Edition 2
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In this segment we're going to start fitting the rear wheel, brake and pulley, mount the 11.5" rear fender, do some "rodding" or "beading" to the fender along with a couple of other custom treatments.

We'll get started by fitting and centering the wheel and tire in the frame.

Next, we'll center the fender to the wheel, and aligning the pulley to the right side drive Baker transmission.

We'll be looking at how we make templates for our oil bag modification, and how to transform those templates into the finished product.

I'm running a new Jesse James, Villain gas tank and I'll be positioning the tank on the backbone to determine where the mounting brackets need to be welded.

We've got a lot to cover so let's get started!


In the last article we marked all the locations on the frame we needed to drill holes to run wiring and plumbing through.

I got a little carried away and ended up 'frenching' all of the visible penetration holes.

Ultimately, it looks cleaner than a stark hole, it doesn't weaken the frame, and the wires or lines will run parallel to the frame rather than perpendicular.

This picture shows a closer view of the backbone penetration, which will accommodate the wiring running to the headlamp.

Did you notice the little adjustment I've made to the neck gusset in this photo?

The neck area is now a lot cleaner and compliments the lines of the fuel tank, rather than pulling your attention from the tank to the heavy gusseting.

We'll do a little re-enforcing of the neck area later, but it will be minimal compared to what we've just taken out.

Oh yeah, for you safety freaks, it'll be so strong you could motocross with this bike if it didn't have a 12" over front end!

Next we're going to mount the 250 tire and wheel, and center the wheel to the centerline of the frame.

The easiest and most accurate method for me is to run a string line tightly around the top of the steering neck down the center of the back bone and across the rear tire.

We are going to line up the center line of the tire to the center of the frame's backbone using the string as a straight edge.

By moving the tire either to the left or right until the centerline of the tire and the centerline of the backbone form one continuous straight line the length of the bike.

We're not there yet in this picture, the tire is still to far to the left and needs to go to the right to bring the center of the tire in line with the centerline of the backbone.

Once we get the tire wheel centered, I'll measure for the correct length of the axle spacers required to keep the wheel centered in the frame.

This photo shows measurement of the distance from the inside edge of the axle housing on the frame to the outside edge of the capset.

Remember to add the distance from the outside edge of the capset to the outside center of the sealed wheel bearing to get the total distance of the spacer needed.

The second photo is recording the actual measurement.

I've got a whole drawer of axle spacers of various lengths that I've accumulated over the years, that I use to hold the wheel into position during mock-up.

You can see in the first photo in this sequence that I've got a couple of those spacers inserted onto the left side of the wheel. We'll make a really trick ribbed one-piece spacer for this application once the mock up is complete.

We might have to add a spacer behind the rear pulley on our right side so that our rear belt lines up with the transmission pulley. But that adjustment is a little farther down the road.

I want to build a long winged oilbag that follows the contour of the rear upper frame rails.

While the frame is bare I'll install the stock Rolling Thunder oil bag. Using poster board, I'll make templates of the tank additions to get it to the desired shape. Using those templates taped together, to the stock oil bag, I'll form the shape of the desired look.

I've had the oilbag off and on a dozen times during this process fitting and trimming the templates. This is a photo of the oilbag with the templates taped into position.

Take the time to make good fitting templates. The construction of the final piece will go much easier if the templates are tight quality fits.

Once you have the desired look, take the templates back apart, lay them out on a sheet of 16-gauge sheet metal, scribe them onto the sheet metal then you can cut them out.

I use just a saber saw with a metal blade and good aviation snips to cut my pieces.

Once I have them cut out, it's just a matter a little fine grinding on the edges with an air grinder or a metal file if that's all you have. Just make sure your metal pieces are the exact same size and shape of the exact fitting poster board templates you made.

Go slow if necessary during these steps to make sure all your pieces fit exactly. Final construction will be a breeze if you're exact here.

Once your pieces are cut out and trimmed to fit the templates you can begin the shaping to the desired contour with a few assorted body man's tools, hammers, dollies, pieces of iron pipe in various diameters from " to 2 1/2 " all can be used to form desired rolls.

Don't try to move to much sheet metal to fast. In simpler terms; don't beat it to death with a big hammer, like a caveman. Short, small pecking strokes with a body man's hammer, tapping sheet metal around a dolly, will produce a nice shaped piece much faster than the results from beating it with an 8 ounce mall in a vice.

Finesse here, don't be a Neanderthal at this point

Once my trimmed pieces are contoured and fit to the oilbag, I begin to tack weld them into place on the oil bag.

The oil bag must go on and off frequently during this process to insure the fit is precise.

Once I have it all tacked together and having it fit well in the frame, I finish welding it up. With it all welded and roughed out I'll reinstall it in the frame for a final check for fit.

It fits well, so now I'll begin filing and grinding my sheet metal to get a finished product.

I've set the rear fender in place about 3/8" off the tire to get an idea here of the look. While I was at it I decided to bead or rod the rear edge of the fender.

To do that I've taken a piece of 3/16" round solid rod stock and tack welded, heated and formed it around the edge of the fender.

This process re-enforces and strengthens the fender while adding a nice finished look to the fender. This is probably a good spot to finish up for this edition, but I want to leave you with a few spy shots of what we'll cover in Build a Bike - Edition 3.





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