Published In the November 2013 Issue Of Cycle Source
Words and Photos By: Ross Lenoir and Ian Smith of Americana Speed Shop
Shaving brake tabs and fender mounts off of cast fork lower legs is a timeless modification that most Chopper Jockeys make a priority when building their rides. In my opinion, nothing looks worse than running a beautiful spool hub front wheel, but then leaving ugly factory castings on the lower legs. The following is a step-by-step process of how we shave fork legs at Americana Speed Shop.
Step 1: Like most projects, planning the steps in advance will
make the project run smoothly. Deciding factors like whether or not you will be running a front brake, therefore needing brake mounting tabs, need to be thought out. Once you cut, you commit!
Step 2: The project bike we are working on will be running a spool hub. So both brake tabs and fender tabs are removed. We use a bandsaw, but this obviously can be done with a variety of hand tools. Remember that you can always take more off, so be careful not to cut too deep and risk gouging the fork leg.
Step 3: Careful removal of the lower fork clamp mounting studs is critical to provide clearance for the live center in the lathe.
Step 4 : To achieve the most
uniform look, we prefer to weld the drain holes up. Most people I know just dump fork oil out of the tops of the fork tubes once removed, so welding this hole up is not an issue. Again, it’s your choice.
Step 5: We use a feral (inserted in lower fork bolt hole) that gives a flat plane to seat the live center. The goal is to have the fork leg as stable as possible in the lathe.
Step 6: The initial pass in the lathe is set to take a small amount of material. Again, you can always make more passes, so the goal in the beginning is to get the cleanest area to work with. It’s best to finish the first leg all the way, then measure OD and match the second leg to that OD. Paying attention to tool plunge depth is critical on the lathe.
Step 7: All fork lowers are different. Factory castings are full of imperfections. The casting flaw pictured is a good example and it needs to be welded up — adding material vs. continuing to make passes in the lathe. Doing so risks making the leg too thin. Not a good thing when you’re riding the wild thunder at 90 m.p.h. with your bros!
Step 8: Thin, decorative cuts can be added to achieve a desired look. We have been adding a series of ribs (we call it “Big Bird Style”) lately and people seem to dig it. Here is where you can be creative; a series of ribs at the top and bottom can add a nice touch.
Step 9: Using sandpaper (thin tape strip style), you can let your lathe do the work and soften sharp edges. ScotchBrite pads are also a good way to achieve the “brushed” look, or you can take it all the way to a full polish finish.
Step 10: Here is a side-by-side comparison of ribbed and nonribbed fork lowers. Reassemble the fork lowers and fork tubes using your factory service manual. Feel free to email us if you have any questions: AmericanaSpeedShop@gmail. com. Now get out there and chop something!