You asked a while back about how I came to own my square. I saw a stock Mk II in '65 and liked it right off the bat. I started keeping an eye open for any square I could find. I found a Mk I in Vallejo that was in a box and torn up pretty bad. A guy owned it and his kid borrowed it and crashed it. The guy tore it down with the intention of rebuilding it but never got around to it. With the busted up and missing parts it was more than I wanted to tackle.
The next one I ran across was a Mk II in Napa. A mechanic at Vallejo Motors told me about this one and that it was a voodoo bike. It had killed two of its previous owners (last owners kid) and was now in need of a front end and frame straightening. Not to be scared away that easy, I made an appointment and went to see the bike. It had been sitting for several years and someone had put an old Triumph set of forks on it. The bearings didn't fit right and the forks rattled around in the steering post. The guy was selling the bike dirt cheap and would have been a good deal except that he said when the bike was last crashed it jammed the throttle wide open and ran until the carb bowl ran dry. The engine turned over free but the free winding bit kind of shied me away from this one (and the two notches in the handle didn't help any).
I found one up by Calastoga in a bike shop that was being sold for parts and labor but someone beat me to it while I tried to get some cash together. As it happened, I used the money I got together for this one to buy mine later that year.
I heard about mine from a guy at Stan's Bike Shop in Vallejo. The guy was laughing about the owner just getting his bike paid off and then getting drafted into the Army. He said the guy was selling all his toys, he had the bike, a Vet, and a bunch of sports equipment. I got the guys name and called him that next weekend. He lived in San Francisco and said he had to report in the Monday after next. He said he wanted $650 for the bike and that I could take a ride that next Thursday. I told him I'd be in touch, thinking that maybe if I waited a few days he'd come down on the price. I called him up on Wednesday night after work and told him I'd found another bike that I was interested in (liar) and wouldn't be over for the test ride. I had Brent Johnson call him up Friday morning from work and see if he still had the bike. He had told me Wednesday that several people were interested in the bike but he had saved it for me because I was first to make an appointment. He told Brent he still had the bike and really needed to get rid of it because of the draft thing. Brent offered him $550 if it ran as he said. He said deal and told Brent how to get to his place. After work we headed over to his place. I waited in the car while Brent checked over the bike and made the deal. We had talked over what to look for and check on the ride to Frisco. I had given the guy my name and didn't want to take a chance on queering the deal by him putting my name and voice together. Anyway, pretty soon Brent came riding out of the guys garage with a big smile on his face and rapped the pipes when he came buy me. We went out of town and stopped before we hit the freeway. I took over the square and headed toward Vallejo. It was cold and foggy but I didn't notice the weather a bit on the ride home. Me & Brent had several beers and talked for quite a while after we got to my place, he was a great friend to me back then.
I rode the square for about 6 months before I decided to do something about the suspension. While getting onto the freeway to come to Lodi one weekend, the bike had jumped about 18 inches in the rear and started to slide sideways. I thought I had a flat tire at first. The slide didn't bother me too much, I had been racing enduro's for about 4 years at that time and was pretty comfortable going sideways. I pulled over and checked the bike out but couldn't find anything wrong. I slowed down a bit and kept a close watch on everything for a couple weeks. Then it did it again. This time I was headed to Napa and was in a bit of a hurry. Going onto the freeway on-ramp again, I rolled the throttle on and the bike gave a little wobble in the rear. It then jumped in the rear like before, but this time it didn't slide. It went into a shake, side to side. Like a speed wobble but in the rear instead of the front. It only lasted several seconds but that got me to thinking about those other bikes and the people that they had hurt and killed. I started thinking about changing the suspension right away. I could see the reason for the trouble was the sprung hub design of the rear axle. I may have been able to rebuild the rear and left the bike stock. But what the hell kind of fun would that have been. I had a biker friend, Tom Turnbull, that had the knuckle frame, needed money, and had no engine or tranny. We talked for quite a while about the square to Harley transplant. He finally sold me the frame, I think for about $150. It then took me & Hard Luck (another biker buddy) about 3 weeks to do the surgery & painting. The first paint job was a rattle-can job, candy-apple with a black frame. The candy was new on the market at that time and had quite a few issues. Anyway it looked like shit I thought. Some of the other guys liked it, they must have been high on acid or something.
One weekend night while we were still welding frame mounts on, we ran out of cigarettes. We’ve never ran out of beer because we were doing the fabrication in a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer warehouse. Hard Luck’s dad owned the business and Hard Luck acted as truck driver / delivery man / renter / night watchman. Anyway, I got back from the store and about passed out when I saw the frame. Hard Luck had welded about 2 dozen beer cans (they were steel back then) to my frame. It looked like a beer can porcupine bike. I was pissed at first but then gave in to all the laughing and cat calls. There was about 6 or 8 guys there by then. The warehouse was like a central meeting place on weekends when Hard Luck was at home.
Most of the guys liked my bike. There were a few that didn't like the idea of any engine being in a Harley but a Harley. What the hell, I bought both the frame and the engine, I could do anything I wanted with it. I would say that there were quite a few more guys that liked the bike than didn't. Back then you couldn't buy the custom frames and front ends like you can today. I wonder if the guys that thought my frame should have a Harley in it would have a custom frame and custom front end today with a Harley in it ???? It wouldn't be all Harley, just like my bike isn't all Ariel.