SpaceGrass By Pandemonium Custom Choppers

Featured In The May 2015 Issue Of Cycle Source

Article & Photos By: Kerri Schindler

Feature 4a

The owner of Space Grass, Ron Gratop, learned at an early age not to touch. His dad and uncle both had motorcycles and he was never allowed to touch them except for the times he sneaked a peek under the cover. Then one day in the truck while sitting between his dad and his uncle he asked, where are we going? His uncle said that they were going to pick up his brand new Harley at a little dealership on the corner in Swanton Ohio. His uncle rode the snot out of the new 1979 Ironhead. When Ron’s uncle passed years later his dad ended up with the bike and in 2008 when his dad finally asked Ron if he wanted it. Ron was elated because after years of admiring the bike it would be his. After getting the bike from his dad he rode it around the block about 15 miles and the bike just gave up. Ron made the decision that it was time to add his personal touches and make it his own. But out of respect for his uncle he decided to not to chop it, he would just “borrow” the engine from it. So Ron went on a search for a frame to personalize it the way he wanted so it would fit him. A hardtail was definitely in need. While searching for parts Ron wanted to keep as much as possible close to home here in Ohio. Ron found a frame and took it to Gas Box to have them put their hardtail treatment on it. While it was there they also made the oil tank. Now it is time to find a builder. He searched the internet for many hours for builders and gathering inspiration from years of seeing his dad and uncle with bikes. He knew what he wanted to build but needed to find someone who could take that vison and turn it into a running motorcycle that was not a showpiece. Ron wanted a bike that was meant to be ridden and didn’t want to have to worry if it had a scratch or if it wasn’t clean. He mainly wanted something to ride the snot out of, just like his uncle did. After lots of phone calls and searching he found a builder, Daniel from Pandemonium. He liked the bikes he had built in the past knowing that he builds a little bit of everything and is not cookie cutter. Also they were only 40 miles from him. After picking up the hardtail he stopped by Pandemonium and tells Daniel his vision. The build is on! Ron takes the Ironhead that was his Uncles to Daniel. When he unloaded the bike Daniel asked… are you sure you this is your donor bike? It was an unmolested original Ironhead that ran great. Ron says yes, I just want to use the engine for my build. Daniel takes the engine out of it and leaves the rest alone so it can be turned into a running motorcycle one day if someone wanted.

Feature 4b

Ron had gathered lots of parts for the build already from swap meets because he knew what he wanted. There are parts that are on the bike that have natural finishes like stainless steel or aluminum that he didn’t want to be polished and decided to leave the real finishes that they have alone. Ron told Daniel that he wanted some little touches like they did in the 70’s and that he had seen over the years. Like the leather ties that hold the wiring to the sissy bar for the tail light. Leather washers for the gas tank, and all cloth covered wiring. With that said, Daniel knew the path that needed to be taken for this build and it was game on. Ron did have a few specific things that he wanted, he wanted a front street cycles rear fender because it had the look of an old spare tire ring but yet wasn’t all rotted to hell. With the fender mounting almost wrapped up the sissy bar was next in order and stainless steel was the choice here. Daniel got with Big John as always when it comes to sissy bars and the outcome of one sweet sissy bar happened. Back in the day Ron had always seen the bikes with nice shiny chrome pipes on them. Ron had Daniel make a custom one off set of pipes for Space Grass. He told Daniel that they had to be nice shiny chrome…NO wrap here. The vintage Drag Specialties tail light Ron brought to Daniel was a swap meet find that was about the shape of a pack of cigarettes. Daniel said yea its cool, but where do you want me to put this thing? Because he wanted it, and the plate on the sissy bar and no side mounted tag bracket! Ron stopped by the shop one day with another swapmeet find, a gas tank and wanted to get it mounted up so he could get it off to the painter, Devils Hand. He has an opening we need to get it to him as soon as possible. So with that being said Daniel got that sucker mounted and out the door he went. Daniel had a few things laying around the shop that would fit this build perfect and Ron was diggin, 21” Spool front wheel, and a shaved narrow glide front end. With mock up finished it was time to paint the frame, fender and oil tank. Daniel got with Ron and asked if he wanted gloss black here, Ron said Yep, No molding either, just gloss black. I want to see the castings. So the frame, oil tank and fender went off to Daniels local painter Bobby Moon. A few short days later the paint was done and he promptly dove into final assembly of Space Grass. Assembly was very straightforward on the build, no crazy gadgets involved and it went together smooth. Ron came down about a week later and walked in and told Daniel “You Nailed It”. The funny thing that Daniel told Ron was all the ol’timers kept stopping by the shop checking on the build because they were digging it and it reminded them of back in the day. Ron has been laying down the miles with his new bike and loves it.

Feature 4c

Owner: Ron Gratop
City: Toledo, OH
Fabrication By: Pandemonium Custom Choppers
Year: 1977
Model: Sportster
Time: 1.5 years
Value: I’d Rather Not Now
Year: 1979
Model: Sportster
Builder: Harley-Davidson
Ignition: Electric Dynatek Dual Fire
Displacement: 1000cc
Pistons: Stock
Heads: Stock
Cam(s): Stock
Carb: Swap Meet Find-SU Eliminator II
Air Cleaner: Swap Meet Find-SU
Exhaust: Custom Pandemonium
Primary: Stock
Year: 1979
Make: Harley-Davidson
Shifting: Stock
Year: 1977
Make: Hardtail By The Gasbox
Rake: Stock
Stretch: 4” In The Tail
Type: Shaved HD Narrow Glide
Builder: Pandemonium
Extension: -1.5”
Triple Trees: HD Trimmed & Filed
Front Wheel: Dunlop WM-1
Size: 21”
Front Tire: Avon Speedmaster
Front brake: None
Rear Wheel: HD w/ Stainless Glory Ring
Size: 16”
Rear Brake: Performance Machine
Rear tire: Avon Safety Mileage
Painter: Ellis at Devils Hand Production
Color: Les Paul like Fade
Grpahics: Ellis at Devils Hand Production
Molding: None
Chroming: Brown’s Plating
Bars: Stainless-Chop Cult Find
Risers: Stainless Direct Mount
Hand Controls: Replica HD Blade Type
Gas Tank(s): Cleveland Cycle Works Narrow Alien
Front fender: No Way
Rear fender: Front Street Cycles
Seat: Haifley Brothers / Pandemonium
Foot Controls: HD Sportster
Oil Tank: The Gasbox Custom
Headlight: Unity H1 Custom Mount-Pandemonium
Taillight: Swapmeet Find
Photographer: Kerri Schindler

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