Monday, April 12, 2010

Shakedown Street

On Sunday, April 11, I finally finished getting the bike back together!  It had gone through a lot of repairs the last few weeks, and a lot of Grateful Dead music, jazz and blues as well.  I took a short shakedown ride yesterday afternoon, and it didn't seem like too much has shaking on Shakedown Street!  I wanted to check the handling and the alignment of the forks and wheels after making all of my repairs, and while our road was rather bumpy, the bike seemed to handle just fine.  I'll know more when I open her up a little and ride at 60mph.  That, by the way, is probably going to be a common cruising speed on the trip.
So because of all this mechanical work, I haven't done much mapping recently.  For those of you who weren't tuned in, we have a route planned from here to the western end of Oklahoma.  From there on I have no maps made up, but I do have lots of ideas and suggestions to look at.  I don't want to overdo it, though, so I am trying to leave plenty of room for interpretation.

Anyway, here's a list of what I got done on the bike over the last few weeks:
-Cleaned and re-adjusted carburetors
-repainted exhaust headers
-New Chain and Sprockets
-New rear wheel bearings
-New rear tire and tube
-New steering head bearings
-New fork seals and oil
-New front wheel bearings
-New front tire and tube
-New front brake pads
-New front brake lines (braided stainless steel)
-Speedbleeder installed on caliper
-New coils, plug wire and caps
-New points plate assembly (although I re-used my old points)
-New Horn
-Cleaned and repainted speedometer, tachometer, indicator panel, triple tree, and caliper

I think that's everything.  I also did a 3,000 mile tune-up as per the Honda manual.  The stuff on the rear of the bike wasn't too bad, but the front bearings, fork seals and other parts required pretty serious disassembling the of the bike.  It got the the point where I looked down at a garage floor littered with countless fasteners and major pieces of the bike, and questioned my faith in myself as a mechanic!  It's pretty unsettling to see your bike in that condition.  Remember that part of Star Wars where C3PO got taken apart in the cloud city?  You see him on a conveyor belt with all his parts strewn about and he looks down and says "oh my!"  It was a bit like that.  See the picture.

Well thankfully I employed good workshop skills, carefully separating and labeling parts and taking plenty of pictures.  The old Honda is back together now and running better than ever!

Setbacks:  I went through two rear tire tubes before finally getting the third one in without puncturing it.  I ruined one of the rear wheel bearings during that process.  Thankfully our local Honda dealer had keeps this stuff on hand.  They were sympathetic to my tube-ruining problem and gave me a slightly larger size that wouldn't need to stretch over the rim as much
Also, the upper triple tree broke on me.  I think it was missing a spacer and was already cracked, so that when I took it off it fell apart.  Ebay came to the rescue and I got another one from some salvage yard in Maine.

The gauges look nice with their new paint.  It is truly surprising how good those green gauge faces look.  Every 70s Honda had them, and they all fade and peel to the point of looking ridiculous.  For some reason, mine are immaculate.  The tachometer had to come apart to replace a screw, and I still need to redo the rubber cushioning around it and the speedometer.  I had made some cushioning material out of one of my many scrap tire tubes, which worked fine.  I just need more of it.

So the bike (mostly) ready to go in terms of mechanical condition, but there are a couple of things to button up.   I will register it this week hopefully ride it often for the next two months.  I want to dial it back in before the trip.

In an effort to not turn this into a technical blog, the next posting will be on route ideas for the West!  We need to figure out a good way to see everything in the Southern Rockies, which is kind of a huge task.  But I'll tackle it again this week.
In addition to school, gigs, work, and all the mechanical work on the CB500, I've had another distraction to contend with: my birthday present to myself.  It's a 1970 something Honda CB350.  Actually it's a CB350 frame with a  CL350 engine.  And a wheel and some forks.  So it's a frame, engine, wheel, and forks.  It's kind of like a fetus of a motorcycle, which will grow and develop the rest of its body next year when we get back from the trip.  I already have lots of  dreams for this "bike" and am very excited for a project that I can do from the ground up!  But until we get back from the trip, maybe even longer, it will reside in my incubator, the black van.

I found a website called "Youtube" recently and uploaded a short snippet of a video of a 1971 Honda CB500 idling happily in the driveway.  See it here:

So long 'til next time!