MyVincent.co.uk

First 1990 to 1992

First 1990 to 1992

About this time I moved all of my shop and toys to Florida. My new partner in vintage bike restoration owned an industrial park, so I now had a 4000 sq. ft. shop to do the liner thing.

Here I began to build the chassis. As I said before, never having seen a liner with it's pants off, I began the task. But first I gave my old friend, the former record holder Don Vesco, a call. I'd known him for many years, as we first met at Sonny Angel's motorcycle shop in National City, California during the time I was stationed there in the Navy, in the early sixties. I called Don and told him about my plan to build a twin engine Vincent streamliner for the 2000cc blown fuel class.

So the basis of the liner was laid out. First the suspension. Don told me to make the rear suspension swing arm a loop design with the shock in the rear. Make it strong. Also he said support the rear of the swing arm with roller bearings on both sides. Make the frame from chrome moly tubing and keep the roll cage strong. Keep the wheel base axle to axle to the minimum. Use a center steering hub on the front with a steering ratio of 3 1/2 to one and wet the center steering king pin on a 42 degree angle. Make the front and rear swing arms adjustable, so ride heights can be changed, both front and rear. He said the skids are very important. Design them well. Make them strong and adjustable. Ensure that the liner is balanced, and the wheel alignment can be no less than perfect. So with these basic guidelines spoken from the mouth of someone who has "been there and done that", a true authority on how to build a streamliner motorcycle, and with about $1000 in my pocket, I set out to build the World's Fastest Motorcycle..........

I began to round up the needed moly tubing and steel to build the frame and components. The rule book said that the minimum tube allowed was 1 1/4" in diameter, with a wall thickness of .090. I decided to use 1 1/2" diameter tubing with wall thickness of .100. I wanted to make the liner as safe as possible, and one that would survive a crash. This was also suggested by Don. I remember him saying, "Those things crash". So liner number one was taken on by yours truly, with limited knowledge, and all the confidence of the uninitiated. After all, how hard could it be?

How naive I was.

The frame, wheels, center steering, outriggers or skids, tires, and most of the other things required, i.e., parachutes, fire bottles, the list goes on--were placed in, around, and on the frame. It was now time to cover it all up with a body.

I might add at this time a certain ego about it's design, frame and all, began to creep in, so I didn't consult further with Don Vesco or Bob George, the builder of the Harley powered Easy Rider Streamliner.

I had discussed the body with Don, but only it's material, not it's configuration. He highly recommended aluminum over fiberglass. He said that in the event of a crash, assuming the crash doesn't hurt other vital components, you can always beat out any dents and go again. He also said that with fiberglass it usually takes about an hour to pick up all the pieces and is not readily fixable--which ruins the day. So with this advice, now all I had to do was find a body man with an English wheel to do the job, not an easy task in Southern Florida.

The first guy I approached was a master metal man from Argentina. The price he quoted was a staggering $10,000 U.S. to do the job. That was rejected immediately, as all of the money being spent at this time was coming out of grocery money. I finally found a guy near Daytona who would do it for $3,000. I gave him a rough drawing of what I wanted, plus the liner, so there would be an assured fit. Needless to say, I was very disappointed with what came out of his shop. It was nothing close to what I had envisioned, nor was it shaped like my drawing.

I might add that up to this point (1992) I had devoted two and a half years of all my weekends on the project, plus around $30,000 U.S.

Photos of the liner were sent to Don Vesco, although I was not at all proud of it. Don had agreed to ride the liner in hopes of recapturing the title of "The Fastest Man on Two Wheels" from Dave Campos, the current record holder at that time. I waited until I figured Don had had enough time to get the pictures, then I called him.

A critique lasting the better part of two hours ensued. With pencil and paper in hand, I wrote down all the things that Don said were wrong, and also the things he said were right with the liner.

My ego was shattered. The list of wrongs far outweighed the list of rights, so there was only one thing to do--build another streamliner, throwing away all the wrongs and keeping all the rights.

Needless to say, liner number one never made it to the salt.