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Old 11-28-2011, 10:16 PM   #1
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GatosBros XRamblers

Building some custom XR600/650L-based scramblers; an XR600 for my buddy Seanito, a 650L for Hambone, and another XR650L for Grande. Seanito wants something sort of like a street-tracker that he can rip around town on, Hambone would like more of a dirt-oriented scrambler, and Robo-Boogie and I are pretty dead-set on turning at least one of these into a longer-distance ADV bike. We might end up buying another one, because Grande and Hambone are going to be cruising together most of the time, so it really makes sense for them to be riding similar bikes. So for now I'm just going to focus on designing and building the parts they'll all share (custom tanks, seatpans, rear fenders, air boxes, maybe new subframes, etc.). Have been working on the tank for the last month or so, on and off. am excited about applying what I've learned about working with composites to a big project like this. Would like to hone my skills to the point where I can start designing rally kits and custom parts, so this is really just a learning exercise for me. Still making it up as I go, and am slowly figuring things out.

jesusgatos screwed with this post 04-04-2012 at 09:06 PM
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Old 11-28-2011, 10:28 PM   #2
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These are two of the three bikes we bought. The first is a stock late-model low-mileage XR650L (Hambone), and the second is what I'd call an average-condition late-model CA-plated XR600 (Seanito). The third is another late-model XR650L that we bought super-cheap because it wasn't running, but it's got a ton of nice parts on it (big-fin head, big-bore kit, Mikuni carb, full exhaust, Lindemann-Engineering lowered suspension, set of 18" street wheels, etc.). Swapped the wheels and suspension over to Seanito's bike so he can rail on that thing until it's time to tear his bike apart. Also bought an extra XR650L frame from FatherX to use for mock-up.





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Old 11-28-2011, 10:36 PM   #3
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First thing I did was take some pictures and make some rough sketches, just to get an idea of what I was working with. Do most of my design-work in SolidWorks, but even when I'm designing/building much more complicated stuff, I still start out with pages and pages of hand-scribbled notes. Not Chip Foose-style artistic renderings, as much as I'm just trying to work out rough dimensions and that kind of stuff. Quick-and-dirty. Except I'm not so quick about it...





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Old 11-28-2011, 11:08 PM   #4
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Decided to build the new tank on top of the old tank, so started by cutting it apart. Then made paper templates out of posterboard, using my sketches for reference, and then started transferring those to metal (am using 20-gauge scrap for most of this stuff). Ended up revising the profile of the tank several times, changing the arc of the backbone/spine and the radius on the lower/leading corners. It's usually much easier to remove metal than it is to add metal, especially when the trying to maintain symmetry, and I spent the better part of a day fitting the little bits of sheetmetal that are tack-welded to the lower/leading corners.








Mirroring templates, either by folding them in half or duplicating them, ensures the tank will be almost perfectly symmetrical. Went to a lot of trouble to do this. Probably a lot more work than I needed to put into it, but like I said, it's a learning process and I'm trying to develop techniques that will help me to do good work.










All this composite stuff is new to me, but over the years I've got to the point where I'm pretty fucking good at making templates. Funny how that seems to translate; I end up making templates for just about everything I design/build. Go through a lot of sharpies, scissors, and paper.






Took me a while to come up with some of these shapes. Think the fact that I've never done anything like this before had a lot to do with it, but it's also just sort of how I do things.






Seeing it in steel really helped me to visualize how it was going to turn-out. Really like the way it looked while it was all skeletal.








Instead of bringing the tank back to cover the upper shock mount and starting the seat where the tank ends, I decided to bring the seat forward/up the tank, more like a modern MX bike (going to use the stock tank-mount to hold-down the front of the seat). Had to cut-up the tank a little bit more to get the shape I wanted, but really like how this part of the tank has turned-out.







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Old 11-28-2011, 11:16 PM   #5
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When I was finally happy with the shape of the skeleton, it was time to add foam. Am using alb foam that I bought from US Composites. Like working with this a lot more than the 2lb foam that I used to shape the handguard shields. Wrapped the tank with poster-board, set it on newspaper (to protect the concrete) and filled one half at a time. Am not too good at estimating the amount of foam needed yet, so had to pour foam several times. Not a real big deal, but it creates subtle differences in density and texture that make shaping a little bit more difficult.





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Old 11-28-2011, 11:21 PM   #6
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Cutting it down to the skeleton was quick and easy. Didn't try to put any contours into the foam, was mostly just connecting-the-dots with straight lines. Figured I'd rather build those contours back up with bondo, mostly to get a little more thickness/strength between the steel ribs.









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Old 11-28-2011, 11:27 PM   #7
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Was anxious to see what kind of capacity I was working with, so I stuffed the tank in a garbage bag and dunked it in a 55-gallon drum full of water. Looks like it'll hold about 3.4 gallons, and I'm going to add a bit more volume to the inside/underside of the tank. Pretty happy with that, and the tank is really low-slung, hugging the top-tube of the frame and the cylinder head, so it carries the fuel much lower than most of the tanks I've seen. Going to make some sort of some auxiliary rear-mounted tanks to extend range for a few of the bikes, so wasn't trying to build a super-tanker.





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Old 11-28-2011, 11:32 PM   #8
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After determining that I was satisfied with the basic shape and volume of the tank, it was time to start slathering bondo.
Layers and layers and layers. These pics bring this project up-to-date, and now I'm realizing that I want to make a few changes. Going to re-work a few areas, bringing the high-point of the backbone/spine a little bit further back, and softening the top/front corners (shoulders?) of the tank. Hard to explain. Will have to just post more pics to show what I'm talking about.









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Old 11-29-2011, 08:32 PM   #9
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Far out!!!! I love custom stuff and you are going all the way!!!!

Great projects for sure! Subscribed
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Old 11-29-2011, 08:38 PM   #10
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yeah, me too. In.
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I used to say "one day" a lot. But then I got scared I would wait one day too long. So I am doing it all now
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Old 11-30-2011, 12:13 AM   #11
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Lovin' it.
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Old 11-30-2011, 12:22 AM   #12
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very cool build.
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Old 12-16-2011, 01:51 PM   #13
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keep it comin'!
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Old 12-20-2011, 04:08 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by jesusgatos View Post
After determining that I was satisfied with the basic shape and volume of the tank, it was time to start slathering bondo.
Layers and layers and layers. These pics bring this project up-to-date, and now I'm realizing that I want to make a few changes. Going to re-work a few areas, bringing the high-point of the backbone/spine a little bit further back, and softening the top/front corners (shoulders?) of the tank. Hard to explain. Will have to just post more pics to show what I'm talking about.









Mate...you are as insane as skilful

I am looking forward for more pics!

Nic
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Old 12-21-2011, 04:02 PM   #15
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Have spent the last few days working on the tank. Added a small lip to the top/front of the tunnel, knocked off the shoulders (top/fwd corners) and changed the profile of the tank by raising the backbone and making that a more gradual curve. Constantly trying to average-out the high/low spots, and have been struggling to maintain symmetry. This morning I started working on the underside of the tank, adding a little bit more volume and tweaking the shapes of things that would be problematic to make out of fiberglass. Tried adding talc to thicken-up the bondo and that makes if a lot easier to build-up some of the large radiuseseses and fill voids, etc.

Looking forward to hacking off the stock the subframe. Went up to Bend and picked up my tubing bender, so have got everything I need to get into the next part of this project. Was tempted to try and make the whole kit a bolt-on deal, but I can make it so much cooler if it's all custom...
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