Jim Haubert Engineering
About Me
This page is for those interested in my background and the history of this business.

Home
About Me
My Location
My Policies
Contact Me/Links
Pages Related to Motorcycles
XLCR Project Introduction
XLCR Fuel Tank Repair
XLCR Tank Badge Repair
XR750 Swing Arms
Competition Network Articles - 2002
Softail Project Introduction

Pages Related to Horology
Prototype Precision Clock
Next Generation Precision Clock
Beveled & Etched Pendulum Bob
Music Box Repair
Bushing Machine
Depthing Tool

Other Projects
UHV Welding
Plexiglas Chamber
Tungsten Filament

Business history

Establishing this business in 1973 to provide high quality prototype design, machining, and fabrication for those involved in the transportation industries, my experience has grown to include mechanical instruments, electron microscope repair and ultra high vacuum welding.

In July of 1973 I was hired to build/restore a replica of a 1935 Harley race bike. The bike was to be donated to the Museum of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where it is to this day.

For rest of the 1970's I was building experimental and prototype motorcycles and components for Harley-Davidson Motor Company. My favorite project from that time was being the builder of the prototype Cafe Racer pictured on the Home Page and the XLCR Project Introduction page. I was further involved with helping this motorcycle to become a production reality. For five years after my work on what would become the XLCR, I continued to work for Harley under a yearly contract. During this contract period, the next experimental motorcycles built by me were:
  • Prototype 1977 Low Rider
  • Prototype 1979 XL
  • Prototype XL750 that became the XR1000 years later
  • Prototype Wide Glide
  • Prototype Softail
  • I also restored the 1903 Harley for the 1976 Daytona exhibit
Wikipedia states, "The designation "skunk works" or "skunkworks" is widely used in business, engineering, and technical fields to describe a group within an organization given a high degree of autonomy and unhampered by bureaucracy, tasked with working on advanced or secret projects." This definition has been used by others to describe my business and it seems to fit rather well except for the fact that I was an outside contractor, not a group within the organization.

 Those of you interested in some of my experiences from that time may wish to read a continuing series of articles I have been writing for the Competition Network Quarterly. The first three of these articles are on the last page of this site, accessed on the left.

 Although I was unprepared for it, I am thrilled with the growing interest in the XLCR and the worldwide response that I have received as a result of this site.

No true artist that I know of enjoys seeing his/her work willfully destroyed. I will never forget my internal response over 25 years ago when I was unsuccessful in trying to save the original Cafe Racer from destruction. My thought was, "I did it once, I can do it again." No blueprints or sketches for the prototype were ever made by anyone. Because I was responsible for many design elements, plus virtually all of the machining and fabrication, I am the only person in the world that can reproduce this bike.

Refusing to allow my spirit to be destroyed along with the prototype, for many years I quietly gathered the parts I needed to duplicate the bike. With period photos, notes and even my original time sheets, my reconstruction was started in February of 2000. On April 14, 2000 a giant step forward was made when a Sportster of the correct year was secured. This Sportster had not been on the road for a long time so the frame still had the original white paint in the serial number.

I have already started writing a book to completely explain how the prototype was conceived and built. I will also detail how the XLCR evolved from the original prototype. I seek to clear up many misconceptions about the XLCR and to provide a solid understanding of the entire process to develop and produce these bikes. This should be of special interest to those concerned with preserving them in the years to come.

At the beginning of April 2005, my only son took his own life. Not feeling there was much of a reason to stay in Casa Grande, we purchased a fixer-upper house and shop in Winslow, AZ so we could live closer to our daughter, who lived in Flagstaff.

For most of the next three years we started desperately needed repairs to the shop and house. We were also moving the house and shop across the state with every trip. My shop move was delayed by my being involved a traffic accident leaving me with two torn ligaments in my right knee.

Then came the real estate meltdown. $40,000.00 dollars that was to be leftover from the sale of the Casa Grande house evaporated overnight.

We still consider ourselves fortunate because we have a house and shop with no mortgage. However, I am forced to do most of the work myself and with limited funds. This severely reduces luxury time that I would like to have for the motorcycle projects and book. In November it will be three years since I was able to get the shop and house kitchen roofs replaced. I could finally take the tarps off of all of my machinery.

Yes, the roofs were that bad.

To all of you who have tried to contact me since I started this website, please accept my apology if you are among those who I never answered.

Things actually do seem to be settling down ....... FINALLY ....... and the near future looks more promising for me. I am doing my best to clear enough aside to devote the required time to finishing the book and three motorcycles.

Thank you so much for your interest and patience. 

My Background

Just having turned 5 years old, my mom took this photo of me in 1952. This was in my dad's basement workshop of our house. He started his last of 3 machine shops here and this was where I began learning how to run a lathe when I was 12.

By the time I was 13, my dad had purchased the cheapest excuse for an arc welder from the back pages of a Popular Science magazine.

Extremely frustrating to use I didn't realize what a great learning tool it actually was until years later when I had the chance to try an ordinary 'buzz box' 220 volt welder. I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

Before high school I rode my bicycle to my dad's shop countless times to make things for a  mini-bike I was building that was powered by a Harley 165cc. 2 stroke. Boy, ..... did that thing fly!!!

I also made my own burglar alarm for our garage around this time.

It worked great except for just one tiny glitch that escapes me at the moment ..................hmmmm................. now what was it?

Oh yeah, I remember now!

It set the house on fire.

Probably to save the house from me, my dad helped me make another one.

While in high school school, I studied Auto Trade at Boys' Trade and Technical High School in Milwaukee, WI. Graduating in 1965. My leisure time was mostly spent with muscle cars, motorcycles, car shows and drag racing. I was also helping a friend build a helicopter in his basement.

As far as I know, he never finished the helicopter once he bought a North American B-25 Mitchell bomber. I had several opportunities to work on that with him. I designed and built 3 jacks to lift the 12 ton aircraft off its landing gear so the hydraulic system could be tested after repairs.

All through high school and for almost 7 years after, I continued to work for and with my dad learning the machining and tool & die making trade.

In 1972 I had the opportunity to become the Experimental Machinist for the Racing Department of Harley-Davidson. I stayed just over one year and during this time I took 2 semesters of auto body sheet metal repair at the Milwaukee Area Technical College night school program. For years I had a desire to learn how to hand form sheet metal and finally did it.

As I mentioned above, I started my own shop in 1973 after leaving H-D.

In late 1975, I negotiated a retainer with H-D and for the rest of the 70s I built experimental & prototype motorcycles for H-D under contract from the basement of our own Victorian home.

 There's that basement theme again!

It was in this house that I built the prototype clock that I detail on another page.

Although I have always maintained my business, I went to work for West Bend Company (cookware) as a tool & die maker. I really had my eyes opened up to just how many talented and dedicated craftspeople were around. I realized that most of what I had done up until then had been rehashing the same skill sets I had left with from my dad's shop. Working with several other craftsmen as skilled as my dad, each with a unique perspective, was one great learning experience!

We moved to the mountains of West Virginia to build a homestead for our family and a shop for myself. During that 9 year period we went through many experiences that I am planning to discuss eventually in another area of the website. But for now, here's a view of the building progress.
The photo above was taken by standing at the front of my shop roof - an old reefer semi trailer shown below.

A few years ago, I discussed this move of my shop in the 'General' section of the Home Shop Machinist forum. There are more photos and explanation in that forum located here:

http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net/threads/50262-So-I-took-my-machine-shop-into-the-woods%E2%80%A6

After West Virginia, we moved to Casa Grande, AZ. One of the jobs I had was as an instrument maker for the Mechanical Instrument Shop of the Physics & Astronomy Department of Arizona State University. Once again I was blessed to work with some of the finest craftspeople I have ever had the pleasure to work with. Several are good friends to this day.

While there, I was able to pick up quite a bit of additional experience.

I designed and built a fairly simple but effective EDM machine receiving a great deal of assistance with the electronics from a co-worker (one of the good friends) from another department. Over 16 years later, the machine still functions well.

For those who have been losing sleep wondering if I would include this more recent shot from my original website, the headgear has changed a bit from the first photo. Plus, now I must confess that I have contracted LHS (lazy hair syndrome). It no longer has the energy to push its way up, so it just comes out the bottom. I expect a cure any day now.

All material on these pages is copyrighted by Jim Haubert 2002 - 2016
 
310 1/2 W. Second Street,  Winslow, AZ,  US,  86047,  928-289-2568

Now Located on "The Mother Road", Historic Route 66