Of Minds and Motorcycles

Metal Boxes

"A man without patience is a lamp without oil." - Andres Segovia


Well it's been a while since I've posted an update, mostly because I've been working rather than posting updates.

I've been busy making an assortment of metal boxes.

That's right, over here at Motobrix we now specialize in making steel rectangular prisms. Whatever you think you need, forget it, because now you need a metal box instead. Laundry basket? Why not a steel box for clothes... it's artisanal. Need a new fridge? Forget it! A metal storage unit with handcrafted copper piping hooked up to a gravity fed bucket of ice water. That's the way we do things here, and the way you should start doing it too. Want that Brooklyn loft vibe in your new bachelor pad? Nothing says loft more than a steel box used as a seat. Shelving unit? No. Metal box.

Now before I take down this website and schedule business plan sessions for my new box-making endeavour, I guess I'll talk about motorcycles. Here's an update on Big Bertha:

Jay came by the garage and took some cool guy photos of me doing cool guy things. But seriously, I took some spare 16 gauge sheet metal I had sitting around and started planning the battery box and electronics tray.


I cut and bent the sheet to form the base of the box, and realized it was too big. So I then took my grinder and cut some of it off. I also incorporated some mesh into the design to make it look a bit more unique.

Large battery box

To make the electronics tray I cut a template, and used my cut off wheel to make score lines where I wanted to bend the edges. This made it fairly easy to bend without big expensive tools.

bending sheet metal

bending sheet metal

I test fit the tray to make sure it was cut properly, which it was, and welded up the corners. I'm glad Jay was around because he got some pretty sweet photos of me welding:

Test fit

Electronics Tray

MIG welding

A few days later, after having trouble sleeping and dreaming about metal boxes, I decided to ditch the stock battery and go with a smaller lithium-ion one. Having already spent a decent amount of money on improving the electrical system on the bike, and with plans to completely rewire the bike from scratch, I thought it would be best to go with a battery that fit nicely in the triangle of the frame, rather than trying to cram in the huge stock one. So after all that work, I went back to the drawing board, found the dimensions online for the new battery, and began work on the new battery box. Let's hope I got the dimensions right!

Making a Battery Box for the Second Time:

1. Make plans. Make them this time because you didn't do it before. Use your sketchbook this time even though you said you were too cool for sketches:

battery box plan

2. Cut the sheet with your nifty new electric shears:


3. Use a cut-off wheel to score the bend lines and bend the box to shape. Tack weld the edges in place. Get too absorbed in your work so that you forget to take pictures of the process.

battery box

4. Weld the seams to finish. I used my MIG welder because that's all I have, but TIG would be ideal for this. I had to use short bursts so as not to burn through the thin sheet.

Battery box

5. Do a lot of work to make tabs for mounting the battery box to the frame, and yet again forget to document the process. Tack weld the mounts to the frame and battery box.

Mounting tabs

6. Step back and admire your work! Then weld the tabs fully in place to finish.

Battery box

Battery tabs

Touring Bags

I also ended up scoring these old touring hard cases from our moto-friend Ethan. I think they were off an old Honda CB of some kind, but they fit perfectly and won't require any serious fabrication.

My plan is to ride the bike without the bags while in the city, and then I'll at least have the bags for long trips. They may not look cafe racer enough, but I'm sure I'll be glad I have them.

Here's Nathan modeling with the bags in place:

Touring bags

And that's about it for tonight. Soon it will be off to the powder coater for some fresh black powder.

Stay tuned for more metal boxes and tabs as I finish the frame and most of the required fabrication. From here on out it will be mostly about putting things back together properly.

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