Original hand painted shop sign design with pencil addition of the establishment date from Ace's papers.
Ace Murphy's Online Shop Like the Ace Murphy's Motorcycle on Face Book
The story began nearly a half a century ago with a 12 year old boy meeting and working for a newcomer who rode into a small Montana town. Later the boy took what he'd learned and moved to another Montana town and met another boy; having common interests they became friends in high school, remaining friends till today.
About the same time "Ace" Murphy was pushing 60 years old. Ace had built a good business following the Second World War based on fixing up various styles of motorcycles and selling them to GI's, now were itchy for some excitement after a year or so of peace. His shop now was smack dab in the middle of what had become know as the "California Biker Wars"; he was ready to make a change. He decided to move to Montana.
Some finished bikes were traded for a couple of trucks and trailers, a deal was cut selling the shop for cash, a week of sorting and discreetly loading the trucks inside the fenced yard quickly passed. At the stroke of midnight Ace and his wife each climbed in behind a wheel, engines strained, gears ground North East for the promised land.
Kevin on "Royal Dean".
1972 found Kevin hunting Harley's during his summer vacation, bringing them home from Arkansas. It was on one of Kevin's early bikes that Cal got bit and by 1975 both were building and riding "choppers". Kevin was becoming known for his paint and design, as well as a scrounger. In those days it seemed that just about everyone coming off the ranch or farm knew about some old Harley in some old guy's barn. Bikes seemed to seek the guys out; one found Cal he was while sitting at a drive- in having lunch!
Cal on 1948 Panhead.
Ace ended up in Montana, never set up a shop, fixed cars, and pumped gas at the local gas station. Kevin's dad was a wildcatter geologist, hunting oil in Montana. Always ready to strike up conversation to get to know about who owned land, how was the hunting, did they collect guns and did they have any old motorcycles for his son? During one of these conversations he heard about a fella who'd come up from outta state who had a barn full of old bike parts.
Shop shirt logo copied from an original from a box of Ace's office stuff.
Like his dad, Kevin's good at talkin'. With the info from his dad on a scrap of paper he rode out seeking a barn full of treasure. His bike broke the ice that Saturday when he rolled up; he and Ace hit it off. The outcome was along friendship and a partnership in an incredible source of parts that eventually passed into Kevin's hands. He and his partner Charlie became known for these and other stashes of vintage parts, design, custom build, and the only free lance Milwaukee trained mechanic in the area. Doc's Speed & Custom still builds in the old style.
After Cal came home from living in Germany he met Ace and found that the story came full circle as he discovered his old "boss", the newcomer in that small Montana town in 1965, had been mentored by Ace as a young man. Ace always kept a bit of a guard up, and as he aged and started his last ride he shared the rest of his story. The boys were sworn to keep the story till both Ace and his wife has passed.
Ace never unpacked his office or his counter sales merchandise boxes. Unpacking these full of patches, jewelry, bits of clothing was a look right back into the bike culture of the late 40s, 50s and 60s. We will be sharing some of that with you here and at Doc's when Kevin opens that section of the store.