Pete and Laz

Pete and Laz
Yeah, Pete it's rough...but it's a runner.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Chromium Baptism...

                                                       Stay off my damn lawn...

Thonk!, thonk!...the sound of an old fashion telephone receiver, makes an interesting sound as it bounces off of a human skull... at least it was interesting to me at that time, particularly because it wasn't my skull that was making that sound.
Memories of days at the old motorcycle shop...sparked by pictures of a chromium plated swing arm at an Australian blog....
Stories, yeah I got a few. Love hearing them too. I'm easily amused, and the older I get....the more I'd like to sit around campfires in places I've never been...
Memories of traveling with a dawg...sparked by tales from a blog currently 'on the road', searching for warmer air...
The shop I used to work in was an all makes kind of place. A motorcycle wrecking yard, a Chrome plating and polishing shop, and in the back was the repair shop I worked in. Hodakas to Full Dress Harleys, Dirt bikes...choppers...all kinds.
It was the seventies...but it felt like the sixties...fifties even. The shop was of those old corrugated iron clad structures you used to see more of in old sections of towns...a dying species these days...replaced by tilt-up concrete warehouse units...this one was really old, and had a 'store front' that was surely a later addition. It's gone now, replaced in the 80's by a modern building. Never took any pictures, maybe I'll try to remember it with a sketch...for now words will have to suffice...
Speaking of local McD's is full of ...shall we say interesting critters tonight....a test of an old guy's resolve to just be cool and keep typing...
There was a ritual at the shop...if it was your birthday it was felt you needed a dunk in the 'rinse tank' of the Chrome plating shop next to the mechanics shop...a 'baptism' of sorts. I was never interested in participating... as some nasty and noxious stuff was rinsed off of various Pan head covers, springer front end parts, primary covers and the like. As participants in this ritual were about to be dunked, the plating shop guys would yell out, "Make sure you close your eyes and mouth!" Yeah...I'd decided early on that I wasn't interested in taking part in the festivities and made my intentions to not participate known by all concerned. Another guy that worked at the shop felt the same way as I did. He was an ex-Marine and was our main Harley mechanic. Nobody messed with him.
I'm 6' 2" , and in those days I probably weighed about 25-30 pounds lighter than I do now. Yeah about 170 to 175 pounds of fat in those days...One fine day, evidently one of the guys up in the front had found out when my birthday was, and proceeded to hatch a fool-hardy plan to gather up all the squids that worked in the parts department...and dunk me.
As I was surrounded and grabbed at by 5 or 6 of them, I uttered some sort of oath, in the foulest language, about how this was going to hurt them worse than it did me. I gave the fools fair warning. They managed to get me about 15 feet from my work bench. Now picture 6 or 7 people trying to squeeze through a narrow doorway at the same time. By this time I was landing some solid blows and at least two of them backed off. A couple of the 'tougher' ones didn't. Next to the doorway was the wall hung shop phone. As I was grasping for the door jamb and anything else, to stop the progress of the melee of arms and legs, I came up with the receiver of the phone. Ah, a nice little molded phenolic resin weapon...a club as it were. Thonk! Thonk! Thonk! Such a lovely sound I thought then , and now...hehehe. That was about the time the owner of the shop came running back in response to the screaming and yelling. Like most was over quickly.

I'm not always grouchy...a mess of books makes me me something to organize...feel like smiling today...cuz the weekends here...and coming up....

Dirtquake U.S.  as in United States. This summer, in Washington state.

Which means I gotta get busy building a 'race bike'...    


  1. Nice story Larry. I wouldn't dip my worst enemy into a chromium tank. Hell, I think it's hard as hell to even plate chrome in this country, due to EPA regs.
    I'm sure the Chinese are keeping up the birthday boy hijinks.

  2. Yeah...never was a big fan of Chrome on bikes...especially on aluminum. Don't know how many times my hands got sliced by 'chrome flakes'... I priced some hard chrome for some fork tubes about 15...18.? Years ago. It was cheaper to buy new tubes. Yeah...I like to think that somewhere some squids getting thumped by an old hand...somewhere.

  3. Great story, reminds me of our workshop pranks before Mr Health & Safety got involved, some of which involved fire, water and a mix from various barrels...... the good old days, lol
    Hard Chroming ain't cheap, the Rickman fork tubes are away to be hard chromed, about £160. But going to be worth it as its been off the road nearly 5 years now, roll on the summer :-)

    1. Fire, water and other brews eh? Get on over to that blog of yours and share a few of them...hahaha...FB will wait. Haven't priced lately here, but believe it was going to be over a hundred dollars back then. EPA regs were starting to come down on that industry about then. I've got some shock absorber shafts I'd like to see about getting reclaimed via hardchrome. We used to get crankshafts hardchromed and ground back to standard when I was at the shop. Don't know if they offer that service anymore, will have to check it out.

  4. Larry, you had me rolling with this post! took me back to my day's as an apprentice, the bastards nailed me to the site cabin door through my heavy, blue serge boilersuit, i was left helpless, swinging on the door, as the wind caught it, i thought my teeth were going to fall out of my face as the door hit the frame everytime, the gaffer turned up to pay us our weekly wages, [remember those days? cash in an envelope, none of that old bank transfer bollocks!] 'bailey! what the fuck are you doing hanging off that door? stop fucking about and get back to work before i dock you!'.........keep 'em coming mate, sheer brilliance, thank you, tim.

    1. Yeah Tim...really were different times in our youth. Got a few more 'fracases' I'll post well as some that don't involve 'fisticuffs'. At this shop we were paid what little we made in weekly checks, which of course meant a 'road-race' to the bank to see who could get there first. In those days there were about two cops in the then sleepy lil' town of Folsom Californy. They always let us off the hook for our 'test-rides'...these days you'd be in the pokey for the kinds of things we got away with back then.