Bobbed Out!

The Gamer Changer

“I wish I hadn’t seen that photo, because when you got the sickness, all it takes is a photo and off you go. I had to have one.” Usually those words end with some stalkee duct taped in a basement, putting the lotion in the basket, lest they get the hose again. In this case, though, it’s Thom Jones, proprietor of Semigood Design, describing how he got it into his melon to build this ’36 bob job.

Inspiration hit when he saw a picture of a late ’30s VL bobber that had been pulled out of a barn. Thom came across it just a few weeks after finishing another project. That shot shattered his view of early BT flatheads forever. The barn job was a tracker that was absolutely perfect from front to back. Thom was hooked solid.

Mr. Jones picked the motor up as a semi basket case in early 2011. It came with a set of wheels, front and rear brake, motor, carb, and generator. When he pulled the top end, the cylinders were completely toast with clear evidence of being seized at some point. The bottom end was in good shape, though so he had the cylinders cleaned up to 0.080 over while having the valves and seats done. Since the timing chest was clean, the motor went back together pretty quickly.

Not everything was that neat, though. It never is with anything that has the words “basket” and “case” in its resume. “My dear friend, Andrew Ide, helped me with the three-speed transmission and a lot of the odds and ends to get this bike together, so I can safely say it wouldn’t have all gone so smoothly without his help,” Thom told us.

Sourcing all the parts for one of these ancient rigs is an archaeological expedition in itself, too. Everything needed to be rebuilt from the frontend to the backend, but Thom picked away most of that work while he searched for the other missing parts. Once done, she came together pretty quickly. He recalls, “The hardest part was all the little things that go into making these total-loss oilers go down the road, so with the help of manuals, the internet, and my buddy, Andy, it all came together.”

You’d think Thom Jones would want to take a breather before diving back into another old-ass resto project. Don’t bet on it. “I can’t wait to do it all over again with my 1928 JD, but my advice to anyone getting involved in a total-loss oiler project is buckle up and be patient,” he says. “It’s nothing like the Panhead stuff I was used to. This was a complete and total game-changer. On the positive side, once you have tackled one of these puppies, everything else seems like a walk in the park.”

If you want to follow that project and Thom’s other upcoming builds, check out his Instagram feed, @semigoods.

for more on this bike visit



Owner Thom Jones

Shop Semigood Design


Year/Make/Model 1936 Harley-Davidson VLH

Fabrication Thom Jones

Build Time Three weeks to build and 18 months to source all the parts


Year/Type/Size 1936 VLH Flathead 80ci

Builder Thom Jones

Cases H-D VLH

Cylinders High-compression VL cylinders/Auto Sport Seattle

Heads High-compression VL heads

Rocker Boxes N/A

Cams Stock VLH cams

Throttle Body Linkert M41

Exhaust H-D

Air Cleaner Custom Teak Stack with stock 45-inch military adapter


Year/Type ’34 Harley VL three-speed

Gears H-D

Clutch H-D

Primary Drive Stock H-D/chaindrive


Year/Type ’35 H-D

Rake/Stretch Stock

Suspension None

Frontend Stock VL I beam springer

Wheels, Tires, and Brakes


Builder/Size 19-inch Kelsey Hayes

Tire/Size 4×19-inch Coker

Brake H-D Springer brake

Rotors N/A

Rear 19-inch Kelsey

Builder/Size 19-inch Kelsey Hayes

Tire/Size 4×19-inch Coker

Brake H-D mechanical drum


Manufacturer Semigood Design

Colors Black and Off-White

Paint/Graphics As found on gas tank


Front Fender JD Front Fender

Rear Fender JD Rear Fender

Gas Tank Stock VL

Handlebars Custom VL Hollywood bars

Grips Carriage tape wrap

Mirrors VL

Hand Controls Stock H-D Spirals w/ Knuckle Brake Lever

Foot Controls Stock VL Foot Controls

Floorboards Stock H-D Boards

Headlight VL

Taillight Modified 1940’s Willys Jeep lights

License Mount Semigood Design

Seat Heilmann Messinger 3