Connecting a 1984 Kawasaki Voyager 1300 to a 1979 Terraplane

Offline

trikebldr

Learning the Ropes
Joined
Oct 13, 2015
Messages
84
Likes
8
Points
8
Age
68
Location
Independence, MO.
#1
This may be a little (LOT!!) long, so I will break it up into smaller sections of how this build went together.

The sidecar and the bike are old enough now that nobody makes mounts for them. I had to make up my own, using some of the inspiration from how a previous sidecar was mounted to my old '83 Voyager back in the mid-'80's.
The Vetter Terraplane is a three point mounting system to allow for on-the-fly lean adjustment for road crown compensation. That works well for lighter-weight bikes, but not for a 960lb Voyager. I decided this rig needed a four-point mounting system. Lean angle will be controlled by an air-shock on the sidecar and an on-board air pump controlled by the pilot. The Terraplane has a roomy trunk behind the seat to carry a compressor, as well as a larger, automotive-sized battery and a heater to blow warm air under the seat and across the floor area.
To get started on making the mounts the bike had to be set up at the correct starting lean angle of 2 degrees away from the sidecar (to the left). Fortunately, this bike already has a trailer hitch, so I made up a support bar to bolt to the hitch frame. This bar (see first pic) has two 1/2" all-thread rods with small steel feet that I used to adjust the side-to-side lean of the bike. No center or side stand was used on the bike after the bar was adjusted for correct lean. The bike stayed in this position through the whole process of fabricating the mounts.
The next step was to set the sidecar up on a dolly (see second pic)to get the correct fore/aft and side-to-side levels and ride height. I needed the dolly because it would need to be moved close to the bike and away from it often to get in there to work on it and do trial fits of parts. It also allowed me to remove the sidecar's wheel for cleaning and rebuilding without losing the sidecar's positioning.

3.jpg
2.jpg
 
Offline

trikebldr

Learning the Ropes
Joined
Oct 13, 2015
Messages
84
Likes
8
Points
8
Age
68
Location
Independence, MO.
#2
The next step was to fabricate some basic parts to be used in the struts.
I made up some two-bolt clamps that would allow up/down and fore/aft rough adjustments on three of the struts. These clamps are made from three parts (first, second, third and fourth pics), welded together, then saw-cut to allow for clamping movement. The two bolt bosses were made from solid round bar stock, drilled on a lathe for 3/8" grade-8 bolts and nylok nuts. Then they were milled with a flat to help mate them to the clamp tube. The clamp tube was made of .157"walled tube with a slightly smaller ID than the tube it would be clamping around, so I bored them on the lathe to precisely fit on the tube plus .005" inch larger to accommodate the eventual black powdercoating that will be used. These clamp tubes were also milled with a flat on one side to help align them with the bolt tubes for welding. Of course, once everything was welded together and the saw cut made, the tube opened up just slightly. This is normal for seamless tubing when cut lengthwise. The hardest part of making these basic clamps was deburring the edges all around the welded areas after saw cutting.
Another basic part(s) that needed to be made ahead of time was to weld a threaded bung into the end of the tubing to be used on the strut itself (lower part of fifth pic). After welding, these pieces were chucked into the lathe and the weld bead turned smooth and the whole part "polished" with a flat-flap sanding disc (sixth pic). Any undercuts from welding were filled and re-ground smooth. This is a good way to check for any pits or hole in the weld.
The fifth pic also shows some of the parts I bought from my favorite hot rod parts supplier, Pete & Jake's. I got the 3/4" threaded bungs, and all of the strut-end polyurethane bushings from them. Some of those bushings were in plain tubes to be welded to strut tubes, but two of them were already on the ends of a 3/4" threaded stud and will be used for fine adjustment of alignment to the bike. These bushings are what they use on the suspensions of heavier hot rods and drag cars, so I figured they would be more than strong enough to handle this bike's weight in corners. Most mounting systems for sidecars use hard steel clevises that are put into a tight bind from fine tuning the alignment. They don't allow any movement. These polyurethane bushings are very stiff, but they do allow a tiny bit of misalignment of the joint. I've used these bushing on several hot rods and dune buggies before, and the ones on my current 26 year old buggy are still tight and clean. I also used them to mount the motor and trans in all of my hot rods. Pic seven shows one of the bushings taken apart to it's basic parts.

9.jpg
10.jpg
11.jpg
12.jpg
7.jpg
14.jpg
8.jpg
 
Last edited:
Offline

trikebldr

Learning the Ropes
Joined
Oct 13, 2015
Messages
84
Likes
8
Points
8
Age
68
Location
Independence, MO.
#3
The next step was to make up the front-lower mounting point on the bike. Since the right crash bar over the engine's side cover has three struts that bolt to the bike's frame, I decided to use it for the base of the mount. I cut half way into the junction of the three tubes making up the crash bar and set the made-up bracket into the recess, then welded it in place (pics one, two and three). For now I painted the whole welded area black to protect from rusting until I can get the whole part re-chromed.
Then I fabricated the rear-lower mounting point. It uses a bolt that holds the right passenger foot rest in place, plus the bolt that holds the front end of the right saddlebag crash bar (fourth pic). Both bolts are large, 10mm fine threaded, so there is plenty of strength between these two bolts. Of course, longer bolts were used to accommodate the new bracket! And, once again, this bracket was painted black for now until I can get it chromed. It was made from a 1/4" base and side plates, plus some tack welded standoff tubes behind the base plate (pics five and six).

5.jpg
13.jpg
16.jpg
4.jpg
14.jpg
25.jpg
 
Last edited:
Offline

trikebldr

Learning the Ropes
Joined
Oct 13, 2015
Messages
84
Likes
8
Points
8
Age
68
Location
Independence, MO.
#4
Now it was time to make the first strut to actually connect the car to the bike.
The first point to consider in aligning the two together is to place the car's axle about 15% ahead of the bike's rear axle. In this case it worked out to be about 10". This is not a terribly critical dimension, so I set the car in position and made up the lower-rear strut and welded it in place. The adjustment on this strut is vertical and in/out. My first attempt had to be completely removed and reworked because I neglected to consider just how the passenger footrest would fit and work (fold) once the strut was in place. I cut up the first footrest so badly to get it to fold up and fit, plus the strut made foot room a bit cramped, so I completely remade the strut and welded it in place. I am including pics of the first strut, then one of the cut up footrest, then the final strut and new footrest. The final one fits so much better and leaves plenty of foot room. All I had to do was grind a slight curve in the front edge of the foot rest to clear the strut tube. Much neater the second time around!
This lower-rear strut will be powdercoated gloss black. In the pic there are no gussets YET between the strut tube and the base plate that bolts to the sidecar frame. Those gussets are now there.

37.jpg
39.jpg
26.jpg
 
Last edited:
Offline

trikebldr

Learning the Ropes
Joined
Oct 13, 2015
Messages
84
Likes
8
Points
8
Age
68
Location
Independence, MO.
#5
The front lower strut also needed a revision after the first try. It had a slight angle downward tilt forward after putting it in place. I cut it off and re-welded it perfectly horizontal. Since the lower-rear strut permanently locates the car fore and aft, the lower-front strut needed to be adjustable fore and aft. To allow for up and down adjustment, the tube can also rotate in the clamp. It can also be adjusted in and out by screwing the "lollipop" bushing end in or out to adjust for toe-in/out. You'll see the gussets between the strut tube and base plate welded in place in later pics. This strut will be powdercoated gloss black like the lower-rear one.

42.jpg
44.jpg
 
Last edited:
Offline

trikebldr

Learning the Ropes
Joined
Oct 13, 2015
Messages
84
Likes
8
Points
8
Age
68
Location
Independence, MO.
#6
OK, so the two lower struts are made and in place. The sidecar is now solidly positioned to the bike. Now it needs to be solidly connected to maintain the correct lean angle of the bike. There will be front and rear adjustable length upper struts.
I started with the rear upper strut. It turned out to be the easiest.
The mount point on the sidecar was two small plates welded to the roll bar, but they were not positioned vertical! They were at about a 45 degree angle. This worked fine with the heim-joint (spherical rod end) on the end of the on-the-fly adjustable strut on the original system. That system was constantly in a loose condition to be adjustable while riding. I just hate those systems because they distract the pilot and also promote movement and serious wear on those parts. Every Terraplane I have seen had worn out heim-joints on that strut!
My strut had to have one bushing end welded on at an angle, so that meant machining that angle into the fish-mouth needed to mate up tightly to the tube clamp used. Not an easy task! It meant a tack weld, then check for fit, grind away the tack and adjust, then re-tack and re-check fit. Cut weld tack and re-adjust and re-tack, then check for fit once more. Finally everything fit correctly (vertical)(first pic). The rest of the strut was pretty much straight forward in construction, just like the other lower struts. However, the bushing ends on this strut had to be specially machined much narrower to fit into the existing brackets on the sidecar and to the limited space in front of the right saddlebag on top of the crash bar. You can see much clearer how much narrower these end bushings were machined in the second pic of the strut painted primer grey to prevent rusting before being powdercoated gloss black, too.
Oh, and I almost forgot that I had to make up that bushing "lollipop" on the inner end of this strut since it needed to be much narrower. I used a 3/4", fine thread, grade-8 bolt with a machined end welded to the narrowed bushing tube. The majority of the load on these upper struts will be the weight of the bike leaning on them under COMPRESSION (mostly!) in a left hand turn at higher speeds. In a right hand turn, the most load on them will be the sidecar and passenger's weight under TENSION (about 230lbs plus passenger's weight). That's actually pretty light for the part! The two lower struts were made MUCH beefier because they are under opposite compression/tension loads as these upper struts. Tension loads are the most important consideration since the bushings' shell is the weakest point in the connection.

27.jpg
28.jpg
 
Last edited:
Offline

trikebldr

Learning the Ropes
Joined
Oct 13, 2015
Messages
84
Likes
8
Points
8
Age
68
Location
Independence, MO.
#7
I kinda skipped over a stock Voyager part that had to be modified before installing the upper rear strut. The strut mounting point on top of the right saddlebag crash bar has already been seen in previous pics, but that one is the second version. The first version didn't allow much clearance between the head of the mounting bolt and the front of the saddlebag. I didn't want to take any chances that the movement of the saddlebag would cause rubbing and damage to the finish. The first pic shows the first version with a full-width bushing.
This crash bar is mounted with one 10mm bolt at the top and one under the bike where the lower rear strut mounting plate is bolted (remember that one?). It also ties into the rear accessory framework, but that framework doesn't add much strength to the crash bar the way they are tied together. Also, that crash bar roughly forms a paralellogram, so it's rigidity isn't very good in stock form. I added a stiffener tube (red arrow in the first pic) to tie the weakest section along the lower part to a point just under the upper bolt. That still didn't triangulate it like I would like, but it did remove most of the noticeable flexing. I can't really triangulate the system without interfering with the folding function of the footrest. That's one of the reasons I cut up the original footrest earlier, to allow it to fold up! I didn't like that! You can see the difference in where that stiffener bar was added in the first version in the first pic, and where it ended up in the final version in the second pic. That final version was also much stiffer since the top end of that stiffener was closer to the upper bolt point.
I WANTED to place the attachment bracket on the top of the crash bar closer to the bike for better rigidity, but the strut then would have blocked being able to open that front saddlebag top latch! I could have run the strut tube straight out from the sidecar attachment point and over that latch, then down into the bushing on top of the crash bar and right next to the mounting bolt, but that would have interfered with the bike passenger's leg placement just slightly. Oh, the compromises we have to make!
This whole crash bar will be completely re-chromed.
Yes, I did scrap out a perfectly good Voyager crash bar as well as one perfectly good footrest in all of my mistakes!

1012587_1228281233867026_5667358516297187518_n.jpg
10426290_1264554836906332_1389264323228844214_n.jpg
 
Last edited:
Offline

trikebldr

Learning the Ropes
Joined
Oct 13, 2015
Messages
84
Likes
8
Points
8
Age
68
Location
Independence, MO.
#8
This part is especially for Caddypat. Although your pics gave me lots of ideas for making up the mounts, I couldn't find the correct forged, flat-top u-bolts that I needed to make up the same kind of mounts you have on your Voyager. My Terraplane also has different mounting requirements than your Formula II. But the frame section that I chose to mount to was because of your pics.
I needed to go as high on the bike's frame as possible to get the best rigidity from triangulation. That meant going inside the fairing lower section to grab the frame right behind the radiator and in front of a couple of the exhaust pipes right off the cylinder head! Not much room for clearance, and because of all the heat in this area, I couldn't use one of the polyurethane bushings in this area. So, a hard steel clevis and tab system had to be made up. I bought the clevis from another speed shop, Speedway Motors. They were the only place that had a large, heavy duty clevis with a 3/4" long-threaded shank and at least a 3/8" cross-hole. I had to fabricate the eyebolt-type of tab to hook the clevis to at each end.
This upper end mounting point was built-up from a chunk of aluminum block and a piece of 3/8" steel bar stock, plus a few nuts and bolts and lots of machine work and some welding and grinding.
The two blocks were cut and clamped together and match-drilled, then punch marked to keep correct orientation to each other. One block was tapped for 1/4-20 threads in all six holes while the other block was drilled out to .254" to clear 1/4" bolts (pics 1 and 2). Once the two blocks were bolted together, I located where the hole should be that will go around the frame tube of the bike (pic 3). The bike's frame tube measured at 1.497" exactly, so I bored the hole in the blocks to 1.500" exactly. Sure, that won't let them clamp down at all, but after all boring was done I then cut .040" off the face of each block to give a theoretical .080" clamping fit (pic 4). It worked perfectly! WOW, something went absolutely right this time! No scrapped parts! Now to check for clearance to the radiator and the exhaust pipes.
This project was started right after Thanksgiving, but it's taking so long because most of the early work had to be done outside at the bike and car. It was damn cold and I couldn't spend much tame out there each day laying on cold, snow-covered ground. So, besides this project, I did some more work on the Hondasaki drive project.
The new clamp blocks fit perfectly with about 1/2" clearance behind the radiator and in front of the pipes. I gave the back side a healthy bevel on the corners for better clearance, so it even had room to rotate around the frame tube to give me more choices in how to run my strut tube through the vent slots in the fairing-lower. It was still pretty cramped and I had to make up a special tool just to hold the back block in place while I positioned the front block and started the bolts into the threads.
Now the 3/8" face block and "eye-bolt" had to be made. The steel block was easy to transfer-punch the drill points from the aluminum blocks and drill out. Then a 1/2" hole was also drilled in the center for the eye-bolt. After this block was made up, the aluminum blocks were drilled for clearance for the nut holding this eye-bolt to the steel face block. Several other holes were also drilled to lighten things up a bit on the aluminum clamping blocks. Well, and to add just a bit of bling, too! Hey,....I was in a drilling mood that day and it was too cold to go outside to do any work!
I used a grade-8 fine-thread bolt to weld a 3/8" thick tab to to make up the special eyebolt. I couldn't find any aircraft AN eye-bolts that had all of the specs I needed. My clevises called for a 3/8" thick tab with a 3/8" bolt hole.
OK, now I can hear a lot of "But, you destroyed the grading integrity of that grade-8 bolt by welding it." NOPE! I use a sort of slow-stitch welding technique that Lincoln teaches to keep heat to a minimum. I use high settings on my Mig machine so I can keep my arc duration extremely short but still get deep penetration. After each "spot", I wait almost a minute to allow it to completely cool. I can actually touch the spot right after making it with my bare finger and not get burned! By doing this, there is no heat affected zone around the actual weld bead, or row of overlapping spots. I use this method of welding a lot since I am never in a hurry for my welded projects! Using much lower settings on the machine, it's also the best way to weld sheet metal body panels on a car with absolutely no warpage. BUT, on beads that long, it takes forever!
Anyway, after welding up the eyebolt I ground down the weld to smooth it all out, mostly for appearance. I made up two of these, one for each end of the strut. The final eyebolt, face plate and clamping blocks are shown in pic 5, 6 and 7.

17.jpg
20160207_114402.jpg
18.jpg
20160209_214723.jpg
20160209_214808.jpg
20160211_193500.jpg
20160211_194252.jpg
 
Offline

trikebldr

Learning the Ropes
Joined
Oct 13, 2015
Messages
84
Likes
8
Points
8
Age
68
Location
Independence, MO.
#9
And now the last part of fabricating the mounts. The upper front strut.
The difficulty in making up this strut and it's mounting points on the bike and sidecar was getting everything to work together to allow the actual strut to go through the existing heat vent holes in the fairing lower without having to cut any bodywork. It also had to be set at an angle that gave a better triangulation for stiffness in the front section of the sidecar to the bike as well as allowing for a little bit of adjustment for toe-in and lean angle. The actual strut also needed to be as straight as possible. Not too many requirements, right? But, it fits perfectly, just like the upper frame clamp. I'm VERY happy with the way it turned out.
I already had a second fabricated eyebolt from when I made up the upper mount clamp. The hard part was figuring out exactly where to place the base plate to attach this eyebolt to. It had to work well with the placement of the upper mounting point to allow the strut to clear the bodywork on the fairing lower. It ended up being a short piece of angle iron welded to the corner of the lower strut's sidecar mounting base plate, then being drilled to accept the eyebolt. Actually it was a very simple, but strong, solution! I also ground the weld bead along the outside of the base plate where the angle iron was welded to it. Nice and clean! Since this piece of angle iron also surrounds (on two sides!) one of the mounting bolts for the base plate to the sidecar frame, it is at an extremely strong, rigid point point, with no flexing possible. This mounting point and end of finished strut can be seen in the first and second pics.
The actual strut was not hard to make at all. I welded 3/4" threaded bungs into the ends of two pieces of tubing to start, and finished them off in the lathe. I placed both pieces of tubing on the bike and set them at the correct angles to clear the fairing lower, then I roughly marked the angles they needed to be cut to join them together at the correct angle. After cutting them I did another trial fit before welding. It took three fittings and cuts to get just the right angles and lengths before welding. Once welded it took almost two hours to slowly grind down the weld bead to give a totally smooth look to the "bent' tube. But, I think it looks great, and it fits perfectly, giving me 3/8" clearance from each side of the strut tube to the fairing bodywork! See pics 3, 4, 5 and 6.
Pic 7 shows the whole finished mounting system ready for a test run! Took it for a 10 mile test run and was quite happy with how stiff the mounts are. Couldn't feel any flexing at all. My '83 Voyager and Motorvation Spyder sidecar from the mid '80's always felt just a bit "soft", and after several years of riding that rig, it DID have bowed lower struts!!! Hence, the seemingly over-built appearance of this rig's mounts. Motorvation used 1-1/8" OD tubing with .092" wall thickness. I used 1-1/4" OD tubing with .157" wall thickness. The OD increase alone would have been good enough, but I'm just OCD about such things! The whole mounting system added close to 35lbs to the whole rig.
I will give a complete ride report and fine tuning report after I get some things sorted out on the bike. I need to replace the clutch, and I don't think the bike is charging the battery. I also have all new tires for the bike and sidecar to mount, plus all new wheel bearings. I also need to check the adjustment on the bearings in the steering head and swingarm. These are both quite critical for sidecar use to prevent any shimmy in the front end. I never had any shimmy in my '83 Voyager/Spyder rig, so I am hoping for the same from this rig so I don't have to mount a steering damper shock.
In a couple of months, after more test rides and tuning the alignment, I will remove everything and have it either chromed or powdercoated black.

12742355_1261324970562652_5908949059723155970_n.jpg
12728958_1261159053912577_4082479254687031765_n.jpg
12729369_1261325003895982_1730504930261828185_n.jpg
12715195_1261325120562637_6114527789064334166_n.jpg
12743493_1261159083912574_9080022160866879948_n.jpg
1930530_1261325150562634_4004095830760471592_n.jpg
12743987_1263103543718128_5947260059023921162_n.jpg
 
Offline

trikebldr

Learning the Ropes
Joined
Oct 13, 2015
Messages
84
Likes
8
Points
8
Age
68
Location
Independence, MO.
#10
Today I mounted the new LED lights across the back of the sidecar, plus one on the right front corner in place of the reflector. Then I decided to take a little test run. Not knowing if my alternators were working, I loaded two T-105 golf cart batteries in the sidecar for ballast, but to also give me power to get home if my normal battery failed. I decided to ride until the battery failed, then turn around. I got all the way to Topeka with no problems, then came home. That was a 120 mile trip. Ran at least 70 most of the time, but a lot of 85-90mph running, too, just to push things to see how strong the bike is. Also, a lot of sidecars cause front end shimmy at higher speeds and lower speeds, so I was testing for that possibility. Not a slight shake at all. It did tend to pull to the left just a bit on the highway. Too much lean to the left, so I will remove a bit of that. Our street has a very radical crown to it, so testing the rig for pull was futile! I have too much lean-out dialed in right now. Highways are much less crowned. Toe-in seems perfect since there isn't any feathering of the tire's tread at all. I kinda expected it to be good since it is exactly what my old Spyder sidecar had in the end, and it never had any tire wear.

I already love this rig as much as my old '83 1300 and Spyder hack. Next trip will be a 170 mile (each way) trip to Coffeyville, KS to visit friends. Then, if all goes well on that one, a 500 mile trip to Indianapolis to visit family.

Then it all comes apart for powdercoating, chroming and wiring, plus a custom 7 gallon gas tank alongside the car's body, and an air-shock conversion.
 
Likes: rob.lafady