For the ancient pagans of Greece and Rome, Cerberus was the multi-headed-hell-hound that guarded the passage into the underworld. In the stories, Cerberus has a taste for living flesh and like the Eagles’ song Hotel California, allows one to check out, but never leave.
Maybe because of this, I felt a lot of trepidation as TIM rolled off the back of the tow truck and into the Egyptian themed building, which is both home to Cerberus Motorcycles and one of the last remnants of San Diego’s early twentieth century art deco period.
I had been to two other mechanics searching for help with the daunting project of resurrecting the dead TIM. Anyone who has tried to undertake rebuilding an old machine knows it is a time consuming project, which can quickly become more expensive than it might seem worth. While the mechanics I had spoken with were knowledgable and helpful they were also expensive and less successful than I would have liked.
On two separate occasions my ride home was cut short by the same loss of power that had caused me to bring the bike to the mechanic in the first place. The resulting walk back, pushing the still squeaking TIM was almost as painful as the mounting bills. I became depressed. The whole point of buying an old motorcycle had been so I could work on it myself. Yet, there I was shelling out more money for someone else to not fix the problems.
It took almost a year of the bike sitting and going back and forth to various shops before I discovered Cerberus Motorcycles. A bit like it’s mythical namesake, Cerberus is a multifunction motorcycle garage and co-op. The type of place where a garage-less, tool-less, know-nothing like myself can wrench on a bike, while in the next bay over a crew of talented and knowledgable bike builders turn out speed machines as fantastic as Hermes’ winged sandals, such as Julio’s CL 350 Honda. Not only does the bike look amazing, but it runs like a bolt of lightning flung by Zeus himself.
Almost as soon as TIM was off the truck and into the shop I felt my trepidation and fears subside. Instead I began to feel the giddy excitement of a young child rushing down stairs on Christmas morning. I couldn’t wait to get started, but I didn’t know what I was doing or where to start.
After doing some quick diagnostic work, with a little guidance from master mechanic Dave Hargreaves, I determined that the electrical problem was not with the charging system, but somewhere a bit further down the line. The good news was the money I had spent hadn’t been wasted. The bad news was that, like Pandora, I had opened a jar overflowing with problems that once discovered could not be ignored.
Some of the problems were minor, like the meatball weld a past owner had done on the frame to hide the battery under the rear of the single seat. Other issues were more problematic, like the tangled snake-ball mess of hodgepodge wires, solder, and tape that was supposed to serve as a wiring harness. I quickly decided the only way to proceed was to do a complete tear down and rebuild from the frame up. It would be more expensive, frustrating, and time consuming, but it was the only way to insure that TIM was able to stop limping along on life support.
It was the beginning of a quest, which like Jason’s search for the golden fleece, would be difficult and at times perilous.