February 18, 2012 — 0038

Carburetor disassembly

Finally! A full can of carb cleaner, half a can of WD-40, four days of soaking, many hours of scrubbing and scraping, and a couple of damaged jets and stripped screws later, I have the carburetors disassembled and cleaned of all that sticky tar.

There are parts from all four carbs laid out there. The two missing bodies and float bowls, the “spares”, are still soaking; turns out that dry corrosion is much worse for moving parts than 30 years of semi-liquid gum and varnish. Corrosion eats right into the parts, chemically bonding them together and ruining surface finishes, but that black tar did a surprisingly good job of preserving whatever it was sitting on. Though a couple of minor pieces were damaged in removal or just plain fell apart from age, all told I have more than enough pieces to make two good-condition Keihin 722As and maybe a third.

Next step — reassembly! And maybe polishing the outsides if I can pick up some more polishing compound for the Dremel. I’ll probably end up painting those badly rusted top covers (far left) but the rest of it would look just fine as bare, clean aluminum, I think.

February 14, 2012 — 2358

Old gasoline

I pulled the carburetors off the motorcycle today to start cleaning them, and found that I couldn’t get the float bowls off. Opening the top covers revealed that the CV diaphragms were also frozen in place for some reason — not good. After some pounding with a plastic mallet and some spirited twisting, I managed to get the float bowls separated from the main housing:

That’s…not a good sign.

Well, there’s your problem! Somebody tried to fill this bike up with molasses.

I’ve seen varnish in gas tanks before, and this…isn’t it. Petrochemical varnish is just a nice translucent yellowish coating that scrubs right off. I suppose this is the result of a decent pool of liquid gasoline sitting, without stabilizers, for thirty-two years in a static environment? Some kind of very slow natural polymerization run to an extreme. I bet that given another few decades — or maybe much longer — it’d become something resembling amber.

As fascinating as it is, the goo has to go, or this bike won’t run. I assume this stuff is still chemically similar to gasoline, and the can of xylene-based carb cleaner I have dissolves gasoline deposits, so I soaked everything in an excessive amount of the stuff and left it to sit overnight.

February 11, 2012 — 2327

Motorcycle project

I’ve created a separate page under Experiments for the work I’m doing to the motorcycle. I’ll keep posting about it on the main blog, but the detailed log will be found there in the future.

February 09, 2012 — 1708

Vroom vroom

Something new to work on!

1971 Honda CL350, the scrambler version (what would today be called a “dual-sport”) of the once-ubiquitous CB350. It’s been stored in a barn for the last 32 years. Has quite a bit of surface rust, but the underlying structure is in extremely good shape. The engine turns over and has good compression, the electricals work, the coil fires, the transmission goes through all the gears and, amazingly, the tires are still holding air from 1980. It needs new tires and chain for safety, of course, the forks make a bubbling noise, and new cables and brake linings wouldn’t be a bad idea…but I’m going to start by flushing all the fluids, cleaning the tank, and seeing if it’ll fire up with some new gas.

You may recognize this motorcycle if you’ve seen the recent version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo — the main character rides a modified ’69-70 CB350 with the headers from a CL, a café-racer seat, and a few other custom parts (below). I’m planning to keep mine mostly stock but I wouldn’t mind slightly lower handlebars and a different paint scheme…we’ll see!


So, a new project that is both fun, and highly sustainable! Taking something from the scrap yard and restoring it to its original functional state is clearly the most energy-efficient carbon-neutral kind of recycling there is; much friendlier for the planet than buying any number of Priuses. Ultimate feel-good stuff.

November 25, 2011 — 1649

M2 License

My plastic M2 license has finally arrived in the mail! Finally I can quit carrying around these various “photo ID only” driver’s licenses and the dumb paper forms that stick out of my wallet funny.

I have two nearly identical invalid licenses now, though, because when I went in to get a temporary motorcycle permit to take the course they said “oh, no, your license says ‘AVENUE’ and we need it to say ‘AVE’, that’ll be 17 dollars for a new card please”, and then they mailed me a replacement plastic license which arrived about three weeks before this new one did. Now that I have a GM2 license, the G-class AVE card is no longer valid. Oh well — more ice scrapers I guess.

Anyway, now I can officially ride a motorcycle at night, go on 400-series highways, and carry a passenger. And that sort of terrifies me, because I don’t in any way feel confident enough in my skills to do any of those things yet. I plan to spend at least another couple of days puttering around at low speed in the neighborhood or the college parking lot…like I said in the earlier post, it takes a surprising amount of coordination to effectively control the engine and handle the motorcycle at the same time. And that’s coming from someone who drives a standard* and commutes by bicycle.

Can’t do any of that without a motorcycle, though! To Kijiji I go…I’ve heard good things about older Honda CBs. A CB350 would be just perfect, I think:

*Why is it still called a standard? I’d say about 90% of North American cars have automatics in them. And now we have cars with CVTs and planetary gears and odd gas-electric hybrid drivetrains…I imagine the term is going to get really confusing to teenagers learning to drive in the future when a “standard” is something only old, rare classics have any more.

October 24, 2011 — 1532

Motorcycle course, part II

Well, I’m hooked. Gotta get a motorcycle now.

I rode one of these

And man, what can I say? Everyone should at least try this, even if they never go on to get a license and a bike. Maybe it’s just my love of cycling, and this is like, cycling (^n)…but it’s completely a blast. Well, in a different way — bicycling has its own strengths. But leaning over 35 degrees in a turn? Twisting your wrist and surging effortlessly forwards? How could anyone NOT love that? Controlling the machine is a bit of a physical puzzle, too — coordinating all four limbs at once while steering and leaning. All the better.

Once I get my car properly imported and legalized in Canada, I’m looking for a bike. Vroom vroom

October 17, 2011 — 1555

Motorcycle course

I decided to take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course at St. Lawrence college. I figure that given my interest in bicycles, and these ongoing ideas to convert some of mine to electric power, I should probably get licensed to ride a motorcycle. The MSF course, well, it sure seems like a no-brainer thing to do if you want to ride a motorbike at all, and at the end of it you’re qualified to get the M2-class license without having to deal with the Ministry road test. I’ve never ridden a motorcycle before, but I do love those single-track vehicles, and there’s something really appealing about the look of an old British standard…


(Image is from BikeEXIF.com.  Great site — you don’t need to know a single thing about motorbikes to appreciate this level of mechanical art.)