Sportster 883

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Custom Bikes Building

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stage which meant less work in flatting things ready for paint because, by the time you put the paint on, it had to be right. Modern light weight body fillers, though, are much easier to apply and sand than the old stuff, and modern high build primers doesn't need stopper and make the word 'sinkage' obsolete. So, where as back when I started doing this stuff, an hour spent getting the metal dead on and ripple-free would save you hours of preparation, that doesn't really hold true today. If you're planning on taking up metal shaping as a hobby, then by all means get it perfect. There's a satisfaction in a joh well done after all but, if you're painting it, there's almost certainly going to be some filler in it, so why not a bit more?

The other difference between now and then is the invention of the digital camera. This makes it entirely possible to take pictures of a process, and then accidentally delete them all.

So, having established that you can lump out a shape in a piece of steel nothing more elaborate than a hollowed out piece of tree trunk and a BFH, that that begs the question, what about making it a little more tank like?

When I started repairing car body work, and was doing the entire job from start to finish, the better the job you did of shaping the metal, the less work there was to do at the filler

Which is why the pictures show a different piece of metal than the one in last month's article ...

As you can see in Fig.i, I managed to delete all the pictures at the end of the day before I had to get this written, so I wasn't messing about when I roughed out a piece of steel to demonstrate how to planish it smooth or, at least, smoother. All of that was done with the bossing mallet (or BFH) I made, including shrinking the tucks that formed on the edge as the piece dished, and it has to be said that it looks a mess.

To sort that out, I used the BFH again, only this time I clamped it in the vice (Fig.a) to act as a stake anvil. The idea with a stake anvil is that you only (or at least mostly) hit down on it and it's resting on the planet, which is pretty heavy. A concreted-in post would work perfectly well too or a socket in the ground for assorted anvils. The idea is that the work piece goes on the stake anvil, which O

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THE IDEA WITH A STAKE ANVIL IS THAT YOU ONLY (OR AT LEAST MOSTLY] HIT DOWN ON IT AND IT'S RESTING ON THE PLANET WHICH IS PRETTY HEAVY

will have a radius slightly smaller than the finished item is supposed to have, and then the work piece is lightly tapped all across its surface. (Fig.3)

It's obviously slightly more complicated than that, but not much. The first thing to know is that you're only trying to move the metal around, not necessarily stretch it any more, so only hit it hard enough to move the existing dents around, not make new ones. That will make a lot more sense when you have a hammer in your hand.

With the work piece in contact with the BFH-turned-stake-anvil, I find that the hammer bouncing a time or three when you strike the work makes it all go quicker and better. Holding the hammer right at the end of the shaft and using your wrist is the key, but it's something you just have to practice a little.

In Fig.4, you might be able to make out that the right hand side of the work piece is a lot flatter than the left hand side. You'll

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have to take my word for it, but a good coat of 1 pack high build primer filler and it would block sand out to a perfectly acceptable surface to paint at that point.

At the rear of the tank, the radius of the curve is tighter than the head of the BFH, so I formed another chunk of wood into a smaller stake (Fig.5) To get the shape I wanted at the back corner, the edge needed to be shrunk some more and, while I could have used the ball peen and some wood with a hole in it to get the tucks, because it was such a small area I wanted to place the tucks more precisely so I used the tool I made from some 1" angle iron and a pair of cheap welding clamps (Fig.6)

Using it (Fig.7) clearly lets you place the tuck precisely where you want them, though it takes a little practice to work out where that is. I used the welding clamps because I have plenty of them and less pairs of ordinary vise grip style pliers, and to get a really crisp tuck with the

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