A chance encounter with a wild and crazy hand tool, and a new bike from Victory stirs thoughts of our neighbours to the south.
While visiting my sister’s collectibles store (Rockin’ Retro) in Olds, Alberta, I came across the scariest hand tool I’ve ever seen. Manufactured by Cummins during the 1950s, it’s a non-motorized circular saw with an outward extended horizontal shaft that, for power, plugs into the chuck of your basic electric drill with half-inch or even 3/8-inch chuck. To provide power to the saw, simply squeeze the trigger of your drill. Now you’re holding the running drill with one hand, the circ saw with the other. What could possibly go wrong?
To help tech writer Doug Bone through an especially cold winter out there on his Saskatchewan farm, I sent him a picture of the Cummins saw, thinking that getting a load of this crazy gizmo might brighten his day. And, we were already on the topic of tools because in this issue Doug weighs the advantages of owning a MIG welder in his story, “Turn of the Screw” (seen on page 52).
I should have known that a good old Saskatchewan farm boy would be well acquainted with every tool ever made, even one as obscure as the crazy rig I call the Cummins Danger Saw. Doug sent me back an email saying not only did he know about the drill-powered saw, in fact there was one in his family. “Believe it or not, my dad had one of those that my mother gave him back in the early ‘50s,” said Doug. “I think she loved him!!? It actually came as a kit complete with the drill and I think a couple of other bits. Strikes me as something you would have seen advertised in Popular Mechanics.”
Doug went on to talk about a genuine Skill Saw also owned by his father during the late 1950s—it’s a tool that still serves the needs of working hands. “It’s incredibly well made and still going strong,” says Doug. “A product of proud American industry, made before outsourcing and planned obsolescence came into vogue.”
DOUG’S COMMENTS ABOUT “PROUD American industry” made me stop to think that we don’t always understand Americans. At least I don’t. Before I go any further down this road let me stop the bus long enough to say this is most definitely NOT the beginning of an anti-American rant. I like our great neighbours to the south. I like their energy; I like them as a people, and what their friendship has meant to us over the years. It’s just that I don’t always understand them. The new Victory Gunner—which you can read about in ‘Circuit’ this issue—is a case in point. The bobber-style bike is named to celebrate the Gunnery Sergeant Hartman character in the film, Full Metal Jacket.
Hartman’s task in the 1987 film is to ready a platoon of raw recruits for duty in Viet Nam. His approach is to beat the boys down with the creative use of foul language, and even his fists.
He’s not a nice guy but, then again, nice guys don’t always get the job done. Still, he does come across as a touch psychotic, and it puzzles me as to why he’s an “America hero.”
I don’t get it, but perhaps Canadian Forces members from current or other generations can relate to a particularly hard-nosed Master Warrant or Chief Petty Officer who helped ready them for war or tough duty. As I said, nice guys don’t always get the job done.
IT SEEMS OFFICIAL NOW: THE SEAT of power in the custom bike building industry has shifted from the United States to Germany. Or that’s what you might conclude from a press release from the offices of INTERMOT Cologne announcing that the motorcycle industry super show will now be the permanent host of the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building which, for 10 years, has been the custom industry’s main international event.
Until 2012, the final took place annually at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. In 2013, the competition was held outside of the US for the first time, signaling the start of its tenure at INTERMOT Cologne.
“The INTERMOT provides excellent numbers of visitors and the possibility of addressing the industry directly. A platform of this magnitude was our goal,” said Robin Bradley, organizer of the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building.
What does all this mean? Possibly nothing. But we do know that northern Europeans, and Germans in particular, share a great love for hardcore Harley-based customs. In the meantime, there’s always the Rat’s Hole Show while you’re in Sturgis.