Checkout the online shop for new parts and service for you ride!

Click Here www.hughshandbuilt.com for more info on parts! Thanks - Hughs.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

DIY - Stick Out Your Neck, and Show It Off!

First off, yes I know it's been a while since I've posted any DIY or Tech Articles...  If you haven't noticed, we've been a tad bit busy this year with a "few" setbacks...  But in order to get back into the groove, we've decided to do what we do best, and give you fine XS650 Gearheads a new Tech Article from  HHB...

Stick Out Your Neck!  And Show It Off!! 

Our New HHB "Goose" Neck Gusset Kit


We haven't done any tech articles requiring welding, grinding, blending and other methods of torturing steel before, so lets cover all the bases...  

Q:  "Hey Hugh, what tools will I need for this mod?"

A:  "Listen up, ALL MEN need the following tools, just because - And grow out a beard while you are at it."

If you budget is tighter than *Hipster Jeans, then you might wanna do some shopping around at Harbor Freight or the Pawn Shops - you'd be surprised at just how cheap you can own some of these power tools...  And if you end up killing them, upgrade as you go...   A man can never have too many tools...  Period. 

Compile the Following:


From Top Left:
  • Grab a Handful of Cut-Off Wheels
  • 120 Grit Flap Disk
  • "Medium" 3M Type Polishing Pads
  • 90 Degree Die Grinder (not required, but makes for a nicer finish)
  • Welding Helmet - Because Flash Burn SUCKS
  • A Good Pair of Locking Pliers - I found these in the middle of the road - true story...  
  • Angle Grinder - **You probably already have this, or at least you should
  • Paint Pen or some kind of good marker
  • Welding Equipment - I use both TIG and MIG, but MIG is just fine for this job
  • NOT SHOWN - Face Mask/Shield, because getting your eyeballs drilled also sucks - SAFETY FIRST
  • ALSO NOT SHOWN - Wire Wheel for Grinder - AKA The Nut Grinder
Q:  "What Exactly Are We Doing Here? "

A:   "Removing Ugly from the Custom Bike Scene!"

If you have an XS650 (who am I kidding, if you are reading this, you already have the disease, and "An XS650" is probably the least of your worries - it's ok, we call it a hoard of Japanese Excellence) then you already know just how ugly the stock neck gusset is... 

 Thats a whole lotta ugly goin' on!

I just can't stand it, and I know you can't either...  Go to the next big bike event, and look at the custom XS650's around - and you'll see more than a fair share of them rocking this ugly gusset for all the world to see - Have They No Shame!  

Now, to remove this offensive pile of soon-to-be-scrapmetal.  And lets do it proper..  I've done more than a few of these, and learned some tricks along the way to share with you folks.

Do you have something like this on your Angle Grinder? 

 These are only used by cavemen, trust me.

 If you do, then TOSS THAT MOFO ASIDE! You'll often see me talking about "The Details Matter" - and this particular style of grinding wheels is NOT used to make anything nice - ever...  

This is more like it:

I can't tell you how amazing is was to "Discover" these may years ago
changed my life forever

I prefer to use a 120 Grit Flap Wheel, it's aggressive enough to do the job, but smooth enough to not eat up your work too fast...    You can get them in different grits, but 120 is just fine for now.

You are going to use the flap wheel on your angle grinder, and lightly blend off the top weld of the OEM Neck Gusset.  Do NOT grind into the tubing, you don't need to go that far just yet.  Always wear eye protection - please... 

You want to see something like this, no need to go further. 



Take your paint pen, and make a line just outside of this weld...  Like so...


Don't try to cut too close to the weld, or you'll hit the neck tube...  

Use the Cut-Off wheel and do some damage...  Just be careful not to cut into the tubing, focus on the gusset only...  



Next move - Cut the OEM Reflector Mount off...  


Removing that stud will allow you better access to move on, so move on we shall...

Use the paint pen to mark just above the weld all the way along the downtube.


Let the sparks fly, and it should look something like this when you are done...


This is where we just made your job WAY easy...  Grab those locking pliers, grab this sucker by the gusset of it's neck, and twist until it pops right off...  




That was easy, and clean..  Plus, we haven't harmed the OEM tubing at all.

Such and appealing design huh?  Ummmm.... NO

Repeat steps 1 through whatever on the other side...  If you needed a "Paint by numbers" description more detailed than this for the other side, I suggest you put down the tools and go back to playing video games in your mom's basement... 

Ok, so maybe you just crawled out of the basement and still want to finish this thing, it should look something like this at this point... 


Next comes a little finesse on your part.  Take it nice and slow, using the flap wheel, and take the welds down to the tubing, blending in and looking as if nothing was ever there.  I prefer to take long sweeping passes over just staying in one spot too long.  It's ok to take your time on this part, as the time you put in now will pay off - and again, take a look around the next bike show - you can see who did and who did not pay attention to these minor details.  




Take your time, and work both sides evenly until you are satisfied with the results.  Remove as little as needed to make it looks smooth and even.  You'll likely go ahead and cut off the tachometer cable guide, and blend out the welds on the downtubes where the frame is sleeved.  Don't take too much, you can always spot weld the low spots and re-work them as needed.



Now that you have all of the welds blended away with the 120 Grit, I like to go over the frame with a wire wheel.  Beware, while it may appear that this tool is the best at removing paint and rust, that is a ploy - it's #1 job is to stick little stainless wires as deep into your skin as possible, and remove fingerprints faster than acid if you hit yourself with this...  I also have a story about a friend using one of these while wearing a pair of Umbro Shorts years ago - ask me sometime, it's hilarious...  DO NOT do what he did...  Wear protection for your face AND your junk...  Just sayin'



Believe it or not, but these wire wheels will help blend out the sanding marks from the 120 grit flap wheel - and create an even smoother surface than you had with just the flap disk.  If you get really bored, look up "Metal Finishing" sometime online, you can learn a TON of tricks and tips to apply to your build.  Again, these details matter in the end.  If you can't tell you've done anything to the neck, you've done a great job.  

After the wire wheel, I fire up my 90 degree Die Grinder with a 3M type "Medium" pad, and just about polish the tubing with it...  The cleaner you get your materials, the better they will weld up.  Clean and smooth is the name of the game.  This step isn't required, but I like to go above and beyond sometimes to show you just how nice a job you can do.




Dude, I'm with you - this looks KILLER already...  But now something new seems to stand out...  And not in a good way...  



Now I don't know about you, but cleaning the brackets off of this tube looks like a fairly daunting task - or at least to do it nice and clean just like you did your frame already...  I've seen plenty really nice looking bikes where this tube looked like a ride at Six Flag Theme Park after all the grinding and blending - so lets do this right...  

Get to town removing this sucker!  A little time with the grinder and cut-off wheel and you should be looking at something bout' like this..



Now the next steps might confuse ya, but hang with me a bit.  Sometimes "looking stock" is not a bad thing, so we are going to fit the new tubing (supplied with your HHB Gusset Kit) into the frame just as if it always belonged there...  And it will be a nice touch that no-one will notice, and again - that's a good thing...  The focus should be on the overall design and style of your build, not the grinding marks and welding - but thats just me... 

Use your paint pen, and mark the OEM welds on the upper motor mount.  


Now you are not going to try and remove the tubing entirely from this joint, you just want to cut and blend enough that when you install the new tubing it looks just like stock...  

Follow along, take your time with the grinder, flap wheel, cut-off wheel, etc...  




Up front, you've probably found a bit of rust (don't stress, almost ALL XS650's have this rust behind the neck) so don't freak out.  If you are planning on having the frame powdercoated, they'll probably sandblast it nice and clean.  If not, take the time to blend out all of the rust as the pits will show in your paintwork unless you do some bondo/filler over it all.  Just a heads up, as I know if you've done all this effort, you want it to be top notch...  And I don't blame ya...


Blend that tubing down the best you can, it's a tough spot to get to, but I got faith in ya...

Not Perfect, but this'll do - get that rust cleaned up the best you can though.

Next up, fitting the new tube into place...  You'll earn your man-card on this minor piece.  You'll learn to notch tubing, and fit up a totally oddball fit on the other end...  


Q:  "Hugh, did you say we'd have to notch that tubing?  I don't see a tube notcher in the tools list."

A:  "Exactly, I'm teaching you how to do this on a budget, and get some skills under your belt.  I bet you didn't know it, but I'm a fiddler player too...   ***So sit right in that chair right there and let me show you how it's done... " 

PS - Our HHB Neck Gusset Kits will come with this end Pre-Notched

Oh wait, there I go singing along and writing tech articles again.... 


You can easily notch tubing with your grinder.  I mark my tubing like so, make the cuts with a cut-off wheel, and blend out the sharp edges with the flap disk... 










Believe it or not, this method is faster than dragging out a notcher, setting it up, and cutting the notch.  When I worked for an off-road fabrication shop, we put it to the test and it wins everytime unless you are doing the same notch over and over again - then the notcher winds...  It's not always about having the best tools.

Now with the front end notched and fitted up, mark the outline of the cut for the motor mount bracket.  This may take you a few minutes, but take your time..  Grandpa* always said "Measure 2X and Cut Once" - it took me a great many years to grasp the importance of that...  



Take your time, cut slowly and fit this up as nice as you can...  



The motor mount is wider than the tubing, and thats the way we want it, just like OEM...

Now, before you do ANY welding, PREP PREP PREP the surfaces.  Clean the paint, grinder dust, rust, etc...  The better you clean it, the nicer the final weld will be.  


Now, some folks might wonder why I didn't TIG weld this joint.  I MIG welded this particular joint because I wanted it to look like a stock fit piece of tubing.  I don't plan to blend out the weld, I like to leave it just like this.  To each their own, there is no right or wrong here, so feel free to be creative..




 
Sooo much better

Now, I'm sure you've seen plenty of frames with the gussets cut completely out - and they look pretty slick for sure.  But I'm here to tell ya, after abusing some of these old bikes, anything to stiffen up the front end can't hurt.  So let's add the Gussets...  

You may need to notch around the OEM welds a minor bit - but if you just accomplished installing that tube brace above, then you are feeling mighty confident enough to handle this tall task - haha...

HHB Neck Gusset "The Goose" - Inspired by Vintage BMX Neck Gussets

Fit it up, and lightly tack the gusset in...   Don't fully weld just yet...  


These Dimpled Gussets and new frame tube are a full One Lb lighter than OEM, and will be plenty rigid while looking a bit nicer than what the factory gave ya.  Lighter = faster, and if you know HHB, then you know Fast XS650's is Kinda Our Thing...

Get both sides tacked in, and you are ready for final welding.  (I did not final weld these, as I plan to use this frame to mockup a few other gusset designs we have coming out VERY soon) 

 Our HHB Gussets are Designed to Clear Most Aftermarket
Fuel Tanks while providing rigidity to the frame. 


Folks, I hope this tech article gives you faith in your abilities.  If you aren't afraid of picking up a grinder and making the sparks fly, this is a great modification to do to your bike.  It will stand out among the crowd, and it's always important to make a good first impression.  



* Bonus Hipster points if you have tools in your garage that your friends have never heard of.
**   Triple Bonus Points if you have one grinder for each type of wheel, seriously you can't have too many angle grinders... 
*** If you aren't listening to some damn good music in the shop, you are doing it wrong.  PS - If it's on the Top40 - or if the "Band" doesn't use real instruments, you are probably doing it wrong.  
**** Call your Grandfolks, they'd probably love to hear from you...  After all, without them, you wouldn't exist...

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Checkout the online shop for new parts and service for you ride!

Click Here www.hughshandbuilt.com for more info on parts! Thanks - Hughs.