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! ;)