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Going Up?

An Unusual Restoration

An Unusual Restoration

In the restoration business, you never know what might be coming through the door next.  But this next project took Al by surprise and it presented a challenge – by weight alone!

The Patterson & Kaercher Construction Company in Victoria BC was fully involved in restoring a 1907 heritage building on Langley Street. At first glance, a heap of metal and gears found in the basement appeared to be nothing but a pile of miscellaneous discarded parts from who-knows-what……until the first layer was lifted.  Underneath was an original 1922 Montgomery elevator motor.  Obviously this was the first elevator ever used back in the 1920s in the building and it appeared to be “all there”. Not that this was an obvious observation as elevator motors today bear no resemblance to the slumbering mammoth that had been resting peacefully in the bowels of Langley street for untold years.

Visionaries pictured a new addition on display in the restored building and Al was contacted to discuss a restoration of the Montgomery motor. There was a deadline looming for the opening of the newly restored building so Al got busy, starting with research to make sure everything he needed to bring this beauty back to new was there in the pile.  Moving day came and the motor and all it’s many parts and pieces arrived at the Whiplash Customs shop.  It was quickly determined this was the heaviest piece of equipment to rest on the shop floor while it waited for the TLC that was shortly coming!

Several weeks later – tons of research, cleaning, repairing, painting, chroming; the full spa treatment………. and the motor was ready to take back to its permanent resting place in the shiny new lobby of 1007 Langley Street. Often we wonder to ourselves, when standing in front of a wonderful old relic like this one, what tales could they tell if they could talk?  How many times did those giant gears turn as they whisked passengers from bottom to top and back again?  Have a look, embrace the memory and long for that age-old question by the lady or gentleman in uniform manning the controls……“Going Up”?


Triumph….ant! From Drab to Rad


69 Triumph Bonneville – New Look

When this 1969 Triumph Bonneville arrived in the Whiplash Customs shop, it presented an opportunity to give her a facelift and new life to rival her popularity back in the radical 60s and 70s.  She went quickly from Drab to Rad with a new full custom exhaust, facelift fabrication, new forward controls, tons of miscellanous metalwork and a mind blowing paint job of Tangerine Blood Orange Candy over silver metalflake.

She sports a stock Triumph motor with a single carb, a 2″ under springer front end and wheels to move her with a 21″ front and Triumph 16″ back.

All tied up with the award for Best Bike at the 2014 Torquemaster Auto Extravaganza, this little beauty turns heads, evokes memories and leaves the looker longing for one of their own.  But she is a unique, one of a kind entity, diligently re-created by Al at Whiplash – mega hours of work and dedication.  Her owner is one lucky dude to have this beauty gracing his garage!

Easy Rider Revisited

The 1970s may seem like they all happened in a fog to a lot of us but memories of things that were authentically outstanding are sharp and clear. This former 1970s FX Harley must have many stories attached to it but rather than heading for a rusty grave somewhere out back of someone’s home, at some point it had been transposed into a full chopper with a hard tail kit and the rear suspension completely deleted.

When the new owner Tyler got his hands on this genuinely rare find, he had a vision of keeping the 70s style chopper look and realized it just needed some help in adding a few upgrades.  Working with Al at Whiplash Customs, they came up with a plan to incorporate these upgrades but keep that irreplaceable 70s style.  

This beauty boasts an original 70s Harley Shovelhead engine, all upgraded with S&S internals (engine built by “Freddy”).  The early 70s 4 speed transmission is rebuilt by Al with the expert assistance from Pig’s Cycle in Nanaimo.  It has a 4 over front end with machined, smooth lower legs and a 21” front wheel with a spool (look ma, no front brake!).  

This preservation of memory and style, combined with a few modern upgrades, all came together in the final re-assembly in the Whiplash Customs’ shop.  The owner Tyler, was purposely kept from the day to day progress so he could fully see and appreciate his dreams and goals when they all came together. It was worth the wait.

Recollections of Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper in the 1969 classic film Easy Rider come to mind to everyone who first sees this bike.  Tyler got the look and performance he was going for and can honestly say he owns a piece of the 1970s that is a product of the style and technique this movie inspired.

Fabricating Fun

Whiplash Customs doesn't just dabble in the art of metal fabricating – we are now experimenting successfully with the world of Cosplay (short for Costume Play) for followers of Fan Expos, turbo-charged Halloween costumes or just having fun playing grown-up dress-up for special events.  When asked by a fan of the Marvel Comics superhero Antman if Al could somehow figure out how to build a likeness of the character's helmet, the creative gears kicked into high-drive.

Starting with a retro 1970s helmet, parts were fabricated, molded, ground, polished and painted to come up with not just a likeness of the famous superhero's helmet but more like it was the real thing out of a Marvel Comics museum.  The Vancouver Fan Expo, held the weekend of April 19th and 20th resulted in a costume award for "Best Couple" when Antman attended the Expo with Wasp, whom he was paired with in the comic series.  Al was also instrumental in fabricating the metal form for Wasp's wings.

It looked like a lot of fun was had and much attention was given to Antman's helmet with the question:  Where did you get that?  Does this mean another stream of work orders flowing into the Whiplash Customs shop?  This helmet is DOT (Dept of Transportation) so it might not be such a far reach to see these new creations cropping up on motorcycle rider's heads in the near future. Interesting.


Remembering the 60s

There were some very good things that came in small packages back in the early 1960s and the Yamaha Campus 60 was one of them.  This particular Campus 60 is a 1965 model and comes with an interesting history.  The father of Dave, one of our customers, received this bike as a gift in the early 60s when they were being used as promotions on game shows such as Hollywood Squares.  Six bikes were used for advertising, 4 were given away on the show and two were given to Dave’s father and his business partner.

The bike ended up with Dave and had been kept in storage since it was last insured in 1970.  Time had taken its toll on the Campus 60 but the miles were low and the classy chassis was still intact so Dave brought it to Al’s shop for a restoration project.  Lots of TLC went into cleaning up the bike with new chrome, paint, polishing and upholstery.  The biggest challenge was re-spoking the wheels as they had all come apart.  But the end result was worth the effort as she looked like she had just rolled onto the stage of Hollywood Squares as a brand new bike!

This is a wonderful dedication to Dave’s father with the Yamaha Campus 60 fully restored and brought back to life for a legacy that will live on as it is passed to each generation in the family.



The Greatest Toys

Not every kid back in the day had the privilege of getting a pedal car for his or her birthday or Christmas.  But those that did, still hold the happy memories of whipping up and down the streets and sidewalks in their shiny new automobile.  They were the envy of the neighborhood and if you were a true friend, the owner of that shiny new ride would let you take a turn.

These two latest pedal cars that Al restored came from different eras but still held the same magic for the kids pumping the pedals and steering the wheel. 


The burgundy car is a 1941 Steelcraft brand – Chrysler and pretty sought after for collectors. This one is completely restored to period correct and authentic colours along with having original wheels and accessories. Look at the airplane hood ornament, just screams cool for back in the day!
The blue one is an early 60's Murray brand , with what was called a "toothgrill " pedal car because of that particullar grill shape. These came with bodies the same but decaling was changed to refleect different cars, this one being a Dodge Charger.
Today's ride-on toys just don't hold the same magic and appeal.  Plastic has become the preferred building material which is a shame as there will be nothing to hand down to our family therefore nothing with restoration value.  That's why these two pedal cars here hold even more importance – in memory and in value.

This Says It All

So more on that '70s bike!  This photo taken by fellow rider Nick, is the image-described world of owning a custom bike of your dreams, on a beautiful day, cruising by the ocean. Feel it.  No words – enough said.

That ’70s Bike

When Tim H. started the conversation with Al about building him a retro-style custom bike, the energy around those ongoing conversations continued to grow.  Both fans of old school bikes, this proposed '70s style of awesome ride fed the creative fires.

Starting with a Kraftech 38 degree chopper frame, wrapped around a rebuilt 1977 HD 93 cubic inch Shovelhead Stroker engine and a new Ultima 6 speed transmission with foot clutch, this bike was taken to a whole new level of "gotta have that!"  The polished skull-mounted suicide shift lever only added to the cool factor along with the 4 over Springer front end and super-attractive Ultima King spoke wheels. This bike was speaking volumes about the 1970s style while incorporating the power and new beauty available with today's custom bike building techniques. 

We first took it to the fundraising show Rock n Roll for Little Souls as a rolling chassis, fully under construction. The unfinished project grabbed attention and inspired much discussion around whether to leave it as is (killer look as it was – see image) or whether to finish it and how it should look.  

But Al had a plan and he put a lot of pride and detail in the finished paint job which is a metal flake candy red over a maroon base.  The midnight black accents give it style and edge to the look that make it stand out from all others. The addition of using a vintage microphone for a tailight ensured its uniqueness and complemented the mic-style headlight as well.

When Tim's bike was finished, we took it to the Torque Masters Car Show in Sidney.  Many who had seen it at the fundraiser could not believe it was the same bike, however they did recognize the classic style and hard-core look the unfinished project had at rolling chassis stage.  This bike was still a thing of rugged beauty but with a finish that rocked – we received unbelievable and non-stop positive feedback. Offers to buy the bike came fast and furious but Tim had his dream bike and it wasn't going anywhere except home with him. Al was sad to have it leave the shop but he has plans of his own to build another. It would be a challenge to top this project but Al does love a challenge!



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Hit The Spot For A Dime!


When a regular customer of Al’s finally located the 1956 Pepsi vending machine he had been diligently seeking, the challenge became real in turning this rare and sought after vintage keepsake into its once shining glory again.

Cold, carbonated beverages were considered a special “treat” when first introduced to consumers in the late 1800s.  The first Pepsi-Cola was invented in the 1890s and was introduced under the name “Brad’s Drink”.  In 1898, the name was changed to Pepsi-Cola and followed by the original trademark registration in 1903.

Drinking a Pepsi-Cola was a rare and exciting event and a hard-earned nickel was what could get you one.  Things got tough during the Great Depression and Pepsi had to get creative at marketing their fizzy drink.  They gained popularity following the introduction in 1936 of a 12-ounce bottle whereas the norm was a 6 ounce bottle – for the same price.  They beat out the competition with Coca-Cola going this route with the following jingle:

“Pepsi-Cola hits the spot / Twelve full ounces, that's a lot / Twice as much for a nickel, too / Pepsi-Cola is the drink for you”.

Pepsi-Cola Hits The Spot™ became the most popular slogan throughout the growth of media from radio, to on-screen movies to television.  

In the 1950s, the years following the end of World War II, life became all about malt shops, dancing, music and having fun. Pepsi-Cola vending machines were in all the favorite hang-out spots and the price DOUBLED to a whole 10 cents!  This was affordable at the time and the carbonated beverage companies could not keep up with the demand.

This 1956 Pepsi vending machine is a VMC 81 model – one of the rarest.  The workmanship and detail that went into it was a declaration of the affluence of the company at that time and the pride of the men and women who worked at building them.  

Al has a special fondness for anything 1950s and he took the project on, knowing the challenges but excited to bring it back to life. Many, many hours and days went by as he painstakingly worked through each component with a fine tooth comb, repairing and in some cases, replacing the unsalvageable.  The end result was worth the wait.  The VMC 81 Pepsi machine is a working unit, restored inside and out and has an estimated end value of $10,000.

The owner is ecstatic and he has added it to his replica garage collection where it dispenses cold Pepsi to anyone who wants to part with a dime.  What a great discovery….what a great piece of memorabilia, restored to perfection.