Sunday, January 31, 2016

Just An Oil Change

 Rule #1 when working on older bikes-It's never "just" anything. This oil change is a perfect example of that. Sure, it started simple enough. I put a suitable catch pan under the engine and removed the drain plug. Didn't spill a drop. There is no oil filter to change, rather it has a pickup screen on the oil pump that Honda recommends cleaning every 8000 miles. A quick glance at the odometer tells me we are just a test ride away from that magic number so now seemed like the perfect time to investigate.
 The oil pump lives behind this side cover.
No problem. I'll just remove the ten or so bolts that secure the cover and pop it off.
Are you kidding me? No amount of pry bar and hammer tapping would budge this thing. I had to use the hydraulic porta-power to pop it loose. Once I had it off I could access the pickup screen below the oil pump. If you look close at the top middle cover bolt hole, you'll notice part of the bolt is still in there. Ya, it twisted off when I unbolted the cover and I blame Honda for this one. That is the only cover bolt that is drilled all the way through and it couldn't have been in a worse place. It's almost like they wanted it to seize. Any moisture or dirt on top of the engine case is funneled down to the back of this bolt hole. Piss poor design. Shame on you Honda.

You guys that work on these things know the drill. First, center punch the remaining bolt.
Then start with a small pilot bit and work your way up to the hole size you need for the rethreading tap.
Once the hole is made you can start with the tap. Use oil on the tap and be careful not to break it off in the hole. If you feel like ya gotta horse it then back it out, clean it off and oil the tap again. I had to back this tap out four times while making only about a half inch of threads.
Success! I have fresh threads and just need a new bolt. That won't be a problem because I have an entire parts bike out in the trailer. If there are any younger readers out there interested in bike or small engine repair I suggest you invest in a tap and die set. They are the kind of tools you hope you never need to use but they are priceless when you need them.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Night Out

 The past weeks around here have been pretty quiet. My wife and I have been content to just relax at home and not really go out except to go to work or grocery shopping. Last Saturday was her work place annual employee appreciation party and we attended. Our daughter was home from college so we dragged her butt along.
 Woo Hoo, a night out! It wasn't so much about what we were doing but the fact that we were doing something. The food was good. For entertainment they had karaoke and some comedy act. That all sounded like squawking to me from the other side of the room. I was at the blackjack table.

  Ya that's me dealing. I don't work there but it turns out if you make snarky comments about the dealer he may "turn the tables" on you. I did alright and everybody won while I was dealing. Winnings could be cashed in for tickets that went into prize drawings. We won about the same amount as we did in the big powerball drawing...jack shit
 Of course my wife and daughter found the photo booth and dragged my ass into it.

This is my happy face. You don't want to see me when I'm grumpy.

 I guess we're pretty simple folk and don't care for a lot of drama. The highlight of the ride home was the full moon and I was alright with that.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Boring Job

 No I'm not talking about my employment. I'm referring to the fact that my BSA cylinders need to be bored out. I thought I'd be able to just run my hone through them and order the same .020 over pistons that were in there. Well, by the time I got the rust pitting and scratches out, I was past the service limit for 20 over pistons. The next oversize available is .040 and I'm not gonna punch the cylinders out that far with my little deglazing hone. There are a few local shops that can handle this job and I called on Jim at Modern Motorsports in Ripon to help me out.
 I ordered the pistons, rings, gaskets and some other parts from a place out of Michigan call British Only. Before shipping my stuff they called me to discuss my order. They were very helpful and obviously knowledgeable about brit bikes. I experienced good customer service and got my stuff in a few days.

 In other BSA news, I've ordered the special left hand helicoil, tap and die needed to repair my front axle. Years ago I tried removing the front tire and horsed the front axle until it moved. Unfortunately I didn't realize it was a lefty and it stripped the threads in the fork tube lower. That tube is steel and this should be an easy repair.
 As I write this I have another tab open on my 'puter. Its the website for the Eastwood company. I'm just waiting for them to send me a coupon code so I can order the paint needed for the BSA engine. Sure I could roll down to the local auto parts store and pick up a can of engine paint but I want something that will look good and be able to handle an occasional  fuel spill (read leaky carbs). They offer a two part high temp ceramic engine paint that I've heard is pretty good. They also offer that two part paint in a special spray can. I'll ordered it in both spray and brush on configurations.
 This is a low budget build. It's not a show bike but I want it to look good while pinching pennies where ever possible. One area I have to address that could be costly is the exhaust system. What I have is basically roached from head to tail pipe. It has rust and deep scratches and is in no way presentable. I have a few ideas that may or may not include header wrap and maybe the take off mufflers from my Ultra. I'm not really sure yet but the wrap is on the way. If I don't use it on the BSA then it'll go on the sportster over the burnt on gunk that used to be my riding pants.
 I'm starting to think this might actually be the year I ride this bike again.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Rebel Yell

 There is no shortage of projects here in my little workshop. The latest is my sister-in-laws Honda Rebel. She has two of them and they are the 250cc version, one being the limited edition model. She crashed one when the rear brake locked up on her and they have been sitting in storage for a while. I picked up both bikes, hauled them home, and need to get one going for her by spring.

 I like to start these types of projects with a bath. After I'm squeaky clean I begin washing the bike.(rimshot) The point of washing the bike from front fender to tail lamp isn't so much to make it pretty although working on a clean bike is much more appealing than working on a dirty one. Cleaning it allows me to touch and look at every square centimeter of this Japanese vision of an American cruiser. If it's still dirty in one spot then I haven't looked there yet. When I notice an oil stain or a spot with abnormal wear then I make an entry in a notebook. These notes along with the owners original statements really help me cover all possible problems with the bike. Of course a test ride is a big part of that too but that's way down the road from where I am now.

 At first glance it seems to be shining up quite well. Unfortunately there is some pitted chrome on this scoot and Brooke will have to decide how in depth this project will become. For now the plan is to make it safe and reliable. If you're interested, the following is a parts list and a "to do" list of possible issues. If you're not interested in such things, now is a good time to tune out because no entertaining content follows. No one-liners, no attempts at humor, NOTHING.
FUEL SYSTEM-Fix rusty fuel tank-gonna try a product I never used before-Caswell epoxy fuel tank sealer, replace hardened fuel lines and filter, clean carb, check sticky throttle control, why is there a fuel stain on engine below carb?
BRAKES/SUSPENSION-adjust rear brake, rear brake pedal is slow to return-lube brake lever pedal and shoe cam shaft, inspect shoes/pads, replace front brake fluid, replace fork oil, check wheel bearings.
ENGINE-compression test, change oil, adjust valves, check cam chain adjuster, change spark plugs, check air filter, adjust clutch, fix any leaks.
THE REST-grease steering neck bearings, replace battery, the tires look "like new" and still have dimples but are eight years old, fix drooping turn signals, seat has some tears, check swingarm bearings, check chain and sprocket for wear, make sure everything electrical is working, test ride.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Three Random Drawers

 After I posted about "the sickness" of collecting junk, I started thinking about the size of that problem. It really creeps deep into every corner of my little work space. I was digging through my home toolbox and realized there was a pattern developing. More crap than tools. It is true that a bulk of my tools are at work and the box here at home never was organized after I pulled a bunch of stuff out to take to my new job five years ago. You'd think five years would be long enough to get my crap in order but I guess not.
 Top drawer. For me this drawer has always been a special place for sensitive or personal items. If it were a fedex package it would be labeled "fragile, glass" or "do not bend'. As I look at this pic I realize that's just a fantasy in my head cuz this drawer is full of junk. Yes, there are a few good tools in here but for the most part it's just a staging area for the garbage can.

 Then, the more I look at the contents of this drawer I realize it's a trip down memory lane. I'm reminded of a visit with Brandon at the "Mama Tried" bike show in Milwaukee. I see an "anti-dragon" sticker that was designed as a joke for my buddy Scott that traveled 900 miles to the Tail of the Dragon only to sit at the store front bullshitting and watching bikes go by rather than ride the 318 curves in 11 miles. I now get it. I see the drill bits and notes used to rejet the Rat Turd. Some stickers from Crazy Bob's. Iron Butt rides, a ride to New Mexico and pins and patches from other rides. All stuff that isn't needed but does trigger memories. Maybe I'll save cleaning this drawer for later.
 The next random drawer has a couple GoPro items in it. There was more but those treasures are scattered on my desk right now. I like to keep a drawer available for whatever is the latest project I have going on. I'll empty this drawer and use it for nuts and bolts taken off Brookes Honda that I'm currently working on. More on that in another post.

 The last drawer I'll let you peek into is the remnants of the Rat Turd fuel tank project.

 This stuff needs to get put away. It was staged here in this drawer as I was collecting bits for the build. There are plumbing fittings, hoses and tubing and even parts that seemed like possibilities but were never used. Then again, if I spring a leak and need a matching fitting it would be nice to find those parts in a single box. I think I'll label it "Rat Shit". I wonder if a stranger would be more or less inclined to investigate the contents of such a box.

 That's a good spot for now. Tucked away between other things I'm done with for the season like my soft saddlebags and foam Packers cheesehead.

 In other news...I've been dinking around with the layout of this blog and have made a few additions. Some of you only follow on your phone and won't notice any difference. In the right side column I've added a list of some of the blogs I follow. There is some good reading to be found there and I encourage you to check them out.
 I've also added a few tabs under the front page picture. It's a work in progress and I plan to add more as time allows.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Workshop Wednesday-MPO

Motorcycle Parking Only. That's what the little sign says.

 The temp was six below zero and I don't think anyone is gonna ride their bike to work at this factory. Nevertheless I will plow the snow from this parking area in case someone decides to brave the elements.
 I really need to start taking better pictures. I see some great pics on other blogs and I enjoy viewing them. What you see on this blog are fuzzy images taken with my phone. The whole point of the above pic is what the sign says. I shouldn't have to interpret it for you. I'm not sure what kind of stills I'll be able to capture with my GoPro but I'm gonna give it a try.

 I just ran outside my garage and put the sun to my back and snapped a pic with the GoPro. I don't even know what settings I have selected. I plan to experiment with these but it's darn cold out there despite the bright sunshine and I'm not in the mood to freeze my ass off right now.

This is the same shot from my phone. I'm standing in the same spot so the GoPro must be set to "super duper wide angle". Stop me if I'm getting too technical.
 Obviously this is more for my benefit than yours and more training is needed. Stay tuned for some better pics.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Sickness

 I've always said that if I owned land in the country I'd have more crap than you could shake a stick at. When I was younger and rented a farm house we had a lot of room for storage. We also had a lot of "projects" scattered around. My wife couldn't use the garage because it was full of "stuff". What was all this stuff, you ask? Maybe it was a motorcycle that has been reduced to the status of just motor or maybe it was a snowmobile that quit mobiling a long time ago.
 This reminds me of a Polaris snowmobile that I had bolted a Honda 360 bike engine into. It was a basement project that never saw the light of day.  We (a bunch of single guys and anyone else that needed a place to crash)  had to move out when the owner sold the property and I had nowhere to go with the project. I remember the day we watched the fire department do a practice burn on that house. Anyway, "animal house" is a whole different story for another time.
 The point is that I always have an in progress project laying around that's not been touched for a while. Those projects aren't the problem. I can look at them and touch them and even gather specific parts to follow them through to completion. Time isn't as big a factor as space. If I have the room then it still could become a reality. The BSA is a good example. That project goes back to the early eighties and I pick away at it a little bit at a time.
 The real problem are the projects that don't exist yet. I gather parts for these builds all the time. As a gear head that works as a mechanic I see a lot of cool little pieces that could be part of some bigger piece that could be bolted on some imaginary project. If I don't save them they will end up in a dumpster to be lost forever.
 This mirror is a perfect example. Coworker Al keeps feeding my sickness. He was replacing this broken mirror from one of our plow trucks. There is a motor in there that powers the mirror and he was going to harvest it. Ya, he's got it bad too. That mechanism turned out to be broken but this LED light still worked.
 What the hell am I gonna do with that? I don't know for sure but I do know three things. First, it's too cool to toss out. Second, I'm a sucker for colorful lights and shiny stuff and third it's sitting right there on my desk at home. If I'm lucky I'll find it a few years from now when I need it. If history repeats itself then I'll toss it out next time I'm power cleaning and regret that act a few weeks later when I actually find a use for it.
 The older I get, the more I've been able to somewhat control this sickness. Who am I kidding? I have little control but I have implemented a system that gives me that instant high of collecting shit and the power of keeping myself in check and not finding myself on an episode of "Hoarders".
 I now keep everything! All that cool shit I don't think I can live without gets saved...for a few days anyway. These two pulleys are a good example. They are part of a factory recall and we potentially could have quite a few of them at the shop. None of us can find a good reason to save more than one of them "just because", but I have set two near my toolbox. This is my new staging area for questionable goodies. If I don't come up with a good reason to keep them by Monday morning then they'll go in the recycle dumpster. It won't be easy but I'll force myself to do it.
 With this weeks Powerball jackpot at a record high I wonder what this sickness would be like with unlimited potential for collecting stuff. Maybe it would consume me or just maybe the problem would completely go away.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Workshop Wednesday-John Deere 5100 part 3

 Regular readers will remember back in November a post about making a mount and installing a snow plow on a tractor. I had a follow up post about the controller bracket. Well just last week we finally got some snow to try it out when Mother Nature hit us with nearly a foot of the heavy wet stuff.

 I'm happy to report that the mount held up well.
 Now, how about everything else that broke in the three days we spent cleaning up those pennies from heaven. On day one the loader in the pic lost first and second gears. We had to remove the pusher because it was too much of a strain on the trans running in only third gear. Luckily those gears reappeared on day two. Must be an electrical gremlin.
 My truck left me stranded. I was plowing and pushed on the brake pedal only to have it stay to the floor. I bet you think I lost my brakes. Brake fluid everywhere? Wrong. All I had were brakes. When I shut off the engine the brake pedal came back up. When I started the engine the pedal pulled down tight to the floor and applied the brakes. Turns out the hydro assist from the power steering must have a bad seal or valve and was activating fully. Thanks to Al for figuring out all we had to do was remove the serpentine engine belt and drive the truck back to the shop.
 I found one of our sidewalk tractors with a tire off the rim and the snow blower disconnected from it. I'm still not real sure how that all came about. Something happened to the other sidewalk tractor but it was repaired in a few hours and I never asked what broke. I'm responsible for nine guys and our largest plowing account. Sometimes you just need to look at results and ignore the pesky little details. Two guys with walk behind snowblowers running down a sidewalk in a staggered pattern can get a lot of work done. I didn't know it but one of those blowers threw a track. It's nice having a crew that knows how to deal with crap rather than getting beat up by problems. The backhoe had two hoses break at different times. Oh, and the john deere in the pic broke a u-joint on the pto shaft. Did I mention that the salter froze up on the second truck I ran? It's always something.
 We normally don't have this many problems. Everything just decided to test us this time around, but I wouldn't trade this storm for a sunny day. We needed snow. It's good for everybody and really helps the local economy.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Big Twin

 I'm of course referring to the 1967 BSA 650cc sitting in my shop. Ok, it's not that big but back in their day this was a decent sized bike engine.
 When I discovered a scored piston in one cylinder and then rust formation on the other cylinder, I figured I'd be seeking the services of an outside party to refurbish the top end. I even spoke with someone that would do the job. As time went on this just wasn't settling well with me. I really like to do my own work when possible and the thought of someone else doing this job bothered me. I'm not even sure why I originally started to seek the advice of someone else. Anyway, they're out and I'll do the work even if it means screwing it up. I already feel better.
 A quick search on the net and I found that pistons are still available. I'll put together a wish list and make an order. First I had to see if the metal transfer and rust formation would come out with my deglazing hone. Like a dumbass I forgot to get a "before" pic.
I really should get a new set of stones but this will be good enough for a garage hack.

 A minute with the hone and things are cleaning up nicely. This is the cylinder that had the rust formation and most of it seems raised rather than pitted.

 The other side that had metal transfer from the piston cleaned up decent. I can't even tell where that big wad of aluminum was stuck to the cylinder. This isn't done yet but it's far enough along that I feel good about being able to save the cylinder.
 I still have to sand blast the outside of the cylinder because it really looks like ass. My brother has a sand blasting cabinet and I think I'll head over there today to get that job done. Then I need to make some decisions about the case halves and paint. I like the blacked out look.

 Regular readers may remember a bad experience I had with J&P Cycles. I'm not gonna go over the details again but it was basically just bad customer service that was corrected. They offered me a gift card for my troubles and I stated I would give them another chance. Recently I had an excuse to use that gift card. I ordered some mounts and such for a GoPro camera and the parts were here in two days. Good service again just like I had before that one bad incident. I just wanted to give credit where credit was due.