Friday, July 25 2008 | Comments (0)
The Teutuls build a luxury-performance bike for Mercedes Benz-AMG. Sr. gets a tattoo of his kids and spends some time off with his bud Gus.
Representatives from AMG, the high performance division of the Mercedes-Benz company, pay OCC a visit to discuss the details of a custom AMG chopper. They arrive in an SL63 AMG and Paulie admires the sleek design as it pulls up. It's one of AMG's newest models and isn't even for sale yet.
Both Paul Senior and Paulie own AMC SLs and think they are amazing cars both in the quality of their engineering and in their look. AND, more importantly, they are fast!
Ernst Lieb, the US CEO of Mercedes-AMG and Steven Cannon, AMG's VP of Marketing, mention that these vehicles are known mainly to "a small segment of absolute car enthusiasts." One reason they wanted to join with OCC is to spread the word about "the AMG story."
Jason takes pictures of the car, but he, Paulie and Senior interview Ernst and Steve to generate ideas for the bike. Steve feels that performance is the key theme they want to emphasize. Paulie just thinks its important to get a feel for the company and its ideals, as well as get an idea of what parts from the company can be incorporated into the design.
In keeping with that, they invite the Teutuls to their factory in Germany so they can see first hand what's available. Paulie is excited about the build and sees it as a challenge. AMG is a high performance manufacturer and OCC is going to have to rise to the task and build a high performance, sleek, luxury chopper.
In Affalterbach, Germany, Junior, Senior and Mikey Teutul and Steve Moreau tour the AMG factory and get to do some hands on engine assembly. The tour gives plenty of opportunities to show off AMG's production standards and quality assurance procedures. The plant builds 80 to 100 engines a day and use a "one person, one engine" process where one individual is responsible for the entire assembly of an engine.
During a tour of custom built AMG cars, Paulie notices one that he feels should be the inspiration for the AMG chopper. Everyone agrees. They also give Paulie an array of sample parts he can incorporate into the design. So equipped and inspired, they head back home to begin the build.
Back in the States, Rick and Paulie unload the frame for the AMG bike. It's thicker than their usual frame. "A very 'beefy' frame," Paulie says. Paulie meets with Jim and Jason to discuss design issues. The bike is to have a larger front wheel than the back (24" and 21"), chrome linkages, and a clean, smooth, streamlined design with no logos except AMG's (not even the OCC logo!). AMG wants a paint called "liquid metal" on the bike and Jason gets to work producing a rough design for them to approve.
Fortunately AMG has given them the car they want the bike patterned after--the same design Paulie saw in Germany, but painted a darker color. It good to have the car there in the shop because Paulie and Rick need to look closely at the hood as they design the tank. Rick works up a paper template for the tank and gets ready to start cutting.
Rick feels this design calls for more precision than the average tank he builds. There are lots of simple curves and flat pieces and each piece has to be has to be accurately machined or it won't fit together right. Paulie, watching him work, observes that "sometimes to make things real clean and simple it takes more work than if you were adding a lot of things on."
Senior bring potential employee Lee, to Rick and Paulie. All have met before at a bike show and they already know Lee knows the business. He's built bikes, is an experienced fabricator and welder, and worked for a company that manufactured fenders. They agree to try him out and see what he can do.
Paulie and Rick talk to him about some alterations to the AMG fender and Lee gets to work. Paulie is glad to find someone who has enough experience that he can just jump in and do the work with no training or coaching. Lee seems to know exactly what he's doing as he trims a piece out of the center of the fender to give it a better fit. Senior and Paulie aren't surprised that he does so well and they offer him the job. Lee has to give his two weeks notice at his old job, then move to NY, so he'll be back to work for OCC in about a month
Senior has long had a tattoo of his dogs on his shoulder, "My kids are always pissing and moaning that I think the dogs are more important. And they are." Still, he heads to Look Sharp Tattoo in nearby Cornwall, NY to get a tattoo from his old friend Sam. Sam is able to draw a simple design for Senior on the spot--a scroll with the kids names on it--and he gets right to work inking it in. Mikey is there ("I brought him for moral support ... which he's not.") and spends more time encouraging Sam to use a dirty needle, threatening to bump Sam as he works, and otherwise lightening the mood.
"Hope you appreciate this," Senior growls at him.
"I do. I'm filled with warmth and joy."
Senior is happy with the results and his kids should be content that they are now represented beside his beloved dogs.
Back at the shop, Rick continues to work on the tank. They noticed early on that the hood has a slight peak to it and Rick has to fuss with the tank design to get that peak duplicated. It comes easy to him though and the tank is looking sleek and aerodynamic.
Paulie is working on struts for the rear fender. They usually don't use external struts, but Paulie feels the "slight bump" will mesh well with the edges and lines of the gas tank. It's strong to, "You could stand on this fender," Paulie tells his dad.
The main thing left is to fabricate a custom oil tank, which will form the base of the seat. They fabricate it out of an old fender, which takes time, but proves easy to build. So far this build is one of the smoothest and drama free builds OCC has done. They hit their first real snag with the positioning of the AMG logo.
AMG's specs require that their logo be always perfectly level with the ground. It proves tricky to position as the gas tank is not completely level and, to make things more complicated, the front assembly isn't on yet. Once it's in place the position will change even more. Paulie hasn't wanted to "because it's chrome and immaculate and every time we do that they get screwed up." Jason convinces Paulie they have to put the front assembly on though. The positioning of the logo is important to the client.
Once the wheel is on the difference in the wheel sizes is very visible. They had decided to go with a 24" front tire and 21" rear tire, with both wheels modeled after AMG's tire design. Jason expresses his admiration, "Wow, that [front] tire looks bigger by the second. I swear, I look away and when I look back its bigger."
"It's huge," Paulie adds, "It's like the movie Tron."
Paulie decides it looks good and, now that the wheel is in place, they can find level on the tank again and place the AMG logo. All that is left is to get some handle bars on it. All the wiring has to be internal, so they order a set of bars that will accommodate the wires and happens to have a slight peak that matches the gas tank.
The AMG logo is designed fit inside an insert cut into the gas tank, so Rick cuts the hole and welds in the logo holder that Jim Quinn has machined.
They tear the bike down and ship parts out to be chromed. There is no Powder Coat on this bike, OCC's in-house painter, Ralph will be using AMG's paint at OCC's old shop, so the tins should be back soon and ready to assemble. Before they paint, Paulie happens to check to see that the logos fit into the molds. They don't, something is snagging, and he has to take them to Jim Quinn to have the backs of the logos machined out so they will slide into place. It's a minor thing and Jim has it fixed in just minutes and the tank goes back to Ralph for painting.
Meanwhile, Senior wants to spend some quality time with Gus, his Dog, so he decides to take him for a spin in the car AMG has loaned to them. It's a bit small for Gus--he usually rides in an SUV--but he enjoys the wind with the top down. Senior think they look pretty classy, despite Gus covering the dash board with slobber.
Gus used to go everywhere with Senior but he's getting old and not getting around as well. Senior takes him to riverside park in Montgomery. They sit back and enjoy the cool shade and wading in the river--and senior feeds Gus a chicken sandwich from subway.
The frame comes back and Rick and Paulie start assembly and add the chrome when it comes in. Assembling the handle bars proves tricky as all the wiring is internal--in keeping with the clean lines AMG wants, no wires will show--but Rick and Paulie manage it together. Paulie notes that it's only the second time they've used bars like this--they usually fabricate them themselves. It takes most of the day to do the wiring and--since the AMG reps will be there to view the bike in just two days--Paulie hopes that the tins will be ready first thing in the morning so they can get assembly finished and make sure the bike runs.
The next day the tins are there and Paulie and Rick finish the assembly. They get the oil pan and the seat on with no problem and decide to mount the rear fender, even though the rear tire isn't ready to mount yet. Here they run into trouble as--in their hurry to get it assembled--Paulie forgot to drill out the holes in the fender, which are gunked up with paint. That is pretty easy to fix though and in a couple minutes the fender is ready to go.
Senior decides to help with the fender assembly while Paulie is on break. The fender goes well, but trouble ensues when Rick realizes Senior must have stepped in a cow pie that morning and he's tracking it all over the shop. They get one of the new employees, Andy, over to mop the floor--and Seniors boot. Andy is pretty good-natured about cleaning it up, but Senior has to harass him a bit. "They say its good luck to step in this."
"They say its even better luck to put it in your hair, then your mustache," Andy ribs back. Senior assures him that he has job security at OCC, not everyone will clean cow s*** off his boots.
Meanwhile the bike is nearly done and is looking sharp. The logos continue to be the most hassle, but they look fabulous when done. The wheels don't arrive till the next day though and the crew has no time to waste getting them installed.
Jim Quinn made some very complex, three piece wheels for this design, and each wheel has over 60 bolts--part of the Mercedes design they wanted to emulate. Each bolt hole has to have the chrome drilled out before assembly, so Paulie and Rick have no time to waste in getting the wheels prepped. Not only do the wheels need assembled, but they have to be sealed to be air tight, so JQ helps Pauli apply a silicon sealant to each wheel after assembly.
Christian and Odie mount the tires and check for leaks. They work perfectly and are soon installed on the bike. The whole look has finally come together and it's time to start it up and test ride it. Junior and Senior take both the car and bike out together. Junior used two different tone of silver for the tins and the whole effect is clean and sharp looking, just like a Mercedes.
The AMG "top brass" arrive the next day and Paulie and Senior unveil the bike right in front of the OCC headquarters. The executives are highly impressed. They had not said before what their plans were for the bike, but now they are willing to say they are planning an AMG road show in 24 AMG performance centers across the United States and want to use their OCC chopper as the center piece for the tour.
The executives have something to show the Teutuls too: a wood and brass motorcycle built by German automobile inventor Gottlieb Daimler in 1885. It runs on lantern oil and has no spark plugs, just an open flame and boiler.
Senior gets to try it out and quickly gets the bike up to its top speed -- 7 MPH. Paulie feels that having Daimler's bike there makes a nice circle: the first bike ever made and the latest in bike design, together at OCC.