Of Minds and Motorcycles

"It's the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen." - John Wooden

Frame and tank

Again it feels like it's been a while since I last wrote, most likely because I've had my head in the little details. I've been too preoccupied with the little things to bring my head up for air. There will probably be even more posts later on about even finer details, but the importance of detail is something that has been at the forefront of my work for the past couple of weeks.

Metal Tabs

Continuing from last week's post, I spent most of the week building metal tabs and welding them to the frame and to boxes to fit everything together. This is the more tedious part of the build as I'm finding out, but definitely one of the most important.

First I cut lots of metal tabs using a chop saw, bench grinder, and drill press. While I have lots of tools now for doing metal work, the shop is far from a proper machine shop. So I basically make do with the tools I do have, and usually have to sacrifice some accuracy in cutting and grinding.

It adds to the character of the bike. Or it just looks like crap and hopefully no one notices. It will still look great from far distances and from high quality photographs submitted to Bike EXIF.

I then bolted the tabs down in place to prepare for tack welding. I used to agonize about how to fit parts up properly for welding until I realized that the best way to do it is to bolt everything together, clamp parts in place, and then tack weld with everything attached. That way the tabs and pieces are in the exact location you want them to be in when you finish the welds.


For the electronics box, I welded four tabs to the frame to attach the box from underneath. It works well, and you can hardly see the box when fitted, even though it protrudes a bit below the frame tubes.

tabs welded to frame

Next I had to figure out where to mount the remaining large electronic devices. This meant finding a place for the regulator/rectifier and the ignition control module. The regulator was originally mounted underneath the tank, but the old mounting bolts had broken off inside the tab when I disassembled everything. The regulator/rectifier is also a heat sink, and works more efficiently if placed somewhere with more air flow. So I cut the original tabs underneath the tank, and decided to mount the ignition control box there instead, and place the regulator on the side of the battery box where there would be more air flow.

Blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah...

Ok, enough with the technical blather, here are some pictures.

Mounted ignition control underneath the tank:

ignition under tank

Side mount for the regulator/rectifier on the battery box:

battery box

More tabs:


Mounting the rear tail light:

rear tail light

With all the tabs and mounts in place, the frame was finally ready for powder coating. I sent it over to Brightside Custom Coatings, and had a chance to check out their progress on the weekend. Here the frame has been sandblasted and is ready for a coat of flat black powder.

sandblasted frame


I also prepped the wheels, which involved a lot of work that I didn't get a chance to document. I basically had to remove the tires with nothing but a couple of tire irons and some soapy water, which took a lot of elbow grease and curses. I also had to pull the wheel bearings and seals. Of course it was only after removing one of the bearings that I realized it was a very unique size and discontinued by Yamaha. Luckily I searched eBay to find what might be the last XS1100 rear wheel needle bearing on the face of the earth. So that was good.


The wheels are going to be coated all black like the frame. It would have been a lot easier to leave the wheels as is, but as the perfectionist that I am, I just couldn't leave them unfinished. This way everything will turn out the way I envisioned it.


Next I have to clean the engine. Much like the wheels, I've been debating whether to leave it as is with a simple clean up, or whether to prep properly and paint with a kind of engine enamel. I'm leaning towards painting the engine, but I know it will take a lot of work to get it cleaned and prepped properly. I'm going to start cleaning it this week, and see how it goes.

My interest in painting the engine black comes from this XS1100 by Tarmac Motorcycles. In a large way this bike has been the inspiration for my own project.

Tarmac XS1100

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