Friday, May 28, 2010

Something for meeeeee.....

I've been looking for a old Centerline 19x2.50" Frontrunner wheel for a long time, to match up with my Dick Allen 15" Centerline rear wheel. All the 19" front Centerlines I could find were either bent or trashed, or they were snapped up by the nostalgia drag racers before I could buy them.

So, I decided to see what Centerline had in their catalog as a replacement for this rim. The closest I could come was their Convo-Pro front wheel, but it was only available in a 17" size. I knew there were 17" front tires out there, so I set my sights on getting one, and I got lucky.

Once I found the wheel new, I knew that there would be machining that needed to be done to run it. There's only two people I know of that I trust to do this work here in town - Rick Labriola, and Bob Schenck. While Rick does a lot of one-off machining for me like this, I knew he was eyeball-deep in welding up his foot clutches and jockey shifter handles. Bob has done some very cool machine work for me in the past, so I tapped Bob for this project. Bob has been doing custom bike stuff like this for longer than both Rick and I have been around, so what does that tell you? I knew I'd be in good hands with this, and I knew it would come out exact and killer, and it did.
Here's what we started with - a brand-new 17"x2.50" spindle mount Centerline Convo-Pro, that I found during a closeout sale at one of the big speed equipment stores. I had to wait for a couple weeks while Bob finished up some other projects, so he could switch out his lathe chucks to accommodate machining the wheel itself. See, when Centerline makes this wheel, they take their hub and sandwich it between the wheel halves, then they rivet it together, then they seal the rim so it's tubeless. You can't get the hub out of the wheel without undoing the rivets or breaking the wheel's sealing.

So, what Bob had to do was mount up the wheel in his lathe, and machine the existing hub out of the center, leaving the rest of the original hub captured in the wheel. While Bob completed this, I ran over to Alreco Aluminum here in town, and found a 6061 T6 aluminum billet that was 6" in Diameter, and approx. 7" long. That 18 lb. piece of billet was $60.00! That billet was the one Bob whittled down for me for the new hub, and you can see the results below......
R/H side of the wheel. Anybody can make something that functions in its intended purpose, but the artistry of the machinist comes to life in the execution of the part as it's shaped. Bob is a true craftsman, who knows his trade extremely well.

Because I wanted to use the later H-D style double row sealed 3/4" axle wheel bearings, Bob cut the hub center to accept the '00-up rotors. The sealed bearings are the Timkin cross reference for the OEM bearings that I had my trusty bearing house get for me, at about 1/3 the cost vs. Harley's parts prices.

The rotor is on the R/H side of the wheel, because I have a 39mm front end that was formally a Sportster Sport with dual discs. I trimmed off the caliper mount on the left slider, and saved the right slider for the caliper mounting, so I could run the brake line straight up the fork tube, and not have to cross the line under the lower tree from the left.

L/H side of the wheel, showing Bob's machining on this side. The nice thing about this hub is that it's totally reversible - I can unbolt the hub, and turn it around (along with the tire, of course!) so the rotor is on the left, should I decide to run a H-D offset springer later on - which I may do. That way, I can keep the rivet heads of both wheels on the right side of the bike, and the huck side of the rivets on the left.

Bob also drilled the L/H side of the rim for a valve stem, and you can see it at about the 2:00 position on the rim. I gave him a new H-D mag wheel stem, and it was the perfect size to fit in between the convolutions on the rim.

The next hardest thing was finding the tire itself. When you're talking 17" tires, you're in spotbike territory. I looked for weeks to find a front tire that was not only a non-radial 17", but one that was narrower than a 140, 120, or a 110. All these narrower 17" tires were either not available in the USA (most were available in the UK, Germany, or Japan, but the import duties and shipping would have killed me), or they were shown in the manufacturer's website catalogs, but when I asked about availability, I found they were discontinued sizes. I finally found a 100/70-17, and I'm not talking on where it came from! But, it's perfect.

I'm super-stoked! Now I have a set of matching Centerline wheels, ready to go for my VL framed project.

1 comment:

Jahluv said...

That's really nice Rich. You (and Bob) did some great work.