steep cliff and basically fall off the face of it dropping hundreds of feet to a river at the base. Then they would race down the river for quarter mile and the finish line was in the center of the rodeo arena.

After the main events we would party with the Indians till the wee hours of the morning. They are a crazy bunch of people but we had fun and they appreciated my bikes art work. But sometimes things just got out of hand and we would end up in the slammer!!! :angry: But Shags dad would always come bail us out, he had some pull in town with the Sheriff!

But the fun always had to come to an end and we always had a long ways to go. Remember we were on ole Shovelheads so as we always said "we rode some then we fixed some"!!
But we were never late getting back to the base for duty on Monday morning EVER! But we rode our asses off back in those days, day or night and sometimes all day or night long.

Our next long ride we would be going to Sturgis!!!!
To be continued:

Before I continue from the last segment I want to reflect back to the late 70's as I found a couple old photos and scanned them with my new scanner. It was getting the scanner that prompted me to start this little story. How long it goes and where it ends I have no idea but if you enjoy reading it during these harsh winter months then I get a bit of satisfaction in its creation.

My first segment started with my first bike. I had bought a Kawasaki 400 to go along with my roommates Yamaha 400 2-stroker. These are the two bikes I talked about that we were using to cruise all around South Carolina and North Carolina as well as Georgia. I found this picture while digging around the garage today. Here I am at 17 or 18 yrs old after joining the Navy! (ya ya, that's me on the right!!!!). See.... I was born to ride! :D

I also found and it breaks my heart to admit to it but I had upgraded to a KZ-900 on or about 78 or 79. I traded up for this and it was a used bike but a real screamer and the predecessor to the new crotch rocket I guess (or that's what I hear)! Check out the kool rear turn signal "Tombstone" lights I had. I can't remember where I got that seat from but the girls loved it. It kind of let them sink into it! :D

I also remember riding this thing over to Washington state and back to SC when I had a 30 day leave period. Oh how the memories come back to you when you see these old photos. On this trip I had brought my brother Jerry back with me. He is the one that is now building the custom Big Bear Chopper that should be done next month.

On the return trip we were in a little town after coming across the whole United States of America a little town on the border of NC and SC called Columbus or Columbia on I-26. We had stopped to get something to eat as we had ridden across 5 days of rain, wind, rain, cold, hot, and just miserable conditions.
Earlier while we were coming across MO or KY don't remember now but there were lots of "Fireworks" stands and we were into firecrackers and such so we picked up a bunch.
We were just off I-26 near this town of Columbus and at a gas station/mini-mart. We had taken the opportunity to use the picnic tables they had to crash out for a bit as we still had a ways to go to Charleston. Well the attendant of the station got worried that two bikers were loitering and called the Sheriff. Well back in the 70's I don't have to tell you what happened but you can imagine a scene out of "Dukes of Hazards" a fat Sheriff pulls up and we were awaken, groggy from many miles and just plain tired.
Well they start to accuse us of attempting to steal or rob the convenience store! :eek: We are just a couple young kids 19 and 17 that wanted to get a bit of rest prior to pushing on the Charleston. Well next thing you know there are more Sheriff cars pulling up and we are searched and nothing is found. We sit there for a while as they are figuring out what to do with us and the Big Sheriff pulls up. He's right out of a movie, big belly, and dirty shirt and fat!! He tells those deputies to search us again and low and behold they find a pack of "ZigZag's" in my shirt pocket. Holy Cow you would have though a terrorist group had just blown up one of their squad cars. Now they have "probable cause" so they pretty much strip search us right there in the parking lot of the gas station. Well they find a small baggy of Marijuana on my little brother!! :eek: Now they are frothing at the mouth so they search our bags on the bike and guess what they find? They find all the fireworks we purchased in another state! :confused: Now mind you it was just a couple big bags of firecrackers but we learn that they are not legal in NC and so off to jail we go.
After reading this and my other segments you all probably think I'm telling a fiction story here but I assure you right here and now this is all the truth.

We are hauled down to the station and processed or whatever they call it for arrest on "marijuana" and "illegal fireworks". It's now about 3 o'clock in the morning and we are so tired all we can do is hang our heads and wish for a warm pillow. Well come morning they pull me out and having seen that I was an active member of the Military they tell me I can go but they are holding my brother on charges of possession of marijuana and illegal fireworks.

Oh what a trip this has been. I rode almost 3000 miles from SC to WA State and then on the return trip another 3000 miles I have caused my little brother to be thrown in the slammer.

Anyway, I make it home to Charleston tell my roommate all about what happened and we go down to legal on base and get some help/information.
A couple days later we drive back up to Columbia, NC and attend the court proceedings in out uniforms and the judge asks if anyone has anything to say for this defendant and we both speak up in his defense. Well the Judge fines him for misdemeanors and lets him go.

My roommate also had a KZ 900 or 1000 and this is my brother on it.

You know what my brother said when we asked him if he was ok in the jail for those three days?

He said "it was the best sleep he had in a long time!"

Let’s see........ Where was I going with this story??? Oh yeah, Shag's and my first trip to Sturgis.

Shag and I did a lot of miles together over a 4 yr period. Can you tell who is who?

Coming soon!

Shag and I would ride anywhere anytime if we had the chance. A lot of it was based on whether we were in port or at sea or our sea schedule as we called it.

Shag was/is a "Saturation Diver". For you non-diving folks that means they would get pressed down to a deep sea pressure and live in a habitat while working at that level of depth. Then when the mission was completed they would be slowly brought back to atmospheric pressure or 14 psi.
I was just a "common air breather" diver as we called "SCUBA" qualified divers!
The saturation divers breathed in helium and when they were in their habitat pressed down to outside sea pressure they talked like Donald Duck! :lol:
They were a crazy bunch though and our submarine missions revolved strictly around their needs.

LiveLeak.com - US Navy Submarines - Blind Man's Bluff

Operation Ivy Bells - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I can't confirm or deny if our submarines were doing this stuff. I was just a young sailor onboard doing what I was supposed to be doing and doing a good job of it!

This "Fuck" really jeopardized our lives! :angry:

We were really proud of our boat but the following article in the Book "Blind Man's Bluff" gave us a bad name as captured here in a section of the book! We definitely were not a broken submarine as they stated!!!:angry:

After each of these long missions we went on we would have some time off. There was a couple though were we came home refitted (loaded up with groceries) and headed right back out.
So shore time was precious and we made the best of it. I've written here of a lot of fun times we had but in reality we were gone most of the year.


Shag and I were always riding up the coast and we always attended the Redwood Run up in Piercy, CA. I don't know why but it seems we were always on the road. Whether it was going up to Washington State or riding around locally we were always going somewhere.

During 1983 our schedule allowed us to make plans for Sturgis that year. So with all our planning and packing our bags and everything else involved we set out for Sturgis.
We ride out on I-80 up though Reno and into Salt Lake and find that there is a lot of bikers heading in the opposite direction! :confused:
We pull in to a gas station and ask a group of bikers why there not headed to Sturgis and they tell us: "Sturgis is over"!!!!!! Excuse me. What do you mean it's over? They say Sturgis was last week. :eek:

We had gotten the dates wrong and Sturgis had now ended. So we wonder what we are going to do and eventually figure out we will head home to Washington State. The Omak Stampede is going on and that is where we head to.

Boy, the days without Ipods, Cell phones, and all kinds of electronic devises sure made planning a pain in the ass!! :bang:

But we eventually made it to Sturgis and had a great time back in the day.
It was fun back in the 80's. :lol:

Here is a pic of what happens to the "rice burners" that show up to this prestigious event.

Coming up - Sturgis in the 80's!!!


Back in the early 80's we had a new TV station come on called MTV. It was kool in that instead of listening to music on the radio you got to "watch" and "listen" to it on television! :eek: MTV started up in 1982 and was so kool to watch your favorite bands play live for you. This show last quite a few years before it went to shit!! I haven't watched in years due to the quality of material it carries. Not my kind of stuff now.
But back in its first year it had some fabulous stuff. Watch this and see if you recognize anything.

YouTube - '80 I want my MTV commercial
YouTube - MTV opening clips

Getting to Sturgis was very involved and took a lot of planning. First off we had to ensure our submarines were in port at the time. Shag and I were on opposite boats! Our long missions usually occurred during the winter time. This was done due to the "ICE" covering in our mission area. We could go in under the ice cap and not worry about any surface ships dropping depth charges on us for being in there back yard! But this was also very dangerous as you can image. Any kind of emergency such as a fire and we couldn't reach "periscope depth"

or surface

to ventilate and get fresh air into the boat. Before going under the ice you ventilated the ship to get a good supply of fresh air in the boat and then you would literally disappear of the face of the earth! A nuclear powered submarine made its own oxygen, water and power. The "only" thing we had to come home for was food!

Anyway, mid 80's we were making plans to make the run over to Sturgis. Shag had family in Rapid City so we stayed with them when we got there. The place was full as it was a boarding house every year for the rally.
Getting there was a chore though because those ole Shovelheads just didn't like to run long before they needed some massaging.

We were always stopping to fix a loose belt or chain or clean a carburetor. Or an oil leak would develop on a lifter and we would have to clean it up and replace a gasket. We carried lots of extra parts (must have been our military training!). But we would ride only stopping for gas and a beer or two to numb the body. Hot, cold, wet, dry or freezing we would be going somewhere.

Back in the early 80's they had just closed the city park that created the outlaying campsites like the Buffalo Chip and Glencoe. They were about the only ones out there then. But the Chip always had the best parties and we would go visit down town and then head out to the chip for the concerts.
We would see bands like the Doobies and many others.
Anyone recognize this guy? I think its David Allen Poe but don't remember.

or this one?

Some of the most exciting things they had back then were the "Honda drop". Someone would bring in a rice burner and it would be lifted up on a crane and dropped to the ground again and again. Then patrons would have the option of hitting it with a big sledge hammer for a buck a shot. When it was all over it would be sacrificed to the rice gods never to be seen again.

For those that never saw the Buffalo Chip back in the 80's it was just the arena they have today. Everyone partied in it and all the camping was in it also. Quite a party area. Now it's so big you need a GPS to find a camp spot!

Here’s a very early picture of Saloon #10 back in the day. Looks a bit different today.

Down town wasn't as big as it is today. It was just three or four blocks of Main Street shut down. Now the whole city is full of vendors!

Well it all had to come to an end. After many miles with Shag at my side I was getting transferred!!! :rant: We had covered many miles together and shared many things that only a couple of biological brothers would know about.

But I had to move on and my next duty station was going to be Norfolk, VA. We used to call if "No Fuck", VA back then. This was late 1984.
I had many a good time and it was hard to leave but when you gotta go you gotta go so on I went.
It was getting on to winter time in some parts of the country so I decided not to ride across the nation. Instead I rode again for the umpteenth time to my home in Walla Walla, WA and parked my bike in the garage and would come retrieve it next spring.

This was a decision that I would later come to regret for the rest of my life!!!!

Next will be my little brother’s involvement in all this.

While I was stationed in Mare Island in Vallejo, CA my brother had entered the Navy and was stationed at Alameda, CA down in the Bay Area. He was a Machinist Mate on the USS Mars a "Combat" re-supply ship.

USS Mars AFS-1

Jerry would always be calling me to come get him and I would ride down to Alameda and pick him up and take him back up to Napa for the weekend. He had hooked up with one of the girls at a bar we hung out in called "The White Horse". If I didn't have anything going on he would take off on my bike and take Pam up to the lake (Late Berryessa) and go swimming or whatever they did. Sometimes they would disappear and I wouldn't see them again for a couple days......... on my bike!

One time I was called up topside while we were moored at Pearl Harbor, HI. I'm wondering who wants to see me so I get topside and low and behold it's my brother. His ship had pulled in and he by chance asked around to find out if the USS Seawolf was in and it was so he came down to see me.

We spent the weekend together mostly hanging out in Waikiki and chasing girls.

We hooked up with a couple girls from the "mainland" and in the wee hours of the morning we went skinny dipping off of the beach. We thought we would swim out to the platforms they had anchored off shore about 100 yards. Well we get out there and we are having fun and later we decide to head back and Jerry gets tired and can't make it back to shore. I start screaming at him to use his Navy training and back float in. Ride the waves and breathe on the up swells and exhaust on the down swells. Well it was enough to get him to shore and with all the commotion with his possibly drowning we have a little audience on the beach. We were kind of embarrassed as we didn't have any clothes on. The girls immediately run for their clothes but I ensured my brother was ok and up on the beach before I run for mine and his. We yell at everyone that we are ok and to leave us alone. It was quite an event but we had fun at the same time.

Jerry had visited the Philippines and had found an old 80" flat head motor and brought it back to the United States. It was a large motor for its time and was produced in 1936.

This was the same year that HD introduced the famous Knucklehead motor. The 80" flat head motor though was designated a UH or ULH motor.

Jerry had lots of plans for this old motor but they never materialized and he gave it to me and I passed it on to the HD dealership owner in Missoula, MT when I was a recruiter back in 1990. Don't know whatever became of this old motor.

Anyway, about the time I was transferring to Norfolk, VA Jerry was getting out of the Navy after 4 yrs. He went back home and started working as a welder assembling wood fire stoves.

I was moving to Virginia and made my last ride up to Washington State to drop my bike off and stow it in the garage till next spring when I would come back and retrieve it and ride across country to Virginia.

Spring forward and I am calling my brother Jerry to pull the bike out of the garage and charge the battery and make sure it's ready to run for when I get there to ride it back across the country.
Jerry does this and gets it all ready to run. A few days before I'm scheduled to arrive he takes my bike out for a ride with his girlfriend. They are out late and are riding back to town on this country road then they come upon a house party.
Someone is leaving and guns the motor roaring out into the road in reverse. About this time my brother and his girlfriend on my bike are passing by. The car speeds out to the road and runs right into Jerry. He clips the car with his right leg shattering it. It veers him to the left where he separates from the bike and sliding on his ass end runs into a set of "guy" wires holding up a telephone pole. This is the typical three wires that anchor a telephone to the ground.

Well it slices my brother open from his belly button to the same area on his back. Opened him up like a can of worms! He lay with all his internals lying out in the field on the side of the road. When the paramedics got there they have to stuff all his insides back into him to transport him to the hospital.

He was still alive and during transport they stabilized him and kept him alive till they got to the emergency room. His girlfriend on the back was flown over the top of the bike and landed down the road with a separated shoulder and that was about it for her. She was fine.

Jerry on the other hand was struggling for life. He was in bad shape. His leg was shattered and the doctors couldn't keep blood flowing through his leg to his foot. They had pinned it all together but blood flow was the issue.

His anus was ripped open also so they had to do a "colostomy" or something like that till he healed. That’s the bag you see right of his belly button. This is where his lower bowel exited for now!

Jerry's face scraped the pavement and a hole was opened in his cheek. He had lots of other road rash also.

I was notified by Red Cross gram and flown immediately home. This was the second Red-cross gram I had received during my early Navy years.
A couple years prior to this I was out to sea when the "Below Decks" watch came and got me and told me I had to report to the Captains Stateroom. Normally you go "oh shit, what did I do now" but this time it was different.

This time the Captain had to tell me my father had passed away. Not a good thing to hear when you are out in the middle of the ocean far from home.

But when my brother had his accident I was able to get on a plane and be there in a couple days. He was stabilized when I got there but his leg wasn't faring so well.

While in the hospital I got some drawing paper and drew this sign.

Next segment; How did my brother fair and what happened with his leg! Also what happened to my bike!

From my first segment I stated how I just didn’t get along well in the Southeast while I was stationed in Charleston, SC during the late 70’s. Well I didn’t care for Norfolk much either. Just not my kind of culture I guess. But I got reported in to my new submarine and was adjusting to life pretty good. My boat ended up going in to the shipyard over in Newport News across the river from Norfolk. This place was just a rundown industrial area. Don’t know what it looks like today but in 1985 it was just shipyard and bars. Newport News produced (back then) most of the nuclear powered vessels the Navy has. So guess that means submarines and aircraft carriers.

Believe it or not but I didn’t or wasn’t able to hook up with one single person that road a Harley! Don’t know if that was due to the weather or the traffic or both. While I was stationed there I just lived in the barracks and saved my money and worked. After my 4 year tour in Kalifornia moving to Virginia was pretty bleak. But I survived and pretty soon it was spring time and I had my “leave chit” in for time off to go home and retrieve my bike and ride it back across country.
I can remember worrying about gear though. I was only riding across the country! Did I take the necessary things home with the bike when I stowed it. Did I bring it here with me or is it still in storage. Little things like both sets of gloves. Hope my camping gear went with the bike. Lots of little things like that. So as I do even today I start my “list” of things to do. This will be about a three week trip so got to have everything ready so that I can get back on time. As I’ve stated here before “I was never late getting back to the ship” and I sure didn’t want to start now.

One of the things on my list was to ensure the bike was ready. Needed to ensure the battery was good and the oil got changed, plugs and points too. Points…… what are those! Well they were something that required maintenance! :eek:

So I call up my brother and give him the list of things to do for me. He had put many miles on my bike while we were in Kalifornia and I was confident that he would have my bike ready to go the day I arrived in Walla Walla.
As you know already if you’ve been following along that thing’s didn’t end up as planned.

Jerry was a fighter. He should have died on the side of the road the way he was ripped open but guess he had better things to do. He did lose the battle with his leg though. It was amputated twice with the doctors doing all they could to maintain blood flow to his lower extremity. They first took it off below the knee then had to go up a bit too mid thigh. He healed up over time and had adapted to his new leg and is doing remarkably well right now 25 years later.

My bike didn’t fare as well. The impact destroyed the front end including tearing off the front wheel assembly. The forks impacted the down tubes hard enough to bust the front cylinder and head. You can see in the picture below that his girlfriend was hanging on so tight that she pulled the rear fender and struts straight up in the air. My beautiful paint job was destroyed. I was able to save the girl on the rear part of the fender so had it cut off. I’ve lost it over the years with many moves around the country.

I never mentioned the inspiration that caused me to select the murals on the tins. I was a devout reader of Louis L’Amour. He put out a calendar that was based on western images so I had Spyder Lady paint the four scenes you’ve seen from that calendar.

Well I stick around at the hospital for a week or so then decide I better get back to Virginia. Jerry was still in intensive care at this time and they hadn’t amputated his leg yet but I had to get back. So I buy a Greyhound ticket and take the bus across country. Greyhound was a popular way to travel back then unlike today. And it was pretty cheap.

Insurance money allowed me to get pretty creative (as if I hadn’t already done so) with the re-build of this thing so after I get back to base I start my “list”. Let’s see we will use a Paughco frame, Paughco springer, Performance Machine solid billet rear wheel and brake. PM spoke front wheel with dual puk brakes. Paughco gas tanks, oil tank and tin primary (did you say tin primary?)!!!!!! No starter. Then how you gonna start this thing???

This is a sneak view of what is a head. Pre-assembly on my tool box.

And for the motor????
You ever here of the “Da Judge”? You may know him by Jim McClure. See his dragster behind him?

Next segment – The motor

For those of you just checking out “A Sailors Story” I write a short segment every week. With the previous segments I combine them all together on the first page so if you want to start from the beginning you will find them all there. Thanks for following along.

I had to pull the motor and transmission out of the bike. I got the primary assembly off then got the tanks off, then the oil bag and battery box. Removed the exhaust and whatever else was in my way.

It was pretty hard getting the motor out of the frame cause the front down tubes were pushed into the motor breaking the front cylinder off at the base of the motor. So I pulled the transmission and then pulled the rear rocker and head and was able to move the motor around a bit till I could swing it out of the frame. I stripped it down further to just what I wanted to take with me back to Norfolk. Here is a picture of what I had before I started the re-build.

I was also able to salvage the clutch unit, belts, pulleys and shocks. All the rest was junk now. It all got hauled off to the dump and sacrificed to the V-Twin gods!
For the rebuild I had to find a motor head that knew something about motors. After Shag my old roommate built his 93” motor I wanted something comparable. His bike got up and went when he opened the throttle and it was hard for me to keep up so I wanted a little more power out of that old tired Shovelhead motor.

I searched around the Virginia area and came upon a placed called “Master Performance Cycles” in Williamsburg, VA. I had been going to the dirt drags around the area and this guys signs were up all around so he must have a good name I’m thinking. I go visit his shop and boy oh boy…. I learn he is some famous racer and holds the current quarter mile speed record. I believe his record was 178 mph in about 7 seconds on his modified bike. He was a great guy to boot. This is the famous and now “Hall of Famer” Jim “Da Judge” McClure.

A couple of Jim's famous Quotes:

Another one:

So we get to talking and he asks me what I want from my motor and what I be doing with it and a bunch more questions. He tells me for the style of riding I do (meaning lots of miles) I should go with a whole new lower end from S&S. The whole assembly would come complete and would be a 4 5/8” stroker kit with new pistons and rings in addition to the new flywheel set. He would have to split my cases and then install the new kit and align it and then put it in some fancy machine he had that would verify trueness and balance.

At the same time I told him I wanted the transmission done. We would put a complete set of Andrews’s gears in it. On top of this I had him send out the motor and transmission cases to be polished. This motor and transmission was going to be pretty when it was done compared to that flat wrinkle black it came with that dulled badly over time. All the polishing and chrome on this build was all done at Brown’s in Kentucky.

When I got them back I was amazed with the new polished cases and just how nice they looked with the new painted barrels. For contrast we left the heads plain. What do you think?

It’s 1986 now and I’m finishing up my 2 yr tour onboard this submarine and now talking with my “detailer” about my next assignment. He tells me that with my Top Secret security clearance that I will be going right back where I came from. I would be going back to Mare Island but this time I would be reporting aboard the USS Richard B Russell. This was another “Special Project” submarine that did long missions. Like I needed more of those! I would be transferring in December and reporting aboard in January 1987. Man was I glad to be going back home.

Here is an bit about the Russell:

So, in the mean time I’m still working on “my list”! So far, most of it meaning 95% of my parts are coming from Carson City, NV from a great company called Paughco. I ordered my frame and springer front end from them. I did a lot of research on rake and trail so that I was sure that with a 3 degree increase in rake and a little extra length in the down tubes I would still have the frame rails parallel to the ground. I didn’t care much for the bikes of the time that would put on a 10 over front-end and have the bike sticking up in the air.

Jumping ahead to 1987 now and I’m back home in Napa, CA in my new place and I have my motor, transmission and I now have my frame and springer and a bunch of other parts. Time to get this show on the road. When I ordered my frame they offered an option for extra gusseting and of course I wanted that. I wanted this frame to be good and strong for this stroker motor I now had.
Here I have the motor and transmission in getting ready to dry fit the springer on before I start prepping the frame.

First thing I do is go over every inch of that frame and smooth out all the welds and clean it all up. Then I get a bucket of “Bondo” and cover every weld. Of course this was after I drill all the holes in the frame for the internal wiring and hoses. But here I am working on it with some tools and sanding equipment. I had two years of “Auto and Body” in high school before I joined the Navy.

Not the best pictures in the world but they are over 20 years old now! It was very exciting putting this all back together and having my hands on every bit of it. I was 27 or 28 then and was building myself a real show stopper and doing most of it by myself. I still had a long ways to go though. Paint, chrome, powder coating, final assembly and electrical wiring. Plus I still had wheels and brakes, handlebars, controls almost everything I had to buy new. My list was long but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Next segment: Assembly

Next part on pg 8!


semi-retired...---... GURU C7Z06...---...
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I had read most of this awhile back but thanks for bringing it back up and thanks for sharing your travels with us.:2thumbs:


Good story but you're not old . We must have passed in the night somewhere. Oakland and Fresco 1969-1972 left in haste. No pictures no diary. No statute of limitations.

Diesel Dan

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Rays Greatest thread ever I Think:cheers::cheers::cheers::cheers:.....great story...great pictures:)...........Thanks for sharing Ray:2thumbs::2thumbs:


The Pirate
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Haven't updated this thread since I retired from the Navy years ago. Guess I will have to get back to it.

I need to go back in and fix some of the pictures that don't fit from when we changed servers a few years back and a lot of pictures got scrambled around.


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Ray, have never meet you but your stories posted are very enjoyable.
Thank you for your service as well, as you are a true Patriot.
I also can relate to those days of where am, what time is it, how did I get here and how do I get home from here.
God bless and thank you.

Mr. Wright

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Haven't updated this thread since I retired from the Navy years ago. Guess I will have to get back to it.

I need to go back in and fix some of the pictures that don't fit from when we changed servers a few years back and a lot of pictures got scrambled around.
Great reading. I noticed clear back on pg 1, that you were on the USS Seawolf. Is this the same sub that is at Seawolf Park, down be Galveston, TX?