Can you keep a secret? Classic motorcycle built from scratch

Bike Auction
Posted at 4:58 PM, Sep 04, 2022

MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) — At a glance, one may think Raymond Quayle’s 1910 Indian motorcycle was just well-maintained, but even motorcycle enthusiasts are surprised to discover this model was created from scratch in the basement of the Mason City man.

“I was sitting at a restaurant, couldn’t get a seat, so we were waiting, and somebody had left a brochure from the Anamosa National Motorcycle Museum,” said Quayle. “I picked it up and looked at it, and I saw one of the early 1900 Indians. I thought, ’Well, I could build that.”

Quayle built the motorcycle to ride for himself, but a friend convinced him to enter the bike into shows due to its quality. The motorcycle is fully functioning, and while he has not had it appraised, he guesses it is worth roughly $20,000 to $40,000.

Quayle later entered his bike into the Abate National Motorcycle Show, where he won three awards: first place in people’s choice, first place in antiques and second in best paint.

“At the show, there were a lot of really nice bikes there, and I didn’t expect to win anything,” Quayle told the Mason City Globe Gazette. “Even people that know motorcycles well, most of them at the show didn’t even know it was not real. The parts are close enough that when we compared it to one at the National Motorcycle Museum, my gas tank would have fit right in their frame.”

Quayle’s passion for motorcycles began at a young age when he learned how to build and ride mini bikes, but he had never built a motorcycle before. He gained many of his skills working in a machine shop for 25 years where he learned how to make his own tools and form metal, which came in handy for this project.

Quayle learned how to build the bike through pictures, blueprints, research and asking people and took roughly a year to build in his spare time, costing a minimum of $2,000. He sometimes remade the parts because he did not like the way they looked on the bike.

“Ray likes a challenge,” said Mark Ewy, motorcycle enthusiast and friend of Quayle’s. “If you give him a challenge, he will figure out a way to build it. He’s inventive and creative.”

Quayle made nearly every component on the bike by hand, including nickel plating, bending the metal and tubing and forming the metal and gas tank. The only exceptions were the wheels and the headlight, which is the bike’s only original part. Ewy discovered the headlight from a woman who had turned it into a wall sconce, and Quayle purchased and restored it as a headlight for the bike.

According to him, this was a rare find given that these lights cost $800-$1800 depending on its condition.

He also came across an original 1910 Indian motorcycle seat that had been found in a river, but nothing was salvageable. Luckily, he was able to take it apart to replicate the parts to create the leather seat; Ewy assisted in stretching the leather.

While Quayle did not face challenges gathering the materials needed to build the bike, he did find challenges in making all the elements work properly.

“Like building the fuel tank, that’s done in sections,” Quayle said. “There’s over 14 feet of welding in the tank alone, and to stop that from warping from the welding is quite a process. You have to take your time, and it turned out real nice.”

As word of his work spread, the Anamosa National Motorcycle Museum took an interest in the motorcycle and asked Quayle to bring the piece to the museum. Museum employees were so impressed, they asked Quayle if it could remain on display for the day; he agreed.

“It was a lot of fun, a lot of sleepless nights up trying to figure out how to do stuff like how did they do it back in 1910,” Quayle said.

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