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Let's build a girl's bike: a 1967 Sportster XLH

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  • #16
    Originally posted by chuckthebeatertruck View Post

    Nice to hear from you, Steve. I was actually just talking with Mrs. Chuck about Jake and his Ariel. I have to make some inserts to repair stripped threads and will be using sleeve retaining loctite to secure them. Mrs. Chuck reminded me I hate loctite . . .and then I told her the story about the Ariel and the Badger Run this past August :-)

    I'll make it south sometime this year to ride with you all -- and hope to see the "kids" on the Rocky Mountain Chapter's Road Run in June this year.
    That's so cool that you know about Jake's "on the road" repair on his Square 4 and that perhaps you've had a discussion with him. He and his brother Eli have far surpassed my abilities on old bikes. Jake's wife Tara is a better rider than I am now and maybe even ever. Darn those kids!



    • #17
      Originally posted by slamiste View Post

      That's so cool that you know about Jake's "on the road" repair on his Square 4 and that perhaps you've had a discussion with him. Darn those kids!
      Yep, I was on the badger run this summer on another "unusual" and not oft seen bike -- my Guzzi SP1000 road dog. It wound up that the weird bikes (BMW, Guzzi, Ariel) parked up next to one another. I had never seen a Square Four being ridden -- only as a static display. When I realized a younger guy owned it . . .well, we had to get to talking. I wound up hoisting a few with Jake and Tara over the next couple of days and we shared table at the banquet with another younger couple from Indiana on their second Road Run. I was really impressed with them both and their enthusiasm bodes really well for the future of the club and our hobby. I think he was surprised to run into someone who has experience with the different loctite formulas and had nothing negative to say about his well thought out repair. As you know -- so many guys feel a need to "correct" someone on things like that -- even if they have ZERO experience. Jake had the confidence to tackle the repair and not think twice. He also introduced me to the delrin tire irons he carries . . . and I gotta say those are some slick items that will be going in my bag this summer.

      You've got a good family there, Steve.

      And for anyone reading this . . .JOIN A NATIONAL ROAD RUN. You don't have to have friends on the run OR ride an American bike. I knew no one on the run and was on the only Guzzi. We also had riders on Ariel, Triumph, BMW, Honda, etc. Sure, there were groups of riders that all knew each other and stuck together but that was more the exception than the rule. Everyone was warm, engaging, and eager to invite folks to ride with them. I met a lot of people and had one of the most enjoyable times of all of 2020 on that run. So much so that I'm planning to do at least one road run a year. It's much more my speed than chapter meetings :-) I really, really just enjoy rolling around with no real destination or purpose in mind other than enjoying the day and the machine. The Road Runs are just about perfect for this.


      • #18
        Again my interest in the Member Bike Builds forum is reinforced. This is going to be a fun build to follow. I hope it will make a future Girl's Bike Breakfast event.

        Mike Love


        • #19

          It's that time of year when many in the Northern Hemisphere turn their attention to winter rebuilds.

          One of the most common things that needs doing on a top end job is cylinder boring. However, boring can get pricey and if the machine operator sucks you get sucky cylinders. A big reason many shops immediately go in 20 over increments is because they suck at machine set up. What do I mean? To go 10 over; you actually bore .007 over. The final .003 is for rigid honing. This means your DOC is .0035 . . . which is way harder to achieve than many think. If you immediately go to 20; this means your cut is .017 or DOC of .0085. That is much more achievable for most shops.

          So, what is the home mechanic supposed to do if they only need say .005 or .008 taken out to achieve the next bore size?

          Enter the rigid, portable hone. There are two "good" versions of this tool and I have both. The cadillac is the Sunnen AN600 porta hone. These are about $600 new and run roughly $350-400 used. Stone sets are NOT cheap at roughly $45/two. But, this tool is a lifetime tool and very adaptable. If you do more than one set of cylinders a year or have multiple bikes -- this is the ticket.

          The next step down is the Lisle Rigid Hone (1500 series). This tool is the Chevrolet compared to the Sunnen. The feed knob isn't as sensitive and the stones don't last as long. But at roughly $150 new and $25 for replacement stones it is far more affordable than the Sunnen. That said, you can sell a Sunnen all day long for what you paid . . .the Lisle is almost worthless on the used market (and no, don't buy a used one -- they use an alloy body that does eventually wear out and cause the stones to walk).

          In addition to one of these units; you need a Heavy Duty 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch (12-19mm) 500 rpm drill. A rheostat or foot control allows you to adjust the max rpm to match your bore.


          You'll also need someway to hold the cylinder so you can hone from both ends and stroke the hone as it rotates. I use a big vice for iron cylinders. Alloy cylinders need torque plates . . .

          With all that; it's just a matter of operating the tool correctly and taking your time.

          I had to take out .007 out of two cylinders to make them fit the pistons I had on hand for Mrs. Chuck's 1967 XLH. It took a whopping 30 minutes per cylinder to rough and finish hone them.

          I tend to get 5-7 sets of cylinders out of stones before replacement is needed. I've done enough cylinders to pay for both tools once over. What you can't do (at least not easily or fast) is going more than .010.

          Also, you can't correct a misregistered bore. If a previous bore was not done square to flange . . .that has to be fixed first.

          However, a rigid hone can correct eccentricity (egg shape). On one of the cylinders I did for Mrs. Chuck; the first several passes showed a nice egg shape near the top of the cylinder where the bolts attach. This isn't uncommon on 900s . . . and it took several minutes to cut the high spots and return the bore to true. That's where experience and feel comes in. Don't expect you'll get a perfect bore the first few times you use one of these. As such, practice on spare cylinders first. Once you can achieve consistent bores with no taper . . .then you're ready to do a set for real.

          The photos here are from another set I did; but otherwise identical. I used the Lisle in these photos and that is my "new" HD drill from Harbor Freight. Total cost in this photo is something like $220 if you pay full retail for both tools. Like I said, it is harder to use the Lisle, but if you take your time the results are very good. Just don't be in a hurry.

          One last tip; dry honing is way, way faster, but heats the cylinder AND wears stones. This means you must readjust the head frequently, clear the stone dust from the stone pores, and let the cylinder cool before final honing. If you wet hone you eliminate this but it takes longer and is messier. To wet hone, I've hung an enima bag from the ceiling more than once . . . filled with cutting fluid. It's a mess to say the least and if I'm going to wet hone I just assume use the Sunnen station vs. the porta.


          • #20
            A quick look at the weather forecast last week said a big old snow storm; followed by nasty cold; was about to hit the midwest. To keep Mrs. Chuck and I occupied, we decided to convert our attic into a paint booth for her bike. Normally, winter sees us unable to paint anything. Even with being able to heat the shop -- masking it off and then hoping we don't flash the solvents in the air is enough to keep us from attempting indoor painting.

            In this case, we decided that we are making Mrs. Chuck's bike a rider and so no need for either powder coating or a base coat/clear coat paint job. Instead, we're going to rattle can all the chassis bits. I normally start any full rebuild by concentrating on the chassis. The chassis takes far longer to assemble than the power train. While I've done it the other way -- the truth is that once you start laying it out there are many, many more chassis pieces to clean and paint than just about anything else.

            So, we needed a big space where we could hang many parts undisturbed. We needed to control the temperature/air flow/humidity. We needed to not cause fumes. We needed to avoid fire/explosions. This is where our attic proved nearly perfect. First, the attic is separated from the rest of the house by a double air dam. This allows us to seal it off from the rest of the house with almost no air infiltration. This also means we can control air flow and temp -- and by adjusting those two we can control humidity. The other advantage is that most of the nasty stuff in paint fumes rises. This means the stink goes up . . .and we're already at the highest point in the house. This meant all we needed to do was control flash points in the room. Pretty easy at end of day.

            To make up the "paint booth" I grabbed a roll of painter's plastic sheet from our house painting supplies. It is cheap 2-3mil plastic sheet -- the kind that is $10/roll at big box home stores. We then stapled the sheets right to the attic walls and about 1/2 up the sloping ceiling/wall. We also put a double layer on the floor and taped it all together with some 3M professional masking tape (green auto body kind). We then laid a couple of clean, dry, and dust/lint free drop clothes on top of the plastic so we could walk around without tearing the plastic or falling on our butts.


            From the photos you can see the other reason we chose the attic -- we have four cross ties running rafter to rafter. Our rafters are full 2X12 and the cross ties 2x6 -- so hanging a frame is no issue. The cross ties are also about a meter apart -- making it very easy to move about.


            We then added a 1500 watt oil filled electric radiator to control the temperature.

            With that done; I got down to media blasting parts for paint. Usually, we send stuff out for cadmium plating; but this time, I just decided to paint many parts that would have been plated originally. Some got done in silver; some got done in black. Those parts got stripped first along with all the chassis parts that would have been black. We then had to deal with the chrome that was all over this bike.

            The nice part is that the chrome was "period" and done well. As a result, it was well applied and had almost no rust or flaking. It was instead very worn and scratched. Over the past 20 years or so, I've had very good luck simply media blasting old chrome and painting over it. So long as the base is sound, the paint cares not. I used 120 grit oxide at 85psi. It did a great job and only one part needed further attention. Below is an example of the satin finish I aim for on chromed parts:


            With that done; we blew the parts with compressed air and took them inside to warm up. We put them straight into the attic and left them for a couple of days to normalize. We then raised the temperature in the room about 24 hours before painting so the parts and the room were roughly the same temperature. In this case, we aimed for 70 degrees and 50-55% humidity. It's this extra step that makes all the difference with indoor painting of parts. Far too many people bring their parts in at the last minute and don't realize they are creating problems for themselves.


            We then wiped the parts down with degreaser, then lacquer thinner, and hung them up. Normally, I use wire to hang parts. But, I couldn't find my roll and didn't want to go out to the shed to look in the middle of snow. So, I grabbed a roll of bailing twine. Yes, twine. So long as it's not loose jute, the twine won't leave crap on your parts. It does mask a little bit, so between coats I move the part and spray the shadow. Believe it or not; it works fine 90% of the time. If not, I touch up a bit on the back end.

            With all that done; we called it an afternoon and closed the attic up until we were ready to paint.


            • #21
              The next morning dawned clear and it was time to paint. Let's pause to look at the products we chose to use.

              Our goal for this bike is to refurbish it to a high quality -- but for a very reasonable price. While regular old cheap rustoleum or valspar spray enamel works fine -- it doesn't hold up as well over say 10-15 years. A much better choice for "cheap" enamel is Tractor and Implement Paint with hardener. This means no spray cans. Well, that wasn't an option here -- so we needed something better, but still affordable.

              Over the years, we've tried all sorts of different spray paints from $27/can epoxies with activator tubes to $15/can chassis black to $7/can roll bar paint. We've tried PJ1, Eastwoods, POR 15 Top Coat, VHT, Valspar, Rustoleum, Summit Equipment branded paint, and Ace hardware paint. The top performers were PJ1, Eastwoods and VHT.

              Well, we got a great Amazon deal on VHT @ $7/can delivered with tax. We also had an Amazon gift card, so the cost was zero in reality. Here's the big supply shoot:


              You'll see our big thing of lacquer thinner for wipe down, a tack rag to get rid of dust and junk, 220 grit wet/dry to touch up any spots we missed, and our paints. I didn't use the primer in the picture -- I thought I might need it on one piece, but I was wrong.

              First up is the main chassis paint we'll use: VHT Epoxy. It's not a true epoxy, but rather a modified acrylic enamel. I've used both VHT roll bar and VHT epoxy on frames -- and I've come to prefer the Epoxy. It's a little easier to spray and comes out glossier (I like gloss vs. semi gloss). It seems to be more chip resistant as well. The down side is that it sprays very thin.

              For silver/cadmium parts we used a bluish/silver high heat enamel:

              IMG_5607.JPG We will use the same paint on the heads and cylinders.

              For some parts that were cad plated, I dipped them in aluminum rustoleum. It is a pretty good cheater paint for this.

              And the final trick up our sleeve is SEM texture coating. We mentioned this earlier. I have used this stuff for nearly two decades to restore texture on a variety of parts. It works very much like wrinkle paint -- the more you apply, the heavier the pebbling. Usually, one thin coat does it for forgings/castings and two to three for things like ABS plastics (Royalite Bubble Bags). In this case, we used the texture paint to "restore" a few items that had flaking chrome. Media blasting and some careful work with a pick removed 99% of the flaky stuff. I then sanded the edges with 120 grit and hit the pieces with texture paint. After an hour; they were ready for black and missing patches/etc just disappeared. I'll also be using this on the frame to further blend/hide the repairs to forgings/castings. A single can will set you back about $20 -- but it does last a very, very long time. I get years out of a can . . . and that will cover one or two pair of saddle bags, a dozen to 20 forgings, etc. A little goes a very long way.



              • #22
                The first step in painting was to fill a pitcher with hot water. We actually turned the hot water tank up to 165 and then waited and drew out a bucket. It was probably about 140 degrees F or so. Sorta over kill.

                I then place my rattle cans right into the hot water for 10-15 minutes. Don't worry -- the water will lose heat very fast and you won't be cooking the paint. Instead, we're warming it all the way through. We want the paint a bit warmer than the air so the goal is for the can to be at least as warm as our hand.


                Here I have one silver and two blacks in the bucket. As soon as I was ready to paint; I pulled out the two cans of black and put in two more. Then, I set a timer and shake the cans for two minutes. It takes forever to wait those two minutes . . .which is why I use a timer.

                I also put on a fresh respirator, long paints, a hood, and long sleeves. The only exposed skin was around my eyes. The epoxy paint is a mess and you will have LOTS of over spray. You do not want any of it in your lungs. You do not want it on your skin. You do not want it in your hair. Anything that isn't masked or covered will get a fine dusting of hard to remove black.

                Then, it was time to paint. I did four coats; two very thin and two medium -- about 15-20 minutes apart. It took one can of black for each coat; four coats for just the parts in the pictures. I figure the frame will take 3-4 cans on its own. With that done, we closed up the room and just left everything overnight.

                The next morning, the parts had great gloss and were hard as a rock. There were a few runs, but only one or two that I'll need to sand and touch up. The others aren't noticeable. We did decide to just leave the parts the rest of the week. A few extra days to harden won't hurt a thing.

                Next up is finishing frame repairs and then getting the frame done in the exact same fashion. Then, it will be time to start reassembling the bike. That is always the fun part :-)

                Attached Files


                • #23
                  So, there you go -- good enough chassis painting for $7/can. Total cost here would have been $28 for black and $7 for silver. We'll spend another $28 for the frame, generator, and starter housings. Total cost: $63 for the entire chassis; plus heads and cylinders. When you factor in that we used an Amazon gift card for all this -- our actual investment so far has only been time plus the electricity to run the compressors/media cabinet.


                  • #24
                    Saturday dawned with a balmy -6F showing on the thermometer. Perfect weather for finishing up a frame. The Yeti and I cranked up the shop heater just about the time the magic delivery truck dropped off a big parts order from our friends at Legends MC. Within that parts order were the last pieces needed for the frame -- replacement seat tabs.

                    With the tabs in hand, we quickly marked out the frame and made up a 1-5/8 spacer to fit between the ears. I then used a couple of thin washers and some 5/16 all thread to adjust the width and keep the ears rigid. It was then just a matter of tacking them in place and making sure they fit the seat t correctly. Then, I welded them in and partially dressed the welds. I did not fully dress the welds because I did not want to weaken the join at all. These are thick tabs welded to a thick casting. And, they aren't even close to the originals on this frame.

                    In this case, the frame is a later generic ironhead replacement. The seat tabs on this frame would have been more like triangles and not like the early tabs reproduced here. As a quick tip -- do not follow early frames for the tab placement. On pre-67 XLH and pre70 XLCH, the seat tab hole leads the lower fuel tank mount by about 1/4". On later e-start frames the seat tabs trail the lower fuel tank mount by almost exactly 1 inch. So, pay attention to what frame you're working on before you get too deep into welding.

                    With that done; we brought the frame inside to warm up for several hours before wiping it down and following the same steps to paint as we did earlier.

                    IMG_5655.JPG Here's the frame warming up -- you can see all the work to the neck pretty clearly in this picture. I could have done a better job on the very bottom by the neck cup . . .but I doubt too many people will be that up close and personal with the bike.

                    IMG_5656.JPG Here you can see how I partially dressed the welds. I did the same "trick" with the carbide burr to give the parts texture. Note the starter bits are not yet sanded and ready for paint. They are just warming up here.

                    IMG_5657.JPG Like before, the cans of paint went into a bucket of hot water to warm up while I prepped and hung parts.

                    IMG_5659.JPG Ready for spraying.

                    IMG_5661.JPG Slight close up so we can do "before" and "after" photos.


                    • #25
                      After the parts were hung; I quickly masked off the back bone, down tubes and neck cups. The neck and the seat area were then sprayed with two coats of SEM Texture paint to "restore" the surface of the castings/forgings. Once that dried; off came the tape and I remasked the cups. We then followed with four coats of paint; about 10-15 minutes apart. The frame was left overnight with the heater keeping the room right around 70-75 degrees.

                      Below are the "after" pictures. The goal wasn't to fully hide the repairs but rather to make them hidden well enough to fool a casual observer from 5-10 feet away. Once all the bits are on the chassis a lot of the obvious flaws will be covered by parts, wiring, or other stuff.

                      The total cost here was a whopping $25 for the seat tabs. Probably could have made them out of plate steel -- but given the cost and ease of using the V-twin replacement tabs it was a no brainer. We previously spent about the same on the replacement foot pegs - so call it $50 in repair parts.

                      It did take 4 more cans of paint. So, we used 8 total cans for all the black chassis bits. We're done painting stuff save some silver items -- so that worked out to a whopping $56 in paint.

                      That's a total of $106 to repair/refurbish all the chassis bits and refinish them. In fairness, I'm not 100% happy with some rough spots on the lower frame rails. I also know the motor will completely cover the spots and the next time anyone will see them is if the motor comes out.


                      IMG_5671.JPGIMG_5666.JPG Yes, I still have to properly finish the neck cups . . .

                      Next up is wheel building and swing arm servicing. With that done; we'll be ready to start building up the chassis. In other words; all the hard work is now done and from here on out we are starting to put the bike back together. Yippee.


                      • #26
                        Thanks for sharing your approach to painting. For some people, electrical work is challenging. For me, it is paint. Your suggestions make me want to have another go at doing it myself. Keep the build photos coming!


                        • #27
                          Following along Steve! Thanks for keeping up with the postings, not always easy!
                          Pisten Bulley is Harry Roberts in Vermont.


                          • #28
                            Originally posted by C.Flint View Post
                            Thanks for sharing your approach to painting. For some people, electrical work is challenging. For me, it is paint. Your suggestions make me want to have another go at doing it myself. Keep the build photos coming!
                            Thanks for the kind comments. I'm glad to hear it gives you something to think about.


                            • #29
                              Originally posted by pisten-bully View Post
                              Following along Steve! Thanks for keeping up with the postings, not always easy!
                              thanks. I'm waiting to see what happens with your Indian motor. That alloy welding you shared was very interesting.


                              • #30
                                Another great write up and rattle can painting explanation! Pretty cool spray booth too. One thing I did not see or read about was the type of respirator you are using during your painting. Just curious of brand/type since I do some rattle painting on old dirt bikes
                                Craig (Delaware)
                                Perkiomen Chapter
                                AMCA Member #1011