Jason Grimes’ ’46 Flathead
This bike build started out as a conversation at one of Northeast Chop Shop’s annual spring open house events. Jay was talking with a friend of his, Cheryl, about a bike she acquired from a tenant that was late on rent. He came to find out the bike was a 1946 Flathead. He jumped right on the opportunity to see this bike; he drove over to see the basket case from a bygone era. The bike only consisted of a motor, tranny, and frame with some random parts thrown into a box. He knew right away that this would make for quite a project even though the bike was not all there, which was fine because Jason intended on making all the parts needed to bring this relic back to life. Jason grabbed the frame and remaining boxes containing parts and quickly hauled them to his shop for inspection.
Being unique and a challenge led to the decision to use the motorcycle for a biker build off in Laconia, New Hampshire. Jason has built many bikes over the last 11 years he’s been in business, so he knew that something new and different was in order for this build. Knowing the year and rare history of this bike, chopping the frame up was just a stupid thing to do seeing how the stock factory frame was perfect. The rebuilt motor and tranny were installed first and a stock 18-inch rear wheel with hub was dropped in after rehab. Jason then contacted his pal, Paul Wideman of Bare Knuckle Choppers, and had him build a super-narrow springer to accommodate the 21-inch spool wheel up front. Paul also sent Jay some badass sprocket blanks to fab up a primary, so Jay turned down the teeth on the front sprocket and clutch hub while turning out the ID of the sprockets to fit their new home.
The bike’s sheetmetal was next on the list, but sheetmetal not as we currently know it. Jay had something else in mind for this build. Many moons ago a unique metal was created using two types of alloys, which when heated and mixed together created one solid form called Damascus steel. Damascus is best known and used for samurai sword making, high-end knives, gun barrels, and even jewelry. Jay put his blacksmithing skills to work and started making large billets of carbon and nickel that was heated to extreme temperatures of 2,100 Fahrenheit. From there he used a lot of pressure to heat-weld it all together, turning it as he beat it flatter and flatter. He also drilled it to create the cool-looking pattern in the steel. Once he formed the Damascus into large sheets ¼ inch thick and the width of a cookie pan, he could cut out the shapes of his parts like the seat, fender, battery box, tank sides, and more. One last time the metal was heated to 2,100 Fahrenheit and hand-beaten with a hammer over an anvil to create the proper shapes for each part. This whole process took months. When he had a good foundation for the bike, he finished it at the rally in front of a large crowd of bike enthusiasts. Needless to say there was no easy part of this build. John Huff finished the sweet look of the bike by engraving the logos of NCS into the cam cover and floorboards.
Jay took the bike to Sturgis where he was invited to the World Championship of Bike Building and there the bike was well received. When the bike returned home from its road trip (yes, it was ridden hundreds of miles) it was cleaned up and painted to what you see here. Jay has enjoyed riding the hell out of it and was happy to deliver it to its owner, Cheryl, where it will spend the rest of its days.