After restoring the Kuwahara ET last year I really wanted to get going with another project. It had to be either a Chopper or a Grifter. Any bloke in their late 30's and 40's will always remember these bikes & you never had one yourself then your mate would have. The Chopper is an icon of the 70's. Because of this though prices are still pretty high, for a rusty pile of bits your often looking at least £100 on eBay, complete bikes never seem to sell for less. The mk1 & mk2s are much more sought after than the recent mk3, Choppers just have to have the gears on the frame & the mk3 had a twist grip (apparently for health & safety reasons).
So after a few months looking I found a bike in bits & because it looked bad & wasn't built up I managed to get it for a bargain £51. It was basically a frame & forks with seat & cissy bar & crank & then a box of bits, a complete bike except for headset bearings, the original advert pic on ebay:
Then having a closer look back home
And the bits
It was in a sorry state but perfect for a resto, everything had a light covering of rust, the front wheel was pretty bad, I didn’t want to buy new bits for it though, clean it up & keep it original, the tyres needed replacing though but everything else was just going to get a good scrub & the frame & forks a respray, more pics:
So after stripping it down the only problem was removing the cissy bar. It was rusted in & although I wacked it with a hammer for 2 days, heated it up so it expanded it still wouldn’t come out. I managed it though by turning the frame upside down, placing a trolley jack in the cissy bar hoop then a bit of wood from the jack to the frame. Raise the jack & out it popped.
The small chrome bits went straight into the ovenpride bag & left to soak over night whilst the wheels & handlebars had a good scrub with alloy wheel cleaner, they came up pretty good after the first clean
And the small chrome bits after 24 hours soak in oven pride & a good scrub and the rear mud guard came up really well considering how bad it was. It’s still badly pitted but its original & still looks chrome.
Now the frame, it had been sprayed before so no probs stripping the old paint & getting it down to bare metal.
I wish I took the crank out completely but never mind, first undercoat then sand down again
Another couple of undercoats then ready for the Fizzy lemon yellow. I didn’t really know what colour to do it, a mate had a purple one when we were kids, everyone remembers red ones but yellow seems to suit the 70’s look so I went with that. According to a Chopper website Ford Signal yellow is a 98% colour match so I went with that.
A few days watching paint dry meant I could crack on with the other bits, the seat came up lovely with just a good scrub with leather cleaner, there was only one small split & didn’t really need repairing, and also the pedals, before & after shots
The Heron Raleigh badge was pretty bad but I really didn’t want to replace it. They are made of brass & riveted to the frame, that’s what I love about these bikes, how much did that cost back then, modern bikes now just have a sticker. I gave it a good clean & was amazed how good it came up...& to think I nearly replaced it with a modern painted one
So back to the frame, the stickers arrived so I sanded the frame so it was a nice matt yellow & got sticking, once they were on I gave the frame & forks a good couple of coats of lacquer, it was starting to come together
The gear selector cover was buggered. Again I thought about buying new but thought let’s try & repair it & if that fails then fork out for a new one. Not only was it broke in two but chunks were missing from each side at the front. Using a bit of card from a Wiskas cat food box (perfect width!) I glued the bits together then gave it a thick undercoat.
Then spray matt black & stick on the sticker, good as new
So now the bit I love, building it. I was missing some headset bearings, unlike modern bikes where they are in a race these are all free so when you take the forks out they drop out, hence they had been lost. My local bike shop gave me a bag of about 100 for £1. When they are covered in grease they are a lot easier to fit
Then cracking on to get it together, new brake cables, new tyres, wheels cleaned again & it’s pretty much there
I’m pretty happy with how it came out, I could have bought lots of new old stock bits but kept the cost down buy repairing & cleaning. In total the bike was £51, stickers £22, tyres £20, spray & lacquer about £20 so about £110 all in. All that’s left is to get some handlebar grips & rivet the Heron badge to the headtube, the rivets should arrive today, & yes all 3 gears actually work! Job done.
& for the next project, the other icon of the 70’s....Mk1 Grifter
Hope it brought back some memories