The Lockport Motorcycle Graveyard

I first started finding pics of this place online a few years ago- sporadically at first, but as word spread around the internet more started popping up. It was only recently that I found the full story on the place, thanks to Dynamite Dave. Appears that it was even featured in an issue of Iron Horse back in 2010, but considering that I'm way out on the fringes of Western Kulture I somehow missed that issue.

The first references I saw for this place was a photoset by Chris Seward done as part of a gallery exhibit for the University of Rochester back in 2010.

 "Dave" apparently saw the same set, and being both a) about 4500 miles closer to the scene and b) invested with significantly more enthusiasm, he decided to track it down. In September 2010 he rode up to Lockport NY. with a buddy and found the building, doing a bit of the old surreptitious broad daylight URBEX (which always gets the adrenaline flowing) and grabbing a few pics. He later managed to get a pretty good history of the building and the bikes, and tracked down the owner.

The motorcycles were collected by Walter Kohl, who along with his wife Anna owned and operated several bike shops around Lockport NY over a 60 year time period. In 1969 Kohl established "Kohl’s Motorcycle Sales and Service" at 12 West Main Street; he moved the shop in 1974 to Richmond Ave. but kept the West Main building until 1986 for storage. The Kohls were dealers for BSA, Moto Guzzi, and Yamaha at various points, possibly Triumph as well: they would also take trade-ins, and bought inventories of defunct dealerships.
Kohl had several other locations for storage, both in Lockport and Niagara falls. In the early 1970's he purchased the building at 71 Gooding St. which eventually gained fame as the graveyard. Originally constructed in 1875 for a brass bed frame company, the building had easy access to the Erie Canal which must have made it popular, and among other things it historically served as a cider mill and ceramics factory.

Around 1997 Kohl sold the building and motorcycles to "Frank", who operated the business as Kohl’s Cycle Salvage, selling parts off of the hundreds of motorcycles. Although he had begun paying the back taxes, the interior of building was now falling apart and the roof was caving in.
With Frank unable to afford repairs the City of Lockport condemned the building, and it basically became an open picking grounds for anyone in the know. With the building condemned Frank didn’t see a reason to continue paying taxes, and the city also assumed ownership of all of the contents of the building.



Walter Kohl died in 2002 at the age of 82 . Frank successfully sued the City of Lockport for ownership rights to the contents of the building and was issued a deadline of mid November 2010 to remove the contents. By October Frank had begun scrapping motorcycles.

On Tuesday July 30th, 2013 Lockport Police and Fire departments received a 911 call reporting a fire at 71 Gooding Street. At about 2 p.m. the building's north wall collapsed. Three people, believed to be in their teens, were seen running from the building shortly before flames broke out.

BTW, if any of my readers want to donate old biker magazines to a good cause (i.e. enhancing my soggy gray matter) please drop me an email at charvin23@gmail.com. English language reading/reference material is in pretty short supply out here and thanks to the EU even Google is rapidly becoming useless. ;)

Original article by Dynamite Dave
Historic Lockport building to be demolished in wake of fire 
Flickr photoset by Chris Luckhardt
Weird tale in Lockport parts 1 and 2


The Great Frankenbike Resurrection

"I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion. Frightful must it be..." - Mary Shelley, 1831

About 2007 a buddy of mine bought this Ural M61/Honda "Frankenbike" which had been lovingly modified with odd bits found on construction sites and a few plumbing fittings. Unfortunately for him, motor vehicle registration in BG at the time involved archaic rituals of tax stamps, third cousins, term limits and chicken entrails: he missed the fine print about the chicken entrails and the bike went into storage with the original plates on it, racking up taxes in somebody else's name over the years.

Eventually I wound up with it.

Sorting new registration was impossible so it became a parts bike, sitting in my garage for a couple more years as I slowly cannibalized bits for the M72.

One day I got a message from a brother up in RO that he had suddenly come to his senses and had decided to liquidate his entire yard full of old Russian scrap. Knowing that I was a full-fledged сумасшедший, he thought perhaps I would be interested in purchasing said scrap heap. A primary selling point being that nothing was registered anywhere and I could get a receipt for payment... I bit like a rabid (and slightly mangy) street cur chasing a truckload of bacon. Sitting in the garage, jacked up on cheap vino and local ditchweed, I began staring at the remnants of John's old bobber and a half-baked plan began to form.

New frame down to raw Soviet Steel

There were still plenty of engine parts leftover...the only real problem was the numbers. Another clean case & frame could bypass the legal hassles; so when the Valicaddy showed up in the drive and regurgitated a veritable treasure chest of fenders, engine bits and a lovely original M61 frame I donned my overalls and dug straight in, stripping the frame down to bare metal and redressing her in a classy coat of matte black.
The forks are 100cm Showa pneumatics (MC4-003), probably off a Honda XL500R. They fit the original Ural headstocks perfectly, and I complimented the front end with tapered steering head bearings to replace the original balls. The front wheel is a huge 21" spoked aluminum rim, which caused a bit of consternation as several spokes had to be replaced: this was my first introduction to the parts game.
See, anybody here can order these parts, NO PROBLEM.
They can have them here in 5 days, NO PROBLEM.
When you show up after a week to get them, they'll be here tomorrow, NO PROBLEM. When you show up 3 days later, they're on the way, NO PROBLEM.
You are now in an indefinite loop. Eventually you get tired of driving across town to pick up your parts that don't actually exist so you revert to using the phone. They stop answering. After a month you give up on any thoughts of building a relationship with the local suppliers and embrace Ebay.

Lacing the rear wheel

Spokes finally sourced, off for nickel plating (I have my reasons for avoiding chrome) at a local factory which partially restored my faith in mankind. Rear wheel (above) is stock, relacing was interesting.

The engine had a complete rebuild using new bearings, seals, pistons and rings. Of the 3 cranks I had available I took the best.

At this point the build had taken about a year- picking stuff up as money permitted, waiting on parts, and generally just working on it when I had spare time. I wasn't in a hurry, I was intending to just build it for myself at that point and since I already had the M72 (along with the accompanying maintenance she required) the project began to languish on the back burner.
I'm not sure what prompted me to make the decision to sell it and buy a riceburner, but somehow that entered the equation. Speed was certainly a factor- I do have an (almost) real job and being able to ride over 80kph (50mph) was becoming a necessity if I wanted to get anywhere for the weekend. The bike was almost finished (I thought) and I found a great deal on an Intruder. Several people had expressed interest in the bike from the time I started the build, and my bro Guy had cash on hand and a strange psychotic urge to leave the comfortable bounds of rationale and immerse himself in the shadowy world of Russian Iron. Leva changed hands. I vowed to complete the project for him: he chuckled demonically. A contract was signed in Rakia and the blood of 13 virgin wombats: the machine now officially owned my soul.

                    Single pedal shifter extension                                                      Headlight shell/ignition wiring

12v alternator mod

Unfortunately (you'll see me use that term often in this article) there was still no budget for parts, so everything had to be done with what I had on hand. We rebuilt the original K37s (STFU about K68s already) and had new cables sorted to fit the high rise bars. Drag pipes were drawn up and poorly bent by a shop in Varna that would be better off making spaghetti than running a tube bender, so wraps were in order and I got to play the parts game again searching for internal baffles that would fit.
The bike was originally fitted with a 6v Г-424 generator: brackets and fittings were made to accommodate a Soviet 12v alternator and solid state regulator. The new ignition switch is from a tractor and has a larger profile than the original, so more mods had to be made in the headlight shell to accommodate wiring. The reflector was replaced with a H4 bulb fitting and a modern control switch was wired in to add bar-end turn signals and the electrical switch for hi/low beam selection (the stock switch is cable operated). I fabricated a custom kickstand to fit the drag pipes.

This is where shit began to get interesting. Guy is not a small man; this is not a particularly large bike. Riding it in a stock position would have him banging his knees on his chin. Everything had to be extended. Fortunately I had an odd gearbox that had been fitted with a solo shifter rather than the familiar rocker lever, and extensions on that along with the rear brake lever allowed us to drop the foot pegs down enough for him to get a bit more legroom. 


Guy also took over the paint plan of course, hydro-dipping everything himself. My "any color is ok for a bike as long as it's black" philosophy did not stand a fucking chance and despite fighting tooth and nail I finally had to face facts and succumb to his Timothy Leary inspired graphic interpretations of Easyrider. The first attempts failed miserably, but in the end he came through with something that, I have to admit, isn't completely horrible.

It isn't a shiny $30,000.00 "American Chopper" and it was never meant to be. It's a solid old Russian that starts on the first kick and tells you two blocks away that something is coming. It wasn't a restoration job, it was produced on a miniscule budget and the spit-and-polish shit has never been my style. It is what he wants, hopefully: not quite a rat but definitely not a bling machine. It's still a Frankenbike.
So without pulling any makeup out, here's the final results...



The Grease Monkey

The Brother

The Bitch

Model: Sylvia Rosat
For more information on the original Ural M61 see Irbit and Kiev: The Ural and Dnepr Motorcycles