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Thread: Rebuilding the Q-ship; a 1964 Harley Davidson Sportster

  1. #61
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
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    Chicago
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    98

    Default timing cover part 2

    here are some more photos of the cover showing the where the weld needs finishing; as well as the delamination(s)

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  2. #62
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
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    Chicago
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    Default

    Fork Sliders and Oil Tank: Well, the fork sliders have great bushes inside and cleaned up well. The outside, however, is shot. So, these will get striped and rechromed. They are the only part being rechromed on the whole bike. The oil tank is something we thought about. Because it is steel, media blasting will remove the flaky chrome in a couple of hours. BUT, there is always a tiny risk we don’t get all the media removed. I don’t want abrasive media in my oil. By sending out the tank, it will get stripped AND boiled. We will then be able to wash the tank out in the parts washer and go right to paint or powder without blasting. Considering how expensive correct oil tanks are . . . we’ll gladly spend the money to have this one professionally dealt with.

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    Oh, and before we sent things out, Chuck briefly took the "original" chromed bits over to the buffing station and lightly hit them with white rogue to make sure they'd clean up. Turns out the 50 plus year old handlebars, fork covers, and headlamp rings will clean up very nicely.

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    Now, we can finally return to Mike Love’s original question about DIY removal of plating on a set of early 80s Ironhead engine cases.

    Earlier, we thanked Mike for giving us the year and model. This is because Harley changed the alloy and production method for engine cases throughout the life of the model. By the early 80s, the engine cases were die cast – this is very different than the sand cast motor we are working on with the Q ship. Because we don’t have experience stripping these cases, we aren’t sure what alloy they might be. Similarly, they will have races in them and other bits we don’t want to get media in or acid on. And we really don’t want to mess up gasket seams or parting surfaces. So, home acid might be the wrong way and media blasting might be days of work. Given all this, there are a few choices. If you want to restore, we’d recommend taking the cases apart, removing all ferrous metals, and sending them for deplating. You’ll still be faced with restoring the texture (if you so want) – but this is probably the “safest” method for the cost. Second option is to really clean the cases and use something like a soda blaster to remove the loose or flaking bits. Then, carefully work the edges. Follow this up by several light coats of silver high-temp paint . . . and you might be able to cheat. Third option is to just polish the ugly plate and let road grime win until you need a bottom end. You “could” rattle can them with wrinkle black; but where’s the fun in that?

    So, there is a really, really long-winded explanation. DIY is fun on this stuff, it just takes way longer than we'd normally like.

  3. #63
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
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    277

    Default

    Well, thanks for the great details and I do now understand the process. Agains thanks so much. Speaking of Zep Alume, we used it diluted to clean our ladders when I worked for the fire department. Its no wonder I have some chronic respiratory impact.

    Mike Love

  4. #64
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
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    277

    Default

    Your time/project management comments are very well described and I understand where you are coming from. Appreciate hearing from your experience. These plating/deplating and time management descriptions are some of the excellent learning moments chocked into the member bike builds.

    Thanks Chuck and Will

    Mike Love

  5. #65
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
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    Chicago
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    To continue on with the stuff other people can do for you; we got all the chrome bits boxed up and shipped -- as well as the chassis bits to the powder coater.

    Before we shipped the chrome, we took the time to photograph each item from several angles. We also made up an inventory list -- with photos. This helps should you have to put in an insurance claim -- or work with the chromer because something went missing. The firm we use in Quincy, IL has been terrific about not losing parts, but why take chances. Similarly, before you start packing parts, take a moment to make sure they all fit with plenty of room for bubble wrap, foam peanuts, etc. The better you protect your parts, the fewer issues you have.

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    With that done, we pulled out a testors paint pen to start marking the parts. These pens are widely available at craft stores, hardware stores, etc. This one came from the Ace Hardware store about 5 minutes from the shop.

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    The reason we use testors paint pens is that they are enamel. This means with a simple solvent wipe, the stuff comes right off -- but is more durable than a sharpie.

    To avoid all questions, we literally write on the part what we want done. Not shown in these photos is that we also label them with our name and telephone -- just to make sure there is zero question of who the part belongs too. Of course, the moment these are deplated that all goes away. However, our experience is that there is often a 2-4 month delay from when you send parts to when they come back. A lot can be forgotten or misplaced in 4 months.

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    With all that done, we wrapped the parts in heavy builders paper. Some of the loose parts, like the fork sliders and timing cover, were wrapped up and placed in a box within the main box. This helps keep them from moving all around the box in transit. Everything else got the paper and masking tape treatment. Point is that time spent wrapping parts and carefully packing them is not wasted. The oil tank, in particular, is entirely dent free. So, we wrapped it in layers of bubble wrap and made sure it was protected from other things bouncing around the box.

    The final thing we did was to tape up the entire outside of the box with high-quality 3M packing tape. This helps to both water proof and damage proof the box. We learned over the years a quality box, that is then taped on the outside, is unlikely to split open in transit. Yes, it costs $10 in tape -- but I'd rather spend that money than lose a part.

  6. #66
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Chicago
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    Default

    The other thing we did this weekend was to get the main chassis parts out of powder coating.

    As noted earlier, we generally don't powder coat. But with winter fast approaching, we figured it was time to get these done.

    So, like the chrome, detailed photos were taken of the 13 pieces we planned to drop off in this batch. We also created a full inventory list.

    Sadly, the coater I wanted to use in Rockdale (Joliet) flaked on me and another just didn't return calls. So, I went with my back up choice -- a firm in South Chicago Heights. I haven't used them before nor do I have any friends that have. However, a nice conversation with the owner/manager led to the discovery they are an AMCA member and . . . they own a 1959 XLCH. They instantly recognized the parts on the counter . . .so that gives us hope everything will come out top notch. We'll find out in 2-3 weeks.

    Anyways, here's how we did it. Chuck literally packed up all the parts in a large canvas bag. Most automobiles will easily handle the frame of a sportster. Chuck has brought home more than one basket case in the trunk of the Jaguar -- and if anyone asks, yes, a sporty frame fits just fine in a Jaguar.

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    With that all done, off we went to South Chicago Heights to drop everything off.

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    Check in was very fast because we had the inventory list, the parts were clean/degreased, and the parts were fully disassembled. Long story made short, the parts are to be ready in 2-3 weeks.

    So, we gotta get other stuff ready so that we can reassemble the chassis over the holidays. We won't have the front hub back until the New Year -- but that doesn't mean we can't get everything else done in the mean time.

    Next things on the plate include polishing up the alloy and chrome still in the shop -- as well as parkerizing the hardware and other bits. All of this is super easy (and surprisingly cheap) to do in the shop.

  7. #67
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
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    Chicago
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    Default

    So, earlier on in this thread, we mentioned using greaseless compound with a buffer in-order to quickly flat out parts, remove blemishes, and remove coatings. Saturday and Sunday were not terrible in Chicago, so Chuck took his floor mount buffer outside and got down to doing rough cuts on the alloy pieces.

    The progression was to move from 80 grit to 220 grit greasless. It took about 4 hours to get through these couple of stages -- with just 4 parts. Buffing/polishing is not a fast process. This is why in the dechrome photos, you'll see that we asked the plater for a quote on polishing the front hub. It's not that we can't do it ourselves -- it's that a hub will take a solid 4-6 hours to polish. That's a whole day in the shop -- and it is easier to work a couple hours overtime to pay the plater than to find 4-6 hours to spare.

    To give you an idea of what the greaseless compound does; below are some photos showing the parts at the 220 stage. These parts all had gouges, nicks, pits, sand casting texture, etc. As you work through the compounds, you can literally see the grain of the alloy start to appear -- every pit you thought you got, etc. In many cases, it is very difficult to polish parts to complete mirror finish due to the sheer number of pits and gouges. Chuck aims for about 90% -- generally if you get a part to that stage it is hard to see imperfections until you get about a foot away.

    Still, it's a ton of messy work to get to this stage.

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    Next the parts will go through another round of "sanding" with 320 grit compound. They will then get hit with emery paste on a sisal and then a sewn buff. Following that stage, they will get a rough polish with red tripoli followed by a finish polish with white tripoli. The final "buff" is done with either semi-chrome or autosol -- which ever we have on hand. Mothers alloy polish works well too. Call it another 3-4 hours to finish off these parts.

    We did these parts out of order to take advantage of the weather. You can certainly polish and buff indoors -- it just makes a heck of a mess. Doing it outside means we not only keep the mess outside, we get to use sunlight to our advantage. Often you can overlook things under artificial light that are very, very obvious in sunlight. Even subdued autumn sun.

    For a good primer on polishing techniques, check out Caswell's buffing guide. It's about the best resource for a newbie to polishing. https://www.caswellplating.com/buffman.htm

  8. #68
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Chicago
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    98

    Default Is DIY "really" cheaper?

    A lot of times, we want to use DIY methods in order to save ourselves money when working on an old bike. For a regular rider, a lot things can be done in the garage for much, much less than we are spending on the Q ship. For example, you can certainly rattle can paint a frame. That’s a few cans of paint and a weekend of time.

    However, if you are aiming for a “higher level” or you want to really restore and not just refurbish, well, the costs start going up.

    In the last week, we’ve dropped off different parts to different service providers. Almost all of this is being driven by the fact Chuck has a greater ability to work overtime right now than to find time to work in the shop.

    The reality we are facing is that the National Road Run we want to take this bike on is scheduled for late June 2021. This sounds far off, but in reality is only a little over 18 months. The challenge is that it means we need to get the bike on the road and begin sorting it out no later than August 2020. We need some time to not only break in the motor and transmission – but fix all the little things that crop up when you build a bike from parts – and that are amplified by a big ol’ shaking stroker motor.

    This means almost every weekend is at a premium for getting work done and the bike reassembled.

    So, let’s share the quotes from our providers and analyze them.

    First off, we spoke to the platers this morning. Everything arrived in good shape and they had a chance to evaluate the parts. The total cost for all the chroming, dechroming and polishing I requested – with return shipping and insurance, is $750. Now, before you chuck up in your cherrios over that number, keep in mind a little over $200 is for polishing. Yes, we have our own polishing supplies, but the items we requested polishing work on would take us an easy 8 hours of work at home. Not to mention, Chuck is running low on polishing supplies and would need to buy about $75-100 in stuff to do these other pieces. So, we’d only windup saving about $100 on the polishing – at the cost of 8 hours. The rest of the bill is about right these days. It works out to roughly $40-50 per item to dechrome. Overall, we budgeted $400 for stripping and rechroming and $50 for shipping; so this quote is higher, but that is because we asked for polishing.

    Now, there’s a second thing going on with the plating – the oil tank. When I get it back – it will be ready to go directly to paint or powder. That is a MAJOR time savings and given the cost of oil tanks – one we are happy to pay.


    The quote for the powder is $400-450. That is for 13 pieces including the full chassis. These are pretty typical prices in Chicago. It’s hard to get a frame alone done for less than $200. However, like the platers, let’s look at the DIY cost.

    While we have rattle canned plenty of frames – and painted many others in single stage tractor implement paint – Chuck has really come to favor base coat/clear coat for frames. It is soooo much tougher than single stage it isn’t even funny. And, because we do ride off road, over gravel, and have a tendency to not clean the bikes well – it holds up better for Chuck’s use. In this case, we’d need about 4 hours to media blast everything. Chuck’s pressure blaster would go through about 3 bags of Black Beauty crystals (coal slag) to strip everything to bare metal. That is about $30 in blasting media around Chicago.

    Then, we’d be looking at roughly 16-18 hours of labor to prime, sand, prime, sand, seal, apply base, and apply clear – plus dry time.

    So, with blasting, clean up, final prep, and paint, we are staring at a solid 20-25 hours of work. And, because Chuck doesn’t have a paint booth – it means we have to wait until at least April to have reliable weather to paint.

    Then, there is the cost of paint supplies these days. Chuck is partial to House of Kolor and PPG. HoK supplies for just the chassis would run:
    1 Gallon of Acetone ($15)
    1 Gallon of Lac Thinner ($15)
    1 Gallon of Medium Urethane Reducer ($35)
    Epoxy primer and catalyst ($120)
    Black base coat ($70)
    Clear and catalyst ($120)

    That is a cool $375 in paint supplies, just for the chassis! Add in the $30 for blasting media and $20 for electricity and another $20 for sand paper and we are suddenly at $445 in DIY costs. However that $445 does not capture the 20-25 hours of labor.

    To put it another way; the true split in the cost between the powder coater and DIY is $5. ($445 DIY vs. $450 powder coater). However, Chuck gains 20-25 hours or roughly 3 Saturdays in the shop.

    As you can see, none of this stuff is “cheap” but at the same rate, DIY isn’t necessarily as cheap as you may think either.

    The nice part is that the powder should be ready the first week of December and the stuff at the platers by the first week in January. This means that with the holidays – we don’t actually lose any time in the shop. It also means we should have a clear patch from January onwards to start putting the Q ship back together.

    Finally, remember that Chuck’s costs are going to be about 10-20% higher than other parts of the country. Whilst we have lots of service providers in Chicago; labor costs and taxes ensure relatively high prices.

  9. #69
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Chicago
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    98

    Default Powder Coat is BACK!

    Much to my surprise, I sat down yesterday at my desk and the phone rang. Turns out the powder coater knocked out all the parts for the Q ship. That took a whopping 3 days. So I ran over there to pick them up.

    Long story made short, they completely exceeded my expectations. The powder is well applied, nice and glossy, and they came in at the low end of the estimate ($400-450). They then took 20% off! That made my day.

    Big shout out to Bob at Coating Specialties in South Chicago Heights. I'll be bringing him more pieces for the Q ship -- notably the oil tank when it gets back from dechroming. Anyways, here are some pictures.

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  10. #70
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
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    Chicago
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    Default more powder photos

    Earlier in this series, we talked about welding up the kick stand tab. Chuck mentioned how he likes to leave the surface "rough" so that when it is media blasted and painted/coated it looks more like a forging than a smooth piece. Here's what we're talking about:

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    don't be fooled - it isn't perfect but you don't notice until you're about 6 inches away. On an assembled bike, it will be very difficult to see the work.

    In addition to the frame, we had a bunch of chassis pieces and brackets done. The biggest single piece was the primary cover. This particular cover was chrome; and had a bunch of impact marks from what looked like a jumped primary chain. Chuck used a series of body hammers and picks to work the metal and then body files to smooth it. 98% of the junk came right out of the cover and you can only tell what was done by flipping it over. No fillers of any kind were used. Just patience and light taps from the right type of hammer.

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    and here's an idea of the gloss:
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