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View Full Version : Harley Envy: XS650 Adventure into Chopperdom



AbyssmalTailgate
03-16-2016, 9:04 PM
A lot of these picks are being posted ex post facto, but I want to get more involved with this site and create my own build thread.

Iíve been in love with vintage motorcycles and chopper culture for as long as I can remember. Now that Iíve been riding for a couple years, I decided I wanted to learn more than just basic maintenance and to build a chopper! Admittedly a Harley fan (my runnerís a Sportster), I heard XS650s were a great, inexpensive customizable platform with lots of parts and information readily available. After seeing a few at shows, conducting minimal research, and finding a complete one on Craigslist, eager me borrowed my friendís truck to drive across state lines to pick one up!

From what I hear, I wonít ever make my money back on this bike, whatever, thatís okayÖ I just want to learn how to build, and accomplish something I can be proud of, but it also means I want to make it a sound ride that I can enjoy for many years.

The bike itself is a Ď74 XS650B in a í77 XS650D cycle. The PO removed the speedo, tach, and plugged the tach worm drive hole. Everything else appears stock other than the handlebars, throttle, and seat/sissy bar. I bought it knowing the P.O couldnít get it to sparkÖ This is where the pics come in:

The good homie Steve with Chuck McFarland's XS... shit sorta snowballs from here.

AbyssmalTailgate
03-16-2016, 10:06 PM
In the garage

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Still in the garage, figuring out how nuts and bolts work

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I had now clue you could find Lone Star up here...

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AbyssmalTailgate
03-16-2016, 10:16 PM
I got the bike back together, but the main reason the dude got tired of working on it is because he couldn't get it to spark... time to start doing some research

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This dent was another free bonus the PO threw in the offer. I stripped the paint to try to remove it, but that only revealed it had been sealed with something. A little peak inside with a flashlight showed me the dent was also some kind of gash that had been soldered in places. Despite all my efforts to push, pull, and pop the dent, nothing worked. In fact, I started making it worse. I'm thinking about either fixing this tank to run the bike as is while I rebuild the engine or just getting a new one because you know, this stock one is ugly.

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I have NO CLUE how I'll make this work on this bike, but I bought this 40" springer for a few bones and I'm going to clean it up in attempt to restore it... just what I need, another project :-)

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AbyssmalTailgate
03-16-2016, 10:36 PM
Starting to get to work on the tear down! Pulled the wiring and drained all the old, broken-down engine oil. Shit was DARK! Who knows how many decades that's been sitting in there.

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Okay, fast forward and my buddy, Baby Bird, comes over with his motorcycle lift to help me pull the engine. Ganc also comes along for the ride, plus he's got coffee and it was getting cold in Chicago.

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Nailed it! Time for some gratuitous victory pics:

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AbyssmalTailgate
03-16-2016, 10:48 PM
Got this propped up until I get a proper engine stand

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Not sure what these flakes are from, but they're ferrous because they're magnetic

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I think I found my no spark problem... new plugs, new wiring, new rectifier, new battery, points are good, rotor's good, and good contact, but the P.O. didn't think to test the stator. The grimey bastard looks like caca so I guess that's it?

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AbyssmalTailgate
03-16-2016, 11:06 PM
I got this rad old coffin tank from another CC member in the mail today (sorry, I can't remember who) and also decided to pull the engine head and take a look at these internals!

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*coughs* I think I've got the black lung, Pop... time to save up for some new Kibblewhite valves or something

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Jugs off, pistons out

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More mail stuff. Some performance mods courtesy of Hugh's Hand Built, LC Fabrications, and Lowbrow Customs

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Got the crank and cam ready for a ride to North Carolina...

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AbyssmalTailgate
03-16-2016, 11:12 PM
Learning to weld because, well, it'll probably come in handy working on this bike, plus what would a first-timer build thread be without a post about learning how to weld. First go with some oxyfuel stringers with filler, plus a butt joint... looks like I've got some room for improvement.

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Not my idea, but I drilled a 5/8" hole into a Harbor Freight welding wrench with a step wrench, a power drill, and A LOT of body weight to make a valve spring compressor. $15 beats purchasing a real one or the proper drill press to make one lol

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AbyssmalTailgate
03-16-2016, 11:20 PM
Yeah, so I'm probably not going to be using this on my build, but I think I did a pretty damn good job pulling all the rust with a wire brush and a bunch of different sanding sponges and what not. Cleaned the grease fittings too.

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Needs to be refinished with chrome or clear, but I think it looks pretty cool as is

AbyssmalTailgate
03-16-2016, 11:40 PM
Stock frame is looking a little questionable. I can't tell what are factory welds and what exactly has been removed or re-welded at this point.


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Looking at old ads isn't helping much but neither is the Haynes manual. Also, the shocks are pretty shot too, which gives me a good excuse to hardtail the bike. I've always wanted a hardtail chopper, but have been hesitant to do so with this particular bike because a lot of people out there make their XSs into pretty douchey looking little bobbers. I'm no fabrication expert, so I've got to find an affordable kit with a good stretch and drop so my bike doesn't look like every other P.O.'s on the planet.

Alternatively, I'm really inspired by Mike Stodolka's swingarm Norton Chopper. His bike is BEAUTIFUL.

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Ultimately, I need to weigh the cost and difficulty of restoring and modifying the swingarm (removing unnecessary brackets, new bushings, new shocks, cutting and welding the seat hoop, designing a swingarm sissy bar) against that of hardtailing the frame (purchasing a hardtail kit, cutting, aligning, and welding it into place). Now might also be a good time to mention I don't own a welding machine either.