Latest Update November 7, 2011 - New entries will appear on this page. Links to earlier episodes, see right column.
Bonneville, part 2
With the rolling chassis built it’s time for the “Dry Build”. When I say dry build, I mean the whole bike built in its entirety with every single part fitted. I’ve watched rubbish like “American Chopper” where the frame, chrome & paint comes back and they drill & grind fresh powder coating & chrome because they’ve forgotten something. It makes me cringe. 

The first job was to make a paddock stand, then onto sheet metal, something I love doing. I have a home made folder & my trusty Chinese plasma cutter. I’m working with 16 gauge (1.6mm) because it doesn’t distort when welded.

The tank’s first. I love “wedge” tanks, they make the bike look like it’s doing 100mph when it’s standing still. This one wraps over the frame & is made from 4 pieces, the top, 2 ends & the base. It has to slide along the frame to come off. There are a few things to take into consideration. First, will it actually come off? Can I get at the bolts? Will I be able to reach the petrol tap easily? Where shall I put the breather? That all sounds obvious, but it’s pretty important. The whole tank was MIG welded and all the welds sanded with 36 grit flexible discs. There will be no body filler on this bike as everything will be powder coated. 

The oil tank was next, always tricky as the fittings can stop it coming out. A catch tank was fabricated so the engine & oil tank can breathe into it. After that, the seat base and tailpiece, which is one unit, and proved to be pretty difficult to make. The seat itself has a separate base. 

Finally, the chain guard, the most difficult bit of all. The regulations say it should be 3/16” thick. I didn’t have any 3/16” steel, so I doubled up with 16 gauge, meaning I actually have 2 guards, one on top of the other, & fully seam welded. 

That little lot took over 3 weeks (full time). The next step is to fit all the parts, electrics, battery, controls etc. The battery was a pain, there was only one place it nearly fitted…..behind the engine, but even so, I had to notch out the down-tube.

A set of clip-on bars were made as (1) there were none commercially available, & (2) it saved money. With the bars on at last I could lay on it & work out the position for the foot pegs. 

I had decided to go for rearsets, and to make life even more difficult, hand clutch & foot change. The rear brake was easy, simply a cable from the right hand foot pedal to the brake on the left. 

The gear change was also not too bad, being a rod leading to a pivot, and a short rod down to the gearbox, all fully rose-jointed.

The clutch was a different matter. On the first attempt I made a cable set-up, which seemed to work fine, but I really wanted hydraulics, so that attempt was shelved. 

I had a clutch master cylinder, but could not find a suitable slave cylinder, so I made one. It has a 12mm piston from a moped brake master cylinder. 

The linkage you see allows me to adjust the piston travel, and I couldn’t believe how well it works, but that took care of another two weeks!

Check out the amount of parts involved.

Other jobs included fitting the IPE inlet manifold & Harley (Keihin CV) carb so I could fit a mounting bracket. After that it was bracket after bracket, steering stops, drill holes for switches & warning lights and finally make the exhaust from a pile of old British pipes. 

Believe it or not, there was only one pipe from that lot I didn’t use! I’m now about 3 months into this build, that’s 3 months working all day every day, 7 days a week! 

The final job was to strip the lot, weld any parts I couldn’t reach, and de-spatter it. De-spattering is getting rid of any residual spatter from the MIG welding. I do it with a sharp chisel and a file, by hand. It’s tedious but well worth the effort. With that done, it’s off for powder coating, and the finish is going to be pretty special. How many powder coaters do you know who can reproduce chrome so good you have to be inches away before you realise it’s paint? And he also does candy apple powder! I’ll be having some of that, thankyou.
NEXT INSTALMENT: Re-assembly & fine-detailing.

Part 1 here

Back to main "Bella" page

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This is the story of Chris Ireland's 741 Land Speed racer.

A race bike built on a shoe-string budget by sheer 
ingenuity and hard work in the shed. The first parts 
of the story will cover the construction of the rolling 
chassis. Next the engine rebuild (and there will 
definitely be some tips here for DIY Indian engine 
work) and, finally, testing and revisions in preparation
for the big trip. For the finale, well - let's see what 
happens on the salt!

For more information, or offers of help or sponsorship, contact Chris on desperate@britchopper.co.uk


Please support these good people!

Click to go to the                    Aerocoat website
Custom powder coating at Aerocoat, who did 
the chrome-like coating on the frame and red 
body parts - all paint on the bike is powder
coating with no filler underneath.

Click                    to go to the Billet Bike Bits website
CNC machined aluminum parts at Billet Bike Bits.
BBB made the fork yokes.

Click                    to go to Earl's website
High performance hydraulic hose and fittings,
and a bunch of other cool stuff at Earl's UK.
Earl's supplied all the hose and fittings.

New Parts for Old Indians. IPE supplied the 
CV manifold and carb top, electronic ignition, 
main bearing housings and other odds and ends.

Click for more Rock Oil info
Rock Oil is generously sponsoring the whole 
team with oil. Their large range covers almost 
any - street or race - engine you can think of. 
Click logo for more information.

Click to go to the Shawn Taylor Racing website
Shawn Taylor Racing sponsored the dyno 
testing. Optimum ignition timing and carb 
jetting were determined, as well as at what
rpm the power started to drop off. All very
useful for rejetting at Bonneville with its
"thinner" air and, not least, for gearing. 
Shawn really knows his stuff, and can help 
your bike realise its potential too.

Click to go to the Shawn Taylor Racing website
Richard Dunn from Tiny-Tach UK graciously 
supplied one of the small, neat, accurate and
affordable digital rev counters that are fast 
becoming the norm for racers everywhere.
He suggested the "Commercial" model was 
best for this bike (among other features, it
reords max rpm on the last run), but talk
to him about what will suit your bike best.



Chick to                    read the story on Virtual Indian
Chris has owned Bella, his 741, for a long time, 
and she has come in several shapes over the years.
Read the story on Virtual Indian.

Click to go to the Brit                    Chopper website

Chris is the editor of Brit Chopper Magazine, 
"the magazine for serious petrolheads", and 
was the owner of Desperate Dan's, one of the 
most original and influential UK custom bike 
shops of the 1980's and 90's.

Click to                    go to the Brit Chopper website



For more information, or offers of help or sponsorship, 
contact Chris on desperate@britchopper.co.uk