Windber Trail Rider: Gilson "Copperhead"

A little further engine detail

The bike is powered by a Honda GC190. I love these engines: lots of torque and so very smooth running. This engine came off a low hour power washer (of course) and I paid $50 for it. I installed a new carburetor (stock Honda) and converted it to the RV control unit which I ordered from New governor spring and control arm and she's running like a top for less than $80. The engine was very clean, so all I did was take a fine grit scotch pad to the block to polish it a little.<br><br>The exhaust is adapted from a Snapper 1" tube 11hp Briggs application (others have done this). I ordered a Stens unit from WNY Lawnmowers. I picked up a 3/4 conduit adapter at Home Depot, and opened it up with the Dremel and carbide ream. I ground the zinc off the adapter so it can be safely welded to the tube. The flange bolt holes were slightly opened to match the exhaust port bolts. I ordered a 9" heat shield off of eBay, as it was far cheaper than me making one. The header is supported by a one 1" brace which will be tacked to the header. My header consultant, Mr. Wulf, concurred with this plan.


Wheels and tires

Mark G was kind enough to sell me a set of Bosch wheels. He generously blasted the rims before he shipped. There was one broken bolt to remove (the Fastenal drill bit did the trick), I installed new bearings, clear coated the rims and installed the tires. Tires are Carlisle Sno-Hogs and are 5.00-15 x 6. Just a little narrower than the Riversides on the Wilderness but 1.5" taller. They fit with plenty of clearance to the original fenders. The front wheels are secured with grade 5 bolts and the rears are assembled with Grade 8s. Here's why: the sprocket is spaced out from the rim with 3-1" spacers. These particular wheels did not have the 3/16" bolts on the sprocket side, instead all six bolt holes are 1/4-20. Because I was making new axle/wheel spacers, I added a 1-3/8" bearing to the sprocket (I may still do this on the Wilderness) to minimize stress on the rim. Mark reminded me the bolt holes would be quite dry, so each bolt was sprayed with PBBlaster and secured with a lock washer. This bike presently does not have a rear brake, so no drum on the PTO side.


Chain Tensioner (engine) and Kickstand

The chain (engine) tensioner (unique to Gilson) was missing on this bike, so I made up a new one out of a Simpson Strong Tie angle bracket. The sawzall did most of the work, and by clamping it in place on another Gilson frame, I was able to properly locate the mounting holes. Again, I ground off the zinc to make it ready to weld a nut onto the tensioner.

CarplayLB had sold me a kickstand for the American bike that I have sitting in the shop, so I repurposed it for this bike. I needed to notch the mounting flange a tad to level it and it's ready to heated and bent to the correct length--I'm waiting on this until I have the bike in roller form, as I know the factory length is going to be too short.

Sharp eyes will notice the donor Gilson frame is missing a section of tubing. RCGuy had sold me this frame and I have plans for it (next winter). Unfortunately, the throttle side of handlebars on the Copperhead had been cut and a 7/8" handlebar had been sistered on to accommodate a 7/8" control. I needed a tube of the correct properties to repair/replace the incorrect section of tube, so a "rib" was donated. The bike spent two weeks with my welder getting patched up.


Clutch Guard and Bracket

Gilson experts probably noticed the clutch guard looks odd--it does because it covers a clutch brake. I'm very fortunate because Minibikin' had sold me the guards for the Wilderness, so I decided to make a fiberglass replica and modify it for the Copperhead. I used mat rather than fabric to make the molds and final product. I haven't yet made the rear chain guard. I made a mold using the original guard and then modified it to accommodate the clutch brake. The bracket is again a Simpson Strong Tie bracket which has machined to come close to the original bracket. I added an additional hole to the bracket to secure the clutch. This brake will operate in reverse of engine rotation (cable from the rear). Probably not as much stopping power, but more control (I really have to feather the clutch brake on the Ruttman). At some point, I may switch to a internal drum brake, but I still have to engineer that.

The final mold and female (final product) were complicated and not easy to separate. I used silicone and wax as mold release agents; however, the sharpness of the angles became problematic. I had to use a putty knife to get them apart before they cured stuck together. Because this was laid up by hand, I had small air bubbles to clean up with a light coat coat of bondo. The last step before paint will be to mold in aluminum angle to secure the cover to the frame tab. Not cheap to do, but certainly less expensive than buying the clutch guard presently on e-bay and hacking it up.

I'm unsure of the finish I'll be using on the guard, have some thoughts in mind.

I will be making bucks of the original guards in the event I or somebody else is in need of good, but not perfect, replica guards.


A Delray work of Art

Delray made up a tank for the Copperhead. It's 4" in diameter and 11 1/2" long, and I had two mounting brackets mig welded onto the tank (10 total welds). It's rock solid and, as I pm'd Delray, stunningly beautiful. If you need a tank, he is the man to talk to.



Well-Known Member
Man Pete.
Really super looking.
If I ever finish one of the four bikes I am almost finished with, I 'll start on the new Gilson I recieved.
The decal is awesome! Hell, all of it is awesome!
Man Pete.
Really super looking.
If I ever finish one of the four bikes I am almost finished with, I 'll start on the new Gilson I recieved.
The decal is awesome! Hell, all of it is awesome!
I get the frame from the coater at noon, today. Another dining room table assembly job. This time because my dog is super sick, and she is super needy right now (and daddy dotes over her!).
Frame is back, kinda sorta.....

Ever have one of those days when you trust in the fellow man is questioned? I sure did. Went to pick up the bike at the coater this morning and we loaded it up and then I asked, "Swing arm? Tank? Fork lowers?"

We don't have them....we are 95% certain we don't have them.:no:

I said, "you know I brought a box with labeled parts and the colors on each,"....Nope, we don't have them.:scared:

And, then they found the box. :doah::doah::doah::censure:

So, my big plan to get this bike together and on the way to being sorted this weekend is out the window.:surrender:

Here's what I could assemble---