Lock the welder

Complications in Los Angeles

Sorry for the lack of posts once again, there has been lots to do out here in the last few months! The shop space I rented turned out to be a bit of a disaster. The real estate folk I dealt with told me there would be some light construction happening across the street from the space, where the city was building a new park. What they didn't mention was that the park was only a small portion of a greater urban landscape change that effects several blocks around my new area. Raising the road grade several feet, demolishing and rebuilding a giant bridge over the nearby LA river, and digging lots of new trenches for assorted conduits, pipes, etc. The construction even goes through my yard, starting in a few months! The fence which isolates my little haven from the walking dead outside is my only defense (and was a major reason I chose this place), and soon that will be down. Here you can see the construction site that used to be a regular street in the background... photo-4

Since about a week after I arrived, this whole area from the hill in the background to about 10 feet behind the dodge has been a 24/7 beep, beep, beep, beep from the construction equipment, as well as a constant haze of concrete dust. Jackhammers, dump trucks, backhoes, welders, and the biggest steamshovel I have ever seen have all descended on my new "home". Add to the fact that I cannot use my central air system because it is filled with the remnants of a rat colony that occupied the space at some point. I didn't realize this until I repaired the AC unit and clicked it on, then the smell hit me like a ton of bricks.

So needless to say I got fucked in the beard, big time.

So as fun as it was to move thousands of pounds of motorcycles and equipment, it looks like I will be doing it again soon. With the help of my friend John, I am on the hunt once again for a new shop space in the Los Angeles area. Anything from around 2500-4000 square feet, with all the typical bike shop requirements like a garage door, big flat floor, and lack of uptight neighbors. And of course I would prefer it not to be in the bowels of East LA. I am not putting a cap on the price this time around; I want to really see what is out there. Just a warning to any future realtors/landlords, I am at my whits end here and if I get fucked again, I have a plasma cutter and I'm not afraid to use it. And by the way, when this space comes up for rent again in a few months, I don't recommend renting it unless you plan on opening a toxic waste dump, or a pet store that specializes in rodents. 2000 North Figueroa st, los angles ca 90065. If there are any lawyers who want an easy target, feel free to contact me!

On a better note, all the riding I have been doing has had my brain working overtime. I have never ridden this much, this consistently. It has given me the opportunity to really understand the shortcomings of whatever bike I am on, in this case, my dyna based custom "Interceptor". I am splitting hairs here really, because the Interceptor is the most reliable motorcycle I have even owned, and has faithfully carried me all over this huge country without so much as a hiccup. Of course, my engineering mind is always at work and there are several things I think I can improve upon when the time comes.

For those not familiar with the Harley "dyna" series of motorcycles, I'll give a basic synopsis (if anyone has any insight on them, or disagrees with me, please comment). A while back Harley (with Eric Buells help) realized that the vibrations their engines produce is a major limiting factor to both the comfort and performance potential of the bikes, and the "rubbermount" Harleys were born, starting with the shovelhead powered FXR in the 80's. Since then there wave been quite a few variations on the rubber mounted design, such as the FXR's, the rubbermount sportsters, the baggers, the Buells, and the dynas. They all isolate the rider from the vibrations to some extent, but are all quite different in how they use the actual rubber mounts.

I could ramble on about these bikes forever, but here is an observation and a question: On every design, the rear wheel swingarm is either rubbermounted by itself or solid mounted to the rubber mounted transmission. They are never attached to the main frame in a rigid fashion. Obviously it is the motor that is producing the vibration, and so it needs to be isolated. Why "rubberize" the rear wheel as well? The negative effects of this are what companies like "tru-track" are trying to control with various heim joints and linkages. Dynas are some of the worst offenders in my opinion when it comes to the "rubber swingarm" rear-steer problem, because their drivetrains are mounted on two rubber blocks in line with each other, rather than the more triangular mounting layout of the fxr's and baggers. When I go around a corner, the rear-steer is horrible. To make matters worse, it is not simple wagging left to right, but also twisting and moving up and down. This creates very vague and unpredictable handling.

Here is the big question: why does the swingarm need to be rubber mounted? The answers I have gotten so far are 1; they need it because the rear end would vibrate otherwise (huh?) and  2; the rear wheel and sprocket shaft can't have rubber between them (this is referring to the dyna design, but of course all the other rubber mount designs have that, so- myth busted)

Any educated input is welcome! comment please

 

 

 

Back From Artistry 2013

sorry about the lack of posts, but i have been on the road for what seems like forever! Left Branford 3 weeks ago in a budget rent-a-truck bound for Cali, with a few stops along the way. Michael Lichter was the first stop, in Boulder CO, for photo session with the Speed Fetus and Iron Triangle. Next up was the Artistry in Iron show in Las Vegas. I was invited this year- an honor to say the least. Here are a bunch of pics in no particular order...

art 1

art 10

art 11

art 12

art 14

art 16

art 2

art 3

 

art 6

 

art 7

 

art 9

 

more coming soon......

Born Free 5 Trip

I got a phone call from my friend Matt Olson asking if I wanted to ride out to Born Free this year from his shop (Carls Cycle Supply) in South Dakota. We had 4 days and had to travel approx 1600 miles, and would do it on our rigid bikes. I'm not one to pass up something cool, so I was in. I arranged to have my bike (Icarus), shipped from the shop here in CT to SD, and chose AA Motorcycle Transport to do it. Mind you this was over 2 weeks before we were planning on leaving from Matts. The person on the phone assured me that despite the "remote location" Matts shop is located in, it would be there well before the departure date. I faxed in some forms, gave them the credit card, and a few days later the bike was picked up.

Mind you, anytime I ship a bike I spent over a year of my life building from scratch, with almost $35,000 invested in components and materials, I am a little nervous. This time I had reason to be.

A few days after the bike was supposed to be at Matts, I began to get worried. After the runaround trying to get the right person on the phone, and giving them dozens of confirmation numbers and codes, I was told that because of the "remote location" Matts shop is in, the bike was being held at some shipping terminal in Minneapolis, and wouldn't be to Matts for another 10 days or so. No amount of pleading would motivate them to get it there in time, so Matt sent one of his friends to pick it up for me. This took her over 6 hours of driving, but got the bike safely to the shop in time for us to leave. Thank you Terresa!

Lesson learned- FUCK AA TRASPORT. Don't use them, they tell you what you want to hear, take your money, then don't deliver.

Anyway, here we are at our first fuel stop in SD. Matt is riding his mint 1936 knucklehead.

matt and i 1

 

The trip across the plains of South Dakota and Nebraska are fairly boring, but amazing none the less. Doing this on a bike is an eye-opening experience- so much land. I can't imagine doing this in a covered wagon.

matt and i 2

 

matt and i 3

 

We didn't take much, just a few spare socks, and about 50 pounds worth of tools and spare parts. We could go about 100 miles between gas stops, thanks to both of us having about 4 gallon tank capacity.

matt and i 4

 

matt and i 5

 

matt and i 10

matt and i 11

We crossed the Rockies in CO, which is the dividing point between tons of flat grass, and tons of flat desert. A welcome change in scenery. The massive changes in elevation and temp forced us to stop often to adjust our carburetors.

matt and i 6

 

matt and i 7

 

There was one problem staring us right in the face- heat. The further into the desert we rode, the hotter it got. Mind you it was hot the whole way, but now it was getting really hot. Our rest breaks were getting longer, we had to stay in long sleeves to keep from getting sunburn, and our bikes were on the verge of meltdown. We had no choice though- Born Free or bust.

bikes in desert

matt and i 8

 

matt and i 9

 

 

By the time we got to Las Vegas, it was 120 degrees. Riding into it is like riding into a hairdryer on full hot mode. We adjusted our carbs full rich to keep the motors cool enough to survive.

Any shade was a welcome sight, like this bombed out crackhouse in the middle of nowhere. It was dead silent, except for the occasional gunshot from deep in the desert.

crackhouse

icarus in desert

 

At this point I stopped taking pics, mostly because I was beginning to see the effects of heat stroke. Once we got across the mountains outside LA, the temp dropped to a survivable 100 or so. I spent the last night before the show curled up in a hotel bathtub puking my guts out and chugging water. Hey, if it was easy everyone would do it!

more pics of the show coming....

 

 

Random Cool

an 800 horsepower all carbon fiber race plane... 800 hp all composit race plane

 

A gorgeous Mazda engine of some kind....

mazda engine

 

And a Britten. If anyone hasn't seen "One Mans Dream", buy it and watch. It is a lesson in humility for bike builders

britten

 

Another Mission in South Dakota

I recently returned from another trip to the legendary Carls Cycle Supply, home of Matt, Miss Brittney, And OG Carl. (pictures are all from my dirty I phone, so they aren't great)

matts shop outside

I had previously helped Matt on his Born Free  4 winning knucklehead, so I was honored he asked me once again to come help with some fabrication on a new project. This project, unlike the knucklehead, is a type of bike I was not previously very familiar with- a 1923 Harley race bike. Though it has a similar motor to the bike Matt raced in the 2012 "Cannonball", every other part is completely different.

The bike is for his wife, the lovely Brittney, who plans to race it in a series of vintage dirt track exhibitions, along with many other period bike enthusiasts. What makes this bike especially unique is the fact that it has no transmission, and no brakes! It doesn't have a starter either, or any clutch. It is about as "chopper" as it gets really. This is the style of bike that would have been ridden on either wooden tracks (aka board track), or later in the 1920's, oval dirt tracks.

After a series of delays and layovers thanks to Delta, I made it there. First thing to make: a seat...

seat pan flat

 

Now, keep something in mind here; Matts shop is a restoration shop. He and his dad have been building 10 point perfect (and I mean perfect) knuckleheads and panheads for many years. However, it is not a shop set up for heavy fabrication. This means that the tools I am used to using are not available. This includes brake, shear, bandsaw, plasmacutter, plannishing hammer, fixed dollies, and sander.

That doesnt mean I can't work, but it does mean I have to get a bit creative with my methods.

seat done off bike

 

With a sandbag and some hand dollies, it is possible to make most basic sheetmetal shapes. This is also a good reminder to new chopper builders that you don't have to have a ton of expensive tools to make bikes, just some patience and ingenuity.

They do, however, have an awesome mill. Here I am using it to rough out a seat pivot from a block of aluminum I found..

seat pivot rough 1

matts seat pivot rough 2

 

Here is one of the inner tank panels- the easy part...

matts tank inner panel bent

tanks 2nd stage tacked

 

The tank design is 2 piece, hanging over the backbone of the bike on piggybacked strips, bolted directly into the tube.

tanks rough sanded off bike

 

The design for the tanks is very mailbox looking; square and boxy but with radiused edges. This immediately made me nervous because trying to keep thin sheetmetal panels dead flat (while curving the edges) is almost impossible! You see, flat sheetmetal is very weak and becomes warped as soon as any part of it is welded.  When sheetmetal is formed into a curved shape, it gains body and becomes stronger. This time I had to keep about 80 percent of the tank panels flat, while curving and welding some areas. Did I mention This thing is going to be polished raw metal? ughh

tank paint scheme

 

They didn't go for my paint scheme.

Here they are welded and hand sanded to about a 100 grit level.

matts tank front corner sanded

 

Now they are down to about 600 grit..

matts tank sanded mounted 2

matts tank sanded mounted

 

 

We decided, partly due to time restrictions, to paint the top and side panels of the tank the same color as the frame, and only expose the polished sides of the tank. This was a relief because it meant I could rely on a small amount of bondo to smooth the welds around the gas caps and mounting strips.

matts bike complete

 

The tanks will be sealed before the final side polishing occurs. I left that in Matts capable hands.

I also made a basic sissybar out of steel round stock, and made a little oil tank, which Matt later finish welded and added fitting to.

Then I was back on a plane, headed home after another great trip!

leaving sd plane

 

 

 

 

Some Randoms

An awesome twin turbo setup.. turbo setup

 

A retro touch on a Bugatti Veyron, I love it! No reason they couldn't have built it that way in the first place..

bugati

 

Dont know much about this, but I like it

cool bike

 

An amazing custom bike- tastefully done and honest. By Bar Hodgson

bar hodgson vincent

 

Back From Japan

I attended the Mooneyes show in Yokohama Japan with Mr Matt Olson, his wife Britney, his Dad Carl, and Ironworks writer Paul Holsworth. It was an amazing trip to say the least. I have tons of pictures but here are a few highlights... The cars were insane. Here is what i saw when I first walked in:

moon charger

This was my favorite bike of the show. Just spoke to me....

moon my fave

A feakin' Pantera:

moon pantera

Matts bike and a Yank racer:

moon matts and yank

Gasser:

moon gasser

Great FXR, bad pic:

moon fxr

Yup, plenty of chargers there:

moon green charger

Hows this for a chopper?

moon wtf purple chop

Umm, this one is way ahead of its time I guess:

moon minivan

Classy:

moon grey bike

And this was just upstairs..wait until you see the parking lot....stay tuned