January 29, 2009

Our visit to OCC was a frigidly cold winter day with snow and ice falling for two days prior to our trip.   The roads were just cleared of snow and though there was no snow or ice to deal with, we had the wet road salt spray constantly clouding the windshield.  I had a bottle of water with me to drink, but decided not to drink it incase I had to use it for windshield washer.

We got to the new OCC facility in Newburgh New York about 2:30 in the afternoon.  This building is huge!   We walked into the showroom to see what was inside and were setback by the number of custom bikes sitting throughout the showroom.   Among the racks of t-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, and other clothing,  were strategically placed bikes from the shows shown on television.  It was amazing to see them all in one location.   After looking around for a half hour I ran into Tom Joyce who is the Dealer Representative for OCC.   Tom and I were talking about our oldie but good bikes.   He has Triumphs like me.  I talked to Tom for a few minutes on the sales floor and after I threw a few plugs in for my business and New Jersey Motorcycle Events, Tom asked if I'd like to go back to the shop.  There was no other answer to this question, but yes, I sure would.  

Tom took us where they do the mockups of every bike.  This is the section you see most of the time on the TV show.  I was introduced to Rick who is the guy you usually see making the cool gas tanks on the TV show.  They were building a couple of bikes for some Sultan or something in Dubai.   They were very cool with the one of them having a big sword for the downtube and a wild multi faceted tank.  You can tell that there is a lot of labor and love that goes into one of these custom builds.  Let alone the imagination into the design itself. 

Tom then proceeded to take us through the rest of the facility to show us more of what OCC was all about. I was amazed at the technology that was sitting in the shop.  There was five axis water cutting jets, CNC machines, benders, rollers, grinders, frame jigs, and so many more machines I must have walked right by.    I met Jim who runs all of the CNC and water jet machines.  We caught him vacuuming up a puddle in front of the water jet machine. They also have a huge 350 ton press for stamping out fenders, tank halves, and whatever else you may need made.

They make their own wheels for the bikes.   First they are deigned by Jason (I'll talk a little about him later) and then the design is done in 3D and pumped right out to the CNC machine where the wheel is machined.    Though OCC has in house modeling capabilities, the time to make a model can take 24 hours when they can make the part in about 15 minutes using this hi-tech machinery.  So in many cases they make the parts without the modeling of the part first.  We discussed the CNC milling machines they use as we also have the Haus CNC mills in our shop. 

It was about this point of the trip where I started to see some other things going on besides motorcycle.  Yes, OCC is a motorcycle manufacturer, but they are also one of the best custom fabrication houses around.   Jim was working on a couple missiles when we were there.  Yes, I did say missiles.  There is a local guy who has a Russian fighter jet that he wants to look more realistic and is adding a couple 8' missiles under the wings.  It was pretty cool.  They looked just like a couple tomahawk missiles sitting on a pallet. I just hope our Air Force doesn't shoot this guy down because of these empty tubes under his wings. 

OCC is branching into production of specialty items for bikes and they are starting with Derby Covers.  The idea is that they will make these for clubs and have the club logo represented in a custom derby cover.    Estimated runs will be around 30, but I'm sure you can get anything for the right price at OCC.  See their ad on these Derby Covers.

After exiting the shop, we ended up in Jason’s hide away were he has the latest technology in computers and the fantastic eye and hand of an artist.  Jason starts with and idea and a scribble drawing.  The scribble drawing will progress into a finalized 3D drawing of the bike which looks like a real picture.  We discussed the problems with making things look chromed in the drawings, but Jason seems to have no problem there.  A part can be created in this office and sent right out to the CNC machine for production.   Jason is a nice young guy who really enjoys his work. We should all be so lucky!

We then went up into the office area.  Though they have elevators, Tom says that he needs the exercise, so we used the stairs.    When you get up to the office area what do you think they have in the hallway?   You guessed it, another custom bike.  They seem to be all over the place.   Tom showed us the heating system for this huge facility.  It was three small units and was a lot smaller than you would ever think to heat a building of this size.   The system was computer controlled and the building was designed to utilize solar heating to reduce energy needs.  The building design allows the warm air to rise to ducts in the top of the second floor that return the warm are to designated areas of the building for heat.  It was very efficient as the temperature was comfortable throughout the facility.  Though they have a lot of windows, radiant heat warms the air by the windows elevating the cost you normally feel when getting close to a glass window.  One other thing I should bring up is that the building was made from recycled steel.  We took a peak in most offices, including Paul Seniors where he has wooden motorcycles on his desk.  They also have a great gym with sauna and tanning beds.  I guess this is where Paul senior does most of his working out and maintains that Hollywood tan.   We then stopped in Tom's office to get his business card and to get some autographed pictures.

It was starting to get late and we were bound to hit traffic on the way home.  So, we told Tom that it was a great tour, but we had to hit the road as we still had a long ride home.  We were shown back to the showroom where I thanked Tom for his tour and told him that we would be in touch.

We left OCC and headed on back to central New Jersey. We had about 1-1/2 hours of driving in front of us, without any traffic problems.  After almost two hours we were back at our plant.  We went into the office to share the highlights of our day with everyone.  Can’t wait till we visit again!

New Jersey Motorcycle Events



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Story by Ash

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Ash checking out some of the bikes and clothing at Orange County Choppers

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You can see that there was plenty of snow outside.  The Jets Bike in the window.


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The showroom had more custom bikes than a dealer has new bikes.


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This bike was very interesting with the seat and tank done in a wire frame.


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These guys know what they are doing.  All of their creations are done with every detail addressed.  They have been doing this for years now and what comes to them naturally, takes others years.

If you are in the Newburgh New York area, I impress upon you to stop in and visit them.  While you're there, pick up a T-Shirt or other memorabilia.  You will be glad you went.

If your club is interested in having the club logo placed on derby covers for your Harley's, please contact Tom at Orange County Choppers. Samples