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Thursday Edition


The Amazing Shrunken FXR Project

Building a Chop for the Bikernet Morale Officer

By Nuttboy
2/1/2002


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This here cardboard box full of odds and ends was where it all began. Or was it just an idea? Or maybe too much Jack Daniels. Or maybe Bandit was tired of me whining about it. Anyway, like a beggar on the streets of Calcutta, or Blanche Dubois in "A Street Car Named Desire," I depend on the kindness of strangers. And there ain't none stranger than Bandit's cohorts. Strange but mighty generous, such as Rogue, who cut us a deal on the FXR frame and forks. We're relying on Joker Machine for all the quality components including the end caps for the swingarm to get this puppy on two wheels.

We couldn't figure out what this chopper was going to be. Maybe the definitive Rat Bike, or a stretched-out steel spider with a hellish V-Twin, or whatever kind of Rube Goldberg, slapped-together monstrosity we stumbled upon.

 

The critical thing is that I've got short arms and legs (kind of troll-like) so whatever we made, it had to have a low center of gravity. I tried riding Bandit's Buell, but when I came to a stop, my feet didn't touch the ground. So we agreed that the frame had to damn near scrape gravel. I kind of fancy myself an iconoclast, so I didn't want to become another ad for yuppie motorcycling. Bandit wouldn't let me pour acid on the thing to give it a lived-in look. If it was going to be a Rat Bike, he proclaimed with bombast, it had to be cool. Well, cool and two bucks might get ya' a bottle of warm beer. I was determined to make my mark, rat-assed or not.

Bandit suggested that we chop a couple inches out of the frame.

OK, I sez. Bobbed fenders? Bob's yer uncle, I sez. Narrow the fender rail space? Narrow it is, sez me. Now we're rockin'. But to tell ya the truth, it's still a frame sittin' in mid-air and a box full of used parts.

But don't count us out yet. We've got a sizzling summer approaching, I'm outta work (I ain't teachin' summer school), the Jack Daniels is flowin', and we're fillin' up more cardboard boxes. Bandit's a tolerant guy, he's got the summer (if he don't go sailin' off to the seven seas), and me? I got a brain bubblin' like a pot o' hot chili. No tellin' where this crazy-assed bike is gonna' take us.

We threw the potentially radical chopper that Bandit and I have banged together up to this point, into the back of my pickup and jammed over to see the Doctor. Dr. John, the frame doctor took one look at the bike in the back of my truck and shook his head. Behind that scraggly beard and those beady blue eyes there is a wealth of experience. He's seen a lot of biker hopes and dreams, sometimes nightmares, come through his Anaheim Hills shop. He's managed to salvage most of them. His wry humor snuck through that tangle of beard, "Hmmm, that's one nice looking Rev-Tech engine." Bandit ground his jaw, I fidgeted, kicking at the asphalt.

He looked at our hopeful faces and didn't want to disappoint, "Ok, I'll take the challenge, but it's going to take me a couple of days to figure out how the hell I'm going to hammer this thing into shape." Bandit and I smiled, knowing that the Dr. was going to save our scrap-iron baby.

The whole idea was to shrink the Pro-Street frame around the engine, with just a slight additional rake to the front end. I'm 5'8" but with short arms and legs, so we wanted the bike frame to be custom fit to my body- frame proportions. We had been looking at some of the bike designs from Japan (where the guys are built more like me) for inspiration.

Laddz Left

Just with the modifications that Bandit and I have done so far gives some hint as to the unique feel of this design. With the massive Rev-Tech 88-inch engine and 6-speed Revtech transmission squeezed into place, it looks like a Star Wars space sled. I kind of like the rusty, unpainted Pro-Street frame. It gives it an elegant rat-bike look. But then that's just my twisted sense of humor.

Laddz Right

With the rubber-mount engine we have to leave some room for wiggle, so the frame can't fit like Saran-Wrap. Cutting an inch or so off the swing arm will bring the back tire teasingly close to the inside-front of the swing arm. With a tiny back fender and stretched our front, the ass-end of the bike will look like it's tucked in below the seat. I said it's going to look like a running, weird-assed wild hyena. Bandit didn't care for the comparison and shook his head discustedly.

When we built the Blue Flame, the whole bike was engineered to fit Bandit's stretched-out body dimensions. Not every bike rider is built like that gangly orangutan, Bandit. So we've put a lot of thought into the design of this bike, in terms of scale and proportion. Even the choice and location of foot pegs, shifter, brake pedal, style of handle-bars, and primary shield, will reflect these concerns.

While the doctor is bending and welding the frame into shape, we will be working on paint design, tank and fender design, and ways to clean up some of the wiring, break lines and cables. Or maybe we'll just fuck off until the doctor calls. Hey, it's summer and we need to mellow out some.

The day started moderately okay. Bandit and I were going to zoom up to Irwindale to talk to Geoff Arnold at his Joker Machine headquarters to order a raft of parts for the Shrunken FXR, then to Anaheim Hills to meet John the Frame Doctor to check out the progress on my frame, we thought we might also catch lunch with Scooter, our notorious Bikernet criminal attorney, then a leisurely glide back to San Pedro. No sweat, you say?

The closer we got to the foothills, the morning mist mixed with the carbon monoxide of a million or so cars careening all over the L. A. basin. Ocean breezes pushed this toxic stew into the eastern edge of the foothills. By the time we got to Irwindale, the Bandit and I were like a couple of breakfast eggs sizzling in a skillet.

Bandit called the Doctor to confirm our plan to pop by. No way, no how, says the Doctor. He's having a PMS kind of day. He hasn't started on my bike. He's got a hemorrhoid of a project to hammer out before he can start on mine. Dr. John also repairs sportbike frames and reported that sometimes the frames are so mangled that, well they should be shredded, not repaired. He was up against one of those. So no doctor visit.

A call to Scooter gets about the same results. He's got to work so no lunch. The day was starting to feel cursed and doomed.

So we knock on the door of Joker Machine. On the other side of the door we could hear the banshee howling of an animal possessed. As we walked in, Studley the Joker mascot, attacked with teeth bared, an upper lip curled in schizoid disdain. The rabid Chihuahua snarled, yapped, barked and yelped in a psychotic frenzy. Damn near took Bandit's arm off when he bent down to pat the little demon on the head.

Geoff grappled with the chain, holding back the crazed critter and welcomed us with a hearty handshake. Geoff was a gracious host, showing us all the latest Joker products and a few of the Joker toys including their new truck.

joker truck

Joker's new Renegade traveling drag racing garage and party room.

Brian was outside welding together what appeared to be girders for a bridge. It turned out to be the sturdy ramp superstructure for the improved Joker Machine stationary Dyno. Like everything at Joker Machine, expertise and quality construction dominated. That's one reason we chose to use Joker controls, footpegs and aircleaners and their new rocker covers. The blue flame was domintated with Joker components primarily due to fit and finish. Bandit has never purchased a Joker part and had to modify it to fit.

joker dyno

Secret Joker Dyno testing facility. What will they think of next?

Joker is in the process of developing a testing facility for a new line of products, yet to be released to the public.

Over lunch and beers we discussed our design ideas for the new bikes Bandit and I are working on. The crew of Joker Machine looked at each other cautiously as Bandit babbled vague musings about "design integrity" and "hidden exhaust systems" or "creating a dense engine compartment." I chimed in, gesturing with my hands, waving my arms to demonstrate the contours of the frame and tank.

Geoff grinned and said that he thought Joker Machine was up to the task. Bandit laughed and said that we had planned to integrate a number of Joker Machine products into our new bikes. Joker Machine, Bandit said, is the bike parts distributor of choice. For example, he said, products like the adjustable foot pegs allow for adaptation to the individual rider needs.

In addition to the adjustable foot pegs, we intend to integrate into our design with Joker Machine tear drop vents, hand controls and a Joker air cleaner. We plan to modify Joker Machine forward foot controls to mid-controls.

The Joker Machine crew grudgingly finished their beers and got up to return to work. We all walked out side to a blast of heat that would curl the devils eyelashes. Brian climbed into the back of a Joker truck housing a new V-Rod for product development. Brian recently graduated from advanced schooling in metal fabrication and the Joker crew is looking to him for inspiration and guidance into new product arenas while their CNC design wizard Richard continues to modify and develop new billet products.

v-rod
Brian the Joker steel fabricator wizard pondering the V-Rod.

Bandit and I ordered everything from Joker point cover to forward controls that have zero slop, positive lever movement, built in stop light switch and adjustable foot pegs so you don't vibrate off the pegs. They make all the difference in the world as Bandit attested to on his ride to Sturgis on the Blue Flame. We will doll up the Rev Tech black and chrome 88-inch engine with Joker Rockers that are fully machined from solid billet. The Wedge design enables total serviceability while the motor is in the frame. Bottom section is completely o-ringed. Base is clearanced for larger diameter valve springs and feature a unique modular baffle system for excellent venting characteristics. We're also using their hand controls because according to Bandit they're perfect. Our order contained a myriad of the little item also, like small triangular rear turn signals, mirror, gas cap, oil breather, throttle housing, billet clamps and bullet head bolt covers.

Finally we jumped into my truck and headed back to the ribbon of shimmering hot asphalt of the 210 Freeway. By the time we got to the 605 Freeway, it was 5:00PM and the Freeways were all at a turgid standstill, constipated with lumbering gas guzzling, smog spewing cars and trucks. It was one of those many moments when we wished we had those tight FXRs splitting lanes toward the cool salt air of the coast.

Doctor John promises to have the frame finished for pick-up next week. We'll report from his Anahiem, Ca location.

If you're in the Southern California neighborhood, Joker Machine is sponsoring a show at the Grand Opening of the Route 66 Roadhouse and Tavern, June 22 at 1846 E. Huntington Drive, Duarte, California. Call (626) 357-4210 for more information on the shows and Pig Roast.

drawing

My first concept drawing which Bandit puked on and shit-canned.

Here's the first of one of my bumbling concept sketches. We will be working with a racing Porsche sheetmetal fabricator on fenders, tanks and exhaust configurations. Wait until you see what Bandit and I come up with next.


 
 

Dr. John

Like the enigmatic fortunes you find inside those folded Chinese cookies, our visit with Dr. John--the "frame doctor," was a mix of New Age mysticism and practical guidance. The week before, Bandit and I brought the rolling Pro-Street frame to the good doctor. We gave the him our best ideas of what we thought the bike should become. Basically, we wanted the bike to fit my body proportions, to shrink the frame around the engine and to still have elements of a street chopper.

Bandit and I had been trying to create a bike that had a real "signature" identity, yet we weren't sure what that would mean. We tried to convey our concepts with awkward babbling.

Stroking his long, gray beard with a knowing gravity, the doctor calmly listened to our ravings. Eventually he gave us a broad grin through the tangle of beard and said, "Don't worry, boys, I understand exactly what you need."

We had left the bike with vague misgivings. "Do you think he really has a clue what we want?" I asked Bandit.

"I dunno," Bandit said, staring off into the acrid, smog-laden sky. "The guy's kind of strange, but everyone I've talked to says the guy's a wizard," Bandit mused mysteriously.

When we pulled up to Dr. John's shop, there was our creation leaning up against the wall. Not averse to street-corner poetry, I intoned, "What a bitchin' fuckin'-lookin' bike."

neck

"Man, that bike is really unique," Bandit exclaimed in a more civilized tone.

As we oohed and ahhed about the bike, Dr. John came around the corner, grinning. I jumped onto the seat-less bike and grinned. It fit perfectly, better than an O.J. leather glove.

"I really think you've got something good going there," the doctor spoke with unconcealed appreciation. "I wasn't sure it was going to work until I got into it. The bike began to speak to me. I think it's got the right karma," the doctor spoke with mysterious gravity.

All this mystery was not without reason. Dr. John started this trek to ultimate frame adjustment working at Goodyear Tires. A fortuitous opportunity, sponsored by Goodyear, for advanced training at L.A. Trade Tech gave him the chance to try motorcycle repair. Recognizing that he was more interested in bikes than tires, he began a course in bike repair with instructor Pat Owens.

Dr. John soon connected up with a bike shop called Motorcycle Menders. Right away, he could tell that he had a better-than-average sense of what was needed to fix most frames. Eventually, he opened his first shop in Covina in 1983. In 1990, he moved to his present location in Anaheim.

Dr. John's expertise is extended to both traditional street choppers and to the more exotic road race bikes, where competitive tolerances and alignment shave seconds off of lap times. The challenges to his expertise in frame adjustment include the extremes of creating a bike for a 6'9" rider and a Harley with a 25" over stock front end. For his own use, he is building a karma-tingling three-wheeler with a VW engine.

garage

In his shop, amongst a tangle of tweaked Ninja carcasses, "destruction derby" ATV frames, twisted chopper forks and even a mangled Vespa body, Dr. John holds court. Side-tracking his stories about getting into the frame adjustment business, he mixes concepts of metal stresses with ideas of mental stresses, Eastern philosophy, acupuncture points, shakras and auras, martial arts movements, elements of a good diet and muscle alignment of the spine.

The conversation stumbles easily into his personal experiences. After an injury of his own, he explored a variety of methods of pain control, eventually meeting an American Indian psychic whose exotic beauty hypnotized him as much as her cosmic consciousness. Here, a glint comes to his eyes and a wry smile brings one corner of his mouth up. "A rare beauty," he muses. "An aura just like Cleopatra of ancient Egypt."

Bandit nodded in agreement repeatedly, like those Dodger dolls that bobble in the back windows of cars, to the good doctor's banter. Bandit slurped his green tea while listening to enchanting tales spun by the Doctor. While I shoveled in heaps of steaming and spicy-hot Kung Pao chicken, my eyes teared up and my nose started running.

"The magnetic flow is a flux of energy in the body of..." The steaming pots of green tea and plates of exotic Chinese food sent wisps and tendrils dancing in the air above our table like a chorus of swaying, sensual nymphets.

"The assorted colors of shakra balance..." This adventure had the aura of Zeke the Splooty about it. We were on a cosmic motorcycle Magical Mystery tour.

An hour or so later, Bandit and I were back on the 91 Freeway with the bike strapped to the bed of his pickup, staring ahead kind of dumbly. "What a trip, Dr. John is," I said.

"Yeah, but I think he did a great job on the frame," Bandit said.

"Yeah, cosmic man," my head was stuck in the '60s. "What do we do now?" I asked.

"Let's check out some trippy paint for the bike," Bandit smiled. "Let's drive down to Stanton and see if Wes at Venom can come up with something exotic enough for this mystery machine."

"Go for it," I laughed.

It's days like these that make bike building seem like the right thing to do. Bandit slapped in a tape of '60s funk and we were sailing down the road like a couple of latter-day Kerouac and Keseys.

bike


"Hand me a bigger hammer, goddamn it," Bandit hollered across the garage. We were slamming together as much steel as we could to get this Frankenstein of a bike together in time to show it to the crowds at the Queen Mary Motorcycle Show this weekend. So far this week we've managed to cut 1.5 inches off the swing arm. This brings the wheel into the back end of the bike at the point of the pivot. We are designing the bike with brevity in mind. We are hoping that the finished impression will be a bike shrunken around the RevTech 88-inch motor and Rev Tech 6-speed. Oh, we'll have devilish accents here and there, but the overall concept is lean and mean.

fender

To that end, we are cutting off any unnecessary tabs and struts. Of course, everything changes as soon as a UPS box arrives. Joker Machine parts arrive every couple of days. The foot controls arrived. The new front Avon tire should be here Monday or Tuesday. It arrived, we had it mounted pronto and the fender was looking good. I hauled it to Urs who is a master body man and he widened it to fit perfectly. Having the right tools makes a big damn difference.


A new front tire was called for because the sexy front fender from Cyril Huze was too narrow, since he builds bikes for 19 and 21-inch from wheels and we're running an 18 (our fault).

grinding

After banging the hell out of the fender to try to squeeze out a fraction of an inch clearance, we decided on a smaller sized tire. We ordered an 18/ 100-90. We hope this will allow us at least 3/8-inch all around.

tank

The new Cyril designed stretched tank arrived with the fenders. We cut out part of the bottom of the tank at the back where the front of the seat is, since every goddamn thing we do is backwards. Every builder in the country stretches bikes, we shrink 'em, so the tank won't fit without mods. This move helped bring the tank down closer to the engine and since the FXR is short, well you get the picture. The tank tabs are in place and welded.

We decided to use an old rear fender off one of Bandit's past bikes--a Fatboy. We turned it around backwards, the front end will be bolted to the center of the swing arm. Our next problem was how we were going to hold up the stern. After a lot of head scratching, cussing and phone calls we met with master fabricator James Famighetti who suggested that we create our own struts that will be bolted on the inside of the lower rear shock absorber bolt, then welded to the outside of the fender in such a way as to add to the over all look and strength of the fender and conceal the stock aspects. Mounting fenders to swingarms is treacherous. It will vibrate like a dog attacked by killer bees, so it better be strong and still able to remove for touchup.

pattern

No problem, you say? Ah, ha, not so easy kimosabe! We are pretty sure the strut will have enough clearance for the Rev-Tech brakes on the right side of the rear tire. When you come around to the left side, you've got the pully to contend with. So on this strut we added a 2" dog leg to clear the pulley. I made up the patterns on cardboard and the Fam-Art brothers cut and bent the pieces. Then it was time to fit. We're getting there.

Belt Drive Banner

The BDL pulley from CCI is smaller than the one we used for the mock up. So with our fingers crossed, when all these parts come together this week it will be amazing if they all fit. They did, well, perhaps not perfectly, but we're getting close. They did, well, perhaps not perfectly, but we're getting close. If not, "Bandit, get me a bigger hammer, goddamn it!"

Here's the score. The fender needs tabs and it's ready. The rear fender needs rivet removal and the massive tabs tack welded. The shock tabs have been cut since the Progressive Suspension shocks from Custom Chrome need to be set wider away from the fender tabs. Let's see if we can make it to the show. We're still waiting on Huze oil tank mounting tabs.

Avon Banner

ladd & bike

The saga of the Amazing Shrunken FXR continues. This project is not one that is merely slapping together after-market products to build a facsimile of a customized Harley-Davidson. From the start, Bandit and I sought to create a unique 'signature' bike. Even though we have used a lot of after-market products, most have been modified to fit our design plan. The products we use, from the FXR Pro-Street frame to the Rev-Tech engine to the Joker Machine quality components, to Cyril Huze, Avon and BDL are some of the finest products available.

Custom Chrome Banner

Because some of the fundamental elements of design were modified, we have been constantly fabricating new brackets, tabs, mounts, and studs. Each modification created new issues relating to the fit and function of the drive train. It seems as if we've bolted and unbolted the elements of this bike a hundred times. For example, the frame was modified by Dr. John to fit the Rev-Tech engine into our overall design concept. The top motor mount was bent to fit the new spacing. We used this motor mount point to position the Cyril Huze tear drop gas tank. When we positioned the tank we related it to the handle bar clearance at maximum turn position. Rubber mount brackets were welded in place. The tank was cut at the underside back end to fit low on the frame. It looked hot. Next I cut the La Pere seat pan to hug the pointed rear of the gas tank and strengthened the seat back. There is a continuous double-'swoop' from the handle bars to the back of the rear fender. The seat pan looked hot.


Then we tried to put the engine in. It didn't look fit. The engine was mere fractions of an inch from fitting. Even if we could have hammered it in place the subsequent tight tolerances would surely create problems as the bike rattled and roared down the road.

bradweld

At this point, we cut the original tank brackets and repositioned the modified tank a little higher on the top frame tubing. The tank looked hot, the engine fit, but now the handle bar swing is a fraction of an inch too close to the tank. This means we will probably have to have custom handle bars.

It still looks good and we're still optimistic. Even as we dropped the tank down on the new rubber mount brackets and began putting in the 5/16" bolts, we found that the right rear bolt was too long to fit. So we got a bolt with a thinner head and with my small fingers, I got the bolt in and started. We were still looking hot.

We decided to see if the belt fit since Bandit had cut and rewelded the swingarm 1.5 inches shorter for that Amazing Shrunken look. Bandit said no, the belt wouldn't fit. It wasn't suppose to. I said it looked close. As we looked at the bike we realized we'd had to remove the engine, drop the transmission, which meant we'd have to support the swing arm. It always seems harder than hell to make something easy. So with a couple of scissors jacks, hunks of wood, and a crow bar, we were able to loosen the rubber mount on the left side of the pivot point of the swing arm. Then we gingerly slipped the belt in, put the rubber mount back and bolted everything back together. Damn! It fit perfect and we were looking hot.


Wait a minute. The right side of the belt was almost touching the edge of the back fender. Quick surgery with a saws-all cut a chunk out of the fender. Fender fits, belt don't rub, bike still looks hot.

oil tank 1

As we cram more operational parts together, the room to move gets less and less. Next we positioned the oil bag, which also brought up the issue of the battery accessibility. With bungee cords, a busted yard stick and some wood shims, we finally got the bag in what seemed a reasonable position. Four rubber mounted brackets were fabricated then welded into place. It looked Hot. Everything was bolted in place. And everything looked Hot.

oil tank 2

Ah, but not so fast kimosabe. We shaved the fins off the back of the oil bag for more clearance. With the two rubbermounts in place at the rear of the oil bag under the seat pan we had enough clearance for the battery, in the front for the engine and exhaust, under it for the starter motor, but no clearance for the ever moving rear fender. It needed at least 1.5 inches of shock play since it's attached to the swingarm. We had to peel the bag out of the frame and take it to the Famighetti's metal fab shop, Fam-Art, for their expertise. They came up with a plan to scoop out the back of the bag to the battery box without shortening the overall look of the bag. Then the fender will have the clearance to move with the swingarm and still look hot.

Next, we neet to investigate whether the Joker controls can be mounted mid frame. At the same time we will begin fabrication of the Amazing exhaust system. It's gotta be lookin' hot one way or another.

Samson

Bandit and I were checking out the Amazing Shrunken FXR. "The damned thing," referring to the shrunken FXR project we had been hammering at, off and on, for almost two years, "has attitude," he growled, "a bad-assed attitude."

"Yeah, but will it have sound attitude?" I mused. "I want it to get attention. I want it to be felt in their chests before they see it. I want them to hide their children from the evil they fear."

The Amazing Shrunken FXR has developed into a mythic ethos. From a cardboard box full of rejected, beat-up, and cast off parts, the bike has become a sculptured icon, a physical dream, and perhaps a wrong turn down a bad dirt road, three miles back. The project began back in the spring of 2001. After a lot of fits and starts, the Buell Project, the Sturgis Run, the Deer Gut stew adventure, Bandit's painful recovery, the Red Ball prep, various events including a trip around the world and soiree's, we slapped parts on, hammered steel into shape, welded this and that, cussed and farted and got to where we are with the help of a RevTech driveline, Custom Chrome, BDL belt, Joker controls, Cyril Huze sheet metal and Compu-Fire electrics. The bike is raw boned, trimmed down, and mean looking. That's where it stands, inert and waiting for inspiration, up on the rack at the Bikernet garage.

Samson

Bandit regarded the raw metal frame with squinty-eyed intensity. "What you thinkin'," I asked, keeping my own gaze focused on the potential of the bike. At my question he stretched out his gangly, egret-like frame to its full 6'5". "It'll be a loud mother fucker either way you play it," he intoned in his gravitas basso-profundo deep voice. "We've shortened the frame and rear wheel base so much that it's barely a cunt-hair from the exhaust port to the rear wheel."

rear manifold
We cut a piece of an Samson Evolution system with a Mikita to use the exhaust port, then started welding other pieces in place. We cut it back to make a tight turn and create space away from the oil tank.

"Fuck it," I responded in my best Pancho Sanchez improvisation, "let's just start from the port and see what happens."

We rummaged through a pile of Samson scrap exhaust pipes that we had scavenged from a dumpster behind the Sampson factory. Flinging out fish tail tips, shot gun systems and swoopy cruiser exhausts, most of them dented and damaged so they couldn't be re-used. Mr. Samson gave us only the best to modify. We eventually came up with enough pieces to fabricate a Frankenstein exhaust system.


As I grabbed for a section 1 3/4-inch chrome pipe, I mistakenly grabbed a goodly chunk of fur. Bandit's midget, crazed demon of a feral cat yeowled in protest and sank his needle-like teeth into the back of my hand.

"God damn that crazy bastard," I screamed, "he's as crazy as a peach orchard boar." I'm sure Bandit has a mescaline salt-lick for that freaked out feline. After I extricated my hand from the jaws of Bandit's feline Cujo, I returned to the exhaust system at hand.

Our intent was to minimize the exhaust system as much as possible. We ran the pipe straight down from the front exhaust port, then turned it to hug the bottom of the engine case. We had originally hoped to put a flattened pipe under the frame, but reasonable road clearance dictated a different path. So we tucked it in and around the engine case, then inside the frame, coming out just at the edge of the back wheel.

"Our first mistake," Bandit spouted, "we needed a smaller diameter chunk of exhaust to form guides when welding chunks of exhaust together. If we had slipped it in one piece even a quarter of an inch. it would have held each chunk in alignment. That's one theory to building pipes. The key to fabing your own pipes is having enough scrap to slice and dice, then cutting and working each piece until it's as close to a perfect fit as possible. Finally the tacking process is critical. That's were the guides didn't come in. If we had guides we wouldn't have offset pipes tacked into place. That problem emerged severely a week later during the grinding process."

"It took two days of playing, cutting, fitting and welding to form a completely custom exhaust system in place," Bandit added. "Make sure you wet towels and form a fire barrior around your tacking area to protect the rest of the bike. I used a small 0-sized torch tip and common hanger to tack the segments of pipes together. I'm not confident enough with our new MIG welder with thin sheet metal, so I stuck with the torch."

two in to one

" It wasn't perfect, but it was ours," Bandit added, "a completely unique system that would be tucked under the transmission and attached to the driveline solidly under the tranny backing place. Then we faced the muffler aspect. The pipes were too short to be open or we would have been arrested within a block of the headquarters."

Needing some kind of 'standardized' muffler elements, we went to our local San Pedro Kragen Auto Parts store. With the clamp-on piece in hand, we found parts and pieces enough to create a 7" muffler case. "Most of the elements were too heavy and glass packed," Bandit spouted, "We couldn't weld on a glass pack."

Back at the garage, with torch in hand, Bandit cut out a section of baffles from some scrap Sampson muffler. Spot welding the baffles into our jury-rigged muffler, we produced something that may, like Japanese Fart Wax, diminish the painful 'Brap-rap-rap' flutter of unrestrained exhaust back pressure. A right-angle turn-out will direct the dragon's breath exhaust from the screaming 88cc Rev Tech, high-performance engine to an unsuspecting public standing slack-jawed and terrified at the curbed edge of civilization, their hair-dos blasted straight by the sizzling after-burner of the Amazing Shrunken FXR.

"He gets sorta twisted," Bandit muttered shaking his head. "Actually with the baffle in hand we went to San Pedro Muffler Shop and looked at the myriad of tips and tubing alterations we could make. We found a tip and had a chunk of 1 7/8 tubing spread to match the tip. That formed the other end of the muffler. We just had to weld the three elements together."

baffle in place

I welded the baffle in place, positioned as it was in the Samson System. I discovered that the two elements didn't want to weld together. I have a feeling the tip was made of an inferior metal.

cutting clamp notches
With the die grinder we cut notches for the muffler clamp.

muffler to pipe tip

muffler in place

"After welding and fitting I stood back and was proud of our uniquely tight system that would allow Giggie, from Compu-Fire, to machine mid-controls for a final touch," Bandit interupted. The exhaust played perfectly into the Shrunken aspects of the project. I removed the tacked system and began hours of gas welding to make it whole. That's when all hell broke loose. While working on another aspect of the bike with my back turned to my partner, he began to grind the welds. The college art history professor sought perfection with each weld and ground right through the thin walls of the 18-guage exhaust pipes. It was amazing. I was sure the system was ruined."

better grinding shot

grinding holes in pipe
This shows the amount of area ground down so far we were forced to fill it or destroy the system and start over.

grinding pipe welds

"Some builders tack systems together then take them to muffler shops for professional construction. I thought that was my next move. Unfortunately a regular muffler shop doesn't have the mandrels to make the tight bends we had proposed. I was devastated, but the man told me that he could fill the welds with his MIG welder.

nuttboy cleaning welds

muffler fill welds
More welds to fill the mad grinder's cutting work.

"Unfortunately each weld was now a 1/2 inch tall and wide zit at almost each junction of the pipe. Nuttboy began the grinding process again. More holes were found and I filled them with gas welding using hanger rods. I joke now that if the bike runs like shit we blame it on the exhaust system. If it runs well, it's the same roll of the dice. We'll see."

"Making your own exhaust system can be a blast, just don't get heavey handed with the grinders. Pipe is thin and a little weld that shows won't matter much since we didn't plan on chrome, but black Jet Hot coating. I've sworn off chrome exhaust systems on my bikes for the future."

That big bastard just won't shut up. The next episode in this mechanical adventure will feature Giggy's attempt a electrifying the steel monster. Next weekend, barring any new bike projects, Giggy's inopportune finger damage at the power tools, splattered deer guts, San Pedro political insurrection, Sin Wu's beguiling charms, a case of beer, or any other form of diversion or chaos, we will be closer to cranking this monster over.


final exhaust primed

Photos by Bandit and Sin Wu

It's New Years Eve 2002 and catch up time on the Shrunken FXR, as if I'll melt if I don't cross the line by midnight. And I'm going to lower the boom on you. It wasn't intentional that Giggie, from Compu-Fire, came to the Bikernet Headquarters to help install a Compu-Fire charging, starter and ignition system. He added showing us the benefits of installing S&S solids in the 88-inch Rev Tech engine. That would seemingly be enough, but since the starter involved the BDL inner primary, Giggie was snagged into helping with the belt drive installation. That's not all. As you will see in some of the shots we have Joker Machine forward controls installed, but we've always considered mid-controls. Unfortunately for the master machinist, we asked for Giggie's impression and knowledgeable notions. He dove right in and you'll see the outcome here. There's even more, but let's get started.

starter on box

I've been running Compu-Fire Electronics for several years and will continue to do so. The systems are flawless and a breeze to install. I've learned to trust their components and enjoy a single-fire ignition. My discussions with Giggie ran into starting problems I had encountered before. He pointed out to me that new hydralic systems bleed down as engines cool which closes valves when you want that puppy to fire to life once more. That's where the S&S portion of this tech began.

Here's the deal. If the valves are closed while the starter motor is desperately trying to turn over the engine, especially a performance unit, it's a bitch. The compression is over the top, and the electric motor is fighting an up-hill battle. The battery is being stressed. This situation is caused when the bike sits and the hydraulic lifters bleed down. Once it fires to life that situation is relieved.

s&s removing rocker boxes

Giggie has been testing and improving starter systems for the last three years with Compu-Fire. They are developing the most electrically efficient systems on the market, but discovered this hitch in the driveline system with the jammed valve train which puts undo pressure on an otherwise fine starter motor and battery. We made a date to install the new Compu-Fire Starter, but in addition, four little rings from S&S would slip into the Rev Tech hydraulics. Since this Custom Chrome engine had non-adjustable pushrods we had to order a set of Rev Tech aluminum adjustable pushrods. We removed the rocker cover and arm assemblies to free the pushrods.

removing lifter blocks

The lifter blocks had to be removed to retrieve the hydraulics lifters.

installing ss solid spacer

The following shots show the S&S solid ring installation process, I hope.

ss installing ring 2

ss installing ring 3

ss installing cam follower clip ring

Giggie used snap ring pliers to remove and install the snap ring to free the hydraulic piston.

With the lifter blocks removed, the lifter slipped out easily, and with a snap ring plier tool Giggie removed the ring and the spring and the piston came free. The S&S ring was slipped over the hydraulic plunger spring and the rest is history. With the clip ring back in place the hydraulics were ready to rock with the new Rev Tech Pushrods.

revtech adj. pushrods

Giggie demonstrated how he adjusts pushrods by finding the intake top dead center, TDC, position for the front cylinder first. When the intake valve is closing or the pushrod heading down, stick a straw or pencil in the spark plug hole and watch it travel north until it's at the top, TDC. check the timing hole for confirmation. Sure enough a verticle slot showed up in the hole confirming our position. The cam was also in the perfect position to adjust both the intake and exhaust pushrods for the front cylinder, since both valves are closed for compression. There is also an exhaust TDC.

top dead center with a straw

The pushrods are adjusted just like old school, solids until there's no up and down slack. You'll notice that the rings don't make the hydralics completely solid but give them .020 slack. Once you have each pushrod adjusted back off one complete turn. That will give you .020 cushion and once the bike runs for the first time you won't have any tapping like the old scoots had. That's an easy fix for a major performance issue. I hate wasting starters or batteries.

oil breather and mod parts

Since we didn't have the adjustable pushrods on hand we took the rocker boxes apart and Giggie pointed out another big inch motor fix. Performance engines that are pushed to redline can build up excessive oil in the rocker box breathers. That oil will end up in the air cleaner if it doesn't have time to filter back through the heads into the oil return line. Creative Cycle Products, distributed by Custom Chrome, designed a fix for this problem. They call this the Nose Bleed Cure which was designed to work on all late 1993 and up Evolutions with Nose Breather (engine vents in the heads) system. Installed, the kit eliminates the collection of oil at the bottom of the air cleaner assembly. It allows the engine to breath naturally without the mess in the air cleaner. The vent extensions, installed in the rocker boxes, allow more time for the oil to filter through the head.

drilling drain hole

The vent extension is a breeze to install, especially if the rocker boxes are removed. The center rocker arm spacer has two areas in the corners for breathers. The inside cavity has a rubber mushroom, Umbrella Valve, poised to limit some air and oil into the area. That's the corner we're concerned with. The extensions were easy to install in some respects in the Rev Tech Rocker Boxes and created another challenge in other respects. Let's follow Creative Cycle's instructions: If we had a battery we would have disconnected it, first. Since our tank was easy to remove we 86'd it to make room for the operation. You could get away with just jacking up the tank.

drilling guide hole

Remove the front rocker box top plate following the service manual. Unbolt the sucker. Then remove the center spacer. Remove the gasket. If the engine is new you don't need to replace it. The instructions also call for replacing the Umbrella valve, but you don't need to do that unless it is old and worn or you bury it in aluminum shavings. Umbrella valves generally last a long time, but heat sometimes damages them and they crack. If you are going to install the cure in a worn performance engine, replace the Umbrella Valves.

drain sleeve in position

Drill the small drain hole with the supplied 1/8 bit. Using the 13/32 drill, bore out the large drain hole. The Rev Tech rocker box spacer already had a sizeable hole and didn't need drilling. The vent extension slipped right in. On the opposite side of the spacer the hole was broad and open which didn't secure the new vent extension at all, which is generally a mild press fit. We cleaned the spacer thoroughly and cemented the extension in place with sillicon on the underside and let it set up before we re-installed the rocker with a fresh gasket (generally the use of silicon on the inside of any engine is forbidden. But since it's Nuttboy's bike, who cares). Make sure the ring is completely clean of any debri or burrs. In most cases, according to the instructions, the vent extention is a press fit into the new hole. Tape it gently into place, clean the rocker ring thoroughly and re-install that bastard.

breather peice in place

Now perform the same function with the rear head. According to the diagram with the kit, the two breather sections you're looking for are the inboard units closest to the carb. Makes sense. The outboard breather cavities are not used. If you are running a monster engine and want to extend the extension, there are small rings included in the kit to enhance the existing extension although you may need to clearance the top rocker box cover.

One more time I'll mention silicone. It's not to be used in an engine since one little piece could severely block an oil passage and destroy the engine. The other reason I mentioned it again was brought to bear by Frank Kaisler and a neatly placed .38 against my right temple. He whispered angrily in my ear that silicon will not cement itself to chrome. He suggested JB Weld after the chrome was ground away for a clean sticky porous surface.

installing rocker arms

That's two out of say five techs we need to cover. How the hell are we doing? If you have any questions about this modification, here's the number for Creative (800) 368- 6217.

engine back together

This entire tech process was handled in two different sessions. During the first we discussed the mid controls notion with Giggie and he altered our course. We were headed in the direction of stock FXR mid control mounts, that bolt or are welded to the frame. That notion would force us to created large sweeping mounts to clear the BDL belt drive. Giggie had another notion. Run a shaft through bushings built into the belt drive inner and outter covers, to linkage much like stock through primaries, except we would mount the foot peg on the end of the shaft for the cleanest possible approach.

installing inner primary

On the right side of the bike we had to make a plate that wrapped around the tranny cover that would carry a similar shaft that would act as the axle for the brake lever. He suggested that we hide the master cylinder under the tranny close to the rear wheel for a tight hose run to the rear brake caliper. The pipes will wrap around the shaft for the right peg and brake lever. Seemed like a good idea, except for one thought. This is a rubber mount motorcycle and bolting the pegs to the driveline was asking for foot vibration. We discussed the concept with several riders and the reactions were varied from "we're nuts", to "What the hell", to the notion that we could run one set of billet pegs for around town and a vibro-padded set for the road. We decided to run with Giggie's concept and try the simple suckers out.

shift linkage axle

When we met with Giggie again he demonstrated the outcome. He machined the shaft for the BDL unit and an aluminum guide tube with brass bushings pressed into the covers. The support unit was strong enough to stand on. Next, we needed linkage and a shifter peg, then foot pegs. In this case the foot peg will rotate with the shifter, another odd approach.

installing outter BDL plate

shift linkage 1

shift linkage 2

linkage sketch

Note the high-dollar precision sketch of right rear brake linkage mechanism. I don't get it, do you?

Moving right along we installed the Compu-Fire charging system. This is a breeze, but first you must hit the Harley Shop or your Custom Chrome Catalog for a set of Stator Torx screws. If you're not sure which charging system you have here's a clue: The 32-amp alternator kit is identified by the stator plug protuding from the left crank case outer surface. The 22-amp stator plug is recessed into the crank case surface. This particular system is designed to fit all Big Twin models 1981 and later. The rotor may be used with stators rated at 22 amp and 32 amps.

stater install cleaning and oiling fluids

We used the contact cleaner for clearing the stator area of grease or debris. The WD-40 was used to let the plug slip into place gently.

We cleaned the area in the left side of the Rev Tech cases thoroughly with contact cleaner. Then we slipped the stator over the main shaft, but not into position. Giggie sprayed the alternator plug with WD-40 and began to wedge it into the inner slot in the case. First you need to back out the Allen set screw in the case to allow the plug to slide through. Once the plug is in position (protruding 1/4 inch), tighten the Allen set screw with Permatex blue Loctite. Be careful not to over-tighten the screw which could short out the alternator and ruin your day. With the plug in place make sure the wires are safely routed then install and tighten down the stator with the self Loctite'd Torx screws. Done deal.

stater plug install

stater install with torx

Then Giggie slipped the smaller of the two massive washers over the shaft (except when 32 amp Harley-Davidson alternator kit is already installed). If the Compu-Fire rotor is being installed on a 1981-1988 model with the Harley-Davidson 32-amp alternator kit already installed, the spacers and shim washers should already be properly positioned on the sprocket shaft. Discard the washers supplied in the kit and reuse the washers and shims in the same location from where they were removed. Compu-Fire charging systems are perfect replacements for toasted charging systems.

checking shaft splines with BDL insert

Then he took the BDL engine shaft insert and slipped it onto the splined sprocket shaft to check the fit. Some sprocket shafts from JIMS and S&S were slightly different sizes. The splines were machined to be .001-inch larger across the face. Since the BDL insert fit snugly, but fit he attempted the same manuever with the Compu-Fire rotor. When we installed a rotor on the Redball chopper, we had to file each tooth to make it fit. That wasn't the case this time around since Giggie ordered the Compu-Fire rotor with the larger slots or splines. Note the number on the rotor. The 650 unit is already prepared for the larger shaft, whereas the 600 unit was built for earlier alternator motors. If you need to remove an old rotor you may need a JIMS machine tool or a Harley-Davidson puller part no. 95960-52B. Be careful that the magnets in the rotor do not pick up small metal parts or hardware from the work area before you install it.

rotor with warning label

Also note the warning label on the rotor. It says not to smack the rotor with anything. If you do so severely you could knock a magnet loose, or you could change the polarities on the magnets. Don't hit it with anything harder that the palms of your hand. This one was snug, but slid right into place. Now comes the large flat washer. This puppy is there for strength. With everyday use the face of the rotor will flex and can crack. This washer adds strength to the face and prevents cracking. Don't forget it.

installing rotor

Here's some notes regarding different models. This information is supplied with all Compu-Fire charging systems:

critical rotor flat washers

To install rotor on 1981 to 1990 Big Twin) except those with a 32 Amp alternator kit installed) place the large washer supplied and original shim washers over the sprocket shaft (in that order). See figure 1.

To install rotor on 1991 and later FLT/FXR models, discard the large washer supplied in the kit. Place the original washer and shims over the sprocket shaft (in that order). See figure 2.

To install rotor on 1991 and later Softail and Dyna Glide models, discard the large washer supplied in the kit. Place the original shim washer over the sprocket shaft. The original thick spacer washer will be used under the compensating sprocket nut on final assembly. See figure 3.

chart

If your are installing this Compu-Fire kit on a stock bike, next you would re-install the primary drive assembly per factory service manual and use loctite (red) on the threads of compensating sprocket nut. The compensating nut must be torqued to the correct specifications:

1981-1990 models 80-100 foot pounds
1991-Later models 150-165- foot pounds
(for aftermarket shafts use manufacturers specifications.)
Don't forget to put oil back in the primary.

regulator and bracket

That left the regulator. In the past you would be forced to insure a proper ground by cleaning some of the regulator case surface of paint, the bracket surface and paint off the frame. That's no longer the needed. These regulators come with a separate ground strap, which Giggie recommends that you attach to the engine case on the right side under the cam cover to hide it. "Make sure the wire is crimped to a lug, not soldered," Giggie pointed out, "and that the case is clean of wrinkle paint before it's bolted in place."

reg. ground and hot wire

One other wire is afforded with the regulator, the hot wire, which generally runs to a circuit breaker, the battery hot terminal or the ignition switch hot side. There's a specific reason for not soldering lugs or connectors, but crimping them. According to Giggie soldering induces heat to the wires and a completely solid lead bond that creeps under the wire insulation. The combination creates a brittle point in the wires that can deteriorate and crack with vibration. Wire connectors do not come with the regulator kit. You need to find the appropriate size for your application.

top motor mount

dyna coils

While Giggie was tinkering in the Compu-Fire machine shop, building prototype components for their line of products and slipping in a Shrunken FXR parts, in his free time, we installed 3 ohm Dyna coils required for the single-fire Compu-Fire ignition system. They are available from Custom Chrome in 6 and 12-volt models, with single or dual towers and in 1.5, 3.0 and 5.0 ohm configurations. We chose a strong billet German made bracket, from Custom Chrome, to hold the coils between the heads. This is one of the cleanest ways to run the electrics with all the elements close together. The coil bracket from Custom Chrome was also capable of holding the ignition switch and a horn button or toggle high/low beam switch. That would be the extent of the wiring for this bike and it would all be tucked under the gas tank and between the heads cleanly.

We have also ordered a CCI ignition switch discovered from the water-craft industry by Bob McKay. It works like automotive ignition switch with a key and acts as the starter button eliminating the need for a starter relay.

coils in place

What should we handle next, the ignition system or the BDL Belt Drive? Your call? The BDL Belt, okay, here goes. Actually these units are increasingly easy to install. Late model bikes with rubber mounted drive lines are in solid alignment which makes these unit slip right into place. Just in case you are working with a pre-unit model I will list some alignment recommendations from Frank Kaisler.

installing BDL insert to pulley

This particular BDL installation came with their brand new Super Street Clutch which consists of nine fibers and 11 steels. Install two steels first then alternate fiber and steel ending with a steel behind the pressure plate. Install anywhere from four to nine springs and bolts depending on how much spring pressure is needed for your application.

"With this much clutch surface, not much spring pressure will be needed for proper engagement," Said Bob from BDL. For additional spring pressure for monster engine and abusive clutch throwers they included washers to enhance the clutch pressure.

washers for added clutch pressure

Basically Giggie installed the backing plate first using the fasteners supplied by BDL. Installation on 1986-89 models require the use of a 1990-up starter and modification to the starter mounting hole on transmission will be necessary. You must open the mounting hole to 2-1/8 inches.

Remove the stock starter pinion gear and complete starter gear assembly from starter. Bolt starter into back side of motor plate.

starter in place

Install the front and rear pulleys and check for proper fit. At this time you should determine if the front pulley will need shimming or not depending on how the pulleys align with each other. Remove pulleys and add shims if necessary.

checking pulley align. with straight edge

Re-install belt drive placing front pulley, rear pulley and belt on at the same time or you'll discover it's tough going. Install and tighten to H-D specifications, mainshaft hub nut. BDL supplied a special hub nut with seal for all spline shaft models 1990 and later. Engine shaft splines should not protrude from the pulley. Be sure to red Permatex Loctite front engine nut and torque to H-D specifications (an electric impact driver is used but not recommended). JIMS and CCI carry a tool that will lock the pulleys so you can use a torque wrench. For 1986-89 taper shaft models you must use the stock hub nut and seal kit (included).

installing main shaft nut

For spline mainshaft models, 1990-up, apply red Permatex Loctite onto the back of the BDL hub 1/4-inch inside of the spline and let the Loctite flow onto the mainshaft when sliding the rear basket assembly on. This procedure is necessary so that the hub and mainshaft will fit together properly and will not let the mainshaft spin inside of the BDL hub. This procedure is not necessary on taper shaft models 1986-89.


(The belt drive was designed with the use of stock H-D frames. The shaft to shaft dimensions on a stock Softail are 12.825 and on an FXR is is 11.325. The number of teeth on the pulleys and the number of teeth on the belt were engineered to exact fit using the above dimensions. If aftermarket frames, engines or transmissions are used then these dimensions may very slightly. You may need to address this problem so that the kit will fit properly. We will not be able to help you with this problem, this is an issue to be addressed by the manufacturer of the aftermarket parts that you may be using.)

Rotate the motor (take the plugs out) using a socket wrench, the belt should track straight and away from the motor plate, but not so that it may come in contact with the outside pulley flanges. Be sure that the belt drive is not making contact with the motor plate.


Grease the starter shaft and install the BDL starter pinion gear onto the starter shaft, apply red Permatex Loctite to the starter bolt and tighten to H-D specifications (they supply two starter bolts with the kit, one is a 1/4-20 by 2.5 inches for 1990-93 starters, the other is a 10-32 by 2.5 inch for 1994 and up starters. Be sure not to tighten starter bolts too tight as this may interfere with proper engagement to the clutch ring gear.)

Install the clutch pack, refer to schematic spline steel first, 1/2 sided friction plate with fiber facing out, then alternate steel and two sided fiber plates ending with the other 1/2 sided friction plate with the fiber facing in. This is for the regular clutch and not the Super Street Clutch which was covered above. Install pressure plate, springs and shoulder blots.To install shoulder bolts apply red Permatex Loctite to a bolt and run in one turn, go onto the next bolt until all the bolts are in place, then tighten them all the way down until they bottom out. There is no adjustment to the spring pressure, this is all pre-determined with the length of the shoulder bolt and exact dimensions of our pressure plate.

installing clutch pressure plate

Install the four hexagon cover plate extensions into motor plate and mount side guard with the four button head allen blots.

throwout bearing adj

Clutch screw adjustment should be 3/4 to 1 turn loose from lightly seated. Note: When the clutch is hot the adjustment screw should not be seated. Tighten rod nut when adjustment is complete. BDL supplies a clutch adjusting rod and nut for all models 1990 and up, only.

checking pulley align. with straight edge

If your bike is perfectly level, if you put a level on this ruler, it should be level.

SIDEBAR; ALIGNMENT CHECKS FOR RIGID MOUNT DRIVE LINES With the engine in place and all the lower engine mounting bolts installed but loose, take a straight edge and place it on the inner primary mounting surface of the engine. Look at the straight edge to insure that the sprocket is parallel to the straight edge, if not try moving the engine around until the straight edge and sprocket are parallel.

Once this is done snug the rear engine mounting bolts. Now check the engines front mounts to the frame with a feeler gauge, if there is a gap between the engine and frame make some shims to fill the gap. The shims should be a plug fit. A plug fit is the same as a slip fit, the exact shim height to fill the space between engine and frame.

Position the transmission on the trans plate and install in the frame. Place all plate mounting hardware in their respective holes, but leave them loose.

Place the BDL engine plate on the engine and the transmission and install all of the mounting hardware. Tighten the plate to engine mounting bolts first, then the plate to transmission bolts. Using your hand turn the mainshaft of the transmission to feel for resistance, this is how you will check your work.

inner primary before

This shows the primary before installing the pulley and the master Compu-Fire designer/machinist Giggie.

As of right now, you have assured the engine's sprocket shaft and the transmission main shaft are parallel to each other. Now tighten the transmission mounting plate to the bottom of the transmission case. Check that all of the trans plate mounting bolts still move freely up and down, if they or only one of them don't move freely find out why and fix before moving on. Sometimes this occurs due to manufacturing tolerances. Sometimes just running a 3/8-inch drill bit through the frame and mounting plate will fix small misalignments.

Here is where the difference is made. It is a lot easier to shim the transmission mounting plate to the frame mounts than the transmission to the mounting plate. To do this take a set of feeler gauges and measure the gap at each trans plate mounting bolt, then make-up a shim to "plug-fit" the distance. With all four corners of the trans plate done check the "fifth" trans mount and shim as needed.

The moment of truth. Start tightening the transmission mounting plate bolts one at a time. Check the transmission main shaft by turning it in your hand before and after tightening each bolt. If you feel increased resistance after a bolt is tightened then you will need to go back and check that you got the correct shim thickness for that one mounting bolt. Keep checking the mainshaft and proceed to the rest of the mounting bolts. After all the mounting bolts are tight and the mainshaft spins as it should, you're done.

A good way to double check your work is once everything is tight, remove the engine plate. The engine plate should not pop or spring when the mounting bolts are removed, and likewise the plate should go right back on and seat against the engine and trans with no effort.

Ok, where to get shim stock. There are a number of machine tool catalogs that sell a selection of shim stock for about $20-$30. These selections come with different thickness sheets of stock that you cut to whatever shape you need. Another source of shims is Performance Machine and Custom Chrome. Both companies sell brake calipers that sometimes need to be shimmed to their mounts to center the caliper over the disc rotor. The mounting bolts for these calipers are 3/8-inch diameter, the same size as your transmission mounting plate hardware, I have bought a couple packs of these shims to use. If I remember right they were only a few bucks per pack. If for some reason you have a big gap between the plate and frame you may be able to use a 3/8-inch flat washer. Most flat washers these days measure out between .060-.068-inch in thickness, you may still have to add another shim to achieve the plug fit you are looking for. Another source of shim stock is beer or coke cans, if I remember correctly these cans measure out at around .014-inch, but it has been a long time since I measured one.

The main thing to remember, is that the mainshaft must always turn free, maintaining its parallel course with the engines sprocket shaft.

When speaking of parallel shafts, that's plural parallels. Both planes, vertical and horizontal. Believe it or not, careful set-up of the belt drive, or chain drive frees-up hidden horsepower.

When both shafts turn parallel, true parallel, requires the least amount of power to turn. Freeing that extra few ponies to do your bidding, not to mention better fuel mileage.

--Frank Kaisler

compufire ingn. parts

Compu-Fire Ignition model 21835 installation--the last hurtle. For kickstart you need the 21835KS. The electric-start unit delays spark for two revolution to allow the starter to get rolling.

We are finally to the bottom line, the last straw, the final beer in the six-pack. We face only the simple, yet precise Compu-Fire ignition system. I'll try to make it quick.

top dead center with a straw

First find front cylinder top dead center TDC as we described before with the straw (won't hurt anything) in the sparkplug hole, after the intake valve begins to close. The notch on the cam shaft will be at 7:00 at TDC and you know that you're cool. There should also be a straight verticle line in the timing hole, another confirmation.

cam cover gutted for new ign. sys

installing ign. sensor

First you need to remove any previous ignition system right down to the cam shaft. Now bolt in the Compu-Fire ignition rotor or trigger wheel with some blue Loctite. Giggie then bolted in the Compu-Fire ignition plate and turned in counter clockwise. After you run the wire loom out the bottom of the Rev Tech cone. Dig out a 12-volt battery and hook the red wire to the positive terminal.

installing ign. plate

hooking battery to check timing

Tape off the black, white and green wires so they don't ground or short to the battery. Power the red wire up with a ground link to the bike. The LED light on the Compu-Fire plate will alight.

timing magnet

Grab the magnet that comes with the kit and hold it with the Harley orange dot away from the plate and swipe the magnet left to right along the bottom of the plate. The light should go out, if not, turn the magnet over and try again. Slowly turn the plate clockwise until the exact moment the light goes on again. You're timed, done deal, simple. You've static timed the bike in its advanced position. Lock the plate down and disconnect the battery.

swiping magnet for timing

final ign. screw tight with light

You wire this with with the red wire heading to he ignition switch. It's the hot wire. The Black wired hauls ass to the front coil, the white wire to the rear coil and the green to the VOES switch. That's the single-fire set up. For Dual fire aim the black wire to the coil and tape off the white wire. The green is guided to the VOES advance switch once more. Giggie likes the VOES switch and I'll try to explain why. I would prefer to throw it in the trash, but nooo. We will install the VOES switch in the wiring tech, later.

ign. light on timing set

I like the concept of single fire for a smoother running engine and separate coils for each cylinder for a stronger spark. Some may say, "Bullshit." But that's my notion of single-fire ignitions. This unit has two switches, let's start with the left. You turn it to dual or single-fire and it has eight advance curves. One to three are set for 35 degrees BTDC advance. Four to six are 32 degrees of total timing, seven is 30 degrees and eight is 28. There are three different curves bringing the engine to total advance at different RPMs, one is 1,500, 2 at 2,000 and three at 2,500, based on the motor. We set it at six because I'll be running the VOES.

The right switch controls the VOES. You can have it set at 50 percent or 100 percent. Fifty percent is advanced 5 degrees and 100 percent, 10 degrees. It adds timing at necessary times but will never add timing over the advanced maximum. The final setting on the right is the Rev Limiter. The best use of the rev limiter is to set it 500 rpms past peak power. That means some testing is needed to use it effectively. No problem. It's designed to prevent over revving the motor because of a missed shift. The right hand switch controls the VOES and the rev limiter. That's it goddamnit. I can't believe I made it to the end. We just hauled the Amazing Shrunken FXR to our master metal fabricator, James Famaghetti for final craftsmanship. We need to install a Sportster kickstand kit from Custom Chrome and Giggie's controls, then it's the three "P"s, paint, powder and plating and this puppy will rock. Hang on. We'll be back in a couple of weeks. --Bandit


You've been there. You handed the Makita cordless drill to you're drunken buddy, and he drilled a hole in your big screen television. You tried to wrap the extension cord around his neck and finish him off. We came close to blows in the garage a couple of months back. I spent days carefully welding chunks of Samson exhaust pipes together to form a one-of-a-kind exhaust system.

All the welds were performed with gas and hanger rod. The pipes weren't perfect, but they fit the bill. They were actually intended to be prototypes, to be duplicated by a paid professional. After the first pass was completed the pipes fit like a glove, although they were artistically rough around the edges. Nuttboy came by on his Wednesday afternoon escape, and I handed him a highspeed grinder and instructed him to round off the welds. I worked on another project and paid no attention while sparks flew. When he was finished he tapped me on the shoulder and said humbly, "Not sure this is what you had in mind."

He had ground right through the pipes and left gaping holes alongside most of the welds. In addition, I discovered to my teeth-grinding dismay, that there were still large sections of the pipe ground so thin, that as soon as the torch tip came within 6 inches of the surface the pipe melted away. I spent another whole day filling the gaps. Who knows what will happen when the struggling bike fires to life. We'll have the only exhaust system on earth with baffles throughout.

grinding muffler

That's not all. The grief continued. I hand made a muffler using a portion of a Samson baffle. We purchased a chromed, truck fender tip from San Pedro Muffler and went to work, but after hours of screwing with the shiny metal we almost shitcanned the unit. The fender tip was made out of a strange metal, almost pot metal, that didn't seem to take to the gas welding and wouldn't respond to brazing. For every hole I filled, another crack lurked. I welded, then smoothed on a bench grinder only to find cracks and holes to fill again. The shorty muffler probably weighs 50 pounds due to the vast layers of welding rod. As it stands, this is a pure prototype exhaust system. We should use it for testing then shitcan the rank piece of shit and start over.

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Frustrated, but pleased with the overall look we were ready for final metal work. This bike is being built by inexperienced hands, not professionals, in our backyard garage. Sure, I've built some bikes, but I wouldn't consider myself a metal fabricator. I came up with the initial design and we roughed out elements, but we needed a master metal worker to finish what we started. There are precious few, true metal craftsman, who I know. One is Billy Westbrook, another is Jesse James and recently, in the news, we displayed metal work by Roger at Goldammer (Goldammer Cycle Works Ltd., www.goldammercycle.com , 1-250-764-8002). High quality workmanship.

They're out there but not on every corner. I stumbled onto another super-slag artist under my nose. James and Larry Famighetti are Hamsters and own a corrugated steel metal shop in Harbor City, California, called Fam-Art. You'd be tweaked to rumble down Narbonne Street and stumble across this rusting corner building that's got to be the oldest swaying dump on the block. They specialize in structural steel (you could never tell it from their creaking tin shed) for homes and buildings. Large chunks of steel, massive shredders, presses and welders are scattered around the funky location that's reminiscent of the first shack Harleys were built in.

Lepera Banner

Nuttboy and I darkened their doors a couple of times to ask them to flame-cut a couple of chunks of steel for our fender brackets. The more I hung around the more quiet-James began to show me steel components he had fashioned for some of the local riders. He rebuilt and reformed Harley taillights to eliminate all the edges and grooves, then welded them to fenders so that ultimately there were no seams. The more I gawked at the sculptured parts, that demonstrated his ability, the more I knew we had discovered a man capable of Billy Westbrook fabrication qualities. We hauled the entire FXR to James the next week.

left fender panel

narrowed shocks

James relocated the straps in such a way to narrow the shock placement keeping that shrunken look in mind.

right close-up of weld area

This is a close-up of the right fender strap. It's been corrected, reformed and readied for final welds.

right fender strut

under rear of gas tank

We cut and fitted the tank and made the mounts, but James filled the underside, rear section for a perfect fit.

front of gas tank size

We jacked up the front of the tank and mounted it, but James filled it and formed the front of the tank to match the custom ridge along the top. He even made paint work suggestions that I found interesting. "If you paint a ridge like this with a light color," James said, "The ridge will disappear."

We decided to paint the bike a light House of Kolors pearl and create a dark teardrop panel on the top of the tank. He also created and welded fork stops to the neck.

As we rolled out of the shop that day James still had final welds to complete. He straightened out our seat pan, but needed to figure out a mounting arrangement. Finally we needed the Cyril Huze front fender brackets checked and welded into place.

We should have the Shrunken FXR back in our clutches in the next couple of weeks. We need to finish our rear brake and shifting mechanisms with Giggie from Compu-Fire, fire it up for a test ride and tear it down for paint.

Oh, I need to untie Nuttboy. I need that extension cord.


tank

The Shrunken FXR returned recently from Fam Art, in Harbor City, California (310-326-2141). They welded, shaved, mounted the seat, manufactured fork stops and saved our poor- construction asses. James Famighetti mounted our Cyril Huze front fender, welded and formed the tabs and informed us that the Avon Venom was too large for the narrow glide front end. It was our turn to work on it.

seat bracket

seat pan

Note that James mounted the seat pan so that the edges would not touch the frame paint in the future.

fender fill

Like any self-respecting bikers we hate to have a bike, or even components out of our mistrusting mitts. We had another dilemma that needed handling. The bike still didn't have a kick stand, and we used two 2 by 4's, to hold it upright, when not perched on the lift. There's a trick to this maneuver. If I backed the Pro Street FXR out of the garage and wasn't hauling the wood planks, I was screwed. If alone, I could stand there for hours waiting for someone to stroll past carrying two 2 by 4s--unlikely. After a couple of unsteady occurrences, the bike didn't move without the wood chips on the seat. You can imaging the major pain in the ass this caused.

front fender

We ordered a weld-on, Sportster style, kick stand from CCI, and it arrived complete, with all chromed hardware and the bracket to be welded on the frame. There was one problem in determining the position. The front Avon was a 100/100 18-inch, and we planned to replace it with a 90/90. We needed to have the finished Performance Machine wheel in place.

spacer 1

The Avon Road Runner tire arrived, and we had it installed at the local Yamaha dealer. James pointed out to us that our front tire spacing wasn't perfect so I sliced a spacer to give us about a 1/4-inch spacer on the right side of the wheel and about a 3/4 inch spacer on the left. The tire, almost centered, now had clearance, and the wheel floated effortlessly under the modified Cyril Huze front fender.

spacer 2

Now we were cleared to install the Hot Match weld-on kickstand. This is a tricky assembly process. First, you need to be absolutely sure you don't plan to change the front wheel, to a 21, or extend the front forks. If you do, the kickstand will need to be bent or modified to fit. It's not the end of the world, but it will destroy the chrome.

avon tire

The other trick is determining the right position. Here's what my feeble brain told me, since the directions with the Hot Match didn't cover positioning, except to recommend that you take your time--no shit. First I stood my Road King straight up and lifted the side stand until it was locked in place. Then I measured from the point that would touch the pavement to the ground. It varied from around 2.5 inches to 3 inches. I noted that the Hot Match lever was nearly 3 inches shorter from the point of contact to the center of the pivot point. I took that into consideration. I also noted that I had lowered my King with shorter shocks, then added a larger Avon tyre (a 150). Ground clearance was also a consideration.

kickstand in hand

Then we picked a placement area on the frame. Our design called for little or no forward controls. I kept the tab under the BDL belt drive system and hidden as much as possible, without being so far back as to create a balance problem. If the weight is forward of the kickstand, sometimes it can topple the bike. One other consideration. When the stand pops up you need to be able to reach it with a toe, and it better not ride on the belt, or you're toast. Make sure to check all that, before you burn any rod.

kickstand held in place

I sprayed the frame rail and the components with a silicone splatter preventative. It obstructs slag from sticking to components. It also made the frame a slipper bitch. I tried setting the stand end on a socket nearly 3 inches off the deck. Then I considered the differing lengths of the stands and shifted to 2.5 inches. Sin Wu was called, from the bedroom, to hold the stand firmly in place. I marked it, with a grease pencil, then ground the edges of the bracket to be welded to the frame. Extra grinding took place to form a snug, metal to metal fit. In order to make all this work we needed to partially assemble the kickstand without the ball and spring.

The easy-to-read directions called for disassembly, but we left it together and used it to hold the bracket in place for tacking. Before tacking I backed the bike out of the clamp, holding it upright, positioned the bracket in the white grease pencil marks and leaned the bike carefully until the stand rested on the flat surface. It looked cool, so we re-clamped the bike securely, held the stand in place, protected the belt from hot slag and tacked the sucker with our Millermatic welder. Then we took the stand arm off the bracket and welded it some more. That would hold it securely until we tore the bike down for paint.

kickstand welded in place

The Hot Match unit from Custom Chrome is a well made precision unit delivered show chromed. The instructions included recommendations to apply anti-seize to the spring and ball. They endorse using Red Loctite on the pivot pin threads. We didn't because the bike would be torn down for paint in the near future. The arm needs to be placed firmly over the bracket and pushed into place before the pin will ease into the hole from the bottom. It doesn't hurt to have a spare set of hands and someone holding the bike. There's also a pivot pin set screw to prevent losing that precious pivot pin and kick stand arm, on a desert highway, in the middle of Arizona.

rear shot showing kickstand

That's it, except to mention that when we head to the paint shop, we need to tape off the chrome bracket, so the painter will paint over the welds but not the chrome tab.


As you can see this bike is damn close to the spray booth. I need to coerce Giggie, from Compu-fire, to ride his FXR out to the Bikernet Headquarters with our mid-controls. Once the Joker Machine handlebar controls are bolted to the modified bars, we're ready for a trial run, then off to paint. Stay tuned.

BDL


full bike





--Bandit


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