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The Salt Torpedo, Chapter 20

From Welding to Epoxy Filler and Aerodynamics

By Bandit with photos by Wrench

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We hauled ass on this project every week this year with few stumbling blocks. We didn’t know what the hell we were doing half the time, but we never hesitated to reach out to experts. All seemed to be flying toward a start-up and running this puppy around the block, until we faced fiberglass.

It was supposed to take a week, but it took a month or more. I learned a lot about fiberglass and I’m still learning. Then I ran the body out to Aircraft Windshields to have the windshield made. It took three weeks to get an estimate and the body back. The Lovely Jessica told me I would have my acrylic or plexiglass or Lexan windshield back by the 22nd of July. We chose a 1/4-inch acrylic shield.  That’s pushing it.

Jessica gave me three samples of tints. Micah said no tint, clear. He doesn’t want anything to obstruct his vision.

The next mission was to handle all the finish welding and paint the frame. Andrew Ursich volunteered to help TIG weld. He’s a master builder and a longshoreman for the Port of Los Angeles.

He came over for a few nights. I handled the tab welding and some of the TIG and MIG welding. There was a lot more welding to do and prepping the frame for paint.

Everything is a learning experience. I needed to know more about TIG welding, and we learned more about MIG welding prep and gas. It was surprising how many welds we spotted and filled. As Andrew finished components, I move the small stuff into our clean-room for either silver or satin black paint.

I have this shack built into my shop, in the rear corner. I put the solvent tank in there. The notion was to make it the clean room for rebuilding engines or carburetors. It turned into the housing supply room with paints, household electrical parts, plumbing shit, you name it. It’s a fucking mess most of the time.

I installed hooks in the ceiling so we can paint small parts and allow them to dry.

Finally, we could move the frame outside. I wire brushed it as much as possible and gave it a blast with the soda bottle, that’s a paint in the ass. There must be a better way of pouring the soda into the bottle, but I don’t know it yet.

I must have slipped through a half-dozen Rust-oleum cans. According to Dennis Manning we needed to avoid the cost and time lost of powder coating. “As soon as you start to put it together, you’ll find another tab that needs to be welding-on or changed,” he said.

This whole process has been a test of desires, wills, and emotional stability. From the very beginning of this odyssey, I wanted this to be a team effort. More folks have been involved in this project than any other motorcycle build I’ve been involved with, except maybe the Easyriders Streamliner.

I must remind myself constantly about the Buddha’s teachings. Nirvana, or a purely relaxed mode of operation comes from the mind. If you are wound up about anything, you can change your mind. The best way to describe this anomaly is to think about a friend’s reaction to something like a fender bender. One guy has an accident and notes the info and then calls his insurance agent. The next guy goes ballistic, like in road rage and beats the other guy with a baseball bat over a dinged fender. It’s all in the mind.

In each case it has nothing to do with the circumstances but only with your reaction, your mind. I’ve admittedly had some issues with my mind. But at least I’m aware of them and know the basics on how to relax and get back into the Nirvana mode. Sure, some of it comes from our fleeting timeline, the desire to be on the salt, and the will to be as perfect as possible.

My mantra is constantly all about moving forward. When someone suggests more work or delays, I get all wound up and start sharpening my knife…

Enough of the stress involved, let’s get back to the facts at hand. As soon as the frame was welded and had three coats of paint laid down, we could start final assembly and we went at it installing the JIMS monster engine, 5-speed transmission and the rear wheel. Then the front end was installed, and I started to install the front axle. We installed the modified Bassini Exhaust several times. We kept discovering something had to go on first, like the starter, then the clutch cable.

 We have the body back and I was concerned about the canopy. I called George, “The Wild Brush” and asked him, since he had mentioned fiberglass work in the past. “I can handle it,” George said. He’s worked with funny cars and dragsters. He has pinstriped and lettered hundreds of race cars and race boats and stood by while the masters fabricated almost anything.

I picked up the top of the body on Friday and Saturday George showed up along with Micah. They immediately hit it off. George started to criticize our bodywork and my stress level heightened. He wanted to modify aspects of the body before messing with the canopy. My mind immediately clicked off additional days messing with the body, while we could be making it run, but I agreed with most of his mods. I had to swallow hard and get back to the Marine supply store.

We tested the lead shot in the frame tubing for weight. We could get about 10 pounds of extra weight in the nose.
We tested the lead shot in the frame tubing for weight. We could get about 10 pounds of extra weight in the nose.

I spoke to Dennis Manning, the streamlining master, this morning about firewalls. He’s working on a book about his streamliner history. He suggested a drain behind the wall in the engine compartment to allow any fluids to escape and not creep into the pilot’s compartment.

He told me that all the holes for cables need to be above the centerline of the wall. We discussed how to seal it and he pointed out that because of air movement in the stern fumes are often pushed forward into the pilot’s compartment, which means the seal must be tight.

Dennis had a story to tell about each of his suggestions. He’s had experiences with them all, with over 35 years of streamliner experience. I want to get back to the fire wall, because it’s a major obstruction to progress.

We discovered another rule we must comply with. Trikes must have front fenders. I ordered a set from Kent Riches, Air Tech, and then we ran into shipping issues. Air Tech is in Southern California and the make products to order, so it took about six weeks. They were shipped and arrived in Carson, CA about 10 miles away. Then they were forwarded to Wilmington, NC on the east coast.

About then we started to track and holler, but the post office sent them back to Wilmington, CA where it was determined the address was wrong on the package. I couldn’t get to the post office quick enough. They had already sent them back to Air Tech.

Finally, the Air Tech fiberglass fenders arrived. They are light, thin fiberglass and very flimsy. Here’s what Kent recommended for mounting:

I’m not sure what spindles you are using but if they have any mounts on them for a drum backing plate or caliper mounts you can mount them there... I ran a bracket straight down from there to a hoop that went completely around the bottom edge of the glass pants.

I made this hoop out of 1/2 round metal, so it gave a nice radius finish at the bottom. on the outside of the wheel and inside of the pants, I ran another flat strap straight up from that bottom support hoop to the spindle center bearing castle nut... I took an old castle nut and welded a stub of 3/4 tubing on it and then welded a 1/4-20 nut inside the other end of the metal stub, then cranked that assembly onto the remaining threads onto the spindle....

Now, I could drill a hole through the outside of the pants so a support screw would go through the pants, through the flat strap coming up from the bottom edge hoop and thread into the spindle nut stub and keep the outside of the pants from dancing around.

So now, you have supports on the inside at the spindle flange and outside the wheel at the center spindle nut...

Hope you can understand this....

Team Airtech

Today, I am taking one of my grandkids to Charles Swab to set up a stock account or maybe two. I’m trying to instill in these kids the notion of building equity in their lives early. Lots of kids look at you cross-eyed, when you discuss such things, but as you know savings accounts won’t do squat for anyone now.

I tell them that equity can come in lots of forms from saving coins in a jar, to collecting motorcycles, paint a painting, make something, start a business, or buying a home. Buying stock is one of the easiest ways to go. It has risks, but it also has tremendous gains if you keep an eye on them.

Then I need to hit Phillips Steel for the strap I need to make the frames for the fenders. I need to get my ass back to the shop and apply at least two coats of Epoxy filler and hopefully get very close to a perfectly shaped body. That’s a major accomplishment.
I had to rebuild the parachute box with a couple of wider walls. George is working on installing it as I write this.
I had to rebuild the parachute box with a couple of wider walls. George is working on installing it as I write this.

But then we need to install the modified parachute box, but the real goal is the canopy. Hang on and don’t forget Nirvana.

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