Sunday, September 9, 2012

First Friday Art Walk -- Choppers

Only days to go, 5 in fact. Sweet Cindy Lou opened up her Chop Shop Salon for us to roll as many bikes as could fit into her space in to present the bikes to the city of Knoxville. The late ones had to park theirs out on the sidewalk, and Slim of course cause his bike is so big.   Friends and family came to see why we had disappeared for the last 5 weeks and to where all our effort and energy has been going. Most still had to truck them in, for there is still plenty of work to do. But there they sat in their not so rusty glory. These machines are as antsy to hit the long road as we are. 
(above: Mikey's Drag Queen)
  Pistol Pete
 Dave Walker
 D. Sneed

 After the show, we hauled the bikes back to the shop and kept working into the night.   Its amazing what can get done in the wee hours of the morning.

 The god of machines, Slim, doctoring my scoot.  He synced the carburators with flitting gauges and tiny twists of a special screwdriver.  It was like watching a master play the piano.

 Who the Hell is the Headless Kansas City Dave Walker takes off from the shop after another late night twisting wrenches, drinking beer, and telling lies.

Though this shot is a blur, so was the night, for at this moment it was 4am.  Looking carefully, you can just make out the grin on Slim's face as my bike finally came together and is ready to ride, new pipes and all.

Friday, September 7, 2012


 So now the characters have been introduced, minus a couple who will be flying in a couple days before the ride.  They will go from the plane to the garage cause their bikes will have to get running and hard-tailed before the ride.  This ain't easy street...

...unless you're the Outlaw who has a girl that brings him beer and snacks to the shop in fancy dresses.  This night, Brigid just got finished with a fashion show where her handmade clothing designs made from recycled rubber and leather were exhibited on the runway (


Mike got his bike on the road to find a lot of issues, but damn its a cool machine.
 Tinkerin Tom fine tuning a well running machine.

 Bike night and the Time Warp Tea Room is the opposite of the drunken ride to Hooters.  This is a coffee shop and headquarters of motorcycle history and events of racing, trials, street, and you name it.  Its the home of the Time Warp Vintage Motorcycle Club.  Every Tuesday the street is lined with classy machines and a community knowledge and history base uncommon to most towns (

 As the guys get antsy to get their bikes onto the blacktop, a good test run was to the bike night.  But one has to be mentally prepared to meet the scrutiny of many motorheads.  It caused quite the stir.  Then, to add to the fun, Mikey rolled up with his his Drag Queen.

 After all that Mike went through at the Time Warp picking session, only he knew that it was a test run, and the finishing touches were yet to come.  The rat rods are disappearing under some classy paint jobs.

 So now, the work is coming together for many, yet falling back apart for others.  Some are just still plugging away.  Above are a couple versions of my wiring diagram that I have been trying to wrap my head around, then stuff into a little box.

 I wish I had more photos of the others whom are continuing their progress in Mikey's garage.  I have been pulling long nights at the Cycle Stop with Mike in his corner, I in mine, and Slim pacing between us constantly asking if we're done yet so we can go ride.

 Mike figured out that after buttoning his up and putting on a crisp paint job, he had to split the cases of the bottom end of the engine and replace and machine some things.  Needless to say, there are some dark moments in the life of this project.

 Nothing like thinking you're done.

I finally got mine together, so now its time to paint, which means its time to yard sale.
 Slim is so ready to go, he's already packed...literally.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Collective Photo Blog

New Site Saves the Day!!!!

In the heat of the last days of preparation, we scramble to fit in the last of the builds, test ride our bikes, repair the unforeseen, button up work and personal lives, and pack our gear.  Its a lot to do to hit the road on hand-built machines for 2 weeks, for some 2 months.  So, I personally will have an impossible time keeping up the blog while on the road since I will be the one on the road for 2 months.  I would like to continue this project later and fill in the gap of this great story; but till then, the show will go on.

We have created a tumblr photo site where we can all dump pictures straight onto it.  It will have no rhyme or reason and will be from all of us.  So this is a great chance to see this event not just from me, but from the eyes of everyone (who has smart phones).  So follow along with us as we hit the road, for it will be the victory lap of chopping race.  We all win.

I will continue to update this site till we take off, and then once I've returned.  Thanks for following.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Barillaros -- Keepers of Hot Rod History

" The Runt" -- The Shop Truck
The Barillaro Speed Emporium
Mikey and Jimmy are two little italians from the northeast.  In no way do they lack muscle or the strength of bending metal on a daily basis, but I mean small enough to build machines that no one else can drive.  They did all of the work on this truck.  You can check out more great pics on their site.  They chopped 4in out of the top and bottom of "the Runt", the Emporium's shop truck.  I'm 6ft tall and its all I can do to fit in the passenger's seat.  Their bikes are the same way.
 I highly regret not having any photos of their dad, Jim Barillaro. He and his shop hold hot rod history and keeps it alive.  I needed a few specially cut pieces and got to go out for a visit.  I was not ready for the realities to the stories I'd heard. 

It is hotrod heaven, created by the hands of a man that stood like an older version of my friends, smiling and telling funny stories that I can only imagine in black and white.  Photos hung on the wall of a past only remembered in the garages and on the race track as I stood surrounded by drag racers, and an old Model A that was his high school car.  Jim was one of the first to build what became known as the "funny car".  He still had his original "Comet" in the trailer out back which he hadn't unloaded from a recent race.
 These are some of his other projects, both for clients or himself. 

 He built this..the engine...he built it.
 The Model A

 Mikey and Jimmy grew up differently than most kids.  Their dad had a car with a parachute for brakes.

 Another funny car

This the crazy machine that cut my 1" metal that became my triple tree and my fork bananas.  This thing can cut through 6" of metal.

555 Characters -- Jimmy Barillaro

Jimmy Barillaro:  "Jimmy B" as of now.  More nicknames to come.
Co-Owner of the Barillaro Speed Emporium
Jimmy and his brother Mikey run the local hot rod shop and have been very helpful in opening their shop to the use of some derelict bikers trying to bend metal in the middle of the night so they can get a step closer to hitting the road on some homemade machines.  Their knowledge is extensive and ever-helpful.
 Jimmy has a beautiful family of wife and daughter that visited one night and cooked us food as we chopped one night.  We could not have been more greatful for that gesture.  (Sorry you're blurry Olivia.)

The fam...and Pete
Starting with this CB350, he has transformed his ride into a fun scoot.  Jimmy's excited to hit the road.
 Since tires don't count in the price, he started off strong.

He grabbed the tank from Pete's trophy bike and created the look of his own.

 Being a third generation welder, its interesting that his entire back end is a bolt-together.

He was pumped after building the handlebars, cause the first ones weren't doing it for him.