One of three almost finished, time is ticking...

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Aug 12, 2008
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Port Alto/Austin/Houston TX
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Alright well since I ran into some time delays on getting all my material delivered from Metal Supermarket in Houston, I decided to work on one of the other two bikes I've got to have finished by the 15th of this month. Pee Wee's Boozer Cruiser had to be put on hold just until I get some more tubing coming on Tuesday. So far I've got almost enough to build 10 bikes but one size (1.50X.065) I ordered still hasn't arrived.

Here is over $300 worth of raw steel, (12) 20ft sticks, that has been delivered over the last few weeks. For some unknown reason getting mechanical thin walled steel tubing is very difficult anywhere south of Dallas here in TX. It was like pulling teeth to get anyone to even try to help me out. I ultimately had to set up a business account and commit to a $250 minimum order to get Metal Supermarkets to work with me on a reasonable price for this stuff. I admit that if you can swing ordering a lot of tubing, say enough for about 8-10 bikes, the price break is quite good at about $25- $40 per bike for materials. When I was looking online for anyone who even had the stuff in stock, one company (Discount Steel out of Dallas) wanted nearly $300 for 60ft of tubing. (about enough for 4 bikes) But the shipping alone was going to be almost $190 to go from Dallas to Houston. I could have drove there and back for about $80 in gas. I just didn't have the two days to waste.

Here is a shot of the frame still in the jig with the rear wheel on so I will be able to get a visual on where to place the leaf spring for the seat mount. All my bikes are built with a leaf spring mounted seat. They really do ride nice. This was actually a frame redux as I had bought a Choppers US frame last year that I simply hated after I rode it for a few days. So I cut it up at the first opportunity. Honestly the only thing I kept was the rear triangle and drop outs.

And the last picture is the $25 Chevy 1/2 ton truck leaf spring I salvaged from the local parts picker. I've got to do some Larry the Blacksmith work on it after I cut them down to size for each application. Also had a bit of luck this last week as a close neighbor heard through the grapevine that I was in search of a good local machine shop. Turns out he owns a shop that has for various reasons been closed up for the last year and he offered me full access to it this next week free of charge. So I get to go in and make the random parts I need without someone looking over my shoulder all the time and I can use his Bridgeport mill and his giant 16"X54" engine lathe totally for free. He also clued me into an idea that at some point he might donate the tools to me and take a loss as a tax shelter for his failing business. LOL as if I could ever get so lucky. Thank you Lord.


I'll update as it gets closer to the 15th and the due date.
Later Travis
I tried to buy some of that mechanical tubing the size for a seat post. They were talking something silly like $10 a foot. I have learned to do without it on my builds. What kind of a tube bending method are you going to use? Nice design by the way.
Well I bought one of those HF roll benders and I'm about ready to throw it in the trash, or at least cannibalize it and build something better. I'd like to give it power and somehow use the lower two dies as the drive wheels and the upper die as the free wheel. There's not anyway to repeat accurately a series of bends and its even harder to keep tubing straight while rolling through a tighter bend. The lead screw is showing wear after only two bends, Darn cheap Chinese frustration machine. Another $250 down the drain.

I also have access to a Hossfeld mechanical bender but its unfortunately not anywhere near me so I need to know all the exact bends before hand. I'm thinking of just biting the bullet and buying a good tube bender with the 4 or 5 dies I use mostly. Looking like $1200 as a set. Hey its only money, right? Tools are a forever investment, well good tools anyway...

Later Travis
I've decided to name this one "El Jeffe". Its almost ready for paint just as soon as I finish the girder fork design.

The front end is coming together nicely.

And the kickstand has turned out sweet.


Later Travis
El Jeffe build...

I'm starting to think I'm only posting threads on this forum for my own mental massage. I guess I'm not looking so much for the complements as the constructive criticism. Thanks "Uncle Stretch" for at least acknowledging my existence as a fellow Texan and questioning my methods. That's what I would like to see more of, but its like the majority of you are simply browsing each thread with a broken keyboard, or you simply just too lazy to post a reply. Wow 242 views and one reply, amazing.

I'll be thoroughly insulted if I see a leaf spring seat mount or a wrench kickstand on some of your bike builds in the future after not one of you even commented on my use of them. These are both trademark items of my company Iron Spade Cycles. I don't own any patents or copyrights on these items but they are my designs incorporated from the motorcycle chopper industry to the cruiser bicycle interests.

Please understand, all I'm asking for is a little input. I now wonder if I had not posted the questionable and apperently offensive to some of you photo in the thread on Pee Wee's Boozer Cruiser would I had gotten such a response in that thread? Now that this bike is out of the jig I can focus on Pee Wee's frame buildup. I want to get all three bikes built first and paint them all at once to save on time and prep work.

Anyway I hope to hear from more of you in the future. Later Travis
i'm an observer more than a guy that will comment.

I like the leaf spring setup on your bike, and i'm interrested by it as i was thinking of doing something similar to one of my bikes for a while... for the moment i dont have what it needs to do it.

You are obviously are a very skilled builder. Most of the people here build bikes out of old frames and dont do much welding/fabrication to the extent that you are doing. In that sens i think its kind of "normal" that you dont get much comments. But be assured that people are interrested in your build (at least i am)
Thanks man, that really goes a long way. If your interested and you have a simple welder I could fab the pieces for you and you could weld them to your frame. I can supply a kit that will include all the parts and an uncovered seat pan ready to mount. If you'd like one I'd be happy to help you out. PM me and we can go from there. Later Travis
I notice people dont comment near as much on this forum as other forums Ive been involved with. Just seems the norm here. Anyway, that frame is really nice. I like the positioning and the lines of the rear-end. No consideration of using a 26" in the front? I think the dual 24s look sick already. Just a question. what is the load limit for your leaf seat mount? Im a big dude (about 290#). Would I just bottom out the leaf thus negating the point of the suspension??? Keep fabbin homie!
IronSpadeCycles said:
If your interested and you have a simple welder I could fab the pieces for you and you could weld them to your frame. I can supply a kit that will include all the parts and an uncovered seat pan ready to mount. If you'd like one I'd be happy to help you out. PM me and we can go from there. Later Travis

wow thanks for the great offer!

I like to do things by myself so I'm more interrested into how you did it so i can get some inspiration for my build and figure out my way to do it.
can you show us some pics of you mount system?

i sure will get to you by PM wheni get back to that project(I a few others already started)

thats a great lookin frame design you got going on. i always thought the choppers u.s. frames were not low enough to the ground,as you probably did. i kinda like the twin bar design before the fill in plates were welded,gives it a nod towards the vintage bikes. great work! 8)
Sorry ,Guess I'm guilty too. I have seen lots of bikes being built....but my first love is woodworking. Its hard to take my eyes off of all the vacuum tubes. If I had access to a cool shop like that ,I would stop building bikes in a heartbeat, and do antique furniture repair or build custom cabinets. Love that setup. :mrgreen:
For starters there is not really a load limit for the leaf spring, I mean if your a bigger dude I'd suggest to use a thicker leaf or two leaves instead of one. You will have to stagger their lengths and use one mount bolt through the upper leaf for the seat as I have below but it will work. I'm about 260 and when I built my first prototype back in 99 it lasted for over 4 years of abuse and gave me about 2 inches of travel and a rather cushy ride.


I finally had a spring failure which was entirely my fault due to a design flaw (I drilled mounting holes near the edges of the spring which created stress risers and caused a breaking point in the spring.) I've since changed my design to use regular leaf spring U-bolts I picked up at Ace for about $1 each. You will need to get a thread die and follow them down closer to the "U" portion so that they will work with a single leaf. Most of them are threaded to work with about 4 leaves which stacked is about 1.5" tall so you need to add about 1" of threads and the cut off the excess.

I welded together a solid mount platform that gets welded to a substantial area of the top tube. This reduces the tendency of the stress to crack the frame at this high stress point. One note is that when you are welding two different thickness' of material (as I did here with .250" plate to .065" tubing) always direct your heat towards the thicker of the two pieces. There is still a chance that if the stress is too great the thinner tubing could fail and tear away, but its never happened so far.

The leaves I try to use are salvaged from 1/2 ton trucks from the junk yard. Since most of the yards I've ever delt with have a set price of $25 per spring I try to find a truck with the most leaves per side and grab a whole spring pack. When you get it home you can dismantle it with a torch or Sawzall. They almost alway are held together with a single nut and bolt in the middle of the spring. Since it was put on with a powered torque wrench forget trying to just unbolt it. Cut it!

Your only going to use about a 10 to 14 inch section so you've got several options with all the leaves. Unless you've got a machine that cost several thousand dollars its all trial and error figuring out the spring rate. Make several springs from different thickness' and curves. Obviously the rate will be higher the thicker the leaf and also the length of the leaf will effect the rate. A longer spring will give more travel but will also be a lower rate than a shorter section of the same thickness. They can be changed rather simply if you take your time in the design.

Now most of the time their going to be covered in surface rust but it takes a very long tine to rust through spring steel. I've even used a set of leaf springs that came off my dad's boat trailer that had been subjected to 10 years of salt water fishing. After an overnight soak in Oxolic acid solution (wood bleach- it's know to dissolve rust) most of the surface rust had dissolved leaving just the scale which quickly came off with an angle grinder and a 80Grit flapper disc.

The seat your going to use will most likely be from a chopper motorcycle shop or you can create a pan your own with some 16-18 Gauge sheet steel. Here is one I made for a client.


Almost all the commercially available chopper seats will have a pair of mount bolts about 3-4 inches apart along the center. Use these as a measurement template to drill two 5/16 holes in the center line of the spring. You may need to use some sort of riser to give clearance between the curve of the seat and the flat width of the spring. I often use a 1/4 thick hard rubber gasket between the seat and spring. Also remember to use lock-nuts because the everyday movement of the seat will work loosen a regular lock washer and nut.

The plate below the seat is serving two purposes. One its to add the necessary stiffness and support to the frame but second it will allow me a mount point for my jack-shaft to run the 4.25" wide rear wheel and tire combo. I once used the cheapo Stingray wide BB shell and axle and figured there has to be a better way. So I'm working on a jack-shaft design that will bolt on (provided you have a sufficient mount point) and allow anyone to run a wide rear wheel/tire combo with any standard width crank and bottom bracket. Instead of using one long chain you'll use two shorter chains.

I hope this answers some questions. Later Travis
Well, I don't watch the forum much, but I do jump on and check things out from time to time - mainly to see what new bike Rat Rod bought this week and is cleaning up!!

When I'm on I check out the build section - again, usually to see what Uncle Stretch is up to now and what new concoction he's dreaming up.

So this time there was nothing new from either of them so I did a littie browsing and that's when I caught your post.

Looks like you are into building bikes big time to order that much tubing. So I expect to see lots of your build posts going forward.

The bike you are building now looks good - and I would love to give that seat mount a try. Getting a comfortable ride on your seat is one of the toughest things to do, that's for sure. Even on my more comfortable seats my butt hurts if I ride very far so you may have found a cure.

I am also impressed that you built your own front end. Hopefully it rides and handles as good as it looks. The tough part of that is getting the bushings and stuff tight enough to make it handle correctly and not wobble.

I am personally into the open bar look myself, so I would have left off the tank / filler between the bars. That would be about the only thing I would have done differently on it.

So keep up the good work and be sure that many members are watching to see how it goes - and to hopefully learn a thing or two in the process.
i am loving the Chopadero's seat pan and i am loving how the build is turning out....great job!!!
IronSpadeCycles said:
I'm starting to think I'm only posting threads on this forum for my own mental massage. I guess I'm not looking so much for the complements as the constructive criticism."Uncle Stretch" for at least acknowledging my existence as a fellow Texan and questioning my methods. That's what I would like to see more of, but its like the majority of you are simply browsing each thread with a broken keyboard, or you simply just too lazy to post a reply. Wow 242 views and one reply, amazing.

personally theirs way to many post to even try to keep up with so unless its something that im really into or is just wrong or unsafe i dont post.........
theirs only so many times you can post cool,looks good,or some other generic comment :wink:
but that said it does look good(not my style but still....) and you need to bend the open end wrench part of the kickstand so it sits flat on the ground(the open end part and yes itll blue it but oh well) if its not the picture that makes it look like its not.....
I've already heated and bent it three times trying to get it just right. Scotch Brite pad on an air grinder fixes the bluing every time. Not worried that much about it right now, I'll sort it all out before paint and powder coating. It's funny how many peeps told me they would have liked it better without the tank. Once the paint is all finished I think it will look better.

I've got a really crazy idea for a future bike project that the tank halves are going to be blow molded from colored Lexan polycarbonate. I've got to make a tool to do it but I saw it done for a different application and it just looks so cool. Kind of imagine a black frame with a transparent red or orange tank. Beauty of lexan is that it could be made into a beverage container rather easily. Or hold lights within, or be painted whatever your need. I've got weird ideas I know.

I build bikes similar to the motorcycles I've built in the past. I've owned a custom motorcycle business since 1996 specializing in stripped down choppers, custom bobber's and drag bikes built around vintage Triumph, Norton, BSA and early HD 45's. I typically build everything I can within reason and I've been doing it for almost 15 years so I guess I do have a bit of experience. I've been trying to write a book for the last couple of years that details all of my knowledge on cruiser bicycle building. So far I've written almost 500 pages and I've only covered half of the topics I want to explain. It might get done someday. I've already got a printer involved to help me go around the publisher, that way we can keep the cost down for the first and second printing.

Thanks for all the comments and I agree this forum has grown almost too large. I seldom have time to venture out of the "Bike Builds" area. There is just too much to read. You could spend days in here just catching up on whats going on from week to week. It just stumped me that almost 250 people had taken the time to look and only one replied.

Later Travis
I'm almost finished with the girder fork. I've just got to weld on some lower shock mount tabs, fine tune the threaded tube length and grind the welds flush before a coat of primer and paint. I was going to weld in a set of forward struts that would triangulate each side but since I used .120 wall DOM steel and the lower shock mount plates are .250 I think its plenty strong!

The neck/upper shock mount was a challenge as I use part of an old clamp for a 1 1/8 threadless and the shaft from an even older 1" threaded BMX clamp. It was tough welding the two different thickness' together without totally blowing holes. But its done and works well.



I'm tooling a leather and steel seat for this one as well so I think its going to turn out pretty sweet! El Jeffe' is coming together one piece at a time.

Later Travis
So, do you sell girder forks? ive been wanting to make one for a long time but have never gotten around to it... (no welder)
They look fantastic!