Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Rear Shocks

Oh man, I'm super excited. The frame's in for the powder coat and I just picked up my new rear shocks. I didn't think it was worth $800 - $1300 for Ohlins on this bike and Progressives seemed a little low end, so I split the difference and went with:

I got a specific spring rate for my weight. I think they'll look great.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Redesign of the tail section - post 3

Yesterday, I bit the bullet and ordered the brake lights I really wanted. Even though these are relatively straight-forward universal brake lights, I simply could not find them in the USA. For all her glory, the US just doesn't have a lot of selection when it comes to universal motorcycle taillights.

Here's what I got:
I bought two of the above and one of the double sharknose (clear with chrome surround - not pictured):

Figured I would get both and see which ones I like the best. I paid more in shipping than I did for the product!

Here's some concept sketches for the rear end:
Crude drawings, but they help me visualize things. If you don't know me, you might not get the humor in my personalized license plate show above. I hate personalized plates!

Here's a shot of a tail end that I really like thanks to the firestarter garage in Italy:
And another of 'Nemesis':
Firestarter Garage at http://www.firestartergarage.it/ make some of the sickest customized bikes I have ever seen. They're strictly a Guzzi shop and make me want to customize a Guzzi for my next project. I've gotten a lot of ideas from these guys.

I found out about them from Visual Gratification which is a great blog on motorcycles.
Visual Gratification can be found at: http://big-diesel.blogspot.com/
One of the best blogs I've seen that highlights the pure beauty of a well made motorcycle.

The cowling on the Nemesis is a little too big for my VX. I don't think mine will be so large...
My ideas won't be pinned down until they're hashed out in steel, so I never know how the bike will turn out. I have a pretty good mental image in my head, but getting that out on paper, and getting it out in steel is the problem!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Redesign of the tail section - post 2

Here's a photo log of the recent work I did on the tail end. I've got to get this frame powder-coated so I can move to the next step, putting it together. Oh, and this is the first time you get to see pictures of me.

I made a mistake and cut off too much of my tail. I also made the mistake of throwing away the tail section I cut off! Oops. I finally came up with an equal sized steel tubing to extend my tail.

I'm adding back 3 inches to the rear end. It will look better and hold all the gear that attaches to the back a lot easier.

I started with 3" sections of steel tubing, and cut out round pieces to cap the back end:
I welded them to the ends, then ground out my welds for a smooth finish:
The new tail piece with round end welded on:
Zoom of piece (OK it's boring I know):

Now I'm fitting up the piece, making sure it's aligned straight:
Now weld up the the piece:
On to the second one:
Weld it up, grind it out, and dang I'm tired:
Now, let's weld on my new brackets:
And, finally, the finished product:
And from straight on (you can see my fab techniques have massively improved):

My original brackets were all cut and bent by hand using crude tools. I'm now a member of a great place called TechShop in Menlo Park, CA. It's a DIY machine shop with much much more and has allowed me to use equipment I would otherwise never have been able to. I'm doing all my welding at home thanks to my good friend Jim Waltz. Jim has let me borrow all the welding equipment and gear that you see in the photos. Thanks Jim! Thanks also to Jessica for taking all the photos, and putting up with my testy behavior!

I've since gone over and sanded out the frame, again, removing all the marks from the over-abrasive sanding discs I was previously using. I need to just double check everything before I send it to get coated. Next week it will go in.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Front brake caliper rebuild

And the front caliper! Jeez, I wanted to show before and after pictures, but failed to take a close-up of the front brake caliper before I reworked it.

Just coated (you can see they messed up and coated the round where the brake line attaches:

And the other side:

You can see above that the machined surfaces are pretty dirty. I even sanded those out before I got them coated. So, I spent another hour making this one nice.
Started by scraping off the coating around the brake line connection:
This took for-bloody-ever and was very annoying. Again, I chased all the threads, sanded out the machined surfaces, polished where the pistons sit, and scraped off any over spray and built up coating.
Laying out my parts:
New parts:
cylinder seals
mounting bolts
bleeder bolt cap
rubber covers
brake pads

Re-used parts:
bleeder bolt
mounting piece
piston inserts

Cylinders and seals in, with everything cleaned up:
And, oh crap, I don't have new brake pads yet, nor have I dressed up the mounting piece! Well, I'll do what I can for today then stash it up on the shelf 'til I get the other items resolved:

Rear brake rebuild

I picked up my brakes and many other parts today from the powder-coating shop. These were the first batch of parts coated in the yellow that will be going on the frame.

I took this opportunity to quit work early, pick up the parts, and go home and get to the real work.

Here's how they look:
(I tried to adjust the color of the photo so it mostly resembles the actual color)

I spent about an hour, cleaning up the calipers again, after the powder coating. I removed small built up ridges of coating at the edges of the machined surfaces, I chased all the threads, I re-sanded the machined surfaces, scrubbed out the internals and cleaned very thoroughly.
Getting my parts laid out for the rebuild:
New parts:
black plastic cover
piston seals
o-ring gasket for between the 2 halves
spring keepers
brake pads
bleeder bolt cap

Re-used parts:
brake pad pins
cotter pins
bleeder bolt
metal shims
caliper itself

And the finished product!

I'm super happy with my yellow color choice! It was tough to make the decision as it really sets the tone for the whole bike. I'm waiting for my new brake pads to come in the mail right now, so the above photo is less the pads. Additionally, I'm getting a custom made braided stainless brake line. The next step is to refinish and rebuild the master brake cylinder.

Tomorrow I'll be sand blasting the rear master cylinder, sanding out and clear coating. I'm doing rid of the black plastic cover that goes over the master cylinder. Unnecessary part!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

New Clip-ons!

I spent hours at the salvage yard going through old clip-ons to look for ones that would fit and meet my aesthetic ideals. I came up with the 2006 Suzuki SV650. The clamps vary from 41.5mm to 40mm when fully screwed down. This should work perfectly on my 41mm shock tubes. One of the handlebars is totally intact, the other is a bit screwed up. I can deal with the damaged section.

Here's a shot of the new clip-ons. You can see where I've been filing off the protrusion that slotted into a hole in the underside of the SV650 steering stem head.

Redesign of the tail section - post 1

Here the first of sequentially numbered posts on my redesign of the tail section of the bike. First was the tail chop. Now I'm looking at how to affix brake-lights, turn signals, under-tail, license plate and the small bit of body work that goes on the tail end.

I made these brackets yesterday out of mild steel flat bar stock.

I'm going to upload my sketches of the rear end of the bike as soon as I can scan them.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Rear Wheel Bearing

I got to the point of installing my rear wheel bearings today. I didn't want to drift them in as that went wrong for me last time. So I built myself a little bearing press installer thingy.
I cut a square of aluminum from 3/16ths stock I had, and I also cut out a circle that is just slightly smaller than the out bearing race for the front wheel bearing. I drilled a 3/4" hole in both of the aluminum pieces.

I'm using a nice bell reducer coupling that I bought for pressing in the rear wheel bearings. I also bought some 1/2" all thread and cut it down to size. I double-nutted one end and use a single nut on the other end to tighten it down. Works great. No hammering.

Suzuki recommends installing the right bearing first. The right bearing should be seated completely against the seat. Then you install the spacer, then you do the left one which actually doesn't touch the bearing seat. I greased the entire inside of the wheel where the spacer sits, even though I have sealed bearings. I didn't pack it with grease, but I did put a thin layer all inside. It can't hurt and can only help.

I like to spray my hands with a silicone lubricant before working with heavy grease. This keeps the grease from getting down in my skin and makes washing up much easier.

I used Fuchs Silkolene Pro RG2 Synthetic Grease. This is similar to standard NLGI #2 lithium grease, just costs more.

Step 1: Apply a thin layer of grease to the bearing sleeve and seat and inner sections where the spacer goes.

Step 2: Place bearing on wheel.

Step 3: Setup my new press tool.
Step 4: Drive bearing in slowly, keeping even progress.

Step 5: One bearing down.
Step 6: Grease spacer, apply grease to inside of wheel hub.

Step 7: Press in left bearing using same technique. What's important here is that you don't press out the right side bearing. This bearing doesn't touch the seat, but rather, rests against the spacer leaving a small clearance. If you continue to drive in the bearing without having the right side bearing secured, it can press out the right side bearing, taking up the gap on the left side, and creating one on the right side.

That's about it. I very carefully removed any burrs, bumps and uneven spots from the bearing seats and spacer in preparation for this, using sandpaper and a utility knife. You can quickly cause more harm than good with the utility knife if you don't be careful.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Front Disc Brake

I was debating getting the inner section of my front brake disc powder coated to match the frame. I started stripping the black paint that was on there when I got the bike. I decided I liked the all metal look of the disc, so I sanded out the scratches and buffed it to a shine. See below:

I spent about 3 hours on this. I'm quite satisfied with the results. In general, the bike will be yellow, gunmetal gray, and silver like the wheels. I will be having some parts keep their natural metal look, and some parts powder coated a gray to match the paint job. I'm thinking of getting a select view pieces chromed as well. I'm wondering if I should spray the rotor with a clear coat (the non-braking surface of course)... Maybe that will keep the metal from rusting or oxidizing.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Rear Brake Line

I finally got off my butt and decided to order up new o-rings, seals and bolts for my front and rear brake calipers. I'm going to have the calipers powder coated to match the frame as well.

Again, I was closely analyzing the stock setup with the rear brake and found something I don't like: those ugly brake line clamps and that horribly welded hoop on top of the swingarm.

Since I won't be having passenger pegs, or a passenger seat for that matter, and I'll be routing the exhaust angled up on the right side of the bike, above the swingarm, AND I'm switching to stainless steel braided brake lines, those clamps will be in plain sight and too big to effectively clamp my stainless brake line. After an hour of figuring out a new mostly hidden route for the brake line, I decided to remove those ugly things.

Cut off, ground down and sanded:

You'll notice the swingarm looks pretty bad. Tomorrow I bring it down to get a fresh blast and powder coat, along with my front forks and a couple other random pieces. Same color as my rims.

You might wonder how I'm going to route the brake line?

I thought about running it inside the swingarm but decided that drilling 2 - 3/4" holes was to intrusive.

I decided to simply run it through the "torquielink" bracket, and on the bottom of the torqielink bar itself, right to the caliper as seen in the photo below:

Small bracket or clamp will be welded to the bottom of the torqielink bar to keep the brake line snug up against it. It's a small aesthetic gain, but all of these minor changes will add up, you'll see!!!

Steering Stem Head Mods

I'm back to work on the bike finally, and after much deliberation, have decided the cleanest, meanest look for the bike will be clip-ons. The only problem is, if I don't use standard handlebars, the top fork clamp (steering stem head) is left with 2 ugly protrusions right in the middle, right where I'm looking down. Since I'm going for a super-clean, super minimal look with the bike, I'll have to do something about this.

Now, I can either have a piece custom made (too expensive), adapt one from another bike (too much trouble), or get rid of those stock handlebar mounts. I joined a DIY machine shop recently so now I have access to many excellent tools that allow me to make the mods I want.

I started by clamping up the steering stem head in the mill and removing the protrusions:

Next step is to enlarge the remaining hole to make a ledge to set a fill piece in. I'll have to learn how to use the rotating circular table thing to get this done right. Once I have a ledge, I'll mill a circular piece that sits on the ledge, flush to the top or slightly raised. The remaining crack will be fill welded and then milled off to a clean finish. I'll then take it down slightly more by sanding to end up with a smooth surface. Media-blast, then powder coat and you will never know they were there. Voila, no more stock handlebar mounts.

I need to do a little research and find out if fill welding this piece will weaken it. I definitely don't want to weaken this piece as it is under significant strain. If fill welding won't work, I'll have to figure out another way of filling the gap with something that powder coat will stick to...

Alan from the vxlist turned me on to some adjustable clipon handlebars called Convertibars. I've done a lot of research and these seem like the most flexible and cleanest looking set of clipons.
find them at: www.convertibars.com

See photo courtesy of www.convertibars.com:

Sequential update starts here:

Yesterday I milled out the hole in the triple clamp, in preparation for installation of the plug.
I used a 3/4" 4 flute end mill and went down 0.15 inches deep. I'm using 3/4" aluminum round bar stock to make the plug.