Saturday, January 18, 2014

All the Latest Cafe News

There really has not been much going on with the cafe project here lately. I'll post what little news I have in order to keep some (Dan) folks happy nonetheless. It should not come as a surprise that I was not happy with how the body work on the tank turned out. Looking back...this was not a good first project for someone new to body work because of the convex and concave areas of the tank and the need for everything to match all the way around. People that saw it in person thought it looked great but being the perfectionist that I am I just couldn't stop finding imperfections that would only stand out more when painted. It was when I began talking about painting the knee dents in flat black that I knew I had to walk away from things for a while. I just think that (at times) flat black says, "I gave up." I have an active thread on the single overhead cam forum about this build and I told those guys that I was going to step back for a while. A few hours later I received a message from one of the guys that had been providing me with a ton of help/advice. Many of the guys that are into these older Hondas just really want to see them keep going and they are willing to offer way more help than members of any other forum that I have been a part of. I have received more advice and hard to find parts from these folks. All for free with the only requests being that I pay it forward and post pics of the project as it moves on. Anyways...this guy asks if he can do me a favor and take the tank back to bare metal, work the metal a bit more, TIG weld the holes again, remove the areas where the badges mounted and TIG those up, reapply filler, sand it all out, prime it and ship it back to me ready to paint. Again...for free and he was insulted when I offered to send him some money. So the tank is in Virginia right now (arrived yesterday) and he will have it for a bit. This guy has built some amazing cafes and other styles and he does really nice body work so I'm excited. 

The next piece of the puzzle was to try and find a replacement side cover for the one that was cracked beyond repair. As I started looking more closely at these I realized that I had a 550 left side cover (the trashed one) and a 500 right side cover. I prefer the look of the 500 covers so I went on the prowl for one. I called in a ton of favors but was not able to find one as these are very rare to stumble upon and many are cracked and in need of repair. They do make aftermarket replacements but I thought it would be cool to have originals so I looked hard. I was finally able to find one in Alabama with no cracks. I bought it for $40. Both of my covers would now need sanding and prep and I would fill in the badge holes with body filler and get them ready for paint. Well I was excited when the new cover got here and went to put it on the bike. The damn thing cracked. The 40 year old plastic is simply too brittle so I'll fix the broken one and then sell them both off and buy newer replicas. 

These gauges will be here soon and I think they will go nicely with the bikes thinner look now. Stock gauges are 4" and these replacements are 2.5". I did consider opening up the stockers, and replacing the green faces with something black, upgrading the horrible lighting to led, and rebuilding the internal gears but it's a lot of work and the inside looks like a watch. I wasn't sure if the size of them would still bother me after all that effort. It probably would. So I'll sell the stockers and almost pay for the new ones. The speedo has nice led's mounted in it for warning lights too so I won't have to mess with that. I will have to make a new mount for the ignition switch but that's fine as I'll also get rid of the start switch that I have there because I also have a left side control that will be going on so I can have a horn, start/kill switch, an option to run turn sigs (which I eventually will), as well as a hi/lo for the headlights. I'll probably also drill the handlebars out when installing this stuff and run all the wiring from the switch through the bars to make it look anal boy friendly.  

This is the new tach. Not much to say about this but it'll be so much cleaner and minimal.

This is horrible picture of the tail light that will be here soon. It's small but, more importantly, it can pivot up and down. All the others I have looked at just mount on the fender but since I bobbed the fender a bit (and may go even shorter) I need it to adjust for the right angle. It's kind of bullet shaped. I really wanted to find a light off a 32 Ford but the style was just too different and more appropriate for a Bobber/Rat build.

I did get around to making a few adjustments to the plate mount. I bent it up a bit more because I kept looking at the lines of the back end and wondered if it would look better. I'll get a profile shot of the bike because it's easier that way. I also added this little 1" by 1" tab to the outside of it that sits up tight against the swing arm. Only one bolt holds this thing on and I didn't want the entire thing going into the spokes in the event that one bolt came loose. This tab will keep things safe if that happens. I also recently found out that my plate mount is illegal. The plate is not horizontally mounted, it's bent, and it's less than 12" off the ground. So that's 3 strikes. For a few seconds I did consider coming up with a way to mount it back on the fender but I'll leave it here. I see tons of Harleys with plates mounted this way. If I get pulled over I'll claim ignorance and deal with it then. This bracket is now ready for primer and paint.

That's about all that's going on right now. I did get my hands on a compression gauge and will be checking the numbers on the cylinders and that will give me an idea of what condition the top and bottom end are like and see if that needs any attention (hoping not). That's all. It's my birthday weekend and I'll be 41 but I feel like I'm trapped in the body of a 70 year old. Hanging out and keeping busy in the garage brings me happiness though so I'm sure I'll be down there for at least a while over the weekend. Thanks for checking in. Go do something fun outside or build something in the garage.