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Discussion Starter #1
I'm looking at planning the build of a cafe racer project. It currently looks like it's going to be cb600 based as I've seen a few builds that seem on the whole relatively straight forward. I'm going to be doing this on my driveway/in my apartment courtyard as I have no garage and I'm looking at doing as much of the work myself from a fabrication point. LAser cutting I could maybe get done at my work of any components, paint and powder coating I can get done relatively locally and there is a motorcycle garage workshop a mile up the road from me who could probably help with any small problems I am having. I have hand tools such as spanners and socket sets and screw drivers and allen keys and saws. I'm wondering about what power tools I may need to purchase, I need to cut the rear portion of the frame a little bit so a reciprocating saw may be a handy purchase along with a hand angle grinder. I'm more concerned about any welding I have to do, I know some people say avoid flux core welders but I've been looking at videos and people seem to be getting decent welds out of them with maybe a bit more manual cleaning afterwards to clean them up. What are people experiences and would something like a 100amp unit be enough to weld in subframe parts or other bits.

Cheers
 

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You didn't mention if you have a drill, which is the first electric tool you'll need. A 125mm (5") angle grinder, definitely not bigger is second. With that and an ordinary hacksaw you can do all cutting needed. Next on my list would be an air compressor with a straight grinder.
I can't give you any welder advice, after decades of gas welding, stick, MIG/MAG and TIG, I still think I'm an amateur.
The thing you must have is a good, not too small, vice, rigidly mounted.
But the main thing is to have the ordinary hand tools needed.
And of course Workshop Manual for the bike.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I have a drill and drill bits, angle grinder and hacksaw will be getting purchased in due course as I’ll need these for other things. Welders I’m still needing a hand with. I’ve been inspired by the Assae Honda hornet and the XTR Hornets and know that I’m going to at least need to do a little welding. I’m going to try and contact those two builders and see what their experiences were
 

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As far as MIG goes, it depends on where in the world you are and what your budget is. Personally, I stick with major name brands like Lincoln or Miller, so if something goes wrong, I can get it fixed locally. Go watch a bunch of YouTube videos and figure out what features you want. Get the gas setup with it, so you don't have to rely on flux core all the time. Turning yourself lose on a frame with a welder is not a good place to start, even if it is just. a "hoop".
I use a Lincoln 135, which I believe has now morphed into a 140. I have never used flux core with it and when welding outside, I use stick. Take a course at the local community college, they might even let you drag your frame into class and then the instructor can help keep you from getting in over your head.
I like the Lincoln and have no regrets.
 

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those shitty china welders with flux core wire are for fools
you would be 10 times better off with stick welding
to be a beginner band learn pushing flux core is stupid because for one thing the technique is quite diff with flux core than any other
second you cannot nsee the puddle worth shit
the only way to go about learning welding is with oxy ace
ffs you gotta have a torch set anyway and learning oxy ace weld is not difficult
 

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I would vote yes for oxy acetylene, but the tanks are a bit of a PITA . Rental fees, certification, transporting acetylene etc. Having them large enough to be worthwhile would make schlepping them up and down from his apartment annoying, not to mention it might raise an eyebrow or two. Brazing is a worthwhile art form and you can do it with oxy propane, so a smaller bottle of O2 (you can tell them it's for when uncle Harold visits) and the tank from the barbecue might not get the landlords knickers in a twist. I recently bought an Oxy propane setup which is strictly for heating , annealing, bending. No good for welding, but brazing is fine.

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I'm looking at planning the build of a cafe racer project. It currently looks like it's going to be cb600 based as I've seen a few builds that seem on the whole relatively straight forward.
Can you post some of these? Often what newbies think of as cool or straightforward often end up being hacked together death traps built almost solely to pose with on Instagram and not actually ride.

I'm going to be doing this on my driveway/in my apartment courtyard as I have no garage and I'm looking at doing as much of the work myself from a fabrication point.
Well it sounds like the first thing you will need is a garage. If you are doing any kind of project that requires fabrication, and I mean real fabrication like welding and working with composites you need a place where you can just leave things for a few days and not have it contaminated by the elements. I'm not knocking driveway built bikes, but the ones that I have seen that have been successful were basically bolt on jobs, not heavy projects that require the bike to be half blown apart for months on end. I have seen englishmen do some fantastic restorations on their back patios, and even some amazing customs built, but those were done by experienced individuals who started with bolting on parts to a running bike and then progressed in their skills development over time, one project at a time on a running bike, till their were highly skilled. For a noob, the error rate and learning curve is just too high to have a successful experience working 100% out doors.

To that end, I suggest you look for a different bike, one with a real aftermarket. Something like a CB750 SOHC you could do as a completely bolt on bike and it would work and you could ride it as you go, plus it leaves room for small fabrication projects later on if that is what you want to learn (maybe put that lazer cutter to real use and make your own rearset brackets).


LAser cutting I could maybe get done at my work of any components, paint and powder coating I can get done relatively locally and there is a motorcycle garage workshop a mile up the road from me who could probably help with any small problems I am having. I have hand tools such as spanners and socket sets and screw drivers and allen keys and saws. I'm wondering about what power tools I may need to purchase, I need to cut the rear portion of the frame a little bit so a reciprocating saw may be a handy purchase along with a hand angle grinder. I'm more concerned about any welding I have to do, I know some people say avoid flux core welders but I've been looking at videos and people seem to be getting decent welds out of them with maybe a bit more manual cleaning afterwards to clean them up. What are people experiences and would something like a 100amp unit be enough to weld in subframe parts or other bits.

Cheers
If you are going to work on a japanese bike, I suggest a set of JIS screwdrivers and an impact driver (not an impact gun). An honest to god drill press (not just a hand drill and a bunch of bits) is probably the most useful power tool for any motorcyclist looking to work on their own bike. I've rarely if ever used an angle grinder or sawsall, and honestly it's mostly a tool for hacks who just think it's cool to make sparks and rarely used properly. I know the interwebs are filled with vids of "custom bike builders" hacking and slashing away with abandon but that kind of makes my point, not contradicts it - it makes for good TV content, and mediocre custom bikes.
 

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Can you post some of these? Often what newbies think of as cool or straightforward often end up being hacked together death traps built almost solely to pose with on Instagram and not actually ride.



Well it sounds like the first thing you will need is a garage. If you are doing any kind of project that requires fabrication, and I mean real fabrication like welding and working with composites you need a place where you can just leave things for a few days and not have it contaminated by the elements. I'm not knocking driveway built bikes, but the ones that I have seen that have been successful were basically bolt on jobs, not heavy projects that require the bike to be half blown apart for months on end. I have seen englishmen do some fantastic restorations on their back patios, and even some amazing customs built, but those were done by experienced individuals who started with bolting on parts to a running bike and then progressed in their skills development over time, one project at a time on a running bike, till their were highly skilled. For a noob, the error rate and learning curve is just too high to have a successful experience working 100% out doors.

To that end, I suggest you look for a different bike, one with a real aftermarket. Something like a CB750 SOHC you could do as a completely bolt on bike and it would work and you could ride it as you go, plus it leaves room for small fabrication projects later on if that is what you want to learn (maybe put that lazer cutter to real use and make your own rearset brackets).




If you are going to work on a japanese bike, I suggest a set of JIS screwdrivers and an impact driver (not an impact gun). An honest to god drill press (not just a hand drill and a bunch of bits) is probably the most useful power tool for any motorcyclist looking to work on their own bike. I've rarely if ever used an angle grinder or sawsall, and honestly it's mostly a tool for hacks who just think it's cool to make sparks and rarely used properly. I know the interwebs are filled with vids of "custom bike builders" hacking and slashing away with abandon but that kind of makes my point, not contradicts it - it makes for good TV content, and mediocre custom bikes.
Geeto, I agree with you 99.9% of the time, but an angle grinder is one of my most used tools.
It came in handy when I built this CB350


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Geeto, I agree with you 99.9% of the time, but an angle grinder is one of my most used tools.
It came in handy when I built this CB350
Well, I bet you didn't build that 350 in a coupe of weeks on your back patio outside either.

For every person that knows how and when to use an angle grinder appropriately, there have to be at least 10 would be mechanics wearing shortsleves, no eye protection, and who just attack their project with the mentality of "Let me just make a few cuts and then I can figure the rest out".

I'm not saying it isn't a tool with a use, Its just that from my experience it's a tool that is overused for the wrong reasons and incorrectly. Anytime I hear a newbie say - "I'm totally stoked to begin, I have some basic tools and an angle grinder" my first thought is "welp, there is a bike that will never run or ride correctly again".

I will say that when I had a home shop with a lift and tools, I had a bench grinder/wire wheel setup that I used plenty.

One tool I wish I kept that I threw away when moving was my old rock tumbler. I used to spend money on stainless fasteners, discarding old bolts, and then a NY Vinmoto guy showed me how he home cleaned and plated his old hardware with an old rock tumbler. results were stunning, and once you had the setup it cost literally pennies to do. Eastwood and Caswell have plating kits that run under $100 and can do several bikes worth of hardware and fasteners, but the hard part was always cleaning the hardware - which is where the rock tumbler comes in. Again, though, you kind of need a garage to do both those things.
 

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Yeah I second the garage/work space. I own a home and have a shed but still don't have a proper place to work on my "project" bike. The frame is in the art room waiting for paint. The wheels are leaned against my desk waiting for a rebuild and the engine is in the shed untouched. Everything takes way longer and there is plenty of opportunity for loss and fuck up along the way. My next tool will be a designated area for a bike rebuild. Should have been my first step. Cheers
 

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Just my 2 cents here.... if you’re planning on riding he bike, do your due diligence on the laws regulating what’s legal in terms of hack and slash. I’ve recently been looking at buying another project and eBay is a fucking graveyard for hacked up 750’s which were destroyed beyond saving by a grinder and a welder, destined to be garbage because they can’t be legally registered due to failed inspections. The regulars on this forum saved me from making that mistake myself so I figured I would pass it along. Also, welding in an apartment seems like a good way to get evicted.
 

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I have a flux core and a stick welder. I use the flux core the most. It's convenient, doesn't run out of gas and you can get decent welds if you prep properly.

If you are learning to weld, then you need to practice on stuff that isn't going to be on your motorbike first up. You don't want to be welding structural stuff as a learning curve.

And +1 to what everyone else has said about not cutting the shit out of your frame with an angle grinder and checking local laws for what is legal / not.
 

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Flux core wire welders work fine. Even the cheap POS back in the day from Sears could do the job. I built an entire half rack weightlifting setup with it probably 12 years ago and I still use it today. (To hang shit on)

Thing is that it worked on a narrow range of thickness. Too thin and you were blowing through. Too thick, poor penetration. Know your limitations and flux core is fast, easy and just as good as mig.

As for motorcycle frame welding, I swear the OEM welds look like flux core. But trying it yourself... i dont think its wise without a TON of practice and testing.
 

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You're speaking in way to general of terms when you say what you can and can't do with MIG or flux core. With .045 innershield you can weld up to 1/2" thick with flux core. You can weld down to 20 gauge sheet. The same goes for MIG. It depends on the size of your electrode, your voltage and feed settings and the length of your stick out, whether you're working with 115V or 230V, etc.
 

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I realizr that. My comments were more directed at cheap flux core machines than the process itself
 

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If you are going to work on a japanese bike, I suggest a set of JIS screwdrivers and an impact driver (not an impact gun). An honest to god drill press (not just a hand drill and a bunch of bits) is probably the most useful power tool for any motorcyclist looking to work on their own bike. I've rarely if ever used an angle grinder or sawsall, and honestly it's mostly a tool for hacks who just think it's cool to make sparks and rarely used properly.
I agree 100%. A good-quality drill press is an absolute lifesaver. On the other hand, if you are willing to go slow and put some elbow grease into it, most of the tasks you'd use an impact wrench and a grinder to do can be accomplished just as accurately with cheap, simple hand tools such as a handheld impact driver, hack saw, files, sandpaper, tap and die set, etc. Hand tools also are also easier to control, leading to fewer ruined parts from power tools getting away from you and gouging or breaking something. But, of course, we're talking a WHOLE LOT more time. The job is going to take a certain amount of time x money; reducing one side of the equation increases the other.

As far as welding goes, It's really, really difficult to learn to weld well without some amount of formal instruction. My welding instructor said we should think of a welder like a violin – you can buy one and manage to make some noise with it the very same day, but that doesn't make you a violinist. Managing to stick two pieces of metal together doesn't make you a welder, either.
 

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Flux core welding 20g steel would be a neat trick id like to see. Kinda like putting i. Finishing nails with a 20 pound sledgehammer

Great for laying down tack welds quick and dirty or welding >1/8" structural steel tubing. If I was building a jig, mig or flux core would be the process Id use.

Frame tubing? Maybe in a pinch. Sheet metal, no way. You simply lack control of heat input you have with tig. The thinner you weld, the more control matters.
 

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I learned to braze before I ever had the opportunity to use a welder and I think it has served me well. I've been welding more than 40 years and am quite comfortable in any format, pretty solid beads in most positions. When I need something done that involves mechanical safety I go see the guys at the fab shop and am reminded that I really don't know shit about welding or metal fab.
 
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