While Gas Axe’s Tim Dixon is no stranger in the American custom building scene, his work reached an even wider audience thanks to a recent trip to the AMD World Championships in Cologne, Germany. Dixon earned a chance to represent the US at the esteemed European show after winning a qualifier at the Blue Ridge Run with his stellar 1959 Panhead in the Modified Harley class.
The vintage Harley mill and tranny were salvaged from a 1959 Panhead but that’s about the only OEM items you’ll find on this build, and even those have been gussied up. Dixon mounted the venerable V-twin in a custom frame made from 7/8-inch tubing. Look closely and you’ll see angular cutouts throughout, small windows to the polished stainless beneath. Every junction on the tubular frame reflects Dixon’s skills with the welder in overlapping puddles. The double-tubed frame’s been stretched 4 inches to accommodate Gas Axe’s homemade suspension system.
At first glance, the custom Pan looks like a hardtail, but a closer inspection reveals a couple of leaf springs skirting the back fender, which Dixon fashioned out of springs from a 1931 Ford Model A. He also mocked up a straight axle off the old Ford for the fork, adding a shock and rocker to it. The fork itself was inspired from a John Harman-style fork he previously built for a chopper (Harman’s claim to fame was a smooth-riding, internally sprung girder unit).
Similar to the frame, the sweet hand-polished tank has cutouts on each side. The cherry gas cap is a trunk latch from a 1938 Hupmobile. Brass and copper touches run throughout the build, from the handmade copper oil tank and air cleaner cover to the brass “Gas Axe” nameplates on the tank to the foot and hand controls. The twin 18-inch magnesium wheels are a set of Halibrand Magnesium front hoops from a dragster; they had been lying around the shop for years and Dixon was just waiting for the right build to come along to use them. An invitation to compete in the world championships seems like a pretty good incentive, no?
No sooner had Dixon unpacked from his trip overseas than he was on the road again, this time to New York City for the J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show with the bike he built for Michael Lichter’s 2018 Motorcycles as Art exhibit. Gas Axe’s 2018 Custom Chopper is powered by a 93-inch S&S Shovelhead paired to a four-speed Harley gearbox. Dixon made the custom VL-style springer front end, but his version is a touch skinnier than Harley’s.
In typical Dixon fashion, there’s nary a wire in sight in this super tidy build. While his 1959 Pan didn’t have much paint on it, Gas Axe teamed up with Leatherwood Motorcycle Works to splash some color on the “Game Changer” chopper. The trip out to the big city was worth it as Dixon pocketed a $1,000 check after winning first place in the top-tier Freestyle class. Not bad for a self-made man from a small town in Tennessee who’s helping put Ten Mile on the custom building map.