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Close-up of OCC designed Flow chopper, focusing on Powered by Flow design.
Flow Chopper, designed by OCC
OCC designed Flow Chopper, on display at Flow's Customer Technology Center
Mikey, Paul Sr., and Paul Jr. of Orange County Choppers

Orange County Choppers

Flow Waterjets Revolutionizing Motorcycle Building Business at Orange County Choppers

Orange County Choppers has set the standard in custom chopper design. From gas tanks to fenders, handlebars to carburetors, OCC has raised the bar among bike builders to take design to new levels.

Paul Teutul, Sr., metalworker by trade and founder of Orange County Choppers, Inc., first began his business of building custom choppers out of the basement of his home in Montgomery, NY.

Orange County Choppers talk about their Flow WaterjetWith the creative help and following of his oldest son, Paul Jr., the two were soon on their way to the top with the success of Paul Sr.'s first bike, "True Blue" at Daytona Biketoberfest in 1999.

From that point on, Paul Sr. knew he had something and established Orange County Choppers, Inc. that same year.

The Teutuls were quickly becoming recognized by chopper enthusiasts everywhere. They were not only making a name for themselves in the custom choppers world, but were picked up by the Discovery Channel in 2002 as the basis of what is now the hit television series, American Chopper.

Their popularity has led them to build custom theme bikes for some of the biggest names in corporate America such as Microsoft, Lincoln and Coca-Cola. Today, Orange County Choppers is regarded as one of the world's premier builders of custom motorcycles.

Waterjets Meet the Need for Cutting Large, Thick Parts

Since implementing Flow's waterjet machine in 2003, OCC has found the need to cut very large, thick parts. To meet this need, they implemented Flow's Mach 3 (IFB 6012) machine with Dynamic Waterjet™.    

As a result, the larger machine is allowing OCC to cut very thick parts faster since the water cuts faster at a higher pressure.

"A machine like this is priceless to us," says Paul Teutul Jr., chief designer and fabricator at OCC. "It would take you a week to cut something like a sissy bar out of a ½" plate of steel, where using the waterjet we can get it done in about 20 – 30 minutes. The waterjet is revolutionizing what we're trying to do as a motorcycle builder. It's much faster than machining, it's faster than doing it by hand, and it's fairly maintenance free. It's just amazing; anything you can draw you can cut out of steel and for us that's priceless.

"The coolest thing about this waterjet machine is that it can spit water out at Mach 2 speed and can cut metal up to 6 inches thick," said Paul Jr. "When you watch this thing in action it’s pretty amazing to see its power and how perfectly it can cut stuff out.

Because the Flow (water)jet can cut out any shape that I can dream up allows me to explore new design possibilities that there’s no way I could have designed a year ago. It's such an amazing tool I could go crazy with it."

OCC's latest creation, the Flow Chopper, is their first to demonstrate the capabilities of their new Mach 4 five axis waterjet machining center, which is capable of fabricating parts in 3 dimensions and is a machine similar to those used to fabricate composite aerospace components.

According to OCC’s head machine shop operator Jim Quinn, OCC is realizing significant benefits beyond the cool designs the team is capable of cutting.

"With the waterjet, we can cut closer to net shape, meaning less material waste and material being converted to chips," says Quinn. "We recycle all material - without the waterjet, I was getting only 10 cents per pound; with the waterjet getting about 60 cents per pound."

Waterjets Create New Design Possibilities for OCC 

Quinn says that Flow's five-axis machining center is opening new design possibilities for OCC.

"The five-axis lets us cut fenders and gas tanks out of preformed sheet stock, cutting intricate shapes, such as the unique web patterns on our production bikes. We had no way to do this before. Now, we can cut 1/8" ribs with no heat-affected zone and send it right to the painter with no secondary operations required."

Quinn also says they are finding more and more uses for applications with the five-axis machine.

"With the five-axis, we're coming up with a new use for it every couple of days. As an example: fender struts, made with a piece of billet aluminum. Before we had to cope it out and hand file to get it to match the 3D curve surface. Now with the five-axis, we can take 3/8" flat aluminum to cope it to match the pipe on the bike – there is no other way to do this except with the five-axis.

"Another example is speedometer brackets," continued Quinn. "In cutting handlebars with a 30 degree or 45 degree angle, we use the five-axis to cut out the holder, flat cut then angle cut where it needs to be angled. The waterjet cuts it right where it needs to be. We could not do this application before we implemented Flow’s five-axis machine."

OCC is realizing significant benefits with Flow's five-axis waterjet, taking designs to an even higher level of creativity.

"It's so easy to cut out a part, that I could overdo it with ornamental shapes that may not go with the design of the bike," said Paul. "But as long as I keep the big picture in mind we’re able to put out something that's different than anything OCC's ever done."