Saturday, November 5, 2005

Painted bodywork and frame

It's been nearly a year since the last updates. I've been really happy with the 650 engine in the chopper, and I've been riding the bike constantly over the summer. I love having a ratbike that I don't really care how it looks at all. However, a friend of mine recently got a job managing a VW restoration company, and offered to paint my ratbike bodywork for not very much money. So I diassembled the bike and handed her all my bodywork. Due to the parts being low-priority, and then a falling out at her workplace ending with her fired, and it took me forever to get my painted bodywork back. For a while there I was thinking I'd have to go on eBay and buy all new bodywork.

But finally I retrieved my parts. They weren't perfect... but they were a damn sight better than flat black and brush paint. There was still some orange peel and a run or two, but mostly in hidden areas.... and I paid so little for the parts, and was so happy just to get them back that I didn't care. I test-fit the parts on the bike and was awed... except for that crappy looking frame. It was time for some more modding.

I dropped the engine, and then stripped all the ancilarry parts off the frame, and then attacked it with a vibrating sander and a green srcubby wheel mounted in my drill. I got all the loose flaky paint and all the rust off, and scuffed up all the paint. I used my grinder to grind off the original gas tank mounting bungs, then welded up the welds I broke through with my wire feed (gasless) welder. Then ground that down again, and finally put bondo over the grinding marks and smoothed it all out. Since I had a ton of bondo left, I also went and added nice bondo fillets wherever the tubular frame met a stamped area. There were big gaps between these areas by design, but I figured the frame would look much better if all of that was smoothed out. I hoped it would make the frame flow together better. (In fact it did, and it looks largely factory).

I ground down a couple of welds on the top where the seat will sit, because those were some really ugly areas that needed a lot of work. There's no longer a stock seat to hide that section of the frame, and any aftermarket seat I use will expose at least part of the frame rails. The area isn't structural, so I just ground it down, bondo-ed, and sanded. I also ground off the stock tank mounting bungs and smoothed out the neck area. Then I welded on extensions to the steering stop so my handlebars wouldn't hit my freshly painted tank. Finally I painted the frame and rear wheel with Rustoleam black paint. I just brushed it on, and in a few hours it self-leveled so that no brush strokes were visable.

After the paint dried for a few days, I put the airbox and wiring harness back into place, re-wrapped the loose wires, installed a new coolant overflow bottle, installed the final drive, and put nice chrome acorn nuts everywhere I could. Then I mounted my engine hanger to my spare engine, and broke out the angle grinder. I used a cutting wheel to completely remove the top two mounting lugs. Then I installed the studs in the heads and slid the lugs over them. The lugs *just* touched the bracket, and I used my wire-feed flux welder to tack them into place. Unfortunately this welder is very light-duty, and I'm not too terribly skilled. So I took the bracket to a guy I know and paid him $60 to fill in the missing metal and make the bracket nice and strong. The bracket was now solid and fit, but it needed some grinding, bondo, and paint to be pretty.

After all this it was reassembly time.

Parts Breakdown
•  Bodywork painted: $350
•  Bondo: $8
•  Rustoleam: $Free (already had it in my garage)
•  Brushes, sandpaper, tack cloths, and misc painting supplies: $30
•  Front engine hanger modified: $60
Total: $448

Running total for Chopper: $1685

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