Something New — Something Old
Wilber had started work on his V-2 diesel engine over four years ago. He wanted the engine to look like a Harley engine, sound like a Harley and fit into the Harley frame same as a stock engine. Wilber had a real good friend back in Wisconsin, his friend had agreed to cast the lower cases. In two months he got the cases, they really looked good, now he would do all the machine work on the cases Wilber built his own heavy-duty rods. He bought the flywheel and crank pin s+s out of Wisconsin. He did all the machine work on the pistons that he got out of Kansas. As most of you know, diesel runs real high compression. All ports must be extra heavy duty. We all remember the diesel cars that general motors tried to build in the late 1970s, early 1980s, these were complete flops, like alot of cars they made just junk. Wilber always tried to build things right the first time, he did not believe in doing it over. He worked on this engine most of the winter. February 1 it was finished, it looked good just liked a Harley. He had been working on the special exhaust pipes all winter, and also the turbo.
Wilber bought a beautiful new Harley FLH from a junkyard and he completely rebuilt it, he had removed the Harley engine the first day that he bought the bike, he installed the engine in one day. He had the exhaust on, but the turbo gave him some problems, but he worked them out. He had installed a new heavy-duty electric starter, those stock starters were just junk. We all remember those early Harley starters. Wilber had filled the tank with #2 diesel, same as he used in all his tractors. He sat on the saddle, turned the key, hit the starter. The engine started right off’. It sounded good, not like a Harley. He let the engine warm up, he slipped the Harley in gear let the clutch out and off he went. He first rode it around the farm and then said, Hell I am going to ride over and show Alfred and Albert his latest. So off he rode. He noticed that the power, the turbo worked well. He cranked the throttle open, he looked down on the speed-o-meter, it said 100, he backed off down to 50 and rode to his friends farm, Old Albert was in the yard working on his Ford. He could hear the diesel, and he asked Wilber if he could try it, Wilber said sure, just don’t go over 100, as I still want to do some work on the Carb. He rode down the road and came back with a big smile on his face and told Wilber that he had something special here, and said someday I will build me a diesel. Wilber tested that bike for a week, he tested the mileage, speed, and power. After changing the jets a couple times he found the right size. He filled the tanks (old Harleys use two), wrote the mileage down. He had Alfred follow in a truck. He rode 100 miles and checked the tank, it looked fill, so he drained the tank, installed 1 quart of fuel. Him and Alfred got back on the road and rode and rode until the bike ran out of gas. He was tired by then and wondered to himself how far he had gone. He checked the speed-o-meter and he had gone 110 miles on one quart, this means he was getting 440 miles to the gallon. He rode and fine-tuned the engine for two weeks. He also reworked the exhaust. It started to sound like a Harley. He said it would never sound just like a Harley, but I will fool most riders. He had a radio on the bike and it also played tapes. He made a tape of a Harley sound, and turned it on real loud, and drove over to Albert and Alfred’s farm, they came running out of the house and said Oh my goodness, how did you get it to sound like that? He just smiled and said, want to try it? Sure do, Alfred rode down the road and back, and came back with a big smile on his face. He said, man Wilber I got to have me one of these. Alfred also tried it out, he really liked the power. That bike has got as much power as some tractors. He said, I think I could pull a two-bottom plow with that bike. Wilber spent the rest of the winter testing that Diesel powered Harley. By April 1st he not only had it running like a jewel, it also looked like a new bike. He had pulled the tanks and fenders off. He was going to paint them himself, but he always liked the paint jobs old Alfred did, so he had Alfred do the painting. He got it all back together. There was a big motorcycle rally coming up in Neb. He asked his old friends Alfred and Albert if they would like to take a couple days off and ride down to Neb. They were always ready to go for a ride, so Alfred got his old Indian four ready. Albert said he was going to try out his old 80” flat head, this was no ordinary side valve. He had spent over 4 years of spare time building this bike. As most riders know, the Flathead is about the most reliable engine made, it was real simple and never any problems with oil leaks. The engine was really a big piece of art. He had built special aluminum heads and cylinders. He had installed thin aluminum sleeves in the cylinder. He had painted the heads and cylinder block, then polished the ends of the fins to chrome like finish. He had also built a special 5-speed gear box for this bike.
All three friends had heard about this big rally in Nebraska for years, they had wanted to go, but it always seemed like something else was more important. But all three had made up their mind, they were going to go on this rally. It was 3 days, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. They checked the map, it looked to be about four hundred miles. They left on a Thursday morning early, about 7 o’clock. All three agreed that there would be no camping out this trip. They would stay in motels and eat in cafes, live it up. They had spent most of the long winter on the farm, it was time to have some fun. Wilber took the lead with Alfred and Albert just behind. They got on highway 83 going south, they rode to Valentine, turned west on 20. Roads were good and weather was real nice. They stopped at Chadron, Nebraska, they notices a small café and big service station, lots of motor cycles around. They pulled up as close as they could to the café, shut the engines off walked over to the café and went inside. There was one empty all of the rest were full of bikers. A beautiful blond girl came over, and said what will it be boys. The house special is really good, old Wilber said ok, bring us three and three coffees, and waters of course. Albert could see their bikes from where he sat, he noticed a good sized crowd around their three bikes. The diesel powered Harley really caught their eye, but the Indian four was also getting plenty of looks, the flat head was the one that was really attracting the most attention. The waitress brought their food and boy did it look good, they dug in. Albert said boy, this coffee is sure something special. The waitress came over and asked if they cared for anymore coffee. Albert said sure, and asked what kind of coffee it was. The beautiful little blonde said that it was Starbucks, Wilber piped up and said, well it is Starbucks for us from now on. The three of them finished eating and got up, left a good tip and went over to the cashier and paid their bill, thanked the girl, and left. They went over to their bikes, got on and said, lets fill up here. Wilber said, you guys fill up, I checked my tanks and they still looked full.
They started their bikes, said let’s roll. They left on their way to Scottsbluff, Nebraska. They noticed a large pack of bikes and riders by a Phillips 66 station, so they pulled up to where the other bikes were. One rider piped up, you boys know that the rally has been changed to Cheyenne, WY. It is being held at the Big city Park. Old Alfred said ok, thanks. We haven’t been to WY. for a few years. So off they rode, the highway was full of motor cycles, that got Wilber’s blood boiling, he always liked seeing a lot of motorcycles on the road. It was only about 50 miles to Cheyenne. Soon they pulled into town and followed the other bikers to the park, they rode over to the sign-up stand. Albert said let’s sign in and go back to town and get us a motel before they are all gone. So all three signed up, and rode into town, they stopped at 6 or more motels and all were full. Old Wilber said, now what? We have no camping gear, just then an older lady came over, asked, you men need a place to stay? Wilber said we sure do. She said, I have a large house, 6 bedrooms, $30 a night for one room. Alfred said, we will follow you to your house and look the rooms over. So they checked the house and 3 rooms over. There was also a 3-stall garage. Wilber said ok let’s take them, so they signed in. The lady said cash only and Alfred said ok, no problem, we have cash, we made sure we had plenty before we left South Dakota. They went to their rooms and really liked them, they put their gear away and then decided to go check the town and rally headquarters out. So off they rode and their bikes getting plenty of attention everywhere they rode. They loved everything they saw, there was a big motorcycle show in the city park. So they looked the park and bikes over, Albert said to Wilber, why don’t you enter the most interesting bike contest? Wilber said, I think I will, so he signed in and paid the small entry fee. He parked his bike next to a lot of fancy choppers, some of the chopper riders didn’t like that but said nothing. When he turned off his bike it made a little noise and let out a trace of smoke, it smelled like diesel. One young punk said, what is with the smell, old timers? You boys from South Dakota so cheap you burn diesel in your bikes? Old Wilber said, no young man, my buddies burn gas, but I tried burning diesel just to see if it would work, it has been running good for over 400 miles, the young punk said sure old timer and I use Coke in my Harley. Wilber said, really how does it run on Coke? The punk said, it gets 200 miles to the gallon. Old Wilber said wow that’s good but my bike will get 440 miles to the gallon. The punk said sure it will and pigs fly at night. Wilber was starting to get fed up with the punk. He said you got one hundred dollars you want to bet that it doesn’t get 400 to 440 miles to the gallon. The punk said, if 1 had $100 then I would bet you but that young blonde I picked up last night took me to the cleaners, Wilber dropped it, and the three of them rode off to see the sights, the bike show would not start till three. They rode all over town and saw lots of bikes and lots of young pretty girls. Albert said, we should see if we can import three of these lovelies to South Dakota. Albert said we probably could but the duty on those girls would be real high. Alfred said, sure would but it would be worth it, look at all the work we could get them to do. Wilber said the only work I would want some of them to do would be in my bed.
They rode back to the park, Wilber signed up for the show, and he entered his bike in the most unusual bike class. Came time to judge the bike, the judges looked all the bikes over, then it was time to start them. When Wilber started his it gave of that diesel sound and the judges couldn’t believe what they heard, one judge asked him if he had diesel in his bike, he said I sure do. One judge asked where he got the engine, he said I built it. All the judges got together and couldn’t believe this old hayseed built this bike. One older judge said could I try it out? Old Wilber said sure no problem. He threw the keys to the old fellow. The judge sat on the cycle and started it. Old Wilber said listen to this, he turned on his tape and now the engine sounded like a gas powered Harley. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing, old Wilber told him to go ride it, you won’t believe what you’re riding. The man took off and came back ten minutes later with a big smile on his face. He Said to Wilber, I just can’t believe it, he asked what size engine it was and Wilber told him it was 1000 which is only 61 cu. Inches. The old man asked how in the world did you get all that power and speed out of 61 Cu. Inches? Wilber said, now my good friend that is my secret. The show went on and there were lots of beautiful bikes, but none so different as Wilber’s. They did the judging, came time to announce the winners, they called one bike out after another and then the last one, Wilber thought what now? The old man who had rode the diesel said number one bike at the show goes to Wilber with his Diesel. He won a big trophy and a $300 cash prize. He said thank you gentlemen, I will be back next year with something that you will not believe. All the judges thanked him for coming all the way from South Dakota, wished him luck and told him to come back again. Old Wilber really surprised all the riders. The three guys enjoyed two good days, had lots of fun and saw lots of pretty girls. All in all Wilber, Alfred, and Alfred had a good three days and now it was time to ride home to their farms in South Dakota. They had met a lot of new riders, surprised a lot of riders with their bikes. They left at 6 o’clock in the morning. Albert said that he would like to take another route home, all three agreed and told Albert to be the road captain, so he laid out a new course home. They rode on freeway 25-North, stopped in Casper, and had a really good breakfast. Ham and eggs only $1.90, that was a good price, they couldn’t get ham and eggs in South Dakota for that price.
They rode out of Casper and turned east at Buffalo, got on 90 going east, this is a good freeway, one can ride 85 M.P.H. all day. They rode right past Gillette and stopped in Spearfish. Alfred and Albert filled up with gas and Wilber pulled over to the diesel pump and started filling his tank. A young man ran over and said, hey that is diesel you’re using, your bike won’t run on diesel you had better drain it out, but Wilber kept filling his tank, the young man said what is wrong with you? Your bike will never run on diesel. Old Wilber played dumb and said, well I will try a tank of it. He told him a trucker had said he could get twice the mileage with diesel. The young man said hell with you, if you are that dumb, suit yourself Wilber paid him and got on his bike, Alfred and Albert had already mounted their bikes. Wilber turned his radio up real loud so that the engine sounded like a Harley, he rode off, the young man watching not believing what he was seeing. Wilber really got a kick out of playing dumb. All three rode out of Spearfish feeling good. Now they were headed home and they would be there on their farms in just a few hours. They turned south at Rapid City on 16, got on a road going south. Soon they were home. Now what, Wilber said. I guess I will have a beer, he took his beer over to his patio, sat down on his favorite chair, turned the radio on and started drinking that beer. It wasn’t long before he was asleep. Alfred and Albert rode to their farms. Wilber dreamed of riding up to Montana. It had been some time since he had been up riding in Montana. When he woke up it was dark and his beer was gone. He had slept 4 or 5 hours, he told himself, well I guess I will just go inside and hit the hay. Tomorrow should be another good day. So Wilber went to sleep and dreamed of riding that Diesel all over the U.S.A.