Final Touches and Nice Finds

I finished the touch-up work on the new blinkers today.  I used a couple more of those 19-10-19 spacers from aluminumspacers.com, which I previously used on the headlight, to space the blinkers out a bit further as well, and I think they worked out great!

I also strapped that Corona bag on to see how it looks, and how it fits.  The bag is a bit limp when empty, so I stuffed in an XL sweatshirt and it filled it up pretty much completely… which not only made it photograph nicely, it also tells me what I can expect the bag to hold. It won’t be on the bike day-to-day; I think it will be more a special occasion item.

Looks quite vintage, doesn’t it?  I just wish I could figure out how old it actually is.

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Corona Tank Bag

I was wandering the countryside with my wife when I chanced to enter an antique-type shop in Brookfield, Missouri and saw this beauty:

Of course, I bought it. According to the broken English inside the flier, it originally came with a shoulder strap, which is absent, as is the key (though as it was a 60’s or 70’s era luggage key, it won’t be hard to find a substitute if I want one). It’s in like-new condition, with a smell that speaks of old vinyl and nothing else, no garage smell or barn stink or even the fragrance of an attic. The material feels like the cover of a particularly soft basketball, less nubbly but just as thick and substantial feeling. The straps were meant to be cut to length and the hooks and loops attached with judicious application of a hammer; the original owner has already done the job, so I can only assume this bag was actually used at least once.

I haven’t tried it yet, but I think the straps are long enough to fit my ’80 CB650’s tank. I hope so, anyway. One strap is cut shorter than the other, so the original owner’s tank was tapered in 70’s style rather than brick-shaped like the Japanese bikes of the ’60’s; this gives me some hope that it will fit my Honda.

Anyway, I just had to post about this… it’s such a nice piece, and I feel lucky to lay my hands on it.

… so tonight I got home and did some research.  It appears this bag is still made, and has been in production for a long time.  First let me say, wow.  I have no way to know how old this particular bag is… there are no dates whatsoever on the flier or tag.  Google found very few images that look like this, and almost all of them lead to this page:

http://aldana.jp/menu/index.cgi?job=res&no=751&page=95

I can’t read Japanese, but Google sort of can, so I ran it through their translator.  Still didn’t learn much.  The pictures on that page have dates under them, all in 2009 apparently, and the descriptions for some of the bags make it appear that they are still being made and that this site has some that are custom made for them.

One item of note to me is that the photos (all of them) in the flier that I got with the bag all depict motorcycles from the ’60’s or very early ’70’s.  I can’t believe that any current unit still comes with the vintage paperwork.  Also found another bag for sale on ebay (actually already sold) where the seller says his uncle bought it in the 1970’s.

It mentions the clear map holder, which one of the models shown in the flier I got does have, making the two bags contemporaries.  It gives me some hope that this is a vintage unit.

Even if it isn’t, those bags on aldana.jp?  The price is more than 3x what I paid.  So I still got a bargain.

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Brakes, Signals, and the Failings of Fastenal

As I mentioned in my last post, I decided I needed to rebuild my master cylinder.  I ordered the K&S rebuild kit, got a bottle of DOT 3 fluid and some clear hose, and one fine day I set out to do the rebuild.

First problem… the snap ring is so rusty that I cannot get it out.  In trying, I also discovered that my snap ring pliers don’t quite reach all the way down there (I would have sworn they would work).  And also, I discovered that there is this big O-ring at the base of the plastic reservoir that needs to be replaced, and which is not in the rebuild kit, nor in stock anywhere locally.

I got it halfway apart and couldn’t properly put it back together.  I tried, of course, but the fluid wouldn’t stay in the reservoir because of that O-ring.  Gah.

SO I ordered a new set of snap ring pliers from Amazon, one that a reviewer specifically said he used on the master cylinder of an early ’80’s Honda.  While I waited for them to come in, I tried to get the O-ring, but as I just said, nobody had one.  Then while doing the research I discovered that you can get generic master cylinders online.  I started out looking at Amazon.com, but ended up buying one from an ebay seller instead.  I viewed it as a temporary solution… I would still get that damn O-ring and rebuild the original master cylinder.

Once I put it on, bled the brake, and took a ride, I changed my mind.  It’s quite good.  The only issue, if you can call it that, are the markings on the sight glass… both upper and lower marks are labeled “LOWER.”  I can live with that.

I will still probably rebuild the original sometime, but there is no longer any hurry.

That would be the end, if I had any sense, but since I don’t, let’s move on…

I got an email from denniskirk.com telling me to check out their clearance items, so I did.  I do that a lot anyway, hardly ever buy anything but I like to see what’s out there.  Well, this time I found something I liked: a set of K&S Chrome LED “marker lights” (i.e. turn signals without DOT approval… in Missouri, I do not expect a problem running them as signals).  They were marked WAY down, and they look more like the original stock signals than the black rubbery ones I had on the bike.  So I ordered a pair.

They look and work NICE.  Much better than the ones I had on before, in that they are brighter than the ones I previously used AND they are “dual filament” (not really, but they do a good job pretending to be) so they are always-on lights until you flip on the blinker.  In case the link above quits working, here’s a picture:

Notice that set-screw?  It allows you to turn the signal (i.e. to aim it) after getting the stem tight.  This is GREAT, except that the screw is just barely long enough… and I stripped one out tightening it.  It barely engaged the threads before pulling out, so I ran in another longer screw and it went in fine.  But it was TOO long.  I needed a screw longer than the stock unit, but shorter than what I had in my toolbox.  Gah, again.

Stopped by Fastenal, thinking they’d have what I need, even though the last three times they haven’t.  Well, they didn’t this time either.  I wanted a panhead screw in a zinc or chrome finish, and they did not have them.

Home Depot did, so I’m in business.  But I’m less and less impressed with Fastenal all the time.

Guess I’m Not Quite Done Yet

After my last post, I took the CB650 for a short ride around town, and I thought it felt like the front brake was dragging.  Well, it is.  I suspected the caliper (as I’ve had a similar problem in a car before and that was the source), but after discussing my plans on the Honda CB650 forum here I learned it’s probably the master cylinder.  Specifically, I need to clean it out, making sure the fluid return hole is clear.

While searching for a rebuild kit for my bike, I found this:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00D0MSX36

Yes, you can just buy a complete replacement unit, clean and new with a full set of spare parts, and it’s cheap.  But… I read some reviews of this unit, and decided against it.  It does not have the capacity of the stock unit, so I’d have to pay closer attention to the fluid level.

Instead, I’m getting a K&L rebuild kit, their part number 32-1464.  Got it on Amazon.com here:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001KO4WFY

I’ll have to drain the existing fluid, dismantle, clean, and refurbish the master cylinder, put it all back together, and finally refill and bleed the system.  I’ve picked up a bottle of fresh DOT 3 fluid and some clear plastic tubing, so as soon as the rebuild kit comes in, I’ll get started.

In other words… more later.

Things Made of Rubber, Part 2

I rode the CB650 maybe another 1,500 miles after the last post.  The smell of gasoline got stronger each time; I found I had to put the bike away with the petcock closed or the garage filled up with fumes.

I finally quit riding it when I realized raw gas was leaking out of the carbs.  I also discovered an oil leak, coming out around the shift shaft and dripping onto the left exhaust pipe.  It was evidently leaking only while the bike was running, so there was no puddle in the garage to reveal the leak.

There was no avoiding it… my bike needed professional help.

I asked a fellow rider who owns a vintage Japanese bike who he would trust to do the work, and he recommended Cycle Tech at Fremont, Iowa.  When I say “at” Fremont, I mean out in the middle of nowhere north of Fremont (which is itself somewhat like the middle of nowhere).

So I called up the man in charge and discussed my bike’s issues, and he shot me an estimate.  It was more than I hoped, but less than I feared, and I took him up on it.

They pulled the carbs, fitted new gaskets and seals, put ’em back together and synced them up.  They also replaced the bad seal on the shift shaft… problem solved.

Things made of rubber, you know?

I didn’t think to ask them to change the oil, but I picked up oil and a new oil filter when I went back to get the bike.

So anyway, moving on… last weekend I set out to change the oil in the CB650.  Draining it was easy, but the oil filter bolt head was pretty chewed up.  I couldn’t get a wrench to grab it, nor would my hex-head vice grips do it.

Finally I put curve-jaw vice grips on it, clamped down as tight as I could get them, and tapped on the vice grips with a rubber mallet.  After a few judicious whacks, the bolt broke loose, and I was able to complete the job.

I considered getting a replacement OEM bolt (Honda part number 15420-333-000), but the few places that had them listed the price at around $55.00.  There had to be a better solution… and there is.  I discovered that Emgo makes a replacement oil filter bolt for the CB650, and it has a 17mm head instead of the 12mm head on the stock unit.  Should be harder to round it off.  The Emgo part number is 11-46400; Amazon.com has it here for $14.97 with free shipping, which is much better than the OEM part price.  K&L Supply also makes a replacement for this bolt, their part number 19-1387, available on Amazon.com here for $15.93 + $8.74 shipping; still a better deal than the OEM part.  Of course, these prices are just good for right now, and will surely change in the future.

Just for the record, I checked some other vendors for this part.  Dennis Kirk has it here, for $16.95 plus shipping.  Rocky Mountain ATV/MC does not seem to have it, which I suppose isn’t that odd given their obvious off-road focus, except that they do have many other parts for the CB650 including the K&N oil filter, and they carry other Emgo parts.  Didn’t find the K&L bolt on either site.

For the moment I’m going to use the existing bolt, but when the bike is due for another oil change I’ll get a replacement.

While changing the oil, I thought about other periodic maintenance items, and decided I should service the air cleaner as well.  I pulled it out and discovered it was soaked with old gasoline.  I knew the bike had backfired from time to time, especially when cold or running on choke, so I assumed it had been blowing gas back into the airbox.  (I’m hoping that sealing the carbs has fixed the backfire issue.)

Well, then.  Time for a new air cleaner.  I ordered an Emgo replacement, part number 12-90700, on Amazon.com here.  The current price is $10.69 with free shipping.  The Honda OEM number is 17211-460-000.  Note that the only shop manual I’ve found online is for the 1979 model year; they completely changed the airbox and filter in 1980.  If you have the 1979, this information won’t apply to you.

The replacement filter came in, so I set about installing it.  There’s a rubber seal that fits around the flange on the filter; you have to take it off the old filter and put it on the new one.  While I stood there putting the seal on the new filter I noticed a shine from inside the airbox.  A wet shine, to be exact.  I figured it must be some more gasoline.  I grabbed a big handful of paper towel and stuffed it into the airbox, then pulled it back out soaked with sour gas.  Did this twice more before I was sure I had it all… I was surprised how much was in there.

I went ahead and installed the new air cleaner and buttoned up the bike.  I now had a pile of gas-soaked paper towels… kind of a fire hazard, obviously.  I stuffed the paper towels into the box the new air cleaner came it, took the whole mess out to the driveway and set it on fire.  After a moment’s thought, I put the old gas-soaked air cleaner on top.

It all burned down to ash in about half an hour.  I fished the metal bits from the air cleaner out and threw them in the trash (after ensuring they were no longer hot enough to be dangerous), then stamped around on the ashes to disperse them.  All cleaned up.

I’m almost afraid to say it, but I think the bike is done.  I’ll try to remember to post some pictures soon!

Things Made of Rubber, Part 1

I mentioned the gas cap issues in my previous post.  Well, here’s what I did: I took some of my excess vacuum hose, slit it open lengthwise, filled it with some strong contact cement, then put it over the slot (trough?) that the gas cap seal is supposed to fit into.  I spread a little motor oil on the tank itself so the cap wouldn’t stick to it, then put the glued cap back on the bike.  The idea was to hold the rubber hose in position until the glue set up.

It mostly worked.  Unfortunately, a little bit of the glue made contact with the tank, and ate a couple of small spots of paint.  Fortunately the damage is hidden under the cap, but it does irritate me that I didn’t foresee the possibility.

Sadly, however, it only partly fixed the problem.  I know the cap was leaky because I could see gasoline vapor coming out and condensing on the tank with the cap in place; but, even with the new seal, it still smells of gasoline rather strongly.

Then I made another discovery, accidentally.  I put the kickstand down in a slightly uneven parking spot; it didn’t go down right, and I dropped the bike (in slow motion… I was doing my best to stop it, but I just couldn’t).  When I picked it back up, there was a spot of gasoline on the pavement.

I put two and two together and figured out that there must be a bad hose in among the carbs.  Probably one of those float bowl vent hoses.  I haven’t checked it out yet, but I have replacement hose on hand to fix it, hopefully soon.  For the moment, I’ve been turning off the petcock when the bike is parked, and that solves the stinky gas problem.

While trying (and failing) to see where the leak is, I noticed some of the carb drain hoses were off their nipples.  So of course, I tried putting them back on, but they just cracked.  The hose is a different size than the hose I have on hand, necessitating a trip to the auto parts dealer.  That, too, is a repair I haven’t done yet, but will get to soon.

If you have read all of the above, by now you understand the title of this post.  But wait, there’s more.

To date I’ve put 650 miles on the bike, including maybe 50 on the Interstate at 65 MPH.  Imagine my expression when I realized the previous owner never replaced the tires.

I was doing all that riding on thirty-six year old Cheng Shin tires.  Egad.

I did the only sensible thing… I parked the bike and set out to order tires.  Finding tires that would work on the CB650 was surprisingly hard.  None of the lower-priced brands could provide both a front and rear tire that would work.  I’m a bit of a Shinko fan, having run their tires on my Yamaha TW200 (in front, obviously, since there are almost no tires for the back of that bike besides the Bridgestone OEM tires), but they didn’t have a tube-type rear that I thought I could work with.

I jumped into a thread on the CB650 forum in hopes of getting some help.  The original Cheng Shin tires were a 100/90-19 front and a 120/90-17 rear.  I have the 1979 shop manual, and it prescribes 3.50H19 in front and 4.50H17 in back; a quick Google search led me to the Motorcycle Tire School section of Maxxis’ website, which informed me that the front tire converts to 100/90-19, and the rear converts to 110/90-17 or 120/90-17.  Obviously, this is consistent with what came on the bike… so far, so good.

The 100/90-19 front was easy to find in a number of brands and styles, but the 120/90-17 was surprisingly rare (remembering that I was looking for a “TT” tube-type tire).  Like, non-existent.  So I had to do something different.

The 120/90 tire would be 108mm tall.  A 130/80 tire would be 104mm tall… pretty close, and just 10mm wider (so losing 5mm of clearance on each side).  I used Bike Bandit’s sizing tool to search for that size, and found three dual-sport tires and the Bridgestone Battlax BT45.  Looking at the listing, I discovered that the only tube-type tire in the rear tire section was the 130/80-17… all the rest are tubeless.  Lucky, right?  But the darn thing was $132.95… ack.  I like Bike Bandit, but hey, I’m cheap, so I kept looking.

Amazon.com, it turned out, had that tire for $103.00 with Prime shipping, which sounded pretty good to me, but did not have the front at the same discount (nor with Prime shipping at all).  Sometimes Amazon is very strange.  I put the $103.00 tire in my cart and went looking at other sites.

Now, I do business with Dennis Kirk regularly, but somehow had not searched for the Battlax tires there.  Imagine my surprise when I found that I could get the 130/80-17 rear for $95.88 and the front for $93.88!  I threw a couple of heavy duty IRC tubes and some Kenda rim strips into the cart (why doesn’t IRC have rim strips?  Seems strange to me) and submitted the order.

Last night I put the tires on.  It was a good time to try out my new Harbor Freight balancing stand, and it worked quite well.  The front needed a single 10g weight, while the rear needed nothing (yeah, I didn’t believe it either, stood there spinning the tire over and over like I had some sort of neurological issue).

So.  Progress.  Still have some problems to beat with rubber hoses, but at least now I’m not afraid to ride it.

Part 2 coming soon… as in, whenever I fix those remaining hoses.

Two weeks with a vintage Honda CB650

It’s been going pretty well, actually. Several nickel-and-dime issues, such as a broken tachometer cable (the tach end rusted off; it was loose when I got the bike, and evidently got wet). I ordered new keys from www.keys4urride.com, and I have to say I was quite pleased with their service. The key number for my bike wasn’t on the list on their site, but I emailed them and they said they could do it for me, so I ordered two. They work well.

The only present issue is the gas cap leak. The O-ring is missing from the cap, and Honda doesn’t list it on the fiche as a separate part. I’m suspicious that it may be the part number 91258-300-013 (68X2.6) unit; I measure the space for the ring at 2 3/4″, which is about 68mm. I’m probably going to have to just take the cap to a dealer to size it.

Inspections, and Other Annoyances

Late last week I took the bike to get it inspected, and it failed… busted taillight, which I had not realized was bad enough to fail. Looking online, I found NOS lenses for $45.00. Seemed a bit high… instead, I ordered an entire taillight, not just the lens, for $26.00 including shipping on Ebay. This morning it passed inspection, and is now wearing a legal Missouri plate.

While riding it to and from the auto repair establishment where I got it inspected, I noticed the bike stumbled rather badly whenever I opened the throttle at highway speed (5000 RPM is about 55 MPH, and that’s where I noticed it). I remembered seeing that the 1980 CB650 had a service bulletin, so I actually read it. Seems that some CB650s from that year had exactly that problem, and the fix from Honda was a part set that rerouted the float bowl vents to the airbox cover. The part number for that set is 17225-460-670, and just this moment there is a guy on Ebay selling such a kit for $60.00:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/361410947063?item=361410947063&lgeo=1&vectorid=229466&rmvSB=true

I’m too cheap for that. I stopped by the auto parts store and picked up some vacuum hose and a tee that looked pretty close to what is pictured, then drilled a hole in the airbox cover that is just a bit tight on the hose I bought. It’s not perfect, but it did improve the bike’s performance; before, if my hand twitched on the throttle, the bike would stumble, but now I have to roll it on more to get the stumble and it lasts a shorter period. May break down and buy the “right” part at some point… dunno. It’s definitely serviceable as is.

I have noticed that it’s not hard to hit a “false neutral” when upshifting. I’m learning to shift with more authority.

One thing that now puzzles me. I’ve been making the mistake all along that the CB650 came in a standard version which was not “cruiser” styled, and a Custom version that was. I see now that I was mistaken… both models have the same cruiser seating position, but the Custom has some nicer amenities (and Comstar wheels, which may or may not be “nicer” depending on whether or not you like those). The puzzlement comes from those dang engine guards… how could anyone ever want them on the bike, when they obstruct the foot controls? But the original owner of this bike obviously liked them.

CB650, Finished (I think)

HOKAY DOKAY. So. Today I received the last items I needed to finish the job, and here it is:

Here’s another look at the headlight and signals, close up:

In the credit-where-credit-is-due department, I have to give a big THANKS to Speed Moto Co. That’s their headlight, headlight mounting brackets, and signals. Specifically, here are the items we used:

http://www.speedmotoco.com/product-p/smc-64313.htm
http://www.speedmotoco.com/headlight-bracket-p/144060.htm
http://www.speedmotoco.com/product-p/057-1-2009.htm

It probably would have been easier to get a headlight that had 7″ mounting points, but I think I’d have needed spacers anyway, just less length. And this is a really nice looking headlight, in my opinion… it does not look a bit cheap.

As I noted before, I got my spacers from aluminumspacers.com. If you visit their site, it looks like they only sell SAE parts, but actually there are metric parts mixed in with the nearest sizes of standard spacers… if I had not already found myself in the “ready to settle for less than perfect” situation, I might never have seen that they had the right thing. In fact, it’s probably why it took me so long to find a good source. And this is a company that makes the parts in the US. Admittedly, they’re just aluminum tubes, but still. I got two of the 19mm long, 19mm OD spacers:

http://www.aluminumspacers.com/spacers-by-hole-size/hole-for-3-8-inch-bolts/mas19-10-19

See, you can tell from the URL that they are in the 3/8″ hole size category. I don’t think they do themselves any favors, listing their parts the way they do, but the parts themselves are top notch.

New Headlight and Signals, and Other Stuff

Had a hard time figuring out where the horn goes; it had been relocated when the fairing was put on, and the mounting point is missing from the fiche. I finally felt all around the front of the frame until I found the mounting point hidden behind all those wires.

The parts we ordered came in a couple of days ago, and I have the headlight mounts and turn signals on the bike. I had a hard time locating spacers that would work with the headlight and brackets, but finally found them at (ahem) aluminumspacers.com. The brackets we got would actually mount a full 8″ headlight on the bike, but we got a 7″ unit that is really, really nice looking; the mounting holes set back and in a bit, enough that you could actually mount the headlight on a bike fitted for a 6.25″ headlight. As I say, though, it’s a really nice unit. I’ll post pics when it’s all together (probably late next week).

I ran into an issue with the turn signals. The replacement units did not say they were LED but they must be… they come on solid, no blinking, both the new front and the stock rear. I suppose I need an electronic flasher unit, which I have installed on other bikes before.

But I’ll admit my stupid here… I can’t find the flasher on the bike. The parts fiche shows it horizontal, but does not show where it goes. I’ve read elsewhere that it should be behind the left side cover, and I found the starter relay there (where I expected to find it) but cannot see the flasher relay. I can HEAR it click (once) when I turn on a signal, but I can’t find the darn thing.

Okay, never mind. I finally realized the only place I couldn’t see or touch was behind the starter relay; pulled it out of its rubber bucket and there was the blinker relay behind it.

Also managed to forget and leave the key on, running down the battery. Gah. Really, I don’t get rid of any stupid, I just move it around from place to place…