brackett chassis 2

Brackett Chassis Company

By Dave Brackett

brackett chassis 2

chassis2In late May of 1970, I had been working at "AEE Choppers" for well over a year. I had wanted to build complete rigid motorcycle frames for Japanese bikes, but AEE was not interested in that. I thought it was a good idea, so I opened my own business, "Brackett Chassis Company" of Fullerton, California. I started by building a fixture for the 450 Honda, since I was building a chopper for myself from a Honda 450. As I was building the jig, I decided to make it adjustable for other type bikes. I soon had parts and was building rigid frames for Honda 450 and 350, and sold the frames to AEE Choppers and other customers.

Since I was still working at AEE Choppers, I built frames on weekends and evenings. By the end of 1970, I had also designed rigid frames for Harley Sportster, and soon after for Honda 500 and 750. I continued selling frames to AEE and on the side, and picked up occasional jobs building go-cart or dune buggy frames. As work increased, I bought a lathe, cut off saw and mill to make more parts myself. At this point I was getting the tubes bent from a vendor, and various brackets were flame cut at another source.

As mentioned in another article, the result of building my own 450 Honda chopper and trying to register it led to creating "Amani" motorcycles. By early 1971, I had secured a license to build my own brand rigid frame chopper bike from the State of California. Eventually building five "Amani" choppers, I dropped that license when I sold the business in 1975.

In order to create chopper frames for 750 and 500 Hondas, I had contacted an old friend Bill Hahn, who was now partners with Jim Dickinson in "Action Fours", building performance Honda engines and bikes. I needed dummy motors to build fixtures for frames. After finishing the frame jigs, I had developed an interest in Bill's business and the performance side of bikes. I had known Bill from earlier car drag racing days, so I approached him about building a small, lightweight rear engine dragster with a Honda 750 motor. That project deserves another story; the dragster was called "It Had to Happen".

While working with "Action Fours" on the dragster, I could see their performance bikes were heavy and ill handling because of their short wheelbase. I designed a drag bike rigid frame for 500 and 750 Hondas, utilizing the top frame rail as the gas tank, to save weight. So, now I was making rigid chopper frames for Hondas and Sportster and drag bike frames for Honda 750 and 500. I had started a line of newly manufactured choppers called "Amani", and had built a rear engine dragster with the 750 Honda engine. What could I do next?

I started building small desert karts, oversized go-carts with motorcycle motors and flotation tires for the desert. After building three of those, one with a Honda 175, one with a Honda 350 and one with a Honda 450, I was out of room. In late 1972, I had quit AEE Choppers to pursue my own business, and in early 1973 I rented my own building for Brackett Chassis Company. I now had room to build more stock and get more equipment. First, I built my own mandrel tube bender, so I could do tube bending in house. Then built a 20-ton hydropress for stamping and punching parts. I built racks that hung from the roof to store frames, now I could have frames on hand, instead of building them to order. I could now sell in quantity. I picked up a distributor in New York, who bought hundreds of frames. As I built more, the cost came down and profits increased.

I bought a MIG welder for jigging the frames, but sent them out to be finished with TIG welding, as my time was to valuable to weld them myself. Work was great from spring through summer, but a little slow in winter. I started looking for other work. An east coast company had approached my about building complete choppers with a Wankel style rotary engine. I built a prototype that worked well, but that project never materialized. I had been sponsoring a women's softball team and helped coach, then built a portable pitching machine to help teach batting. Other teams saw the machine, so now I was building softball pitching machines to fill in slow spots.
Life was good, building customs bikes, racing the dragster, desert carting on weekends and helping the ball team to a regional championship with my pitching machine, but I started to want a new challenge. I decided to move away from L.A. to the Sierra Mountains, to build my own house and be nearer to my aging parents. So after five years, building over 1900 rigid frames, 17 pitching machines, 5 Amani choppers, 4 desert carts, and the Honda rear engine dragster, I sold the business and moved away. I did continue to do some design work for the new owner, designing a Harley 74 frame and soft tail versions of the other frames. I will always remember those days fondly.

chassis3 chassis1

Watch for more articles from Dave Brackett coming soon!

Visit Dave’s website to learn more.

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