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Quinton and his Cushman

Ron Saum and I were reminiscing by email one evening and one of my comments inspired Ron to write this neat story. ed


Your comments about making a Trailster "run with the big boys" brought back a memory from my Cushman scooter days. (I bet you're saying, "Oh no, not another Cushman story!) Anyway, I just got to tell you this one, because you'll appreciate it.

In the summer of 1961, I was 14 years old and had a '58 Eagle in Grand Junction, Colorado. If you were cool, you had a Cushman Eagle. If you were really cool, you had a Super Eagle. There were gobs of Cushmans and we ran around in "rat packs," cruising North Avenue between the drive-in restaurants. Of course there were "clicks" of different people. Sort of a class system, if you know what I mean. Anyway, there was this kid that was in my grade named Quinton Montgomery. He had a '59 Super Eagle that he had painted Baby Blue. It was the only Cushman in Grand Junction with white wall tires. As far as the rest of us were concerned, Quinton was definitely NOT COOL with that color and, especially, white wall tires! White walls were for the Shriners, not for cool people.

Quinton sort of hung out by himself. But we started to learn that Quinton seemed to know a lot about Cushman scooters. Since I was sort of the "designated wrench" for our group, I started asking Quinton some questions about engines and transmissions and he gave me some pretty good advice. He only lived a few blocks from me, so I'd go over to his house from time to time because he was always working on his Super Eagle. As time went on, he kept improving the engine until he could beat almost every other Cushman in one of our many "stop light drag races" on North Avenue. Quinton was getting a "reputation."

As I'm sure you recall, everything that went on back then was done as a "fad." If one of us took our baffle out, then everybody took their baffle out. The handlebar location, the type of grips on the bars, the shirt style you wore .... all of it was based on fad. About that time, somebody discovered that it was possible to buy a "manual clutch kit" for the scooters. I'm sure you remember them ... they had some coil springs, a pressure plate and some retract fingers with pivot pins that you could put into the centrifugal clutch hub and make it into a manual "suicide" clutch. It was sold as a kit under a single part number. I think it was for a Truckster, or something like that. Anyway, we all had to have one so the dealer was kept busy ordering clutch kits. No slip was great, but you had to constantly use your left foot to operate the clutch. Once you got used to it, you just shifted to neutral before you stopped. Then shifted into first just before you were ready to go ... and made sure you were leaning to the right so you didn't need your left foot! All of this really helped our drag racing, but most importantly, it made it possible to get "high gear scratch" when we shifted! The drawback was that it was a lot of work to use in traffic and somewhat hard on our equipment. We'd run the manual clutch for awhile and then switch back, then switch again.

Back to Quinton. He installed a manual clutch and discovered that not only could he get scratch, but with his engine he could do a wheelie! He shredded a couple of primary belts, so he installed a chain and sprockets for the primary and a smaller front sprocket on the rear drive. He'd just rev it up, pop the clutch and ride a wheelie through first gear. He'd slam down the front end, grab high gear, pop the clutch and get some air under the front wheel for 50 feet or so. It was a sight to behold! He'd wheelie so high that he would drag the rear fender box on the street. He wore out a couple of Cushman 100's and then found a go-cart slick that would fit. As you can imagine, that Super Eagle was never meant for that kind of abuse. He started breaking the frame and bending up the rear fender box. He'd weld things up with some extra straps for strength and then it would break somewhere else. After a few months, he had so much extra metal on the frame that the rear fender box wouldn't fit anymore. Now he was running around without a fender (very uncool), doing block long wheelies and scaring the bejesus out of everybody, including the local cops.

About that time, I went over to his house and he had his scooter scattered all over the garage. I asked what he was doing and he said, "Putting in a Trailster frame." Now anything to do with a Cushman Trailster was the absolute pit of uncool. I asked him if he was out of his mind ... going from a Super Eagle to a Trailster. He said, "I need to buy a new frame anyway. The Trailster is the shortest wheelbase of any Cushman scooter. My Super Eagle front forks will fit on the Trailster frame. I can wheelie better with this setup." So Quinton Montgomery not only built a scooter with a Trailster frame and a Super Eagle front fork complete with sheet metal, headlight, front fender, the whole works ... he also adapted some sort of British motorcycle four speed transmission with a hand clutch into the mix. It had a white wall front tire, a huge slick on the back, a home made seat the entire length of the Trailster frame so he could move back and forth and it had a yellow frame with a baby blue front end!

That thing was so fast that it was in an entirely different league. He could simply run away from any Cushman in town ... and most of the Mustangs. The engine didn't even look like a Husky anymore. I rode with him one time. I had my arms locked around his waist. He hit second gear, popped up the front wheel and rode for about half a block. I think I had my eyes closed for most of the ride! It was insane, I could have been killed! Time went on and Quinton sort of kept going out into the ozone, as far as we were concerned. We all moved on to cars. Quinton had some old rag Chevy that looked like crap but went like stink. I sort of lost track of him after high school. He may have gone to Viet Nam. I sometimes wonder what happened to him ...... oh well, he was definitely a chapter in my life with his Trailster/Super Eagle. He definitely could "run with the big boys." Jim, hope you enjoyed my story. I have many "Cushman stories" ... my Cushman was the center of my world for two very important years of my life. I remember all of it like it was yesterday.

Ron Saum


As a footnote to Ron's story, he emailed me back a few days later to say that he had found two of the manual "suicide" clutch kits that Quinton used in those days in his Cushman parts. They came from Marsale's, the local Cushman dealer in those days in Grand Junction, Colorado, and they are still in the original bags.

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