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The Devil's Retro Softail Project

It is/was a 1995 Bad Boy. . . now I guess it's an Evo/Pan-- hahaha!

By Bandit and Kent Weeks, with photos by the lovely Holly
3/4/2011


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Every project has a twist, and this is no different. First off, Kent Weeks, the master fabricator at Lucky Devil's MetalWorks in Houston, Texas, can do anything. I mean, anything. And this is a tiny, but astute example.

This bike belongs to Jeppesen Farrell. Jep's dad is the owner of Farrell's Frameworks. He is also a master frame fabricator for Lonnie Isam, of Competition Cycles in Sturgis, South Dakota. The dad fabricates and fixes frames from the very earliest Harleys. So, it's a major compliment to Kent, that the Farrell kid would visit the devil for his frame mods.

Of course, there's the oblique side of the story. Maybe his dad didn't like the notion of cutting up a perfectly good factory-built frame for any reason. And like so many families, Dad and Son weren't playing well together, but we'll drop that topic, since Jep is now playing with the Devil. His reputation with Dad could be further tarnished.


"When I first got the bike," Jep said, "I had pulled the front rim and powder coated the rim and hub and then replaced with stainless spokes. Some other minor things like the high/low drag pipes and drag bars were added."

He obviously contained the retro mantra tattooed above his heart. Maybe it came from his dad? Most would wonder what the hell he was thinking since a practical side was non-existent. But that's not altogether true. Build a rigid chopper or bobber and weigh it against a stock Bad Boy and you might discover a 150-pound difference. You will also discover lower frame rails that are 3 inches wider than a light rigid for better/safer handling, especially if the bike is lowered.


"By this point I had done quite a bit more," Jep said. "I removed the rear fender struts and mounted the fender to the swing arm to give it more of a rigid look. I also added the Primo belt drive with the Exile starter kit. The back mag was replaced for a spoked wheel I had, and I powder coated and replaced that one as well."

According to the Devil, when Jep added the sprung seat he removed the heavy Softail shock and replaced them with rigid struts. There's another weird handling benefit to a rigid over the Softail chassis. If you lower a heavy Softail, you end up with ¾-inch or less travel. Whereas a light rigid can be built with 1-3 inch travel in seat shocks or springs.


"This picture shows how the bike looked before going to Lucky Devil's to get the chopped on," Jep said. "I am running a 1964 BSA gas tank and a seat tooled by Brian Noneck. The tank really changed the bike the most. It narrowed the look of it. Jeremy from Competition Motorcycles built the motor with the 89-inch S&S Stroker kit added."

"This was a good stopping point for a lot of guys," said Kent, or the Devil to you, "but Farrell wanted to give it a more vintage look. After riding it around with solid struts bolted in place of Softail shocks, to make sure he was going to be able to live with a rigid frame, we stripped it down, and sent the frame to the fab table, where I introduced her to my sawlz all, hahaha!"

So let's see what the Devil did to Farrell's 1995 stock Softail frame?



"I also used a torch to chisel the pivot plates off of the lower tubes," said the Devil while covered in metal particles. "From there I cut them down close to the tranny mount bracket and cleaned up the left over mess from the torch with a grinder."

Massive weights being removed from the stock chassis.
Massive weights being removed from the stock chassis.




"With the frame tied down solid," said the Devil, "I started to get ready to install the pogo style early casting by making some temporary brackets to hold everything in place.



Here is a shot of the casting in place with the upper tubes set up in the axel adjuster plates to hold them in alignment.

Here is a shot of the seat casting after it's been welded out, cooled in the fixture and assembled into a roller again. .



"The V-Twin vintage style frame castings we used have a tad larger axle hole than on the Softail swingarm unit we sawed off," said Kent. "So I put the stock axel adjuster spacers in the mill to set them up to fit the Panhead style axel adjuster plates."



Here is a shot of the roller put together again and on the floor. Jep plans to return the British gas tank and add a standard '50s British styled ribbed rear fender. He also plans to remove the rear belt and replace it with a chain. The Softail frame was made with 1 1/8-inch tubing and the casting were designed for 1-inch tubing. In some cases, he machined the casting to fit the larger tubing. In others, like the rear axle adjust plates he machined inserts to fit inside the castings, then slip into the larger frame stock for a solid strong fit. He pre-heated the cast iron castings before Tig welding.

The backbone did not line up perfectly with the seat post casting area, and the Devil was force to modify it slightly for a perfect alignment and appearance. Jep is also adding an early five-speed kicker system to the vintage look, and they will run a ½-inch offset sprocket on the transmission. When the Devil finished his evil deed he was able to use all the stock wheel spacers without any modifications. Amazingly Lucky.
 
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