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New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day
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Johnny Sweet
Posted 2/22/2015 8:48 PM (#82984 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: RE: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



Veteran

Posts: 164
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Location: In South Carolina but grew up in Massachusetts.

Sweet Classic Sidecar for 2015

 Since my recent posts I've received dozens of emails from many of my followers and even a few from some new sidecar enthusiasts. Bob Hunt a regular on this forum even came down for a visit. Bob's visit was very enjoyable; like minded people always enjoy each others company. So I would like to thank everyone that's taken the time to write and visit.

 

Just out of the shop is a new Sweet Classic Sidecar. This new sidecar rig is a little different with the metal flake paint on the bike. I was asked if I could do something with the upholstery to match the metal flake. I hadn't stitched metal flake vinyl in decades and figured "this should be fun". It was and the results are interesting.  When I took this new rig out for it's shake down run it almost drove itself. It's taken me some time on these newer big bikes but I've figured out the combination between the sidecar wheel lead, tow in, and bike camber so that a shimmy damper is not needed. I did make a mistake some months back when describing the front end on a Yamaha Road Star when I mounted one of my Sweet Classic Sidecars on it. I wrote that "no modification to the front end was needed" and I should have written "no shimmy damper was needed". I was quickly disputed and made to look like I had no idea about the geometry and dynamics of front ends on motorcycles. My friends and I had a good laugh over that one. At the time when I was reading the so called experts dissertation I remember thinking back to 1953 when I helped my Dad when he was setting up the front end on his new Indian racing bike for the 1953 racing season. I was only eight years old at the time and had been working on the racing bikes with my Dad since my earliest memory and that was an extensive lesson on rake, trail, camber, and riding on the heal of the tire. Not forgetting handle bar angles, left fork stops and opening up the right side of the forks for more clearance when he was in a controlled full power slide/drift. The things I learned way back then still come out today. I just picked up a 200 MPH Suzuki Super Road Racing Bike that came off the Super Speedways with the Hayabusa racing engine. The first thing that I looked for on my new racing bike was the fork stops. I knew that the road racers limited the amount that the front forks can travel from left to right. They were the first things that I removed. Ya, I'm going to install one of my Sweet SL-220 Sidecars on this road rocket and I need as much front end turning travel as I can get. It came with fourteen sets of gears/sprockets and I will set it up for the street. Three hundred and seventy one pounds and they won't give out a HP number. It should be a neat toy for a seventy year old former racer. I digress; getting back to the shimmy damper. I always wondered why the big bike company that built thousands of sidecars for their big bikes never made the changes so that a shimmy damper would not be needed. But if one thinks about it for a minute the cost would be astronomical to make changes or re design the sidecar frame and how it sets up to the bike. I'm betting that I'm not the first to figure this out and implement it. There are many good sidecar manufacturers in the world and I can't be the only one to have figured it out.

Thanks for reading.

Johnny Sweet PE.

 

 

 

 

 



Edited by Johnny Sweet 8/21/2017 3:36 PM
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Wolfhound
Posted 2/22/2015 8:55 PM (#82986 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day


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Location: Ball Ground, GA.
And thank you, Mr. Sweet, for writing. Always learn something from your articles.
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claude #3563
Posted 2/22/2015 11:43 PM (#82989 - in reply to #82984)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



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Location: Middleburg, Pa
Hey Johnny .... please shoot me an email or better yet give me a call at shop...570 837 5120. I do have pics of the sidecar of yours we mounted a while back.

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Johnny Sweet
Posted 3/9/2015 8:47 PM (#83292 - in reply to #82984)
Subject: RE: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



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Posts: 164
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Location: In South Carolina but grew up in Massachusetts.
Johnny Sweet - 2/22/2015 8:48 PM

Sweet Classic Sidecar for 2015

 

Just out of the shop is a new Sweet Classic Sidecar. This new sidecar rig is a little different with the metal flake paint on the bike.

I received this email last night and figured that I would share it with my friends and followers.


I'm thinking that the new sweet sidecar rig turned out better than any of us ever thought that it would. I'm finding that these new motorcycles regardless of the brand are so much better than what we had to deal with back in the 1970's. They have come such a long way and are a dream to work with. If a guy can't build a sidecar that almost drives itself he's doing something wrong. I read that one guy claims you need a modified front end or you can't drive the sidecar rig for more than a short time or some such thing. Also that many of the guys with the bigger bikes 1000 cc or larger end up selling the sidecar rigs in a year. I'm not doubting this but what kind of nonsense is that! On any of these newer bikes I haven't had to make any changes to the front ends and all of them can be driven with two fingers. I submit that if you the reader has a sidecar rig that's a bear to drive then you have something wrong with the set up; and that's all I have to say about that.

Johnny Sweet PE.

 

Hey Johnny,  Today was nice and I took the rig out for a spin.  Handled super got to run about 15 miles on 85 at 85.  No problems at any speed.  I got a late start today with some work but Tuesday I plan on making a day of it.  Again thank you so much.  You are the MAN.

 

 

 

 

 



Edited by Johnny Sweet 8/21/2017 3:40 PM
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Wolfhound
Posted 3/9/2015 8:59 PM (#83293 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day


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Location: Ball Ground, GA.
Beautiful rig, Mr. Sweet. Silver in my favorite color also.
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Johnny Sweet
Posted 3/9/2015 9:16 PM (#83294 - in reply to #83293)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



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Posts: 164
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Location: In South Carolina but grew up in Massachusetts.

Wolfhound - 3/9/2015 8:59 PM Beautiful rig, Mr. Sweet. Silver in my favorite color also.

Yes I also like silver. Using this silver that comes from the newer Chrysler's came from a customer that picked it out. I've built three other sidecar recently using the same color code. The bike in the picture has metal flake silver on the bike and the sidecar with the Chrysler silver blends nicely with it. The owner calls his sidecar rig the "Silver Diamond". It has been a pleasure having Randy as a customer. He was all but done riding bikes because of trouble with his feet but today he's back out on the road not having to put his feet down when he comes to a stop. You have to love this sidecar stuff! Those that don't will never understand it.

Johnny



Edited by Johnny Sweet 3/10/2015 8:37 AM
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Wolfhound
Posted 3/10/2015 5:35 AM (#83302 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day


Veteran

Posts: 227
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Location: Ball Ground, GA.
I have a silver Genuine Buddy 170i with a TowPac trike conversion and a TGB 150i with a Cozy sidecar. Bad knees and ankles keep me scootering instead of biking. I alternate between the two.
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Johnny Sweet
Posted 4/5/2015 5:22 PM (#83778 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: RE: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



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Posts: 164
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Location: In South Carolina but grew up in Massachusetts.
Sweet SL-220 Sidecar on a Goldwing
 It only took forty years and Arthur finally got his sidecar.
Arthur and I have been best of friends for sixty years. Our Mom's worked together back in the 1950's. My Mom would invite many of the girls from work who had young boys my age to our house on Sunday's for what we called a cook out. These group visits started when I was ten and Arthur was eight years old. On many a Sunday we would have ten or more of us kids running around the yard. When the parents weren't looking we kids would head out into the woods and down to the river we went. We had eighty five acres to play in and it was like a frontier paradise. As the years went by our little group along with the neighborhood kids all became best of friends that would last a lifetime. Many of our old group have past on but those of us still around keep in touch. Years later when all of us guys that went to war came home we all grouped up again from time to time. When I started building my Sweet Sidecars Arthur would spend time at the shop helping out when he could. He had a family to raise and at the same time he was a volunteer fire fighter. He had done his time in hell in Vietnam and came back with a need to help others.  So his time at the shop was limited. We talked about building a sidecar for Arthur but he didn't have a bike; after all he had cloths and food to buy for his growing kids. Years past and it just wasn't to be. When I came out with my Sweet SL-220 Arthur was around helping when he could and one day I said " take this new SL-220 body home so that when the time comes to build your sidecar you will have it". Years later in 1988 I needed a body because my old SL-220 mold was long gone. Arthur said " take my body and use that". I had no idea what he was talking about. I had forgotten that I had given him one of the first SL-220 body's all those many years earlier. He told me where it was and I went over and picked it up. He had placed it on an old chicken coop roof out of site and out of mind at a good friends farm. So I took the body that had been sitting out in the elements for years and brought it to the shop. The body was in perfect condition except for some color fading in the gelcoat. With just a little sanding and priming and it was ready for paint. I set the new SL-220 on one of my Honda 750's and drove it until some fellow came into the shop just before I was getting ready to move to South Carolina. He offered me some crazy money that I just couldn't refuse. I figures that I could pick up another bike and build one of my SL-440 later on after I moved South. I still had the original SL-440 and SL-110 molds  along with the small SL-110 modifications molds that I had made the SL-220 mold from.  That ended up being the last sidecar rig that I ran before I quite riding for over twenty five years. So fast forward to the present day and I was telling Arthur that I was once again building my Sweet SL-220 sidecars and that I had built a new mold from all the mold pieces. He asked about getting one built for his Goldwing. I told him that I would build one for him but that I still owed him a body. We both laughed thinking back to forty years ago when I gave Arthur the first original SL-220 body and how it had been handed back and forth between us. So I built Arthur a brand new Sweet SL-220 body and painted it in a color to match his Goldwing. For the color I called Arthur and asked him to take one of the side cover over to the paint mixing guy and get the two color code numbers so that I could match the paint. I built the body and stitched up the upholstery and tonneau cover . I then removed the upholstery and sprayed the body with the new to me base coat clear coat paint. I don't have a paint booth that's open in my shop. So I have to pick my days when it comes to painting. It's funny because some guys have argued saying "no way you painted that sidecar outside". Referring to any of the sidecars that they see. At the moment I have a 55 Chevy Gasser taking up the booth. When the paint was dry I installed the upholstery and pushed Arthur's new body over in the corner of the shop and covered it up with a sheet waiting for his arrival. Arthur drove the one thousand miles from door to door and came for a visit just after Thanksgiving. It was one of the best times. My wife and I got to spend a week with Arthur and he got to meet many of my friends along with two of my dearest friends living in the South. Not Southern guys; ones from Michigan and the others from Poland. All of us migrated to the South.  It was just like old times and my friends thought that Arthur and I were brothers or something. We just laughed because we had been doing stuff togehter for sixty years. It's hard to imagine that we've never even had a disagreement in all those years. I've often thought about that and I guess it's because we started out as kids togehter and it was us and our gang against the world and no one was going to give us a break. The WW II generation that raised us were hard as nails and we had to sink or swim and we got no mercy from that bunch. We always say that it was the best thing that they ever did for us.
 
Once Arthur got settled in we got started on his new sidecar. As we were building the frame I put Arthur on my Red Rocket and started him out with left hand turns. My friend John was his instructor and before long Arthur was also turning to the right and running up and down the driveway. I'm fortunate in that I have over a third of a mile in driveways to practice on. We then put him on the yellow and blue rig so that he could see how every sidecar rig has their own personality. Then onto the Honda Valkarie with the Classic sidecar. By the time we had Arthur's new sidecar built and finished he had some miles under his belt and even took the Red Rocket up to the local corner one morning for breakfast before my wife and I got up.   
 
When designing and building the frame and setting it up to the Goldwing we had to make sure that the bike and sidecar would fit into the back of Arthur's custom enclosed trailer. He's got a neat rig. The trailer has  living quarters and an area for his sidecar rig.The problem came in when we measured the width of the rear door opening. We only had five feet eight inches to work with. With the Honda being a wide bike with all the bags and accessories I had to push the sidecar right up against the bike. A little measuring and re measuring took place but in the end we had it figured out. Because the Goldwing is such a large bike when we placed the SL-220 sidecar next to it and started running the numbers the end result still came within the design box that I use. The Goldwing has air ride in the back and we set the setting to seventy one percent for the set up. Once it was completed Arthur took it out for it's shake down run. I never even got on it. A few laps around the big circle and Arthur moved the setting to sixty nine percent and we were off to the corner for it's maiden run.
It was a lot of fun building Arthur his new Sweet SL-220 sidecar. He had been waiting for almost a lifetime and we finally got it done. It was fun going around to the different places where I get my materials with Arthur. Whenever he calls to catch up he always ask where I'm at and when I  tell him he remembers going after this or that. On one of our trip out away from the farm we were headed somewhere going after something and as we were driving down the road a large cloud of smoke was coming from behind a house. Arthur starts yelling "pull over and let me out". He thought that it was a house on fire and he was ready to do what fire fighters do and that's head into the house to pull anyone out that might be in their. I told him that "they are just burning leaves". Sure enough they had a big pile of leaves burning and the house wasn't on fire. He couldn't beleave that they were allowed to burn leaves like that out in the open. Up North someone would be going to jail. 
Arthur's vacation got cut short when he received a call from home. An elderly lady in her 80's that allows Arthur and his fire house group to use her late husbands 1930's fire truck for the kids and parades had died that morning. A few hours later he was on his way home with his new sidecar rig stored in the back of his neat pull along trailer. Well it was fun while it lasted and it was a real pleasure building my good friend his new SL-220 Sidecar even if it did take forty years. 
Thanks for reading.
Johnny Sweet PE. 
 
 It helps to have reverse.
 
 
 
 
 Arthur with his new SL-220 sidecar.
 
A trip up to the corner.
 
 
 
 
 
 



Edited by Johnny Sweet 8/22/2017 8:06 PM
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Wolfhound
Posted 4/5/2015 5:42 PM (#83779 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day


Veteran

Posts: 227
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Location: Ball Ground, GA.
Mr. Sweet, this is a wonderful historical piece that you have written. Hope you are saving all your writings for a future book. That was a great looking rig even if it did take 40 years to make it. Thanks for sharing this story with us.
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ehadams
Posted 4/6/2015 1:50 PM (#83797 - in reply to #83778)
Subject: RE: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day


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Johnny,
His rig looks great.
Do you have any pictures from the back? or of the mounting points?
I still haven't made any headway with the 79GL and the sidecar of yours that I picked last year. Now I have a 1500 in the shop and thinking that would make a great sidecar rig.
Is the right saddlebag useable?

Eric
In Snowy VT.
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nichloasjerry1
Posted 4/8/2015 5:31 PM (#83824 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day


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I started reading ur posts from today and it is quite good and I actually liked it but I got 1 question that like in what age did u start building the sidecar and how old are you now?
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Johnny Sweet
Posted 4/8/2015 10:20 PM (#83829 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: RE: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



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Posts: 164
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Location: In South Carolina but grew up in Massachusetts.

Hi Nichloas,

Thanks for reading. Many have written me saying the and asking the same thing. I was just a young man of twenty six years old when I started designing my first sweet SL-110 sidecar. I would imagine that for some they have a hard time believing that a young twenty six year old would have the ability and knowledge to not only design a sidecar from scratch but build a small company from nothing but an idea at such a young age. The reader should understand that I was being trained from the time that I was eight years old to become an entrepreneur and manufacturer. It's all that I ever wanted to do. School and the military along with more school got in the way and then I needed to learn different disciplines and working trades. I worked some jobs for no pay just to learn.

Some of you may find this story interesting:

I once worked in a metal casting foundry shoveling dirt so that I could learn how to mold and pour aluminum.  I had only been out of the Army a few months and I was visiting with one of my Army buddy's. As we were walking down the street a few block from his house I saw a sign on the door of a foundry looking for foundry help. My buddy and I went in and applied. The pay was $6.50 and hour; in today's world that would be $65.oo an hour. When the foreman handed my buddy and I two shovels Richard said "these hands weren't made to fit around a shovel handle"  and said to me "I will see you at home". The funny thing was; Richard dug many a foxhole and filled many a sand bag in the Army but he as a civilian wasn't about to ever be using a shovel again. I took the shovel and after some instruction I went to work. Being a shoveler I was right in the thick of it all and after a few days on the job I was getting the hang of it. I had been on the job for about a week when one day I had my CIB Combat Infantrymen's badge on my sweatshirt. One of the old timers saw it and asked " where did you get your CIB" ? I told him and he then called over three of the other old timers. One by one they introduced themselves and the WW II unit they they fought in when they received their CIB. They took me under their wing and with a few hints on how to do this or that my work go easier; not that it was that hard anyways. I was interested in learning everything that I could and the old gang would rather see me working at anything but in a foundry. They all started working in the foundry when they came home from the war in late 1945 and to them they had been working in the foundry for a lifetime and didn't want to see me ending up doing the same thing. I never explained to them what my intentions were and they never asked. 

I wanted to become a molder and learn how  ram the sand in the molding process. So I would work as a molder during my lunch brake for no pay. When sand casting you need a mold. Molding sand is rammed into a molding flacks with a top and bottom (cope and drag) with the pattern or model of the part to be made in the center on a flat plate. The pattern (flat plate) has the shape of the part to be cast on this plate with runners for the molten aluminum to flow into the cavity. Casting aluminum or any metal parts is a science into itself. So every day at lunch I would go over to one of the molding stations and practice ramming the sand into the flasks making a sand cast mold. The molders got paid for every mold that they rammed so I was making this guy Stanley money as he was taking lunch and he sure made a big deal about it. In Stan's eyes I had something wrong with me and in my eyes Stanley was a "Big Supid" or "Big Stoop" . So I always referred to Stanley as "Big Stoop". He didn't like it but I was making him money as I learned how to mold during lunch break plus I'm thinking that he knew I would knock him on his butt if he complained. The old timers would have loved that and then they would have backed a brother CIB.

Months went by and I was spending all my time in the foundry even hanging out in the pattern shop on second shift learning how to make patterns. When they had a gassing problem with a casting I was right in the middle of the conversation soaking up every bit of information I could. If there was a shrinking problem or they were trying to prove a new casting I was in the middle of it. An education you could not get in any school.  One day Big Stoop didn't show up for work and the foreman is going nuts. He's one molder down and doesn't know what he's going to do. One of the old timers said "put the kid in Stans place". I got the arm pointing to Big Stoops station and I was their in an instant working my tail off. Big Stoop was out for three days and for the next three days I was officially a foundry man. My casting count was higher and the quality of the castings was better than Big Stoop's. On day four Big Stoop shows up and as he makes his way over to his station the foreman hands him a shovel. He was told that " the kids got your job". Big Stoop was fuming and I had a big laugh about it. When the first brake came I went up to the foreman and told him. "Look you don't know anything about me and this is just a stopping off place. You better give Big Stoop back his job. He has a wife and kids and he need this job. I then went around to all the old timers and shook hands with them and told them it was time. They all wished me the best and told me that they would miss me but they were all glad that I was going on to other things.  I should mention that although I left the foundry I didn't stop learning about casting metals. I joined the American Foundry Society (AFS)  in 1969 and today I'm still a member getting my monthly publication of Metal Casting for the last forty five years. For some reason I have it in the back of my mind that some day I may have to build a small foundry in my shop and cast something for a new project. I had many different jobs in many different disciplines and had my head in a book most of the time when I wasn't working. It wasn't all work and no play. This kind of life style isn't for everyone but I wouldn't have had it any other way.

 

 It seems like I spent most of my time when I was young having to prove that I knew what I knew. I always figured that I would prove it by building what I built and let the so called experts sort it out. When you build a product everyone is looking for a mistake. I've never understood why people will listen to a critic. A person with very little talent and absolutely no ability. That's just like how many people have I known over the decades that will come up with a good idea and will ask people that have never been successful at anything and have failed at everything that they have ever done what they think. I always tell them to look for successful people and ask for their guidance and their thoughts. How many times have I been in the design process and someone will be telling everyone how it won't work. Then when it does work they just go back to the bar and their beer.

When I turned twenty seven I built my first Sweet SL-110 sidecar. My good friend and co body designer the late Dick Lyon was ten years my senior. We were young back then and had no idea how it was going to shake out. Today I'm seventy years old and I'm having the time of my life. With a lifetime full of designing all kinds of neat things today I'm retired and back building my Sweet sidecars for a select few. Every sidecar is hand built and custom designed to fit each customers needs. Last year I was building one unit every ten days but have cut my production to one per month. I can built a complete sidecar in twenty six working hours. The design is very simple and I have reduced the number of parts in the frame from thirty four to twenty two on some units. We have a small group of sidecar nuts in my area and we try to go out every good day above 60 degrees and ride even if it's just up to the local corner and back to the shop. These are all new sidecar owners just in the last year and a half. My earlier projections were to build twenty five new sidecars in two years. I did that in the first year. As long as my health holds out and I still have the passion I hope to build many more in the years to come, but you never know. 

Thanks for reading and asking.

Johnny Sweet PE.



Edited by Johnny Sweet 4/9/2015 5:31 PM
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Wolfhound
Posted 4/9/2015 6:11 AM (#83833 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day


Veteran

Posts: 227
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Location: Ball Ground, GA.
A great story!!! At 79 I am semi retired but still working for a few of my old time clients and riding my hack as well as my trike. Never quit doing the things you love to do!!
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nichloasjerry1
Posted 4/10/2015 5:44 PM (#83856 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day


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that is actually a great story and it is making me inspired a lot
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opie79
Posted 7/16/2015 10:05 PM (#85420 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day


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Mr Johnny Sweet you are truly amazing!!!! it turns out that I have had one of your sidecars sitting in my barn for almost 5 years -an SL-440 I'm nearly certain. I have wondered many times about how I was going to install it, and to what kind of bike. I mainly ride Harley's these days, but I'm one of those that likes nearly all makes and models. I believe that I am about to make an extended "loan" of my rig to my cousin with a physically challenged son. I cannot wait to see it attached to his Road King. After reading these stories I'll never sell it for sure!!! P.s., my rig has the original upholstery, the chrome hubcap, original windshield and is in fantastic shape ALL THE WAY DOWN IN THE TEXAS PANHANDLE!!! I will post pics soon. I had no idea that I had such a special sidecar just sitting in the barn.
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Johnny Sweet
Posted 7/28/2015 8:13 AM (#85583 - in reply to #85420)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



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Posts: 164
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Location: In South Carolina but grew up in Massachusetts.

opie79 - 7/16/2015 10:05 PM Mr Johnny Sweet you are truly amazing!!!! it turns out that I have had one of your sidecars sitting in my barn for almost 5 years -an SL-440 I'm nearly certain. I have wondered many times about how I was going to install it, and to what kind of bike. I mainly ride Harley's these days, but I'm one of those that likes nearly all makes and models. I believe that I am about to make an extended "loan" of my rig to my cousin with a physically challenged son. I cannot wait to see it attached to his Road King. After reading these stories I'll never sell it for sure!!! P.s., my rig has the original upholstery, the chrome hubcap, original windshield and is in fantastic shape ALL THE WAY DOWN IN THE TEXAS PANHANDLE!!! I will post pics soon. I had no idea that I had such a special sidecar just sitting in the barn.

 

Hi Kite,
This was a pleasant surprised. Thanks for the kind words. This must be exciting with your Sweet SL-440 sidecar being "loaned" for a good cause. I do have a few concerns about my old sidecar and the steps needed to mount it on your cousins Road King.  The shock would have to be around forty years old and I would think it must have dried out. Also you will need a fabricator/ welder with lots of experience. Using a bench top 110 volt mig welder would be a "NO, NO" for a project like this. If you don't mind I would like to walk your installer through the fabricating installation steps. I did this eight times last year with different gentleman around the world with great success every time. They didn't have one of my sidecars like you do but built their sidecars from scratch using my time proven method. As I write this I have a Road King in the shop that I'm installing one of my Sweet Classic sidecars on. One of my Sweet SL-440 sidecars mounted on a newer Road King should look good. All of the SL models that were installed on Harley's back in the day where 74 and 80 inch bikes and these were the older Harley's many being the AMF models. I'm finding that the newer Road Kings are great partner for any of my Sweet designed sidecars.
 
Please take this in the spirit that it's given. At this time I would like to offer my assistance in helping with the installation of your Sweet SL-440 to your cousin's Road King, even if it's only by way of emails, pictures and phone calls. My sweet sidecars are totally different than anything else that's out their. The process that I use to set them up to a motorcycle takes some precision but it's not "rocket science" as one fellow once said. I can help with the mounting brackets that attach to the bike because I fabricated tooling fixtures not to long ago knowing that the Road King was going to be a very popular bike for my Sweet Sidecars. I would like to offer a set for your project at no cost to you. Again please except these in the spirit that they are offered. If you feel uncomfortable with this and feel that you should pay something may I suggest an alternative. You could give to a local charity in your area, an organization like a food bank. I would prefer that the offering  be made anonymously. 
Your Sweet SL-440 sidecar comes in at around 160 pounds and is plenty strong enough but is about 60 pounds light for this set up. It's not a problem because ballast can be added and the balance can be figured out if you follow my instructions. If you would like my help please email me at  jsweet450@yahoo.com and we can discuss just what's involved in performing this task.
 
This project that your about to undertake is going to change a lot of lives in many different ways, and I'm betting they will be all good. Welcome to the world of Sidecars. 
 
Respectfully Yours,
Johnny Sweet PE.
Sweet Sidecars
You may email me at     jsweet450@yahoo.com
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NCGLSidecarist
Posted 9/1/2015 7:30 AM (#86065 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: RE: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day


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Thanks for all the great information and more importantly for you service to our country. It truly is the " the Land of the free because of the brave"! Welcome to the Carolinas! You picked a great place to live. Enjoy!
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Wolfhound
Posted 9/1/2015 6:29 PM (#86074 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day


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Location: Ball Ground, GA.
As usual, Mr. Sweet is a perfect gentleman and willing to help anyone who asks. He is definitely 'Old School' and he knows what he is talking about.
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floridaboy
Posted 11/15/2015 5:58 PM (#86832 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



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Location: Hudson,FL.
Hi Johnny: I have enjoyed reading all the great info that you have posted here on the forum. I have enjoyed talking to you and the e-mails from you. I am looking forward to you building a Sweet Classic Sidecar for my 07 Yamaha Road Star Midnight Silverado 1700. It is a pleasure to be able to talk and see a real crafts mans work. Chuck Hudson,Fl.

Edited by floridaboy 11/15/2015 6:00 PM
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maquette
Posted 1/3/2016 11:37 AM (#87392 - in reply to #85583)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day


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Posts: 25
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Location: Oriental, NC
Hello Johnny,

I noticed in one of your pictures you have one of your sidecars on a KLR650. Have you designed any sidecars that are for dual sport use, with the emphasis on dirt, not pavement?

De Oppresso Liber

Tom
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Johnny Sweet
Posted 5/8/2016 7:37 PM (#89035 - in reply to #87392)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



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Posts: 164
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Location: In South Carolina but grew up in Massachusetts.

maquette - 1/3/2016 11:37 AM Hello Johnny, I noticed in one of your pictures you have one of your sidecars on a KLR650. Have you designed any sidecars that are for dual sport use, with the emphasis on dirt, not pavement? De Oppresso Liber Tom

 

 

Hi Tom,
De Oppresso Liber.

I do get asked If I would build a sidecars for a dual sports. The only duel sport sidecars that I've built to date were for the two that I posted pictures of. The KLR650 was an interesting project. The customer wanted a sidecar that he could use on the open road and mild dirt roads. He's a dog trainer and one of his dogs would be riding in the sidecar. The GS customer drives his in the snow and on some rough roads. So I installed an arm on the sidecar frame so that a winch could  be attached to it. That way if he had to pull himself out of a ditch he could. The KL650 was more involved once I got into the project. The bike has a lot of suspension travel and the camber ark was more than I was expecting.  To figure it out I had to set the bike and sidecar up as a test bed. The installation had to be performed in steps.  Once I built the frame I tack welded the rods in place and set the bike at zero camber with no one sitting on the bike. Using a digital angle gauge I tracked the camber angle as it traveled from at rest to complete compression of the springs. I charted the camber ark results every half of an inch as I compressed the suspension. Then I compressed the bike suspension to the customers body weight. (that is how much the suspension would compress when the driver is sitting on the bike). I then set the sidecar up with this as a ride height. The camber is set depending on the drivers body weight. An example would be if the drivers weight comes in at say 225 pounds then a good staring point might be 1.2 degrees of camber. If they weigh 165 pounds then I might go out as far as 1.8 degrees.  The reason for the difference is the "Moment Arm". The bikes motion as it travels up and down from bound to re bound is linked to the sidecar wheel. Think of the the sidecar wheel as a pivot point. As the bike travels up and down it moves in an ark and the camber angle is changing ever so slightly. I lighter driver has less moment effort  on the the suspension as it travels into bound. The heavier the driver the more moment. Think of it as Potential Energy moving to Kinetic Energy every time the suspension has a force applied upon it. The heavier driver can and will compress the suspension to a greater degree than a lighter driver. If you go back to the camber ark you will notice that the heavier driver will cause the suspension to travel a longer distance for the same given in the road at say the same speed.

Thinking back the suspension on this model can travel as much as eleven inches. I wasn't familiar with this bike and how much was normal when it came to suspension travel and spring compression. For all I knew the spring and shock might have been worn out. I was pretty much flying blind so I had to come up with a way to establish a "base line". On the KL650 I set the sidecar wheel distance from the center line of the bike to the outside of the sidecar tire at 48". Even with 48" the camber ark gets a little wild. Once I had a base line to work off it was easy to figure out and I had the set up completed in a short time. Out of the box it drove straight  and didn't pull to the right or left. The customer had a lot of miles under his belt with one of those Russian sidecars and in the end was very pleased with what I gave him.   Like I mentioned earlier I do get asked about building duel sport sidecars but as of this writing I've declined building em. I'm betting that there is a good market for a duel sport sidecar. Like anything in life. Do what you enjoy doing best and building duel sport sidecars isn't my thing.  If someone really is serous about a duel sport I suggest they contact Claude Stanley at Freedom Sidecars. Claude is a friend of mine and by far builds  magnificent sidecars. Some of Claude's customers travel all over the world with his sidecars. The thing about Claude's sidecars is that they don't fail. Claude and his team are sidecar builders extraordinaire.

Almost all the Sidecars that I build today are my Sweet Classic model. The Classic on a HD is so popular that it almost fills my very small production schedule. I have built a few of my SL-220's and a Hot Rod sidecar but the Classic has proven to be the most popular. I built twelve sidecars in 2015 for some really great people. The sidecars have changed many lives. I guess that's what it's all about. When it stops being fun Ill be all done but for the time being I'm having a great time. We drive our sidecars every good day and living in South Carolina affords me the opertunity to drive almost every good day with the temperature above sixty degrees. I've found a niche and what I produce fits my customer demands.
Thanks for reading, Johnny Sweet PE.
 
This picture give you an idea as to how I mounted my sidecar. The customer didn't want a fender on the sidecar so he didn't get one.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Edited by Johnny Sweet 8/22/2017 8:13 PM
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Johnny Sweet
Posted 5/8/2016 9:00 PM (#89036 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: RE: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



Veteran

Posts: 164
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Location: In South Carolina but grew up in Massachusetts.

 

 

Sweet Velorex Hybrid sidecar.
  I don't normally ever work on any other sidecars but my own Sweet designed sidecars. I have a new friend that asked if I would mount his Velorex sidecar onto his Triumph America. I couldn't refuse him. You see he's a veteran like me and his ancestors settled in the same county in Massachusetts in 1635 that mine did. Plus his Great Grand Dad took his Great Grand Mom on their first date on his Harley with sidecar in 1935 in the same county in Massachusetts just like my Dad and Mom did at the very same time in history. The only difference being that my Dad and Mom where in their Indian with a sidecar. The chances of two people meeting and having the same parallel ancestral past and having a passion for sidecars plus being former military has to be in the millions to one. So I took on the project.  Sweet-Velorex Hyb
When it comes to the Velorex I've voiced my opinion on the mounting arrangement that they use over the years. So when I took on this installation job I had to have total freedom on just how I would mount the sidecar to Jason's bike. The plan of attack was that Jason and his lovely wife intended on riding on the bike with their daughter in the sidecar. Before I even started I had Jason and his wife get on the bike and we measured how much the shocks compressed. I would use this dimension when it came to setting up the sidecar. The first thing that I did was cut the frame and get rid or all the crap on the inside of the frame. You know the Velorex mounting system. I then fabricated one of my time proven frames that I designed over forty years ago for my Sweet sidecars . I built hundreds of theses type frames back in the day without ever having one fail. I welded the new Sweet frame into the Velorex frame making them one. Next I fabricated mounting brackets on the America like I've done hundreds of times in the past on all kinds of different bikes. Once the brackets were completed it was time to mount the hybrid sidecar frame  to the Triumph American motorcycle using the same dimensional set up that I use on all my Sweet built sidecars. The installation went quick and after a few hours it was time for a test drive. Out of the box or shop it drove straight as an arrow. No pulling to the right or left and it can be driven with two fingers. I did add a fifty pound plate to the bottom of the frame and I'm finding that this is helping new owners/drivers when first learning how to drive their new sidecar rigs. In the old days we used a 40 pound bag of sand. The problem with doing it that way is that  they have to take the sand bag in and out of the sidecar when they have a passenger unless the sand bag is placed in the trunk. Then you have no storage. Today with the sidecar set up with the additional ballast and trimmed out correctly it doesn't matter if they are driving solo or with a passenger right hand turns are never a problem. I'm finding that the  learning curve is so much shorter. Yes I know it doesn't make them experts but they seem to get comfortable with the sidecar rid in a shorter period of time. I'm also finding that every new owner/driver is very prudent in their driving.
  The sidecar was removed and the new hybrid frame and brackets painted and it was ready for thousands of miles and smiles. Jason's daughter who's been riding in what she calls her "space ship" falls asleep within the first few miles. It's funny because my grandson David calls my son's Sweet SL-220 sidecar his "Yellow Rocket". Kids love sidecars and sure have some funny names for em. Just the other day I was wondering if I had a special name for my Dad's sidecar almost seventy years ago.
  Driving impression is interesting. It drives the same as any of my Sweet Sidecars in that it's smooth and easy to drive. No pulling to the right or left with the only difference being the softer Velorex sidecar suspension. I didn't make any changes to it. I personalty like a harder suspension but this one drives nice.  I must say that I like the Velorex/Sweet Hybrid Sidecar.  I'm not sure if this will be the last Sweet Hybrid sidecar that I work on but this one sure has been getting a good workout. It's a regular at the Biltmore Estate and Jason drives it right up to the front door as he lets off his wife and daughter who's three and a half years old. Could be a first, who knows.
Thanks for reading, Johnny Sweet PE.
 
 
 
 
 
 

 


Edited by Johnny Sweet 8/21/2017 10:27 PM
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Johnny Sweet
Posted 5/8/2016 9:49 PM (#89037 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: RE: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



Veteran

Posts: 164
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Location: In South Carolina but grew up in Massachusetts.

 

 

A New Sidecar season is upon us.
A big thanks to those that have emailed and phoned me over this last sidecar season. I'm into a new season and my shop has been bustling with sidecar projects and I've met some amazing people. Since I'm knee deep into building my Sweet Sidecars once again; at least for the time being. I'm having more fun than I ever thought possible. It's totally different in retirement and over the last few years my prospective has changed. I think I once wrote that "sidecars are dead". That statement couldn't have been further from the truth. Boy was I ever wrong! The thing is to make sidecars an everyday item more sidecar have to be visible for the average person to see. We have done just that in the upstate of South Carolina and even as far away from us as the Blue Ridge Parkway. We drive our sidecars every good day and the good days in the South East are many in a years time. Almost everywhere we go we have people coming up to us asking about our sidecars. They have no idea that we build sidecars but once they find that they can have one custom built just for them the response is always the same. "Where are you located"? "How much and how long does it take to get one"? When I mention that I only build one sidecar a month and that the waiting list is about four or five months long it doesn't seem to slow them down. I stopped advertising on Craigslist because I could sell one sidecar per day in the South East. This doesn't even include the Atlanta area. The sidecar market in just that metro area I'm thinking could be tremendous if done correctly. In the old days I sold sidecars to just about everyone but today I try to help those that can no longer ride their motorcycles because they can't hold them up any longer. A sidecar can work great for those with such a need. Others go in the direction of a trike but it's interesting that a few got rid of the trike and moved toward a sidecar. Others need the sidecar for the grandchild or the dog. Whatever the need at least their into sidecars. It wasn't until I got back out on the road with our sidecar rigs, most times in a small group, that I started to notice just how much attention they will draw. Years ago when my son Eric was a teenager and would be riding around with me in the sidecar he would always say "dad did you see all the people looking at us"? I never noticed it because it had become such a way of life I never noticed all the attention. Remember I raced hydroplanes and in some places the crowd was six hundred thousand people. You put the crowd out of your mind. Today I'm more concerned with being a good ambassador for sidecars and that alone keeps me grounded. I guess I'm looking at it with old man's eyes that lived in the most interesting time in history. At this time in my life I don't need the  attention so the sidecar is always the center of attraction. My friends sometimes try to make it a big deal and  I have to slow them down. For some of them it's the most attention they have ever had in their lives. Their having fun and that's all the matters.

I often get asked about the comparisons of building sidecars today and back in the 1970's. At first I hadn't given it much thought but after being asked a few dozen times it did stick in my mind. It was defiantly easier this last time around but both times I had to start from scratch. Yes each time I had a sidecar and a set of fiberglass molds but that was all. The first time around we didn't know if a sidecar market even existed. The second time around I knew there was a market that just had to be tapped and a customer base developed. One lonely sidecar just won't get the job done. We found out early on that if you want to attract attention then two or more sidecars sure will get the job done. Not that one sidecar doesn't attract  attention. Any of you driving a sidecar know that; your living it. Each time I knew that people needed to see more than one sidecar to not only get interested but to step up and say "I want one". We have found that two sidecars or more will start with the questions being asked. Few people want to be the first at anything; especially if it's something new. If a soon to be customer only has one sidecar to look at then they may think, " is this the only one that they have built. I sure don't want to be the first". Sidecars arn't new but to someone looking for the first time their new to them. I was very lucky when I was first starting out in 1972 because one of my childhood friends wanted the first one. That more or less got the ball rolling. This second time around I built a few for myself and then about a half a dozen for friends and we started driving them around two at a time. The second time around when setting out on this new adventure I did come to the table with a library of information and experience under my belt. Something I didn't have the first time around. Even though I hadn't been building sidecars for decades I did at times think about them and how I could improve upon the design. Every five or ten years I would set aside some time and go through the design process looking for different ways to cut down on the number of parts  and to simplify the building steps. It was more or less a mind exercise. I have a note book with pages and pages of sketches. Each sketch has the date written down on it so that I know at first glance the time in history that the idea was conceived. Some of the designs are very unique and well thought out while others just flat out "stink". Nothing gets thrown out and many times when I'm looking through the sketches I think to myself, "what was I thinking about. It sure wasn't sidecars". So this second time around I did go back to the sidecar sketch book and took what I thought was the best ideas to improve on. I should mention that I have sketch books for many different kinds of interests from Hot Rods to down hill gravity sleds to my Sweet Three Wheel Tilting Vehicle. Not forgetting hydroplanes and aerobatic airplanes . I have about a dozen sketch books on all sorts of interesting things. I never know where my minds going to take me.

This is one example of how the process has worked for me over the years. Some of you may find this interesting. It's just another example of how life may take you to places you never knew existed or even thought about.
Back in 1999 I was working for a company called "Water Mark". At the time they were the largest Kayak company in the world. I was hired on and my position was two fold. I would be modeling/sculpturing some of the newest kayak designs that they were bringing to the market place for the 2000 season. They were also paying me to set up a certification program for the young modelers. They had some great modelers with loads of talent and not one was certified. It was an interesting time. At this point I must write a disclaimer. I wasn't a Kayak designer but a master modeler. You give any modeler like me some dimensions and a sketch and we can make almost anything. I knew nothing about Kayaks and how they were made. That I had to learn. It was interesting because I came to the kayak design world with a library of information that many in the kayak  world knew nothing about. I was learning about kayaks from them and they were learning about other disciplines from me that could be converted to the kayak world. I must say that this group was very open to new ideas not like some places that I had worked at in the past. Some people have such closed minds and they wonder why life passes them by while others live out their dreams.
Not only were we modeling the new production designs but we were designing and building the kayaks for the US Olympic Kayak team. Plus the National Geographic Chanel was in the R&D area and we were working on boats for them for a river run over in Naipaul.
  The program worked something like this. Every week boats were being built for the "Team" as we called them. That's the US Olympic Kayak Team. They had the designs nintey five percent completed and they kept making small changes looking for that extra five percent. So it was our job to make the changes. Every week it was the same thing week after week. At the time we had a water drought in the South and the only good level 4 water was up in West Virginia. The team would leave in their Subaru Outback's loaded with Dagger Kayaks on the roofs on Friday afternoon. Every team member and professional paddler that was working for Water Mark had a little Subaru Outback. (Some of you may remember the TV adds that the Subaru dealers were running with the mini van's with Kayak's on the roofs. The TV adds ran every day back then. They had their own little caravan running up the road. They would take the boats up into the West Virginia mountains and test run em on the rivers all weekend evaluating the small changed made that week.   They would then arrive back at the R&D shop on Monday afternoons with the results from the runs from the last weeks changes. It was the same thing every week. Tuesday morning we would go back to the foam and fiberglass models (we had four different designs.) and the team members would tell us to change this or that. Shave an 1/8" in one place and add a 1/16" in another. Each design was different specifically for the team member.  On Wednesdays the changes were completed notes taken and the models were ready for a new fiberglass molds.  Molds were made of each design using a special high temperature resin that was good up to five hundred degrees. The molds were then placed in different ovens and a roto molded plastic boats was built. Some of the team members were right in the middle of it all. Other boat testers were paid experts; some of the best in the world when it came to Kayaks. The new boats were taken out of the molds and on Thursday and Friday's they were assembled with the hardware from the week before. In some cases the week before boat was left as is and both the new and old were taken up for a test run. Go through this process a dozen times and believe me it gets old, but think about it. Everyone involved was looking for the best boats posable for the the US Olympic Team. It's not very often that an opertunity like this comes along and I was right in the middle of it all. For those that this Kayak stuff is their life they eat and sleep this; it's all they know. I understood this and figured I would at least hang around till the Olympics. Plus it was great fun and they paid me three times what they should have because of what I brought to the table. Bottom line they wanted that Modelers Certification for their people. I think we build boats for twenty three weeks and they finally settled on the best design for each team members. Had they reached that one hundred percent that they were looking for? I don't think so. Has the perfect boat ever been built? Probably not but I bet they got within one or two percent of perfection.  This would be perfection for a given paddler with a specific boat at that time in history. Like all designs their always changing.
We would work on the team boats on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and the new production boat designs the rest of the week. With seventeen new boats being designed the R&D shop was full and kayaks were everywhere. Everyone in the shop was a paddler in their off time but me. I would have gotten into it but I ran the odds and there was a good chance at my age at the time I would have ended up getting drowned. Even if the water was at a level 1 in our local area. A man must know his limitations. Even if he is an old combat soldier. We don't stay young forever and time caught up to me.

So how do they make a plastic Kayak boat?
Making a plastic roto molded boat is an interesting process. They start with the mold. For a one of a kind boat the mold is made out of fiberglass with a very high temperature resin. Less than five boats can be made before the mold burns up. Production boats use an aluminum mold and thousands of boats can be made from these kinds of molds. Today fifteen years later two of my boats, the Carolina and the Avatar are still being made from the original aluminum molds. It's funny because when I was modeling the new Avatar sixteen foot boat I had to look up the definition of Avatar. Years later they make a movie named Avatar; go figure. Ya, I know it had nothing to do with the boat. So they take the mold that's attached to a metal frame and open it up. It looks like a big clam. They then pour colored plastic powder into the mold spreading the plastic powder around. The little competition boats weigh between eighteen and twenty two pounds and the sixteen and eighteen foot boats that are sold to the public weigh over forty pounds. The mold is then closed up and sent into the furnace. The mold is attached to a big machine that rotates the mold in two directions at the same time. The furnace heats up the mold and the powdered plastic starts to melt and stick to the inside surface of the mold. The plastic powder inside the mold flows around the surface of the inside of the mold as it is being rotated touching every area of the mold. In areas that the powdered plastic has a hard time flowing into the machine will stop for a few second when it reaches that area. This places the specific area of the mold in the lowest point so that the plastic can bunch up in that area. They heat the mold and rotate it until all the powdered plastic has melted and produced a plastic boat the shape of the inside of the mold. The finished boat is a little smaller than the inside of the mold once it's removed. The shrinkage allowance is all pre determined during the modeling process. The model will be slightly larger than the finished boat. When we were in the design process of the new boats we used  fiberglass molds. They built a few boats out of each mold. We would take one of the new boats and cut it into quarters inspecting and measuring the boat thickness. At time we would cut the quarters up into little pieces for a closer inspection. The team paddlers while testing the boats would determine how thick they wanted the boats in different areas. Some liked a thicker bottom than others.  It's an art and a science getting the boats thickness figured out.  A skilled machine operator that knows his trade can look at a mold and within two boats will have the heating and rotation sequence figured out. The roto molded Kayaks process was developed in South Carolina around forty years ago in a two stall garage. The rest is history. Hundreds of thousands of plastic Kayaks have been built and most involved that started these businesses became very wealthy.

So what does this all have to do with designing sidecars? When your spending hours sanding and shaping; and it take hours to model a boat. You day dream. Some of my day dreaming was going through the steps I used when building my Sweet sidecars back in the day. As I would think about my design and make a change I would draw a sketch. I kept a note pad on my work bench and dated every sketch and initialed my notes. At that time in history I had no intention on building sidecars but I knew that I might in the future. It was fun improving on my design. I also worked on some changes with hydroplanes, racing cars and a gyro. With the sidecars my objective was to reduce the number of parts that had to be fabricated. Back in the day each sidecar frame complete had around forty pieces. Recently I have built a few sidecar frames with as little as nineteen pieces. So today's simplified design is a result of the multi tasking or scatterbraining that I did while modeling kayaks for the US Olympic Team. Like many things in today's world the age of the modeler is almost gone. Today the designs are developed on a computer using Solid Works and a file loaded into a CNC machine. A block of foam is attached to a table at the base of the CNC machine and a cutter travels back and forth for a day and out comes a completed foam model of whatever design was created. It's a new age and guys like me are considered dinosaurs and the days of the modeler by hand and feel is about gone. I was told that they have CNC process figured out to the point that all they need to do is a little sanding on the model and it's ready for a mold.

Back to building sidecars back in the day and today.
The age of people interested in sidecars has been interesting. In the 1970's some of my first customers were young people my age; we were in our twenty's. Today the same thing applies; customers are my age but in their sixty's and seventy's. Back in the day the age spectrum ran from the mid twenty's all the way up to eighty two years old with the average age being mid thirty's to mid forty's. Today almost all are retired and have a special need for a sidecar. In most cases the older guys can't hold the bike up any longer. In the 70's many of the young couples had a child and that was the need for my sidecars. For others my Sweet sidecars were something different and it seemed like everyone had to have one. They were the new toy in town. Others have said for decades that it was the design that made them popular. Back in the 70's the bikes were much smaller with an average size between 450cc. and 1000cc..   Harley's were the AMF models and we all know what that was all about. Today they are so much more and the brand recognition is at the top of the motorcycle world. All the  bikes are so much better than what we had to work with back in the day. Manufacturers have the design geometry figured out and the bikes are very smooth. The power in some cases is almost unlimited. We have a 2300cc Rocket 3 that pulls like some of the full blown race cars that I once built and drove. The biggest thing that I'm the most grateful for with these new modern day bikes is that  they sure are smooth.
  Back in the day the my most popular sidecar was my SL-220. Today it's my Sweet Classic. I sell one SL-220 to twelve Classic's. The Classic fits many of the newer bikes and complements them nicely. I do build about one Hot Rod sidecar a year. I do get asked about the Hot Rod sidecar by guys that not only ride motorcycles but build or have Hot Rods. I just recently got a call from a fellow that Pin Stripes and builds Custom cars and Hot rods in the Charlotte area. He's a big name at the bike and car shows. I believe we are going to hook up and I should be building him his Sweet Hot Rod sidecar sometime this year. I'm thinking that he will be an outstanding ambassador for sidecars.

Another thing that's interesting in this new age is that many of the guys have as many as six motorcycles. In fact as I write this two of my friends have six bikes each and I have six. Ya, I know we can only drive one at a time, but they sure are a lot of fun. The man hours that it takes to build one of my sidecar regardless of what model is still about the same; around twenty six man hours. The mounting set up is still the same. The time proven "Sweet Easy Mounting Method". My method going back to 1972 is by far the simplest and easiest method in the sidecar industry. Regardless if it's  today or at any time in it's history for that matter.  Others may disagree but I invite anyone to show me something simpler and easier when it comes to mounting a sidecar to a motorcycle and have the same end result as my method.
When I built sidecars back in the day it was in New England and the season is very short. Today the thing I like about building sidecars in the South East is the warm weather. It's almost year round and we drive our sidecars every good day above sixty degrees with no rain. I set the sidecars up in the shop and my friends take em out for the test runs. Pretty much the same as in the old days and rarely do we have to make an adjustment after the first run. It's not rocket science and using the correct numbers while being very precise when setting up the sidecar makes all the difference. I can't over state how being very precise is important. The thing that my customers like about my design is how easy it is to remove the sidecar from the bike. Many of the guys that can still hold the bike up prefer to remove the sidecar and drive solo part of the week. Then when the sidecar is needed it's as simple as sliding it up next to the bike and installing four bolts. Tighten the bolts and off they go. Some have it down to three minuets. I think their bragging. One of my customers that lives up in the mountains rides his bike solo all week long. On the weekends you can find him up on the Blue Ridge Parkway with the sidecar attached. It becomes a family affair on the weekends with his daughter in the sidecar and his wife on the bike behind him. I've been told that he holds court at some of the overlooks telling people all about his sidecar and how it was built. Without the easy Sweet method it wouldn't be so easy to go from one mode to another on the weekends. I have had prospective customers visiting at the shop and as we stood and talked the question about how easy it is to remove the sidecar came up. As we talked I let down the side stand and slid some blocks under the sidecar. Then with an impact wrench removed the four bolts and slid the sidecar away from the bike. Then slid it back and re installed the the four bolts and tightened them up. I pulled out the blocks, slid back the kick stand and drove the bike around the yard. Ya, I know I was showing off but they only have to see it once and they were  sold on the design.
  Interesting but not everyone is sold on my sidecars. I never take it personally; I'm just to darn thick skinned. I had this happen last year. I had one fellow call me and I set some time aside so that he had my complete attention. He had driven a Russian  sidecar that a friend of his owned and he was looking at purchasing a sidecar. He came to the shop and we talked and then I asked him if he would like to take a few of my sidecar rigs out around the yard. I put him on my BMW that I drive most of the time. He drove it around and up and down the drive and came back with a big smile on his face. I then put him on one of the bigger rigs and he took that up and down the drive a time or two.  One of my friends showed up and we put the gentlemen on his rig. He liked them all and in the end he became a customer.  Then I had another fellow show up and he had never driven a sidecar rig but had been thinking about one for some time. I put him on my blue BMW. The same rig as the other fellow.  He was given a short lesson and I had him run the big paved circle on the property just like the other gentleman. He made about four laps and brought the rig back to the shop. I could see the look on his face that he wasn't pleased. Go figure; I never take it personal. He is a nice guy and we even went up to the corner and had lunch togehter. He decided to go and look for a Russian sidecar.  It's a big world with all kinds of people and everyone is looking for something different. So as you can see you don't win em all. I never try to figure it out. That's like back in the day when I owned high end cars I liked the Jags, Cobras and even a Ferrari. Other guys liked Corvettes. As some say,"It is what it is".

What's planned for the future:
For the time being I'm going to build a few more sidecar in 2016. I have been asked to design a new sidecar for the Indian Scout. That's the new Indian Scout manufactured by Polaris. I was asked by the same people that I designed the Victory Crossbow Trike for in 2008. Same people different company. As I'm writing this I'm designing the brackets for the Scout. Even though I'm designing them I still might never build one. I'm not really interested in going into a full blown production run. I might leave that up to others. At my age I insist on keeping myself stress free. I notice that Victory or someone else is looking at or building police bikes with a sidecar. Since HD quite building sidecars the American market for police bikes must be wide open. I find this interesting. Back in 2008 when I was designing and modeling the Victory Crossbow Trike for Lehman Trikes I spent some time with the Victory Engineers. They were in the Lehman R&D area checking out everything that was being designed relating to the Vision for the Crossbow trike project. The Harley engineers were also their working on the new Harley trike. Lehman built the Harley trikes for the first eighteen months until Harley got their new trike factory built in Pennsylvanian. Going to lunch was always interesting. We had the Lehman, Victory, and Harley engineers all sitting around the table.  More than once the subject of sidecars came up. Layman wasn't interested in the slightest when it came to sidecars. The Harley engineers knew that they wouldn't be building sidecars any longer in the near future and never got into the conversation. But for some reason one Engineer from Victory was very interested. At the time I thought it was more for academic reasons. The two of us were kind of kindred  Engineering spirits. I mentioned that my designs were considered eminent domain designs and anyone can use them. So I was asked for information on how I fabricated my sidecar frames and how I mounted them to the different motorcycles. I sent drawings and detailed  information on the complete process for him to go over.  For a short time we sent emails back and forth and like anything in life we moved on. I couldn't help but wonder if any of my design was considered when the new prototype Police sidecar was in the design process. Some have mentioned that police sidecar looks like a Hannigan design. Time will tell who the builder is. I was also told that Liberty Sidecars is building new sidecars for the DC Police department and their Harley's. That's exciting because it would be a first time that a small company would be building sidecars commercially for a big police department. This is monumental! It's proof that with a great time proven design and honest buisness practices a small company can reach for the stars and make it into the stratosphere. I bet their excited! I'm thinking that they should do very well with a police sidecar product. Pittsburgh uses their sidecar rigs year round possibly in the future Liberty will be building sidecar for them as well. We can only wish them the very best. Great product!

At the moment I'm having fun building and driving my sidecars but I still have a few projects that I would still like to get completed before my time runs out. More than a few years ago I designed a tilting mechanism for what's called a "Three Wheel Tilting Vehicle". I first got interested in tilting vehicles in the late 80's when I saw the GM "Lean Machine" at the Epcot Center. I had the idea in the back of my head for years and then saw a video of the Carver tilting car around 2010. They were produced in Europe and one made it's way into the US. They say the Jay Leno has it in his collection. The company that built the Carver went out of buisness but a few hundred were built. You can't sell something for twenty thousand dollars when it costs forty thousand to build it. Typical "Socialist" thinking. It was subsidized somehow to get the first production run going then when it came time to making money they couldn't and they went out of buisness. Along the way some guy had the patent on the tilting system and he got ten thousand dollars for every one that was used. It was one of those deals that someone figured out a way to make a quick buck with other peoples money. I looked over what was being used for the tilting mechanism and right away figured there had to be a better, simpler way to do it. They had electric over hydraulic actuators controlled by a computer for the tilting mechanism.  A back up unit was needed just in case the first unit failed. I could see the driver crashing the darn thing when the tilting unit fails while it's in a turn. Anyways I took a look at the design and spent about a month on it using a design schedule broke up into half hour segments. In the end I came up with something quite different and interesting. My tilting mechanism is designed around a power steering unit from a F 150 Ford pick up truck. I take rotational axial movement and convert it to linear motion rotating around a center point. I even use the same coupling between the frame and the passenger pod that allows it to tilt as we used in the hydroplanes between the engine and the prop shaft. It was a matter of converting readily available parts to a tilting mechanism. My design can be built for around $200. When is the last time a steering box failed? They wear out but rarely break down. So to prove my design for a tilting mechanism I have to build a prototype three wheel tilting vehicle. I started on the front end four years ago and have the tooling and jig fixture completed. I procured  artist drawings of the body. This was simple. A defunct company that had spent thousands of dollars on the body design abandoned the design and I just picked em up. I have about a hundred hours in the frame and tilting design down to the smallest items. Car parts will be used that will bolt right into the body. Things like doors, windows, lights and any parts that are easier to by used than to make. The plan is to build a Three Wheel Tilting Vehicle in a kit form. It would be a roller with my tilting mechanism installed. The builder would install their engine out of a motorcycle. Preferably a water cooled bike engine that way a heater could be installed in the passenger compartment; tilting pod. The concept vehicle could be driven year round. So as you can see even though I'm having a great time building my sidecars I have this tilting vehicle on the back of my mind. I'm thinking that I could build sidecars half the year during the warm season and then the tilting vehicle the other half. It's just a matter of splitting my time up. The tilting vehicle once completed will require building a small company. I can't build them myself. It will require a small work force and a larger building not like my sidecars. I build my sidecars myself with a little help from one of my friends when he's around the shop. Sidecars are easy where tilting vehicles will be much more involved. The area that I live in is slowly becoming one of the nations leading auto industrial regions. It all started with BMW and to date over four hundred auto related companies have started up or moved to the area. We even have an inland port for those with products that are shipped around the wold. BMW has become the largest auto producer shipping more product out of the country than any other. We even have a university and  R&D campus that's developing composite technology along with various other disciplines in the auto industry. A few times a year the employment head hunters show up at the shop wanting me to head up one of the new teams that they are putting together. I tell em, "I'm just to darn old". They try to get me to come in a few hours a day but I always turn em down. It's nice to know that my name is still out their.  They say that Greer is the new Detroit of the South. At least the numbers sure do speak for themselves with BMW shipping over one million cars out of the country in the last twenty plus years. I do have some people that want to take my Sweet Tilting Vehicle and do a "start up" and run with it. As of this writing the project is still in a holding pattern. The election this year should say a lot. If the country continues in the same direction that it's been going in then a start up small buisness with a new unproven product wouldn't have a chance. Granted a good thought out product with a solid buisness plan and marketing strategy can be successful. But if things don't change then the regulations imposed on small buisness will make it almost impossible to show a profit.  At the moment around twenty five percent of what a buisness makes is used up in regulatory crap. Only time will tell how it will all shake out.

  Well thanks for reading and once again thanks  to all my friends and follower.

Johnny Sweet PE.

A few pictures of some of the new generation of Sweet Sidecars that I've been building.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 



Edited by Johnny Sweet 8/21/2017 10:25 PM
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Johnny Sweet
Posted 5/9/2016 8:48 PM (#89050 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: RE: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



Veteran

Posts: 164
1002525
Location: In South Carolina but grew up in Massachusetts.

 

 Sweet Three Wheel Tilting Vehicle:

Many must read this site because I've received five emails asking about my tilting vehicle in less than a day. So I figured that I would post some pictures of this crazy thing.

The tilting vehicle concept is about thirty five years old. It's pretty simple. The pod that holds the passenger or passengers tilts while the two wheeled power pack in the rear sits stationary as it travels down the road. The passenger pod steers the vehicle as it tilts while under way.  A slight dihedral angle at the tilting point allows for a very slight "rear steer" during the tilting movement. Power is to the rear wheels only. The device used to tilt the pod is the hart of the design. In the past some of the tilting mechanisms used  were very expensive. My design comes in at around $200. With that a compete kit could be built selling at around ten thousand dollars. The customer of kit dealer would supply the salvage parts totaling no more than another thousand dollars. The engine could be from a motorcycle.  I get asked about this project  a few times a month. At the moment It's on hold.

These are artist renderings that I acquired. The completed design will only use the design box that this represents. The  lines will be different but the shape will be the same.

This vehicle concept has a very large following. Their not motorcycle people or car guys and I'm not even sure if they would even like my concept of a kit vehicle. I'm thinking that kit dealers would be needed just like when I was manufacturing my Sweet 55 T Birds back thirty five years ago. I had thirty nine dealers back in the day and they were well received at the time. Could this vehicle concept do as well in this time in history? That's hard to say. It's not for everyone but for those that are interested, it's something that they have been waiting for for some time.

 

 

 

 

 

 This prototype vehicle was built in Japan as a test bed to see if the concept was viable. It was and they have written a few papers on it. I personally like this design. My thinking is that once my prototype is completed I can make molds for a composite pod. The pod would allow for the use of readily available parts like doors, trim, glass and all the accessories needed to finish out the passenger compartment. Outer composite panels would be bonded to the outer door skin. The  doors that will be used for the design have yet to be determined. I'm looking for a ten year availability on any parts that will be used from salvaged cars. My concept is pretty simple. Take readily available parts and bolt them into the composite pod. Window glass for the side doors will come with the complete salvage doors. I'm thinking that two doors are in order. If you pulled into a parking space you could choose what side to exited from. In some situations you wouldn't have to exit into passing traffic but on the curb side. The windshield is no more than a full size windshield that's been cut to fit. Tempered glass can be cut using a water jet or a sand blaster with minimal braking. Lights coming from salvage cars with a DOT sticker on them. 

 

 I wish that I could have been involved in the modeling of this project. It looks like their having a good time.

 

 Another artist rendering. I think that this one was for an electric. Good luck with that!

 

 This is when I was designing the front end.

 

 A sketch of the front swing arm with dimensions.

 

 

 Completed swing arm just before I stopped working on the project. A sidecar wasn't very far away.

 

 This is the jig fixture for the swing arm. The swing arm is simple and easy to make.

 

 Well thanks for reading and viewing. It's a crazy vehicle and not for everyone but sidecars arn't for everyone. It's all in what you like.

Johnny Sweet PE.

 



Edited by Johnny Sweet 8/21/2017 10:30 PM
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Wolfhound
Posted 5/9/2016 9:42 PM (#89052 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day


Veteran

Posts: 227
10010025
Location: Ball Ground, GA.
As usual, a well thought out posting. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it and seeing the pix. Mr. Sweet is a treasure trove of info on sidecars.
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