In a remote part of the country sits a nondescript hangar… I’m not talking about the NSA facility in Utah where “The Company” is so paranoid about outsiders catching a glimpse of its e-snooping gear, that server cages are kept in complete darkness and service tech’s are outfitted with lights on their head like coal miners.
An impressive operation, but NSA it’s not.
I’m referring to the Helena Montana Regional Airport where an Alberta native, Bud Clarke, builds airplanes when not riding his Harley. The firm, Air-Ryder primarily works on “builder assisted” aircraft. Finishing the final touches on planes built by Lancair, based here in Oregon who manufacture several “high performance” airplane kits that seat from two to four people and can cost upwards to six-figures.
But the tinkering didn’t stop with the sophisticated planes, Clarke also invented a unique motorcycle oil cooler called the OilBud™. The device fits between the motorcycle frame rails and is hidden from view beneath the motor. It’s built from aircraft quality materials, braided stainless hoses and 6061-T6 aluminum extrusion and a welded in header tank assembly.
Last month Clarke announced an updated design which provides Harley-Davidson owners who’ve added modifications to their motorcycle (i.e. Baker Oil Pans, True-Track, Center Stands and Softails outfitted with ABS) the ability to install an OilBud™ and will keep the oil temperature 30 degrees cooler or more than an engine without the device.
In Helena, Clarke is better known as a guitar player in Mabel’s Rage. The band’s name is a reference to a scene in the comic opera “Pirates of Penzance” in which Mabel, a tomboy pirate, is getting cinched up in a corset and is quite begrudged. Clarke for the most part writes the music and lead singer Gina Satterfield writes the lyrics. I especially like the fact that they are supporting a benefit concert later this summer for Wounded Warriors.
I’ve had the opportunity to ride some great roads in Montana; Route 12, Lolo Pass, Highway 200, Highway 86 and 89 from Bozeman, but I’ve not traveled much in the Helena area. I hope to do so one of these days. And when I do I’ll be thinking about Clarke and Mabel’s Rage.
Photos courtesy of OilBud™ and Mabel’s Rage.