I had grown up in the Pacific Northwest, so due to interests in the area, I was watching hydroplane races, sketching boats during school classes, and built a kayak to enjoy. This suddenly changed, as my dad got a job in Southern California. Moving there in 1958, as a high school freshman, was culture shock, but my interests soon changed to cars, hot rods and bikes.
I was always mechanically minded, but I took courses in welding, machine shop, auto shop, engineering and electronics in college, graduating in 1965. I built several hot rods, and had a business building headers and racecar chassis, but was drafted in the Army in 1967. When I got out of the Army in January of 1969, I looked up my old friend Tom McMullen, he and I had lived together in 1965 and built and raced hot rods. Tom, his wife Rose and friend Jim Clark had started a business in 1967, making parts for chopper style motorcycles. The business "AEE Choppers" now had about ten employees and was busy making a few parts for choppers and reselling other products for bikes. Tom immediately hired me to help the company grow, by organizing the welding shop and designing new products.
My motorcycle experience was somewhat limited, earlier; I had a Hiawatha doodlebug, a 1957 Cushman motor scooter and a Lambretta motor scooter. While I was building fixtures for the welding shop and hiring people to increase production, Tom and I talked about the chopper industry. The trend at that time was very Harley oriented, with a few BSA and Triumph bikes. I thought the market should expand to include Japanese bikes, so we decided to build a Honda Chopper. We got a 350 Honda street bike and stripped it down. There I was with an ugly stock frame with swing arm. The swing arm disappeared and I built a rigid rear frame similar to Harleys. I cut and raked the neck and we made a springer style front end 15" longer than stock. Not wanting to use a traditional gas tank, I designed and fabricated a gull wing style tank. A seat mount plate and electrical switch panel were added, a custom rolled rear fender mounted and short fork style sissy bar made. I made custom side covers to cover up the electronics, built custom headers and added Ciebe rectangular headlights. We assembled the bike and took it for a spin. The only change was extending the kickstand to accommodate the higher bike profile.