A few small pieces of an antique motorcycle and a grainy 85 year old photo; for most of us that would make a nice little display in the corner of our workshop reminding us of the history of machines long gone but for Paul Brodie, who mixes decades of metal working magic with a history of rebuilding old Aermacchis, these same parts become the seed that sprouts a brand new 1919 Excelsior.
I got a tip from a reader mentioning Brodie’s website. It wasn’t until I started looking through it that I recognized some of Paul’s work from a few months back when I was looking at Aermacchis. I don’t remember seeing any of this Excelsior project, in fact it looks like he’s building a whole new website and his work certainly deserves it, it’s just amazing.
Starting with a couple of corroded cases from an Excelsior, Paul went to work in his shop. When you have a metal lathe and milling machine plus the proper skills, there’s little you can’t do. Paul walks us through the process of rebuilding the cases and then creating cylinders from solid 6061 aluminum. He goes on building the motorcycle’s frame, turning and shaping metal, welding tubes and then creating patterns for metal pieces that will be cast and machined into shape. Even the seat is built from scratch beginning with aluminum welding rod bent into shape, covered with masking tape and then fiberglassed to form the plug.
The most amazing work, at least to me, is the construction of the cylinder heads. It requires the use of a fixture to first locate the valves and then everything else is slowly positioned around them. They’re not done yet but what he’s already done is just so far beyond my own skills, I just shake my head.
If you look through the rest of his site you’ll see it’s a work in progress but you’ll come across his resoration of a 1900 Orient found at a swap meet. This restoration only gets a single page which basically says, here it is, made everything brand new, then he wraps up with, “The resultant bike is the earliest known Orient, so is therefore perhaps the earliest surviving two-wheeled commercially built American motorcycle.” Oh yes, here it is on display at the Guggenheim. … whoa!!!
Work of this caliber always makes me smile. It would be well worth your time to take a look at what he’s done and I would highly suggest you check back now and then. The tabs on his site that currently go nowhere have some tantalizing names attached like 1894 Roper Steam Bike, 1911 Curtiss, 1912 Blackhawk, … I know I’ll be watching.
Thanks for the tip, George!
Link: Flashback Fabrications
All photos: Paul Brodie of Flashback Fabrications