Archive for the DIY Category

A big Thank You to the small talking chicken…

Posted in DIY, Harley-Davidson with tags , , , , on December 11, 2010 by bleiglass

One of the best accessories I ever bought for my Road King Classic in 2010 were the Highway footpegs.

50305-02 Aileron Footpegs

To be able to stretch out on long rides is sooo comfortable, these footpegs are a must on any bike.

But with the choice of footpegs came a threat from Toby, a salesperson at Harley Davidson: DO NOT DARE TO MIX STYLES.

What he meant was that having bought AILERON styled footpegs, nothing else then a AILERON styled brake pedal and shifter peg should be considered. How right he is!

With Xmas a “window of opportunity” opened, and I decided to refine the look of my Empress with this brake pedal and shifter peg – AILERON style of course:

42678-05A & 34601-02 Aileron Large Break Pedal & Shifter Peg

And the problems started… Harley decided – at least in Europe – to declare the brake pedal as OBSOLETE, and it was removed from the 2011 catalogue. No more AILERON brake pedal…

That’s when the small talking chicken helped out. A friend of mine could source a pedal and peg in the US, and send it over to me. The pieces reached me these days, after 3 weeks in transit.

“C” – thank you very much


The Empress with the Big Boobs : Part 2 of my DIY chrome accessory

Posted in DIY, Harley-Davidson with tags , , , , , , on September 20, 2010 by bleiglass

OK, the title tries to be catchy, but finishing my first self-made chrome accessory, I may start to call my bike the Empress with the Big Boobs. Actually its all about Maria Theresa.

Maria Theresa (1717 – 1780) was a Habsburg by birth and a Holy Roman Empress by marriage, Archduchess of Austria, and Queen of Hungary and Bohemia from 1740 to 1780. She was the eldest daughter of Charles VI whose sole male heir – his son Leopold – died in 1711. In 1713 Charles issued the Pragmatic Sanction which guaranteed his daughter the right to succeed to the throne on his death. While many European monarchs agreed to the Pragmatic Sanction when it was issued, on Charles’ death (1740) the War of Austrian Succession began. More on her later…

Now, lets not get distracted and go back to the final production steps of my first self-made chrome accessory. As you may have remembered from Part 1, its about a chrome cover for the quite ugly Garmin Zumo 660 connection unit. Your Harley-Davidson should look nice specially if you do not have your navigator attached. The prototype is build, the next steps now are polishing and chroming.

Step 3: The Polishing

Prior to Chroming, you need to polish your metal, and although this is also done by the company you select for chroming, I wanted to try it with my own gear in a 3 step polishing process. To use “my own gear” was a bit premature to say, I had no gear, so I bought some. Here is what I found and used:

Actually quite handy to have for many other jobs, even cleaning rusty tools

Step 4: The Chroming

That was the most challenging part, or at least one where one of my weaknesses was most tested: my lack of patience. Do not try to build your own chroming bath, that’s not worth it, its complex, toxic and expensive. I searched the internet and came up with 3 local “chromers” who I asked to submit quotes, sending them a picture and measures of my prototype. 2 answered and Ashford Chroming got the job, mainly due to their very informative web-presence. They even have a blog and are on Twitter.

I am very please with the result. The picture of the chrome bath above is from their website. The test in my patience was their somewhat slow turnaround time, I send the units mid June, and got them back mid September, I consider 3 month to chrome 10 small metal pieces quite long. But let me say it again, the result were very good and I would use them again, in the hope of their turnaround time improving for loyal customers.

chromed unit and a simply polished prototype

I ended up chroming 10 units, as the price quoted by Ashford Chroming to chrome 10 pieces was just double from the price of chroming 1 single unit. I was vain enough to hope that some bikers like this chrome accessory and are willing to pay a fair price for it, contributing to the overall costs. We will see, write to me if you are interested.

Step 5: The Fixation

I spend quite some time thinking on how to fix a simple metal chrome cover to a quite complex electronic connection unit, when back in May I saw the solution in one  detailed picture of Gary France’s Road King Classic, The Leading Ladies. He posted this on his blog:

See the orange arrow? I did not know such a “rain cover” made by Garmin existed, and it was the perfect solution, as all I needed now was to glue the chrome cover on top of it. This is how the setup now looks inside the chrome cover:

Once you take the red adhesive cover-tape off, you can glue it into position and firmly connect the Chrome Cover with the plastic Garmin Cover. This is how it looks finished inside:

and now:

The Final Results

the naked connector:

here now with the plastic Garmin “rain cover”

with a plain chrome cover:

with a Harley-Davidson logo:

and here is The Empress with the Big Boobs! My very own self-made GPS Zumo 660 chrome cover:

yes, that’s how I hoped it to turn out

Here together the actual collection of 4 units, the other 6 units are all plain chrome with no logo, coin or figure. I am looking for a small chrome thermometer to glue above the Empress, as I have already a clock attached to the handlebar.

Many ideas and possibilities, you may have your own, go wild, be creative.

Note also: the first unit is heavily pixelated in Photoshop, as it is supposed to remain a small surprise for Gary France, to whom I am trying to send it while he is still on his epic tour of the US (see his daily reports here).

The Maria Theresa Thaler is probably one of the most famous and well known coins of the world.

Originally struck in Austria from 1740 to 1780, the Thaler was the currency of the Austrian Empire. It was very important for trade with the Levant (parts of Turkey, Lebanon, Syria). Over time, the Maria Theresa Thaler became the best known and most popular silver coin in the Arabian world. After the death of Empress Maria Theresa in 1780, Joseph II permitted the Austrian mint to continue striking the coin with the 1780 dies in order to meet demand from the Middle East. The 1780 taler was the only silver coin that the Arabs trusted and would accept. Since then, the Maria Theresa Thaler has been restruck for trade purposes at Vienna, Austria with the 1780 date frozen in time. The taler became the unofficial currency in some areas of Africa and Asia, and may still be in use today as a “trade silver dollar” in some Arabian bazaars.

The coin I use on my Road King Classic, aka as the “Empress with the Big Boobs“, is a Modern Restrike, of which more then 300 million have been produced over time. It can be found on ebay (see intersting guide here) and is worth around 10-20 GBP. Note to all potential thieves: this one is now worth much less, as it has sticky non-removable superglue on one side and can not be considered in mint condition anymore.

Make your own Harley-Davidson Chrome accessories – Part 1

Posted in DIY, Harley-Davidson with tags , , , , on September 18, 2010 by bleiglass

When asked about the fuel consumption of my Harley-Davidson Road King Classic, I usually answer: “As long as I pay more for chrome polish then for fuel, I do not care to know!”

I decided early to have as the 2 main colours of my bike: black and chrome, and looking at the numerous catalogues selling bling for a Harley-Davidson, you need a strong “She-who-decides-what-to-buy” in your family for not to ruin your finances completely.

Black and Chrome

Enjoying my DIY, I started a small project back in May, when I bought my GPS Navigator, a Garmin Zumo 660, a project to build my first own real chrome accessory.

Not because its cheaper, it never is, but because it is fun to design a piece of accessory, build it yourself, and at the end having a quite unique piece of metal on your Harley-Davidson. One that nobody else can have, one that is not build in large quantities in China and shipped world-wide, but build locally, one that I can claim to have build myself.

Step 1: The Idea

Having “Chrome” as the basic theme of my Road King Classic, I did not like the cheapish plastic look of the Garmin ZUMO 660, and specially not the connection unit when the navigator is not attached. I did not want to put the expensive electronics unit into a chrome bath, although I was tempted, but that would have been fatal, instead planed to improve the looks of the naked connection unit:

Step 2: The Construction

Building accessories from sheet metal is not very difficult, as long as you keep straight lines. All you basically need is a metal cutter and a metal bender. This is the part where the project turns a bit expensive, specially if you do not have the right tools, and do not want to rent them for a day, but buy them. Using the word “expensive” I do not mean that it will ruin you, but if you buy tools for 200 GBP to build just one single unit, the price of that unit will be… 200 GBP.

If however you build 100 units, that will become boring, but your tooling-costs will spread an lower themselves miraculously to just 2 GBP per unit. Simple economics, no need to go to university for that. As I did not plan to build 100 units, just 1, I braced myself for a really unique, but expensive piece of chrome. At the end I build 10 units, to achieve unit costs that would feel at home in the retail price lineup of Genuine Harley-Davidson Accessories.

Here you can see the Sheet Metal Cutter and the Metal Sheet Bending Brake I bought over the internet:

Cut & Bend, and your prototype Ver1.0 is ready:

Cutting the metal sheet…

Bending the metal…

and there is your nearly finished prototype Ver1.0:



Try, learn, analyze, and ask friends what they think of your new “invention”, and you quickly bin your first proof and adjust some features. Then Cut & Bend again, and soon you will have your Prototype Ver2.0 .

Here a picture of the units nearly build, pre-chroming:

And this is packing them for mailing to the chroming factory

In Part 2 of this report I will talk about: small setbacks and adjustments, the unexpected help by the Leading Ladies of Gary France, Polishing and Chroming, why I build 10 units, and finally how my first self-made chrome accessory looks on a Harley Davidson Road King Classic.