The day Craig Campbell lost his job, his first stop wasn’t the unemployment office.
It was the hardware store.
Taildragger started the very day Craig Campbell left the last day he worked at Consumers Auto Warehouse last summer. His first stop was not the unemployment office, but Lowe’s for raw material to start building the frame. He made a blueprint out of painter’s masking tape that is still stuck to his basement floor.
Campbell worked day and night on the custom reverse trike. “I’d be in here welding, cutting, working I’d see the sun go down, I’d watch it come up. Go to sleep, get up, take a shower and do it again,” said Campbell. “It’s been a battle all winter.”
It was so much of a battle he didn’t turn his heat on this winter to save money. Instead he bought a neighbor's broken Sears and Roebuck chainsaw for five dollars, fixed it and kept a fire going to heat his house.
“It’s been very tough, and still is,” said girlfriend Jenni Lockhart, “but I have complete faith in him and I knew he was going to make it work and finish it.”
Lockhart said though some nights she went to bed alone while Campbell toiled in the basement it was worth it because it made him happy to work for himself.
“He was completely dedicated to it,” said Lockhart.
“It’s pride that went into it, sweat and craftsmanship which a lot of computers won’t generate. You gotta have pride in your work.”
Letting the machine dictate the form, he put the steering and controls up front between two wheels from a Chevette and added foot controls like a standard passenger car.
A 600cc Suzuki motorcycle was deconstructed and attached at the back of the frame to power the vehicle.
“I didn’t want to build choppers or hot rods. I just figured I’d do my own style,” said Campbell. The end style resembles a World-War-II-era German fighter plane, complete in drab army green with a black German cross painted on the side. Even the name Taildragger comes from the aviation slang for a prop airplane with two wheels in the front.
The vehicle definitely turns heads. On a recent drive passengers grabbed photos with their mobile phones while Campbell was stopped at a light. He said he almost caused a couple of accidents on Greenville Avenue once when he and a friend were stopped at the Staunton Mall parking lot.
Campbell has been trying to sell the vehicle so that he can start building trikes for a living.
He had one buyer in New York City lined up to buy the vehicle, but he has since bailed out, so Taildragger is still up for sale. He is currently listing Taildragger on Craigslist and eBay.
He said he plans to keep his future business small, building the trikes one at a time, “like they do at Bentley.”
Campbell said he’s always had a knack for working on cars and motorcycles and has been riding dirt bikes since he was a child.
“[Engines] tell you what they want. I know that sounds crazy, but If something has a problem you can just touch it listen to it feel it and I can understand in my head what’s going on with it because I can basically visualize all the parts moving what it needs, so to speak.”
Campbell said Taildragger told him “keep going. Don't stop.”
(Pat Jarrett/The News Leader)
Loading more stuff…
Hmm…it looks like things are taking a while to load. Try again?