Clarence is a remarkable fellow ! On his retirement, much like myself, he decided to redirect his energies to doing something he enjoyed after many years of doing things for other people, but unlike me he has a real gift for doing precise machine work. His projects are 50% scale, built from scratch motorcycles modelled after his 1979 Harley Davidson FLH. The really cool thing is that he started with no plans, no drawings and no real training in metal turning, shaping or casting. What he has created is really quite amazing, even going so far as to cast his own lenses for the headlamp and accessory lighting.
Clarence gave a talk a few weeks ago to the CVMG NORAL section in Edmonton which I had wanted to attend, but life got in the way. This past week I had occasion to be in the Edmonton area on other business, and contacted him to see if he was open to a visit. It was a great evening and the time past very quickly as he walked me through what he had done and also what still remained to be done. If you are at all into machine shop operations, process and design then he is a great guy to spend some time with – I learned a lot in just a short time.
The areas that interested me personally were the tooling processes for making some of the shaped sheet metal items such as the saddle bags, as well as the casting techniques for the detail emblems. Those who know me well, know that I’m more of a ‘lets quit faffing about and just get it done’ sort of person, but that method really doesn’t work well with the sort of project Clarence has embarked on. The amount of time, care and preparation required to first design and build the jigs or moulds that are required for making even small items is extensive, so I suppose I will have to study Zen or something if I want to try my hand at something similar. The only real items that he has not made himself for the three models built so far are the tires, wiring and electronics – the cam, crankshaft, cases and all the other engine components have been made from scratch as have the frame and suspension components. It is, to me certainly, a most impressive accomplishment, and as I said at the start, he is truly a remarkable fellow ! His web site can be found here and includes many more photos as well as his contact information if you want to drop him a line.
I have long been thinking of getting a lathe, but space has been a consideration as has my appreciation of what was possible if a) you had the patience and b) a bit of imagination. Having seen now what is possible, I suppose I no longer have any real excuses !