My build(s) - a scratch built frame and chair etc

Discussion in 'Hacks' started by guzzirelic, Feb 16, 2019.

  1. guzzirelic

    guzzirelic Been here awhile

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    Hello all. I thought I'd finally share my sidecar work from several years of happy hacking.
    I have lots of photos and tend to get carried away with descriptions so up front I'll say sorry for using too many words in my posts. I'll also say that I'm NO EXPERT but what I've done has worked out in most ways. Hopefully some of you find it entertaining. Your comments are most welcome but remember; this all in the past. I know many things could have/should have been done differently but it's too late to tell me that now...
    I built the first rig in 2004. I had a CB750K7 and purchased what I believed to be an American Spirit Eagle sidecar. I designed my mounts for the motorcycle and had the welding done by a professional shop. The outfit handled well, no steering damper and performance was adequate.

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    The sidecar body as purchased.

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    And the chassis.
    I painted everything, fixed the seat, replaced the tire and wheel bearings and added a plate of steel under the seat. And did the attachment and set up.

    Sorry for the poor photos but here is the upper front mount. Its a two piece clamp that attaches to the frame tube with four bolts. With a tab to connect to the strut. (picture a cube, sliced in two and bolted together around the frame tube)
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    And here is the lower front mount. As you can see it ties into both lower frame tubes.
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    The rear lower bolts to frame in several places.
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    And finally, the rear upper which carries across to the left frame tube, under the seat.
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    A better view of the front mounts. (the gear clamp you can see is for the Windjammer mount)
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    A few photos of the bike on the set up platform.
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    And ready for the first sea trials.
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    Thankfully, we lived on a rural gravel road at the time so I had no worries about traffic. The first time out, I learned that strapping a dynamic load, (the ballast bags are full of wood pellets) doesn't work well. The load jiggled and wiggled and without my noticing slipped under the straps and dropped onto the road.

    I managed to get it set up and took my wife for her first ride. We only went to town and back, about a 14 mile ride. I was hesitant to ask her how she liked it but at supper that evening she asked if we could go for a ride to Dairy Queen for ice cream.
    We logged many miles on this Honda/Spirit outfit over the next two seasons. And had absolutely no issues with the mounts or chassis. The bike would pull the rig to highway speeds, (90-105kph or 55-65mph) but did fall back on hills or against headwinds.
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    But I decided that I wanted more torque and something less common than a Honda 750 so this outfit was sold and our next rig was built around a 1974 Moto Guzzi Eldorado. More about that in my next post(s).
    thanks!
    Ken
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  2. FLYING EYEBALL

    FLYING EYEBALL out of step

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    cool!

    Looking forward to Eldo pics.
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  3. gkam

    gkam Been here awhile

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    Very nice! Good job on mounts.
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  4. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    Espanola? I've been to Espanola! Was headed west on the Trans-Can and turned off onto Lee Valley for a change of scenery.

    Is the Eldo where you got the "Guzzi Relic" name?
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  5. guzzirelic

    guzzirelic Been here awhile

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    Yes, ADV name comes from Moto Guzzi and a nickname that got hung on many years ago, "Relic". There was a Canadian TV show in the 70's called The Beachcombers that had a character named Relic. I won't go into details but someone thought I bore a resemblance and the name stuck.
    Lee Valley Road and that area is one of my favorite short rides. I can do a loop from home that takes about an hour so perfect for after supper on any of my bikes, including the smaller two stroke enduro's.
    And you made a good choice; any road that gets you off the Trans Canada is worth the effort. Some of us make a day of riding to Sault Ste. Marie and back and trying to do it on back roads as much as possible.
    Ken
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  6. guzzirelic

    guzzirelic Been here awhile

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    In 2005 I attended a Moto Guzzi Rally with a buddy. He was on his 1973 Eldorado, I rode my "solo" bike, a 1973 BMW R75/5. (Beemers were welcome at this event and in fact outnumbered the Guzzi's). By the time we left on Sunday afternoon, I knew I "needed" a Moto Guzzi. In November of that year we made a road trip to Upper Sandusky Ohio and I came home with my 1974 Eldo.
    The 74's were different from earlier Loop Frame models, having a front disc brake, a timing chain rather than gears and my particular bike was fitted with British Amal carbs rather than the normal Italian Dell'Ortos. The story goes that Dell'Orto was on strike for longer than Guzzi could wait so a short term deal was made with Amal.
    My Eldo was in pieces but all there. The seller had a shop full of vintage motorcycles but had lost interest in the Moto Guzzi, (he was a BMW and Ducati guy at heart) so he listed it on E-Bay. And it found a new home in Northern Ontario, Canada. I assembled the bike, repairing what was necessary and doing some upgrades and then rode it as is for a couple of hundred miles before winter came and the sidecar addition began.
    At first I thought of transferring my Spirit of America car onto the Eldo but decided it was too small and too light to for the big 600lb Italian.
    What to do? Build one of course!

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    My brother, (on the left) and me on our way home with the Guzzi in the trailer. I towed it behind my wife's Ford Focus in a homemade trailer.

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    As you all know, there are two parts to a sidecar. The body and the chassis. I thought about trying to build something out of sheet steel similar to a Ural or C.J. but I have no mig welder or metal brake. And cutting sheet metal is a pain. Aluminum is expensive and well...in the end I decided to try fiber glass.
    I had no idea how to do a proper mold but had built a wooden cedar strip canoe as well as a small lapstrake dinghy in the past so drawing on that experience I drew up some plans and came up with this ---

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    I was trying for a shape that resembled a midget racer body or an early Indy car. I drew the shape out and then lofted the points onto the plywood to come up with the station molds you see here.

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    For the compound curves of the nose and tail I used waste pieces of closed cell foam, glued in place and then sanded to shape with a cheese file.

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    Next came the problem of supporting the first layer of fiber glass cloth. Once it was on and dry it could be built up from there. But I tried a couple of different methods that failed before I gave up and stapled cardboard in place. One of my first attempts was to try using "shrink wrap". If you live in the northern climes you'll recognize this stuff being used to cover boats in the winter. Its thick plastic, sort of industrial strength Saran Wrap. Its draped over a wooden frame, usually made from 2x2's, and then a large propane flame thrower is passed over it to shrink it down tightly to the boat.
    I covered my sidecar body frame and it all went well until I applied the heat. This stuff shrinks A LOT!!! and when doing so, it pulled my plywood station molds out of alignment and actually broke some of them off of the wooden floor they are attached to.Back to the drawing board.

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    The cardboard is what we called "bristle board" when we were kids back in the dark ages. It did the job, sort of...

    Next up? The fiber glass goes on.

    Ken
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  7. JustinLonghorn

    JustinLonghorn Been here awhile

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    I can dig it.
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  8. guzzirelic

    guzzirelic Been here awhile

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    My use of cardboard as a support for the first layer of fiber glass cloth worked good on the sides and flatter areas. But across the top of the front there was some sag. Hardly noticeable when I first laid the cloth but when it came time to smooth out the shape I realized that it took a large amount of filler to level it out. I was buying MarGlass buy the gallon. (this is a polyester filler and is reinforced with short strand fiberglass to make it stronger)
    One day at Napa I was picking up my third gallon when the owner asked me "I don't know what you're working on but we do sell replacement steel body panels buddy." Part of the trouble is I'm missing the body filler/drywall mud gene. I just don't get along with this type of work and absolutely hate working with either. I lay it on, sand it off, lay it on, sand it off, lay it on, sand it off; you get the idea. And at some point I get annoyed enough that I decide its "good enough" and I call it quits. And then I'm never happy with the results.

    The layer of cloth in place over the bottom.
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    And wetted out.
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    Not much room for the passenger's legs? Some of you may be wondering about all the structure inside the shell. I cut out all wood that I could using various tools. And then sanded the edges so avoid passenger complaints.

    Here she is with all the fiber glass finished; before I started with the MarGlass filler to smooth it out.
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    Ok, I did mention I sanded a lot of the filler right?
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    This photo is interesting in that included in the background are my 16' cedar strip canoe and the small dinghy I had built. As well, there's my "other" side car body that was to be used for an old Brit bike project that sadly never materialized. On another note, in 2008 we moved from this house and the one we are in since then has a tiny, tiny, tiny work space compared to this shop. You'll see my current garage in later posts as I progress forward to the present.

    And here the body is ready for paint and installing.
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    The smart thing to do would be: fit the body to the chassis, then remove it and do the paint. And then reinstall it. But the weather was breaking, spring was upon us and the desire to ride outweighed logic. As you can see, I painted the body in place on the rig. My thought was that this would be temporary and I would redo the cosmetics the following winter. Touch up the rough areas and do a better complete paint job. Of course you probably know how that went...
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    Next, some details of the chassis build.

    Ken
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  9. guzzirelic

    guzzirelic Been here awhile

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    I should have mentioned in the previous post that despite all that wood structure, fiber glass and filler, the body weighed in at 100lbs. So not too out of line.
    When it came to the chassis I turned to my buddy Buck. Buck is one of those guys that you can count on for help with any project. He's a master mechanic, a machinist and has built or repaired just about any type of vehicle you can name. His garage is full of vintage motorcycles, (over 50) and his basement is a better equipped shop than many professional establishments.
    Buck suggested that I not skimp on chassis material but after it was done, even he admitted it was over built. I used 1-1/2 schedule 40 round tubing. I have no idea what that means but I can tell you that its HEAVY. A plate was added to support the axle and two plates on the left side made a strong support for the upper strut mounts.All the welding was done by a pro shop.
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    The axle is a rubber torsion type as used on some trailers. Hence the wheel and hub is a 5 stud, 1" spindle, standard trailer application. Tire is readily available if a replacement were needed on the road.
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    The lower mounts are "ball and claw" type and attach to a subframe on the bike. The sub frame is through bolted using the engine mount and the gearbox mounting bolts thus tying it into both lower frame tubes on the bike. The sub frame replaces the spacers that usually fit between the engine/gearbox and the frame tubes.
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    The upper mounts I purchased from Motovation, (I think that was the name) and are frame clamp type. I had them welded to the struts which are made from farm tractor three point hitch top adjusters. Lots of cutting and welding was needed to fab these struts but they did work well.
    One problem was clamping the turn buckle sleeve as I couldn't find nuts to match the threads on the three point hitch parts. The threads are very coarse and don't match anything known to man...possibly because I got them from Princess Auto, a sort of Canadian version of Harbor Freight where much of what they sell comes from Asian "lowest bidder" sources. My solution was to cut two slits in the ends of the sleeve and use F250 tie rod sleeve clamps.
    This was another part of this build that I planned to revisit in the future as I didn't like the looks of these struts. But again, it worked, we rode many miles and the years passed by.

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    My wife and I test fitting ourselves. And there is no truth to the rumor that I measured the width of her rear end before deciding on the designed size of the cockpit...
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    The sidecar fender came from Buck and is originally from a 1940's Harley Davidson. Again, it served the purpose but it's heavy.
    The chassis without the wheel weighs about a hundred pounds.
    I fitted a universal tractor/fork lift seat and mounted it on hinges at the front so we could access the rear storage area.

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    The windshield, (a must for my wife), is from an old Yamaha snowmobile, cut to fit.

    This rig actually worked pretty well for us. There was plenty of room behind the seat for camping gear and tent poles, folding chairs etc could fit beside my wife's legs. At her feet we kept a cooler that we could access while driving and it also served as a foot rest for her. With the torsion axle the ride was a little harsh but she didn't complain too much. And the dog was an eager passenger with a chushy ride on her lap.
    Performance was adequate and we could keep up to posted speeds most of the time. In the first season, (2006) we rode around Lake Superior starting at home a couple of hours east of Sault Ste. Marie. We logged over 1800 miles that trip as we took many side tours along with the full circumnavigation.

    In 2017 I removed the sidecar from my Eldorado. A couple of things led to this; my only pure street bike at the time was down due to a blown crank seal. A 1972 Suzuki T250 Hustler is a twin cylinder two stroke and one of the inner seals had ruptured meaning that a crankshaft rebuild was in order. This is not a huge job for me but it would take time for parts to arrive, (shipping from the U.S. to Canada is 2-3 weeks these days) and my only other insured bikes were enduro's. Great fun but not comfortable or capable of regular street use.
    I was whining about this to my wife when she suggested I take the sidecar off and ride the Guzzi "solo". The second thing that helped make my decision was that admittedly, we hadn't been driving the rig much over the last few years. I reasoned that I could always put the sidecar back onto the Eldo when I had the Suzuki back up and running.
    But things change...
    #9
  10. BMWBUD

    BMWBUD I couldn't hack it. Back on two wheels.

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  11. guzzirelic

    guzzirelic Been here awhile

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    Thanks! And thank you for the link. I've just viewed the first two pages but I'll follow through on the rest. Lots of great info and entertainment on Boondox' posts. I love the dog pic's and related comments.

    Ken
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  12. guzzirelic

    guzzirelic Been here awhile

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    Summer of 2017 my Eldorado reverts to her standard configuration with no sidecar. You'll recall that I only rode the bike this way for a short few miles before I "hacked" it back in 2005/6. My first few rides this time around were unsettling to say the least. She handled like a pig on stilts.
    HHHHHHMMMMM...I don't recall the bike being like this. But it was a long time ago and admittedly, my recent street bikes have been much smaller and lighter.
    I tried a few more rides and then decided that something was very wrong. And then it dawned on me; about five years before I had found a set of V700 triple trees and swapped them in place of the standard Eldo parts. The V700 trees have 90mm of offset compared the later models with 70mm offset. This means the V700 triple trees offer the sidecarist reduced trail and slightly easier handling.But do no favors to a solo bike's handling.
    Some research turned up the info that the V700, Guzzi's first Loop Frame V twin model also had slightly different frame. So a couple of hours of playing in the garage and my original triple trees were back in place. I also removed the Wixom fairing and ramped the tire pressures up considerably and just like magic, the bike transformed into a very pleasurable ride. To sum up, I love this bike!
    Fast forward to this past year, (2018) and I had a good season adding 4000 miles to the odometer. I know some of you do that in a month but I work 5 or 6 days a week...
    In July, my wife commented that I probably wouldn't be putting the sidecar back on the Eldorado. She could see that I was enjoying the bike. I admitted that I'd rather not, but also said that I was missing having a rig. She too was missing her rides. (she won't ride pillion, never has but took to the sidecar)

    For a time I tried to sell the sidecar. My idea was to purchase a used complete outfit. After several weeks that saw no serious offers on the sidecar, even though I had it advertised for $750 Cdn which I thought was pretty cheap. And with a limited budget I hadn't found any turn key rigs for sale within a reasonable distance. So I had a rethink of my plans.
    I already had a sidecar. It would need some tidying up but was pretty much ready to use. What I really needed was another motorcycle to attach it to.
    I've always thought that a Moto Guzzi Convert would make a good tug. For those of you not familiar; the Convert was introduced in 1975/6 and its claim to fame is the unique transmission. It uses a two speed gearbox, a clutch and a torque converter. Yes, she's an automatic.
    Designed with law enforcement customers in mind, (a market that Guzzi was quite successful with) the Convert was the answer for slow parade duty type roles. No clutch work to overheat and one less thing for riders to worry about. Actually there were two less things to do compared to "normal" motorcycles as this was Guzzi's first model with their linked brake system. The foot pedal operates the rear single disc and the left front caliper of the dual fronts.
    The hand lever operates just the right front caliper. For most stops all that is needed is operation of the foot pedal thereby leaving the rider with no clutch to work, no gears to change and no hand brake to pull. Basically, two operations, throttle and foot pedal were all the rider needs for most circumstances. And is still capable on the highway, easily running at 100mph.

    Why a Convert for sidecar hauling? My thoughts are that the fluid coupling, (torque converter) will reduce the shock load on drive line components. As well the linked brake system does really work well. And the Convert was also the first Guzzi to use the 1000cc, (actually 949 but who expects truth in advertising?) so the power should be a little better than the Eldorado. At least equal as there is a loss with the torque converter.
    And as luck would have it, I found a '76 Connie about 6 hours from home for sale by someone I almost know. We are both members of the Canadian Vintage Motorcycle Group, (like the Antique Motorcycle Club of America).

    In late September of last year she came home.

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    The bike has had lots of work done and runs great. Over the winter I'll be making a few changes and going through everything end to end. And of course, hooking her up to my old sidecar. This will give me a chance to do some of the things I wanted to do since the initial build.
    And will also offer the challenge of mounting to a very different motorcycle. Even though the Convert is quite similar to my Eldorado it has the later "Tonti" frame, (named for the designer Leo Tonti) and is quite a change from the Loop Frame models.

    Next up; the work done thus far on the new Convert rig.

    Ken
    #12
  13. bk brkr baker

    bk brkr baker Long timer Supporter

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    You did a great job on the sidecar body and with the experience you already had with the strip built boats , I had to wonder , why not strip build the body ?
    Of course , I have no experience in strip building , so , no clue how much work is involved.
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  14. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad Former World's Foremost Authority Supporter

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    Probably more than most want to know about 1 1/2" Pipe & Tube:

    Schedule 40 is pipe. Pipe varies from tubing in that pipe is measured from it's inside diameter where as tube is measured from it's outside diameter. 1 1/2" Schedule 40 pipe has a OD of 1.9" and is made from mild steel and is commonly called "Black pipe" and is used in plumbing. 1 1/2" pipe also comes in Schedule 80 which has a greater wall thickness. Black pipe is soft, easily worked, and is heavy.

    1 1/2" tube comes in a variety of wall thickness with 0.120 or 0.090 being the most common used in chassis or roll cages. It also comes in welded seam and seamless and in drawn over mandrel (DOM).

    A 1 1/2" 0.095 DOM tube is lighter and stronger than 1 1/2 black pipe.

    1 1/2" black pipe weighs about 2.72 lbs/ft and 1 1/2" DOM 0.120 weighs 1.7 lbs/ft.

    All that being said, the heavy 1 1/2' black pipe for the tub chassis isn't a bad thing as a nice heavy sidecar works well.
    #14
  15. guzzirelic

    guzzirelic Been here awhile

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    Thanks. I have seen a sidecar body made using the strip covered with epoxy method. It was very nice looking but I always wondered how it would hold up over the miles. I don't know if the owner drove the rid much but I did see it at shows where it always won awards. If I remember correctly the builder's name is Mike Baker and he's from south east Ontario.
    I can say that strip building a canoe is one heck of a lot of work though. And after it does require some upkeep. In my case I purchased rough cut red cedar boards around 20' in length. I ripped these to about and inch wide and then routered a bead and cove on the edges to fit them together. You can only add a few strips at a time, working from side to side so its a slow process. And then all must be sanded and then covered with cloth and marine grade epoxy.
    A 16 footer took me an entire winter of evenings but was a fun project.

    Ken
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  16. guzzirelic

    guzzirelic Been here awhile

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    Thanks for this info. I always get pipe and tubing mixed up. And I agree with you that strong and heavy is better than light and weak. My Eldo with this sidecar was solid as a rock. There was never any feelings of flexing. But of course the price you pay is a loss of performance. I'm going to touch on that in my post.

    Ken
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  17. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad Former World's Foremost Authority Supporter

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    I thought you might get them mixed up and if you aren't in, or haven't been in fabrication, there is little reason to know the difference.

    Actually it isn't heavy and strong vs light and weak. It's heavy and weak (black pipe) vs light and strong (DOM). The black pipe is much weaker pound per pound than a DOM.

    Black pipe isn't typically used for structural work, its used as plumbing material. However, the size of black pipe you are using is more than strong enough for the application.
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  18. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad Former World's Foremost Authority Supporter

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    Well then, there you go! I stand corrected.
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  19. guzzirelic

    guzzirelic Been here awhile

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    I mentioned that this is my opportunity to make some improvements to my original build. The sidecar has sat outside since being removed from the Eldorado in the summer of 2017 except for last winter when it was shoved into shed. So the with the body off I sanded the paint, did some leveling of the worst of the imperfections, (yes more bondo and sanding; yuck!) and then sprayed the primer and stored it away for this winter.
    In the spring I'll paint it and tend to other small cosmetics. It will be an outside rattle can job as I've no budget for professional body shop work and no facilities do much else. Yes, I'm very envious of Boondox, his shop and his rebuild.
    (These pics are from before I did this work)

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    As you can see, I also removed the seat. One of the things that caused us to put less and less riding time on the old rig was comfort. As we age, we're less willing to put up with being uncomfortable and so for my passenger I've added some suspension to the seat. I cut up an old dirt bike shock spring and made some seat risers for the front using the same hinges that were originally bolted directly to the floor.

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    I thought this idea was quite ingenious on my part and after bolting it all together I took time off to cut the lawn. As I sat down on my riding mower I realized that I wasn't the first guy to put springs under a seat... Oh well, at least I know that if my wife finds the springs too harsh I can pick up some lighter ones at my local MTD dealer.

    Another factor in our low mileage seasons of late was driver effort. The rig handled ok but there is no denying that a day in the saddle took a lot out of me. I never really noticed when I was in my 40's but by 2017 I was pushing hard on 60 and my shoulders would complain after a few hours riding. She would track straight up to about 50 mph and then gradually the pull to the right would increase as speed increased. At what passes for highway speeds here, (limit 90kph or 55mph) it was a bit of a workout.
    I know all about alignment, lean out etc. But the problem with this outfit I think was weight and width. There was just too much drag to be overcome. When first built I played with lean out and toe and it reaches a point where increasing the adjustments doesn't make any difference. The aforementioned swap to the V700 triple tress, (20mm more offset and therefore less trail) made a noticeable difference to steering effort but it was still no leading link.
    There is not too much I can do about the weight and I'm no physics guy but I believe the rolling resistance has more to do with the situation than the mass.

    So I've made a change to reduce the width as much as possible while still allowing the body to fit the chassis. I figure less hanging out to the side can only help. I removed 3" from the frame tubes; cut and had inserts fitted and the welds again, were done by a professional.

    Here's the chassis as removed from the Eldo, before the modification.
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    I did the cutting. Not an easy job.
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    And all welded up and a quicky spray paint job. This pic also gives a good view of the build construction, axle mounting etc.
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    And I'll be finding something to replace this.
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    Which altogether weighs in at 21lbs. They made Harleys out of real steel back in the '40's!

    I've also replaced the trailer tire/wheel with a compact spare wheel that I'll install a motorcycle tire on before spring.
    More about how these mods worked out in a future post.

    Next up; my mounts and attachments.

    Ken PS- I appreciate the interest and comments.
    #19
  20. pops

    pops Long timer

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    Stirling North South Australia
    Nice post of your builds.
    Looking forward to more.
    #20
    guzzirelic likes this.