Member Profile: Randy Barnette

Member Profile: Randy Barnette

Some words on Randy…

We’ve known Randy now for a few years, but only recently have we really, really gotten to know him. Randy is an interesting fellow and a man of few words - that is when he’s talking about himself. When asking him about himself, Randy likes to keep it short and simple, and then tries to change the subject. However when asking him about his current projects, that he could go on and on and on about. Randy does things by the book, literally. “A place for everything, everything in its place“ is his mantra. Randy has been an airplane technician for 40 years now and used to be what they call a “tank rat”. Know what that is? He used to work INSIDE the fuel tanks on all sorts of jets. It really doesn’t get more badass than that. Randy takes pride in being a family man, surrounded by his wife, kids, and grandkids. Our favorite thing about Randy? We’ve never seen anyone smile as much as he does when riding a motorcycle. 

So Randy, what do you do for work these days?
Well, I’m an aircraft technician. I’ve been doing that since 1979, I started working at Delta at the age of 20. I worked there for about 30 years, but I’m now I’m at Lockheed and work on planes like the F35, C5, and C130.

That’s fascinating. Do you enjoy what you do?
What I do is perfect for my interests and attention. It always made sense to me so I continued doing it, and I guess I wasn’t good at much else. I’m not sure if I’ve ever read an entire book, but boy do I love reading my manuals. I could tell you exactly where all my manuals are…couldn’t tell you where my wedding ring is though. It’s all I’ve ever done really, and it’s what I’ll continue to do. Plus, my commute gives me the opportunity to ride my motorcycle 40 miles a day, and how can you be mad at that?

Very true. What do you do for fun?
Hang at Brother Moto, eat at Homegrown, ride motorcycles, wrench on them.

Is that it?
Yep, pretty much. 

Ha, alright. So you’re an airplane tech by profession and have a keen interest in four wheeled machines as well. How did that all start?
Well, I’m not really sure. I started working on airplanes and I guess it took off from there (we’re unsure if this pun was intended or not). My first car was a 1972 Plymouth Duster. I always liked the look of the older stuff and thought it was cool. I knew how to work on planes, so I figured cars couldn’t be much harder. I’ve had a bunch of different cars and trucks over the years - ’40 Ford Deluxe, ’63 Ford F100, the list goes on. 

So when did motorcycles enter?
Not until much later in my life. I’ve only been riding for about 10 years. It actually started with scooters, my first two wheeled machine was a vintage Vespa. From there it eventually progressed into an interest in motorcycles. Convincing my wife to let me get a scooter was hard enough, and boy oh boy did she not want me getting a motorcycle. *She said “you can get one when I die”, so my response was “well, when are you going to die?” So now I have a few motorcycles. 

*Randy wants to make it clear that this was obviously a joke, him and his wife have been happily married for nearly 40 years.

Tell us about some of your 2 wheeled adventures?
So a few years ago I participated in a 2 day, 600+ mile vintage scooter rally. I rode my ’79 Vespa all over north Georgia, even riding some gravel from time to time. More recently, I just completed the Vintage 1000 on my ’72 XL250. That was a 1000 mile, 5 day, dual sport endurance that circles the Blue Ridge mountains. It takes you through the mountain trails and backroads of Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina - all done on vintage bikes.

What was the Vintage 1000 like?
Well, I had seen photos from previous years and thought it looked cool. I had just turned 60, so thought what better time than now to do it. I bought an old XL250 and went through everything. I took the engine out of the frame, split the case, and overhauled it. Cleaned the tank, went through the carburetor, electrical stuff, you name it - I did it. Come to think of it, the only thing I didn’t do was powder coat the frame. When it came to the riding and terrain I knew I would be out of my element. I knew it was going to be tough, especially given that I didn’t have any real off road riding experience.

You know, we did offer to take you out on some dirt to get some practice?
Yeah I know… but I didn’t want to get my bike dirty.

Right, right… So would you do it again?
Nope. Once was enough. I did learn a lot though. The best part? That bike never leaked a drop of oil.

How did you hear about Brother Moto?
I guess I just rode past the old East Atlanta location one day, and the rest is history. 

Your method of working on motorcycles is interesting. How do you approach a project?
Because I work in aviation, I follow directions. Step by step - by the book. I’m good at that. I guess I’m not too good at trouble shooting or “tricks of the trade”. My approach is to take everything apart, start from scratch, and follow the manual - that way I know exactly what I’m doing and how to do it. 

So what are you working on now?
I recently acquired a 1973 BMW 75/5 Toaster. It’s in pretty decent shape, but not currently running. The plan is to get it running and go from there. I’m currently rebuilding the original Bing carburetors and doing a few other miscellaneous things, and then we’ll see if she cranks. I’d love to ride this bike across the country one day.  

Take us with you when you go. You go by “Dreamspokes” on Instagram, which is such a rad handle. Where did it come from?
My head…haha. I have a '60s Honda Dream that’s in the attic. It’s currently in pieces, but one day I’ll get it put together. I make sure to go up there everyone once in a while and turn the engine over. I laced the spokes myself on the wheels. Dreamspokes. 

Where are we currently?
Well we’re at Homegrown, my favorite restaurant in Atlanta. I’ve been coming here for probably 10 years now. I love Lisa and Kevin, I enjoy the conversations, and most importantly the food. Boy is the food good. I come here about 2-3 times a week. It’s like Cheers, ya know? Where everyone knows your name.  

I agree, the food sure is good. So…any final words?

You can follow the Randy at: @dreamspokes 
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