Resurrecting The Shortster

Featured In The February 2015 Issue Of Cycle Source

Article by: Milwaukee Mike Photos By Mad Stork

Feature 3a

The bike you see gracing these pages is the work of two very talented individuals that hail from the great plains of Nebraska. Their names are Eric “Woody” Sage and Russ Peterson and even though they are not related they are a perfect example of how true brothers can make the best out of a situation. Not only did they make their build work like it does, but also help out all those out there that have cloistered away an Ironhead sportster. Together these two own and operate an after daily work shop known as Shortsters. Their quest is to take the often flawed HD Ironhead Sportster and pull the sharp teeth out of its bite and prove that they can be used as a platform for a true custom that can be driven daily without great down time due to the inherent faults in the clutch and transmission. Along with the sometimes vicious kickback and broken bones that are associated with these machines. The do this through some ingenious machine work and by divorcing the entire tranny case from t h e engine case, then replacing t h e weak link with a ratchet top 4 speed unit from an early big twin. If needed they also sell an electric start kit that Russ came up with years ago and has been selling to the guys in the AMCA as some of the older guys are buying up rather than selling their old iron. It all started in the distant past with an older friend of Russ’ that lost his ability to kick due to his military service. Russ didn’t want to lose him as a riding partner so as necessity is the mother of invention he came up with a direct drive system that turns the kicker shaft to turn the motor over. In fact it works so well he marketed these units in the 80s in Easyriders and is still available just look up Right Side Electric Starts on ye ole interwebs and you will find them ready for about $1600. Remember it is as Russ says “Built out of need, not greed.” To further prove this point Shortsters builds a garage kit that shows anyone who has an old Ironhead how to leave your bike a kicker by going the more affordable route and spending a $1000. Getting the entire kit that does exactly what you see on these pages, a Sportster that anyone can kick and ride at the drop of a hat. That is exactly what Woody did this year rolling this bike out to Born Free 6 and to Sturgis as well, just to back up the claims that they have on the web. These machines are very capable and I think it is a great way to resurrect some of the dust collectors that are in peoples garages.

Feature 3b

To prove that the bike on these pages was one of the many amazing bikes we saw see in Sturgis 14’ it won the Sportster award at our bike show at the Buffalo Chip. This bike perfectly showcases the talents of both these guys and it all started with the purchase of a Paughco 45 magnum frame. After a slight massage to straighten how the engine sat in the cradle a Voodoo Vintage leaf spring front end was bolted on to get that bobber/ board tracker look it has going on. Then it was time for the hoops, an 18” rear and 21” front lent to keeping the bobber theme going with standard 40 spoke rims for the first step in the “Function over fashion” mantra that Russ kept pushing. Meanwhile Woody was busy “Putting fashion into the function”, funny how some times we can make great strides in all aspects by bouncing opposite ideas off of each other. Next came the Denver swap meet axe tank which now wears the split fuel/ oil tank combo and after many hours of trying the design came out flawlessly. Shortsters had seen many combos of this done before but the angle of the separation is what makes this tank so much different. Finally the litmus test was administered and the oil tank held a perfect 3 quarts. It was time to start figuring out the rear section and what better than a Model A spare tire carrier, and a tail light that was built out of an old Hemmingray insulator from the power line world. One of the really neat features this bike has is the oil filtration system that was built by re purposing an old railroad air brake system with a magnet to separate the small metal shavings from the rest of the engine. Next came the in house designed and built rear wheel stand as an alternative to the standard kickstand. It blended well with the Voodoo Vintage handlebars and the Shortsters hand and foot controls. The exhaust was a one off unit also built in house from a bunch of old extra pipes that were around and a Superior muffler wrapped in heat tape for a bit of a hot rod look. Woody let his brother Harry cover the in shop made steel seat pan with gel and then the leather cover. While all this was going on the boys sent the Powertrain off to Florida to be rebuilt by dragbike legend Jesse “DragStews” Stewart where the lower end was balanced with the rods for that silky powerband and some Keith Black pistons, a valve job rounded out the package. Next came all the bracketry to make it all fit with the 53’ ratchet top tranny. After the major components were reinstalled it came time for paint and because of the time crunch Woody painted the two tone blue and cream with the black striping, simple but still stunning. As I said earlier this bike was made to ride and it did several thousands of miles over this last summer. So I will end this little offering to the chopper gods by saying if you are one of those souls that is sitting on an old Ironhead, it is time for a resurrection. You can contact Shortsters at www.shortsters. com or check them out on Facebook. Better yet, if you’re around Wausau, NE stop in and see what your options are. Remember “Ride em don’t hide em!”

Feature 3c

Owner: Eric “Woody” Sage
City: Bloomfield, NE
Fabrication By: Shortsters
Year: 2014
Model: Shortsters Special Construction
Value: Priceless
Time: 6 months
Year: 1976
Model: H-D Ironhead Sportster
Builder: Jesse Stewart
Ignition: Compufire Electronic
Displacement: 1000cc/61ci
Pistons: Keith Black
Heads: H-D
Cam(s): Stock
Carb: Mikuni
Air Cleaner: K&N / Shortsters
Exhaust: Shortsets
Primary: Karata/Shortsters
Year: 53 Big Twin 4 Speed
Make: H-D
Shifting: Foot
Year: 2014
Make: Paughco
Rake: Stock
Stretch: Stock
Type: Leaf Spring
Builder: Voodoo Vintage
Extension: -2 Inches
Triple Trees: Voodoo Vintage
Front Wheel: Spoke
Size: 21”
Front Tire: Avon Speedmaster
Front brake: None
Rear Wheel: Spoke
Size: 18”
Rear Tire: 18/120 Avon
Rear Brake: GMA
Painter: Shortsters; Eric “Woody” Sage
Color: Flat Navy/Cram
Graphics: Simple
Molding: Shortsters; Eric “Woody” Sage
Bars: Voodoo Vintage
Risers: None
Hand Controls: Shortsters; Russ Peterson
Gas Tank(s): Shortsters Split Gas/Oil
Rear fender: Model A Spare Tire Ring
Seat: Shortsters; Eric “Woody” Sage
Foot Controls: Shortsters
Oil Tank: Shortsters
Headlight: Cheap
Taillight: Antique Power Line Insulator
Speedo: Never Worn One!!
Photographer: Mad Stork Ken

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