Tuesday, December 18, 2012

When The Smoke Cleared

In seconds the crew from the salvage yard came running and put out the fire before it could cause any great damage to what was already a derelict old motorcycle. It was no longer talking to me and I wasn't yet ready to admit to anyone that I had heard it talk as I wasn't yet ready to admit to myself that I had heard it talk. With the help of a fork lift operator I loaded that motorcycle and two more onto the trailer behind my pick-up and made my way back to the shop where my partners would be waiting to see what I returned with.

You see, that's what the four of us do. Being old friends with the owners of most of the local scrap metal recyclers, I go around and buy scrap motorcycles to sell for parts. They know I'll pay them a little more than the current market for scrap metal and what I can't sell for parts I sell back to them for scrap metal. Usually, if we can sell one or two parts off of a single bike then we've more than covered the cost of buying the bike. Still, nobody's getting rich as 3 families plus me depend on this little operation to feed us all. What about my family? I outlived them. The shop, the motorcycles and my partners are my family now. I cherish them all.

We do other things as well. Sometimes we get our hands on a motorcycle or a car that still has a working title and make it roadworthy again before selling it but the truth is, there's more money in parts. It's just that when you're an enthusiast your heart sometimes won't let you part out something you know you can fix. Other times it's the challenge of fixing something that others thought couldn't be fixed.

Sometimes we try our hands at making parts that are no longer in production and cannot be bought anywhere. That's not really my department as some of my partners are more skilled in those areas but I help out where I can. I often dream up inventions my partners try to make real. Sometimes they work as planned, sometimes not.  It gives us a great since of pride knowing that between the four of us we can do almost anything. Conversations between us often begin with, "I can't figure out how to..."

And any one of the other three quickly reply, "All you have to do is..."

You see, our backgrounds, while all technical to some degree, are so varied that little escapes us collectively. Our commonality, we all love working on and riding motorcycles-- especially older motorcycles.

And so it was, with the motorcycles strapped down I made the 20 mile trip back to the shop where my partners would be waiting to see what I brought back while turning wrenches, milling parts, tuning engines and spraying fresh coats of paint on decades old gas tanks using skills and tools they each had spent decades acquiring.

Continue to Vanishing Act