josh krager

Josh D Krager's

1968 Mercedes 2.1L Diesel Rat Bike

That’s the question most often heard by passersby. Wives pull their husbands by the shirt to come and take a closer look.  Many men are witnessed scratching their heads while studying this contraption….and “What the Eff….???” is muttered. 
From the Design Scientist, Josh D. Krager: 
It all started approximately mid-March 2014 while cleaning my 6,000 square foot shop.  There I stood, looking at a motor, housed 15 feet up on pallet racking, mixed in amongst mud truck parts.  This isn’t just any motor.  It is a 1968 Mercedes 2.1L Diesel Power Plant with 23,000 actual kilometers.  I pulled this doozy of an engine down and placed it on my work bench.  And there it sat for four weeks – and my mind started thinking…”What can I do with this engine?”  Friends would come over and the first thing they would ask is, “What are you going to do with that engine?” After hearing the same question over and over, just to shut my friends up and yes, being the smart ass that I am; I said I was going to build a motorcycle.  Well, that shut them up!  Except for one longtime friend.  He bet me that I couldn’t build a bike with that engine AND there was no possible way I could finish the project for Geneva-On-The-Lake’s, September 3, 2014 - Thunder on the Strip Bike Rally. And so the challenge began…… 
With the ’68 Mercedes 2.1L Diesel engine on the bench, I built the frame around the motor. 15 (fifteen) Giant Iron Worker Wrenches and round tubing became the frame for the bike. I then slept on the idea and awoke the next morning with the next step. I had to call in favors for the wheels.  The front wheel:  a Harley Davidson Road King spoked wheel and tire.  The rear wheel:  (I have no idea the exact type) Harley Davidson Reproduction Pie Crust Drag slick. The forks:  fabricated by me are Girder style that uses 2 (two) air shocks to raise and lower the front with an air compressor mounted 
under the saddle. The rear end is rigid, so to maximize ride comfort; a suspension was used under the saddle.  Back to sleep… 
Along with the engine came the original ’68 Mercedes manual 4 (four) speed transmission with Reverse. This was coupled to an industrial style, right angle, 1:1 ratio gear box linked with a #50 chain. The cooling system:  Honda Aspencade with electric fan and Ford F350 heater core.  Overflow for the cooling system is a vintage brass fire extinguisher. Front brake: stock Harley Davidson. Rear brake:  stock Harley Davidson disc brake.  Braided stainless brake lines tied it all together.  Another night to sleep on things… 
Clutch:  Honda Goldwing master cylinder, Toyota Land Cruiser slave cylinder and stock Mercedes single disc with a nickel copper clutch line.  Electrical system:  60 (sixty) amp screw in fuse – found in homes, with vintage cloth covered wiring leading to vintage knife switches for headlamp, turn signals and air system controls. The headlamp?  A barn find. I have no idea the make or year – just that it’s really cool!  Front turn signals:  1930’s glass door knobs, Rear brake and turn signals:  Vintage Power Pole insulators.  All are LED illuminated.  Fuel Tank:  US Military Jerry can that is secured with a manure spreader chain.  Fuel lines:  custom formed nickel copper tubing.  ZZZzzzzZZZzzzz…. 
Foot boards:  Vintage 1950’s water skis.  Horn and cheesy siren: donated by my best friend. Rear fender:  inverted 1950 Ford 8N tractor fenders.  Front fender: Old school post hole digger. Chin fairing: an old cultivator plow blade. Handle bars:  Right angle Iron Worker Spud Wrenches.  Rear View Mirror:  Moon Eyes Peep Mirror.  Saddle:  Vintage Youth saddle.  Why yes, yes my ass DOES fit in the saddle.  Rear rack:  an old iron fence.  Finishing touches are left for another day… 
The friends that asked what the hell I was going to with the Mercedes engine were invited over for an unveiling, so to speak. Or better yet; a Christening.  We threw back a gallon of Fireball and too many beers to count, all the while watching the fabulous Scott Menke, Master Pinstriper, add the finishing details to the Rat Bike.  
Where did I get all the “stuff” you ask? Garage and Barn sales. Auctions. Antique stores. Picking my friends and family members junk piles.  My junk piles. Donations left at the shop door. EBay. Craigslist. Swap Meets. I will admit, the majority of the “stuff” was already in my shop.  I just made it work.  How did I come up with the different ideas?  Well, as I have shared…..I slept on it and awoke with the solution. 
How long did it take to build? Slightly over 4 (four) months however; less than 250 (two hundred fifty) man hours.   
How much does it weigh? 1312 Pounds (One Thousand Three Hundred Twelve) 
How fast does it go? 55MPH -

Yes, it Rolls Coal! 
Mileage? 40 MPG  
Titled 2014 Ohio Motor Vehicle!