Knucklebuster FXR update

Hard to believe that it’s been 5 months since I’ve posted an update to this site, but such is the case. I won’t bore you with excuses – life has been busy, other priorities, blah blah blah – you know the drill. Work, family, life - etc. With Sandy pounding on the east coast today I have unexpectedly found myself with the day off and few things to do. Since I’ve got school girl excitement over the progress that’s been made on the FXR I figured I’d give you all an update.

Let’s start with a little history since it’s been so long.  FXR_9-30-1.jpgHere she is the day I brought her home, about a year and a half ago. I did a few minor things at the time (mostly taking shit off and throwing on some mid controls / seat) but rode her pretty much unchanged for the summer and fall. Winter came and I started what I thought would be some minor projects but snowballed into more and more “customization”. You all know how that goes, 3 changes turns into 3 pages of things you want to do to make it truly yours. The volume of modifications I took on was a mistake because it kept me off the road, but looking at it now - the final result will be worth it when it’s done.

MockUp_02.jpgSome iteration of this photoshop mockup is probably the last time you saw it. I had been wrenching in my 8×12 plastic shed, going down to see Steve at Troy Fab from time to time to get some little projects done. This turned out to be a pain in the ass. Not having the bike at Steve’s while we were fabricating left us flying blind. We’d work on something then have to wait until I could check it on the bike back at home. A lot of unnecessary back and forth. Steve graciously offered to let me bring the bike to his shop, and it just made too much sense not to do it. Once the bike got to Troy Fab, progress started moving a lot faster.

FXR_9-30-3.jpgFirst thing we finished up was the exhaust. The exhaust can is off a Ducati Monster 696. The can was cut open so that all the baffles and the catalytic converter could be removed. Unbeknownst to me, this is called “coring”. Apparently the Ducati guys do this with some frequency because I was able to find a “How-to” that was able to walk us through the process. A few cuts, some pounding, scraping and welding and it was done. It was a bit more time consuming than that sounds, but in my eyes totally worth it. I’m digging the look, can’t wait to hear what it sounds like. It’s worth noting that the pipe that comes out of the Ducati can is a lot smaller than most Harley exhaust pipes, so it’s not a direct bolt on. We went back and forth on different ways to make it work and finally just ended up welding a simple exhaust adapter that you can pick up at any autoparts store.

FXR_9-30-9.jpgThe mini fairing is coming along quite nicely. The mounts were contoured and the headlight hole was cut out. The headlight mount is in place, just waiting for some new H3 bulbs so that we can aim it and weld in the brow. If anyone happens to know how to step down the light output of an 100W H3 bulb so that it acts like it has a high and low beam, I’m all ears. An H4 bulb won’t fit inside the headlight I’m using, so I’m stuck with using an H3 bulb, which I haven’t been able to find a dual filament version of (I don’t think they exist).

fender.jpgThe next big project was the rear fender. It all started with this drawing and a sheet of aluminum. Actually, that’s not true - Steve did 2 prototypes before this one to nail down the technique and shape before we went ahead and did the final.

FXR_9-30-4.jpgAluminum sheet getting annealed before being bent.

FXR_9-30-6.jpgAll bends complete

FXR_9-30-7.jpgCut outs for the seat area

FXR_9-30-8.jpgCleaning up the cuts.

FXR_9-30-10.jpgAll cut up and ready for the front to be welding in.

FXR_9-30-11.jpgWelding the front in.

SeatPanBuild.jpgSteve also bent and pounded out the seat pan with a trick front mount to keep everything clean and tidy.

CompleteSeat-1.jpgThe finished product. I honestly couldn’t be happier with how this turned out. It’s better than I expected and I’m super stoked on it. There is still a little clean up to do on some of the edges, but Steve straight up killed it. Next up - the seat pan will get powder coated, foam will get shaped and then I’ll have to figure out what I’m going to do for a covering.

FXR_9-28-12-1sm.jpgSo here’s how she sits as of 4pm yesterday. There are a lot of small things we’ve done that I just didn’t take pictures of and a lot of trial and error that we went through to get to this point. The list of things to do is still long, but I’m stoked.

FXR_PS_sm.jpgOf course, this post wouldn’t be complete without a photoshop. So here’s an idea of some of the fabrication work still to come. Aluminum tank, powder coated wheels, Troy Fab prototype air cleaner, shaved and powder coated fork lowers, I will probably end up rethinking the handlebars for something lower. Then there is all the “other stuff” that still needs to get done, like the wiring and painting.

As always, huge thanks to Steve at Troy Fab for all his help, guidance and talent. Extra special thanks to his wife for all the tasty meals. Make sure to check out and support Troy Fab. I’ll try to post more regularly, but no promises. There will be some changes around here in the future, I’m just not 100% sure what they’re going to be yet. In the meantime, like us on facebook and you can stay in the loop.


October 29th, 2012 by grail21 in KB News, Projects | Comments (7)

Sheet Metal Circle cutter for your drill press or mill


Small shops that do a variety of work in sheet metal have frequent use for circle cutters of the type that can be driven by a drill press. Home craftsmen also find use for these cutters in toymaking and ornamental metalwork. Pictured are two designs, one made from aluminum alloy especially for light work in wood, hardboard, plastics and soft metals, the other for the heavy-duty jobs in metals. The latter type, shown in Fig. 1 and pictured in use in Fig. 2, is fully detailed in Fig. 6. The shank is machined with a No. 2 Morse taper to fit a drill-press spindle, or sleeve, and it also is turned with an integral pilot. The lightweight job detailed in Figs. 3 and 5 and pictured in operation in Fig. 4, clamps directly to the taper spindle of the drill press into which the pilot drill, of the tapered-shank type, is fitted.

Although the best workmanship would require that the square holes in the shank and tool-holder arm, Fig. 6, be broached, it is possible to drill holes and square them with a file with sufficient accuracy. However, the tool-holder arm must be a smooth, sliding fit in the squared hole in the shank to prevent chattering in heavy cuts. The tool-holder arm, Figs. 1 and 6. is threaded its full length and flats are milled on the four sides, bringing the dimension across the flats to 5/8 in. The length of the arm gives a maximum radius adjustment of approximately 5 in. The lightweight cutter, Figs. 3. 4 and 5, does an exceptionally smooth, clean job on a variety of materials. When carefully made, it is practically chatterproof. Both the cutting tool and the tool-holder arm are held in place with binding clamps of special design and these two parts are attached to the taper sleeve with a binding clamp of sufficient length to hold the parts in exact alignment. Note that the cutting bit is supported in a groove milled across the face of the binding-clamp seat and that the groove is slightly less than 1/4 in. deep, Fig. 3. This allowance is necessary to permit the clamp to seat the bit firmly. The upper details in Fig. 5 show how to grind the bit for cutting holes and blanks in thin material. When ground for hole cutting, the bit leaves the outer edge smooth. When ground for blank cutting, the inner edge of the cut is smooth. For work in metals, the speed of the cutter should not exceed 100 r.p.m.

Click images to enlarge.
SheetMetalCutter_IMG_02.jpg SheetMetalCutter_IMG_03.jpg SheetMetalCutter_IMG_04.jpg

May 16th, 2012 by grail21 in How To, Tools | No Comments

Bottles in the shed

IMG_1255.JPGSpace in my main work space these days is pretty tight. It’s better than wrenching in the driveway to be sure, but every inch is valuable. I’ve recently tried to maximize organization by getting rid of the yard tools and furnishing with whatever I could find from the CL free section. In the process, I noticed that there are bottle of goop, gunk and other viscous liquids that follow me in whatever space I wrench in. Here’s a run down of a few that I wouldn’t be without.

IMG_1263.JPGYou’ve likely heard of this one, previously known as Honda polish, now festooned with sweet biker tribals. The downgrade in packaging aside, it’s the best general purpose cleaner I’ve come across. I’m sure there are others that work equally as well, but I haven’t found it yet. I tried that S100 crap years ago and it sucked, too watery and overpriced for my taste. This stuff works on just about anything, equally as good at wiping off layers of crud after a weekend of camping in the rain, or giving a quick clean up to some crusty swap meet gold. Paint, fiberglass, chrome, aluminum, raw steel - I’m not sure if it’s meant for all those surfaces, but I’ve used it on all of them with no complaint.

IMG_1266.JPGI love me some Flitz. Best metal polisher I’ve come across (outside of some of the specialized stuff like simichrome). Again, I haven’t tried many different brands, I was lucky to come across this early on and haven’t found a need to experiment with others. Throw this on a microfiber cloth or a buffing ball and it brings the disco back. With some elbow grease it will even get rid of slight surface rust.

IMG_1268.JPG Here’s a thing you’ll never catch me doing - getting into an intense internet forum debate over motor oil. You know exactly what I’m talking about - every single motorcycle forum has at least a dozen threads filled in depth analysis over viscosity, synthetics, brands, etc. I’m sure there is validity to some of it, I’m just not that checked in. Over the years I’ve used a lot of different brands - Amsoil, Mobile 1, whatever was on the shelf at the gas station(although I avoid that when possible) and can’t say I’ve ever had a memorable experience of any of them being better than the other. These days I pretty much stick to Spectro and Amsoil, primarily because I like the fact that they both support the grassroots scene. Seriously, that’s how I make my motor oil decision. They both make great products, I’ve never had issue with either of them and I’d rather my money go to companies that give a little back than those that don’t. I ran this Spectro 20/50 all last year without issue, which is good enough for me. Caveat emptor, it did not make my bike faster, my dick bigger or my chest hair grow faster.

IMG_1262.JPG So let me answer your first question for you - no this will not wash Jay Z off you, but still - it’s damn good. I came across this stuff in the the clearance bin at AutoZone; for $.99 I figured I’d take a chance. Now I wish I had grabbed every bottle. For someone without running water in the shop, this stuff is brilliant. Fast Orange (with pumice) is my hand cleaner of choice, but this is a close second. Comes out like hair moose, rub your hands together and it dries and flakes off, taking grease and grime with it. Works great and well worth the $.99. Online sellers are getting $3-$5 a bottle, which is more than I would spend on it, but apparently you can still find it at Menards for less than a buck.

Got some favorites of your own? Let us know on our Facebook page: Knucklebuster Facebook

May 7th, 2012 by grail21 in Tools | Comments (4)

Duane Ballard Robbed


Not fucking cool: Attention central Cal chopper freaks and eBay shoppers: last night Duane Ballard’s truck was robbed in a Salinas, CA, hotel parking lot. Custom leather wallets, key fobs, artwork, t-shirts and motorcycle seats were taken. If you see any suspicious stuff being sold on the inner web, please send links to Duane Ballard.

Duane is one of the good guys, if anything comes across your radar, let him know.

May 5th, 2012 by grail21 in KB News | No Comments

Gas Fired Smelting Furnace

Furnace-plans_Page_1.jpg Furnace-plans_Page_2.jpg Furnace-plans_Page_3.jpg Furnace-plans_Page_4.jpg

I’ve always wanted to try out some casting, maybe at the next shopping. The making the furnace part looks fairly straightforward (there are tons of youtube videos on this as well) it’s the making the molds that looks incredibly time intensive. Still, doesn’t get much cooler than melting down a bunch of scrap and turning it into a cool part.

May 3rd, 2012 by grail21 in How To | No Comments

Anatomy of a Photo Chop

AnatomyOfPhotoChop.jpg I get questions from time to time about the photoshop chops I do. I’d much rather be in the shop actually working on the bike, but while desk bound it helps me work through my own personal design hang ups and figure shit out. Here’s a break down of the most recent. Click the pic to see the full resolution image.

April 16th, 2012 by grail21 in KB News | Comments (2)

Brooklyn Invitational 2011: Vol. 3

Brooklyn2011_102.jpg BrooklynR2_100.jpg BrooklynR2_103.jpg BrooklynR2_105.jpg

April 9th, 2012 by grail21 in Moto Art & Pics | No Comments

Motorcycle Gasket Basics


A typical bike engine contains around three litres of oil, and one of the biggest challenges to engineers over the years has been to keep that oil where it should be.

There are many joints between the various engine castings, and nearly every one needs some means of preventing fluids from escaping. In an ideal world, every joint face would be perfectly flat, smooth and perfectly aligned with its opposite number. Furthermore, when the bolts were tightened no distortion of the joint would take place and they would remain perfectly tightened throughout the life of the bike. Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world and this is where gaskets come in.

The aim of a gasket is to provide a little elasticity to absorb the imperfections found at the joint surfaces. Typically, gaskets are made from a mixture of fibres, such as paper or asbestos, held within synthetic rubber such as nitrile. Nowadays asbestos is no longer favoured and more use is made from up-todate materials such as carbon fibre, PTFE and Kevlar.

To read the rest of the article, download the pdf: Motorcycle Gaskets 101 PDF

April 6th, 2012 by grail21 in Uncategorized, How To | No Comments

Aligning Lathe Centers

April 4th, 2012 by grail21 in How To, YouTube & Internet Videos | No Comments

Machinist Gauge Blocks

PopSciMech_2__173.jpg PopSciMech_2__174.jpg

“Precision gauge blocks are used in all well equipped shops to establish basic measurements for the purpose of laying out and producing parts of identical size. When critical measurements are necessary in laying out work on which machine operations are to be held within extremely close limits, the use of gauge blocks speeds up the preliminary operations and practically eliminates the reworking of jobs due to faulty scales or an error in taking readings”

Click the images to read the whole article.

March 19th, 2012 by grail21 in How To | No Comments

How to read micrometers

March 12th, 2012 by grail21 in How To, YouTube & Internet Videos | No Comments

How To Rivet Aluminum

RivetAluminum_01.jpg RivetAluminum_02.jpg RivetAluminum_03.jpg

Old school.

March 8th, 2012 by grail21 in How To | No Comments

Random Pic Wednesday

Acme_2010_234.jpg KBProc_3_2_2010-100.jpg BIAFall2009_301.jpg BrooklynR2_102.jpg

March 7th, 2012 by grail21 in Moto Art & Pics | No Comments

Skinny-ing the FXR

FXR_D1-8.jpgI’ve never done a proper post on the FXR I picked up last year. I didn’t do much to it after I got it - just removed a bunch of stuff and hit the road. The picture above shows how it came to me. Over the winter I’ve started to personalize it a bit. I wouldn’t call it chopping, more like skinny-ing with a bit of detail work. So here’s some stuff I’ve been up to in the shed.  

KB_FXR1.JPG KB_FXR2.JPGStep one - dismantle. Look at the size of those blinkers - yikes. They’re long gone. I’m keeping turn signals but you’ll see the size difference below. The wiring harness of any bike makes my skin crawl, this one is no different. Maybe I’ll conquer that fear with this mild rebuild.

KB_FXR3.JPG The 2-into-1 header that’s replacing the stock exhaust. Harvard tossed this to me a couple years ago, I finally found a use for it. I’ve got the stock exhaust can off a Ducati 696 that I’m in the process of figuring out how to attach to it (tubing sizing are way different).

Biltwell sanderson pegs KB_FXR7.JPG Pic 1: Biltwell sanderson pegs to replace the janky chinese pot metal ones that came on the bike. These this are too legit to quit. Super nice, heavy duty and the ability to adjust them is killer. I’m a fan.

Pic 2: Mooneyes air cleaner. Had this on my Sporty, stole it to replace the gigundo AC that came with the bike. It’s going to get a bit of a restyling with the help of Steve at Troy Fab…. speaking of Steve.

KB_FXR10.JPG I spent two days with Steve down at his shop working through a bunch of little projects. I can’t say enough good things about Steve. His attention to detail and willingness to go the extra mile to get it right is unreal. Plus he’s just about the nicest guy you’ll meet. Here he is with my Biltwell chumps clamped up in his mill. Why? To drill the holes to install some Posh Factory switches. Sure, this could have been done in the drill press or even with a hand drill (although I wouldn’t attempt that), but Steve brought the precision installation skills and did it right.

Ahhh, much better than the huge stock switch pods.

While we were at it, Steve chucked up the stock top riser clamp, milled off the ribs and then recessed a 1″ wide pocket. Why? So I could insert a piece of thin brass which I will eventually have etched or engraved. Trick-a-holica.

KB_FXR12.JPG KB_FXR4.JPG Pic 1: Remember the aforementioned bulky turn signals? Here are the new ones. Tiny. Picked them up from thanks to a tip from f the chop cult forums.

Pic 2: Biketronics load equalizer I scored on ebay for pennies. Irish Rich mentioned somewhere how he had more luck with them than the badlands units. That’s a good enough recommendation for me.

Throttle side of the Biltwell chumps I’m running. That’s a master cylinder off a ‘06 Yamaha R1. Steve chucked it up in the mill to hog it out for 1″ bars. I’m also running a gen 1 Biltwell throttle. I may move to an internal down the road, but for now this will work nicely.

Pic 1: Here’s another shot of the R1 master cyclinder. By today’s japanese sportbike standards this is nothing new, why Harley can’t figure out that less is more is beyond me. Much less clutter. I still need to hook up a lever, reservoir and custom brake line, but all easily remedied. (Hey Barnetts - want to make me some custom lines?)

Pic 2: Cockpit shot. You can see the rear of the aluminum mini fairing. The wha???

Is it a little Jax Teller? I dunno, I think it’s more MX inspired than fictional 1% MC. This is the first go at it, more of a prototype to figure out how to do the bends than anything. It will get used to refine the design, figure out the mounts, etc. - then Steve and I will redo the whole thing. I think I might go a hair taller with it, but overall, I’m really happy with general direction. With a little trimming off the back, I think it will work out just swell.

That’s where she stands today. Still lots of little things to do that will take me much longer than I want to admit, but progress is being made. Many thanks to Steve for all his help and Harvard and Biltwell for the killer components.

By the way, if you want to follow this build more closely, “like” our facebook page for near instantaneous updates. Knucklebuster Facebook Page

February 23rd, 2012 by grail21 in KB FXR | Comment (1)

Troy Fabrication / FXR Rebuild

Spent the past few days working on my FXR. Not a major redo, but lots of mild mods and little detail stuff. Steve at Troy Fab has been a huge help. Been down to his shop twice in the past 4 days and we’ve churned through a bunch of stuff with his expertise. In the process I’ve taken a bunch of video which I’ll be throwing together, in the mean time, here is a mini teaser. More on the FXR in a few, for now check out Steve’s website and support one of the most honest and customer friendly businesses in this big ole moto world we live in. Check him out at:

February 21st, 2012 by grail21 in Projects, Video, Metalwork | Comment (1)

Basic Sheet Metal Work

Workshop Practice Series 18_Basic Benchwork_Oldridge 1988_Page_60.jpg Workshop Practice Series 18_Basic Benchwork_Oldridge 1988_Page_61.jpgWorkshop Practice Series 18_Basic Benchwork_Oldridge 1988_Page_62.jpg  

February 17th, 2012 by grail21 in How To | Comment (1)

True Love for Valentines Day

February 14th, 2012 by grail21 in YouTube & Internet Videos | No Comments

KBHQ on the FB cuz we’re down with the SM


Don’t pretend like you’re not into it. Whether your post happy about your eating habits and political affiliations or a stealthy ninja peeping on what your next ex-wife is up, you’re down with Tom Anderson… I mean Mark Zuckerberg. It’s cool broham, so are we. We’ve got our own little Knucklebuster HQ on the FB and you should jump on over there and hit the thumbs up button. Trust me, you’ll like it - I’ve been posting content that you can only get there, plus it makes the whole back and forth communication thing a bit easier.

Check it out and hit that like button:

February 13th, 2012 by grail21 in KB News | No Comments

Finishing Metal Surfaces

Workshop Practice Series 20_Metalwork and Machining Hints and Tips_Bradley 2006_Page_13.jpg Workshop Practice Series 20_Metalwork and Machining Hints and Tips_Bradley 2006_Page_14.jpgWorkshop Practice Series 20_Metalwork and Machining Hints and Tips_Bradley 2006_Page_15.jpgWorkshop Practice Series 20_Metalwork and Machining Hints and Tips_Bradley 2006_Page_16.jpgWorkshop Practice Series 20_Metalwork and Machining Hints and Tips_Bradley 2006_Page_17.jpgWorkshop Practice Series 20_Metalwork and Machining Hints and Tips_Bradley 2006_Page_18.jpg     

February 12th, 2012 by grail21 in How To | No Comments

The Tradesmen: Making an Art of Work

An hour and a half of awesome. Skip crawling ebay and CL for a while and get into it. Great film.

February 8th, 2012 by grail21 in YouTube & Internet Videos | Comments (2)