A fan of the blog and AEE Choppers sent us these photos of his AEE parts loaded Sportster....AEE parts include frame, front brake, seat, sissy bar, risers, handlebars, springer and kick pedal!!! A rolling AEE time machine! Thanks to Nicholas for sharing.
Monday, April 17, 2023
Sunday, February 5, 2023
A.E.E. Choppers came about literally by accident in the fall of 1967. While riding his 1957 Harley to a Hangman motorcycle club meeting with a fellow member Tom was involved in a head-on collision with a 1965 Chevy. He received multiple serious injuries including: shattered right collar bone, broken left wrist, deeply lacerated hands, broken left ankle, and a severe concussion from a blow to the left side of his head. He was hospitalized and multiple surgeries performed to repair the damage. He was sent home in a wheelchair to recover from the injuries.
Prior to the accident Tom McMullen was a fulltime freelance photographer/writer for Popular Hot Rodding magazine and other Argus Publishing titles plus features for other publishers including chopper photo features for Cycle Guide magazine. His wife Rose helped with the writing and Jim Clark assisted with the photography when he was not busy with his day job as a wire technician/quality control inspector in aerospace.
Tom and Jim had been building and racing Tom’s now famous ’32 roadster on the street and at the drags since they met in 1959. They built other cars during the period, including the ’32 Vicky sedan that Jim had bought from Tom when they met in 1959. Tom’s roadster was featured heavily in the articles for the magazines with much of the work being done by them in Tom’s two-car garage.
By the mid-sixties factory muscle cars had replaced the early hot rods as the main focus of attention among car enthusiasts so the roadster spent more time in the garage under a cover and new toys were built. Among them a twin-engined (two Chevy V8’s) wheel-standing Austin sedan that they raced and drove on the street.
To expand the market for freelance articles Tom contacted Cycle Guide magazine and was assigned the job of testing and writing reports on some Suzuki motorcycles for a one-shot magazine on Suzukis. Tom and Jim tested and photographed them while Rose worked on the writeups and the reports were included in the publication.
Cycle Guide asked if Tom could provide some photo features on choppers. We located some and he submitted the features to them for publication. Tom decided to buy a bike that he and Jim could convert into a chopper and use the process to produce articles for the magazine. Tom purchased a ’47 Harley Knucklehead from Ed Roth and Tom and Jim converted it into a chopper in Tom’s garage. Tom joined the Hangman motorcycle club to acquire a source for feature bikes and coverage of club activities. Later Jim was a prospective member of the Hangmen after he acquired a ’48 Harley Panhead to convert into a chopper.
Tom and Jim built Tom’s bike shooting photos of the process and Jim photographed some club runs while Tom and Rose participated. Then they put together a small digest-size book called Outlaw Chopper from that material. They created a couple of B&W collage posters of choppers and planned on placing an ad in Cycle Guide to sell them. When Tom got into the bike accident he couldn’t work as a freelancer so a means of earning a living was needed until he recovered.
The ad was scheduled to run in Cycle Guide for the book and posters so an offer of a parts catalog for fifty cents was added to it. Orders with two quarters taped to them poured in so a four-page typed list with photos taped onto it was copied and mailed out.
Tom and Jim produced sissybars and a few other items in the garage while buying the other items that were offered. Rose processed the orders and banked the money. Tom, Jim and a neighbor boy Robert K. Smith that helped work on the cars and bikes as well as the photo shoots did the packaging and shipping.
To avoid opening a new account for what was to be a temporary venture the money was deposited into the existing Auto Electric Engineering account. Tom was still selling some wiring kits that had been created in 1963 when he had opened Auto Electric Engineering with his partner Carl Sulkey. The custom wiring business lasted about a year before they both moved on to other ventures.
By February of 1968 Tom’s injuries had healed sufficiently to allow his return to the work force. The orders had picked up to the point that a regular place of business was needed. Jim had been laid off from his aerospace job in a slowdown and was available full-time so they rented a building unit in Buena Park, CA and moved the business there from the garage. Tom and Jim ran the shop, retail counter and shipping while Rose took and processed orders, purchasing and took care of the bookkeeping.
They were having trouble purchasing fork extensions, custom and raked tripletrees, handlebar risers, foot pegs and other machined parts so they located a couple of machinists that had a small garage machine shop operation. The two produced parts for a couple of months, then proposed moving into the third unit next to the two units A.E.E. Choppers was occupying. Jim convinced Tom to rent the third unit and be their landlord. After producing product for A.E.E. for a couple of months they started selling product direct to A.E.E. customers bypassing the agreed upon deal. A.E.E. bought them out and hired people to operate the machinery producing parts.
To promote the business Tom and Jim designed and built a Corvair powered three-wheel bike. In 1969 it was entered in the Oakland Car & Motorcycle Show. It won the Best in Show Sweepstakes award.
In July 1968 Jim left the company in a dispute primarily over operations.
In 1969 Tom contracted Dave Brackett to produce new rigid frames for full-size Harleys, Sportsters, Hondas and Triumphs. He also produced three-wheel conversion kits and hardtail extensions to replace the swingarms on 1958 and later Harleys. In late 1969 A.E.E. moved into a 10,000 square foot facility and hired Dave Brackett as a full-time designer and prototype builder.
In early 1969 Tom, and Rose had contacted Tex Smith and had him assist A.E.E. with the production on a subscription-only chopper magazine. It was titled “Street Chopper “ because Ed Roth was already producing a small magazine called “Choppers”. Jim Jacobs, later of Pete and Jakes and “Rod & Custom” fame, was his editor.
After producing four issues of “Street Chopper” in the first seven months, Tom, Rose and Tex decided to form a publishing company and produce “Street Chopper” magazine as a monthly, distributed on the newsstands. Jim was convinced to return as Vice President of both operations working on the magazine and assisting with A.E.E. In the summer of 1970 they introduced a new publication titled “Chopper the Custom Motorcycle Guide”, consisting of 200-page half magazine / half A.E.E. Choppers catalog. It boosted the sales for A.E.E. so well that the book continued as a quarterly publication into the mid ‘70s when Jammer Cycle Products was featured in the catalog section after Tom and Rose had split-up.
At A.E.E. in 1970 a new custom trike, actually 5-wheeler, powered by two Harley Sportster engine packages, was designed by Tom, Rose, Jim and Dave Brackett, then produced primarily by Dave in the A.E.E. prototype department. It was entered in the Oakland Car & Motorcycle Show and won the Best in Show Sweepstakes award.
A.E.E. Choppers sales continued on a dramatic upward path so in early 1971 they moved the operations to 64,000 square feet of buildings in Placentia, CA. A third magazine titled “Hot Bike” was introduced focusing on the performance side of the motorcycle market. A.E.E. had added a line of performance items to the catalog and this was a good way to promote them. A third company called CC Industries was also introduced at this time. It offered products from the A.E.E. Choppers line at discount prices, mail order only. This was done to compete with the smaller competitors under cutting prices with some poorer quality items.
A.E.E. spent considerable time and money designing and testing before introducing a product. A perfect example of this process was the A.E.E. springer front end. Independent lab tests of prototypes revealed that 4130 chrome-moly, though a strong grade of steel used by others in similar applications, was prone to breakage under repeated flexing. That 1020 mild steel tubing was the safer material for this application. The redesigned rocker assembly allowed the front end to be on a more radical rake while retaining stock front end geometry (rake & trail).
A.E.E. Choppers and the magazines also championed or opposed legislation that had an effect on the chopper market. As an active member of SEMA and an exhibitor in the early days, when motorcycle companies were members, they tried to educate the industry and public through information presented at the shows and in the magazines. In 1971 Tom and Jim flew back to Washington in the company plane to present a package of recommendations to Doug Thoms and the Department of Transportation Board to use as a guide when writing the proposed motorcycle modification regulations. FHTSA had already enacted a set of regulations for cars and was trying to establish the same for motorcycles. Eventually the proposal was dropped.
The publishing company had grown into a separate viable company by 1971 with two monthly magazines and the quarterly publication. Many new staff members had come onboard including Steve Stillwell, Brian Brennan, Robert K. Smith, Richard Bean, Dain Gingerelli and Paul Walker. They were car and motorcycle enthusiasts with varying degrees of education who became editor/photographers on the job. Tex had long wanted to add diversity to the company offerings so he convinced Tom to allow us to produce “Street Rodder” magazine, hitting the newsstand in 1972. Tom and Rose insisted that “Hot Bike” had to cease publication though as they didn’t want to spend the money on an addition publication. A few issues after “Street Rodder” went on sale Tex left the company in a dispute over various operation issues. Jim inherited management of the publishing operation.
In February of 1973 Jim left the company in another operations dispute and returned to head the operation once again in October of 1973 after producing “1001 Rod Ideas” for “Popular Hotrodding” for three issues.
In early 1974 Tom and Rose decided to get a divorce and she insisted on retaining control of A.E.E. Choppers. Jim and Tex convinced Tom that he should go with Jim and operate the publishing company as a separate entity. Rose continued operation of A.E.E. for about a year before shutting it down. The publishing company grew over the years adding many titles, eventually being sold by Tom to Primedia in 1995 for a reported $65,000,000 dollars.
By Jim Clark
Sunday, January 22, 2023
AEE CHOPPERS OUTLINE
Tom meets Tex Smith
Tom McMullen met Jim Clark
Tom met Dave Brackett, Tom was living in LaHabra with wife Joan, had 32 roadster
Dave had purple 30 Model A coupe, Working for Tyree Header Co.
Tom and Dave cruised and worked on cars
Jim got out of Navy and returned to the east coast
Mid 62, Dave goes to work for Mickey Thompson
In early 63 Tom and Carl Sulkey started Auto Electric Eng., wiring kits, wired cars
Tom finishes 32 Ford highboy with flames, early 63
Summer, Tom mets Rose Genuso at Indy National drags
Late 63, Auto Electric Eng. closed
Dave leaves Mickey Thompson, back to college
Dave gets his 23 T bucket running, w/6.71 blown Chevy motor, Tom and Dave cruise
Late 64, Tom and Jim finish twin Chevy engine Austin
Feb 3, Dave goes to work for Hooker Headers, worked thru Sep., "Goldenrod"
Apr 1, Tom and Dave move into house together in Buena Park
Tom still selling wiring kits, Auto Electric Eng.
Dave helps Tom rebuild the Austin "Chevy II", remount motors, headers
Dave helps Tom redo blower drive on 32 high boy
Aug, Dave moves out and Rose, Tom's wife to be, moves in
Tom and Rose get married
Aug, Jim returns from east coast
Dave builds headers at Muller Muffler
Tom and Jim again working on cars
Dave works at Anaheim Speed Eng., lift chassis, frames and headers
Aug, 15, Dave starts Brackett Speed Products, in Anaheim, built "Pure Heaven" frame
Nov, Dave builds 34 Ford for Bill Brundage
Tom doing fulltime freelance writer/photo, for several hot rod magazines
Tom and Jim start "Mindbender", 47 Knucklehead bought from Ed Roth
Dave went into army
Fall, Tom's accident on "Mindbender"
Tom, Rose and Jim start AEE, name from Auto Electric Eng. , Freda helps
Tom, Rose and Jim, build and sell chopper parts out of two car garage
Feb, AEE moves to Whitaker, in Buena Park
Tom and Jim work on "Corvair Trike", finished late 68,
Machine shop moves in next to AEE to make products for AEE
Jul, Jim leaves AEE
"Women's Pride", Rose's bike, built
AEE bought machine shop operation next door
Tex Smith hired to help with magazine
Danny James hired to run newly acquired machine shop
"Corvair Trike" wins Sweepstakes at Oakland Roadster Show
Carl Sulkey machines parts in the evening
Jan. Dave returns from Army, Tom hires, wants Dave to organize mfg., and design
Dave starts building jigs and fixtures to increase production
In Apr, Dave hires Bill Brundage to run newly created Welding shop
Apr, Dave designs and builds bolt on hardtail for Sportster
Result is "Quickstart" electric start Sportster, to show new products
March starts new "Street Chopper" mag., mail order, 4 issues in 1969
Apr and May, Dave designs and builds "Really" 350 Honda chopper
Boomer gets out and walks around front to get in with people
Jun, Dave designs more hardtails, and side hack for Harley
Jul, Dave designs weld-on hardtails for several different bikes
Jul, Dave designs and builds 3 wheeler kit for Sportster
Resulting from articles about "Really", Dave starts production on many items
Spool hubs, custom nut covers, gull wing,"Contour" gas tank into production
Mini bikes and race track appear, "Boomer" enters into daily activities
Late 69, AEE moves to Via Burton, Anaheim, Dave builds offices, racks, shelves, etc.
Two "Easy Rider" copies built for movie studio, finished in Jan 70
Xmas, Tom, Rose, Jim and Dave create concept for new 5 wheeler bike
Dave designed and drew up plans, and "Big Twin" was born
Dave built "Big Twin" done by early Feb, Oakland Roadster Show Sweepstakes winner
Jan 2, Jim returns to help with magazine
Jan, "Wild Kit Sportster" finished, showing new products, hardtail, seats, etc.
Feb, Lenny Cenotti hired
Mar, First issue of "Street Chopper" nationally dist. on newsstand
Mar, Dave designed and built raked triple trees, solo sissy bars, rams horn style, too
Dave designed new products, dual H/L bkt, 45 jockey shift, knucklehead top mount
Dave designed new coffin style gas tank
More cats, Spoke and Ciebe, later Wheel (breeder)
Dave found source on early Harley magnetos, thought to have disappeared
Dave designed and made jigs for "Z" style handlebars and narrow triple trees
Build track and race minibikes at lunch, drag racing in winter inside building
Having trouble getting exhaust items, Dave redesigned, added new products
He then contracted with Mitchell Mfg. Co. to build all exhaust items
Increased volume made Dave find vendors to build and supply products
With these efforts, Dave encountered industrial espionage
Mar, Dave and Danny design new square springers
May, Dave wanted to build complete rigid frames to sell, Tom said no
Dave starts Brackett Chassis Co., sells rigid frames to AEE
Tom and Rose get first plane, Cessna 310
AEE hires J.L. Smith, to expand sales through magazine
J.L. creates Rick Mason, leading authority on motorcycles
Jul, Tom, Rose and Dave develop idea for "Kit Bikes" to build complete chopper
July, Dave finishes the "Supersport"
Dave and the gang at AEE build first "Kit Bike", a Sportster
Summer, Jim returns as VP for AEE and Magazine division
Create "Chopper the Custom Motorcycle Guide"
Aug, Dave built his own chopper "Amani", 450 Honda motor
Steve Jones is hired to run new wheel lacing dept., suppliers can't meet demand
Dave builds dune buggy for Gary Donahey
Dave and Danny design and build square glide front ends
Sep, Dave finishes the "Shovelhead"
Mar, moved to Monroe Ave, Placentia
"Hot Bike" magazine introduced, publishing company growing
Tom and Rose get two newer Cessna 310, one each
C.C.Ind., created to increase sales and offer discounts
Windshields and small front brakes designed by Dave and Danny
Jun, Dave prepared 26 page report for DOT for minimum motorcycle safety
Tom and Jim fly to D.C., with DOT report
Tom gets T33 jet airplane
AEE sponsors bike for Bonneville Salt Flats, Leo Payne
Dave did destructive testing of front ends to insure safety
Dave wrote articles about safety and product quality for bike magazines
Tom and Rose get Leopard and black panther
Tom gets F86 jet airplane
Mario Illote, from Italy, visits to start bike parts manufacturing in Italy, did't happen
Dave builds hot rod wheelchair for Dean Moon
"Singles Lifestyles" created
Summer, Dave and Danny design rigid tubes, mono girders, ultra narrow springers
Dave has Dean Moon build custom bike oil tanks
Starting in performance equipment, design custom intake manafolds and carb covers
Nov-Dec, Dave builds "Amani" number two, gets motorcycle manufacturers license
Dave builds tooling to build complete rigid frames for Harley 74, Triumph, BSA
Jan, Dave finishes "Kit Bike", a Sportster, yellow paint, showcase new products
Dave builds yellow Honda 175 Dune Cart, for desert racing
Publishing Company starts "Street Rodder"
Feb, Dave moves to front office to be general manager, Stan Meyers hired prototype
Feb, Dave finishes "Big Four" Honda 750, using Brackett Chassis frame
Mar, Dean Rediger hired to do prototype
Apr, Dave starts "Trick Trike", works off and on, Stan and Dean take over
May, "Panhead 74" (How to Build a Chopper) finished
AEE now has over 100 employees
Jun, Dave builds "Forgery" 750 Honda dragster, first race Aug 19, Action Fours motor
Dave gets SEMA license to build racing chassis
Dave starts concept for twin "7UP" bikes, 500 and 650 Triumphs,
Dave builds Honda 90 Dune cycle
Jul, Dean and Stan finish "7UP" bikes
Nov, Dave quits AEE to work full time at Brackett Chassis Co., to mfg chopppers
Dec, "750 Honda" (How to Build a Chopper) finished by Dean
"Trick Trike" finished,october
Jan, Harley 74, blown, altered AEE frame, finished by Dean "Street Digger"
This bike starts a new low profile trend in bikes
Feb, Bill Brundage quits
Feb 23, Brackett Chassis Co. moves to Fender, Fullerton, builds total 5 "Amani" bikes
Feb, Jim leaves AEE
Mar, "Time Machine", Dean builds low profile Triumph, altered AEE frame
Mar. Dave builds a rigid chopper with a Wankel engine, prototype for production, not done
Apr, Dave builds tube bender at Brackett Chassis Co.
May, Blower added to Yellow "Kit Bike", adding performance products
Jun, Dave rebuilds "Action Fours" drag bike for Bill Hahn, Brackett Chassis Co.
Danny leaves AEE
Jul, Dean leaves AEE
Aug, Dave visits Ace Distributers in New York
Tom and Rose seperate
AEE Choppers and TRM Publishing split , Rose gets AEE, Tom gets TRM
Oct, Jim returns to TRM
Early, Tom and Rose decide to divorce, Rose gets AEE, Tom gets publishing co.
Dave builds several mini dune buggies with motorcycle motors
Mar, Dave at Brackett Chassis Co., stops selling frames to AEE,
Tom get Piper airplane
May, Dave sells Brackett Chassis Co., to Jan Lowe
Dave designs soft tails for Jan Lowe, Lowe Chassis Co.
Tuesday, January 11, 2022
I have held off with this posting. I'm so very sad.
Lenny Cenotti, AEE parts manager and longest employee died in late October at the age of 78. Poor Lenny's life after AEE was just pure hell and yet he shined through and never ever gave up. When life seriously injured him decades ago, took his work, took his home, took his wife, took all his possessions twice he never gave up. He was my friend all these years and it was an honor for me to be able to say that. Lenny was the only guy I ever rode my motorcycle right beside, I trusted him with my life. I miss him terribly.
I leave you with this, our mutual friend from AEE days Dave Brackett wrote this about Lenny:
This was the noblest biker of them all, all the bikers save only he, did that they did
in envy of AEE Choppers,he only in a general honest thought made one of them.
After a serious bike accident, spending his life in a wheel chair, losing his wife to
cancer, he passed away. His life was gentle and the elements so mixed in him,
that one might stand up and say to the whole world, "This was a man."
Saturday, April 18, 2020
I’m asking $2,000 as it sits in Avon, Ohio. It is a “project” and fabrication skills are required to finish it. I will deliver FREE within 100 miles of Cleveland, otherwise buyer must coordinate their own shipping and pays for all costs to do so
PS- stance is PERFECT!!!!
Email us at email@example.com if you are interested.
Wednesday, October 10, 2018
Thursday, June 8, 2017
Friday, December 16, 2016
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Monday, October 31, 2016
You won't see this ever again! Get yours now.....
This picture is from setting up at SEMA it appears: