Think trikes are a new concept?
No, of course you don't!
It's re-assuring to know, however, that people have been "draggin’ an axle around" since 1931.
I found mine in a bloody great barn in Norfolk after it had been imported from Mendon, Illinois by a dealer who was buying up all the motors being left by the decomissioned USA military personnel based at "Cold War" USAF bases there. Still covered in it's Illinois dust, the old Harley looked like something you’d see lurking in the background of a gothic/pyscho/sci-fi flick.
It looked Raw.
I bought it.
As the enormous farm forklift settled it in the back of Spider's pick up, we took note of the start of something emerging...
We pulled out onto the first of the many roads home.
"Postie, (for that was my nickname), you are a man of …vision."
Spider was always refreshingly brutal with his observations.
The ServiCar took up a good bit of the garage, but soon settled in with the other stablemates there. A full garage it was.
I took it for an unregistered moonlight flit through the lanes & soon discovered a beast that had the "seat of your pants" sensation akin to …sitting on top of a running washing machine. Maybe some of the female trikers can verify what this actually provides you with, but it certainly didn't convey it's roadholding integrity.
The forks had so much flex that the pool of light from the headlight ran in an eliptical spin, from the left kerb over to the right kerb...4,5,6,7,8 o.clock, to left kerb etc.
It was becoming obvious that a few adjustments to Hicksville Motor Works Enterprises were going to be needed.
I popped round to see my mate, Mallet.
He used to have a hardtail HD knucklehead that he rode back from Poland with a broken shoulder bone.
"Ha ha", he said. "Come in".
Now Mallet used to be president of the Harley Riders GB. His mate had Harleys back to the 1930s. So the "find the Old Skool boys" door opened.
Some fifteen miles from where I lived was an outfit named Desperate Dan's. Their workshops were part of biker folklore at that time. They were the guys when it came to British trikes. It was just "Desprutts."
The time had come to let an outsider have access to my money.
I never regretted a second of it.
They came over. Yup, they came to me, bringing a motor with a towing dolly and we were all whisked away to Desperate Land.
At the time Chris Ireland, (Desperate Dan himself), had a pin running straight down the centre of his finger. A pillar drill base clamp hadn’t been properly secured & the part being machined span round, crushing his finger between the machine & brick wall behind it. Ouch!
Chris said it would be a worthier project to try and get my old machine back to what it was. The more that is chopped, the less preserved from the Old Skool ...and so started a long and winding road.
Ken Lee of the Harley Riders GB, Mallet’s old mate, came up on his 45 outfit.
”Hmm”, he said.
That was it! This suggested that he was looking at a project that was more formidable than I expected.
The trouble with "chopping" is that it invariably means all the original parts get chopped off. “All” being the brackets and mountings that support and hold the original design together. If you’re going to restore a vehicle how far do you go?
Where do you get Servicar wheels? What did the Servi have in common with other stablemates?
The Servicar was the first electric start Harley. A strange platform that held some of the earliest HD parts, yet showcased the latest in it's forty odd year production. I had to fabricate some mudguards/fenders & the medium I chose to try was Fibreglass. An ad in BSH, (Back Street Heroes), cited an “Elbro laminations” as being worth a call. So I rang & straight away there began a friendship that literally shaped the future of the Servi restoration. I’m into graphic design & started producing an ad a month for Elbro. Most of that artwork is gone now but some remains.
The Harley 45 Club led me to Tony Bairstow. Situated in Flood Street, just off the Kings Road, Londinium SW3, Tony dealt with vintage/classic Harley parts. He visited swap meets in the States and provided me with some components that you just couldn’t find over here. This was a time, when, as the grandchildren stand agog ... the Internet was still pretty much a cottage industry.
I got to know about a fellow called Andy Pettit, who had a spare Servicar box & just happened to live in the same town as I did.
Or at least he used to live there once. He’d now moved to the southern most tip of Dartmoor. And so I eventually arrived outside Elbro's workshop. Had a deep sniff of the fumes & virtually caught a small cerise pig that was flying round the room, but lamination was the game. I loaded up a thirty square metre roll of fibreglass matting, a ten gallon drum of resin, a couple of litres of catalyst & ten gallons of gel coat. Back in the driving seat & home, eighty miles. Unloaded my haul, dropped the borrowed van off, rode home & had a beer.
Now I had my forces marshaled for the great offensive. Let battle commence!
I’d borrowed Ken Lee's spare vintage sidecar mudguard & using this as a template I took a mold of it's complete length. Then I took another mold of half it's length.
By using the Servicar fender stainless steel trims that I bought from Jan Willem Boon, a Harley 45 specialist, in Holland, I was able to make a complete mould of the long arc of the Servi’s rear fenders by carefully fusing the two molds together. I then had to take a mold of the lid. Eventually I needed a mold of the whole box. This had to be quite meaty, so as not to distort. I borrowed my mate’s van & drove 150 miles to Andy's bakery, centred on the hill in a tiny village, (can't remember now), between Dartmoor & the coast.
Two Servicars in the same room!
An old part of the large bakery was now a Harley trike garage/workshop. I slept above this place that night...& froze me nuts off. Perishing!
Next day it was up to Nottingham and Elbro Land, now with Andy's spare steel box and lid in the back of the van. When I finally returned home, three weeks hard labour produced the fibreglass replica Servicar rear end.
I could babble on about all the various components, & where they were found, but I think I’ll let the pictures steal the last scene.
As Chris had said- "Try and get it back to what it was." You could tell there was a deep affection in his voice for the collection of old Milwaukee steel. Chugging along with it's Linkert carb hanging off the manifold by half an inch, it didn't want to die. It was a V twin. They don't want to stop. So I left his workshop with a search for a Holy Grail. It wasn’t a restoration as such. To call it that would be laughable, but to find the parts required, for the right years as well don't forget, would be an endless road.
I’d taken something on and was proud of what it became.
The Servi eventually went to live in Wimbledon, South West London. A carpenter bought the beastie to carry his work tools in –just what the Servicars were designed to do. Hopefully the old beast’s still chugging away out there somewhere.