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Still Tinkering
Weber continues work on motorized vehicles
Homer Weber dirt bike 80 cropped
Homer Weber - photo by Dena Harris

Motorcycles are at the heart of Homer Weber’s interests. Literally. He uses motorcycle engines in a snowmobile, go-cart and tractor at his property in rural Cuba City.

Weber’s lifelong career as a farm mechanic gave him a solid understanding of engine repair on a wide variety of vehicles. He combined his love of motorcycles and dirt bikes with his farm repair business experience and created several hybrid projects.

“My dad was a mechanic when he farmed,” Weber said. “He did repair work for the neighbors. That’s how I got started. I learned from experience and from my dad. I never did go to school to learn to weld or anything.”

Weber started his business, Weber Farm Repair, in 1975, the year after his father passed away. The first six years were working at his family’s farm. Then he built his current shop in 1981 at 25012 Silverthorn Road, Cuba City.

“I’m supposed to be retired now, but as long as I can work I’m not going to retire,” Weber said.

Most of Weber’s side projects have something to do with motorcycles.

“I like riding them, both road riding and off-road riding,” Weber said.

His free time during the summer months is spent riding motorcycles. Earlier this summer Weber was in Sturgeon Bay and Baraboo for dirt bike competition trials and events.

“It’s a game of balance, not speed,” Weber said. “It’s an obstacle course. Sections are marked out with ribbon and you have to stay in bounds. There will be rocks, logs and sharp turns. I’m no where near as good as some of the other guys.”

In mid-July, Weber took second in his class at the event in Baraboo.

During the winter months, between jobs for his business, Weber works on his creations in the shop.

“I like to do something different,” Weber said.

Last winter he spent his time restoring a motorcycle. The Farmall H took approximately two years to complete.

“One of my customers had this [Farmall H] tractor that the engine went bad on, and he said he wasn’t going to spend the money to fix it, so I bought it from him,” Weber said. “I had the idea back then that I was going to put a motorcycle engine in it, so that’s what I did.”

The motorcycle engine has more power and goes faster than a tractor engine, although it wouldn’t handle doing fieldwork all day.

“It’s just a toy,” Weber said. “Once in a while I pull machinery in and out of the shop with it. I drive it in parades and give tractor rides.”

Weber also put motorcycle engines in a snowmobile and go-cart. He said the engines come from a variety of places. He is given some when the motorcycle won’t run, and purchases others. He fixes the mechanical issues and junks the parts he feels he won’t need for any other projects.

The motorcycle engine in a snowmobile runs differently. Snowmobiles are belt-driven, whereas his version has a hand clutch and foot shift, just like a motorcycle.

“I’ve got two factory snowmobiles, and they are a little nicer to drive than the one I built,” Weber said.

The go-cart he built in the 1960s to ride at his family’s farm with his brother.

“Of course, I had a lot of fun with it, then I didn’t use it for a long time,” Weber said. “Then the kids and the grandkids got old enough and just the last two years I put two extra seats on it.”

He’s made a custom trailer for his dirt bike. He bends and welds the pipes to make modifications to the projects. Weber said painting isn’t his specialty, but he will do small paint jobs on some of his smaller projects. He left the painting of the tractor to the professionals.

“Most of that stuff I don’t build for looks,” Weber said. “The tractor I wanted to look nice. The go-cart I never painted until this past winter.”

Weber’s tractor has been in area parades. It features a 500cc v-twin motorcycle engine. He uses a 305 Honda motorcycle engine in the go-cart and several motorcycles he’s rebuilt over the years.

Weber’s automotive collection includes a manure loader his dad built more than 60 years ago that he uses to remove snow at his property. He also has an old tractor from his family’s farm; it runs on LP gas.

“I can’t stand to have something that isn’t working,” Weber said. “I’m a fanatic about keeping everything inside.”

Weber created his own log splitter with the wedge on the bottom so he doesn’t have to lift the logs up to be split.

“It’s still work to split wood, though,” Weber said. “You still have to pick them up to stack them. I usually get my brothers to help me.”

Weber has modified a lawnmower to assist him with his lawn care. He attached a rope to a barrel in the middle of the lawn and also to a lawnmower. When he starts the mower, he lets the rope wrap around the barrel, bringing the mower closer with each pass, mowing the area for him while he uses another machine to mow the remainder of the lawn.

 “It doesn’t save as much time as you’d think,” Weber said. “Then I’ve got a lot of corner pieces to do. It’s a conversation piece… Twice it got away. I don’t know what happened. The rope broke or something. It went through the electric fence, went down a little ways and got stuck in the woods.”

When the mower gets close to the middle he has to be there to stop it. Then, the next time he’ll start it in the center to work its way out.

“Going that slow, it takes about the same amount of time as when I mow the other grass,” Weber said. “I need to hustle with the other rider to get everything else done by the time that one gets done.”

Two weeks ago Weber drove his 51-year-old motorcycle to Ohio for a motorcycle show. Even though he’s at an age where he could retire, he isn’t considering slowing down yet.

Weber and his late wife, Jan, have three children: Peggy, Tammy and Duane. Weber is a graduate of Cuba City High School.