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Friday, 28 August 2015

Tinker time - Chemical etching Aluminium and more work on the VL

Wednesday got swapped out to Thursday this week. 

The intention has been to re-visit etching. I had a couple of good attempts at it a good few years back. to keep things as safe as possible (as i was in the back bedroom) I opted for a salt water solution and an electric current last time. this time, I've gone down the chemical route this time - Ferric Chloride to be exact...

I want the VL to look very honest. I'm not gonna perfectly finish the petrol tank, and I like that it looks a but battered round the edges. it'll only get better with time.
I got the Vl lettering and my good mate Tibbs knocked me up some stickers to use as a mask.

I just used some plasticoat rattle can spray to spray the test sheet as the resist to the acid. seemed to work OK...






It has about 25 mins in the solution, and gave a nice "bite" into the Ali. I think i'll give it another 5 mins when I do the tank...

Use your imagination and you'll kinda see what the tank will look like when etched.


Mudguard trimmed down and new 19" Firestone tyre - I've elected to do a 19" and a 20" rear wheel. the 20" will be the clincher with chain tyres and the 19" for general tearing about!


The tank has taken ages to solve the cracks. I ended up hammering a dip either side of the partition and filling with weld all the way round. its been a lot of work, but I think its going to be right this time. 



Finally i altered up this brass pipe fitting. It will be the oil filler. The one I played about with being on the left of course. I think I've used the letter stamps on all my bikes - cant help myself!

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Nice surprises don't come that often

Ive been tinkering long enough to know that with all old bikes - "prepare for the worst" is the only way to prepare for everything. This especially applies with engines you buy blind from the otherside of the internet "Because you have a good feeling" and "it ends on my birthday - its fate!"

to my astonishment these 2 sentiments are true of the VL motor. I dropped in on Baz while down with work yesterday and we whipped the heads of the motor. It came with a new set of +20 pistons and rings, but you can imagine my amazement when the tops came off, the rods were nicely wrapped in bubble wrap so as not to do damage to the great looking and freshly honed barrels. Not only that, but the valves looked good and freshly seated (and even had the markings of a fresh rebuild with which valve was which on top!







Not only was the motor a nice surprise, but the gearbox (which did not come with the motor) was able to shift nicely between gears, and all looked to be working fine! 

both the motor and the gearbox are going to have a good going through, but I left with a feeling I hadn't experienced before - optimism!

Friday, 21 August 2015

Business up front and party at the back

I made a decision that putting an oil bag would take away from the bike, so a drastic action was taken and I chopped the back off the tank. this allowed me to weld in a partition to keep the fuel up front and the oil in the back. 

Ali welding is getting better every time. 

once I got the front all welded up I got the back welded on. When cleaning up the welds I consistently got a hairline crack coming through the metal.

Once I got home and my head clear I realised that what had happened is that the sheet metal had "sunk" near the edges, as i was trying to smooth things off I was going too far down with the grinder, and hence leaving it too thin.

My fix will be to lay a load of beads of weld down to provide loads of coverage, and then file back smooth. Its coming on though. once the tank is finished i'll be trying to make a mudguard with my new English wheel. 










Friday, 14 August 2015

Handmade tank - VL Hillclimber

Wednesday has been and passed, so to fulfil my promise to myself - time for an update. I've got to admit I realised how much I enjoyed doing the blog - getting the narrative out of my head as I'm going...


Anyway - the hill climber has me hooked - really enjoying not having a deadline to work to, so rattling on with it. I've never had brass bits on a bike before, I can find it quite naff looking myself - but with this bike being from the 30's it seems to want to have a few bits on it.  I've been hanging onto this old machine switch for years, looks perfect as a kill switch for this bike. 

After a bit of head scratching and turning on the lathe I made up a holder and adapter out of 3 pieces of Ali, that will hold the switch. I had to weld them together and make sure it was sealed as there will be fuel around it. My first attempts at Ali welding haven't been great, but I banged the amps right up and it started to make a bit more sense...

I also cut the holes for the switch mount and fuel cap holder and welded them in as well. Plenty of grinding later and they seem to have come out nicely.

Next up will be some mounts for the tank onto the top tube (although with all the heat its quite tight already!) and then fuel line bungs.

I was thinking of doing some of the tank as an oil tank, but I think I'll run an oil bag.... home made of course....

I'm not sure how the shifting mechanism will work yet so I'll see on that...












Monday, 10 August 2015

VL Hillclimber

Had my 1 night last week and spent some time on the VL Hillclimber tank. Haven't touched it for a while, but I've been itching to get back working on it. as a reminder its my first attempt at making a tank, and my first go at Ali welding. I should have done a bit of practicing, as I don't find it the easiest of things to do. 

Its coming on nicely, I've the front to do, then sort out how i'm going to get the filler neck attached (its brass). I'm also planning to split the tank and use 1/3 of it to hold the oil...

Oh and I want to chemically etch the tank with Harley lettering; really looking forward to that.








Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Project Girder

Ive had an idea brewing in my head for quite some time, I wasn't aware of Harley making a girder fork - turns out i'm wrong and they made a small one for a hummer or something, but they never made a big twin sized one.

My hair-brained scheme has been to use the lovely rear legs from an VL/RL I-beam springer as girder fork legs.... with post BF7 and lack of tinker time blues I sourced a rear leg from Scandinavia and set about working how to do it.

I've planned most of it in my head, but as always, those ideas have to change up now and again when  actually making it....

original intention was for dual springs, but it looks like a singe spring is the way forward on this one... I'm intending on using WL con rods as the linkages - of course with a load  of modifications (read - cutting and welding!)





street chopper pic

Just found this photo of my bike from Street chopper


Thursday, 30 July 2015

Peace / Fuck off Dustcaps

Some of you will have seen that I made a little dustcap for the 345 with a 2 fingers up - Fuck you! vibe, the other side is a bit more mellow, and Peace!

I've had some cast out of brass and will be doing a limited run of 200 pairs.

the first 80 have gone in a flash, and I'm awaiting the next batch in a week or so. If your interested I've put up a pre-order on www.the345.bigcartel.com and they will be out as soon as I get them...







Friday, 17 July 2015

Born Free Part 2



So I’ll kick this off from where the last post left off, But I'm sure you will have seen the pictures of all the bikes already... 

I mentioned in my last post that Dave Bewick and I had slightly different views on bikes (literally), I had my face stuck right up close to the bikes, and Dave would take the whole bike in as a whole unit.

There is no right or wrong, but just different approaches. 

So #2 is all about the little details and bits that made me smile on the bikes I saw. These are just my Iphone snaps, and I have a camera full of more from the invited builders bikes that I'll get around to.

So I'll put a few comments around the shots and what I was thinking / think about each one...


Ryan has bought the Quicksilver back to life, pretty amazing to think when this bike was made - but its Drag styling is something that gets lost in a chopper show. Stripped back, small tank, nothing that isn't required on the bike, but it was done so nicely. This is the seat pan, not much fun on your bollocks, but makes sense down a drag strip..

Ryan had a second Lanza bike there, loved the rear muddy on this bike, look like chevy light to me (I'm probably wrong), but it definitely goes with my own ethos of trying to use things around you to inform your build.

Drilled out primary case was great - I wonder if it was an expensive part at the time, or something that the guy had lying around? whichever the case, it was great. Sometimes we can get all obsessive about the spacing / lining up of things, this was obviously done by eye, but done really well. 


Lovely old tank. The old stuff was definitely En Vouge, and I have to admit I loved this...




Oliver from Cut Rates bike - I've never used a cooler on a bike before - I thought this was awesome. I looked at those slots in the side for a while and was trying to fathom out how he bent it. then he was next to me and said it is stock like that - Ducati I think... I think he did have to bugger about and move some of the places where the lines went in and out...


Harpoons bike - one of the bikes I was really looking forward to seeing out there. Didnt dissapoint, the finish was unreal... Really loved the orange striping used all over the bike at various points. a new way to work transitions in my eyes..


Neat hidden mount for the sissy bar under the muddy...


You can see the flake in the paint really well in this shot, the moulding was quite deep - for my money I would have wanted to blow some paint in there, as there was a bit unpainted. (I'm not being a bitch or over critical, just expressing my opinion on the ONLY thing about this bike that could be improved)


Original looking Knuck lovelyness - this bike is just so nice and crusty all over...


Jeffs knuckle. Got a bit of a thing for this bike TBH.. the tank was great - the line work, how do you describe it - awesome but shitty at the same time....


Back to Cut Rate again, and this time a carbon fibre mudguard. Hard to get away with racey shit on a chop, but it was "on point" as they say....


This probably wont make much sense to you, but its the underside of the back of the tigershack trike from Last years BF. simple yet really effective. Best trike I've ever seen...


neat mount for the seat set-up on the trike. Simple IS best most of the time!


Fell in love with this ironhead out in the stalls, I would have to make something different for the seat bracket, but what a great bike this was.


I still cant work out if I was sold on this seat unit or not, but it was nicely made...



I went back to this bike a good few times over the 2 days, but each time the guy on the stall that knew anything about it wasn't there, looked to me like a 45 bottom end, maybe RL or something but with a OHC setup going on. Gonna ask a load more questions about this bike online as it tickled my barnacles! barrels looked homemade, or heavily modified ...

out in the grass pass parking. liked this little tank mount setup, my kinda detail - a bit of flash!

Striped grips! yeh. 2 sets cut up to make 1, you can see the glue, but looked really effective. felt really Japanese to me...

Smart headlight cowl. not sure if this was one of those ones you could buy for mega cash. or homemade. I figured that I could make one one day!

Nice henderson. cables were in the bars, and the cables wrapped in leather.... Cool!


Max's giveaway bike. Double tip on the muddy. Cool little detail on what was a very nice and understated bike.

The flames on Max' bike were under the tank. I like that - I like to hide little details on bikes and see who gets their mush right up close to the bike for a good old nose. 

I've a stack of photos of this bike. it was a VL done for born free maybe 2 years ago, and again I think someone won it. this was dripping with smart details like this seat setup. You may see one like it fairly soon!

Best tank I saw - would have taken this tank home had it been for sale. 

Cycle Zombies - they are defo the cool club, something that I'm not, but I couldn't help but to be drawn to all their bikes. That thrashed / old parts / ratty style really appeared to me. This though was Big Scotts bike, and a really neat light mount using the original holes in the frame. big tick on that one!

How to make your seat look good from every angle - build a chrome dish for it to fit into. Again, really nicely made.


Another CZ bike - Knuckle head with an Indian Chief front girder. I have had something in my head for quite some time now, and this made me want to make it there and then.... watch this space....




Simplicity - something I need to work on a bit. Foot peg mount - round bar with a bit on top - tick....


Satans Ménage  A Trois, what a bonkers thing - loved the tank on it, like a big set of bollocks!


Last one for now, Nicks bike was a UL flathead in a VL frame. Taking the best frame and fork combo and the nicest engine. This huge sprocket was ace, just what I have planned for the VL hillclimber...

More still to come, but that will have to do for now... until next the one...