Monday, 11 April 2016

Bonnie Piper Progress

New place...



The plan was to customise this 865 Bonneville for our friend while she studied photography abroad. I would do the work for fun and experience, and she would pay for parts and materials. However a burgeoning talent for dance photography meant a serious life change was confirmed. This in turn meant a much reduced budget for the bike project. The new plan? A facelift with some improvement to suspension thrown in. My desire to go way beyond what I did with the M900 would have to wait until the Guzzi. With the Triumph the challenge would be how much I could do with how little. Most of the budget was earmarked for having the tank painted to a Chicken Shack design, seat covered in a new chopped down form, new shocks and front springs and fork oil, and a stainless 2 into 1 exhaust system.

Exhaust studs corroded, all replaced except one that didn't want to come out. It's exposed part is sound so rather than risk more complications it's staying in but will have nice new nut on it.
Old exhaust system looking sad, also rather heavy.

New exhaust system going on. Tea essential for task. Notice polished mag wheel above... 

And blingy Renthal super bike bars at opposite end from occasional tea table.

This was a nasty hole in the cylinder base paint..

And the same on the other side. Have been touched up to improve while staying within budget and remit.

Cut down mudguard for that street tracker look. Plasti-chrome arse-dragging extravaganza dumped.

Sorting new mini rear LED tail light.

Chopped rear mudguard painted and mounting holes for rear light and number plate bracket drilled. Grommets for wiring ordered.

How it sits on the frame. Budget didn't cover frame chop and weld, and the refinish that would need. Frame ends will nestle just under shortened seat unit.

New adjustable alloy bodied YSS shock in place, old heavy shocker in hand ready for the scrapyard.

Hyperpro progressive fork springs and oil kit should give much better handling and ride quality than stock set up which is notorious for giving a crashy ride.

 I know purists don't like progressive springs but this isn't a sports bike. If they don't feel right they can be swapped out later but I think they will suit the ride.

Losing the horrible rear end means a new position is needed for the replacement LED indies. Fabbed up brackets to mount at shock mounting point.

Professional grade crimping tool means proper connections for new lightiing.

Triumph mounted the ugly rectifier right at the front under the headlamp. Saved a few quid on the client's budget by making my own rectifier relocation bracket out of 4mm ally. New (to me) bandsaw came in useful as did small bench sander. 

Haven't mastered mirror polishing but then I don't really like it on a bike like this. Cleaned up nice though.

Bit of a difference...

Abortive attempt at fibreglass base but useful lessons learned for next time.

Stock base being cut down. Retained due to difficult to relocate electrics underneath the base that need mouldings and ease of using existing fittings.

Re-shaping seat foam but may require pro help from upholsterer when they re-cover to our design.

Many coats (punctuated by hand polishing the nice stock mag wheels while waiting for each  coat to dry)

Multiple coats of primer and satin black have come out well on bobbed mudguards and side panels. Matt engine paint to spruce up a sad looking oil cooler. Valkyrie boob is headlamp shell which I've given a brushed steel finish with scotchbrite.

 Ignition relocated to lower position and to right hand side of bike. This is all starting to come together!!! Stay tuned, next up moody green metallic paint job on tank, and on trend tan seat.....Oh and actually finishing the wiring, front end brackets, front brake service, re-assembly, etc etc....

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Been a long time.....

What's this? A new shed in a new place?? And inside something stirs...what's been going on these long years?

There's a new Chicken Shack..... A Triumph Bonnie project for a dear friend who is celebrating an exciting life change. And then at last the poor Guzzi will get some attention as the next major project. No more guitar builds, and the trivial matter of the recording of an album is now compete (see for more on that).

 Those things followed a double household move to the country and the sad passing of my inspirational father-in-law. It's been a busy three years since the Chicken Shack Ducati was finished, but....we're back.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Working Metal Again.

At last I feel like I've done something useful - even if only half the job done so far...

Removing the lugs for the bar clamps as the bike will utilise clip-ons if it keeps it's front end. I was inspired to do this by a fantastic V50 build thread on the Do The Ton forum.

Took the bulk off with my new angle grinder which was a bit scary on such a small  and critical piece. Then used coarse hand-files, the Black and Decker power file, a finer hand-file and then  a Scotchbrite wheel on electric drill. Finer finish will be sought when the other lug is off. Have to say the power file is such a great piece of kit for this kind of thing.

Very satisfying - I do like working with alloy - I want to do more of it!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013


How could I forget - as a direct result of showing at BSMC The Event show, the Chicken Shack Ducati was on the telly! On ITV4's The Motorbike Show, after I was interviewed by the very kind and friendly Mr Henry Cole. Three years ago if someone had told me the first Chicken Shack bike would be on top blogs, in a one of a kind bike show and then on television I would have advised therapy!

If you'll be my Dixie Chicken then I'll be your shed build Goose.

The strip-down has reached the point at which, by removing six bolts, the main portion of the frame can be removed. This would leave the engine, lower frame rails and shaft drive in position. However I have left the frame in place (and the rear wheel)  in order to think about tank and seat options.

I'd been thinking about a fairly square-edged design to match the cylinders, but have recently discovered a build on an engineering company's site in New Zealand that utilised a tank, or replica tank, from a Ducati 750 bevel. Seeing a fibreglass replica of that available in the UK, with what seems to be the right dimensions, brought on a flurry of measuring. It looks to be a good fit, wide enough to clear the frame at all points. The shape's lovely and trying to get a tank doesn't seem that easy so I don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth. However, I'm hesitating as I'm now starting to wonder whether the tank has actually got to be wider than the frame rails at all points, (which the 750 design is), just like the V50's own tank). This is because I've seen some nice bikes where the edges of their tanks are resting on the frame tubes for at least part of their length. This would bring some squarer tank designs I've seen and liked back into play. Still the 750 rep I'm looking at buying has one of those great see-through fuel strips. That wasn't in the plan but they are so cool.
More thinking to be done - lack of cash is providing the time for thought...

Even if I go for the Ducati design, I won't use a matching "boat tail" seat unit as the New Zealand builder has. I want the bike to be different, more 70's/80's racer, so the tail will be squarer and possibly flipped up, as in the blue sketch. I'm thinking long and hard about whether to construct the tail myself, possibly from sheet alloy, as it seems an achievable step toward more fabrication. However, there are some suitable 'glass units on the web which I could modify. I'm going on a welding course in January which may also have some bearing on the decision.

Speaking of the welding course, that got me in trouble with Mrs Cutter who really wanted to learn welding, particularly so she could pose around being all industrial and "badass". I had an evil impulse while suffering "late life/work crisis" one dayand just booked myself on it. I suggested my fragrant shed-partner she could go on it too, that would be fine, although its quite a few sponduliks so not a great idea to double up. She's nobly decided to go on an introduction to motorcycle mechanics course instead, thereby doubling the relevant knowledge the 'shack will hold in coming months - huzzah!!

More great news - the amazing Dutch and Duchess from The Bike Shed blog, have decided to follow up their successful Cafe, Bobber and Tracker show "The Event" with an early sequel to round off the biking year. The last one was a total blast and I don't say that just because the Chicken Shack Ducati was shown there.

Dutch and co. are at the vanguard of those championing the retro custom scene and bringing it to a wider bike-loving and petrolhead audience. The vibe was amazing at the first show as I've mentioned in an earlier post. Friendly, buzzing, a real community feel, and lovely place to hang around and see gorgeous pro and shed builds, buy cool clothing, get some ace ink, chow down on gourmet burgers, get a cut, buy art, and spot the bike journos with an eye for something different. NOTICE - all of the above phenomena were super-real rather than crapola sometimes witnessed at more conventional won't see acres of knock-off textiles and corporate "meh!" here.

Get it in your calendar - many people were wailing and gnashing teeth at missing the last one, especially when they saw the quality of the show in the pics, TV, blog, and magazine coverage that followed.

Find out all about it here:

One last item. The sole surviving shack namesake, "Dixie" continues to be obsessed with shed life. At any opportunity she walks in and follows a ritual:

Dust bath in floor concrete dust, bug hunt round the shack, hop onto bench and inspect tools and parts, hop down and then onto frame of the Guzzi which she seems to think is a tree for evening roosting (like what wild chickens do don'cha know). She will happily roost  on the bike all evening. Downside is the guano deposits, so I have taken to perching her on one of my bike stands.

Here she supervises Mr's Cutter's work and advises on front-end disassembly..

Yeah we know flip-flops aren't good workshop wear, this was on a break....