On first impression (via email) “Cas’s Red Chopper” was a winner so I was straight onto it for a feature.
First thing I ask is about the owner life and then try to come up with a location for the shoot, not a fan of studio shoots (I find them sterile and lacking feeling! What a tosser!) and then try to fit the motorcycle to a story.
With this particular shoot we were under the hammer and in urgent need of a location. Reason being, Cas and beautiful wife Lauren were expecting their first child at anytime and no bloke in their right mind would miss the birth for anything, let alone a shoot! The theme we were going to run with was a Homestead, Daisy Duke (hillbilly babe theme). With the Model and an old farmhouse lined up, it was all go! Then, the Model pulled out, a call to another model and it was all good! Then a call from the house owner with the first word out of their mouths being Sorry I knew straight away we would be lookin’ for another location. I then rang the second Model to tell her of the location change. When she answered with an “I was just going to ring you!”
You know how the story goes. I then had to ring Cas to let him know of our dilema and to ask if he knew of anything that would suit. Hearing the disappointment in his voice I was racking my brain trying to think of a spot when I had a brain storm - I told him I’ve thought of something and I will get back to you!
On a Hells Angels Anzac Run I remembered a stop we made that would be ideal! The place was The Ettamogah Hotel at Rouse Hill in Sydney’s North West, a short drive from Cas’s home at Blacktown (just in case his wife Lauren needed him). Distinctly Australian it would be right down our alley!
For those who don’t know The Ettamogah Hotel, it is a themed hotel derived from artist (the late) Ken Maynard’s cartoon strip showing a local country pub and its ‘yobbo’ patrons. The cartoon strip was done for the Australian Post way back in 1950’s and ran for 40 years. The Pub’s theme and architecture depicts that of Ken Maynard’s cartoons.
So, I put in a phone call. At this time with things going the way they were I wasn’t too confident but my luck was about to change, on the other end of the line was the gorgeous Nicola (Fanta Pants) Hastings Assistant Manager of the establishment. I told Nicola of my predicament and as I was expecting the worst Nicola replied, “I can see no problem, I will ring the boss and I will ring you back!” and hung up. Still expecting the worst I was thinking of another location when the phone rang, it was Nicola. It had only been a couple of minutes. I have some good news - its all yours!
Cool all we need now is Lauren to keep her legs together.
The day of the shoot I ring Cas to confirm but there was no answer - I thought shit they’ve dropped the kid! So I make my way to the Ettamogah. When I arrived no Cas, then a text “I’m on my way”.
Having not seen the bike first hand and a photo doesn’t always tell the full story I was a bit apprehensive and anxious on how the bike stood up.
Hearing the bike before seeing it I ran from the pub and was knocked for six! The bike was a Beauty! First thing to catch the eye was the glare from that intimidating Springer front end and the length almost 9 foot from head to tail.
The bike was originally a 2006 model GLH Chopper. Cas bought the bike from a mate and as he put it put some money into it. The bike was built with a lot of Harley Davidson parts. It had a standard front end, mirrors, handle bars a standard tank and Rev Tec air filter. So Cas put it in the hands of motorcycling maestros Pieter and Simon of P&L Toongabbie.
Pieter recruited the services of Brett from Hell Bound Choppers to help in the refurbishment. First changes were to be the front end. Pieter and Brett discussed using a Springer front but Pieter had issues with using a traditional Springer because he didn’t think it would be strong enough with the 39 degree rake. They decided to go with the American Suspension front end having to import one from the USA. At the time the Aussie dollar was at a crap 68 cents US so the front end blew out to a whopping $7,500 just to get it to our shores. Looking back at it Cas isn’t dirty but happy with the front end and says “it’s money well spent and there isn’t any around, so I’m happy!”
The front end was going to present another challenge for the boys. The fitting was going to be long and testing.
The bike was shipped up to the Chopper Shop in Gosford for some cosmetic changes. Chopper Shops metal fabricator KY fabricated some handlebars to find the front end hit the tank. The only option he had was to build a new tank or take a scallop out of it. They went with the scallop. Wrapped in the tank Cas says “Ky was fairly artisitic in the way he took the scallop, matching the curves and moulding to the front end”
The bike then continued its tour making the trip back to P&L in Sydney’s west and reassembly.
Time for paint! The man for the job! Marc from Sydney Custom Paint.
With tins (tank, oil tank and guards) in hand Cas sat down with Marc to come up with a design. They decided to keep the original Candy apple red, do away with the tribal blade and run with the Americana traditional 1950 era lines (reminiscing of those on an 1957 Chev or wagon). Handlebars were also sprayed the Candy apple of the tins.
Back to P&L for fitting and Cas hit another hurdle, Simon cut his leg on what have been described serious points on the front end and the wound got infected with Simon needing medical treatment and admitted to hospital. Pieter was left on his own and swamped with work the Chopper had to be put on the backburner. Pieter eventually got things under control and got to work on the Chopper. The Front end had the Chopper sitting far too up right for Cas’s liking describing the Chopper as having a stance of a MotoX bike rather than a Chopper. The front end was too long. So Pieter went about machining the front end. A time staking task with no precise measurements to work off the work was all trial and error, pain stakingly taking millimeters off at a time measuring and refitting (ten times in total) all the time knowing if he takes to much its game over for the super expensive front end. By the time Pieter had finished with the front end Simon had returned to work and was set the task of finishing the Chopper.
Four and a half months had passed, with the original estimate of $5,000 for a front end and cosmetics blowing out to an awesome $25,000. “Imagine the wife” Cas says “I was just hangin’ on to it!” It’s no joke! Cas owned a nice Torana before he was married and had to sell it to buy the ring! This is the second Chopper Cas has owned, he had a Fatboy before that and says he loves Choppers. Quick to point out they are not for everyone and the 9 feet of the Chopper make it fun around a roundabout.
The comfy ride of the Chopper is thanks to a Craft Tec Softail frame with a 300 arse end and the hidden suspension under the springs of the American Suspension front end. Other little touches Cas made were the Spike Airfilter, Arlen Ness Ballistini Pegs and Grips and P&M hand controls. All brake lines were taken through the frame for that clean look. Cas kept the original rims and tried to get himself some white walls but ended up painting the white wall on the front because he couldn’t find any.
Power to the Fat Arse is by the way of a 100cube Revtec motor, 3½ inch exposed primary and a 6 speed right hand drive gearbox. He was going to replace the original Shot Gun exhaust with a set of Vance & Hines only to find they did not fit the right hand drive. The seat was originally black, Cas found a small shop in Redfern who sold Reptile skins and brought himself some Snake skin and had Seven Hills upholstery recover the seat pan. To keep it clean Cas stripped the bike of its blinkers, speedo and mirrors.
Both Cas and I are of the belief that a bike is to be ridden and even a bike of this caliber needs to be on the road! To support the argument Cas points out the bike’s (though small and few) stone chips and regards the bike as an everyday rider and though he can’t ride it everyday makes sure its ridden at least once a week!
A couple of days after the shoot Lauren gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Mia.