The Four Fifty - Items filtered by date: October 2013

Subtle Lift

With the new petcock installed and all the fuel lines in place it came time to screw the tank down so that I can finally position and mount the seat brackets. But there was a problem with this deceptively simple task: the new location of the battery and electrical lines made it near impossible to screw in the tank mounting bolt. Try as I could, my fingers and any tools I tried to use, just couldn't get a thread to catch. Even if I did get it part of the way started there isn't a tool on earth that could navigate past all the obstructions and tighten that bolt down securely.

So the solution was to raise the mounting bracket up about 3/4" (20mm). I cut out a 16 gauge flat steel plate and welded an 8mm nut to the back. Then cut a small section of the bike frame away to mount that plate at the appropriate height. With a couple of carefully placed welds to hold it securely in place, and then cleaned up and painted, it's now at a position where the tank mounting bolt can be screwed in/out easily. And a side benefit is that changing the angle of the tank actually makes the bike look a bit better. It's subtle, but it does look sleeker now.

Current hours on build: 192.0 

...Gallery Loading...



There are actually quite a few environmentally friendly rust removers on the market so it's really a matter of experimentation to see what works. I found this product called Evapo-Rust, that says it has a built-in rust inhibitor like Rust Rescue. They all run about $25 a gallon, and they all have convincing demonstrations on their website. I picked Evapo-Rust only because they had free shipping.

After multiple attempts with Rust Rescue I was pinning my hopes on this product. I rinsed out the tank with hot water and Purple-Power to get rid of the WD40 that I had sprayed in the tank to prevent any more rust occurring; there certainly wasn't any more rust than ten days ago, so I think I helped myself there. Then I screwed back on the old petcock and filled the tank completely with Evapo-Rust. With the heating pad on top to ensure that the temperature stayed above 60F, and the tank wrapped in multiple layers of towels for insulation, I left it to do it's magic for 24 hours. The documentation says 4 hours is sufficient, but I wasn't going to take any chances. As it happens, I ended up leaving it in for 48 hours, and swapping the heating pad from on top to under the tank halfway through to ensure adequate temperature all round.

Compared to Rust Rescue the level of iron oxide removal with Evapo-Rust was quite impressive, but more importantly the occurrence of flash rusting after the product has been removed DID NOT happen. This I was most pleased about. Just in case, I dried the tank completely with the heat gun, to make sure there was no residue water to start rusting the tank as before.

I purchased from Dime City Cycles this lovely chrome petcock to replace the OEM one. Reasons for doing this were not just cosmetic. The OEM petcock requires a vacuum line from the carbs to open the fuel line; with the new Mikuni's this option wasn't available, at least not easily. So I'm going old school, with a petcock that you have to open and close manually.

The petcock mounting bracket required new holes drilled to match my tank, and the tank opening required enlarging slightly with the Dremel to accept the round petcock fuel filter. After this was completed I vacuumed the area with the shop vac and a small nozzle, and then rinsed the tank out twice with gas to capture as much of the metal dust as possible.

With a few wraps of PTFE tape I tightened the petcock onto the bracket and then mounted that to the tank. Note: The two rubber washers are from Lowes and not entirely the right solution. I need a hard rubber washer rather than these soft washers which deform considerably when tightened down. For the time being they will work and hopefully not degrade too fast due to contact with gas. I've ordered the right washers from Partzilla.

Running from the new petcock I used some 5/8" clear fuel line to connect the new inline fuel filter, then some 1/4" line to run to a fuel line quick connect/disconnect: I'm going to be messing with the carbs a lot so wanted to eliminate the hassles of constantly having excess gas spill out of the fuel lines when removing the tank. From this more 1/4" line to a T-connector to split the fuel line to the individual carbs. Everything has been clamped with fuel clamps, but even without them the barbs on the connections holds things pretty securely.

It really was a lovely sight when I opened the petcock and saw the fuel trickle through the clears lines and into the carbs. No leaks too. Brilliant! 

Current hours on build: 189.0 

...Gallery Loading...


Tank Saga

The issue with the rusty tank continues on. In my last build entry I explained how that I returned the remaining Rust Rescue to the tank so it could work on the bottom of the tank again. This seemed like a great idea as when I poured it out after a couple of days the bottom of the tank was totally spotless. Alas, when I removed the old petcock to start fitting the new one I looked though the open hole and saw that the roof of the tank was completely covered in rust. Rats.

So another lesson learned with Rust Rescue. Even though it says that it inhibits rust after use, this is obviously untrue. The evaporated water that condensed on the roof of the tank turned it back into rust again. So I flipped the tank over and let the rust rescue work it's magic. But of course, I came back the next day to find the bottom of the tank now completely rusty again. DOH!

I went back to Home Depot to purchase another gallon of this product and filled up the tank completely to the fuel cap and left it with the heating pad on for forty-eight hours. I checked every twelve hours to make sure the level of the fluid had not dropped due to evaporation or leaks from the old petcock, and topped up with a little water if necessary. Since it seems that as soon as the metal is exposed to air rust starts to form immediately, as I decanted the fluid out again I sprayed lots of WD40 into the tank. (You should read the history of WD40, as it's quite fascinating. Did you know that it stands for Water Displacement attempt #40?) This would hopefully cover the bare metal and stop rust from flash forming. A partial success but I was still left with a slightly rusty tank, even after I used a heat gun to dry it out as quickly as possible.

So I don't know what to do next. The rust that is still in the tank is so thin that maybe after adding some sacrificial gasoline and a length of steel chain then shaking it around for a while I might get rid of it all. Or I might go the old school hydrochloric acid route but then I am still left with flushing the tank with water and the rust flash forming again. There is a filter screen on the new petcock and I am adding an inline filter to the fuel line, between those two perhaps I can stop the rust from hitting the carbs. Or I could buy a different rust removal product: I found this one called Rusteco, that says it has a built in rust inhibitor like Rust Rescue. Do I spend another $125 on getting the tank completely rust free? 

Current hours on build: 186.0 

...Gallery Loading...


Black Magic

So I got 4 gallons of Metal Rescue from Home Depot and let it sit in the rusty tank for 24 hours. I was concerned about the temperature dropping below 68F; the minimum recommended temperature for the product to work, so I picked up a heating mat from Walmart and placed that over the top of the tank, figuring the most surface area contact would work best, then wrapped the tank in some towels and my welding jacket to insulate it and keep the heat in. I also picked up a laser thermometer so I could accurately measure the temperature: if I'm spending $100 on Metal Rescue, another $40 for a thermometer and $30 for a heating pad seems cheap insurance for getting it right. (With the heating pad on full blast the tank was 94F at the top and 82F at the bottom.)

And the results after 24 hours? Pretty amazing. I used some 1/4" tubing to syphon off the Metal Rescue, first into a bucket so I could see the color, then directly into the old containers. It has a shelf life of about a year, so I can use it again. Once it turns completely black then it's finished and you can just pour it down the drain. Apparently it's that environmentally friendly.

Towards the bottom of the tank things started to get a bit murky so I switched back to the bucket, and you can see that all the dissolved iron oxide had settled to the bottom and the remainder of the Metal Rescue is black. Using a strong flashlight I inspected the tank; the majority of the rust is gone, but there is still some hardcore traces on the bottom. I am figuring that the Metal Rescue got fully saturated down there and couldn't do such a good job as up top, especially where it was warmer. So I've put back in the remaining clean product and placed the heating pad under the tank, again covering it with towels/jacket for insulation. Another 24 hours should clean the tank completely.

The OEM petcock still functions but is a bit stiff to operate. It also is vacuum assisted, and since the Mikunis have no vacuum port to hook into I am going to replace the whole petcock with a simple one I found at Dime City Cycles. Of course this will mean having to switch on/off the fuel every time you ride, but a small sacrifice to make. Besides, I think there is something romantic about pre-motorcycling checks on classic bikes. Time to slow down a bit and appreciate the fine motorcycle you are about to throw your leg over and trust implicitly.

Current hours on build: 184.0 

...Gallery Loading...


Rust Blows

Today was one of those days where I got the wind knocked out of my sails; or perhaps better to say it felt like I got punched in the gut. I was super pleased with the way the tank had turned out; the color is exactly as I wanted and the graphics are retro but modern all at the same time. But when I took off the gas cap to start polishing it I was aghast at the rust inside the tank. One of the amazing things about Natasha was how perfect her tank was for being over thirty years old; it was totally spotless inside. Now not so much. Probably when the tank was being wet sanded some water got inside, and then the rest is basic 7th grade chemistry. :(

Rust kills gas tanks and the solutions needed to get rid of it are often inadequate. You are left with constantly changing fuel filters, trying to stop any remaining particles hitting the carbs. Failure on the filter end of things means a blocked jet, and rebuilding carbs over and over. I've dealt with this before and it involved dropping lengths of heavy gauge chain into the tank and shaking it until my arms nearly fell off. That loosened all the rust particles to the point that I could use some really nasty stuff that is commonly called muratic acid, but technically it's hydrochloric acid. You can find it at most hardware stores for use in swimming pool PH balancing: it's a super strong acid, highly corrosive and not something you really want or should be dealing with without layers of personal protective equipment. But it melts the rust away... and if you are not careful your tank as well. 

But ten years has brought significant advances to this problem since I last dealt with it. A quick Google search brought up a YouTube video demonstrating a product called Metal Rescue. It's a completely safe water-based product for dealing exclusively with this problem. If it is as good as the video makes it out to be then I have an easy solution. Home Depot stocks it locally, and I'll have to buy four gallons to completely fill the tank to the brim; the GS450E having a capacity of 3.8 gallons. It's a hundred dollars I would rather not spend, and some might say I should get the paint guy to cover the cost, but since he's already done the tank twice to get it right (on his time and dollar) and I like who he is as a person, I'm going to eat this cost myself. Hard lessons learned all round.

Next time I will coat the inside of the tank with another product from this company called Dry Coat. It's a rust preventative spray on liquid that gives up to two year's protection on your raw ferrous parts. Next time...

Current hours on build: 183.0 

...Gallery Loading...



Just a few more small things on Natasha and it'll be time to attempt the first engine start. Tomorrow I get the tank back so will be able to finish off the seat brackets and fit the rear brake lights and turn signals. I filled her up with oil (3.2 quarts of Castrol GTX 10W-40) today, and finished polishing the brake and clutch levers, which meant I could fill the brake lines with brake fluid and bleed them. That just leaves a few minor items to finish: install new horn, reinstall the return springs on the foot-pegs, connect the rear brake switch spring, tighten the headlamp brackets, install the cotter pins on the front and rear wheel axles, install the new spark plugs (I checked their gaps today: anywhere between 0.5 and 0.8mm), install the new crankcase vent filter, install new fuel filter and connect lines to carbs/tank, reconfigure the carb vent lines so that they are tidier, figure out a way to securely isolate where the the tachometer cable exits the engine, add the turn signal alert buzzer, print new decals for the handlebar switches (I bought some inkjet printable silver foil, we'll see if that works.).

Actually, that's quite a bit of stuff left, so perhaps we won't get ignition for a few more days.

Today I also installed a pigtail so that the battery can be charged up easily. I am noticing a higher than expected parasitic drain on the battery from the RFID components so there may have to be some heavy thinking on that aspect of Natasha.

Current hours on build: 183.0 

...Gallery Loading...



Brake fluid is nasty stuff. It says so on the side of the container. Obviously when I took Natasha apart I didn't clean up some spilled fluid as it has dissolved the paint off the front brake assembly over the course of the last ten months. So with some scrubbing with the wire brush I took the remaining flakey paint off and then resprayed everything. I probably would have done this anyway, regardless if the paint was coming off or not.

Once the parts were repainted, I reassembled the brake components, re-greasing everything and cleaning/polishing all the bolts. I didn't replace the pads as they are still in good condition. The rubber OEM brake line was in fairly good condition but I elected to replace it with a nice stainless steel braided line; slightly shorter than the original as the handlebars are a bit lower now. It sits pretty nicely by itself but I may install a small bracket on the lower triple clamp just to keep it in place.

I still have to polish the levers and reinstall them, so no brake fluid and bleeding of brake lines yet. That'll be tomorrow.

Current hours on build: 181.0 

...Gallery Loading...


Seat: Part 1

I don't have much left to do on Natasha before the construction side of things is finished. Today I started work on the seat mounts; I've been leaving this to the very last stages as I wanted to have the tank back from the paint shop so I can make sure the seat fits in conjunction with it. I should mention that even though I picked up the tank a couple of weeks ago, it turns out that Ron had to respray it again. Under natural light the paint had some solvent popping issues going on, which basically looks like microscopic holes in the clear coat. Perfect under artificial light but in bright sunlight the tank didn't look so good. Unfortunately the tank is still not finished and I couldn't sit around doing nothing today, so I at least got the basics of the seat mounts made.

The seat from Dime City Cycles has two 'fingers' at the front of the seat which fit into the frame. With the main section of the wiring loom coming through this part, the right side of the fingers were offset, and the seat did not sit squarely on the frame. I drilled out the pop rivets and repositioned the fingers so that they no longer hit the wiring loom. And in order for the fingers to have a tighter fit I used some 7/8 x 5/8" rubber heater tubing, split down the middle, and glued over the seat mount of the frame to increase it's diameter.

The rear of the seat is a little trickier. I cut a piece of MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) to raise the seat above the electronics, this also gives the right spacing at the rear for the brake light/turn signals and makes the base of the seat parallel with the frame. This is currently drying as I sprayed it flat black to match the frame; I will attach it to the frame with some epoxy glue, and stick some 1/16" foam on top to stop it from rubbing the base of the seat.

I then cut a piece of 3/4" x 1/8" flat steel stock to make a subframe to bolt to the seat, which can then be attached to the rear frame. Using a cardboard template I bent this bar in the middle and drilled two holes for the 6mm x 1.0 bolts that come with the seat. (There are two nuts imbedded in the GRP (Glass-fiber Reinforced Plastic) base that they screw into.) I then cut three smaller pieces and using some scrap 1" tubing, and some 1/16" aluminum bar as spacers, made a small bracket and welded it together. This I then tidied up using the bench grinder/rat tailed file, and drilled two 9/32" holes. These holes are just fractionally bigger than the 1/4 x 1 1/2" Button Handle Lock Pin w/Ring that should be arriving tomorrow from Grainger. I didn't want to make the seat impossible to remove without tools, so these lock pins will mean the seat can be removed easily at the side of the road. At $28 a piece they better work!

Of course I made a second bracket identical to the first. Well, the second one is actually a little bit better than the first. :) I will wait for the tank to be mounted in place before I weld everything together and drill the holes through the frame for the lock pins; I don't want to do that now and find that I need to move things a 1/4" back or something.

Current hours on build: 177.0 

...Gallery Loading...

Subscribe to this RSS feed

Rebuilding, restoring, and recycling classic bikes into unique custom-made cafe racers.


Social Links

The Four Fifty

170 John Street

Friday Harbor, WA 98250

United States

(360) 298-2374

Log In or Register