Times Gone By

     Years ago on a road trip to Texas... Don't let anyone try to convince you otherwise... Volkswagen's Beetles suck big time. Believe it or not this one here I bought off an old lady who only drove it to Church on Sunday's. It had 49,000 miles on it. Course the fenders were dinged up a bit but that was not her fault. I found out later it was the scotch that caused that.

     I decided that a Volkswagen would be great for an nine thousand mile road trip. After all it got 27 mpg when it was running good. Think of the money we would save. Course if you don't set the valves or whatever every two thousand miles then the mileage drops radically. Oh sure its not a big job and the mechanics always had our cash and us out the door in no time. I never factored that into the gas mileage. The old Ford Galaxy we were going to take would have only gotten 24 mpg.... course that would have been rain or shine. We would not have had to stop every two thousand miles and drum up a mechanic to set the valves either. We would have had tons of elbow room and could have put on twice the miles every day. With out training, two or three hundred miles a day in a Volkswagen is far more than enough... that is if you are young and fit like we were then.

     I have since learned after owning a few Volkswagen beetles is that if the motor is actually running it is on the verge of going to hell. If it is parked it has gone to hell. If someone is selling a Volkswagen it has got a new motor. If you buy it and drive it then the new motor will go to hell. You will then park it and before long you will miss the beast and put a new motor in it. After a few miles you will remember the beast and thus put it for sale. The ad will say Volkswagen Beetle, has new motor.... Oh and if you don't believe me ask someone who is selling an older beetle how the motor is. I guarantee you he will say it's got a new motor. I have proven this already to a few doubters.

     On a positive note while this beetle was running it always started. In -40 F. it would start on a dime. During one long cold spell it would start up every morning when no one else's car would start. Oh sure if you let the clutch out to go back in the warm house while it warmed up it would stall. The trick was to spend about fifteen minutes with your ass frozen to the seat slowly letting out the clutch every so often until the transmission loosened up enough and the oil got warm enough due to friction. Oh and one other picky little point with them is they don't have heaters. Oh sure they have some kind of micky-mouse little thing that works great in the summer but if there is snow on the ground forget it. Luckily though they have back up gas heaters that almost break the chill. Trouble is they burn gas and thus suck your mileage  waaayyyy down.

    Yes it was a glorious day for mankind when Hitler finally got enough "revenge"  and Volkswagen shut down production of beetles.





roy mackey, hangliding, mount swansea

 My very first flight off of Mount Swansea... brick short of a full load...no back up chute... on an Eagle Cloud I picked up for a couple of hundred bucks from some guy with a lot more common sense...

roy mackey, hangliding, mount swansea

My instructor Andrew giving me some last minute pointers about going toward the light when I see it. 

roy mackey, hangliding, mount swansea

My 165 Comet... and back up chute! What a dream flying machine.  Flying at ten thousand feet, five thousand feet above the mountain top, in a hundred and twenty pounds of aluminum and plastic is indescribable !!



56 Ford, roy mackey

     This was my second paint job I ever did. Of course as you can tell it turned out pretty good. I had a natural knack for glossy no run paint jobs. 1956 Ford Customline, 292 3spd standard with overdrive, duals out the back and a sound unmatched by any other car ever. Should have never sold this beast...



old bus, flamingsteel.com, roy mackey

     Here is my first street bike... 750 Yamaha twin along with my 1963 bus I fixed up... right before I found the book... Rolling Homes. Thus...

Rolling homes, flamingsteel.com, roy mackey

     I had no choice but do the sensible thing which was to lop off the roof, raise it and build a back porch!

rolling homes, roy mackey

     Add a little siding later followed with windows...

small homes, roy mackey, custom bus

     Then a little interior work, eagles on the ceiling, barn wood on the walls....

     Tucker in the trees and it's home sweet home. 1968 Mustang I restored in fore ground.



The Smell from Hell


     Years ago while living in Invermere BC my girlfriend and I decided to rent this very small 12 x 16 foot dilapidated cabin. It was located in the middle of this field on a very large ranch. It was a one room cabin that came with a woodshed that was caving in and a very old outhouse with no door, all for $60. a month. This was very cheap for back then.

     Up until then we had been living in this old bus I had modified into a motor home. With winter coming though we knew the bus was going to be hard to heat. In fact we used to call the bus our mobile summer home. The cabin was supposed to have a wood stove but unfortunately someone had previously stolen it. So before moving in we had to buy a new one. The new one was very good and made it very toasty while we fixed the place up. We eventually got the place in livable shape just as it got very cold out. In fact the day we moved in was around ten below with an inversion going on. That is where the upper air is warmer than the lower air. You can tell this by the way wood smoke only rises so high and then levels out.

     Anyway the day after moving into this cabin we started noticing this absolutely wretched smell whenever we went outside. It was not always there but when it was you could not imagine how bad it was. We were completely stumped at where it was coming from especially since the freezing cold meant it would not have been a dead animal lying somewhere out of sight. The nearest house was over a mile away so could not blame them and we were stuck in the middle of this huge field! Well two weeks later it had warmed up and we had pretty well given up trying to figure out what the smell was. Besides with the warmer weather most of the smell was gone anyway.

     Since it was warmer I decided to chop some more fire wood for the next cold spell. Of course no sooner than I had cut a couple of pieces I had to use the washroom and since the outhouse was easier decided to use it. I walked into it as usual checked down the hole. To those not versed in out houses you always check the hole for wolverines, tom cats, bears or hornets before plopping your exposed vitals on the seat. When I did this I could not believe my eyes! The deep pit under the outhouse was virtually empty!! Last time I used it and checked it was more than overfull. Now it was almost empty! This was crazy I thought as who would steal mud from an outhouse! At first I thought I was seeing things and bent down to get a closer look. That is when I noticed smoke in the hole and in that same instant caught wind of the smell. I stumbled backward out of there on the run and almost vomiting. It was that same wretched smell we had been tolerating for the last two weeks!

     It was then I figured it out. Just before the cold spell hit two weeks earlier I had cleaned out the ashes from the wood stove and dumped them down the outhouse hole. I had read in Mother Earth News that it was good for making the “mud” decompose quicker. Well as you may know with wood stoves when you clean out the ashes there are almost always smoldering ashes that you don’t notice. I guess some small embers in the ashes had actually lit the outhouse mud on fire and it was just slowly smoldering away all that time. We had the world’s biggest incense stick in our back yard giving off the most horrid smoke you could ever imagine! Words could never describe the stench it gave off.  

     Knowing the cause of the smell made it ten times as bad as it was before we knew. I would have never imagined outhouse mud would burn. Part of the reason may have been because it was so old and maybe dried out but I am not sure. The inversion caused by the cold spell is what kept the smelly smoke from rising up and drifting away which is why it got better when the weather warmed up. I had to haul pail after pail of water to finally douse all the smoldering embers in that pit! When friends asked us if we ever figured out that horrible smell we just nudged each other and said “nope, but at least it’s gone now!”  



     Back when I had my beard.... just rolled an old car off the cliff....



panhead, roy mackey

     Old 51 Harley p.o.s just before I bought it....  

51 panhead, roy mackey, vintage harley

     Looking better here.... 51 Panhead with shovel top end, Andrews cam, super b carb, hand shift.... 80mph all day long. If you got the cash Harley's will run forever.

1951 Harley FL, flamingsteel.com, steel sculpture, steel art, roy mackey,

Here is is after the color change and a few more tweaks.

51 panhead, harley davidson, roy mackey

No rest for the stupid my Dad always said... thus more tweaks and improvements....



Welding gas tanks, roy mackey, 51 panhead

      On a road trip to Golden BC the tank on my Harley sprung a leak... I pulled into the Spillimacheen gas station. The gas station owner Don was a real nice guy. Never said much but a real honest salt of the earth type of guy. Help anyone out in a bind no questions. He ran a... SERVICE Station. They don't exist any more.... well at least the Service part anyway. His station was one of the two or three places that kept the very small town of Spillimacheen afloat.

     Anyway I asked him about borrowing his gas torch so I could weld the leak on my Harley tank. He never said much just looked at me for a second and said "Sure" as a nice wide grin spread across his face. He said I would have to roll the torches out of the shop and do the welding a fair distance from his station. I did and he closed the door behind me. Then out of the corner of my eye I watched as he arranged himself into position where he could watch the show that was about to unfold. Well unfortunately I was quite versed in the art of mixing gas, fire and steel tanks. Thus the show he appeared to be expecting did not happen. I realize now that he was a pretty smart guy. He knew well in advance not to try and offer advice to some young, know it all punk on a Harley how to go about things. That would have been fruitless.

     Afterwards I felt him radiate a sense of impression with what I had done. I am pretty sure he was expecting to be lugging me off to the hospital by that point. Even though I never knew the guy well he was not much of a fast or big talker but saved the day for far more people than most ever thought of.


Henry Cooper, flamingsteel.com, steel sculpture, steel art, roy mackey

Henry Cooper

     Here is a shot of Henry Cooper from Wilmer BC. A very interesting character to say the least. I used to always wing by him and his wife Dorthy's place for coffee. We often went digging for old bottles and scrounging antiques. He restored old cars and in fact had restored a 27 Model "T", a 1928 Model "A" and a 1931 Model "A" not to mention some other beasts here and there. He also had one of the largest antique bottle collections in the valley back at the time. Not to mention one of the largest collections of antiques also. Man those two could find a needle in a haystack when it came to antiques.

     Anyway on this particular day I was going with him on a hike into the mountains. He was going to stake some claims up at this mine he was involved in before. He had figured out where the silver vein had gone and why. I admit I questioned his ideas after all he had no formal education so how could he really know. Thus I opted to go along with him for the hell of it. Besides a nice peaceful walk in the mountains would be fun I figured....

      When we first started on the hike I quickly realized that this was going to be one long and boring hike if we kept up the pace he was going. I never said much though as I did not want to embarrass the "poor ole guy". So as usual I just babbled on and on like I always do. Not too long after we got started the climb started to get a lot steeper. Apparently he told me he had been on this walk tons of times when they first staked claims up there. I figured being old that is what you have to do is take it easy.

     Well as it turned out the walk seemed to be taking longer than I had first expected. Not to mention those dam shoes of mine... a couple of hours after that I was getting a little tired of all this walking and was wondering if we were ever going to get there. My leg muscles were starting to burn a little and yet ole Henry wasn't saying much. Nor was he moving any slower or faster for that matter than when we left. Finally he piped up that we were almost there!!! Wow!!! I thought and thank God as my legs were about to cave in. Finally we came around a corner and he pipes up again "Here we are!!!.... the half way point exactly!!!" Well I almost passed out, but of course never let it show. "Whadaya mean" I said. He then went on to tell me after hiking up here so many times he finally figured out that was exactly the half way point. Well somewhere in the back of my mind behind all the screams of pain a small voice of optimism piped up. It made me say with sheepish confidence "Great!!! I was just getting warmed up..." Onward we went with ole Henry still walking at the same steady pace.

     Shortly after that it started to get real steep. I wondered how the hell does he do that same steady pace without flinching? Two or three hours later there we were on the top of a mountain. I was wiped right out but no way going to show it no matter what. We looked around for a bit as he gave me the history of the old cabin they had built there when they first staked the claim. There was also some water running out of the rocks which I quickly dived into. Course he was quick to point out not to drink too much. Not wanting to look like a fool I went along with his suggestion. I then asked him what was next. He walked over to the edge of the cliff and pointed. He said see that peak two ravines over? We have to go over there. Now at this point I was questioning whether or not I was going to be able to even make it back and now before we even head back he wants us to hike hundreds of feet down a cliff then back up the other side and then down again hundreds of feet and then back up again.... all before going back!!! My mind was full of screaming voices between my completely exhausted body and my big shot ego. Of course when young ego always wins. So I confidently piped up "Lets get atter then".

     I admit I don't remember much after that other than pain and confusion. Oh and one other thing after staking the claim where he wanted we started to head back to the base camp two huge ravines away. As we started up the last stretch he stopped and quickly pulled out his binoculars. After looking for a bit he got this concerned look in his eye I asked him what was up and he said no big deal just a grizzly way down the slide below us. The air was still warm now but as it cooled it could carry our scent down to him thus we had better get going. Well that slide we were on was almost straight up but I sure had some spring in my step after that.

     After getting to the top where the base camp was we came around the corner to see two crisp looking guys standing there. I was stunned at how they looked so fresh and un-exhausted. How was that? Maybe there was another shorter way in here my confused and exhausted mind was thinking. After Henry talked to them for awhile we found out they were geologists up here checking out this mine. They started talking with Henry about how the fact the vein of silver just ended was pretty strange. Of course they were holding back on what they were saying. Henry knowing we had just finished staking the claim we had went on to tell them his theory. Man you should have seen how wide eyed they were as this old farmer looking guy explained to them exactly what they had figured out. Only trouble is we had already staked the claim. They got real uncomfortable after that. Shortly afterwards a helicopter appeared out of no where  that was there to pick them up. Which I might add is why they looked so refreshed, they were flown in!! Man that bird sure looked sweet to my blurred and exhausted eyes.

     Anyway off they went and before long Henry suggest we better head out too or we would not be back before dark and hiking in the pitch dark is no fun. Thus off we went. From there on all I remember is this voice in my head that kept saying "Henry... wait up... " over and over and over. Of course I never said it out loud. I couldn't partly because I was trying to keep my eyes open and focused on his shoes in attempts to keep up to Ole Henry.... who was still walking that same bloody pace we did when we started early that morning. That turned out the be the most exhausting and tiring time of my whole life. I think I learned something that day also....

1948 Triumph 500 speed twin, flamingsteel.com, roy mackey, steel sculpture

My One True Love that Got Away

     You know it happens to all of us. That one love that got away. Either we were too stupid or blinded by our ego or some other cosmic misfortune that ended up changing the course of history. Well I was no exception. This was mine... a sweet little 1948 Triumph 500 Speed Twin. I rode this bike just how you see it here all one summer. What a sweet bike to ride. I picked this beauty up off of John Soles up around Harrogate, Spillimacheen area. His brother originally had it but dropped it on it's side one day and it caught fire. Everything on the bike got burnt. Even the leather off the seat. The rims were colored blue from the heat of them burning. John scooped it off his brother who decided to give up riding motorbikes once and for all. He then fixeder up a little by throwing on some new tires and a few other minor details. The handle grips were burnt off so he pounded on some black plastic water line which worked fine. Then he parked it out near his garage next to his bulk fuel tanks. Apparently every spring he would have a big party at his place and during that party he would bet everyone that it would start up with three kicks or less. For thirty years it started. The last year it didn't so he lost his bet.

     When I first got there he told me no way in hell would ever sell the thing. We then went on to talk about all sorts of other stuff for about two hours. He was the most fascinating guy I had met in a long time. Finally it was almost dark and I was almost frozen solid. Course he was fine. Those old timers back then were immune to the cold and mosquitoes. That partially explained how he could have lived next to the sloughs right across the tracks. BC's number one breeding ground for mosquitoes. Anyway after it dawning on my that I had overstayed my welcome I said goodbye and started back to my car. Part way I stopped and yelled back.... "everything is for sale at a price... what was his, for sale, price" He yelled back "for two hundred and fifty dollars I can haller away"  I said fine and that if I could dig up the cash I would be back. Well about a month later I found the cash and headed back down to see if he still had it. Sure enough he did and before long he had the cash and I had the bike.

     Now the reason that I bought the bike was I wanted some extra parts for a real piece of shit 59 Triumph chopper I had picked up from someone a lot smarter than me. After getting the ole 48 home though I thought I should try sparking it up before I strippeder for parts. After all John did say it ran great. Well I cleaned up the mag, put some fresh gas in the beast and kicked it over. I heard a pop and so kicked her again. Viola! It sparked right up! I was stunned. I then figured I should take her out for a little run. Well the thing ran like a dream and talk about fun. It then hit me that this thing was far too good to just scrap for parts. Thus I opted to get it insured and on the road.

     One of the first things that it needed was a headlight since the original one was gone. At the time I had a very small scrap yard with about twenty old scrapped imported bikes I was selling parts off of. I looked around and sure enough found a headlight off an old Honda of some sort. I pulled it off and beat the bucket up a bit with a hammer. The chrome rim was already rusted so all I had to do was spray a little brown primer on the bucket and it looked as good as old. I bolted it on and that was pretty well it next to finding a battery to run the headlight. The generator was not working so I could not run for long at night or I would lose the headlight. The bike would run forever on the mag but with no lights dodging deer and mountain drunks would be tricky. Thus I always charged the battery at night so that the next evening I would have enough light to get home at least. If there were no cars coming I would just shut the light off. After all it never gets dark in the mountains.

     I had more fun riding that bike around than you could imagine. I would go to the grocery store and after coming out would have to claw my way through the crowd of onlookers amazed that anything looking this rough was still running. I rode it all one summer as my main transportation and loved every second of it. The thing never took more than three kicks to start and never less than two. It was always catching fire... partly because of the "Anal" carbs it had on it. Just a little too much priming mixed with a back fire and she was burning again. It never meant much though as anything that could have burnt had already been burnt so I would just sit back for a bit and wait for the excess gas to burn off. Then restart it again.

     People were always asking me if I was going to restore and repaint it all. I could not believe they would say that and would always ask if they were kidding. It had thirty years of "sitting in the rain rusting" patina. That was a finish that you could never reproduce. Restoring it would be sacrilege. All the history that was tied up in its finish was incredible. John had welded on some plate steel to make rear running boards. This made it great for the passenger but there was no passenger seat anyway other than a half burnt remnant of leather. A real strange thing about this bike was the fact that the fire had burnt all the leather off the riders seat. The only thing that was left was the steel frame and springs. Yet in all my years of riding motorcycles I have never rode on a seat that was more comfortable. It was amazing. In the hot summer you never got a sweaty or uncomfortable seat. It was a shear pleasure to ride.

     The ride and stability this bike had was also unreal. I could ride it one handed cornering on a gravel road covered in washboard doing 50 mph and never think twice!! Part of that was the "spring hub" The rear hub had springs built inside it. At first glance it looked like a ridged frame with no suspension. If you pushed hard down on the back fender you would see the thing spring down! It was the coolest thing about that bike. I don't think they made those spring hubs for that long. Apparently if you did not know what you were doing they could kill you if you tried pulling them apart.

     Eventually though though it all came to an end. Another one of those optimism exceeded my abilities situations. I took it apart with the intention to refresh the motor. The no money I had dried up and the bike just sat there. It was a sad situation. Eventually my stupidity got the best of me and I put it for sale. Before long some other fool not unlike myself came racing up. He gave me the measly sum I was asking and we loaded it up. He then started to ramble on about how he was going to striper all down and restore it to its original glory. Another fool as blind as myself for letting it go he was missing the whole point of it's beauty as it was. It was about then that the stupidity of my actions started to become obvious. Just the same the bone in my head make me strong. I turned my back and pretended not to hear him and walked away. It was a cruel and sad thing to do but I could see some really green grass just across the street and was going to "go for it"....


51 Harley, flamingsteel.com, steel sculpture, roy mackey

     Here was a shot my buddy took while on a miracle road trip... Ten days riding about BC with poor rain gear and very little cash.. All the ingredients essential were there to attract endless rain and yet not a drop!!! On top of that it was pure sun... we even rode shirtless through the Rogers Pass! I have never seen such sweet  weather for so long!!

     This shot was on BC Ferries heading over to the Island...


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