MC Dispatch
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The Aermacchi Project, Part 8: It Starts!

Margie Siegal's Aermacchi
1973 Aermacchi, with spiffy new(ly re-chromed) pipes!

This is the eighth and final installment of a series detailing Margie Siegal's restoration of a 1973 Harley-Davidson 350 Sprint. Start at the beginning with Part 1.

The 1973 Aermacchi (350 Harley Sprint SS) is all in one piece. The tank petcock is not leaking (another tale of woe) there is gas in the tank and oil in the bottom end. I gingerly push the bike out of the garage and into the driveway. Turn on the key. Kick — I'm not expecting much, but am going to give it a try. It's surprisingly easy to kick. I am used to a Norton Commando, which needs to be put up on the centerstand and jumped on hard. Kick. Kick. Hey wait — What's that noise?

It started. After a year of work, ups, downs and a heavy learning curve, it started.

I have been working all day on the bike, and I am tired. I turn off the key, push my completed restoration project back into the garage and rent a truck. My goal for the last year has been to get the bike to the national AMCA meet in Dixon and enter it for judging. In order for the bike to be judged, it has to start within the hearing of a judge. Not that I plan to win any prizes — with the artistic tank and side covers, I will be lucky to not be thrown out. Dixon is now 10 days away. The bike is all together and it runs.

In the next few days, I work on improving the carburation. Figuring it is finally time to go for a ride, I push the bike out into the driveway, put on my riding gear and kick. Nothing. No spark. Augh. Dixon is now three days away. I call friends. Everyone is busy, but several people I know are going to be in Dixon, and will help. I get the truck, I put a box of tools together, a friend helps me load the bike, and off to Dixon I go.

Margie Siegal's Aermacchi
The 350cc motor, rebuilt top end, rebuilt clutch, rebuilt carburetor and most of the dirt scrubbed off.

It helps to be among others with the restoration bug. I get many offers of help, and someone notices that one of the rubber tank mounts has almost fallen off. I put it back. People poke around with the circuit tester I brought with me. Somehow, I now have spark. Is there a bubble in the fuel line? OK, now try kicking the bike. It starts. IT STARTS! Judging is the next morning, but one of the judges is within earshot and puts a red sticker on my headlight as proof that the Aermacchi started in his vicinity. I go to my motel and crash out early.

The next day, the bike won't start again, but with the red sticker, I am over that hurdle. I push the bike into the judging arena, which is starting to fill with bikes. Dixon is the only AMCA meet west of the Mississippi, and there are over 30 bikes signed up and more coming. Leslie from Moto Italia, the Sprint specialist, shows up. I get my tool box and he pokes around. In six and a half minutes Leslie has figured it out (he has only been working on Sprints for 30 years plus) A tiny bit of the points wire is exposed and the wire is grounding on the points cover. Of course, the one thing I didn't bring is electrical tape. A fast circuit of the swap meet and I have the tape I need. A bit of tape and the Sprint starts easily. I leave it to the judges and wander off to look at all the two-wheeled eye candy.

I eventually get a completed judging form. Only six points were deducted for the paint job. Points were also deducted for a list of minor issues, only two of which — rusty spokes and rust spots on the back rim — have the potential for costing me serious money. On my first try, I have gotten 83.75 points, just a point and a quarter shy of a Junior Second award. I have met my goal and then some.

I could not have done this by myself. Thanks are due to: Leslie from Moto Italia, Dave Kafton, Scott Dunlavey from Berkeley Yamaha, Ron Lancaster of Lancaster Sprint, Mike Rettie, Kim Williams, Larry Orlick, Brad Johnson, Steve Turnbaugh, (the Rembrandt of the Gas Tank) and my next door neighbor Tony.

Margie Siegal's Aermacchi
Ms. Sprint with new paint job, back from the beauty parlor.

The Aermacchi Project, Part 7: Serendipity Strikes Again!

Amermacchi clutch
Left side cover, in process of cleanup. The key that pushes the shaft-and-ball bearing linkage that operates the clutch is to the left. I was told that someone badly overtightened the clutch, resulting in the key being dimpled and possibly slightly bent.

This is the seventh installment of a series detailing Margie Siegal's restoration of a 1973 Harley-Davidson 350 Sprint. Start at the beginning with Part 1.

The clutch rebuild is NOT going well. I have put the clutch together and taken it apart twice. Despite all efforts, the clutch arm that connects to the clutch cable just waves around without connecting to anything. Frustrated, I call a mechanic friend. He is leaving on a trip and can't come over to look at it. He suggests to keep excavating until I find something.

The clutch arm is on the left side. I pull the cover off. This looks promising: the left side cover is full of black goo and metal chips, and the rubber stop for the kickstarter is destroyed. Also, the “D” shaped piece that pushes on the linkage that goes through to the clutch plates on the other side had an indentation in it. A new rubber kickstarter stop is on eBay! I Buy It Now.

The clutch is still inoperative. I send photos of the left side to Lancaster Sprint. Ron Lancaster builds Sprint racebikes and does Sprint restorations. Like everyone else involved with Aermacchis, he is amazingly helpful. He says he thinks he knows what is wrong with my bike, rounds up parts and sends them to me Priority Mail. I am assured that I will get the parts Thursday or Friday so I can work on bike over the weekend.

Ball bearing diagram
Four out of five parts of the linkage. The short shaft (not shown) is threaded and adjusts.

The Post Office, unfortunately, is not as helpful as Lancaster Sprint. The parts never arrive, and I need those parts to work on the bike. I call Moto Italia, another source for Aermacchi parts, who is a couple hours away. Leslie, the owner, says he has the parts I need and will be open until I get there. Off I go. Traffic, of course is horrible, but I finally get to the little store in the back of a shopping mall. Leslie and I start discussing the clutch. He says that he recently rebuilt the clutch on a similar Aermacchi ... and had to put an extra ball bearing in the linkage. A light bulb goes on.

A word of explanation here: The clutch operates by squeezing the clutch lever, which is attached to the clutch cable, which is attached to the clutch arm, which pushes the linkage that operates the clutch through a little tube. The linkage is composed of a short threaded rod, a ball bearing, a longer rod, a second ball bearing, and a second rod. Sort of a Rube Goldberg design, but it works. That is, it works on other Aermacchis, mine currently not included.

I ask Leslie to add an extra ball bearing to the bag of parts he is putting together for me, and fight my way home through still more traffic. Up bright and early the next morning, I get the linkage out, blast the tube with WD-40 to clean out residual goop in the tube, lightly coat the linkage with grease and reassemble with the extra bearing. The clutch now works. Amazing. I have been working on that #$%^&* clutch for at least a month. And if the Post Office hadn't delayed the parts from Lancaster Sprint (they showed up several days later) I would never have figured it out.

The Sea Beast Saga, Part 5: Oh What a Body!

As I write, Fast & Safe Roadracing School is 16 days away and approaching like a rock flung towards my face shield from the wheels of an 18-wheeler on I-70. There’s no way I’ll dodge it, so I’m glad I’ve prepared. While it hasn’t always gone smoothly, things have progressed to a point where I have a bike I’ve actually ridden, and I have at least a modicum of confidence that it will carry me around the track a couple times.

Last Sunday I thought I was a goner. After about 10 hours in the garage on Saturday, I believed I had a rideable motorcycle. I had started the engine a month or so prior, so I knew it ran. It had brakes. Fuel delivery was in place. I cleared a path from the back of my garage to the front, and I pushed the bike out into the parking lot. I ran down the checklist: fuel, ignition, neutral, engine, choke, clutch. I pushed the starter button and the Sea Beast roared to life beneath me. I clicked it into first gear, eased out the clutch, and took off! Fifty feet later, it died. Not a fantastic maiden voyage. I pushed the bike back to the garage, checked the petcock, plug wires, switches, etc., and found nothing amiss. I pushed the starter button again and BANG! It backfired louder than I’ve ever heard a machine backfire. Certain that the police were en route in response to a gunfire call, I closed the garage door and went to bed.

First thing Sunday morning I got back to work. I texted Motorcycle Classics Tech Editor Keith Fellenstein and described the situation. He patiently ran down a list of possibilities, which one by one I eliminated. When Keith showed up to offer in-person assistance, he found a very dejected Shane Powers cleaning the garage and organizing tools. “If you ever come in here and it’s really clean,” I told him, “things aren’t going very well mechanically.” As Keith worked through things, I faced the currently very real prospect that I would have to publish a blog for everyone I know, and thousands of people I don’t know, to read. The contents of that blog would boil down to two words: “I failed.” The issue was discovered in the spark advance mechanism. I had failed to properly tighten the bolt, which allowed the pin that keys the cam to the spark advance plate to fall into the plate. After that was righted, the bike ran well once again, and I was yanked from the depths of despair.

This entire project has been a learning experience for me, and the past month was no different. If you’ve been following this series, you’ll recall that in the second installment, The Sea Beast Saga, Part 2: I Need Help, I learned that wheel building is a difficult task for a first-timer. This month’s “that could have come out better” moments were experienced while I tried my hand at body work. Put on your chemical and dust particle respirator and I’ll show you what I’ve done.

Shane Powers with a chemical respirator
Safety third.

First up, and prettiest, is the fuel tank. My tank came from the K3 model that I picked up in Wisconsin. It was ugly; sun washed and dented. I started by removing all the old paint with a can of Aircraft Remover and wood shim as a scraper. Once I had a clean metal surface, I bought a can of body filler. I filled the dents and I filled the holes where the badges had been affixed. I did my best to smooth the filler and match the contours of the tank, then I sanded. And sanded. Then I sanded some more. After a couple rounds of filling, smoothing and sanding, I was satisfied. I won’t be winning any concours awards, but from 10 feet or at 80 miles per hour, the tank looks good. I sprayed some primer, then a few coats of white paint. Growing older and wiser, I opted for a cheap can of paint and spent my money on a 2-stage aerosol clear coat. So far that seems to have been the right choice, the end result looks decent and didn’t strip immediately off when I spilled gas all over it.

Fuel tank
The tank, in progress.

Riding high on the “success” of having a passable fuel tank, I started work on my belly pan. Like body filler, fiberglass is a product I’ve never worked with before. I can see myself fabricating other things from fiberglass in the future, but I’m a far cry from “a natural,” and beginner’s luck was nowhere to be seen. You’ll notice in the photos of the “finished” bike that it isn’t wearing its belly pan. There’s a reason for that. That reason is that while the belly pan I built does hold water, and therefore will serve its intended function, it looks like my son made it in the paper mache unit of his third grade art class. Blindfolded. I’m going to need to do a little more work on it before I can attach my name to it and allow anyone else to see it. Even then, I hope my sponsors sent big enough stickers to completely cover it.

Belly pan
This isn’t going to end well.

After the gas tank and belly pan, the only body left to worry about is my own! I guess a true DIY-or-die racer would get out his sewing machine and get to work. However, like wheel building, I thought race leathers would be best done by an expert. Who more expert than Vanson Leathers to fill my racing needs? Not unlike my wheel building experience, these experts delivered, literally! I recently received a box containing 11 pounds of American-made leather race suit that is so perfectly stitched and so well fitted that my coworkers might need to get used to seeing me wearing it at the coffee pot!

Shane Powers with his racing leathers
My amazing new leathers.

A month of learning, a month of soaring highs and crushing lows, a month of new things and problem solving. While sometimes stressful, this bike building thing is definitely something I can get behind. The writing has been fun too. Unfortunately, this is blog number five in a six-part series. I have some loose ends to tie up before tech inspection, but I leave you with this photo of a “finished” bike. I hope you’ll come join us for a weekend of great AHRMA racing, June 29-30, but if you can’t make it, check back next month for the full race report!

The Sea Beast
The finished Sea Beast.

"Sea Beast" Parts Suppliers

Buchanan's Spoke & Rim Charlie's Place Dime City Cycles
EPM Performance Imports Moto Services Race Tech
R/D Valve Springs Rick's Motorsport Electrics Shinko Motorcycle Tires
Spectro Performance Oils Vanson Leathers Z1 Enterprises


The Sea Beast Saga, Part 4: Better, Faster, Stronger

Timing the Charlie's Place electronic ignition.

Since I started the project of reviving an extremely tired Honda CB350, many literary and pop culture references have been used to describe the process. Is this a Cronenberg creation? Negative. I’ve always preferred the Vincent Price film from the 1950s over Cronenberg’s Fly. Is it a Frankenstein? It could be. Much of the original material did resemble something long deceased that had recently been dug up from a hole in the ground. In spite of my best intentions, the results could also prove deadly, but my aspirations have always been more elegant than the stitched-together, inarticulate monster created by Dr. Frankenstein. I’ve always thought of the Sea Beast more akin to Steve Austin, the astronaut turned bionic secret agent from the 1970s. In fact, if you’re an Instagram user, you’ll find a lot of photos posted under the hashtag #sixmilliondollarmotorcycle. Feel free to follow me, @shanepwrs, as well.

A proper "before" photo of the forks wasn't taken.

Be it Cronenberg, be it Frankenstein, or be it ultra-powerful bionic conglomeration, the Sea Beast has undoubtedly become better, faster and stronger over the course of the last three months. The work has been far from all on my own. While I’ve spent many long hours and late nights moving this project to where it is today, I have to give credit to my friends and sponsors, some of whom may not have known exactly what they were signing up for. I’ve not yet ridden the bike, but I have started it, and it really hums! The Charlie’s Place ignition was a breeze to install and time, and in conjunction with the Rick’s Motorsport Electrics Hot Shot Starter Motor, there wasn’t even a “cranking” process. As soon as power was supplied to the engine, it fired right up and idled beautifully.

Race Tech did a bang-up job breathing new life into the forks.

The shiny parts from Dime City Cycles, like the Old School Speed rearsets, MAC 2-into-2 exhaust and clubman bars deserve a nod for aesthetically transforming the bike from boat anchor to race contender. There aren’t enough words to describe how impressed I’ve been with this transformation, but the “What Did I Get Into” award has to be given in duplicate to Race Tech and Moto Services. Race Tech encouraged me to source a pair of the superior internal-spring forks from the later versions of the CB, but for a few different reasons, I wanted to work with the forks that came off the original bike. I had already procured new fork tubes, plus, they were the forks that came off the original bike! At a cost of $179.99, Race Tech made custom springs for my early CB forks and I couldn’t be more pleased with the end result. Moto Services encouraged me to throw my carburetors back in the lake, or sell them for scrap and use the proceeds as a down payment on something that might be capable of delivering fuel to my engine. After much pleading on my part, Matt did a bang-up job of rebuilding the carburetors. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’m going to keep this installment of the Sea Beast Saga short and sweet, bolstered by the before and after photos of the forks, restored by Race Tech, and the carburetors, painstakingly cleaned, rebuilt and re-jetted by Moto Services.

Refreshed forks, ready for installation.

I know this might read like my acceptance speech for a “Next to Impossible Project” completion award, but a lot of work remains! With a little over six weeks to see this thing through to completion, I’m keeping my nose to the grindstone and my eyes on the prize. I hope to see you at Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka, Kansas, for the AHRMA race, June 29-30!

The carburetor cores were about as bad as they could get.

Moto Services performed miracles on these carburetors.

Carbs after assembly.

"Sea Beast" Parts Suppliers

Buchanan's Spoke & Rim Charlie's Place Dime City Cycles
EPM Performance Imports Moto Services Race Tech
R/D Valve Springs Rick's Motorsport Electrics Shinko Motorcycle Tires
Spectro Performance Oils Vanson Leathers Z1 Enterprises


The Aermacchi Project, Part 6: In Which the Motorcycle Angels Come Through

Margie Siegal's mystery tool
Hallelujah! The mystery tool works!

This is the sixth installment of a series detailing Margie Siegal's restoration of a 1973 Harley-Davidson 350 Sprint. Start at the beginning with Part 1.

“There's a special cherub for motor-cyclists.”

— Dorothy Sayers, The Fantastic Horror of the Cat in the Bag*

The top end back together, it's time to start in on the clutch. As delivered, the clutch took two hands to operate. Some of the problem had to do with the clutch cable, which was stuck in the housing, so I ordered a new clutch cable. Yes, Virginia, you can just call or email and mail order businesses will send you Aermacchi parts. Parts are available because all these folks are out racing Aermacchis. This is why you should support vintage racing.

Figuring the clutch cable was only part of the problem, I got out the service manual. The service manual says to take off the cover (not a problem, no rusty bolts) and then use your Special Tool No. 94670-66P to unscrew the five spring holders. After a little calling around I find out that there are five Special Tool No. 94670-66P in existence, each one owned by a crack shot with a bad temper. It's obvious that my chances of getting one of these things is about as good as finding a live passenger pigeon.

Margie Siegal's mystery tool
The mystery tool — found in a can of other mystery tools.

I ask Leslie of Pro Italia for suggestions. He says to get out my Dremel tool and cut a slot in the center bolt so I can use a big screwdriver to loosen the spring holders. I was not looking forward to this, but located a promising screwdriver and figured I would practice on some extra bolts that were laying around. I started looking for bolts ... and saw a can on a shelf with some odd tools sticking out.

One of those tools looked to be the right size and shape to unscrew those spring caps. Will it work?

Excited, I pulled out the tool. It needed a handle, easily supplied by clamping down on one end with a Vise-Grip. I uttered a short prayer to my Special Cherub (riding through the clouds) and put the tool on one spring holder. IT WORKED. I thanked my Special Cherub (who waved and hit the throttle) and loosened up all five spring holders. The square center part was just the right size for a 10mm wrench. Hallelujah.

Margie Siegal's mystery tool
Will the mystery tool work?

I have no idea what the tool is or how it got in the can. Asking around, it is apparently used to work sheet metal. If you have a later model Sprint (the earlier ones had a different clutch) you might check a sheet metal supply house for your very own Mystery Clutch Tool.

I carefully ease the springs out, put them in a Ziploc bag, and pull off the face plate. The inside of the clutch is sticky with oil. Isn't the Sprint clutch supposed to be dry? I leave a message for Pro Italia. Leslie calls me back. Yes, the clutch is supposed to be dry, and the seal between the clutch and the primary case has apparently let go. He has seals and O-rings (again, thanks to the Aermacchi Classic Racing Team) but first I have to get the clutch basket out, which may require more Special Tools. Yet another hurdle, but I will get through it. Where is that cherub when I need her?

*Excellent mystery story from the 1930s, which starts with a road race between a Norton and a Scott Flying Squirrel.

The Aermacchi Project, Part 5: Fear of Plating

Left side of the engine
The cylinder head is on!

This is the fifth installment of a series detailing Margie Siegal's restoration of a 1973 Harley-Davidson 350 Sprint. Start at the beginning with Part 1.

When motorcycles were invented in the 1890s, the manufacturers nickel plated some parts. Chrome plating came in the early 1930s. At some point during this journey, motorcyclists started taking parts of their bikes to plating shops to fix or upgrade the shiny stuff. Shortly afterwards, motorcyclists started trading plating shop horror stories.

Most people who repair or own old bikes have heard these stories. The plating shop that lost original, irreplaceable 75-year-old parts worth a few zillion dollars and tried to pretend they had never taken them in in the first place. The plating shop that buffed out the logo stamped on the parts — important to verify authenticity. The plating shop that estimated turnaround time as three weeks that somehow stretched into three months and then wanted triple the estimate.

Right side of the engine
Right side, showing the teeny tiny cutouts around the cylinder head bolts.

The exhaust system that came with the Sprint I am restoring was pretty crusty and the shorty mufflers were not only not stock and loud, but also ugly. I was lucky enough to locate a decent stock 1-into-2 exhaust and two stock mufflers (Thanks, Brad, and best of luck racing this year!) but they weren't perfect and needed a rechrome.

Scared by all the stories, I started asking around. Most people who restore bikes have a favorite chrome shop that they may or may not share the name of, like society ladies who go to a special hairdresser. Luckily, one of the guys in the Norton Club has a good connection with a chrome shop and was going to send some of his own parts out, so we combined the order. When my exhaust system comes back, I will let you know how it went. I am not disclosing the name of the shop until then. Don't tell anyone, this is just between us.

Famous last words: “Just bolt it together.” I successfully cleaned up the rusty bolt that had held the head onto the engine, got the head back from the machine shop, put the rocker boxes together and was finally ready to put the head assembly back on the motor. Friends said, “Great — just bolt it together.” First, there was this little problem of positioning the pushrods. I read the instructions. The service manual helpfully explained that the pushrods go up the tunnel on the right side of the head, the inside one is the intake rod, and I should leave enough space between the head and the barrel for a pair of needle nose pliers so I could position the pushrods in the little cups at the bottom end of the valve adjusters before pushing the head all the way back on the head bolts.

Rusty bolt
After photo, head bolt cleaned up nice!

I tried. I really did. Getting the pushrods positioned with pliers was just not going to work. I gave up after an hour, fantasized serious injury to the jerk who wrote the service manual, and started emailing for help. Several people suggested I make a little thingamajig with wire. I couldn’t immediately find the right kind of wire, but I did find some stiff cord. I cut two pieces a foot and a half long, looped them around the pushrods and started carefully moving the rods with the cord. A long, thin screwdriver helped with pushrod herding. Those rods did NOT want to go where they were supposed to go, but I finally convinced both of them to get in there.

Corralling the pushrods and making them get into the adjusters took work. They did not want to get in there!

Pushrods in place, I got out my torque wrench and started in on the head bolts. I found that if I took the rocker box end caps off, I could get a 17mm socket on the left side bolts. The right side bolts are in these little caves and barely accessible with my ground down special wrench. I torqued the left side, guesstimated the right side and decided to quit while I was ahead.

Requiem for a Rust Pile: The Sea Beast Prequel

Honda frame
Deconstruction of the Sea Beast complete.

Since the proclamation of my intentions to become an AHRMA racer, time seems to have slipped into overdrive. My to-do list gets longer, but more specific, all the time, and I frequently find myself taking meals (read: snacks) in the garage. Nitrile gloves serve to protect my food from my greasy hands.

In the inaugural post of this series, I Am a Racer, This is My Machine, I outlined the series of events that lead to my being in possession of three CB350s, and my subsequent decision to race the amalgamation of those motorcycles. However, as noted in that post, two years had passed between the acquisition of the first bike and my invitation to the world to come into my garage (via the internet, of course) and see how a vintage race bike is built. While that process is most assuredly moving towards a raucous conclusion, I thought it would be prudent, if not interesting, to take a step back in time and examine the two years following the initial purchase, during which I polished my skills with a drill and easy-out set, and made up myriad new swears. At this point you might be protesting “But, Mr. Peabody …” but I can’t hear you, so into The Wayback Machine we go.

Rusted motorcycle parts
Just a little bit of rust.

Despite being uninitiated and possessed of only intermediate mechanical aptitude, I understood that complete disassembly of one or more of my project motorcycles was in order. The thought process was that I would remove every removable part of the original bike, and then replace what was lost, ruined or never present with bits from the two donor bikes. So far this model has served me relatively well despite the lack of appreciation I once had for cataloging. At this point I would like to interject a piece of advice for anyone considering undertaking a project like this for the first time: catalog everything. Take photos, take notes, take your time. If a screw or bolt is broken or has to be drilled, photograph it, measure it, note its home. I did not perform this step efficiently and it has bitten me 95 percent of the times it has resurfaced. Hear me now, or hear me again later as the echoing voice of I Told You So in your head.

Removing paint from Honda frame
The frame, partway through removing the paint.

The destruction of a motorcycle can loosely be broken into two categories; engine and chassis. I started by separating the engine from the chassis and assessing its worth. Finding essentially none, I began heavy-handedly disassembling the seized hunk of metal from the top down. Inside the cam box was a serviceable camshaft, four rocker arms and four rocker arm pins. I cut the old cam chain to get it out of the way and allow proper removal of the camshaft. Under the cam box lies the cylinder head. All three bikes ended up having some kind of issue that would make their heads difficult or expensive to use. I sourced what my machinist would later describe as a good core online for $25 + shipping. I was able to collectively harvest four serviceable valves from my donor engines, the R/D Valve Springs beehive spring set rounding out a complete head. The cylinders proved formidable opponents. As I’ve said, the pistons were seized in the bore in an unknown fashion for an indeterminate period of time. I tried prying, I tried hammering, I tried soaking, I tried pleading, I tried a bigger hammer, I tried drilling holes in the top of the pistons and I tried fire. Finding none of these effective, I acted out of desperation … and it worked! I procured a hole saw of the highest quality readily available in a size slightly smaller than the bore, and I procured a jug of cutting oil. Using extreme caution as to not wreck the cylinder walls, I began boring into the rusted pistons. Eventually they were released from their bonds and I was yielded a pair of cylinders for my efforts that my machinist was able to clean up and bore over. Finally, I split the crankcase halves and inspected and cleaned its contents. This was a really fun process for me; I now have a deeper understanding of how the engine and transmission function.

Honda frame being inspected
The CB frame, brought to the office for inspection.

Before beginning reassembly, I hauled all the engine components to the Motorcycle Classics garage and put them through our Skat Cat 40 blast cabinet. I blasted the exterior surfaces of everything with the Skat Magic Abrasive crushed glass media; it gave all the aluminum a matte finish that I find very attractive. Different media will produce different finish results. A would-be blaster of engine components should also choose their media wisely as crushed glass remnants are just about the absolute last thing you want your engine to be full of! They can block oil passages, score machined steel surfaces and wreak indescribable havoc if not completely removed during the post-blast cleaning process. Once I was certain that any vestiges of crushed glass had been removed, I began reassembling the engine with fresh gaskets, seals and copious quantities of assembly lube.

Engine part on fire
Fire, because why not try it?

The chassis didn’t leave much to be salvaged; you have presumably seen the wheels, and soon you will see the forks that have been rejuvenated by Race Tech. Since AHRMA regulations for the Production Lightweight class I will be racing mandate the use of a stock seat pan, I will try to breathe new life into one of my seats. With a little elbow grease, I believe I can also salvage one of my fuel tanks. All lights and non-essential chassis pieces were eliminated, and the difference is being replaced with new parts. The frame was stripped of all its paint so the bare metal could be evaluated and certified free of cracks. The down tubes of these bikes tend to hold water in the bend at the front of the engine cradle, and as such, my frame had rusted through. A local welder was able to inexpensively repair the hole and paint prep began. Since at this point in time this was still a hobby project, I decided to have fun with the design aspect. I visited a local automotive paint supply store, where I pored over swatches until I determined the color of my frame was to be “Milk Tea Pearl.” I simultaneously grossly underestimated how much paint would be required, while also grossly underestimating the cost of packaging high-end automotive grade paint into rattle cans. Two to three visits to that paint store, and roughly $150 later, I have a paint job I’m pretty proud of. If I had this to do again, I would either rattle can it black with $10 of Rust-Oleum or pay for professional powder coating. I’m here making these mistakes so you don’t have to.

Damaged piston
The cut piston.

There it is, two years of my efforts reduced to a few minutes of reading. I’m very excited about the state of the bike and I can’t wait to share it with you in a few weeks! Keep your eyes peeled for the next blog, and maybe a bonus video of the first start of the engine. If you haven’t already, mark your calendar for the Topeka, Kansas, AHRMA race, June 28-30, at Heartland Motorsports Park. See you there!

Engine case
The engine case, empty and clean.

Honda transmission
The transmission, going back together.

"Sea Beast" Parts Suppliers

Buchanan's Spoke & Rim Charlie's Place Dime City Cycles
EPM Performance Imports Moto Services Race Tech
R/D Valve Springs Rick's Motorsport Electrics Shinko Motorcycle Tires
Spectro Performance Oils Vanson Leathers Z1 Enterprises


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