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Sturgis Shovel Part 5

Handmade Pipes By Bandit, Samson And Hooker

By Bandit, with photos from the same bastard
6/10/2010 3:38:41 PM

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2 bandit cutting out baffle

Helluva weekend. Anytime there's lots of motorcycle carnage, sex, whiskey and writing, I'm all for it. Maybe it's Valentines Day creeping up. Make a note. Here's the deal on the Sturgis Shovelhead. Since the engine was in and mounted I went to work on the exhaust system, then seat mounting, position and played with the bars. I made a run to a local steel joint, because I had a notion that I doubt will work now, but I'm still investigatin'.



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Let's hit the highlights. I'm fortunate to have a young, talented fabricator/builder who I'm sharing ideas and resources with. Kent from Lucky Devil Metal Works in Houston is on the phone daily for tips and knowledge sharing. It's damn healthy to have someone who is in the trenches daily to assist. In fact I had a couple of crucial metallurgy question that morning, but let's hit what I accomplished.

1 first cut pipe pieces

A crucial aspect of building any bike is planning. That's not to say all my eggs are in a row. We'll see, but the more you can accommodate, the less redo's will be necessary. Also, don't throw anything away. That junk part might be a critical bracket tomorrow. I dug through my partially organized pipe bin and found a set of old glass pack, shorty muffler, shot gun pipes. I could use the rear one. I decided, since noise issues are a concern and performance issue are a constant priority, I would build a set of shorty mufflers with Bandit tuned baffles.

4 right pipe in place half muffler

6 removing muffler brkt

7 closeup finished reversion cone

Then I spotted the fishtips in the pile and my consideration changed. I dug further. Kenny Price from Samson allowed me to dig through his warranty bin when I was looking for stanchions for my Bikernet office railing. I remembered touring mufflers with fish tips, I kept digging.

Sure enough I had a set and in quick moves I sliced them into chunks. You know me, I'm a gambler. I cut them with no methodology in mind past the size and looks, but I came up lucky. Samson designed a baffle system with a cone at the front to guide exhaust pulses into the baffle and it seems to be working for touring applications. I cut off that portion and discarded the majority of the baffle. But there was still 2 inches of baffle and a standard donut in the rear of the muffler. That's where fate moved it's evil hand over Richard Kimball again. Or in other words I rolled the dice.

5 closeup cut baffle

I spoke to Kendall Johnson recently and he told me about performance stepped exhaust systems and reversion cones used to tune systems at the rear of the pipe. I couldn't make this donut move up and back, but I had the makings of a reversion cone at the stern. With a torch I cut out the remaining baffle, then after speaking with the HOT BIKE staff member, Craig Murrow, for a reversion cone description I knockout out the remaining baffle, then with various cutting and grinding cones I formed and smooth departure for the exhaust pulses. Then I had to remove the old touring mounts with a die-grinder and they were ready to weld.

The rear pipe was comparatively easy since the pipe was already made except for the muffler and brackets. Shovelheads are notorious for louse exhaust manifold connections and tearing out the single stud, so I wanted to mount them in the front and rear for a solid, secure connection. The only port for the connection at the front was the oil bag. That was a bad choice and I'll run a bracket off the seat post before all is said and etched in stone.

3 pipe to oiltank tabs
These will no-doubt be removed and relocated to the seat post for a more secure, less vibration connection.

I had to make sure the pipe could be removed with the tabs on the bottom, then I spaced the tabs apart with a heat sink material. I may use Teflon, then the notion that the oil bag is rubbermounted floated to the surface. What bearing would that have on this coupling? Hell the frame will vibrate like a mad dog. I'm still questioning that link, but we'll see, maybe a spring between the tabs? The final decision was the seat post bracket to come.

11 finished right pipe

There was one other pipe design consideration--the length. I try to keep the pipes somewhat equal and between 32 and 38 inches. Buster's Sportster runs sharp and crisp with his hand-made 38-inches from the Bikernet Headquarters, as seen in Street Chopper. So I designed this pipe to be 38-inches and not protrude past the tire. My goal was to make the front pipe curve out the other side and be of equal length.

At the end of Friday night, one pipe was complete, tools were scattered all over the shop and I had a couple of Hooker Header chunks of 1 3/4 pipes segments cut and was fooling with the front header. The front was tricky as hell. I wanted to scoop out the left side of the bike, which added length. I also had a bitchin Rohm Engineering oil filter/cooler system that mounts to the front motor mounts and aims the filter at the ground for ease of removal and draining. The pipe had to clear it significantly. This puppy was a lifesaver. I planned to run an oil cooler (Shovelheads run hot) and filter, for a lasting driveline and more oil capacity. My original plan called for old school mounting on either side of the oil bag. This eliminated all of that and the plumbing for two elements, the cooler and the filter, was reduced to one hot looking job in front of the engine for maximum cooling.


I spent all day long on Saturday, dodging the phone and working in the garage. I had all the tools and materials I needed, even two new sets of welding glasses, which came in damn handy. The trick was to line up the pipes, make all the right decisions, hope for the best and tack 'em. I did and with a level I constantly compared the pipe to the top of the lift. The spacing worked out fine.

12 oil filter mount on box
The bitchin Rohm oil cooler/filter mount.

13 oil filter mounting bolts
The Rohm oil cooler/filter mount comes with all the mounting fasteners and fittings for oil lines.

14 first left side pipe connected

15 first left bend in place tacked

16 straight piece left side in place

17 front left frame tab

I cleared the top of the Rohm bitchin' oil cooler/filter mount hopefully by enough to allow the pipe slip down and out of the head (I was recommended to use a CCI Filter part number 270126). I tacked the tab with a spacer between the two for some jiggle room. And I made damn sure that the pipe tab was below the frame tab. At the back, the muffler was fabricated the same as the other one with a slight exception.

19 left pipt tacked in place

20 rear fishtip tab in place

I shaped the reversion cone the same, cut off the touring mounts and ground the tabs. Then I used a couple of V-blocks to hold it perfectly in line for tacking the halves together. Then I sliced off the crush tabs on the front of the Samson tapered muffler. They were wider and different than the other side, so I cut them off. You'll notice the difference, if you check both side.

27 left pipe complete

The front parts of the pipe were Hooter elements and they are smooth mandrel bent segments. I used another one for jogged straight piece between the muffler and the head. I took the 1 3/4-inch exhaust to my Muffler Master bender and bent it slightly one way, then reversed the sucka and bent it the other way. It fit like a dream and looped out enough to pass the oil bag. I used Hooker header alignment sleeves to hold the front pieces in perfect alignment. Done deal, I tacked them, constantly comparing the level with the lift, the pipes then the muffler. After the tacking was secure, another tab welded to the frame, avoiding the oil bag (a Lucky Devil concern, since the oil bag is rubbermounted), then all elements were rechecked, I removed both pipes and MIG welded them as complete as possible.

31 right pipe complete
Right pipe complete.

32 overall shot

I find that MIG welding is a pain and blows holes in pipes easily. I also discovered that after I MIG weld a pipe I can flow the weld easily with a torch and smooth out all the welds, fix holes and fill gaps. I actually found a piece of old steel rod, not much bigger than a piece of wire. I usually use old coat hanger, but it pops and wheezes from the paint coating.

22 cleaning welds

23 heat paint

24 right heatshield in place

25 left heat shield in place

After the pipes were welded, flowed and checked twice, I ground all the surfaces with an emery disc and painted them with whatever barbecue heat paint I had laying around. The lovely Layla is currently on her way back from Home Depot with some flat black heat paint. We'll see how that works.

28 seat brkt welded

29 seat bung welded

30 seat in place

Kent from Devil hand fabricated the seat pan, brackets and bungs. I set them up and welded the parts in place. Then it was time to roll the bike off the lift and see how she fit and where I might need heat shields. I discovered a couple of things. Yes, the scoot would require left side heat shields and nothing on the right. I also tested my notion to sculpt claws out of brass, unsuccessfully.

33 narrowed bars

I also found that the existing bars wouldn't cut it. I grabbed the old '48 Panhead TT-bars, narrowed them by 4 inches, and I sorta like them.

26 brass heat shield attemtp

Okay, so I grappled with the sculpting business for a couple of hours and discovered that I can't control the brass like I can steel. I spoke to Kent from Lucky Devil and he recommended that I try TIG Silicon Bronze rod. I'll try that next week. In the meantime, my first brass sculpting attempt ended up on the shop door. Let's get the hell out of here.

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35 handle on door

34 empire twist grip
I'll install the Empire internal throttle next week. It's driven on needle bearings,

Ride forever,



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