Archive for July, 2013

Title bike shop

It has been awhile since I have posted the progress made on the 65 Revive CB160 cafe racer build. Things have not slowed down and lots of fab worked has taken place. It’s a slow, but enjoyable, process and much time has been spent staring at all the angles and mentally engineering the game plan.

Up to this point I had the exhaust under control and it was time to turn my attention to the seat. I was dreading this section simply because there were many factors to consider and everything needed to tie in together. After much work I am happy to say that it appears to all be coming together. I am retrofitting a fibreglass solo seat to the bike. The rear frame hoop was going to need to be build and then all the electrical components would have to get hidden under the seat.

I’ll run you through the details using the following pictures. Much of the fab work never got photographed this time round simply because I was concentrating more on the job at hand then the blog. Anyway…the following gives you the highlights.

Starting mess

This is what I am starting with. Here is what the CB160 looks like, bone stock, under the seat. I planning to cram a lot into this space.

Tank mount has 2 go

The fuel tank mount is going to interfere with the seat placement. In order to maintain the look of the bike the seat has no choice but to tuck up clean to the tank. This means the factory tank mount will need to be relocated.

180 hoop

As I have collected parts for the CB160 I added an 180 degree seat hoop onto one of my orders. I wasn’t sure if I would use it so I decided to trim off the rear frame tabs and tack it into place to get a visual.

180 not working

I think it is fairly evident from this shot that the seat hoop will NOT work. I kinda figured so since the seat lines didn’t appear to be even close to the hoop lines.

Rear hoop template

Looks like I am going to have to try and build a seat hoop to fit. The plan is to bend a section of 7/8 pipe to match the shape of the seat. I needed to build a steel jig to wrap the steel around. I started by building a template of the seat hoop out of 1/8″ MDF

Baking sand

The seat pipe, that would need to be heated and ben,t was going to have to wrap around a fairly tight radius. The idea was to fill the pipe with sand first in order to prevent the pipe walls from collapsing during the bending. Since the pipe would be sealed during the heating process I wanted to ensure I had no moisture in the fill sand. I used some old baking sheets and heated all the moisture out of the sand using my powder coating oven.

Fillling seat hoop

I used a 7 foot section of thin wall 7/8 tubing and welded one end shut. I then filled the tube full using the dry sand.

Compressing sand

The other end of the tube got a 3/4″ nut welded to it. I then used a 3/4″ bolt and threaded it into the tube to compress the sand solid.

Clamped 4 bending

Here is what the bending jig looked like before I put the heat to it. You can see the steel template I built to resemble the shape of the seat. I cut it out of scrap 3/8″ steel plate using the previously built MDF template as a guide. The steel then got tack welded to the bench and angle iron was clamped in place to help hold the steel tube in proper location. The next step was all about the heat. using a oxy-acetylene torch I was able to get the pipe to bend like butter.

Bent hoop

And here you have it, the results of my bend attempt.


The hoop worked out fantastic. The wall collapsed ever so slightly however it will absolutely not be a factor. I was more then impressed with how well the whole procedure turned out.

Plugs and hoop

I trimmed the seat hoop up to proper length and then built some solid steel frame plugs to help secure the hoop to the factory frame rails.

Plugs mocked

Frame plugs in place and ready for the hoop.

Hoop welded

The hoop was TIG welded into place and the frame ground down smooth.

Hoop fit 1

I am fairly critical of my work but in this case I would say the fit is near perfect. The lines of the seat fit beautifully along the new frame hoop.

Hoop fit 2

Another picture showing the fitment of the seat to the hoop.

Rock guard trimming

I had bought a rear rock guard to help keep road debris away from the engine. Before I could build the seat pan the fiberglass rock guard required some trimming in order to allow for pan placement.

Seat pan shape

First step in building the seat pan was to create an initial template using a cereal box.

Seat pan template

Once I had my cereal box template I then cut out a plasma guide template from 1/8″ MDF. Here the template is clamped to the seat pan steel and ready to get plasma cut.

Seat pan bend

Some minor bending on the press gave it the right angle to allow it to snuggle into the frame rails.

Seat pan test fit

The seat pan fitment worked out great. Eventually it will get welded all the way around the frame however more fab work is needed first.

Power distribution mounts

This next picture may not look like much but the work actually took many hours. Much of the bikes life line systems need to be hidden from sight therefore mounting options are limited. Most of the systems will be hidden under the seat. It took hours of staring and planning to come up with a mounting sequence that would work. Even ended up doing multiple “re-do’s”

Power distribution mock up 1

And here is the gist of it mocked up. The components that are now mounted under the seat include the battery, starter solenoid, fuse panel, power supply relay, license plate lights, charging regulator, ignition module, seat mounting posts, and wire management studs. It fits!

Power distribution mock up 2

Here is another angle of the set up. You can se the 4 aluminum posts that support my seat. The posts thread onto 8mm studs and therefore I am able to unscrew them and machine them down on the lathe in order to allow for precise seat fitment.

Power distribution mock up 3

I bought a lithium battery for the bike which allows me to mount it any way I want. Here you can see the power hook ups I built out of aluminum. To the left is the one side of my 2 piece custom license plate light I machined out of aluminum. In a few more pictures you will see what the light looks like from the exposed side.

Seat knob 1

I wanted to ensure I could remove the seat without any tools so I machined this knob out of some scrap I had. It is weighted very nicely to allow for quick spinning on and off.

Lic light and plate mount

Here is the rear underside of the seat pan. The license plate light housing will eventually get powder coated black. The tab to the right of the light is my license plate bracket holder.

Seat support

This is what the underside of the seat looks like. I built steel plates to fit precisely on top of my aluminum posts. The center section is my seat hold down.

Seat fit 1

Here’s an overall view of the rear tail section showing the fitment of the seat to the frame rails, the installed brake light and how the license light and license bracket is tucked up underneath. Super clean.

Seat knob 2

The seat hold down knob sits in the center section and does not protrude below the frame rails therefore is hides out of sight but is still very accessible.

Seat lines

Final shot with the seat mounted, adjusted, and secured with my power distribution hidden away. It was a long process however highly successful.

Title rotary table

I attempt to keep most of the blog content about things that happen in my garage however every once and awhile I stumble across something that I can’t take credit for but is worth sharing. As I was killing some time watching Vimeo vids I came across Meditation for Madman. It’s a video featuring Jasin Phares, a legendary skateboarder from Oakland and bike builder, sharing a philosophy of which many of us can relate to.

Often when I see a video that intrigues me it is because of the subtle details. It just so happens that this video has both main content that is worth a few minutes of your time and the little mechanical details that gets the gas pumping through my carbs!

Right of the bat you get the audio of the ratcheting kick-starter coupled with the “no start”. I love the no start on so many levels, some of which will only be understood by people who have been there (multiple times). The other awesome details come in with the mechanical sound of the lathe, not to mention watching dials turned is incredibly relaxing and soothing.

Listening to Jasin describe the process involved in building bikes demonstrates how it is, sometimes, more of a mental process than a mechanical one. I can relate to Jasin as he describes how he stares at the bike for hours to help mentally design the creation to perfection. One aspect of bike building that he talks about is defeat. I am a big believer in the lessons of defeat and I think the best teacher is experience. Knowing when you are beat is a valuable skill to have, and an even better one when you learn to accept it. Just like pain is the bodies way of telling you something is wrong, the struggle in a build is an indication that the wrong direction is being taken. Knowing when to shift gears is a fine line.

Anyway…enjoy the video for what it’s worth. Next blog posting I will hopefully bring everyone up to speed on the 65 Revive CB 160 project as lots of progress, and defeat, has been had.

Title vase

Being the start of summer holidays my wife and daughter were getting set to head out of town to visit some family. I am staying behind since work is very busy this time of year and therefore vacation time for me will have to wait. As they were doing their final packing in order to be ready to leave early next morning I skipped (literally) out into the garage and decided to whip off a quick build of a host(ess) gift for them to take.

I had no preconceived ideas, or plans, so I just wandered for a bit to see what nothings I could turn into somethings. A couple years back I acquired about 200 feet of aluminum flag poles from a business that was getting rid up them. I have no use for this much tubing but it was good, clean, heavy wall aluminum for free, how could anyone possibly say no? So I figured I would dip into the stash and steal 10 inches worth, funny how that didn’t really seem to put a dent in the pile.

My plan was to build a custom aluminum cylinder style flower vase to accommodate a few fresh cut flowers. The interesting part of the vase was not going to be the design but instead the finish technique. I had come up with, and performed, the technique once before in the past and it worked well so I thought I would repeat it on a flower vase. As usual I’ve turned the post into a picture book so find your comfy spot and let’s begin.

Vase base cut

The “flag pole” vase was going to need a base. I had a crushed chunk of 2.75″ aluminum that had enough meat on it that I could machine it down to a useable dimension. I love building stuff out of junk material.

Vase base machined

Here the base is half done on the lathe. Just need to flip it around and clean up the other side.

Flag pole clean up

Here is the section of flag pole that is getting the end chamfered in order to weld the base on. Normally I use a steady rest when machining something this long however my rest was about .250″ too small for the pipe. The machining was not required to be precise and therefore hanging it off the chuck worked fine.

Vase ready 4 welding

Here is the base is mated to the cylinder and is ready for welding.

Welded base and body machined

With the base welded in place the vase got remounted into the lathe and the weld, and cylinder, were all machined down clean.

Vase 3 stage polish

Next it was onto the buffing wheel where it got put through the black, brown, green stages of buffing.

Finishing 1st step

With the vase all polished up it was time to start implementing the finishing technique.

Finishing 2nd step

Next step involves using a quality automotive flexible vinyl fineline 1/4″ tape. I apply a pattern to the body of the vase making sure I finish were I started. I then use a different vinyl tape to seal the top and bottom. It is important to trim the top and bottom tape with a sharp knife in order to get a clean, crisp, edge.

Finishing 3rd step

3rd phase involves about 1 minute in the glass bead blast cabinet where the exposed polished sections of the vase get pummeled.

Finishing 4th step

Nothing left to do now except strip the tape off and clean it up. I probably should have water tested after the machining phase just in case however I am happy to say I tested after it was all finished and it does hold water.

Vase rim

I kept the rim polished.

Vase body

Whole project took about 1 and a half hours and involved no out-of-pocket expenses. Just enough time left to slip it into the suitcase.