High Priced Harley

High Priced Harley



My very first vehicle was a Vespa 90 that I bought from a school chum without my parents’ permission and triumphantly rode down the driveway back when the ink on my driver’s license was still wet. It got me back and forth to my job at the bicycle store, took me and my brother down to the pizzeria on Dodd Street to get a “za,” and provided a newfound freedom that let me explore a much larger circle of the world than my 10-speed did.

After that, I bought a Yamaha DT1-B, a very capable street legal Enduro, that I practically wore out as it took me to all those places I just had to go. I remember riding it to my new job at the VW dealer in mid-winter, bundled in my Passaic Leather Coat Company 7-layer police motorcycle jacket and knee high boots. My hands were so stiff when I got to work, I’d wrap them around a drop light to thaw them out before I could grab a wrench.

Later, after a short dalliance with a Yamaha 500cc twin that had a frame too small to ride two-up, I bought my first “big bike,” a red Yamaha XS750 Triple, with backrest and a factory fairing. Oh God, power, power, power! Many miles were gleefully covered, and it followed us on a trailer when we moved here to Arizona. It took us to Havasu, Grand Canyon, Montezuma’s Well and Castle, and many more weekend destinations. But, in 1986, I sold it because with a new job and a new house and bigger and more expensive responsibilities, I just didn’t have much time to ride.

In 2005, I met a guy who would become a great and long time friend. Don and I shared a love for motorcycles, and in 2008, he convinced me to fly up to Denver, rent a big Harley, and ride to Sturgis with him. I hadn’t ridden in over 20 years, and needless to say, I was nervous.

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Exterior Finish Restoration – This Took How Long?

This Took How Long?

September ’15, a guy knocked on the door and asked if I wanted to get an estimate for painting the outside of my house. He said he was a retired schoolteacher, and lived summers in the Northwest, but spent winters here in Arizona. To supplement his income, he said that he paints a few houses while he’s here. Together with his helper, they walked all around the property, looking at everything and pointing and mumbling about a few of the more challenging areas.

Finally, he concluded his inspection and said, “Well, it needs a lot of work, and some places need the drip rail moulding replaced. It’s rotted away in places.” I agreed, and asked how much he would charge to do a really thorough job. He continued, “There’s some places that need lots of scraping too, and some caulk. It needs a lot to make it look nice.” “OK,” I said, “How much?” He paused and thought, and then said, “Well, it’s gonna take us a day to power wash the whole thing, and start the prep. The next day, we will finish the prep, and caulk. Then a day to spray it. I think we can knock it out in 3 days, maybe 4, if we run into any problems.

“I see,” I replied, “How much do you think it will cost?” “We use good paint, you know, not the cheap stuff. Probably need 15 gallons,” he offered. So, by this time, I figured I’d just let him talk, and he’d get around to cost eventually. He continued to describe how they would mask the windows, put down drop cloths, clean up after themselves, and do a great job. Then, finally, the part I was waiting for. “$5500 to do it all. It will look beautiful. And, we can start this week if you like and be done by Saturday!”

Dressed for Work

“I’ll have to think about it. Thanks for taking your time to give me an estimate. Give me your card, and I’ll call you if I decide to have you do it.” “Alright,” he replied, “but if we get busy, I may not be able to fit you in this year!” “Thanks, I’ll call ya.”

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