The Shit Shovel

Article By: Jimmy Frizzell

Photos By: Chris Callen

Originally Published In The October 2016 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

Desired results can sometimes easily get distorted when you let the reward get swayed by the return. Too many times we make a decision based on the reactions of others and the mere need to someday be able to profit or break even on the investment you’re creating. Although, it’s a rare obstacle for most of us to overcome, once one is able to hurdle the wall the result is truly their own. Paul Mirisola is the proud creator of this one of a kind de-raked ‘81 Shovelhead. Far from how it sits today, when he first took possession of the boat anchor he was far from able to brag about anything. Paul’s obsession with building bikes started when he inherited a wooden tool box filled with his dad’s machinist tools fifteen years ago. He took it upon himself to figure out how to successfully use each tool in the box and direct his effort towards his love of motorcycles. A carpenter by trade and now eyeballs deep in the seven day a week headaches of running a construction company Paul uses his skills as a relief valve from his daily grind deep in the confines of his personal shop. Surrounded by the basics of hardware, he spends his spare time whittling away at all things metal, honing his skills and pumping out handmade pieces. In the process he’s produced five bikes from the ground up. By his own admission some things may end up weighting down the trash at the end of the night but the stress that was lost in the effort makes it all worth it.

Paul is one of the rare few that is able to keep all of his two wheeled children. His collection is now seventeen strong and not slowing down. With a stable packed this tight with trouble it’s safe to assume that Mrs. Mirisola might possibly want to have him strung up. But Paul being the genius he is, doesn’t push the envelope and keeps the registered intimidators at bay and only registers three a year; usually consisting of an ‘01 bagger he swindled totaled and fully rebuilt, his 85 FXR, and whatever the latest creation to come down the shoot may be. When it was time to start a new project Paul turned to his good friend Larry Fradella. He informed Larry that he was in need of a complete shovelhead for his next victim. Larry knew of just the bike, a rumored “true show winner” going for a steal at $2500. The owner was willing to deliver the gem because he already had plans to use the proceeds to purchase another bike from one of Paul’s friends. With the simple act of a gentleman’s agreement Paul suddenly found himself in the stranglehold of his first three-way. A victim of a hectic schedule, when the bike finally arrived he was only able to take a brief glance at the show stopper, hand over the cash, and head out the door. A man of his word, and knowing if he reneged on the deal his friend was out on the sale of his bike, he realized that the only one getting screwed in this “three-way” was him. Not one to be sided by the short comings of a bad deal Paul quickly took inventory of his new project and after removing the rattle can tins, the broken motor mounts and the leaf spring rear he was the proud owner of a titled neck, one head, a sloppy set of cylinders, and the cam side of the motor.

The neck was soon grafted to a new frame and a Panhead drum front end was set at a steep twentyeight°. Parts were acquired through horse trading among close friends and then attached to the reborn custom skeleton. The engine and tranny were both reworked with the addition of an Andrews cam and an SU carb, just to be a little different. Paul split the rockers with some help re-routing the oil using a Jims kit. The fairing was made in house with the addition of a few other odds and ends and he was well on his way to the finish line. Paul isn’t one for using a belt drive and has always been partial to a chain but ever since one chain drive decided it was going to attempt to permanently adjust his stride he’s been wearing the cheap and easily broken shoe laces. It was always his intention to build some form of cover to reduce the risk of a quick pant leg grab and the occasional boot gnaw. With a little work and ingenuity, the Mesmerizer was born. A dull cone shield now mystifies the eye with its carnival funhouse low RPM swirl as a guaranteed staple in everyone’s memory. Keith from A&K Hot Rods tied the whole bike together with the simple brick paint job. With the original bike being a far cry from what anyone could imagine it only took six months and a hell of a lot of patience to see this stout bull stanced bobber through, but Paul always has a plan and can see the finished product even before he starts.

The original name for the bike was initially “The Ankle Biter” but ever since he laid eyes on that show winning abomination it’s been affectionately referred to as “The Shit Shovel”. Paul will never sell his shovel and it’ll be on the road until it’s retired and a new project takes its place. When you only build for yourself you never have to answer to anyone. We’re sure glad Paul’s friend Larry convinced him to show it at the Broken Spoke in Laconia where it took “Best In Show”. It goes to show that if you want something done right….do it for yourself.

Shit Shovel Tech Sheet

Owner: Paul Mirisola

Fabrication By: Paul Mirisola

City/state: Londonderry, NH

Year: 1981

Model: Shovelhead FLH

Value: $15,000

Time: 6 Months


Year: 1981

Model: Shovelhead

Builder: Paul Mirisola

Ignition: Vulcan Engineering

Displacement: 80”

Pistons: Forged

Heads: Harley-Davidson

Carb: SU

Cam: Andrews

Air Cleaner: Owner

Exhaust: Stainless – Owner

Primary: Open Chain – Owner


Year: 1981

Make: Harley – Davidson

Shifting: 4 Speed


Year: 1981

Make: Harley-Davidson

Rake: 28°

Front end

Make: Harley

Type: Panhead

Triple trees: FLH


Front Wheel: Harley-Davidson

Size: 16”

Front tire: Firestone

Front brake: Panhead Drum

Rear Wheel: Harley-Davidson

Size: 16”

Rear tire: Firestone

Rear brake: H-D Front Brake


Painter: A&K Hotrods

Color: Primer Red

Type: PPG

Graphics: A&K Hotrods


Bars: Owner

Hand Controls: Jay Brake

Risers: None

Fuel tank: Stretched Mustang

Oil tank: Owner

Front Fender: None

Rear Fender: Owner

Seat: Owner

Headlight: Owner

Taillight: Old Dodge – Modified

Speedo: None

Photographer: Chris Callen

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