Saw Bones


This project started in mid-2011 with a truckload of parts that I picked up from Fabricator Kevin’s shop. A customer of Kevin’s, who goes by Sean, had recently sent a Shovelhead frame up to Kevin to be hard tailed. Along with this frame Kevin had a pile of parts set aside for the build, like the gas tanks that he had added the filler panel to so they could be run without a speedo, a Baker 6 into 4 transmission, a set of great looking spoke wheels made by HD Wheel, a springer front end from Zero Engineering and a cast aluminum oil tank from Crime Scene Choppers. I loaded up the parts and headed off to my shop to work out the details with Sean.

To say Sean is an easygoing guy would be quite an understatement. And as easygoing as he is, he is even more patient. We talked about his plans for the bike, and I was quite relieved to find out that he didn’t have every piece of the bike planned. He described a basic silhouette of what the bike was to be, and how to make the pieces fit together was left for me to decide, as long as I ran things by him. I was to do all of the machining, welding, and basically mock everything up. He would take over when it was time to tear it all down for paint. This meant that there would be plenty of room for creative freedom on my part, which was a nice surprise. An even bigger surprise was that he really wasn’t in a hurry to get it done. He said that when it was done it would be done and what was more important was that it was done right, not rushed. That’s a good way to get a quality product!

Stainless steel was the material of choice for most of the parts. I started out by constructing a rolling chassis. I machined wheel spacers, the necessary brackets, and other odds and ends to make everything fit together. It wasn’t long at all and we could see the silhouette that Sean had described. Now we just had to fill in the holes. Most of the stainless parts were fabricated and machined to fit, then hand shaped using a variety of grinding tools and then they were polished. Nothing on this bike is plated. The handlebar risers are the most labor-intensive example of this method of making parts. Each riser was made out of 4 pieces that were premachined, beveled where there would be weld, and then welded. Not only was weld added to join the pieces, but it was also added in places to add material and give the part more shape. After this was all finished they were ground to shape, polished, then I machined the bores to size. Because of their unique one-piece design I had to make two-piece handlebars for them to work.

Shortly after the rolling chassis was together and the fender and bars were on, Dan Roedel finished building the motor. He did a two-part tech article on the build, which you can find in issues 130 and 131. It has Sorensen Performance heads and internals, STD cases, and a Morris Magneto that was heavily engraved by New- Line Engraving. Transferring all of that power to the Baker trans is a two-inch belt drive made by Bandit Machine Works. It looks like a great product and I believe that this was the first of this type that they made.

To complement the classic look of the bike, Sean chose to run a pogo seat with a slightly narrowed seat pan wrapped in phenomenal leatherwork by Christian “Xian” Marsh. If you look close enough at the tooling on this thing you’d swear Christian is a robot, because hands just couldn’t make lines that crisp!

With the seat and bars in place it was time to move on to the dreaded foot controls. They’re probably the most underrated challenge when building a motorcycle because everything needs to be tough enough for a grown man to jump on and they need to function properly. I machined footboards from aluminum, had them hard anodized, and had rubber inlays water jetted. The levers were all hand shaped from stainless steel and on each side there are two sets of needle bearings pressed into the mounts for everything to glide on. They move as smooth as butter! Just to complicate things a little bit more I mounted the rear master cylinder behind the transmission and made linkage to actuate it. The kickstand was purchased from Lock Baker of Eastern Fabrications and is another top-notch piece. Lock goes above and beyond to ensure a smooth installation when purchasing his parts. The taillight is from Fab Kevin, and it’s as bright as taillights come.

The last piece to the puzzle was the exhaust. I went with all stainless steel on this also and built a modern take on the classic 2 into 1 pipes. A tapered muffler was made with a trumpet shaped tip, and a perforated stainless tube was welded inside with stainless exhaust packing surrounding it. This should take just a little bit of the edge off when Sean’s making his way through his neighborhood. As I write this bike is torn down for paint, which is being done at JB Grafix in New York. By the time you read this, the bike should be in the last stages of its final assembly. I want to thank Sean one more time, for being so patient! It took me three years to finish this project and he waited patiently the whole time, even while I moved and set up my new shop. Check out my website if you want to see the next projects from Speed Junkie Cycle Works:

By: Eric Barnett of Speed Junkie Cycle Works

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