Advice and opinion, don’t confuse the two.

Instruments: before, big and busy. After, uncluttered and simple.

Instruments: before, big and busy. After, uncluttered and simple.

There is a big difference between advice and opinion. One serves to guide and promote discourse, and the other invariably confuses things and promotes argument. I learned the difference between the two a long time ago and am constantly reminded of that lesson. When seeking advice we are generally hoping to tap into the accumulated knowledge and experience of others whose judgement we trust. Opinion on the other hand is generally something that follows acting upon advice and is subjective, unless of course, the other person has misconstrued your original query, in which case you get a whole load of one when you wanted the other. When I’m engaged in making stuff I ask for advice, when I need it, from other makers I know, and I might canvas their opinion when I’ve finished what I’m doing, but not before.

New headlight brackets and new front indicator light mounts.

New headlight brackets and new front indicator light mounts.

If I’d followed all of the unsolicited “advice” I’d been given about how my bike should be, then I would have wasted a great deal of money and time on what is essentially a cheap form of transport. Working within an admittedly self imposed tight budget, and with time pressure to match, the solutions that interest me are those which are simple, relatively easy to execute and fit for purpose. It is with this in mind that I approach everything I do on this build and it helps to steer things clear of needless expense and wasted effort. One day I might build something more special but, for now I’ll work with what I’ve got. Sorting out the instrument area and the headlight would have been “better” if I’d totally stripped the bike of all electrics, cable drives and other bits, but that doesn’t clear the deck, it just opens up a whole new avenue of expensive solutions to a new set of problems. Working with what’s there meant splitting the clocks to allow cable drives to flex more freely and shorter light mounts to keep things close in and fairly tidy. The bundle of wiring needed to keep things working would stay, although shortened and repackaged. I’d bought some ‘P’ clips some time ago thinking they’d do for mounting the light on the forks and so put them to use. they work well enough for now though I may make replacements with a tighter fit later on. I drew up some side brackets on some graph paper (brilliant for laying out simple parts to scale) and transferred the design onto some aluminium alloy for cutting out. I made a new speedo mount based on what had been there before, but with a 20 degree offset and modified the mounting that came with the tachometer when I bought it, to bring it closer to the handlebar. All this allowed me to raise the light and split the clocks, and try to keep things as low as possible. By tilting the bars back further I was getting near to where I wanted the front to be. It looks a lot more sparse than before, but I’ll get used to it. And the natty little fly screen has gone.

I was very fond of it, but it had to go. A quick word about making those side brackets. Because I’d drawn them out on graph paper, it was easy to draw them again on alloy sheet, you remember all the numbers. I cut them out using a jigsaw, slowly, with a blade for metals at slow speed. I finished them off with hand files and drilled the holes with a hand drill. It takes time but not as long as you’d think and the result is pretty tidy once they’ve had a rub down with 600 grade wet and dry paper.

Here’s a canny bit of advice given to me by my father just before I started this: when filing soft metals, rub chalk along your files, it stops them from clogging. He was right, it did too. You can’t beat good advice. His opinion? Well, he didn’t have one, he’s waiting until I’ve finished to give me that.

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Paint it black.

Song titles eh? Always good inspiration for a post title, thank you Rolling Stones.

Man was I pleased when I’d chopped off those spars at the back end. The overwhelming sense of progress really hit home. The bike had suddenly taken on a completely different look. Whereas before the chop it had seemed as if the whole mass of the bike had been centred somewhere around the back wheel or just in front of it, now it all seemed to move forwards, it gave the whole thing a much needed sense of increased purpose, like the bike really was about going forwards.

As I said previously I filled the ends of the resultant open tube sections with hard body filler. At this point in time I’d never used a welder of any description since my college days and a brief acquaintance with some oxy-acetylene gear. So neatly welding a plug into each tube was not something I was up for as I doubtless would have made a complete pigs ear of it. So body filler it was and, at least I knew it would give me a lovely smooth finish. I painted the cleaned up ends with the smooth version of Hammerite, or Smoothrite as some call it. For those of you who don’t already know this is wonderful stuff, provided you apply it in accordance with the instructions. It’s an enamel based paint that you can apply directly, via spray or brush, onto bare steel without the need for all the fuss of a priming coat. It flows and dries into a lovely glossy black finish. Accept no substitutes.

It is perfect for things like this if you’re not going to be going the whole hog and having the complete frame sprayed or powder coated. I’d elected to use it to touch up all the little chips and blemishes on the main frame and for the small spots where I was going to grind off things like the pillion footrest hangers etc. A few dabs with a soft brush and hey presto. As you will see in later posts I also used it, because you can buy it in rattle cans, to paint all of the steel pieces I would make for finishing off the back end. It has proved utterly durable since the bike was finished and is well up to the job of protecting various bits through both foul weather conditions and the battering that a bike can get in the parking bays of London at the hands of carefree scooter commuters.

The parts that I’d ordered for taking the back end to the next stage, shocks, rear light and fender section had not yet arrived, so I diverted my attention to the front of the bike for a while. My plan was to fit a lighter and smaller front fender, some smaller clocks and do something about the front brake.

You will notice in the shot of the top yoke that the standard brake master cylinder was now sitting at an odd angle to the handlebar. Its orientation now that it was on flat bars was significantly altered from when it was attached to the high bars of the standard bike. I didn’t want the hassle in the future of trying to bleed the brake with the reservoir at a distinct angle, nothing worse than brake fluid to ruin anything it touches, like paintwork.I’d visited the local autojumble at Kempton Park to see if I could find anything appropriate but to no avail. However, a quick call to a contact alerted me to a good breaker in Aylesbury called Breaking 125’s (sorry no link, he’s not got a site). When I got there it was the usual Aladdins cave of bits and parts from all manner of bikes. I came away with a Magura master cylinder and reservoir from an old Aprilia and a plastic front fender off I don’t know what, but it looked kind of right.

The clocks had arrived early on so the main task for them was to make some kind of holding plate to fit the top yoke. I’d elected to keep both speedo and rev counter functions but had chosen different sizes, the speedo being the larger of the two. I could have done without a rev counter but I like them and thought that it might actually stop me over-revving the engine as I had no idea if it had any kind of limiter on the ignition.

The speedo on the other hand came with some tiny built in idiot lights and double odometers. How to mount them? I didn’t have any machine cutters big enough to make collars for the clock bodies so decided I’d put them on a plate in front of the bars roughly where the standard clocks had been.

 

 

I measured up the space and mounting points and drew up a simple plate on some graph paper that night, including all of the fixing points and cable holes needed to make a neat job of it. At times like this graph paper is such useful stuff. The grids are a fantastic guide for creating very quick technical drawings for parts you want to make and the drawing tools you need are no more than a pencil, compass, ruler and circle guide. For me, much faster than trying to knock something up on the computer. Finally I wanted to complete the clock mount with some kind of foam surround, a kind of homage to all those Ducati and GSXR clocks seen in the 90’s and on innumerable race bikes. There was a great bit of scrap seat foam in the workshop I’d had my eye on and quite by coincidence it was the same depth as the clocks themselves. Just perfect.