Strength of frames and cycle parts.

Discussion in 'Spare Parts, Tools & Product Developement' started by Sianelle, Dec 1, 2007.

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  1. Sianelle

    Sianelle Guest

    This type of lowrider bike is pretty much readily available in NZ .....

    I own a brand new frame and forks still in its wrapping which I obtained from a local company which closely specifies what it wants in the bikes they order from China. My one is gold toned rather than chrome, but I thought I would like to have a chrome fork so I ordered one through another importer. To my utter surprise the chrome fork when it arrived was utterly innocent of any bushing materials in its pivots. By contrast the gold toned one has all its pivot points bushed as well as an additional strengthening crossbrace. My other point of concern was that both forks seemed to be very lightweight in terms of the wall thickness of the tubing used.
    Perhaps I'm too much of an old bike enthusiast and I tend to regard anything under 1/8th of an inch thick as being 'tinfoil'. Has anybody had problems with motorising this type of frame or with this style of fork? Should I just simply shut up, stop worrying and get on with it? Perhaps I should take up kite flying instead.......

  2. Dockspa1

    Dockspa1 Guest

    So Sianelle, is that link to the same type frame you purchased? I like it. I would hate to have to put a happy time sprocket on those wheels. Too many spokes to fight with. Where did you order the cheapo forks from? Will they take them back? I'm curious to see a bronze chrome low rider.
    Kites are dangerous in a storm!
  3. Sianelle

    Sianelle Guest

    Unfortunately I purchased all the parts awhile ago then packed them up when I moved house out here in the countryside. It's too late now to start stamping around and complaining, but I guess I could ream out the pivot holes on the chrome fork and fit some bushings myself. At least I have the other fork to guide me so it shouldn't be too difficult.
    I'd love to have a nice bronze bike too, but unfortunately the golden colour on my frame and forks is more watery yellow than anything else. When I purchased them I intended to repaint anyway which is why I didn't buy a chrome frame.
    I really like those maxi-spoke custom wheels. They're very strong and I used a set on my first cargo trike just because of the loads I was carrying and I never had a moment's trouble with them. I must admit the 144 spoke ones are a bit down the road when it comes to trying to do anything with them. Even getting a tyre inflator on them is a right trick to achieve :???:
    I think my approach would be to make an adaptor to take a sprocket for a pocket racer and thereby avoid the difficulty of trying to fit bolts between spokes & etc.

    When my kids were small we were living on a rural block of land and kite flying was a major source of entertainment. There was a good steady breeze most of the time so it was easy to get a kite aloft; - and the other thing of course is that it costs very little to make a really good kite.
    Kite flying in a storm? - Oh dear me no :shock: Much more fun to do it when the sun is shining :grin:
  4. Sianelle

    Sianelle Guest

    Sorry no instant gratification camera available :(

    Ok take another look at this lowrider with 20 inch wheels.......

    ...... Did you have a really good look? Great. Now imagine if you will that the ape-hanger bars are gone along with the banana seat. Imagine that the frame and forks are painted a very dark green (I like green on retro bikes :grin:) instead of being chromed. Some small parts like the suspension spring are still chromed and most of the really noticeable bolts are stainless and are fitted with acorn nuts. Got all of that?
    Now add in a good wide-butt single seat (got it off an old exercise machine) and a 24 inch front wheel running a 1.75 tyre. The rear wheel is still a 20 incher, but not with all those spokes. Fit up a set of straight handlebars from an old MTB and you're just about there.
    I do intend to fit a petrol tank only I'm not too sure as to the shape I will use as yet. The engine will be a frame mount Homelite weedwacker which will be 'fun' to fit as this lowrider frame really lacks for room. Overall the general appearance is just how I like it with a strong track racer look. I've got her all try-bolted together up on my workbench btw and the next stage will be to sort the motor mounts and jackshaft. Crikey she's low though....... :shock:
  5. Dockspa1

    Dockspa1 Guest

    Wow, my brain hurts after all that imagining! Ya, I sort of get the picture but it would make it easier if showed us the picture, you know, in picture laymens terms.
    You know, looking at allthe spokes in the picture is nice but weight wise, you might as well have 24" hub caps welded in. It would probably be lighter.
    Get the pics as you go and grow.
  6. Sianelle

    Sianelle Guest

    The trouble is I like those 144 spoke wheels Doc :grin:

    They are a very strong wheel and I will be using one on the back at least in light of my latest messings about in the workshop this afternoon. I'm afraid I had a wee bit of a hissy fit while I was working on figuring out how to get the Homelite engine to mount up in the frame. There was just going to have to be so much cutting and shaping of metal to get it to stay in place and the more I studied the horrible wee clockwork thing the faster I was coming to the conclusion that after all that work the result was going to be downright piteous.
    Sooooo I got one of my Villiers engines down off the shelf and I discovered that the agricultural machine mounting plates that were attached to it were almost exactly perfect for the job. I will get some film tomorrow and take some official progress photos, but in the meantime I did this very swift and untidy picture in MS.Paint to show you wot I'm about.

    This particular engine has a very solid centrifugal clutch and the chainline is looking absolutely spot on. With the engine in position the crank arms and pedals clear the clutch and the big brass flywheel just nicely without having to modify anything. I will need to make a new intake manifold though, but that should be a nice wee project all of its own. It will also give me a chance to improve the engine's breathing a little too.

    For the moment I've held fire on working on my Phillips-Villiers bike since it's going to be a much more exacting project because I'm aiming for a true vintage appearance and I definitely won't be laying MIG welds anywhere near its 50+ year old frame or doing anything that will ruin any of the old parts I'll be using. The Lowrider-Villiers flat tracker is going to be quite another story though :cool:
  7. JemmaUK

    JemmaUK Guest

    Hi Sianelle,

    Ah, the hissy fit - I had a few of those with the D7... I think it was about 5 or so... first we had that **** coaster brake alignment (gods did I feel stupid when the guy just picked up the wheel and twisted it all around again :roll:).. then it was the wheel (ie getting everything lined up and not slicing my hands up/forgetting the belt during the process).. then we've had the suicide lightset (three times at present count)... The tanaka engine vibrates like anything at idle, enough to ring the bell on the handlebars!!

    That lowrider rig looks brilliant - I do have a couple of questions though. Is it gonna be an engine only design? and is the engine going to mounted forward of the crank as shown? If so how are you going to stop the pedals taking your ankles apart at approx 3000rpm?

    hope things are good with you

    Jemma xx
  8. Sianelle

    Sianelle Guest

    Flat track lowrider project

    Hi Jemma. Yes The Villiers Engine is going to be mounted in the position in the picture. Last night when I closed the workshop door the bike was sitting on its wheels on my workbench with the engine accurately ziptied in place with the serious type industrial strength zipties I use for mock-up work. The cylinder barrel is at about a 45 degree angle tucked under the frame downtube and the overall appearance is very pleasing. The Villiers frame plates will be able to be used without modification.
    The standard crankarms and pedals clear everything just nicely and I'll be sticking with the motor-bicycle format in that the whole bike can still be pedalled if I'm actually feeling that keen. So my ankles will be quite safe so long as the freewheel doesn't seize up :grin:
    Personally I think the whole development of the motorcycle went downhill once they removed the pedals and it is the motor-bicycle that is the true Zen wind in your face machine.

    I'm glad to hear your own bike is up and running Jemma, - but I'm a wee bit boggled at the thought of a motor-bicycle that can ring its own bell :shock:
  9. Dockspa1

    Dockspa1 Guest

    I see now Sianelle. Don't worry about the film unless it's for your own gratification. It would be nice to see a step by step on such a rare bird as yours. Even though your engine is heavy it's still in the low center of gravity area so that shouldn't be a problem.
    Keep at.
    Cheerio, pip, pip and all that rot!
  10. Sianelle

    Sianelle Guest

    Low C of G is very important to me Doc. I can remember all too clearly some of the ill-balanced Japanese motorcycles of the 70s & 80s and how difficult they were to control at low speeds. Never had a problem like that with my old Matchless 350 single or my Francis Barnett, - they were designed by sensible chaps who knew what they were doing.

    'British steel forged for me.....
    May I own a bike made from thee....'
  11. Dockspa1

    Dockspa1 Guest

    I think thats why I always like my BMWs, because of the low center gravity.
  12. DougC

    DougC Guest

    Those scraper forks have way too much negative trail to be safe at very high speeds (that is--high speeds by non-motorized bicycle standards).

    The spring has an adjustable nut on it so that the fork sag can be set low enough that the pedals scrape the ground when tilted--hence the name "scraper bike".

    You can use the beehive cantilever-suspension forks, lots of people do that even for motorbikes--just don't use the deeply bowed ones.
    And as I have seen it: most of the cruiser/lowrider/scraper bike parts are not built real well. They're intended for adolescents (not real heavy riders) and also aren't intended for any sort of hard or high-speed use.
  13. Sianelle

    Sianelle Guest

    Ooooo K Doug. I agree the negative trail thing is a bit weird. Turning the handlebars actually causes the steering head to lift so it's the weight of the bike that keeps it tracking straight. A lot of the parts for these lowriders that I've seen are pretty lightweight and not well made. I've already mentioned the chrome fork I purchased as a replacement being completely unbushed and lacking for a crossbrace between the fork legs. The guys who ran the business where I got my lowrider specify a much stronger spec in their frames and the fork is much more workmanlike, so I'll be staying with the original components and tossing the chrome fork into the scrap steel bin in the corner of my garage workshop.

    This little bike in its flat track form is really low and I've got to watch where I leave it in the workshop or I end up tripping over it. I don't think it will ever be a serious riding bike and will most probably spend most of its time suspended from the rafters on display. It doesn't really owe me anything since it's being built from parts & etc I already have. In a way I suppose it's mechanical art and an excuse for me to shape metal, paint and pinstripe something.
  14. Dockspa1

    Dockspa1 Guest

    Awesome Sianelle. You should start a little museum and put a contribution box in the entrance. I get 10% for being your manager. Hee Hee!
  15. Sianelle

    Sianelle Guest


    This evening I seriously started assembly work on the flat tracker. Until now it's been a loose collection of parts finger bolted togther and I decided it was well time I made a proper job of it so at least the bicycle side of it is fully operational. It was at this stage that I really came to appreciate the quality that's gone into the design of the front forks. The main pivot assembly is way more robust than the El Cheapo Aztlan chrome fork. It has thrust washers and it's possible to adjust the endplay absolutely spot on. I used plenty of grease on the pivot sleeve and I'm strongly considering boring and tapping for a grease nipple to keep it all sweet.

    When I purchased this lowrider from TLC Bicycles in Manukau City I must confess I was attracted by the overall gold paintwork/anodising and as it all came together and took proper shape again I found myself thinking; - 'Yeah, not too bad at all', - and I made up my mind to leave well alone and she can stay gold for now. I think I was very lucky to stumble upon the one specialist dealer in the North Island of NZ that specified how they wanted their lowriders to be. Everybody else just sells the Aztlan stuff and under all the flash and chrome the actual mechanical design is pretty dodgy and not very well thought out.

    A change of wheels, - I liberated the original TLC 20 inch gold anodised 72 spoke wheels from where I'd been using them and I must say I do like to see them reunited with their proper frame again. A while ago I recovered a taper coil spring suspended exercycle seat with leather and I'd been using it on an old 1960s Raleigh. It's a really nice comfortable seat so I liberated it too and it looks very nice on my golden flat tracker. :grin:

    A front brake is going to be necessary so I've purchased one of these.......

    It's a band brake and to my way of thinking it should be just the thing for my bike. A rim brake just plain isn't going to work without additional metalwork and it would look downright untidy to boot. Discs are too hi-tech for me and again they'd need all kinds of clever brazing and metalwork to get them to fit.

    The MTB straight handlebars I'm using came complete with nice rubber grips, a pair of brake levers and a Shimano 9 speed click type thumb lever in tasteful black. Amazing wot folk will throw away down at the rubbish tip. :rolleyes: I'm thinking that the gearchange thumb lever will make a super throttle control. I'll give it a go anyway :grin:

    Tomorrow I'm going to start properly mounting in the engine and the rear sprocket. Crikey, this is getting to be a pretty serious sort of project.......
  16. Sianelle

    Sianelle Guest

    This is turning into a building log :-/ I hope the Mods won't mind.

    After a day spent filing and cutting and turning things, - and then finally trying out my brand new MIG welder for the first time :shock: I've got the Villiers engine in the frame!!! (Yaaaahooooo)
    I might not actually use this particular engine, but I've got others of the same model and it will be the best one of around three engines that will finally get to live in this frame. I ended up having to move the engine back around an inch because on left lock the fork leg was coming a wee bit too close to the sparkplug. As it stood it could have been a great safety device; - get into a tank-slapper and the top of the sparkplug gets neatly snapped off and thereby stops the engine :confused::rolleyes:
    No real problem with the backward shift though, I now have to put a funny bend in the RHS pedal arm to clear the Villiers engine's big brass flywheel, but I think I can live with that.
    The band brake arrived today and a trial fit tells me that it's going to drop into place like it was meant to be there all along. Of course I've still got to make the adaptor to take the brake drum before it can do anything else except look pretty, but at least there is actually room for everything. I think I'll get another one of these so I can set up a handbrake on my electric assisted tricycle. The guy I got the brake from used to have a scooter business and he's clearing out his old stock, - so I might as well get in while the gettings good :grin:
  17. Sianelle

    Sianelle Guest

    Well that was interesting........ I've had this brand new 20 inch Sturmey Archer rear wheel with 36 spokes and a chrome steel rim for a while now. I got it NOS for $5.00 from the former owner of a bicycle shop. It's set up to take a standard single speed freewheel and wot I've done is thread the brake drum onto this wheel's hub.
    Getting the front forks to take a wider rear hub wasn't funny and involved a lot of careful cold resetting to insure everything went on straight and true. So now the band brake is on the front and it works nicely. I've decided that I like the look of the 36 spoke wheel and it makes my flat tracker look more like a small motorcycle rather than something that's been overfed on spokes.
    I've got a matching coaster rear wheel which I'll change over tomorrow and we should be finally getting somewhere with this project. A gas tank is the next big concern and I might just lay my hands on an old BSA C11 tank that I've heard about recently. :grin:
  18. Dockspa1

    Dockspa1 Guest

    Sounds like you are just going to town Sianelle. I'm curious about the installation of the band brakes you purchased. Do they come with the internal and the hub? Have you mig welded before you bought this new one? I have a very small one. It barely gets the job done. A BSA C11? What BSA bike did these come from. I was only familliar with a few BSA's and they all had big tanks.
    Keep us posted.
  19. Sianelle

    Sianelle Guest

    BSA C11 from 1954 Doc, - the C11 was a 250cc single.

    The tank I'm chasing has lost its chrome panels and badges and has some dints. I may not get it though because I think the vendor is asking too much for it. Trouble is before Christmas everybody is trying to sell anything handy to improve the finances which means all manner of old tat is being dragged out from under the house and being called either an antique or a collectable item.
    A C11 tank isn't too large and I like the shape. I've been hoping to find an old Jap bike tank in the right shape, but so far only the impossibly ugly ones have been showing up :rolleyes:
    My welding skills are decidedly rusty and I think I'm going to have to do lots of practice on bits from my scrap pile before I'm entirely happy with the results. I own a gas welding set too and I must say I'm much more comfortable using gas rather than sparky things. Trouble is I can't afford to get gas bottles filled at the moment so the MIG is it (sigh).
    The band brake is quite easy to set up as the inner drum is threaded to fit a standard freewheel hub. With a double sided hub it's possible to have a band brake on the rear wheel which is where they're often put on various utility type bicycles available from China & etc. For a front brake you've really got to adapt a rear wheel hub or else get into turning up your own hub or threaded adaptor which I had been tempted to try. My brake came with the inner brake drum and the outer band mounting complete with all the operating gubbins.
    They're a bit of a poor man's drum brake really and there are better brakes around, but the thing I like is their vintage 'look'.
    Some examples of band brakes available.......

    These folk seem to have them......
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 14, 2007
  20. Dockspa1

    Dockspa1 Guest

    Sianelle, you wrote, I think I'll get another one of these so I can set up a handbrake on my electric assisted tricycle.
    At the site you listed above, which of the band brakes are you using on your tricycle? I know the threads are 15 or 16 MM. Close to 5/8ths ASM. I need to get another set on my wifes trike because all she has now are front pads.
    Thanks again!