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Clem Johnson

TouringComet

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John Hanson has reported on another forum that Clem Johnson of Barn Job drag race fame has passed. One of the So Cal Vincent legends that made Vincent owners worldwide proud. An extremely gifted fabricator, machinist, and engineer.
 

mercurycrest

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craftsman2.jpgimages.jpgOne of the greatest Vincent Racers! This is from the National Motorcycle Museum:

The “Barn Job”
Barn-Job-Main

The name “Barn Job” suggests something cobbled together, which this Vincent definitely was not. With it, builder/rider Clem Johnson would become the first drag bike racer to go 140, 150 and 160 mph. For more than five years, the machine held the record for both elapsed time and top speed. Its quickest would be 9.70 seconds; its fastest was 151.51 mph.
The only things “Vincent” about the engine were the crankcases and timing covers. Johnson and partner Ralph Owen made everything else. The flywheels were fashioned from mild carbon steel and helped increase displacement from 61 to 96 cubic inches. Pistons were machined from forged aluminum billets; intake valves enlarged by turning down items from a Mack truck; and pushrods made from C-1144 steel.
Barn-Job-Second

Although Johnson rode the machine for many years, he later turned that responsibility over to Jim Leineweber (who would go on to become one of the premier manufacturers of motorcycle camshafts) “The only difference between Jimmy and I is that I get nervous and he doesn’t,” said Johnson.
While all of the top racers were by definition enormously talented, CLEM JOHNSON is generally recognized as one of the most talented of all. Not only was he a brilliant craftsman, his machine is a true work of art.

Engine: 1600cc Vincent
Carburetion: Hilborn injectors
Clutch: Johnson-developed clutch with Harley-Davidson components
Frame: Custom made of aluminum
Front end: 32mm Ceriani road race
 
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Bill Thomas

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I would have loved to see him go down the strip, Anybody got good film of it ?. I would think it was like Alf Hagon, Still I was lucky enough to see E.J. Potter in the sixties when he came to UK, Very Brave men. Cheers Bill.
 

mercurycrest

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David.
That's really a good article. I regret not having Mike Parti taking me to meet Clem and his (at the time) 18 yr, old cat). Not to complain.. Mike took me to Bud Eakin's many times, where I got to ride a 1915 Cyclone and met the likes of James Garner, Kenny Howard (a weird dude with a cocked 9mm Lugar in his jacket pocket)....... and an array of other characters like you can't imagine.. "Indian Dennis" stands out!. At the time, I always thought a camera was an intrusion. Oh, well.
 
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TouringComet

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In case any do not know, Kenny Howard was Von Dutch.
 

Albervin

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It is the same old story isn't it? It takes someone who is "different" to do something special. Some say eccentric, others say crazy. I say thank goodness they were what they were.
 

TouringComet

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Now that's the way to bend a rod. Clem Johnson with one of his 'creations'.
 

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Marcus Bowden

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A strong crank & piston with an annealed rod I should think as bearing eyes still seem aligned ! no visible tearing of peripheral bends. What a beauty,some talking piece.
Happy Christmas one and all,
bananaman
 
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