Friday, August 22, 2008

Takin' A Leak

Bike night went well. There was no drama, but when I got home and parked the bike, the next morning there was a substantial puddle of 90 weight on the driveway. The Curtis box was leaking out of the output side. This is entirely the fault of Jack Phillips who sold me a defective gearbox. could have been, partially, my fault. When I removed the side cover, there was a square indentation on the lip seal where I MIGHT have pushed the key into it, in my haste. It's far simpler to blame Jack than to admit that I may have f***ed usual. One hour and a 6 buck seal and it's tighter than a frog's ass.
I haven't really romped on it , yet. There is a miss that I have to trace down. It ran perfect prior to the tear down. The only thing I touched was the fuel pump and lines, so I suspect a fuel delivery problem. I'll check it out tomorrow. The bike seems to have a whole different personality now. It sounds and feels different, especially when I close the throttle at freeway speed when exiting. A real nice rumble as the engine slows down. First gear feels a bit like a car taking off in second, but the bike doesn't care. It just sorta hunkers down and pulls hard. I don't have to slip the clutch at all. If I hit second a little hard, the bike torques to one side a little. This was a bit disconcerting at first, particularly because I have one hand on the bars. After a few times, though, it's no big deal.
I think that I am going to be very happy with this conversion. I am still going to try to rig up a hand clutch/foot shift. I may hunt down the booster and the bits and pieces and go that route. I've heard of two finger pulls with the stock BH booster setup.
I'll be the first to admit that this conversion isn't for everyone. Most of you love your automatics. I can't blame you. They are nice. I can't leave well enough alone, so that was one reason to yank it out. The horror stories were another. As I stated, early on, I can't afford to throw 2 or 3K into my trans every year or so. I didn't keep records of the cost of the modifications. It was under 3K. I did all of the work, so that, alone, saved me a bundle. The changes to the bike, while they are reversable, should be considered permanent.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dialin' It In

This morning I made the longer shock mounts and moved them forward a bit. I seem to have plenty of ground clearance now. I took a short hop down the block and back and it seems good to go. I'll be heading to the local bike night at Route 66 Cafe here in town tonight. It's about 15 miles round trip. Should be a good shake down ride. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed and my cell phone charged. I hope the gremlin bell works.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Today, UPS arrived with the, long awaited, master links. On they went and away I went. The first thing I noticed was the stench of burning rubber. The second was the rear of the bike sat WAY too low and I couldn't turn without dragging the pipes. I was afraid that would be the case, but I thought I would try it first. Back to the shop. The bracket that I made to support the bottom of the rear fender was too wide and the tire was dragging against it. Easy fix, just whack off the extra. The stock, swingarm on my 98 had a downward bend near the shock mount. I didn't include this bend when I made the new one. Big mistake. I snatched the swingarm off, pie cut it and welded it back together. This raised the back about 2 inches. Better, but still not enough. Tomorrow I will make new, taller, shock mounts and lift the rear another 1 or 2 inches. Maybe I'll make them with several holes so I can adjust the height of the bike. This will come in handy if I give a ride to a fat chick. The wife tips the scales at a staggering 105.
All thing considered, it was a good day. It runs well, tracks straight, shifts up and down and makes bitchen sounds when I down shift. I think I'm gonna like it

Saturday, August 16, 2008

All Dressed Up and Nowhere To Go

Everything is all buttoned up. All the wireing, fuel lines etc. are in and connected. Hit the button and she fired up instantly. It was bittersweet. Such a lovely sound, but all I can do is sit there and rap the throttle and let it idle and listen to the cam lope. I shoved in the clutch, stuck it in first and eased it out a bit with the brake on and felt it pull on the chains. I think it's going to work just fine. I have master links on order from three different vendors. I will have no shortage of them by next week. I may have a pair by Tuesday. Keepin' the fingers crossed. Between now and then, I'll give it a good cleaning, some wax, chrome polish, Armorall, Ben Gay, Right Guard and Peach Flavored Astro Glide.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Missing Link

Isn't it always the case. The project is for all intent and purpose, done. There will be a few loose ends, I'm sure. Yesterday was spent installing the exhaust, the rear wheel, hooking up a few stray wires and tightening nuts and bolts. Next came the chains. Laid 'em on the sprockets, determined that 5 links needed to be removed. No problemo. Let's see, where are the master links??? For the next 5 hours I turned the shop upsidedown looking for the *&%*#$@* master links. They are gone, vanished, taken aboard the mother ship, grew legs and walked out. All I can figure is that I, inadvertently, threw them away. Now, one would think that procuring a pair of #630 masterlinks in the greater Los Angeles area would be, fairly, easy. Nope, no dice. I called, drove and computer surfed all day today. I should have stayed home and watched Oprah. So, It's back on line to Bike Bandit and they order them for me from Wisconsin, which is not only the cheese capitol of the US but, evidently, the Fort Knox of motorcycle chains. So, instead of filling the air with the stench of tire smoke, I filled the air with a string of expletives.
I will spend the next week cleaning the bike and the shop, Taking the promised pictures and looking in the same spots, for the 50th time, for the elusive links, which will reappear the day after the new ones arrive. One of Murphy's Laws of Mechanics
I'm pissed, but resigned to my fate. Some day I gotta get organized.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tomorrow Is Only a Day Away

If all goes well, I will be irritating my neighbors again for the first time in a while. The swingarm is done. The sprockets are aligned (I had to make a spacer to go between the BH hub and the sprocket assembly to move it over 3/8"). The chains are on. The rear fender is on. The fuse box is in and the wires are routed. Tomorrow the pipes, seat and tanks go on, and that should just about do it. I'm holding off on the battery holder because I may switch to an Optima or Odyssey gel battery. I may just make it to bike night tomorrow night.

I will be posting a bunch o' pictures soon of the (hopefully) finished product. Stay tuned chilluns.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Objects Are Closer Than They Appear

More progress today. Got the rear brake hitched up. I had to fab up a new hard line, since the old one is a few inches short. Some of the riders of the earlier BHs have recommended cutting the caliper bracket so that it floats and is no longer bolted to the rear of the swingarm. I went ahead and modified mine as well. This actually serves a two fold purpose. Besides floating free, now the arm that anchors the bracket takes all of the braking force and transfers it to the front of the swingarm, near the pivot. This eliminates most of the tendency of the rear end of the bike to squat under hard braking. Tomorrow I'll bleed it out and replace the defective brake light switch. All that remains, as far as I can tell, is to make up a new battery holder/rear fender mount, hang the pipes, put the tank on, re route a few wires and a coupla other small odds and ends. I was hoping to have it ready by next Wednesday, but I may come in early and under budget. I still have my old Nesco trans setup to sell, so that will cover chrome and powder coat later on. Hopefully there will be enough left over for a tank o' gas and a few cool ones.

Friday, August 8, 2008

I can taste it AND smell it, now

Today was spent on the bike and a woodworking project.
I finished mounting the fuel pump, installed the trans mount/crossmember and stared at the battery holder, trying to see if it will work. I think I'll just make a new one, instead. I should have the fuel system plumbed, and all the electrics back in and hooked up this weekend. I need to get some radiator hose, as the old one leaked. Just a tiny bit of welding and grinding on the swingarm and it will go back in to stay, until this winter when I'll be sending it and a few other things for chrome and powdercoat.
I'm really getting stoked. I'm pushing for Wednesday the 20th. We have our local bike night every Wednesday and I have missed them all this summer. I guess I coulda ridden my moped, a 78 Benelli that I bought new. It has about 600 original miles. Original tires, spark plug, everything. I payed 100 bucks for it. Saw one on Ebay for a grand. After 30 years, I think I'll keep it. The only thing I've had longer is the wife. She still looks good, too.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I Can Almost Taste It !

A lot has gotten done in the past 3 or 4 days. The modifications to the swingarm are about finished. Just a bit of grinding and finish welding. I was able to run the crossmember through the chains, as I had originally planned, rather than under them. It just takes a more torturous route. All the wierd bends and notches are pretty well hidden. I will, eventually, have the arm chromed, but will dust the crossmember with flat black so it hides in the shadows. The Curtis box is in for the last time. The QD bushings and front sprockets are drilled and tapped. I need to find some 5/16 USC X 3 inch grade 8 socket head cap screws to cinch them down. The shift and clutch linkages are done. I'm sure there will be some final "dialing in", but it looks good for, maybe next week.