The Prowler

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Well, despite a number of pitfalls and setbacks that kept me from finishing my last 2 Build Off bikes, I'm going to try once again to see yet another bicycle project from start to finish in 4 months.

But first, story time:

Back in summer 2019, when I was even newer and more clueless to the hobby than I am now, I decided to try "trading up" at the annual Springfield, Missouri swap meet. I had an early middleweight 26" Schwinn Spitfire girl's bike, and I wanted to see if I could trade up for something cooler, and continue to trade up throughout the whole swap meet. I ended up trading that bike for this Schwinn Junior Stingray and this Murray Eliminator-type bike.
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Like I said, I was new to the hobby, so while I recognized the Schwinn Stingray for what it was, I wasn't sure what kind of bike the Murray was. I didn't care much for the Schwinn, but that curiously-shaped Murray intrigued me. Well, apparently it wasn't intriguing enough, because 10 minutes later, I traded both bikes for 2 rusty 24" Monark balloon tire bikes. It didn't take long before I found that nobody really wanted a 24" Monark (except my dad who bought the better-looking one to display in the back of his 40 Ford rat rod pickup.) Worse, I realized that although I had traded "up" in terms of monetary value ($50 > $70 > $100,) in terms of desirability, I had traded down. Worst of all, I realized that I would have really liked to keep that Murray Eliminator/Buzz bike, and fix that up. Since then, I've been on the hunt for another one of those bikes.

Fast-forward to September 2021: I see my buddy in OKC posted an ad on Craigslist for this Murray, and he was only asking $10 for it. I couldn't have bought it any faster! I knew it was rough, but I didn't care. $10 for a bike on my "bucket list" was too good a deal to pass up!
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Not long after I brought this bike home, I had a unique chance to take this bike out for a spin. Buddy's Pedal Fest had a "muscle bike drag race" going on during the swap meet, so I slapped this bike together using parts I had laying around to get it rideable. I didn't win most of the races I participated in, but the bike stayed in one piece, and it was a blast to ride around! I even rode it around my neighborhood a few times afterwards!
BftD_murray_muscle_bike_riding_2.jpg


As cool as this Murray was in its rusty, crusty, slapped-together state, I knew I wanted to build this bike up right some day. So, after discussing it with my fabricator friend, I decided now is as good a time as any to build this bike the way I want. I'm not going to go too crazy with the modifications like I did during the last MBBO. I want to try and keep this bike relatively clean and simple, at least compared to last year's entry, Poison Apple. I have a few trick mods planned, one of which I mocked up about a month ago: a 26" Monark springer fork!
BftD_murray_muscle_bike_monark_fork_1.jpg

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That's not all though! I plan to make this Murray look like the quintessential 1970s coffin tank chopper, scaled down to fun size! That includes adding a custom tank, which I don't see on these bikes too often. I haven't figured out the name for the bike, or what exact graphics I want to add to the sides of the tank just yet, but this is the general vibe I'm going for:
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Unfortunately, I've already run into an issue with it: the lock nuts that hold the dropouts in place hit the spokes on the front wheel.
BftD_murray_muscle_bike_monark_fork_3.jpg


I've tried assembling the fork differently to combat the issue, but I think the best solution would be to make some new dropouts that kick the front wheel forward an inch or two.

I'm really looking forward to putting one of my "bucket list" bikes together, especially with my new friend who knows a thing or two about fabricating cool things on wheels. Odds are he'll be doing most of the welding/fabricating this project needs, but I'm going to use this as an opportunity to practice welding/fabricating myself. Dude was kind enough to teach me a little welding after helping me with a previous project, and I'd be more than happy to learn some more! Hopefully, I'll have a custom piece or two on this bike I can proudly say I made or modified myself!

I actually just bought a few parts that should help achieve the look I'm going for just earlier today. I'll try to shoot and post pictures of those parts tomorrow.
 
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Shouldn't that fastener be assembled with the locknut outboard? I'm not very familiar with the Monark springer, but it looks like that would provide more clearance. Is there a reason that prevents doing it that way?
 
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Shouldn't that fastener be assembled with the locknut outboard? I'm not very familiar with the Monark springer, but it looks like that would provide more clearance. Is there a reason that prevents doing it that way?
I don't think so. This is my first repop Monark springer, so I'm a bit unfamiliar with these myself. That said, I tried assembling the fork like you said, but it spaces the dropouts too far apart to properly tighten the axle nuts. Assembled this way, the wheel axle fits right inside the dropouts. That said, I don't know why the lock nuts keep hitting the spokes. Is it an aftermarket issue, or are 20 inch wheels built wider than 26 inch wheels?
 
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Great concept. The coffin tank will look awesome in that frame. You'd better get this one done, or you might wind up with the reputation of a tease!
Thanks! Yeah, I hate coming up with these ideas for custom bikes and not getting them finished by the build off deadline. Luckily, I feel like this one should be possible this time.
 
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Is it an aftermarket issue, or are 20 inch wheels built wider than 26 inch wheels?
I'm highly doubtful of that. All else being equal, a smaller wheel should have a more acute spoke angle and therefore be narrower at a given distance from the hub--it should never be wider. This diagram compares a 29" wheel to a 26", but the same relationship applies to others. The shorter triangle will always fit within the taller one with the same base. (I like to use exaggeration to help illustrate a point.)


spoke angle.jpg
 
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Why not add washers on both sides of the axle to make the OLD wider?
I actually just realized that I typed my previous comment wrong. I have the dropouts as wide as they can go in that photo, and switching things around actually makes them narrower, not wider. It really all comes down to the bolts. I'll try to snap some photos today of everything, so I can better show the problem I'm dealing with.
 
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I actually just realized that I typed my previous comment wrong. I have the dropouts as wide as they can go in that photo, and switching things around actually makes them narrower, not wider. It really all comes down to the bolts. I'll try to snap some photos today of everything, so I can better show the problem I'm dealing with.
What I thought, find thinner lock nuts or remove them and rest the cone nuts against the dropouts. I do that all the time. Need to hold a cone wrench in place when tightening the axle nuts to achieve minimal play though.
 
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He's talking about locknuts on the springer action, not the axle itself.

Now see, this example has the fasteners reversed, with the nylock nuts to the outside...out of harm's way. The shallow heads of the elevator bolts are barely noticeable against the inner surface of the fork blades.

Opera Snapshot_2021-11-02_181331_venicemotorbikes.com (2).jpg
 
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The rocker pivot bolts need to be switched around firstly. It looks like in the image the axle lock-nuts are spreading the rockers apart... could be the camera angle.

The axle has to fit in between just right, with about 1 mm end play to avoid binding. Removing the axle lock-nuts will allow the hub to fit where spacing is too narrow. I have to do that when installing modern 100mm hubs on older forks made for 90mm hubs.

@RustySprockets just saw your edit and I get you. According BFTD he did invert them and still seemed to have some sort of axle spacing issue, independent of the pivot bolt nuts.
 
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He's talking about locknuts on the springer action, not the axle itself.

Now see, this example has the fasteners reversed, with the nylock nuts to the outside...out of harm's way. The shallow heads of the elevator bolts are barely noticeable against the inner surface of the fork blades.

View attachment 176691
Okay, here's the problem with that picture: that's physically impossible for me to do with the way my fork was made. The bolts have 2 different diameters, and the wider diameter is near the bolt head. I'll get some photos of everything tomorrow, so you guys don't have to speculate on the problem I'm dealing with. I wanted to get pics of everything today, but I have some other stuff I need to take care of before I work on my bike.
 
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Okay, here's the problem with that picture: that's physically impossible for me to do with the way my fork was made. The bolts have 2 different diameters, and the wider diameter is near the bolt head. I'll get some photos of everything tomorrow, so you guys don't have to speculate on the problem I'm dealing with. I wanted to get pics of everything today, but I have some other stuff I need to take care of before I work on my bike.
About to ask earlier for a description of a pivot bolt because I didn't quite understand why the spacing would change at all.

BTW, I have a set that sell on ebay for over 100$. Got a sharp discount because the steerer was cut down. Total crap!
The pivot bolt passes through a narrow collar in the rocker... you might be able to do the same perhaps.
crap.jpg
 
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Not much to share today, but here's the type of bolt that my Monark springer fork uses. The wider part only fits through the 2 washers and the rockers, while the narrower threaded part only fits through the fork arms and the lock nut. So unfortunately, this limits the number of ways I can fix the issue. I plan to make some new rockers that push the front wheel forward and down an inch or two, so hopefully that'll give me enough clearance to avoid hitting the spokes with the lock nuts.
BftD_murray_muscle_bike_tire_and_bolt_3.jpg
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The only other bit of progress to report is that I purchased the front tire I intend to use for the bike. I'm getting ready to buy a rear slick, but while the tire is only around $20, every place I could buy it online charges about $15 for shipping. I would buy this tire locally, but I don't know any other bike shops around Tulsa that would carry that sort of tire. I have an idea of where I could get a half-decent used tire along with some other parts, but that's a plan for later.
BftD_murray_muscle_bike_tire_and_bolt_1.jpg
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One other piece I did find earlier this week was a rectangular battery-powered headlight I got with some other odds and ends. It even has a horn, which worked for all of about 30 seconds before it quit. I don't know if this is the exact light I want to use, but it'll do for now.
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Wow--I'm almost certain that's a manufacturing flaw. The bolt heads are clearly intended to be on the inside of the fork blades. That the parts don't fit that way is puzzling.
Yeah, you'd think the fork would be designed in a way that'd allow it to clear any wheel no problem, but something tells me whoever reproduced these forks didn't look at an original Monark springer closely enough. So yeah, I think the best solution for this problem right now is to make some new rockers that push the axle down and forward just enough for the spokes to clear the lock nuts.
 

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