The "Denton Servi" Update 3

Finally the weather is cooling down and I can get in the garage and make some progress. I’ve been sorting through all of the parts I got from Rob. I made numerous calls and texts to SMC members Mike, Dorsey and Erik while trying to identify some of the parts that I could not. The guys were on top of their game and even identified the parts that did not belong with my ‘47. After sorting through everything I began cleaning up all the bolts and nuts and hope to get the springer and rear end mounted next weekend.

The "Denton Servi" Update 2

Parts..Parts.. and more Parts…..

What a summer 2019 has been! After a few thousand miles, burned vacation days and visits to Wauseon and Davenport I found myself in Boonton, NJ. Thanks to Rob Nussbaum of Retrocycle, I was able gather enough parts to really make some progress on the Servi. Rob and I had been in contact for several months about a fairly complete ‘47 basket case with a finished motor that he had in his shop. Rob had brought the project to Wauseon and I was able to rummage through it while at the meet. I left Wauseon knowing that I had liked what I had seen, but Davenport was coming up and I had never been there but always heard great things about it. So I decided to wait and see what would happen there.

Well Davenport was great, and I looked at numerous Servi parts, projects and so on. I even got to look closely at an Indian Dispatch Tow which was a real treat since I’ve only seen one before in person earlier this year in Denton. It was a running and riding bike. The owner was using it to get around and do his shopping at the meet. It was coming time for me to head back to Alabama and I still had not seen anything that I liked better than Rob’s project so I called him from the road and we agreed on the terms. One of my terms required that he would hold it for me until October, which he very kindly did.

I left home early on a Sunday morning on my way to Winchester VA, where I had rented a cabin for $55.00 per night. I reserved it for 2 nights. My plan was to spend Sunday night there, get up early and drive to Boonton NJ, about 4 hours, pickup the parts and drive back for another night at the cabin. Everything went as planned! I got to Retrocycle around midday and Rob was there waiting for me. He helped me load everything up and I got a tour of the shop. This place was impressive with several projects underway, multiple workstations and completely organized. It’s unlike my shop where I can misplace anything at any given time.

It was time to leave Retrocycle and get back to the cabin. I left a different way so I could see some of Boonton. I did not spend much time in town but what I saw was charming and would have enjoyed stopping and walking around a bit. Not what I was expecting, being so close to the city.

The project was missing an exhaust system, so I decided to call Steve Lemay at Resurrection cycles. He is outside Roanoke, which just so happens to be on my way home. I left the cabin Tuesday morning and drove down to Roanoke. Steve’s shop is in Moneta about an hour off the interstate. I drove through the beautiful hills and countryside of Virginia. I could see exactly why someone would setup shop here. Steve was in the shop working and welcomed me right in. By the way, Steve doesn’t really know me at all. I immediately got another great shop tour and again I was reminded of how primitive my setup back home is. I had asked Steve about an exhaust for my project and he said he would see what he could find. He found the correct muffler, hanger bracket, and bumper in his stash of Servi parts. I asked about head pipes, which apparently is a sore subject for 45 motors, he explained about the poor fitment of all that are available and the amount of work it takes to make them fit properly. So did he have a set? No. So, he took a set that he had been working on to make fit for several hours on a different 45 project and let me have them. It was a definitely worth while to stop by and see Steve.

I got home later that night with enough time to spare to unload the truck!



Earlier in the run I received a good omen. In the change I was given at one of the gas stops I found a wheatback penny. The best thing about it was the year, 1947, the same as my bike!


In the morning we took our last quiz – boy were these a challenge. Over the entire event I ended up with 41 of the possible 100 points. This was 11 over my goal of getting a 30. If you go to the chase website they have scoring posted. Generally, the scores were in the range of what I earned. 

As expected, the day started off very humid, we broke into a sweat walking from the room to the bike. The temperature rose all the way down to Key West where we proceeded to bake again. Luckily no rain today.

At the finish Tom Banks and I can’t believe we made it all the way. Wow, what a ride!

At the finish Tom Banks and I can’t believe we made it all the way. Wow, what a ride!


Here is old Blue – we made it all the way with several bandages. Here is a short list of the issues I had. Some of which still need to be addressed.

  • The top motor mount bolt fell out, so I ran without it part of the way

  • The rear intake spigot developed a leak which lead to plug fouling and rough running

  • Water in the carburetor

  • Short in the lighting wiring circuit. I tried to track it down in the parking lot with no luck. So I just ran with no lights on the bike for several days.

Bikes lined up in Mallory Square

Bikes lined up in Mallory Square


That evening we had the closing banquet on the beach. It was a lot of fun. Hard to believe it’s all over.

A big thanks to Team Smoky Mountain! With your help old Blue probably had the greatest adventure it has ever experienced.


THE CHASE! Update 10

Lakeland FL to Miami FL


The day was dry until the end. We got soaked leaving the hosted dinner driving to the hotel.

Probably one of the more interesting things I noticed today were the panther crossing signs along a long stretch of the road. Not a place to break down at night!

The only WLA on the chase.

The only WLA on the chase.

Dinner at Harley-Davidson of Miami.

Dinner at Harley-Davidson of Miami.


Today I made the entire ride on one spark plug. The rawhide and goop seal on the intake is working pretty well. Notice fouling around the outside.

THE CHASE! Update 9

Tallahassee FL to Lakeland FL

We started out today a bit cooler but really high humidity. Today’s ride was not so much the scenery or winding roads, but knocking out miles.

Riders lined up in the hotel to get the days route instructions.

Riders lined up in the hotel to get the days route instructions.

This is my rear cylinder leaking intake experiment. I wrapped rawhide covered in goop around the intake. The bike ran the best it has so far and I didn’t have to change the front spark plug every 50 miles. When I checked it at the 200 mile lunch stop it had light fouling and probably could have gotten me to the end but I changed it for good measure.

This is my rear cylinder leaking intake experiment. I wrapped rawhide covered in goop around the intake. The bike ran the best it has so far and I didn’t have to change the front spark plug every 50 miles. When I checked it at the 200 mile lunch stop it had light fouling and probably could have gotten me to the end but I changed it for good measure.

Surprise checkpoint and daily test.

Surprise checkpoint and daily test.

We are enjoying peak love bug season. All of those black dots on my helmet are love bugs that landed on it during a gas stop. They are everywhere and so thick that you can’t stand outside at the gas stop to drink a bottle of water or you’ll be covered!

We are enjoying peak love bug season. All of those black dots on my helmet are love bugs that landed on it during a gas stop. They are everywhere and so thick that you can’t stand outside at the gas stop to drink a bottle of water or you’ll be covered!

Tonight I spent some time trying to track down the intermittent short in my lighting systems, 72 year old wiring. I just don’t have the right tools or time. So I found a ride to a local sporting goods store and bought a bicycle headlight so I will comply with the headlight “ON” law in Florida.

THE CHASE! Update 8

Macon Ga to Tallahassee FL

Today started out hot and sticky. The ride took us through the hometown of Jimmy Carter, Plains GA. We also experienced love bugs as they hovered all over pummeling our helmets and bikes - nothing a good rain won’t wash off!


The stop was at Harley-Davidson of Tallahassee where I took advantage of the air conditioned shop to adjust my primary and rear chain. When we left the dealership I found an auto parts store where I picked up some oil and more spark plugs. Then it was off to the hotel for an oil change. I received a surprise gift from Smoky Mountain Chapter member Liz. She found a tube of the goop I have been slathering on my leaky intake. I was able to find a strip of rawhide and wrapped that around the intake also - hopefully it’s more airtight now!

THE CHASE! Update 7

Chattanooga TN to Macon GA

Today’s ride started with a climb up to Rock City. The temps were really nice and roads windy. It didn’t start to get hot until lunchtime. Then it was real hot!

Getting gas in central Georgia.

Getting gas in central Georgia.

The hosted stop was at Macon Harley-Davidson.


They opened up the shop for bike repairs and it was a full house.


The dealership owner is posing with a knucklehead. He may have sold this very bike. He is 98 years old and has been a Harley-Davidson dealer since the 1930’s.


Failed battery- notice it’s swollen. Is it from overcharging or heat?

THE CHASE! Update 6

Bowling Green KY to Chattanooga TN


Today was another challenging day primarily due to the heat. When I pulled into Chattanooga the thermometer read 98, it was cooling down!

The roads out of Bowling Green had really nice sweeps and were a nice start to the day.


Here is a photo of the front plug after 100 miles. I either clean or replace then I am heading down the road again.


At the lunch stop in Murfreesboro the Harley dealership let a couple of riders bring their bikes indoors to access power to recharge their batteries. Both bikes have failed generators and are running off the batteries only.

Joe Gimpel taking our daily test at the surprise checkpoint.

Joe Gimpel taking our daily test at the surprise checkpoint.

This evening I got the pleasure to hang out with several Smoky Mountain Chapter members who showed up at the finish line in Chattanooga. It was great to see everyone.


THE CHASE! Update 5


Urbana, IL to Bowling Green, KY

Today was the longest day at around 317 miles. It was also the hottest so far. We spent about 10 hours on the road to include 50 miles running 55 on a 70 mph highway. It was exhausting! After the display at Harley Davidson of Bowling Green, parking lot duties kept me up til midnight!

No photos today as I had the sweep truck parked across from me during a gas stop and spark plug change just before lunch. This means I was the last bike on the route! Within 20 miles I passed 8 bikes at their gas stop which put a buffer between me and the sweep truck. That was a relief!

After crossing a river on an old railway bridge (wooden trestles with rivets - sketchy to ride on 2 wheels) I ran into Bill Page pulled over in front of a farmhouse. His generator had failed and his battery was depleted which means a dead bike. I had a small 6V emergency battery which got him to the lunch stop where he rounded up a couple others which got him to the finish. At the evening stop we found a local gentleman who was willing to drive us to Batteries Plus where we identified and purchased some higher capacity 6V batteries which should get him through an entire day.

So here is the big problem I am fighting, front spark plug is fouled after 60 to 100 miles and has to be cleaned or replaced. There also appears to be an air leak on the rear intake. We don’t have the time, tools, or facilities to fix this properly. So it’s either quit and repair properly or bandage and go.

THE CHASE! Update 4

Today we started in Milwaukee Wisconsin and ended in Urbana Illinois. It was the longest day so far at about 278 miles and it included three stops at Harley-Davidson dealerships to display the bikes.


Above: Here is parking lot action at today’s start. Within a few minutes of leaving the start, the rain came. This continuous bike wash lasted until after lunchtime.


Above: At this gas stop I still had about 100 miles left for the day but was able to remove the rain gear. We took a lot of interesting roads through the farmlands. The scenery was great but the roads were pretty rough which beats the riders up physically. We are all feeling it!

The bike ran well today. She’s not an oil burner but the front plug is running a little sooty. Tonight’s maintenance included adjusting the points, rear chain and topping off fluids. I also did laundry. I’m looking forward to the six hours of sleep I’m gonna get tonight!

THE CHASE! Update 3

Cruising across Lake Michigan and an easy day (not!)

We started out the day loading up on the coal-fired ferry USS Badger (built in 1953).

Here I am with the USS Badger in the background.

Here I am with the USS Badger in the background.

Bikes being loaded into the hold.

Bikes being loaded into the hold.

A view from the deck, this was a very enjoyable 4 hour ride.

A view from the deck, this was a very enjoyable 4 hour ride.

Once we landed in Wisconsin we had a short 100 mile ride to the Harley Museum.

This is when it fell apart. The bike was kicking and spitting. I ended up on the side of the road working. Had water in the carb and a fouled plug. The bike was not running right but I made check-in at the absolute last minute.

Once we got to the hotel I started working on the bike again. Turns out the rear intake spigot was loose in the head creating an air leak. I thought I was going to have to call it quits but with Joe Gimpel’s help we scrounged up some sealer and worked on the bike till 11:30 pm. I was up at 5:00 am and got her running again about an hour before start.

So I am off again - cross your fingers!

THE CHASE! Update 2


Today we started the run south and it was turned into the endurance run we were promised! The day started with heavy rain and ended with light rain…

Parked under the overhang of the start hotel. I needed some dry space to load up the paper scroll that has our route for the day.

Parked under the overhang of the start hotel. I needed some dry space to load up the paper scroll that has our route for the day.

This is a surprise checkpoint where they administered the 10 question test we have each day. It was pretty tough!

This is a surprise checkpoint where they administered the 10 question test we have each day. It was pretty tough!

Parking lot action at the end of the day.

Parking lot action at the end of the day.

Today’s route.

Today’s route.

Mike McCloud has tears in his eyes when he thinks of all the patina on my ‘47 Harley that has washed off and is forever lost on the roads of Michigan. It’s a very sad day…

THE CHASE! Update 1


Yep – After a quick trip we were crossing the Mackinac Bridge. It was a beautiful rainy day in Michigan. Weather was much cooler than what we were experiencing in Alabama. This is it, Key West or Bust! After being dropped off and unloaded, my support driver John Zibell pointed the White Whale south and as you read this the Ford Transit is sitting in my driveway in Alabama. I am on my own…

Bikes arriving in rainy Michigan

Bikes arriving in rainy Michigan

I decided to take a short tour around Sault Ste Marie. I found a great drive in across from one of the many ferry’s up here. Great food and great weather

I decided to take a short tour around Sault Ste Marie. I found a great drive in across from one of the many ferry’s up here. Great food and great weather

Smoky Mountain member Joe Gimpel jumping in to assist Steve Rinker working on a Chase bike that was having ignition problems

Smoky Mountain member Joe Gimpel jumping in to assist Steve Rinker working on a Chase bike that was having ignition problems


Today we have the riders meeting where we get our instructions. In the afternoon we have a short ride and display the bikes for the public. Then this evening is the opening banquet. Tomorrow we hit the road, can’t wait!




It’s a fact – It took the entire SMOKY MOUNTAIN team to get my 1947 Harley Davidson FL to the start of the 2019 Cross Country Chase. If it wasn’t for the attendees at the various Tech Days held over the past year, I would have never gotten this bike road worthy in time to attempt this crazy challenge.  We have a bunch of hardworking gearheads in this group…


The Cross Country Chase is the new event put on by Jason Sims who runs the Motorcycle Cannonball Run. The Cannonball has been run every two years since 2010 and is traditionally restricted to the earliest motorcycles manufactured. I have run three of the five and am signed up for 2020.  In 2016 they had to be 100 years old or older. Jason decided he needed to do something during the off year between Cannonballs. He wanted an event that was easier for your average collector to participate in. The bikes are probably less expensive, and it requires less time off from work.  Even though the bikes are “newer”, 1930 to 1948, the event is incorporating challenges that make it more daring than the Cannonball. Probably the biggest twist is that you must carry everything you need on the bike. Tools, spare parts, and clothes. Where on the Cannonball you have a support vehicle to do this for you. That means you really must do a lot more planning to determine what is necessary. If you break down during the Chase and can’t get your bike repaired to rejoin the next morning, you are essentially stranded. The ride continues and you are where you are! The cherry on top is a 100-question test that is one of the tie breakers.

The Chase starts the Friday after Labor Day and you can imagine I am starting to get the pre-run nervousness. Trying to take care of those last-minute problems while the clock seems to be moving forward quicker than I like. What parts do I need to pack, do I have room to pack them, what tools do I need, what clothing and gear will I need, what is the weather going to be? So many things going through my mind! I just replaced the rear tire as the one on the bike was probably not going to make the trip. I have had an intermittent problem with the rear brake where it seems to grab occasionally. I have been ignoring this problem as I had a lot of other things to work on and I thought with some riding the brake shoes would wear in and the problem would go away. Well after 1000 test miles it was not going away.. So, with a week left I thought I should dig into what is causing it which meant pulling the rear wheel again! We had the Huntsville Smoky MTN breakfast meeting yesterday and I decided to host a mini-tech session afterwards to get the brain trust to weigh in on the issue. We had special guest star and mechanical genius Roy Chapman in town which was a plus. We came to a consensus and I also decided to deal with the loose actuating shaft that is in the brake baking plate. I hope to have everything back together by the middle of this week for one last test ride, and an oil change.


The way these things go is you can have a 2500 mile trip or a 1 mile trip. It’s a real unknown with these old machines. Keep in mind the last time this bike was on the road was 1976 and I have not been inside the engine, so who knows? I have my SPOT satellite tracker on the bike and if you are really bored at work you can follow my progress for this 10-day challenge.

I will provide daily Blog updates on the ride via Cecil.

Again, many thanks to Team Smoky Mountain for helping me get to the start line!!!


The "Denton Servi" Update 1

With a little luck and some cash, I managed to come up with the best front and rear wheels I could find. Thanks to AJ Thomas (a new friend from VA). Having the rear wheels is a big sigh of relief for me.

I brought all three wheels to the SMC Campout this past weekend and SMC member Dorsey Uptain and I put them on the truing stand and found that they are all in really good shape. I need to blast the rust off the inside of the rims so the tubes won’t be damaged, but other than that, I’m going to run them as is.

Going over the frame and chasing the few threaded areas.


I’m getting ready for Wauseon in a few weeks. Hoping to find a 45 springer next. I feel pretty sure there will be some there. Just hoping they are in good enough shape and not out of my price range. Getting the springer will hopefully get me to the roller stage by end of summer, which is my goal.


SMC Member

Cecil Frost

The "Denton Servi"

New Project!!

Pre 1951 Servi-car

MAY 17, 2019

Southern National Meet    Denton, NC

It was a picturesque weekend in North Carolina and a great opportunity to hang out, tell stories, learn from each other and dig through boxes of old motorcycle treasures.

My goal was to find a pre ’51 Servi. I had gotten the bug to find or build one years ago and that bug was awakened on a recent trip to the Dixie Speedway, where SMC member Dorsey Uptain brought his Servi for our display at the track. It has been a couple of months since Atlanta and I had been searching on line and in my forums for a good basket case to no avail. So I began thinking about starting from scratch. While considering my options a partially complete pre ’51 rear end came to me out of the blue from Mississippi. I went over to MS and got the rear end and found a NOS WLA air cleaner to boot! At this point I knew which way the project was going to go. Ground UP!


We arrived in Denton on Thursday and setup camp and had a great time with the SMC gang at the campsite. Dinner was served and consumed. A big thank you goes to SMC members Danny and Beth Eubanks for making sure everyone got something to eat and a comfortable spot around the fire.

We crawl out of our tents on Friday to a gorgeous NC spring morning, grab a cup of coffee and off to the swap meet. The Denton swap meet was smaller than I had expected but the quality of items, in my opinion, was top notch. I get my plan together and my list is small, an early Servi frame. I go down the first aisle and make halfway through the second aisle and there it was in the back of a pickup truck with 4 other frames. It was what I wanted, and to add to it the matching complete rear end!!


by SMC member,

Cecil Frost (Big C)

"How Much fun can you cram into a day??"

Saint Patrick’s Weekend Tech Day – How Much fun can you cram into a day??

SMC Member Erik Bahl

This is one for the books! Tech weekend is over and I can’t believe how much was accomplished in such a short period of time. The out of town Smoky Mountain Chapter members started arriving Friday afternoon as we had a Saturday morning 2018 Motorcycle Cannonball presentation to give to the North Alabama Vintage Club at the Blue Plate Café. For those traveling 3 hours or so to get to Huntsville from GA, TN and other locations in Alabama, the 8AM breakfast made leaving on Saturday morning a bit inconvenient. The presentation focused on a support drivers’ life and the spotlight was on 17-year-old Zeke Smith who drove the Ford Transit Van “White Whale” coast to coast across the United States in support of Erik Bahl (#63, 1915 Harley Davidson). It was a packed house with at least 50 people including several guest Smoky Mountain Chapter members. The presentation lasted about 1.5 hours and included an interesting presentation from Smoky Mountain member Doug Jones (#96, 1914 Indian twin) where he discussed the challenges in nursing this delicate piece of machinery from coast to coast. He had a nice display of very expensive failed components to include a head that was destroyed when a valve punched through it when the head separated from the stem. Erik rounded out the discussion with a short presentation on his trek on the 1915 Harley.

Afterward the Smoky Mountain Chapter members regrouped at the Bahl compound. The December tech day activity was removal and disassembly of the transmission from Erik’s 1947 Harley. A lot of work on the transmission has occurred since then and a show and tell of worn and new parts was done. Mike McCloud brought a special lapping tool for the new fourth gear bearing that will properly size the race. This will allow reassembly to begin.


After show and tell Erik’s 1917 Indian Powerplus with sidecar was rolled out into the driveway. It was a bit chilly, but the sun was out. This bike, when purchased had square tires with rubber as hard as a piece of wood. Doug Jones headed up “Clincher Tire School” The wheels were pulled off where one by one the old tires were removed using any means necessary which included a sawzall! Wheel bearings were cleaned and repacked. New tires (provided by Doug) and tubes were installed. Due to the difficultly getting the old tires off, multiple members worked on a single wheel at once. True teamwork!


With the front wheel removed we discovered the front forks were loose in the steering head. A second group of Smoky Mountain members removed the forks, cleaned and inspected balls, races, regreased and reassembled. In the middle of all this activity we took a late lunch break and headed down to Straight to Ale. It was St. Patty’s and there must have been three hundred people there celebrating. We wrapped up the work about 6:30 PM and chilled out until a late dinner at Ruth’s Chris later that evening (Doug and Patty treated – THANKS!). 

Shout out goes to first time Huntsville Tech Day participant Wes Connelly (The Ambassador). He showed up with gifts for all!


Sunday morning the remaining Smoky Mountain Chapter members had a short class on measuring bearing components with micrometers. Afterwards Mike McCloud showed us how to setup the lapping tool in the 1947 Harley transmission so the 4th gear race could be sized properly. Now its up to Erik to spend a few hours in his shop cranking the lap to remove the 0.0015” that is required. 

Thanks to everyone who attended. We had a great time and all experienced a lot of generosity of both time and material items. What a great group of people we have.



(Yes, that free item can cost you lots of money…

I knew I was in trouble when I got the email that I had won a muffler for a bike I did not own.


As part of the AMCA recruitment program I was selected for one of the prizes which happened to be a muffler from Carl’s Cycle Supply. This muffler fits Harley Davidsons from 1941-49. It turns out this is a great muffler, but I don’t have a bike for it! So, I was staring at it for a month not exactly knowing what to do with it. It was crazy, I was not able to focus on my day job, what had they done to me with this gift! Carl’s donated it and I did not feel right selling it, I had to put it to a good use. After pondering, I finally figured out how to get the burr out of my boot. I just needed to find a bike that needed a muffler. So, after a three plus month of searching, turning over rocks, interrogating vendors at swap meets, and placing ads on Craigslist I have found a bike this muffler can fit!! I know you can feel the relief, because I sure do!!!

What is a little perplexing is how a simple email emptied my bank account so much – I might need some professional help….

Here is the invite –

I propose the weekend of June 30th (this could shift by a week depending on holiday schedules). Since the 4th falls on a Wednesday this year I am not exactly sure how everyone’s holiday plans line up. Come to Huntsville and help me fire up this beauty for the first time since 1976. Now there is no guarantee this will happen as it feels like there is no compression, but we will go as far as we can. It’s entered the hot season, so it might be warm in the garage – wear shorts and a tee cause we might sweat a bit, however I will have cold beverages and a shower. You are welcome to stay at the house but bring a sleeping bag. I have plenty of space to camp, but it might be warm outside (yes I have AC in the house so fill the floors up). At Monte Sano State Park they have one cabin open (CB14 as of this email). There are hotels within 6 miles if you want some privacy.

This is the opportunity to participate in something historic. A one owner bike that has not run since 1976 (42 years!). Yep it still might not run due to an engine issue or something I forgot to buy to make it happen, but this is still pretty cool!!

I may test the compression this weekend and if the bike truly needs more work, we can just look at it. There will be door prizes which consist of really old Harley dirt and cobwebs.