By Bill Walsh
Special to the Rappahannock News
If all goes according to plan, Bill Blalock will finally get to ride a motorcycle he owned for many years without ever having cranked up the engine.
That motorcycle is one of about 80 entered in this fall’s Motorcycle Cannonball, a 17-day race from Kitty Hawk, N.C., to Santa Monica, Cal.
Blalock bought the badly neglected 1913 Excelsior in 1952 from the Washington, D.C. family of its one-time owner. That owner, a part-time racing enthusiast, had been living in a nursing home for a few years, and the bike had sat in the basement, neglected, for a number of years, Blalock said.
“[A sister] really didn’t know what it was worth and didn’t really want any money,” Blalock recalled of the purchase, and he can’t remember what he paid for it.
“It was sitting in a basement, and had been sitting there long enough that the rear stand was almost rotted off,” he said. “It was a mess.”
Blalock, founder of Blalock Cycle Co., originally in Silver Spring, Md., before its 1984 move to its present location at 170 Lee Highway in Warrenton, took it back to his shop.
“I got married in ’55, and we had a child in ’56,” Blalock recalled. “I had taken it apart and it was sitting around in boxes,” and with a demanding business and a growing family, he didn’t have much time to work on it.
His original plan was to restore the bike and ride it.
“Usually, there are a lot of parts missing,” in a project like this, Blalock said.
“I had to re-make the rear stand. The pedals were completely worn out, but you just unscrew those, just like a bicycle. I replaced the chain with Diamond chain, which is still in business today; I was able to get the same chains that were on there. The seat . . . I was able to restore the leather on it. The gas tank had pinholes all through it, but there is a chemical that you put in as a liquid and it dries and becomes a plastic-like material... read more