The McCuff Bike
Friday, August 22 2008 | Comments (2)
OCC builds a custom creation for McCuff Industries. As fabrication gets underway, a miscalculation on the frame hands the guys a setback. Mikey tests his skills as a McCuff salesman while problems during the bike's assembly frustrate the crew. (Season Finale)
Today Paul Senior, Junior and Steve Moreau are meeting with representatives of McCuff Industries, which makes the "No Splash, No Spill, Motorcycle Fill." Most bikers think of the hassle of filling a motorcycle gas tank as just something that we have to live with: gas nozzles are designed for cars, not bikes. But McCuff has provided an easy, portable solution to the problem. This small, bright yellow cap fits over the opening to the gas tank and surrounds the gas pump nozzle, providing a seal against gas spillage and making it easy to top off the tank. "Your tank is full on the first click," explains McCuff's CEO, Greg Castro.
Paulie is especially impressed with the product. First, it's rare that OCC gets to sponsor a product made especially for motorcycles. But when gas spills over the tank, it can cause the paint job to bubble and peel--a real worry for bikes with OCC custom paint jobs! His only wish is that is came in different colors.
Greg Castro emphasizes that their whole marketing color scheme is yellow though and assumes the base color of the bike will be yellow--and it should somehow reflect McCuff Industries' innovation and originality. He's looking forward to OCC's help with that marketing though. Aside from the exposure that the custom build will give them, he hopes the OCC crew may have some ideas of how best to stage the unveiling of the bike so that it makes a big slash in the motorcycle industry.
With these challenges in mind, Jason gets to work designing a bike that will convey the McCuff spirit. Working in yellow and black, he begins making preliminary sketches, "I want to do something curvy and swervy; and something short and compact like a little puppy; something compact and approachable, yet like a real mean lookin' bike. A sorta 'sport bike ran into a chopper' type look."
Because McCuff wants an innovative look, Jason goes with a "cool new fuel injected motor from S&S Cycle called the X-Wedge." To make sure the engine is the most prominent feature, Jason also picks a "cradle style frame from Rolling Thunder that leaves the engine "looking like it's just floating in space ... it makes it look like it's all motor and hardly any bike at all."
When the frame comes in it seems extra heavy, but Paulie feels that RollingThunder did an terrific job of executing Jason's sketches. McCuff wanted OCC to come up with a spectacular unveiling, so the crew has decided to unveil the bike at the S&S 50th Anniversary Party in LaCrosse, WI. This will give McCuff the industry-wide exposure it wants--and Paulie feels it will be good to unveil a bike honoring the X-Wedge at an S&S event--but the party is only two weeks away!
The X-Wedge has a computer monitored fuel injection system that no one at OCC has dealt with before. In addition to the other firsts, they've also decided to use a custom dual-drive transmission by Baker Drivetrain that has pulleys on both sides.
While installing the rear wheel and drive, Rick realizes immediately that there is a problem with the frame. The offset plates for the transmission are a half inch off and won't quite fit with the drives. They talk to RollingThunder
and quickly figure out what happened. The type of drive is so new that Rolling Thunder built the frame off a prototype--which is almost, but not quite, what OCC is using. There is nothing to do but send the frame back!
Without the frame, it's hard to work on the bike, but thankfully Rick made a template of the frame that gives him just enough information to get the fuel tank "about 90% done." The tank is unusual in that it sits inside the frame, hanging on the backbone between the outside bars. Luckily he doesn't have to wait long to get the frame back, RollingThunder rushes to get the new frame back to OCC and the build can really begin. It's going to be tense though as they only have eight days now till the unveiling!
Rick, Lee, and Paulie start cranking the bike out as fast as they can. With Lee's help they make good progress. Paulie manufactures the rear fender, which is a unique combo of fender, seat pan, oil tank, and shock absorber--another first for OCC design. Lee is impressed as Junior builds a sort of skeleton for the frame out of round bar, "I've never seen anything like that done before."
While they work, Mikey is hanging out by the lifts, bored, so Lee decides to show him his TIG (tungsten inert gas) welding technique. He shows Mikey how to do it, then is surprised when Mikey picks it right up and begins to weld like a pro. "Don't tell anyone I'm a closet welder," Mikey quips. If his dad finds out he can weld, he say, he'll expect Mikey to do it all the time.
Everyone is making good time on the bike. Rick has fabricated exhaust pipes that cross under the seat pan, forming an unusual X-pattern exhaust that complements the X-Wedge engine. Lee is a big help with the work. Paulie admires his talent, but notes that he isn't used to some of the more modern equipment OCC owns and tends to do things the "rougher" way, with older machines.
Lee says he learned from more of a "hammer and anvil kind of guy" where working at OCC is "more of a finesse thing." But he likes seeing new ways to do things, "It's like being at school AND having fun AND getting paid for it."
Senior and Steve visit Harrell's Car Wash in Indianapolis, IN, where the owner, Mark Harrell, is working on a project for Senior. Bikes are notoriously hard to wash and Senior, as the owner of over 100 bikes, thought a car wash for bikes would be a good idea. Senior met Mark at a bike rally years ago and last year decided to ask him, as manufacturer of car washes, if there was a way to develop a "bike wash." It's taken awhile, but Mark is finally ready to unveil his bike wash system.
Once he tries it out, Senior is impressed with the system Mark has developed. He mentions that OCC will only put their name on quality products, implying that OCC will somehow be associated
with marketing the new "bike wash" system.
The frame is back from Powder Coat and is very yellow. Rick and OCC shop foreman Mike Amarotti begin to assemble the bike and both guys have to look at the frame every once in a while and say, "Man that is yellow." Mike brushes what he thinks is dust from the frame and makes a horrible discovery, there are black flecks throughout the whole paint job. They can't use the frame as it is! It's an easy fix: Send the frame to Ralph who will "scuff it and shoot it," but the show is only a week away and repainting will cost them at least a day, probably two!
Paulie takes the frame over to the old shop and discusses the paint job with Ralph. He's starting to feel that maybe the screwed up paint is a blessing in disguise. Even though the frame is already a bright yellow, Paulie wants to use this chance to make it an even brighter "hot rod" or "candy" yellow. Ralph points out that there is no way he can come up with a custom color as fast as Paulie wants it. Paulie is stressing--that frame has to be done NOW--and he's passing that stress off to Ralph, who has to drop every other project and work on this. As Paulie leaves, Ralph begins to work with what he has, trying to come up with a shade of yellow that will fit the bill.
Meanwhile, Mikey, along with the "McCuff girls," is out in a parking lot under a small tent giving a demo of the McCuff to some OCC fans--and anyone who lets him demo it on their bike gets free gas too! "I'm basically a traveling salesman," Mikey explains, "with my Britney Spears mic and a small PA system and two beautiful assistants, which is nice."
A volunteer rides his chopper up to the tent and Mikey, with the aid of one of the girls, puts the McCuff to the test--and promptly overflows the tank. Mikey admits that it would have helped if he'd "read the instructions first," but decides he'll blame the McCuff people anyway "for letting a schmuck like me demo their product." Once he figures out the system though, the demos go smoother and the McCuff is a success!
Back at OCC, Paulie drops by to check on the frame and finds that Ralphie has come up with a beautiful dark, vibrant yellow. The paint is still wet, but he sees that it's going to be perfect for what he needs. When its dry, Rick and Paulie get to work on the assembly. The X-Wedge motor is tough to mount: it's 160 pounds heavy and hard for even two guys to lift. The Baker dual drive is sharp and apparently Bert Baker himself built the drive to make it work for OCC.
It's tricky to mount the rear tire with the dual drive, but Paulie and Rick get it together and the bike begins to take shape. The tins arrive the next day and Nub has really out done himself on the paint job. With its bright yellow base and orange flames the bike is starting to look "real hotrod." Nub's attention to detail is really showing through too. The rear fender is mounted very high and Nub decided to paint the underside of the fender so the flame design shows even there and he's added checkering in the front of the tank to enhance the racing theme.
On Thursday, Mike finishes up the wiring, Rick runs the oil tank tubing, and the bike is nearly ready to roll. Because the fuel injection is computer controlled, this assembly has a new step: installing software drivers! Eric, an IT guy from the OCC offices, brings a laptop in and loads the drivers into the fuel injectors. Carburetors are out, computers are in.
The fuel pump proves tricky as well, but the bike is looking hot. Paulie thinks the tins make the bike look "like a ball of flame floating in space."
On Friday morning Paulie bolts on the air filter, Rick and Mike make final adjustments to the wiring and the bike is ready to fire up. It starts a bit rough, but it runs. As Paulie prepares to test ride the bike, smoke begins to roll out from the engine! At first it looks as if the bike is on fire, but a quick check shows that oil is leaking onto the engine from somewhere. The bike has to be shipped out today, they have to find and fix that leak--fast! The guys are all over the engine, looking for the leak, but they quickly find that the problem isn't in the engine, its the master brake cylinder leaking brake fluid down from the handle bars. That is an easy fix and they breathe a sigh of relief and get ready to roll.
The test ride goes beautifully and they ship the bike out to Wisconsin for the next day's bike show. OCC has their bikes to show off and gears up to unveil the McCuff bike to an expectant crowd. Greg Castro thinks the bike is loud, and he is highly impressed with it. It captures the innovative spirit of McCuff, but its also exciting and sporty.