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1948 UL Chop Upgrades

Oil Filter, Front Brake, Chain Guard and more

By Bandit with photos by Weed

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This bike was built in classic form by Steve Hannah a 20-year Paughco employee and lifetime biker. The Redhead and I hauled ass to Carson City, Nevada with the briefcase, purchased, loaded and blasted back to the Black Hills of South Dakota.

My grandson and master tattoo artist rode the UL during the 2022 rally.
My grandson and master tattoo artist rode the UL during the 2022 rally.

I usually mess with any purchase unless it’s a restored antique. But this puppy was well built, classic and had chopper class. I took off the gas tank and extended the rear tabs. Then I took the tank to Greg Robles in Sturgis for a classic scallop paint job. I discovered he lived next door to Buck Lovell, former Hot Bike Editor and a master western and motorcycle photographer.

While Greg performed classic magic, I replaced the traditional Anderson pegs with standard Harley rubber pegs for rigid frame rider comfort. I didn’t want to mess with the classic chop styling, but I’m not a fan of fishtail straight pipes, although they looked too cool.

I considered a handmade two-into-one with a 19-inch long, 2.5-inch diameter Paughco muffler. I ordered some parts and pieces from Paughco including a chain guard. Chain guards are a must.

With the new tank, new battery, new pegs and oiled ready to fire.
With the new tank, new battery, new pegs and oiled ready to fire.

I tinkered, but struggled with the pipes. The fishtails were slip on with clamps. I loosened the clamps, but they didn’t come off.

I discovered long 5/16 bolts sticking up into the pipes, maybe to create a little back pressure. Whatever, I thought they had to come out. I was forced to make this super-long ½-inch open-end wrench.

The bike also didn’t have a front brake and fortunately, because of an AMCA gathering I met Charlie of RustyOldParts. He turned me onto an almost complete front brake system with drum, backing plate, shoes and most of the small bits.

Mike Kane introduced me to Capitol Brake and Clutch in Sacramento, CA. They mount shoes and form them to your brake drum. Mechanical brakes can work like champs with this procedure. I sent them my drum, shoes and backing plate. They blasted and cleaned the parts did their magic and returned them in less than a week for very little.

I dug through my drawers and boxes for a handlebar lever. I looked online. I found the perfect product at J&P, lever, cable and adjusting rod kit, but they were no longer in stock. I reached out to Barnett for the cable and they were coming to Sturgis for the rally and Chance and his guys make the cables right at their booth behind the magnificent Barnett rig. I stopped by and they knocked one out.

In my shit, I found a lever that matched the clutch lever on the highbars. I dug around and found the lever axle and the cable pivot post. Hell, I found three of them. Each one was slightly different from the others. Unfortunately, I lacked the lever clamp that encircled the bars and mated with the lever housing. I thought for sure I had one or two, but recently I completed two other builds, both patina Panheads. They could be long gone.

Had to repair this set of vice grips.
Had to repair this set of vice grips.

The front brake on the springer was nearly complete except for the cable clamp that swings on the brake backing plate lever and operates the cam. I reached out to Charlie again and he recently returned from Davenport with a small stash of new/old parts for his bikes and inventory.

He bought some handlebar levers and one had the clamp I needed. He sold me the clamp and a cable junction for the brake. I prayed the clamp would not be for 7/8s bars. It was perfect. I cleaned the 10/24 threads in the lever and found the fasteners.

I ran into one issue with the Barnet cable end for the lever. The issue was probably the lever casting. It was designed for a clutch cable with a larger diameter cable and end, but I made a shim to tighten up the fit into the lever housing, bada bing.


I installed the front brake and wheel, searched for a massive washer to fit between the rocker and the front brake retaining spring. I found one with the correct I.D. and O.D. which I had forever and somehow it was power coated black—amazing.

Steve painted everything that wasn’t polished or chrome, satin black, perfect. I painted the backing plate accordingly and the drum silver to sorta match the rear chromed drum. I got the drum lugs and chromed anchor bar from J&P Cycles and the anchor pin from Charlie. The front brake was nearly complete.
The front cable adjustment clamp is not correct, but it is chrome. The alignment with the adjustment tool is not perfect, but it will do. I would like to solder the end of the cable after I cut it to length. The cable is stainless and can be a pain to solder. I thought about dipping the end into liquid electrical tape to prevent fraying. I tried it out. Let me know what you think.

The brake seems to be working like a champ. Where’s my list: Mufflers, oil filter, chain guard. Okay, the mufflers arrived yesterday, but I needed to modify them and work out mounting. I’ve installed oil filters on two bikes, and Randy Cramer turned me onto an odd filter housing I’ve never seen before. It’s meant to mount to a frame rail, maybe. The fasteners are metric like motorcycle battery cable fasteners.

I grappled with mounting it, so I can still kick over the bike, not to close to pipes and not too close to other stuff, like primary chain adjustment fasteners. Finally, something surfaced and I built a bracket and it seems to work. I need to work on oil lines next and wondered if I could take these apart and use the ends. Randy Cramer, from Dakota V-Twin said, “No.” Looks like I needed to cut them.
A day later I found a spare oil line and cut off the ends, cleaned them thoroughly and smoothed the edges. I ran the oil lines and would like to re-run the feed oil line, but I’ll wait until it’s oil change time.
I heated and bent this 5/8s open-end wrench a couple of decades ago. Once in a while it saves the day. It did recently while trying to remove and install the return line off the bottom of the engine.
I heated and bent this 5/8s open-end wrench a couple of decades ago. Once in a while it saves the day. It did recently while trying to remove and install the return line off the bottom of the engine.


The new shorter Paughco Mufflers arrived and I slash cut them and mounted them. I’m still not completely happy with the mounting. I could have slipped them onto the pipes, tightened the stainless straps and called it quits, but if I wasn’t going to chrome them, I wanted to add some detail.

I was going to run two chrome straps, the the bracket became a clearance issue. Then it dawned on me to run just one strap and that sorta worked and gave the pipes extra support.

I may ride it around later today and see if the pipes are happy. The Redhead found a small can of flat black latex paint and I painted away the whitewall stripes. I bought replacement sparkplugs and a case of 60-25 oil at Dakota V-Twin. Never heard of such a thing.

I believe that leaves the chain guard. Paughco sent the oil tank mounting tab, which I will weld or braze to the guard.

I could send it back to Paughco for chrome or flat black it. I believe I have all the elements to make it work. In the meantime, she’s looking sharp and classic.



Greg Robles
Boulder Canyon


Rusty Ol’ Parts

Capitol Clutch & Brake
(916) 371-5970
Barnett Cables

Dakota V-Twin

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