Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Fun with Frames

Here is another take on the back bone/spar frame.  These two builds from Jared Johnson of Holiday Custom Moto in Portland, Oregon have influences from Japan and Chicago.  The combination of the Yamaha factory spine frame and Schwinn cantilever frame make for an interesting hardtail.  There also maybe a bit of a nod to the oil in frame Triumph and BSA frames.  Almost could be considered a mashup of all those design influences.




Go to the following for some interesting footage of the two bikes.

After this bit of surfing I’m looking forward to this next Saturday.  I will have a chance to visit a new friend’s garage and talk over what he’s doing and what I’m doing, should be instructive and enlightening. 

I know he's willing to help provide instruction on use of my lathe.  He turns out to be a trained machinist hailing originally from the UK and Australia.  You never know what casual conversation will turn up.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Coincidence Brings Good Fortune

So as a result of off hand remarks by a friend I have meet another off the grid cycle builder similar in vision to myself.  I refer to the builder that had some tube bent up for a Sonic Weld like frame project.  My new found friend hadn’t used the tube and was more than willing to help.  Mostly because he actually had two identical tubes bent and willingly passed on the spare.

Material collected so far for the Overlander frame.

Notional look at what a backbone/spar might look like with the JAP and Norton gear box.  I’m not yet convinced this is the direction to go.  However it seems to have a simplicity that is attractive.

I have read several brief histories of the SonicWeld –TrackMaster frame shop saga.  Here are a few bikes built using one or the other.  I’m sure there are others making new versions of these famous frame designs.

                                         Shinya Kimura at

                                         Shinya Kimura at



SonicWeld from Framecrafters at

TrackMaster from Framecrafters at

When the Overlander project was first conceived I broadly thought that building an interpretation of the vintage TT racers would be what I was after.  However it seems that at times the parts and materials available have changed that original concept.

The sense I have is the build is evolving still and what does remain is the spirit of the privateer racer from years ago.  The spirit of one guy in his garage or shed building a motorcycle which not only suits him but also utilizes the parts and materials available as the build progresses.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Luck of the Pluck!

One objective of this Overland project has been to try and avoid it becoming a checkbook build.  The desire is to use, if you will, found bits and pieces rather than be too concerned about what is proper motorcycle bits, methodology and combinations.  As a result most of the parts and raw materials I have gathered up so far have some sort of story attached to them. 

With the arrival of the girder fork I now have the last big bit needed to start thinking of a frame to hang all these found bits from.  Of course this requires time, thought and a certain bit of luck, coincidence and some karma.  I haven’t run across the perfect old frame, nor did I ever plan to exclusively look for a frame I could modify.  I have considered several.  I also thought that building a frame from scratch would probably work better considering some of my ides for geometry and wheelbase.

No matter which way it would go some proper tubes would be required no matter what.  That is also why I have been working off and on to get some skill with various welding processes.  To help with the learning process I need some material to work with.  So why not go see and old friend that uses tube for restoring vintage aircraft.  Everybody has off-cuts and tubes that went wrong on bending, cutting or what have you.  So cheap or free tubing to learn with was the objective of a visit to his hanger.  The other objective was to also catch up because he also mucks about with motorcycles.

My friend has decided to retire from restoring vintage aircraft for other people and is now working hard on his own restoration projects.  The most recent completed and FAA certified and in the air is a 1943 Interstate.  And if his record photo looks great you should see it in person.  Most Excellent!!!

As a result of the retirement my friend is trying to clear out all the remains of tube stock he has accumulated over the years.  Good fortune for me.  In the process of rummaging looking for tube to work with I was also thinking of the tubes for the Overland frame.  My friend mentioned that he had, some years ago, bent up a tube of large diameter heavy walled tube for a friend’s semi-SonicWeld frame project.

Using a SonicWeld like back/spar configuration had occurred to me; however the thought of trying to bend up or source the fabrication of the tube pretty much turned me off of that idea. 

But a pre-bent tube was of interest.  So I got a name and phone number for the guy and a casual conversation turned into a lead for a main spar frame tube of unknown specifications but of 4130 chromalloy.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Out In The Cold

I got tired of looking at unobtainable cycles and decided I should brave the cold.  So I put the girder fork on the bench and started to get to know it and determine what I needed to do to refurbish things.  So instead of looking like this;

The fork looks like this.  No surprises so far but work to do.  Haven’t planned anything yet just wanted to disassemble things and measure up things for the record and keep on trucking.  At about this point my toes made it clear I had over stayed my welcome out in the cold. 

For me what was revealed was what I wanted; a very simple girder fork with no fancy stuff and in sound condition.  Pretty much got what I wanted.  While it really doesn’t make a difference, in the long run, I still can’t tell the original manufacture or age of this fork.

Garage Has Power Again

On Friday my friend and co-worker the Master Electrician finished the work in Kiotee Garage to get a new and safe 50 AMP circuit wired up.  Since that was at the end of the day I decided that today would be good for getting back to working with the TIG welder.  However Montana weather being what it is and this being December it started snowing and now it is about 20F (6.6C) outside and of course the garage, still heat less, is not very conducive to any work.

So then a hot cup of coffee in hand and nothing to occupy my hands and mind I started looking over the current flyer for the MidAmerican Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction. This all happens on January 10, 11 and 12.

Just in case anybody has some spare cash and they feel very philanthropic and supportive towards Kiotee Garage here are my support requirements;

This is the Vincent Black Lightning as built by Jeff Decker.  His bike gets ridden fairly regularly and for being a Vincent is just Most Excellent; not only for the look but also in performance and execution of the build.  For this bike I would over look the fact it’s a twin.

Next up on the list for support requirements is a 34 Crocker.  Not one of those over weight and over cylindered v-twins but a sexy, sleek single.  The only problem is that it has not been run in 50 years.  But being the wanker I am I would pull the engine, store the remains and build a complete new Overlander around it.  And then run the crap out of it.


After my first two choices the last on my support list may be looked at as odd.  A, purported, 1948 Norton Manx TT racer.  Yes it’s scruffy as hell but is claimed to run fine.  I would do enough cleaning to make her reliable and safe and then ride, ride, ride.  Well I would have to put the bare minimum of lights on to get her licensed and tagged but I’m sure I could do that without distracting from her natural beauty.

But all in all if you philanthropist really don’t feel like sending me all three then, believe it or not, just send me the Norton.
Yes I agree I’m odd but you know I have fun.