In the Doghouse
On road trips you get to meet people from all walks of life.
Even more if you possess a natural curiosity which makes you want to discover the story behind the front end.
Generating new contacts in the digital world is relatively easy. Staying in touch and building a relationship often becomes little problematic for most, but going out there to spend some serious time with them is a whole different ball game.
If you accept the challenge and make the extra effort, there will be occasions that life treats you to the nicest people you can ever imagine. Occasionally they share their life stories with you that make your emotions run amok.
Not long ago Bikebrewers paid a shed visit to Craig Jones, the man behind Dog House Customs.
Time was not an issue that day and all sense of it disappeared once we started our conversation. As there is so much to write about, the piece ended up laying around and finishing proved to be tough. Perhaps writing a book might have been easier and do more justice to the man than this 1.000 word post.
Nevertheless we stayed in touch with Craig over the past twelve months. When some of the editors decided to visit the ‘Motorcycle live’ November show in Birmingham recently, we all agreed a second visit to Craig’s shed was justified.
After our initial visit Craig had become active on Instagram and his show on YouTube had soared to 30.000+ subscribers. However, he recently went through a difficult period, after the decision to part with the guys with whom he was producing the show. There are only 24 hours in a day and you can just use them once. Having to dedicate a lot of those valuable working hours on filming had a dramatic effect on his – one man band – production. Where it would normally take an average of four weeks to finish a build, it would cost him twice as much time now. Starring in in a You Tube show regrettably proved not to pay any bills.
“It just did not work out properly” the builder informed us via email. “But I will tell you the whole story when you get here.”
Riches to rags
Craig is a trained blacksmith and ran ‘R. Jones & Co.’ together with his father. Sadly enough Craig’s parent succumbed to cancer a few years ago, rendering the protagonist of this story completely devastated.
This terrible event caused Craig’s life to spiral downwards. He literally ended up in the gutter with a grim perspective on the future. He went through some pretty tough times.
In fairy tales often a hero comes to the rescue as by miracle. But also in real life these rarities occur
After losing his wife, his wife, his company, his house and his money his, now girlfriend, Tracy picked him up ‘brushed him off’ and helped him get back on his feet again.
This is how he ended up safely nested in his own little 60 square feet universe in the backyard of his house in Wolvey, Great Britain.
A morning well spent
That’s where we met him and spent the whole morning discussing life’s issues and of course bikes, bikes and bikes over cups and cups of tea.
His new dawn started when he decided to focus on rebuilding an ancient Royal Enfield Bullet 500 just to take his mind of things. While spending serious time on the project and dreaming of building and selling, his friends declared him “officially mad”. “You will never be able to make a living out of building bikes they all said” Craig explains with a smile.
They were all muted when the end result was presented.
A stunning bike with an astounding eye for the most minute details. When presented online Craig’s phone would not stop buzzing. Craig was suddenly a ‘most wanted’ man in the bike building world.
Over the years the Wolvey resident has become somewhat of a specialist on rebuilding old Royal Enfield bikes into magnificent pieces of art. But he has sprinkled his creativity on a BMW, a Triumph and a BSA too.
“So how do you go about putting a project together?” we pried. “
“I like to compare the process to bricklaying, but then without a plan” Craig explains. “I cement the pieces together one by one and love it when the ideas in my head work out and the build starts coming together.”
“Working in this fashion obviously has its downsides too. It has happened more than once that I did not like what I created. I then just chuck it away and start all over again. To avoid situations like that I will often just sit there and look at the bike, creating the perfect picture in my mind.”
“I go into a state of Zen and let the creative energy flow. Once the image in my mind is clear my hands will do the rest and things start to fall into place. Never rush. Doesn’t work for me.”
Do you do commissioned work?
“No, it gives me too much pressure and a disappointed customer lurks around the corner. Just don’t want to deal with that. I build the build that I have in mind and then sell it.”
He continues: “Asking the right price is a bit of an issue too. What you think may be fair, does not necessarily work for the buyer. I have created the best solution to that. When a build is completed I put it on eBay for 99 pence and let interested buyers bid. At the end of the day the person who has the winning bid will always be happy, as this is the price he was willing to pay for his purchase. Works for the buyers and I can feel good about it too.”
We’ll be back!
Having spent even more time with our shed builder all editors wish they’d live closer to Birmingham so regular visits to check out what Craig is up to would be easier. Instead we will have to rely on the good old Internet and patiently wait for episodes of his brand new, self-produced, You Tube show.
There is enough to get excited about as there is another of his magnificent Royal Enfield bobbers in the works closely followed by the finishing touches on the Yamaha 1100 turbo and a Ural!
With all this in mind and the unbelievable craftsmanship of Craig Jones, we can only hope that Royal Enfield finally wake up and commission a factory build of one of their new models.
The world deserves it.