Saturday, 25 July 2009

Heads up.

Now, this may be totally obvious for those of you who've already built a couple of street trackers, but I must admit to have been a little dumbfounded about how to best attach the seat unit and seat pad.

My seat pad from "First Class Glass" came with a set of rubber mounts and screws. You're supposed to push the rubber mounts into the seat base from underneath, make corresponding holes for the screws in the carbon fibre seat unit (the central of the three holes in the picture), thread the screws through the holes and into the rubber mounts. As you tighten the screws, the rubber mounts inside the seat padding expand and lock everything in place. So far so good. But how do you fix the seat unit in place on the frame, without bulky screws and washers between the seat pad and the carbon fibre? An email to the ever helpful J-W of Dutch Brothers gave me the answer: BigHeads. Mine are – as you can see – home made (from stainless), but they do the job perfectly.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Radiator protectors, part 3.

The radiator protectors are now bent into shape and they actually fit perfectly. When painted/anodized black I think they will look quite good. However, if you are going to do this yourself, don't go for 2,5 mm aluminium sheet like I did – it's too stiff and makes the bending very tricky indeed. 2 mm sheet is quite enough, or even 1,5. It's not meant to be bullet proof after all.

And one more thing: I designed little "notches" into the design (see earlier post), to guide me when bending. In retrospect, that was unnecessary and the notches "flared out" in the corners and looks unsightly after bending (probably because of the thick material). I will ask Kent to fill the notches with some weld and then I'll file and sand them smooth again before I send the pieces off to be anodized.

The protectors will restrict the airflow through the radiators a bit, but since the engine has two quite big coolers I think I will be allright. As long as I don't drive too slow:-)

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

The proverbial sieve.

Did I mention that I was a little bit irate after I had had my tank paint stripped? What was to be a simple case of getting the old and [super] ugly paint removed and then sending it off for a respray, turned into a real hassle. Not only were there huge bondo-filled dents in the tank, when pressurized and submerged in water, we counted 20 (yes, twenty) little holes in the weld seams underneath! It leaked like a sieve that someone had shot up with buck shot for good measure. Thankfully, Kent "the aluminium wizard" managed to not only plug the leaks but also push out the dents from inside, after having cut numerous holes in the bottom of the tank and subsequently welded them shut again. I just wish I had real world skills like that...

What can be learned from this? Well, I for one will never again buy a painted tank from someone I don't know. And I will probably look into having a custom tank made from scratch next time. It's not THAT expensive and will probably save me a lot of aggravation. Kent gave me a quote for a scratch built tank resembling my Storz tank that was well below what it has cost me now. Grrrrrr.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Radiator protectors, part 2.

As you can see, I've been busy over the weekend with my drill and file, creating these radiator protectors. Just kidding – I sent the drawing (see earlier post) of my radiator protectors to a company who specializes in laser cutting and two days later I found these in my letter box. It's amazing what you can achieve with some basic Illustrator skills and the equivalent of about 80 Euros. The laser cutting process is so precise that the plates only needed a very light clean up with some emery paper, where the aluminium had melted and formed little "blobs". And a little softening of the edges.

Next thing to do is to bend the the side plates (look closely and you'll see that that there are little knotches cut into the plates, to guide me when bending) and drill the bolt holes where the retaining bolts go. Then they are off to be polished and anodized. I decided on anodizing, rather than paint, since they are going to sit very close to the rather hot radiators.

Monday, 6 July 2009

False economy.

I'm slowly beginning to understand why no one was very keen on taking on the job of making a custom frame for my Husqvarna motor when I started this project. It's a massive undertaking building something like this from scratch. And it's no simple, unsprung, cookie cutter chopper frame either. We've already spent more than a 150 hours in the workshop and there are still small but important bits to fix. Lock stops: 3 hours, mounting bracket for rear lamp: 1 hour, moving and modifying kick stand: 4 hours! It's those final things that require determination.

So, if you've ever thought to yourself: "hm, maybe I should start a business building custom motorcycle frames", then think again. You will never make any money. Unless of course, you are prepared to build S&S engined choppers that look like PEZ-dispensers. But then again, you wouldn't be reading this if you were.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Radiator protectors.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the backs of the radiators don't look particularly good. In fact: I wouldn't mind loosing the coolers altogether. But since I can't afford to change engines after every ride, they'll have to stay. Now, there are lots of motoX radiator protectors/braces out there, but they are all intended to protect the FRONTS of the coolers, not the backs, since the backs of the coolers are normally protected from your knees by the "radiator scoops". So, I've spent an evening making this drawing for some custom protectors. Tomorrow I'll try to find someone who can laser/water cut them for me. The perforated middle sections will form the backs of the finished items, and the solid sections will be bent 90 degrees and become the sides. When finished, they will receive a coat of, you guessed it, black paint.

Ugliest ever?

Is this the ugliest brake hanger ever? It might be. Well, it is a prototype. As I've mentioned before, we like to do a pig iron trial run before we put expensive aluminium billet in the mill. This time it turned out to be a good thing, since we, eh.. screwed up the measurements a bit. What is 220 mm divided by 2 now again, Indiana?:-)

If you've done this kind of thing yourself, you will by now have seen that we are going for a "hidden" brake hanger without a "strut" from from the brake caliper to the swingarm. Instead, the brake hanger itself is meant to take up the rotational force when the brake is applied, preventing the caliper from spinning around together with the disc. The tuning fork shaped part of the brake hanger sits inside of the swingarm and is held in place by a bolt, but can slide backwords and forwards with the axle when the wheel is adjusted to take up the slack in the chain. And yeah. We are going to make a nicer looking one. I promise.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Need-to-know basis only.

Well, we finally hit a snag. On my original Husky motard, the back brake was mounted on top of the swingarm, but that position is now filled by the supporting structure for the shock mount. So, we tried to cut the old brake hanger, turn it over/flip it outside in and then re-weld the pieces together again. But to be honest, we made a bit of a hash of it. It looked shit, and the cast aluminum brake hanger didn't respond well to our TIG-torch (it melted). The problem with the original low rent Brembo caliper is that it's not easy to make a new hanger for it. The caliper is of the "floating" kind – it needs to be since it only pinches the disc from one side and thus needs to be able to move sideways – and is integrated with the hanger in a pretty complicated fashion. Hm. What to do? I didn't want to put a huge and ugly old caliper from a breakers yard on my lovely framer, and since I'm already over budget "Lookheed-Martin style", I thought: what the heck, let's see what the good people at ISR can provide... And here it is in all its beautifully machined, neutrally anodised glory. Good thing my wife has no idea what this little project has cost me so far... I'm relying on your discretion here:-)

Wednesday, 1 July 2009


I am a very relieved man at the moment. The coolers fit! And it doesn't look crap either. When we sketched the geometry of the frame, we left some room for the coolers, but I had a suspicion that the coolers would prove problematic, since they are mounted a little lower now, than they were before. But it proved easy. I cut off two mounting eyelets from the old frame (I think it was the top mounting point for the shock), cleaned them up, drilled bigger holes, threaded a piece of 20 mm tubing through them and presto: we had a solid and rather "factory" looking main mounting point for coolers. It's the mounting point at the very centre of the image. There will be another mounting point in front of the coolers as well. That one sits a little bit higher up the down tube. There is ample room for the front wheel and the forks doesnt foul the coolers even at full lock. Result!

I am now doing some drawings for some sort of ventilated covers/protectors for the back of the coolers, since they sit rather exposed at the moment. I'll try to use the standard "fins" for the fronts.