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Patience

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  • Build: Natasha
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J. Sinclair/CONCEPIA LLC J. Sinclair/CONCEPIA LLC The moment of truth!

When I started cleaning the oxidation off the wheels I didn't think I'd spend that much time on them, but the desire to get them 'perfect', or as damn near close to perfect has meant I've put way more time than I imagined. Just the rear wheel has taken eight hours. But the end result has been ultimately worth it, and now that I have a cleaning system in place that works, I don't think the front will take so long. I start off with 120 grit emery cloth, rubbing all the crap away until I am back to bare aluminum (The wheels are actually a cast magnesium aluminum alloy.), then move to 180, then 320, then switch to a 400 grade emery paper, finally finishing off with a green Scotch-Brite pad. Each piece is cut into 1" x 4" strips that I can fold over and over until I get a sharp edge; when that is worn down I can just unwrap to the next fresh edge. Yes, there is a lot of labor involved. Far simpler would have been to just have them powder-coated a single color. What can I say; I get a bit obsessive sometimes.

After I finished both sides of the wheel, I then masked off the polished parts and used some Professional Grade Rustoleum (Semi-gloss) Enamel spray paint to restore the original color. I maybe should have used a flat matt; but it will ultimately match the semi-gloss that the frame is being powder-coated to. Two coats later, the wheel is more or less finished. In the few places where the masking tape didn't protect the bare aluminum I will use a Scotch-Brite pad to clean that up. Final step will be to use some Mother's Aluminum & Magnesium polish. This stuff is quite amazing; I tested it on a small section of the wheel and couldn't believe the difference it made. Not sure how long-lasting that shine will be as the oxide slowly returns to dull everything down a bit. Regardless, the wheels are going to rock.

Second project this week was building the tray that will hold all the electronics under the seat. This actually went relatively smoothly. A cardboard template was drawn out and used to cut out the right shape from a piece of 16ga. sheet steel. Then the fun part of figuring out how to make everything fit. I was a little worried until a solution appeared by flipping the battery over and having the terminals face away from the main components. (These Antigravity batteries are amazing; so small and can be mounted in any position. It's about a quarter of the size of the OEM battery and still produces the same crank hours. Plus they don't die if you don't use them for a long time; no need to trickle charge over the winter months when the bike is in storage.) I got some square nuts from Lowes and welded those in place, then had to cut down the stainless steel bolts to the right length; I didn't want to drill through the panel and have unsightly bolts poking though. Cutting bolts to size never results in a clean end product so I used a die to tidy up the raw ends.

After making sure everything was going to fit, I tack welded the panel to hold it in position, removed all the electronics, and then welded the panel in place. Tomorrow I'll grind down the welds and make it look pretty. I also took off the center stand mounts today, so that bottom part of the frame is all clean.

Speaking of welding, I mentioned in a previous post that I really wanted to learn how to TIG weld, or Gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) to give it it's more correct name. I looked at all the technical colleges in the area but they are geared towards year long courses and getting someone certified to AWS level, and then I'd have to do all the basic 101 courses to get to the 205 TIG course... like five months of study; way too long for me. I also found a dedicated school four hours drive away that runs a four week, eighty hour 'Introduction to TIG course', but for $2500 plus room/board, plus the loss of work days was going to be too much muhla. So I looked on Craigslist and found this advert for a small fabrication shop about forty minutes away, and offered in their list of services was welding training. After talking to the owner on the phone, and he sounds like a cool guy who I'll be able to learn from, we are going to schedule some hours in about a month. He's going to teach me to weld small gauge steel first, then aluminum, then stainless. He's also got a small bed CNC driven plasma cutter which I am keep to learn about also.

Current hours on build: 49.0

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