(photo courtesy of Michael Lichter Photography)
As a child, Josh Krager of Eye Spy Designs was obsessed with finding out how things worked. He not only disassembled small machinery items, he even put them back together. As a teen, He enjoyed reading parts and tool catalogs when not working at a small engine repair shop. Josh befriended a welder who taught him the trade, and Josh perfected his skill. He is an engineer, welder and fabricator by trade but a Mad Scientist by nature who envisions one-of-a-kind designs by using imagination, engineering and vintage finds to create artistic and useful inventions. He says, “I always look at what something can do, not what it does. Most of my inspiration comes from just thinking that I can do it a better or a different way.”
He has taken a Dodge Durango daily driver and turned it into a 10-wheeled mud truck on a one-ton chassis, built National Hot Rod Association drag car and drag bike chassis from scratch, and the build list goes on and on until we get to his most recent and fantastic creation.
It all started in March 2014, while cleaning his 6,000-square-foot shop. He stood looking at a motor, housed 15 feet up on pallet racking and mixed in with mud truck parts. This wasn’t just any motor. It was a 1968 Mercedes 2.1L diesel power plant with 23,000 actual kilometers. He pulled it down and placed it on his workbench where it sat for four weeks.
He started to think, “What can I do with this engine?” Friends would come over and ask, “What are you going to do with that engine?” After hearing the same question over and over, just to shut his friends up, he said he was going to build a motorcycle. Well, that shut them up, except for one longtime friend. He bet Josh that he couldn’t build a bike with that engine and finish the project for Geneva-On-The-Lake’s, Sept. 3, 2014 Thunder on the Strip Bike Rally. Lesson learned? Don’t bet against Josh. You will lose.
For tech geeks, makers, engineers and other design scientists, here are the specs:
Frame: Fifteen giant ironworker wrenches and round tubing
Front wheel: a Harley Davidson Road King spoked wheel and tire
Rear wheel: a Harley Davidson Reproduction Pie Crust Drag slick
(He fabricated the forks in a girder style that uses two air shocks to raise and lower the front with an air compressor mounted under the seat. The rear end is rigid; so, to maximize ride comfort, a suspension was used under the seat.)
Transmission: Along with the engine came the original ’68 Mercedes manual, four-speed transmission with reverse coupled to an industrial-style, right angle, 1:1 ratio gear box linked with a #50 chain.
Cooling system: Honda Aspencade with electric fan and Ford F350 heater core.
Overflow for the cooling system: a vintage brass fire extinguisher
Front brake: stock Harley Davidson
Rear brake: stock Harley Davidson disc brake
(Braided stainless brake lines tied it all together.)
Clutch: Honda Goldwing master cylinder, Toyota Land Cruiser slave cylinder and stock Mercedes single disc with a nickel copper clutch line
Electrical system: 60-amp screw-in house fuse with vintage cloth-covered wiring leading to vintage knife switches for headlamp, turn signals and air system controls
Front turn signals: 1930’s glass doorknobs
Rear brake and turn signals: vintage Power Pole insulators. All are LED illuminated.
Fuel tank: U.S. military Jerry can that is secured with a manure spreader chain
Fuel lines: custom-formed nickel-copper tubing
Foot boards: vintage 1950’s water skis
Horn and cheesy siren: donated by his best friend
Rear fender: inverted 1950 Ford 8N tractor fenders
Front fender: old-school posthole digger
Chin fairing: an old cultivator plow blade
Handle bars: right-angle ironworker spud wrenches
Rearview mirror: Moon Eyes Peep Mirror
Saddle: vintage horse saddle
Rear rack: an old iron fence
Where did he get all the “stuff” to make this fabulous creation? Garage and barn sales, auctions, antique stores, picking his friends’ and family members’ junk piles, donations left at the shop door, eBay, Craigslist, swap meets, and HGR Industrial Surplus’ showroom. Krager says, “I discovered HGR years ago when I used to shop at a competitor and HGR’s prices were much better. I have been shopping at HGR since the day they opened their doors. I have purchased everything from office furniture to surface grinders and milling machines. I even bought a very large off-road crane. The bike does have some electrical items and a few driveline pieces that I purchased from HGR. I am currently working on another bike similar to this one and three Rat Rod semis for which we’ve already purchased a few items for from HGR.”
The bike took slightly more than four months but less than 250 hours to build, weighs 1,312 pounds, can cruise up to 55 mph and gets 40 mpg. It is a street-legal, titled Ohio motor vehicle. If you see Josh out on the road, make sure to give him a thumbs up.