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READER STORY: Custom Conversion of a Boss Hoss Trike

A mechanic’s unique homegrown three-wheeler

By Ted Hagen, White Post, Virginia
10/10/2011


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I have been riding motorcycles for 45 years. I started riding in the fall of 1966, when I turned 16. By my recollection, I’ve owned 19 different two-wheelers, and my trike makes 20 bikes altogether. I own a 2005 Kawasaki Meanstreak Custom as my two-wheel ride at the moment and find it to be the most enjoyable two-wheeler I have owned.    

In 2001, I purchased a 1997 Boss Hoss clutch model off eBay and traveled to upstate New York to pick it up. It didn’t take me long to realize that the bike was heavy (1,100 pounds) and only one gear. And while the bike was dead solid on the open road, it was not fun to ride in slow city traffic. I tried to sell it but wasn’t offered what I wanted, so I ended up storing it for seven years. I’d seen the three-wheelers manufactured by Boss Hoss and knew I wanted to make my own. I have been a mechanic and metalworker all my adult life, so I knew I could take on the challenge.         

I thought it would be neat to have a three-wheeler that uses the back end of a Jeep Wrangler with the roll bar. Boss Hoss has at least three different body styles for its lineup: a ’57 Chevy, a Corvette, and a Coupe. The company uses Ford rear ends and shortens them to make a narrower trike. For my conversion, I used a Chevy pickup C10 rear from the ‘70s. It has .273 gearing, and I had a new street-version positraction installed. 

Ted created this unique custom Boss Hoss trike using the back end of a Jeep Wrangler.
Ted created this unique custom Boss Hoss trike using the back end of a Jeep Wrangler.

I took the rear disc brakes from a Ford Explorer and mounted them to the Chevy axle. I had the single-speed gearbox and clutch removed, and I installed a Chevy 350 turbo tranny, which is bolted to a small block 350, rated 355 horsepower. While fabricating the frame, I removed the radiator from the front and installed it under a hinged cover behind the seat and in front of the Jeep body. It seemed to cool OK until we got really hot weather in the summer. At that point, I realized that the ‘97 radiator was not enough and wasn’t getting enough air where located, so I ordered another radiator—a newer style with more cores—and put it in the front. The coolant runs through the two radiators, both of which have fans, and the electric water pump and fans come on at about 140 degrees. Those adjustments took care of the cooling problem.   
     
I moved the seat in the Jeep body back another 8 inches to provide more legroom. There are seat belts for the bench seat, so the trike can carry a total of three passengers plus the driver. There’s a rider in my area that has a factory Boss three-wheeler, and I stopped to talk with him one day to ask if he knew where I might find some used factory wheels. Turns out he’d wanted steel chrome on his three-wheeler, so he’d taken off and stored the aluminum wheels with less than 1,000 miles on them. He sold me that set of wheels and tires for $300—what a steal! I had to have the Chevy axles modified to take the different lug pattern, which is actually the same pattern the Jeep Wrangler uses. Finally, I installed a trailer hitch so that I can take along my Kawasaki motorcycle on some of my travels.
    
The trailer hitch Ted installed allows him to haul his favorite two-wheeler, a 2005 Kawasaki Mean Streak.
The trailer hitch Ted installed allows him to haul his favorite two-wheeler, a 2005 Kawasaki Mean Streak.

The trike is now licensed and insured, but I’m still continuing with small projects to bring it to completion. At the moment, I am fabricating a coolant overflow bottle, and some decorative painting will be done for highlights. The spare tire is now mounted; and I need to raise the mirrors a couple of inches. The original carburetor, a quadrajet, did not work correctly after being stored for seven years, so just recently I had it taken off and a new Holley put in place. I have yet to check the Holley out to see what the fuel mileage is going to be.     
     
I have made some mistakes along the way—and there are some things that I would do differently were I to do it over—but overall I am satisfied with the results of the conversion. The trike is a fun vehicle to drive, though being a heavy three-wheeler (it now weighs 2,200 pounds), it steers hard in the corners. That is just the nature of the beast. I will enjoy this vehicle for a while and then probably sell it in the next couple of years. You can view step-by-step photos of the conversion (still a work in progress) at TedShop.com or email your questions to teds-shop@comcast.net.   

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