Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tearing down the Goldwing

November 5, 2011
I initially purchased this 1984 Honda Goldwing Interstate GL1200 for $900 after answering an ad on craigslist. I decided to take my friend Tom with me, who has a lot more experience with Honda engines than I do, and with his help I was able to decide that this shabby fixer upper would be just the thing to begin my creative endeavors. Immediately after driving the bike home in the back of my girlfriend’s truck, my friend Dan from Redwood Custom Cycles helped me to strip the bike of all the larger items such as the faring, trunk, saddlebags, storage box, and side panels.  Once I had most of the bike’s painted features sitting in a pile in my garage, I found myself smiling and satisfied, for good times were about to begin.

November 6, 2011
On the second day, Tom came by again and helped me to remove the front fender and wheel.  We also removed a multitude of small brackets as well as the tailpipe extensions and a smattering of plastic cosmetic pieces. After removing the battery, we scrubbed down the entire bike with engine degreaser.  It was immediately obvious that this would only be the first of many baths that this bike would be in need of along the way.

November 8, 2011
Having an entire week to myself, I stripped the wiring harness from the bike, along with the coolant tank, rectifier, air filter and housing, horn and light control assembly, front brake assembly, and the battery housing.  I then began the meticulous process of labeling all the electrical connections and taking photos of every bracket and connection before removal.  The wiring harness became my entire focus over the next few days, removing unwanted circuits such as various lights and indicators that I would no longer need without the faring or the trunk and saddlebag assemblies. Following along with the original schematics, I had to plot out and design a new set of schematics to go with the new wiring harness.

November 14, 2011
I added a new workbench to my garage,which I received from the generous folks at Hogs and Heifers Saloon on 3rd Street in downtown Las Vegas. This bench helped out tremendously with keeping my garage organized and my tools quick at hand. Tom showed up to help me unload the workbench from the truck and put it into my garage, as well as the new double oven that I found on craigslist for $100 to take care of my powder coating needs.

November 15, 2011
The next day, Tom came over and gave me some additional help with the wiring harness, mostly helping to identify other unneeded circuits. I made my way down to the Honda dealership and picked up a few necessities such as filters and spark plugs; otherwise I simply finished organizing my garage.

November 16, 2011
Another fruitful day saw the removal of the crash guards, radiator grill, exhaust pipes and front fender guard.  I borrowed a bike lift from Tom which has helped significantly. I was able to drain the oil and coolant as well as remove the exhaust pipes with much less difficulty than I would have had with the bike on its center stand. Draining the oil was an informative process and gave me some expectations regarding the carburetors. As soon as I removed the oil drain plug, the oil came gushing out with a consistency and color like watery mud. The oil stank of gasoline, making me realize that I would likely have my work cut out for me. Moving on for the moment, I drained the coolant and attempted to remove the radiator, but one little devil of a stripped nut stopped me.  Now I'm just waiting for a dremel tool with a saw attachment so that I can remove it.

November 18, 2011
It was a couple of days later that, with some help from Tom, Dan, and my buddy Rich, we were able to get the last major elements of the removal process taken care of.  We managed to remove the radiator without a dremel tool after all, thanks to Tom, who managed to take the radiator off around the nut.  It turned out to be the actual stud that was stripped, allowing the nut to spin freely.  Then we removed the carburetors and spent some more time cleaning the bike, now that so much more of it was exposed.

November 21, 2011
After taking a few days off from the bike to focus on the rest of life, I was able to come back with a vengeance.  I busted out Tom’s saw’s all and chopped down the exhaust pipes to a length more suitable to my desires.  Tom and I removed the front forks and steering assembly, as well as completely removing the angle sensor and its related circuitry.  Of course, in so doing, we also had to remove the handle bars and got time to do a little bit of brainstorming about where to reroute some of the wiring and cabling.  My plans for finding braided cable came to a stop when I called Russell to ask about pricing.  The good people at Russell tried to help me, but they had no remaining stock of anything for an ’84 Goldwing.  It was time to start rethinking the cosmetics design for the bike, or to find other ways to accomplish the look I wanted.

November 26, 2011
So, I spent a few days picking up gaskets, seals, fluids and odd whatnots, allowing me to really attack this bike and start the process of putting things back together.  Dan came over again and walked me through the process of cleaning out my carburetors, which were in miserable shape.  They were covered in years of solidified gasoline crust and I went through a good deal of carb cleaner trying to get these to a state that wouldn’t leave me fearing for the bike’s future.  Once I was satisfied with the cleanliness, we replaced the carbs into the frame and had almost complete success getting things hooked back up and realigned.  The only snag was when a small vacuum hose snapped (a wee bit stiff, it twas).  That joined a very small list of hoses that I need to replace before I’ll get this bike running. 
After Dan left, I replaced the radiator and dove ever deeper into the cleansing process.  Using WD-40, a wire brush and an old t-shirt, I spent a few hours scrubbing grime from the underside of the bike, not to mention every little nook and cranny that had obviously never been cleaned in the bike’s 27 years.  The beautiful thing is that I am finally putting this bike back together.  Most of the system work complete, I should be able to start working on the cosmetics and what not pretty soon.

December 3, 2011
Small little bits of work took place here and there over the next week, such as grinding down and smoothing out the cuts that I made on the tail pipes, more cleaning and scrubbing, replacing some of the brackets and relays and ordering the last of the seals and tools that I will need to finish this bike off.  I had a hard time finding the socket tool used for removing the steering column nut, but it’s now on order and should be here before too long.

December 13, 2011
I started my work today by finishing the casement of the wiring harness.  The greater part of my time today was spent cutting out the patterns and then the pieces of leather for my saddlebags.  I stripped the old seat cover and cleaned down the entire seat base.  I also stripped away the top layer of foam as it was in miserable shape.  I sized out the leather for replacing the seat cover, but the actual replacement will have to wait until I decide on what type of cushioning I’m going to use on the seat.  Cutting the leather for the saddlebags was a fun and interesting process.  I cut everything just a little bit larger than the pattern suggested to allow myself some room for error in the cutting process.  I ruined a small size screwdriver that I starting using as a hole punch , but I quickly decided to wait on punching the holes until I get my hands on some actual leather tooling supplies.