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Fabricating an impossible to find oil tank for a motorcycle

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  • 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, 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

    Location: Bustling N.E. Arizona

  • #2
    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, 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

    Location: Bustling N.E. Arizona

    Comment


    • #3
      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

      Comment


      • #4
        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

        Comment


        • #5
          The first Harley I ever owned was a KR. Nice job on the tank. Looking forward to more photos of the build.

          Comment


          • #6
            Nice!
            Can you walk us through how you formed that edge?

            Looks great.

            Tony

            Comment


            • #7
              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.

              Comment


              • #8
                That's cool. Please post some photos of the forming tooling you used.

                Comment


                • #9
                  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

                  Location: Bustling N.E. Arizona

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    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, 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

                    Location: Bustling N.E. Arizona

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Why the two 'inlets' at the top?
                      Play Brutal Nature, Black Moons free to play highly realistic voxel sandbox game.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        You say tig

                        I'm having trouble understanding with so little evidence of use of the edge butt weld ..how it seals

                        I see just the base and the top held there ..by what looks like heat between the two panels .

                        sorry ..I'm not that up to date ...just know, i couldn't do that ..and get it to hold anything ..

                        my top edge would be as wobbly as hell with blobs, before i was satisfied that it would hold anything.

                        it does look good though.


                        all the best.....mark

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Nice job!, how about some pics of the full bike?

                          Bill

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Black_Moons
                            Why the two 'inlets' at the top?
                            If memory serves, and I don't know why it would, there was a clear tube between the top and bottom to show oil level.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I built a couple aluminum xrtt tanks in the early '90's for a guy who had a ratted out original...I can't remember his name , but I do remember he lived in the Waterford MI area...Shawn

                              Nice job on the replica...if you would have gas welded it , you prolly coulda sold it as an original...

                              Comment

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