Wednesday, October 30, 2013

BMF rebuild for the Space Monkey. Another Chopper hitting the streets.

This bike was one I built for Rhonda and I to ride then sell back in 2006. After riding it for a while, selling it, getting it back and then riding it some more I sold it to my buddy Jack "Space Monkey". 
 We replaced the 124" motor that was previously propelling this thing down the road with an 80" Harley Davidson Evolution (that we took out of my 2000 FXR4 when we put the 124" S&S engine in it) and did some cosmetic changes. We swapped the Fat bobs for a sporty tank that we did some work on to make it fit nicely.
 He then had it repainted and then striped by our local favorite Hugh Hoffman. Know Phat Chix!
 This thing is a blast to ride with it's power to weight ratio, killer Brembo brakes including their awesome hand controls.

This has a Kraftech frame that is 2 up 35 degrees of rake. It uses a stock length springer with a 21" front wheel on a 90/90-21" Avon Venom and a 18 x 5.5" rear wheel with a 200 series avon rear tire. The BDL 2" belt drives fits great and works great and looks good. This bike can be built new for under $20k using high end parts ( including labor and paint) or less if more economical parts are used. The seat pan is shop built using the same techniques as featured in our blog post, found here

Monday, October 28, 2013

How-to build a custom fiberglass seat pan for your motorcycle Part 2

Welcome back for step two in the process of building a custom fiberglass seat pan for your motorcycle. Whether it's a stock bike you want to do something different for, a chopper or custom that no one builds a seat for, or anything in between this article should help you out. If you have questions  track us down on our website or Facebook and we will be more than happy to help if we can.
 In the last article we showed you the prep work involved in getting ready to lay down the fiberglass mat and cloth to be able to make a strong seat pan.  Here you can see I layed the cloth down on the bike to get a rough idea of how big I needed, then I marked it with a permanent marker to guide me when I lay it down. As seen in the last article I had drawn the "t" in the center of tape I used to cover the frame. I do this so I don't have to make the seat pan bigger than needed, which in turn makes it harder to remove from the bike when done. I draw the line 1/4" - 1/2" out from where I need, depending on the area. I then leave another 1/4" or so outside of that, just in case.

 I like to have everything laying out right where I can get to it easy. Once you get started you only have a certain amount of time until the resin gets hard. Once it's hard, you have to stop and let it cure. You can then rough it up with sandpaper, etc to make it so the next layer you add is able to bond. Of course if you get it done and it's thick enough and shaped right the first time, you shouldn't have to add more layers. So think about everything before you get started. I also like to have 3 people handy to get this job done. 
 One to cut pieces as you go to make sure you get pieces that fit right to help you get it thick enough to strong and handle the load. If you are working with resin, and get it on your gloves ( be sure to wear gloves, this stuff is nasty) you will have a hard time handling the mat or cloth. One person the apply the resin the the glass (as seen in the above pic) and to help lay it down on the bike. It can be hard to do when you are working with larger pieces. The third person will be using your tool to squeegee to the air bubble's out of the mat or cloth that can get stuck in your piece (which is not good). The third person will also work with the first person to identify the areas that need more material to make it stronger and the size and shape of the pieces to make it work well.
 Here you can see we are applying the first large piece to the bike. Here you can see one of the tricks to the job, wax paper. When we applied the resin to the first large piece ( and any other large piece that you may need to use) we laid a sheet of wax paper under our cloth to make it easier to transport to the bike. Be sure to remember that the was paper will be on top when your applying it, so make sure your cloth is upside down to how it will be on the bike. It's not easy to undo, so take a second to plan this before you get started.
 Here you can see Hugh using the squeegee to remove air bubbles in the cloth. You can also see the "t" on the bike and on the cloth line up. It really does make it easier to get you pan right the first time. The lines on the outside work well also to make sure things are lining up where you want it to.
 In this shot Kody is applying extra resin to areas that got a little dry during the installation. Remember, the resin isn't what makes the strength, it's the cloth and mat. Adding resin does help the got be some, or makes transitions thicker, which is nice. If when your working the mat/cloth and it's sliding around alot, try putting some more resin on. It's tricky, as to much is not good, but enough to make everything wet is needed. Practice will make you better at this. 
 Here you can see Hugh applying resin to make, that we will then install on the pan. Between the mat and cloth the initial see pan we did was 3 layers thick all over, with small pieces making it even thicker where extra strength was need. Note, that we did go back and did a second set of fiberglass over the first, as this seat required great strength because of the design of the bike. We like to overbuild things, as it sucks to have to do a job twice, when if done right the first time it wouldn't have been needed.
 This shot shows how well you need to cover everything. This resin is nasty stuff and will peel paint and damage chrome if it gets on it.
 This is what it looked like after we let it cure overnight. Be sure to let it take time and let it cure. Fiberglass gets hard quickly on the outside, but the inside will still be wet/soft. Let it cure.  We use cutters like these to remove excess fiberglass. Here you can get an idea of how much we go past where we want the seat to be when we get done. It's easy while making it to go bigger, but once your done, it's a bummer when you need a little bit more but have to go through the whole process to make it that little bit larger. Here is where we decided we wanted to do a second round of glass work to strengthen our pan up.

We trimmed the pan down to close to what we needed, then we re-waxed the form ( which is important, don't forget). We then did all the steps over again to essentially make it twice as thick as it was before. This pan ended up with roughly four layers of cloth and at least two more of mat, with up to six more in critical areas.

Be sure to check back for part 3, where will will finish trim the seat pan, as well as add foam to finish it up and make it fit the rider perfectly.

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

How-to build a custom fiberglass seat pan for your motorcycle

We did a bunch of custom work on a Harley Davidson Softail Rocker.  We did a custom gas tank as well as installed a Russ Wernimont Designs (RSD) strutless rear fender kit, so an off the shelf seat would no longer fit, so we made one.  A metal seat pan would have been very difficult to build, and would be hard to make fit as tight and right as we would like, so we broke out some fiberglass.  Once you have decided to try it, you will want to go out and pick up some supplies first. Remember, this will work on any bike, from a chopper to a cafe racer, or a stock bike to a trike, so try it. I like to use fiberglass cloth, as well as mat, so buy both, along with the correct resin, as well as some extra hardener ( it's always good to have extra of all this stuff, it sucks to run out in the middle of a project).  You will also want to buy some measuring/mixing tubs and stirring sticks ( not pictured here). You will want some Aluminum Tape ( which is for heating/cooling duct work) some blue masking tape (the kind that removes easy), Some high quality duct tape (not pictured here).  You will want a drop cloth large enough to completely cover the bike, you do not want to accidentally drop activated resin anywhere on your bike, we used a 10ft by 6 ft. You will want to get quite a few pairs of rubber gloves, this stuff is not fun to get off your skin. You will need a fine tipped sharpie, a pair a scissors, and a new razor blade.
 Here is a before shot so you get an idea of what we were working with, yours may be different, but the steps will be the same.  The way we are building this one, on this particular bike, we decided against a external mounting bracket. If you need one, and normally you will, plan it ahead of time and have the bracket fabricated already, as well as the mount holes already done.  When you are glassing up the seat, simply place the bracket into the glass as your working. You would want several layers of glass below and above the bracket to make sure it doesn't move. Fiberglass sticks very well to metal, but don't be shy will applying extra mat.
 We like to use cardboard to provide some structure to the bottom of the pan. This will make everything flatter and easier to shape, as well as provide some spacing for when you finish the underside of the pan with material to keep the seat where you wanted it, low and tight to the frame.
 Here you can see we have the shape of the cardboard done, and are starting to use the blue tape to fasten it down to the bike.  Be sure to pull the tape down tight on the first few pieces. This will be critical to holding it in the exact place where you intend it to be.
 Now we are finished applying the masking tape.  We got well beyond where we plan on working, you do not want to get anything on your painted surfaces or chrome, as this stuff will rip paint off and destroy surfaces. You can also see I have used the sharpie marker to put a reference mark on the bike.  This will be used to lay down the first layer of fiberglass cloth, and get it exactly where I wanted it to be.
 Here is a shot of the Fiberglass Cloth, Resin and Hardener we used.  Normally the resin comes with hardener, but I have found you run out of hardener before all the resin is gone.  We also used Fiberglass Matt as well.  The cloth is used only on the first, bottom layer to provide a nice uniform bottom of the pan.  The mat is the used for every other layer, to provide strength.
 Lay the cloth out on the bike.  If you cannot get it to lay how you want when it's dry, it most likely will not lay differently when it's covered in resin.
 Here I have transferred the reference mark in the center to the cloth.  Holding it firmly in place, I then make another mark around where I think the outside of the seat will be. I normally try to go at least .250 inches past where I will want it to be when finished.  I will now cut my pattern out of the cloth. and set it aside for later.
 We are now ready to start installing the aluminum foil tape.  You can see as I go, we will continue to put the reference mark on top of the new tape. If you wait to long, you won't know where the line is below, so after you install every piece, redraw the lines.

 Special attention needs to be paid to this step! If anywhere on your pan will "hook" under something, chances are when you try to remove the pan when its cured, your not going to be able to remove it, or it will break.  You do not want that to happen.  Here you can see, where the frame rails go under this seat, we pull the tape straight down from the center line of the tubing.  This will still allow the pan to hug the frame rails tight, but will allow you to remove it.
 Pay great attention to detail, and now tape off the rest of the area. Again, be sure to do farther out than your seat pan will go.
 Now I will drape the drop cloth over the bike, and use a high quality duct tape to fasten it to the bike.  Be sure to be well away from where you want your finished pan to be. But don't worry if you can't, and fiberglass gets laid on top of the duct tape, it won't hurt anything, But remember, the glass does come of the aluminum tape easier.
 We use plain old Turtle Wax as our mold releasing agent. It works good, is readily available, and is pretty inexpensive compared to Mold Release Wax.  We apply it ( using their supplied applicator), not to heavy, let it glaze over for awhile, then rub it off will a good clean cloth towel.We do this a minimum of 5 times.  Be sure to pay attention and apply it everywhere, even over the duct tape holding down the drop cloth. After you have done all these steps, you are ready to get the fiberglass mat pieces ready to install.

Be sure to check back for part 2, where will lay down the fiberglass, then shape the pan and get it ready to be covered.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dyna buckhorn handlebars to T-bars with custom speedo mount How-to.

We had a customer come in with a stock 2010 Harley Davidson Superglide who didn't like like the stock buckhorn handlebars.  He wanted his bike to have more of a "club style" look like something off the "Sons Of Anarchy" TV show.  He also wanted 1 1/4" bars for that fat look.

First thing we did was track down some T-bars that felt good to him, looked right, and also that wouldn't force us to buy all new cables and extended the wiring. We also knew we needed to do something about the factory riser/speedo mount, so we tracked on down of a late model sportster, this one in particular off a 2007.

We made sure the cables worked with the new bars, then switched the factory dynaglide speedo mount out for the sportster one.  We then had the owner sit on the bike, and we mocked up were the speedo would get mounted on the bars.  He wanted it to look good, be able to see it, and also not hit a little Ness fairing that he would be mounting later.
 I then got on the lathe and made two mounts to weld onto the handlebars.  We knew the customer wanted to have the bars powdercoated black, so we didn't worry about the chrome finish on the bars.
 Here you can see we laid down some nice tig welds to mount the bungs.  This speedo mount will be heavy, and we don't want anything to break off so good welds are very important, and will also still look nice when powdercoated, without grinding.

 Here is a top view of how the mount looks.  We bolted the new mount to the bungs, then tack welded the bungs to the bar.  This kept everything nice and straight, so when we were done, everything lined up and worked perfectly.

 Here is a shot of it when everything was finished and re-installed.
Here is a shot with the customer, Scott Torkelson, sitting on the bike.  The bars moved his wrist to were he was more comfortable, and were pulled back some to make it more comfortable on long days.  You can also see he has a straight view on the speedometer and indicator lights.  Thanks for letting us help you out Scott.

Monday, October 29, 2012

XS650 Yamaha weld-on hardtail conversion. Part 3

Here is the frame after finishing welding it up.  We measure everything again to make sure no tweaking is needed, and this one was perfect and ready to go and finish turning it into a chopper.  
As you can see in this side shot, the weld on hardtail kit from TC Bros. has very nice lines and should look great as a finished bike. If you're interested in purchasing one of these hardtail or having one installed, be sure to get ahold of us and see if we can help.

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

XS650 Yamaha weld on hardtail conversion. Part 2

 All the pieces are now fit to our liking, and I have tacked all the  pieces into place. We must have measured about 25 times from various spots to confirm everything was straight.  Since we don't have a frame jig , we use our welding bench to fasten everything down as good as possible.  This is to help prevent everything from moving while we weld.
 The welding produces alot of heat, which makes everything warp.  To help minimize movement, be sure to move from joint to joint and be sure to be patient and let it cool some between passes.  Many things have been ruined by simply not taking some time to let the project cool down before welding some more.  Here I  am getting ready to do some welding.
 After we have done some welding, we take the time to do some more measuring to make sure nothing has moved.  This also helps you kill some time to allow the "heat affected zone" to cool down.  Here you can see that we utilize a .750" piece of all-thread to keep the axle plates the exact measurement apart that TC Bros. specifies for this hard tail kit.
 Here I am doing some more welding.  We also utilize the motor to keep the frame straight and perfect,so be sure to torque all the mount bolts to what they will be when your final assembling, it can make a difference.  This particular area of the frame requires so additional fitting, as the ends that connect to the backbone are not "coped" , they are just cut straight, and it make for large gaps at the top and bottom.  We go through alot of work to fix this, and is one of the secrets that we will keep to ourselves and let you figure out if you are going to weld it up yourself.
 This is a good example picture to show you how we have welded this as much as possible before we unbolt everything to finish up the welds we can't get to with the motor in place.

In this picture you can see how I had to throw alot of heat into welding up the underside of the backbone.  It has a large "heat affected zone" but it's not to big, and doesn't connect, so I think it will be very strong.  Stay tuned to our blog for the next installment of How-To install a weld on hardtail kit from TC Bros on a Yamaha XS650.

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Broken shock bolt removal on Harley Davidson EVO Softail

 This shows a how-to remove a broken shock bolt in the swingarm of a Harley Davidson Evolution Softail. They are the same on all softail models, FXST , Custom, Standard or FLST, Heritage or Fatboy.  I'll start with the swingarm off the bike, as the manual will show you how to get that off.  You will notice that the bolt is broke off below the surface of the swingarm, so this one is a little harder than normal.  Usually the bolt breaks off because someone lowered the bike to much, and the shock hits the transmission mount studs, and then shears off the bolts.  This one must of had a weak spot in the bolt, and just broke eventually.  First thing I do is put some StrongArm Brand penetrating oil one the bolt, on both side if possible.  Find it here  StrongArm Brand Penetrating Oil.  We use this exclusively in our shop for many things other than just removing stubborn bolts.
 Normally I would use a larger nut than I did on this one. Because it was below the surface, we beveled the one side of the nut, so it would go down in the hole farther.  We did that so we didn't weld the nut and stud to the inside of the hole on the swingarm.
 I then used the TIG welder to heat up the broken bolt for a short time.  I then set the nut in the hole and welded the broken bolt to the nut.  I completely fill the nut with filler rod, and even make it convex to give it the best chance I can to make it stick.  Then let it cool down for a minute or so, and gently try to start turning it out.  If it doesn't move at first, wait until it's a little cooler and try again.  Hope this helps you out, if not, get ahold of us and we will do it for you.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

XS650 Yamaha hardtail conversion with TC Bros rigid rear section. Step 1.

 We are pretty sure you know what a  Yamaha XS 650  looks like together, so we will start with everything striped off.  You don't need to remove the motor, but it makes it easier.  With our fabrication bench, we need the front end off also.
 Since this bike is going to be for Tom's long time girlfriend, I let him do all the grunt work.  Here he is making the first cut, removing the upper seat rails.  Cutting close to the backbone, so there will be less material to remove to make the backbone smooth.
 After doing all the cuts on the rear subframe, and doing the cuts on the lower frame rails, which need to be make .750" of an inch from a mount on the rail, you are ready to cut the seat post loose.  We cut them like in this picture to get the subframe out of the way, then you can cut the seat post allot closer to the lower motor mount.
 After that last cut you will know have two pieces.  Now is the time to make that cut on the seatpost, below the lower motor mount.
 You will notice that the frame sprung out of shape some what, but don't worry, when you bolt the motor back in, it will all re-align itself ( sometimes with a little help from a prybar).
 Now your ready to finish cleaning up the cuts, to get them ready to weld back together.  You will also be ahead if you finish grinding off all the remnants of the seat rails, so you won't have to try and do them once the hardtail kit is installed.

Here Tom is using a round file to deburr the lower rails to make sure the rear section goes on easier.

Be sure to stay tuned for Step 2, were we will install the hardtail kit.  We are a dealer for TC Bros, so if your in the market to buy a kit, or would like us to install it, be sure to contact us.