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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Road King LED Taillight

I think the Road King was getting jealous by all the mods going on with the Sportster so I bought it a new taillight.  I had been running an aftermarket smoke laydown taillight with a Kuryakyn Iridium coated red incandescent bulb.  The bulb has a silver coating so it didn't look weird with the smoke taillight.  I liked the look but the thing I didn't like was that it wasn't very bright.  I use a run/turn/brake module so the rear turn signals double as running and brake lights and since those are LED, they outshined the Kuryakyn bulb considerably.  It was time for a change.

I bought a Custom Dynamics Genesis II smoke laydown taillight with 120 super bright LEDs.

Here's the old taillight (running light, brake not applied):

Installation was extremely easy.  Remove 2 screws, unplug old light, clean housing, plug in new light, and reinstall the 2 screws.

Running light (brake not applied):

The pictures don't do it justice, especially in daylight.  It's a lot brighter and more noticeable than the old light.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sporty To Do List

While I've made a ton of progress lately, there's still a lot to do.  My to-do list is below.  I am hoping to be done a week from now.  Am I being too optimistic?  Hopefully not.  I'm a few days behind on posting so I'm actually farther along than you might think but will I finish on time?  I really want to ride the Sporty to First Thursday on 6/7 and then to the Chopper Art Show on Saturday 6/9.
  • Tank
    • Paint a few coats of Gloss Black and Metalcast Red around the filler hole*
    • Wetsand
    • Clearcoat
    • Buff
    • Touch up tank lift brackets and replace grommets
    • Reinstall
    • Add new fuel line
  • Mini-Fender
    • Finish bodywork*
    • Paint
    • Install
  • Hollow Struts
    • Finish bodywork*
    • Paint
    • Mount taillights
    • Install
  • Rear Fender
    • Paint a few coats of Black and Metalcast Red around the filler hole*
    • Wetsand
    • Clearcoat
    • Buff
    • Install
  • License Plate
    • Install
    • Extend and secure the wiring
  • Seat
    • Fabricate a mounting bracket*
    • Paint the bracket
    • Install
  • Pipes
    • Install new mounting bracket*
    • Wrap pipes
    • Paint the wrap
    • Install
  • Gas it up and ride
* These steps are actually done but I haven't posted details about them yet.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Just over 2 years from when I started this blog, I finally reached 500 posts.  I'm not even sure how many thousands of photos I've uploaded.  I'm not going to count.

There are lots of things to look forward to in 2012 including getting the Sportster back on the road shortly (and looking better than ever), lots of riding in and around the Twin Cities, some big local bike shows, and later this year I'll be down in Tennessee and North Carolina riding the Tail of the Dragon and other roads in the Smoky Mountains for the first time.  Lots of pics and stories to come as I pass 500 and head towards my 1,000th post.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Tank Touch-up Prep

I'm quite proud of my rattlecan paint job on my tank.  However, it was my first time painting a tank and I made some mistakes along the way.  One of those mistakes that is starting to cause problems was using the cheap spray paint too far down into the filler hole.  The Spraymax 2K Clear Coat couldn't protect it and gas has worked its way into the black paint and softened it around the filler hole.  Since I'm in the process of painting my new fender, it's the perfect time to take action before it gets any worse.

I removed the tank and drained it.

Then I plugged the filler hole with a ball of masking tape, sticky side out.  This along with regular bursts of compressed air helped keep dust and paint chips from getting into the tank.

I used my rotary tool to remove all the bad paint.  The plan is to paint black only for the small area visible when the filler cap is in place and then protect it with clear coat, ensuring the clear coat bonds with the raw metal so the gas (hopefully) can't get under it.

Here's the Sportster looking very stripped down.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Rear Fender Lace Painting Progress

As you may remember, the rear fender was recently covered in Dupli-Color Metal Specks Red.  I am following the exact same process that I did when I painted the lace pattern on the tank and previous fender.

I wet sanded it with 800 grit sandpaper and put a line of blue painters tape down the middle as a guide for my pinstripes.

I laid down the pinstriping tape just outside the blue painters tape.The straight lines on the fender are so much easier to deal with than the tank.

Then I removed the painters tape.

I used some printer paper to mask off the sides to only leave the area between the pinstripes exposed.

I had kept spare lace from when I originally painted the tank so the pattern will match exactly.  I used spray adhesive to keep it in place, careful to line up the row of flowers to match the lace racing stripe on the tank.

Then I sprayed Dupli-Color Glass Black over the lace and pulled the lace off.

Then I used the same trick as before, putting a drinking straw over the spray can nozzle to get spray paint into my airbrush cup.

I fogged in the edges along the pinstripes with my airbrush.

Then I removed all the masking except the pinstripe tape.  That needs to stay on a while longer.

The next steps are to mask off the lace and spray the whole fender in gloss black.  Then the mask and pinstripe tape can come off and the whole thing will get covered in Dupli-Color Metalcast Red, a transparent red.  After a week of drying time, it'll get clear coated (Spraymax 2K) and buffed.  While I'm doing all that to the fender, the plan is to also touch up the gas tank around the filler hole.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Dressing Up The Rear Wheel

With a brand new wheel and tire, the stock pulley, brake rotor, and hardware looked like crap so I decided to dress them up a bit.

Here's the stock pulley.

I picked up a chrome pulley cover on eBay (cheap) and got the chrome hardware from the local dealer.

It makes a huge difference:

On the other side, the brake rotor was dirty and had a little surface rust in the grooves.

I used a block sander with 1000 grit sandpaper and some WD-40 to sand it down.  I got into all the grooves with my rotary tool.  Then I used metal polish and a polishing ball to get it looking good.  I didn't get it to a chrome-like shine or anything but I think it looks significantly better.  The pictures don't do it justice.

More chrome hardware from the dealer.

Finished product.

Here's a look at the tire from both angles mounted back on the bike.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Blingy Belt Tensioners

I replaced my old stock belt tensioners with these new ones with chrome caps.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Fender Nubs

What used to be the stock fender struts have been reduced to fender nubs after two rounds of chopping.  I used my rotary tool and hand file to take off additional material so my homemade hollow struts will slip over the "nubs" with ease.  Then I protected the rest of the bike with masking tape and an old sheet.

I used Rust-Oleum Professional Gloss Black High Performance Enamel, which is a very close match to the rest of the frame. I use it on lots of the parts I make as it's pretty durable.  Here is one nub painted...

 ...and here's both.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ever Dream of Riding to Alaska?

If you're not following Chris Luhman's moto-adventure of a lifetime over on his blog, you really should.  He is currently about halfway through his 7 week trip from Minnesota to Alaska to California and back.  I'll say that again, he rode to Alaska.  The photos are absolutely beautiful.  Did I mention he lives in Minnesota, doesn't own a car, and rides his motorcycles year-round?

Check out Chris' blog here: Everyday Riding

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Welding My Hollow Struts

I decided to weld my hollow fender struts myself.  Go big or go home, right?  Again, I have no real welding experience and I own a very cheap welder so give me a break when you scroll down and see my welds.

Here's my fine Harbor Freight flux core welder.  You don't have to tell me the Lethal Threat decal makes it classy.  I know it does.

I used a magnet to hold the pieces in place and tack welded it.

After quite a few passes, here is the result.  Yes, there's a lot of splatter and it's not what I would call a pretty weld, but the two pieces of steel are now one and that's all that matters.  My angle grinder will clean it up later.

Here's the second side.

One strut done!

It actually fits and the holes line up.  Woo hoo!

By the time I welded the fourth side piece, I think my welds got better.  The line on the top was my last and I think my best. Just to be clear, I didn't say it was good, only that it was my best.

Here are my two struts ready for grinding and sanding.

Here they are after a little work.  They still need more sanding but you get the idea.

I am really glad I decided to weld them myself.  Even though the welds were far from perfect and far from pretty, I take a lot of pride in the fact I did it all myself.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Plugging Fender Holes

The piece I'm calling the mini-fender has four unnecessary holes.  One big one was used for routing wiring and the other three small ones were for rivets to attach the plastic rear fender extension on stock fenders.  This was to be my first real test with my cheap-ass Harbor Freight flux core welder.

I have no real welding experience or training.  I watched the MIG Welding Fundamentals DVD from Lowbrow Customs and played with a few piece of scrap metal.  I also watch a lot of car and motorcycle TV shows where guys are welding if that counts.

First I made a plug for the large hole out of 16 gauge steel.

Then I decided to start small with the three rivet holes.  I used my hand drill with a Scotch-Brite disc to remove the paint around the welding areas.  Then I clamped it to a thicker piece of steel to act as a backing plate but hopefully be thick enough not to weld to the fender..

It took a few tries to build up material and not burn through the fender.

Here's the center rivet hole filled.

I used a magnet to hold the plug in place.

Then I tacked it in place.

Here is is sealed.  I checked it against a bright light and kept welding until I filled in all the pinholes.

Here it is after a little grinding and sanding.  A little body filler and paint and you should never know the holes were there.
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