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The "Spaghetti Western" Saga - Building a Triumph Chopper

Discussion in 'The Antiquated' started by J.Ukrop, Dec 24, 2018.

  1. J.Ukrop
    Joined: Nov 10, 2008
    Posts: 994

    J.Ukrop
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    After snooping around "The Antiquated" for quite some time, I figured I would finally jump in and start a build thread of sorts. The project is a Triumph T100C that was originally turned into a chopper/bobber in Arkansas decades ago.
    Side.jpg
    As some of you may know, I write about hot rods and customs for a living. Through my work at The Rodder's Journal and The Jalopy Journal, I find myself digging through old magazines soaking in every piece of information I can possibly find. The focus is usually cars, but it's amazing how often hot rods of the two-wheeled variety made their way onto those pages, especially in indoor show coverage. The Harleys were popular, but the lighter Triumphs seemed to be a hot choice among hot rodders. That's where the inspiration for this one lies.

    The plan here is simple—take a cobbled together bobber and turn it into a mid-to-late-'60s-style street/show bike. I already have a '70s-style Harley that doesn't fit the criteria here, so the goal is to build a traditional Triumph that would look right at home on the rock salt next to rods and customs of yesteryear. And yes, it'll be a little bit weathered and worn, hence the "street" aspect. I love psychedelic paint, extended fork tubes and all that goodness, but you won't find too much of that here. Instead, it'll be a different kind of wild.

    One last note: this bike is a learning experience. I live in San Francisco where space is extremely limited, so I figure there's no better way to learn/improve my skills than on a motorcycle. Although it would have been ideal to start with a Pre-Unit, I'm working with what I have. Hopefully you'll like following along as much as I like working on it. I look forward to your input.

    Without further adieu, I present to you the "Spaghetti Western" Saga...
    IMG_8092.jpg I bought it in the fall of 2014 while I was still in college in Missouri, and I thought I had the build completely figured out. This is what it looked like when I got it. See that wiring that resembles out-of-control pasta? That's where the "Spaghetti Western" moniker came from.
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    Trump3.jpg
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    Life got in the way and it remained in the Show-Me state while I moved to California. Here's when my good pal @Nick32vic and I mocked it up.
    IMG_4655.jpg
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2018
  2. J.Ukrop
    Joined: Nov 10, 2008
    Posts: 994

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    After selling some other bikes, I finally shipped it to my place in San Francisco in the spring of 2018. It sat in my garage for a little bit, then I decided there was no better way to start than to take it all apart.
    4.24.18_OMCTASK3259_-14.jpg 4.24.18_OMCTASK3259_-101.jpg 4.24.18_OMCTASK3259_-151.jpg

    With the bike fully disassembled, I was able to see what I was working with. Argh, that hardtail was not very pleasing to the eye. But it's zero stretch, zero drop and that's exactly how I like it. IMG_7244.jpg
    I found a 10-inch over Pre-Unit front end on Craigslist and mocked it up, just because. The tank is a genuine "Made in England" Wassell that I got for free with a shed full of vintage motorcycle parts. It has old black paint on it that will clean up nicely. IMG_7331.jpg
    More often than not, unit bikes with hardtails leave an awkward gap underneath the oil tank. Pre-Units usually look way better because the transmission takes up that space. I'm running a 1951 BSA oil tank and some polished stainless plates to help give that area a denser look. Yard stick was used to show proposed sissy bar height.
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    These dimensions seem a bit more reasonable. The Z-bars were later replaced by Schwinn Sting Ray-style ape hangers.
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    Figuring out the Wassell fender...
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    Fixing the bad, including that gaping hole in the hardtail mount o_O. My buddy Yama operating the grinder with finesse.
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    IMG_8852.jpg
     
  3. J.Ukrop
    Joined: Nov 10, 2008
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    IMG_9885.jpg
    I scored this killer old metalflake gold seat at the Goodguys Pleasanton swap meet thinking it could be the right amount of funky-weird for this thing. I was wrong. It looks like it'd be just fine on a swing arm bike. It's hanging on my garage wall for now. Below, I'm starting to piece things together.
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    I'm a big fan of 1960s drag bikes and Schwinn Sting-Rays, so I knew I wanted to have an abbreviated rear fender. Also, I was very pleased with how well the oil tank fits in there.
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    I got one of my pals in South San Francisco to help me with the welding on the frame.
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    Then I was able to start dialing in the fender mount.
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    Fender mounted with the help of stainless clamps, rubber bushings and a drilled aluminum plate that I plan to polish. Holes drilled in aluminum to maximize weight savings.
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    With the fender on, it was back to my place and back on the ground.
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    Starting to look like a neat street scooter, eh? Up next, sissy bar construction!
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2018
    Okie Pete, quick85, HunterYJ and 2 others like this.
  4. Great stuff, Joey. Keep us posted.:)
     
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  5. Truckdoctor Andy
    Joined: Jan 13, 2017
    Posts: 582

    Truckdoctor Andy
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    Me like very much!! Subscribed! Those old Trumpets are super cool, I can’t wait to see the rest of the build.


    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
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  6. 6inarow
    Joined: Jan 24, 2007
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  7. J.Ukrop
    Joined: Nov 10, 2008
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    J.Ukrop
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    So a tall sissy bar has always been part of the plan on this one and, after conducting some research, I figured I'd make a stainless one out of flat stock. It's traditional and I know it would be a fun challenge. First stop, Alan Steel & Supply in Redwood City. Some of the nicest people I've ever encountered. I highly recommend it. IMG_1655-1.jpg
    Oh, and Lindsey discovered that their cat, Leila, is sweet too.
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    From there to the drawing board (floor) to make a 1:1 template.
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    Mocking up with a Cal black plate and cat taillight.
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    Attached Files:

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  8. J.Ukrop
    Joined: Nov 10, 2008
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    Sissy bar progress. Bar was bent with some torches, clamps and persuasion.
    IMG_1735.jpg
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    Passes the balance test and the 7-Eleven Slurpee test. Mike looks on.
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    And how it currently sits...
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    I'm not 100% satisfied with the bends right above the fender, so I'm going to throw it back on the jig and rework them. Once they're straightened, the whole thing will get reenforced with some cross-braces. I mostly work on this bike at night, so I've yet to roll it outside in the daylight. Hopefully soon!
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2018
  9. Malcolm
    Joined: Feb 9, 2006
    Posts: 7,417

    Malcolm
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    from Nebraska

    I like where you're headed with this, Joey -- looking forward to following along!
     
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  10. classiccarjack
    Joined: Jun 30, 2009
    Posts: 1,364

    classiccarjack
    Member

    I miss my Triumph chopper.... Oh well, had to deal with bills when I was younger.

    Sent from my Moto Z (2) using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
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  11. J.Ukrop
    Joined: Nov 10, 2008
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    After a quick trip back to Michigan for the holidays, I'm back at it again. So what's up? I bent the new fender mount, straightened the sissy bar and dropped in the motor for one final mock-up before paint. I also made templates for the passenger peg plates that will be beneath the oil tank. I am going to make those out of stainless. ONE Triumph.JPG
    You'll also notice the hanging lantern. Big ol' cowl lamps work on T-buckets of the era, so I figured this would be the perfect place to get a little weird while maintaining the bike's '60s theme. There will be a cross-brace—complete with rubber stopper—installed to limit its travel. Additionally, the glass will get some translucent amber and red paintwork (stay tuned for that).
     
  12. J.Ukrop
    Joined: Nov 10, 2008
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    Bike Rear.jpg
    Here's a shot from the rear. Ignore the cardboard. I have a fun weekend of final fabrication ahead of me! Is it Friday yet?! Here are two photos of creating the fender mount.
    IMG_1933.jpg
    IMG_1936.jpg
    That's all for now.
     
  13. woodbutcher
    Joined: Apr 25, 2012
    Posts: 3,051

    woodbutcher
    Member

    :eek: Hmmmmmmm.This looks like fun.I`ll saddle up and go along for the ride.
    Good luck.Have fun.Be safe.
    Leo
     
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  14. slowmotion
    Joined: Nov 21, 2011
    Posts: 2,970

    slowmotion
    Member

    I'm likin' this, a lot.
     
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  15. J.Ukrop
    Joined: Nov 10, 2008
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    J.Ukrop
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    So I'm sitting here eating my peanut butter sandwich for lunch and I figured now would be the perfect time to update the thread.

    Last fall, I talked with my friend David di Falco— @six5monster —about helping with some of the fabrication work on this bike. (Sharp-eyed readers may remember his yellow Model A roadster from my "Fly in Amber" feature here on the Jalopy Journal). He said yes, and next thing I knew I was at his shop ready to build.
    IMG_2015.jpg
    It was a rainy Saturday in Petaluma, California, but that didn't slow us down one bit. First we focused on getting the gas tank mounted. Believe it or not, I got the tank for free on Craigslist last year. It was dusty and dirty, but after further inspection I discovered it was an original Hap Jones—stamped "Made in England"—that has never been mounted and has never had any gas in it. That's why it doesn't have any mounts. It still wears its factory paint.

    Anyways, before David switched over to the automotive realm, he made his living building high-end bicycles. He suggested we fabricate tank brackets and braze them instead of welding. So that's exactly what we did. First, we drilled and brazed the bungs in place. IMG_1985.jpg
    We built the front tabs out of flat stock and drilled them to help with the brazing... IMG_1994.jpg
    IMG_1996.jpg
    And I cut the rear one out of a thinner metal and we hammered into shape.
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    Just like that, it was mounted. We also made a battery tray which sits on the bottom side of the frame in front of the rear fender. It was a productive and eye-opening Saturday at di Falco Fabrications!
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2019
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  16. J.Ukrop
    Joined: Nov 10, 2008
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    Last Saturday I visited David's shop once again. Unlike the week before, it was sunny and the air was warm. Seeing that we had already mounted the gas tank, we switched gears to take on the sissy bar. IMG_2108.jpg
    Using a series of clamps, we got things roughly in place. Hey, how'd that gold paint get on the fender?
     
  17. I like the progress I'm seeing! Are you planning on running your tail light up on your sissy bar? Do you have any more pictures of Di Falco's shop? I've been a huge admirer of his roadster for years.
     
  18. J.Ukrop
    Joined: Nov 10, 2008
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    @El Hueso ... yes! I figure it'll be a different touch that will also help with visibility out on the road. Let the build continue... IMG_2121.jpg
    It was nothing short of a blast working alongside David. Prior to this project, I didn't have much professional shop experience, so this gave me an opportunity to learn. Here's David working on the sissy bar and the mock-up with the lantern taillight. IMG_2124.jpg
    Below, we see how it all came together. The black, gold, button-tuft reminded me of Jim Head's '40 Ford panel. Remember that one? Maybe I'm just a little weird. IMG_2135.jpg
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    HEDside.jpg
    Article here: https://www.jalopyjournal.com/?p=26076

    Here's the sissy bar in my living room, pre-polish.
    IMG_2142.jpg
     
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  19. J.Ukrop
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    I like when bikes look dense—especially small ones. One of the areas I felt needed attention was beneath the oil tank. Rather than leaving a gaping hole, I figured the best thing to do was to make some metal plates. The plan was to stash the battery and electrics behind them. They would also double as passenger footpeg mounts and a place for the ignition. Initially, I wanted to use stainless and polish it, but that wasn't in the cards with my home shop setup and abbreviated timeframe. So I bought a Jigsaw off Craigslist, got some aluminum and started cutting. Triumph Foot Peg Plate.png
    Here's my cardboard mockup.
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    Smiling for safety.
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    Cut! I ended up finessing them with various drill bits, Dremel attachments and hole-saws, but these were the right basic shape. (Don't worry, I fixed the curves!)

    At that point, I looked to my friend Paul "Smiley" Dana in San Francisco's Visitacion Valley neighborhood to polish the sissy bar. He and I sat on a panel about the San Francisco custom car scene a little while ago, and I was excited to have him help me get my sissy bar looking good. He's been polishing since 1979 and absolutely knocked it out of the park. If you need polishing in the Bay Area, give him a shout here. IMG_2209.jpg
    IMG_2210.jpg
     
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  20. Nostrebor
    Joined: Jun 25, 2014
    Posts: 646

    Nostrebor
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I LOL'ed at this picture. Absolutely classic!

    Enjoying the ride along. Keep it coming.:)
     
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  21. King ford
    Joined: Mar 18, 2013
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    King ford
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    from 08302

    Jay!...just say no to " reasonable dimensions " ....go for that easy rider look!....
     
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  22. J.Ukrop
    Joined: Nov 10, 2008
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    After the polishing, I was off to the Grand National Roadster Show. Rather than letting the bike project sit idle, I did some wet sanding on the black lacquer fender at the hotel... IMG_2549.jpg
    Then I polished it when I got home...
    IMG_2556.jpg
     
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  23. J.Ukrop
    Joined: Nov 10, 2008
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    Since I've had the Triumph for so long (four years), I needed a deadline to actually finish it. The One Motorcycle Show in Portland provided the perfect excuse. I had my Ironhead in the show last year, so I figured it would only be appropriate to follow up with my Triumph build. With a few weeks to go, I picked up the pace and really got moving.
    IMG_6048.jpg ^This is my Ironhead at the One Show last year. You can read my article about the show here.

    Cue the montage music...
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    First time back on its wheels...
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    Painting the tail lamp...
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    Attached Files:

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  24. J.Ukrop
    Joined: Nov 10, 2008
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    As a graduation present, my parents got me this California black plate and told me "It's for your Triumph." It hung on my wall for years, and I was excited to finally put it back into play. I whipped up this license plate/light mount out of aluminum. The light is from a '60s Triumph Spitfire sports car.
    B3B492B8-2361-4739-981C-1D70EA302FB5.jpg
    Also, a decal from David di Falco was a must.
    IMG_2594.jpg
     
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  25. J.Ukrop
    Joined: Nov 10, 2008
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    And so, moments before we left for Portland, I rolled the bike out in the street and got a good look at it. I liked what I saw. IMG_2596.jpg
    Tucked in safely for our 10 hour drive:
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    Hey look, the Golden Gate Bridge!
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    Enjoying the neon at the historic Hi-Low Cafe in Weed, California:
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    Loading in at the Pickle Factory in Portland:
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    We made it!
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    Triumph One Show 2.jpg
    A great shot from the team at BikeBound:
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    Smiles all around:
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    It certainly was a weekend for the books.
     
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  26. J.Ukrop
    Joined: Nov 10, 2008
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    Ever since returning from Portland, I've been so busy with work and travel that I haven't done anything to the bike other than install a mirror. It was running before I took it apart, so I'm confident I can get it going again. Stay tuned!
     
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