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  1. #1
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    Default CB550 Mad Maxer Build

    Started this build a few years ago as a restoration, but quickly got bored. Did the engine rebuild first. No real frame mods; lowered the front forks two inches, clip-on's, and cut off the rear frame loop to shorten things up. I wanted a custom tank, but lacked the metal working ability, so I cut the bottom off of a stock tank, lengthened it, and built a new top on it. My welding skills are pretty poor, so everything looks ugly if you get too close, but it kinda works with the style...I hope.
    My main goal with this bike was to build a good looking ride using as much cheap, raw materials and parts I had laying around as possible. I want to practice the 'make do' attitude my grandpa had rather than living a cushy, OEM life.


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    How it looked when I got it. (Price $0.00)

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    Rebuilt the engine. That's my dad's lathe in the back. Maybe he'll give it to me someday.

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    Rolling frame. I put a Suzuki mag wheel on the front and left the rear stock. Tank is beginning to take shape here.

    I have more to come, but I'm playing catch up. I only recently found ChopCult, great site for builders who get trapped behind desks for big chunks of the day. Hope ya'll enjoy, I welcome all comments, criticisms, suggestions, and especially electrical help .

  2. #2
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    That tank looks like it will make a nice hole in your guts.

  3. #3
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    Yeah, my wife made a comment. Something about wanting children in the future. It looks like this now:

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    Last edited by Demoto; 07-13-2011 at 9:01 AM.

  4. #4
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    Had a chance to mount my oil cooler and turn a shifter knob over the past few weeks. Here's the details:

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    Got my dad's antique machine lathe back up and running (yes, those are leather belts), and spun up a bar of stainless I found on the ground at work.

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    Here's the end result. Tilt your head to the right for a more accurate view. This was my first serious attempt at using a machine lathe since I decided to make my own gun at the age of 14 (which did not pan out well).

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    On to the oil cooler mounts. I had to roll my bike on the side and drop the suspension to get a decent angle to weld on. I left the swing arm on so I could make sure I had good tire clearance. It's close, but it won't hit.

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    Here are my two brackets welded onto the frame. I made them out of scrap steel and some welded in nuts so that I can just thread a bolt into them without trying to hold the nut on the other side. This has got to be my favorite kind of mounting system. Neat, clean, cheap, and easy to work on.

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    Here's the final product. I know it won't get too much air there, but the CB550 shouldn't require excessive cooling, and my ankle and foot on the peg should cause enough turbulence to keep the air moving around it.

    I hooked it up using hose and copper tubing. Up now: Electronics

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    I'm confused already

    Enjoy the pics ya'll
    Last edited by Demoto; 07-13-2011 at 9:16 AM.

  5. #5
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    as far as the electrics go, make you life a whole lot easier and through out the stock harness and start from scratch. You don't need much.

    Bikes looking good so far.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the great advice and encouragement. I'm definitely leaning toward scratch building the harness. I've got some basic electrical knowledge, so it should be doable. the charging system is my main worry. Lot's of little metal boxes with wires coming out of them...

  7. #7
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    Took a few seconds this weekend to wrench on the bike a bit. Attached the final tail piece assembly, and mounted all of my electrical components.

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    The tail is complete! Just need to wire up the LED array that will be be my combination running/brake/signal light, and somehow make it water tight.

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    My under engine oil lines, snugged together with a sweet stainless steel assembly someone abandoned on the ground. Their loss, my gain.

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    Rectifiers, regulators, and all the other good stuff, now securely mounted under my seat. I had to make a trick hinged bracket for the rectifier (upper right corner of the pic, where you see a nut on a stap of steel, hinge is welded to the right of that nut) to keep it low porfile under the seat, yet still allow for me to bolt it in. I'm sure there was a better way to do this, but my brain is lazy sometimes.

    Enjoy the photos. Thanks to all who looked at my humble build and gave me input. Keep on building folks.
    Last edited by Demoto; 07-18-2011 at 5:59 AM.

  8. #8
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    The Steel Steed moves forward, slowly but surely. I took some good advice and ran an all new wiring harness and saved a little bit of cash by reusing the wire from the old harness. There's a whole lotta extra wire in those things...

    I fabbed up a few small parts for the ignition mount and a couple of idiot lights (what can I say, I'm an idiot).

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    Here's my ignition switch mount. I made it nice and curvy to blend it into the frame and give it some attitude. I've noticed something: that the difference between a good custom and a great custom is the amount of time, effort, and thought that is put into the small pieces as well as the big ones. I tried to do a bit of that here.

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    ...It paid off in my opinion. The mounting location is convenient, and it looks nice to boot. Too bad I can't weld pretty.

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    My idiot light mounts, in stunning matte black.

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    I tapped holes into the triple tree upper where I ground off the handlebar mounts (I'm running clip on's). I'll use these to bolt on my lights.
    You'll notice that I have one bolt on the right and two on the left. Well, my tap sheared off in the center hole on the left side, so I had to get creative. I like how it looks, being a fan of asymetry. Someone will hate it though.

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    Idiot lights mounted and ignited. The wiring went a lot easier than I thought it would be, and was actually a lot of fun.

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    My dad and I (and the hound) worked to fire up the Steed last night, but to no avail. we are missing at least one important piece of the combustion triangle: Ignition. I'll be seeking out new coils, plug wires, points and condensers this week. I figured I'd rather have them all fresh instead of playing a guessing game. No problem money can't fix...

    Later folks.
    Last edited by Demoto; 08-01-2011 at 5:45 AM.

  9. #9
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    When you get some time can we get a write up on how you did the lights, That looks awesome.

  10. #10
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    im definitely digging your approach on the idiot lights. it's different

  11. #11
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    Thanks folks. I appreciate the encouragement, and sure, I'll put together a writeup on how I cobbled these together. Give me a couple days to get photos together.

  12. #12
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    Well folks, it's been quite the summer, and at least here in the Midwest, it's wrapping up. My goal of having the steel steed fit to ride for the fall has sadly fallen through. Too many parts to fab, too many bills to pay.

    However, the great work progresses. I got her started, and that, I must say, was awesome. As soon as I sorted out some basic issues with the points, I added gas from my home-made fuel cell, and it fired up on the second flip of the switch.
    And did she ever fire up. It sounded like the very gates of heaven were being thrown open. Power, fury, and about ten inches of flame scavenging from the exhaust tip.
    I'm gonna have to play with timing and fuel mixture, or I might have to chenge my bike's name to "The Valve Chef", but she starts, and for now, that's all that matters.

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    Me and my buddy, on Starting Day. She was not a huge fan of the noise, but she's pretty chill otherwise.

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    My home-made fuel bag that I use for starting and carb balancing.

    After starting the engine, I felt a bit listless for a while. I've been looking forward to hearing that engine run for almost four years now, and now that it had been achieved, what else was there to do?
    The answer, A LOT.

    I've got a huge list of all the tiny parts I need to make, buy, or find to get this thing road worthy. It's intimidating, especially since this is my first build. But I keep on checking items off the list. My most recent sub-project was lining the underside of the tail piece. It was made of thin steel, and looked a bit cheap if you got close to it, so I took an old computer case, stripped the paint, and cut it into strips. I then used the metal strips and my handy MIG welder to create a sort of woven look under the tail piece. the results are as follows:

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    Here's the top of the tail section. I've made some decorative indetations in it that will factor into the final finish of the bike. You can see a bit of the lining I installed on the bottom sticking out of the top. That will be cut down flush and I'm going to install a hinged compartment in there for registration papers and such.

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    The bottom of the tail section, with the 'woven' metal. I still need to hit the welds with a flapper wheel and get them to have a lower profile. But I'm not going to grind them out completely.

    The body work is very close to complete. It's been a bigger task than I thought to fabricate everything from scratch. But now that I'm getting close to the end I'm thinking about finishing. I'm not doing paint, because metal is pretty, so I bought a POR 15 clearcoat to keep the rust at bay. I'm also going to decorate the bodywork with electrolytic etching. It did an experiment on a nose reinforcing plate I made for my longboard, so the etching on my bike will look something like this:
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    I've never seen anything like it before on a bike, but I'm really digging the style.

    Enjoy!

  13. #13
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    lemme have your dog.. k thanks bai

  14. #14
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    fucking awesome dude, mad metal bashing skills going on there!

  15. #15
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    I'm a big fan of doing something different and you really have a cool build going on! Keep up the good work!

  16. #16
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    My wife is awesome, and because of this, I clocked a lot of hours in the garage this weekend. The results are as follows:

    Ground down the welds on my tail piece and installed it on the seat to check the fit and style. I think it looks pretty good, though it still needs some polish.
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    I freehanded the design of my seat cushion on the pan. Since this bike is handbuilt by an ameture metal-worker (that's me) pretty much nothing is symetrical on the bodywork, try as I may. Still, I've kinda fallen in love with it's quirks.
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    ...Then I transfered the cushion plans to a newspaper and traced them on steel, cut those out and pounded them to match the contours of the seat pan.
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    I'll weld stud bolts to the bottom of these, and then make matching holes in the seat pan so they can hard bolt onto the pan, but still be removable. Next, I plan to glue high density foam on top, and wrap in some sweet four-way stretch no slip seat matierial my buddy Joel got for me. The removable 'cushion pan' design allows me to do clean looking upholstery with no visible rivets or whatnot.

    I also had a chance to make my battery box.
    After about six months of dreaming of a magneto, and another six months of trying to find or make one to fit a CB550, I gave up. Maybe some other day. Anyone got an idea for a CB550 mag?
    I did the best I could. The box is from a Kawasaki KZ400, stripped down, cut up, mangled and bent to my will. I think it looks good and is much cleaner than anything I could fab up. Still, destroying that open frame look with a bulky battery box was painful. I've already got ideas in mind to disguise it, but functional ideas only. No frills on this bike, whenever possible. I'm thinking about an ammeter gauge and a remote fuel cutoff switch, all with stylish mounting panels to hide the box.
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    I added some support tabs (asymetrical ones) and an Odyssey dry cell (because they're awesome and worth the money).
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    I've got the box mounted on rubber too, to mitigate vibration and stress on the mounts. Nothing like cracked metal to ruin a great ride.

    Hope you enjoy the pictures. Happy building.
    Last edited by Demoto; 09-19-2011 at 10:02 AM.

  17. #17
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    It's not one of the jobs I've been looking forward to, because of the complexity involoved, but the time had come for me to put together my seat cushions. I needed to get them done in order to get all my instrument positioning right for my riding style. Plus, I was getting pretty tired of dreading the task.

    Before doing anything else, I had to attach studs onto my seat pan to hold it onto the bodywork. It was a time consuming, but simple task.
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    Second, I had to do some research and find a good foam-to-metal glue (3M makes one, but it ain't cheap at $20 a can). I had some special ordered. Next, I needed foam. My buddy Joel (once again) came through for some medium density foam, but it was open cell. Good for softness, but not good at shape holding. I needed some closed cell foam for the main structure of the seat. After some serious thinking, I realized that floatation devices were probably the best source of closed cell foam for an unconnected layman. I went to Bass Pro and bought a floaty boat cushion...then I gutted it. The cushion was filled with 1/4" layers of foam. Perfect for what I needed to do. I cut them to rough shape, then started laminating with glue onto my metal seat pan.
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    This glue is one of the nastiest substances I've ever worked with. It now takes a close second under Automatic Trans Fluid for worst chemical I've touched.

    I topped the whole stack of floaty foam off with a layer of the soft open cell foam, for comfort.
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    The little piece is just a silly tailbone cushion I made. More for style and form than anything else.

    I let all that dry for a day, then hit it with some pretty coarse flapper wheels on an angle grinder. I shaped them on the bike, so I could keep the entire form and flow of the bodywork in mind while sculpting the foam. If you ever do this, make sure you plug any holes in your engine/carbs BEFORE you start throwing foam dust all over the place. If you don't, you'll end up picking microscopic pieces of styrene from your carb inlets, and suffer the paranoia of wondering what that crap will do to your jets once it dissolves in fuel...which is pretty much what happened to me. Additionally, I'd use a fine flapper wheel. I made the mistake of thinking I'd need super coarse grit (I thought the fine grit would melt the foam instead of removing material). But that coarse grit can take off a HUGE hunk of foam in a matter of seconds. It is literally a miracle from God that I did not screw this cushion up during the forming process.
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    Not bad for a first shot at cushion making. I can't wait to get them covered.
    Last edited by Demoto; 10-10-2011 at 11:24 AM.

  18. #18
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    Howdy Cultists. Got a chance to hit the sewing machine on Sunday. Here's the fruit of my labors:

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    It's not perfect, but I'm proud of it.

  19. #19
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    good job, it's coming along nicely. i've always wanted to build a post apocalyptic/road warrior style bike, i have the know-how and the vision but but not the room, tools or money

  20. #20
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    dude i am fucking diggin this your building EVERYTHING by yourself thats fuckin awesome

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