Craigs List, disappointment and keeping your word


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Jim Barnard

Finally riding a big boys bike
Sep 30, 2017
409
942
58
New London, CT, United States
#1
It does not take too much to get me all "up and 'cited" when I see a poorly lit and out of focus picture of a bike that I am after. It becomes a race against the clock, my common sense and some imagined collector with deep pockets and a fast truck. I don't always ask the right questions before I hit the road and drive at the sellers address.

The pic below is MUCH better than the one on Craigs List that launched me north. The price was 1/6 of what I have been seeing these things going for in recent months. That's OK with me, I thought, I deserve to win every once in a while!

IMG_0385.JPG


So... Could that be a red line slik under the dirt? Ooooo, the console says it is a TCW! That means it is a 3 sp coaster brake, mein fav! That paint (I don't like repaints) is just on the edge of being able to be saved!

Yeech. The bends in the sissy bar is evidence that someone had tried, unsuccessfully, to hammer the sissy bar out of the frame. (You can't be too careful! These frames break easily!)

No front fender! Darn, I am fresh out of them. No brake lever. No sweat, I gots a plenty of these early ones.

I can't believe that the chain guard is still in place... maybe with the proper fasteners...


IMG_0386.JPG


So the bike is outside as I arrive. Facing the way it was photographed. I hand the gent my money because I said I would. As I turn the bike around I notice that there are 5 badly welded breaks in the frame. Of these 5 clotted and splattery welds, 3 have let go again. There are 2 other breaks that the apprentice welder did not notice and never fixed... if "fixed" is the right word for the molten atrocities that presented themselves for my inspection.

IMG_0388.JPG


The wizened wizard of welding (Walter?... Willie?...Walph?) must have tested out the ground connection on the side stand mount, spewing cementious issue where the prop would need to move freely inside the factory race under the crank tube.


IMG_0389.JPG


As I spent time in silence a staring at my new purchase in front of the seller. I was reeling from finding all that was wrong with the bike and tried to mentally recalculate the cost/ benefit/ satisfaction ratio as I realized I would not need to use my set of white CHOPPER decals that I had lovingly set aside for this project and that it was no longer a rescue mission, but had taken the dark turn to a recovery mission. As I dragged the corpse back to my van I realized that I should have asked one of two questions when I had the chap on the phone, before I committed myself...


IMG_0390.JPG


The first question is one that I KNOW I need to ask: "Are you hiding multiple blemishes or perhaps a thing or two you are not proud of on that there OTHER side of the bike?"

The second question would be some thing like this: "Was the owner of this bike a big boned boy with a crew cut whose Daddy was an unemployed welder who's idea of foreplay is 'Hey Sis, are you awake?"







Jim





No, I am not bitter at all.

IMG_0387.JPG
 
Last edited:

lgrinnings

Finally riding a big boys bike
Dec 31, 2010
417
1,266
Newburyport, MA
#2
Same thing just happened to me today with a bike. The photos never tell the full story. Didn't realize till I got it home that it had a broken frame at the bottom bracket plus a bunch of other funky stuff going on. So now, I'm looking at parting it out to get my money back instead of making a rider out of it. It made me feel like crap. I feel your pain Jim.
 

bikecrazy

I live for the CABE
Dec 8, 2011
1,054
357
Mentor, United States
#3
Hopefully this doesn’t lead you down the dark and horrible path of, dare I say it, bike restoration.
I am being sarcastic. I would view this POS as a challenge to bring back to it’s former beauty. Yes, a ton of work but doable. These are the bikes I have the most fun working on.
 

Jim Barnard

Finally riding a big boys bike
Sep 30, 2017
409
942
58
New London, CT, United States
#5
Hopefully this doesn’t lead you down the dark and horrible path of, dare I say it, bike restoration.
I am being sarcastic. I would view this POS as a challenge to bring back to it’s former beauty. Yes, a ton of work but doable. These are the bikes I have the most fun working on.
I love the hobby. But I have had 80? 85? Choppers in my time. I reproduce the chain guards at a metal fab in Michigan. I out source and stock the decals from Connecticut. I have had the seat covers made by the batches in the UK. There are bins of NOS spares in my shop. I have the powder coat matched for most of the early colors. Almost all the Choppers I have had needed something and 1/3 of them needed to be completely redone.

I don't want to do that anymore.

When I restore any bike, I do not end up keeping it. I don't mind a few rechromed parts or a painted fender or decals added over lost ones. There is something special about a factory original bike, to me, at least.
 

Shawn Michael

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Oct 3, 2012
562
551
Keizer, OR
#7
It does not take too much to get me all "up and 'cited" when I see a poorly lit and out of focus picture of a bike that I am after. It becomes a race against the clock, my common sense and some imagined collector with deep pockets and a fast truck. I don't always ask the right questions before I hit the road and drive at the sellers address.

The pic below is MUCH better than the one on Craigs List that launched me north. The price was 1/6 of what I have been seeing these things going for in recent months. That's OK with me, I thought, I deserve to win every once in a while!

View attachment 983200

So... Could that be a red line slik under the dirt? Ooooo, the console says it is a TCW! That means it is a 3 sp coaster brake, mein fav! That paint (I don't like repaints) is just on the edge of being able to be saved!

Yeech. The bends in the sissy bar is evidence that someone had tried, unsuccessfully, to hammer the sissy bar out of the frame. (You can't be too careful! These frames break easily!)

No front fender! Darn, I am fresh out of them. No brake lever. No sweat, I gots a plenty of these early ones.

I can't believe that the chain guard is still in place... maybe with the proper fasteners...


View attachment 983201

So the bike is outside as I arrive. Facing the way it was photographed. I hand the gent my money because I said I would. As I turn the bike around I notice that there are 5 badly welded breaks in the frame. Of these 5 clotted and splattery welds, 3 have let go again. There are 2 other breaks that the apprentice welder did not notice and never fixed... if "fixed" is the right word for the molten atrocities that presented themselves for my inspection.

View attachment 983203

The wizened wizard of welding (Walter?... Willie?...Walph?) must have tested out the ground connection on the side stand mount, spewing cementious issue where the prop would need to move freely inside the factory race under the crank tube.


View attachment 983204

As I spent time in silence a staring at my new purchase in front of the seller. I was reeling from finding all that was wrong with the bike and tried to mentally recalculate the cost/ benefit/ satisfaction ratio as I realized I would not need to use my set of white CHOPPER decals that I had lovingly set aside for this project and that it was no longer a rescue mission, but had taken the dark turn to a recovery mission. As I dragged the corpse back to my van I realized that I should have asked one of two questions when I had the chap on the phone, before I committed myself...


View attachment 983205

The first question is one that I KNOW I need to ask: "Are you hiding multiple blemishes or perhaps a thing or two you are not proud of on that there OTHER side of the bike?"

The second question would be some thing like this: "Was the owner of this bike a big boned boy with a crew cut whose Daddy was an unemployed welder who's idea of foreplay is 'Hey Sis, are you awake?"







Jim





No, I am not bitter at all.

View attachment 983202
Why didn't you look it over before you handed over the money? Then you could have walked away and only been out gas and time. I think we have all been burned by a few purchases. Better luck next time.
 

bikemonkey

I live for the CABE
Jun 25, 2016
1,086
1,491
66
North Carolina , Albemarle, NC, United States
#8
My three cents on this - if you buy enough bikes, you are gonna get roasted once in awhile. If I ask a seller to not sell a bike from under me while I am enroute, that does not mean I am going to buy their bike unless I like it and the price may be negotiable downward based on the condition.

I made myself a bike buying list that I use when looking at CL bikes because it helps me calm down and methodically focus on the bike at hand. It also gives me a valid reason to ask the owner to allow me to concentrate (quit yammering) while I look at their bike. Sellers that are overselling their bike or constantly distracting me, set off my spidey sense. I don't mind answering the occasional question about what I looking for, but I am easily distracted.

Then, once they understand what I need, with a small flashlight, I go over the entire bike and check things off the list. I may not care if a part is OG but maybe I should care about why it was replaced. Don't nitpick the bike aloud as you go down the list or frown, sigh, etc. The list is for you and at the end you can indicate aloud which things are truly of concern. Be gentle if there is bad news, there is often sentimentality involved and you can screw the pooch if you tell them their bike is a rust bucket.

You don't need to be in a hurry, take an umbrella if it's raining - take the bike outside in the daylight if at all possible. You don't need to take a big tool box but have a few on hand (with their permission of course, or ask them to loosen the bolts) to move the seat post and hb stem if they look frozen and check pedal threads if they look hinkey. The other hidden things are just part of the risk but eliminate the deal breakers right up front. For me, that would be - bent rims, bent/dented/repaired frame and fork, bad internals on multispeed hubs. Of course there are exceptions based on your needs and the bike at hand. But certainly if the bike is deviating from their listing, you have a right to negotiate based on your findings and knowledge.

Personally, if I arrive and I know what the bike should look like and it is over the moon at a good price, I don't look too deep. I wait just long enough that my hands don't tremble as I am happily handing over my cash. :cool:

If it is ridiculously cheap, I will pay them their price, load the bike and based on the circumstances pay them a bit more. I never try and beat down a bike that I know is already at a good price. That is bad juju and you will suffer at the hands of the bike gods.

1555752642161.png
 
Last edited:

buses n bikes

Finally riding a big boys bike
Oct 24, 2018
318
286
33
Ames, Iowa
#10
I totally agree with @bikemonkey s list. You can really lose sight in the moment and overlook something crucial. I’ve been burned a few times but nothing too huge.

One time comes to mind last summer, a decent looking original Cook Bros. 20” BMX bike popped up locally. It wasn’t cheap but was fairly priced, had some period parts-some high end, some filler. Seller was a nice guy and I was there for over 30 minutes just looking it over and chatting.

Thankfully in that time I was able to give a casually thorough look over the bike and in doing so, found some nasty booger welds hidden down by bottom bracket. I would not have been happy with that nasty repair so I passed. Someone else bought it the next day, wonder if they found the welds in time...
 

the tinker

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
May 4, 2014
2,658
5,628
Planet Mongo
#11
Got to burn this rule into your mind! When talking to a seller over the phone about buying an old bike or antique car ALWAYS ask, "Is there any frame damage?' Because if there is, I am not interested." Nine times out of ten the seller will say, "No, there's no damage that I am aware of." They could be lying or ignorant, who cares. The point is, you asked and that gives you an out. I stay away from any bike or car that has a repaired frame or needs repair. Too many nice ones out there to bother with the bad ones. Always look the frame over for cracks, dents, rust-outs, and signs of bondo.
 

HARPO

I live for the CABE
Dec 28, 2010
1,636
1,776
Floral Park, NY, United States
#12
Welding looks like Helen Keller did it...on a bad day.

That's a really crappy seller who apparently ran into the house with the cash and locked the door before you could even turn around to see how bad it was. But a once over would have called for, even seeing this side.
I went out to the Island to get a Schwinn last year that only had one side pictured. When I got there it looked nice...until I saw the other side. Half the paint was missing and covered in rust. I just looked at him and politely said "way to much work" and left.
I do get embarrassed sometimes to really go over a bike when I know I'm getting a great deal as to not offend the seller. I figure for a low price I can deal with it, if for parts only. However...sadly...yours is past that point.
 

redline1968

Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe
Oct 16, 2008
5,093
4,023
Seattle, United States
#14
Happens... it’s common for some says they’ll pay more or it’s worth more via email while your looking at it .. it becomes pressure to buy it.... your in that blind moment where your not thinking straight and the big score is in your mind....Can’t say how many times I’d like to punch that emailer in the face.... I absolutely prefer to look and inspect before I buy but this is the new world of buying which makes it a instant yes/no deal... before the internet, I’ve bought a buffet and didn’t look carefully inside...it was a killer buffet...it was against the wall and looked good in the dark...after I bought it I discovered the entire back was gone.. total junk....soon after I bought it I noticed they put up a AS IS sign on the wall ...oh man I was pissed......they ripped me off and they new it....I’ve lost lots of money that way but I figure the next one makes up for it. Now I Just move on to the next find...
 

Duchess

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Feb 14, 2014
556
995
Beverly, MA
#17
If something is misrepresented, the original deal is null and void IMO. I once drove to Detroit from north of Boston for a turbo Legacy. Left after work Friday and met the guy on Saturday morning. He knew I was coming from 800 miles away or so and must have thought he had me by the shorts as his "body in great condition for its age" was nonsense—his '93 had far, far had more rust than my '90 with signs that it had been rallied and not taken care of (rot in places that would only get rotted from sitting mud that would only accumulate there from high speeds). Needed a clutch, full suspension, and had a bunch of other small issues (none of which were mentioned in spite of me asking on the phone prior), as well as just seeming EoL. He tried to deny the issues to my face until I told him that I have extensive experience with rot and could put my fist through the "minor bubbled paint" on the fenders and quarter panels if he wanted to test his honesty. Told him I'd take it for less than a quarter his asking, yank the engine (valuable, fairly rare closed deck block which is what I mostly wanted it for, anyway) to throw it in the back of my car, and junk the shell locally. He didn't go for it, as I figured he wouldn't and I was back home later that day.

A year or so later, someone else came on the old Subaru board to try to sell the same car and I told everyone about the POS. Turned out the seller wasn't him, but the inexperienced mark he ended up getting to buy it and she was just trying to recoup some money. I felt bad, but she understood and we spent some time cursing the bastard. She learned her lesson the same expensive way I did (though at least my 240Z was cheaper).
 

49autocycledeluxe

I live for the CABE
May 29, 2017
1,098
1,951
59
fremont california
#18
as a seller I generally ignore people who say they will buy my item over the phone. after they see it they can buy it or leave without it, it would not matter one bit to me. NOTHING is ever sold until I have the money in hand. people say all sorts of things on the phone, the only thing for certain is you had a phone call.
 

CURTIS L LINDGREN

Finally riding a big boys bike
Dec 19, 2017
464
841
60
Pacific Northwest , United States
#20
The second question would be some thing like this: "Was the owner of this bike a big boned boy with a crew cut whose Daddy was an unemployed welder who's idea of foreplay is 'Hey Sis, are you awake?"
You got that part right ! Can I use yer photos to teach my students what NOT to do ? My old Welding Teacher used to say " Them welds look like" Cat SH _T on top uh Dog SH _ T !!!! " NEVER to me though...................God rest his soul :disrelieved: Boy the subject of sellers descriptions.....................That's a BIG Can of Worms. o_Oo_Oo_Oo_Oo_O
 
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