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-   -   How to build a Sportster gas tank for dummies....and cheapskates. (http://www.clubchopper.com/forums/vision-design/82950-how-build-sportster-gas-tank-dummies-cheapskates.html)

vision 03-26-2010 10:03 PM

How to build a Sportster gas tank for dummies....and cheapskates.
 
If you want to know the "proper" way to build a Sportster styled gas tank then you can stop reading here an download the Jesse James tutorial "Metal Church" off YouTube. That is a great instructional video that will show you all the multitude of tools, experts and time you will need at your disposal to be able to even attempt make a Sportster style gas tank.

For the few that might still be reading now I will assume you are either so foolish or such tightwad losers (speaking for myself here) that you dont have a garage full of 20 ton, $60000 industrial age forming machinery but still to want take a crack at making your own gas tank anyway.

I am NOT going to cover shrinking/stretching theory here because Mark at Midnight Oil has done an excellent article on that already and if you are going to start this project then reviewing what Mark wrote here is a great primer;
http://clubchopper.com/viewarticle.php?articleid=60


Tools you will need:
Pencil, scissors and paper
Shears (either electric or hand powered)
Angel grinder (best tool ever invented after the hammer of course :HMMM:)
The afore mentioned Hammer and dolly (the more the better)
A welding rig (I usually O/A or TIG but not sure MIG couldn't work?)
1 sheet at least 36 X 36 of 18 gauge sheet metal (really anything 16 to 20 gauge will work fine)

Here is the pattern that I use . I will try to set up a PDF or some type of download if there is any interest so you can just print it off cut it out and then transfer it to your sheet metal.
http://www.clubchopper.com/photopost...dium/spor1.jpg

vision 03-26-2010 10:08 PM

Transfering that pattern to metal you should end up with something that looks like this:

Note A: I am making one of our "dished" tanks so that is why the 3rd piece

Note B: The top is only show in half but you will need to flip it over to make the full top

Note C: In the photo the fine cutting has not been done yet on side piece because I like to cut in 2 passes and weld in 3 passes - you can cut it in on pass if your equipment allows.

http://www.clubchopper.com/photopost...dium/spor2.jpg

vision 03-26-2010 10:13 PM

As you start tacking the side seams together the tank will start to take on some shape. It is supposed to look like crap at this stage, we will smooth it out later.

http://www.clubchopper.com/photopost...dium/spor3.jpg

vision 03-26-2010 10:16 PM

Kinda looks like Cinderella next to her snaggel-toothed step sister at his point but if you look hard you can see the family resemblance already.


http://www.clubchopper.com/photopost...dium/spor4.jpg

vision 03-26-2010 10:38 PM

Now is your chance to lay in some metal on the inside of the tank so weld up all your seams from the inside before you break out the hammer and dolly.

http://www.clubchopper.com/photopost...dium/spor5.jpg

vision 03-26-2010 10:41 PM

This is what I use...your tools will probably be more advanced but really a hammer is an instrument to impart blunt force onto a target so you don't need to spend $400 to buy a set of Snap On body hammers.
This ain't rocket science folks.
http://www.clubchopper.com/photopost...dium/spor6.jpg

Neo Dutch 03-27-2010 12:51 AM

Very Cool.

vision 03-27-2010 01:26 AM

Now is where you will be doing the shrinking and stretching of the metal. It can take a while to get the feel of hand hammering in curves but most people will pick it up pretty fast. You are just trying now to get all the curves of the tank nice and smooth. Running your hand over it will show you very well exactly which spots still need some attention.

http://www.clubchopper.com/photopost/data/500/spor7.jpg

vision 03-27-2010 01:29 AM

Notice that the inside of the tank has taken a lot more hammer blows then the outside. Hitting the inside is stretching the metal and that tends to be a better strategy for me then shrinking.

http://www.clubchopper.com/photopost/data/500/spor8.jpg

Andrew C 03-27-2010 06:17 AM

Yes!! Vision that rocks!! keep em coming I wanna see the final product!

vision 03-27-2010 07:51 AM

hopefuly it will get finnished and tested tomorrow. I will post pics of the whole process including dishing the sides and mounting on my Sporty project.

bob o 03-27-2010 01:16 PM

Looks real good....

pigiron99 03-27-2010 03:33 PM

keep em coming

pigiron99 03-27-2010 04:37 PM

i think alot of us would like a pattern pdf...if u get a chance

vision 03-27-2010 05:33 PM

No problem on the pattern. I just need to find an app to convert a photo into a PDF file then verify the size. Will probably make 2 or 3 sizes: peanut, king and Exile. It would be the same pattern just blown up 10 and 20%. Anyhow time to stop yammering and do some work, the shaping is pretty much done now comes all the details and hardware.

JC 03-27-2010 08:44 PM

Damn Ron love the tools, and that's a method I've never seen before. That's the great thing about metal work, everyone has there own methods. Was I reading right that u welded from the inside?

oilburner 03-27-2010 08:49 PM

Dude, that is great! never thought of building the sides the way you did, that pattern rocks. This truly is a great way for someone without all the equipment to still build a tank. Great job so far! (and thanks for the compliment). Mark.

vision 03-27-2010 09:52 PM

Mark- No need for thanks your tutorial is a service to this forum and really explains the theory. All I am doing is showing how to put that into practice with minimal machinery and the least amount of shaping possible.

JC- Yea I weld on the inside when it is possible because later I will make the final passes on the outside but this allows me to lay in more metal. And JC PLEASE steal this idea or any other because I am going to steal all sorts of ideas from your bikes on this build and if you took something from what we do it would just be closer to fair :cool:

Now this step is totally optional but it does give the tank a bit of an (God I hate use the term but) ..."Old School" flavor to it. This is kind of a tribute to the guys that were Hot Rodding gas tanks when I was knee high to a grasshopper and stil looks damn cool to me.

http://www.clubchopper.com/photopost/data/500/spor9.jpg

vision 03-27-2010 09:58 PM

I am gonna have to wait a bit on the pattern because I was damn near the point of beating my keyboad to bits trying to resize it to print the right size. Here is what I got now and if you make this print out with the top piece being 16 5/8th (or so) inches long then your a better man then I.

http://www.clubchopper.com/photopost...500/spor10.jpg

vision 03-27-2010 10:21 PM

OK dishing complete and we pretty much know how this tank is gonna look now. The next step is fitment and in my case I am trying to get this sucker to fit on of all things....A 2004 Sportster. The backbone is almost 3 inches wide and it uses a hard-mount set-up so none of my normal jigs are going to work....Thats why they call it custom eh?
http://www.clubchopper.com/photopost...500/spor11.jpg

vision 03-27-2010 11:12 PM

Just a side note here to anyone who is doing this at home and has seen the TV shows where they act as if the tank is going to be sprayed directly with paint. Guys do your best on the body work. It takes some time but the more you do it the better and quicker you get. You dont need to make the tank feel like glass on the outside but this example shows you what plays on some production bikes.

*getting up on my soapbox now*
This tank was made by splitting a Chinese Sporty tank in half then wrapping sheet metal around it to extend the tank then welding it back up. If the maker could be bothered to do a little bit of hand pounding this 1/4 inch (almost 3/8ths in some spots) thick layer of bondo could be reduced to a thin film. The main problem here was not that the tank maker wasn't good enough (I know for a fact he was) but my guess is that the company that put in the order wanted em fast and wanted em cheap and this was the only way he could do it and still make money. Don't fall into the "well fix it with bondo" trap. If you are making this yourself and you get this far then put in the time it takes to get your tank the way you want it in metal.
-Rant over-
http://www.clubchopper.com/photopost...500/spor12.jpg

vision 03-28-2010 01:18 AM

So getting back to business the next step is to burn in the cap bung. Easiest to do it now when you have access from both sides.

http://www.clubchopper.com/photopost...500/spor13.jpg

vision 03-28-2010 01:21 AM

Then flip it over an put in a bottom. I like to make them in one piece and then cut out for the tunnel because it makes tunnel installation a bit easier.
http://www.clubchopper.com/photopost...500/spor14.jpg
http://www.clubchopper.com/photopost...500/spor15.jpg

vision 03-28-2010 01:26 AM

Next we check tunnel depth. This one is going to be a "frisco" where the tank almost just sits on the backbone.

http://www.clubchopper.com/photopost...500/spor16.jpg

vision 03-28-2010 03:59 AM

Didn't get the mounting done like I hoped but getting pretty close. Tomorrow hopefully I get these mounts finished, drop a petcock and crossovers in, test the tank and finish off this thread and then start on my seat. An engine and carb (thanks UKLee) are already both on the way :3dSMILE:
http://www.clubchopper.com/photopost...500/spor17.jpg

pop 28 03-28-2010 04:04 AM

nice work... i appreciate the schooling... this is what i enjoy about this site, the tech

->Bullet<- 03-28-2010 04:13 AM

http://standupforamerica.files.wordp...pect-boobs.jpg

Barefoot Choppa 03-28-2010 06:07 AM

Pretty cool Vision:cool:......guess this is right up my alley since I was recently called a dumb-ass.:rolleyes:

JC 03-28-2010 08:22 AM

Not worried about it my friend, I'm glad you like my work well enough to imitate. It's an honor.

Hey and by the way there is no "dummy" in tank building.

vision 03-29-2010 04:58 AM

Ok so remember when I said even a moron like me could do this? Well the caveat to that is that sometime even a relativity simple bracket takes us several tries before we come up with something that even works. I was originally going to make a really cool looking bracket here but as the frustration started mounting and the scrap pile growing I retreated and decided to re-think it over a beer. The result (4 beers later) was me just deciding to make something that would work and worry about aesthetics later.

http://www.clubchopper.com/photopost/data/500/fail.jpg

vision 03-29-2010 05:18 AM

Eventually I was able to construct a simple cut and weld bracket that actually worked and the front brackets just went on easy. So now the tank is mounted and I am fed up with doing anything more on if for the day.
http://www.clubchopper.com/photopost...500/spor18.jpg

vision 03-29-2010 05:29 AM

VicodinWizard - One more thing I do for rust is to keep a 7 gallon bucket half full of used motor oil. Any parts that I know will not be needed for a long time go into the bucket. With the tank mounted I decided that I wanted to play around with the pieces for cantilever seat setup had been working on like 2years ago. Among the pieces there were also 2 dead little lizards in there that were perfectly well preserved but I already tossed them over the back fence before momma broke out the camera....such a shame they were really cute too. :HMMM:
http://www.clubchopper.com/photopost...500/spor19.jpg
http://www.clubchopper.com/photopost...500/spor20.jpg
http://www.clubchopper.com/photopost...500/spor21.jpg

Rhode Warrior 03-29-2010 09:16 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by vision (Post 1029192)
This is what I use...your tools will probably be more advanced but really a hammer is an instrument to impart blunt force onto a target so you don't need to spend $400 to buy a set of Snap On body hammers.
This ain't rocket science folks.
http://www.clubchopper.com/photopost...dium/spor6.jpg

Fred Flintstone called, he wants his hand tools back. :LOL::LOL:

Sorry, couldn't resist. I tried.

vision 03-29-2010 09:41 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rhode Warrior (Post 1029721)
Fred Flintstone called, he wants his hand tools back. :LOL::LOL:

Sorry, couldn't resist. I tried.

Your closer then you think Rhode...
2 years ago I was pulling a couch tour in California and wanted to play with some new designs but all he had was wood working tools and a pair of snips and a claw hammer. But he had his front yard all done up with this stuff called "River Rock" it was just a shitload of smooth roundish rocks sized anywhere from a tennis ball to a softball. After I worked out that they could be used as dollies it was like I had the greatest collection of dollies for any radius imaginable. So yea, I have made tanks using rocks so those tools are a step up:whacked:

Rhode Warrior 03-29-2010 09:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by vision (Post 1029725)
Your closer then you think Rhode...
2 years ago I was pulling a couch tour in California and wanted to play with some new designs but all he had was wood working tools and a pair of snips and a claw hammer. But he had his front yard all done up with this stuff called "River Rock" it was just a shitload of smooth roundish rocks sized anywhere from a tennis ball to a softball. After I worked out that they could be used as dollies it was like I had the greatest collection of dollies for any radius imaginable. So yea, I have made tanks using rocks so those tools are a step up:whacked:

Damn, that's hardcore. :LOL:

Nice work on the tank though.

ALCOHTRAZ 03-29-2010 09:52 AM

nice work on the tank... btw, thank god your not a dentist.. lol

vision 03-29-2010 10:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ALCOHTRAZ (Post 1029727)
nice work on the tank... btw, thank god your not a dentist.. lol

No shit man....... because I love me my angle grinder:D

FRANKTHECRANK 03-29-2010 10:14 AM

Great thread, Vision.

Would love to see more,......but you better watch out. :eek:


If you give all your secrets out, you won't sell as many tanks. ;)

vision 03-29-2010 10:32 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FRANKTHECRANK (Post 1029734)
Great thread, Vision.

Would love to see more,......but you better watch out. :eek:


If you give all your secrets out, you won't sell as many tanks. ;)

The only secret I want to get out there is that if you want to do this stuff it is not that hard. I think there are a lot f guys who are under the impression from TV that this is something difficult or that it takes and real talent. But honestly, it is all just a craft that can be picked up by anyone who who wants to learn it and can be practiced without a factory full of uber expensive machinery.

vision 04-23-2010 07:21 AM

update
 
Just got the tank back from the kid across the way who shot it with some cheapo paints for $50. This is not the final paint theme I will keep for the bike but it does give me the general idea how it will look when all painted black.

http://www.clubchopper.com/photopost...500/done11.jpg
http://www.clubchopper.com/photopost...500/done22.jpg


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