If it's your shop, you know the customers come first, and your personal projects take a backseat.
Whether you're a shop owner or a garage builder, there's always that motivational idea that precedes all builds. An idea that starts the mental process, that keeps you moving through to the completion of the project. Caleb, owner of Cro Customs, is no exception.
"My motivation for this bike? Well, I guess it was two-fold," Caleb told me in a recent phone conversation. "I rode my blue and white Shovel in the first El Diablo Run, and I really enjoyed both the bike, and the ride. I had planned on taking this year's EDR (author's note: See the Aug. '07 issue of SC for the complete coverage of this year's event), and in the beginning of the year, the guys from Biltwell contacted me, and asked if I'd be one of the sponsors for EDR 2007.
"I said sure! I was going anyway, so why not? But then I began thinking, if I'm going to be one of the sponsors, I need to come up with another ride for the event to show off what I can do. I had this '56 Pan bottom/'48 top end motor in the shop, and almost enough parts to make a complete bike lying around, so I got busy mocking things up."
But like the plumber with the leaky pipes in his own home, so goes the owner of a small shop's day. If it's your shop, you know the customers come first, and your personal projects take a backseat. "I was doing OK," said Caleb, "Then I got this client who wanted his own ride so he could take the EDR as well. I had to drop my new build and get to work on his. I didn't stop collecting the remaining parts I needed, I just had to stop working on mine temporarily."
Caleb finished up his client's Evo-powered rigid and checked the calendar. Three months remained until the departure date for the EDR. "I worked pretty steadily on my build, and I finished it up with about three weeks to spare, so I figured no big deal, I can shake out all the bugs with time to spare." Famous last words, as everybody who's ever said them knows.
Caleb had taken the four-speed transmission he originally planned to use for his project and used it in his client's build instead. Fortunately, Caleb did have a new 6-in-4 speed in the shop, and after some realignment issues, he was able to get his drive and clutch sorted out. Then, the "Yeah, it's rebuilt" '56 engine started suffering some pretty serious ailments.
"When I was working out the 6-in-4's bugs, a head gasket blew. I got that fixed, and then one of the original Pan jugs cracked. I must have had that top end off at least four or five times, I lost count.
"I didn't have time to locate another set of OEM jugs, so I ordered a set of aftermarket ones. Time was running really short, so I took everything down to Derek at Kelly's Block Welding on Washington, in downtown L.A. to get them set up. Kelly's main business is automotive, but they do motorcycle work from time to time, and they're one of the best in town."
Caleb was able to get everything bolted up and running pretty well with a few days to spare before the pre-EDR Party, when Dame Fate pointed her cute little finger at Caleb again. One of the '48 Pan's heads lost a chunk of itself right at the motor mount stud. After a hasty teardown, Derek and Kelly's came to the rescue again, doing the head repair in record time.
Along with buddies Joey, Ray, and Jim, who pitched in at the 11th hour, Caleb was able to once again do the top end, fire the bike up in the morning, and not only do the distance down to Temecula, CA, for the pre-EDR party, but was able to take the entire EDR route down and back again without any problems whatsoever.
"I still have the bike, and I ride it all the time, and haven't had a problem since. After all this, and the EDR Run on top of it all, I wouldn't hesitate to have anybody else take this bike anywhere. It runs that good! I'm finding this bike really hard to let go of."