Tuesday, January 16, 2018

GL1000 -- Ignition Upgrades, Part 1

It's that time of year again, when the world grows quiet under a soft blanket of new fallen snow, when all of the birds, rabbits, squirrels and bears that frequent the woods near my house tuck themselves into their nests and burrows and dens, and when that most unpredictable of species, motocyclist insaneus, retreats into the warmth and comfort of the garage, preparing for the spring thaw only four months away.

In my case, it was New Year's Eve, my wife was pulling an overtime shift at her job, my teen-age daughter was celebrating at a friend's house, and so I decided to ring in the new year surrounded by some of the ones I love, namely, the motorcycles, lol. There were several niggling problems with the Goldwing that I needed to take care of, and therefore, handed a block of several hours in which I could dig into the 'Wing without feeling guilty about neglecting my family, I started the dissassembly process.

First order of business: sorting out the cooling issues. Near the end of summer, I was two-up on the 'Wing in stop-and-go traffic (far more stop than go, to be honest) when I noticed that the temperature gauge was indicating much higher than normal and climbing...quickly. On a test ride, I found the temp would climb when the bike was still or when under load at low speed, but would cool off again when cruising, and I noticed the fan didn't seem to be running when stopped. During dissassembly, I connected the fan to a spare battery, and found that it operated just fine, which was very welcome news since the radiator fan is no longer available from Honda for this particular bike. The next-most-likely culprit was the fan switch, still available from Honda at $$$$$ or from an aftermarket supplier for $$. I opted for the aftermarket part. Since I was digging into the cooling system anyway, I picked up a new, aftermarket thermostat and both upper and lower radiator hoses, as well. Note: the fan switch comes with an o-ring, but the thermostat does not; fortunately, my local Honda dealer, who doesn't typically stock vintage bike parts, actually had the o-ring I needed on-hand. Replacing the old thermostat and fan switch was pretty trivial. By far, the most difficult part was reattaching the rubber boot that contains the fan wires to the fan switch. Hint: reinstall the boot BEFORE reinstalling the water inlet (covering the thermostat).

Next up, ignition system upgrades. When replacing the points in the stock ignition last year, I noticed that the threads in the OEM points backing plate were kind of sketchy. I managed to install the new points (an aftermarket brand that has a reputation for sticking a bit, but all I could still find for the bike), but not trusting the points themselves or the stripped-out backing plate, I picked up a Dynatec electronic ignition and new coils later last year. Because the crankshaft in the Goldwings' horizontally opposed engines runs lengthwise through the engine (rather than below the cylinders as in a typical inline four), you typically use the bolt through the alternator to rotate the crankshaft to set the engine timing. Unfortunately, the alternator bolt on my 'Wing is more circular than hexagonal (hey, it was like that when I bought it!), and therefore, the only way for me to rotate the engine is with the crankshaft nut under the timing belt covers...meaning that I would have to remove the radiator to set the timing.

Because I already had removed my radiator for the cooling system work, this seemed like a good time to dig into the ignition, too. I started by removing the coils, which honestly was kind of a pain, due in no small measure to this junction box and all of the associated wiring.

After a little work (and a lot of swearing), I finally got them free. However, when I started wiring up the new coils...
...I found that the "included" 10-32 x 5/16 pan-head screws and terminal lugs that are used to attach the primary wires to the coils weren't. To be fair, I can't blame Dynatec. I bought the coils a little over a year ago, and I honestly don't remember if there was a hardware bag in the package or not; there's at least as good a chance that I simply misplaced the hardware bag as there is that Dynatec ommitted them from my shipment. In any case, it's easy enough to pick up new screws from the hardware store, and I already had a collection of terminal lugs that I could use, so no biggie.

I had a moment of panic as I prepared to clip the primary wires off of the original coils, when I realized that I had no idea which color primary wire went to which coil. Before removing the coils from the bike, I had carefully sketched out which coil provided spark to which cylinder, but I had neglected to include which primary wire (yellow, or blue with yellow stripe) went to each coil. Fortunately, the high-tension wires to the spark plugs are labeled, "1-2-3-4,"e; and as both the high-tension and primary wires were still attached to the old coils, I was able to determine that the blue/yellow wire goes to the coil for the #3 and #4 cylinders, while the plain yellow wire goes to the coil for the #1 and #2 cylinders:

Sorry, it's a rather poor photo of an even worse drawing, but if you found this blog post while searching for this information, hopefully you'll find it useful, anyway!

Anyway, after finally figuring out which wire to connect to which coil, I crimped terminals onto the primary wires, installed the coils onto the mounts, slid the new high-tension wires into the coils, and reinstalled the whole lot back into the tunnel:

Since this bike is now 40 years old, I decided I'd show some love to all of the electrical connectors that I disconnected to get access to the coils. Sketchy electronics can be a real pain in the a-(hem) to track down, especially on the side of the road, in the rain, at night, when such things are statistically most likely to happen...or something like that, anyway. To do my best to keep the electrons flowing, I pulled out my set of contact cleaners and a spray can of solvent made for, well, cleaning contacts (the electrical kind), and set to work. Once I was satisfied that they were clean (not terribly long, as they were actually in pretty decent shape), I smeared a little dielectric grease on the contacts, and plugged all of the electrical connectors back together...

...at which point, I found a strange, green wire about six inches long hanging out of my wire harness. Ummm, where did that come from??? A quick Google search later, I found that this is a ground wire for the coils that should be sandwiched between the coil mounts and the frame of the bike. I cleaned up the terminal lug on the wire, smeared dielectric grease on it too, then removed the bolt on the top coil mount and attached the ground wire.

All that was left for the coil installation at this point was rigging up the high-tension spark plug wires. I had attached the wires to the coils before installation, marking the wires with the cylinder number so that I could be sure the correct wire was run to the correct cylinder. Now that the coils were in place on the bike, I routed the spark plug wires between the carbs, snapped them in place into the stays, and cut them to length. Installing the new NGK spark plug boots was pretty trivial: spray the wires with silicone lubricant, slide the waterproof seal over the wires (trust me, the silicone lube makes this step MUCH easier!!!), then screw the spark plug boot onto the end of the wire. Once you cannot twist the boot any tighter, slide the waterproof seal down over the boot, and snap the wire in place on the spark plug. I actually intend to replace the spark plugs with new NGK Iridium plugs before spring, but for now, while I'm still connecting and testing everything, I'll leave the old plugs in place (if I mess up a plug while working on the ignition, I'd rather it be a $3 plain spark plug rather than a $10-15 Iridium plug).

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Dreams, Perspective and...Maybe Growing Up a Little?

It was the summer of 1986, or so, and I had a part-time job delivering a weekly newspaper in my neighborhood in Maryland. I already knew that, sooner or later, I'd be a motorcyclist, but at this point in time, I was relegated to a BMX bicycle, which was where pretty much all of my meager earnings from the paper route went. While out delivering papers on my route, I started to notice a particular line of Honda motorcycles showing up pretty much everywhere. Some were 500cc bikes, some were 700 or 750cc bikes, and every once in a while, I'd even see a mighty 1000cc version of the bike. Whatever size, I was immediately drawn to the bike any time I saw one. White, with red and/or blue trim, a modestly sized fairing surrounding the single square headlight, and the beautiful V-4 engine on display for the world to see, I thought it was the most beautiful bike I'd ever seen. The bike was, of course, the first generation of Honda's legendary Interceptor, and I was so taken by the bike that, to this day, I still think that the only suitable color for a proper sportbike is white.

When Honda introduced the Interceptor, the press and public alike raved over it. As one of the first generation of true sportbikes, the Interceptor was one of the quickest, best handling bikes around. It truly was revolutionary. As a testament to the job Honda did on the design of that bike, the modern version of the bike lives on in Honda's current lineup as the VFR800, albeit as a sport-tourer rather than a pure sport bike. Nevertheless, it has a devoted fan base, holding its own against such rivals as the Triumph Sprint and Suzuki Bandit.

When I recently saw a 1985 VF700 Interceptor on Craigslist, I packed up my riding gear, drove an hour out of town to the current owner's house, and looked over the bike, thrilled to possibly bring a childhood dream to life. Seeing the bike in person, I was all but sold.

You see, after seven years and roughly 40,000 miles on my V-Strom, I've started to become a little bored with it. I had hoped that either my XS750 Cafe Racer or the '78 Goldwing might deliver a little more performance than the "slow" V-Strom, but the V-Strom has proven to be quicker off the line than either of my other bikes, and absolutely eats up the vintage bikes in the handling department. Something a little sportier, a little sexier, a little more exciting was what I was hoping to find with the Interceptor, and so far, things were looking good. I was about ready to hand over the cash for the bike, but first, a quick test ride to make sure it really was working as advertised. I fired up the engine, and my-oh-my, what a glorious sound that emanated from that beautiful V-4 engine! I put the bike in gear, feathered the clutch and rode down the block onto the highway, and...


When I rode the Interceptor, I felt like I was on my familiar, somewhat stodgy V-Strom. Sure, the riding position was a little sportier, but I was profoundly disappointed by the performance. This bike was a legend, groundbreaking. It was the stuff of some thirty-odd years of dreams. And it felt almost exactly like my old, faithful standby. There was no rush of adrenaline when I spun the throttle. It tracked around corners well enough, but didn't exactly carve them the way I expected a sportbike -- even an older sportbike -- to do. It was good, solid...but not terribly exciting.

I walked away from the sale, feeling rather depressed.

A few days later, I had a bit of an epiphany. The problem was that I had essentially started my motorcycle life on what truly is an amazingly good motorcycle, but since that was all I had ever known, I was taking it for granted. Before I bought the V-Strom, I spent hours studying the bike on-line, reading every review and magazine article I could find. While a lot of owners were somewhat self-deprecating about the bike (I'd heard the term, "old fart's bike" thrown around quite a bit on the Stromtrooper forum), most of the actual reviews I'd read were overwhelmingly positive. Having owned mine for so long, I'd have to agree with the reviews. My V-Strom has handled every combination of poor roads, ham-fisted rider technique, crappy weather and bad judgment that I've thrown at it, and despite all of that, it has never, not even once, stranded me anywhere. With its somewhat bulbous front fairing, it is perhaps not the sexiest bike ever made, but it has been nothing less than an excellent motorcycle, and after riding the Interceptor, I began to realize just how little credit I had given my bike, and to some degree, how much I had built up the Interceptor in my mind.

I once read that sometimes fantasies are best left unrealized. The Interceptor, my two-wheeled fantasy since before I was old enough to even have a license, will remain just that, I think. It's a beautiful motorcycle, with an amazing exhaust note, but I wouldn't trade my V-Strom for one.

As for something a little sportier...well, a few weeks later, my wife pointed out another ad that she found on Craigslist, and now, I'm the proud owner of a low-mileage, 2006 Triumph Speed Triple:

...but that's another story for another day. For now, I have two brand new tires and freshly-installed braided steel brake lines on my V-Strom. It's time for a post-maintenance shake-down ride :)

Friday, June 24, 2016

GL1000 Project, Part 6: It's Alive...and then Not So Much

After lots (and lots, and lots...) of effort, I finally managed to get a complete, working set of brakes on the Goldwing: three calipers ordered from E-Bay (after the original set that came with the bike), three master cylinders (on the plus side, I now have two that I can rebuild :/ ), two sets of brake lines, a boatload of bleeder valves...but the brake system finally is working properly.

Painting was only slightly less of a chore. I kept running into weird problems with the paint crinkling up on the plastics and on the crash bars. I tried everything to solve the problem. I tried pre-heating the paint and the parts, since it was near the minimum recommended temperature when I was trying to paint everything. I tried cleaning the parts with soap and water before painting. I tried cleaning the parts with denatured alcohol before painting. I tried cleaning the parts with brake cleaner before painting. I eventually tried two different kinds of paint on the plastics, and bought some spray-on Plasti-Dip for the luggage racks and crash bars. Finally, I figured it out: the inside of the plastics -- which I hadn't bothered cleaning -- was greasy, and I was picking up the grease on my gloves, which then contaminated the surface before I painted it. Then, after finally getting a good coat of paint on the plastics, I left a handprint on the shelter covers, due to trying to install them before they were completely dry (pro-tip: "handle after 1 hour" only applies in 70+ degree weather; at 55F, with several thick coats of paint on the parts, even 2 1/2 hours isn't long enough).

Finally, it was rideable. On a sunny, April afternoon...

...I wheeled the Goldwing out of the garage, pulled the choke, flipped the kill switch and fuel valve to the "run" position, turned the key to the "on" position, and thumbed the starter button. With a polite, subdued rumble, the 998cc horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine purred to life. I toed the shifter into first, twisted the throttle slightly, gently released the clutch lever, and started rolling down the steep, gravel covered driveway in front of my house.

Having never ridden a motorcycle this large or this heavy, I was a little nervous at first, but quickly relaxed and started to enjoy the bike. The engine was willing, but civilized. The steering was a bit odd at low speeds, but not bad at all at speed -- stable, definitely biased more towards "touring" than "sport," while still being plenty maneuverable for commuting. The brakes...were adequate, but not much more than that. This is not a bike that will be doing stoppies at red lights <shrug> but they're good enough, I guess. I spent a half hour or so tooling around the roads near my house, getting used to the feel of the Goldwing, and trying to figure out what I still needed to tweak.

The bike proved to be rock solid, and a month or so later, my wife and I rode it two-up in a group ride to Kenai, a total of 345 miles over two days. It never missed a beat:

Then, a week or two after the group ride, I was in another group ride out to the Mat-Su Valley, and (fortunately!) after breaking off from the group on my way back home, I pulled the clutch lever in to shift into second gear...and felt the clutch abruptly lose all tension. I did a clutchless downshift, and pulled over on the side of the road to investigate, finding that the ball end, which I had soldered onto the end of the clutch cable after shortening the cable to fit the Superbike handlebars, had fallen off:

I contacted Motion Pro to order a new clutch cable, since they had done such a good job on the cables for my XS750, and was somewhat taken aback to hear an estimated turn-around time of 3-5 weeks. Honestly, however, I wasn't terribly upset by the estimate. I had (twice) blown the fuse to my turn signals, as well as (twice) frying the electronic flasher unit, so I decided to take the time to clean up a few odds and ends that had cropped up during the last few weeks. I'd been having so much fun riding the 'Wing that I had deferred fixing the annoying little bugs -- like inoperative turn signals -- that had cropped up. If the bike was going to be off-line for a few weeks, I'd take advantage of the down-time to start cleaning up some of these items.

The bane of any vintage bike owner is the "previous owner" (P.O.), invariably a ham-fisted monkey without proper respect for the classic machinery (s)he used to own. Yes, I'm fully aware that I have been -- and will again -- be someone else's P.O., and no doubt, they will curse my name over brews in the garage while trying to decipher what could possibly have made me think that <fill in the blank> was a good idea. Nevertheless, this was exactly what I did while digging into the tail light wiring. First, there were three identical, blue wires that were routed into the tail light housing that had the ends wrapped in electrical tape...but connected to absolutely nothing. I fished the wire out of the tail light housing, and traced them to this little box here:

Consulting the Great Oracle of Google, I found that it was a tail light controller for a trailer. Apparently, at some point, someone had pulled a trailer with the 'Wing...or at least, had considered pulling a trailer. Not expecting to ever do likewise, I removed the box, and cleaned up the associated wiring. Next, I found the likely cause of the blown fuses and turn signal flashers:

The OEM turn signal wiring had been replaced with new wires, but the new wires had not been routed through the sheathing that the brake light wires ran through, and the grommet that protected the wires where they passed through the steel fender was missing. During the intervening years, the replacement wiring had chafed on the fender, wearing through the insulation, and causing a short circuit. I fished the turn signal wiring out also, and ran new wire to the tail light housing, this time, protecting the wiring with a new rubber grommet.

While I had the wiring exposed, I decided to replace the rear turn signals with a new set of aftermarket signals that more closely matched the front turn signals. The rear ones worked fine, but I didn't like the cobbed-together look of large, round, chrome OEM rear signals with small, rectangular, black front turn signals. Unfortunately, the new signals meant I had to make some modifications to the license plate holder, but I'm reasonably happy with the final results:

Now, if Motion Pro would just hurry up with that new clutch cable. The 'Wing's been down for over three weeks, and...I miss it! ;)

Animation of Some Cool Weather Near Flattop

There was some interesting weather up near Flattop on the way home today, so I took a detour, capturing a series of photos with my cell phone that I stitched together into an animation:

Call me weird, but I love riding in misty, moody weather:

Maybe it's because of all of the family trips in the mountains of Japan when I was a kid <shrug> I dunno, but while it may be more fun to ride on warm, sunny days, there's something about fog and mist in the mountains that I really enjoy.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

GL1000 Project, Part 5: Brakes, Shocks, Brakes, Handlebars, Brakes, Electrics, Brakes, Plastics, and...Did I Mention Brakes?

It's been a while since I updated the blog with the latest on the GL1000 project, even though I've kept fairly regular posts at Naked Goldwings (not remotely as risque as it sounds, lol). In honesty, even though I've been busy with the bike, there wasn't much going on that makes for interesting reading, so I hadn't posted much here. However, I figured it was probably about time to submit a new update.

First, at Christmas, my family offered some support with the Goldwing project by giving me gift cards to Dime City Cycles and Bike Bandit. My younger brother even ordered the Oregon Cycle Parts regulator/rectifier I needed for the 'Wing (thanks, Nick!). One of the parts I ordered with the gift cards was a set of Renthal "Superbike" handlebars, which look pretty phenomenal on the bike...although, in all honesty, i probably should have gone with the Euro bars, as the Superbike bars are probably are a little too low (there's interference between the throttle cables and the instrument cluster on the tank, and I had to re-route the brake line to get it to fit).

Lower handlebars mean control cables need to be shortened, so taking a queue from a tutorial on Naked Goldwings, I shortened the clutch cable. The throttle cables might be a little more difficult, and since they seem to work okay as-is, I've left them alone for now.

Then the brakes...

I hate working on brakes. It's messy, frustrating, and there are so many opportunities for things to go wrong.

The previous owner had told me that he had had trouble bleeding the front brakes. After cleaning the brakes, I saw why. It's a little hard to see in the photo, but that's a crack in the slave cylinder on one of the brake calipers. I went to E-Bay, found a replacement RH front brake caliper for a '78 GL1000, cleaned it, installed it, and found that...it was actually a left-hand piston on a right-hand bracket.
Since it's kind of hard to bleed brakes unless the bleeder is at the top of the caliper, and putting a LH cylinder on the RH side puts the bleeder hole near the BOTTOM of the brake cylinder, I needed a set of banjo bleeder bolts. Off to Blair at SV Racing Parts, who had sold me just such an animal for my V-Strom a few years ago. After installing the banjo bleeders, I found that I still couldn't bleed all of the air out of brake system because my left-hand caliper was leaking around the bleeder hole. I removed the leaking LH cylinder, moved the cylinder on the RH bracket to the LH side, and ordered another RH cylinder for a '78 GL1000...except that it wasn't for a '78 GL1000.
It might be for a '79 GL1000, or it might be for a GL1100 (Naked Goldwings wasn't sure which), but the cylinder was larger in diameter than the '78 GL1000 cylinders I had, so neither my rebuild kit, nor my new stainless steel brake pistons fit in the replacement cylinder. Grrrr... Back to E-Bay for yet another RH cylinder for a '78 GL1000. After cleaning and installing this cylinder, I found that I was still having leaks around the bleeder holes, so I went to Bike Bandit again and ordered new speed bleeders. Oh yeah, somewhere in there, I found that the P.O. hadn't properly reassembled the master cylinder when rebuilding it.
I didn't feel like trying to figure out what was wrong with the master cylinder, so I installed the spare FZR750 master cylinder that I had originally bought for the XS750 project (and ultimately ended up replacing with a new master cylinder from Mike's XS). Even after all that work, I'm still trying to get all of the air out my brake lines, but I'm getting there...I think. Maybe.

My wife and I received an unexpected bonus recently, so I splurged on the Hagon 2810 TTSA shocks that I had been eyeing.
I got the LH shock installed easily enough, but ran into a snag on the RH side. The bushings were pretty cold from sitting outside in the mailbox all day, so they were a little stiff while trying to slide them over the stud in the frame. Consequently, I used two washers and the acorn nut to press the shock into place on the stud.

Unfortunately, I ended up galling the threads on the stud by doing this, and when I tried to remove the acorn nut, I sheared the threaded portion off the rest of the stud(!). I did a little research, and found a guy who had had a similar problem on a GL1200, and he managed to repair the damage by drilling out the center of the stud, tapping it, and then installing a bolt to hold the grab rail and shock in place on the stud. Since the stud is hardened steel and provides support for the suspension, the bolt is non-structural -- it simply serves to keep everything in place while the stud carries the load. To that end, I've drilled out the stud, and now simply need to find a tap of the appropriate size (10mm or 3/8 inch -- whichever I can find locally).

On a cosmetic front, I've pulled the crash bars, passenger grab rails, and the side covers and started blacking them out. For reasons I'm not going to go into here ;) I'm going for the stealth look on this bike. Yeah, I know...it's cliched, and high-viz is more likely to keep stupid cagers from doing their inadvertent best to kill me. However, bright orange on my (tall!) V-Strom hasn't done much to make me noticed (last summer, I actually had a cager pull up next to me to tell me that he didn't see me pull out of the side road until he was almost next to me, sigh...), and I like black, so I'm blacking out the bike as much as I can.
The OEM paint is easy enough to strip from the side covers, and ABS cement seems to do a pretty good job of filling the holes where Honda mounted the "GL1000" badges.
The crash bars were moderately scuffed and lightly corroded in places, so a little quality time with a power sander went a long ways towards getting them ready for paint.
The passenger grab rails were a lot cleaner, and therefore, I was able to sand them by hand with a finer grit sandpaper before painting. Unfortunately, the crash bars and grab rails were a little awkward to work with, especially since it was starting to get dark while I was painting them, leading to a couple of runs in places, and a couple of areas of incomplete coverage. I'll have to lightly scuff them this coming weekend, and put another couple of coats of paint on them. Nevertheless, I'm pretty happy with how they are turning out.

There's still a ways to go, and spring is rapidly approaching. However, I think it's getting there. Just...brakes, sigh ;)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Mid-winter a few years ago, a co-worker asked, "What do you do for fun, once the riding season is over?" Having just acquired the XS750 project, I replied, "There are two seasons in Alaska: riding and wrenching." I don't like to waste my riding season working on the bikes, since the riding season is short enough as is, and invariably, once I start working on a bike, I'll end up with it off-line while I'm waiting for parts to arrive. On the other hand, I do enjoy tinkering on the bikes, so taking them apart to perform all the maintenance and upgrades during the off-season -- when I can't ride, anyway -- is a good way to spend the cold, dark winter months. To that end, I have thrown myself into work on all three of my bikes over the last two months.

In August, I rode my ultra-reliable V-Strom to work one morning, and noticed that it was acting funny while I was idling at a stop light. The turn signals were kind of flickering rather than blinking, and the engine seemed to be running rough, which is very unusual for that bike. I revved the engine a bit, and it settled down, leading me to think that I had a dead battery. That wasn't particularly surprising, considering that it's still the original battery -- six seasons old, now. After work, sure enough, there wasn't enough juice to start the engine. Fortunately, a co-worker was able to jump start me, and I made it home...but just barely. I needed the bike running ASAP, since our motorcycle organization had an event that weekend (this was a Thursday), so rather than taking the time to perform full diagnostics, I jumped to the most likely cause -- a dead battery -- and bought a replacement the next day. After work, I plugged in the new battery, started the engine, and connected a multi-meter to the battery terminals, reading 12.3VDC...not good. I should have been reading just over 14VDC. I took the Yamaha on the BACA event, then ended up ordering both a replacement voltage regulator and stator...at which point, I found that I also needed a gasket for the stator cover, since the V-Strom drips oil onto the stator to keep it cool. I believe I already mentioned something about invariably waiting for parts, once starting a maintenance project?

...all the while, I'm riding the 5000-RPM-idle cafe racer to BACA events...

...an hour away from home, one-way...

...in the rain.

The cafe racer is a fun bike, but with clubman handlebars and NO fairing to protect from the weather, while wearing leathers only in the rain (no rain suit, because my orange nylon rain suit does not exactly scream, "I am a bad-*** biker, and can keep you safe from those who mean you harm") at maybe 40F...not so much.

I was really missing my fairing, my heated grips, and my heated jacket liner, lol (fine, I'm a wuss; what's your point?!?!)

Then, on yet another cold, rainy day on the cafe racer, I started having problems getting the bike into first gear. I could shift into neutral, second, third, etc., but I had a bear of a time getting the bike to downshift into first at intersections. In frustration, I parked the bike, and caged it with my wife to escort one of our BACA kids to court, then when I got the chance to check the Yamaha Triples web site, I discovered that the XS750's have a tendency to break the layshaft bolt, which then causes difficulty shifting into first gear.

Great...with maybe three weeks left in the riding season and BACA Anchorage getting busy working with kids, I had not just one, but *TWO* broken bikes. The whole point of having a second bike was to have an alternate in case a bike broke down!

With the Yamaha now out of service, I jumped into high-gear trying to get the electrical problems with the V-Strom sorted out, since fixing the charging system seemed like a more manageable task. Yeah...no. After finally getting it all put back together again, I took the Strom out for a 10:00 p.m. shake down ride. I was elated for the first eight miles, as the cheapie Amazon.com volt meter that I had plugged into the accessory electrical socket was showing a steady 14.4VDC while riding. Then all of a sudden, I noticed that my voltage was dropping: 13.7V...13.6V...13.5V...about a tenth of a volt per second, more or less. I quickly whipped a U-turn and raced back home...12.9V...12.8V...7.0V. Wait, what?!?! 14.0V...12.2V...13.1V...I started seeing wild voltage swings all over the place, and my LCD panel on the bike had gone completely blank. The engine was running rough again -- the ECU wasn't getting good voltage, so the fuel injection was getting squirrely -- and I just barely made it home (the bike died in the driveway). I opened up the bike -- AGAIN -- and determined that the brand new regulator/rectifier had failed. I parked the Strom, because quite frankly, I was completely fed up with it. I had sunk $450 in parts on the V-Strom in the last two months, and it STILL didn't work right. I spent the rest of the season riding my wife's CB750A to BACA events, and caging it to and from work, sigh.

Fortunately, this was the point that I found the GL1000 project, and I had so much fun working on this bike, that I eventually built up enough motivation to dig into the V-Strom again. Electro-Sport made good on their warranty of the regulator/rectifier, which I re-installed last night, and which now seems to be working properly.

Then, I managed to obtain spousal approval on a pair of Dime City Cycles mufflers for the Yamaha, which are now sitting in the garage, waiting for me to fabricate new balance tubes and connecting pipes to the existing headers. After that, I'll need to drain the oil and dig into the transmission case to replace the layshaft bolt. Oh, yeah...and I've got an envelope full of carburetor parts -- butterfly shaft screws, butterfly shaft seals, circlips, and springs -- for the XS750. Hopefully, those will resolve the high-idle problem on the cafe racer; if not...new carbs?

As for the GL1000...it needs a new voltage regulator, too. Unlike the V-Strom, the 'Wing uses a separate voltage regulator and rectifier, but most of the after-market units I have found seem to be integrated. Oregon Motorcycle Parts makes a reasonably priced unit that seems like it would fit the bill quite nicely, and in my initial conversations with them, they seem to be pretty good people to work with. I expect to have their VRRPM3H-GL1000 model on order in the fairly near future. After that, lower handlebars (so I can connect the front brake line), and a new battery...and the GL1000 should be running! I still want to replace the rear shocks with Hagon 2810 TTSA's, like I did on the Yamaha, and I'd like to order new side covers and shelter covers from E-Bay, because I'd like to go satin black on the 'Wing, but I don't want to ruin the original plastic, since it's in reasonably good shape. However, that's all wish-list material, not necessary-to-get-the-bike-running items ;)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

GL1000 Project, Part 4: Fork Springs

Given the intended mission of the "new" GL1000, one of the higher priority items on my to-do list is upgrade the suspension. This was also a high-priority on the XS750 project, so taking a cue from the work I did last spring on the Yammie, I bought a set of Progressive Suspension fork springs for the Goldwing. Although time consuming -- it took about 6 1/2 hours, most of which was spent trying to remove the old dust seals and oil seals -- the work was relatively straight-forward. Here's how I did it:

  1. Place a jack under the engine of the bike -- but don't lift it yet! -- then loosen up the axle pinch bolts at the bottom of the forks, remove the front fender, and remove the brake calipers.

  2. Just barely loosen the bolts that hold the forks in the triple tree.

  3. Raise the front wheel off the ground with the jack, then remove the front wheel.

  4. Now, loosen the bolts that hold one fork leg in the triple tree, and slide the fork almost -- but not completely -- out of the triple tree. Now tighten the bolt in the lower triple clamp to hold the fork in place while you...

  5. ...use an allen wrench to remove the cap on the top of the fork leg. Be careful, because the cap will be under tension from the fork spring! If you're not careful, the cap will fly off of the fork ;)

  6. Loosen up the bolt in the lower triple clamp, and remove the fork from the triple tree.

  7. At the bottom of the fork, near the bolt that holds the fender brace in place, is the oil drain bolt. Remove it, and drain the fork oil. Once the flow of oil has almost stopped, pump the forks a few times to remove the remainder of the oil.

  8. Remove the fork spring.

  9. Now, turn the fork upside down, and use an allen wrench to loosen the bolt that holds the damper rod inside the fork tube.

  10. Remove the damper, and let any remaining oil drip onto a rag or into the drain pan.

  11. Remove the dust seal -- easier said than done, in my case -- and then use a small, flat-blade screwdriver to remove the spring clip that holds the oil seal in place.

  12. Sacrifice a small goat and maybe a chicken, say the proper prayers to the appropriate kindly spirits, and if you are very, very, VERY lucky, you will be able to remove the dust seal and the (shown) oil seal. I actually had to use a heat gun to warm up the fork leg and soften the 37-year-old rubber, then use a lot of elbow grease -- and a fair amount of patience -- to remove the oil seal. Randakk's has a blog entry on building a tool to assist with the job; I just used a (large) screwdriver.

  13. Depending upon the age and condition of your forks, you might need to spend a little quality time cleaning up the insides of the fork. In my case, the forks were pretty nasty, so I used some denatured alcohol, then some brake cleaner to get all of the grunge and old fork oil out.

  14. Once everything is clean, install the new oil seal, retaining clip, and dust seal, then slip the damper back inside the fork tube, and slide the fork tube back inside the fork lower.

  15. Tighten the allen screw on the bottom of the fork to lock the damper in place.

  16. Collapse the fork, and fill the lower with fork oil. The Honda manual says to use a little over 6 oz. of ATF(!) transmission fluid in the fork (actually, I think it was a little over 7 oz., when completely rebuilding the forks, as I did). The Progressive Suspension guide says to use no more than 140mm (from the top of the collapsed fork) of whatever oil the manufacturer recommends. I was leery of using ATF (why use transmission fluid, when there are oils that are DESIGNED for suspension damping?!?!), and the research I did on-line suggested that modern ATF fluid is not necessarily the same as what was available in 1978, so I used 10W Honda fork oil. I set my fork oil measuring tool to 180mm from the top of the fork, since a larger setting means less oil, and filled the first fork. When doing the second fork, I found that I did not have quite enough oil to fill it to the same level, meaning I must have added a little over 8 oz. of fluid. Hrmmmmm... I debated resetting the measuring tool to a lower level, so that I had a little more oil for the second fork, but in the end, I just bought another bottle of 10W fork oil. I doubt I added more than a half oz. of fluid to the second fork! <shrug> I'll see how the suspension feels, once the bike is running. If the front suspension damping feels too harsh, I'll drain some fork oil and see if that helps.

  17. Slip the new fork spring into the fork.

  18. Replace the o-ring on the fork cap.

  19. Slide the fork into the LOWER triple clamp, and tighten the bolt to hold the fork securely. This allows you to use both hands to screw the fork cap in place, and also allows you to tighten the cap (most manuals suggest putting the fork tube in a padded vise, but...why?). Once the cap is tight, loosen the bolt in the lower triple clamp, and slide the fork all the way into the top triple clamp, then tighten the bolts in both the upper and lower triple clamp to hold the fork securely.

  20. Repeat these steps for the second fork, then reinstall the wheel and the fender and you're done!

I had several other tasks that couldn't be completed until I had replaced the fork springs, so once I was done, I reinstalled the brake calipers, removed the OEM headlight ears,
installed a set of Dime City Cycles fork ears,
installed the new headlight bucket and the new turn signals, then sorted out the rats' nest that is the headlight and turn signal wiring.

Once the electrics were sorted, I temporarily put my old V-Strom battery back in the bike, and tested the turn signals...which lit up, but wouldn't flash. A new, electronic flasher module is now en route from Superbright LEDs.

Also, before tackling the fork springs, I changed the radiator fluid and final drive oil, neither of which is sufficiently complicated to warrant a blog entry. However, while running the engine during the coolant change, I discovered that the volt meter was indicating 16.7V at 2000 RPM(!). Not knowing if this was actually a charging system problem or a faulty volt meter, I connected my multimeter to the battery terminals, and found that the volt meter was, in fact, indicating correctly. I quickly shut the engine off, since I didn't want to damage the already undersized V-Strom battery, and found the "charging system troubleshooting guide" in my Clymer manual. I was happy to find that both the stator and rectifier were working properly, but apparently, the voltage regulator was toast. I've pretty much decided to replace the rectifier and regulator with a combined unit from Oregon Motorcycle Parts, but I'll probably wait until after Christmas to order it. I'll also need a new battery, since the faulty charging system is most likely what killed the old one (it wouldn't take a charge from my Craftsman battery charger), so...$50 Wal-Mart battery or $300 Shorai? We'll see how finances look this spring, I guess ;)