Friday, October 26, 2012

Bob Oswald - Old time machinist making modern components.

I recently had the opportunity to stop by Bob Oswalds machine shop in Parkesburg Pennsylvania which despite being just a few miles from my house, I've never visited before. Oswald, or Ozzie as he's know by his friends, is a master machinist and owner of Quiet Power Drive - the moniker for his proprietary line of primaries and electric start kits for Triumph, BSA and Norton. Ozzie's been in the game a long time and his reputation for quality is second to none. All his clutch baskets are set up to run a Norton style diaphragm clutch - a huge upgrade from the three spring pressure plate that comes stock. I knew Ozzie made everything in-house, but what I didn't know is that he makes all his parts the old fashioned way - with a lathe and a Bridgeport mill! Old craftsmanship at it's finest.

piles of baskets, centers and pulleys are stacked everywhere in Bobs 2 car garage.
We ended up chatting for 2 hours about his racing days. Turns out Ozzie got his start with motorcycles in the middle of the last century wrenching for his good friend and future AMA Hall of Famer, Ed Fisher and racing quarter mile drags on his own pre unit rigid framed Triumph Trophy. "I used a close ratio gear box and i started out in second gear so i only had to shift once into third.". Just one shift... apparently it worked well, because Ozzie took the East Coast championship in 1958.

Ozzie got into making belt drives in the 70's. So successful were his systems, that Triumph Motorcycles invited him to Meriden England to show the top brass the primary side electric starter as a possibility for factory production. Unfortunately, the weaker timing-side starters were already in place, and Triumph went under before they could upgrade. Far superior to the stock electric starter systems, which are prone to stripping gears, Bob continued to manufacture his own system for those who wanted improved reliability for their old Brit iron.

The Mill where Bob Oswald spends most of his day
Most days, Bob Oswald is out in his shop, cranking out belt drive sprockets for customers all over the world. It takes him about 3 hours to do all the cuts and every one of his systems is tested out on one of his bikes before it ships. Ozzie is a stickler for quality. If he puts his name on something, he wants to make sure it's solid.

Bob shows me the electric start on this 1973 Commando

Assorted collets.

In his 80's, Bob shows no sign of slowing down!
You just don't find that many skilled people like this anymore. Someone who see's a way to improve something, follows through with their vision and stands behind the product for nearly 4 decades. We salute you Mr Oswald!


  1. great article thanks for sharing

  2. It is nice to hear that somebody cares enough about their parts to check them on a bike before shipping them out to customers. Good effort Mr Oswald.

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  6. Ozzie is a friend of mine. He did my bike. The bad part is that we are 7 hours apart. I would love to spend a lot of time around him. He is a wealth of knowledge. What a man.

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