Making of the Windjammer 1972: Part 4

The making of a company

We were out of space. In 1972, my father came thru and loaned me enough money to buy 9 acres east of town and to put up two 40 x 60 pole buildings. We moved in the first week in May. Now we had room to build Windjammers.

There was more: I had just signed a contract to redesign the Triumph Bonneville by September.

Even more...

Feb 12, 1972: I saw the first Hurricane at Houston, Texas. We were showing the Windjammer at the Houston Trade Show. What a great weekend.
We weren't just "growing"... we were exploding.
The Windjammer was the right thing at the right time.

Book 13 P 12

Production at the new Vetter Factory

We called ourselves "Fairingwrights"
Did you know that your Windjammer was held together with clothespins while the glue hardened?

You probably did not know that your Windjammer was routed (trimmed to shape) by Bob Nelson, aka "Johnny Rout" or Craig Coy, aka "CC Fairingwright" They played their air routers like musical instruments. To the left, Johnny Rout is "strumming" his router like Johnny Cash strummed his guitar.

Almost everybody came directly out of highschool. Like me, they had never worked for anybody else. We made it up as we went.

It wasn't hard. People rise to the ocasion when they are given the authority to do their job... even when they are only 18 years old.

"Johnny Rout" and "CC Fairingwright"
After hours, most of the Fairingwrights stayed around. The Vetter shop was more fun than home. The shop was full of tools and I encouraged them to use them. Most worked on their bikes. Some raced. I put in a short track out back so we could practice.

I lived in a trailer out behind the shop so I was there after hours, too. I knew everybody and they knew me. I knew their motorcycles, their girl friends and dogs. It was a great period in our lives.

May 1972: I decided to ride to California to meet Bob Greene, editor of Motorcyclist Magazine
Bob Greene had been in motorcycling for a long time and was much respected. More than one person suggested that I meet him and show him what I was doing. Toruble was, he was in California and I was in Illinois. No problem. In May, Jim Miller and I rode out to meet him, doing the round trip in 10 days. Wow!

This was in the middle of America's gas crises. Gas cost $.50 a gallon. While our political leaders allowed car owners to buy only a few gallons at a time on odd / even days, motorcyclists could buy all we wanted. This helped to make motorcycles popular. It made Windjammer Fairings popular too because Windjammers allowed riders to ride more.

This was Jim's first and last long distance ride. He was happier cooridinating production at the factory in Illinois. I preferred to design and ride. We made a good team.

As I recount this story I can't help but wonder: How did we do all this stuff? How could we move into a new building in a couple of days - and then... how could we afford to leave it to take an transcontinental motorcycle trip? How did we ride to California and back in 10 days? It boggles my mind.

The new buildings were clean and well lit. We had lots of space to do everything we wanted. (For about 6 months, anyway)

Everybody wanted Windjammers and Jim saw to it that they were being made. Look at all those boxes. That was just a day's shipment.

I love Jigs and Fixtures

Not only did I design the fairings, I designed the factory, the jigs and fixtures and work stands, too. For the work stations, I recycled our 55 gallon drums, cutting them in half and filling them with sand. Each station operator was encouraged to customize his own. They could be slid around easily to be re arranged. These work stations were in continuous use thru the last days of Windjammer production.
"Never trust anybody over 30"
That is what they said in those days. I was about to turn 30. Everybody at my company was younger than me. I would no longer be credible. What next?

We celebrated with the "Incredible Party."

The party became an annual tradition for as long as I owned the company.

Besides making Windjammers and Hippo Hands, I was well on my way to redesiging the Bonneville for Triumph. I thought you'd like to see how the Bonneville looked on July 28, 1972. I was a little dirty from racing the shop Silver Pidgen at the Incredible party.

One of the nicest things about the picture above is the Illinois evening. Look at the colors thru the window above. As I write, I have been in California over 30 years but I still have great memories of those summer evenings in Illinois.
Posted Dec 24, 2012

Updated Dec 30, 2012

Designing the Windjammer Fairing
Chapter 1: Winter 1970-71 Beginning design
Chapter 2: 1971 Mold making, fit up and riding
Chapter 3: 1971 Finalizing the design
Chapter 4: 1972 New factory and real production