Wednesday, 12 November 2014

1931 Harley VL Hill-climber - Making an Aluminium Tank

Life is very busy, and the Blog has suffered for it, one good thing is that this will have a lot of weeks worth of updates for you all to have a good look at!

The VL arrived a couple of weeks back - its a beautiful old machine - I had an original VL frame and springer a while back (you may have even seen the post many years back) which I sold to fund one thing or another - the springer is not on Guy from GKM magazine's Panhead - (and a fine looking machine it is too!)

Its genuinely about the only pair of parts that I regretted selling - so i'm stoked to have the new project in the ranks.

Coming in as a stripped back roller my plans aren't all that grand (compered to my normal crazy ideas anyway) - show off the lovely castings and details by making it a stripped down racer - Hillclimber style as was seen in the 20s and 30's. I've managed to source a 20" rear rim, and a 20" rear tyre (which wasn't so cheap), and then an 18" spool hub wheel for the front. seems like an odd combo - but its what they ran back in the day. To mock up it currently has a 21" rear and 19" front - so you can kinda see the aesthetic... Back on point.....

The main bit of fabrication was always to be the petrol tank - ive never made one before and have been in awe of how easy some people have made it look (on tv and the internet), so my big project on this was to make an ali tank that slotted between the frame.

below are the progress pictures of where I'm currently at - and I'm completely stoked with y first ever attempt at not only metal beating, but also at ali welding (new TIG welder!!!)

the plan is to have the tank 70/30 (ish) fuel to oil, and I'm going to revisit the etching that I played with many moons ago to etch in some old graphics into the tank. Plenty of pics below for you to enjoy!


  1. That was easy then! You made it look so easy anyway... I remember reading your exploits when you first started out with the XS650 on DB and you trying out all sorts of stuff. You have come a long way since then, it is all pretty impressing and inspiring. Well done.

  2. Thanks Dave, yeh seems a long time ago now - sad to see the old place close down. Have to start somewhere don't you - was a good place for me to pick peoples brains!

    The tank wasn't exactly easy - but it was fun learning how the metal wanted to be manipulated. learning where and how hard to tonk it in the right place etc... Definitely something i'd recommend everyone have a crack at!