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2014 Atascadero Day 2. Bud Ekins & Steve Wright Memorial Tour

May 12, 2014


On Saturday we rode out to Pozo, with stops along the way at the Loading Chute in Creston and in downtown Santa Margarita. If you are ever in the area, be sure to ride Webster Road (#229) from Creston. It is a great little one lane road with a few changes of elevation through the forests. Watch out for RVs or trucks though in the tight corners.  That one lane has to be shared unequally at times!


Pozo Road is another good one, but it has one lane in each direction, and a bit of a hill midway. The single speed twins have no trouble, but the single cylinder one-speeders need a good run at the hill.a1425

Here is Buster’s Yale, with the exhaust cam re-timed again. He and Wes went through it a few times to get the cam timed and the ignition timed, respectively to the exhaust stroke and to the compression stroke! Despite what it looks like having a few pics showing him working on the machine, these early bikes are much easier to service than late models. Buster grabbed 2-3 tools and had the cam out and in his hand in about 2 minutes. Looking at the bike you can see the simplicity: no gearbox, no front brake, no inlet cam or pushrod/rocker. Not to mention no electrics (lights, turn signals, generator, brake light, switches, etc). Just a belt, tensioner, coasterbrake and throttle. But don’t forget the manual oiling!


Urban left the ‘15 HD in the parking lot Saturday and rode his Crocker instead. These bikes are just as beautiful as everybody says, and look much better in person than in photos.


For the past several years we’ve had two Crockers on the Saturday run. This time it was one red & black and one red & cream. This bike carried Mike at speeds that would surprise guys on newer bikes. He rides the machine like it was built to be ridden.  The dirt and mud on the wheels and fenders was from his climb over Parkfield Grade the week before.


Wes the Curtiss guru has been riding this old Thor for years. It has a two speed rear hub and the gear reduction in the drive side crankcase, with that long chain to the rear wheel.  His son Scott attended again from the Portland area, riding the 1914 Excelsior in the earlier article.

a1429Here’s Wes. We had a great time as he explained his newest project; setting up the timing gears on a MM 90 degree twin.  The magneto is a standard 180 degree model, but the motor has firing strokes every 270 degrees… hmmm.  With a bit of head scratching and Wes’s capable hands and milling machine he was able to set it up.  He’ll share some photos with us soon.  And maybe his one-of-a-kind Curtiss V twin with pushrods to the OHV intake valves too!



Carbide lamp.


a1431Urban had a spot of trouble with this ‘15 while pulling a sidecar. The motor suddenly lost power and went down to one cylinder. When he pulled over and looked closer, he saw why.

a1432The motor had a fresh rebuild, including new sleeves in the cylinder and stock size pistons. But a crack formed in the casting at the top of the sleeve in the combustion chamber. [Note that these early motors did not have detachable heads, the casting was the cylinder and head in one piece.]  Well that crack grew and grew until the combustion pressure lifted most of the head right off the cylinder! In the photo you can see that the pushrod and the inlet manifold are holding the head in place with a visible gap above the cylinder. He didn’t cry about it though, and said “It’s only metal” And he’s right. Nobody got hurt, and metal can be repaired or replaced.


a1433Another few photos of Jim’s wonderful Sears, Roebuck & Co. I can only imagine how the new owner must have felt to get this thing in the mail after ordering it from the catalog 100 years ago. Full of shiny nickel plated parts, oiled chains and 1200cc’s of power. It has only one gear, and that’s all that it needs. I followed him to Pozo and the bike was very comfortable at 45mph despite and hills, with plenty of power to climb from low speeds and to get above the legal limit when desired. If you have enough power and some riding skill, one gear is just fine.





Buster brought this neat Indian too.  I think it is a 1914 model, but I don’t know Indians really well.  Correct me in the comments if you know them.a1437It isn’t the first bike to have rear suspension, but those leaf springs did the job for Indian for 8-9 model years I think. One neat feature of leafs versus coils is that leafs have friction between each leaf as it slides on its neighbors that acts to dampen oscillations, giving a smoother ride without friction shock absorbers.


John Parker was on his famous (or infamous?) Indian Chief.  He has repainted it since last time, now in blue with lots of old style pinstripes and flourishes. It still runs great. Before it looked similar, but less shiny and with the Policia and Johnny Cash graffiti:



Crocker and yellow flower in Pozo. I’ve said it a few times, but it sure it great when guys bring out their rare and interesting machines to be enjoyed by all. Both here on the website and in person on the tour, the topic of a bike’s worth or sales price is hardly ever mentioned. That is on purpose here on the website, as I feel that the machines should be cherished for what they do and how they do it. Even the worst-performing old piece of junk is very interesting when we take the time to look at it and appreciate how things work and what it’s designer and previous owners did with the metal, rubber and leather.


Some of the greyhairs and nohairs, sharing the gallon jugs of beer at the Pozo Saloon.  Be sure to order the Pozo Martini, that’s my favorite: one mason jar of beer, with two green olives sunk to the bottom.  mmmm.


There was one pretty lady rider, but she was the one taking the photos! Oops. Kim, if you read this, thanks for taking pictures of everybody and all the bikes and stuff. I’ll try to get some of you next time.


Sitting around these tables are a bunch of swell guys who know more about old bikes than we can imagine. It has been a tough spring, with the deaths of Drino Miller, Steve Wright and Dee Cameron. Hopefully these guys will be here for a long while yet and we’ll all share some more stories. Stay tuned to this channel.


The overriding goal of this website has always been to get people excited by early motorbikes, so that they will ride them out on the streets where they belong. Hopefully after reading these articles, you’ll be convinced to join us this summer or next year. Sell a modern bike, and get on an old one for More Smiles Per Mile ™



5 Comments leave one →
  1. Doug Lyon permalink
    May 12, 2014 11:35 pm

    A wonderful write-up as ever – looks like a good time had by all! After a friend’s Precision had the linered barrel flange break off on the Pioneer Run this year, I think a bit of bore wear and smoke has to be preferable to a liner? Perhaps it’s time for a screwjack between the head and the frame on that other HD barrel!

    • May 13, 2014 9:07 am

      Sometimes people are too good to their bikes, and install liners when the piston and bore are worn but still usable… A little piston slap and some oil consumption isn’t the end of the world. 🙂

  2. GWW permalink
    May 13, 2014 4:36 am

    as always, a great read and sure enjoy everything you share. thanks

  3. Rich Ostrander permalink
    May 13, 2014 8:44 am

    Pete, great article. So good to see Norm, both Dave’s, Morris, Wes, John, and a few more of the old crew. It’s been a while since I seen a few of them. I’d just got back from the Texas ride and couldn’t make it but I need to put it on the calender for next year, no excuses. Great area to ride too. Well done.

  4. victor boocock permalink
    May 13, 2014 5:06 pm

    A wonderful tale, with pictures too, and a great tribute to the people who have left us.
    I wish I could have been there.

    Victor Boocock

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