Shovelhead chopper rebuild. Picture intensive!

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gsand
Posts: 268
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Shovelhead chopper rebuild. Picture intensive!

Post by gsand » Sun Aug 04, 2013 9:29 pm

Hey guys, many of you have seen my shovel around the place, there is an older thread on it from when I first got it and some of the work that happened to it shortly after. Since the day I got it, I haven't really given it any love, its been some chopping and changing but It was mostly as I bought it: crusty, rusty, powdercoat flaking off, and just enough maintenance to keep it running (and leaking). The time has come to give her some proper love. A new build, a new thread. I try to take as many pictures as I can throughout my work, but sometimes just get too enthused in the job and hand to remember.

A quick glimpse of what we're working with

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First things first, I stripped down the whole bike to nothing and took the motor into Mark Hood. The motor has been a bit of a mystery, I had never opened the motor up and never dealt with the previous owner. Since I got it I've probably racked up a few thousand miles, and had no issues with the motor apart from a slight leak from the crank seal, and suffering with low compression. Apon removal of the cylinders I found some old hot rod pistons, MC brand, sold in the late 70s and early 80s. They were a good hot rod piston, but not exactly the right thing for the riding I like to do, daily riding and long trips. The motor also had a rather large cam put in it at some point. I know the cases have been apart but the condition of the bottom end is a mystery. Either way Mark is providing me with new pistons, rings and rebore to the next oversize. The cylinders are currently at .020 over so there is plenty of meat left for the future. As far as the bottom end goes, it's getting stripped and inspected, anything that needs replacing will be done. Not after a hot motor, just something that will last and do me well. Only picture I got of the motor is the pistons that came out of it!

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On with the frame. Had plans of going in a hardtail frame, and building the typical cool chopper, but with a lack of money (all funds directed at engine!) and a dodgy back, the stock frame stays. The frame was fully molded and powerdercoated, so the sandblasters had a great time getting all that off for me. Big up to Elizabeth Trackblasting... Great prices and it was ready for me the same day.

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Somebodies attempt at molding a neck, this slapped over with body filler.

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After some minor fettling...

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I cut off most of the mounting tabs and brackets from the frame to clean it up. I will fabricate bracket and replace them as I go along.

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First bit of fabrication was the oil tank. I've scrapped the stock FX Lunch Box oil tank, and am going with a horseshoe style tank. I bought this one at a swapmeet a while back, I think it was $20. It is a little beat, was for a Sportster, and the chrome is buggered so It became a perfect candidate. For the tank to fit in the swingarm frame I had to relocate the filler neck, notch the rear tops of the tank to clear the shock mount castings, and fabricate a battery tray as well as all the mounts. I'd also like to add here that I work with the most basic of tools, nothing fancy. Angle grinders, drills, files and a mig welder running Fluxcore...

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Filler neck cut out and rear corners notched.
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Original sporty tank mounts

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Patching it back together.

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This oil tank will be Painted, so I chose to leave a bit of meat on the welds and smooth them with filler, rather than grind them down to nothing.

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New spot for the filler. Needed a 35mm hole for the filler neck. Haven't got any fancy holesaws, a drill and a half round file will do just as good.

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Next I took the original battery tray and cut it the mounting brackets off it, and welded it up to the inside of the oil tank. This is not sufficient, the battery tray still needs to be fixed at the rear of the oil tank too.
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Now I gotta figure out how to mount this thing!!

Took the original clutch cable bracket, cut it down a little and tapped two 5/16 threads in some 5mm plate. The two pieces become one.

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Then I bent up some more 5mm plate for the tank. This piece will be welded to the floor of the oil tank, and then bolted to the first piece. The reason for this is the size of the oil tank, it fits quite snug and if It were mounted directly to the seat post mount you could never remove the oil tank.

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Perfect fit.
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Stay tuned for the next installment, I will be finishing the battery box and fabricating the mounts for the rear of the oil tank. Unfortunatly I don't get as much time in the shed as I like, just weekends only these days. Apart from stuff welded to the frame, I'm going to be making almost everything on the bike from Stainless, so It can be polished instead of paying for Chrome. Stainless material is more expensive than mild steel, but its still WAY cheaper than chrome. The goal is to be steadily working on the bike, and get everything done and into roller ready for my engine to go in when done. I don't know how long the motor rebuild will take, but I am suspecting a few months. Just gives me more time to prepare myself for the heart attack when I see the bill :shock:

Thanks guys.
Regards, Glenn.

El Skitzo
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Re: Shovelhead chopper rebuild. Picture intensive!

Post by El Skitzo » Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:12 pm

Great job, that oil tank looks like it was made for the bike and the style definitely suits it better. Well worth the effort
'65 Triumph Chopper (project)
'64 Triumph Chopper (project)

Prof
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Re: Shovelhead chopper rebuild. Picture intensive!

Post by Prof » Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:44 pm

As you said Glen, the battery box although welded top and bottom is likely to strain the top weld (leading to a crack) with the weight of a Harley Battery.

I suggest you either go for a Lithium Iron battery which is a fraction of the weight or support the outer underside of the battery carrier on the rear frame tubes and also weld the sides of the battery box to the oil tank.

I'd also add a bit more support to the front oil tank mount by drilling a couple of holes in the bracket where it welds to the tank to increase the welding contact area... HD's do vibrate and crack thin metal where it is welded especially to thicker material.

I really liked the way the seat rails were lowered in that photo you sent some time back, but now the oil tank is done I guess prevents that. Hope everyone noticed the rod you welded to the rear infill so it doesn't fall into the tank.

Nice tidy weld around the filler by the way and good to see lots of home fabricating. Good to see the bike getting some special care.
Chopit'nrideit... Prof

gsand
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Interests: Riding bikes.

Re: Shovelhead chopper rebuild. Picture intensive!

Post by gsand » Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:50 pm

Prof wrote:Glen, the battery box although welded top and bottom is likely to strain the top weld (leading to a crack) with the weight of a Harley Battery.

I suggest you either go for a Lithium Iron battery which is a fraction of the weight, or 1. support the outer underside of the battery carrier on the frame (a pain) or 2. weld the sides of the battery box to the oil tank.
Good to see the bike getting some special care.

I really liked the way the seat rails were lowered in that photo you sent some time back, but now the oil tank is done I guess prevents that.

Bronze welding in some tin around the head was probably a case of not enough heat on the cast steel

Nice tidy weld around the filler too.
Thanks Prof.

I have considered the weight of batteries, I'm kick-only and will be running the smallest battery I can use comfortably. I did consider sealing up the battery area and using it as a storage spot, then mounting a sealed battery underneath the transmission.

Prof
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Re: Shovelhead chopper rebuild. Picture intensive!

Post by Prof » Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:58 pm

Edited my post and added a few more ideas Glen.
Chopit'nrideit... Prof

Bearcx
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Re: Shovelhead chopper rebuild. Picture intensive!

Post by Bearcx » Mon Aug 05, 2013 11:48 am

Excellent stuff. No bolt -on chrome bits from the corner shop. :D
The brave may not live long, but, the cautious do not live at all.

Prof
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Re: Shovelhead chopper rebuild. Picture intensive!

Post by Prof » Mon Aug 05, 2013 7:24 pm

You probably know this Glen, but I believe paint will stick much better if you get the chrome stripped first at a chrome platers... don't cost much to get done.
Chopit'nrideit... Prof

gsand
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Re: Shovelhead chopper rebuild. Picture intensive!

Post by gsand » Wed Aug 07, 2013 9:57 pm

The original front oil tank mount I made was really bugging me. It seemed unnecessarily complex, and while trying to think of an alternative, I realized I If I moved the tank closer to the seatpost, and weld the mount directly to the tank, I can remove the whole lot quite easily by twisting it out of the frame. Tonight I got as far as making a new bracket (weld holes in the plate as Prof suggested), lined everything up, tacked, and of course ran out of welding wire just after I got started :twisted: In order to mount the tank in this position, there are some unsightly gaps between the tank and the frame, but I'm hoping I can weld on some "wings" to the edges of the tank to match the contour of the frame, and still be able to remove the tank.

And then there's a part of me that want's to scrap the whole thing and start again, but that might be the welding wire anger talking...

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crazy horse
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Re: Shovelhead chopper rebuild. Picture intensive!

Post by crazy horse » Thu Aug 08, 2013 7:31 pm

I'm just curious Glen cause I keep seeing it in the background of your pics. What's the red bike???

gsand
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Re: Shovelhead chopper rebuild. Picture intensive!

Post by gsand » Thu Aug 08, 2013 9:43 pm

crazy horse wrote:I'm just curious Glen cause I keep seeing it in the background of your pics. What's the red bike???
That there be my CB550 Four, there is a build of it on here from when I built it. I stripped it again and I'm also working on that now as well as the Shovel, as a scrambler/street tracker style for a mate to ride when he gets his L's. Ain't I kind?

Bearcx
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Re: Shovelhead chopper rebuild. Picture intensive!

Post by Bearcx » Sat Aug 10, 2013 11:32 am

gsand wrote:........ a scrambler/street tracker style for a mate to ride when he gets his L's. Ain't I kind?
Good one. Get 'em started early :D
The brave may not live long, but, the cautious do not live at all.

gsand
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Interests: Riding bikes.

Re: Shovelhead chopper rebuild. Picture intensive!

Post by gsand » Sat Aug 10, 2013 8:18 pm

A little more progress to report. I'm working pretty slow so my apologies if this thread gets a bit long winded, I'm just trying to keep a log of everything for those that are interested.

I got the oil tank mounts mostly done, I just need to weld in some gussets on on the rear mount to strengthen it some more. Here's how it ended up. Can't say its a glamour piece, but It is functional and mostly hidden anyway.

I started by adding some 5mm strip along the insides of the oil tank, which add rigidity and also weld onto the battery tray. Then a top piece was made up out of the same material with two holes drilled in it. I had intended to tap these but I made a dumb mistake so just decided to use bolts instead of making the piece again. These are two 5/16 high tensile bolts, so I can always upgrade to 3/8 if I need to and tap it then. The top corners here are where I need to add some small gussets.

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Heres the frame mount ready to be welded in, as you can see there I left a large space in between. I hope to use some rubber spacers to allow a small amount of give in the mounting.

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Note to anyone using gasless welder, AVOID the $13 mini spools that Bunnings are now selling. I used it to work on this oil tank and wish I'd thrown it in the bin after the first tack. Its well and truly rubbish and turns anything you weld into poo of 1000 birds. I went and got my usual CIG spool, $25 for the same size mini spool at Mitre 10... Clean and tidy welds right outta the gun (Even for gasless). Unfortunately I put up with the crap wire for today's welding of the oil tank mounts, but they tidy up alright after work with a flap disc.

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Mounts all done for the oil tank, Next time I'm going to relocate the fittings. The oil feed needs to be moved rearward so It can drop straight down behind the transmisson, continue underneath the transmission straight into the oil pump. I'm also going to route the vent and return line to the top of the tank externaly, like the original Harley horseshoe tanks do. I will be attempting some sand bending of the small diamater tube for the top fittings so that could get interesting.

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In other news, I had the cylinder heads bead blasted the other day. I gave my engine builder everything but the heads, thinking that the heads were OK. Today I took them into Mark so he could have a look see after they had been cleaned up. All four valve seats were sunk about 100 thou into the heads, a couple of valve guides were a bit loose and both spark plug holes had been previously heli-coiled and starting to pull through as well. More work, my wallet is starting to get a bit frightened at this stage. So in the head department Mark is doing fitting new hardened valve seats, upgrading to cast iron guides, and doing an insert in the spark plug holes which will also be upgraded to long reach plugs. What was actually a surprise, is that the valves that were in the motor are still very usable. They are Manley valves which somebody had done in the past, apparently some of the best valves in the business and are considered a life-long repair. So despite all the work that does need to be done to the heads, not having to buy new valves eased the pain just a little :lol:

Oh and one more thing... Whoever did these heads... Decked the head surfaces a little bit. Nothing wrong with that, if it's done properly. The head surface has been done with and end mill, instead of fly cut like the should be. So the head surface is not ideal, it has visible markings from the end mill. Mark and I agreed that It's certainly not ideal, but it will suffice considering I don't want to take any more off the heads.

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For those that don't know, the edge of the valve seat is supposed to sit flush with the combustion chamber. You can see just how far they have sunk in by the ridge between the chamber and the bottom of the seat.
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Prof
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Re: Shovelhead chopper rebuild. Picture intensive!

Post by Prof » Sat Aug 10, 2013 10:39 pm

Thanks for the photos Glen. Enjoying the build. I've been flat out on guys bikes lately and too bushed at night to get up pics, so nice to see some building action.
Chopit'nrideit... Prof

nozila
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Re: Shovelhead chopper rebuild. Picture intensive!

Post by nozila » Sat Aug 10, 2013 11:52 pm

Where did you get that head blasted and how much? Looks the goods.

gsand
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Re: Shovelhead chopper rebuild. Picture intensive!

Post by gsand » Sat Aug 10, 2013 11:58 pm

nozila wrote:Where did you get that head blasted and how much? Looks the goods.
Advanced Engines in Salisbury, it was $60 for both heads. That's glass bead blasting.

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