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Rebuilding the Q-ship; a 1964 Harley Davidson Sportster

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  • #61
    timing cover part 2

    here are some more photos of the cover showing the where the weld needs finishing; as well as the delamination(s)







    • #62
      Fork Sliders and Oil Tank: Well, the fork sliders have great bushes inside and cleaned up well. The outside, however, is shot. So, these will get striped and rechromed. They are the only part being rechromed on the whole bike. The oil tank is something we thought about. Because it is steel, media blasting will remove the flaky chrome in a couple of hours. BUT, there is always a tiny risk we don’t get all the media removed. I don’t want abrasive media in my oil. By sending out the tank, it will get stripped AND boiled. We will then be able to wash the tank out in the parts washer and go right to paint or powder without blasting. Considering how expensive correct oil tanks are . . . we’ll gladly spend the money to have this one professionally dealt with.



      Oh, and before we sent things out, Chuck briefly took the "original" chromed bits over to the buffing station and lightly hit them with white rogue to make sure they'd clean up. Turns out the 50 plus year old handlebars, fork covers, and headlamp rings will clean up very nicely.



      Now, we can finally return to Mike Love’s original question about DIY removal of plating on a set of early 80s Ironhead engine cases.

      Earlier, we thanked Mike for giving us the year and model. This is because Harley changed the alloy and production method for engine cases throughout the life of the model. By the early 80s, the engine cases were die cast – this is very different than the sand cast motor we are working on with the Q ship. Because we don’t have experience stripping these cases, we aren’t sure what alloy they might be. Similarly, they will have races in them and other bits we don’t want to get media in or acid on. And we really don’t want to mess up gasket seams or parting surfaces. So, home acid might be the wrong way and media blasting might be days of work. Given all this, there are a few choices. If you want to restore, we’d recommend taking the cases apart, removing all ferrous metals, and sending them for deplating. You’ll still be faced with restoring the texture (if you so want) – but this is probably the “safest” method for the cost. Second option is to really clean the cases and use something like a soda blaster to remove the loose or flaking bits. Then, carefully work the edges. Follow this up by several light coats of silver high-temp paint . . . and you might be able to cheat. Third option is to just polish the ugly plate and let road grime win until you need a bottom end. You “could” rattle can them with wrinkle black; but where’s the fun in that?

      So, there is a really, really long-winded explanation. DIY is fun on this stuff, it just takes way longer than we'd normally like.


      • #63
        Well, thanks for the great details and I do now understand the process. Agains thanks so much. Speaking of Zep Alume, we used it diluted to clean our ladders when I worked for the fire department. Its no wonder I have some chronic respiratory impact.

        Mike Love


        • #64
          Your time/project management comments are very well described and I understand where you are coming from. Appreciate hearing from your experience. These plating/deplating and time management descriptions are some of the excellent learning moments chocked into the member bike builds.

          Thanks Chuck and Will

          Mike Love


          • #65
            To continue on with the stuff other people can do for you; we got all the chrome bits boxed up and shipped -- as well as the chassis bits to the powder coater.

            Before we shipped the chrome, we took the time to photograph each item from several angles. We also made up an inventory list -- with photos. This helps should you have to put in an insurance claim -- or work with the chromer because something went missing. The firm we use in Quincy, IL has been terrific about not losing parts, but why take chances. Similarly, before you start packing parts, take a moment to make sure they all fit with plenty of room for bubble wrap, foam peanuts, etc. The better you protect your parts, the fewer issues you have.



            With that done, we pulled out a testors paint pen to start marking the parts. These pens are widely available at craft stores, hardware stores, etc. This one came from the Ace Hardware store about 5 minutes from the shop.


            The reason we use testors paint pens is that they are enamel. This means with a simple solvent wipe, the stuff comes right off -- but is more durable than a sharpie.

            To avoid all questions, we literally write on the part what we want done. Not shown in these photos is that we also label them with our name and telephone -- just to make sure there is zero question of who the part belongs too. Of course, the moment these are deplated that all goes away. However, our experience is that there is often a 2-4 month delay from when you send parts to when they come back. A lot can be forgotten or misplaced in 4 months.


            With all that done, we wrapped the parts in heavy builders paper. Some of the loose parts, like the fork sliders and timing cover, were wrapped up and placed in a box within the main box. This helps keep them from moving all around the box in transit. Everything else got the paper and masking tape treatment. Point is that time spent wrapping parts and carefully packing them is not wasted. The oil tank, in particular, is entirely dent free. So, we wrapped it in layers of bubble wrap and made sure it was protected from other things bouncing around the box.

            The final thing we did was to tape up the entire outside of the box with high-quality 3M packing tape. This helps to both water proof and damage proof the box. We learned over the years a quality box, that is then taped on the outside, is unlikely to split open in transit. Yes, it costs $10 in tape -- but I'd rather spend that money than lose a part.


            • #66
              The other thing we did this weekend was to get the main chassis parts out of powder coating.

              As noted earlier, we generally don't powder coat. But with winter fast approaching, we figured it was time to get these done.

              So, like the chrome, detailed photos were taken of the 13 pieces we planned to drop off in this batch. We also created a full inventory list.

              Sadly, the coater I wanted to use in Rockdale (Joliet) flaked on me and another just didn't return calls. So, I went with my back up choice -- a firm in South Chicago Heights. I haven't used them before nor do I have any friends that have. However, a nice conversation with the owner/manager led to the discovery they are an AMCA member and . . . they own a 1959 XLCH. They instantly recognized the parts on the counter . . .so that gives us hope everything will come out top notch. We'll find out in 2-3 weeks.

              Anyways, here's how we did it. Chuck literally packed up all the parts in a large canvas bag. Most automobiles will easily handle the frame of a sportster. Chuck has brought home more than one basket case in the trunk of the Jaguar -- and if anyone asks, yes, a sporty frame fits just fine in a Jaguar.




              With that all done, off we went to South Chicago Heights to drop everything off.


              Check in was very fast because we had the inventory list, the parts were clean/degreased, and the parts were fully disassembled. Long story made short, the parts are to be ready in 2-3 weeks.

              So, we gotta get other stuff ready so that we can reassemble the chassis over the holidays. We won't have the front hub back until the New Year -- but that doesn't mean we can't get everything else done in the mean time.

              Next things on the plate include polishing up the alloy and chrome still in the shop -- as well as parkerizing the hardware and other bits. All of this is super easy (and surprisingly cheap) to do in the shop.


              • #67
                So, earlier on in this thread, we mentioned using greaseless compound with a buffer in-order to quickly flat out parts, remove blemishes, and remove coatings. Saturday and Sunday were not terrible in Chicago, so Chuck took his floor mount buffer outside and got down to doing rough cuts on the alloy pieces.

                The progression was to move from 80 grit to 220 grit greasless. It took about 4 hours to get through these couple of stages -- with just 4 parts. Buffing/polishing is not a fast process. This is why in the dechrome photos, you'll see that we asked the plater for a quote on polishing the front hub. It's not that we can't do it ourselves -- it's that a hub will take a solid 4-6 hours to polish. That's a whole day in the shop -- and it is easier to work a couple hours overtime to pay the plater than to find 4-6 hours to spare.

                To give you an idea of what the greaseless compound does; below are some photos showing the parts at the 220 stage. These parts all had gouges, nicks, pits, sand casting texture, etc. As you work through the compounds, you can literally see the grain of the alloy start to appear -- every pit you thought you got, etc. In many cases, it is very difficult to polish parts to complete mirror finish due to the sheer number of pits and gouges. Chuck aims for about 90% -- generally if you get a part to that stage it is hard to see imperfections until you get about a foot away.

                Still, it's a ton of messy work to get to this stage.






                Next the parts will go through another round of "sanding" with 320 grit compound. They will then get hit with emery paste on a sisal and then a sewn buff. Following that stage, they will get a rough polish with red tripoli followed by a finish polish with white tripoli. The final "buff" is done with either semi-chrome or autosol -- which ever we have on hand. Mothers alloy polish works well too. Call it another 3-4 hours to finish off these parts.

                We did these parts out of order to take advantage of the weather. You can certainly polish and buff indoors -- it just makes a heck of a mess. Doing it outside means we not only keep the mess outside, we get to use sunlight to our advantage. Often you can overlook things under artificial light that are very, very obvious in sunlight. Even subdued autumn sun.

                For a good primer on polishing techniques, check out Caswell's buffing guide. It's about the best resource for a newbie to polishing.


                • #68
                  Is DIY "really" cheaper?

                  A lot of times, we want to use DIY methods in order to save ourselves money when working on an old bike. For a regular rider, a lot things can be done in the garage for much, much less than we are spending on the Q ship. For example, you can certainly rattle can paint a frame. That’s a few cans of paint and a weekend of time.

                  However, if you are aiming for a “higher level” or you want to really restore and not just refurbish, well, the costs start going up.

                  In the last week, we’ve dropped off different parts to different service providers. Almost all of this is being driven by the fact Chuck has a greater ability to work overtime right now than to find time to work in the shop.

                  The reality we are facing is that the National Road Run we want to take this bike on is scheduled for late June 2021. This sounds far off, but in reality is only a little over 18 months. The challenge is that it means we need to get the bike on the road and begin sorting it out no later than August 2020. We need some time to not only break in the motor and transmission – but fix all the little things that crop up when you build a bike from parts – and that are amplified by a big ol’ shaking stroker motor.

                  This means almost every weekend is at a premium for getting work done and the bike reassembled.

                  So, let’s share the quotes from our providers and analyze them.

                  First off, we spoke to the platers this morning. Everything arrived in good shape and they had a chance to evaluate the parts. The total cost for all the chroming, dechroming and polishing I requested – with return shipping and insurance, is $750. Now, before you chuck up in your cherrios over that number, keep in mind a little over $200 is for polishing. Yes, we have our own polishing supplies, but the items we requested polishing work on would take us an easy 8 hours of work at home. Not to mention, Chuck is running low on polishing supplies and would need to buy about $75-100 in stuff to do these other pieces. So, we’d only windup saving about $100 on the polishing – at the cost of 8 hours. The rest of the bill is about right these days. It works out to roughly $40-50 per item to dechrome. Overall, we budgeted $400 for stripping and rechroming and $50 for shipping; so this quote is higher, but that is because we asked for polishing.

                  Now, there’s a second thing going on with the plating – the oil tank. When I get it back – it will be ready to go directly to paint or powder. That is a MAJOR time savings and given the cost of oil tanks – one we are happy to pay.

                  The quote for the powder is $400-450. That is for 13 pieces including the full chassis. These are pretty typical prices in Chicago. It’s hard to get a frame alone done for less than $200. However, like the platers, let’s look at the DIY cost.

                  While we have rattle canned plenty of frames – and painted many others in single stage tractor implement paint – Chuck has really come to favor base coat/clear coat for frames. It is soooo much tougher than single stage it isn’t even funny. And, because we do ride off road, over gravel, and have a tendency to not clean the bikes well – it holds up better for Chuck’s use. In this case, we’d need about 4 hours to media blast everything. Chuck’s pressure blaster would go through about 3 bags of Black Beauty crystals (coal slag) to strip everything to bare metal. That is about $30 in blasting media around Chicago.

                  Then, we’d be looking at roughly 16-18 hours of labor to prime, sand, prime, sand, seal, apply base, and apply clear – plus dry time.

                  So, with blasting, clean up, final prep, and paint, we are staring at a solid 20-25 hours of work. And, because Chuck doesn’t have a paint booth – it means we have to wait until at least April to have reliable weather to paint.

                  Then, there is the cost of paint supplies these days. Chuck is partial to House of Kolor and PPG. HoK supplies for just the chassis would run:
                  1 Gallon of Acetone ($15)
                  1 Gallon of Lac Thinner ($15)
                  1 Gallon of Medium Urethane Reducer ($35)
                  Epoxy primer and catalyst ($120)
                  Black base coat ($70)
                  Clear and catalyst ($120)

                  That is a cool $375 in paint supplies, just for the chassis! Add in the $30 for blasting media and $20 for electricity and another $20 for sand paper and we are suddenly at $445 in DIY costs. However that $445 does not capture the 20-25 hours of labor.

                  To put it another way; the true split in the cost between the powder coater and DIY is $5. ($445 DIY vs. $450 powder coater). However, Chuck gains 20-25 hours or roughly 3 Saturdays in the shop.

                  As you can see, none of this stuff is “cheap” but at the same rate, DIY isn’t necessarily as cheap as you may think either.

                  The nice part is that the powder should be ready the first week of December and the stuff at the platers by the first week in January. This means that with the holidays – we don’t actually lose any time in the shop. It also means we should have a clear patch from January onwards to start putting the Q ship back together.

                  Finally, remember that Chuck’s costs are going to be about 10-20% higher than other parts of the country. Whilst we have lots of service providers in Chicago; labor costs and taxes ensure relatively high prices.


                  • #69
                    Powder Coat is BACK!

                    Much to my surprise, I sat down yesterday at my desk and the phone rang. Turns out the powder coater knocked out all the parts for the Q ship. That took a whopping 3 days. So I ran over there to pick them up.

                    Long story made short, they completely exceeded my expectations. The powder is well applied, nice and glossy, and they came in at the low end of the estimate ($400-450). They then took 20% off! That made my day.

                    Big shout out to Bob at Coating Specialties in South Chicago Heights. I'll be bringing him more pieces for the Q ship -- notably the oil tank when it gets back from dechroming. Anyways, here are some pictures.







                    • #70
                      more powder photos

                      Earlier in this series, we talked about welding up the kick stand tab. Chuck mentioned how he likes to leave the surface "rough" so that when it is media blasted and painted/coated it looks more like a forging than a smooth piece. Here's what we're talking about:



                      don't be fooled - it isn't perfect but you don't notice until you're about 6 inches away. On an assembled bike, it will be very difficult to see the work.

                      In addition to the frame, we had a bunch of chassis pieces and brackets done. The biggest single piece was the primary cover. This particular cover was chrome; and had a bunch of impact marks from what looked like a jumped primary chain. Chuck used a series of body hammers and picks to work the metal and then body files to smooth it. 98% of the junk came right out of the cover and you can only tell what was done by flipping it over. No fillers of any kind were used. Just patience and light taps from the right type of hammer.



                      and here's an idea of the gloss:


                      • #71
                        and a couple more photos:


                        the scratching in the headlamp bucket is not scratches -- that is some fur from my coat and from petting the yeti before I snapped the photos.

                        Here's the reworked chain guard:


                        And, finally, because the point of this series is sharing all the ups and downs of putting a basket case back together; here's a photo of the invoice:



                        • #72
                          On the down hill slope -- aka putting it back together

                          Taking advantage of the holiday weekend, we got down to putting the Q ship back together.

                          The first order of business was parkerizing the hardware and hard parts that needed refinishing. Keep in mind that not all the parts were parkerized from the factory and that if your goal is judging - you really need to get this right. There are plenty of knowledgeable folks on the correct finishes -- Chuck is NOT one of them.

                          In this case, we used the maganese parkerizing solution from Palmetto Enterprises. It's a lovely dark black and if you can boil water, you can parkerize. We won't give a tutorial here as many good resources exist across the net. Just google parkerizing and you'll be set.

                          After oiling up all the fresh hardware, we laid things out on the bench and worked our way from the back to the front. We did so to help balance the weight on the high-position lift Chuck likes to use. Unlike a table lift, the high position gives you full access to both ends -- but it is not as stable as a table lift. So, weight balance is important -- even with straps.

                          The only "special" thing we did in reassembling the chassis was to change out the springs and dampener oil on the vintage redwing shocks. The springs that came with the shocks were totally wrong for an ironhead and far, far too "soft." Thankfully, KONI/IKON springs fit straight on with almost no modification needed. By almost, we mean the lower spring collar was about .040 too large a diameter to fit neatly in the spring. We simply cut the collar in the lathe, parkerized it, and reassembled with #213 IKON springs. These are "middle of the road" and some claim they are still too "light" for an ironhead. Chuck has ridden a bike with 7610 Ikons and these springs on it . . .and it suited him just fine. If these prove too soft for the Q ship, we'll move up a bit in the range. Changing the springs is a 10 minute affair.

                          Otherwise, there is nothing special going on here. If you have specific questions about reassembling the chassis, just ask. Otherwise, we'll just be posting up a bunch of photos.

                          Four things you will notice about these photos:
                          1) The foot rests are on the wrong side. No excuse, Chuck just wasn't paying attention.
                          2) There are several parts that are "staged" on the bike, like the rear mount and lower oil tank mount, with hardware. This is so they are in a "known place" and we've found it speeds reassembly later on. Not to mention, it's hard to drop a part that is bolted to the bike.
                          3) The finishes are not correct on many parts. We polished a lot of stuff and liberally used stainless hardware. Similarly, in most cases we followed A&P bolting protocol using plain and lock washers in sequence. This is not how most factory parts were bolted on. If you are after a 100% correct bike -- research all of this.
                          4) The front tubes are totally installed without the sliders. Yes, you can do it this way, though many prefer bench assembly. In this case, the lowers are out for chroming.

                          One final tip; the fork tubes look clean here because they were lightly polished in the lathe and then scrubbed in the parts washer. Original tubes are not chromed and need a layer of grease or oil to prevent corrosion. If you clean up the tubes -- please take the time to coat them with something to ward off corrosion.

                          And, yes, the chrome in these pictures is all original. Just buffed out from swap meet scratch o matics. Even the head lamp rubber is of a certain "age." Sadly, one of the original fork boots tore on reassembly. A new set is on its way.







                          • #73
                            more pictures


                            PS -- don't fret; we'll wash the backing plate before shoes are assembled to it.






                            • #74






                              • #75
                                So, what does this all cost?

                                A little over a month ago, we shared the purchase list and expenditures on the Q ship so as to help others understand just how much money a basket case can consume. Here’s an update to that post, detailing all expenditures to date:

                                $1,500 – Purchase price for about 80% of the bike, full motor, and clean title
                                $450 – shipping from Denver to Chicago
                                $500 – Dytch Big Bore Cylinders and matching heads
                                $191 – title, registration, and plates
                                $10 – insurance
                                $115 – tax on purchase
                                $75 – handlebars
                                $100 – handlebar spirals, grips, and internal wires for the magneto and throttle
                                $100 – Dr. Dick/Morris Magnetos “unbreakable” kicker shaft
                                $75 – Steel rear motor mount
                                $150 – Horn (trust me, this was a bargain)
                                $80 – oil tank mounts and special bolts
                                $60 – head lamp
                                $75 – head lamp visor
                                $25 – shift lever and rubber
                                $50 – side stand, spring, pin, and top motor mount
                                $45 – fuel tank decals
                                $350 – complete front end (trees, sliders, tubes, tube covers, and front trim)
                                $25 – rear brake rod and adjusting nut
                                $20 – forged oe kicker arm
                                $40 – swing arm and all internals
                                $10 – foot peg rubber
                                $80 – miscellaneous hardware (bolts, screws, lock washers, flex locs, and plain washers)
                                $50 – Colony steering stem mounting kit
                                $40 – NOS Red Wing shocks
                                $40 – KONI progressive springs for the red wing shocks
                                $12 – License holder
                                $10 – NOS 22T countershaft sprocket
                                $15 – Chain guard
                                $25 – NOS front brake pivot
                                $50 – Front wheel hub rebuild kit
                                $24 – NOS front brake cam
                                $11 – NOS Rear Axle collar
                                $10 – Front axle, nut, and washer
                                $20 – front brake cable tube, adjuster, and fender clamp
                                $20 – Clutch Cable
                                $20 – Brake Cable
                                $30 – Tail lamp assembly
                                $20 – OE kicker pedal and fresh rubber
                                $20 – CS seal kit
                                $25 – Clutch lever and perch
                                $20 – Brake lever and perch
                                $15 – Fuel Petcock
                                $35 – NOS 51T rear sprocket and rivets
                                $60 – Repo “smooth” fender struts
                                $25 – Full motor gasket kit
                                $25 – ’72-E73 head gaskets
                                $40 – Repo solo seat (later style)
                                $15 – NOS diamond drive chain
                                $40 – NOS diamond primary chain
                                $15 – NOS Raybestos clutch plates
                                $250 – Fairbanks-Morse Magneto and rekey
                                $10 – Dual muffler support
                                $20 – Voltage regulator
                                $40 – S&S cast alloy L series/Super B air cleaner and backing plate
                                $40 – Manganese Parkerizing solution
                                $30 – Zep-a-lume (1 Gallon w/ shipping)
                                $312 – Powder coating
                                $750 – Chrome plating, dechroming of items, and select polishing
                                $20 – Stainless steel chafing pan for parkerizing parts
                                $10 – Misc stainless steel hardware
                                $25 – Front brake cam lever and clevis
                                $65 – Front brake shoes
                                $15 – Front brake springs
                                $10 – 4 rubber bushes/donuts for the front fork covers
                                $5 – fork dampner gaskets
                                $10 – rear hub lock nut
                                $10 – head lamp visor plug
                                $10 – side stand spring (w/ shipping)
                                $249 – Solo seat hardware (all Colony reproduction parts)
                                $70 – Seat T-bar (correct for 65-70 XLCH “long”seat)
                                $233 – WM3 19 and WM3 18 reproduction borranni-style rims
                                $264 – Stainless Steel Spokes and Nipples for front and rear rims
                                $19 – Handle bar switches
                                $24 – Fork gaitors/boots
                                $50 – Handle bar “inners” and control wires/coils
                                $20 – Rear view mirror
                                $7 – Tail lamp to mud guard/fender gasket (rubber)
                                $15 – Rear mud guard/fender buffer
                                $7 – 1 Gallon Muriatic Acid (for Parkerizing)
                                $205 – Tires and Tubes (Shinko 712, 90/90-19 front; 110/90-18 rear; Bridgestone HD tubes)
                                TOTAL - $7,668 – so far, with tax, title, tags, and insurance.

                                We still have about $200 to spend on paint work; $1300 on some motor bits; and roughly $300 for the exhaust system. Call it another $2000.

                                All in all, we will wind up darn close to our $10,000 budget – not including the national road run out in Colorado in June 2021. If we play our cards right, we might have just enough cheddar left to cover the registration fee for the road run. Not too bad for a SWAG (scientific, wild-assed guess).

                                Still think basket cases are the bargain of the century? All the little parts just crush the economics.

                                When we are talking “value” it is important to keep in mind that it would take another $1200 or so in parts and services to make this bike 100% correct. Those bikes that ARE restored to 100% correct will almost always be worth much more than a comparable bike that is not restored to the same caliber. However, the Q ship should appeal to a “different” type of rider – one that understands how much money it takes to build a correctly sorted stroker and that appreciates OE to aftermarket stuff.

                                Does this mean we would immediately recoup our investment? Well, no. But it does mean that after a couple of years of riding, “if” we had to sell the Q ship we shouldn’t lose our shirts too badly. We won’t make money – but we won’t necessarily loose much either. Just this year, a very well sorted late 70s stroker owned by the same person for nearly 20 years went for just under $12,000 at Mecum . . . just saying, there is a small, but very real market for bikes like the Q ship that are neither bone stock nor 100% restored.

                                For comparison, just where can you buy an all but brand new 56 year old motorbike complete with a few thousand bucks in vintage speed parts? You certainly can find crusty ones; but one that is sorted, titled, tagged, and ready to ride NOW is a wee bit more sparse on the ground.

                                As for time; well, that’s the nice part. So far, we’ve invested a total of 54 hours from the moment we picked up the crate to the posting of this message. Not bad for what amounts to 1.25 working weeks (assuming no overtime, of course ;-) There is likely another 60 hours to be devoted to paint, wiring, and building the power train. All in, about 105-110 hours of labor. "If" we paid a shop for all this labor -- and we found someone cheap at roughly $50/hr; we'd be staring at a cool $5,250 to $5,500 in labor. This is where years of skill building and investment in tools pays off. The first bike or two you rebuild will see you spend MUCH more than if you keep at it. Tools pay for themselves quickly -- and we always seem to find a use for parts sitting on shelves.