RD400 Seat Finished

So we finally got around to getting the seat finished out on the RD400.

Here’s the leather we’re using. It’s super fun. You can stretch it and scratch at it and it patinas really nicely.

The process was basically the same as last time, but I thought I’d document it anyway.

We started off by covering the seat with foil. Usually I lay down a layer of masking tape and then a layer of aluminum tape, but I was out of aluminum tape. While I was busy complaining that I didn’t pick any up, Kate suggested we throw foil on it… because she’s SUPER smart.

Here it is, ready for the alien invasion.

We threw down a layer of the smooth fiberglass cloth, followed by a few layers of chop and then a few layers of the smooth cloth again. We let it sit for about 24 hours and it was SOLID.

I got it all trimmed up and tested for fit. Notice I made it slightly smaller than the seat itself. This is to take into account any additional padding that sticks out once the seat is foamed and covered.

And just for fun. This is what I look like after cutting up fiberglass with a Dremel. Sucks YEARS off your life (notice all the grey).

We sent it off to the guy we used last time – Bill’s Upholstery in Arlington. This is the final product.

Overall I’m super pleased. It’s a little thicker than I was expecting, but considering what they went through working with the leather I sent them, I’m pretty happy with it.

And here it is on the bike.

I’ll get some better photos of it soon and post them up here!

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Thursday, February 28th, 2013 RD400 Cafe Racer 1 Comment

RD400 of Doom

So I’ve been a little bit behind on this project, (or at least blogging about it). It’s been something I’ve been trying to get ready for Barber. You all probably remember me getting rid of the KZ650 and picking this up in its place.

Now because I don’t have the tools or the know-how to make things out of sheet metal like a real boy, I got a friend involved who turned out to be a savant. We started by mocking up the shape out of cardboard.

Once we had the basic shape created from cardboard we were able to cut out the sheet metal and start forming that.

Formed and tack-welded.

Some arts, fartsy work later…..

I got the tank stripped and then we had the idea to “burn stripe” it. This is a term we made up. I’m sure someone has done this before, but I’m just going to pretend I invented it.

We then set to work on a little fairing. A piece of aluminum and a little hammering, and you get something like this.

All mounted up.

Now it’s time for a little nose art.

Then I hit it with some a Scotch-Brite pad…. and fire….

Burning the fairing wasn’t just torch fun… Aluminum is very shiny and pretty.. We were just trying to dingify it up a little. ALSO FIRE IS FUN. The finished result.

Cut up some lexan and heat-formed it to the fairing.

And here she is…

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Sunday, September 30th, 2012 RD400 Cafe Racer No Comments

Cafe Racer Seat – Part Deux

It’s really like.. part 8.. or something.. isn’t it?

Anyway, after all has dried and sat up for a bit, I pulled it off and started the trimming.

I pretty much just sat the nasty seat on the frame and drew where I needed to trim with a marker. Then I took a Dremel to it. If you do this, definitely go with the nicer trimming wheel instead of those tiny ones that explode after a minute or two. Also.. wear eye protection and a respirator. So much nasty stuff is about to be flying that you just don’t want in you.

Here’s the seat all trimmed up.

The guy doing my tank fab dropped the tank by so I could see it all together.

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Tuesday, April 5th, 2011 BMW Cafe Racer No Comments

Making A Cafe Racer Seat

I fiddled with the tailpiece in the past, but in the end, it just didn’t fit right, so I went ahead and made one from scratch. This is not a super complicated process, just time consuming. Also it’s dirty. And not the fun kind.

I started off by cutting out some cardboard to fill in the gap of the subframe. This should add some support for when we lay the glass down the road.

Next I laid up a bunch of floral foam blocks where the tail piece would be. I glued these together with spray adhesive… which only barely works as this stuff is too dusty. I Also made a cardboard stencil of the shape of the tailpiece.

Then you can just start carving the shape with a knife. The floral foam is really easy to slice.

Once I get it down to the right shape, I go back with a razor and smooth the thing down real nice and sexy. This was actually Kate’s idea.

When you’re done, you should have a nice looking tail shape. Don’t pay any attention to the junk all over the place. We just moved into this house and the garage became the place everything got dumped until we find it’s new home (which will most likely be the trash can).

So now that you’ve inhaled a few pounds of green dust particles it’s time to bring out the big guns and get to the toxic fumes.

Take some of that aluminum duct tape and cover the area to be fiberglassed. That means the subframe from side to side (across the gap that you cardboarded over) and the newly fashioned bum stop. You’re going to want to use smaller strips for the round part of the tail so it will lay flatter. Once it all looks like a baked potato, use car wax to slick up the surface. This will act as a releasing agent (sorta).

This next part is best done with two people. Skyler was kind enough to give me a hand. Pre-cut your fiberglass into strips. You don’t want to lay giant pieces down as it won’t lay completely flat. Prepare a cup of acetone and your fiberglass resin. Using a paintbrush, apply the resin to the aluminum tape in one area and then lay a strip of fiberglass on top. Then use the paintbrush to push it down flat and soak more resin in.

Once you’ve covered the whole thing, you can use fiberglass cloth (it’s more smooth and delicious than the chop stuff) as a final layer to smooth it all out. Alternatively, you could probably just build the whole thing out of this, but I haven’t tried that.

After this I leave it to dry, and usually don’t touch it for at least 24 hours.

As you can see, it has some imperfections. But these will be sanded/bondo’d/cursed out.

So that’s where I’m at RIGHT NOW. I’ll update this post when I get in there and trim it, etc…

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Sunday, April 3rd, 2011 BMW Cafe Racer No Comments

Frame Job

Exciting News! I’ve just picked my frame up from Custom Powder Coating. The color I went with is Bomber Orange. It’s one of the coolest powders I’ve ever seen. It has a gold sparkle to the finish. Just beautiful.

You can see the detail in the highlights are just amazing.

I also re-shaped my seat a little and threw it on the frame with the fiberglass tailpiece and the new tank I scored on eBay.

Tonight I also played around with my old tank. The new tank is going to be taken to a guy that does a lot of custom bike work. They will be cutting and welding new knee inserts and painting everything. I used tape to shape up the new knee inserts, and painted. This is pretty close to I want, except I want it to be a little rounder at the front of the dent (this was hard to do with tape).

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Tuesday, December 14th, 2010 BMW Cafe Racer No Comments

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