Sunday, May 12, 2013

XS750 Restoration, Part 18 -- Stripping in the Driveway

One of the milestones on my project plan that must be completed before most of the other milestones can be met is stripping the gas tank. I've been at work on that particular milestone for months now, and to tell the truth, I'm really getting tired of looking at an ALMOST stripped gas tank every time I walk out into the garage :) So, having some extra time today, I dragged the tank out into the driveway, and starting stripping (paint, that is). I bought some chemical stripper and a "toothbrush" (well, it looks like one, anyway) with steel bristles at O'Reilley's the other day, so I liberally covered the gas tank with the stripper, let it sit for 15 minutes or so, then started scrubbing on the tank with the brush. I made some progress, but not as much as I expected. I applied more stripper, let it sit, and scrubbed again.

And again...

And yet again.

I was making progress, but after what I had read on-line about the stuff I bought, I was honestly kind of disappointed with the chemical stripper. It just didn't seem to be dissolving the paint very well.

That's when I noticed that the can I bought said, "Adhesive and Decal Remover" (facepalm). The cans look identical, and they are made by the same company, but this was not what I needed. I wiped as much of the stuff off of the tank as I could, and tried pouring some MEK that I had from another project a few years back on the gas tank. It worked about as well as the decal and adhesive remover. I grabbed my cordless drill and wire wheel, and started scrubbing at the tank. I made some progress, but by the time I had drained both batteries, I still had a lot of old paint left on the tank. Finally, I decided to do it right, so I went back into town and bought the right stuff to use on my tank, and what a difference THAT made! The chemical stripper and wire "toothbrush" cleaned almost all of the paint off of the tank in about an hour. There are still a few places inside the "tunnel" and in crevices around the gas cap hinge and lock where I still have a bit of paint to clean out, but the tank is easily 90+% done, now.

I also made some progress on the license plate, tail light and turn signal hangar, which I fabricated from two pieces of mild steel sheet. To make the part, I started by tracing a license plate onto the steel sheet. Then, I traced the outline of the taillight above the license plate. Next, I measured a one inch high by...ummm...eleven inches, I think?...strip of steel, and added a tab, seven inches wide and about three inches high, to mount the completed hangar onto the seat pan. I cut the pieces out of the steel sheet with my angle grinder (quickly becoming one of my favorite tools!), marked the holes to mount the license plate, and drilled the bolt holes. I bent all the pieces to shape over a 1x1 block of wood, and this is the result. I'm reasonably happy with it, although I think I might need to add some gussets on the tabs that hold the turn signals. The steel is thin enough that those tabs bend pretty easily.

Edit: Don't try what I describe next!!! It doesn't work, and the RTV will plug up the vent in the fuel cap, which will cause your engine to die on you due to fuel starvation!

Emboldened by my success with the license plate/tail light hangar, and still really needing a gasket to seal between the gas cap and the gas tank filler opening, I decided to try to form a gasket out of RTV silicone. I've looked on-line, and the gas cap gaskets are not available as a stand-alone item; you can only get one if you buy the entire gas cap. I mean, how hard could it be...right?

So, I cut a plastic shopping bag into a a flat sheet of plastic, folded it until it was just a bit larger than the filler opening in the gas tank, duct taped it over the filler opening, squirted a huge glob of silicone onto the plastic, carefully placed the gas cap onto the blob of silicone, duct taped it in place and let it sit overnight. I checked it the next day after work...but it wasn't fully cured yet, so I put the cap back in place and gave it a couple more days...

Each step of the process...:

...and the final result: Ugh...that looks like crap! I think the steel cap would seal better than that, lol! I might try again, using considerably less silicone, or I might just go to Alaska Rubber and see if they have a sheet of rubber that I could cut to fit. We'll see.

While I was at O'Reilley's buying decal remover (sigh...), I found a couple of very nice looking chrome-and-glass fuel filters. I connected the filters up to the 5/16" fuel line I bought the other day, and connected the other end of the fuel line up to the fuel petcocks. I then used the old 1/4" braided steel fuel lines I bought last fall to connect the vacuum input on the petcocks. Looks pretty sharp; can't wait to get the tank painted and reinstalled on the bike so I can hook the lines up to the carbs!

And that's the progress on the XS750 cafe racer project tonight. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to revisit the front brakes and can start getting the frame and the tank painted so I can start putting pieces back together soon! 'Til then, keep the rubber side down!

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