Custom Softail Bagger

HarleyCruiser

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I’m new here but know a lot of you guys from other forums so wanted to show what I have been doing for the last couple of months.
I want a custom tour pack for my Softail, I want the basic shape of a HD pack, but want to chop it, hide the hinges, hide the latch, loose the flange, and the gasket.
I also want to reinforce it with carbon fiber, and be able to use the HD touring back rest, but most important I want it to look like the styling on my Softail Bagger.
So I picked this up on E-bay, it looks like it did a little slide down the road.



I’m just mocking it up here on the solo rack that was a project here a couple of years ago.
The tape shows where I want to chop it.
I want it big enough to fit a couple of half helmets and maybe a jacket or two but don’t need it huge.
This is just for day trips, for touring I have a different set up.
First thing to do is grind off the rivets to take off the hinges.
You can see there is a nasty crack from someone opening the lid with a heavy weight on it. The fiberglass is very thin and in all honesty pretty flimsy, guess they want to keep the weight down.



Then start cutting off the flanges.





Here is what it looks like without the flanges.



Cut off the bottom, in order to mold the top to the bottom you need access from the bottom.



Where the crack is I am putting this temporary brace to hold it together.
All the edges have been sanded with a grinder so that the new resin will bond.



The top is smaller than the bottom so it needs a space so that when you start filling the gap it will match up. The braces are to keep the top in place, they are temporary there are also two in the front.



Turn it upside down. Next comes the glass and resin.



I’m just putting 1-2 layers to get it started. A side note, there are two types of polyester resin used mostly with fiberglass, waxed and un-waxed, the un-waxed is used mostly for layup in big molds where there are multiply layers. It is cheaper and sold in large containers, the waxed version is considered a premium resin and is used mostly for repairs, it has a wax that seals the resin as it dries and keep the resin from being sticky when dry. This is what I like to use for small jobs like this.

 

HarleyCruiser

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After it had set up I was able to give the inside another coat of glass to build it up a little, until it sets you don’t want to push it out of the gap so you let it cure first.
So now you can remove the supports.



Now to start on the outside, first grind down where it was cracked to the inside where you just put the inside layer.
You want to eliminate as much damage as possible.



Then I need to get rid if the rest of the lower flange on the bottom of the pack.



I’m also beveling the bottom edge so my new glass will be smooth, and adhere.



Then need to roughen up the gel coat so the new resin will adhere.
And yes that is pretty aggressive paper, think 50.



Then ready to start building up on the outside with glass.



That is probably four to six coats of glass, I use a combination of mat and woven depending on what I am doing, before I used the woven because I was stretching between the two parts, today I am using the mat because it builds quicker and is cheaper.
You give it a good sanding, it is very straight and symmetrical, It had a few low spots, so those got filled in, and a final layer of woven mat. At this point you don’t need to worry about making it perfect, you just want to make it as symmetrical as possible, that is hard to correct later.



I’m not sure what I want to do where the logo goes, I don’t know if I want to fill it in or make a custom name tag for it.



It needs another sanding then it will be ready to cut the lid open, and start making the new hidden lip to keep water out.
I picked up this back rest on Ebay, it is the main reason for the tour pack, yes Mrs Cruiser’s comfort, you know happy wife happy life. It will also help hide the big wide seat that looks so out of place on my bike when she rides along. Ten fifteen years ago, I made up a set for her out of an old FLH seat. In all honesty it looks hideous on my bike, but it is so comfortable for her that she won’t ride on anything else. I bought her a Corbin, she hates it. I am trying to buy a Sundowner but I know she won’t like it either.
In all honesty I can’t figure out how we feel the driver deserves a seat sixteen inches wide but the passenger only deserves a seat ten inches or even twelve.
So that is the main reason for the tour pack to help hide the big seat.
This back rest needs some work, it is broken on one side where it bolts on, so will need to pull off the cover and fix that, it also needs to be altered some to clear where the lid is going to open, will talk about that later.



I was able to get the rough glass sanded down it is very smooth, it still needs some work but at this time it is fine. There is no need to get it perfect because fiberglass has a built in stress that when it is cut it will warp. Kind of like wood when it is cut from a log, it bends with the grain. So we want to do all the cutting before we finish the final body work. There is also going to be a lot of work on the seams of the lid, so lets leave the finish work for last.
 

DanHappy

Well-Known Member
Messages
509
Interesting. Glong.to be following this walkthru. Have a small part that needs fixed I fiberglass, so I will be looking for info. Pretty interesting so far.

Sent from my Note 4 using Tapatalk
 

HarleyCruiser

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139
Interesting. Glong.to be following this walkthru. Have a small part that needs fixed I fiberglass, so I will be looking for info. Pretty interesting so far.

Sent from my Note 4 using Tapatalk
Dan, fiberglass is fun to work with, although most people hate the itch, once you learn to tolerate that I find it a great medium.
Moving on, here is where the lid is going to be cut out.





Fiber glass does not like square corners, just like aluminum and steel it causes stress points so use anything handy for the radius.



You need to drill a small hole to get your blade in so did that in the back, if will be fixed when the final body work. (you can see that in a couple of photos down.) Then you just start cutting, fiberglass is horrible on saw blades so start with a new blade so that you are not fighting it. When you fight it you start pushing too hard and that is when you get crooked. Decide which side of the line you are going to cut and stay on that side.







I want the lid to be hinged from the back, I don’t want the back rest to be fastened to the lid, I want it to be fastened to the base. I want the lid to be flat where it closes so I cut it a half inch from the recessed part even though the back rest covers this slightly. You can see that in the above photo. I will have to modify the back rest so that it does not come that far back on the tour pack.
The inside needs to be cleaned up rough up so the resin adheres



Then the top needs to be taped off so the resin does not stick, I’m using clear shipping tape..





Then glass in where the new lip goes.

 

HarleyCruiser

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139
When it cures you need to pry out the lid, GENTLY.









Trim it a little.



And there is your lip for your lip to close on.



More Later
 
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HarleyCruiser

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Great idea and nice work so far on the fiberglass!
Hey Torch thanks.
I am now starting on the hidden hinges.







Mounting the hinges is the most challenging part, the lid needs to move back and up at the same time, a normal hinge would have to have the pivot point an inch above and behind the lid, not practical.
These are 165 degree hinges. They open like a scissor jack with one leg longer than the other so that when it expands it moves out and back at the same time. I don’t need that much opening but will limit it with some sort of a damper or electronic linear actuator.
It is hard enough getting the hinges figured out even harder getting them lined up evenly. If the hinges are not aligned then they bind when they open so the best way to figure everything out is to tie them together with metal. I’m using 1/8 x2 flat aluminum.
So here us how they are tied together.




This way you get a real good idea how they work and where the best place to mount them.



I have a couple of screws holding them on for a trial fit, at this point you don’t worry about drilling holes for temporary mounting they will be filled during the last body work.



And I have to fill in the voids between the metal and the lid and between the metal and base. I am doing this by building up the fiberglass then clamping the metal to the lid with the screws this forces out the extra resin and contours the area behind the metal.



I need to do a little more filling, and then mount anchors in the filled area to have the hinge assembly bolt to it.
 

HarleyCruiser

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badass man. what i hate most about fiberglass is the dust when sanding or cutting...
Thanks, yea the dust, itching can be a pain. I read that you are supposed to grind glass instead of sanding it. I'm not sure of the difference.
I did have a friend tell me of a itch cure, Listerine, yea good wash then pour it on, let it sit, dry wash it off. I think it numbs the skin.
Even with that I can't stand working with it for more than three days in a row, however sometimes you have no choice.
 

HarleyCruiser

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Nice project and great job with the pics showing us what you are up to.
Thanks Puzzled, nice to see you in here.
Here is how it is built up under this scrap metal peice where the hinges mount, first layer up the glass then clamp down the metal, let it cure. The extra will squeeze out leaving a nice flat surface.



Then I am using a piece of angle to fill the rest of the area the same way, layer it up with glass then clamp it down.



This is doing the same thing on the base, this give you a nice flat surface.



You then temporally clamp the metal in and drill where your permanent bolts will go.



There are several ways that you can anchor the bolts, I like to drill for the bolts then drill from the outside this way you know you are getting enough meat to not pull the nuts through.
You counter sink the hole enough for the nut to be buried.



Here is the top being done.



Then you epoxy the nuts in, or in this case glass resin with some filler to make it thicker.



Later I will use shorter bolts, and the nuts will be glassed over. I still have two to do, but they will go fast, I need to move them up where the glass is thicker, I drilled them not thinking about the thickness, so will redo those.
The door opens and closes perfect, the alignment need to be adjusted, the door moved around slightly, I can either adjust the hinges or make the fiberglass on the base fit the door.
The hinges help pull the door shut in the last inch that it closes so not even sure if I am going to need a latch. Not sure if I will need some way to pop it up either, it is pretty easy to just grab on both sides, and pull it open.
I need to get a sheet of plastic to start making the bottom, I think I am going to trim the base a little more to have it come up a little more in the very back.
More later
 

HarleyCruiser

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I started working on the new bottom, I want to trim a little more, it is still a little fat and I want to make the bottom curved instead of just being flat, (I want it to match my bike a little better,) so stuck a helmet in to be sure there would be enough room. The felt marker line is just a suggestion. (This it tour pack up side down)



Here is what the final shape is the cardboard is a copy of the first cut side to mark the other side for cutting.



So I went to the hardware store and picked up some plastic for rent signs.





And here it is with the first layer of glass.



And what it looks like from the bottom, I did not use any PVA as a releasing agent, it came out pretty good but next time will use some shipping tape to have it release easer.



I was able to give it a second layer, it still needs at least another two but want to let it cure so that it does not distort.
Because I used a piece of plastic for a mold for the bottom, and did not use any gel coat first the surface is rough and some strands showing, I want to start the finishing process so I am giving the bottom a layer of gel coat with some Black color. This way it won’t take so much work moving forward. It is important to have all the glass strands buried when you start painting or it can ruin your paint. I am not sure if the tour pack is going to be painted or not but will run it just in gel coat to make sure everything work good before the final finish. ( At this point I am thinking to cover everything with carbon fiber)





One more coat of gel, this time applied with a squeegee to fill the voids.



It still needs another coat sprayed on, and everything sanded smooth before body work.
 
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HarleyCruiser

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139
Are you going to use a metal plate inside of the TP or glass one into the TP?
Yes there will be a 1/8x1 1/2 flat aluminum bar inside that is glassed inside the bottom. But first I need to decide where they are going to go so I am starting the temporary mount. These quick release mounts plates are from a solo rack that I made years ago, and will use them for the mock up.



Here it is just on a chunk of wood and setting on the seat. I am just getting a feel for how long the braces need to be.



And here is the general area that it is going to sit, I am going to lower it about an inch. I want it high enough that it is comfortable for my wife but low enough that it is stylish.



I still don’t know what I am going to make the permanent mount out of yet, 1/4 inch aluminum plate or have a piece of stainless steel water jetted. Maybe carbon fiber and aluminum or SS.
I don’t want it to be part of the style but blend in.
I want to make sure of the placement, and comfort before going much farther on a permanent mount.
I need to start on the speaker cases next they will help decide on where the pack is mounted also, they will wrap around the seat and I need to see those before making a final decision.
So I want something really different, if you look at all the famous styles, when they customize they clean up the lines, make things blend in instead of being added on, so one of the things that don’t really fit, and break up the lines is the back rest. It is to wide to tall and just looks added on.
So………………..let’s mold it in out of glass, and just put a padded cover on the front.



So I have covered everything with shipping tape so it will release and not hurt the back rest. I love the shipping tape for this the glass resin does not stick and the tape comes of so easy, quick and cheap.







More later
 
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HarleyCruiser

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The fiberglass has had time to cure so time to pop it off.



Sorry the photos aren’t better.



This is only one layer of glass so it is very flexible easy to get it to unglued from the tape. I really like using the shipping tape glass hardly stick to it makes popping pretty easy.



And on sitting on the tour pack.





It is way to “Heavy†so need to give it a diet.
Those are dividers, I am using them to mark where I want to cut.
I want the back rest shorter and I want the back of the back rest moved forward and more of a slant. As long as the dividers are perpendicular it will mark where the two pieces will line up after cut.



After cutting the front line.



Then cutting the back line.



I want to do another trim to get the back of the back rest angled a little more I want it to flow into the tour pack and the top just a tad lower about an inch but that is the general shape. I don’t want the back rest to overpower the tour pack.
More when I get time.
 

Puzzled

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You better fit momma to that backrest and make sure she's comfortable before you go to far. Lol
 

HarleyCruiser

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139
Moving forward, I want to make sure the angle is right for the back rest, it will eventually have a padded cover in the front.
So old phone that has an angle finder checked against my nephews FLH



Here are the two glassed together, it was cut down even more and the back part laid down more.



You can see there is a gap on both sides that need fixed, and the very back needs to flow better. So a little tape to keep the filler off the base.



Then the areas the need to be changed are filled with Plaster Paris, plaster Paris is not the perfect filler but works nice in this case.



Plaster Paris cures very fast, and is easy to sand when set.
And then you glass over the changed area.



All the plaster Paris and anything under this layer will be ground out from underneath before it is attached permanently to the base.


You could use body filler, and take your time and make the back rest perfect, but the areas filled would be too thick, and heavy so you would need to make a mold, then cast a new part, but doing it this way is just as time/cost effective.

Oh yea, decided to keep the recessed area where the name tag was, and ordered this, it needs to be trimmed a tad, and the corners rounded slightly.



More later.
 

HarleyCruiser

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139
I need to cut out the plaster between the two layers that was added to fix the contour of the back rest.











Now that the plaster is gone you can add more layers underneath and start sizing the glass, or making it smooth, first I am moving on to the speaker boxes. I don’t want them to follow the arm rest, I want the boxes to flow with the base. To do this need to extent the glass, this time I sprung for a for sale sign.



It is screwed to the base and follows the curves. There is one rule for body work on Harleys, there are no flat surfaces so the plastic follows the contour.

And then you can glass the inside, attaching it to the base.



Pop off the plastic and you have your side. This is only one layer, this way it is still pliable and you are able to match one side to the other if they need to be changed. The addition is way bigger than needs to be, easer to subtract than add. I will make some cardboard templets to make sure both sides match.



And here is the second side, I waited until the first side had cured before doing the second, this way you can pull the plastic to the shape that you want.



And here is the back rest sitting on the base, you can see it is up at least two inches, I will trim both pieces so that they fit together. I am not sure where I want the cuts to be yet, probably cut the ends off the arm rest and nestle it into the extensions. This is where things get complicated, deciding on design features and figuring out the engineering aspect of what needs to be done, when.



A little more trimming.



And there you go, starting to take shape.
 

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