Gold Rush: Kentucky

The AR comes with some sweet rims.  But these had been ridden hard and put away wet.  The gold was faded quite badly.  In some places (about 7:30 in this pic) the gold was almost gone and you could see the bare aluminum.  The machined lips were all scratched up and oxidized.

A little aircraft remover and some time with a sanding block made pretty short work of the stock gold.

Sanding blocks, steel wool, and a lot of elbow grease got the machined lips pretty shiny.  Then, I used a felt wheel on the Dremel along with some polishing compound to really shine them up.

The lips were full of nicks and scratches, so I knew they were never going to be mirrors.  But I am happy with how well they ended up looking.

I used high heat tape to mask off all the machined surfaces so I could lay down the gold first.  Masking off the rims was quite difficult.  By the second side of the second rim in the second half of the second hour I had gotten the hang of it though.

Here you can see the wire I used to hang the rim for shooting.  I had to make sure that the rim hung at an angle so it would fit in the oven.  If it hung level the door wouldn't shut.

I did a number of "dry runs" to practice moving the rim from the hanger, onto the oven rack, and then into the oven.

Once I had it down, I shot the gold and popped it in.

I did two coats of the gold.  Then I pulled the tape off the lips and shot a layer of super gloss clear.

The clear powder goes on white.  It looks like powdered sugar.  Delicious.

After shooting and baking I was left with a big pile of tape. . .

. . . and two slick looking Enkeis.

This one really shows the shine on the lips.

Three coats of powder leaves a pretty smooth finish, even on the rough cast aluminum.

Masking the machined lips off was an exercise in extreme patience.  It certainly would have been easier to do gold on the whole thing.  But boy did the time and frustration pay off.  I love the way the machined lips look next to the gold centers.  With the clear over the whole deal, hopefully they will stay looking this good for years to come.

Suspension Linkage Bushings

Some of the suspension linkage bushings were in pretty rough shape.

So I ordered up some new ones.

I had already cleaned up and powder coated the linkage.  So all I had to do was press in the new bushings.

These bushings were actually in pretty good shape, so I decided to reuse them.

This is a fairly lame update, but I'm pretty jazzed with these pieces.  They look factory.

Wheel Breakdown

I started pulling the wheels apart so I can prep them for powder and polishing.

The rear brake pops right out.

The rear sprocket is supposed to be held on with four nuts.  But as you can see, one stud is broken off completely.  More on that later.

Once the brake and sprocket were removed I could pull out the bearings, lock ring, spacer, and seals.

Tire irons are the tool of choice for pulling off old tires, but I figured out that a plastic putty knife and a big flat head screwdriver do a pretty good job of prying off tires without marring up the rims.

Here is the broken sprocket stud.

My first removal attempt involved using a bolt extractor.  These are sometimes referred to as "easy outs".  The people that call them that have obviously never used one.

First you drill a hole in the center of your broken stud.

Then you left hand thread it into the hole and give it a couple of taps with a hammer.  That is supposed to let you turn the extractor and stud out of the hole together.

I grabbed the extractor with a vice grip and tried to turn the stud out.  But it did not want to move.

So I clamped the extractor in the bench vice and tried turning the wheel.

That was a little too much mechanical advantage.  The extractor snapped off in the stud.


My next attempt at extraction involved a set of left handed drill bits.  These let you use your drill in reverse in hopes that the bit will "bite" and you'll turn the broken stud out with the bit.

However, the bits never "bit".  I just kept drilling with larger and larger left handed bits until all that was left of the stud was the threads.

So I just chased the threads out with a tap.

Stud extracted.  Now I just need to find a replacement stud.

The front rotor also put up a fight.  Four bolts came out fine.  But one wouldn't budge and I stripped the allen head on it.

I tried cutting a phillips head into it and beating it out with my impact driver.  It didn't move.

I managed to get it out by clamping the outside of the bolt head with the vice grips.

My plan is to powder coat the hubs and spokes gold, polish the lips, and then clear the whole thing.

This is a test piece I did with the powder I plan to use on the wheels.  These things are going to look good.

Front End

The stock handlebars bolt onto the ends of the top triple clamp and are extremely lame.  So I decided to go with clip on handlebars and a "modified" triple clamp.

First I cut the ends off with a Dremel cutoff wheel.

I used a permanent marker to color the remaining area that I planned to remove.

I removed the material with the grinding wheel on my bench grinder and then smoothed things out with some sandpaper.

The triple clamp is made of separate top and bottom plates welded together.  When I cut off the ends I was left with a big ugly gap to fill.

Since the triple was going to get powder coated I needed a way to fill the gap that would stand up to 400 degrees.  I found this Quiksteel High Temperature Metal Repair that is supposed to be like a "cold weld" and can stand up to 2400 degrees.  It was pretty cheap so I gave it a shot.

I glombed the stuff on and let it harden for a couple of days.

Then I sanded it smooth.  I was really jazzed with how it turned out. . . until I powder coated it and baked it.  When I read that the Quiksteel could stand up to 2400 degrees I erroneously assumed that it would keep its shape.  During the baking the Quiksteel kind of pushed its way out of the gap leaving the surface a little rougher than the picture above.  I somehow misplaced the close up pictures of the finished top triple, but I can assure you that even with the rough ends it came out looking pretty good.

You'd be surprised how hard it is to find clip ons for 27mm forks.  I snagged these from which is actually a site for moped parts.  But chrome wouldn't do, so I powder coated them black.

With the forks, triples, and clip ons all cleaned up I assembled the front end.  Not too shabby.