Introduction: Replica Vintage Motorcycle

About: Fixer, Finder, Fabricator. I teach engineering to high school students, at St Marys Secondary College in Nathalia VIC Australia
I've been want to build something unique for some time, something I could take to the "show us ya wheels" car show and know that no one has see one of these before. Only problem not to much space in the garage and old and unique= $. I did quite a bit of research before I started this project, and  decided I wanted to build vintage Motorcycle something that looks like it came out of the 1920s or older, problem is rare+old =$$$.
 A 1912 Harley sold at auction in 2011 for $115000  There is no way I would be spending that amount.
I then came across a bike called a whizzer, made in the US, between 1939 to 1965 but they look much older,  I spoke to every motorbike nut I know none them have ever heard of a whizzer. (very rare in Australia) and when I showed my 90+ year old neighbour a photograph of one he said, he thought his dad had one when he was a kid and it was old then! Perfect!  if I can fool him I should be able to fool some more people at the car show!
After a bit more research I found that a company in Taiwan has started making  replica engines, and the frame is almost Identical to a schwinn beach cruiser bike.
Looks like everything got a whole lot easier, and less expensive.
If you have a look at the photos on this step you can see whizzer engines fitted to different frames.
as requested here is a video of the finished bike,

whizzer video

Step 1: Stuff You Will Need

  • You will need to find yourself a beach cruiser bike, with the large balloon tires, There seems to be quite a few Schwinn copies around, which have the same frame design. I found here in Australia that a proper Schwinn beach cruiser with any age is very rarely for sale and when they do come up a very long way from where I live.  I settled for a " six three zero" copy of a schwinn $70 from ebay
  • The engine kit also came from ebay $770 + $140 freight.
  • I also had to buy a springer front fork. ebay $70
  • guards or fenders also from ebay $60
  • wide peddle crank $37
  • drill and bits
  • spanners, sockets and Allen keys
  • vice
  • hack saw
  • mig welder
  • grinder
  • paint, sand paper, masking tape
  • drinking straws

Step 2: Getting the Parts

I found all the parts on ebay  but the most difficult was getting the right sort of bike, it took me over 6 months of looking to find this bike (a  six three zero beach cruiser)  it wasn't exactly what I wanted but, its pretty close to the Schwinn frame that most whizzer bike are based on.
The engine kit came from here
which was the only place I could find that sells them.  I found a genuine whizzer engine on ebay, but at $3000 it was way out of my budget.
The Fenders and springer forks are easy to find just do a search in ebay and you will find lots of them.
In Australia all this stuff is quite rare so it I looked on the US ebay site, which had everything I needed but just watch the freight, it can be expensive.

Step 3: Dressing Up the Frame

The first thing to do was to make the bike look a bit  more like an old motorbike, so I f you look at the before and after photos, I fitted the springer forks, fenders (or guards as we call them here) goose necked the seat, painted the rims and cleaned the white wall tyres.
I wanted to move the seat back as much as I could as my knees were very close to the handle bars, and I wanted to make the bike look longer and lower.
This is pretty easy I just cut the seat poll at a 45 degree angle, flipped it and welded at 90 degrees.
Its then smoothed off with a grinder and sanding disic and the mount under the seat adjusted to fit.

Step 4: Replacing the Forks

There is no real skill required here, There is a bolt in the top of the head steam that is loosened off and tapped down to release the wedge shaped nut inside the forks.
Next remove the lock nuts around the top of the forks, if you don't have the right size spanners you can tap them lose with a center punch and hammer.
Remove the forks and then remove the bearings, there is also a an inner bearing race that needs to be remove from the old forks which can be just tapped of with a drift and hammer and fitted to the new forks.
Assembly is just the reverse of the above, but I did find on my new forks that the threaded head steam was too long, so I made a spacer from an old seat pole to correct the problem
Carefully  adjust the bearing preload with the lock nuts the forks should not bind or rattle around.

Step 5: Painting the Rims

This step is quite time consuming and rather tedious. As old bikes use to have steel wheels and mine has aluminum wheels I thought I would disguise the rims with some red paint.
First I removed the wheels and tyres, and split 72 drinking straws so they could be used to mask the spokes. Trust me this in not as fun as it sounds.
 Ive use masking tape on spokes before and the result is not very good and the tape is almost impossible to remove from the spokes afterwards. I cleaned and sanded the rims then fitted the straws to the spokes. A little tape held the straws in place. I then used the old forks to hold the wheel while it been painted. I used the best quality paint I could buy in a spray can and it payed off, as the paint came out brilliantly. Don't be fooled into buying  that cheap $2 paint it is absolute crap.

Step 6: Fitting the Fenders and Cleaning the White Wall Tyres

Again this is really easy as I was waiting for paint to dry, it was a go opportunity  to clean the tyres and fit the fenders.
After a fair amount of research, and trial and error with various cleaning products I found the best thing to clean the white walls is hot soapy water and a pot scrubber.
When I bought my fenders, I made sure they were the type with two support brackets on each fender, some of the newer style fenders only  have one support and look modern
This is very easy just bolt on the fenders before you put the wheels back on.

Step 7: Unpacking the Kit and Fitting the Sheave

I was really impressed with kit the quality of the casting on the engine are excellent,  perhaps even a little too good for an old engine, so with everything out of the boxes it was time to make a start.
The first thing in the instructions is fit the "belt clearance fender template" and cut part of the rear fender.  Well this is not a good start as the template is missing from the kit.
Never mind Ill get to that later on to the next step, fitting the sheave. This also was very easy,  just remove the rear wheel and clamp it on the spokes. You then need to check that it is centered and tighten the clamps  fully. I found that it was very close to center and didn't need much adjustment at all as the shape of the clamps forced me to fit it in the center of the wheel.
Next fit the long belt and refit the wheel, chain and the brake arm.
I found that the sheave now touched the frame, so I move a washer on the axle from the outside to the inside of the frame and this gave it enough clearance.

Step 8: Engine Mounts

I spent quite a bit of time trying to get the engine to fit with the mounts that came with the kit but they  are quite  ugly and didn't really fit my frame very well, they also made the engine sit quite high in the frame. I decided to make my own, which turned out to be pretty easy.
First rule of making engine mounts, is can you still get the engine out after you weld the mount on?
I remove the factory engine mounting studs and replaced them with bolts,to make it easier to remove the engine. I then marked out the bottom of the engine case and transferred that to the frame and drill a hole in the frame. This became the lower mount.
The other 2 mounts where made with a small piece of flat and some spaces (again so the engine can be removed)
The frames paint was remove where it was going to be welded and after every thing was check for straightness  and alignment the mount were welded into place.

Step 9: Fitting the Vintage Throttle Control

The kit comes with with quite a nice clutch, brake and throttle control. It has all the switches and buttons you could ever want, But as Im going for the vintage look I wanted to use something that looks a bit more vintage. I found a throttle control from an old machine and it fits the handle bars so I thought I would fit it as a thumb throttle control.
First task is to cut off the small cable end and remove the inner cable so the curve tube can be cut. One the tube is cut the inner cable is refitted and the old thumb throttle is fitted with the cable.
A pop rivet is cut and the center remove and this becomes the the new cable end. Before crimping the rivet on to the cable every thing is checked and the length is measured so the throttle will operate properly. Once crimped on with an electrical wire crimping tool the end of the cable is cut off and refitted to the carburetor.
Care must be take so the carburetor operates correctly the last thing you need the the throttle  getting stuck open when your riding up to a stop sign.

Step 10: Wiring

The wiring comes with provision for every thing that you can think of, horn, lights, high beam, low beam, brake lights, tail light, battery, indicators, key switch, speedo in fact pretty much everything I didn't want on my bike. The only thing I really wanted was ignition system, so would have to strip off the extras. The wiring diagram provided was not very accurate, but after some hunting on the internet I found a very helpful pin out of the CDI. so now all I needed was the correct wires to the sensor and the stator. The sensor Is easy, I just unbolted it and checked what colour wire comes out of it. Red black. The stator was a little more tricky is has 5 wires coming out of it. I used a multimeter on the ac volts setting to find which wire produced around 50 volts when cranked over with an electric drill.  Just connect  one lead of the multimeter to the frame and the other to the stator lead been tested.
Next I striped back the wiring loom and removed all the extra stuff that i didn't want, and made my self a minimal wiring loom.
That done I connected everything and tested with a park plug and I had a good spark, so I t was now time to try and hide the wiring under the tank.
I decided not to bother with a kill switch, and use the decompressor to stop the engine.
The wiring loom was then all taped up and hidden under the tank, with the coil and CDI

Step 11: Fitting the Tank and Exhaust

Seems like everything on this project, needs some sort of modification and the tank and exhaust were no exception. First the tank  wouldn't quit fit seems the tubes on bike are some what over size, so  the tank ant bolt and brackets wont fit. Icut some tube to act as spacers under the tank and used some bolts that were longer.
The exhaust bracket supplied with the kit also would not fit so I made up a new one and welded it in place. The engine has a casting on the end of the exhaust which can be loosened so the angle of the pipe can be changed a few degrees.

Step 12: Clutch Set Up

Setting up the clutch requires fitting the spring, clutch cable bracket and drive belt. The spring and bracket were easy enough but I had a few problems with the belt, as the one supplied was too long. I went to a bearing shop and purchased a belt  o the right size but I still could not get the clutch to release properly.  replacing the clutch lever with the vintage triumph version did help a little as they pull the cable more, but still no good.
After some research it became apparent that you need exactly the right type of belt no just the right size.
Here is the cut and paste from.

Seems everyday someone contacts me concerning belt adjustment on a Whizzer. It is possible to make the belts work 100%. Many offer advice on belt adjustment, however I totally disagree with most.

In order to make the belts work correctly on a new edition Whizzer, a trip into the past is helpful. The AMERICAN vintage Whizzer engineers had a good understanding about belts & clutches, whereas the Taiwan builder didn't have a clue. The AX series belt was designed to work with small pulleys, and the notches allowed the belt to bend without "bunching" up the center "V" section of the belt, and causing the belt to become hot and "sticky". Another important feature was an AX belt takes a more "relaxed" position than the "cheap" FHP belt supplied on the new edition Whizzers. In other words the 4L series belt trys to maintain a circle, whereas the AX series returns to a relaxed oval pattern.

Next we need to visit belt length, pulley size, and the length of the Taiwan clutch arm. They managed to make the arm "in-between" sizes. Too long for an AX 26 belt and too short for an AX 27 [29"]. Of course the length is also wrong with the stock FHP 4L290 [29"] belt. When using the factory supplied belt the bottom of the belt return path hits the front bottom belt guard post.

I know this sounds like a really serious problem, but the fix is EZ. Considering the AX 26 is too short and the AX 27 is too long, wouldn't it be great if we could buy an AX 26.5. Of course there isn't any AX belt is 1/2 sizes, BUT there are automotive "wedge" belt in 1/2 sizes. Automotive wedge belts are also notched and designed to work with small pulleys, and often run alternators, water pumps, etc. The automotive wedge belt is available in 15/32" widths, whereas AX belts are 1/2" [16/32"] wide. The slightly thinner belt [1/32" less] simply fits deeper in the pulleys, and if anything improves the "take-off" speed.
Try a #15285 [15/32 X 28.5"] belt, and can be ordered from most auto parts stores [NAPA, Pet Boys, Advance, etc.].

You will also notice a special plate installed inside your belt cover, the plate is a guide to make the 4L belt conform to an oval pattern and if removed the clutch system just stops working. If the belt is adjusted without the guide and then the guide is installed then adjust become way off. Often when converted to the wedge or AX series belts the plate isn't needed, however in some cases it is helpful.

Now! Where I totally disagree with many is the system used to adjust the belts. I remove the rear belt from the rear sheave, and work on the front belt and clutch adjustment. I start by making the front belt "TIGHT"; I then adjust the cable so that the clutch handle causes the belt to slacken when pulled and tight when released. After I make the front belt work correctly [after all it is the belt responsible for the clutching action], I then install the rear belt. If the rear belt is too loose, I move the wheel towards the rear [sometimes the bike chain may need a half-link] until I see the clutch pulley starting to move downward, tighten wheel. If the belt is too tight, I move the rear wheel forward, if the bike chain is too loose You can loosen the top rear motor mount bolt and push the top of the motor slightly forward and then tighten the bolt.

When the clutch handle is pulled in, the flywheel pulley should spin inside the front belt, and the rear belt should be tight enough to stop the clutch pulley from spinning in the process. If the clutch pulley spins when stopped the rear belt isn't tight enough.

Step 13: Rear Fender Cutouts and Fitting

Now the engine and the drive belts are fitted time to go back and cut the rear fender to allow clearance for the rear drive belt. I folded up a piece of card about the size I wanted to cut out, so that I could use it as a template  so both cut outs would be square and the same size.I then just drew around card and used a thin angle grinder blade and tin snips to remove a piece of the fender.
I was not happy with the sharp edge that it left,  so I cut the  part of the fender  removed to make a safety edge. This improved the cut outs appearance and also put some strength back into the fender. The long curved part of the cut out was pretty easy jut open up the fold  and  crimp it on with pliers.  The outer four piece were a little more tricky as I folded pieces in a vice and cut them to the right size and crimped it on the edge of the fender. As I wrapped the vice and pliers with masking tape this protected the paint, so I didn't even have to repaint the fender.

Step 14: The Problem With Pedals

Its a little hard to see from the photos but now the engine is on the pedals wont go around as the left hand pedal hits part of the engine and exhaust. This  is a common problem for Whizzer builders and you have a few options, the Whizzer handbook said you can ether bend the pedal crank or buy a wider crank.  I suppose you could all so find another similar crank and cut them both (one near the bend and the other near the thread) and weld them together, but as the ebay seller also had the wide cranks I chose to buy one.
This is not to difficult you just need to be aware that the left pedal and crank nuts are left hand thread.
Just remove the pedals, chain guard  and the large nut on the left hand side and the crank will pull out from the right hand side. Be careful with the ball bearing and take note of how everything will go back together.
that done put the crank in vice and remove the nut under the sprocket.
To reassemble is just the reverse of the above.
After I put the new crank on I found the pedal still touches the belt guard. so I will have to have a think on how to fix that, but if I remove the guard the bike is now ride-able.

Step 15: Finshing Off

After look at my old photo and looking at my bike there was something not quite right,  some of it is that my bikes a whizzer and the bikes in the photo are Indians and Harleys  then I noticed the tyres  which are very 1950 white walls
A quick look ebay at a UK bike shop
and I was able to get a pair of  26x 2.35 plain white tyre which look a bit more like something out of 1920s The tyre are also quite a bit bigger than the 26x 2.125 whitewalls and do make the bike look more authentic.
Next on the list is the clutch lever and again I was able to find a vintage lever set off a triumph to fit a  7/8  set of bars which also had provision for the decompresser lever.
There ebay shop has some pretty cool stuff.
The tyres were no problem to fit the clutch and decompresser lever where a bit more involved.
First the clutch cable end was too small for the lever, and likely to drop out when I'm ridding so I cut a small piece of hose and placed it around  the cable end and trimmed it up with a knife.
The decompressor lever needed more inner cable  so I removed part of the outer cable and refitted the outer cable end. This is quite difficult as it involves carefully cutting the outer cable with out damaging the inner cable. I remove the outer plastic sheath. stretched the inner steel cable and cut it, then unwound the outer cable and cut it to the right length.   I then cut of the inner liner and refitted the outer cable end.

Step 16: Gallery

Here are some photos of the finished bike, some with the white walls still fitted. I entered in the show us ya wheel car show and it got a lot of attention and made the local paper. It was the only whizzer at the show and as they a very rare in Australia very few people have ever seen one
Its fun to ride, the best part is the putt putt sound it makes and apart from the problems I had setting up the clutch the rest was fairly easy.

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