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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Learning curve steep, but bike's just right

University student Alex Kirkpatrick transformed a 2000 Royal Enfield motorcycle to make it look as though it was old enough his grandfather might have ridden it. "Learning Curve" is the title of his picture album of the process, on the Royal Enfield Yahoo message board.

"I wanted something more than a factory Enfield and since it was a 2000 Deluxe and not an old Redditch I didn't feel too bad stripping off the paint and chrome. I did all the painting and fabrication myself. The paint job was probably the biggest soul destroyer when the first attempt failed and I had to sand it again."

However difficult, the results speak for themselves. The picture above is of Alex at his parents' house in Lancashire, England. He writes:

"This is where I have my shed/workshop and did all of the work, although I did the spraying in our old turkey shed. I bought the bike one year six months ago. The only guiding concept was to make it look old, like a bike my grandad would have ridden, so it had to go black and it had to have leather single seats.

"I started work on it at the end of last summer but had to stop as I’m at university in Sheffield. I managed to start again over the new year, when I turned 21 and spent the day in the shed. I made the seat pans from 2mm steel sheet and dished out the front saddle with a mallet and a bag of sand. The rim with the fixing holes is a separate piece I welded on afterwards. I used a hot wire to chop the foam and then cut the leather to shape. An old pair of pliers got upgraded to a custom hole punch and I bolted the leather in place.

"The set of (seat) springs I made are too soft even for my weight and make big bumps feel a lot bigger. I will sort those out later. The rear mudguard frame was tricky to bend using blacksmith style bending forks and the vice but I got the look I wanted. The rear rack holds the pillion seat at the moment but for a future project I will make some panniers that bolt on as well.

"My first attempt at painting went badly, mainly due to using do-it-yourself style paint; well that’s the excuse anyway. The polyurethane spray-can clear looked rubbish and the layers hadn't bonded very well; in places I could peel off swathes of it -- back to sanding

"I had exams in February so worked stopped and I got stuck in lectures at uni again for the spring term. Got back to work in April and started painting from the ground up, kitted out with my old fabricator overalls and an ex-MOD S10 respirator. Using some proper Primer, Lesonal WB Basecoat and a 2k acrylic clear all was well -- until I looked in the tank.

"I tried anything to avoid stumping up the 40 quid for that epoxy tank sealer -- even hooking it up to an old power supply, filling it with an alkaline solution containing lime and dissolved aluminium and attempting to electrolytically convert the iron oxide. In the end it took me a full day, jam jars of old nuts and bolts and a serious petrol fume hangover to get the rust out. Another lesson learned.

"Tank transfers were from Hitchcock’s Motorcycles and I was done."

Granddad would have approved. The slideshow below shows the progress from the bike as originally purchased to the beautiful results. There is a picture of the makeshift spray booth in the turkey shed and of the bike in the "bare metal" stage, which Alex was tempted to keep.

1 comment:

  1. Ow thats nicely done! I have the same idea with My enfield though Im buying the part from HitchCocks and put them on my bullet 1 by 1.. Though I still want to have a black tank..Yes we need to sandblast which i dont want, So I was thinking of the 22litre Black version..But yes still 160 Pounds..And I would like to replace the Top Yoke.. I like the seperate headlight But then again the current Yoke is also typical Bullet style..so im not yet sure what to do.. Enjoy your ride!

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