Wednesday, January 28, 2015

1978 XLCH Wiring PART 1 of ????

I've mentioned in other posts that I planned to do a little clean up in regards to the wiring on my 1978 XLCH. My original intent was to just do the areas I had intended and then write it all up as a single post.

Well, no surprise, it's been more involved than I planned and taking considerably longer. I figure I better go ahead an start posting my current progress. Otherwise, I won't be making any posts for a while followed by one epically long one at the end.

The major problem in getting this done is that every time I determine a point to fix up to, I trace to that point and things look as bad if not worse. Keep in mind, the bike did start and run prior to this adventure. While I know I shouldn't be surprised at anything I found, I am still a little... irritated.

If you've been following any of this, I'll start where I left off and bring you up to speed on where I am currently. 

After removing the ape hangers, I was left with extended wires to the controls which needed to be shorted. I also new that most of the buttons and switches in the controls did not work. 

Not surprising, here's what I found in the right side. The only button that worked here was the starter button.

The left control looked slightly better although none of those switches worked.

The switches themselves are about $15 each (2 required) and the buttons $10 (need 4). Then there's having to solder wire to each contact.... 

Not to worry, Drag Specialties to the rescue once again!  For about $50 you can get the front control wire harness (part number DS-305202). The beauty of this is that it uses factory color wire plus the switches and buttons are already soldered.

It was at this point I moved over to rebuilding the front suspension (covered in a separate post) while waiting for the above kit to arrive.

Friday, January 23, 2015

"No, that's just a little ice cream." (Fork rebuild on the XLCH)

... I blew a seal. Anyone... anyone...?

I mentioned in my last post about some maintenance items left to do on the XLCH. Basically everything on the front end that was rubber was dry rotted. I tackled the front tire and the riser dampers last week. 

The fork seals were leaking like a rusty bucket and the boots were so dry rotted that they crumbled when touched. The fork boots and seal kit arrived so it was time to tear down the front end.

I didn't get a lot of pictures during this process because it was incredibly messy, oily, and dirty and so was I, my clothes, the garage floor, etc.... Also, I won't bother doing a step-by-step for how to do this because there are plenty of those already out there. I would, however, like to give credit to the video I found most helpful during this process which was from Delboy (aka Moonfleet41)

Specifically, his tip for giving a quick snap with the wrench to loosen the bottom bolt holding the damper rod (around 4:00 in the video). Trying to loosen them at "normally" just causes the damper to spin in the tube.  I was able to remove the bolts in both legs this way without having to resort to an impact wrench (which I don't have) or other, creative ways. I did have to use a punch and give one of the bolts a quick tap first but, other than that, both came out easy. 

Also useful was the tip about holding a rag over the cap to keep it from flying off (around 6:12). And yes, it does tend to fly when it slips loose. I didn't have troubles initially getting them out but when trying to put them together (after my hands, tools, and the fork were nice a greasy) I managed to launch them a couple times.

So now, just a few random pics from throughout the process.  Here's the front end missing to prove I actually was doing this.
The fork seals were so caked with dirt and grease, I almost forgot about the retaining clips.
The were so dry rotted and hardened, I had to use a pry bar and a rubber mallet to bust them loose.
New fluid about to go in... much cleaner than what came out.
And finally put back together and the surrounding area cleaned up.
I must've used half a roll of paper towels throughout this process.

Now that it's done, it wasn't as bad of a project. I'm glad it doesn't have to be done all that often but I'll probably be up to doing it myself once again when it's due.

Next step is to do something about all those wires hanging down from the front end....

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Get off my bike, you damn dirty apes!

There were a few safety issues that need to be addressed before I really could start riding my new sporty.  One of which was the front tire which was almost bald and thoroughly dry-rotted.

I ordered in a new Avon and, rather than mounting it myself, I took it to Dave at Dave's Cycles and Small Engine in Round Rock.  His price was reasonable and he got it back to me super quickly. I was very pleased and plan to take more of the items/jobs that I can't/don't want to deal with over to Dave's in the future.

Anyway, I got it back home and installed Friday night and so I decided to take the bike for a short ride.
This was the first, and well only, time I've really ridden the bike for any length of time. My original intent was to ride the bike as it was configured for a few weeks before jumping in and making a bunch of changes.

Fuck that, those ape hangers have to go! No disrespect to those of you who like them but that was the sketchiest, most uncomfortable ride I've had in a while! They had to go!

Fortunately I had a pair of tracker style bars I picked up from the last Voodoo Vintage swap meet. These fit my style a little better, are more comfortable (to me, anyway), and I definitely feel more in control with them.

I also changed out the vibration dampers that support the risers as part of the swap. The originals had long since hardened and I'm sure contributed to my less-than-relaxing ride.

I still need to clean up the electrical following the swap. I'm sure you can imagine the horrible bird's nest of a wiring job I discovered that was done by whoever installed the apes.  But I'll save that rant for another post.

There also were several other maintenance items that need to be addressed which I will get to as time permits....

Saturday, January 10, 2015

More Treasures from My Favorite Store

While I was out running errands during the holiday break, I stopped by my favorite store (aka Goodwill) to see if I could pick up any additional material or accessories for my casting project(s). Sure enough, they did not disappoint.

I managed to find a decent pair of all-metal tongs and a couple of brass candlesticks. I also found several of those aluminum water bottles. Those were pretty neat because, aside from using them as an aluminum source, I thought they might be handy to use for auxiliary fuel bottles similar to the ones they guys at Lowbrow Customs and others are selling. All of this for just a dollar or two apiece.

But by far, the best thing of all... a Guinness pint glass!

It's no secret that I like Guinness and I've had a few of these over the years but they always seem to get broken. Anyone who drinks Guinness, particularly from the draught cans (the ones with the "widget"), knows that they are 14.9 oz which is just a bit too much to fit in a standard U.S. pint glass. 

That's the beauty of these Guinness glasses: they are imperial pints (~20 oz) and the perfect size for the entire contents of the can. Enough blabbing... now I'm thirsty!

Friday, January 9, 2015

What's in the Bag?!?

That's right, boys and girls... it's time for another exciting round of everyone's favorite game: "WHAT'S-IN-THE-BAG!!!"

This is one of my favorite parts of buying old vehicles, going through the belongings the previous owner(s) left behind.  The XLCH I recently picked up had a fork tool bag attached that was pretty crusty but I could tell it was full.

Inside, there was what to appeared to be an old, grease (and who-knows-what) stained t-shirt.  It was tightly wrapped around something.

What could it be?!?!? Drug paraphernalia? A severed hand, perhaps?

Nope, just some rusty allen wrenches, a 1/2" wrench, and a t-shirt from the Hays Hills Baptist Church....

Though, in some ways I found the grungy, disheveled church t-shirt to be slightly more creepy than a severed hand would've been.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

It was a long hard fight and I tried my best to resist....

I've been quite successful avoiding it until now but I must admit...  I now own a Harley-Davidson.  My step brother and father (both die hard HD) never understood why I liked "rice burning crotch rockets" and I'm sure will have quite a chuckle when they find out.

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, I'm sure your wondering "Why did you buy another bike? Don't you have enough projects on your plate?" Mrs. Inebriated Engineer and I had that exact same conversation when I said I wanted it and yes, I do have plenty of projects but... I don't have a daily rider. So that was our agreement: it had to be functional and rideable and I could have one more motorcycle. Have I mentioned how wonderful Mrs. IE can be?

Anywho, on to the bike: 1978 XLCH Sportster, the same vintage as me. As per our agreement it is running and rideable, however, you know there's quite a bit I will change before it's all said and done. Though not just yet, for now, I'm just going to ride it.

Enough noise, I'll post more later but here's a couple quick teaser pics:

The thing that sealed the deal on the bike: the oil tank tribute. Not the best airbrush job but I appreciate the effort. If I could get away with it in my day-to-day life, I'd drink Guinness instead of water.

And finally, I'd like to give a special thanks to my buddy MDC (who I am pretty sure is the only other person besides me who reads this blog). Thanks again for going with me tonight to check this bike out and helping to load it up!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Greensand Mold Attempt #1 = FAIL

I had a little bit of time today and the weather was relatively nice so I thought I'd try making the greensand mold for the taillight housing. The first thing that was apparent is that my flasks are just a bit too small for this. Originally, I was sizing them specifically for this part but my last minute changes of adding a strip of molding (too better hold the sand), plus some minor tweaks to avoid wasting wood, led to the working area being a little smaller than I intended. I always seem to do that.

Here's the form in the drag (which is upside down) ready to be packed with a light dusting of talcum powder to help release the pattern. My initial thought for the best way to cast this part was to have the parting line at the rim. That way, with the housing opening upward like a bowl, gravity can help the aluminum fill in the back. In addition, if I happened to use too little aluminum or have any other voids or casting defects, it will be much easier to fix on the back than say on the edge part of the housing.

The sand has been packed and the drag turned right side up ready to receive the cope. It packed in nice and tight.  I used the screen from my last greensand post to "dust" sand over the pattern until it was sufficiently covered before dumping the remaining sand on top.

I dusted the inside of the pattern, added the sprue and vent tubes, and packed the cope tightly. I used 1" PVC pipe for both tubes because that's what I had handy.

The tubes were removed and I tried (as gently as possible) to separate the flask. FAIL! The portion of the mold for the interior pattern sheered off a the parting line, not what I was hoping for.

I pulled the pattern with its payload out of the drag though not being terribly careful as I knew the mold was already ruined.  I tried tapping on the back of the pattern to dump out the interior sand but it held tightly. This is going to require some reconsideration of my method and placement as well as some adjustment to the pattern if I intend to used greensand.

There are a couple of things that I immediately know contributed to this failure. Number 1 is that before making the pattern, I knew nothing about draft angles. For the those like me who do not know, the pattern is supposed to have a slight angle (less than 5 degrees) on any surface that contacts the sand and is not parallel to the parting line. I.e. if the pattern has to rub against sand when being removed, it should have a slight angle to reduce friction, making removal easier. As I said, I did not know this and built the pattern with the walls perpendicular to the back and rim.

The other item, and which further compounded the lack of draft angle was the interior surface of the pattern. Since the pattern was cut in layers using the laser cutter and then glued together, there are slight irregularities between layers. On the exterior, I was careful to sand and fill them until perfectly smooth but on the interior, I wasn't as thorough. This led to an uneven surface (albeit slight) which gave the interior sand places to grip.

My plan is to rework the pattern to clean up the irregularities while keeping in mind draft angles. If that doesn't make the mold come out any better, I'll most likely switch from greensand to the lost-wax method of casting.

It seems like a jump but I'm already working with the wax method on another casting project I'm doing. I haven't made any posts about it though because it's a test for someone else. If it turns out okay (and I get their permission to share), I'll do a write up on my process.