Brutus: The CB550F Cafe/Gravel Runner Build

Discussion in 'Some Assembly Required' started by JB2, Nov 11, 2015.

  1. Brewtus

    Brewtus Buffoonery, Inc.

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    Nice project you have going on there, and a killer name to boot! :lol3
    #21
  2. JB2

    JB2 Dirt Of The Earth

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    Brewtus, maybe I should get the spelling correct before ordering that vanity plate? :lol3
    #22
  3. JB2

    JB2 Dirt Of The Earth

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    I came home from work last Thursday to find the first box of parts had arrived. This order came from 4into1 and consisted of rubber isolators and pins for the seat, handgrips and the Lucas style tail lamp. That means I can have the seat pan back in working order so that all the measurements will be made from the correct points. Nice to get rid of the bungees I had holding the seat down and actually have a working lock with keys. We're in the big time now! :D

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    Install the new isolators on the striker and...

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    ..install the the striker on the seat and install the seat with new hinge pins... and grease. Why do people not oil things?

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    Finally, install the new latch and adjust the striker until it shuts like the decklid on a Lexus.

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    The last thing to do until I ran out of parts again was to install the new Biltwell Renegade grips and mock up the new Lucas to the fender with duck tape. Radian... :lol3

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    I had debated in my mind where to place the tail lamp and the plate. I don't like the hanging off the side look. One of the places under consideration was the back of the seat. The other was the Lucas on top and the plate underhung from the fender. This was the third option; using the built in bracket and letting the plate hang over the end of the fender. This is probably the only part of the build that wouldn't exactly pass for factory but it's the way I pictured the bike ever since I started the project. The seat deal was ruled out because the new rear loop would hide the lamp. The second option be good would too but there would be additional weight and fab work. I like it like this, so this is the setup. Look at the significant weight savings in comparison already.

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    I couldn't quit looking at the bike bike Friday night. Should have went to bed early 'cause I was leaving for St Louis early the next morning with Kip Kern. My hope was that the rear hoop would arrive while we were on the road Saturday. We got back home late Saturday and the hoop was indeed there. I'd already been on the road 11 hours, touring the Mungenast Museum for 4 hours and now this? :D Looks like another late night.

    Stay tuned.
    #23
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  4. JB2

    JB2 Dirt Of The Earth

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    I stayed up an hour or so after returning home. The hoop was designed to mate with the factory tubing and would require peeling back the sandwiched sheet metal at the shock mount to make everything look like it was born that way. There's also the challenge of leaving breadcrumb trail so the the seat support and fender mounting tabs can be built into the new hoop and have all the stock components bolt right up to it. That would involve making a jig. I searched out the scrap piles and found some stock that would make a perfect jig. I figured it was time to cut the lights in the shop and call it a night.

    Sunday came early. I'd been playing all the options over and over in my dreams and figured out some things in my sleep. The first thing I did was a teardown and then mark where to make the first cut. It looked like the tubing ended inside the bracket about an inch forward of the first cut. Since this is my first time on this style of frame it seemed a good choice to be conservative. I can always make a second cut and had planned on it.

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    I couldn't get the angle iron to lay against the inside of the strut because of these wiring loops welded to the frame. They were easily removed with a cold chisel and a hammer.

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    Next, I cut and laid out the pieces for a jig. I'm using the frame tubes over the airbox as a datum plane. I'll build the jig from this location to establish the control points.

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    Here's the jig with the distance and height of the rear fender mounts all done except for drilling the jig by using the factory hole in the strut as a guide.

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    Next step is to establish the height and centerline of the seat support. The seat support serves two functions on this bike. First, it supports the rear part of the seat. Second, the rear half and front half of the rear fender join here at the two holes in the top of the support. I'll make the replacement support out of 1/8" X 1-1/4" flat stock.

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    And here's the jig ready to remove from the frame.

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    And, here's the finished bread crumb trail.

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    You know... all the fabricating to this point has been on replaceable parts. Ooooooooh, the purists are gonna hate me now! :lol3

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    And another few pounds are removed from the bike when compared to the stock pieces. Even with the fender mounting tabs and seat support installed the new piece will be lighter for sure.

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    For the most part I am using 4 vendors; 4into1, Everette Powersports, Classic Cycle Parts and Lowbrow Customs. Having said that, I also seek out cottage vendors who hand-make parts. I purchased the rear hoop from Carpy's Cafe Racers. I'm impressed with the quality of their builds and they offer some unique handbuilt parts for cafe bikes. The rear hoop is going to be a breeze by buying a part that was made for this very bike and right here in the USA to boot!

    Time will be short in the shop for the next week or so. It looks like I won't get any significant time back on the project until Thanksgiving weekend. But, you can rest assured I'll be walking around it when I have a spare minute planning the execution of the rear hoop.

    Until then...
    #24
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  5. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid! Supporter

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    Looking good.

    I am with you on the tail light. I have three now, and one of them will end up on top of the rear fender. I didn't like the side light/license mount at all for a scrambler look. Too chopperish for me!
    #25
    JB2 likes this.
  6. JB2

    JB2 Dirt Of The Earth

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    I was publishing the photos from our visit to the Mungenast Museum and ran across several photos of inspiring bikes.

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    This early Bonneville hits many parallels with the color palette and the balance of paint vs. chrome & polishing that I'll be employing on Brutus.

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    And who couldn't find inspiration in a GB500TT?

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    I was really hoping to find a CB550F that was unmolested so I could see what the bike originally looked like in person. They had a CB550K model and this CB400F. The 400 is very similar to the 550 for being very different.

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    Nothing that I'm doing on this build hasn't already been done before. At the same time it will be unique with many handmade and one-off parts. The next couple of weeks will seem an eternity until I can get back in the shop. :dirtdog
    #26
  7. JB2

    JB2 Dirt Of The Earth

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    Thanks Jim! I think the side mount just takes away from the symmetry and balance of the bike. I don't want to hang anything off the side when one of my goals was to narrow the bike from behind the rider position back to the light. Besides that I don't mind using the obnoxious mandated plate for a mudflap. Seems fitting in a rebellious kind of way. :super
    #27
  8. radianrider

    radianrider Adventurer wanna'be

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    Coming along nicely! Good to see intelligent design and significant skill bringing a bike back better than new. Even threw a little of "Duc's" influence in for good measure.

    Firmly convinced I need to learn how to weld. Too many cool projects need welding skills.

    I really hate having to stop in the middle of project--sometimes hard to get back into the swing of it--but I also find that time to think about the project without doing something on it often leads to an unexpected change in direction. Gives me time to ponder out a new solution to a problem.

    Speaking of which, I should probably get back to refinishing that bass guitar I stripped 3 years ago. I've had enough time to think about it. Thinking a blue burst finish would look good. :D

    So what bike did you help Kip deliver? Back to the Pentons?
    #28
  9. JB2

    JB2 Dirt Of The Earth

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    Radian, it's never too late to learn as you should know. I think you'd have no problem. Kip delivered a CZ250 and a Bultaco Frontera to the museum. A couple of other mutual friends to the Mungenast brothers & Kip were also delivering three restored bikes to the museum. It was Christmas in November for Dave Jr. and Ray Mungenast. It was refreshing to see two brothers who collectively own well over 200 motorcycles get excited as a kid unwrapping presents on the big day. They couldn't stop grinning and you'd have thought those were the first motorcycles they'd ever owned. Their father and both brothers have competed and won medals in the ISDT. Their passion runs deep. ADV'rs for sure.

    Blue burst sounds awesome. Can't wait to see it.
    #29
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  10. JB2

    JB2 Dirt Of The Earth

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    With the Thanksgiving weekend upon us I managed to get back out in the shop. Wednesday evening I had in mind to get things set up for a full day out here tomorrow. I actually got a little more done than anticipated. The first task was to locate the exact end of the tube inside of the boxed reinforcement. To properly join the sleeves and new rear hoop required removing just enough of the reinforcement to expose the end of the tube for welding.

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    I marked out the ends on the side of the reinforcement and planned on leaving tag ends at the bottom to reshape it.

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    Cut the right side...

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    ... then the left and I'm just a little ahead of the list of things I wanted to get done this holiday weekend. Things are coming together.

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    The next challenge would be to straighten the end of tube where it been distorted during the original building process and just exactly how to box in the reinforcement to make it look factory. Well, as always I'll sleep on it first to see if anything gets sorted out while in dreamland. And the seat, I know it will be narrower but how much shorter? Stay tuned.
    #30
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  11. JB2

    JB2 Dirt Of The Earth

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    So we had our daughter, son-in-law and granddaughters over for Thanksgiving breakfast. Due to their tight schedule this would be our only celebration of Thanksgiving until our evening meal. At 10:00 I was able to open up shop and get started. First was to get the tubes straightened from this...

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    ... to this. The insert provided with the rear hoop slid in easily once the factory tube was rounded back into shape. That task was accomplished with the handle end of a tire iron. I worked in the bodyshop of a trucking company for many years. When the mechanics would break a tire iron us bodyshop/fab guys would fight over the spent iron for conversion into a body tool. They work well.

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    Once both inserts were fitted to the frame then the rear hoop could be slipped on the bike for the first time... of many.

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    Next I assembled the rear fender halves and mocked them up to the bike. Carpy's state that their rear hoop is extra long and must be trimmed to desired length. The first thing I noticed was the hoop interfered with the
    mounting location of the rear turn signals. Plus there was too big of a gap between the fender and hoop. Not a problem. :D

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    I decided to err on the conservative side and started by removing 3/4". I want a square cut and currently do not have my chop saw set up for metal so the tubing cutter was a nice back-up to have in the toolbox.

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    As you can see it gave the clearance needed to install stem mounted signal back in the factory location.

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    There's a difference between mocking up parts and actually knowing they'll all fit snugly. That's where the jig comes in. It confirms what the mock-up showed.

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    With the jig and hoop removed it was time to box in the shock mount. I started by removing the weld along the bottom of the mount creating a relief notch. Then I cut the bottom perpendicular to the notch to allow a fold. Sorry about the pic quality. When I get working sometimes it's tuff to stop and take photos. It's a distraction I am learning to live with.

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    Next I flattened out the tag end with a dolly and hammer, then marked the bend in the sheet metal bracket. I started the bend or fold with a pair of duckbill pliers...

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    .... then finished it with a brass drift punch and hammer. I overlapped the two halves at the rear seam. When it's welded I will add a second weld bead to the top of the first weld to re-create the factory look of the bracket.

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    Right side done, now the left with the rear hoop slid back on. Planning and mock-ups are the keys to successful builds. By the time I get one of these done I can take the bike apart and put it back together in my sleep.

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    Again I mocked up the rear fender and started to make decisions about the rear mounting brackets. I wanted to go with blind tabs but was unsure if there would be enough clearance. The mock-up confirms there is the perfect amount of space for an 1/8" thick tab welded to the inside of the hoop on either side. It's better to know than to guess... I guess. :D

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    On this third mock-up of the day I also discovered that the hoop could stand to lose a little more of the length. This would also insure enough clearance so the turn signal stems wouldn't be vibrating against the bottom of the hoop. So off with another 3/8".

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    Now with everything mocked up again the fit of the hoop to the fender is darn near perfect. Everything is proportionally correct.

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    Last on the list for this stage of the build is to drill the fender mounting tabs. I won't be able to cut the length until I am welding the hoop with the jig installed but they're ready to go.

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    Next the seat needs to be "roughed-in" but I always like to stand back a take a look to see how far I've gone and how much further left to go. It's looking more and more like the picture in my mind.

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    Stay tuned.
    #31
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  12. JB2

    JB2 Dirt Of The Earth

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    The plan was to retain the stock seat pan for various reasons. First it keeps everything looking factory and the idea of having some locking storage is nice. I've seen a few seats that are upholstered like a cafe tail section and I hoped to get that look with this pan. I knew I'd have to shorten the seat but wasn't sure how much and I also wanted it to be narrower. It sure won't fit after the frame changes.

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    I'm undecided at this point as to how to blend the shape of the new hoop into the shape of the seat so I'm going to remove the rear cap first so I can lock the seat down. I ran a wire brush over the welds to expose them.

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    Next I drilled through one layer of sheet metal with a 6mm spot weld cutter,...

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    ... then separated the two with a hammer and cold chisel.

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    With the latch reinstalled and the obstructive end-cap removed it allows me to match the skirt to the line of the new hoop.

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    Cut the right side, ...

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    ... transfer the cut to the other side using the scrap as a pattern, scribe and cut.

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    I was happy to see the area where I would have to reshape was in the flat portion of the seat pan. Here it is marked for cutting and relief holes,...

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    ... cutting off the scrap section by section and straightening out old contours.

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    After much of the trimming and a little work with duckbilled pliers I can see this pan is going to conform nicely to its new shape. It's even better than I had hoped for especially considering I haven't even begun refine the shape with hammer and dolly.

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    I won't go any further with the seat mod until the tail section is welded into place and the new rear seat support is installed. I'll clamp the pan to a bench to massage the shape and be able to test fit it with the seat locked into place. After that I can cut and shape a finish panel to fill the gap evenly between the hoop and the seat pan. The same panel will also create the cowl look of a cafe tail section.

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    I really like the way this project is coming together and I'm real happy with the hoop from Carpy's. The dimensions are correct, the fitment is spot on. I can't wait to weld it all up now.

    Stay tuned.
    #32
    flipr, nuggets and highnoonhunter like this.
  13. radianrider

    radianrider Adventurer wanna'be

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    One of the most detailed reports I can remember. Really helps appreciate the amount of work and the level of skill needed to really do a build correctly.

    This one going to be capable of a longer ride, say St. Louis, when you finish it--or does the KLR remain the weapon of choice?
    #33
  14. JB2

    JB2 Dirt Of The Earth

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    Radian, the Super Sport will indeed be an overnight bike. Maybe not a road trip bike but I should be able to do a day or two with a medium sized tank bag. Whether or not it will be ready to venture miles from home by next spring is another thing. We've had a lot of warmer than average days. I'm burning the late night oil trying to get everything welded up including both fenders, the seat pan and rear frame section. Once I get that far all the sheet metal can be moved to the basement for prep and paintwork. I'm just about there. Fingers crossed.
    #34
  15. JB2

    JB2 Dirt Of The Earth

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    At the end of the Thanksgiving day weekend all that actually got done on Brutus was the work I accomplished on Wednesday evening and Thursday. Friends, Mark and Meg, had invited us to their yearly FriendsGiving their son holds on the Saturday after Turkey Day. We left early Saturday afternoon heading north for the overnight and didn't get back home until late this afternoon. It was a good time and we met several other motorcycle enthusiasts/builders at their gathering. Mark has owned a 1971 BSA A65 Scrambler since it was new. About 15 years ago he took it apart to do a restoration. That's as far as it got. Life got in the way. Last year when we were visiting their farm I encouraged him to dig it out and I'd give him a hand with the project. We kicked around what he might want to do first and I suggested the frame. It needed very little work and a fresh coat of paint... the correct color. The frame on these were originally an eggshell/grayish shade of white. He had repainted somewhere in the past but changed it to black. His son Seth has been pushing Mark to get it done so the plan was hatched. I picked the frame up and brought home as the first step in his rebuild. I'll paint it then he can park it in his shop to start rebuilding and reattaching each assembly on the bike as he has time. At least if the foundation is ready then someone might build a house there, right? Fingers crossed. (Mark is an architect, BTW)

    When we pulled it out of the cobwebs today the first thing I noticed is how much the frame on this bike looked like the Super Sport is starting to look. They share almost the same geometry and from the center tube back look like they came from the same genealogy right down to rear passenger peg mounts.

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    Similar lines from all angles. Since I was leaning real hard towards a British look I'm even more stoked about the direction I'm taking the Super Sport now.

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    Even the shock mounts.... the BSA's is factory and the Honda's is modified but are very similar. The BSA.

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    The Honda.

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    The weather looks like it will cooperate for about another week. I should be able to get in the shop a few evenings this week to weld all the prepared jobs. Stay tuned.
    #35
  16. Bhuff

    Bhuff Adventurer

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    Been following this thread, but that's nothing new. I have been following JB2 for years on 2 wheels. I think at last count it was 23 states and have no idea how many thousands of miles.

    I can tell you that JB2s craftsmanship is outstanding and when he says he wants it to look factory with some twists, it will be just that!!

    Staying tuned.
    #36
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  17. JB2

    JB2 Dirt Of The Earth

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    Bhuff... brother! Long time, no see... at least here on ADV. Somewhere I wrote down the miles we have burned traveling the USA and it's well into the 10's of thousands. Never will forget the triple-digit ride from Dodge City to Salina being chased by a tornado and you having a drywall screw sunk into the rear tire. :lol3 Good times, good times. The calendar went to print today, the family commitments are caught up and I have the schedule cleared for the weekend. The weather looks really good so I'll be welding like a fool all weekend. If you're in the 'hood you could probably talk me into getting the KLR dirty. Good to have you back in the wind!

    [​IMG]
    #37
  18. Wildebeest90210

    Wildebeest90210 Long timer Supporter

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    Following this thread I think aiming for the bike to look 'factory' is (I hope) a serious under estimation of the quality of work expected. Everything looks set to easily surpass the dodgy 70's horrible welding that occurred way back then. Interested to see how this bike turns out and glad that it's not one of those already finished then post numbers.
    #38
    JB2 likes this.
  19. JB2

    JB2 Dirt Of The Earth

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    Wildebeest90210, hey I've been following your thread too. I'ver been a fan of both Buell and Metisse. I've owned three Buells and three Sportys. I really like the engine and can only imagine what your finished bike will be like. I hope it's more fun to ride than to look at but that will be tough because it's sure sweet to look at. The Brutus project is my first "as-it's-being-built" approach. I couldn't agree with you more about seeing it in real time. I have a good friend who restores bikes for John Penton and others. He's meticulous about creating the factory look. He's watching the thread and I hope will blast me with his critique. :lol3 Your's is looking very, very factory. I've always liked the phantom approach to customizing, something that looked like the mother company could have built. I have pretty high bars to reach on this deal. This is true.

    Stay tuned.
    #39
  20. JB2

    JB2 Dirt Of The Earth

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    Saturday morning brought some pretty cold temperatures and there was no hope of it warming up until the afternoon. I grabbed enough tools to prep the fenders for welding and hauled everything to the basement.

    This is the underside of the rear fender. Forty years is showing under here. I need to remove the two factory reinforcement plates so that I can replace them with a sleeve type reinforcement.

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    I mark the location of the spot welds....

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    ... then cut about 3/4 of the way through the weld in the reinforcement.

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    Clamp on with a pair of Vise-Grips and wiggle the offensive piece from the fender.

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    Hint of the day: Save your old and dull grinding discs for jobs like cleaning up the underside of a fender. They get torn up fast but they are dull and do a great job of cleaning without taking a lot of metal off.

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    I just removed the rust scale and most of the chrome. If you look closely you'll see some of the chrome left behind. That's okay these will get sandblasted before welding to get all the corrosion off and the last bit of shiny stuff.

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    Next I'll clean up the section I cut out of the rear fender and use it to make a reinforcement sleeve. So this...

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    ... becomes this...

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    ... becomes this...

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    ... and with the addition of a second reinforcement made from leftover front fender scrap... becomes this. Note the sleeve laying in the background. That is for the front fender. Same process but smaller sleeve.

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    The front and rear fender and the battery box are now ready to sandblast. I have a couple of other pieces to get ready for blasting and welding before I take all of that to the next step. In the meantime it has warmed up enough to actually get to do some welding on the frame. The oil heater has been running in the shop a couple of hours burning off the chill and the outside temperatures are nearing 45 degrees. :D
    #40
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