“KEYS TO THE HARLEY KINGDOM”

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Photo by Genghis


THE MISSING LINK: I got my bike back from Rosa’s cycles.

“Scott, you can’t find pipes like you have on Mabel anymore. If you paid someone to custom make these pipes, it would cost you a thousand bucks.”

ANDREW ROSA

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Which is precisely why I was determined to keep ’em, instead of buying new exhaust pipes for my Harley 74, Mabel. Not only did Andrew tell me the same thing several years ago, he also asked me at that time, if I was interested in sellin’ these great old pipes. I said, “No.” The urge to replace broken parts with shiny new parts is always a temptation, but in the case of these straight pipes, I’ll never part with ’em. That’s why I had Andrew repair the busted exhaust flange on the rear pipe. I just got my bike back from Andrew, and the welding on the pipe looks primo, man, just perfect. Sometime in the future, I’ll get ’em rechromed.

Ancillary components hold a traditional and sentimental value for me, that’s just the way I am. I become attached to peripheral parts because of their history of being on my bike, and having served me well for so long, just as I feel attached to Mabel’s motor and frame. The more time that passes as these parts are functioning on my Harley, the more I seem to feel attached to ’em. They become a part of Mabel as surely as she was born with ’em. That’s the way I feel, if that makes sense to you.

Other examples are the drag bars, which I’ve had longer than Mabel (I bought these for my old Sportster, “Sally The Bitch,” 44 years ago. Think about that, man. That’s longer than a lot of bikers have been alive. I had these drag bars on Sally for 17 years, before having them on Mabel for 28 years. I’ve been grabbin’ these bars with my grubby hands, fer 45 years. The grip width has been imprinted onto my muscle memory for so long, that I could guide my bike in my sleep. The glide risers that the drag bars sit on, have been on Mabel for 28 years. One concession I’m making to buying new, is the seat. I just ordered the same La Pera seat I’ve had on Mabel for the past 24 years, because the seams are busting. The seat is just plain wearing out. I ordered the new seat directly from La Pera. It seems to me, that the cost of a new seat is probably cheaper than paying someone to re-cover the old one.

While Mabel was at Rosa’s Cycles, Andrew found the cause of the fracture of the exhaust flange. The oil tank had broken mounts, which caused the tank to put pressure on the battery tray which then leaned on the pipe, breaking it. Andrew fixed the oil tank mounts, thereby rectifying the source of the problem.

Andrew is very thorough when it comes to examining a bike for problems. For example, he found a rear brake shoe that was hangin’ up, a problem I could not detect when applying the rear brake. To be honest, these old drum brakes just feel subjectively mushy to me anyway, compared to the positive action of the front disc brake. Mushiness with a drum brake is purely subjective, man. How much mushiness is too much, and not normal? While he was at the rear brake, he felt that the master cylinder needed to be rebuilt, so done!

As long as Mabel was going to be in the shop, I asked Andrew to throw some new stuff on her. The old parts to be changed out, had no attachment value to me. These were new rear shocks, and a new voltage regulator. I installed the old rectifier 27 years ago when I changed out Mabel’s OEM 16 amp alternator stator, for a 22 amp stator. Just as a matter of interest, I bought an Ingersoll Rand electric impact wrench expressly for this job. This was only for removing the compensating nut. This was the only time I’ve ever used this electric impact wrench. It worked so well, that it removed (and tightened) the nut, without the tranny having to be put into gear. Just, “BRACK..BRACK..BRACK,” and the nut was off with the transmission in neutral. The wire leading from the old rectifier was gettin’ frayed, so I asked Andrew to install a new rectifier.

Mabel’s ride was gettin’ choppy, what with all the humongous potholes she’s had to deal with here in NYC. NYC is the Pothole Capitol of the world! I’ll tell ya what, the new shocks make her feel like a plush Caddy now! The difference in ride feel is amazing. Another new part Andrew threw on Mabel was a new drive chain. I’ve only adjusted this one a gazillion times, man. Time fer a new one. I just took a ride on my ever-lovin’ Shovel, and all systems are GO! Good to hear that magnificent bellow from her repaired exhaust, again. I hope all of you are as happy as I am, at this moment! Later.

FINITO

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