SUMMER CAMP AT FORT YAROCKI
By Larry Barnes
In January of this year, the board members of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America, (AMCA) contracted me to build a library of antique motorcycle literature for use by the AMCA’s current and future members.
This library was not to be built of bricks and mortar, but was to be built on a computer, to be accessed “online” through the Internet via the AMCA’s website. While I have just a basic knowledge of computers and the Internet, I figured that if a person with only a basic computer skills built the virtual library, then people like me, and most of us over-50 guys, could actually figure out how to use it!
After a month or so of studying computer programs and shopping for equipment, I was ready to scan some documents. I started with some of Rocky Halter’s Indian parts manuals to hone my skills. I learned that antique motorcycle documents came in all types of shapes & sizes, plus they can be very fragile, although the paper stock used back in those days seems to be pretty durable.
The big moment came when word reached me that the renowned George Yarocki would make his vast literature collection available to me to scan for the AMCA. Now if you have been into Indians for any length of time, you have no doubt heard of George Yarocki. At 80-years young, he is undoubtedly the world’s most knowledgeable Indian 101 Scout restoration expert and machinist.
George has rebuilt countless 101’s over the years and, along with his dear wife “Millie” in his sidecar, has probably ridden more miles on them than all the rest of us…combined!
George L. Yarocki
So when George offered his literature collection to the AMCA for scanning, I jumped at the opportunity to go to Torrington, CT, where he lives. So along with my wife, Debbie, our Doberman, “Lady,” and the AMCA’s computer equipment, we headed out to see George in our RV. (And, oh yes, I took along the 101 that I inherited from my Dad years ago, just in case George had any extra time.)
Torrington, CT, founded in the 1700’s, sits in the foothills of the Berkshire mountains, so it’s postcard beautiful. George’s shop, or as it is fondly called, “Fort Yarocki,” is an old dairy creamery that he converted to machine shop some 30 years ago. While he sold off his machine shop business several years ago, he kept half of the buildings for his Indian workshop. And it really feels like an Indian “workshop,” not a retail store. There’s welding equipment, lathes, sandblast cabinets and paint booths everywhere. Not to mention dozens of Indian frames and parts for older Indians stacked everywhere.
While it took us days just to figure out how to get around “Fort Yarocki,” it didn’t take long for me to think of the place as being in heaven for an Indian motorcycle fan. It’s absolutely amazing! Nothing fancy. Just very real. Like when George is going to work on a bike for a customer, he fires up a tow motor and lifts you and the bike up onto a flat roof where you push the bike off the skid and then into a special upstairs room!
Careful there, boys!
And no fancy hydraulic lifts in there! Just block & tackle chain hoists to lift your bike onto one of George’s three 2’ x 8’ wood work tables. And on the other tables sat not one, not two, but three Indian Powerplus machines under various stages of reconstruction. George has been diligently researching Indian’s Powerplus models history for the AMCA judges, and had chalk-labeled many of the parts on all three bikes with the model year that it belongs on.