Custom guru Roland Sands resurrects the machine that inspired the family business

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Roland Sands has rebuilt a bike that, at the tender age of 19, his father bought, built, crashed then sold before founding their custom fabrication family business, Performance Machine.

Perry Sands built the original ‘Peyote Puffer’ chopper in 1967 from a 1946 Indian Chief then toured it around some local shows. Two years later Perry decided it was finally time for it hit the road, unfortunately it seems he meant it literally.

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Having hopped up the motor with a hot carb, the rest of the bike couldn’t hack it, with the wheel bearings collapsing at 80mph. Miraculously, Perry walked away virtually uninjured but the frame was bent and the petrol tank split, so he flogged the parts and forgot all about it.

The bits of bike stayed in circulation in the custom motorcycle scene and nearly 50 years later, Roland got the opportunity to buy the frame and reunite his dad with the Puffer with the goal of rebuilding the machine from scratch together.

The original frame could be salvaged for the build

At first they looked at using a stock frame, considering the original frame had been badly crashed, but after lots of checking, measuring and fiddling they came to the conclusion it could be rescued.

Using photos of the original bike and magazine articles from the time, Perry and Roland pieced the machine back together bit by bit, and fabricated duplicates of the long lost original custom parts.

Parts came from a wide network of contacts: an original carburettor here, a headlight there. The engine, along with a whole host of small parts, came from ‘Kiwi’ Mike Tomas, whose shop Kiwi Indian manufacturers classic Indian parts, including complete engines and castings.

After what Roland describes as “about two solid days of kicking” the Puffer finally fired up for the first time in 50 years. Perry immediately jumped on it and rode it back to the bridge where he last rode (and crashed) the bike all those years ago but this time all was well.

On the off chance you’re in Southern California later this year, the bike will be at the 2021 Born Free Show, August 28-29.

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