Monday, December 3, 2012

What the Hell is Battlesteed???

I've been threatening to let everyone know what's up with the new "Battlesteed" thing that's turning up here and there, so here goes. Grab your favorite adult beverage and lend me an ear.

Over the last year, I've been having a sort of crisis with what to do with Eternal Combustion. For those that know me and the biz, you know that I'm a one man band. There have been some seriously good folks who've helped me along the way, and some seriously shitty ones that luckily dropped off the map early on, but all-in-all, it's just me. You see, EC was started with the idea to support those craftsmen across the country who might not be the best business folk. Take what they create and make it easier for them to do so and easier for them to make enough dough to keep doing it. Add in my own creations and go to town. Noble cause right?

Well, it didn't quite go as planned, and the store wound up being a great place for hard-to-find stuff from all over the place, but never really the communal sort of thing I'd hoped for. Just me buying and selling the parts and pieces that I felt were pretty cool, and having a pretty good time doing it. Thing is, it took all the time I had just to run the store, get to the shows, keep parts on the shelves and shipments on time. The "make stuff" part kinda flew right out the window with the store's success. If I complain about it though, kick me in the sack. It's been a great ride so far for sure.

That said, I decided last year to get back to the basics I had hoped to start from originally, and start making stuff again. I've always been a tinkerer. Can't leave shit well enough alone. I always have to break it and make it better or just different. In my life, that means bikes and parts. I started asking customers, friends and anyone who knew anything about what I was doing how to transition from a store to a shop, and they pretty much all said "create something new".

Great. I'm good at that. Sometimes. So I set out to make a decision and get going. The decision was to focus on my bike builds and custom parts that make that whole thing easier. Focus on getting a full-blown shop up and running and support the online store along the way. I took off for the middle of nowhere South Dakota, stopped hitting as many shows, and got kind of quiet on the "circuit" so to speak while I focused on getting set up. I just needed a name.

I was out with my buddy Sam Turner one morning for breakfast while rolling through Colorado, and a particular sticker on the back of his murdervan caught my attention. I'd seen it many times, and it always made me want to ask what it was for. It read "Battlesteed" in perfect death metal lettering. Sam's answer is that he had made up a few of them and that they were what he called his bicycle. You see, Sam is one of those crazy bike messengers that rides with no brakes or gears and just gets it done. That bike is his battle steed. The whole picture rang true and grabbed me. That's what I do. I make the bikes we go to war on the streets with. Real battle steeds for a modern age. Sam and I reached an agreement to let me use the name and hopefully have him do a ton of the art for the shop as we grow. Sam is also the resident artist for Dave Barker over at Speedmetal.

Now I'm hitting stride with the shop, and ready to get the new name up and running in the outside world. Bikes are coming off lifts for the first time, and Sumo's knuck marks the first runner to hit the streets. My own '66 is next along with a hoard of other war horses that hopefully will blow some minds and keep me going.

As for Eternal Combustion, it will always remain as the store I sell all the shop's creations through. It's part of me and always will be. I'll be reducing the amount of 3rd party parts I sell, and concentrate on the schwag and bits I make out of the shop from now on, but it'll be as alive as ever. I'll still hope to find good people out there who need help getting their creations out to the world and lend a hand where I can, but it's time to focus on what makes me tick - bashing metal, forcing it into shapes it may not like, and blasting it down the highways across our great country. Hope you get it, and hope to see you out there!

Thanks for all the support!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Done and Done! 1947 Knucklehead FL

It's always a good day when you find yourself spending time getting some photos of a finished project. Partly, because you get to see the bike for all it is in a different light, but mostly because it means you're done.

Took these of the 1947 Knuck I just finished for a buddy over the pond, and have to say, I'm stoked how it turned out. This was more a study in how to get a random assortment of parts to fit together properly than a full-on, ground-up build, but fun just the same. Enjoy these shots!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

You know that special time during a project when...

You know, the one where every time you go to get the little, last shit done, you realize that part / piece / thing / widget is broken / lost / 100 miles away / etc.? Yeah, that time.
At least the bike is closer to the ground now. Got it all ready and set, and even kicked it for about an hour, before finding that the battery was pulling down to around 11V with ignition on. Oh, and all the perfect panhead gel cells I bought - you know, the MOTOBatt ones that really work? - yeah, they don't fit knuck oil bags. Super.
Hopefully, I can get it spitting smoke tomorrow. Now if I can just figure out what all the extra nuts and bolts are for...
I kid, I kid!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A little 'How To' to pass the time... Mounting The Morris G5 Mag

Figured I'd take a little time to pass this info along, since I get a lot of questions when I talk about the subject in a group. You see, the Morris G5 magneto is the best invention since... uh... probably toilet paper. It's the holy grail for old bikes and makes your ignition system and scaled down electrics pretty much bullet-proof. I won't say perfect, but as long as you don't use those crappy see-through colored caps, you run into very few problems.

The big issue with the G5 is that Morris claims it fits without any alteration of the cases or removal of push rods. Well, that may be true for 1% of the cases Harley cast back in the day, but my experience is that you are going to grind no matter what. Some may just be luckier than me. Also, if you work on mid-to-late-60's Pans and Shovels, you may also find yourself missing a hole. As in the hole for the rear base mount on the G5 housing. They tell you this in the instructions, but it's still a pain when you find out "this means you".

I didn't take photos of every step, because I'm just not wired that way. Me and the "instagram" way of life just don't meld. I did grab a few, and will try to give you words in simple terms to fill the gaps. This may be old news to many, but I'm sure there's a few out there that could stand to hear it again even. So anyways...

First thing I do is get the base settled into the hole in the case and see how much clearance I need. Measure the gap between the case and the lower portion of the base to get the estimate, but you'll have to take the "small cuts and many measurements" approach to get it just right. By that, I mean grind in small amounts and reset the base each time to see how your doing, because since the case is a curved surface, your grinding point will change multiple times as you progress.

Note that I always take the front push rod out entirely, just to give myself room. Especially since this was one where I had to drill the back mounting hole as well. (66 Shovel here with OE matching cases) Tape and cover everything, because the grinding dust is super-fine and will get EVERYWHERE and into EVERYTHING.

Once you have the base set, mark out the area to be ground down. Realize that you aren't going to make a simple angle here if you want it to look good. It's a compound curve on the bottom of the G5 base, so you need to match that. If you just hit the cases with a simple slant, you won't be happy in the end. To each their own I guess. Notice I take material down much further up the "neck" than the G5 actually covers. This is to make sure the curve radius is a gentle slope and not a harsh angle just where I'm putting the mag. Makes it look like the cases were made for it. I mark my area with sharpie and start at the back (toward the head) and work my way forward checking after each little bit to see how the base fits.

Once I get it snug in there (I leave about 1/8" between the base and the case at all points if I can), I take a rock of preferably granite or quartz style, break it with a hammer and gently tap it around the ground area. This gives it the look of the original casting if you do it right. Takes some practice, so if you can find some scrap first, try there before going to town on your cases.

Now that's done and looking good, so I can move to the mounting issue. No back hole for me, so I have to make one. The G5 base is oil-filled (unless you forget to put oil in!) and so it needs the seal and you're forced to drill your cases. I do this with the motor still in the frame and as long as you have the right tools and a steady hand, you don't need to remove heads or jugs. Just make sure everything is still wrapped up tight so no dust or debris gets in the motor.

I use a right angle air grinding base for my "drill". The chucks on these won't usually fit the right drill bit, so you need to wrap the bit in tape at the end so the chuck grabs. We're not drilling stainless or at high speed, so the bit won't move around as long as you tighten your chuck down good. Then take some more tape and mark your depth to drill by wrapping the portion of the exposed bit so only the amount of metal is exposed to equal your drilling depth. We don't want to just punch through the case into the inside here for what I hope are obvious reasons. The bolts provided in the G5 box are a little long for my taste when drilling, so I took about a 1/4 off that to find my depth. It's usually about 3/4 or so. That gives you enough room to tap 5/8" of thread to grab and that's plenty.

You can't just measure the center-to-center distance of the mounting holes and randomly put your new one though. You need to set the base again so the gear mates up with the motor, and then I take another drill bit and dip it in marking fluid and shove it in the back hole of the base to make my drilling mark. Then get a center punch and make your starting mark in the case after taking the base back out and covering the hole.

Now drill. Slowly. I usually back the bit out once or twice so I'm not crowding the hole with debris and use cutting fluid to keep it cool. I'm paranoid around cases. Call me crazy. Once the hole is drilled, take your tap and the smallest hand chuck you've got and gently thread the hole you drilled. Make sure to blow the extra debris out before doing this. Again, I back the tap out once or twice on the way down and use more cutting oil.

Like I said. Lube. Plenty of it.

Now you should be good to go, so put your front push rod back in and then mount the G5 for good. Tighten the base down and follow your instructions for filling oil,  setting the timing etc. Make sure the rubber seal is seated good when putting the cap on or use a cork one instead. There you have it. Best ignition around!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Getting a little Love!

Stole these pics from over on Jeremiah's site. They are of some of the folks at the 3rd annual Love Cycles show in Phoenix, AZ this past February. Ken was a really nice dude and went around asking folks to stand by their builds and say a little something about the bike. I was lucky and got asked to do so and even made the new mag he was contributing to - Roller. I'm guessing it'll be a hard find here in the states, since it's a Jap rag, but what the hey. Barker from Speedmetal got a nod with the knuck as well. More pics over on the Love Cycles blog, so go pay Jeremiah a visit. Good times as usual, and a little love to follow it all up!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

HEAVY summer times!

Crap, it's been a whirlwind of a month for sure! Headed out to see the animal that is Born Free, and had a blast on the road with the Speedmetal crew. That damn long pan is a sight to see. I think that should be Justin's new name... Long-Pan. Whatever. The show was a blast, but happened way too fast as usual. No chance to get to see or even check in with everyone I intended to. Hope everyone had as much of a blast as I did. Too busy with whatever I was actually doing to even shoot any photos, so you'll be content finding them out there in interweb land on your own this go round.

After that, it was time to head up to Zac and the Heavy crew's gig - Full Tilt. Always a blast and the best hosts a guy could want. Warm shop, cozy couch, Grain Belt Premium falling from the sky, and plenty of humidity to keep you going! Great time at the show, and even better times hanging at the shop drinking and carousing. I did remember to pack the good camera for this, although only remembered to grab it after the show... so here's a couple shots for your viewing pleasure. Now back to building bikes and being a shut-in. See ya when I see ya!

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Man, have I been slacking! No Born Free posts in a while, and the damn show is next Saturday! If you've never been, you need to clear the calendar for next weekend (June 29,30) so you can come experience first-hand what Mike and Grant have put together. It keeps getting bigger, and somehow the mass of bikes and humanity keeps getting better. If you've been before, we shouldn't have to explain. It's good times and a great opportunity to meet and hang with some of the best folks around. Oh, and it's at a big enough place, that you can easily avoid the pricks too!

Anywho, the show is Saturday the 30th, and there's absolutely no reason to miss it. People are coming from across the globe and it's well worth the trip. EC will be there with the Speedmetal crew from Denver with some low-cost swag to dress you up too. No big booth or sales crew this year, as I figure it's about time to actually enjoy this thing with the crowd! Grab me if you see me and get some stickers or whatever else I have in my pocket.

Here's the bulk of the videos that have been posted by and for the builders this year, so take a minute to see what's happening, and then pack up and hit the road to California!

Dave Barker

Walt Gemeinhardt

Wil Thomas

Andy Carter

Jeff Leighton

Dave Polgreen

Steve Buchanan

Todd Asin

Speed Merchant

Rene Astengo

Max Schaaf

Matt Olsen

Michael Barragan

Tyler Lepore

Joe Lingley

Friday, May 18, 2012

Some Shop Movement!

Things have been hectic trying to get the final permits signed off and minutia completed so we can actually start doing the important stuff at the new shop. Sometimes you just gotta make due though, and that means shoving crap around to get work done. Got 3 up on the lifts and each one gets a little closer to done every day. Still a lot of days left to go! Here's some shitty shots to keep your eyes interested...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

And if you're leaking enough vital fluids this Sunday...

You could win this trophy!!

That's right kiddies, you could take this hunk of scrap we made home with ya if you get your butts and your janky chops out to the Bobber Zun Zun festival this weekend at the Hummingbird Ranch. Go check out all the info at their SITE. Looks to be a good dose of sensory overload, and we're bummed we'll miss it. Make sure to put up a toast for us!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Life in the rearview...

Just under 4k on the clock. Now back to the grind, but not without leaving some great times in the history books! Great seeing everyone on the road, and for those of you we missed, we'll catch you on the next one!

The leaving train...

This car is off the charts. All hand-made body and EFI system, as well as a ton of other one-off stuff. 

Mikey's dual-carbed Ironhead getting it done.

A little mobile-pole show never hurt a party! Sonora knows how to get it done!

Parking lot fix-it for the tail light. Funny how janky auto parts bits made it longer than my "professional" solder job. Oh well.

Only in Vegas will you find tap shoes in the saddle bags of a chopper. Seriously, I can't make this shit up!

The Canuck gives in to the power of Christine! I just want to see him ride it...

Vegas monkeys can fuck footballs with the best of 'em! No lie though, Brent's sporty is going to be tits!

The eye of god pushing the snow after me. Funny how much faster you can make a bike go in zero-degree temps!

Finally ditched the freeze for some sun and stopped off at Denver's finest. Could almost taste home at this point.

Saturday, March 31, 2012


That's right, the roads are calling, so we're outta here for a while. Two wheels, two weeks, and 3000 miles are calling. All orders placed over the next two weeks will ship April 15 (tax day!). Sorry for any inconvenience. We'll be back to our usual tricks soon. Maybe we'll see you out there!

Friday, March 23, 2012

What the hell is a ZUN ZUN Anyway??

We have no idea, but we do know that Ryan and Mark are good people who know how to have fun! They have put this event together and it looks to be a doozy. Music, chicks, art, bikes, live performances, chicks, bikes, stuff, chicks, bikes... you get the picture! Get off your asses and get in shape, because the season is upon you.

We've been asked to create one of the trophies for the bike show portion, so get your janky death machine up and running. You might just get our little prize!

For all the info you can handle, visit the Bobber ZunZun page.

It's the Weekend - Go to this!

You know you have nothing better to do. Go see cool stuff. Go win cool stuff. Just Go! Let the festivities begin!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Miles ahead, miles behind!

Put some miles behind the rig this past weekend and took the EC tour trailer to its new owner in SLC. Got some quality time in with Pangea Andy and the crew and had a blast doing much of nothing at all. Slowly getting back to some sort of normal around here. Thanks for the hospitality and the parts hunting!

Andy's awesome entry in last year's Born Free builder invite - So much going on, I could stare at it for hours.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Could've Been a Contender!

Ran across this today. Dice cover done last year that got lost in the sauce I guess. Going for that older horror-mag look as you can see. Maybe her nipples weren't PC enough to get to press!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Yes, we're still not dead!

That's right. Just runnin around crazy as a paraplegic with a stack of scratch-off tickets. New shop, new digs, and then starting on new projects ASAP. Hoping for a complete redo of the web shop to spotlight some of the builds we have coming out too. Big stuff. Stay tuned and we'll keep you posted! Thanks for all the support!

Here's a picture of another guy who's obviously not dead yet... I want a set of those mags for the knuck.