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  #1  
Old 3rd January 2011
Ridingrick's Avatar
Ridingrick Ridingrick is offline
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Post Softail tank conversion

Two years ago I decided to upgrade my time between gas stops, and enhance the look of my sporty. I know I know, without the peanut tank it looks like the rest of the MoCos line-up. But I do like the outcome. I researched both on these forums and other online sites, even Youtube on how to paint the flames. I needed to keep the cost down so by eliminating the dash saved about $250 in parts, just had to grind off the dash bracket and Bondo up the center seam. All the brackets were made from either the local big box building supply store or scrap. I scored the tank off Ebay for $35, off a 2001 carbureted Softail so no fuel pump cover to deal with. To fill the fuel gage hole I made a filler plate where the float goes and dropped in a used gage. I did not do the fuel float for the gage, but if you wanted it the wiring isn’t too hard with a softy manual. I also painted it myself with rattle cans but that could be a whole nother post. I included all the dimensions in the drawing that worked for me, but you may have to tweak a few to fit you Sporty, mine is an 03.

So here we go. The coil location was determined so had to fabricate the bracket. I used a 8” flat corner brace. The screw holes in the prefab brace isn’t noticeable after painting and installed, I even used one of the holes for the top coil mount bolt. The biggest issue was that the front motor mount is not flat across the engine. First step was to drill the hole for the motor-mount stud on the left side of the engine. That was the guide for the relief and the right side motor-mount bolt. The next step was to clamp the corner iron in a HEAVY vice along the bottom edge of the relief area. I heated up the center section with a propane torch and started to beat it with a ball-peen, as it formed outwards I reheated and kept working outwards towards the ends. Once I felt it was close I slipped it onto the stud and then kept working it until it rested flat against the engine on both sides. THEN I drilled the bolt hole for the right side. This hole has to be drilled after the relief is formed since the brace will deform some and the holes wont line up. I could have just cut the brace and used only the stud to hold it but I did not want it to loosen and the swing the coil against the engine and melt something that would cause the coil to fail far from home. Next came the Ign switch bracket. Simple ¾ flat stock. I used the horn mount to both eliminate vibration and it put it at easy reach while sitting in the saddle. As a side benefit I did not have to rewire anything, just opened up the main harness and rerouted the wiring while the switch was still attached. Fabricating the bracket was very straight forward, just follow the drawing. The tank straps came next. I used some 1 inch wide, 1/8 thick stainless steel I had laying around so after I finish all the fabrication it looked like chrome by polishing. Finally made a spacer for the straps where they attach to the tank so the straps stay spread and rigid. I was cheap again and bought a 1/4 pipe nipple 5 inches long. Cut off the threads from one end, measured the length to 3.75 and cut off the rest. Once all the brackets were made I picket up some black appliance epoxy paint and bear metal etching primer (Rustoleum) and shot them.

With the brackets done it time to prep the bike to install. The Softy tank allows room through the tunnel so while I had the tank off I took all the extra wiring for my ipod amp and fog lights and ran them across the top of the backbone to clean up the under tank area, only the main harness now runs underneath. The gas overflow hose is smaller diameter than the sportys so I got a small vacuum hose adapter/reducer from the auto parts store. Removed the spotys tube (about 8 inches long with a bend near the back of the tank), installed the reducer and added enough of the proper size tubing to run across the backbone up to the front of the tank where softys vent tube is, plus a couple inches. Next I replaced the fuel line. I followed the sportys route and then towards the back of the tank after running it through the opening in the upper motor-mount. Again leaving an extra few inches beyond what seems enough. After fuel supply came the petcock vacuum hose. Ran it same as the fuel line. Speaking about the petcock. The spotys outlet points down but the softys bung is at the rear of the tank so Ebay helped out again, I picked up a petcock with a forward facing outlet for $5. it will be a tight fit since the petcock sits just above the rear spark-plug. BUT you will have to replace the plug wires to accommodate the new coil location so be sure to get them with 90 degree boots and you will be able to have the clearance you need and I can even snake them off with the tank mounted. Anyway, next came the rear tank mounting. I fabricated a bracket that used the Sportys rear tank mount, but it causes the rear of the tank to be tilted to high and would have kept gas from all reaching the petcock. So to that end I drilled and tapped the center of the backbone 5/16-24. I choose fine thread since the tubing here is not very thick and this gave me more threads to contact and more threads equal stronger surface area. To locate where to drill you will have to bolt up the front of the tank and get it as far forward as you can, then through the rear mount tab pin-punch the spot. Be sure your centered left to right. A word here. Before you try to drill a hole on an angled tube flatten it parallel to the ground with a file or grinder so you have a flat surface to drill and tap through. If you don’t the drill bit will wonder all over and when you try to tap the high side will push the tap out of alignment to the whole. Even then take the tapping slow and use lots of tapping fluid. Final under-tank work was to install the coil and ign switch. Mount the coil ( I grabbed up a nice chrome one on Ebay for $40) you will have to cut and add wire extensions to reach the new location. Run your plug wires so they will not burn through nor stretch tight. The front wire is the original sporty wire as it was the right length. The rear is 24 inches long and I ran it up and behind the upper motor-mount, then around the rear valve cover and to the plug. I as a precaution wrapped all wires, hoses and lines with plastic wiring conduit like the factory does. For the Ign switch cut back the main harness until you are about even with the top motor-mount. Then feed the switch down through the space in the mount where the old petcock sat. It may take some twisting and turning to get it through without cutting off the cable throttle cable clip from the switch housing, but it can be done. I did have to remove the choke cable to get the clearance. Then install the bracket to the switch using the existing screw and the whole assembly to the horn stud. Rewrap the main harness with tape or as I did wire ties. Reinstall the main harness to the backbone with ties as it first looked when you started.

Now to install the tank itself. Loosely mount the tank straps. For the top bolt I used a 3/8 bolt 3 inches long through the original sporty tank washers on each side of the straps and a stainless steel ny-loc nut. Run the forward wiring between the straps as well as the throttle cables. Slide the tank on enough to engage the lower strap holes. Here I used the sportys tank bolt since its nice chromed and the right length. Put the straps on the inside of the tanks mounts, start the bolt through and then insert the spacer between both straps lining up with all the holes in the tank brackets, the straps and the spacer. Push the lower bolt all the way through. Spin on the nut or a ny-loc here too. Leave both upper and lower bolts loose. Now check that none of the wiring of hoses are being pinched. Install the vent hose to the front of the tank Align everything as required. Check how your throttle cables are positioned. Mine are extended since I have Fatboy handlebars so I had enough length. I do not know if stock cables will work but then there is always Ebay, LOL. Install the fuel and vacuum lines to the petcock. Install the rear tank mount bolt, I added a rubber spacer here between the frame and tank month. Used a washer between the bolt head and the rear mount tab. Now go back and tight the front strap bolts. You should be done with the tank unless I forgot something. I did find my seat hit the rear tank mount so had to rework the pan a little for clearance. Double check your fuel line clamps. Pour in some gas and give her a test start. As she warms up double check all the fittings and connections for leaking fuel or wire connectors backing out. Turn your handlebars from lock to lock to make sure your not hitting anything that shouldn’t or that nothing is binding.

That should do it unless I forgot something. if you have any questions I will do my best to answer them, but no promises.



What I started with



Go to my image gallery to enlarge this pic to read all the dimensions






tank straps



coil bracket



ign switch bracket



ign and petcock locations





end result

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  #2  
Old 3rd January 2011
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80xlPaul 80xlPaul is offline
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nice... I changed my tank as well , went with a 80's fx tank . I have to get some updated pic the one's in the galley are old .I change the look a little every tme I'm in the garage
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  #3  
Old 3rd January 2011
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Nice. No other word for it. I was an early visitor to this thread but I am not going to change my tank now.
The reason? Because I have found that my range-starved Sporty can comfortably cross the vast dry distances of Australia-including the Nullarbor Plain with one simple modification.
Namely, a 5 ltr container in the LH pannier. Simple, cheap (came with oil in it), and I have it used to supply other people's needs more than my own.

And I love the lean, mean, retro-dirt-bike look of the stock Sporty.

But styling! now there I am interested.

Suggestions please! Does anyone remember the song "Horse With No Name"? "America" recorded it inthe '70s. A fellow rider referred to my bike as "Rob's Old Horse" while we were crossing the afforesaid Nullabor Plain earlier this year.

He got me thinking.

How about a horse theme for the art work - sort of a tribute to the Arial motorbike company - they had a stylised horse on much of their advertising, and their bike names were like "Red Hunter", "Hunter Twin". No doubt something to do with the British class system.

Serfs who built motorbikes for their living could never aspire to horse ownership. Perhaps this was their way of grovelling up to the Gentry??

In Australia, we do not do that class system shit, but we are always enjoy the tormentability of the occasional pom (Oh, OK, Limey) who falls into our grubby colonial paws.

No, we prefer the company (and the motorbikes) of the Americans. Which brings me back to my next project:

"Ël Equus Innomine". Pidgin Latin for the horse with no name.

Suggestions, please, ladies and gentlemen.

Rob
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  #4  
Old 7th January 2011
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jrock8700 jrock8700 is offline
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looks nice
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  #5  
Old 7th January 2011
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jharback jharback is offline
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For those that don't know what he's talking about.

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  #6  
Old 17th January 2011
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very nice write up, thanks for taking the time.

Good job!
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  #7  
Old 6th July 2018
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Thanks for the info. Im looking at doing a very similar swap and looking for diagrams.
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Old 15th July 2018
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Northwoods View Post
Thanks for the info. Im looking at doing a very similar swap and looking for diagrams.
PM me an email address to send the pic file to. The system wont let me repost the pics here.

Same goes for anyone else who would like pics and drawings to do this conversion in the future. I no longer own a Sporty but will try to help when I can.
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  #9  
Old 4 Weeks Ago
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Dave L Dave L is offline
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I have a fat bob tank. I wish I had a gas gauge though. I cannot imagine a stock tank. Must be in the gas station a lot!
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