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VLXAFL-5 Knucklehead Chop Part 4

Oil tank, Battery, kickstand, Transmission, gearing and...

By Bandit with photos by Wrench
4/22/2023


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Here's my left foot peg and shifter arm. We will see, once the transmission is in place and the linkage hooked up.
Here's my left foot peg and shifter arm. We will see, once the transmission is in place and the linkage hooked up.



Yesterday was strange. While working with the MRF on a congressional resolution for Scientific Transparency, my son in Austin, Texas said Elon Musk proclaimed the sun will expand and we are all doomed. I better hurry up with this project. Then I asked when will this happen, next week or in a billion years? Inquiring minds need to know.

So, under a modicum of pressure, I escaped to my shop and attempted to shift my mind from treacherous doom and gloom over to mechanical freedom. I needed to finalize, or sorta finalize my rear brake system, and shift linkage.

With the proper, old frame, S&S transmission case, Irish rich, Carl Pussar and I started to piece together a 5-speed transmission. Rich had the detailed S&S instructions. I had a brand new JIMS countershaft (turned out to be the wrong one, a 6-speed counter-shaft), and I found out S&S no longer makes these transmission cases. Ah, but there was hope. JIMS bought the pattern and they are starting to reproduce a case that will fit in any old 4-speed frame and house a tough-as-nails 5-speed Evo transmission.

Here's the unknown JIMS shaft before machining.
Here's the unknown JIMS shaft before machining.



The instructions called for shortening the shift shaft .200 and shortening the hardened steel JIMS countershaft .280. Rather than challenging my new, rattling, Chinese built, Smithy Lathe, I took both pieces to Clauser Machine in Spearfish to have the job handled professionally. Besides, this shop has been in business 41 years in the same location by the same husband and wife team. S&S recommended grinding rather than trying to cut the hardened shafts.



We also ran into a glitch everyone should know about, especially if you are trying to build a transmission from a box of gears. There are two types of gears now, full mesh and semi-mesh gears (high-contact, introduced in 1994 and Low-contact 1981-1984) from the factory, and you’re not supposed to mix and match them. Rich has a formula and supposedly we have the gears to make it happen.



Teeth are more pointed and rounded.
Teeth are more pointed and rounded.



I can imagine screaming down the highway and two gears are engaged and don’t match. Suddenly they build tremendous heat and the transmission explodes, so watch out. I could be left alongside the road where only the buffalo roam.



This topic brings up another shop story. We discussed all the rigid frames and engines perched on benches all over the country, never reaching the road for a variety of reasons, from finances to divorce. But Rich joked recently about all the daunting options available to builders and how frustrating they can become, sorta like this transmission effort. Take for instance the number of tranny plates available today. It can confuse even experienced builders.

Turns out this is a six-speed JIMS counter-shaft. We machined the wrong one.
Turns out this is a six-speed JIMS counter-shaft. We machined the wrong one.



And hell, early 5-speed transmissions had tapered main shafts, not splined. I’m in that boat with this Evil primary drive, which has a tapered clutch hub, so instead of finding a splined mainshaft I have to have a tapered one. Fortunately, my transmission locker contained the shaft we needed.

Sprockets I had laying around. Not the correct vintage.
Sprockets I had laying around. Not the correct vintage.



I also needed to chase down a 24-tooth sprocket. Another search effort, but I finally found one for an ’80-’85 Harley. There’s like four different trans sprocket configurations. I’m still searching for a ¼-inch offset sprocket. No luck so far. The one I ordered from Dennis Kirk was wrong, but they have a terrific return policy. I discovered, no one makes a 24-tooth in the correct configuration, so I ended up going with a 23-tooth. Let’s see if the next one is correct.

I thought I ordered the correct one. The correct one would have been dished, not flat and just 23-teeth.
I thought I ordered the correct one. The correct one would have been dished, not flat and just 23-teeth.



End of this week, I could have an operating transmission, but wait, we ran into another issue.

The oil bag on its shelf, working like a champ.
The oil bag on its shelf, working like a champ.



One of my biggest challenges with this bike has been the oil tank. I came across this foot warmer from the turn of the 19th century and became determined to make it my oil tank. That’s where the challenges started. I thought I would mount it vertically. That didn’t work. I struggled until the Redhead came into the shop and said, “shelf.”

I was trying to work from the top with leather straps. I’m still trying to incorporate leather, but now a shelf will support the tank.

Battery tray initially in place against the Paughco tool box mount and the vintage spark plug holder.
Battery tray initially in place against the Paughco tool box mount and the vintage spark plug holder.



Next, the battery tray. I had a plan and a piece for the battery housing. I’m using a Paughco tool box mount and James Simonelli at Tucker gave me some Shocker battery recommendations. I ran into major issues trying to buy batteries on line.

I’m attempting to make a Paughco vintage spare sparkplug holder work for my circuit breakers and ignition switch. I will use a Spyke solenoid button for the starter button.


Regarding the battery. Where the hell was I going to put it? And as usual the battery size and number of cranking amps was critical. Here’s what James Simonelli, from Twin Power recommended based on the battery space I had:

A standard YTX-14L which is the size for 2004 and later Sportsters is 6 by 3.5 and 5 ¾ inches tall is good if you can squeeze the extra ¾-inch height (part number 781152 for Shocker AGM, 781232 for Shocker gel) 220 cranking amps.

Yuasa YTZ-14S is 6 by 3 7/16, by 4 3/8 tall. It’s more expensive and 230 cranking amps. But it afforded significantly more space. Part number 581383.

For an electric start big twin, a 14AH battery is absolutely the smallest I would recommend for an Electric start. The ’04 and later Sportsters and the Pan America use a 14AH and it is marginal. Softails and 4-speed FXE models use a 20AH battery and late dressers use a 30AH for comparison.

So, how did the 14S Yuasa battery compare. I was confused as usual.

Initially, I tried to work with a 310 cranking amps battery from the Salt Torpedo. This Knuck engine has much less power and size, at 93 inches and moderate compression compared to our JIMS 135 inch Twin Cam in the Salt Torpedo.


Based on James recommendations, some experience I’ve had with Evo batteries and my custom/outlaw approach, I decided to go with the 230 cranking amps Yuasu battery. But first I mounted the Paughco tool box strap after I shortened it.

I had a chromed side cover from who knows what. I sliced one inch out of the center going both ways. I attempted to TIG weld it, but TIG is sensitive to chrome or nickel with copper. I ended up brazing the pieces together. I used chunks of wood, cut to the size of the battery, to mock up the battery space.

The battery arrived pronto from Dennis Kirk, and I tested out how well my battery pan worked. I brazed brass strap rings and will have a leather hold-down strap made.

I attached the vintage sparkplug holder and took the lid off. It contained two sparkplug clamps, and I believe I can make one hold a 30-amp circuit breaker. I’m working to fit in a 15-amp for lights.



I dug around and found a toggle switch for the ignition.

The brass leather strap loops in place.
The brass leather strap loops in place.



Irish Rich is building a chopper for a customer and mentioned that he was close to tearing it down for finish welding. He wants the bike to be completed for the Black Hills Custom Motorcycle show in May. He’s a couple of steps ahead of me, but by the end of next week, I may be ready to tear down the Knuck and perform final welds. That would be exciting. Then off to the powder-coater and Tim, from the flat earth for pinstriping…

Randy Cramer gave me a card for a powder-coater down the street from Dakota V-Twin in Spearfish called KB or Kandy Bikes. Interesting.

I always get a little edgy trying something new. Fortunately, all the resources and experts in the world are at our fingertips nowadays. Just go to YouTube and search for what you need. Presto, an expert or 14 experts will tell you how it’s done all about products and tools—amazing.

In this case I’ll be plumber-soldering fittings to my copper oil tank. I’ve brazed steels and soldered wire forever, so why would this be an issue? I’ve watched plumbers solder pipes, but I’ve also seen sloppy soldering jobs, plus this is slightly different. I’m soldering brass fittings I machined to the copper tank shell.



I bought some brass fittings and discovered they won’t work. I needed to machine tank inserts, so the fittings could be removed, if the oil can needs to be removed. So far, I’ve machined one and tapped it with 1/8-inch pipe threads. So far so good.

Here are the two weld-on tabs.
Here are the two weld-on tabs.



Had to reshape the cam to make the upside-down weld-on unit work.
Had to reshape the cam to make the upside-down weld-on unit work.



Then came the kickstand. I bought a weld-on mount for ’57-‘84 Sportster kickstand. Then I discovered I had one still sealed in it’s plastic container. It was slightly different.

I also made a pin for the kickstand axle and drilled and taped the other end for a fastener. I had to reshape my tab for the spring placement.
I also made a pin for the kickstand axle and drilled and taped the other end for a fastener. I had to reshape my tab for the spring placement.



I discovered that the way they wanted it mounted would run into the primary, so I flipped it over. That meant I had to reconfigure the kickstand action and reweld the spring anchor plate. It worked, and then I welded the spring plate on wrong and had to punt. It worked and I tacked it to the frame.



Ah, the new proper tab TIG welded in place pointing down.
Ah, the new proper tab TIG welded in place pointing down.



I ordered a kickstand on line but it was back-ordered. I found a used one on ebay. It came complete with the spring and pin, so I went for it. I’m trying to use stuff with old rusting and chipped chrome for a weird patina effect.

Here's another trick to kickstands. How far will the bike lean over? I measured several other stands for guidance. I tacked it, so it was 2.5 inches from the lift. Need to unstrap the bike and test it.
Here's another trick to kickstands. How far will the bike lean over? I measured several other stands for guidance. I tacked it, so it was 2.5 inches from the lift. Need to unstrap the bike and test it.



I always try to make something work. Here are the old spring tabs. I welded a tube between the two. The battery charging wire will run under the engine from the regulator. Now I have a guide.
I always try to make something work. Here are the old spring tabs. I welded a tube between the two. The battery charging wire will run under the engine from the regulator. Now I have a guide.



I need to finish the oil tank, install the transmission and check driveline alignment, finish installing the rear fender, handle coil mount and cable guides, and then I can think about final welding and off to powder. Keep your fingers crossed.



I drove over to Irish Rich’s, Shamrocks Fabrication to build the 4-5-Speed transmission, but we ran into issues. We need a completed transmission in place and a complete alignment check before final welding. You’ll see the transmission rebuild with modified counter-shaft and shifting-shaft in the next episode.

--Bandit






Sources:

Click to Reach the Master on Face book.
Click to Reach the Master on Face book.


Atomic Dice

Clauser’s Machine Shop
Spearfish, SD

Dakota V-Twin
Spearfish, SD
www.dakotavtwin.com

JIMS Machine
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McMaster Carr
www.mcmastercarr.com

Paughco
Advertisement


Shamrocks Customs
Sturgis, SD

S&S


Terry Components
Check on J&P Cycles


Nash Motorcycles
Quick, join up. Just click and go.
Quick, join up. Just click and go.




Colony
www.colonymachine.com

Black Bike Wheels
www.blackbikewheels.com

Custom Chrome
www.customchrome.com

Barnett’s clutch and cable
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Dennis Kirk
Click for action!
Click for action!



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Reader Comments


Fun to be part of the evolution of your build. Or should I say "Revolucion"

John Martinisko
DEADWOOD, SD
Tuesday, April 25, 2023
Editor Response Ah, the Tequila master...
--Bandit

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