Yankee Z 500 72 Mike-Jim

Our Yankee Story

The “Unintended” Eight Week Restoration

Race to the Reunion!

Jim Foster, Bob Smith, Wayne Slate (my Dad) and I have a modest collection of OSSA Motorcycles.  Jim was a dealer in the early 1970’s, my dad rode Yankees’ on poker runs, and we all test rode them around the shop.  It only seemed fitting to add one to our collection!yan_z_72_500_msjf (130)small

After five or so visits to see “Yankee Bob” Fornwalt in Manheim, PA he made us a deal on a “Yankee Z”.  He said we could have any color we wanted as long as it was silver!  We picked up the project on June 17, 2011.

My original intent was to “point-up” the bike and get it running.  But you know how it goes… missing clutch rods, frozen shift drum and forks, bad exhaust threads and flanges, a rusty clutch, corroded fasteners and nipples… what’s a restorer to do? After a couple of nights in the shop, there was only a frame and carcass of an engine sitting there!  Jim walks in one night and says, “Mike, we might as well recoat the frame,,, since you’ve gone this far”.
How many times have we heard that before?

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More work!  By June 30th, we sent the appropriate pieces off to the chrome, zinc, cadmium and powder coat shops.  By July 8th, we gave up trying to restore the spokes and nipples and just ordered new ones.  More money!  As part of the deal, Bob set us up with “useable” body work that looked great – until they were next to the restored bike.  No Good!  Order the stripe kit and prep the parts for paint!

A Yankee is like a good woman – they make a guy do some crazy stuff!

yan_z_72_500_msjf (161)smallOn August 8th, Scott and I started the beast – compression release was hanging open, the right carb slide was sticking, brakes weren’t working too well – it’s always something!  But it RAN!  The engine is quiet, most of the lights worked and it even shifts!  Big smile!

Long story short, eight weeks of nights and weekends, several trips to Yankee Bob’s, 143 man hours and a couple of bucks later – our Yankee is ready for the show!

Thanks to all who helped,


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P.S.  Bob Fornwalt really is “Da Yankee Man”!

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