Chappell Customs Copper CB350
By Gareth Charlton - 19 Jan 15
The unfinished project, barely begun, piled in pieces in the corner gently weeping to itself bemoaning its lot in life. The familiar story of an unloved bike with an unhappy ending. But for this little CB350 the torture was even more cruel, the workshop within which it dwelt was the home of Chappell Customs. Everyday it would witness other machines receiving the revitalising love and care it so craved but never received. Unwilling to settle for its inevitable eventual demise the CB hatched a plan and made one final bid for Glory. With great effort it extended a few pieces a little further out from its secluded hovel, it just needed to grab the attention for a few seconds, to plant the seed of opportunity in the key man's mind - and then it happened. Chris Chappell had recently completed a Royal Enfield as a personal project and was just turning his mind to the next project when the CB struck, tripping him within his own workshop. "The kid that works for me had this little CB350 kicking around the shop, literally it was all over the shop in pieces. So I offered to buy it the way it was and finally get it done and off the floor. I guess I don't pay him enough to finish the bike himself, so this way he'll get paid to help me work on it anyway." The little CB had done it, the feet tangling escapade had paid off and it had secured the change of ownership it so desperately needed, it's long awaited rejuvenation could begin. Chris discovered some immediate potential within the disparate pile of parts, the frame had already been de-tabbed and powdercoated matte black, so he left it alone and reached for the next piece. The wheels and other parts were also already black, but Chris was itching to throw some colour at the bike, to find an angle and decide upon a style for the build, "I decided to blast off all the black powdercoat, and start digging through my powdercoat colors. I settled on a transparent copper powder." The transparency of the copper coat means that you can still see the metal through it, every scuff, scratch and old war wound. With this in mind Chris and the CB's neglectful ex-keeper set about the metal. "We hand sanded, wire wheeled, air sanded and purposefully scuffed up the metal." The wheels and hubs were the first trial pieces to receive the copper powder and Chris was so satisfied with the result that he decided to apply the same processes to the fuel tank. "This took a bit longer to accomplish and as most of you know there are the stock ugly Honda badge mounts in the tank. We had our logo CNC plasma cut and then welded it directly to the tank." Differing thicknesses of powder coat and black airbrushed accenting combine to give the tank its deep antique finish. The finished wheel rims were laced with new spokes and then shod with Dunlop rubber. Next on the list was to sort out the CB's forks. "With our Steampunk inspired look we needed something a little more industrial looking. So we hit up our friends over at Works Performance (they are about a mile away from our shop). Pierre from Works came by the shop and brought us some killer Manx style external front fork springs. After a little measuring we were ready to rip the front forks apart and remove the stock internal springs." While the forks were in pieces Chris removed the stock fender tabs and throughly cleaned and prepped the tubes. The external fork springs then received the obligatory powdercoat with copper at the top fading to matte black. "The rear suspension is a custom set of billet Works Performance dual rate shocks, we also got some raw metal springs that we were able to powdercoat in our copper/black scheme." The engine was rebuilt and ready to go, it was soda blasted to remove all the old paint and dirt before receiving a reviving coat of black paint, all of the covers were polished up to a glossy shine. Chris built a little battery/electrical box that locates under the seat before rewiring the bike from scratch. A 4cell Antigravity lithium battery and a High Output charging system keep everything sufficiently sparky. "Next up was the seat... good thing we make our own seats, so we took a TUFFSIDE seat pan off the shelf, form fitted the foam to fill the hole in the tank, added our mounting system and then upholstered it with genuine leather that we had left over from the Enfield project. At the same time we made some leather grip covers and added a little leather bling to the otherwise boring gas cap." Within its pile of parts the CB was hiding a few more treats for Chris, clip on bars and rear sets had previously been purchased so he put them straight on. He managed to trade the stock pipes for the gorgeous scrambler items, shorty glass pack mufflers and some carefully dispensed powdercoat touches tie them in with the bike perfectly. "With the clipon bars we didn't need the top triple's bar mounts anymore, so we milled them down and made a copper block off plate for some aesthetics. The speedometer didn't look good sticking up on the triple so we made a small aluminum bracket and mounted it on the side of the bike by the fuel tank." "Finally it was time to install some VM30's, jet the bike, make a side-mount license plate holder/brake light holder, take it for a rip or 2 and enjoy the fruits of our labour." Chris doesn't mention this in the write up but as he stands back to admire his work he can do so with a freshly opened beer in hand, the eagle eyed of you may have already spotted the suitably patinated bottle opener neatly tacked to the frame. The lack of such an opener on all future bikes shall henceforth be bemoaned with the fervour usually reserved for the boring lack of fenders argument - "But why no bottle opener?" As with most Chappell Custom bikes the CB will ultimately be for sale when Chris can bring himself to part with it, keep abreast of the Bikeshed classifieds for further info. So the fairytale has its happy ending. The rags to riches story of the little CB that had the courage to grasp for glory and was transformed from a pile of parts into a copper bathed beauty. The End.