The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

 
 

Labor of love

 

Katie Perttunen/Daily Globe

TONY FABBRI, Ironwood, displays his “labor of love” for the past two years: a 1959 Cushman Eagle.

IRONWOOD — Tony Fabbri, of Ironwood, has finished a two year labor of love to rebuild a 1959 Cushman Eagle, which he calls “The eagle flies again.”

Fabbri owned a small engine shop for 40 years before his retirement. He got the Eagle from his friend Michael Anderson in exchange for getting Anderson’s two Cushmans up and running.

Fabbri did everything from replacing the tires, bearings, and engine, to sewing the seat and building parts for the machine, including using bed rails for part of it. He added a directional light system and a lock and key system. The windshield was adapted from an old Honda to fit the bike. Fabbri rebuilt the gas tank, and sandblasted and painted the bike.

Fabbri hand-painted an eagle on the side of the bike.

This Eagle is not the first Cushman Fabbri has owned, as when he was 13 he had one with a side car that he used to ride back and forth to Norrie Park. His father warned him to be careful with it, but caught him taking a jump with it and sold it the next day. “He bought a tv with the money, and the funny thing is we couldn’t even get reception with it.”

Back then, the bikes cost about $50 and it was common for neighborhood kids to use one for awhile, then sell it to another kid, passing them back and forth, Fabbri said.

Fabbri’s sons also had Cushmans, which he had to take away from them, too.

Fabbri has plans for the bike. It already draws attention when he parks it downtown, and he wants to ride it in parades. He wants to build a side car for the bike next, as well as add fringes to the back of the seat.

“It’s exhilarating to ride,” Fabbri said. He also owns a moped, and said the difference between riding the two bikes is like the difference between riding in a Cadillac and a Model-T.

Although there are clubs nationwide celebrating the bikes, Fabbri only knows of 3 locals with them, himself included. “It would be really fun to ride in parades as a club,” Fabbri said.