Thursday, 18 August 2016

Right then! Back to the Moto Guzzi V50..

Time to get back to the sadly neglected Moto Guzzi V50 project! It's been at least a couple of years since we got to this stage, and what was bought as a runner may have suffered as a result.

Possible design direction, although less of the lumpy tank. Long, rectangular classic racer look is the goal with inspiration from 70's sport and racing mopeds...

Rear shocks sourced:

Also have bought conversion kit to change from bicycle style ball bearing head set to taper roller bearing. Some inconsistent info on the web about whether you need to get a longer stem pressed in. We shall see...

Skinny front end will be further augmented with high quality FAC dampers. These forks run an internal damper much like modern cartridge systems. There are two choices, cheap standard or expensive FAC, The latter are supposed to be a serious improvement. As the V50 has a great reputation for fine handling, improving the existing set up seems a better bet than putting on a different front end that may affect trail, off-set etc.

 That takes care of the front end fundamentals although a fork brace may be added. On the electrics front, the ancient loom with weird fuses etc. and the high cost of getting someone to do a loom, starts to make this look like a good idea:

The Motogadget M-unit allows you to simplify your loom by getting rid of all relays and fuses and providing a central, programmable, point to run your wiring to. It's shock and water resistant and has no moving parts. Short circuit and overload protection is automatic and self correcting. This will form the hub of my new wiring. I already have a Dynatek electronic ignition kit to fit, and may spring for their coils too.

Plenty to do then, to get a rolling chassis and an electrical system together. In the meantime some serious decision-making, budgeting, and saving to be done with regards to the motor and shaft-drive. How much assessment can I handle myself? Can I afford a full professional re-build. Can I afford not to have one? And these Heron-headed, mild-mannered, hard to hot-up V50 engines, Can any sensible tuning be accomplished? I've seen stuff about lightened flywheels and skimmed gas-flowed heads.

Also carbs and brakes need re-conditioning. Currently proposing to stick with the linked brake system, after reading some accounts from people who seem to know what they're talking about, but we will see.  More to come soon....

Monday, 1 August 2016

She Who Pays (for) the Piper...

At last, Bonnie Piper is finished. If you remember, her owner our good friend Debbie Pipe, asked me to customise a bike for her while she went to Canada to train for a new life as a photographer. Debbie came back a changed woman, with a passion and an extraordinary talent for dance photography. Here's some of her stunning work, and you can see more at:

She also came back to a changed bike. Bonnie Piper, named for Debbie's Scottish connections, was originally meant to be customised on a £3K budget but a serious commitment to a career/life change on Debbie's part saw that halved. This made the project a mission to get the most style for the least money. I'm pleased to say I think this was achieved. I'm also incredibly stoked to say that Debbie seemed to like what she saw as the bike came out of the workshop into the sunshine, with some AC/DC on the 'shop system providing the right vibes to complement the open 2 into 1.

Even the Chicken Shack Ducati came out to play...

On a minimal customising job like this, the seat and the paint job on the tank are the most important ways of making an impact. I cut down the seat base to extend exactly as far as the stock frame rails and no further, this to allow a shorter seat and a super short rear mudguard. It was also cut to be a lot narrower. I re-shaped the foam for a slinkier profile but to finesse it and cover it to the Chicken Shack design I turned to the pros. Similar story with the paint, I designed it but the pros painted it and advised, and so credit where credit is very much due:

The seat was work undertaken by Bradley at Viking Seats in Sevenoaks. Lee had done a fantastic job on the CSD, and Bradley was just as friendly, fast, and perfectionist as Lee. Stunning work and really fair prices mean they are my first stop for seat work, and they are proper bikers. They even run their own custom show on site every summer. Check out their site and their Facebook page.

The same has to be said for The Plastics Surgery, who advised me and painted the tank to my design. Luke helped me pick out Thruxton metallic green, the right pearlescent white and just the right gold for the logo shadow lines and the speed stripe outlines. Transparent pearl was then shot over the lot. The pictures can't do it justice. Steve and the lads are enthusiastic, ready to help you get what you want, and the results speak for themselves.

I'm bigging these guys up because they deserve it, I haven't benefitted in any way for praising their services. If you want a good job done check 'em out.

The CSD was a fairly minimal build as it was my first attempt, and I'd been determined to push myself on the next project. However, some big changes over the last three years, including the relocation of the Chicken Shack, a double house move, and the loss of my father-in-law, meant that another "light" project was probably a good thing. Bonnie Piper allowed me to ease back into things and regain confidence that I actually can do stuff like this, and that the CSD wasn't a fluke.

The Bonnie is mainly a styling exercise, with upgraded suspension and exhaust being the only performance changes. Obviously there's plenty of scope for tuning and brake upgrades later if Debbie fancies it.  For now she has a sweet looking ride for not much outlay.

Now it's time for me to get back to the little Guzzi V50 I started taking to bits a couple of years ago. I've managed to arrange things so that I have a little more time for bike building. The plan is to make the V50 a much more ambitious project and therefore a steep learning curve. There may also be another Ducati Monster based project along the way too. Of course plans are just plans. Watch this space and see what really happens!

Monday, 11 April 2016

Bonnie Piper Progress

New place...



The plan was to customise this 865 Bonneville for our friend while she studied photography abroad. I would do the work for fun and experience, and she would pay for parts and materials. However a burgeoning talent for dance photography meant a serious life change was confirmed. This in turn meant a much reduced budget for the bike project. The new plan? A facelift with some improvement to suspension thrown in. My desire to go way beyond what I did with the M900 would have to wait until the Guzzi. With the Triumph the challenge would be how much I could do with how little. Most of the budget was earmarked for having the tank painted to a Chicken Shack design, seat covered in a new chopped down form, new shocks and front springs and fork oil, and a stainless 2 into 1 exhaust system.

Exhaust studs corroded, all replaced except one that didn't want to come out. It's exposed part is sound so rather than risk more complications it's staying in but will have nice new nut on it.
Old exhaust system looking sad, also rather heavy.

New exhaust system going on. Tea essential for task. Notice polished mag wheel above... 

And blingy Renthal super bike bars at opposite end from occasional tea table.

This was a nasty hole in the cylinder base paint..

And the same on the other side. Have been touched up to improve while staying within budget and remit.

Cut down mudguard for that street tracker look. Plasti-chrome arse-dragging extravaganza dumped.

Sorting new mini rear LED tail light.

Chopped rear mudguard painted and mounting holes for rear light and number plate bracket drilled. Grommets for wiring ordered.

How it sits on the frame. Budget didn't cover frame chop and weld, and the refinish that would need. Frame ends will nestle just under shortened seat unit.

New adjustable alloy bodied YSS shock in place, old heavy shocker in hand ready for the scrapyard.

Hyperpro progressive fork springs and oil kit should give much better handling and ride quality than stock set up which is notorious for giving a crashy ride.

 I know purists don't like progressive springs but this isn't a sports bike. If they don't feel right they can be swapped out later but I think they will suit the ride.

Losing the horrible rear end means a new position is needed for the replacement LED indies. Fabbed up brackets to mount at shock mounting point.

Professional grade crimping tool means proper connections for new lightiing.

Triumph mounted the ugly rectifier right at the front under the headlamp. Saved a few quid on the client's budget by making my own rectifier relocation bracket out of 4mm ally. New (to me) bandsaw came in useful as did small bench sander. 

Haven't mastered mirror polishing but then I don't really like it on a bike like this. Cleaned up nice though.

Bit of a difference...

Abortive attempt at fibreglass base but useful lessons learned for next time.

Stock base being cut down. Retained due to difficult to relocate electrics underneath the base that need mouldings and ease of using existing fittings.

Re-shaping seat foam but may require pro help from upholsterer when they re-cover to our design.

Many coats (punctuated by hand polishing the nice stock mag wheels while waiting for each  coat to dry)

Multiple coats of primer and satin black have come out well on bobbed mudguards and side panels. Matt engine paint to spruce up a sad looking oil cooler. Valkyrie boob is headlamp shell which I've given a brushed steel finish with scotchbrite.

 Ignition relocated to lower position and to right hand side of bike. This is all starting to come together!!! Stay tuned, next up moody green metallic paint job on tank, and on trend tan seat.....Oh and actually finishing the wiring, front end brackets, front brake service, re-assembly, etc etc....

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Been a long time.....

What's this? A new shed in a new place?? And inside something stirs...what's been going on these long years?

There's a new Chicken Shack..... A Triumph Bonnie project for a dear friend who is celebrating an exciting life change. And then at last the poor Guzzi will get some attention as the next major project. No more guitar builds, and the trivial matter of the recording of an album is now compete (see for more on that).

 Those things followed a double household move to the country and the sad passing of my inspirational father-in-law. It's been a busy three years since the Chicken Shack Ducati was finished, but....we're back.