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Subject: TOUR, Harley-Davidson Final Assembly Plant, York PA - LONG From: Dave Hyte <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Fri, Dec 5, 1997
TOUR, Harley-Davidson Final Assembly Plant, York PA
Over the recent T'giving holiday, I had the opportunity to visit the final assy plant up in York Pennsylvania and I thought I'd write a review/my take of the tour.
Short version: GREAT. If you can get there for the tour, do it. You won't be disappointed (after all, if you're reading this NG, you're already a H-D fan and this is just more of that!)
Long version: The tours are conducted weekdays at 10a and 1:30p. No reservations are needed (unless a big group). The tours are FREE and open to all over the age of 12 (some folks didn't do their research and had little kids with them and couldn't do the plant tour - the museum is OK though). All the restrictions are detailed, along with contact phone numbers, times, etc., via the Harley-Davidson web pages. It's easy to find/get to, it's right on HWY 30 in PA, just a mile or so from I-83 (ya can't miss it).
The tour starts out in the museum (which is part of the plant, just off to the side of the general office space). The tours are conducted by H-D retirees (at least ours was and he said most (all?) of them are) and lasts about 1.5 hours or so, 30 minutes in the museum and 60 minutes in the factory (times are obviously approximate due to questions, size of group, etc.).
In the museum you learn all about the origins of H-D and get to see a slew of really old bikes. In there they have quite a vintage bikes along with a couple of celebrity bikes. I.e., they have Elvis's bike and one of the 47 bikes that Malcolm Forbes owned (yea, THAT Malcom Forbes - the bike on display has been around the world 12 times and only has 8,000 (yea, thousand) miles on it! Apparently, Malcolm would fly/boat/truck/whatever, his bike to where he was and ride it for just a short time. If for no other reason than to just say he'd done it). <whaddaexpect from those types?> They had a few other noteworthy bikes that gotta be seen to be appreciated and I wouldn't do them justice trying to talk about them.
One thing that I really liked is that they had one of every one of the motors that's been used in the Harley's over the years. The pan, knuckle, shovel, etc. Was nice to be able to see them close-up without the frame in the way. Apparently our current EVO's are referred to as blockheads (at least that's what they're calling them in York).<been called blockheads since 1986!>
The museum isn't very big but there's a lot of stuff in it and to do it justice, ya really need an hour to just check it out. You can go through with a tour or do it yourself at your own pace. I did go back and look at a few things at the end of the factory tour.
At the end of the museum tour, a quick count is obtained of everyone that is going on the factory tour. All the rules are explained and any cameras are confiscated (ya get em back at the end) as pictures/flashes are disruptive and this IS a working factory/plant. <pix allowed during HD York Event at end of September each year.>
You pick up your protective eye wear and a small radio receiver/earpiece (looks like a small walkman). <THIS IS NEW! GREAT IDEA!> This is for the tour as the guy leading the tour has a headset-transmitter setup to narrate while you're out on the floor. Too kewl. There is no way I would have heard 10% of what was going on had it not been for this setup and it really demonstrates to methat they want us to get as much as we can out of the tour. It's also good for safety as you get a fair warning about forklifts, trucks, etc.!
So, you start off at one of the 60 ton press stations where they are talking rolled sheet steel and pressing out gas tanks. From there the tank goes into a robot-laser cutting station where it's trimmed. Oh, talk about a place that recycles stuff, they recycle everything! <what do ya expect, its a PLANT man!>There were bins around for steel, stainless steel, iron, glass, plastic, aluminum, copper, rubber, you name it. Anyway, we looked at a couple of these pressing stations where they stamp out components, tanks, fenders, etc.
This plant does it all except for the motors and transmissions (built in Milwaukee and shipped to York <since AMF days>), and the cast wheels (shipped from Australia <since 1987 or so> no less!). We saw spoke wheels being built (spoked and trued), saw robots polishing (spinning high speed metal brushes) front forks, tanks, fenders, etc. All sorts of stuff to look at. Boy was this place LOUD in spots too. I was surprised I didn't see more folks wearing ear protection but everybody had eye wear.
After that, you start into the really neat stuff: the assembly lines.
They run 3 lines. A sporty line (both models), a touring bike line, and a custom line (everything else, including the Buells). <Huh....Buells made in East Troy,WI>
The custom and touring lines work basically the same. I.e., the bike frame is hanged on an overhead chain conveyor system and moves from station to station where more and more is added to it until it finally arrives at the end, is removed from the hook, rolled forward to a stand, then picked up, gassed, and tested in a dyno-room (they run em up to about 70mph). This is the first test the whole bike has had. The motor had been tested once already at the first plant. The custom line has 75 stations (stops) and takes about 2.5 hours to complete an entire run. We saw bikes labeled (shipping info) for Utah, Switzerland, Japan, all over. < Yeah, wanna get pissed off? Over 28% of all bikes produced here are shipped OUT of the USA. !!!>All the bikes go through the same end to end on this line except for the California models that take a minor detour at the beginning where the motor is added and some additional crap is added. Then it merges back into the main line (all the lines do this). I think (I may have misheard this bit) they said that they are producing approx. 560 bikes per week <Nope...try PER DAY> (and still can't keep up with demand!?!).
One very interesting thing about the sporty line vs. the other two is that the sporty line only has 17 stations from end to end AND, the SAME CREW carries the bike from point to point. So, the same 3 people start the bike and run it all the way to the end to test it. On the other lines, everybody stays at their station and the bike comes to them. I didn't think of asking them how long they'd been doing it this way or if they'd seen a marked increase in productivity, etc., but apparently this is the same method that Saturn (cars) uses. This plant had had all sorts of awards for quality, production, etc., so they must be doing something right. <Take a read on "Well Made In America" sometime. Great book!!>
The conveyor (if viewed from the top) would look somewhat like a large lazy U with the start at the right top and the end at the left top. We stood at the opening of the U and to our right were the raw frames being put on the hooks while to our left were the bikes rolling into the test rooms. An excellent firsthand demonstration of the end-to-end processed result.
We saw a few other things (more robot polishing rooms, presses, etc.) but most of it was just variations on the theme at this point. Still, it was a hoot to be able to see parts labeled for your bike or to see a complete new one of your model rolling off the end.
So, the plant tour takes about an hour or so and you walk about 1.25-1.5 miles during it. After that, you go back over to the office/museum area where they had about 10 of the 1998 models in a showroom setting. You could sit on them if you wanted too. They also had a small gift/souvenir shop (yea I got the mandatory T shirt and bandannas) in the same area. They also had all the 98 catalogues so naturally I was compelled to load-up on everything! Unfortunately there weren't any free samples of bikes, or anything!! geez.....
Some interesting random info/stuff picked up during the tour: - employees can't buy a bike from there. <ALWAYS been this way. Same with auto company employees, not a new concept!>They have to go through a dealer also but they do get some sort of rebate when they do (conveniently, there is a dealer about a quarter mile from the plant out on the main drag). They may only purchase 1 bike per year and get this rebate (apparently this is a relatively new (i.e., within last 5 years or so) as it seems some folks were buying a bunch of bikes, getting the rebates, and selling them for what the dealers usually do - I'll bet the dealer(s) complained on this one ;-) <Yeah....like the SOB dealers really have anything to complain about when some of them are geting $3000+ over MSRP> - there's a new plant opening up in Kansas City (98?) <yep mid-late 98> that will be building only sporty's. The sporty line at York will be converted for building more customs and touring bikes (this is the capacity incr. we keep hearing about). - the factory used to build munitions during W.W.II <still had US DOD contract for bomb casings as recent as 5 yrs ago, maybe sooner.> - there are 5 coats of paint (incl. the clearcoat) on all the metal they fabricate <disappointing....customs from the factory in mid-late 80s used 9 coats!> - the factory normally only runs a first shift but has been running a second shift on the touring bike line for awhile now - the "test room" job station is the most sought after job in the plant (humph, go figure!) <shit yes......retirement city!> - it was a slow day (11/26) and they were only getting about 50 people in the morning (+ or -) - they ARE hiring in the factory
Well, I guess that's long winded enough. If you can't tell I had a good time, then just nod and go to the next message. Actually, my wife and I went on this together and she loved it (wanted to get a job there but it's too far a commute from NC).
Anyone else been? What was your take on the place?
Left Dearborn, MI with Smooth and Danjo about 0830 today. Danjo on his 93 Fat Boy, Smooth on his 82 FXRS Custom and me on my old, righteous 87 FLSTC.
Weather was in the 80s and sunny blue skies the entire way. Nothin. much to report yet. Bikes worked fine and we made an uneventful 433 miles into Davenport, Iowa.
We will now take the 2-lane pavement the rest of the way to Sturgis so we can enjoy the sights etc.
Lou and Dan (both fair skinned) got so much sun that they were forced to FULLY cover their faces with bandannas. It looked like I was being escorted by two banditos (actually Danjo looked like a Arab Terrorist!). Funniest damn thing ya ever saw...!
Only traffic trouble was on I-94 near mile marker #4 near the south side of Chicago....took 52 minutes to go 9 miles! Not real good for bike or my left wrist!
Still in Iowa........but 360 mi west of where we were this mornin.
But..we're in a town of 3000 people and five dogs, a bar, a McDonalds and a Pizza Hut, and a Super 8 Motel full of crazy bikers! I am in heaven!
Smooth Lou found a girl on a 96 SuperGlide that he is madly in love (i.e.HEAT!) with......even tried to buy her a pizza...pissed off her old man! We had to leave the Pizza Hut in a hurry...damn.... Hell, I am just sitting there chompin on a Meat Lovers Deluxe and all of a sudden all this shit breaks out. I'm too old for this.
Danjo is laying surprisingly low, despite his normal reputation. He keeps talking about some "sweetheart:" back home. (Like which one Dan???). Me...I gave all that "sweetheart" stuff up.......too risky! (Well...maybe didn't give it up completely!)
Great ride again today. Stuck to all state highways and backroads and even IOWA looked good to us. Had only about 20 minutes of rain, the rest was sunny skies and temperatures in the high 80s. Still spent the day watchin SmoothLou an Danjo cover themselves with that white greasy sunscreen stuff and put bandannas over their full faces to scare the hell outta all these little Iowan kids (and their moms!). (Me..?? I can scare them without the mask!)_
Met some folk from NC and OH as well today and had some lengthy discussions re Sturgis. Hell...the guy from OH was as old as I am (like older than DIRT!). That kinda stuff is the best part of these events (since I am no longer able to get a date with Ms Buffalo Chip).
On to an eastern SD "sightseeing" day tomorrow. Dan and Lou want to see the Corn Palace and a few other of the crazier places and I'll make sure they stay outta trouble. See y'all later! Bob
Great day AGAIN. Went a sightseeing route from Onawa, IA to Chamberlain, SD. Only 240 miles or so, but made lotsa stops, saw some attractions and talked to lotsa folk.
Left a very sunny Onawa, IA, after a real cuisine meal at the McDonalds! Five miles up the road the fog was so thick ya could only see 100 feet or so. Five more (wet) miles up the road and ya couldn't see 20 feet in front of you . To the applause of Danjo and SmoothLou, road captain Righteous Bob decided to get the hell off the road and wait until the fog burned off.
While waiting nearly 90 minutes for the fog to burn, we had some good talk and interactions with about 30 other folk who decided to join us at the gas station/convenience store we pulled into, in Sloan, IA.
First there was a bro from Kansas City named Roadkill that had a fuel delivery problem on his beautiful custom flamed, 18" ride ape hangers Softail. We needed a wrench that NO ONE on site could supply. Me, Lou and Danjo emptied our toolbags looking for it to no avail. Fortunately the bike was rideable, but with only one tank doing the delivery of the flammable stuff! We offered to let him ride with us so we could check on his well being, but he said he'd be OK. Hopefully he is!
When I had finished my "magic' on his bike and Lou was trying a bit of his, I had a great chat with Mike Odom, a custom bike painter and body guy, also from KC. Saw two of his "creations" there......whew....things are a changin' in the custom paint world! Fantastic work!
Also had a talk with the fella from Atlanta (heck, I can't remember everyone's name) who manufacturers that 350 ci V8 Chevy-powered bike called the "Boss Hog". He was up here with a "tour bus" and custom marked trailer with 16 of them. Personally, I think they're gaudy and entirely too much power, but he says they're selling "very, very well". Nice guy, though.
We visited the Corn Palace in Mitchell, that crazy concert hall built completely outta corn and refurbished each year with 30,000 new bushels! That's gotta be the largest bird feeder in history!
Not much happening the rest of the way to Chamberlain, SD except that we have seen thousands of bikes already today and we're still 235 miles from the "thin end of the funnel"...i.e. Sturgis. Temp was 94 today but beautiful.
Time to hit the Laundromat and wash a coupla shirts and socks and skivs etc.
See y'all tomorrow from Rapid City/Sturgis.
Righteous Bob On The Road to Sturgis 97
Arrived about 4pm today........after a very interesting road ride and we had a more interesting evening as well. Left Chamberlain, SD after another wonderful McDonalds breakfast and rode straight thru to the Badlands National Park. (Ya know, one of these great looking tourist sites that geologically hasn't changed much in the past 10,000 years but one that people seem to go to every two years!). Took the SR240 loop, a 40 mile+ loop around the north end of the badlands, stopped at a few of the "overview lookouts", took a buncha pictures and generally acted like tourists....maybe because WE ARE! My scoot did develop a bit of a clutch "chirp" going down the steeper grades so I am gonna have to watch that closely.
Left the Badlands and went up the road a few miles to the famous Wall Drugs, just as outrageous as the last time I was there. Danjo and SmoothLou had never seen anything quite like it so it was worth many laughs. By the way, there were about 2000 bikes in Wall during this time. We ate lunch at the Cactus Cafe, just across Main Street (Wall, SD) from Wall Drugs and, while we were eating, a bike caught on fire right in front of Wall Drugs! It was an "assembled" mid-80s Superglide that apparently developed an electrical malfunction. Extremely thick smoke all over downtown, with most of the diners out of their seats and looking out the window. The fire fighters came and doused the fire and then cleared the bike out of that area along with about 4-5 bikes either side of the flamed one. Danjo talked with the owner, who seemed to be taking things in stride, despite his bike being nearly destroyed and his belongings badly smoke damaged. Tough guy....!! We then rode the rest of the way into Rapid City (where we are staying, actually about 30 miles southeast of Sturgis) and checked in. We cleaned the bikes up in an area the Motel owners had set up and Danjo and SmoothLou had a swim. We were then visited by our on-line friends from the Netherlands (that's HOLLAND folks!) Wallie and Bert.We had made earlier arrangements with them. They were lucky enough to have been able to fly in their bikes (a 1991 Springer Softail with all sorts of custom trappings, lowered, raked, S&S, Supertrapps, fat rear rubber and a 94 Superglide with Heritage front end, S&S, Supertrapps, etc) to Chicago and ride to Deadwood where they are staying. After Sturgis they are continuing on to Wyoming, Yellowstone, Idaho, Utah, Nevada and San Francisco. They will ship their bikes back to Holland from there and fly back. After exchanging HD tee shirts with them (the 3 of us got really slick tees from their national club, HDCN, with a very distinctive logo on the back), chatting awhile and taking pictures, we walked two blocks to Black Hills HD (a very large dealership) to take a look at the new 95th anniversary edition 1998 models and snoop around the clothing and parts areas as well. Danjo fell in love with the new 1998 Road King Classic, the new model with those fantastic large tooled leather bags. In fact, SmoothLou fell in love with the new 1998 Road King Classic, the new model with those fantastic large tooled leather bags. Actually..........Righteous Bob did too! As we left the dealership to go to dinner, as crazy as it sounds, another bike caught on fire. This one wasn't in Wall, of course, but right in the parking lot of Black Hills HD. Don't know the story on this one but seeing two bike fires in one day is a bit spooky! The five of us had a great steak dinner and talked endlessly about bikes and our different (but similar as well) cultures. The neatest part of the conversation was Danjo and Bert talking about WW2 and its affect on the Dutch. Most of ya don't know this but Danjo is a major league player when it comes to knowing about WW2, like Hall of Fame Level! And Bert, being born in the 1940s remembers the German's occupation of Dutch cities and all.....it was a fascinating exchange! (It sure gets me wondering though, here are too guys with (especially in Bert's case) FANTASTIC command of the English language yet most of us over here don't know two sentences of a foreign language.)
Bert even told a funny story of getting pulled over the previous nite by a local cop for having a defective taillight. In his country it is not mandatory to ride with any license or ID, so of course he didn't have any. Furthermore, their are no papers on the bike other than some papers with his passport which was all back at the hotel. And for a crowning blow, his pipes are probably in the top 50 loudest out here, out of what may be 300,000+ before the counting ends. Anyhow, it is obvious the cop had no idea what to do with this guy from Holland with a obviously Holland bike who committed a very minor equipment violation. To the cops credit, he just let Bert off with a warning to get the light fixed. As Wallie and Bert departed our Motel to go back to Deadwood, I noticed the light had not been fixed. We are to get together with them tomorrow before they leave for WY. Well, we thought our day was done, when around 9pm, Mary Buchholz another on-line friend of Wallie and I, knocked on our door and asked " who are the bums that own those Michigan plate bikes?" We spent the next 30 minutes talking with her before she had to get back to Piedmont where she was staying. She is a nice friendly lady from Colorado Springs and rode the 410 miles up here yesterday on her Vulcan. (I know, it ain't a Harley, but she's workin' on that!). Well tomorrow (Monday) we'll get downtown to Main St. and create all sorts of havoc.
Until then.....see ya Righteous Bob On the Road at Sturgis
Monday-8/4-First Full Day in Sturgis
The first full day in Sturgis was a very busy one! I can't tell you what Danjo and Louie did since we split and they headed for Mt. Rushmore this morning and I headed to visit Wallie and Bert (our friends from The Netherlands). After breakfast I rode the 18 miles from my Rapid City hotel to Sturgis, Main Street. It's crazy! At 8:30 AM (that's morning!) it was VERY crowded for that early. Either something was wrong with my watch or something was wrong with the tens of thousands of people that were already there. My watch checked out OK.
After the very brief Main Street visit, I headed the mountain roads into the Black Hills and up to Deadwood where Bert and Wallie were staying. Had a nice breakfast with them and then Bert suggested a ride up to Spearfish via the mountain twisties. Quite a ride and as scenic as anything I had done in quite a while. We had lunch in Spearfish and then bid them goodbye as they continued on the next leg of the journey that will eventually take them to San Francisco. It was great to make such good friends, and they are both excellent riders! Bummed around in Spearfish for awhile but didn't take in much of the "tourist" stuff, but rather spent some time in their pawnshop....imagine that, ride up to Spearfish,SD to go to a pawnshop.....crazy.
Rode to Whitewood after that to check out the place that Rip (from Easyriders) says was a good place to "get away from the commotion of Sturgis Main St." He was right. Had a cold one at the Whitewood Bar and visited with the nice folks that own it and some of the local "characters". (One of them was some old coot who was talking to the bar stool next to him.....yes, the STOOL!) There was only about 20 bikes in the whole city, definitely a "get away" spot!
After Whitewood, rode down the backroads towards Rapid City. Harley had a special 1998 Model Lineup preview for HOG members that evening and I wanted to see some of the new scoots before that show opened to the public the next day (Tuesday). Since I had to kill some time, I stopped at the Buck N'` Gator Tavern (another Rip recommended stop). I scoped the place out for the meeting to take place Wed evening of the on-line folks as well as had a cold drink and something to eat. In fact, that turned out to be the cheapest meal I had in a long time. Spent 75 cents for a Diet Coke and they had a Fix-It-Yourself taco and burrito bar for free! (Happy Hour, I guess.) So I ate dinner for 75 cents. With customers like me, they'll be outta biz soon!
During the stay at the Buck N' Gator, the skies opened up fierce, first with high winds and rain and then dumping dime nickel sized hail all over. Everyone in the bar madly scrambled for towels or something to cover their tanks and fenders with. A mess, but didn't do any damage to my ole bike.
The rain seemed to stop as fast as it began and when it dried I headed to the Rushmore Civic Arena for the 1998 Model Preview. That was a bad move. There were about 1000 people already in line, which was moving VERY slowly to the insistence of HOG staff to stripe each membership card. What a waste of time! One hour in line and 40 minutes to see the exhibits. Nice bikes, although I STILL am not into all these weird colors. (Maybe the "kids" are?) Whatever happened to the basic black bike? Is there such a thing anymore?
Went back here to the hotel after the new Model Preview. I am beat! See ya tomorrow.
Righteous Bob On The Road in Sturgis, SD
Am writing this while in a somber mood today. At 10am on Tuesday I was informed that my dog, Harley, back home in Michigan, got out of my fenced yard and was killed instantly by a car. Those of you who have pets know how attached you can get and how much something like this hurts. My entire Sturgis 97 trip is dedicated to his memory, the memory of a wonderful companion and loyal "friend".
It rained all Monday night and nearly the entire morning on Tuesday, not starting to get brighter until I received the above news. The three of us hung close to the motel in Rapid City, with Lou and Danjo opting to hitting the Laundromat and taking care of some business there. I joined them and shared stories of their exploits of Monday, when we split up and they headed for Mt. Rushmore and Needles Highway.
After lunch we cleaned our bikes, filthy from the lengthy rain. I then headed to Black Hills HD, just two blocks away. I had some "shirt" shopping to do for all the friends and family back home, COD style I hope! At Black Hills, they had a mini-harleyfair outside with miscellaneous booths and all. It was well attended. Dan got several "Sturgis 97" patches sewn on his vest and jacket while there. (It is refreshing to see his enthusiasm for the hobby as he is a relative newcomer. I can recall several old vests back home that are literally covered with pins and patches but now I just wear plain black vest with no markings. Besides, my new dimensions do not allow me to wear the old vests!) I purchased four "official event" shirts for family/friends and will buy the remainder today (Wednesday) in downtown Sturgis.
Friends from back home, Zuce and Ghost, joined us later for the ZZ Top concert. Although, because of Harley's death, I didn't feel much like partying, I am glad I went. The band Kansas opened for them (two of the five are original Kansas members) and played well, good tunes to recall. Their encore consisted of the tunes, "(All we are is) Dust In The Wind" and "Carry On (My Wayward son)". How appropriate and eerie that was. After hearing those lyrics with a tear in my eyes, I was able to pay my final respects to Harley and know that he is in good hands. I am OK now.
Our tickets were stage left in the LAST row. Not the best, but then again I could stand up and bother absolutely no one. MaryB even made her way up there to say hi. She had bought a ticket from a private party for face value just an hour before.
ZZ Top was great, Lou (the 7th time Lou had seen them) said they were never better. Both Lou and Danjo are accomplished guitarists and were impressed with Billy Gibbons work. As a bass player, I marveled at how well times Dusty Hill's playing locked in with Frank Breard's drums to make a perfect rhythm section. There timing was impeccable and they didn't miss a note all night.
Met friends Dennis and Kathy from Cleveland, the same folk we had met in Davenport, IA on Thursday nite. We all went back to our place for a late night party. Zuce & Ghost, MaryB, Dennis & Kathy joined us and our motel neighbors Sandy & Viking, Phil, and Adam and we rocked the Avanti Motel balcony until 2am!
More downtown Sturgis today (Wednesday) and meeting with on-line folks at the Buck N' Gator tonite. We leave for home on Thursday.
-Righteous Bob On the Road in Sturgis, SD
Since we are leaving sometime tomorrow (Thursday) AM to return to the Detroit area, this was our last full day in Sturgis. Woke up early and headed down to Main Street to spend the day shopping and exploring again. Still had many performance vendors to visit and some stuff to pick up. I left SmoothLou and Danjo to "recover" from the 2am party. The Diet Cokes I drank left me with a pretty clear head.
It was crowded again at 8:30am, but, surprisingly enough, not as crowded as Monday morning. The crowd estimates, according to the media and the rally folk, are from 250-300,000. Found a parking place just off of Lazelle and 4th next to the Civic Center, one of the last spaces there. It was already nearly impossible to get down Main Street, with bikes already solidly lining both sides of the street and the "middle row".
Checked with the people at Samson, Vance & Hines, Supertrapp, etc for some exhaust research I am doing for the Heritage Springer I have on order. Am planning on doing the usual carb rejetting, new air cleaner, new exhaust and am collecting mfrs. and users recommendations for that project. Also spent some time talking to the folks at Pat Kennedy Wheels and Boyd Wheels for the latest in custom spooked and solid wheels. Those Kennedy 120 spokes sure are nice, but so is the price!
The custom and "clone" manufacturers were represented with a very strong cast of exhibits. Titan, American Image, Big Dog, Arlen Ness all displayed their products. There were other, lesser known custom builders with products of notoriety also. The performance side of the house was represented by Pat Kennedy, Chrome Specialties, Accel, Samson, Vance and Hines, S&S, Edelbrock, Crane Cams, Drag Specialties, Boyds, Jim's, Keith's, Nempco, Russel Performance, Balnce Masters and others. They were all here in Sturgis!
After I bought a pair of BAAADDD sunglasses (prompted by ZZ Tops rendition of "Cheap Sunglasses" the night before) I started snapping pictures and before I could quit I had nearly 3-24 exposure rolls done. Lotsa nice scoots and good looking women in abbreviated states of undress! My kinda rally!! (On the other hand, ain't it amazing how young these ladies in their 20s-30s look now that I am an old fart? Think my, almost, 21 year old son could have REALLY enjoyed himself. Heck those girls all call me "sir".)
Went over and actually registered my name in the Michigan book at the Rally HQ. I wonder how many people here actually bother to do that? I'll bet that it's not even 10%.
Bought some more shirts for the folk back home, now I wonder how the heck I am gonna pack them to get back. Took too much stuff as usual. And with UPS on strike, there is no easy way to ship stuff back.
I am sorry I did not take ANY of the racing events in on this trip. That''ll have to wait until next year. There is so much going on now that it would take one person about 4 weeks to take in all that is offered in the one rally week.
Had a beer at Gunners Saloon, which has been in Sturgis since time started, it seems. Had a darn good brat at the Road Kill Cafe for lunch. After lunch did some more shopping, with Main Street now elbow to elbow in crowd. Started getting fatigued about 1:30pm and headed back to the motel to rest for a few.
Headed up to the Buck N' Gator for dinner and to hob nob with the on-line crowd, that was meeting there tonite. Turned out to be a buncha folks in "Virtual Biker" shirts and "Asshole #" hats. Not very organized and did not exactly fill the bill for me. Maybe the AOL gathering at Hog Heaven campground would have been better. I dunno. Had a good dinner and a beer and chatted with Smokin' Joe, an old guy (in his 50s) like me, from Eagle River, WI as well as some of the locals that hang at the 'Gator.
After that, did a brief ride and then headed back to the motel to re-mount my windshield for the trip home tomorrow.
All in all, it was a great Sturgis week. Outside of the sadness of my dog, Harley, getting killed back home, the week was exciting and filled with lots to do for the Harley enthusiast. Some of my observations;
1. Harley's, although predominate by vast amount are sharing the spotlight here with Gold Wings, Royal Stars, Honda ACE's, Vulcans, even BMWs etc. This can no longer be classified as a Harley-only rally.
2. More women solo riders than EVER. In general, they were very steady riders, courteous, did not take chances, predictable and a pleasure to share the road/lane with. Some of the guys could learn something here!
3. The Harley clonebike market (Titan, et al) is big! The riders that seem to support this market have $$ and simply do not want to wait for a new HD and then turn around and have to customize it.
4. Can't figure how Excelsior-Henerson and Polaris Victory people really think their product will appeal to anyone. Then again, if HD fails to meet demands in the future these bikes may find many homes.
5. The size of this rally is getting to the point that it is outgrowing main Street. A lot of stuff is in Rapid City now, but they must take a hard look at the present systems and project the future interest. The yr. 2000 (the 60th Anniv. of Sturgis) is on the way and certain systems are not going to function then if left alone.
6. The cops have to learn to have a bit more patience. Saw a Low Rider getting towed today for a yellow line parking violation of only 8" or so. Come on now guys...8"...geez!
That's it for now........We are heading home tomorrow. Hope you have all enjoyed these reports as much as I hve enjoyed this trip. See ya
Righteous Bob On the Road in Sturgis, SD
Goin Home from Sturgis-Life Is an Adventure!
You may ask, "Why in hell are you only 190 miles east of Sturgis". Wellllll.......it's like this...............Lou's bike broke down and we had to get him trailered here from Kennebec, SD, about 50 miles away. There are only 4 HD dealers in the State and we are at a Super 8 Motel about 3 blocks from Petersen HD, who will have a chance to look at his 82 FXRS tomorrow morn.
Leading up to this was a comedy of sort involving Danjo's bike which now has duct tape holding on a floorboard, and a tie wrap holding on a voltage regulator. So much for the newest bike in our group. Maybe if there wasn't so much chrome on that thing it would stay together! (Just jokin' Dan.....)
Anyhow, we're here for a few days it looks like. And, if things go smoothly I won't have any more reports for ya!
Well I am home now. The past few days we were in places that had no AOL access and I was dog-tired so I thought I would wait until now to do my final report.
When I left ya hangin a few days ago, we were in Pierre, SD waiting for a diagnosis on the ills of Lou's 82 FXRS.
FRIDAY 8/8 Got up at about 0630, and went to local hot spot for breakfast, and had Burger King's finest breakfast! After washing all that grease down with a whole lotta orange juice, I walked over to the HD dealer, Petersen's HD, only three blocks away. Peeked in the window and noticed that SmoothLou's bike had actually been moved into the service bay. Of course, no mechanic was there. (Actually that is good, cuz' any mechanics I know are IN NO SHAPE to work on ANY bike at 0700!!!!)
Went back to the room and read the latest catalog on the 1998 models, which I picked up in Strurgis the other day. Dang, that new Heritage Springer looks good and that new Road King Classic and that new Dyna Wide-Glide etc etc. etc.
Lou finally got up at 0830 and I had another coffee and we went to the other breakfast hotspot (Hardee's) and he ate. I hobnobbed with the locals. What ever happened to the small little smokey, greasy, noisy, plastic tablecloth, fulla local heritage diners that I love?
At 0930 the dealership opened and we were "in the house". The mechanic had Lou's bike up on the stand and was dismantling the S&S carb and cussing his head off. (I guess he really didn't know we were there?) We knew that the vertical bracket that supports the S&S had cracked and I figured that this was the sum total of Lou's problem. Lou thought that it may have blown a valve <sic>.
While waiting for the mechanic to do his stuff, I wandered about the area talking to the folk that were also waiting for service. Being a "Strugis Week", they were unusually busy. First talked to Tim, a VN era Alaskan chopper (as in AIRCRAFT, not the stuff we all used to build!) pilot who also has a home in upper Minnesota. He rides a 1982 4-speed hat started out life as a FX but now has been lowered to about 25" seat height and all raked out nicely (about 3" over I would guess) and has a Heritage type front end. Beautiful scoot, but had blown a stator. Tim was there to buy a coupla new batteries to nurse the scoot home. It had a kicker and he could run with no lights so he probably made it home! (The dealer had no stator in stock and with UPS on strike, no way to get one quickly.) Helped him mount the battery and secure the "spare" and he was on his way.
Also talked to a couple from NC who had blown a belt on their Tour-Glide, after 79,000+ miles. Any of you out there have ANY idea how long these things last under normal conditions? I am running nearly 50,000 on mine and it looks as good as new. This guy's belt was missing every third tooth or so and rear pulley looked crappy as well. Says he rides in gravel and dirt a lot. Those belts are very strong in what the engineers call "tensile strength" (or longitudinal strength, I guess) but weak in "shear strength". I have known bros and sisters who have gotten stones or rocks caught up in belt and sprocket and it just tears them up!
While we were talking another bro comes in with a belt problem on his 89 FXRT. This one had only 52,000 miles. Now I am getting concerned. Maybe I should just replace the thing and be done with it! You old farts like me will recall that when HD first came out with present belt design (1984 or so, NOT the belt they put on the Strugis models of the early 80s) they recommended changeout every 20,000 miles or so. With further testing and road experience from their owners, HD later took out the recommendation altogether. Folks were getting phenomenal mileage outta those belts, but we probably shouldn't get greedy.
Danjo finally got up and showed up at dealership at 1030 or so. We sent him back to the motel to check on staying some extra time and finding a cheaper place if it is to be a longer stay than another day.
Back to why we are at the dealer! The mechanic welded the old bracket, replaced the carb manifold gaskets and remounted the whole thing. After a bit of coaxing it came to life, sounded good, ran on BOTH cylinders but would not idle. He admitted that he did not see many S&S carbs thru that small dealership and didn't want to mess with adjustments. Lou and I figured that nothing had happened to idle screw or settings, and idling had not been the problem before, so that should be left alone for now. He had Lou run it up and down the highway near there. It ran fine (GOOD!) but would not idle. He suggested that we take it like it was and check in with Sioux Falls dealership who has people that know more about S&S tuning.
For about 2:15 of work, including the gaskets, the guy charges Lou (GET THIS!) $48.23. Hard to believe, since that would have probably cost him $125-$150 back here in MI. Anyhow, that dealership gets my vote. Stop by Petersens HD in Pierre, SD and say hi to Ross and all his guys. Good bros!
WE check out of the motel, eat and hit the road at 1 PM. Uneventful ride to Onanwa, Iowa, the same place that the ruckus in the Pizza Hut occurred a week earlier. This time we didn't get there until after 9pm, so Lou couldn't get in any trouble this time!
SATURDAY 8/9 Your basic uneventful ride to central IL, Geneseo, IL to be exact. Met Big Daddy, a ZZ Top bearded, overalled 5'9", 250 lb. musclemass from Saginaw, who was riding a Electra-Glide sidecar rig with his 17 year old son Randy. Great time and great place to bond, Sturgis that is. Saw them at a rest stop AND at our motel, where young'un Randy was piloting that big rig around like a pro.
Jeff and Joyce, Electra-Glide Classic riders from Chicago, helped me learn directions around Chicago to avoid that big mess of a traffic jam we encountered while westbound. Am indebted to those righteous folk, they saved us time and clutch wear on Sunday!
Also met Rob and Anne from Rochester, MI, about 10 mi from where I live. They have an absolutely AWESOME 1995 Road Glide, all decked out. Funny thing, these folks live close to me and yet I never met them except for this truck stop/motel 400 miles from home! Crazy world.
SUNDAY 8/10 Long day. Couldn't get started until the fog burned off, about 10am. Overcast all day but great riding weather in the 70s. Much more comfortable than the days of mid-90s we had earlier. Guess it is all what we get used to.
Met a couple at a rest stop from Kalamazoo, MI that went to Sturgis for their honeymoon! (I offered her my congratulations and him my condolences...just jokin'). This guy puts on 17,000 miles on his 1995 Heritage Softail each year, amazing for Michigan. (A typical year for me is 8-10,000). Wonder if that will continue now that he is hitched......<g>.
Only "event" of the day was when put our helmets on in northern Ohio to ride back into Michigan. Danjo "forgot" to secure it and it falls off when we go and it gets clipped by a truck and sent into the bushes somewhere. (Now ya gotta picture this, Danjo's an artistic (albeit absent minded at times) sort that custom painted his own helmet. It's got planets and stars and all sorts a kooky stuff on it. (Kinda fits cuz' most folk think he's kinda spaced out anyway). By the time Lou and I realize Danjo isn't behind us, we're almost a mile up the road. We pull over on the shoulder and look back but can't see much. Danjo had reason to be concerned, 1. It was his "personalized" helmet and 2. If it's really "lost" how the hell is he gonna ride back in Michigan?
To make a long story shorter, twenty minutes later he finds his scarred and cracked creation in the bushes and we're off again. Arrived home about 2030 hours. I am feeling great!!
Enjoyed it......hope y'all enjoyed being along with me!
-Righteous Bob Orchard Lake