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It’s a Chopper – and a cutter

Front forks
Rear suspension
Making progress
Shiny in the sun – almost done!
Right side – needs a headlight
Left side – and still needs a headlight
There’s the headlight!

Welded metal art – 2019-28 Project #45. Crattlesnake done, holes in jeans covered up (uhh – yeah, lesson learned there), TIG gas … gassing(?), and time to step the motorcycle game up. The cruiser style that was Motorcycle #2 was cool, but how about a chopper! I was drawing in on the end of 2019. My energy was up for this project – there was no better place to be than right here and right now (or right there and then) to experience the creation of another piece. Proceeding with the recent experience from Motorcycle #2, I had a pretty clear intention for this chopper. With that, it seemed that all the pieces just kind of appeared … OK, magical/mystical would have been nice but I had to dig deep into the metal bin to find them. Because of the varying thickness of the metals, I had to be cautious of TIG power settings and not be overzealous with the welding. I was going for a more old school appearance for the front forks and I had some used kart clutch springs that were perfect for that purpose. Creating something from nothing (or in this case, from a bunch of scrap/junk metal) was very satisfying and gratifying.

For the chopper, I assembled the frame around the back wheel/bearing in the same manner as I did for Motorcycle #2. The front frame risers were longer bolts to accommodate the the longer chopper forks. The front forks were assembled by welding to longer cap screws together (for each side). The simulated fork springs were two 4-cycle engine clutch springs and associated small washers, welded into place. I added a piece of metal around the front and rear wheels/bearings as fenders (keep the road grime on the road and not on your clothes – right?). The headlight was the same materials as motorcycle #2 (ready for some night riding). The ‘ape-hanger’ handlebars were two allen wrenches cut and welded into place at the top of the forks. The engine pieces included two used weed-eater spark plugs (thanks to a recent weed-eater and leaf-blower tuneup), some nuts and bolts, and a metal socket. The pipes were the very familiar (at least to me) rod stock. The center brace was metal from an old shoe form. That thin piece of metal took some artful (’cause I’m making art) TIG welding to mount into place. The seat was from the end of the same shoe form, ground into shape and more artfully welded into place. The last piece was the tank – A LOT of metal forming (and sweat, and maybe a banged-up finger or two) went into that tank. It was part of a shovel handle that was not as visually ‘ready’ to serve as a tank as was the case for Motorcycle #2. I spent several hours with a hammer pounding the tank into shape on the anvil end of my vice … and any other hard surface I found useful for forming in the shop. I was careful not to ‘over-weld’ the tank – I didn’t want to have to go through that forming process, again. With the tank installed, there it was – another great rat rod piece.

Another project done! Momentum was on my side with this welding hobby. Life was moving along smartly, and I say that with feeling (see: Kentucky Fried Movie – A Fist Full of Yen). I continued to learn and grow with every weld … and small fire … and the occasional burnt or banged finger. Patience and perseverance is a key concept that did take some reminders (OK, maybe a lot of reminders). Sometimes you just have to get out of your own way and let things (and life) just happen. Expect the unexpected, expect to be surprised, and enjoy the heck out of the experience. I did also learn quite a bit about the art of metal forming. It’s not always necessarily about a heavy hammer … but most of the time it is. There it was, a chopper for the ages. After the chopper was made I knew exactly who it should go to and it went as a Christmas gift to a great guy. Another great memory and hopefully it is enjoyed as much as I enjoyed making it! I was moving into a present making mode with some pretty awesome ideas (and requests) for the next few projects. Until next time – live, love, laugh, like, learn (sorry, getting my alliteration on there) … smile, and Weld On!