Evolution of a 1973 Harley Davidson Ironhead Sportster Chopper

Unlike Adam, I find it challenging to envision the finished product when looking at a motorcycle that is either in pieces or is something that starts out like this:

original condition

While this sportster was originally going to be Adam’s, for the sake of expedience, it has now become mine (my ’73 Ironhead Sportster is still in boxes, while this one at least ran).

Adam had started to turn it into this:

Adam's version

When I inherited it, it looked like this:


I had already decided to turn my sportster into a chopper, although I’d never really imagined myself having a proper chopper. But the lines of the bike inspired me to have a king queen seat based on some of the photos I’d seen of other bikes in magazines. So, that’s where it began.

Of course, with a king queen seat, one must have a sissy bar. Adam, please make me a sissy bar that is taller than me when I’m sitting and a seat pan that goes up to about here. I wasn’t happy with the narrowed tank that Adam had on it, so a frisco sportster tank was in order. Next, I sat for a fitting for handlebars (ask Talon how that went):


Some black paint on the tins and powdercoating on the frame, and it’s starting to come together.

IMG_2669  IMG_2686

Although each part on its own, including the trimmed seat, did not match what I saw in my mind’s eye, as it comes together, it is looking like the type of chopper that I wanted:


Jerry at TJ’s Trim Shop in Soddy Daisy has made a few seats for us now and is always “excited” to see what challenge we have for him next. He was especially thrilled to hear that I wanted daisies on my seat, but he obliged, and they turned out well!

Next, finish the engine, front end, front and rear wheels (which will remain as the originals for now until I decide exactly what I want), and the final paint on the tank (will have to wait for photos for the final effect).

Will keep you updated on the progress….Jamie

Unraveling the history of a frame

Hello again everybody! If you read my previous post, you should be expecting a write up about the fabrication (or even the start of) my coffin tank. With Speed Deluxe being so busy during the day and the three of us having a laundry list each of things to knock out on our own bikes after hours, the “how to” for a coffin tank fabrication is going to have to wait until next time. This week I’m going to kind of “piggy back” on last week’s topic of sanding in preparation for painting and the history that can be hidden underneath.

First, I had to strip my Panhead’s Wishbone frame free of the chipping paint and cracking Bondo that covered it.

Panhead frame  Panhead frame  Panhead frame  Panhead frame

Panhead frame  Panhead frame  Removing the paint and bondo  Removing the paint and bondo from the frame

I used the same tools, safety gear and process from my previous post.

Safety first
Safety first

While inspecting what I would have to have repaired on the frame, I began to notice number and letter sets through out the frame.

photo 1-2  photo 3-4  photo 2-4  photo 1-4

photo 5-3  photo 4-3  photo 3-3  photo 2-3

photo 1-3  photo 5-2  photo 4-2  photo 3-2

photo 2-2

After writing all of the numbers and letters down and deciphering the small symbol that contains a three letter set inside a circle as DIF, I jumped on the ol’ interwebs to see what I could find out. As of right now I’ve only had a couple of things pop up. I found that the three letters DIF most likely refer to Deerborn Iron Foundry, a subsidiary of Ford motors, who would do castings. However, I did find something interesting regarding whether or not these parts where cast or forged. Most likely the frame is made of forged parts pieced together to create a custom frame because, according to a few members on the AMCA (Antique Motorcycle Club of America) website, “the grains of sand make sharp lettering almost impossible to achieve.”

I’m going to try and dig deeper and post the pics on chopcult.com or Jockeyjournal.com to see if I can drum up some information. If anybody has any input, PLEASE don’t hesitate to fire off an email or leave a comment! For now, here is a pic of the frame wearing it’s new color so damn well.

IMG_2659  IMG_2685

Until next time – Scott

Surprises while Sanding with Scott



Hello out there to everyone reading this in Internetland. My name is Scott, and I’m the vintage motorcycle service tech at Speed Deluxe. I needed to sand down and strip the paint and bondo off of the fuel tank from my 1948 Panhead chopper as part of my rebuild. I decided, with some persuasion from my boss Jamie, to document this procedure. Sit back, crack a beer and laugh at me, my first attempt at sanding and what I discovered waiting for me hiding underneath.

Here’s what I started with: a custom fabricated “alien tank” with some sketchy-at-best weld and repair jobs.

photo 1photo 2 photo 3 photo 4


First, I removed the tank badges. (Note the AMF name being run upside down because…well, read up on your Harley history.)

photo 5


Next, I put on my stylin’ safety equipment that included a face shield to protect my meal ticket, a respirator to protect my lungs and work gloves to protect my digits.

Safety gear


Then, I got crackin’! The tank began to reveal her secrets to me…

photo 2 - Copy photo 3 - Copy photo 4 - Copy photo 5 - Copyphoto 1 - Copy (2) photo 2 - Copy (2)


Check out the metal warping and all-around gnarlyness in that last pic. The boss-man, Adam, said it was more than likely due to someone heating and hammering the metal in an attempt shrink it.

photo 3 - Copy (2) photo 4 - Copy (2) photo 5 - Copy (2)


After getting all of the old paint and bondo removed, I closely inspected the entire tank with Adam only to discover we had a LOT MORE repairs and time to put into the tank than previously estimated. Since we’re on a pretty tight build schedule of a couple of weeks, Adam suggested that I instead try to tackle the repair job during winter and simply use a different tank now. We both agreed that since Speed Deluxe usually follows a “Built-not-Bought” credo, we should go ahead and plan out what kind of tank we would build from scratch.



New Handlebar Line

We are working on producing a range of bars all made by hand in house. First off the line are these drag bars. We’ll be stocking these in bare steel, powder coated black, and chrome. More to come over the next 2 weeks. We can also fabricate bars to your specs in both 7/8″ and 1″ diameter.


3rd Annual Tennessee Motorama

We’ll be attending the 3rd annual Tennessee Motorama in Murfreesboro on January 4-5th, showing the Triumph and with a vendor spot. We’ll have our Harley FXR and the Honda CB350 Cafe Racer with us in the booth, for sale. We’ll post photos in advance of those bikes, for anyone that’s interested. We’ll also have a selection of t-shirts (ours and those by BoMonster) in addition to prints (Chris Piscitelli, BoMonster, Keith Weesner), BoMonster iPhone cases, Lowbrow Customs grips, and our own custom-made handlebars. Pics of those to come…watch this space.

We look forward to seeing you there!