My name is Chuck. I live on the west shore of Michigan, a little less than a mile inland of Lake
Michigan in the Village of Douglas. Been here since '86, living in a house that's 150 years old
despite having been built by people who clearly had no clue what they were up to and may have been
under the influence of debilitating substances while they were about it. I love my house, but I
got married in 2002. Moved about a mile to the south end of town. I can hear the big lake better
from my new abode, being about a half mile closer, plus it generally stays a good 5° cooler. Summer
temps seldom top the lower 80's and winter stays mild, unless the big lake freezes over.
Douglas and its neighbor to the north, Saugatuck, are situated on opposite sides of the Kalamazoo
river, sharing the harbor and the tourists. We're a highly favored summer destination for rich
Chicago people, or FIP's, as we call them. @#%*#&!! Illinois People (trying to keep it PG-13). The
two towns are protected from the weather by a line of dunes to the west, sometimes approaching
three hundred feet in height. We're about nine miles down the shoreline south of Holland, and
about seventy miles north of the Indiana state line. We have many (many) art galleries and the
Chicago Art Institute's Ox Bow fine arts camp on the old channel, adjacent to the dune covered
ghost town of Singapore. Check out some of the local pics on the menu. It's a pretty place.
I make a living designing and building automated equipment that tests turbine
engine fuel system components, mostly for aircraft. My most recent creation is used to calibrate
YF16 afterburners, which have enjoyed a sudden surge in popularity since our prez decided to do
Act II in Iraq. I do everything from designing and machining the parts to writing the program.
Heavy emphasis on AutoCAD, Visual Basic, and database programming. About the best job I could
dream of, within the parameters of working for the man, which I no longer wish to do.
I am, by pure chance, an avid motorcyclist. A friend kept trying to sell me a '72 Honda CL350
Scrambler back in the '70s. I kept telling him I had no use for motorcycles, but one day he called
to announce his barn had fallen on my car. He proposed trading the Honda for the flattened Renault.
I suddenly found I had an interest after all. Wound up being better transportation than even an
I rode that poor 350 to hell and back in the woods and dunes. Only a Gold Wing could have handled
worse off road, but I didn't know any better. Just figured I wasn't very good at it. Progressed up
through an '81 XL500, then maniacally rode an '83 CR480 for a decade and a half. What an
incredible machine. Taught the meaning of the phrase 'never say die'. Lent new meaning to the
phrase 'when in doubt, gas it', and revealed a few situations where it wasn't valid with that
much eager horsepower.
Marriage has shortened my annual three or four week tours to one or two weeks. My little rides
are mostly focused on the North West these days. Been hitting Sturgis since '82. I think I've
missed it four times since then. Makes a good starting spot for points west.
I felt nothing but contempt for street bikers during that period, but it occurred me the
street bikes themselves might have some potential in the cheap traveling department. Bought
an '82 GL650 Silver Wing, a truly piss poor motorcycle, then an '84 V65 Sabre. The Sabre, a
natural and wonderful traveler, was the catalyst (with the help of Old Grandad) for many
noteworthy stories. Amazingly, I survived. Mostly intact even. I think I beat some long odds
to do it, though.
Well. That CL350 was well over 300,000 miles of motorcycling ago. I still have the '84 Sabre,
now with over 110K on it and once again my current ride after putting over 150K on an '85 I
bought for a spare in '87. I'd have bought some spare legs, too, if they'd been available.
Odds were in favor of needing them.
I've been nearly everywhere in this country that a motorcycle can take you, including Alaska,
and a number of places most would say they can't. Sabres handle wonderfully in the dirt.
Not something you'd expect from a 600lb muscle bike.
Your host, enjoying a prime spot in the shade at the Sturgis rally.
Unfortunately it's not the Sturgis of old. A bunch of profiling lawyers and yuppies, all looking
bad in their Motor Clothes, have replaced the gangs and wild people. Where people hid their
trailers if they didn't have the balls to ride, now they brag about what they paid for them.
Where there were no cops in sight, gangs of them now roam the streets looking for trouble and,
of course, imagining some if they can't actually find any. Oh well.
A friend who rides Beemers got flagged down one day by a guy who offered him a couple of German
motorcycles for free. The price seemed reasonable to Bill and he came into possession of a basically
complete if somewhat rusty and bird shit encrusted '57 Zundapp KS601, with most of another for
spare parts. I saw. I lusted. I eventually gained ownership.
The bike was so damned cool. Plunger suspension, shaft drive. And the same year as me! Although I
have since determined it was probably a leftover '56 stamped '57 by the dealer. Makes no difference.
I love it. What a metamorphosis. I find that 28 HP suits me just fine for mellow cruising, down
from 122 (while everybody else is going up past 180 horse!). Even hope to ride it to the Antique
Motorcycle Club of America's Blackhawk chapter fall motorcycle meet in Davenport Iowa some day,
just across the river from my home town of Moline Illinois.
I bought my first Dodge Power Wagon in '77, a basket case '68 WM300. It persisted as a basket case
for a number of years. Also in '77, I bought my '65 W200. In '81, the '68 WM300 was elevated to the
status of spare parts by my purchase of the '65 WM300, featured on these pages, which itself is
slowly degrading to spare parts if I don't intercede pretty damned soon.
Somewhere in all of this I bought a '64 D100. The intention was to use the nice body on the '65 W200,
which I am finally getting around to, sort of. It's currently undergoing a slow frame off restoration.
It has always had a 225 leaning tower of power, and still will, albeit line honed and balanced. This
is what happens when you have the machine work done by an old schoolmate who now makes a living
building racing engines. I may even go all out and put one of the old Holley progressive two barrels
on it, but I don't know. I like my one holer Carter quite a bit.
There's a Dana 60 with a Sure-Grip in the rear, from the era when that referred to the clutch type
Dana posi. Got the standard 3000lb 44 in the front. The light duty 44 pinions are a bit marginal in
the strength department, but this one has a
in it, the good old Torsen with the 9.5:1 torque bias ratio. I'll put up with the strength issue
unless I happen to find a 60 with a Torsen, about as likely as winning the lottery. I know of no
differential that does the job so seamlessly and completely. Currently has 4.88's, but I'm going back
to 4.10's. I'm also replacing the New Process 435 with a 540 five speed that has the same U-joint
yokes the W200 came with. A comment on the strength of the W200's drive train considering the tranny
came out of a school bus, which I lived in for awhile. Yet another story.
The 38.5 15 Gumbo Mudders, alas, shall be retired to the basement. Mud is hell on a truck, and it's
nearly impossible to find a good mud hole in Michigan anymore, unless it's got bleachers running
down both sides. Not my style. The truck will instead receive its first set of good radial snowies
(always had bias plys), and I'll pray for genuine Michigan winters once again.
This truck is certainly not unstickable, but if it goes down, it does it on an even keel with all
four rotating together. It will nearly always back out after struggling to a halt going in, and even
if it fails, observers are never left unimpressed. The old W200 ain't so fast, but it's surprisingly
certain. I'll get some pictures of it on the site sometime, when it's past the stage of just
collecting leaves and crap.
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since April 19, 2004.
Last updated 04-19-04