I am 35 years old and live and work in West Kingston, Rhode Island. It’s a little college/beach town where I own a restoration shop. I started at a young age taking things apart to see how they work, and I think it was the trying to put them back together that taught me the most.
After years of tinkering with everything around my parent’s home I got the reputation as someone who could fix any thing. So most of my pre-teen years I was either working on some donated broken widget or honing my engineering skills with my Lego’s.
I was born loving motorcycles, and as a teen I had go-carts and dirt bikes and used my fathers carpentry shop building as a garage building. I repaired everything from dune buggies to hot rods. My friends and I would paint cars in the driveway and rebuild motors on the floor. Anything to keep it moving.
After school I got a job working in a gas station garage. From there I went on to be a dealership tech, and six years ago I opened my own restoration shop, turning my hobby and moonlighting into a business. It has been a dream come true and I truly love what I do every day.
My first bike was a 1984 Honda z50, purchased new, which my little girl rides now. I will be riding my 1911 Indian for this event, which I chose because this will force me to finish the build, and I believe the bike can make the entire ride.
Wish I could say this bike, as a whole, had a super history with some great story about my crazy old Uncle-so-and-so riding it to Mexico and back, but that’s not the case. My bike started as just a motor found in an old bicycle/motorcycle shop.
A local swamp Yankee heard that all the parts at the old motorcycle shop where getting thrown out. I think it was around 1970. He got there in time to save my motor and a second, smaller, 1910 belt drive Indian motor along with a pile of parts.
Having no interest in motorcycles and being a farmer, he only rescued things useful to him. So carburetors, magnetos, and the 2 little signals looked like good property.
Now, fast-forward 30 years and the same swamp Yankee comes to visit my shop on his tractor! I am busy working on a customer’s 1920 power plus motor when the swamper tells me he has 2 single Indian motors and offers to sell them to me. He tells me it’s all "there in the pile at the back of the old barn". No joke, a pile of everything from hit-and-miss motors to old lawn mowers. Now the good part…the price!
"Well, some fella from the city offered me $50 a piece,” he tells me, “but he wanted me to deliver ‘em. Would $75 each work?" I couldn't move fast enough. I purchased the 2 motors and listed the smaller one on EBAY.
I got $1,400.00 for the small 1910 belt drive motor. Now, I could not keep all that cash. It just seemed like the right thing to do, so I gave the swamper $400 of my profit. My friends told me I was nuts. But I still felt like I did pretty good. I owned a 1911 Indian motor and had $850 in cash.
Well, the $400 I gave has paid back 10 fold. That guy must have gone through all the rest of his stuff and pulled out everything that looked like motorcycle parts, a huge pile of misc bits and pieces, and gave it all to me. Got to love good karma. My Name is Earl. lol The rest of the bike is a collection of parts I have scrounged over the last 7 years and yea the $850 is long gone! Now, it’s my turn to give the bike (not just the motor) an interesting story.
Attached are photos of the old bike/motorcycle shop that my Indian motor was found in. The shop was started by Archie Brown and W.E. Stedmand around 1910 and is still run today as a bicycle shop by W.E.’s son, Everett.
In the large group photo you can see the banner for the local motorcycle club with Archie Brown’s name across the middle. It is quite possible that my motor is powering one of the motorcycles in that photo. I would not be surprised if every motorcycle in town was included in that photo. I lived around the corner from this bike shop until I was 10. They were the only show in town in 1980, so I can only imagine how important they must have been back in 1910.
I have never done this before, and the biggest challenge I see is the unknown. It’s the stuff you didn’t think about that will get you. I’ve started working out, and I plan to be prepared by the time September rolls around. Check out my shop at RedStarAuto.com.