'81 Powerlite build thread..  RSS Feed

#1 2012-11-24 2:06pm

farmboy
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'81 Powerlite build thread..

..Will this bike be heresey? A Bastard Child? I guess we'll see. I've been meaning to do a thread like this for a while. Turns out, I have some time on my hands - I quit my job recently; I'm culling possessions, then I'll consider job options. Also, my mother-in-law passed away recently, and now Dad has come to live with us - he's 94 yikes - and I'm looking out for him now too. Don't mean to share too much, but I feel the need to clarify that I'm not on meth, just decompressing (I've been on here non-stop lately, but it's keeping my bean for going POP!..) Anyway, I'm doing this thread for catharsis, I hope you enjoy it as much as I'm digging the build.

This project started as an entry to the Rattle Can build off, but obviously, I never finished it in time. The build-off concept was rattle can, build-with-what-you got. The plan for my entry was to build a pit bike to complement one of my racebikes, Frankenduc, utilizing the same concepts; namely, modern updates for reliability and performance to a vintage bike, and, always inherent to any race machinery, light weight. This is Frankenduc:

http://i1248.photobucket.com/albums/hh486/Farmboy182/IMGP2791.jpg

Frank's bones consist of an early '90's Ducati 851 chassis built with many factory parts, including an ex-Jimmy Adamo frame and tons of unobtanium Corse bits. Frank's heart is a bored and stroked 999 air-cooled 2-valve motor. I won't bore you with too many details, but this adds up to a 320 lb bike with high 90's hp and 70+ ft/lb of torque. The bike was campaigned at a national level in the late 90's, and I won 1 expert regional CCS class and placed 2nd in another in 2011 after the shop that sponsors me entrusted it to my care. An action shot:

http://i1248.photobucket.com/albums/hh486/Farmboy182/carousel.jpg

As far as upgrades go, we freshened the valves (and put modern billet collets in; more reliable revs on a Desmodromic valvetrain) and I used modern clip-ons and levers, etc, for easy crash repair. We did have to freshen up the cylinders during the season, but we couldn't source a modern set of pistons fast enough, or else they would be in there too. I also replaced wheel bearings, brake rotors, the master brake cylinder, etc. Anyway, not too much, this bike is still extremely competitive in clubracing lightweight classes, but just enough to make it into a reliable and servicable machine. The plan is to apply the same concepts to a vintage BMX bike, this '81 Powerlite:

http://i1248.photobucket.com/albums/hh486/Farmboy182/IMGP2795.jpg

This is where the possibility for heresy comes into play. First, here are the parts I've decided on using:

http://i1248.photobucket.com/albums/hh486/Farmboy182/IMGparts.jpg

The breakdown:

survivor old school parts appropriate to the frame:
2nd gen Tuf Neck stem
stamped Mongoose Pro Class bars
Redline MX forks
SE Sanshin bilarge f/small f hubs
Araya 7x rims
Sugino GT 175 crankset
PPP 44t cr
Tioga SureFoot II peds (just picked these up..NOS, too nice for this build, but I couldn't resist)
Dia Compe 1020 caliper
Tuf Neck spc

I was also considering the SR stem as it's so light and therefore more appropriate to the concept, but I'll have to see if it's roomy enough. Ergonomics are obviously more important than light weight, and besides, that Tuf is pretty butch. We'll see.

New stuff:
YST sealed bb
sealed headset
14 gauge double-butted spokes
gold alloy cr bolts
repop Tech 3
(above all from the Chop)
Araya gold nips
Persons seat
Our boy PK; his sister Kush is off causing trouble I'm sure..
-and I plan on sourcing a lightweight slotted chain.

The objective here was to use modern components weighing as little as possible for the regular-wear applications. This is one aspect of the heretic, although I can qualify it several ways.

1. I already have a few period correct survivor/riders, including a '79 Powerlite that I'm finishing up using as many survivor parts as possible, even though the frame is cracked, (http://bmxmuseum.com/forums/viewtopic.php?id=470915 , updates on this soon) so I figure maybe I can have a little leeway on this one.
2. I think it's a cool concept. It's not like I'm trying to cut corners on a correct resto, and besides, I can always do that with this frame later. I'm very curious what this will end up weighing..
3. It's my bike, I can do what I want, haha.

I dunno, it still bugs me a bit, but whatever. The other factor that gives me pause is the color. I really want to do this in yellow to complement Frank. Here's my selection of decals to work with. Feast yer eyes:

http://i1248.photobucket.com/albums/hh486/Farmboy182/IMGstix.jpg

Dig the og head tube decal. I found that in a box full of stix at the Joliet show last year along with the random ones on the left. I think I paid $3 for it. It won't go on this build; I'll be using the repop one in the corner along with the downtube ones. I was thinking yellow frame with the red DT decals as I had originally planned on using an og red Jaguar seat and the Odyssey redwalls. Now, however, I've sourced different tires (more on that later) and used the seat on the other Powerlite, so I'm thinking yellow with black..

And those are the two issues which pertain to the Bastard aspect. Non-standard color and new parts on a not-very-common frame. So, any opinions? Please feel free. I'm also considering painting the frame that og teal color, but then it diverges from the pit bike theme. Much more to come, and again, all comments are encouraged and welcome!

Last edited by farmboy (2012-11-24 2:31pm)


WTB: Factory grease and/or air, by the dab, dollop, or deciliter - whatever ya got.

Self Appointed Assistant Associate Treasurer of the 44t Fan Booster Club, Western Division.

Movin' to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches. On and on, 'til the break of dawn.

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#2 2012-11-24 10:03pm

Raceface
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Re: '81 Powerlite build thread..

Cool stuff!!!The Ducati is one sweet machine!!!The Powerlite would look bitchin done up yellow,gonna be a cool build!!!


"We are what we repeatedly do.Excellence,Therefore,Is not an act,But a habit."      Aristotle

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#3 2012-11-25 5:59am

Coco
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Re: '81 Powerlite build thread..

Yellow is cool.

Keep doing what your doing. I also appreciate the work you did on the Ducati. I re-did a 75 Norton Commando a few years back but I did throw Brembo discs front and rear on there, a hydraulic clutch conversion and a few other modern touches. The fork internals will be next.

I think the Powerlite will turn out awesome.

Last edited by Coco (2012-11-25 6:11am)

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#4 2012-11-25 11:39am

farmboy
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Re: '81 Powerlite build thread..

Thanks guys, I was starting to worry this project would get no love.

Old bikes need upgrades if they're going to be used. Museum pieces are one thing; 100% correct examples, restored or original, are indispensable from a historical and referential standpoint. On the other hand, old mechanical objects often need upgrades to be functional in a practical fashion. Ok, onward.

I bought this frame from another member here. It was originally chrome, and was pretty thrashed cosmetically. It's not dinged, though, and the drops are pretty nice (this is after the etching primer):

http://i1248.photobucket.com/albums/hh486/Farmboy182/IMGetchdrop.jpg

I asked here whether or not it was possible to media blast chrome and the general consensus was no; however, the shop has a blasting cabinet so I figured there was no harm in trying. For the most part, it worked fine, although it was a pita. It didn't so much blast the chrome away as peel it off the frame, which then required frequent sifting of the media as there were all these large flakes of chrome that would clog the gun. This was the frame after the first round of blasting:

http://i1248.photobucket.com/albums/hh486/Farmboy182/IMGP2795.jpg

You can see where some of the more stubborn chrome remains. I had another go at it last Friday and cleaned almost all the rest off. There is still a bit on the top tube and one of the chainstays, but after a good wet-sanding, I'm going with it as-is and hoping that the paint will stick.. more on this in a minute. The frame was in pretty good shape under the chrome; the nickel plate was still mostly intact, although there was a fair amount of pitting around the bb, up at the gusset, etc. I considered polishing the frame out; however, while the nickel polished out nicely, the pitted areas didn't look so good, so, back to paint. I didn't take any pics of it completely cleaned up sans primer, but here are a couple of shots of the frame with a coat of etching primer (did this yesterday):

http://i1248.photobucket.com/albums/hh486/Farmboy182/IMGetchframe.jpg

http://i1248.photobucket.com/albums/hh486/Farmboy182/IMGetchgusset.jpg

I was pleased so far; the etching primer did a pretty nice job of filling what pitting there was. On a side note, I paint my race bikes, so I have played with painting technique quite a bit. I'm actually pretty proficient with automotive finishes, but I don't see the need to use them here as, hopefully, I won't be spilling petroleum products all over it. Now, where was I? Oh, regarding my decision not to just dip the frame and get rid of what chrome was left.. I was leery of a chemical dip for fear of weakening the frame. Before picking up the two Powerlite frames I now have, I was familiar with Redlines and Mongeese, and let me tell you, those frames are way more robust than these Powerlites. The bbs, headtubes, stays, everything are made of such thin wall material I'm actually a little hesitant to ride this bike when the project is finished. Also, you can see where every butt weld bled through to the inside of the bb and headtube, and I figure the only thing a chemical bath would do for sure is weaken the frame more, so, I'll have to just hope the paint sticks. My other frame, the '79, is cracked in several spots (so much so that I'm not going to fix it.  It's og finish, which is one reason, but the other is that it's been so stressed I wouldn't ride it even if I had it repaired, so why bother. I can have one display bike I guess..) and I don't want to trash this one too. I'll definitely go easier riding this bike than my Redlines..

Anyway, the frame is ready for a final coat now. I also applied a coat of regular zinc-oxide primer over the etching stuff; I learned painting my racebikes that paint doesn't stick so well to just the etching primer. With the final coat of primer, whatever pitting there was is sufficiently coated and filled that I'm confident the final finish will come out very nice. Maybe tonight or tomorrow..

The original rattle can build off called for a use-what-you-have format, so I decided to use a set of Redline MX forks for the build; check this pristine POS specimen out lol :

http://i1248.photobucket.com/albums/hh486/Farmboy182/IMGP2798.jpg

Juuust a little bent, huh? This is one of the many items I've bought on here without looking closely enough at the pics. Ok, up on the soapbox: I don't care if you show defects in your pics, I still think it's lame when you don't verbally list them and then hide behind the rationalization that it's my responsibility to discern how trashed your part is from your crappy, blurry pics. Moreover, sometimes parts are dibbed within seconds of being posted, so there often isn't even enough time to closely scrutinize the artist's rendering of said part to boot. All right, stepping off the soapbox, I now have learned my lesson in this area, so onward and upward. Back to the fork, no biggie; I just spent a bit of time back at the shop with their hydraulic press. The steer tube was straight; the bend was completely in the legs, so some creative work with some wood blocks, the press, and another go in the blasting cabinet, (it's good to have a sponsoring shop full of equipment) and I ended up with this:

http://i1248.photobucket.com/albums/hh486/Farmboy182/IMGrawforkready.jpg

Ha ha, joke is on you, Mr. Bentfork truth bender/omitter. (Clearly, I'm over it.) But really, they turned out nice, with just a hint of tweaked funkiness when you look at it with the legs lined up right. More than good enough for this build, though. This is a theme we utilize with the race bikes also - If it's serviceable and within spec, go with it. It doesn't need to be perfect, especially when it can be balled up into a wad of scrap at any time..

I had originally planned on painting the forks as well, but I also had a go at these with the buffing wheel, with better results. Here they are next to an og pair of chrome Tanges:

http://i1248.photobucket.com/albums/hh486/Farmboy182/IMG2forks.jpg

And I can live with that. I know a lot of guys don't like raw finishes, but I dig them; if the frame wasn't so pitted it would be polished too.. Also, paint has mass, and therefore weight. I know, I know, we're talking infinitesimal amounts here, but I know guys at the track who spend thousands on titanium, magnesium, and carbon fiber and drill holes in everything they can; less weight = better acceleration and less inertia which = better handling, and so on. And we're talking grams on 300 lb bikes, but, every little bit adds up. I also have plenty of ti, mag, and cf, etc, on my bikes, but as I've always said, the only thing that is lighter than exotic aerospace materials is air. Unfortunately, I will have to compromise just a bit - I'm going to hit them with a coat of clear lacquer, a concession to presentability and eased maintenance. Still, one coat of clear is better than 4 or 5 coats of primer and paint. I think the patina on these is going to be bitchin' with this build..

So, here's the frame and fork. Yellow it is - the 3 of us so far agree, and I was leaning that way for sure anyhow. And again, I can always do a "correct" resto in the future - unless, of course, I break this frame too. I hope not, but I always have been something of a jackass. Fingers crossed, then, and more later. Maybe I'll paint tonight..

Last edited by farmboy (2012-11-25 12:36pm)


WTB: Factory grease and/or air, by the dab, dollop, or deciliter - whatever ya got.

Self Appointed Assistant Associate Treasurer of the 44t Fan Booster Club, Western Division.

Movin' to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches. On and on, 'til the break of dawn.

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#5 2012-11-25 11:42am

farmboy
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From: Chicagoland, IL
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Re: '81 Powerlite build thread..

Coco wrote:

Yellow is cool.

Keep doing what your doing. I also appreciate the work you did on the Ducati. I re-did a 75 Norton Commando a few years back but I did throw Brembo discs front and rear on there, a hydraulic clutch conversion and a few other modern touches. The fork internals will be next.

I think the Powerlite will turn out awesome.

One of the brothers who own my sponsor shop has a Commando; he's owned it since it was new. I can believe you did a hydraulic clutch; man oh man, they say Ducatis have a stiff clutch, but they're NOTHING compared to the clutch on that Norton! Any pics of the bike??


WTB: Factory grease and/or air, by the dab, dollop, or deciliter - whatever ya got.

Self Appointed Assistant Associate Treasurer of the 44t Fan Booster Club, Western Division.

Movin' to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches. On and on, 'til the break of dawn.

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#6 2012-11-28 1:27pm

farmboy
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Re: '81 Powerlite build thread..

Wow man, very little interest. Is it a sign of our sensory-overloaded, add/hdd, media excessive, short attention-span, hyper-tittilated society?  Or am I just a boring chronicler/essayist building a pedestrian bike in often-done fashion in mind numbing detail while dealing with the stereotypical, all-too-common, mid-life induced, world weary quest for self realization, comfort, knowledge, and elevated consciousness and seeking panacea by painstakingly replicating the bikes which induced such a feeling of insouciance throughout my erstwhile and bygone childhood and adolescence?

Whatever man. I started this thread, I'm gonna finish it for better or worse. More progress has been made, I'll post up later after I finish some household chores. tongue


WTB: Factory grease and/or air, by the dab, dollop, or deciliter - whatever ya got.

Self Appointed Assistant Associate Treasurer of the 44t Fan Booster Club, Western Division.

Movin' to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches. On and on, 'til the break of dawn.

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#7 2012-11-28 2:47pm

tkBMX76
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From: Town of Tonawanda,NY
Registered: 2012-10-28
Posts: 423

Re: '81 Powerlite build thread..

Im watching, sounds like it will be cool. Raw metal and yellow looks very good together also.

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#8 2012-11-30 9:56pm

farmboy
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Re: '81 Powerlite build thread..

http://i1248.photobucket.com/albums/hh486/Farmboy182/IMGwheelclose.jpg

http://i1248.photobucket.com/albums/hh486/Farmboy182/IMGPc.jpg

http://i1248.photobucket.com/albums/hh486/Farmboy182/IMGPd.jpg

http://i1248.photobucket.com/albums/hh486/Farmboy182/IMGPe.jpg

Posted a detailed update right into the ether when the site was down the other night. So, easy images this evening. All it takes to copy and paste is a little self discipline.


WTB: Factory grease and/or air, by the dab, dollop, or deciliter - whatever ya got.

Self Appointed Assistant Associate Treasurer of the 44t Fan Booster Club, Western Division.

Movin' to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches. On and on, 'til the break of dawn.

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