Making of the Windjammer Part 1: Winter 1970-71
The Windjammer Fairing just didn't "appear." I had to invent and design it. Here, for the first time is the story of how the Windjammer came to be. I thank George Tisten for the above drawing,
The Vetter Fairing lineup of 1971

I had been designing and making frame mounted fairings since 1966. See "43rd Anniversary of the First Vetter Fairing". Each was made of fiberglass and each was an improvement over the one before. By 1970, I had five different fairings, each designed to fit very specific motorcycles. It was difficult to keep the molds in good shape to make all these different fairings. It was impossible for any motorcycle dealer to stock the fairing a customer might want. It was time to design a new fairing, one fairing that would fit any motorcycle.

First, some false starts:
Besides the above goal of one fairing fitting all bikes, I really wanted my new fairing to be able to carry an extra helmet. I could not do it but you may be interested in some of the prototypes I worked on before giving up.
1970 CAD: Cardboard Aided Design study. I wanted the windshield to swing forward on a hinge. In an accident it would not break. * I also wanted a huge storage space for helmets. The cardboard model showed promise.
I actually went to the trouble of finishing the shape and putting it on a bike. It was too big and it was too ugly.

Sometimes we just have to get used to a new shape. I never could get used to this one.

I had to begin over.

* Six years later, I designed a breakaway windshield for the Windjammer.
December 12, 1970, I was calling it the Galleon. The word "Windjammer" had not been coined.
If you were going to design one fairing that would fit anything, how would you do it?

I noticed that the top portion of all my fairings was pretty much the same. The bottom was different to fit around the various engine configurations.

A Phantom fairing with the bottom cut off might fit every motorcycle

What would happen, I wondered, if I simply cut the bottom off and ride with the top part?

To test the idea, I cut the bottom off a Series 1700 that was designed for the Honda 750 and put it on my Kawasaki 500. Then I put it on a Honda, and a BMW and a Suzuki. It fit every bike. This was a good beginning.

Riding revealed that the protection was pretty good and it was quieter. I could design it so the lower part could be added later.

This was going to work.

December 30, 1970: In the background is the beginning of the clay study that became the Windjammer Fairing.

A college buddy, Bill Dineen, who now worked at GM, told me about "Designer's Clay," the stuff they used in Detroit for shaping cars. This was my first experience with designers clay and I got it too hot. It did not come with instructions.

Cardboard templates helped make the sides the same. Headbands kept the hair out of my eyes.

Where did the name come from?
Jim Miller was a design college buddy who was very instrumental in the development of Vetter Fairing Company. I counted on him more tha anybody. One morning he said I have a name for your new fairing...



Jim Miller coined the name Windjammer

On Jan 20, 1971, I had to fly to California and pick up a new blue Kawasaki 500. I rode it to Houston where I saw the Vetter Rocket 3 on display. On the way home to Illinois, I invented Hippo Hands.

Fall 1971 and Spring 1972 Semesters I was teaching Industrial Design at the University of Illinois. This took some of my time and slowed me down a little in developing the Windjammer.

Februrary 28, 1971: I have kept a notebook since 1965, so it is easy to reconstruct the creation of the Windjammer.

You can see how the designer's clay can be scraped into the shape I wanted. I love doing this stuff.

The Great Brown Hope

Never having worked for anybody else, I had to figure it out as I went along. I soon discovered that an ordinary hacksaw blade was the way to scrape off the highs and fill in the lows. When I was finished, I sprayed it with PVA - poly vinyl alcohol, a parting film and took it to the fiberglass guys. They applied fiberglass to make the first mold.

Since I was staking my future on this chunk of clay, I called it "The Great Brown Hope"

Page posted April 12, 2009

updated Dec 13, 2012

Designing the Windjammer Fairing
Chapter 1: Winter 1970-71 Beginning design
Chapter 2: 1971 Mold making, fit up and riding
Chapter 3: 1971 Finalizing the design
Chapter 4: 1972 New factory and real production