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Heading to Paint Hopefully

By Bandit with photos by Weed

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This has been an interesting one. The issues with the primary drive and transmission alignment held up this puppy through the summer, the rally and now it’s October, about to be November. Oops, it is November.

There was also the daunting effort to haul the Salt Torpedo to Bonneville for the BMST. We prepped, studied, packed, asked questions, made reservations, loaded the van, bought a trailer, prepped it, read books and felt ready to roll out on Wednesday when the email arrived-- event cancelled. Too much rain water on the salt.

In some respects, it was good news. We knew the salt conditions were treacherous and threatened briny devastating to support vehicles, but we would have packed our shit and headed out like the unknowing 1846 Donor Party marching into the pass. In a sense Delvene Manning saved the day.

Okay, so what’s the current strategic position? The Tech Cycle crew helped out with the primary drive. Irish Rich coached me on drilling out the front motor-mount holes twice. Alignment’s critical, but I believe we are very close.

The Tech Cycle crew were exceedingly supportive. We considered numerous options from moving the engine and then moving the transmission. Altering the front chain spacer one inch turned scary hanging out in the wind way too far. We also moved the bearing support plate out ½-inch and then we faced the starter motor alignment. We needed to move the ring gear toward the trans a ½-inch.

You can begin to see the puzzle we faced. We spoke to Billy from Tech Cycle and he sent me another large aluminum clutch spacer ring, which we had machined at Clauser Machine, a 40-year old Machine shop in Spearfish. Initially, I thought I was going to move the Ring Gear back and the sprocket back and finally the engine sprocket out.
Here's the clutch with the new spacer. Everything seems golden in the clutch area.
Here's the clutch with the new spacer. Everything seems golden in the clutch area.

The figuring for the spacing called for a 7/8 of an inch difference between the sprockets, so the plan was to move the clutch sprocket in a half inch and the engine sprocket out a half inch. But the aluminum spacer couldn’t be machined to meet those specification, so I ended up with two .440 spacers from Reno at the machine shop.

But suddenly. I only needed one and it did the trick for both of the clutch measurements. There’s another tricky element here, the alignment of the trans drive sprocket with the rear Sprotor brake sprocket.

We ended up turning an offset PBI sprocket around, but that put the 530 chain mighty close to the transmission case and I ordered some massive shims from McMaster Carr. But spacing the sprocket out even slightly meant spacing the bearing support out more which actually moved the ring gear closer to the bearing support plate. Billy said it should be .070 from the plate for proper alignment to the starter.

As you know, making one element exact can fuck up all the other parts. I started to look at spacing the rear wheel out farther. That’s not going to work… Hang on.

At this point it was time to wrestle the 93-inch S&S Knucklehead engine out of the frame to clearance the holes in the frame. I discussed it with Irish Rich and we determined we didn’t want to mess with the 3/8 holes in the engine cases. The frame was more forgiving. Irish Rich modified the front engine mounting plate and holes to support a big twin engine.

First, I aligned the engine to the best of my ability using only the rear motor-mount holes. Then, with finger nail polished I painted the inside of the engine case holes and let it dry.

Muscling the engine out was a problem, and I basically walked the engine in and out with the use of blocks of wood. Then with oversized drills, milling machining tools and a hand Milwaukee drill I opened the holes. That drill is taking a beating and the clutch for tightening the chuck is shot, but I got the job done and then reinstalled the engine. Scary shit. While working on the frame, I strapped the engine to the side of the frame to keep it from trying to escape.

I thought I had this puppy nailed until I tried the Paughco top motor-mount. The engine holes needed to be widened to the outside and the frame top motor mount was a ½ inch above the center of the top motor-mount. I went to work, drilling, cutting, positioning and welding. So much for the show chromed pristine top motor-mount.

Time to tear the beast down, handle the final welds and go to paint.

I shipped the seat pan to Howard Knight the leather master for upholstery and leather genius artwork, but Howard faced health issues. Fuck, we all do at this age. We lost two more brothers this week, Nace Panzica and Phil Stadden, a master custom car and bike painter. Unfortunately, this is going to be the decline of the Baby Boomers all over the world. Fuck, we can’t live forever…
In many cases, taking photos of the parts and pieces will help with the assembly process.
In many cases, taking photos of the parts and pieces will help with the assembly process.

This bike turned out to be a welding exercise. I had a close friend who was a certified welder but came to me for brazing projects. I learned welding prep from Toby and how important it is. I also tasted aluminum, TIG and MIG welding. Prep is even more significant with aluminum. Then there’s welding cast aluminum, like engine cases. Toby who lives in the Port of Los Angeles on a rat sailboat is out of work and dying. We ran a Go-Fund-Me effort on our blog for the chain smoker from Canada, who refused to ever become a citizen, pay into social security or get a union job. He’ll show them how a biker outlaw does it until the end…

Through Irish Rich of Shamrocks Fabrication, I became more attuned to welding heat settings. He also introduced me to denatured alcohol for more precise area prep after grinding and cleaning, the final touch.

With this project I also experienced TIG welding with silicon bronze. This became a major resource since portions of this modified VL frame were originally sweat brazed, which doesn’t get along with TIG or MIG steel welding. It’s not as strong but flows better than even brazing.

I enjoy brazing, but it’s not as user friendly than silicone bronze. I need to warn you of the differences between silicone bronze or bronze and brass. It’s easy to walk into a welding supply and buy brass rod, only to find out it’s bronze. Even the clerks won’t know and the labels can be deceiving.

I was looking for copper colors.
I was looking for copper colors.

Read the fine print:

Brass is an alloy made primarily of copper and zinc. The proportions of the copper and zinc are varied to yield many different kinds of brass. Basic modern brass is 67% copper and 33% zinc.

“Understanding the Composition, Nature, and Characteristics of Brass.”
 The amount of copper may range from 55% to 95% by weight, with the amount of zinc varying from 5% to 45%.

Lead is commonly added to brass at a concentration of around 2%. The lead addition improves the machinability of brass. However, significant lead leaching often occurs, even in brass that contains a relatively low overall concentration of lead.

-- By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.
Rotax Metals, 12 July 2019.

Brass Properties

Brass often has a bright gold appearance, however, it can also be reddish-gold or silvery-white. A higher percentage of copper yields a rosy tone, while more zinc makes the alloy appear silver.

Brass has higher malleability than either bronze or zinc.

Brass has desirable acoustic properties appropriate for use in musical instruments.

The metal exhibits low friction.

Brass is a soft metal that may be used in cases when a low chance of sparking is necessary.

The alloy has a relatively low melting point.

It's a good conductor of heat.

Brass resists corrosion, including galvanic corrosion from saltwater.

Brass is easy to cast.

Brass is not ferromagnetic. Among other things, this makes it easier to separate from other metals for recycling.

Okay, here’s Bronze

Alloy of copper, usually with tin, but sometimes other elements, including manganese, phosphorus, silicon, and aluminum.

Properties of Bronze
Bronze is one of the earliest metals known to man. It is defined as an alloy made of copper and another metal, usually tin. Compositions vary, but most modern bronze is 88% copper and 12% tin. Bronze may also contain manganese, aluminum, nickel, phosphorus, silicon, arsenic, or zinc.

Although, at one time, bronze was an alloy consisting of copper with tin and brass was an alloy of copper with zinc, modern usage has blurred the lines between brass and bronze.

Now, copper alloys generally are called brass, with bronze sometimes considered a type of brass. To avoid confusion, museums and historical texts typically use the inclusive term "copper alloy." In science and engineering, bronze and brass are defined according to their element composition.

Bronze Properties

Bronze usually is a golden hard, brittle metal. The properties depend on the specific composition of the alloy as well as how it has been processed. Here are some typical characteristics:

Highly ductile.
Bronze exhibits low friction against other metals.
Many bronze alloys display the unusual property of expanding a small amount when solidifying from a liquid into a solid. For sculpture casting, this is desirable, as it helps to fill a mold.

Brittle, but less so than cast iron.

Upon exposure to air, bronze oxidizes, but only on its outer layer. This patina consists of copper oxide, which eventually becomes copper carbonate. The oxide layer protects the interior metal from further corrosion. However, if chlorides are present (as from seawater), copper chlorides form, which can cause "bronze disease" -- a condition in which corrosion works through the metal and destroys it.

Unlike steel, striking bronze against a hard surface won't generate sparks. This makes bronze useful for the metal used around flammable or explosive materials.

We used Silicon Bronze to act as Bondo in frame cracks and gaps. There will be no Bondo on this frame.
We used Silicon Bronze to act as Bondo in frame cracks and gaps. There will be no Bondo on this frame.

Here’s something on Silicone Bronze

Silicon bronze is like most other bronzes in that it is a copper alloy – that is, the base alloying metal is pure copper, imbued with other elements. It is made using around 94-96% copper by weight, and the rest is typically 2.5-6% silicon and a mixture of other metals such as aluminum, tin, zinc, lead, iron, manganese, and more.

Silicon bronze’s density is 8.53 g/cm3 (0.308 lb/in3) and alloys of this class benefit from both cold and hot working, as well as the heat treatment process. It is readily weldable, joinable, soldered, and cast, and is generally one of the easiest copper-based materials to form/pour. It sports a good corrosion resistance, strength, and formability, and is also considered one of the best-looking copper alloys.

Its formability mixed with its aesthetics allows silicon bronze to find many applications in decorative and architectural uses, as it has an attractive reddish-gold coloration and is resistant to deformation. It has low magnetic permeability and is conductive (though, it is typically not specified for its current-carrying capabilities).

It is a mainstay in most blacksmith forges, as silicon bronze works especially well under high heat and can be cold formed between anneals. Besides a decorative metal, silicon bronze finds applications in marine hardware, electrical components, and chemical processing equipment, to name just a few of its uses.

Benefits of Silicone in Bronze

Benefits of Adding Silicon to Brass & Bronze Alloys for Certain

When certain materials are added to copper it changes the physical and mechanical composition of the metal. Two such materials are tin and zinc.

Copper that has tin added into it is considered bronze. Bronze alloys provide a very hard metal that can sometimes be brittle and inflexible. When zinc is added to copper, it creates a brass alloy. Brass is softer than bronze, can flow more easily, and is malleable. To lessen the negative properties that zinc and tin add to copper alloys, silicon will also be added into the melt.

Benefits of Adding Silicon to Brass and Bronze

Silicon will add different properties to brass and bronze alloys. Yet one thing that this silicon will add to both alloys is deoxidization characteristics. All copper alloys deal with oxygen being added into the melt that can cause the alloy to become porous, develop voids, or create cracks when worked. To remove oxygen and other harmful gases, silicon will be added into the melt. The silicon will help remove the gas from the copper alloys to improve strength and reduce brittleness.

Another benefit that silicon adds to both brass and bronze is that it helps to increase corrosion resistance. Many copper alloys are naturally corrosion resistant, as they are used in many marine environments, outdoor applications, or when coming into constant contact with water. Silicon also is self-lubricating. If either brass or bronze is used in an application or fixture that requires this capability, then silicon brass or silicon bronze will be chosen.

Since my stuff is out for paint, I helped Adrian cut small gauge train track rails for a heater kick rail. I used my old sturdy Makita chop saw.
Since my stuff is out for paint, I helped Adrian cut small gauge train track rails for a heater kick rail. I used my old sturdy Makita chop saw.

Benefits of Silicon in Bronze

Due to the brittleness that tin adds to copper when creating bronze, silicon can make the bronze more fluid while reducing the brittleness. Another desired characteristic to silicon bronze is when using it to cast items.

Silicon causes the bronze to contract less when cooling. This property is highly desired when casting complex shapes and intricate geometries that may have points edges along the surface. In addition to being less brittle and offering little contraction, silicon makes the bronze more fluid. It flows well when cast or worked.

Benefits of Silicon in Brass

For brass, silicon’s main benefit is that it improves the strength of the metal. Since it is a soft alloy, the silicon bronze can be strengthened so that it can be used in additional applications where brass could not be used on its own. One thing to keep in mind is that when silicon is added, brass has a lower conductivity.

When you need silicon brass or silicon bronze, consider the application that the alloy will be used in to determine the which metal to use and the amount of silicon that should be added. If you need additional information about the formulas that can be created to develop silicon brass or silicon bronze, contact Belmont Metals.

Okay, so I went after all my welding projects on the frame. I filled the holes in the small, narrow fender with brass. I welded all my tabs, but when I encountered brass I shifted to Silicone Bronze. You’re not supposed to use Silicone Bronze when you need structural strength. I was cool with that until I reached my kickstand mount.

The stand mount was positioned right at the junction of one of the stock castings and frame tubes. Brass was everywhere. I welded as much as I could, but then shifted to Silicon Bronze. This Sportster styled bracket is massive and welded to the frame on all four sides, so I think I’m good to go.

I filled cracks in the frame. I turned and rolled the frame in every direction until all the welds were completed, I hope. Heat is a major issue with TIG welding and my welds are still not as sexy as Irish Rich welds.


I stored the Salt Torpedo in our new trailer and moved bikes around the shop. After the welds were completed and the bike completely torn down, I started to Satin Black paint various parts. I drilled holes for the high-low beam switch in the handlebars. I organized all the parts and pieces on a rolling cart and began hunting for a paint solution for the frame, tank and dinky rear fender.
I went to great efforts to center the fifth mount with the Tranny in the middle of the slots, but it doesn't look centered from the bottom. We will see...
I went to great efforts to center the fifth mount with the Tranny in the middle of the slots, but it doesn't look centered from the bottom. We will see...

I faced one more welding project before the frame would be ready for paint, the 5th tranny mount. I could have gone with four mounting holes, but Irish Rich recommended the last support mount. I dug through the drawers and found the perfect slotted, 3/8-inch thick chunk of mild steel. I cut a chunk of bar stock, but it was too short and I cut another piece. 
Fortunately, when I made the fifth transmission mount, straight steel TIG welding did the trick.
Fortunately, when I made the fifth transmission mount, straight steel TIG welding did the trick.

With everything bolted in place I cleaned the area, tacked it and went to town TIG welding it all with mild steel rod for strength. It had to be super-strong. Rich approved, and I was finally ready for paint. 

In many cases, taking photos of the parts and pieces will help with the assembly process.
In many cases, taking photos of the parts and pieces will help with the assembly process.

I was thinking powder-coating and then working with the master sign painter, Tim Peterson of Flat Earth Painting in Spearfish, SD. He’s an amazing artist and craftsman. Also, a rider and attendee of the Sturgis Rally for 40 some years, he’s responsible for remarkable signs all over the Black Hills, including the two iconic Sturgis Signs at the two entrances to the historic town.

He also paints most of Cabana Dan’s perfect restorations from the early teens and he’s a master pinstriper. I loaded my shit and drove out to his studio. He doesn’t like to paint bikes, but he will handle the graphics, flames, lettering, you name it and have your painter clear it.

We discussed lots of options and resources, but everywhere I went was booked until January including Greg Robles who lives in Boulder Canyon near where Buck Lovell lived. He painted my UL tank and paints cars from time to time.

This is one of Cabana Dan's early wheels after paint being laced. We are working on a tech.
This is one of Cabana Dan's early wheels after paint being laced. We are working on a tech.

I said, “Fuck it, I’ll paint it myself after powder seemed out of the picture, although I talked to a cool shop owner in Sturgis. I started to look into rattle-can Rust-oleum paints, but Tim frowned and coached me on the proper painting procedures and DeVillis paint guns.

I discovered a very cool paint supply in Sturgis and spoke to them, but I ran into a problem. The paint booth operation loomed. For me to create a paint operation to maintain the cleanliness and temperature for proper curing could be an issue.

I cruised out to Cabana Dan’s to discuss our next 1914 tech article and mentioned my painting plight. He said, “Hold on, TNT paint in Spearfish next to Taylord’s Custom bikes is advertising a deal on custom paint jobs. He’s looking for work.”

I immediately made an appointment to meet with Luke at Taylords and Tim and Nikki with TNT paint. Keep in mind, I’m trying to shoot for a patina bike. Nothing is designed to be perfect and only Cary 925 in Los Angeles is the master with patina paints. It’s a difficult process, but I’m trying to give it a taste of patina, so we’ll see.

Hang on for another paint report, or we’ll step from here to final assembly. Who knows where we will be a month from now?


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

JIMS Machine

McMaster Carr


Shamrocks Customs
Sturgis, SD



Terry Components
Check on J&P Cycles

Nash Motorcycles
Click for action.
Click for action.


Black Bike Wheels

Custom Chrome

Barnett’s clutch and cable

Dennis Kirk
Click for action!
Click for action!

Flat Earth Paint
Spearfish, SD
TNT Collision and Glass
Tim and Nikki
Join the Cantina, Quick! Touch her.
Join the Cantina, Quick! Touch her.


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