ARCHBOLD, OHIO – A love of antique motorcycles and an interest in computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) are taking Dale Stoner of Stryker, Ohio, on a cross-country journey this September. Stoner will take part in the Motorcycle Cannonball, a coast-to-coast endurance run featuring pre-1930 motorcycles. He will compete on a 1929 Henderson KJ motorcycle as rider #99.
The Motorcycle Cannonball will begin in Newburgh, New York and will finish approximately 3,800 miles later in San Francisco. The riders will pass through Sandusky, Ohio sometime on September 8-9.
“It’s not a race, but it’s a competitive event. They keep track of points,” said Stoner. The age of the motorcycle contributes to points, so the older the machine, the more points earned.
Including his own motorcycle, Stoner has special ties to five machines participating in the Cannonball. “I had a motorcycle that needed cylinders, and there were other people that needed them too,” said Stoner. Since the manufacturer went out of business in 1931, cylinders were not available. Stoner, a pattern maker at General Motors, decided he could make the cylinders.
“The parts that we’ve made, there’s been a lot of engineering development there. We’ve worked with metallurgy. We’ve changed the design of the cylinder. We’ve also changed the design of the head using modern technology. The engine that we’re building will give a considerable amount more horsepower,” he said. According to initial testing, it will provide one and half times more horsepower.
Although Stoner has owned antique motorcycles since high school and is a member of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America, he credits his education at Northwest State Community College for giving him the skills needed to build these parts and participate in the Cannonball. “Northwest State’s been a big help for us. The CAM portion, I didn’t know until I came back here. It opened up new opportunities for me,” he said.
Stoner has an associate degree in electrical engineering from NSCC, plus additional coursework. “One of those classes was Gibbs CAM. It really helped me get a different position at General Motors and helped me expand my workshop at home to make parts like this using CNC equipment,” he said. “My son has come on board, and we’ve started a new company called New Classic Iron, LLC.” New Classic Iron develops products for antique motorcycles, like the ones used in the Cannonball, as well as products for local companies including custom knife handles.
Stoner’s son, Matt, will accompany his father during the Cannonball. Although Matt will not be competing, he will be there to assist his father with motorcycle repairs, moral support and to enjoy the journey with him. The route avoids interstates and travels through several national parks, and the pair is looking forward to sightseeing and getting to know other antique motorcycle enthusiasts. “There’s a ferry ride from Muskegon to Milwaukee. All of the motorcyclists will be on the boat at the same time,” said Stoner. “The Golden Gate Bridge will be fun. Lots of sightseeing along the way.”
Education and training at Northwest State has been a family affair for the Stoners, with Dale’s sons Matt and Eric taking classes at NSCC and his wife, Marilyn, graduating from NSCC. It will be a family affair once again as the group follows the progress of the Motorcycle Cannonball through its official website, www.motorcyclecannonball.com. Anyone who is interested in keeping up with the journey can check out the site for daily updates and web cam coverage.