I first encountered Joe Gaskell's Ironhead, The Venusian, at the Howl ‘N Prowl bike show in Bisbee, Arizona. Howl N Prowl is an ever growing bike show that takes place every spring in Bisbee, Arizona. It was started in 2015 by Sam Donaldson of Old Shit Rules and Tiny Romero, it was held in bar parking lot around parking cones; they had roughly 30 old bikes and choppers at the first show. This year, I would say they had probably 100 bikes and choppers that came in from around the western US, and there was some amazing vintage work on display. Sam and Tiny are truly wrench to ride, down to earth guys and are great to work with. As Tiny said at the show, "If you build it and, you ride it, we like it." I knew from the first that Joe’s bike would be a winner and it took home Best Chopper that day. After the show, I got in touch with Sam Donaldson of Old Shit Rules and asked him if I could photograph some of the bikes and specifically mentioned the yellow Ironhead. Sam reached out to a few people, and I spent a day at his place shooting some stunning bikes. I found Joe to be an incredibly humble but exceptionally talented young man. He works as a machinist in Tucson, Arizona, and is an all-around badass individual.
Owner name, location: Joe Gaskell, Tucson AZ
Engine, year and make, model, modifications: 1979 Ironhead Sportster
Frame: Early Ironhead Frame
Fork: The front end is a mix of old Springer parts and newly fabricated parts, the old chrome twisted front legs were taken from an incomplete bent front end and straightened, rear legs are chromoly, and trees and rockers are fabricated
Chassis Mods: Found an old frame that was hardtailed "back in the day" but was done well. It had a sketchy raked neck though, so I fabricated a new neck and backbone and raised it up about 3", reshaped the front legs, beefed up the hardtail a bit and re shaped the axle plates
Tire/wheel size and style: The rear wheel is an 18" Stock setup put together out of old chrome parts pulled from a couple of old wheels. Tire is a Dunlop k70
Favorite thing about this bike: My favorite thing about my bike is just how fun it is to rip on and the feeling of pushing something to the limits that I built with my own hands. I'm not easy on it, but it's taken all my abuse and just keeps going
Next modification will be: Don't know about future changes, probably just subtle stuff for a while. Love how it feels and handles right now
Other mods, accessories, cool parts, etc.: Stainless sissy bar, stainless oil tank, narrowed and flat bottomed ironhead tank. Added custom z bars, custom seat pan upholstered by Topline Upholstery, and aluminum battery box. I cut and re-shaped the sprocket and cam cover, added custom stainless controls, custom upswept fishtails, custom stainless tail light housing made to fit an old Plymouth lens, and headlights off an old tractor. Paint is old dead stock 70’s gold Pearl I scored on eBay, almost the exact color I wanted to paint it, based off an old picture I saw of a car Larry Watson painted in the 60's. I sprayed the pearl over a darker base until it was completely covered, then buried it in clear
Any building or riding story or info you'd like to include: It took me about three years to get this bike built and dialed in, I bought a mostly stock bike, and the more I tore into it, the more I found wrong with it. So, I went crazy with it and ditched pretty much everything except the engine. The frame needed some help and found the remnants of a cool old springer, a little over a month after buying it I had fixed and modified the frame and built a functioning springer out of old junk. Finished most of the fab work, and then progress slowed down for a while until I heard about Howl ‘N Prowl in Bisbee, the first real chopper show I'd heard of anywhere near Tucson.
I got very excited about it and thrashed for a couple of months to finish it, I got it running a few days before the show, but it ran like shit with a borrowed carb, so I had to push it into the show. I was bummed, but everyone I met was so cool about it, it was the first time I had met so many like-minded, down-to-earth people
I was motivated after the show and got it running great a few days later. In the year since that show, I've made some great friends through these old choppers and had some amazing times riding the back roads of Arizona. Even got to ride to Bisbee for Howl ‘N Prowl 2017 and won the best chopper.
Thanks go out to all my friends who helped me with the bike and helped keep me sane during all the frustrating nights. Thanks to my girlfriend, Elissa, who has been so supportive of all my chopper stuff and has been great all around. Thanks to Sam and Tiny from Old Shit Rules for all you guys do for the southern AZ chopper community, and thanks to Jennifer Farris for making my bike look amazing with your photography - Joe
Editor’s Note: I would like to thank Jennifer for putting this feature together and for joining the ChopCult family. Kindly give her a follow on Facebook and Instagram. Thanks, Lisa