Board Track Inspired "Fighter Bike" Build

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Hey everyone,

A few weeks ago I submitted a post about wanting to build a board track inspired cruiser with a WWII fighter plane tribute theme (complete with shark mouth on the faux tank ala the Flying Tigers) and a "fauxtina" weathered finish. I have since started the project, and wanted to post some updates along the way in case anyone is interested in following it. I love working on this "rat rod" bike because anything goes, and it doesn't have to be pretty >:)

Vintage board-tracker motorcycle reference photo:

Joo87B.jpg


Flying Tigers P-40 Warhawk reference photo:

1iFX1c.jpg


I started with a 1950's Firestone Deluxe Cruiser, made in Germany, that I purchased on Ebay. The bike has a nice straight frame, bent/damaged front fork and serviceable chain guard, fenders, 3-piece crank, rusty pedals, handlebars, stem and seat post. I plan on retaining most of these parts, except for the fenders, seat post and stem.

CVbRt1.png


Extra parts I am purchasing for this build will include:

- Set of wheels equipped with the Shimano Nexus 3-speed internal hub and Sturmey Archer shifter compatible with the Nexus
- Rubber grips (vintage or repro)
- Felt half rear fender
- Felt Quick Brick tires and tubes
- Fujita Belt Co. Saddle (vintage mfg in Tokyo, Japan)
- Lean back seat post (as sold on Chubby's)
- Vintage spare road bike stem (will flip the handlebars and put them out front for a more "aggressive" riding posture)
- Reproduction Schwinn Springer Front Fork

So far the most time consuming part of the project has been the design and fabrication of an Indian motorcycle/aircraft fuselage inspired faux tank to fit the frame. Here are my overall steps so far:

1) Build the faux board tracker/aircraft fuselage inspired faux tank: I designed the tank based on the shape of the old Indian gas tanks, but wanted to give it the riveted look of an aircraft fuselage. After tracing the inner shape of the frame where the tank will go, I copied the stencil onto some 3/4" thick plywood and cut out a hollowed frame with a jigsaw. I then used poster board to design templates for the sheet metal construction. Using the poster board templates stuck with double faced tape to a big sheet of duct metal (sold at Lowes for $10) I pre-drilled all of the holes to be used for riveting and then cut the shapes out with tin snips. I then used sheet metal (self-drilling) to attach the sheet metal panels to the wooden frame. My pre-drilling idea was sort of misguided and I had to use the self-drilling screws to create more holes. Once the metal was wrapped around the frame appropriately, I pre-drilled the metal and used a hand-riveter to affix the pieces together (1/8" rivets). Once the tank was together (took a lot of time and frustration) it did not fit the frame because of the heads of the screws - I should have made the wooden frame even smaller. So, one by one I replaced each screw with a flat headed nail. Once complete, I used Bondo Ultimate (only filler to stick to galvanized metal) to fill in the gaps and then brushed on three coats of KILZ 2 primer. This is the only primer that is guaranteed to stick to galvanized metal from what I read.

G42ztU.jpg


o6akrK.jpg


d2fTr0.jpg


2) Prepare Frame: The 1950's bike frame was previously sloppily hand painted with bright red and white paint. Using Citrus Paint Stripper and a mask, I cleaned all of the paint off of everything I intend on using from the project bike purchase. The metal underneath had a nice rusty patina and I seriously considered just stopping with that….but the Fighter Bike must be realized so I pressed on…

3) Prepare the Repro Springer Fork and New Half Fender: Disassembled the springer fork and scuffed up the new paint in preparation for painting along with the half-fender. I think this half-fender will be reminiscent of the old board tracker motorcycles, and keeps me guilt-free from ruining 60 year old fenders...

4) Primer Spray Bomb Everything: Once the tank was fabricated and the frame was ready for painting, I sprayed everything with rust/red primer by Krylon. It doesn't really matter what color it is - my plan at this point is to give it a faux-tina finish…more on that later.

5) Install Faux Tank to Frame: Now the gut wrenching part….using a rubber mallet and hammer to force the faux tank into its space on the frame. It was tight, but after a few minutes of careful and not so careful tapping I managed to squeeze the tank into place. As I feared, some hairline fractures appeared in the Bondo Ultimate along seams. This stuff is supposed to have awesome grip so I'm hoping the rest will last…the paint job should fill in those hairline cracks. The way I look at it…I was beating the tank with a hammer….it shouldn't take that sort of direct abuse in the future.

Ux0J2E.jpg


6) Fabricating and installing Tank braces: Tonight I used some of the remaining sheet metal to create five braces that I riveted to the tank so that it is firmly attached to the frame. No permanent alterations to the frame, which is awesome. Everything is really coming together!

Future Plans: My next steps will be to prime those galvanized braces, and start the painting process for everything. I'm leaning towards coating with black, then primer brown, then dark olive drab then using sand paper to artificially weather it and give it a nice fake patina. Not there yet though….maybe this weekend or early next week weather permitting.

Here's a sneak peak of what the shark mouth will look like…drew it using Adobe Illustrator based on original photos of Flying Tigers P-40 Warhawks… At this point I'll probably hand paint it on using stencils that I'll need to cut out with an X-acto blade….still undecided.

Thanks for reading!

Patrick

gfvHXb.png
 

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Hey everyone,

A few weeks ago I submitted a post about wanting to build a board track inspired cruiser with a WWII fighter plane tribute theme (complete with shark mouth on the faux tank ala the Flying Tigers) and a "fauxtina" weathered finish. I have since started the project, and wanted to post some updates along the way in case anyone is interested in following it. I love working on this "rat rod" bike because anything goes, and it doesn't have to be pretty >:)

Vintage board-tracker motorcycle reference photo:

Joo87B.jpg


Flying Tigers P-40 Warhawk reference photo:

1iFX1c.jpg


I started with a 1950's Firestone Deluxe Cruiser, made in Germany, that I purchased on Ebay. The bike has a nice straight frame, bent/damaged front fork and serviceable chain guard, fenders, 3-piece crank, rusty pedals, handlebars, stem and seat post. I plan on retaining most of these parts, except for the fenders, seat post and stem.

CVbRt1.png


Extra parts I am purchasing for this build will include:

- Set of wheels equipped with the Shimano Nexus 3-speed internal hub and Sturmey Archer shifter compatible with the Nexus
- Rubber grips (vintage or repro)
- Felt half rear fender
- Felt Quick Brick tires and tubes
- Fujita Belt Co. Saddle (vintage mfg in Tokyo, Japan)
- Lean back seat post (as sold on Chubby's)
- Vintage spare road bike stem (will flip the handlebars and put them out front for a more "aggressive" riding posture)
- Reproduction Schwinn Springer Front Fork

So far the most time consuming part of the project has been the design and fabrication of an Indian motorcycle/aircraft fuselage inspired faux tank to fit the frame. Here are my overall steps so far:

1) Build the faux board tracker/aircraft fuselage inspired faux tank: I designed the tank based on the shape of the old Indian gas tanks, but wanted to give it the riveted look of an aircraft fuselage. After tracing the inner shape of the frame where the tank will go, I copied the stencil onto some 3/4" thick plywood and cut out a hollowed frame with a jigsaw. I then used poster board to design templates for the sheet metal construction. Using the poster board templates stuck with double faced tape to a big sheet of duct metal (sold at Lowes for $10) I pre-drilled all of the holes to be used for riveting and then cut the shapes out with tin snips. I then used sheet metal (self-drilling) to attach the sheet metal panels to the wooden frame. My pre-drilling idea was sort of misguided and I had to use the self-drilling screws to create more holes. Once the metal was wrapped around the frame appropriately, I pre-drilled the metal and used a hand-riveter to affix the pieces together (1/8" rivets). Once the tank was together (took a lot of time and frustration) it did not fit the frame because of the heads of the screws - I should have made the wooden frame even smaller. So, one by one I replaced each screw with a flat headed nail. Once complete, I used Bondo Ultimate (only filler to stick to galvanized metal) to fill in the gaps and then brushed on three coats of KILZ 2 primer. This is the only primer that is guaranteed to stick to galvanized metal from what I read.

G42ztU.jpg


o6akrK.jpg


d2fTr0.jpg


2) Prepare Frame: The 1950's bike frame was previously sloppily hand painted with bright red and white paint. Using Citrus Paint Stripper and a mask, I cleaned all of the paint off of everything I intend on using from the project bike purchase. The metal underneath had a nice rusty patina and I seriously considered just stopping with that….but the Fighter Bike must be realized so I pressed on…

3) Prepare the Repro Springer Fork and New Half Fender: Disassembled the springer fork and scuffed up the new paint in preparation for painting along with the half-fender. I think this half-fender will be reminiscent of the old board tracker motorcycles, and keeps me guilt-free from ruining 60 year old fenders...

4) Primer Spray Bomb Everything: Once the tank was fabricated and the frame was ready for painting, I sprayed everything with rust/red primer by Krylon. It doesn't really matter what color it is - my plan at this point is to give it a faux-tina finish…more on that later.

5) Install Faux Tank to Frame: Now the gut wrenching part….using a rubber mallet and hammer to force the faux tank into its space on the frame. It was tight, but after a few minutes of careful and not so careful tapping I managed to squeeze the tank into place. As I feared, some hairline fractures appeared in the Bondo Ultimate along seams. This stuff is supposed to have awesome grip so I'm hoping the rest will last…the paint job should fill in those hairline cracks. The way I look at it…I was beating the tank with a hammer….it shouldn't take that sort of direct abuse in the future.

Ux0J2E.jpg


6) Fabricating and installing Tank braces: Tonight I used some of the remaining sheet metal to create five braces that I riveted to the tank so that it is firmly attached to the frame. No permanent alterations to the frame, which is awesome. Everything is really coming together!

Future Plans: My next steps will be to prime those galvanized braces, and start the painting process for everything. I'm leaning towards coating with black, then primer brown, then dark olive drab then using sand paper to artificially weather it and give it a nice fake patina. Not there yet though….maybe this weekend or early next week weather permitting.

Here's a sneak peak of what the shark mouth will look like…drew it using Adobe Illustrator based on original photos of Flying Tigers P-40 Warhawks… At this point I'll probably hand paint it on using stencils that I'll need to cut out with an X-acto blade….still undecided.

Thanks for reading!

Patrick

gfvHXb.png

very cool, the original art on the WWII fighters was all hand painted, so your idea is authentic
 
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I really like this build. I have plans to do the same paint concept with a Felt frame. I'm excited to see this build go through. The riveted sheet metal is a great touch also.
 
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Hey guys - thanks for the feedback and comments! I haven't posted in a couple of weeks but have been making steady progress. Here's an update:

- I had plans to use a Felt Shorty Fender for my rear fender, to give it that half-fender board tracker motorcycle look. The fender set arrived, and it was just too wide to fit the frame. So, I flipped the stock front fender backwards and chopped a few inches off so that it matches the profile of the old 1910's Indian motorcycles. I also used a dremel to cut off the original fender support struts and replaced it with a thin steel rod from the hardware store that I attached using a little swivel mount I made from the scrap duct sheet metal - riveted to the fender. I'll grab a pic of it to show you - but it turned out great and I am really happy with it.

- The last time I posted, everything was painted red oxide primer. My goal was to then paint it black primer, then olive drab and use the wet sanding method to prematurely wear the paint giving it a more weathered look. I think that will still be my goal… I have since painted everything flat black and am ready for the olive paint.

- So…the olive paint. I purchased Ultra Flat Rustoleum Camo Olive Drab paint and painted the original fork (I'm not going to use this part…replacing with a springer) to see how it would turn out. The finished paint was very light, and even with wet sanding/polishing it's still not the color I want to go for. The sanding effect worked out okay I think - you can see from the pic that wet sanding ultra flat dry paint gives it a semi-glossy look and I think having the black and primer underneath gives the illusion of being weathered and old. Here's a pic of the fork…despite having the red oxide underneath I probably won't go down that far when it comes time to wet sand/polish the bike.



- Since I need to order spray paint since that OD is the only thing I can find locally, I decided to do some research to have it match the P-40 Warhawk as close as possible. Turns out the color used at the time was the semi-gloss Dark Olive Drab No. 41, which has been described as "pig slop brown." The closest thing I could find in spray can was the Gillespie (GSI) No. 24087. Three cans should be arriving by mid-next week! Here's a truck that someone painted in this color and an image of original P-40 Warhawks in DOD 41.





- Also using some super fine steel wool to clean up the original crank and handlebars. Will wrap the handlebar ends in black hockey grip tape (ala the turn of the century motorcycles) and also purchased a vintage road bike stem to give it a more aggressive riding position. I thought this design had kind of a streamline/art deco sort of look about it which aids to the 1940's thing I'm going for...



- Lastly, I got a good deal on Ebay on a vintage Fujita Belt Company leather saddle made in Tokyo. Has a nice patina too it, is basically a copy of the Brooks B72 and I liked the Tokyo bit since this is a warbird inspired bike ; )



Will hopefully get another coat of black paint on everything this weekend and then the Dark Olive Drab during the following weekend. Will keep you posted - thanks for following!

Patrick
 
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Hey everyone, just wanted to give you an update on the build. I've been making steady progress - here are some updates:

- Painted everything dark olive drab (semi-gloss) and hand painted red and yellow details using flat model paint.



- Experimented with various weathering techniques. Decided to distress the yellow and red details (see the stripe on the side of the chain guard) using black shoe polish (which removes model paint apparently) followed up with wet sanding and polishing compound. I will give everything a dark wash when I'm done so that the crevices maintain a dirty look. My wife used this technique for a faux finish decorative painting project on a stucco covered wall and it really gave it an antiqued look. Aircraft modelers also use similar techniques…



- Received my wheels (equipped with Nexus 3 speed hub) and installed the Felt Quick Brick tires. Realized that the rear hub/wheel is too wide to fit my rear fork - so based on the Sheldon Brown website I guess I"ll need to get it cold set so it fits properly. I guess that'll be the next step.



- Once the bike is completely assembled and ready to ride, I'll move forward with painting the faux tank with stripe, number and shark face >:)
 
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Is this one taxiing down the runway or flight deck ready yet?
Cool concept, nice work and interesting build thread. I'm looking forward to any updates.
2292XX.jpg
 

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