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  • Thomas Fishel

Bringing Ugly Betty Back to Life

Years ago in rural Tennesee, Steve came across this unique 101. When the skirted Chiefs came out in 1940, the former owner of this beauty wanted one, but couldn’t afford one of the “new” Indians at the time, so he did the next best thing….. he made one. He added skirts to the original 101 fenders, thus Ugly Betty got her start….

We’ve had this old girl in the museum for quite some time, and when the announcement for this year’s Cannonball came out, the guys decided to all ride a 101. Steve, Justin and Jared looked over the 101 bikes we have and each picked out what one they wanted to run. Justin picked Indian Hall of Fame Inductee Art Buski’s bike, Jared wanted to start from scratch in the parts shelves in the shop and Steve wanted this gem. So, the decision was made to pull her out into the light and breathe new life into her.

The disassembly began and it was soon discovered that her cylinders had seen better days, so sleeves were ordered.

She was more work than anticipated…..

Parts had to be machined, repaired, refitted…..a complete overhaul and then some.

Finally the bottom end was complete, the cylinders sleeved and honed and ready for top end assembly. But, as with any project, there are always setbacks, and a week’s worth of rebuilding the bridgeport and waiting on the bearings and parts to fix it was included in this rebuild as well. We’re always up for learning new things and rebuilding a bridgeport with YouTube videoes was no exception!

Then, it was back to bike building.

Somewhere during the process of bike selection, Justin and Jared’s bike builds, and Steve walking by and looking at his bike selection, she got the name, Ugly Betty.

Time for lights and electrics……

Who knew a 30 over piston ring would be just the right size to fit around the lens to hold this rear taillight? Since this was my idea, I just hope that it stays. I guess I’d better make sure to have spares on the support truck.

When COVID-19 descended upon us, we got extra help in the shop and Steve had an apprentice to train. She had to learn where tools were AND where they went, (and Bill Page, you know what his tool box drawers look like). This added a new challenge to the build. There were naptimes, freezie pop breaks and time outs for sidecar rides But, our youngest granddaughter, Estella (at 20 months) helped her Mipa finish up Ugly Betty and was the first one on her when complete.

Ugly Betty is ready to travel border to border and the adventures that await! She’s ready to meet the rest of the Cannonball family that she’s heard so much about. She’s ready to become part of that family. Let’s ride!



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