Saturday, July 19, 2014

Things have been busy around here the last week or so. In anticipation of a tear down on my motorcycle that will include rebuilding the motor and blasting/painting the frame, hopefully updating the electrical system, and installing new exhaust, as well as some other things, I have been building a table/bench where I can work on it all. During the final steps of building said table/bench the other night, I heard a motorcycle coming up my street. I turned my head and saw this guy at the bottom of my driveway. This is Frank. Heather likes to joke that I met Frank online and that's pretty much true. I know him from a vintage Honda forum. Frank is a teacher that just retired this year and, to celebrate, he is riding around the US. We have a lot in common and I told him if he was near, to drop by. He did. He's been on the road for 5 days now and done 3300 miles which is silly. He will probably be on the road for another 4-5 weeks. 

After Frank left, I was inspired to ride my bike. I've been having a ton of problems with it running extremely rich. I'm pretty sure it's because of the altitude/thin air up here. I'm forcing the stock amount of fuel into the motor but it's not able to get enough air and this throws off the ideal air/fuel ratio. This can be remedied by swapping out the main jets and playing around with the mixture screws on each carb. One test you can do is to remove the air filter which can be restrictive and see if it runs any better. So that's what I did. I rode for 50 miles and had all 4 cylinders working when I got back home so it was encouraging. When I pulled the plugs, they were still very black but they were not soaked with fuel so I think I'm on the right track. I have main jets of different sizes on the way and these will allow less fuel to enter each cylinder.

Here's a picture of the final table. I have been accused of building things in excess of what they need to be and this is definitely true in this case. I wanted this table to be able to hold the bike and me at the same time. So I spaced out the stud supports 9" all the way through. It is strong. I still need to build a cleat for the ramp so that there's no danger of it kicking out while rolling the bike up and having it drop which would be a real shame.

There's never a shortage of projects in this house. My Subaru is just shy of 290,000 miles now. I've talked about this car here before. It is amazing. It is not the most attractive car but damn if it isn't reliable. This motor now has about 100,000 on it and it was a Subaru of America crate motor. The trans, diffs, and many other things are ORIGINAL. I've wanted a new vehicle for a while now (particularly since I commute further each day) but I feel obligated to see this odometer hit 300,000. I could have gambled on the timing belt making it that far (it looks to be in great shape) but if it snapped, I would have nothing to trade in so the cost of a new belt kit was worth the peace of mind. The kit arrived yesterday and I wheeled the car into the garage last night to start in on it. I've never done a timing belt on a Subaru before but the 2.5 liter single overhead cam motor really isn't too terrible. The DOHC motor appears to be more involved. Here, the radiator was drained and pulled (I left both fans installed and just pulled it all as one piece), accessory belts have been removed (and look great so they will go back on), and timing belt covers are removed. So this is the area that I'll be focused on. I'm in no hurry to get this done but things were just moving right along last night. I removed that lower left idler pulley, then the one above it, and then the idler gear itself. At this point, the belt falls off. I set the crank and both cams to their appropriate timing marks and then removed the tensioner. While this far in, it would be foolish to not replace the water pump so that gets taken off. This is where things got interesting. I swapped the thermostat (usually you would be wise to install a new one but this t stat was installed not long ago and I felt comfortable reusing it). I put a little RTV on the new pump, put the gasket on and went to button it back up on the motor. It's held on by 6 bolts and one of them stripped out inside the block. I removed it and new that it was the threads inside the aluminum block that gave out. Sometimes you can use a slightly longer bolt and get into fresh threads past the stripped point. It worked but just wasn't enough and that stripped as well. At that point I called it a night because the hardware store wasn't open and I wanted to chew on things for a bit. So today I'll remove the pump, look at the bolt hole and determine if I want to drill/tap it to the next biggest size or simply use a helical kit to repair it.

These are the bogeyed threads. I think thats about it. For now.

Saturday, July 5, 2014


This picture was, supposedly, taken somewhere in Santa Monica. Unfortunately, that is all I know about this bike. Well...that and I wanna be on it. I love it. Super tasteful and I've always used it as a reference while building mine. Some have said that they don't like my seat (just like this one) but...there are reasons why I keep it. my great wife (who has been incredibly supportive and tolerant during this project as she always is) can sit back there and we can go grab coffee in town. Two, because I have a really simple way to carry camping gear in my head (just need to build it) and hope to be able to do a bit of touring on it next year after a few more issues are addressed. While I could design something that works with a solo seat, I just kinda dig it. 

A while ago I did bob my rear fender but I do want to go more with it. My idea this winter will be to acquire another fender and actually section it and then re-weld it, patch up the holes left from the stock tail light, send it out for chroming and throw it on. I could have a fender custom made but, part of the reason for doing this build in the first place is because I wanted to do as much as I could with my own hands because while I could go get a loan and buy a new bike, it would not be as unique as I wanted it to be. 

I think/hope that I am finally close enough to being able to ride this thing further than around the neighborhood and start to see if it's reliable or not. For months now, I've wrestled with issues with the motor just not running on all cylinders and it's been due to a variety of reasons. This piece showed up today. This is a solid state, modern ignition from Dyna that will replace the 40+ year old points/condensers. A lot of guys like the points system but it does require a lot of attention. You have to make sure that the gap is properly set in order for the ignition system to run properly. If this was a bike that I intended on flipping, I would have simply thrown new points in it but I think this is a bike that I will keep for some time and I wanted it to be as reliable as possible. This setup costed me $134 from Dynoman out of Texas.

Here's the points plate. The points were in bad shape. They are supposed to have less than 1 ohm of resistance and mine were in the upper 30's so they just weren't able to deliver a hot enough spark to the plugs and this was causing a horribly rich condition. The install of the Dyna system isn't horrible but you do have to pay attention. The first step is to remove the points cover and rotate the motor so that cylinder 1 is at top dead center. If you look through the peep hole in between the points, you can see a T and a notch in the housing. To the right of this are the numbers 1-4. At this point, either 1 or 4 are at TDC. I removed the tappet covers for cylinder 1 and they were both tight so I actually had 4 at TDC. If you go 360 degrees around, you end up with 1 at TDC. At that point, the 10mm bolt in the middle is removed as well as the 22mm nut. Disconnect the wiring (a yellow and a blue) and loosen the three Phillips screws and the entire plate comes off. Underneath this is the spark advancer. You have to remove this and replace it with a piece from Dyna. It's important that this piece gets installed in the right orientation. I initially had it 180 degrees out and had to go back and fix it.

Throw the Dyna plate on, insert the 3 screws loosely, as well as the 22mm nut and the 10mm bolt. Now you have to set the timing. This was a little difficult but only because I was eager to fire up the motor and didn't read the directions as carefully as I needed to. I spent quite a bit of time cranking the motor over before I figured out where I screwed up and by then the cylinders were flooded. So I pulled all 4 plugs to let things air out, threw the battery on a charger, walked away, showered, and went with H to Colorado Springs to run errands, grab dinner and get 4 fresh plugs. When we got home, I threw the plugs in, double checked a few things, and she fired right up. I did advance and retard the timing slightly but ended up going right back to where I had it. I took a quick cruise around the block and the motor idles so much better than before. The spark that is being produced is very nice. I'll probably throw a timing light on tomorrow but I know it's damn close.

I was pretty sure that the motor would fire up with fresh plugs but I was still a bit nervous. But not nervous enough for a tall beer.

So on Monday I will get up bright and early, head to Colorado Springs DMV (there is one in particular that I have to go to in order to get my endorsement). Then I'll get the plates and insurance and I'll be able to ride. I'll have tires on the way soon so I won't go too far on the old tires. I may have to ride to Springs to my buddy's place so that I can borrow his vacuum gauges and sync the carbs. Pretty psyched.