Tucked away in a small storefront on Main Street in Pleasanton, Kan., is a small collection of vintage motorcycles, many of which are owned by Dick Carpenter.
Carpenter, 68, and the owner of R.L.C., Inc., a floor rail welding specialist company, has tinkered with motorcycles for the last 30 years or so. When a small storefront next to his office became available he took it over to display about 40 bikes that belong to him and a couple of his friends. He describes the eclectic collection as “riders” that are interesting but not spit-and-polish museum pieces. He rides many of them frequently.
Carpenter’s motorcycle interest leans heavily toward Harley-Davidsons, the earlier the better. He likes to restore late 1930s and 1940s flatheads, and his personal workshop has several engines in various states of repair. He loves the challenge of bringing a ragged frame and battered engine back to life, and many of the bikes in his collection are ones he has restored. A good example is his 1945 Harley-Davidson EL Knucklehead. Carpenter found it in Pleasanton, but it had a 1939 engine because the original had been damaged. Carpenter found the original engine, rebuilt it and restored the bike. Very few civilian Harleys were built in 1945 because of the war.
Another one-off model acquired from a friend is the Half Breed. It has an Indian frame and an Italian Moto Guzzi engine. Carpenter says it is like new and he rides it often.
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Carpenter also owns a 1938 Indian Sport Scout that was restored by a friend, Jack Sheffield, of Jasper, Texas. Carpenter’s son Chad also has one of Sheffield’s Sport Scouts.
About 10 of the bikes in Carpenter’s storefront, mostly high-styled choppers, belong to Frank Pedersen, owner of Frankenstein Trikes, a Pleasanton company that manufactures and sells kits to turn Harley-Davidsons into three-wheeled trikes. Pedersen grew up east of Pleasanton and attended Pittsburg State University. He has designed and built choppers, custom motorcycle frames and trikes since 1995. In 2005, he and Steinar Bergby decided to build the Hot Rod Trike Rear End. That evolved into today’s business where many of the kits are sent overseas.
Carpenter’s storefront is generally open for visits on Saturdays.