Introduction: The Copper Chopper
Third Prize in the
Halloween Decorations Contest
This project took me far too many hours, more than i would be willing admit. But it also started out as just an idea,to a concept,to an obsession, a little sleep deprivation, then finally reality. All that YOU have to do, is just build something you have seen on here. One of the best features of this item, is you can use it year after year,the only thing you need to replace is 2 pumpkins and 1 gourd for gas tank, the down side to this is, you have to find the proper size pumpkins and gourd each year.Not to difficult if you go to a large pumpkin patch with a good variety to choose from.The pumpkins also last quite awhile, because you do not carve them in any way, what so ever.
Step 1: Get the Materials
These are the materials that you will need :
(2) 10' copper 3/4" tubes ( for full frame),
(1) 5' copper 1/8" tubing (for foot rests & web outlines),
(12) 90 degree elbow fittings,
(10) 45 degree elbow fittings,
(10) T fittings,
foam padding (for seat and bed roll),
*material for seat and bed roll,
(4) table leg glides (adjustable/threaded, these are used for holding wheels in place),
(4) speed nuts (used to hold adjustable table leg glide wheel holders)
(1) large plastic skeleton (for rider),
(1) small plastic skeleton (for web crawler),
head lights & tail lights,
14 gauge wiring and crimp connectors ( for lighting),
12 volt sealed (spill proof battery),
15 amp fuse w/ holder,
braided and solid core copper wiring with insulation removed (used for webs and front fork springs),
1/8th"copper-plate material (used on forks and rear axle),
paint and primer,
*General Motors air ride suspension air compressor,
rubber O rings ( for spring retainers on front forks),
(1) gourde for gas tank,
(2) pumpkins (similar in size & shape for tires),
coat hanger wiring (used to pull wiring through frame; for concealing),
*(1) lighted skull for decoration,
*(1) hilt from toy sword (plastic),
* ink pen grips for use on handle bars,
*(1) plastic sink trap piping for exhaust pipe.
* Items with * are optional based on builders' preferences for desired effect.
Step 2: Get the Tools
These are the TOOLS you will need :
1 metal tubing bender,
1 metal tubing cutter,
Solder and flux,
Propane torches (small and large),
Drill and bits,
Wire cutter/ stripper & crimping tool (usually 3 in 1 tool),
Round and flat files,
Die grinder with cutting wheels and Roloc abrasion pads,or sand paper
Most important tool of all; YOUR IMAGINATION
Step 3: Assembling Your Copper Chopper
I did a web search for chopper frame images.and found this one http://www.custom-choppers-guide.com/motorcycle-frame-plans.html . You may find a frame design you like and use that one. I found it necessary to make a few minor changes to accommodate the pumpkins as wheels. And the gourde, used as a gas tank. I used the picture that I had as a guide line, rather than copying it. So, I have provided a link to a picture that you may use, if you like. A lot of this project is really builder preferences and taste.
You will want to assemble your frame, testing to make sure your pieces fit together properly, also that it looks like it should. Once you are satisfied, begin with Flux and solder your frame together.If you find that once it has been put to together a minor adjustment to piece is needed, no problem, just reheat the soldered area until the solder melts and make your adjustments.
Using copper is kind of expensive for this project, but I wanted something sturdy,that I could use over and over for years to come.The alternative method would be to use pvc pipe and fittings, the down side to this is if you assemble it and find that a minor adjustment is needed, and you have glued the pieces together, you will need to cut out and replace that portion because it is permanently fused together.Also pvc can change shape if exposed to the elements and not sitting on a level surface, it could warp out of original shape.
Step 4: Building Your Webs
Now that you have your frame intact, use the 1/8" copper tubing to solder in the frame for the webs.This is the process I used for the webs at rear wheel area.
I drew webs on a cardboard template cut to the size of the opening on frame,laid template on a piece of wood and installed nails at the intersecting points, then bent the solid core copper wire at the spots the nails were installed on the pattern, once all the wires were bent in the proper shape , i then soldered the solid core wire at the intersecting points,once this was completed, i was then able to take the rigid web assemblies and solder them to the frame,I found that using a small pin point torch tip worked best for this because using a large torch tip heated up the already soldered section and caused them to come undone and fall apart.
The web just under the gas tank is braided wire that has been stripped of its insulation, twisted tightly, applied flux to the surface, applied solder along the length of the wire, this made it very rigid and was able to form that wire into web pattern and solder into place..
The web located under seat area is made from some 14 gauge stranded wire with the insulation still intact, only removed insulation at the intersecting points and applied flux and solder in those areas.I then fastened at the top and bottom to hold it in place.
Step 5: Building the Forks
I used some 1/8th " copper plate that I had, to make the upper section of forks, I drilled out 2 holes 3/4 " in diameter for the forks in the upper and lower plates,these are mounted above and below the goose neck,.also drilled a 3rd hole for mounting forks to the bike, I found some hollow round spacers to go inside the goose neck that allowed a mounting bolt to pass through the center and be tightened without it causing a problem with steering , I then assembled the forks with the elbows and straight tubes of the desired lengths. The springs on the front forks were made from solid core copper wire, I wrapped the wire around a piece of 3/4 " tubing multiple times and kept sliding it together and pulling it tighter as I went until the desired length spring was obtained.I then gently pulled the spring outward, stretching it uniformly, to give even spaces at each coiled area.At the tips of the forks I made the pieces that hold the speed nuts, out of the same 1/8" copper plate.using 2 strips approx 3/4" wide and 1 1/2" long,I then cut 2 slits in each of the fork tubes, this allowed the plate pieces to be inserted at the tip of forks, I then fluxed and soldered each piece into place.This is where the adjustable table leg glides are installed to use for holding the pumpkin in place instead of having a front axle through the pumpkin which would cause pumpkin to rot very quickly.The handle bars are built as a separate section that is easily removed for packing the whole chopper into a smaller container for storage till next Halloween.The handle grips and the headlight holders I used, came from some ink pens that I had on hand, things like the grips and the headlight holders are things that you will just have to use your imagination on and keep an open mind as to what might work for you and your chopper.Also at the bottom of the forks i used a hilt (handle) from a child's plastic sword, disassembled into 2 pieces attached some plastic clamping pieces that allows the pieces to be easily snapped into place.I CANT STRESS ENOUGH, USE YOUR IMAGINATION!
Step 6: Building the Seat and Bed Roll
The seat is kind of tricky, it requires sewing multiple pieces of material together at odd positions, for this i got some help from a upholster friend of mine who was a tremendous help.The bed roll was just a piece of foam pad as long as the skeleton is tall( approx 3 feet ).I then took a piece of material 2 feet wide and 3 feet long. Sewn along edges with pad inserted.Rolled it up, attached some straps with velcro also I had the skull patch laying around that is afixed to the bed roll.
Step 7: Installing the Lights
The lights I used are all from automotive applications requiring 12 volt dc power.The headlights I used came from a custom van in a wrecking yard,they were located on the inside ,mounted to the ceiling as map lights for rear passengers.It was 1 fixture with 2 swivel lights that I disassembled. The tail lights were something I just had laying around.First I twisted 2 wires together by use of a drill and the bench vise, this helps with feeding the wires through the frame for concealment. Use a coat hanger wire to help pull wires through. Securely attach wires to the headlights and taillights , polarity may or may not be an issue depending on what your using for your lights. I used a small 12 volt dc battery i obtained from a computer backup power supply box. it is a sealed, spill proof ,rechargeable 12 volt battery.I also installed a AC/DC 12 volt 500 ma convertor to the battery to keep battery from going dead. I attached a negative battery terminal wire to the ground side of bulbs. On the positive terminal I have a short wire going to a 15 amp fuse, then to a ON-OFF-ON switch , from the switch power can then be either switched to turn lights on constant power or switched to feed power through a turn signal flasher which causes the lights to blink, with the blinking lights you conserve battery power and also draw attention to your display. AS IF DRAWING MORE ATTENTION TO YOUR COPPER CHOPPER IS NEEDED.
Step 8: Installing the Engine
I used a air compressor that can be found in a automotive wrecking yard on a very large amount of General Motors vehicles from 1980's and 1990's that is used for the air ride suspension system.I did not power this motor up for this application, only because I couldn't think of a use for compressed air in this application, or else I would have supplied power to it as well.I used a piece of scrap sheet metal and formed it to fit into frame then mounted engine to that to hold engine in place.
Step 9: The Rider and Passenger
The rider and passenger are plastic skeletons I purchased from a local variety store, i used a heat gun to very slowly and carefully bend the fingers to get the hands to grip the handle bars on the large skeleton and did this to the smaller one to allow the feet and hands to grip the web.
Step 10: Building the Display Stand
I used some scrap plywood and 2x4's to build my display,installed a hinged door which is positioned behind front tire and in front of the engine area to allow access to the underside where my battery,12 volt 500 ma ac/dc convertor,flasher,fuse and on-off-on switch is located.Attached and covered the entire display box in black carpet , this gives your project a very clean and classy look.If you look closely at the pictures you will notice that i also added a carpeted spacer block located just below engine area and the display box to help hold the chopper upright and make it stable as there is no kick stand.
Step 11: Primer and Paint
Once I had everything made the way I liked it, I removed all the accessories , sanded pieces where necessary, used a die grinder with Roloc abrasion pads on entire surfaces to remove any foreign material. I then painted with primer, then applied 2 coats of metallic copper paint and 2 coats of clear.Once it is dry, reassemble entire chopper and test all accessories for proper operation.Hopefully the pumpkins you choose to use are fresh when you start this project, you do not want your tires going flat before you finish building your own COPPER CHOPPER! Enjoy yourself and get a feeling of pride as you watch the expressions on people faces when their chin drops to the ground from utter amazement at what you just built. Trust me, it happens! I did enlist the help of some friends of mine who were a tremendous help.
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