Barter King: Bartering Is A Way Of Life
Article & Photos By: Lisa Ballard
Originally Published In The August 2011 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
The way the economy is, most people in this industry barter for one thing or another. I am sure you have done it once or twice; need a frontend to make your ride over the top but don’t have the cash? You look around and spot an abundance of parts left over from a previous build and suddenly you have the frontend and your friend is Article & Photos By: Lisa Ballard building a bike with your parts. The bartering system is not new but I have come across a gentleman that has perfected this way of life to a T. Nestled in the mountains of Perris, CA, sits an acre and a half ranch with roosters, pigs, ducks and numerous dogs adoring the front lawn. My eyes were directed on Buck Colson, our host for the afternoon, pulling up on a vintage, battery powered, three wheeled scooter. Buck is known to many in Riverside as the guy to go to for vintage parts. I have to be honest that I did become overwhelmed with Buck’s collection of old vintage cars and buses. I was wondering where all the bikes I have heard so much of were at. Buck directed us to his newly created Quonset hut, a.k.a. his shop, and I hit the mother load. Think of the biggest swap meet you have been to, this guy has it beat. The best thing is that the vintage parts are neatly displayed on the shelves that go almost to the ceiling of this 4,500 square foot space. He does not cater to just one or two vintage motorcycles; this man has it all. Need a VL frame from the ‘30s? Well, he’s got it. Vintage lights, heads, exhausts and seats are neatly stored in milk crates. Don’t forget the triple trees, frontends, rims and motors for Harleys, Knucks, Flatheads, Japs, Triumphs and BSAs. It has been said that he has spent very little money creating this thirty year plus collection.
“I was born in Oceanside and raised in the rough neighborhood of San Bernardino. There were always bikers and clubs around and I fell in love with motorcycles. I started tinkering with them and found something I was good at. I used to work for Arrowhead Sewing Machine Company and could fix any machine. I then owned and operated an upholstery shop and would make friends seats and they would pay me back in parts. More seats were created and thirty years later, I have more parts than I would ever image. The same went for the cars you see on the property. People needed motorcycle parts, and I would get the pink slip. You see that school bus over there? I set it up as a traveling upholstery shop. It has a few machines and everything I need. In the ‘70s, I would go to auto shops and create new interiors for custom cars. I want to clean it up and go to rallies. I always had a great time in that bus,” stated Buck. “I have plans to bring to bring the upholstery machines back out so I can work on a few products. I have a lot of neighbors that drive big rigs and have some jobs lined up. I have surrounded myself with good people, keep my head on straight and do it right. If you have the same mannerisms we probably will do business, but if you think you can come here to make a quick buck, you better keep on going.”
Buck’s personal bikes line the side of the shop: 80” Flatheads, Shovelheads and a pristine Panhead used as an escort bike for the Emperor of China in the ‘60s. Each one has a few more modifications to be done but it was so cool to be that close to motorcycle history. The shop’s bike lift is currently the home of one of his buddy’s latest builds that Buck is meticulously going over. He is a man of few words but you could see his delight when he would pull out another cool part and tell you when and why he has it now. His way of life is simple and yet seems a perfect way to live.