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 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'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 ;)