When we last looked in on John Tangerås, he showed us the beginnings of his T900 project with lots of 3D printed parts for fitting and mold making plus some initial machining. He's been working steadily, but anything of this magnitude and complexity takes a lot of time. He's continuing his engine work with the intention of finishing that first instead of having half finished parts and pieces lying around while he works on something else.
This project is excellent for anyone who has ever wondered just what it takes to really, truly do it all yourself. It gives an entirely different meaning to the words "motorcycle builder" when you do, in fact, design and build everything. Besides the skill and determination, it becomes obvious the critical ingredient is time. How many could stay with a project long enough to take it from idea to running and rideable motorcycle? Not very many I imagine and I give John huge credit for the courage to put this out there so we can see the project in stages, which may be his way of holding his own feet to the fire and making sure he has an answer when someone down the road asks him how his T900 is coming along.
Let's hear what John has to say:
Things are advancing slowly, and I have semi finished 70% of the steel parts necessary to get the engine running. The crankshaft is ready, just needs to have the journals ground and drill oil holes. Camshafts needs finish turning and grinding. The connecting rod and caps needs threading, boring and honing. These parts have been machined from solid billet steel. The gears in the box will be 3D printed in wax, investment cast and machined. The same procedure will be applied to the clutch basket and pressure plate. Items like these are rather complex and hence time consuming to machine from billet.
The next major investment will be a 4th axis CNC rotary table for my machining centre. That should help immensely in gear manufacture (and other work) as I am making them manually on my mill using a dividing head.
I am putting all my effort into the engine first, as I don’t want to have too many half finished parts lying around. It is sometimes quite overwhelming the work involved, so I just take one part at the time and let the rest be, both physically and mentally.
I have finished the molds for the crankcases and cylinder head. I did a casting of the lower crankcase yesterday, but it didn’t come out too well. The metal was to cold and didn’t fill the sand mold completely and the hot metal reacted with the release agent from the mold and I got surface porosity. The casting was otherwise sound and porosity free. This is my first aluminum sandcasting, so it wasn’t too disappointing. It will be great for trial machining! I have done a little investment casting in steel, but sodium silicate bound sandcasting is new to me, so I need to learn from experience.
It takes a long time to make parts as I normally have to make jigs, holders, arbors and tools etc. to get it done! I am really enjoying this and I have learned a lot so far. A lot of failures and errors, but it is important to remember that the first trial will likely be unsuccessful, but the next will be better.
I make my living as a hired consultant engineer, I work for a while and save money, and when the contract is finished I work full time on the bike till I run out of money. The savings are now spent so it’s back to work! The work place is a 5 hours drive from my shop so I will only be working physically on the bike 3-4 days a month and in the holidays. In the meantime I will finish the rest of the bike CAD, CAM & CAE wise.
Take note, John's doing some things here, like aluminum sandcasting, for the first time. You're never fully "ready," if you don't know how or lack the experience you learn it and try it then take the resulting experience and improve. I like that. I like this whole project. Good stuff. Thanks for the update, John!