My Biography

... more or less !

OK, Here is a bit about me, at least as it pertains to motorcycles. I was about 15 when I first rode an old Honda 55. I was a member of a Boy Scout Explorer Post. Post 433 as I remember. We when to a big Camperee, that is, a big campout for all the troops and Posts in the area. The area we where in was Southern California. It was on private property somewhere. I don't rightly remember where... hey, I was 15, the only thing I really remembered about was food ! Anyway, one of the men (Post advisors) brought a rather worn Honda 55. Our Post was kind of neat. We had our own bus. We kept all our tents, cooking gear and stuff in it. We had a contract with the City of Downey, Calif. to paint the house numbers on all the curbs in a certain area of Downey. Quite a big area actually. we would paint the numbers on and then ask for a donation from the home owners. Most gave us a buck for doing it. With this money we paid for the bus, insurance, gas, oil, etc. So we asked the man with the bike if we could bring it along. His name was Mr. Agronovitch as I remember. A really great guy, but he was real sick. He had bad heart problems and diabetes. He didn't want to be a burden on anyone and he liked his freedom so he rode the 55 everywhere. He figured if he died or passed out while riding it, it was too small to hurt anyone. He'd fall off, bike would skid to a halt and that would be that !

Well, the bike went to the Camperee. There we found a road on the private property, maybe a mile long. I, and several others, road that bike back and forth, back and forth, and back and forth. We burned up a whole tank of gas, and then someone gave us another gallon of gas, and we burned it up too. I remember my first ride on that bike. I stopped it by dragging my feet because I couldn't remember where the brakes were !

My first bike.I had never ridden a motorcycle before or even wanted to, but now the bike bug had bit, and bit deep. This was 1965. My parents and I spent that summer in Idaho, on Hayden Lake. I had a paper route and had saved my money, so I bought a Honda C105, 55cc bike. I road that thing all summer long. A great bike. Not real fast, but lots of fun.

We moved to the arm pit of the world the next year... Salt Lake City, Utah. There I got a new Honda CT-90. As I remember we paid $339.00 for it, plus tax. Now I just loved that CT-90 and that great little 90cc engine, but it just was not fast enough. So I had a local shop put on a 100cc big bore kit. Now we're talking ! Lots more power, but I wanted more ! Next cam a bigger carb which cost almost as much as the big bore kit but only gave a little bit more power. I was starting to learn. "Speed costs money, how fast can you afford to go ?"

It seemed obvious that I needed more money but I had no job and so no money, at least not enough to go as fast as I wanted to go ! I looked at my owners manual and it showed how to tune up the 90 so that's where I started. Carefully, following the instructions, I tuned up the bike, and... and... and it wouldn't even start ! Hummmm, OK, I redid it. Still wouldn't start. Redid it again. Now it started, but didn't run very good. I kept at it and after a while it started to run pretty good. There was a hill that started right outside my driveway. I would check my speed at the top of that hill each time I did something to the engine. More speed would mean that whatever I did worked. Less speed meant that it didn't.

Along about this time I discovered I needed more and better tools then what were in my bikes tool kit. In those days nobody had metric tools. You had to get them from a tool supplier. I found a guy who sold MAC tools and he had metric sockets. Quite pricey as I remember, so I just bought the sizes that fit my bike. 10, 12, 14, 17, and 19mm. Took all my money, but they were sure pretty ! The guy who was the MAC dealer was quite interesting. You would go to his house, he had no store. You told him what you wanted and he would lead you through his house into his kitchen and down some old wooden stairs. It was like going down into a silver mine. Boxes and boxes of sockets, wrenches and hammers all stacked in no particular order. Containers of beautiful sockets lay broken open. The sockets, like silver nuggets, scattered on the floor. I loved that place.

I was always down at the local Honda shop, asking questions and I found they needed some one to assemble the new bikes, out of the crates they came in. I got paid by the bike and they would call me when they needed one assembled. This turned into a fairly lucrative operation as I could work pretty fast. Then, one summer they hired me full time at an hourly wage. Actually, minimum wage. I didn't like that too much. I made four times more money assembling bikes. The lead mechanic was, I found out later, supposed to be teaching me something, but I guess he forgot to !

The next spring, after school let out, I decided to just run an ad in the local paper, for motorcycle repair. This proved quite successful. I got two to four tune-up jobs a week, and that gave me all the money I needed. I still assembled bikes, so money was somewhat plentiful.

I started doing repair jobs for my friends too. Man, talk about the blind leading the blind. I had one job, replacing the shifter drum on a Yamaha single, and it came out just fine. The bike worked great again and the guy was happy. I made $20.00 and I was happy, but, looking back, knowing what I know now, I realize my success was just Jesus looking out for me 'cause I had no idea that a two stroke had to have the crankcase sealed air tight. I just slobbered a lot of gasket cement on the crankcase halves to keep it from leaking oil ! Well, anyway, it worked and everyone thought I was a great mechanic. Then I went to college for two years. I still ran my ads and worked on bikes in the summer.

I never should have gone to college. I wanted to work in motorcycle design and there just wasn't any college courses for that, but everybody was going to college. Mostly, they just wanted to stay out of the draft, as Viet Nam was still going on hot and heavy. I finally realized that I had nothing against fighting in Viet Nam or anywhere else, so I quite school and joined the Army. My draft number was 68 so, instead of being drafted, I enlisted for three years and got to pick what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go, more or less, kinda sorta. So I picked the 82nd Airborne and wheeled vehicle mechanic school.

The Army, Ah, the Army ! Where do I start. The army's mechanic school was first rate. Airborne school was absolutely GREAT. I loved jumping from airplanes. BUT, that was 10% of the army. The other 90% was pure hell. Most times I had people over me who were my cultural, educational, social, and economic inferiors. The army I liked, the army BS I hated. Well, let's just leave it at that.

My little business !So after three years, I was a civilian again. Thank you Jesus ! Most of my army career I rode a 750 Norton Atlas, but just before I got out I bought a used 750 BMW. I road the Beemer up to Idaho to visit my parents and then on to sunny southern California. I got an apartment and tried to start up my little business again. Now you would think in all that nice weather, bikes would be king, but not really. I had a little trailer with all my tools and manuals in it and I could go right to your house and do a tune-up or whatever. Got to be a winner, right ? NOT ! 1974 was not 1968, I guess. Business was very slow, so I had to get a regular job.

I started working for the Southern California Gas Company. A great company to work for at the time. I started part time, in one of their auto shops and then transferred to a full time job at their meter repair shop. Good money and good benefits. After a while I transferred to meter reading and sent two years there. All the while I'm still doing bike repair on the side, but I still wanted my own shop. After a while I bought a house in a place called Norwalk, and a couple years later I got married. I still wanted my own shop, but the only way to do it in Southern California is to borrow lots of money. That, I was not going to do. I also wanted to do things a bit different with my shop, so I looked for another way.

While in the army, I noticed that they had an auto shop where soldiers could work on their own cars. They had tools you could check out, shop manuals, and inside bays, where you could work, warm and dry. Also, if you ran into a problem there was someone there you could ask for help. This worked amazingly well. The shops were always full, with a long line waiting to get in. I figured this would be just the thing to start. The shop rate at the time was $20 to $30 an hour. I figured I could supply tools, manuals, and a good place to work for $5 an hour. If someone ran into problems on a repair I could help.

So my lovely wife and I sold our house, packed everything up, and moved to Idaho. Why Idaho ? Well, I checked the Motorcycle Industry Council's stats book for that year, and Idaho had more motorcycles per thousand people than any other state. Most of those bikes where in northern Idaho. My parents lived in Coeur d'Alene so up we came. I figured we could stay with my parents till we found or built a shop. They said OK, so it's a go... what could go wrong ! We get our house sold buy some land and are in the process of moving up when BOOM the Bunker Hill mine, a major employer in this area, goes bankrupt and my father gets transferred to Portland, Oregon. In 1979 there are 5000 mining jobs in the Silver Valley, two years or so later there are maybe a couple hundred. Talk about a depressed area ! Lumber and logging were biggies too in this area. Now, all that is gone. Over to Japan and up to Canada, I guess. Nothing like free trade, right ? Well, too late to turn back now. I tried to get the do-it-yourself repair shop started, but even after lots of advertising I found that no one was interested in doing their own work. So I just did it all ! I worked on anything to stay afloat. Outboards, lawnmowers, chain saws, snowmobiles, you name it. After 7-8 years of that, I started doing Taxidermy in the winter. That helped ! I've just about dropped everything but motorcycles. I'm a MOTORCYCLE mechanic ! You can take your chain saw and put it where the sun don't shine !

We've been here for 22 years now, and are doing OK, but that is only due to the grace of Jesus. We get the bills paid and live quite well, I think, but it sure isn't because I make any money. As you may have noticed, when I try to plan things, everything always seems to go bust. When I let Jesus have his way, things just always seem to go right. Hummmm... something to think about.

Someone asked for my Testimony of how I came to know Jesus so, if you are interested, HERE it is!

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