Garage-Built Custom, Lowbrow Style, Part1

Tyler Malinky’s Panhead Project

01. The donor bike for Tyler’s project was a ’59 FLH motor and transmission in a fairly stock swingarm frame.

02. Rather than break down the original chassis any further, Tyler opted for a rigid repop frame to build the chopper of his dreams.

03. Putting an old-school window on the neck casting seemed like a good place to start.

04. A pneumatic die grinder, hand files, and a Dremel tool with assorted attachments were used to remove the reinforcement in the stock casting.

05. Tyler applied patience and elbow grease to remove the rough spots on the casting.

06. Tyler used TIG welding to close unnecessary holes in the casting, but MIG works equally well. For very large holes, small pieces of patch material are sometimes helpful.

07. After approximately four hours of hand cutting, power and file grinding, TIG welding, and gentle resurfacing, this was the result. Note the cast tank-mounting lug had also been removed (arrow).

08. The steer tube on Tyler’s early ’50s Triumph fork was too short to span the distance between the neck cups on his H-D spec repop frame. Tyler turned a piece of 1-inch O.D. cold rolled steel on the lathe to create the reinforcement slug that adds 0.50 inch of length to the Triumph steer tube.

09. Tyler chamfered the center of the slug and both ends of the cut Triumph steer tube to provide plenty of room for weld penetration. This V-block jig applied even pressure to both ends of the severed steer tube to keep the assembly square during welding.

10. If Tyler’s TIG welds were significantly taller than the outside diameter of the grafted steer tube, sanding or turning of the steer tube might have been required. Fortunately, the lower neck bearing slid over the welded slug assembly without issue.

11. After adding a visual flourish to two steel rod sections on the lathe, Tyler drilled holes in his lower tree to accept his homemade fork stops, then welded them from the underside (blue arrows).Tyler then slid the lower tree and longer steer tube assembly into the frame’s neck tube, and moved onto crafting the center fork stop on the frame’s neck. Note the piece of hex stock welded into the hole on Tyler’s modified casting (red arrow).

12. Dry fitting the assembled trees on the frame’s H-D–style neck proved the veracity of Tyler’s stretched neck concept. It’s a perfect fit.

13. This photo shows the appearance of Tyler’s top tree before and after aesthetic modifications. Tyler chopped off the gauge mounts, closed unnecessary mounting holes with weld material, and smoothed the entire part with flap disks and sandpaper.

14. Several holes on the repop frame weren’t needed—the seat post plunger and internal tach cable routing hole, for instance—so Tyler turned some stylish alloy bits on his lathe to make plugs.

15. Tyler drilled and tapped a small hole in the frame casting to accept a setscrew, which proved sufficient for holding this alloy bung in place.

16. This photo shows the Triumph fork grafted onto the H-D repop frame in all its smoothed and polished glory. Next month Tyler will show us how he mounted the oil bag and solo seat, and how to build a classic sissy bar.

A renaissance in motorcycle customizing is happening before our eyes, but if you’re among the gawkers who flock to full dressers like moths to a skull headlight, you may not have noticed. Garage-built choppers are as common as flannel shirts at underground events like SoCal’s Slab City Riot and the East Coast Gypsy Run, but seldom do we get a glimpse at the build-up process on the pages of respected slicks such as HOT BIKE. That is, until now.

Tyler Malinky is the founding grease monkey at Lowbrow Customs in Medina, Ohio. In less than a decade this Buckeye-based wholesaler and online retailer has built a dedicated following among bootstrap builders worldwide. Given Tyler’s personal affinity for British iron, Lowbrow has always catered to the Triumph crowd. In 2010 Tyler stumbled upon a Panhead project that was too good to pass up. In a go-getter style typical of Rust Belt entrepreneurs, Tyler jumped into that project with both feet, documenting many DIY fab steps along the way to broaden his company’s appeal and to grow his personal quiver of bikes and shop skills.

This three-part feature doesn’t delve into the nuts and bolts of kit bike assembly in gory detail—plenty of TV shows have already done that. Instead, we chose to highlight some of Tyler’s most creative tips to spin them into building blocks for motivated home fabricators. Part one shows how Tyler grafted a Triumph fork onto his customized repop rigid frame, plus some other tips shade-tree mechanics may find helpful along the way. HB

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**Low Brow Customs **
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