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The Story of The Trike

The Trike started back when we lived in Kentucky. I had an old Chevy that I’ve traded for an old ‘68 VW beetle. First, I cut the body off just leaving the engine, transaxle, wheels, and a small part of the sub-frame. I then purchased some steel and a wire welder and started fabricating the frame.

Time and life went by and I stopped working on the trike for a number of years. Eventually I started working on the trike again and a few years later I finished it. It always seemed like when I had the money I didn’t have the time, and when I had the time I didn’t have the money.

I ended up making mistakes like putting two different carburetors, two different front ends, two different front fenders, and two different sets of seats on. If I wouldn’t have made these mistakes, I could have saved myself a lot of time and money. But that’s how it goes. At least that is how it went for me.

So now I have the trike as it is today.

Starting from the front…

The Front Fender

The front fender is hand-made just like the rest of the trike. I used a cardboard mold and laid fiberglass over it. I then pulled out the cardboard and used an old Halloween mask to mold the skull. At first, the mask distorted as the fiberglass was hardening. I ended up having to cut a lot of it away and mold it by hand out of epoxy. This took a lot of time and work. After I had the shape, I worked for some time on the teeth. After that I started painting it. I was going to buy a airbrush kit and teach myself how to paint it that way, but I found that if I layered different colors of paint and sanded it, it would come out looking really good that way. After that I clear coated it. I also added lighted eyes in the skull. The brackets for the fender are made out of rebar.

The Front Forks

The front forks were originally taken off of an old Triumph motorcycle. In fact, I stole them off my Ol’Lady’s bike (she was not riding it anyway). I first modified them to fit a smaller wheel and tire, but I ended up changing the wheel and tire so I had to modify them again. I may have overdone it because I put so much steel in them. They are a lot heavier than normal. But I can be assured they will never break!!!

The Gas Tank

I played around with different gas tank ideas. I even bought a round tank I was going to use at first, which ended up just being another thing I spent money on that I ended up not using. I ended up building a tank that would fit inside the frame up front. Once the tank was welded, I filled it up with water to see if it would leak. Luckily, there were no leaks. But I heard that gas leaks out easer than water so I went over each seam with JB-Weld (I love that stuff). After that, I lined the tank with PRO-15 tank sealer and then coated the tank, and the rest of the trike, with Herculiner truck bed liner. Up to the point of writing this, with about 10,000 miles on the trike, I have not had any leaks.

The Gas Tank Vent and Cap

I was concerned about gas vapor coming up via the gas cap so I created a custom gas tank vent system. At the top of the tank there is a valve that goes down to a carbon canister (made from an old hard drive case) that vents under the trike. It works well! I then added a new seal and a skull to the gas cap.

The Dash

The dash was first molded out of old computer cardboard boxes and then covered in fiberglass. I molded compartments on both sides, one for storage and the other for the fuse panel. The front of the dash is aluminum diamond plate.

The Fuse Panel

I made the fuse panel myself from scratch. I figured out the shape I wanted and made what I need to fit on it. I sealed the back with epoxy and I added a cover over it to protect it from rain. The fuse box also has a cover over it as a second protector from the rain. I then drilled holes in the bottom of the fuse box to use as drains just in case rain still gets in there. There are a lot of locations on the trike that I had to consider might get wet and needed draining, so I put drain holes where needed.

The Wiring

The wiring is made from marine grade wire. I went with a heaver gauge then was really needed on every wire. I also numbered and color-coated every wire. Before I even started the wiring, I created a wiring diagram. I had a number of people I trusted review the diagram.

The Frame

The main frame is made out of two-inch square steel tubes. The other parts of the frame are made from one-inch square steel tubes. I welded every seam. The frame was holding up well but, me being paranoid, I went back and welded gussets in a lot of key locations. The frame is strong!!!

The Back End (The Ass)

The back end is made out of one-inch square steel tubes. I made the frame for that part and covered it with construction paper and then fiber glassed it. I then pressure washed the paper off so I just had the fiberglass left. It has several compartments with diamond plate doors. I made the back for it would over-hand and protect the engine. This has worked out well in the rain. It also has a luggage rack I made from rebar.

The Seats

Adding the seats has been a pain. I have tried a number of different things and did not like most of them. What I have now is two tractor seats with side rails made out of rebar. I like them and they work well but I may end up making a custom fiberglass insert one of these days. I’m not sure yet.

The Engine

I started out with a 1600 VW engine. I was going to rebuild the old engine I had, but I ended up building an entirely new one. It’s fairly stock except that it has 90mm pistons and a larger cam. I originally had a Weber 40 IDF carburetor and a mechanical advanced distributor, but I had a hard time keeping the front end down. It had so much low end power I almost flipped it a few times, so that’s when I added the wheelie bars. Also I was getting real bad gas mileage, so I swapped out the carburetor and put on a Weber Progressive. I still have plenty of power, though not a much as before, but now I can pass a few gas stations without having to fill up. I think I get around 24 miles-per-gallon. I replaced the distributor with an SVDA distributor to get a more reliable throttle response.

The Warm Air Intake

I was having issues with the engine not running very well in the cold. I did a lot of research and finally decided to make a warm air intake system. This takes warm air from around the exhaust pipes and channels it into the carburetor. It works great!!!

The Rear Suspension

The trike was built from a ‘68 VW Beatle. It has a rear-swing axle design, so I was limited as to what I could do and still keep the rear wheel somewhat straight. I ended up adjusting the torsion bars a number of times and adding coils over springs. I then added limiting straps and as a backup limiting chains. This is to keep the wheels from folding under.

The Wheels and Shredders

The front wheel is chrome. I made my own center caps, which I call "shredders". I wanted them to look like what you would see on a chariot but without being stuck out so far they could hurt something or someone. I came up with my own design and I think they look good.

The Transaxle and Side Shifter

The original transaxle worked fine, but I just had to have a new one. This I did not build myself. I ordered it from Roncho Transmissions. I got a few upgrades from their freeway flyer. It has worked great. In order to mount the shifter where I wanted, I had to relocate it. I looked at a number of different options from cable to hydraulic and I finally decided on something simple. I used a side shifter. The side shifter works great after a little modification and when adjusted correctly, but if you get it out of adjustment then you cannot get in to first or reverse gears. I have made scribe marks on the adjustment points to ensure that if it ever gets out of adjustment, I can quickly put it back to the way it should be.

The Shields

After it started getting cold outside, I found out that I needed something to block the wind. So I made the wind shield. I was reluctant to do this at first because I did not think I would like it but it turns out I really like the look. Then came the problem of the windshield fogging up on cold mornings. I tried everything I could think of and was just about ready to take it off when someone suggested I make a folding windshield like on a jeep. I redesigned it and it has worked great ever since. Also, my hands were getting cold so I made some hand guards. They work well and others seem to like them. I’m not to crazy about how they look but I can take them off in the summer so it’s not that bad.

The Skulls

I’m not sure how the skull theme started, but I think it was with either the fender or the gearshift. I have molded and painted each skull by hand using all kinds of different techniques. The bigger skulls are fiberglass. It took a lot of work to do each one the way I wanted.

The Herculiner

I wanted a tough look to the trike and I wanted something that would be easy to take care of, so I decided on covering the trike with truck bed liner. I researched this and found that Herculiner would work the best. I wanted to do this myself so I purchased an undercoating gun. I first sprayed a work trailer and let it weather outside for 6 months. After that it seemed to be what I wanted. I completely stripped down the trike, sanded and cleaned every inch, and sprayed it in my shop. It made a mess on the floor and on me, but the trike came out great. I still like it. It gives that tough look I was looking for. As for me, I was not so tough as I tried to scrub it off my skin.

The Hand Grips

The hand grips are made from a one-inch pipe covered with a cork looking rubber strap. They have skulls on each end.

The Speedometer/GPS

I am using a Garmin Nuvi 2300. It had the best looking speedometer screen.

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