The Things I Do On Rainy Days

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When it gets cold and the rain comes there are only four things to do; look at my motorcycles, work on my motorcycles, buy more motorcycles, and eat Cheetos. The other day I was looking at my Honda XR650L and thought to myself that it looked like it needed a renovation. I love my XRL and have enjoyed many fun and adventurous miles on it. I would never want it to think that I didn’t love it the way it was, but after riding this last fall with KLRs, BMWs, KTMs, Suzuki dual spots, I realized I was riding the plainest bike of all of them.

When I first got the XRL it was too tall for me. Every time I would put my foot down and the ground sloped down and away, I fell over. It was embarrassing and kind of tough on the bike and ego. So to remedy the situation I bought a lowering kit. When you lower the back you are suppose to lower the front too. I didn’t do that. Lowering the back was enough to keep me from tipping over, but the bike still was a little tallish. As part of the renovation I finally lowered the front too and wow, what a difference. The bike is so much easier to get on and off and it doesn’t seem so top heavy.

The next thing i wanted was a little more power. A few years ago I changed the front sprocket from a 15 tooth to a 14 tooth to give me more low end grunt on the trails, but I wanted still more power and I wanted it for free. One of the things that a gas motor needs to run is oxygen. After a little study I found that some people opened up the air box by removing the top, or snorkel. I did that and the increase in power was noticeable.

The stock bike colors were purple, red and white. That’s right, purple. I quickly painted the purple black.

The bike comes stock with something like a 2.5 gallon tank. When you are up in the woods you like a little more range that 100 miles. I found a 5 gallon tank on Craigslist for cheap and switched tanks. The original tank comes with graphics, very cool graphics. The 5 gallon tank came with nothing. it’s just a big ol’ white plastic tank.

So I thought it was time to dress it up with some color. and when I say “color,” I mean lime green and some more black. I also added some Japanese writing. Guess what it says?

DSCF7688Anyway….for what it’s worth.

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MAKING ROOM FOR THE WIFE

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When my wife committed to joining me on our riding groups’ annual adventure to Baker City Oregon, I realized that our bike was not set up or rated to carry us and all the personal items that would be required to keep us in clean clothes and beautified for a week.

Our Suzuki Volusia 800cc has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, GVWR, of about 950 lbs. The bike alone weights 590lbs. This means that my wife and our luggage, tools and miscellaneous items would have to weight 90 lbs. My wife alone weighs close to 90lbs. (You’re welcome babe). I weigh…do the math. Well you get the idea, we would be way over the GVWR. We got out our “Motorcycle Trip Packing List” (see my blog, “Motorcycle Packing List”) and started crossing things off the list that we could live without. When all was said and done we got our stack of essentials to fit into two small pieces of luggage, airplane carry-on style, and our biggest motorcycle trunk. In the past, when I used the Volusia for a trip I would just strap a bag on the passenger seat, cram a bunch of stuff in the hard shell saddlebags and be off. The problem now was that our Volusia was not set up to carry two pieces of luggage, my wife, and I. My V-strom is setup for exactly that scenario, (see my blog, “Panniers Made From Scratch”) but the V-strom isn’t nearly as comfortable as the Volusia to ride, it has Corbin seats.

For the next couple of days I scratched my head and tried to figure out how I was going remove the hard shell saddlebags and replace them with two pieces of carry-on luggage. I finally concluded that I would have to make another set of plastic panniers for the Volusia, exactly like those I made for my V-strom. That’s right, I said “exactly” like those for the V-strom. The panniers for the V-strom attach to the bike using a metal frame work that I designed and made. The Volusia didn’t have that same frame work, but it did have the saddlebag supports and the mounting studs that attach the saddlebags to the bike. Retro-fitting the panniers to the Volusia was as easy as drilling two holes in the back of the plastic panniers so they would slip onto the studs and clip in place just like the saddlebags. To make them extra secure and for added support I added a couple of straps. Now granted, it didn’t look “Harley Cool,” but it worked great.

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Showing plastic panniers on Volusia with studs showing and extra straps for support.

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Showing luggage in place in plastic panniers and covered with bright rain proof bags.

I knew that once we got to Baker City we would be removing the plastic panniers and luggage, which presented two more issues. First, with them removed, the bike is left with two large and ugly, metal ell brackets sticking out on both sides of the bike where the bags mount.

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Showing ugly metal support brackets for saddlebags

And second, the trunk wouldn’t be large enough to pack all the stuff we would need for the long day trips we would be taking from Baker City. My first thought was to pack the saddlebags full of clothes and pack the packed saddlebags in the luggage, but they were too big and too heavy.

When I first started riding dual sport I wanted some small saddle bags I could attach to my Honda XR650L to carry essentials, like tools, rain gear, water and power bars. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on brand named soft saddlebags, so I would stop by Goodwill every now and then to see if I could find pairs of backpacks, duffel bags or small soft sided luggage bags that were identical or very similar in size and appearance. Lucky enough, I was able to collect a few pairs of bags that looked alike or were exactly alike. I found two identical Goodwill bags in our motorcycle stall storage cabinet that would be a good size for day ride purposes. I could have just strapped them on the bike like saddlebags, but after modifying my plastic panniers the idea of making simple plastic supports that would attach just like the saddlebags and panniers seemed like the best plan.

I took one of the plastic barrels that I had and cut off two rectangles that were the same width as the small bags, 11.5”, and that were the same length in height + depth as the bags, 17”. Using a propane torch I heated and bent the plastic rectangles into two large ell shaped brackets. I drilled holes in the brackets to match the mounting studs on the bike so they too would slip onto the studs and clip in place.

Both bags had large open pockets on the back of them. I cut the pockets open along the bottom and reinforced the cut material with Gorilla Duct Tape, love the stuff. Next I slipped the bracket up through the open bottom of the pocket. The modified pocket held the bag to the bracket, the bag was supported by the bottom of the plastic ell and the bracket clipped easily to the motorcycle saddlebag studs.

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Showing plastic ell bracket and small bag.

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Showing ell bracket inserted through cut open back pocket.

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showing small bag mounted on the bike

The small bags were lightweight, could easily be packed with clothes and packed nicely into our luggage. They were large enough to carry what we needed for day trips and were even rain resistant. They did look a little redneck and defiantly not “Harley Cool”, but I’m not what you would call “cool.”

Anyway…for what it’s worth.

Highway Pegs for Adventure Bikes

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One of the best additions I’ve made to my V-strom is the highway or forward pegs. Having the option of stretching my legs forward and resting them on foot pegs is a real relief when I’ve been riding for hours. Making the forward pegs is also one of the more difficult additions I’ve made. In all honesty I have to admit that the project of making the pegs was made difficult by the fact that I am a cheap bastard and instead of buying square metal tubing I used what I had, round pipe. To make the forward pegs for an “Adventure Bike,” I had to make them hinged so that they would fold up and out of the way in rough riding conditions and so they could easily fold back down when riding on the highways. To make them hinge with round pipe I had to heat the ends of the pipe until it was red hot and then hammer the round pipe into perfectly square ends. It gets even more complicated and difficult when one of the… well never mind, let me just tell you how to do this the easy way.

First you have to have a skid plate on your bike. For my V-strom I bought a skid plate. I had all kinds of ideas of how to make a skid plate, but I got such a great deal on the bike that I convinced myself that I could afford to buy the plate. Without a skid plate you might be able to attach to your crash bars, but you’ll have to buy crash bars. The forward pegs are three separate pieces, a long bar that bolts across the front of the skid plate and two shorter bars that are the foot pegs. The two foot pegs attach to the long bar at both ends with a single bolt that acts as your hinge pin. For my bike the long bar is 16” and the foot pegs are 6.5”. I’ve been pretty happy with those lengths, but you may want to make adjustments for your particular bike or riding style.

To make them out of square tubing you would cut the long bar at 16″, but leave a bottom tongue on both ends sticking out about 1″. The pegs are 6.5″ with the bottom corner rounded so it will hinge up and not drag the bottom corner. Cut four 2″ ears out of flat stock and weld them to the ends of the main bar with 1″ of the ears sticking out past the main bar. The ears will be welded to the tongue and main bar, one on each side. The other option is to buy foot pegs and bolt them to the main bar, but what fun would that be?

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I bolted my long bar to my skid plate with two “U” bolts. To make the foot pegs less slippery and to dress up the pegs I used a pair of rubber handlebar grips and slid them onto the pegs. They worked pretty well, but I failed to glue them on and they had a tendency to slid outward. On a trip to Glacier I lost one outside White Salmon, so I went into a hardware store found a heavy duty black rubber hose that would slide tightly onto the pegs and I’ve use that since. In my shop I found a couple of plastic caps off some kind of aerosal spray cans, probably brake cleaner, to cap the ends of the rubber hose to make the ends of the pegs look a little more finished.

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Like I said, one of the best addition I’ve make to my V-strom. I’m not young, have a little arthritis in both knees and being able to stretch out my legs is so nice.

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Anyway…for what it’s worth.

Wind Guards for V-strom

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Showing my Better Motorcycle Windshield and my Wind Guards.

After I made my  “Better Motorcycle Windshield,” which worked great and eliminated the head buffing, I realized that the only other big source of wind hitting me was coming from the tank area. I knew the usual solution was to put on fork wind deflectors. But I didn’t like the idea of something attached to my forks on a bike that I rode in rough conditions like back roads, forest service roads and on occasion, a narrow trail. I felt like they would be susceptible to damage from bushes, branches and if someone else was riding it, crashes. After some thought, I decided that I wanted something that would mount on the bike nearer to my legs, offering some protection to my legs and at the same time diverting the air flow coming from below and up around my bike’s tank.

What I did was simple and works great. Using plastic from a 55 gallon plastic barrel, I cut two wind guards following a pattern that I had developed from cardboard. I patterned the cardboard to match the contour of my bike, without touching or rubbing on my bike.

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The mounting brackets were easy to make from the plastic of the barrel. I probably could have bought and used two ell brackets and two conduit clamps, but I didn’t have the right size on hand and the plastic offers more flexibility.

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My wind guards mount to my crash bars with the “U” clamps and to the fairing using the ell brackets and a screw into the wind guard. I used a factory screw that holds the bike’s fairing in place. It was located in a perfect place for my purposes.

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 I painted them with truck bed coating that you buy in a rattle can and the black matches my bike great.

They work great! With my windshield modification and the lower wind guards I ride in a very wind free environment. Now the only time I get hit with wind is if the wind is blowing in from the side.

I was afraid that the deflectors would make my bike look too redneck, but I have gotten a lot of compliments on them and most people think that they are stock.

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Anyway…for what it’s worth.

PANNIERS MADE FROM SCRATCH

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Luggage Racks For my V-strom

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Like most people, my life has been made easier by computers and yes, better. In my job as a home inspector, WIN Home Inspection Salem, a computer saves me time and corrects my terrible spelling. A computer provides most of our TV viewing pleasure and keeps me in touch with friends and family. I know for a fact that I would have never written a dozen books if I hadn’t had a laptop computer. Most of my life of being a do it yourselfer has been spent in trial and error. I have spent many hours and lots of money making mistakes because I didn’t have the knowledge to do it right the first time. Now I just go to my computer and Google how to do what ever it is I want to do and I can find it on Youtube. Exploring the internet with my computer has kept me learning and growing like nothing else could have done. And even though I curse them sometimes, a computer has opened the world to me and enhanced my life. God bless you mister or misses computer inventor person(s).

Next to the computer, used plastic 55 gallon barrels would have to be #2 in making my live easier.

After I realized how much I enjoyed dual sport motorcycle riding on my Honda XR650L, I decided that I needed an adventure bike. An adventure bike is a step up from a typical dual sport in that it is comfortable enough to ride long distances on the highways, but when you see a dirt or gravel road that looks interesting, off you go. After a lot of study I decided that the Suzuki V-strom 650DR was the ideal bike for me. I couldn’t really justify the expense of an $5000-$7000 bike. Since I like to work on motorcycles I decided that if I could find a wrecked bike that was mechanically sound I could probably fix it up and make it, at the very least, interesting looking. I had just published a book, The Reincarnation of Joe Rocket. In the book the main character had fallen on hard times and his buddy, Two Stroke, bought him a V-strom that had been wrecked. He spent a couple weeks fixing it up and then rode it from Washington State to Maine. It occurred to me that if Joe Rocket could fix one up, I could too. I put an ad on Craigslist and a week later a guy emailed me saying he had a totaled V-strom that he wanted to sell. The bike was a 2010 with 4500 miles on it. Long story short, the bike looked brand new, except for a broken left front turn light and the shifter lever. There were also a few small scratches that I would have never noticed if he hadn’t pointed them out to me. The guy had been rear ended, tapped, at a stop sign and tipped the bike over. Since the bike was virtually new, he wanted everything with even a minor scratch replaced. By the time the insurance company added it all up, the bike was totaled.  I bought it for half the price of a new one and within thirty minutes I had fixed the turn signal light and shifter. So much for a fixer upper project. I love this bike.

I had sold my cruiser, 2002 Honda VTX 1800, the previous winter, so the Vee was going to be my all around bike. I would use for long weekend dual sport trips and my week long road trips. For long trips I needed some kind of  saddlebags, or for a adventure bike like the V-strom, panniers. Panniers are usually aluminum boxes that mount to each side of the back fender area. They are made of aluminum to be almost indestructible and watertight. I never liked the idea of big metal boxes mounted to the back of my motorcycle. I guess I have had too many close encounters with trees and boulders and knew I would end up tearing them off my bike or denting them beyond repair. As I searched the web for something I thought would work for me, I found nothing I liked or could afford. I kept thinking, why don’t they make a flexible plastic holder that you can just slip your luggage onto? Then I though, “Hey, I can make that!”

I needed to make a rack that would withstand crashes and that I could mount my plastic luggage holders onto. During searches on the web I had seen many different racks that would mount on my V-strom, but I felt I could do better or at least, as well. I made a rough sketch of what I wanted, found a 10’X3/4” piece of conduit in my shop, bought some 1/8”X 1” metal flat stock at ACE, got out my conduit bender, fired up the welder and went to work.

Showing complete rack with my stovepipe tool box attached.

Showing complete rack with my stovepipe tool box attached.

The first thing I did was bend the conduit so it would attach to the passenger foot peg frame bracket on one side, bend around the back of the bike just under the tail light and attach to the other passenger peg frame bracket. I carefully flattened the ends of the conduit and drill holes for bolts through the flattened part. The frame brackets for the passenger foot pegs on the Vee are large and there was plenty of room to drill a hole in the bracket to accommodate the conduit, bolt and nut.

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The Vee comes stock with a substantial back rack that sits over the back fender. It’s bolted on in four places, two bolts attach back rack and two more bolts forward about mid seat. In my opinion, it is always a good idea to use the factory bolts and brackets when ever possible to attach something not stock to your bike.

I cut and bent to fit, two pieces of flat metal stock that would bolt under the back rack front brackets and reach down to the conduit. For the back support, I cut and bent one piece of flat stock that ran from the conduit on once side, up and under the back rack and down to the conduit on the other side. Because of where I had to run the flat stock under the back rack, the bolts for the rack didn’t line up with the flat stock. To make the connection to the bolts I welded two small ears to the flat stock that would reach the two bolts.

Showing rack bolted under the bike's rear rack at mid-seat.

Showing rack bolted under the bike’s rear rack at mid-seat.

Showing the two ears I welded on to fit in the two back holes of the bike's rear rack.

Showing the two ears I welded on to fit in the two back holes of the bike’s rear rack.

The next step was to cut two short pieces of flat stock that would attach horizontally between the two vertical flat stock on each side and would give me something to hang my plastic luggage racks on. Once everything was cut, bent and fitted, I welded it all together and sprayed it with black spray in bed liner.

Now with the rack made and mounted, I needed to make luggage racks. After drawing some sketches of what might work, I made a pattern out of cardboard. I had in mind that I was going to use 20” carry-on luggage to fit in the luggage racks.

Now what I needed was a big flat piece of plastic. Here is something that you might not know. If you cut the top and bottom off a plastic 55 gallon barrel, then cut it down one side, heat it up with a weed burner blow torch until it is so soft it will lay flat on a shop floor and put a piece of plywood with some heavy weight on the plywood over the plastic until it cools, you will end up with a large piece of flat plastic.

Showing my pattern with measurements.

Showing my pattern with measurements.

After cutting the plastic to the pattern, heating the plastic and bending it to the proper shape I riveted so it would retain the shape and make it strong. To attach the luggage rack to the metal rack, the luggage rack needed a bracket system that would easily clip onto the metal rack and wouldn’t accidentally come off over rough road. Of course I used plastic barrel to make the brackets. The bracket is a kind of  “Z” shape and the top bracket is a flat piece riveted along the top. They are just wide enough to fit between the two vertical supports on the metal rack and slip over the conduit on the bottom and the horizontal bar at the top. To keep the plastic racks from bouncing off the metal racks, I made a “L” bracket out of plastic, then cut a slot through the back of the luggage rack and “Z” bracket attached on the back. The slot was cut just below the top horizontal cross piece on the metal rack. I attached the “L” bracket with rivets to the luggage rack so that the short part of the “L” bracket will slip through the slot, under the horizontal cross-piece and though the “Z” bracket. The plastic “L” bracket is kind of spring loaded and stays through the slot until you’re ready to remove the luggage rack.

Showing brackets on the back that slide onto rack. Note the slot in the upper bracket for "L" bracket to slide through and secure the luggage rack to the metal rack. Note that everything is riveted and hot glued on.

Showing brackets on the back that slide onto rack. Note the slot in the upper bracket for “L” bracket to slide through and secure the luggage rack to the metal rack. Note that everything is riveted and hot glued on.

Showing "L" bracket that slips through the slot, over the horizontal rack bracket.

Showing “L” bracket that slips through the slot, over the horizontal rack bracket.

20” carry-luggage is pretty typical and I was able to find one at Goodwill for a $5. The other one I bought a matching one at Walmart for $20. I removed the wheels on the bags and they slipped perfectly into the plastic luggage racks. I added two straps on each luggage rack to hold the bags securely in the racks.

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The carry-on’s looked pretty good, but they weren’t waterproof or dust proof. We had acquired some bright yellow material that school crossing flags are made out of when we owned a screen printing business and I had some left over. Using that and some water resistant material I bought at a fabric store, I sewed together some slip on covers for the bags (see top picture). That’s right, I sewed. Gentlemen, if a sewing machine is not part of your power tool assortment, your assortment is not complete.

I have used the racks and panniers for three years now and they have worked great. They are light weight, durable, flexible, inexpensive and not too bad looking. I never remove the metal racks. They act as rear-end crash bars and have saved my bike from damage more than once.

Anyway…for what it’s worth.

Project Sabre

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My son-in-law, Dustin, has been after me to write a blog about my last project. He is an avid reader of my blog and probably my biggest fan. So, this is for you Dustin.

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Now that I have moved out of our very cramped garage and into our new shop, I thought it would be fun to do one or two motorcycle projects each year. My first project was a 1985 Honda VF700 Sabre. This bike wasn’t as much of a project as some of my past projects, like the Hawk or the three-wheeler that we converted to a four-wheeler, but I really liked the bike and the price was OK.

When I went to look at the bike I was pleased and surprised with what good mechanical condition it was in. I took it for a short ride and it made me smile. Which isn’t to say much because I’m usually smiling if I’m on a motorcycle, but this little 700cc surprised me. Back in the early 80’s Harley Davidson lobbied president Reagan to tariff any motorcycle imported into the USA that was larger than 700cc. Honda responded with the highly energized 699cc, rounded up to 700. With the 700cc once you get the rpms up into the 6-8K rpms the bike hits a “power band” of sorts and takes off like a big dog. That’s what put the smile on my face that day. Anyway, I bought the bike. At this point I want to put a shout out to my wife who understands my need to have a motorcycle project in the off-season. And I quote her, “I just want you to be happy.”

The bike had been well maintained and the only issue I found was a very small oil leak. A previous owner had laid the bike down and did some minor damage. The highway bar on the right side had been scraped and was worn nearly all the way through. The front blinker lights were damaged and the side panels on each side were missing, along with the right side electrical cover. There was a dent in the left side of the gas tank. The seat cover was worn out, but the seller had purchased a seat cover and threw it in as part of the deal. He also included a repair manual and a full tank of gas.

The first thing I wanted to do is to make sure the bike was street legal, so I started with the lights. The front left blinker light was in pretty bad shape. The orange lens was cracked and bent. I could have bought the lens for about $15 at Honda, but my mind doesn’t work that way. I heated the lens up and reshaped it, then used clear epoxy to fix the crack.

Both front blinker light stems were slightly bent and the globes or bulb domes were damaged. The outer edges of both light domes were damaged and missing sections. One of the great things about living in this day and age is the glues and epoxy that have been developed and can be purchased at any hardware store. Using JB Weld I reformed the missing pieces, making them a little heavier duty than original. Once the JB was dry I reshaped the repairs with my dermal tool and they looked good.

The left blinker light wasn’t working, no power at the light socket. I traced the wire to the headlight. I removed the headlight and found that there was power at the connection behind the headlight. After an hour of testing this and checking that, a little bit of cussing, I discovered that there was a bad connection at the bulb socket. I fixed it and the lights worked.

After studying it for a while I realized that I couldn’t make the electrical cover for the right side of the bike and have it match the left side. I wasn’t out to restore the bike, but I felt that matching covers would be important. I was lucky and found a cover on eBay and for $30. it was mine. I also found the other side covers on eBay. They were about $140. each. Being a cheap ba#$%d I decided I could make those. I viewed the panels on eBay and cut a similar pattern out of cardboard. I had inherited some old aluminum road signs from my father-in-law and using the pattern I cut aluminum panels for each side. The flat panels didn’t really fit that well so I bent and twisted them until they formed to the bike.  DSCF6661      The original panels where held in place by the seat fitting over the top edge and a clip arm on the back that inserted into a rubber grommeted hole in the fame. I replaced the clip arm with a screw and washer and the rubber grommets with a “clip on nut” that I epoxied in place so it wouldn’t move.

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Removing the dent in the gas tank turned out to be challenge in a fiasco sort of way. I thought I might be able to push the dent out if I could get a metal rod into the tank, through the gas fill hole and to the dent. Long story short, I couldn’t. My next attempt, plan B, was to make a slide hammer out of a wood handled screwdriver shaped tool and a plumbing floor flange. DSCF6666

I ground the wood handle flat and hot glued it to the tank. After the glue set, I slid the floor flange with force to the nut and washer at the end of the rod. I did this several times and could see some minor results each time, but not being a patient man, I moved to plan C.

Plan C is the fiasco part of this tank project. The thing is I had done this very same thing before on a different tank with the same results, but for some reason I thought the outcome would be different. Seems like the definition of insane is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Well I haven’t done this same thing over and over again, yet, just twice. So, just a slow learner? Anyway, I wrapped the nozzle of my compressor air blower with inner tube until it would fit tightly into the gas fill hole. DSCF6664 My thought was that if I pressurized the tank the dent would pop right out. Most of the dent did pop out, but so did the bottom of the tank. The bottom of the tank is shaped to fit over the air filter box, frame and other odds and ends. Now it didn’t. It was at that point that I remembered I had done this before several years ago. Damn my memory!

Now I had to reshape the bottom of the tank. I turned the tank upside down on a cushioned chair and started beating on it with a rubber mallet. It was a lot harder to reshape than to unshape, but after several hard whacks I got it reshaped so it would fit back on the bike. I realize that I don’t have to share the stupid stuff I do, but if I can keep readers from making the same mistakes, then this blog will not be in vain. Moving on to plan D, I bondoed what little was left of the dent.

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But wait, it gets worse. My brother Nate mentioned that he knew a guy that pressurized a tank and split the seams. With that in mind I tested the tank for leaks and found a leak around the pipe that feeds gas to the tank. My first thought was to use gas tank repair epoxy to stop the leak. I patched it on and let it dry, but my confidence factor was low and tested it again. It leaked. I asked my buddy, Two Stroke, what to do and he said to silver solder it. I rinsed the tank out with water several times, soldered it and it worked.

The next project was to repair the highway bar. As I mentioned earlier, the right side of the bar had been nearly worn through from sliding down the pavement during a “lay-down”. That’s what us bikers call it, a “lay-down.” Lay-down sound more purposeful than, “I crashed my bike.”  Good, no, great bikers have made a mental commitment that they will never crash. They have committed that come hell or high water, they will do everything and anything possible to stay upright. When the situation becomes impossible, the great biker will purposefully lie their bike down is a controlled fashioned.

Anyway, back to the damaged highway bar. I fired up my wire feed welder and filled in the damaged areas of the bar. After I had enough metal built up on the damaged areas, I took the bar to the bench grinder and reshaped the bar to similitude of its original roundness.

At this point the bike was pretty stripped down. I removed the handlebars and front fender and prepared everything for paint. If you’ve followed my blogs at all you will know that I love spray-in bed liner. It’s very durable and sticks to just about everything. It also adds a little texture. On this bike I wanted to give it a flat, softer look, so I sprayed everything I was going to paint with the bed liner and used a satin paint. After the bed liner dried, I taped off and primed the parts I wanted green with Rust-oleum 2X Ultra Cover white primer. Then I sprayed on two coats of 2X Ultra satin green and two coats of 2X Ultra clear on everything. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on the color and if there are those who don’t like the color, they have kept it to themselves.

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I installed the new seat cover and that’s it. Except for a little tinkering, the bike is done and ready to sell. It was a fun project and I learned some things.

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ATC to ATV

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  Three wheels to four!

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One day I was over at a friends house and noticed a Honda ATC  90cc three wheeler that was sitting behind his garage. The balloon type tires were flat and it was covered with dirt and leaves. I asked him about it and he told me that he and his son use to ride it around the field, but that was many years ago. He knew that I had sons and asked me if I wanted it as a project. I was always looking for a fun project as an excuse to spend time with the boys, so I hauled it home.

With very little encouragement my youngest son, Marcus and I got it running. We decided that it would be worth our time to fix it up. Marcus had become our carburetor guy, so he took it off and started tearing it apart, cleaning it. I got to work on changing the oil, changing the gas and making other needed adjustments and small repairs.

Within a couple of hours we had it running like a top. Marcus jump on and started tearing around the yard. The problem with it and most three wheel ATCs is that they tip over easily when turning a corner. The balloon tires made this ATC even more unstable and not that much fun to ride.

Several years earlier I had bought a riding lawn mower that was missing the mowing deck. It was the style where the motor is mounted in the back. I paid $50 for it and the boys rode the heck out of it, until the motor blew up. I suggested to Marcus that we use the front off the mower to make the ATC a ATV. He, of course was always up for the “Project”.

To our surprise and delight we discovered that the front of the three wheeler was held on with one big bolt. And, better yet, the front of the mower would bolt right on to the ATC by using a slightly longer bolt. Almost instantly, the ATC was transformed into a ATV.

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To help stabilize the front addition we welded on a couple of bars from the front deck back to the bottom of the neck.

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We also added a arm, with elbow, made from pipe we welded together. We bolted it to the front column and ran it back to the motor mounting bracket. It bolted right on to the motor mount when we welded brackets or ears on each side of the pipe and drilled holes in the two brackets in the appropriate places. Too easy!

The front wheels on the mower were too small and too wimpy. We took the back larger tires off the mower, but the center holes were too large to fit the front axle. I remembered that I had salvaged some high speed bearings from the mower deck of a riding lawn mower. The bearing were the ones used for the two mower blades, so they were very heavy duty. The holes through the bearing fit perfect on the front axles. The bearings mounted to the mowing deck with four bolts. We mounted the bearing to the front wheels with four bolts.

We made some front fenders from a plastic barrel and metal brackets to hold them over the front tires. At that point it was time to take it for a test ride. Marcus first of course.

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Interesting fact. Honda first made the ATC 90cc for hunters to get around in the woods and to help them get their kill back to camp. They were very popular and could haul around a lot of weight. Including my fat butt around the field.

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We made a few more adjustments and additions, including paint and a new seat cover. We rode that thing for several years, until we moved into the dirt bike faze of our lives and I bought a Polaris Trail master ATV for use around the farm.

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