SHOP STORIES: A Good Neighbor | Moto Guzzi Eldorado Barn Find

You never know who your neighbors are.  Justin and I are back and forth between Brooklyn and Portland, OR quite a bit these days sourcing raw materials for our gear and for various moto this and that. One day in Portland, while walking through the alley, a few doors down from a garage/ work shop we utilize while out west. Our neighbor Pat happened to be rolling a 1974 Moto Guzzi Eldorado, out of his garage.  It turned out to be his and the freshly restored bike maiden voyage after a year long restoration. This story is about Pat and this Guzzi.

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 Shop Stories for Cotter Pin Moto Gear Blog
 Shop Stories for Cotter Pin Moto Gear Blog

I found right away talking to Pat that he was a very interesting and talented guy. Pat has been meticulously collecting and restoring  vintage Hondas for over 20 years. Visible in the machines that occupy Pat's home garage, are the various components of Pat, the enthusiasm for the technical, the passion for the aesthetic, the well thought out organization of his workflow and process. I was fascinated with the multitude of talents that Pat shared with me over a couple hours of conversation.

 Shop Stories for Cotter Pin Moto Gear Blog
A work in progress in Pats shop.

A work in progress in Pats shop.

I learned that he not only worked on motorcycles, but he has been a pilot much of his life and for a period of time flew crop dusters in the midwest. He also enjoys restoring vintage coleman lamps and he makes ukuleles from found cigar boxes, everything in Pat's home has been built, restored or remodeled by Pat himself, with impeccable detail.

The bike that caught my attention, he revealed, was one of those rare $1 per CC barn finds. 
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 Shop Stories for Cotter Pin Moto Gear Blog
 Shop Stories for Cotter Pin Moto Gear Blog

Pat came across a family that had the bike sitting in their barn for 20+ years, covered in after-market junk. Either they simply didn't realize what they had or, to-be-fair, perhaps, were simply ready to free up more storage space. Pat humbly refers to his work on the bike as a “preservation, not a restoration.” When he bought it, he didn’t know the paint (and the bike itself) were so close to mint.  He didn’t do any re-chroming or repainting. His work was mainly trying to use and expose everything that was already original. He had minor things touched up, like the pinstripes, but kept the patina authentic. 

Pat has had a long-standing interest in vintage Guzzi’s, specifically, one model, the Eldorado.  The Eldorado was only built for 3 years, from 1972-4, and it was only in 1974 that they made it with a disc brake.  It was only a very small portion of that last year, that the Eldorado’s built were designed for the police department. Obviously there are a limited amount of those police department Eldorado's. Needless to say, coming across one is a rare occurence. The police bike can be identified by its special gauge cluster, with switches and lights specific to the  duties law enforcement options on this bike (lights, radio/cb, siren, megaphone, etc..).  

Another way you can tell that this bike was a Los Angeles Police Bike is by the bracket that held the siren. (SEE PHOTO)  There was an additional lever on the handlebars that when pulled, it would rotate the siren to make noise from the friction from the tire. Unfortunately, when the police department sold these bikes at auction, few of these siren devices remained intact, because prior to the sale, the police department would cut off the sirens, so civilians couldn’t sound the sirens. Pat's never seen one for sale.  He’s seen them on bikes, but never one he could purchase. 

 Shop Stories for Cotter Pin Moto Gear Blog
 Shop Stories for Cotter Pin Moto Gear Blog

At the time that Pat bought the bike, he was in an intensive one-year training to be a certified aircraft mechanic. This Guzzi was his nights and weekend project. As we were speaking, Pat had a lot of positive things to say about the C-5 multi spark ignitions (c-5ingitions.com), which uses an optical beam, triple spark electronic ignition.  The bike starts with the touch of a button, every-time despite cold weather, not riding it for a while, etc.  If you happen to be working on one of these bikes, Pat recommends this to have the engine run great.

The original bike had a generator, so Pat did do an alternator upgrade. In his own words, Pat describes, “if you can imagine, in 1974, they actually offered a motorcycle with a generator. They stopped putting generators on American cars around 1964, 10 years later, however, they were still putting them on some Italian motorcycles - absurd."  

 Shop Stories for Cotter Pin Moto Gear Blog

As mentioned earlier, the bike originally came with a single disc brake, but fortunately due to the design of the forks, it already had the bosses to make it somewhat easy to modify into a dual-disc front brake. He had to fabricate small parts for the retrofit, but he was able to make it work. Pat notes that the Guzzi has great brakes for the time period, especially for a bike with twin discs. 

Now, regarding the major modification that Pat did, which we title, the working man's mod (or how to keep your upgrade affordable).  The Eldorado was an 850 cc bike, but Pat wanted a little more power than that.   He knew that Moto Guzzi had made another bike, The Convert, that had 1000cc's.  The Convert had automatic transmission, which used so much power, that they bumped the engine up to a 1000cc.  Pat realized he could take the cylinders from The Convert to upgrade his Eldorado to 1000cc's. He also used the larger carborators, the 30 mm instead of the 29mm in his mod, and he mentioned using the hotter cam B-10 grind.  Because he couldn’t find anyone who had done this before, he had to do a lot of his own fabrication to make his mod work.  The carborators and that cam shaft are the standards mods that people do to "hot-rod” this engine. Although you can buy those cylinders brand new for $1000. Pat's recipe is for people who are resourceful and willing to do some of their own fabrication.  Pat realized he couldn't put the heads from the Convert on his Eldorado b/c those heads are made for different pipes. The cylinders and skirts wouldn't work together.  Pat did his own custom fabricating to have heads, cylinders and skirts work with one another. 

 Shop Stories for Cotter Pin Moto Gear Blog
 Shop Stories for Cotter Pin Moto Gear Blog

Pat’s friend in Seattle, who helped find him the bike, strongly recommended that Pat do a once over of the bike. He knew that Pat just wanted to rebuild the carbs, ride it and enjoy it. As we went through the bike though, he realized that water was running down the speedo cable into the transmission - and that was a cause for him to pull it apart. He found a cracked ring on the cylinder which also needed to be fixed. Pat told me about the site thisoldtracker.com as a valuable resource, which has a wealth of information for Guzzi owner.  The curator of the website, Greg Bender built a new wiring harness for Pat, which is a service he offers to people who use his website. Pat describes Greg as a real class act, and built the new harness, based on Pat’s specs, knowing he had gotten ridden of the generator for an alternator. 

One mod that Pat admits to, where his personal taste overid his dedication to “preserving” the original bike, was to change out the rear taillight.  We discussed how all of the taillights on the Italian bikes were put on solely for the purpose of passing US DOT standards, so Pat rationalized that to replace it with a tailight from a Vincent Black Shadow, was an acceptable deviation from its original standing.

Pat also was very enthusiastic about his custom seat hinge.  He abandoned his stock two-up seat and opted instead for a solo seat. The fabricator who he used, and highly recommend is Fabricator Kevin, out of Detroit, Michigan. FabKevin.com  Made just for single saddle springer seats, bronzed hinges.  

 Shop Stories for Cotter Pin Moto Gear Blog
 Shop Stories for Cotter Pin Moto Gear Blog
 Shop Stories for Cotter Pin Moto Gear Blog
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Sean Gilligan

Sean Gilligan and Justin C Knapp, each bring years of experience from varying backgrounds to contribute to the success and innovation of Cotter Pin. Sean brings an extensive knowledge of exceeding clients expectations, creating compelling visual narratives and understanding the sustained focus required of being an entrepreneur from his 20+ year background as a Commercial Photographer. Justin also has an impressive repeat client list, a rich knowledge of materials from his experience in finish carpentry/exhibit installation and a true appreciation for & dedication to the love of quality craftmanship. Both men bring a high level of detail orientation to their product design, respect deadlines and all of the vendors they have the pleasure of working with. Cotter Pin is founded on principles of collaboration and creating products which encourage all people to spend time outside, enjoying "the simple things" and appreciating natural beauty. Sean and Justin are both avid nature lovers, who believe that spending time outside is the best remedy to many of society ills.