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Thread: Fabricating an impossible to find oil tank for a motorcycle

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    N.E. Arizona
    Posts
    983

    Default Fabricating an impossible to find oil tank for a motorcycle

    Hi Everyone,

    I threatened to start a thread about this oil tank in another thread about ‘cheep’ vise grip style pliers at:

    http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net/sho...t=49721&page=4

    Soooooo, here it is.

    For way too many years I have been assembling a 1953 Harley KRTT. I say that because I am doing it the hard way. I started w/an idea & a few parts, not a bike.

    The KRTT is the road race version of the KR and prices for bikes & parts are climbing way beyond my reach. Starting this project over 6 years ago I found that if I waited even 6 months to get going I couldn’t afford to do it at all. I’m finally close to the finishing, probably this next spring.

    After 3 years of intense gathering of parts from all over the country I never found the correct oil tank. Of the 2 people I found that had even seen one, there is only one left living. He had the title of Racing Engineer for Harley’s race department and had been in that position for decades. Fortunately I was able to talk with the other person a couple of months before he passed away, but he couldn’t remember the details of how long it had been used.

    So I was on my own, except for one important detail. The engineer remembered that H-D had sent one of these tanks out to a fabricator who did a lot of aluminum fabbing for automotive racing. I knew where one of these tanks was. Although it is not identical, I could/did measure it for all the correct proportions.

    Next I made a simple CAD drawing to make paper templates for the outline of the top & bottom forms that I would shape the metal over.

    Here is the top ready for welding after hammering the steel over the form. I had to make a punch & die to draw up the metal for the filler neck which is from an old Ford truck:



    The bottom was more complicated having a couple of compound bends. In these view, I still had to make and install the boss for the drain plug before welding into the sides:





    Here is a shot of the nearly finished tank. I still had to make the front/bottom mount and the rear saddle/mount for the frame tubes to nest in. I also had to make another punch & die to draw the metal up around the fitting bosses which I also made:



    The next post will have the final shots…………..
    Last edited by jhe.1973; 01-07-2018 at 01:24 AM.
    Best wishes to ya’ll.

    Sincerely,

    Jim

    "To invent you need a good imagination and a pile of junk" - Thomas Edison

    "I've always wanted to get a job as a procrastinator but I keep putting off going out to find one so I guess I'll never realize my life's dream. Frustrating!" - Me

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    N.E. Arizona
    Posts
    983

    Default More about the above

    These views are a trial placement for final locating, to obtain the saddle dimensions:





    Finally the finished tank right after painting. As you could see w/the bare metal photos, there is no filler of any kind on the steel. Whacha see, is whacha get:



    Oh, by the way, being a packrat/cheapskate I used the hood of a Mazda for the sheet metal.

    So I call this a Mazda/KR tank.

    Very rare.

    The only one known to exist!

    Last edited by jhe.1973; 01-07-2018 at 01:28 AM.
    Best wishes to ya’ll.

    Sincerely,

    Jim

    "To invent you need a good imagination and a pile of junk" - Thomas Edison

    "I've always wanted to get a job as a procrastinator but I keep putting off going out to find one so I guess I'll never realize my life's dream. Frustrating!" - Me

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Suffolk, UK
    Posts
    2,013

    Default

    Nice piece of work. I think you must be very happy with the result. Do you have experience with sheet metal work or was it learn as you go.

    Phil

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    the sub-tropical island of Anglesey, North Wales
    Posts
    1,335

    Default

    Very neat
    John

    I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not so sure , but I'm not a complete idiot - some bits are still missing

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Oroville, WA
    Posts
    12,033

    Default

    The first Harley I ever owned was a KR. Nice job on the tank. Looking forward to more photos of the build.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Posts
    1,739

    Default

    Nice!
    Can you walk us through how you formed that edge?

    Looks great.

    Tony

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Atascosa County, Texas
    Posts
    8,186

    Thumbs up

    Beautiful! (If you can apply that to an oil tank.) Nice metal work. Do you have a seam welder or was that TIG'd along the edge? Great job no matter.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    NW Illinois USA
    Posts
    778

    Default

    That's cool. Please post some photos of the forming tooling you used.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    N.E. Arizona
    Posts
    983

    Default Thanks!

    Hi Phil,

    Thanks for the compliment and yep, I am quite happy w/the result.

    In 1972 I took 2 semsters at night of an auto body course 'cuz I always wanted to learn how to hand form sheet metal.

    Since then it has been all learn as I went.

    I was fortunate to get a lot of experience through the rest of the 70s building experimental & prototype motorcycles for Harley-Davidson as a subcontractor.

    I stopped working for them in 1981 and since keep at it as time allows.

    This bike was a nice chance to get back to it & try some of the things I read about since.

    P.S. I'm not too fast at typing & a few more compliments have come in so thanks to ya'll!

    dp: You just gave me an idea. I had to make/repair so much that I'll start a thread about this project. Hadn't thought of that until now - so thanks for mentioning more photos.

    OMG! I just hit a nerve & can't get this reply posted w/replies coming in! So here it is - as is & I'll start another thread just to go into the details you are asking about.
    Best wishes to ya’ll.

    Sincerely,

    Jim

    "To invent you need a good imagination and a pile of junk" - Thomas Edison

    "I've always wanted to get a job as a procrastinator but I keep putting off going out to find one so I guess I'll never realize my life's dream. Frustrating!" - Me

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    N.E. Arizona
    Posts
    983

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by CCWKen
    Beautiful! (If you can apply that to an oil tank.) Nice metal work. Do you have a seam welder or was that TIG'd along the edge? Great job no matter.
    Thanks!

    No seam welder - all TIG.

    I'm going to sign off to dig around the shop to photo some of the tools etc. I'll be back in an hour or two.
    Last edited by jhe.1973; 09-13-2011 at 02:51 PM.
    Best wishes to ya’ll.

    Sincerely,

    Jim

    "To invent you need a good imagination and a pile of junk" - Thomas Edison

    "I've always wanted to get a job as a procrastinator but I keep putting off going out to find one so I guess I'll never realize my life's dream. Frustrating!" - Me

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