Diamonds And Rust

Article And Photos By: Chris Callen

Originally Published In The September 2013 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

Feature 1a Sep 13 Kerri

When you look back over your life, one of the only things you can really count on as any kind of proof you were alive on this planet is the effect you’ve had on other people, specifically the generations behind you. Through the magazine, I have been lucky enough to have this happen several times, but none have had the impact like the story I am telling here. I was 19 when I got my first Harley, and during that first year, I made some friends that would end up being lifelong brothers. One of which was this cat Scott who always had the baddest Sportys. He was a father, a husband and owned his own business so he had very little extra money for bikes, but he always put the work in to make his shine. During the time we were growing up together in motorcycles, I worked for him for a while, rode with him a bunch and watched his kids grow up. His first child was his son Zack who was just a baby when we started to hang out. Time went on, the boy grew into a young man, and I guess I never really thought about the influence we were all having on him. He went from riding little dirt bikes, to bigger dirt bikes, and eventually to building his own street bike.

Just recently, a mutual friend mentioned that I had to see this bike that Scott’s son built. That’s when it occurred to me that he was no longer a boy. As a matter of fact, at 22 years of age, he was now a man and had built the beautiful Shovel you see featured here. When I went to see them, Scott told me about how Zack had two sides to his room growing up: one side was filled with pages from a magazine we used to do for motorcycle racing called Track Side Report; the other had pages from Cycle Source. He was obsessed with the old school styling from those pages and the bikes they featured. He translated all this into his own vision, one that I can tell you with a tear in my eye has made me as proud as if he was my own son. It’s refreshing to see that the passion we have always had for custom bikes are in good hands, and the man this kid has turned into makes me sure that it will survive. With that said, let’s talk about the bike. When Zack was 14, his ol’ man bought him h i s first bike. It was basically a basket that they got when another good friend of ours, Alex, had passed away. He told his son that when he was 16 they would get it on the road together, and that was where it all started. At 15, Zack mentioned that he didn’t want the fame that came with the bike. He already knew that he was gonna build a chopper; his dad was floored at the kid’s plan. Around his 16th birthday, they started looking at Sportsters; you know, something to just get him in the wind. Zack had already been fooling around with the motor and tranny on a bench. During a visit to one of the shops where they had bikes for sale, he told his dad that they should just buy a frame and some parts and build the damn Shovel. Sportsters weren’t for him. It had to kill the ol’ man to hear that, but still they walked out of Cycle Warehouse that day with a frame, a front end and some wheels.

Feature 1b Sep 13 Kerri

In no time he was mocking up the first incarnation of this bike. It was quite different back then. Zack had been watching a lot of the TV shows, and what he ended up with had a fat back tire and some other parts that were more popular at the time. Still, it was good enough to win him first place at the Westmoreland Pittsburgh PA Toy Run bike show, an event that we had all gone to with each other since I started riding. It was incredible to watch the history of this come down like that. Anyway, after that show, and mind you the kid hadn’t even turned 18 yet, he took the bike home and ripped it down to make it more like the bike he had always had in his head. With help from the Limpnickie Builder Manual, his dad and his ability to swap and trade his way into other options, he went with a skinny tire, teardrop tank and some handcuff handlebars. All over this bike you can see the sign of his ability as he learned to weld and fabricate mounts and his exhaust system — damn cool! He handmade the sissy bar, fabbed his exhaust and fender mounts as well as the cool little shift lever with the brass braids. The first time around he just went with the basic BBQ black paint job. On this new creation he could only imagine doing one paint scheme — the same one that was on his old man’s Shovelhead: black and white, even the same tank badges. This cat’s bike is a rolling tribute to his dad and I’m sure my brother is very proud of him.

Recently, we saw Zack and Scott again as they came out to Thunder in the Valley. Of course Zack was on this hot little bitch, and he took home top honors for “Best Bobber” from our show there. Great build man! But the story doesn’t stop there. Building bikes is also what Zack has planned to do for a living: God help him! He has a little shop where he is quite proficient at splitting cases and rebuilding motors and trannys. He does all manners of service work to bikes new and old and can’t imagine doing anything else with his life. He has had a small setback though; the original place where he was doing his wrenching was sold so he had to move out. Faced with several options, Zack and his dad decided to build a shop in back of the family house and make a permanent home for Diamonds and Rust. It’s a good thing too since Zack has three ground-up builds waiting on him right now. So in case you were wondering why this was the bike we chose for the cover of our September offering, I hope that the story behind the build sets your minds at rest, that for our part of the world anyway, things are in good hands. The next generation will be filled with tramps and scooter bums just like us. Turns out they have been waiting for their time all along.

Feature 1c Sep 13 Kerri

Diamonds And Rust Tech Sheet

Owner: Zack Conway

City: Lower Burrell, PA

Fabrication By: Zack Conway

Year: 1978

Model: Custom

Time: 4 Months

Value: Priceless


Year: 1978

Model: Shovelhead

Builder: Zack Conway

Ignition: Morris Magneto

Displacement: 74”

Pistons: H-D

Heads: H-D

Cam(s): Sifton

Carb: S&S

Air Cleaner: Mesh Type

Exhaust: Zack Conway

Primary: BDL



Make: H-D

Shifting: Like a 4 Speed


Year: 2013

Make: Kraftech

Rake: 30

Stretch: 0


Type: Springer

Builder: Three Two Choppers/DNA/JH Choppers

Extension: -2”

Triple Trees: Nada


Front Wheel: Spokes

Size: 21”

Tire: Avon Speedmaster

Brakes: Nada

Rear Wheel: Spokes

Size: 16”

Tire: Cheapo

Brakes: GMA


Painter: Some Asshole

Color: Black and Pearl White





Bars: Acme

Risers: None

Hand Controls: HD

Gas Tank(s): Alien

Front Fender: Nada

Rear Fender: Zack / Kraft Tech

Seat: Drag Specialties

Foot Controls: Swap Meet Specials

Oil Tank: Chassis Design Company

Taillight: Cheapo

Headlight: Wyatt Gatling

Photographer: Chris Callen

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