I hope you’re still hangin’ in there, bro! I’ve been pretty busy and we have indeed made some progress! I did find out the the back rest I previously mentioned is actually set up for a slightly larger CB750 and is waaaay too damn wide to fit your CX. However, on the brighter side I do have a stock rear chrome luggage rack. This rack was actually made for this model bike and mounts the rear turn signals to it. I have included a picture of it mounted on the bike and I looks really great! Now if Tammy slides backwards on acceleration, the worst that will happen is an imprint on her ass that resembles either a mini barbecue grill or a xylophone. That’s wrong, isn’t it? I lost my “filter” years ago soooooo. I think Rhonda stole it. However, this rack actually has the two forward ends of the tubing frame open with plastic collars inside them. Being a very old school scooter tramp, I know these are actually bushings. These bushings are inserted into the tubes to put pressure on another component. A loop style backrest! The backrest has a forward facing padded rest mounted to a round tube frame with the two lower legs facing rearward opposite the back rest side. These two rearward tubes slide directly into the forward facing tubes of the rear rack. Somewhat like a trombone action. A really clever design. It may take awhile but they are out there and I shall find one. Of course the other option is that, being the crafty bastard that I am, I’ll just fabricate one! Anyway, the picture will show you how good it looks with just the rack mounted.
Now for some exciting stuff. I have the old gal stripped of all the electrical wiring, handle bar cables and controls, headlight, horn, front brake controls and caliper, carburetors, fuel tank, seat, and radiator. Pictures are included of everything in plastic containers. I use plastic containers because they don’t get soaked with water or fluids or get that nasty ass musty smell from growing mold like cardboard does. Not to mention that it protects the parts much better. Everything you see in the boxes will be disassembled and completely cleaned and then reassembled. I included two pictures of the headlight bucket with the dirty wiring followed by another picture of the same wiring cleaned with Simple Green. I will definitely be cleaning out that headlight bucket and coating it with rust converter. That is some cool shit man. Spray it on rust and when the rust turns black, it is no longer oxidized! Gotta wear a mask with some of this stuff otherwise it will try to do the same thing to your lungs. I mean, who wants to sound like that 75 year old truck stop waitress who smells like the ash tray on your table, right??? To my previous point, everything including the wiring harness will be cleaned. First, I soak the brass connectors (just the connector) in brown vinegar. Brown vinegar has a 5% acetic acid concentration and is the best thing I know of for cleaning brass or copper safely. You can toss a practically black penny into it and over night it will come out looking like new! One has to be patient since the acid concentration is only 5% so the harness connectors will sit in the vinegar for at least 24 hours and will get a light wire brushing when done to make them shiny again. Green corrosion on old harness connectors is not our friend. Its kind of like a sinus infection, just a different shade of green. I put that in there for Rhonda. I can hear her gagging even as I type 🙂 Yeah, she proof reads my letters. After that, (cleaning the harness, not Rhonda gagging) I generally hang the harness from one end or from the middle, depending on how long it is and then spray it down with Simple Green, followed by light nylon brush scrubbing, followed by a wipe down rinse with a rag soaked in clean water, followed by a drying wipe down and finished with a wipe down of WD40. Makes them look almost factory new. The key to making an old bike look good is cleanliness and shine. I’ve seen bikes that had great paint on the fender and tank and there was this ugly nasty ass wiring harness looking like it laid in the mud just before they put it on. I mean WTF??? Do the whole job! Another thing I think is really lame are so many guys are taking an old bike and just spraying the entire thing with a coat of primer and calling it a custom bobber, then asking $1500 for it. Somehow, a motorcycle tire painted primer gray just ain’t stylin’ and it tells me someone has probably been sniffing the spray paint to get their stylin’ ideas.
I still have more tear down to do, but as I said previously, I want to set the valves and since I don’t have an engine stand I will do that on the bike. That is the next step and I’ll send pictures with my next letter. I leave both wheels on the bike when I do engine work so it is more stable than placing a motorcycle jack under the engine and removing the front end. Not many things suck worse than having your scooter fall over putting some nice cracks in that pretty cracked aluminum or on that gray covered cranium. Worse if one of those pieces happens to be the edge of the cylinder head. Removing the valve covers will also tell me if there is much sludge in the engine. If so I’ll clean the oil passages and check the oil pump, but as the oil I drained out of it was nice and kind of the color of pale root beer, I expect it will be fairly clean inside. It was running nicely when I went to look at it so I think we’re golden on that one. I know it will be somewhat boring but I will send before and after pictures of components as I clean and restore each one. Cleaning ain’t exactly exciting but I really enjoy taking something from dirty and dingy to a clean and, in the case of wiring, colorful as new condition. It is such an important step in making an old vehicle look great. Generally what makes a bike, or any vehicle for that matter, that’s been sitting for a while look so crappy is the layer upon layer of dust and corrosion that has accumulated as it sat for what has been usually years. One of the first things I do when I bring a bike home is give it a good thorough washing all over and then hose to motor down with WD40. WD40 makes it look really clean and shiny right away, but the reason I do that is to soften up and old grease and oil that have collected dust/dirt and become as hard as wood pecker lips! Old grease impregnated with road dirt can be damn near impossible to remove without breaking out the ol scraper.
I have created a list of what you asked for. You may be in a place right now where you don’t have many choices, but out here you do, so as you think of things just let me know and I shall add it to the list. Once it is met I mark it done, just like this:
Stock handlebars – done
Stock seat – done
Black wall tires – done
Small fairing, w/radio (silverwing) – planned
Tank logo w/ Illinois Innocence Project and place for release date – planned
Tank color – ?
That should work to keep us “aligned” so when you sit your ass on it for the first time, you can truthfully say “It’s exactly the way I imagined it!” We can do that.
Well, I did finish the Miami bike. I put a little over one hundred miles on it to make sure it was actually complete and working well and then it went to a guy in the mountains of NC, up close to Boone. Really pretty up there and close to the Blue Ridge parkway. I traded him for an unfinished Yamaha XS650 chopper. Construction wise it’s 95% done but wiring, a few simple part fabrications like the headlight mount and rear fender fit up and final paint. I plan for it to be the last bike I build and I wanted to go back to my youthful roots and build an original wild ride. It has a hellaciously long springer on the front and is so low it’ll probably scrape speed bumps even at a crawl 🙂 Don’t know yet but I may have to get that frame up out of the grass for highway ridin’! I included pictures of both the finished CX and the chop. It will be awhile before I do much to it. I have to clean and set the Goldwing’s carbs and then degree wheel the point timing to the camshafts to get it to run correctly. The old Wings are very touchy but not impossible to work on. When set up correctly they are one of the best motors on the market. Most good for well over 200,000 miles if well maintained. Yep, no joke, 5 zeros in that last number. The newer models (1500 cc size) are known to do double that. There is actually a bike mechanic in Dubuque, Iowa who has worked at the local Honda shop for decades. Rides his Wing to work, even in the winter. The bike has over 450,000 documented miles on it and was so impressive the local news did a story on it along with the local paper. I personally saw the bike and it looks like new! F**kin kewl!
I manage my time in segments for the sake of consistency. It works like this. I’ll take somewhere in the neighborhood of one or two nights after work to restore the CX’s wiring harnesses, using the method I mentioned earlier. Then depending on where we are with the project, let’s say I’m waiting on carburetor parts and gaskets for the CX, I may move to the Nighthawk engine and spend two nights cleaning it and getting it ready for paint when warm weather returns. I would really like to have all of our bikes done with the new chopper almost complete by this time next year. Farming out the paint save WEEKS of time on each bike and I am glad to do it. I’ll paint the engines or, for your CX clean to original engine silver if that is what you’d like. the Nighthawk engine will be gloss black for certain.
One really cool thing I did see on your CX is a balanced air ride stock front suspension! The 1980 I just traded did not have that. It may have been a 1981 CX500 first. In one of the pictures you can see me pointing to a hose connecting the two upper fork tubes with one of the tubes having a Schrader valve (fancy correct name for the typical valve used in tire valve stems and most devices inflatable with air) as an air input. This allows you to stiffen the front suspension for tighter handling on curvy roads. My green bike has a valve on each tube so they have to be checked individually.
I’ll keep sending updates and you keep replying so we can get this bad boy done! You’ll be amazed at how good parts will look once I get them clean. Next month I’ll be looking at getting the frame of your CX and my Nighthawk “powdered” and that is really exciting, because once that is done we begin the process of turning them back into “road warriors”. The local shop powders in black all the time so they will just hang both frames with existing contracts, which cuts down on the cost. I think that is very cool. They love to do motorcycle parts and I’m (now we’re) glad 🙂
By the way, we are including a color chart for you to look at. Black would be a good color if you want the innocence logo to be in the blue w/light blue color scheme, but if you want orange then by God that’s what it will be!
Well that’s about it for now, my friend. Keep the faith and I hope I am giving you some things to envision rather than just laying in bed staring at the ceiling.
All my best
What a rack! (Sorry, Tam, not you, the bike!) I know, so wrong on so many levels…
Naked as a J bird! Well, almost
Parts is parts and they gotta be taken care of. Some of this is worth some bucks. Carbs routinely sell for $200 needing a full rebuild (Hence they get their own tote 🙂
Air ride! This’ll keep your bike on the road and your nuts off the tank.
Dirty to clean. That entire headlight bucket interior will be rust converted black when done. I don’t know who the sadistic bastard was who decided all the front end electrical connectors should go inside the headlight bucket instead of an actual electrical box to be protected from the weather but when he gets to heaven, I think Jesus may give him a real hard time before letting him in. These are no fun and the edge of the bucket ain’t very forgiving either!
The finished CX “Miami”
The “Miami’s” replacement.
Take a look at these and if you like one or even a combination of two for a tank color let me know. Just use the letter row/number column to communicate a choice.
As always, I hope this letter finds you and the rest of the family well. I’m doing my best to stay busy and remain focused on the positive. It’s been such a long time since I was stuck in my cell without a job assignment, so it’s taking some time to get used to it. But I’ll make it, I’m sure of that.
I have to say, I wasn’t sure about the fringed handlebar covers until you described what they meant to you – “True freedom in motion.!! YES!! I don’t think it’s a bit corny at all. I’ll remember this conversation the first time I see them flying in the wind.
I’m gonna have to say yes to the back rest for Tammy. Even though yesterday she said she wasn’t sure if she’ll want to ride with me. She’s not sure she’d “Trust Me.” I guess I’ll have to pass “Her Test” before she’ll get on the bike J! There are a few things I don’t think, no matter how long I’m in here, I won’t forget how to do. Driving a car or riding a bike is a couple of them. I’m gonna guess the gear pattern is one up, four down, or is it reversed?
Do bikes also have to pass a state emissions test? I know that was a pain the ass in Florida. I always bought my trucks old enough that they’d be exempt from the emissions testing. I was wondering what’s the helmet laws there in NC and TN? Rhonda sent a letter with a picture of you guys on your bike and you both had on helmets. So is that by choice or is it the law? I’ve never really cared for them too much myself. But I’ve also never banged my head off the pavement at 65 mph.
You truly must have a great amount of patience to be able to break these bikes down and build them back up. My dad was a mechanic all his life with his own shop. I tried working for him a half a dozen times over the years, but I just didn’t have the patience for all the wrench turning.
Your description of trying to find and fix the coolant leak you had going is exactly what would of drove me CRAZY!! Although, after my experience the last 15+ years, I might have the patience now to do that sort of work.
I do like both the colors you have picked, so that’s good with me. I noticed there isn’t a fender on the back. Will you put on or leave it off? I guess it really wouldn’t matter unless you were riding on a wet road.
I’m not sure if you told me before or not, but what exactly is a quality systems auditor? I know Rhonda said you have to travel a lot, but what do you do?
Well Rex, I guess I’ll end this here, and get it on its way. Thanks for the pictures and the updates. I feel like I can actually see it all coming together.
Again, I hope all is well out there with you guys. Be safe and take care. Write when you can!
PS: I was wondering if you get a lot of snow in the Carolina’s or can you ride year round?
I hope you’re hangin’ in there like a hair in a biscuit!
I got a stock seat and handlebars put on it as you requested. They look good together. I also picked up a set of fringed leather handlebar covers. I put those on so you could see them in the picture. If you don’t like em’ they are as easy to remove as untying a shoe! I have them on two of my bikes. It gives them an old school appeal. I also like glancing at that fringe flying in the wind when your running down the road. It’s like looking at true freedom in motion. Nothing holding it down or constraining it, just the fluid motion of leather strips riding on the wind. Corny I know but that’s why I love riding a motorcycle. Just me, the bike and the wind…well unless Rhonda is riding back saddle.
Hey I also realized I actually have an old 70’s style round tube back rest/sissy bar that will fit your bike. It is actually in excellent condition and even has all the brackets to mount it to the bike. The back pad is nice too. I put it up in the garage to keep it from getting dusty or messed up and almost forgot I had it! If you want to go for an old 70’s stock look that would be the icing on the cake. Not to mention…trying to be considerate of Tammy…you won’t have to buy that T-shirt which has written on the back “If You Can Read This the Bitch Fell Off”! For some reason I can picture Kathy laughing and calling me an asshole. 🙂 She was quite the character. We had a love-hate relationship. We both loved liquor and we both hated being without it! So, I’ll put that back rest on the bike before I tear it down so you can see how it looks and if you like it we’ll add it when we build it back up. I can’t think of anything I would be putting it on so there ya have it. They are also great for tying your travel bag to if you are gonna take a road trip.
I am almost finished with the “Miami” bike. I put the decals on it and put a clear coat the tank tonight. Once it cures I need to reassemble the fill cap and petcock to it. Then I’ll bolt it back on and fill it with fuel and it’s ready for the road. I have license and insurance on it already. Being it’s 35 years old, it doesn’t require state inspection! Even if it did, it would pass. I’ve put my booger hooks on every single nut and bolt that holds the old sucker together. It had a small coolant leak that was driving me crazy but I finally found it. The leak was at the base of the water pump, which is located underneath the carburetors. Every time I tried to seal it and failed, I had to remove the battery, unbolt the air box and remove the carbs and throttle cables. Lots of fun there…if you like juggling porcupines… but it appears I have it sealed now. I had it running for about a half hour last night and saw no evidence of any coolant seeping. Sometimes it’s those simple things that make me feel as though I occasionally suffer a severe case of cranial rectal inversion. Is that why they say it’s the simple things that make life worth living? I hope so because those particular situations sure as hell rarely leave one with a sense of accomplishment. It’s more along the lines of “finally, you sorry rat bastard!” But perhaps I go too far.
As soon as I get the tank back on it and move it out of the “work area” I will begin tearing down your bike. I am looking forward to doing that. I plan to do the engine work before I drop it down out of the frame. I enjoy the wrench work a helluva lot more than paint and body work. I know it needs the valves adjusted and I plan to pull the large engine covers off both the front and the rear of the engine. I will of course send pictures. These things were engineered by masters of design. It will be so much easier to do while it’s hanging from the main frame as opposed to sitting on blocks. I want to see what the valve train chains look like as well as the clutch packs. I think that would be a good idea considering it has 39,000 miles on it, which for a Honda is nothing, but it’s always a good idea to see what needs to be tightened or replaced, if you want it to go to 139,000 miles 🙂 I found a complete gasket set for it at a super price so I am also considering pulling the cylinder heads but before I go to that extent, I’m going to run my bore scope into the cylinder heads to look at the pistons. The valves can actually be easily seen by removing the carburetors and I can run the scope through the same ports. If it looks good and only needs the valves shimmed…well, you know the old saying…”if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. Most of these old Hondas and especially these sideways V twins only need adjustments to keep them purring. The reason I’m doing the mechanicals first is so we don’t have to do it after the paint work and mess all that up.
I’ve decided to work both your bike and my Nighthawk at the same time. I will be doing just the mechanical work on them. I have decided to “farm out” the paint work. If black is agreeable to you for the frame and rear swing arm, I am going to have them powder coated. There is a local shop that will media blast and powder coat for a very good price. Powder coating is awesome. Hard as diamond and very shiny. Let me know what you think about that. I was also going to ask how you felt about having the engine gloss black with burnt orange valve covers and one of two other accents on the engine, like the water pipe that runs along the side. I am including a picture of two paint caps for color reference.
So I thought I’d tell an old gear head joke.
There was this penguin who had a nice old Cadillac. He loved the car. One day he headed toward town and the old Caddy was makin a weird noise. The penguin decided to go directly to his mechanic and get it looked at. He gets to the garage and the mechanic says he’ll take a look but it’ll be about an hour. The penguin says, “No problem I’ll just stroll around town for a little while”. As he’s waddling down the sidewalk he sees an ice cream parlor. He says to himself, ” Man, I haven’t had ice cream in years!” He goes inside and looks at all the flavors and realized how much he loves vanilla ice cream. He gets a huge bowl of it, sticks his little beak in it and wolfs it all down. He returns to the garage an hour later to see his mechanic. The penguin says “So, what’s goin on?” His mechanic says “Well, it looks like you blew a seal!” The penguin replies “Nope, just had a bowl of ice cream.”
Lame I know 🙂
Talk to you soon, bro!
All my best
It was good to hear from you, and I’m really excited about the project. I’ll answer as best I can your questions.
I love the bike! I’d take it just as it is, and ride with the biggest damn smile on my face that you ever did see. 🙂
I’m not sure about the color yet. I’d probably go for the regular factory style handlebars. I think for sure I’ll need a full length seat so I can take Tam with me when I ride.
She said she’d be scared to ride with me, but I don’t know why. I started riding mini bikes and motorcycles when I was 5.
I had a Honda 125 when I was like 8 or 9 years old. I had to get on it by standing on a milk crate. I’d take off from a dead stop, ride for as long as I wanted, and then just have to stop and fall over. :). So I think the only thing she’ll have to worry about is my laughing uncontrollably on my first ride out of sheer joy!
I love the plan of a ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I didn’t realize it was that long. How many states does it go through? I would one day like to do a cross country ride. My Dad and I used to talk about doing that. No maps, no real desitination except head West. If I ever the chance Rex, I’m gonna do it.
I’m looking at the pictures of the bike and I wonder is there any way a small fairing would fit on there? Not like a huge Goldwing type thing, just a small one, big enough to hold a radio and a couple of speakers? I’d love to be able to ride with some music…?
I have this dream of one day returning to Florida to visit.
The last time I was there, I remember heading North out of St. Pete across the Howard Franklin Bridge. I remember looking back at the city I called home and wondering to myself if I would ever see it again.
So now my dream is to head back across that bridge one day. This time heading South with the song, “Take the Long Way Home” blasting out of the speakers of whatever I’m in or on.
I’ve got some other ideas I’ll run by you later on and if you think it’s even possible. I think the black wall tires you already have will look great on it. I’m also sending a logo that I really like.
Instead of saying Illinois Innocence Project, it could say across the top “Free Jamie Snow” and at the bottom we’ll put the date I’m set free? What do you think?
Ok, I guess for now I’ll end this here and get it in the mail. I hope all is well out there with you and the family. Tell Rhonda I said hi.
Be safe and write when you can.
Rhonda says ya’ll had a great visit! That’s awesome. Everyone was so excited to meet you and now you know what some more of the family looks like. Well, if the face to face didn’t scare you off I guess nothing will! Don’t worry about me; I’m adorable which is why I’m married to a hot chick. She walked me through the protocol so when I can get up there I’ll know what to do when I come in. I have no idea right now when that time might be but I have added visiting you to my bucket list!
As far as being reckless, I don’t know anyone who wasn’t in their younger years. Every Pennsylvania state trooper out of the barracks in my home town knew me by name. My bad habits were fast loud cars and all the associated nasty behavior that come with it. Racing, drinking, etc. I’m an old married 63 year old now but back then a “juvenile delinquent” like me is who you kept your daughters away from. The family pet too, if I was on my motorcycle. Just kidding…I had my own dog. I paid so many fines the District Magistrate knew my car by sound. Her name was Donna Combs. She even said once,” I heard you drive by my house last night. That was you wasn’t it?” It was me. Apparently, having the only Camaro with straight Thrush mufflers, made me unique. In an over regulated state like PA, you are actually breaking the law if you modify your car in any way at all. Loud pipes then equaled altered exhaust which carried a nifty $50 fine…and that was in 1975!
Moving right along, attached please find pictures of your bike!
I hope you like it. It’s a CX500C very much like the one I am just finishing and just slightly smaller than the green bike I sent pictures of before. She’s got 39,000 miles on her but for these Hondas that’s nothing. She started right up when I went to look her over. These are the bikes Honda made into the long distant Silverwing Interstates, back in the 80’s, because of the smoothness of the engine. I love these sideways V-twins because they do a “torque roll” like a car with a V8 engine, when you rev it up! This old gal is super solid with a good tank and nice mechanicals. It runs smooth and the only thing the engine does need is a valve adjustment. No biggie. I’ll be going over the motor to make sure it doesn’t leak and everything that needs to work actually does. The valves are set up just like a car with overhead rocker arms. I will be rebuilding the carbs which is also easy to do…well, since I have a manual specific to the model it is. Considering I’ve done two sets in the last two years that’s a piece of cake. I already have two brand new black wall tires and rear brake shoes for it.
Right now it is fairly bare bones, as you can see in the pictures. As it sets, it is a very good place to start. All the main pieces you need are there and with it basically down to the frame you can do all kinds of different things. I should have the “Miami” bike (as I’ve come to call it since it’s ocean mist blue) done completely in less than three weeks. As soon as it is, I will start tearing yours down for reworking. Rhonda is going to be the “historian”, taking pictures as we progress, and we’ll be sending update pictures and notes with my letters.
So now it’s up to you to make some decisions! Naturally you don’t have to decide them all at once.
What color or colors do you think you might like?
Do you have any designs you like? (flames, graphics, etc.)
What style of handlebars? (Ape hangers, straight drag bars, pull backs)
Handlebar styles to choose from.
Rise tends to indicate the height of your hand position from where the bar mounts to the upper triple clamp.
Ape hanger handlebars with 14” rise
Drag style handlebars with 4 inch “dogbone” risers
Standard rise (about 6”) handlebars
What style seat? (single solo, full length factory style two up)
Solo seat on my “tail dragger”
Full length two up (riders)
What style frame?
Bobber (cut off right behind the seat like my green bike
Full length (will have to be for a full length two up seat)
What style tires? (white wall or black wall)
There ya go, just a few simple questions! Naturally, you don’t have to answer them right away.
Let’s start with the basic question, since that’s the one I need to start the rebuild from the ground up. What style frame would you like, bobber or full length? Once I know that I can make some suggestions on how we should set her up.
There you have it, the beginning! If you wish let me know what items I can send to help you make decisions. Pictures of the military bike and the Miami bike show a bobbed frame versus a full length frame and a solo seat versus a full length seat. They should help you decide the style. After that, I can send some color patches to help you decide what color you might like.
I hope you find this exciting because I’m wound up tighter than an eight day clock! I have no idea what the hell that means but my dad always said it when he was wired for 480. He always said that when someone else was freaked out. My dad was one of those guys who would do shit like test an electrical circuit by lightly touching it with his fingers. He did it one day in the furnace room when the blower motor wouldn’t kick on. Unfortunately, it, being a steam generating coal furnace, had sweated a puddle of condensation. Dad had been standing in it when he touched the wires. Dad used a test light after that. Amazing that he didn’t end up drooling in his cereal with some of the shit he did like that. He worked as a service technician for the PA Gas & Water Company and was a trained electrician. I think that was his moment of over confidence followed directly by his moment of humility. He was a cool guy and thought Rhonda was the best thing that ever happened to me. He started drooling in his cereal shortly after that statement. Mom loves Rhonda too.
Mom is in her late 80’s and still runs around like a B-B in a rubber room. Wide open throttle. They celebrate her birthday every year by removing another buckle off her straight jacket. Just kidding. She would kick my ass if she heard me say that. I used to prank call her. She’d answer the phone and I would say shit like “Is this the lady who dances topless at birthday parties?” There would be a moment of silence…and I could hear the wheels turning…followed by a “You little bastard, talking to your mother like that!” and then she’d laugh so hard she’d snort! Gotta have some fun. She too loves Rhonda to pieces.
OK back to bike stuff and some questions you asked me. The longest distance I’ve ridden at one time is about two hundred miles. I have not ridden across country like many of my friends but one of these days soon I plan to ride the 8 hours to PA to see an old friend of mine. I ride to work every day if it isn’t raining in the morning. I don’t care if I get wet riding home. When I lived in Dubuque, Iowa a group of us got together every Thursday after work and rode for about 150 miles. We’d ride somewhere and eat dinner/supper and then ride home. Sometimes I didn’t get back until about 9:00 and I’d have all these little bug wings sticking on my vest. Rhonda would almost gag when I told her it was free protein and that I’d been eating em’ for 50 miles! Since moving to NC, I really like to get up in the “twisties” of the Blue Ridge Parkway. When you get out, WE HAVE GOT TO RIDE THE PARKWAY. It is amazing. I’ll take a few days of vacation and we can ride it through several states…none of which are Illinois!
You asked me why the military (green) bike doesn’t have a front fender. I wanted it to have a little chopper “flavor”. It makes the front end look longer and “back in the day” the chopper rarely had a front fender as to accent that long front stretch. Yep, when the road is wet I get a free shower! I got away with leaving the fender off because it actually has a fork bridge. That is the part that keeps your front forks from flexing. You need that when riding fast so the steering stays solid. The CX500 like yours and my Miami bike actually use the front fender as a fork bridge so we need to either leave the front fender on or fabricate a fork bridge to run between the forks using the fender mounting holes. I see some guys take the front fender off on these old 500s and don’t bridge the forks. All I can think is “it’s just a matter of time” and they’ll look soooo cool ricocheting off a damned pine tree. Ignorance ain’t bliss in building scooters. Scooter is my favorite term for a motorcycle. I refer to myself and other riders as scooter tramps. Another old school term which tends to raise eyebrows with some folks. When I get that reaction I want to say “Well, I could have said motorcycle whore!”
OK Jamie I’m closing for now. Want to get this letter to you so you can get back to me with what you want. I am really ready to get started on this! I know there will probably be some lag time between our communications but that’s OK. I am also rebuilding my 1985 Nighthawk at the same time so I’ll just move back and forth between them. Attached are the pictures of different styles I mentioned.
Take care and keep the faith, brother!
Please join us on Saturday, August 1st from 11:00am – 2:00pm at Miller Park in Bloomington, Illinois for the 5th Annual Postcards in the Park to support Jamie Snow’s innocence, and gain awareness about this egregious injustice!
You DO NOT have to be at the actual event to participate! We STILL need your help. This year we will send postcards to McLean County States Attorney Jason Chambers, award winning filmmaker Joe Berlinger, and award winning investigative journalist from the Intercept, Jordan Smith.
Please join the Facebook event site here: https://www.facebook.com/events/448403238651585/
We will respectfully ask Jason Chambers, McLean County States Attorney, to reopen this investigation, test the never before tested physical evidence, grant discovery, and to please quit using McLean County tax payer funds to fight this wrongful conviction.
We will ask Mr. Berlinger and Ms. Smith to please do an investigative story on this case. Both are very well respected in their fields, and Jamie’s story needs to be heard on a national level.
We will have postcards for everyone to write messages at the park and will also release a balloon for each year he has been wrongfully convicted.
All supplies will be provided. Just bring yourself, your kids and friends! Please join us and tell you friends!
If you CANNOT ATTEND, please still SEND A POSTCARD to the addresses below:
104 W. Front St.
Bloomington, IL 61701
Please ask him to discontinue opposing DNA and discovery motions. Respectfully ask him to reopen the case. THANK YOU!!
ATTN: Jordan Smith
114 4th Ave. 18th Floor
New York, NY 10011
Please ask her to do an investigative piece on this case. We certainly have enough material for about 20 stories! 🙂
ATTN: Joe Berlinger
435 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014
Please ask him to consider doing an investigative documentary on Jamie Snow’s case. Pick a topic! snitches, state misconduct, faulty eyewitness ID, Ineffective Counsel, first officer on the scene in prison, trial lawyer went to prison…it goes on and on.
You can view this year’s designs here:
Thanks everyone. We’re growing every year, and it will not happen without your support. Thanks for sticking with us, and please keep spreading the word!
We were made aware this week that Jason Chambers has yet again given a blatantly false statement concerning the Jamie Snow case. This is the second time that he has disseminated this lie in a public forum. This time, we do not feel as if we have a choice but to ask for a public retraction. The letter below was sent to Jason Chambers today, the news station (WMBD) was also copied on the communication. We hope he will respond by granting our request. We will keep you informed of any updates.
McLean County States Attorney
104 W. Front St
Bloomington, Illinois 61701
RE: WMBD Quote – Retraction Request
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
On behalf of Jamie Snow supporters, we write to demand the immediate public retraction and clarification of a false, misleading, and deceptive public statement made by you with regard to a recent appellate hearing on behalf of Jamie Snow.
In a WMBD story published May 13, 2015 at: http://www.centralillinoisproud.com/story/d/story/convicted-murderer-seeks-new-trial/37624/b10eRV3HM0OLfGLdrU7Dzw, you were quoted:
“State’s Attorney Jason Chambers says even if there was new evidence, there would still be around 40 people who testified under oath that Snow had bragged to them about committing the murder.”
This statement is patently, objectively false. The state only called 41 people to testify in any capacity at trial, certainly you know this. So are you asserting that Jamie confessed to every single witness the state called at the time of trial except for one?
Similar to disinformation provided to original Snow jury members, you purposely concealed that of the 41 state witnesses who testified at Snow’s trial under oath:
The truth of the matter is that there were 11 witnesses who swore under oath that Jamie “confessed” or implicated himself somehow. Not 40, 11. And what you fail to acknowledge is that the entire purpose of Jamie’s current petition, the new evidence that you are glossing over, is evidence that many of these 11 (not 40) witnesses lied. Jamie never confessed to them.
Eleven (not 40) jailhouse informants which include several alcoholics, a convicted sex offender, prisoners desperate for shortened terms, parolees, paid informants and complete strangers – testified that Jamie Snow “confessed” to them, or implicated him in some way.
The majority of these 11 (not 40) witnesses testified while incarcerated. Several of these 11 (not 40) informants had charges pending, and received leniency on those charges after they testified. Most of these 11 (not 40) jailhouse informants presented stories that were not only inconsistent with their police statements; they were inconsistent with each other’s accounting of events.
Mr. Chambers, you selectively ignore multiple sworn witness recantations and affidavits noting tremendous pressure from the Bloomington Police Department. Witnesses were told exactly what to say on the stand and were provided with details that contradicted their initial interviews. Mothers were threatened with the loss of their children. $7,500 in reward money is yet to be accounted for. The very young victim’s mother was even provided with witness phone numbers to add additional pressure.
You ignore the fact that the newest affidavit states that not only did a witness know he was lying, so did the prosecution. You ignore the approximate 17 affidavits submitted by witnesses in which they recant or change their testimonies. And you continue to ignore the remaining numerous pieces of new evidence before the court comprised of critical state’s evidence that was never disclosed to Snow before trial, was never heard by the jury, and was obtained only through Freedom of Information Act requests.
Instead, you choose to make blatant false statements to the press, use McLean County tax dollars to continue to fight appeals, and refuse to perform DNA testing (paid for by the Exoneration Project) that could confirm Snow’s conviction or exonerate him.
Unfortunately, this is not the first instance wherein you, Mr. Chambers, have made false public statements concerning this matter. On March 28, 2014 you made a similar comment on a “VoteJasonChambers” Youtube.com video.
A FOIA was filed on 4/22/14 requesting the names and contact information of “over 40 different people” Snow “bragged about the killing or implicated himself” to, etc. On 4/29/14 Rosalee Dodson, Esq., Asst. Corporation Counsel for the City of Bloomington denied that request in full.
Still, McLean County’s top law enforcement official continues to lie to the press. Maintaining the status quo of your ethically challenged predecessors, you have crossed boundaries set forth in the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct. We have posted the relevant rules at the end of this letter for your review.
The State has unfettered access to every detail regarding witnesses who previously claimed Jamie Snow “confessed,” yet continues to publicly disseminate blatant falsehoods with reckless regard for the truth. We overlooked the last instance, but are now forced to demand a public retraction in an attempt to end this libelous and inflammatory abuse of public office.
We further ask that the retraction and clarification be disseminated as widely as the original statement, to specifically include WMBD, the source of the original statement.
Sue Gless Thorne
cc: Jeff Mulligan, WMBD News Director/Operations
Jenny Goodman, WMBD Managing Editor
Paul Cicchini, WMBD Main Anchor
Maria Chandler, WMBD Main Anchor
Jacob Peklo, WMBD General Assignment Reporter
Hannah Hilyard, WMBD General Assignment Reporter
Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct
RULE 3.6 Trial Publicity
(a) A lawyer who is participating or has participated in the investigation or litigation of a matter shall not make an extrajudicial statement that a reasonable person would expect to be disseminated by means of public communication if the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that it would pose a serious and imminent threat to the fairness of an adjudicative proceeding.
RULE 3.8 Special Responsibilities of a Prosecutor
(d) In addition to his or her obligations under Rule 3.6, a public prosecutor or other government lawyer in criminal litigation shall exercise reasonable care to prevent investigators, law enforcement personnel, employees or other persons assisting or associated with the prosecutor in a criminal case from making an extrajudicial statement that the public prosecutor or other government lawyer would be forbidden from making under Rule 3.6.
(e) The prosecutor in a criminal case shall refrain from making extrajudicial comments that would pose a serious and imminent threat of heightening public condemnation of the accused, except for statements that are necessary to inform the public of the nature and extent of the prosecutor’s action and that serve a legitimate law enforcement purpose.”
In 1935, the United States Supreme Court described the duty of a federal prosecutor in the following passage:
“…He may prosecute with earnestness and vigor – indeed, he should do so. But, while he may strike hard blows, he is not at liberty to strike foul ones. It is as much his duty to refrain from improper methods calculated to produce a wrongful conviction as it is to use every legitimate means to bring about a just one.” Berger v. United States, 295 U.S. 78, 88, 79 L. Ed. 1314, 1321, 55 S. Ct. 629, 633 (1935).”
We would like to first thank everyone who was able to attend the hearing today to support Jamie, the Snow family, and the Exoneration Project. Your support in the courtroom speaks volumes, and we deeply appreciate everyone who was able to attend. I know there were many of you who were unable to attend, but the outpouring of good wishes on Jamie’s social media sites means the world to us! I cannot WAIT to tell him about all of the wonderful posts and hearing attendees – it makes a difference!
As discussed previously, the court’s primary issue to decide here is whether the successive post conviction petition was unfairly denied. Just to be clear – ALL we are asking for is chance to file this petition which was filed in May 2103 and was denied outright by the lower court – without a hearing.
The Oral Arguments audio is already online, so slap your headphones on and take a listen!
This hearing was held before a panel of three judges: Lisa Holder White, James A. Knecht and Robert J. Steigmann. Each side argued for 20 minutes (starting with the defendant), followed by the State, and ending with the defendant getting 5 minutes for rebuttal.
In reference to the polygraph received obtained through FOIA request – the one NEVER revealed to Jamie’s defense team prior to trial – in which star witness Danny Martinez specifically stated that Jamie Snow was not the person he saw – the State continued to make the weak argument that Martinez was referring to the 1991 line up in which Martinez failed to id Jamie Snow. In the polygraph worksheet notes, it describes the witness airing up his tires, then specifically says: “w says this is not the person he saw.” The State claims the defense is “blowing this up” and turning into something that goes to misconduct by the government. However, there’s no evidence that this note meant anything more than what was written.
Judge Steigmann had an excellent question for the state: So, the witness failed to identify petitioner in the lineup within a few weeks of the crime, and then 3 years later when this polygraph exam is taken, the note in the margin says that Martinez says petitioner is not the person he saw, and…your…description of that is that refers to the lineup?
Thats when things got fuzzy. A lengthy response that didn’t really answer his very straightforward question at all. She still ended with saying that it was a ‘shorthand’ way of saying that Martinez did not ID Jamie in the lineup.
There were also questions by both Knecht and Steigmann concerning affidavits that were previously submitted in which witnesses stated that Martinez and Jamie were acquainted growing up, and that Martinez had told people that he knew Jamie Snow and that Jamie was not the person he saw. The State’s response was basically that there is no evidence that Martinez knew Jamie (and how he looked) during the time of the crime, even if he knew him growing up.
Concerning the affidavit that was submitted by one of the jailhouse informants wives, there were several questions from Stiegmann about why she came forward years later. It was really a bizarre exchange that he simply would not let go of. You just have to hear it yourself, he harped on that issue to the point of absurdity. Not sure anyone knew where he was going with that. Finally, he asked an odd question about whether it we should ‘…stop everything if she came forward in 2025? Tara was like, “Yes.” It isn’t unusual for a witness to come forward years, sometimes even decades later. This is certainly not the first time this has happened.
There was also a focus on the details of the affidavit. Knecht pointed out that the affidavit was unique in that it had so many details such as naming the the detective that put pressure on them, and explaining other details – and that they usually do not see such detailed affidavits.
I do not recall any questions concerning the failed polygraphs by jailhouse informants. Although the State went down the list of jailhouse informants, expressed the leniency they received AFTER they testified. I guess she was trying to make the point that there was no evidence of deals or promises BEFORE they testified. It was another strange event, and I’m not sure how that’s going to work out for them. I just kept thinking what an odd coincidence it was that they ALL received favor on thier cases after they testified.
During rebuttal, Steigmann made another bizarre comment, “…Mr. Snow sounds like a real mope who really did a hell of a job incriminating himself by his behavior…” So, of course, I had to look that one up. According to the Urban Dictionary:
Mope: A person of any race or culture that is: presenting themselves as uneducated (either by mannerisms or the clothing they are wearing). Plural = Mopes Mopes usually are up to no good and may have an extensive criminal record and a limited vocabulary.
Aside from sentencing hearings, I don’t believe I’ve ever heard a higher court judge say anything so disparaging in court about a defendant. Perhaps I’m naive, but I seriously think that comment crosses an ethical line. I’m sure Jamie’s daughter didn’t appreciate having her father talked about in such a derogatory manner by an appellate court judge.
In closing, Tara Thompson did a wonderful job of stressing thoughout the arguments that the new evidence must be looked at cumulatively. And that Brady says we must ask ourselves if the new evidence undermines our confidence in the verdict. We say yes, it does.
Media about this hearing:
The Pantagraph: Snow makes new bid for hearing on DNA testing
Please join us on Tuesday April 28 at 8 PM CDT, for the first show on IA’s new format.
Jamie’s case will be back in Appellate Court on May 12. We will discuss the arguments that will be heard during the hearing and provide an overall update of the case.
Please visit our show page to listen in. All live shows will also be available on our show page archive. So if you miss the live broadcast, be sure to catch the podcast at your convenience.
Jamie Snow was wrongfully convicted in 2001 for the 1991 murder of William Little, a gas station attendant in Bloomington, Illinois. Jamie is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole in Stateville prison in Joliet, Illinois.
Jamie Snow has proclaimed his innocence from day one. In the years following his conviction, new information has come to light clearly showing that police misconduct and bad lawyering sent the wrong man to prison for William Little’s murder. Jamie Snow is innocent.
This time around, we are presenting “Brady” evidence. Which means evidence that was favorable to the defendant, but was withheld from him prior to trial. So what do we have?
Polygraph: This is actually a polygraph worksheet that was obtained through FOIA requests from supporters. The actual polygraph is Jamie Snow’s – 1994. In the notes on the worksheet, “Star witness” Danny Martinez says in reference to the suspect that Snow was not the person he saw.
This evidence was never turned over to Snow. In the state’s reply brief, they make a few very thin arguments.
1) They question whether the “28 year old white male suspect” was actually Jamie Snow. However, the state neglected to redact Snow’s name on the second page of the report. Guess they missed this part?
2) The state goes onto concede that “under the assumption Snow was the subject of the polygraph, ” the witness saying the defendant “is not the person he saw” seems like a “shorthand way of explaining that Martinez did not identify defendant in 1991 when defendant stood as part of an in-person lineup that Martinez viewed.” There is absolutely no evidence that Martinez was referring to the 1991 lineup in which he did not identify Snow, or any of the other photo array’s over the years in which he failed to ID Snow.
3) Finally, the state explains that Martinez was NOT a critical witness. “Therefore, the record rebuts defendant’s characterization of Martinez as a “critical” witness against him.” And bolsters Luna’s ID at “a lot stronger than Martinez.” Recall, Luna was the 14 year old boy who ‘closed his eyes and imagined each of them doing it, and Jamie Snow best fit.” One of the few the state didn’t ask to ID Snow in court, and also one that happened to give an affidavit recanting his ID. How convenient to be able to rewrite history, eh? If only the rest of us had those magical powers.
In addition to the above claims, 2 failed polygraphs from jailhouse informants, and an affidavit from one of these informants wives is being presented. As with the above, the state is claiming, had this evidence been presented at trial, it would not have changed the outcome.
Unlike previous arguments before the appellate court, we feel these arguments will be based on Brady material, or material that was not disclosed to the defense prior to trial. And also based on whether or not this new evidence would have changed the outcome of the trial.
We sincerely hope that you will join us at this hearing on May 12th at 11am in Springfield to support Jamie Snow and The Exoneration Project.
Below are the pleadings and responses that will be argued: