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Great State: Spare Parts Frankenstein

ELMORE CITY, OKLAHOMA — You could put his tools in the hands of some other mechanic but they might never come up with the kinds of things Keith Blackburn has.

He walks over to a strange looking 3 wheel motorcycle to give us an example.

Keith is actually modifying it for a friend who likes the way two-wheel motorcycles lean into turns.

“It rides halfway decent,” says Blackburn. “but on bumps it starts to feel a little shaky.”

He’s still working on the steering geometry for that 3 wheeler.

It needs new shock absorbers too, but give it time.

While visiting his shop, he directs our attention to another, unique 3 wheeler.

The back half came from a wrecked Toyota compact car, the front from a Yamaha touring bike.

“I call it my Toyama,” laughs Keith.

He would have kept the handle bars on the front but everything seemed to fit better by keeping the car’s steering wheel.

Blackburn says, “Everything on my wiring harness fit the steering wheel, for my headlights, for my steering wheel.”

Keith grew up in a neighbor’s garage learning how to take things apart.

So when it came to fitting a 1989 Mercury Cougar into a 1934 Ford Model A he didn’t have much trouble at all.

“It turned out good,” he tells us.

A person could drive all over Oklahoma to find machinists and sheds full of tools.

He might find other people who went on to become mechanical engineers, or who had long careers making things work in the Alaskan oil fields.

But putting things together, fitting them to suit another purpose, takes both know how and imagination.

It might be winter in the fields north of Elmore City, but inside this shed something is always springing up.