Maybe go full blown custom. I used to enjoy going to the World of Wheels and seeing all the custom cars and bikes. I was never all that enamored with the "billet" craze or with the rat rod look that's popular now but the full-on customs still do it for me. Probably ought to save this idea for another build and finish what I've got started on the 900 for now.
I'm liking the vintage racer look like in the last post, however. I can see that happening.
Surly shot me an e-mail after the last post about the sidecar design offering up some suggestions from mild to wild. The one that stuck was a racing sidecar from that era. Duh! Why didn't I think of that. Something like this one would work.
Nothing too complicated, but yet, a little bit of a challenge in the construction. The kind of thing that makes it interesting and worthwhile. In addition to the hand-holds incorporate some D rings in the floor to tie things down with. Just the thing for a quick run to the grocery or hardware store. Nice looking rig.
The Missus and I went to a motorcycle race on the streets of Terre Haute back when. There was a sidecar class running and I'm pretty sure one of them was a conventional outfit powered by a 900 along with the later kneeler styles. I shot some slides of the sidecars as well as the solo rigs while I was there. I'll have to dig them out and do a little research. The wheels are turning now.
TVI and I saw her with Ask Rufus at Indiana Beach way back in the 70's. At least I think so - long time ago and it was the 70's after all. For you young 'uns, that's Chaka Khan by the way.
I've had the dials on the Way Back Machine set to the early-seventies lately since I've been working on bikes from that era - both the 900 Kaw and the BSA are that vintage. Surly came down the other day and worked on his designs for the BSA, so maybe that project will pick up a little momentum one of these days soon. I'm still forging ahead on the 900.
The back end is pretty well sewn up. I machined the wrench flats on the brake stay and cleaned up the welds on the exhaust pipe. I also drilled and tapped the aluminum insert in the pipe for a small screw so it wouldn't fall out of the pipe while riding down the road. I'll get some high heat paint on it this week. I might wrap some header tape around the pipe where it's close to the master cylinder. If I add a sidecar later on it would keep some of the heat off my foot as well.
I noticed that the fins on the clutch cover will be grabbing my toe when applying the brake so I'm working on a little piece of sheet metal to cure that. Should have that done this week plus I'm planning on making some bits for Surly's shock spring compressor. Nothing too tough with either job, just making parts.
Surly and I have been exchanging some e-mails about designs and the design process. I've never really given it much thought other than what's required to make a specific part. When it's time to make the next part, I design that one. Not really the best way to arrive at a cohesive design. However, since most of the pieces I make are a result of the same influences and inputs, usually things work out to a level I can accept. And since I no longer do things for outside customers, I don't have to please anyone but myself. So that helps.
Since my skill level has improved over the years, that has opened up new design possibilities but it hasn't changed the way I look at making a part. Now that I'm starting to feel the pressure of the clock ticking, I'd sometimes just as soon build things from someone else's print or sketch so I don't have to spend a lot of time working up a solution. That was partly the idea behind the BSA project. I build it to Surly's design. Play to our strengths and have some father - son time working on the kind of thing we both like to do. He's just been swamped with other work and family time so that hasn't achieved lift-off yet, but as I mentioned, he's working it back into the loop.
All of this brings us around to a design for the 900 sidecar. I know I can build one, I already have. I've got a couple of ideas I'd like to try out for the suspension but I don't want to fart around with a bunch of R&D for a one off project when there's a line of things waiting to be finished. And if I did manage to get things on the frame and suspension spot on, what about the chair? What kind of design goes well with a 70's Superbike/Hooligan project? It would be nice if the bike and sidecar looked like, if not married, at least as if they were engaged. I'm not even sure right now what the intended purpose would be. Use it as a utility vehicle? Maybe something that looks like a small pick-up bed? Maybe something that could be used as a camper? Maybe a miniature tear drop design. I don't know that I need to be dragging a person around with me. I know the Missus isn't interested in touring the country in a hack.
I'm going to keep kicking ideas around in my head. Maybe the brilliant solution fairy will pay me a visit some night. In the meantime, I'm sticking with the goal of at least two more wheeled vehicles completed this year. Three'd be even better.
Benelli 4 cyclinder. Surly and I got a chance to see this one run at Daytona. Makes some serious noise.
I want to go back to Europe again. Maybe I should look into a trip to the Isle of Man. I told my boss he could schedule me until the end of the year. Maybe take some of the money and get myself over there to watch the last of the world's great road races.
Meanwhile, I've been hitting it a bit in the shop.
Vise is done. Never really a concern about fixing it but the amazing thing is I didn't have to make a trip to the hardware store to get it done
Here's the bracket that gets welded on to the exhaust pipe. I usually make them out of two thin pieces welded back to back. Adds up to about an 1/8" thick bracket but by bending the flanges outward, it spreads the load over a wider area without adding any weight. Lot less chance of the bracket cracking around the weld due to vibration. I've got the exhaust pipe welded up and the brake parts came in. I'll post a couple of photos after I get everything installed. Getting closer all the time.
Here's a photo from the Ural factory seam welding a gas tank together. When I used to teach welding symbols to the high schoolers, I always used motorcycle and car gas tanks as a perfect application of seam welding. I know that went over the head of a few of them simply because they'd never seen a car or pickup truck gas tank or ever noticed the underside of a motorcycle tank, sad as that is to say. With the Ural, it's pretty obvious where the seam is - right there in plain sight.
It's a pretty neat process, actually. Run the mating flanges of the two parts between the rollers and a series of overlapping spot welds joins the parts with a leak-proof seam. The steam in the photo is from water cooling to prevent the part and the rollers from getting too hot. Next to zero distortion of the parts. Same thing with the required clean-up.
With all the air time "prepping" is receiving, I'm surprised more people aren't considering sidecar rigs. They used to be pretty popular for a utility rig on the cheap. The Ural has a two wheel drive option that will go thru most anything, rain, snow or sleet. Besides that, sidecars are fun. I'm still thinking about a design for the 900. Now that it's getting closer to completion, might want to start designing something in earnest.
The weather was unseasonably warm over the weekend. Saturday had temperatures in the 50's and some nice sunshine midday. In fact, it was so nice I opened up the big doors in the shop while I was working. It felt like springtime. Sunday was still warm but overcast/drizzly. Not a bad day to be in the shop working on things, however. I turned the heater on to drive a little of the dampness out of the air but could have easily gotten along without it.
I put the back wheel under the bike again and took a couple of measurements. One of them was for the brake stay. I machined this up from a piece of 1/2" aluminum rod. Left hand 3/8-24 threads on one end, right hand threads on the other. If you look closely you can see a larger diameter next to the left hand Heim joint. I'll put that in the mill and cut a flat on there for a wrench. I need jam nuts on there to maintain the adjustment once it's installed but those are ordered. So's the brake line.
I also started on a hanger for the exhaust pipe. I got all the holes drilled in it. Now I need to cut it out and clean it up. I get that done I can bolt it on to the bike and make the corresponding bracket on the exhaust pipe.
I was going to fix the vise while I was out in the shop and when I started taking the rest of the bolt out, I discovered it was broken in another place as well. On the right of the parts are two pieces, a short piece is still stuck inside the part in the middle of the photo, and there's a little bit of a piece in between the two parts. Pretty crazy. It went snap! and then there were four pieces. The one little piece still inside doesn't have enough sticking out to grab, so I'm going to weld a nut over the top of it and then it should twist right out. At least that's the theory. I already have the new bolt machined and ready to go back in. I used an Allen head rather than farting around trying to make something up with a square head.
Other than mounting up the seat, I've now got most of the fabricating done on the back of the bike. Still not sure what I'm going to do about paint. I plan on taking the frame and having it soda blasted and then maybe powder coated. That would eliminate my paint worry on that part of it but that still leaves the tank and sheet metal. I just don't have a decent spot to paint anymore. I either need to find someone who does good work cheap, or invest in something so I can do it here. Still another bridge to cross but they seem to be getting farther apart at least.
The clamping screw on my little tool maker's vise broke the other day. If you look closely at the photo you can see that first, it was extremely brittle judging by the grain structure, and second, that it broke in two places at the same time. Not what I expected. I use a little lathe wrench on it that's only about 4" long and just hand tighten it - no slapping it with the lead hammer or anything. At least it broke on the last set-up for my top secret basement job I've been working on.
It was made by the Skinner Chuck Co. I did a quickie search and came up with some info on the company but they're long gone, so I'll have to come up with the fix on my own. It's 2-1/2" wide so it's just right for holding small parts by popping it into the big vise on the Bridgeport or to use on the small drill press in the basement. It has been repaired once before. There's some brazing on it that I don't remember doing but that doesn't mean I didn't do it. If I did it prior to falling on my head, it might come back to me one of these days - not that it matters. As Roseanne Rosannadanna used to say: "It's always something".
I did get the brake hanger for the 900 finished. I'm drilling the bolts for the caliper so I can safety wire them instead of using the little clips that have the ears that get bent up to keep them from backing out. If I'm going with the Superbike replica look, gotta have some safety wire I can stick into my fingers.