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1928 Shovelhead Project Part III

Fabrication Nearly Complete

Photos: Tina Fairless

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The lovely Lena Fairless, who has threatened to marry Bandit (the sixth Mrs. Ball) and make him work for her folks at the Easyriders Dallas store, has been pushing to see that this 1928 Shovelhead project is completed in time for her wedding plans. Bandit doesn't seem to move unless there's a motorcycle and a woman involved. There’s just one problem in this case, which Lena is well aware of, she's under age...

The other news on this project is that we now have a corporate sponsor, Ed Martin of Chrome Specialties, and a mentor, Chica, who builds bikes in Newport Beach, Calif. Chica built "Trick," the old-time Sportster that Chrome Specialties is displaying at all the events it attends, such as Laughlin this month. Randy Simpson from Milwaukee Iron and Arlen Ness are also building spindly retro scoots with late-model drivelines. I spoke to Arlen the other day and he told me that a number of top builders in the country are building this style of beast for upcoming shows. Arlen is now building Sportster frames, sidecar frames and the tubs for these units. He's sold 10 sets. Don Hotop is building aluminum tanks, so soon the parts for building these retro bikes will be even more available.

The contact stateside for the European parts we used is Fred Lange at (805) 937-4972. He has access to seats, fenders, front ends, tanks, headlights and more. Let's see if we can pick up where we left off.


The frame is a stock rigid Panhead configuration from Paughco, with a stock, late-model Bad Boy front end. To drop the front slightly, Jim Stultz, Rick's main fabricator/bike builder, used a KT components lowering kit to make the frame level because the newer springers are XA length. The retro tanks are sweat-brazed together and contain the oil in one half and the gas in the other. Unfortunately, the tanks did not fit the frame at all and had to be disassembled, cut and re-welded to fit. The fun part of such a round-the-town project is that it can be a true swap meet special once you have the basics in hand, and you can slip as far back into the retro world as you want. You can roll with chain or belt. You can use any old brakes you have around. Rick chose to use disc brakes and a chain, but he's going with a jockey shift and internal throttle assembly from Chrome Specialties. The charging system will be state-of-the-art Compu-fire and the carburetor S&S. The engine and transmission were rebuilt from the ground up by JIMS machine and the engine cases are STD.

Both wheels are 21s for that spindly look. The handlebars were designed by Jim and bent by Milwaukee Iron. With the internal throttle cables, there will be a minimum of controls on the handlebars. Since the transmission was rebuilt with the notion that it would be electric start, an aluminum inner primary will be used with an old-time-looking tin outer primary that Rick picked up at a swap meet. Rick ordered a narrow Karata belt drive for the primary.


Jim sliced all the mounts off the frame except the front footpeg mounts, the engine and tranny mounts. Since the oil tank is part of the gas tanks, the only additional container would be for a battery to conceal a car-type marine ignition switch and a light/toggle switch.

"I try to fabricate components to be user friendly," Jim said. He designed the battery box so it would only take two bolts out of the seat post and two out of the rear section and the whole pan will lift out through the top. The two sides covering the battery will meet in the middle in a flying wedge configuration, and Jim plans to build a top cap to conceal the battery from the area under the seat.


The steel gas tanks, once cleansed of the brass, were chopped and channeled to clear the rear head. The entire center of the tanks was removed to fit over the frame. Unfortunately that reduced the gas capacity to 1.5 gallons. The European threads in the cap bungs were tapped out of sync, so they had to be re-machined.

Lena teases Bandit with occasional shots from her mother's digital camera. Next week we'll discuss the mounting and installation of the Compu-fire ignition. Some members of the staff will be happy to see Bandit go to Texas, others, mostly the women, are bummed. He even called to see if he could ride it back to the coast and was told that it didn't carry enough gas to get him out of town. Evidently the tank is Lena's design.


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