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Ramona's build time


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  • Ramona's build time

    Hi there! That's me below, I was Animal for Halloween last year. It was dope.

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    This next pic is of Ramona. She's my first Harley, a 2004 Sportster XL883C. I got her a couple years ago and rode the shit out of her.

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    I rode her from Chicago to Fuel Cleveland twice, went to Mama Tried these last 2 times. Did a few area rides with buds and even did a solo ride to Hell On Wheels this last summer. She was my daily rider and I had no problem pulling her out of my garage in 15 degree weather to ride through the frigid Chicago winter air because she WAS my daily rider.

    THIS is her now:

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    When I came back from the Hometown Rally in Milwaukee this last September I couldn't shift into 3rd gear by the time I got home. First was fine, Second was fine, third was spinning like neutral and if I tried into 4th it was like hitting a wall. That being said I still rode her around town for a month using just the couple gears I could cause there was a couple local things I wanted to get to.

    Along with changing to rubber mounts in 04 Harley did a bunch of other random things to the sportster. Like get rid of the transmission trap door. So in order to see what actually happened I had to tear down my whole engine and split the cases, yaaaaay.

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  • #2
    Rubber mounts are great, what’s the plan?


    • #3
      So after a lot of heat and a million little taps I was able to split the cases.

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      Sure as shit, one of my shifter forks had gotten busted.

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      It's not in a million pieces thankfully but mangled and missing a chunk. Best I can guess all the blue stuff is from my primary chain tensioner. It's the only thing that's fucking blue inside and out on my bike. So I ordered a new shifter fork from my Harley dealer. And ordered a whole bunch of other shit since I had her in pieces.

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      • #4
        I had also ordered a drop-in replacement oil bag from SlimsFab months back because I'd already replaced the shitty plastic clamshell twice in the 2 years I had her.

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        Truth is though that I'm not sure I'm gonna be able to use that same oil bag as is. Originally I had planned to make a swingarm chopper out of Ramona, ride her for a couple more years, then chop her. But since I had to tear the engine I've decided to go full bore on the chop. I'd been looking at a few different hardtail options for her, found a couple companies that have new ones in the works, and even managed to find a bolt-on hardtail for her. In the end I went with TCbros.

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        The nice thing about all of this though, I bought a sweet girder back in Spring that I was already planning to use.

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        So at this point I needed to put some shit on paper just so I could organize my thoughts a little better.

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        • #5
          It'd been a minute since I really got into some welding. I learned how to stick and gas weld back in high school but that was 20 years ago. I went ahead and bought a harbor freight MIG welder last year so I could see if I actually wanted to get back into it. I spent enough time fucking around and using it that I decided I wanted to learn how to TIG weld. I found a place here in Chicago that's a makerspace and I've been able to start teaching myself. The place is pretty fucking cool; they have a machine shop, hot metals, cold metals, blacksmith area, 3d printers and some other shit that's all open for use after becoming a member. I already put my hands on a surface grinder (I found the job oddly soothing ) and made a few chips on their bridgeport mill. I'm really excited to learn the leblond lathe they have when I need to make some axle adapters and other shit but for now I've mostly been teaching myself how to TIG.

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          The funny thing with TIG I've noticed is that even though I'm right handed I have to use the filler rod as though I'm left handed. I often forget about the couple physical limitations I have cause I've had them most my life. I'm practically blind in my left eye and I have nerve damage in my left hand. My hand is just goofy enough that I don't even have half of the same dexterity as others, and coupled with my shitty depth perception from 1 eye I can do fusion welds right handed but I have to switch to left handed every time I wanna use filler. I've only managed to put in about 10 hours or so on the TIG but I just got connected with someone that's gonna give me a few 1-on-1 lessons so that's awesome.

          I also managed to get an Emerson bandsaw from the makerspace for FREE!! They had another bandsaw and were cleaning house so I managed to claim it along with a setup for an oxy/acetylene torch. Just need to get the gas for it.

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          If anyone happens to have an old operators manual laying around for this machine I'd greatly appreciate taking it off your hands.


          • #6
            Let's get to CHOPPING!!

            Here's the marks I made for the cut:

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            Here's what I've got:

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            Here's what it WILL be:

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            Along with doing all this I've been blasting the shit out of the inside of my cases with brake cleaner and my air compressor before I try to reassemble them. I also went ahead and did a little shaving. I went and trimmed my sprocket cover and cam cover.

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            I didn't even hit any of the no-no spots on the cam cover. I've gotten pretty decent with my angle grinder after a few of the jobs that I've done.


            • #7
              That's everything I've gotten done in the last couple months till now. I still have a couple odds and ends parts to buy, some tabs to make and weld, and who knows how far I'm gonna get into paint this season vs next season. I'd love if I can get this done in time to do the El Diablo Run this year but I'm not putting a time stamp on it either. Right now it's in a bit of a slow spot cause I'm working to get confident at my TIG skills before I weld the hardtail on myself. Fun fact about the rubber mount sporty, since I didn't have to cut the seat post out I also didn't have to cut the bottom rails. Which means there's no slug welds going in this thing. I have no real comparison since this is my first of either, but still it's kind of crazy.

              I'm trying to pick away at some of the smaller tasks on this project before I get to putting my roller together. Which brings me to my girder. I bought it off a buddy that said it was a California Customs but he wasn't sure. I've done a little digging and found a California Cycles but not a Customs. Even then I'm not sure it's the right one. So here's a bunch of pics I took of it to see if someone can help me identify my girder.

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              • #8
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                It's 10" over my stock, measuring 33" from axle to top of tree if I remember correct. It's running a 1" stem with a 5/8" axle.
                Last edited by ElvisQuanbeck; 01-14-2023, 3:05 PM.


                • #9
                  Looking forward to see how the build progresses; I think you are on the right track with practicing the welding.

                  I shake my head when I see guys lay some bird shit weld to hold something non-critical, and have to suppress screams of horror when I see stuff like that done where it'll actually hurt or kill someone

                  Curious to see how that girder will look all polished up; has nice lines to it

                  BTW, did you know that Mojo Nixon composed a song about you?


                  • #10
                    Great so far, but as for myself, Id consider not using that girder. Girders dont ride that great. Hope you are running front brake, regardless of the front end you will run


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by docmel
                      Great so far, but as for myself, Id consider not using that girder. Girders dont ride that great. Hope you are running front brake, regardless of the front end you will run

                      I can't count how many times I've found an immediate need for one of those


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ElvisQuanbeck

                        It's 10" over my stock, measuring 33" from axle to top of tree if I remember correct. It's running a 1" stem with a 5/8" axle.
                        It's a California Cycle Works girder; CCW, the only one that had the legs bend in to narrow at the upper linkage:

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                        It has a barrel spring, similar to a few others, including one of the strongest built, the Durfee girder.

                        "The barrel spring is also called double-conical compression spring designated. Both ends of the spring have a smaller coil diameter than the center. Barrel springs usually have a linear and progressive characteristic. That means that the Spring force increases with increasing load. In addition, they impress with their small footprint and short overall length."

                        The 5/8" axle was the common size for older girders and holds up well today if properly installed.
                        Common 5/8" wheel bearings are:
                        6203-2RS-10 5/8 Bearing = (0.625 inch ID; 5/8 x 40 x 12), and
                        6204-5/8-2RS (I.D.=5/8-inch, O.D.=47mm, Thickness=14mm), plus
                        1623-2RS, (5/8" I.D. X 1 3/8" O.D. X 7/16")
                        note: 40mm = 1.575", and 47mm = 1.850"

                        The girder is one of the best handling chopper front ends out there, strong due to the design, and not bouncy/springer like a springer.

                        from the Chopper Builders Handbook (author Gary is a member here):

                        "Out of all the fork systems I’ve ever owned my personal favorite has been the Girder design and many racing frame engineers seem to agree, as you’ll usually see some type of girder design on cutting edge racing frames.
                        Girder designs are adaptable to virtually any chassis configuration and they can be made to provide excellent handling characteristics over a broad range of steering neck rake angles and trail can be manipulated very easily to suit specific requirements.
                        A Girder can be made very strong but also very light in weight and in general a properly designed Girder pound for pound will deflect less than any other type of fork system.
                        The only reason that Girders are not more popular than they are is because they are more complicated and hence more expensive to manufacturer and they really need to be custom made for a specific frame configuration.
                        Whenever you hear somebody bad-mouth a girder it’s usually because the particular set of forks in question were designed for a specific bike or frame and then adapted, unmodified, to a new frame that has slightly different geometry.
                        You can’t just add a set of stock Indian forks and trees to a Harley chopper frame and expect the bike to handle well...

                        As mentioned elsewhere Girder forks are probably the best front-end suspension system ever invented.
                        In fact many experts believe that Girders, or their derivatives, will eventually be the ideal front suspension design used on all cycles in the future.
                        For some insights into this future we encourage readers to examine the works of Foale and Britten but in the mean time we have to keep this section of the manual focused on the older or more traditional interpretation of Girder forks as found on most choppers...
                        The biggest advantage of a Girder, for chopper applications, as compared to Springers or telescopic forks is that Girders can be both extremely light and extremely strong at the same time...
                        Where one can pretty much build a ‘universal’ Springer design that will work on a wide variety of frame types, most good Girders are custom engineered and fabricated for particular frame geometry. This is the reason that almost all ‘mass-produced’
                        Girders that have been on the market over the past thirty years have had little appeal to the public since they usually didn’t work well on most bikes and many people had very bad experiences with poorly setup Girders that simply didn’t suit their particular bike.
                        On the other hand those rare few who just happened to have frames that matched the geometry of the fork makers master-frame had nothing but praise for the handling quality of their front-ends. It was a hit or miss proposition and the vast majority of buyers were unwilling to take a gamble so Girders took a back seat to Springers for most custom builders.
                        Even today with some new mass-produced Girders on the market the same situation still exists...

                        People who don’t care for Girders to begin with are very quick to point out that on a well-designed Girder the trail will change by a whole 3/16 of an inch when the forks are cycled from maximum compression to maximum extension for about 3.5” or more of total suspension travel. Detractors cite this as a horribly dangerous characteristic of Girders.
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                        What they forget however is that trail change, on a well-designed set of hydraulic-telescopic forks as they move through 3.5” of travel is a whopping 2”or more! This is why most serious road racing engineers are looking to girders instead of trying to improve hydraulic forks. This also shows that most people commenting about fork geometry don’t know what they’re talking about in the first place.
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                        Plain and simple, Girders handle better than any other fork style you could possibly use; if properly designed and constructed. Poorly designed or poor built Girders however can be real nightmare."
                        Last edited by TriNortchopz; 02-14-2023, 5:23 AM. Reason: details; sp, punct...


                        • #13
                          Love the old chrome girder..


                          • #14
                            "Handling" vs "how it rides" are two dif things:

                            1: Who makes a mass produced bike with a girder nowadays? I mean why not if it is a superior design and one of the future? Seems to be cheaper to make than hyd forks (?)...... Maybe not: But I dont see any of the mass produced super bikes cabable of 150 mph or more using them. See #2 for the answer

                            2: Think how a girder reacts to going into a pothole. The front rim goes into the hole, slams into the bottom, then slams into the opposite side of the pothole. With the only movement at the axle being fore and aft, not up and down, I cant be told you dont get a bang. I have ridden them and experienced it. Trail to me isnt the issue: Its the design that doesnt provide shock absorbtion when you really need it. And I would NEVER want to hit a series of bumps or apothole while going thru a turn with a girder

                            3: Sorry, but a girder gives a pogo/see saw feel: Its because of its inherent design

                            4: Frankly, do they handle well on a glass smooth surface? I dont know. But they sure as heck dont RIDE well over typical paved roads with holes or bumps, and certianly, not on a dirt road

                            5. So add a girder with a rigid frame for bike that will be actually riden: You dont see many for a reason

                            6. Front brake. If one doesnt want to run one, thats on them. Even the few aftermarket ones that were available in the 70-80's were super chintzy, and frankly, looked like ass, and by the look, most likley didnt give much brake anyways..............

                            7. Used girder? No thanks

                            To me, form over fuction went away decades ago: Riding in straightleg jeans, tennis shoes, a 30 year old "Cool" 3/4 helmet bought on ebay, no front brake, gas tanks that hold maybe two gallons, front and rear lights the size of a quarter, knobby tires on a street bike, etc.........

                            Look, nothing against your build: I just dont want you to loose any ridability in the process, if thats the case

                            But lets go with the comment if they are set up correctly for the bike at hand, they are superior: Maybe what I have rode in the past wasnt: I mean they were just measured for length and then mounted on the bike: So what does it take to set one up corectly? Whatever it takes, can you do it to yours, or is yours set up already?

                            Flame on brothers.....................I got my abestos suit on


                            • #15
                              no flame-thrower here, just some different experiences.

                              1. No mass produced due to cost, and market. Spartan,Malarkey Engineering, Jake-Robbins, are a few of the companies building girders today. The hydraulic front end is cheap - couple pieces of round tube connected together, a coil spring and some oil for dampening - later models with larger diameter tubing, or inverted to become stiffer.

                              2.the girder axle is up and down, not for-and-aft... it pivots through the upper linkages, which is controlled by a spring or hydraulic shock; with a shock, they are stable and predictable, no issue going around curves on rough roads - up here in Northern Canada, they got frost-heaved shit roads they call highways. When the tire hits the far side of the pothole with a glide, they want to flex back while compressing, the girder is a strong design - triangular, so no flex there.
                              Note girder upper linkage action and axle motion...up and down.
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                              3. Girders with hydraulic shocks or variable rate springs are not prone to pogo, and more smooth than a springer - that's why they wanted a shock. I ran a +10 tube for a decade, then a +18 Jammer springer - bought it new from them in 1980- for 10 years (still got it on a Santee softail frame) then a +16 P&P girder(measures 40" from axle to upper linkage shaft on leg). The glide was flexy, the springer was nice and I beat the hell out of it, it is good and the rake and the set of inner springs helps reduce the pogo, but when I built my rigid Norton 850 chop with the girder, in the +10-degree rake position, I was (still am) impressed, and said I ain't goin' back - solid, stable, smooth, strong - a girder lover from the ride, handling and looks.
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                              a girder setup with un-equal length linkages (sometimes done to 'rake' them), might produce that see-saw action:
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                              4. my long girder on my C&J rigid frame handles great on any road - I live 7 miles down an old dirt road, then get to the frost-heaved pot-holes roads called 'highways' and never miss a beat - solid, stable, smooth, predictable and strong, my experience is it beats the glide I ran, springer I got.

                              5. don't see many rigid frames with girder as the chop builders still prefer the springer cause it looks good, They can ride and handle good with a shock and when raked out - less pogo action. I noticed from several of the fb chop groups that the girder is gaining in popularity as of late, so more ridden rigids with girder are out there... still not as popular as a springer though.

                              6. the old brakes with small drums or small discs don't provide much - if any- braking power; like the Hallcraft - which had poor calipers. The more modern full size discs (12" or so) and modern calipers are easy to mount to a girder as the caliper doesn't need a linkage like when mounted on a springer, it can bolt directly to the girder as the axle moves with the girder leg. I got the small 7-3/4" Hallcraft disc, and added a small caliper from a pitbike I found in the garbage dump. Just mounted it this winter, but I don't expect much...just gotta continue to predict the cage drivers action and watch out.
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                              7. A girder is strong, inherent design of a triangular truss, and easily rebuildable using flanged, plain and flat bronze bushings, shafts if needed, and replacement shocks. If the legs and linkages are solid, I have no concerns with buying an old girder - I won't buy a new one. Got a +12 square Durfee on my T120 rigid chop (one of the strongest ever built - and proven... this one was built Aug. 1976) and would love to have an old SB&F girder, as their linkages are like 'little swingarms' which improve stability.

                              Read about the wicked test machine that was built in the '70s where the glide disintegrated in 20-minutes, while the Durfee girder took on 24-hour, and 100-hour tests without failure:
                              "To give you an idea of the severity of this machine, a new Harley “glide” front end lasted less than 20 minutes before the fork seized and the glide turned into a broken, smoking paperweight. The Durfee Girder would take the normal 24 hour run, at resonate frequency, easily as part of the 100 hour complete test. As a matter of fact, the same Durfee Girder was mounted to the machine again and again whenever the officials from the National Highway Safety & Traffic Administration, California Highway Patrol or the German TUV (the Durfee Girder was one of maybe only two non-OEM suspensions that the TUV would allow on German roads) would show up. And after all that repeated beating, way past what the test required, when the Girder was torn down and inspected there was only mild wear on the replaceable pivot shafts!"
                              For more information contact Paul Durfee at [email protected] or call 503-472-9196. It all started back in 1968 when Earl Durfee picked up an old Indian Scout Girder and knew he could do better.  You...

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                              As a part of setting it up correctly, when you get them installed, it's important to fine tune them so the upper and lower linkage arms are parallel, to prevent binding. This may take a spacer at the neck - you want the distance between the upper and lower pivot points on the trees, when installed on the frame, to be the same distance as the measurement between the upper and lower linkage points on the girder legs. Hope that makes sense.
                              You also want all of the linkages to be the same length to prevent binding or improper movement as the fork compresses and extends.
                              With my +16 girder in the +10-degree rake position, I have about 1" of positive trail. The handling is sharp and precise at any speed - only been up to a hundred on that one - but up to 150 MPH on the softail springer... the offset from the linkages reduces trail on a girder, so with less rake on the frame, it could result in zero trail.

                              My experience with this girder on my rigid chop has been positive. As I said, I will not go back to a glide or springer after riding this.
                              chop on!
                              Last edited by TriNortchopz; 02-25-2023, 8:50 AM. Reason: added "and down"


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