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Discussion in 'Old's Cool' started by earwig, Feb 23, 2011.
The front tire needs to go. Even a Asian K70 would be a huge improvment, but yes a trials tire.
I like the front tire. I say run it until it dies and then put something else on. Screw it.
I took Trudy out to play at my club's annual "Isle of Swine" campout. My late arrival meant I only had about an hour to ride, but she worked really well on the dry dirt and gravel roads where we were camped. Definitely showed that she's on the right track.
But, she came home with only a slight coating of dust . . .
. . . because before the sun actually set I'd done some pretty serious damage to the ligaments in my right leg and my riding was over for the rest of the Summer.
I won't start that story here, but suffice it to say that no motorcycles were involved, and . . . I'm a clumsy oaf.
The good news was that while I was away my wife had reluctantly agreed to bid on a set of pipes on eBay for me. She was worried that she'd be responsible if I didn't win them (I didn't have a sniper app at this time). Well, she needn't have worried, because she did win them for me. Thanks, Sweetie!
These are the pipes I wanted from the start.
I believe they're MCMs. They were in great shape, not rusty but appropriately scratched and worn. Even came with beer can baffles already installed. They don't sound as deep and rumbly as the mufflers on the old pipes, but aren't obnoxiously loud. I can live with the slightly blatty bark, because they look absolutely perfect to my eye.
Next up, I finally found the right single instrument bracket to mount up the correct speedo.
I had previously traded the newer speedo and rubber mount for this properly bruised old magnetic clock. The headlight mesh was an experiment that I decided wasn't quite what I wanted.
If you hadn't noticed already, I'm very anal about all the little details, in fact, there are lots of little things I've omitted from the story because I tend to obsess over every little thing. It's surprising how much work it takes to make her appear natural, and not overly groomed. Especially when I'm overly grooming her.
So, she's getting much closer. I like the way the stubby exhaust sort of visually shortens the whole bike. The standard bikes, with low exhaust, have a stretched look. With short high pipes she shows her evolutionary step to the dirt bikes we recognize today. But, that long seat is still drawing the eye into seeing a horizontal line. Getting the seat right will be a major key to Trudy's look.
Here's the basic look I'm really going for:
The checkerboard on the seat is a bit too much, but all the proportions of this bike look just right to me.
Next I'll get to my first seat attempt . . .
Having grown up racing in the desert, I know what a real old school desert sled should look like, and this is one. Note the trials tire in the front, no desert racer back in the day would ever put a knobbie in the front because he knew that the trials tire floated on top of the sand and didn't knife into it like a knob does. The checkerboard as you call it, is there because the owner of the bike (at least at the time) is a member of the Checkers MC, one of the greatest desert racing clubs of all time. And BTW if you aren't a Checker it is rude to adorn your bike with them.
I'm well aware of the Checkers MC. I must admit, I hadn't put two and two together and realized the connection. None the less, as previously stated, not what I planned to do.
I've already covered the front tire choice, and said I'm aware that a trials tire would look more appropriate. I may well mount one in the future. For now, as it's not a race bike, the front works fine for my purposes.
Dear Mr. Earwig......
What a cool bike! Well done!
I love all the early desert stuff but can't imagine what it would like to ride at speed through the whoops.
The blokes that rode these things must have had balls the size of watermelons!
How is a bloke supposed to get any sleep, with you guys re-building old bikes with such amazing UNceremony, and me with the old much-loved but long-idle CB350 in the back of the shed? (That would be the old bike behind 2 beds, 20000 cardboard storage boxes, 3 huge stacks of old magazines, assorted roof insulation rolls, etc).
Between your lazarus-ride and the guys who have just restored then raced the vintage Baja on a prepped CB350, I can never walk in that shed again without ignoring her plaintive cries for help......
Funny thing is, a 350/400 twin would be the perfect size bike for me at the moment too. I might have to go to the shed quickly!
Where were we?
Oh yeah . . . seat.
Trudy needs a desert sled seat. The sleds I'm talking about were the original California sleds. Back when you couldn't buy a ready made dirt bike, you had to make your own out of something originally designed for the street. Desert sleds were definitely a little more specialized, but not too far from a dirt bike.
Bates made the cool seats back then. Not the little solo Bates seats that are so in demand for old Harleys, but the short, chunky "breadloaf" Bates seats.
Well, obviously you can't go down to the local shop and pick these up anymore. I've got lots of motorcycling contacts, and looked at swap meets for quite a while, but no joy. Had to resort to eBay.
They pop up from time to time, various types in every condition from like new to tattered garbage, but the good ones get snapped up quickly, and usually for crazy prices.
I briefly considered building a copy myself, and looked into leather choices, but unless I did some fake patina job on my own it would just look to new and cheesy. Plus, that wouldn't be too cheap either, since I'd need a pro to do the stitching.
Eventually an old Bates seat cover showed up on eBay. Just the cover, no foam or seat base at all. It was pretty cool, with an unusual ribbed top (like the red one, upper right, except black) and some nice, authentic, patina. I thought it might go cheap, who wants to build the rest of the seat?
The auction was ending in the wee hours of the morning, and not having a sniper app at the time, I crawled out of bed and rolled up the sleeves of my robe, ready for battle.
The price started climbing about ten minutes before the end of the auction, and with three minutes left, it had risen above my comfort zone. Unfortunately, this gave me time to reflect on my level of desperation. Damn . . . I really wanted it.
So, lacking patience and with caution thrown to the wind, I decided on the highest number I could live with, waited until the last ten seconds, and hit the button.
The remorse set in as soon as I was declared the winner, but I had my seat . . . or at least the one part I couldn't create myself . . . and a new project.
So here's what I bought:
What the Hell was I thinking???
i get it.
glad you got it..
i love trudy.
I must say Earwig, your passion for staying true to the authentic vintage desert sled look, certainly shows! When your dedicated to achieving a particular look and feel to your bike, sometimes you have to take the plunge and hope for the best when the part arrives! There is an art to building a vintage or antique motorcycle that retains an authentic flavor, and rather than settling for a modern seat cover, you stuck to your principals!
Don't ask me how much I paid for a new old stock 1953 Indian Chief bench seat! (That got damaged in shipping!!). My friend choked on his beer when I told him the price. :eek1:eek1
Wow Earwig, I think you have done a wonderful job on Trudy. I'd love to build a desert sled, but just can't come up with the time and money at the moment... therefore I am living vicariously through you :)
Just from a design perspective (what I masquerade as doing when not riding), the Bates circular ad is amazing. Thanks for sharing.
You could buy an old leather jacket at the swap meat and use that to make a cover on a modded mx bike seat pan/foam from the local bike recycler shop.
First step: measuring and pattern making.
It was immediately evident that this wasn't quite my first choice for a seat shape. It's a little more narrow and not as tall as the TT seat I would have preferred, but with the bike promised for a small local show in two weeks, it will have to do for now.
A little trial and error gets me a basic seat base template:
Initially I thought I'd make the base from aluminum, but the originals were steel and I'm probably going to need some welding on the base, which is just easier with steel. 12 gauge is a little more than necessary, but since she's not a competition bike I'd rather have strength than lightness.
Transfer the template to the steel:
The jigsaw isn't as fast as the plasma cutter, but it's more accurate and leaves a much cleaner edge:
A little bumping gets it into shape:
Now, how to attach the seat? Lots of ideas here . . . the most common way I've seen them in the past is with two prongs in the front that slip under the front edge of the seat loop, just beneath the tank for attaching the front . . . then some kind of bracket bridging the seat loop in the rear.
I'd prefer a way to make the seat easily removable, especially for the short term, as checking/adding oil to the stock style oil tank that I'll be fitting soon requires seat removal. Eventually I'll find a period Webco oil tank or modify the stock one for a side filler neck.
I start by making two bridge brackets that bolt to the existing seat hinges, allowing the seat to latch and hinge like the original seat. Unfortunately, after quite a bit of work it becomes clear that this will leave the seat way too high, with an unsightly gap underneath. Maybe I can refine the idea later, but I just don't have the time now.
Quick solution: use a "footman loop" under the front of the seat, which slides over a piece of 2" steel flatbar u-bolted to the frame's down tube. Then just bolt the rear end down under the rear mud guard's mount bracket. Not the most elegant solution, but quick, mostly invisible and not overly heavy.
"Footman loop" mounted under the nose of the seat, with a replaceable wear strip:
Flatbar tab that engages the "footman loop". Slightly angled upward to keep the seat under tension when bolted in the rear:
And, the less elegant (but not too visible, once sprayed black) u-bolt attachment of the tab:
With the nose slipped over the tab, rear unfastened, showing clearance for the tank mounting bolt in front and the rear of the base floating high to keep tension on the rear seat bolt:
Still thinking I might change my mind later about mounting (and figuring nuts are relatively light) I drill for three different mounting options and secure nuts for welding:
My buddy Derrick is a much better welder than me, so he does the work:
A final fitting:
And a little paint:
And I'm ready to start the upholstery . . .
The leather had worn through in several spots around the edge where it contacted the original seat base, so I cut about a half dozen leather patches and applied them to the inside with a leather adhesive.
Radioman has built several amazing seats for himself and others. He clued me in on a local supplier and which foam to use for a nice, firm seat. I ended up getting the firmest rebond foam they had, plus some really soft 1/2" thick smoothing foam for the outer layer. A few tries with a battery powered electric knife were slightly disappointing, so I purchased an inexpensive 120V model and the results were amazing. I had been a little intimidated about shaping the foam, but with this tool it was very easy. It is able to cut really thin slices of the foam and even do a lot of actual sculpting of the dense rebond foam. The results were so good I didn't even need to resort to sanding (or freezing and sanding) at all.
Here's the base layer, with the lower rear arch relieved to match the seat pan:
Even this arched relief cut was simple with the 120V electric knife:
I had plenty of rebond, expecting to make several tries, but I had so much control that my first try was good. Another little relief cut up front:
Very quickly had a base layer that matched the seat pan really nicely:
Cut and glued up another layer:
More shaping (dimensions on my sketch ended up being modified):
Glued on a scrap chunk for the bump and did a little sculpting:
That was getting pretty close. I was test fitting the leather cover during the whole process, and adjusting as required. I did end up building the bump up a bit higher than that, but don't have a final photo.
Next, some door edging for the seat pan:
Then it was time to stretch the cover on and begin the final attachment:
Is there a skid plate in Trudi's future?
All in good time, my friend . . . all in good time . . .