My first motorcycle was a Mini Bike, a Taco 44 kit that my neighbor and his dad couldn’t figure out/or didn’t want to hassle with building. I traded my electric guitar for it.
My Dad and I collected all the needed parts, centrifugal chain drive clutches were popular but, unreliable, so we engineered a bitchen belt drive system with a double pulley jack shaft connected to a variable speed clutch installed on a polished and chromed Briggs & Stratton 5HP engine complete with a Tecumseh down draft carburetor and a straight pipe exhaust! We designed a friction rear brake and custom foot pegs, which we had HeliArc welded at Foothill Welding in Claremont California. We dropped the parts off to be welded along with the drawings, and when we picked them up a few days later, I was turned on by the cool looking Heliarc welds the dude laid down—I asked a couple of questions and he showed me how it worked. My friends thought it was so cool– and before long they started calling me “Joe Welder.” I had a lot of fun on that bike and that’s were I learned about engine modifications. We turned the flywheel all the way down to the magnets, milled the head and made our own copper gasket as the OE one was a thick layered sandwich design. One night my Dad came home and I was doing a trophy run down the alley behind the workshop– he said there was a long white flame streaming from the exhaust and it smelled like it was burning up. When I told him I added some nitro to high-octane av gas, he knew I was ready to move up to a motorcycle.