Full Metal Jacket is now not only a well known Hollywood block buster movie title it is the name given to this little metallic bobber by its owner “Filid Sawczuk”.
Filid came to Australia 23 years ago and whilst being a painter decorator by trade the strapping Pol expat works in the construction industry. It was his time on industrial worksites that ignited his love with things made of metal. At first it was old industrial lamps he would find laying around that he would take home and restore and then with worthy lamps becoming more scarce he decided to start making his own lamps from left over parts or things he found on site.
The lamps are as Filid likes to put it “Mad Max”, as with the cult films, vehicles and costumes the lamps are made from various metals that look as if they have been laying around a scrap yard and just picked up and thrown together with a industrial pop rivet gun. The effect is nothing but astounding (I’ve gone all home beautiful on you lot!).
The creative juices were running wild and now that he had a few of his lamps made and for sale, Filid was looking for other challenges.
One day whilst walking down King Street Newtown in Sydney he noticed a bike in a trendy boutique window which caught his attention and with his curiosity getting the better of him 6ft 6inch Filid decided to go in and ask the unsuspecting store keeper about the bike. The blokes name was Tim. Filid asked “I want something like this! What is it? ” (with his Arnold Schwartznegger like accent) in which Tim replied “A Rigid” at the time Filid said he didn’t even know what rigid meant and all he knew was it was a Triumph. Tim also suggested that he browse Ebay for a bike but Filid didn’t want to buy a full bike he wanted to unleash his new found talents and creativity on a new project and he now knew what he wanted to create but know had to find a subject.
First thing he did was buy Just Bike’s magazine. Filid admits at the time he was pretty much a novice and didn’t know what he was looking at. He did know he was looking for a Triumph and once he found the Trumpie’s he would look for the cheapest. In the pages of the magazine he found what he thought he was looking for and the price was right at just $2000, so with magazine in hand Filid decided to pay his old mate Tim another visit. He showed Tim the advert and said to him “I got this bike I like! Do you know anyone that fixes them?” Tim said he had just the bloke and recommended Pedro (Pete) from Trojan Classic motorcycles. Tim rang Pete and asked (on Filid’s behalf) if he was to buy this particular bike would he be able to get parts? Not a problem Pedro replied so Filid rang the owner only to find the bike was located in Western Australia and he was worried about shipping. Tim said the bike was too small (300cc) anyway and a big bloke like Filid would be better off with something larger say a 500cc or 650cc bike.
Cruising the classifieds Filid found himself a 500cc and went back to Tim and asked him to ring Pete again and see if he had parts for his new find. Pete told him to come down to the shop (Trojan) and he would give him a quick lesson on motorcycles. Taking up the offer Filid folded his magazine under his arm and headed to Trojan. Once at Trojan he laid the magazine on the counter and then pointed out his chosen bike to Pete. Pete knew straight away just from the picture that this bike needed a lot of work but Filid was determined to make his dream a reality. Filid rang the seller who was a dealer from Melbourne. First question the unfamiliar Filid asked was is this bike a full bike and secondly, if it worked. Filid was answered with an abrupt “No Mate! It’s a project!” At the time Filid didn’t even know what the term project meant. The dealer wanted $4500. Filid decided to offer the dealer $4000 including delivery from Melbourne to Sydney the dealer jumped at the offer. So excited was the big feller he bought himself a book on the Trumpy 500. Then the bike arrived!!
When the bloke wheeled the bike out of the trailer and he first laid eyes on his dream bike he almost cried. Filid wasn’t the only one in shock, reliving the moment he said, “my Mrs came and she said F_ _ _! This bike’s going to cost money!”. I was so embarrassed I told people I bought the bike for $500. The tank was tied on with a rope, a rusty seat I just ended up throwing straight in the bin and a broken head light. The handlebars were off a pushbike all I could do was look at it and say F_ _ _ it! Where do I start?”
First thing he did do was to take a heap of photos and take them back to his know mentor Pedro. No sooner had Pete looked at the photos he noticed the first hurdle, the rigid swing arm was upside down and this is not the right swing arm. Filid went home and found the swing-arm was wrong and the wheel and sprocket didn’t line up to the motor. He noticed other defects with the frame telling Filid “This is wrong and should not be bolted there - you could have killed yourself!” Pete told Filid to ring the Dealer in Melbourne and ask him to send up the right rigid swing arm. Filid took Pedro’s advice and in no certain terms said to the bloke “You said you have a Rigid project bike, this is not a rigid it looks like someone built it from a push bike! So what am I going to do now?” The dealer wasn’t keen to come to the party at first but with a bit of persuasive language he decided to send another swing arm. The new swing was another disaster the second swing arm was something the dealer knocked up himself and it also didn’t fit. Filid tried to mount the rear wheel but it wouldn’t fit so it was back to Pedro for some more expert advice. It seemed the dealer sent a swing arm off an earlier model, the sprocket that came with the bike was too big and with the speedo mounted to the rear rim making it too wide to fit. So the boys decided to do some handy work themselves and widen the swing arm. That wasn’t all! The rim was well and truly stuffed so Filid decided to send it back and demand a replacement. The dealer and Filid came to a compromise with the dealer charging an extra $100 for the replacement rim. The mounts for the rear foot pegs were mounted in the wrong position so Pete made up some new mounts and ordered a pair of original pegs from overseas. The rear brake needed a support bracket and with parts being as scarce as hen’s teeth he would have to improvise. As luck would have it Filid was thinking about his dilemma when he noticed the door hinge and he thought to himself “That looks like its made for a bike, this is nice” and went about drilling some holes in it. He took it back to Pete because it needed to be able to move. Pete modified the hardware so it was idea for the application.
The bike still needed a mudguard and our man didn’t know what to do but fortunately for Filid the Dealer rang him to tell him he had a guard. After he received the guard he got himself a grinder and started copping, shaping and adding the rivets. Finally things were starting to come together and it was time for the tank. This particular bike was built for one year only (1963) making it a very rare. The tank for this bike only fits that particular model and actually makes up part of the chassis/frame and integrity of the bike through gussets inside the tank that strengthen the frame. As luck would have it Pete was ordering some parts from the US and stumbled on to a tank. The tank was orange in colour and in excellent condition but the colour wasn’t quite what he had in mind. First thing he did was to hit it with his trusty new grinder and stripped the tank back to bare metal. The look he was going for was raw and industrial futuristic look taking his inspiration from the WW2 bombers of the 40’s with a modern twist (look out Vogue magazine here I come!).
As with many of the Triumph models this particular model had the rubber knee mounts on the sides of the tank. After taking a long look at the design Filid decided to forgo the traditional rubbers and badges and wanted to add something else in their place.
Filid lives in a first floor unit and the bike lived on the units veranda for two years, meaning every part would be measured then he would take it to the communal garage, cut, take it back upstairs and if it wasn’t right have to take it back down. The insert he was thinking of was to be 3D and mounted on spaces leaving a space between the tank and the new knee guard.
Filid made up stencils and came up with five different designs out of aluminium. He also made up a copper triangular Triumph inspired plaque that bears his website address on the rear guard. He picked himself up a seat pan from the USA on Ebay which needed mounting bolts so Filid went out and brought himself a welder and taught himself how to weld. The seat springs were bought from Trojan.
Filid was hoping just to clean the motor up and do nothing. He re-thought his decision and took the motor to Pete to get a professional opinion saying “there are some things you can’t do and if you have no experience don’t touch it, start playing with it and no one wants to touch it!”
The motor was a mess! Pete put it to Filid in plain language “ nothing works properly! You have to do it right, even if we can fire it up you can fuck it up!” The boys stripped down the gear box and it wasn’t good or as Filid put it “ it looked like a sewer” so everything was then stripped down and rebuilt.
At wits end Filid then took the bike (to the relief of his wife) to Pete to complete the project. Pete fitted the motor and the electrical and as it progressed Filid would often drop in to see how the work was progressing. On his first visit Pedro already had the motor mounted and says he was shocked! “I couldn’t get use to it, I’m was used to a bike with no motor. I kind of didn’t like it, there wasn’t any pipes and it looked bare. As it grew pipes, carbie and more and more detail like the bike it just grew on me and I love it!”
Sticking with the 50’s bombshell theme we were lucky enough to have Miss Cherry Bomb “Coby Van Wilde” to help out on the shoot. A fan of all that’s cool Coby loved The Full Metal Jacket and said the Bobber suited the whole 40’s-50’s look.
Keep your eye out for Coby in upcoming Miss Perfect and Miss Illustrated contest. Colby is also a contestant in the Miss Pinup Australia Competition, the first competition of its type in 60 years.