GRIM - The '78 KLZ400 Adventure Chopper

Discussion in 'Some Assembly Required' started by JB2, Oct 11, 2020.

  1. JB2

    JB2 Dirt Of The Earth

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    Okay, for those of you who lurked and participated here a few years back you might wonder WTF a guy with two unfinished project threads is starting a third one. As with any build it ain't just putting a bike together. None of us really know why we do this craft other than we love it. And, why would a guy that has ridden everything from sport-bikes, dual-sports and cruisers want with a damned chopper? I agree.

    Well it started very young. My first motorcycle was a homebuilt chopper mini-bike created by my father. My fascination with choppers steered him into building a bike he wouldn't ride either but he knew that's what was in my heart.

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    My first chopper - Christmas 1969. Built by JB1.

    So all these years have passed and not one other motorized chopper ever graced my shop unless someone else owned it. My goal had always been to have my own shop and build my own bikes. As retirement looms I have been purchasing ratted out vintage Japanese bikes like it was toilet-paper during the COVID shortage. I've saved and spent all the coin I've earned in the shop to purchase better and more tooling.

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    I just assembled this frame jig from Chop Source. Here it is in the beginning stages of assembly. Remember your first Erector Set? Take note of the Amen Savior frame in the background. Not mine but the bike will be built here. More later.

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    Anyways, a good friend and fellow inmate made me a deal that I could not refuse on this little KZ400. I have a soft spot for vintage Japanese bikes. I know, I already told you that. A little research I found that Voodoo Vintage makes a hardtail section for this bike. It looked like an easy build and a great first project too assemble in the jig.

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    Bill, better known as @reepicheep here on ADV, and I have some riding and picking history. He and his son Jack and I cleaned out the old Carter's Motors in Fairmount, IN., home of James Dean. Carter's was an Indian dealership and Dean bought several of his bikes here. He was best friends with Marvin Carter. Bill and his son were one of the first signatures on my garage walls.

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    The name GRIM for the bike came from this awesome sticker on the original tail section. I couldn't think of a name but loved the sticker. So it stuck. GRIM it is. It will be a tight, old-school bar-hopper with dirt tires and a luggage rack. Of course it will be solo.

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    A good friend, Josh who owns the Amen frame, offered to help out with my project if I helped with his. Seemed like a good trade. Josh is a certified welder and has worked for the likes of Caterpillar and Jesse Luggage. He's built some very cool choppers along the way. There's probably less than five people I would trust to work on anything I own. Josh is one of them. Hello Josh!

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    So, I was in the basement straightening out a coffin tank to go on his chopper. I came back up a couple hours later to see how he was doing and he was done with the teardown. He don't eff around.

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    The next thing to do was to separate the front section from the rear to fit the new hardtail. Here it is marked out.

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    Surgery complete. Well, the patient's old parts have been removed. Transplant ahead.

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    There was a certain amount of fitting required even though the hardtail was made specifically for this bike. The stubs on the lower would need shortened and you have to make a sleeve for the backbone along with the normal cleaning and de-burring.

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    This is the amount that had to be removed off the plug/sleeve. Better starting with too much than not enough.

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    Here it is assembled on the floor. I am surprised how well everything fit together. Kudos to Voodoo Vintage.

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    The next day Josh and I moved and leveled the jig then setup the KZ in the fixture. It was a learning process for both of us. His frame is next but will require a lot more fabrication. Just wait.

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    And here is why a jig is the best way to build a frame. Straight down the centerline. No guessing, no handling issues related to a squirrely, out-of-line frame.

    At this point in the set-up everything is ready to measure with a tram gauge and tighten everything down, then weld!

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    Josh mostly worked on his frame today. He has an imagination from 1970 even though he's young enough to be my son. Note that the neck and down tubes have been cut. The rake on the Amen frame was not big enough to accommodate the 5 foot rigid front fork he purchased for his build. We are going to "goose-neck" the frame.

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    One thing for sure this bike will not turn but should handle great in a straight line. Got Rake? :lol3

    I hope to finish jigging up my frame and getting the welding done this week. Josh is dead-set to get his bike in the jig next weekend. However he has tubing to bend and tubing to cut.

    So I don't work in the shop without music. It is my other passion. I kept hearing this song today in the rotation and seems to fit as I begin my journey on this retirement job.



    It's good to be back in the shop working on my own projects. Stay tuned.



    #1
  2. reepicheep

    reepicheep Been here awhile

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    Aww geesh. That's an amazing bead. TIG I'm guessing?

    I hope he doesn't judge any of the (very minor) welding I did on that frame... I'm suddenly feeling really insecure. :)
    #2
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  3. Wildebeest90210

    Wildebeest90210 Long timer Supporter

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    Looking forward to a chopper build, some time I will build one myself. A chopper with dirt tyres reminds me of a build on the Cafe Husky site years ago when I was building a '82 supermoto. The Husky crowd were borderline about that but then this guy showed up with a water cooled 500 motor and proceded to build a dirt chop around it, I loved it and even donated an ally ignition cover from the UK. The rest of the forum were polite....or ignored it mainly...I found some pics but they got photobucketed, you get the drift though.

    image_zps2f5b45f3.jpg image_zps8d3595be.jpg image_zpsdd3d8adf.jpg
    #3
  4. JB2

    JB2 Dirt Of The Earth

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    Bill that weld was done at Voodoo Vintage since the rear section came pre-welded. I'll be welding the balance of the bike. Oddly or sadly, all the welding you done ended up in the scrap pile but I didn't see any of your welds that I would not have left "as is". They just ended up being on the tail section and the seat.
    #4
  5. JB2

    JB2 Dirt Of The Earth

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    @Wildebeest90210 - Without giving a lot away, that is the function & look I am going for. Simple lines. Stock rake and fork length. I wasn't sure how well a chopper build would work on ADV but I keep thinking that @rtwdoug rode one clear around Europe so there is that.
    #5
  6. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

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    A Chopper is still a motorcycle...not to everyone's taste.....but hey it's not a car.

    In the end it's all a bit of fun.

    Built to a certain spec a chopper can be SUPER comfortable....a chopper rider may laugh at a sport bike rider like a sportie may laugh at him.

    Build whatever creature you want, your bike, your money.

    Although my focus is Sport Touring I do fancy building a Bobber, just something naked and stripped to ride in the canyons.....like a Suzuki DR650 Bobber.....that ought to upset some people!
    #6
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  7. Beezer

    Beezer Long timer Supporter

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    you know the KZ400/440 is an orphan right? I built one up a 440 about 15 years ago with a DR250 rear end and modern forks. at the time there were no pistons, rings, bearings etc except whatever pops up on fleabay. it didn't make a very good DS bike because of the power band of the engine... no bottom end.

    anyway.... back to blasphemys.....
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    EDIT: fixed the picture problem I think. yep, I built that a few years ago. the rear end is off a 350 Big Horn I think. it was in a wrecking yard & I wish I would have glomed on the the whole bike and built it up. oh well.

    I got another one way more weird than this though... the Nemo Steampunk ADV bike
    https://advrider.com/f/threads/1883-terra-ambulator.845635/page-5
    #7
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  8. Tanshanomi

    Tanshanomi Your Favorite Uncle Supporter

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    Nothing at all blasphemous about that...

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    #8
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  9. JB2

    JB2 Dirt Of The Earth

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    Yeah, I guess that is why I liked it so much. I ride a Yamaha 950 Scrambler. It is a terrible dirt bike and a shitty street bike but it has a ton of personality and I love it. I hope that with all the weight removed from the KZ and a fresh rebuild it will have enough engine to make huge grins.

    I would love to see the pics but I kept getting a "security error" message. I'll try the links again from home on the i-Mac.

    @Tanshanomi - Agreed and very sweet looking Beezer. Yours?

    @TUCKERS - Truer words were never spoken. I used to be heavy into sport-touring but have always had that nagging burn to have a little street/gravel bobber.
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  10. Tanshanomi

    Tanshanomi Your Favorite Uncle Supporter

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  11. JB2

    JB2 Dirt Of The Earth

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    Thanks for the link anyways! It is a clean, simple and focused-on-function bike.
    #11
  12. JB2

    JB2 Dirt Of The Earth

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    From the frame-jig to table in the basement I did not shoot any photos. I had a limited time window and wanted to have the frame off the jig to be ready for Josh when he came this weekend. I spent most of yesterday helping him set his bike up in the jig. We had to fab up some special stuff to accommodate the Indian style suspension on the back of his bike. I didn't really get any time on the KZ until today.

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    At this point in the build I have welded the rear section to the front using a two pass welds so I could finish them down. I used the process in building Brutus HERE. I basically lay a structural weld down then a fill pass using a weave motion. The idea is to be able to dress the weld down and have it look molded while maintaining the structural integrity. I'm just doing it here with metal instead of bondo.

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    The next item on the list was to remove the reflector brackets and all the garbage pertaining to the kickstand switch. This bike will have lights, turn-lamps, horn, mirrors and everything else it should have. I'm just not a fan of reflectors or the mechanism involved with the kickstand kill switch.

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    First, I mark out the offending brackets from the front side...

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    ...and remove the front filler piece.

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    Then I marked and cut away the reflector brackets. Note the dimple that has been dished out. That was a button weld and easily removed. Thankfully there wasn't a bunch of weld or metal to remove.

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    Here it is metal-finished with the scrap metal lying on the bench.

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    The next item is removing the kill-switch brackets.

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    The cage for the kill-switch and the spring removed from the main bracket.

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    Then I removed the lever from the top and the spring hook from the stand.

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    The boss for the switch bolt required a lot of delicate grinding to make it look like is was never there. The threaded hole for the bolt went below the surface of the boss and would require filling.

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    I ran a hardened body-bolt that was also pointed in the hole until it bottomed out then cranked it another half turn. I'll cut it off and dress it down while doing the finish work on the bump left from the boss.

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    Here it is finished out.

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    The last thing I did before the weekend came to a close was to sand to remove the thick black paint from the front down-tubes. I'm happy with the progress so far. The lines are straight it will pretty much have the same wheelbase and ground clearance but lower seat height. Locations for the cross-braces, the tabs for the sissybar, brake anchor, brake pedal pivot, seat bracket and the combination electrical box/air-cleaner will get determined during the next mock-up. I still haven't decided on the tank yet so that front mount will stay until that decision is made. In the meantime there is a lot of sanding left to do.

    I had the Steel Wheels and Ray Wylie Hubbard playing all weekend. Here we are in ADV land where pictures are primary and this song payed many times in the rotation. I remember hearing my Great-Grandparents talking about days when people thought if you had your picture taken it would steal your soul. Kinda like I am with smart-phones... which I still do not own. Thankfully.



    Stay Tuned! I have some pics of Josh's wild chopper coming next.

    #12
  13. JB2

    JB2 Dirt Of The Earth

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    This installment covers what Josh and I did Saturday. Here's a few images of his chopper.

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    The first job at task was to block the rear suspension at the correct height. It is a job to load the springs so he cut "C" shaped sleeves and installed to set the axle height. He started with a 2" X 3" piece of square tubing, sliced it down the middle on both sides and then cut to length. The axle spacers for the KZ400 were the correct length so we did not have to cut new ones.

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    After getting the frame secure in the jig with 6 degree rise on the cradle tubes and 58 degrees of rake at the neck Josh began bending a piece of 1" X 1/8" seamless tubing. Gotta remember he's a metal worker by trade and for years worked in the field. Who else would have a portable tubing bender that bolts to their bumper? :lol3

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    The idea was to make one bend, cut it in half and have the perfect radius to "gooseneck" the frame. Driveway fabrication at its best!

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    Here it is with the sleeves bent, cut, coped and installed.

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    He twisted this piece up to replace the support brace that runs from the backbone to the bottom of the neck. It will have to be "bird-beaked" to fit between the 2 down-tubes. Kid's got an imagination.:nod

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    Look! Its a lady in the wind! He is a vintage pack-rat too and found this gem at a flea market. She is going to sit atop a six foot sissybar. No, I'm not kidding.

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    This is the last bike he built called "Chick-A-Doo"

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    Note all of the twisted square bar-stock, especially the six foot sissybar. :super He twisted it all and then had it chromed. Also note the up angle of the bike. He was never happy with that and decided to gooseneck stretch this bike to slam it.

    I'll post pictures of his progress along with updates on GRIM. It isn't like every thread in this section doesn't cover more than one build, bike(s), home project(s), vehicle repair(s), wood-working... :photog

    More on GRIM tomorrow night but I'll leave you with this from The Picturebooks. Kinda like my garage without the studio, the skateboard ramps and much smaller. Well... a LOT smaller. Okay its a stretch but there are parallels. :augie



    Stay Tuned!
    #13
  14. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

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    Awestruck!
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  15. JB2

    JB2 Dirt Of The Earth

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    I did get quite a bit done the last two nights considering I posted Josh's update from the weekend last night. There are some factory welds that have blobs or buggers(whichever you prefer) on them that need removed before the frame can be molded.

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    They aren't the prettiest welds but they have held up for 42 years. I'm only going to knock off the high spots.

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    They were easy to find after running a sander over them.

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    The trick is to remove just the blob without compromising the weld.

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    There's a couple of nasty ones on the left rail and around the neck. This one is just a stray weld so it will get completely removed.

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    A little work with the 3" grinder and the sander... Viola! No more blob!

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    This one however was troublesome. Its was another stray weld next to the real weld. At this point I have reshaped the real weld by removing the errant one. Note the smile left behind is the very edge. It will get finished with Swiss files so as not to damage the VIN. I'll save that finish work for later.

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    What I really want is to get a rear wheel on it to check the location of the rear braces and the brake pedal pivot bracket. The upper brace is tacked in but will be easy to relocate. The lower brace was at the rear when I got it without a tack weld. Nice touch by Voodoo Vintage. Both braces are temporarily removed now until I have a rear fender to set them with.

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    When I chopped the frame I removed this section with all the brackets intact. Looks like it will work just fine if I can dissect the bracket. It is already shaped to attach to tubing. :thumb

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    The welds are narrow so it was fairly east to separate the tube from the bracket.

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    And Viola again! Just the bracket.

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    It sets right against the seat-post cross brace. It will require just little notching to get the pedal exactly where it was in relationship to the peg when it was stock.

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    From the backside the stop even hits the frame dead center at the same adjustment setting as it was in stock form. Time to buy a lottery ticket. :nod

    That covers the last two evenings. I don't get a lot of time during the week because of my day job but everything keeps going forward. :happay

    This has been in the F150 CD changer for a couple of weeks now. This song hits a chord with me since I don't see much of it as winter knocks on our door. :*sip*



    Stay Tuned!
    #15
  16. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

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    Nice!
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  17. radianrider

    radianrider Adventurer wanna'be

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    Great stuff.
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  18. villageidiot

    villageidiot Long timer Supporter

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    In on this stuff, love a good chopper
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  19. 3legs

    3legs Real men ride sidecars Supporter

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    I do love a 70's chopper.
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  20. Jim K in PA

    Jim K in PA Long timer Supporter

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    If'n yer goin' chopper, you hafta go all in. Looks like you're on your way. :thumb
    #20
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