Author Topic: XL Bobber Project  (Read 1436 times)

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Offline JW113

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XL Bobber Project
« on: July 17, 2016, 09:43:22 AM »
After 15 years of starting & stopping a works in progress project wiht a 1978 XLH, I am finally moving in a direction and making lots of progress. It started out as a rolling basket case I bought from a close friend, pretty rough but all there. I was going to a complete restoration on it, but then changed my mind. Then I was going to dress it up like a FLH, got pretty far with that, then decided that didn't feel right. So using the 90s Fatboy front end, I decided to make a bare bones bobber out of it. And here we go.

The plan is basically:
- Keep motor stock-ish, will use a CV or S&S carb and likely electronic ignition
- Fatboy 41mm front end with 16" front wheel
- TC four pistion front caliper & rotor
- T- bar handlebars with 2000s style controls
- "King" tank (3.3 gal I think)
- Custom rear fender mounted directly to the swing arm
- Custom-ized front fender from a Sportster 48
- Solo springer seat
- Very little chrome, most everything other than the polished aluminum stuff is powder coated black
- Drag pipes will be coated with silver Jet Hot Coating

I got the parts back from the powdercoat shop on Friday, looks fantastic. Even the tank & fenders. So far have just sat the motor back in frame, will be chipping away on reassembly over the next few weeks.

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-JW
2004 FLHRS   1977 FLH Shovelhead  1992 FLSTC
1945 Indian Chief   1978 XL Bobber

Offline Racepres

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2016, 01:18:41 PM »
Look forward to Details on the Front end...Have a Friend wanting a Fat front on his Ironhead...Something I never done..

Offline JW113

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2016, 09:00:55 PM »
Today I put the top end on, and the triple trees.

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Putting a 41mm Evo front end on is pretty straightforward, just a couple of mods to do. I made a fork lock bracket out of 1" x 3/16" bar and welded to the lower tree.

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The fork stops are completely different between Softail and Iron, so with a 4" grinder and several beers, you cut down the Softail lower tree to make a "fork stop".

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Also, the fork stem on a Softail is about 1/2" or so longer than an Ironhead, so I just used some big washers to make a "spacer" until I get around to spinning one up on a lathe.

Next, on to the rear swing arm and front forks. Still waiting on the fork rebuild parts, should show up this week. But the powdercoat sure looks great.

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-JW
2004 FLHRS   1977 FLH Shovelhead  1992 FLSTC
1945 Indian Chief   1978 XL Bobber

Offline garyajaz

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2016, 05:27:01 AM »
 :up:
always good to see iron going together.

Offline JW113

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2016, 08:02:04 PM »
Have chipped away on it a little more, installed starter and generator. Ran into a couple snags though.

Know what this is? Does this look a little odd to you?
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Yes, that's that bolt that holds the oil tank bracket to the transmission that also is the trans vent. See there between the first and second thread from the top? Yep. Over-tightened it. I was telling myself the whole time as I was tightening it DON'T OVER TIGHTEN IT!!! And while doing so, after it snugged up, it went soft. Damn it. I swear there I wasn't putting that much torque on it. Maybe the last guy had already broke it and just left it that way? Yeah, that's it. Did the same thing on my Ironhead chopper years ago. So.... Kwik jump on Ebay, lots of them to be had both NOS HD and from Colony. Ordered a Colony repop, maybe (yeah right) it will be a little stronger than the stock ones. Maybe I should order a couple extra, since I'm evidently pretty lame at installing these.

So then I go to put the swing arm back on, and.... Hey, what happened to the left side swing arm nut?? I had left it in the swing arm when I took to powder coater, guess they decided to remove it. Sure hope they still have it, will check tomorrow. If not... Ebay! Damn.

One good bit of luck, while looking for the oil tank mount bolt I found a NOS genuine HD brake cable still in the red white & blue AMF wrapper. I am SURE the one I have now is CCI or some other cheapo knock off. Score!

So back to waiting for the big brown truck to show up in order to make forward progress. Two steps forward, one step back. All part of the game!

-JW
2004 FLHRS   1977 FLH Shovelhead  1992 FLSTC
1945 Indian Chief   1978 XL Bobber

Offline JW113

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2016, 07:39:10 PM »
Well, things are moving along very nicely. Got the front forks and swing arm installed. Hopefully by tomorrow, it will be setting on it's own two feet again. So far so good.

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There is a discussion on the Shovelhead forum about paint and powder coating. I had all the structural parts, and also the sheet metal, powder coated. The tank/fenders/oil tank look pretty good, but I wanted to see if I could get rid of the lingering orange peel in the texture. Took back to the p/c shop, they wet sanded and polished the powder. Personally, it looks as good as any pro paint job I've ever had done. What say you? [eh hem, uh, Prez?]  :SM:

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I wanted to get the rear wheel on today, but also wanted to polish the rear brake housing. Always a big production to get the polishing station set up, so had to banish the "Obsolete Fleet" from the garage to get it done.

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I had a couple of pieces for my Shovelhead to do also, so spent the day polishing away and getting totally filthy. But, have to say, love the look of polished aluminum and all turned out quite well. Tomorrow, off the cart and on it's feet. Need to go get a new rear tire first thing in the morning, then call RageGlide to come over and help me hoist this thing off the cart.

-JW
2004 FLHRS   1977 FLH Shovelhead  1992 FLSTC
1945 Indian Chief   1978 XL Bobber

Offline biker3r

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2016, 07:44:52 PM »
Yep, I'm drooling

Offline garyajaz

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2016, 08:35:00 AM »
looking good.
when I had frame and swing arm powder coated  10 years ago I opted for the clear coat over black.
was only another 30-40 bucks.
came out super shiny like yours.
lots less work.  and still shinny.
 also, as you know, much tougher than paint.

yours coming along nicely.
 that front end looks like what they putting on some new sporties with the 16 on front. 

Offline JW113

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2016, 09:07:19 AM »
Yeah Gary, it's interesting how the factory decided to finally put a 16" front wheel on the XL after all these years. I always thought they should have had it from day one, and if I would have gotten off my butt and finished this project 10 years ago, would have beat them to it! Oh well, better late than never. Speaking of 16" wheels, have both of them installed along with the fenders. Rims are 3.5" x 16" Akront, with Buchanon heavy duty stainless spokes. Front hub is from a 2000s softail custom. Looking pretty good so far.

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Now the fun part, need to make a wiring harness.

-JW
2004 FLHRS   1977 FLH Shovelhead  1992 FLSTC
1945 Indian Chief   1978 XL Bobber

Offline iamdouglas1

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2016, 09:50:38 AM »
Dang Yo.   Tight bike.

Offline rageglide

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2016, 12:53:05 PM »
Looking good John!   :up: :up:

Offline Hossamania

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2016, 01:44:32 PM »
That is a good looking scoot. Has a bit of Exile Cycle look to it.
Happiness does not buy money.

Offline biker3r

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2016, 05:59:57 PM »
 :agree:

Offline nibroc

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2016, 06:53:28 PM »
NICE----a mag would make wiring a piece o cake-- excellent paint -- agree bout exile look

Offline Mountainman streetbob

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2016, 07:28:42 PM »
WOW

Absolutely GORGEOUS!

 :up: :up:

 :SM:

 :bike:
Brice H Dyal  The "Mountainmman"
US Army 89-01 35H/12B US Army AMC

Offline JW113

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #15 on: July 26, 2016, 06:44:59 PM »
Thanks guys! Still have a ways to go on it, but at least it's looking like a motorcycle and not a pile of parts. Ran into a snag with the rear wheel. I went to get a new tire, wanted a 130/90B16 Dunlop. The rims are Akront 3.5 x 16. The Dunlop book says that 130 tire goes on a 3.00" rim, and they would not mount it. The next size that could go on my 3.50" was a MU8516, but I knew that was going to be awfully close to the fender. Sure enough, when I got it home, way too close as in basically touching. Did some reasearch, seems an Avon Cobra 130/90b16 should fit OK, it's about 1/2" less diameter than this Dunlop. So, back the to tire store next Saturday for a new shoe.

Also dropped the drag pipes off at this place that does Jet Hot Coatings, going to have them done in satin silver. Trying to keep the chrome to a minimum, just a splash here and there.

-JW
2004 FLHRS   1977 FLH Shovelhead  1992 FLSTC
1945 Indian Chief   1978 XL Bobber

Offline JW113

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #16 on: August 02, 2016, 10:44:46 PM »
Well here is an update. Progressing forward, slow but steady. Still no wiring, but getting critical stuff installed.

I bought some tail lights from Ebay from a wrecked (??) Sporty or Dyna, in OK shape needs repaint but cool none the less. And the price was right! Mounted on the rear frame section, will figure out how to make them combo brake and turn signals later. Probably go for the Penta Star unit from Signal Dynamics.

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Had to do some mods to the frame, but was not too difficult to install and looks good. Nice and sleek. Really love the challenge of taking garbage from other bikes and grating it onto a project bike and have it turn out cool.

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I got the tire replaced with an Avon Cobra 130/90B-16, and it fit like a glove. Chain on, right side trans stuff all buttoned up and new brake cable installed.

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I found some cheapo black late model mirrors on Ebay, fits the bike very nice.

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And lastly, got a brake line and fittings for the front, and bled the front brake system. Always a party bleeding a bone dry brake system, I tell  you. NOT! Throw in my own screw ups (save that story for later) and three hours later, front brake pressure! Yay!

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So now, it's really down to round up a battery, get the speedo/tach mounted, and begin the wiring process. Always enjoy that part, assuming all the electrical parts are in place and ready to be hooked up. I'm thinking first week of September, will be ready to hit the starter button and take it on it's maiden voyage.

-JW
2004 FLHRS   1977 FLH Shovelhead  1992 FLSTC
1945 Indian Chief   1978 XL Bobber

Offline JC 92FXRS

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #17 on: August 03, 2016, 12:13:09 PM »
You do very nice work, I must say!  :up:
A very slick looking ironhead!
Cheers, Jeff
"never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence"

Offline JW113

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #18 on: August 10, 2016, 08:42:01 AM »
Well progress has been slow, and like all projects, now it's moved to taking it back apart to get to stuff I should have done first. I did not have a battery, battery cables, & starter relay, so ordered all that and am in wait mode. Of course, you can't get to the battery terminals with the oil tank and battery box on, so off those came. And lo and behold, what do I find on my bench? That thrust washer that goes on the end of the bendix, so now need to pull the starter out. No biggie, all in good fun. What's worth doing, is worth doing thrice I always say.

I've got a set of mechanical mini-tack & speedo to mount up. Am using the speedo sender from a 90s Fatboy, but my front hub is from a 2000s softail custom, so has sealed bearings. Need to take the sender to the shop and get it cut down to 0.960" to space it correctly. Have not found a source for custom lenght speedo and tach drive cables yet, but I'm sure there out there just have not looked real hard.

One inch at a time....

-JW
2004 FLHRS   1977 FLH Shovelhead  1992 FLSTC
1945 Indian Chief   1978 XL Bobber

Offline JohnCA58

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #19 on: August 10, 2016, 09:43:31 AM »
JW,  great looking bike you got there, remember seeing a few transformation of this bike in the old Harley Digest days.....  best one yet.  :up:
YOLO

Offline JW113

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #20 on: August 10, 2016, 04:25:04 PM »
Yeah John, it has indeed been through a few. Here is what it looked like when I bought it from Surfer Bill in 2001. It was pretty rough, but it did run. Only wiring on it was a battery, a toggle switch to the coil, and a push button switch to the starter relay.

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I planned to do a bone stock restoration on it, but about half way through got bored with that, and decided to do a custom. So then switched gears to dress it up like an FLH. This is as far as I got in 2008, then decided it looked both kinda cool but kinda goofy at the same time.

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So I tore it all back down to parts and it sat in the shed for another 6 years, then decided to make it a bobber. I kept the fatboy front end to run a 16" wheel, and rounded up all the other misc parts and pretty much got the raw bike together and test fired it. But then I found a real FLH, and took interest in doing a stock restoration on it over the past year & a half. But after that was mostly done (no project bike is every really "done"), got back to this sporty. So... now it's down to getting it wrapped, and the plan is to take it on maiden voyage in September.

-JW
2004 FLHRS   1977 FLH Shovelhead  1992 FLSTC
1945 Indian Chief   1978 XL Bobber

Offline biker3r

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #21 on: August 13, 2016, 07:27:20 AM »
I think its a great project, cant wait to see it done. Makes me want to start a new project.

Offline JW113

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #22 on: August 15, 2016, 08:02:08 AM »
Well it was a productive weekend, have all the wiring done. The "to do" list I can now count on one hand. Still waiting on plug wires, but those should show up today. And have not quite figured out how I'm gonna mount the speedo and tach, but who needs a speedo and tach anyway? And I need to make a license plate bracket. Ah hell who needs a license plate anyway? So looks like next weekend, come hell or high water, we're going for a little ride on it.

-JW

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2004 FLHRS   1977 FLH Shovelhead  1992 FLSTC
1945 Indian Chief   1978 XL Bobber

Offline JW113

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #23 on: August 15, 2016, 08:03:28 AM »
Oh and here's the proud owner.
:-)

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2004 FLHRS   1977 FLH Shovelhead  1992 FLSTC
1945 Indian Chief   1978 XL Bobber

Offline JW113

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #24 on: August 15, 2016, 08:04:56 AM »
And I just had to show off these awesome polished aluminum drag pipes...

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-JW
2004 FLHRS   1977 FLH Shovelhead  1992 FLSTC
1945 Indian Chief   1978 XL Bobber

Offline biker3r

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #25 on: August 16, 2016, 08:11:18 AM »
The paint came out damn nice JW, guess im behind the times first time I seen aluminum pipes.

Offline JW113

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #26 on: August 17, 2016, 08:19:02 AM »
Aw man, I cast out bait like that and no one busts my chops and calls BS? Guess the fishin's gone dry in this here pond!
 :fish:
 :SM:

OK those are not aluminum pipes, I had them powder coated with that Jet Hot ceramic coating. I love the stuff, looks just like polished aluminum up close.

And thanks biker3r, was the best $600 paint job I ever got!

-JW
2004 FLHRS   1977 FLH Shovelhead  1992 FLSTC
1945 Indian Chief   1978 XL Bobber

Offline rageglide

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #27 on: August 17, 2016, 09:45:55 AM »
I had thought you were going with the standard silver jet Hot vs the polished (like you had on the corvair).    The black paint does look amazingly good for the price. 

Offline JW113

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #28 on: August 18, 2016, 05:19:53 PM »
Well the stuff on that Corvair you could not really see much of. Did the same thing as I had done on my softail. I don't recall ever using the standard flat silver.

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Although I just took a look at the Jet Hot web site the other day, did not realize all the cool colors they have now. Should have went with polished red!
 :doh:

-JW
2004 FLHRS   1977 FLH Shovelhead  1992 FLSTC
1945 Indian Chief   1978 XL Bobber

Offline garyajaz

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #29 on: August 19, 2016, 08:32:01 AM »
was biting my tongue on the alum pipes comment .
wondering how soft they got from  the heat at port.
and in all my years never  saw a alum pipe... got me!
craig has that coating on his pan.  looks good.

Offline JW113

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #30 on: August 27, 2016, 03:14:50 PM »
2004 FLHRS   1977 FLH Shovelhead  1992 FLSTC
1945 Indian Chief   1978 XL Bobber

Offline rageglide

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #31 on: August 27, 2016, 08:47:03 PM »
It's true.  I seen it running.  Sounds good!

Offline JW113

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #32 on: August 28, 2016, 06:42:51 PM »
Yep, it's alive, and is running. Construction part done, tuning part start.

It fired up immediately as soon as the starter button was pressed. Then died immediately. I dialed the timing up a notch or two, and hit it again, this time it lights up and running good. Let it warm up for a minute or two, then shut it down. Look for leaks or any other unexpected BS, all good. Roll it out to the street and fire it up, seems happy as a clam and eager to go. I let out the clutch, and WOW, grabby clutch! Almost killed it. OK, I did kill it. Why did the neighbor have to be out there watching? Fire it up again, this time a little more throttle, release the clutch and SHA-ZAM, almost wheelied the POS. OK, need to take a look at that clutch, pretty grabby. But once on the roll, felt really good.

Spun around the block to Roadrage's place, trying to keep a low profile (no helmet, no license plate, with drag pipes, yea right) and stopped to "let it cool down". LOL  Chit chatted a bit, then headed home. Was surprised when I tried to shift to second gear, it wouldn't. Almost stalled it again. So putz on home in 1st. Tested the brakes, and as I had imagined, NOTHING. New disk, new pads, nothing bedded in yet. All part of the 'tuning'.

First thing first, took a look at the shifter. Yep, put it on wrong, hitting the foot peg on up stroke. Easy fix, rotate to the next set of splines, Fixed! By now, it was time to break out the gin and have a maiden voyage toast. Or two. Maybe more. Never mind. Took some pics, then time to put the pony in the stable. This is where the story turns south. Don't remember just how or why, but somehow it ended up laying on the ground on the right side, and bent the xhit out of the brake lever. I pick it up, park in garage, and swear a little bit. OK, maybe more than a little bit. Gave it the once over, and amazing no damage other than the brake lever, and maybe the throttle sleeve. Never trust an alcoholic to park your motorcycle.

So today, time to fix the damage. Easy-peasy, rode down to the dealer and got a new throttle sleeve, and I had an old brake lever in the stash. All good, but need to figure out what to do about a license plate. I bought this nice (and cheap) axle mount plate bracket, but it is for a 3/4" axle. Sadly, Ironhead axles neck down to 1/2", so too sloppy to use as is. Also, there is very little extra thread on the axle to add this .155" thick bracket. Decided to drill a hole in the swing arm, and mount it just behind the axle. Dug around in the parts bin, found a 3/8" washer that would "just" fit in the bracket mount hole. A little filing, and nice big hammer, and in it went. Fired up the torch and fusion welded it in.

While in a welding mood, also welded a couple 5/16" washers to some 1/4-20 bolt heads, to put into the drag pipes so's to break up that reversion wave and get back a little of that mid-rpm torque dip that drag pipes are famous for. Yeah, I know, yeah yeah yeah, drag pipes are crap for the street. But damn, have to say they sure sound mean has hell on this old Ironhead. Gonna give it a go until I find a reason to not. Sorry.

Here's the final deal:

Engine: Stock 1000cc
Heads: Ported/flowed by Ironhead Tom of Albert Lea MN (RIP)
Carb: S&S Super E (until I can find a Keihin CV)
Exhaust: Cycle Shack 1-3/4" drag pipes
Ignition: Crane Hi-4E - Single Fire
Cams: Stock HD "P"
Frame: Stock 1978 XLH
Forks: "90's" era Softail 41mm, with "2000's" era sliders
Brakes: Rear stock drum, Front 2000's era 4 piston caliper
Wheels: Akront 16" aluminum w/ Buchannon heavy duty stainless spokes
Bodywork: 3.2 Gallon King tank, front fender scavenged from Sportster 48, custom rear fender mounted to swing arm
Tail/Brake Lights: Sportster 48

Well that's about it. Now on to dialing in the carb and timing, and put some miles on this beast.

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-JW
« Last Edit: August 28, 2016, 11:54:33 PM by FSG »
2004 FLHRS   1977 FLH Shovelhead  1992 FLSTC
1945 Indian Chief   1978 XL Bobber

Offline JC 92FXRS

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #33 on: August 30, 2016, 09:00:43 AM »
Very, very well done JW...nice old pick-up back there too.  :up:
Cheers, Jeff
"never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence"

Offline packrat56

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #34 on: August 30, 2016, 09:15:20 AM »
 :up:
I like it ,good looking bike
Now I know, why some animals eat their young.

Offline JW113

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #35 on: August 30, 2016, 08:04:33 PM »
Thanks guys! Can't wait to get this sucker up in the hills and see how it handles. I got the plate mount on, now need to go to DMV and get it out of "storage" and licensed for the street.

-JW
2004 FLHRS   1977 FLH Shovelhead  1992 FLSTC
1945 Indian Chief   1978 XL Bobber

Offline JW113

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Re: XL Bobber Project
« Reply #36 on: September 02, 2016, 05:33:17 PM »
Alrightly, a little test and tune today. Started off at the DMV, paid the fees and got it out of hock. Er, I mean out of non-op. It's all legal now, no more riding around with no plate.

I knew the timing was off, since all I had done is center the plate in the adjustment range. I got TDC set  in the sight hole and static timed it. Will do a dynamic later.

Then I drilled the drags for washer "baffles" I made last week. Also dialed the accel pump off on the S&S E. Then, off we go for a little test ride.

Clutch was still a little grabby, but I fixed that. Or rather, it fixed itself after a few stops & starts. I had taken the clutch all apart and cleaned it up, so it was bone dry when I took it for a spin last weekend. After some oil got into the plates from running and using the clutch, it's feels great now. Neutral is not quite as easy to snick into as I like, so will get one of them Tamer II's on order. That helped my other ironhead tremendously.

Once it warmed up, it coughing and sneezing. I don't like to run with the choke on, so usually shut it down after just a minute or two. But 5 minutes into it, it warmed up nice and was running and idling smoothly. It does have a bit of a sneeze just off idle, so will mess around with the accell pump tomorrow.

The front brake set up (11.5" w/ 4 puck caliper from a 2000s Softail) is a dream. Will slow/stop the bike PRONTO. The rear (stock drum) is useless. The pedal was going down pretty far, so I turned up the rear adjuster nut on the cable. When I got back home from the test ride, the rear brake was smoking! Whoa. Need to have a look at that. Should be able to lock the rear wheel even with drum brake, but no way. I'm thinking the new brake shoes have something to do with that, they are not even remotely bedded in yet so probably very little pad/drum contact.

Suspension-wise, it's firm but nice. Hardly any dive on braking, and it seems to take the harshness out of our screwed up streets here in San Jose, far better than my Road King does. Spring seat is also helping in that department I think.

So one step at a time, will do a bit more tuning tomorrow, this time get some freeway miles on it and see how it does with full throttle pulls in 3rd and 4th.

-JW
2004 FLHRS   1977 FLH Shovelhead  1992 FLSTC
1945 Indian Chief   1978 XL Bobber