Just Nuts (& Bolts) Motorcycle

While browsing through YouTube videos came across this pretty cool video to build a toy/display motorcycle primarily using just nuts and bolts. The process to build one really caught my fancy and thus started the research to make one for myself. The video did not detail any specs as far as parts size, length etc so had to search around for something similar that was locally available. This warranted a trip to my favorite store – Home Depot.

So I bought a box each of (#25 count) hex nuts and 3/8″ x 1″ bolts. I was looking for smaller length bolts but couldn’t find any. Did not really need so many but it was easier to pick up a box instead of loose ones. Also picked up a stick of Loctite super glue. Ordered a set of 4 ball bearings (was cheaper), though I needed only 2 for this project from Amazon. These are the ones used in bicycles.

First off started off with the wheel assembly. Made two sets as shown above. Glued 2 nuts together and then placed and glued them in the center of the ball bearing.

Next created the front assembly which will hold the front shock and cluster. Glued together 3 nuts to kind of form a triangle and stuck a bolt (the one with head down)  and screwed one through a nut as shown above. Did not apply any glue to the one that was screwed through. Put a nut through the bolt that was stuck and applied glue to this nut so that its one rigid structure.

Next, took to work on the handle of the motorcycle. For this piece I purchased a round iron rod from Home Depot. Cut a small portion and then gave it some shape using needle nose pliers. This product was very difficult to sculpt, but I couldn’t find anything else that is strong and pliable.

Cut 2 more small pieces and added a little curve to them which would act like the break and clutch and glued them to the handle. Then glued the handle to the cluster structure created earlier. Gluing the small pieces like the brake/clutch pieces was a pain, so wound some thread on the handle to give it some support as the glue dried. In the above picture I have the handle facing in the wrong direction, when I glued it to the cluster, I corrected it later. I unglued it by heating up the joint with a hot-gun. The other option is to use 100% pure acetone (nail polish remover).

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So, so far this is what I had built, wheel and handle assembly.

Next step was to build the engine and gas tank. For this started off with a pair of nut and bolt and glued them together. Next took a bolt and screwed on 3 nuts on to it and glued everything together.

I had some copper wire (also purchased from Home Depot) which I wound around this and glued it in place. Then glued the three bolts together as shown above. For the piece where I wound the copper wire around it, I was actually looking for a worm gear but couldn’t find one in any stores locally. Found a few online but I wasn’t confident if they would be the correct fit; in the end this worked pretty well.

Next to build the gas tank I needed an empty nail polish bottle. My wife came to my rescue here. She had some old ones lying around that she had never used and I picked one from that lot. Had to empty the paint out and I made a big mess while doing so.

Put a nut on the top as shown at an angle and then rested the empty nail paint bottle on it. Glued another bolt to the structure with the copper winding.

Next glued together three nuts and then placed that in between the bottle and the bolt as shown above.

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Finally added another bolt next to this piece and glued that in place. Engine block was now complete as shown above.

Next step was to align and connect the center piece of the engine block and gas tank to the rear wheel. So cut two equal lengths from the iron rod and glued one end to the nuts on the center of the bearing. Glued the other end to the engine block.

Now, the engine is not at the ground level so it has to be pried up. I used a nut and a box cutter and anything else that I had to hold everything in place as the glue dried or set. This step also tested my patience, as it was difficult to balance and align everything together. Those two connecting rods might have come off a million times, I lost count.

As that set, I focused on the front assembly and this is when I realized and fixed the handle position that I had mentioned earlier. Also the one bolt that wasn’t glued, I screwed it through the nut about half way through and then topped it off with a nut. Did not glue this nut; its just screwed in. This essentially keeps the handle free to turn left or right.

Next glued the tank to the front cluster. As you can see in the images above, the joint between the engine and the tank came off while working on this piece. Was able to use my trusted clamp here to hold everything together. I observed that assembling the individual pieces was fine but as I started integrating the pieces the weight of the end product was increasing and the joints were not strong enough to hold everything together. I did contemplate on using a soldering iron instead of super glue, but that would not have worked between glass and metal anyway, so stuck with the super glue.

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Finally was able to get the rear wheel assembly, engine block, gas tank and the front cluster with the handlebar to stay together.

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Next step was to work on the front wheel and shocks. So for the shocks again cut 2 sets of iron rods, one set a little smaller in length than the other. Glued one end of the longer rods to the nuts on the bearing, towards one end of it (not center). The other end was glued towards the top of the handle cluster. I had to do a little sculpting of the rods here too as they don’t go up straight from the wheel. The wheel is wider and the width of the bolt on the handle cluster is narrower. This was another torturous piece to pull off.

While working on this the rear wheel connection to the engine block again came off, as more weight was getting added to the end product. Re-glued that again.

Next I had to work on the exhaust or silencer. This involved more sculpting and I did not want to work on the iron rod as its just very difficult to work with. So instead decided to use a copper tube that I had purchased earlier for a project that sank (or never took off). I had bought that to build a put-put steam boat to be used for my Diwali Killa (fort) project but finally ended up buying a boat off Amazon. Its a 1/8″ inside diameter (5/32″ OD) copper pipe bought at Advance Auto Parts.

Eyeballed, cut it and bent it as required. Wound the copper wire around it as shown and then glued it to the motorcycle. Created 2 pieces one on each side.

I used black heat shrink tubing (electrical aisle – Home Depot) on the handles to look like grips. Was happy with the project so far even after the multiple set backs so now was the time to have a ginger-ale.

Cut open the can and used it to build the front and read fairings and seat.

The bolt on the seat in the picture is just to weigh it down.

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Very close to completion now. Cut two small pieces of the copper tube and built foot pegs out of that, one on each side. The final piece that I needed was to build a kick-stand. Did not want to use the copper tube as I needed something strong which can hold the weight of the motorcycle, so ended up using the iron rod that I used for the handle and connecting the front and rear wheels.

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Used two nuts to hold the piece in place as it cured. I wasn’t sure which side to attach the kick stand, when my wife pointed out that its always on the left. Thank god I hadn’t attached it without consulting with her.

Kick stand turned out to be a tad short, as the motorcycle was leaning so much that it would just topple over if I would give it a gentle push. The good part was that it was holding itself in place very well and also was able to withstand the weight of the motorcycle. So I decided to add a couple of layers of the heat shrink tubing and that did the trick. Needless to say this was another helpful tip from the wifey.

Build part was pretty much over now but no motorcycle is complete without a paint job.

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Masked off the grips, the black rim on the wheels/bearings and the rubber tubing on the kick-stand.

Applied a couple of coats of metal spray paint and then followed up with a clear coat.

 

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