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5-Ball Factory Racer, Part 4

Treachery and Spare Tanks

By Bandit and Mike Pullin, with Bob T. collection Photo
6/11/2010 8:43:41 AM

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We experienced an incredible month of hiccups and grievances. My computer crashed immediately after I spent a long weekend in Primm, Nevada, locked in a hotel room, rewriting my first Chance book. I lost it all. Then I'm attacked with the vertigo venom and laid out like a sick puppy, terrified that my life as a motorcyclist was over. Then the nasty tenants who rented our 1-bedroom apartment disappeared during the worst economic downturn in our history, we lost that income and needed to pour a minimum of eight grand into that puppy to make it rentable once more. Good god, plus we were burnin' daylight and needed to shovel a new paying tenant into place.

There's my excuse for not working on the 5-Ball Factory Racer more. I hate doom and gloom. Hell, there's no time for that shit. "No time to lose" is one of my codes. I'll rewrite the book over the next couple of weeks, and it will be even better. The apartment will be completed this weekend with finished hardwood floors, completely new kitchen, bathroom, all new paint, a new laundry room and more. New tenants are moving in tomorrow. And Vertigo is like a mystery movie. I was down three days then back at the computer and firing away, just don't ask me to walk a straight line. Plus, the mystery, as to the source or cause is still in full swing. I'll let you know what I find out. I gotta quit snorting paint fumes.

FactorybyDick Allen
Dick Allen captured the essence of the FBFR and the impending ride across the Mojave to the Black Hills this summer.

In the meantime, there's 5-Ball Factory Racer progress to report. Since the plan was to build a comfortable vintage looking speedster and ride it to Sturgis, we need enough fuel capacity to fly me across the desert and not leave me in the sand, baking with lonely tarantulas.


These flat-sided tanks designed by Rick Krost and built by Paughco are in keeping with a 1915 Harley-Davidson board track racer. We measured the capacity of the long narrow tanks, during installation. They come in at exactly 2 gallons--not bad. On the other-hand not comfortable touring levels. Then it dawned on me in my dizzy state. Mike Pullin, the man who created the Run for Breath, as a tribute to his son Justin and Asthma Charities, builds a cool custom/vintage oil tank using antique fire extinguisher bodies. I gave him a call

Here's an original from the Bob T. Collection.

The notion was to build and mount a back-up or reserve tank on the handlebars in keeping with the Prestone acetylene headlight tanks from used from 1910 until the '20s. Harleys didn't discover the use of electric lights until 1916. Before, they had carbide chips, systems like coal miners had on their helmets. Carbide chips became carbide generators and were followed in 1910 or '11 by pressurized acetylene tanks, similar to welding. A small hose fed two nozzles inside the headlight case. The rider had to open the face of the headlight, turn the nozzles on, until he heard the hiss of gas or smelled it, and then physically light the flame to create the light reflecting off the mirror in the back for forward illumination. I asked antique bike expert, Don Whalen of Sierra Madre Motorcycle Company, if these systems worked worth a hill of beans. "It was best to plan rides around full moons," Don said.

handlebars front

So the notion flourished. I could back up my narrow tank fuel capacity by adding a fire extinguisher full of fuel on the handlebars, and Mike was the master. He makes these generally for chopper riders looking for a cool oil bag. If you happen to have a vintage fire bottle hanging around, send it to Mike. He'll build a vertical or horizontal oil tank out of it, or you can buy bungs from the Bung King, Todd's Cycle, or The Parts Dude and make the bastard your-self. Here's where Mike, the Stealth Man takes over:

The Fire Extinguisher master, Mike Pullin.

The first step in fabricating the tank was ordering the parts. I ordered all the parts from "The Parts Dude." The extinguisher itself came from a local hardware store.


Then Chopper John and I had some fun and emptied the contents of the tank and then cleaned the inside with water.

The next step included removing the handle.


Then we measured for the center of the tank, where the filler cap would be located. Then we decided where we would position the petcock. This is key, depending on the bars.


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After this was done, we proceeded to drill and cut the holes for the filler cap bung and the petcock bung. I ended up using ¼-inch pipe thread petcock bung.



Once this was done, we welded the filler cap bung and the petcock bung in place.


We ground all the welds and checked for leaks.

petcock bung welded in place.

Chopper John and myself had a great time making the tank. It was the first time we had teamed up on a project since Stealth Bike Works closed. I don't know if I was the first to use fire extinguishers for tanks of any sort, but I know I was the first around the South Carolina area!


The tank is finished. Came out cool! All you have to do is seal where the handle threads are, with Teflon tape or Teflon paste. You may want to have the tank sealed or use that Kreem stuff. I really don't like the Kreem stuff. I used to go to a radiator shop to have it sealed but they closed. I am sure you have people who can do that.


There you have it. We already found a petcock and I'm working on handle/valve end. As it turned out, the vintage jobs from the '20 had pressure gauges, so the rider knew how much acetylene was left for the night ride home. Since this fire extinguisher came equipped with a pressure gauge, we are going to attempt to keep it. Then I need to create a steel cradle and weld it to the bars.


Next, you'll see us mount the vintage Sportster Speedo and I'm going to pick up the Black Bike Wheels next week and run a manual cable drive off the rear wheel with LA Chop Rod bungs.

tape on tank

Just when we were confident that the fuel capacity neared 3 gallons, we discovered a handling glitch. The fork stops were under the front of the gas tank. We couldn't live with it. The new narrow tapered leg Paughco springer would smack the tank and hinder turning. So next, we'll slice the front of the tank, decrease fuel capacity a tad, but enhance turning. Check back in a couple of weeks for more major renovations, if I don't stumble and fall off a cliff.


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