Monday, 27 September 2010

The sum total of this week's progress was that I finished making the seat base. That's not to say that I sorted the mounts for it out, just that I made the seat base. In fairness, it is a little more complicated than your average custom built seat base, and it is going to get a little more complicated yet. Since assorted electrical items (mainly the fuses and the battery) are located under the seat, then to my mind they need to be easily accessible. Given that the R65 doesn't have a kick start, and I have a dodgy leg that rather precludes a running bump start, in the event of a flat battery, it would be far less of a disaster if all that was required was a set of jump leads and a slave battery, rather than the use of a complete tool kit to remove sufficient parts of the motorcycle to gain access to the battery. Which is why I've got it in mind to make some sort of latch and catch arrangement to mount the seat. The front of the seat hump has been cut away to provide access to the battery, and the current theory is that the base proper will get some sort of hook arrangement at the front, arranged so that the font of the seat base hooks on, and then the rear is pressed down and a simple spring loaded catch locates that.

While that sounds over the top, I'm fairly sure that the ability to change the light fuse at three in the morning, in the rain, without using any tools, is something that can only truly be appreciated at three in the morning, when it's raining, the lights fuse has just decided to shuffle off this mortal coil and you don't have any tools. In other words, I feel it's not enough for a motorcycle to be nice to look at, it ought to be nice to use too.

As I may have mentioned before, you ought to spend more time riding a motorcycle than you did building it, so it makes sense to invest some more effort in building it if it's going to make using it free of irritations and niggles. Fundamentally the question is, who are you trying to gratify? Passers-by, or yourself?

The result of applying those parameters to designing the seat is that it's quite a complex fabrication, the design and manufacture of the seat hump was less straightforward than it could have been, and the whole thing has taken for ever. That said, it's not uncomfortable to sit on the bare base, which bodes well for the levels of comfort once it's upholstered, and I'm quite pleased with the way it looks so far. I've still got to make the latches and I'll probably have to make the catch too, along with some sort of cable release and a back up for that which is either going to take for ever, or not very long, partially depending on whether or not I can remember what I did with the pack of compression springs I remember having about the place.

I have a tendency to look at the Beemer all week, without doing anything to it, and then have a bit of a flurry on saturday so I have something to write about here. Next weekend though, I'm off to visit my parents so there won't be a saturday in the workshop. Which limits the chances of my actually achieving anything somewhat...

Sunday, 19 September 2010

This week, was mostly about not succumbing to temptation. I took a day out and drove around a little, caught up with a few people and bought a brace of Suzuki Bandit lower frame rails, pictured to the left. These are bolt in to make engine removal either easier or possible, I'm not sure which as I've never taken the engine out of a Bandit. The point is the the half lap frame splices will fit together. OK, there's a round hole that won't quite accommodate the 17mm AF nut that us Europeans like to use for 10mm thread bolts, but that's nothing that a simple spacer wouldn't sort out, or possibly some Japanese style 14mm AF 10mm nuts. I'm leaning towards making some long nuts from hex bar and turning one end of them round on the lathe to fit in the recess in the splices.

The temptation I was avoiding was to start work on the frame braces. I have the tube on the shelf, and I'm happier messing around with frames than I am with anything else. As it was I managed to restrain myself to cutting some of the splices free from the Bandit frame rails and making a start on cleaning them up. The two that are bolted together are from the front and rear of the rail, and have a shorter "tail" than the other one which is from the tube that runs across the frame. Not having inspected any of this too closely before buying the parts, I had been expecting to get four half splices from the two rails, and not six, and I'd also imagined that the tails of the splices would be longer. Having acquired a half dozen half splices, it makes sense to think about using one pair on a cross brace in the same manner as the Bandit does. Of course, while the OD of the Bandit and BMW tubes are the same, as yet I have no way of telling what the wall thickness of the BMW frame is, though the R65 frame is purportedly lighter than the frame for it's larger brethren, so possibly has thinner wall tubing.

What I needed to be doing was finishing off the seat hump. Although I'd made the risers for the seat hump to attach to, and indeed drilled some mounting holes, I hadn't addressed the problem of attaching the front of the hump to the riser. Accessibility was the problem, with the nuts tucked up inside the "U" section of the seat riser, and the battery living right next to that. I don't like using captive or welded nuts on frames as it's always a problem if they strip or seize, so I made a pair of small aluminium blocks instead. These were sized to sit up in the "U" of the seat riser, and drilled and tapped to accept a M6 x 1mm bolt.

As well as that, they were drilled through the other face to accept a split cotter pin. The idea being that they were positioned under the seat riser, and the cotter pin passed through some holes drilled in the riser to retain them in place, allowing the seat hump to be placed and the front two mounting bolts fitted. While it's a fiddly thing to make, if the thread ever strips, or the bolt ever seizes and snaps off, removing the split pin will let the block drop out and it can either be repaired or replaced without any damage to the frame. It might sound like over thinking the job just a tiny wee bit, but I absolutely loathe having to sort this sort of thing out when it goes wrong in service be cause someone, somewhere, was too cheap, or too lazy to come up with an answer that had a less troublesome failure mode. Probably a bit of a hobby horse of mine really...

I also made some inroads into making the seat proper, and gave some thought to how that was going to be attached. I'm making it with 1/4" of the steel folded back on itself at the edges, the idea being that the vinyl can be glued and tucked back behind the folds, and then they can be tightened up with a rubber hammer trapping the vinyl in place. Well, if the seat's removable, it ought to look tidy underneath too. Hopefully, I'll get the seat base made and mounted in the course of the week, which will mean that the following week, I can give in to my baser desires, and start bending some tube.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

I'm worn out.

Completely knackered, finely lacquered, and entirely cream crackered.

The usual period of rushing around to get everything that needs writing, writ has been upon me. With that out of the way and assorted other things moved along to various degrees, I did manage to find the time to drill some holes in the BMW, ten of them to be precise.

Of those ten, eight were for mounting the seat hump to the subframe. I've agonised over this for some time, fretting over access to the battery and so on. But, at the end of the day, if it's going to be a problem, then I can always wire an Optimate plug in to the motorcycle. Which still left me needing to think about how the seat was going to attach to the seat hump, but I think I've figured that out too.

The two remaining holes were for switches. I wanted to keep the factory ignition lock with its folding key with the (albeit nearly worn away) BMW logo, and I'd planned on fitting it in the front left hand corner of the battery tray I made. I also wanted to put the lights ON/OFF switch in the same area, which meant I needed two holes in the battery tray.

Where you're using a key switch, the hole it goes in is usually quite important. These are almost inevitably circular holes with a couple of flats on either side. The temptation is to drill a round hole that the switch will fit in, and rely on the locking collar being tightened enough to prevent the switch from turning.

Ha. Ha. Bloody Ha-Ha.

This NEVER works. Inevitably the switch comes loose and rotates freely in the hole, at the least making it unpleasant to use, and at the worst shorting out the wiring and setting the entire plot aflame.Aside from the avoidance of conflagration, taking the time to file a hole that at least resembles the correct shape means that you end up with a motorcycle that is more pleasant to use than it might have been otherwise. I could elucidate on that point, but as I may have mentioned, I'm tired, and either you see what I mean, or you're the sort of person who drills a round hole and thinks that's good enough.

With the hole filed out for the key switch, I moved on to drilling the hole for the ON/OFF switch for the lights. Because I wanted this tucked up out of sight, but still reasonably accessible, it turned out the the hole needed to be drilled very close to the top edge of the front of the box. That can cause problems with the drill wandering off in the direction of least resistance and breaking out of the material. The difficulties imposed by the shape of the tray added their own portion or amusement to the entire episode.

So, while ten holes doesn't actually sound like a huge amount of progress, it can certainly be more work than it sounds.

The picture to the left, is the Acewell 1500 digital speedometer and rev counter. I'm rather enamoured of the whizzy bar rev counter display it possesses and so I think I shall be ordering one up in the not too distant future.

The other imminent purchase is the frame splices. I've got the tube on the rack to make the braces for the frame, but I really want to get hold of the splices before I start on that, and I ought to make the seat base and get that attached before I set out to deal with the frame.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Once again, I didn't get round to doing much this week. Well I say that, but more accurately I didn't get round to doing much BMW related stuff. Getting the splash tray welded into the seat hump, and making a start on a template for the seat base was about the sum total of my efforts. Any progress is better than no progress though, so I suppose it could have been worse. What I did manage was to wheel the motorcycle out into the daylight, and get a proper look at it. To get the full benefit, I also whipped the rocker covers off to fit the old style ones I bought, and fitted the foam air filters to the carburettors. On the whole, I think its going to look suitably purposeful once it's all done.

Even the lump of the battery tray hanging down under the seat seems to work visually adding some interest in what would otherwise be a totally empty area.

The engine is going to need some further shaving along the top of the crankcase, which will expose the starter motor and leave a more clearly defined gap under the fuel tank, as it is, the angular front top corner of the crankcase very nearly disappears up under the tank. Once it's all painted, the seat hump and fuel tank should suggest a single shape and I like the way that shape is separated from the rest of the motor cycle, or at least would be if the front top corner of the crankcase wasn't there...

Getting a good look at the seat hump, and it's Land Rover rear light was definitely worth the effort of getting the motorcycle outside. I'm really pleased with the way it looks. The old style rounded rocker boxes sit better with it all than the squared off ones the motorcycle left the factory with too.

I'm toying with the idea of fitting indicators to the motorcycle, specifically, bar end mounted ones. There's ample room for mounting electrical components, both under the seat and the fuel tank as well as in the battery tray. That's going to mean a bit of thinking about switch gear though, I don't want to use the standard switches because they're quite plasticky and multicoloured, I want something that looks more engineered than designed. Some stainless steel, push to make, microswitches is what I have in mind, with some sort of latch on, self cancelling arrangement for the indicators. but having indicators will mean I need two switches by each of my hands so mounting them might be an issue. I've resolved not to think about that until I've got the switches in my possession.

I've found a pair of piggyback Marozocchi shock absorbers that I'll use for the R65, they're currently holding up the rear of my Z650. I'm not a big fan of robbing one motorcycle to get parts for another, so I am keeping my eyes open for a set. Whether I end up buying a set for the BMW, or a set for the Zed will depend on the timing.

Although it's not too difficult to appreciate on an intellectual level that the project is moving forwards, appreciating it on an emotional level is a different kettle of fish. Getting the motorcycle outside where there's room to stand back and take the whole thing in, as well as natural light, makes it a lot easier to see that you're not only making headway, but making it in the right direction too