Tuesday, December 24, 2013

More Cafe

Today I played around with the motorcycle a little bit. This was the clapped out seat cover that was on the bike. 

Heather got a replacement for me from the UK. I've never done any sort of upholstering so I didn't know what I was getting into. It's not easy. But I'm happy with how it turned out. My new mirrors also showed up so I got those installed too.

Been a While

As honored as I am to work at my new job, it is the busiest I have ever been as an educator. Because of this, it has been so long since I have fished. I didn't fish at all during the fall spawn. I went out once right before school started and got into it with a shitty guide. I went out with my friend Scott several months ago I think but I was so tired I don't even know that I casted at all. I know I wanted to nap. I'm just too damn busy to fish during the week and on the weekends, I'm just too tired. So now that I have a few weeks off, I decided to get out. Yesterday was a beautiful day but it was still a tad cold. I have lived here for 9 years now and I fished a section of the South Platte that I have never fished before. Right away I spotted some big fish. I worked some for about an hour and finally got a Rainbow that was pushing 20" hooked but it didn't last long. I blame it on rust. I started walking. I didn't cast at all for probably another hour and a half. I just walked. I finally ended up back where I started and went to work on another small group of fish. It wasn't long before I hooked this fish. This is one of the prettiest Rainbows I've caught in years. What a great day. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

I just realized...

My longer commute each day has given me plenty of time to ponder life. One of the things that I have come to terms with is that…I am getting older. Next month I will be 41. Life is different these days. Don't get me wrong. This is not me whining and moaning about my poor life. Far from it. I am loving where I am in life right now. I work at an amazing school where I am pushed/challenged to better myself each day. I have a cool house that I should be able to build a bigger deck on to this spring (everybody wants a bigger deck). A wonderful wife. Two great dogs. And a bitchin motorcycle (this has been a killer experience because I have always wondered if I had the skills to do this kind of thing much like my father did but without all the cursing and wrench throwing). However, sometimes, I do look in the mirror in the morning and wonder, "Why is this area not as taught as it used to be? "What's up with all the gray in my beard? Why does my face look like an old catchers mitt? And why the fuck does this (any one of several muscles/joints) hurt so much this morning?" I guess it's all part of the process.

Last week I almost got into two wrecks on the highway and it was completely because of me. I turned on my blinker, looked, and went ahead and switched lanes only to hear horns. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw nothing but headlights flashing and middle fingers flying. What is one to do in this situation while traveling at 65ish mile per hour? I put up my hand to say sorry but then got the flailing arms from one driver. Accurate and truthful vehicle to vehicle communication is rarely possible in circumstances such as this. It wasn't long before the driver pulled along side of me. I mouthed, "Sorry." but he obviously interpreted it as something negative about his mother and ensued with his own barrage of insults and gestures. I tried to convey to him through a myriad of motions that I do not read leaps and what you are doing is not American Sign Language. This seemed to upset him further still. I pointed at the back of my neck and mouthed, "THIS AREA DOESN'T WORK LIKE IT USED TO! LIMITED RANGE OF MOTION!" Clearly, he received, "KISS MY ASS!" Then I thought, "Self…let's just motion for him to pull over so we can clear the air." Then I realized that this probably wasn't a good idea either. I finally just went on my way. Words like Shingles, rash, bad disc, big ass bunion, gray hair, and gas don't transfer well from car to car while on a major highway.

Not being able to cycle much really blows but I'm learning to cope with it. I do hate it a little when people on Facebook post pictures from their rides and have considered un-friending some folks but then that would leave me with like 3 people to stay in touch with. Yesterday I noticed that a friend posted some photos from when he rode Tour Divide. I would still love to do that ride but it's just not a possibility any longer. At least not on a bicycle. I'm hoping that I am able to ride the cafe racer without a lot of pain. If that's the case then maybe one day I can get a motorcycle that would be good for that type of ride. Now instead of a long bicycle ride, I think about whether or not I could do longer moto rides like up the Dalton Highway in Alaska all the way to the ocean? Or continue to utilize two wheels to see all the amazing stuff we have here in Colorado like alpine passes and old mining ruins? That's what I'm hoping.

In the end though, I wouldn't trade any of the things that I have if it meant that I could do one more big ride on a bicycle. A wise man I knew once said, "Everything happens for a reason." I never used to believe that much but as I get older I know that things in my life are precisely how they are supposed to be. Thanks for checking in. Happy Holidays to you all.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Snow Days in the Garage

I have had snow days the last 2 days. They haven't really been for snow but for the really cold temps. This morning it was -18. Despite the fact that my Shingles are still kicking my ass, I decided to venture owt in the garage for a bit yesterday and a bit more today in between naps. I spent most of the time working on the tank. Yesterday I had sanded to 600 grit. This morning I put more filler on some spots that I just wasn't happy with and then started sanding over again from 120. I'm back up to 400 and, wouldn't you know it, I found some more spots that I'm not thrilled with. I'm done though. I gotta stop at some point. That point is now. This tank will never look custom because I'm not a professional. I am, however, very happy considering this is the first time I have ever done any body work. In hindsight, this was probably not the best thing to start trying body work on. The knee dents are really a critical piece of the bike and they just have to look the same. 

The other job I started on today was the rear fender. The stock one was just too long and I didn't like the look. Don't even get me started on that gigantic tail light. I took the fender off and decided to chop off about 4" from it. Here it is after it was bobbed and I re-drilled the 2 mounting holes on the side. I still need to drill new mounting holes for it under the seat but I'm going to have to come up with some spacers to put between the fender and frame (about 1/2"). The first attempt didn't work out so I'll give it another go tomorrow. 

Then I started playing with the license plate location. This is where I want to mount it. You can't tell from this picture but I've bent the plate to match the curve of the rear hub. I'll use aluminum to come up with a mount that gets the plate mounted in the spot I want and then take that bracket to work and fab up something out of steel. I plan on making a small hood at the top of the bracket where I'll mount an LED so it shines down on the plate to keep Johnny Law happy. I'll run the wire to the swing arm and then up into the electronics so it'll be hidden. A new seat cover is on the way from the UK as we speak.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday

Today was pretty warm up here and I know the cold is coming so, despite the fact that I still have Shingles, I've been busting ass on the cafe tank because soon...I won't be able to. This was after several hours of sanding. I was really discouraged when I started this morning but after this skim coat of filler set up and I got it sanded, I felt better about how things were "shaping up." 

I worked 6 hours today on this tank and now, I can barely move my left shoulder. Tomorrow I will work on the right side. It's an absolute bitch trying to eyeball both sides and get them even but I think I'm close.

The left side is the side that had the big dent in it. It's really about done. I found one little spot that I wasn't happy with (imagine that) and filled it in and will sand it out in the morning.

I've been having a lot of fun working on this cafe project but...it's not the same as cycling was for me. My new job is stressful as can be but I'm still happy to be there. Every day. But I've realized that cycling was not only a passion for me but also an outlet. An outlet for stress. I loved training. I've done Insanity workouts since figuring out that cycling needs to look drastically different for me. I've done T-25. I'm thinking about trail running. They are not the same. I don't ever get jazzed to do those like I did for doing an interval session. I'm desperately trying to find a substitute but I have ridden bicycles for most of my life. Hard to find a substitute.

I ran across these pictures tonight. These are from my last big ride. Kokopellis Trail. The few hours before the sun went down that night were AMAZING.

This was a killer downhill on pavement before the long climb to Fisher Creek and the eventual drop to the highway and the pit shitter that I slept in while waiting for the rain to pass.

This was sometime the next morning. My friend wanted to thumb a ride back to Moab for my car but it was too beautiful to not pedal the 20ish miles into town. I rode it and then drove back to get him because he was wrecked from yacking all night long after a superhero start.

I quit that ride and...now...I would give my cafe project to anyone for just one crack at it where I wouldn't have to worry about neck pain. Don't take the small things in life that you enjoy for granted. Go do what you enjoy and be thankful that you can.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


See what I did there with the title?

I did a little bit of work on the tank today. The first thing I did was spray on some etching primer. I'm learning as I go here but one important lesson I learned was that, at this step, you don't wanna put a lot of primer on.

Reason being is because the next step is to start sanding. And sanding. Too much primer means the paper (even 150 grit) gets clogged up real quickly and you go through a ton of it. What's left are spots where the body filler becomes exposed. These are the high spots. The areas with the primer are the low spots.

Next I whipped up some more filler and applied a very thin skim coat. The purpose of this is to fill in the low spots. The idea here is that it's easier to mix up bondo and throw it on than it is to sand down the high spots. I also hammered down the highs just a bit. That's all I got done today. Tomorrow I will fire up the DA sander and knock down the high ridges and then start sanding by hand. There's a lot of work left to do with this tank.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Day Before Thanksgiving Stuff

Well it's the day before Thanksgiving. I've had the entire week off and I've been trying to get as much work done on the tank for the cafe project as possible but I've been battling cold temperatures and illness. About 5 days ago, I got a rash on my back and then noticed that the left side of my neck, left shoulder, and left forearm felt weird. I couldn't really describe the feeling but finally settled on telling Heather that they felt tingly or almost like they were asleep (but not really). Finally, on Monday, I began experiencing an enormous amount of pain in those areas and decided I better call my doctor. He got me in later that day and, low and behold, I have Shingles. I don't know much about this illness but I do know that it's painful as shit. The rash feels like a burn and, at times, I experience absolutely stabbing pains that make me jump. The muscles in those areas are also pretty locked up. I've been told that this could last up to 4 weeks. Ahhhh....getting old. 

Yesterday I kept taking the drugs my doctor prescribed and slept as much as possible. The flip side of that coin was that I didn't sleep at all last night due to the pain. Today it was supposed to be 45ish up here so I really wanted to get a bit of work done. I decided to move everything outside in the sun. It felt good to be out of the house. The first thing I decided to do was sand off all of the body filler that I had worked so hard to put on the top of the tank around the filler neck. I just wasn't feeling it. Then I kept working on the left side of the tank (the worst side). It's in pretty good shape now. Here you can see I have 2 big areas of concern still and hope to tackle them in the morning. I'm super pleased with how the knee dents are shaping up. They have been incredibly painstaking. 

I was also able to get the right side of the tank about done as well. Tomorrows plan is to address the issues on the left side of the tank, as well as the one dent at the tip of the seat (this dent has given me the most trouble for some reason), wipe everything down and then hit it with etching primer. This will really help make any issues apparent. I know there will be no shortage of spots that need to be addressed. The only issue I ran into today was that I dropped the bike while moving it around. I just didn't have the muscle strength to keep it from falling over. I cannot believe that the tank wasn't damaged at all. The only issue was that the right mirror broke. I just got those. But...I'd rather lose the mirror than have to repair the tank.

That's about it. My kick ass wife and I will be hanging out with the pups tomorrow and taking it easy. I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving. Thanks for checking in.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Body Work

I have always wanted to try body work and I thought this cafe project would be a good place to start. The tank was in pretty good shape overall although it did have 2 holes (but...I was responsible for them). I was able to MIG weld them up (which was interesting because you never know if you got all the gas/fumes out of the tank until you put a big spark near it). No issues though. I took a piece of solid pipe and ground it down to resemble a small ball peen hammer and made some bends in it and stuck it in the tank and hammered out the bigger dents. This was a process and took 2 people (one to hold the tank while I was beating on it). I thought it was pretty close and time to start in with the body filler. I bought a DA sander, some sand paper, and filler and...dove in. I actually started on some small dents first to get a feel for things before moving to bigger dents and more areas as I figured out how much time I had before the filler started setting up. 

I started filling in the area around the filler neck but am still not sure I like it this way.

This is pretty much done near the filler area. I still need to do a bit more work where the neck and tank actually join but...I may end up taking all of this back off.

The left side of the tank was the worst side for sure. So I was kind of curios if I could get it to start taking the shape I was after before starting on the right side (which I know will be more cooperative). It will be easier to throw this tank away if I've only worked on one side.

I'm pretty amazed with how this looks. This was after an hour of shaping. The DA sander I have is a 5" one and it is extremely hard to get it in the knee dent and hit only areas that you want to target. I ended up doing a fair amount of hand sanding here. It's so hard to get a good picture of this process but the area at the front of this knee dent (where the stock tank badge used to mount) was the worst. I think it's gonna come out looking ok though. Sometimes the sun truly does shine on a dog's ass.

Body work is not easy. And it's super messy. I wish it was warm out so that I could do this out in the driveway. Right now I have things set up right at the garage door and I open the door when sanding to get as much dust out as possible. Even with good masks, this only helps a little. People that do this for a living as truly artists. More to come although, I am sick now but it will be hard for me to have a week off work and not be in the garage to continue on this.

Working on Mable

Work continues on the cafe project. I continue to find surprises on this motorcycle. Like this one. At some point, someone thought it would be a good idea to clear coat the gas cap, the locking mechanism, the pins that keep it attached to the tank and the spring. It's the definition of lazy. It took a lot of time but I was able to get it all off and polished up. 

Much better.

I keep coming back to this picture. You can see the ridge line around the filler neck here. This is only on the right side of the filler neck. I'm trying to decide what to do here. Do I use body filler to make it flush or do I let the line show and accent it a bit with some pin striping?  Part of me really digs the rawness of the line.

I also kept coming back to the ignition location. I hated how it was mounted on the handlebar clamp with the wires all visible. It just stuck out. So I kept looking at the front of the bike and finally decided that I would try to mount the ignition below the triple tree. After I removed a lot of stuff in that area, I was able to access the bottom of the triple tree, take some measurements, and make a cardboard template. Then I transferred the shape to some aluminum. Here is the final piece. Actually, this is the second one I made. Those that know me know how anal I can be. There was just one little issue with the first one that I didn't dig so I started over. This one is much better.

Here is the bracket mounted, wires re-run and I used a new and smaller starter button. This will eventually get removed again after I get the bike back together and running so that I can add a blue LED and a red one (for brights...once I get a switch figured out, and the red LED will be for oil pressure).

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cafe Stuff

So I got quoted $150 for someone to weld up the tank and pull out a fairly large dent by the left side badge mount. I was going to pay to have it done just to be safe but then I kept thinking how I really wanted to do as much of this project on my own as possible. So...here's the left side. Holes are patched and there were no explosions. Sometimes the sun shines on a dog's ass. I hammered those 2 areas in just a touch to close the holes up a bit more and then MIG'd them up. Then I started looking at how I was going to pull the dent. Initially, I was going to weld on some studs and then use a slide hammer. I ended up taking a metal rod about 5/16" in diameter and grinding the tip round (like a small ball peen hammer) and then stuck it in through the filler neck and started slowly hammering the end of it and pushing the dent out. I did have to get creative and put some bends in it to deal with the tunnel. This took forever. There's still a few low spots but I think I'll be able to hide it with filler. 

It is so hard to get a decent picture of the tank. I know it looks like shit but it really is better in person. I think. Maybe not. Heather's been impressed so that's gotta mean something. I'm pretty happy I think considering this is the first time I've ever really stretched metal other than running a car into something.

I ended up pushing the right side in about another 1/8". Things are pretty damn close right now considering all I've used are eye balls. I may try to make some kind of ghetto depth gauge out of cardboard this weekend and see if that shows any major issues.

I took this picture and posted it on an old CB forum where I have a build thread going. The little step down from the filler neck is only on the right side. I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to deal with this area. Leave it as is or put filler around the area and make it like the left side? I'm hesitant because it looks like it's going to be tricky but I know it's gonna pale in comparison to the knee dents.

Another shitty picture. Here they totally look uneven but it's not the case. I'm pretty obsessive. I'll probably clean the inside of the tank this weekend because it may be the last warm weekend before I need to unhook the hoses and prepare for winter. Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

More Cafe

The carbs are back on and I was extremely tempted to start the bike up and see how it ran with the rebuilt carbs but...I decided to be patient and not allow any of the rust/dirt in the tank into my newly cleaned carbs. So I removed the fuel petcock valve. This is a bit of a rare valve. From what I can tell, Honda only used it one year. The threads are huge (20mm). I removed the valve. 

Then I took it all apart. The cloth on the lower left is a pre-filter. It is very difficult to find parts for this petcock but I think I have finally found the few pieces I need and will order those on Monday. I need to replace the o ring on the upper left as it broke (found it in Florida) and there is a gasket that was totally gone (found that and a new pre-filter and pick up tube in Pennsylvania).

I cleaned the petcock in Chem Dip and it'll go back together just as soon as the parts arrive.

Then I took a perfectly good tank, grabbed a few different hammers, and started to beat the hell out of it.

This was a very scary process. I have never done any kind of metal shaping or stretching before.

I ran into a bit of an issue. I got too excited, didn't take my time, and while trying to chip away what body filler I was finding, I managed to punch 2 small holes in the left side of the tank. I was not happy. At this point, I decided that it was best to get the tank media blasted. I dropped it off with Spectrum Powder Works in Colorado Springs and picked it up a few days later. It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. The guys at Spectrum quoted me $150 to pull a small dent and weld the 2 holes. Welding a tank can be very dangerous. If there is leftover fuel or fumes in the tank then the weld spark could easily blow it up and can cause serious harm. I'm not sure if I'm going to do this on my own yet but I figured I'd start cleaning it just in case. First I plugged the bottom end, put a hose in the tank, turned it on and let it flush it for an hour and a half. Then I threw in some dish soap and continued to let it flush. Then I finally blew it out with compressed air and wiped the tank down with WD40 to prevent flash rust. There is still a hint of gas scent in the tank. 

While the tank was flushing I decided to install the new gas cap seal.

While cleaning up the cap, I realized that someone had clear coated the chrome cap and started hand sanding that out.

This is much better.

And here's how it sits now. I spent about 2 hours today addressing some of the high spots in the right side knee dent. I am pretty happy with this side now. I just need to get the dent pulled from the left side and then rework the leading edge of the left side knee dent to match the right side better. There's also 2 other small dents that I will pull if I do it on my own in addition to welding up the holes. Now I'm just going to sit and think about things. Like...is it really a good idea for me to try to weld this thing up? Stay tuned.

Cafe Update

I was recently reminded that this blog has all but died. Sorry. Life's been busy. If this is your first time here, you might be wondering why the hell are there so many posts about motorcycles instead of bicycles? Well...because of the pinched nerve in my neck, I haven't ridden a bicycle since about May. I have always been fascinated with motorcycles (they're still 2 wheeled) and so I decided to buy one and embark on a little project. When I first bought this bike, I did not know what direction the build was going to head in (restoration, stock, scrambler, bobber, or cafe). Slowly...it has evolved into a cafe build. So this is it. Welcome. 

While I was rebuilding the master cylinder and front brake caliper, I kept coming back to the horrible condition of the MC cap. It was scratched from what looked like a minor crash. The theme of this build is, "I have more time than money" so I got to work. I started by hand filing off all the ridges on the edge of the cap and then, finally buffed it out after tons of sanding. This was a tremendous amount of work and probably took me about a week to get done. But it looks good.   

Then I started playing around with the tank. At this point, I had a good picture in my head of where this thing was headed. I knew I wanted knee dents. Some people argue that these are stupid to put into a stock tank. It removes fuel carrying capacity, they don't look good, they aren't functional, etc. Welp...it's my build and one of the important things with this is that I wanted to do as much of the work on my own as possible. Anyone can buy a cafe tank and seat. I wanted to make it. I free handed the shape of the dent after sitting on the bike and making some marks. I also changed the sketch of the dent about 5 times over the next 2 weeks. Sometimes I just sat there drinking beer and staring at the lines. I finally settled on this design. Then I took 12 gauge wire and taped it to the outline so that I could then lay poster board over it and make a template to transfer it to the other side.

In the mean time, the carbs were almost ready to go back on the bike. I was waiting for a float for the last carb as mine was cracked. Parts are extremely hard to find for this bike but I was able to locate a good used float in Deleware AND I got it for free. Thanks Matt.

The carbs finally went back together. I did replace all o rings on the t fittings and the small section of fuel line between each pair of carbs. Here I am getting ready to sync the butterfly valves. It's important that they all open up at the same time to allow in equal amounts of air when the choke is operated. This is a pretty simple task involving small adjustment screws for each one.

Next up is to bench sync the carbs. This involves making sure that the slides and needles operate at the same rate. In carbs 1 and 2 you can see the slides (brown cylinders). The needles are contained inside those and they slide into and out of the main jet and control the air/fuel ratio. It's important that all 4 carbs work as closely as possible with each other. What I did was used the idle adjustment screw (which controls the #2 carb slide) and opened it up just enough to slip in a very small drill bit. I can't recall the size but it's smaller than 1/8". Then I used the adjustment screws for each carb to either raise or lower the slide to slip an additional bit of the same size under that carb's slide. You use the bits much like you would a feeler gauge. This should get me about 95% close on the whole bank of carbs. Once they are on the bike then you really need to do a vacuum sync with gauges to get them super close.

I installed new fuel lines and inline filters.

Then I threw the bank back on the bike. The rubber boots on these old bikes get really stiff with age and it can be a bear to reinstall the carb bank. Some guys just install new boots but they are expensive and I didn't see any cracks in mine. Some guys heat up the rubber a bit to make it more pliable. I put a little bit of WD40 on the inside of the boots and then used a ratchet strap to slowly pop the carbs back into the boots. Worked a charm. I also installed new bowl drain lines.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Cafe Stuff

So I got the front brakes all sorted out on the CB and they work flawlessly. Rebuilding the front caliper was simple. Rebuilding the master cylinder was simple too. A lot of guys bitch and moan about how hard it is to remove the circlip that holds the piston in the MC but I didn't have that much trouble at all. I got the front end of the bike all buttoned up again and decided to fire it up. Then I noticed that the motor was only running on three cylinders. Fourth was dead. So...it was time to pull the carbs. I've put it off long enough. Here they are. I personally think that removing the stock airbox sucks. 

Here was the first issue I found. This washer is found between 1 and 2 and again between 3 and 4. From what I can tell it makes sure that the needles inside go through the main jet and restrict or allow fuel to flow. This washer keeps them working in sync. It is broken and it is no longer made. So...I had to get creative but right away I had a plan.

This is the bowl side of the #4 carb. It was dirty and crystallized and but not as bad as I thought it was going to be. Upon pulling it all apart, I did notice that the idle jet was completely clogged and took quite a bit of work to get cleaned.

This is the #4 carb after it was cleaned along with the bowl and top cap. It is ready to go back together. I'm just waiting on the rebuild kits to show up.

The top piece is a dust shield that is original and, again, no longer made. There's 4 total and 2 were broken. Again...I had an idea in my head.

I did pull the #3 bowl off just to peak inside. It looks worse than 4 did but the idle jet wasn't nearly as plugged up. It is dirtier overall though.

This is the other piece if whipped up last night. Original is up top and mine is down below. It was close to being done in this pic but I worked on it a bit more and now it's exactly the same size. I even sanded it all out and all marks are gone. Looks brand new. It's thicker than the original piece. I see no reason why this should not work.

I'm busy the next 2 nights with parent/teacher conferences so I won't be able to work on it until Friday but I have that day off. So I hope to get the #4 back together and then tear apart 2 and 3 and have them maybe rebuilt by Sunday if all goes well. We'll see.