One Paycheck At A Time – 2014 Best Bike On The Strip

Featured In The February 2015 Issue Of Cycle Source

Article By: Chris Callen   Photos By: Bart Mitchell

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This is one of those articles that I get to write from time to time that makes me happy to have the pleasure of telling another man’s story as my living. The man is Dave “Mad Dog” Coello and he’s the proud owner of the ’49 Pan that you see here. The reason I’m writing this today is because he rode into Hogs & Heifers on his old Pan for our Annual “Best Bike On The Strip“ and took the top prize. Now the bike is tits but the story behind it is even better. Ya see, growing up in the Bay area as the son of a mounted CHP officer in the motor division gave Dave two sets of rules. The first one was from the old man who told him that not only did he never want him to ride a bike but he was nowhere near the mechanic he’d need to be to own a Harley. Ya see, Dave’s dad wasn’t the kind of man to just take mechanical things lightly. In all the time he was a I Article By: Chris Callen Photos By: Bart Mitchel motor-cop he would never let the state mechanics fix his official vehicle, instead he went to the same wrench that took care of the club bikes. The second set of rules was to be a wild ass, as is the case from time to time when you’re the son of a cop. Dave was voted most likely to die in a high speed car crash by the time he was 25 by his friends and neighbors due to the way he drove his old darts and other project cars around, he was a nut. While he always wanted a bike he kept his word to his old man for as long as he could. In spite of his pops racking up over 150,000 certified miles on a Harley Panhead, Dave didn’t ride a bike as a kid, well, other than an old Hodaka Ace 100 for a bit. One day that changed when a friend called him with a deal he couldn’t pass up. It was a $2,000 basket case that was nearly 65% there. He couldn’t believe it, neither can I as I write the words but apparently the old boy that owned it had been in a wreck, started to restore it and let it go. When Dave got it the new tanks were still in the box, the fenders still wrapped in the plastic and it was mostly just in need of some TLC. This where I should mention that Dave’s Ol Lady wasn’t into him buying the bike right then. She warned that the economy was getting bad (about six years ago) and that he should wait. He blew that off and wouldn’t you know it, two days later she lost her job. Suddenly Dave didn’t have money or time to work on the Pan so it would sit around while he worked and squirreled away money from each pay check. His old man had also taught him not to trust the banks and that if you wanted something you had to save your money and buy it. That good advice would pay off many times in Dave’s life. When he finally got back to the build the top end was off from the previous owners hand and not being a motor guy he called on the expertise of John Gallagher who said the rods were a little too shaky for his liking and that he’d rebuild it if it was his. This is where Dave started to work with Roy…. who he had hired to build the motor and the bike. The deal was that Dave was hands on the whole way through so he would have the knowledge to build and rebuild the old girl as many times as she needed for the rest of his life. Having built cars and trucks all through his life Dave was comfortable with a set of wrenches but he wanted to make sure this one was done right. Roy was not only well respected in the area for his mechanical ability but owned a Panhead himself for 23 years, the longest relationship in his life as a matter of fact.

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The build went pretty smooth except for one thing, the original oil pump. It’s a one year only part and Roy advised Dave to keep it. When the oil pressure light started coming on during the break in phase he ditched it and replaced it with a new one. Dave put the motor back in himself this time and when he finished it started right up. From that kick on he felt like the bike was truly his, he had become one with its soul. So the pan was finished in April and Dave had just finished chasing the bugs out right before BikeFest when we came to town. He is not only a regular at Hogs and Heifers but also services their Jukebox and cigarette machine in his day job. Each Monday when he leaves Hogs he gives the girls 77 free credits on their Jukebox, says they like it better than 69 cause they get eight more…… Yeah yeah, an oldie but still a goodie. Little did he know that the night he came down for our bike show he’d be walking away with the “Best Bike on the Strip” trophy and a $500 cash prize from Law Tigers for his troubles! Not to damn bad! But hey, it’s a ’49, what do you expect, that’s my year. Here’s the real kicker about this story. Dave mentioned as we were finishing up that when he registered for his plates on this bike that they came in with the first four numbers of 1688. These were the very same numbers of his fathers badge, It was like the old man was telling him “Ok, so you’re not gonna listen and you’re gonna ride that pan…. I’ll have your back while you do.” Makes me feel good every time I read those words. You’re a lucky man Dave, and thanks for the great bike to share with our readers.

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Owner: David “Mad Dog” Coello
City: Las Vegas, NV
Fabrication By: Owner & Roy
Year: 1949
Model: Panhead
Time: 3 Years
Year: 1949
Model: Panhead
Ignition: .
Year: 1974
Make: H-D
Make: H-D
Front Wheel: Spoke
Size: 16”
Front Tire: Metzeler 880
Front brake: Disk
Size: 16”
Rear Brake: Drum
tires: Metzeler 880
Painter: Rambling Dave
Bars: H-D
Hand Controls: H-D
Risers: H-D
Gas Tank(s): H-D
Rear fender: H-D
Seat: Solo
Foot Controls: H-D
Oil Tank: H-D
Gauges: H-D
Headlight: H-D
Taillight: H-D
Speedo: H-D
Photographer: Bart Mitchell

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