Thursday, January 12, 2012

Rebuilding the Goldwing

January 2, 2012
First step into the New Year and we are finally rolling along.  I was finally able to get the 30mm and 48mm adjusting nut tools to remove the steering stem.  I received the 48mm in the mail after ordering it from eBay some weeks ago.  It was just a week ago that I finally found someone with a 30mm tool.  Dan from Redwood Custom Cycles happened to have a piece that he fashioned from a regular socket for a job on his Valkyrie awhile back.  The tabs were a bit too large for what I needed, but with a handheld grinder I was able to remedy that issue.  Finally, after all this waiting, I had access to my steering bearings.  Getting through 27 years of neglect was not easy, but I finally have a steering stem that doesn’t feel like swimming in molasses just to move through its designated range of motion.

January 9, 2012
Some progress has been made as both Dan and Uli from Redwood Custom Cycles came by to help with my forks.  This might have been a one person job if it hadn't been for the nearly 2 foot springs with the addition of another 6 inch spring creating more tension then I could manage safely on my own.  We ended up reseating the forks into the triple tree as a way of bracing the fork tubes while I manually compressed the springs to the replace the caps.  The old fluid looked as though it could have predated my lifetime, much less the bike itself.  Replaced the oil and dust seals as well.  Finally, we removed the back wheel so that I could begin the cleaning process on the rear of the bike. 
I brought the wheels down to Motorcycle Tire Center on E. Charleston in the heart of Las Vegas, which was the best place in town for both service and prices on new tires.  Nothing fancy here, I just went with standard Dunlops for the bike. 

January 10, 2012
This was pretty much nothing but a shopping day, but I believe it was the last shopping day.  For now.  I picked up my tires from Motorcycle Tire Center and then made a visit to Lowe's to pick up the copper piping that I'll be using for my gauges, as well as the high gloss paints and finish coat that I will be using in the next few weeks.  I also began sanding down the disc covers and tearing apart the original fairing's instrument panel.  I pulled the speedometer, tach, neutral indicator, and turn signal indicators that I will be using in the final design. 

January 22, 2012
After the last week or so sanding down the storage box, side panels, and disc covers to get them ready for their paint job, and doing even more general cleaning and detailing (no joke, an old bike like this requires more time cleaning, scrubbing, and detailing than anything else), and regreasing every needed component,  I was finally able to get to the exhaust pipes.  I wrapped six inches of copper sheeting around the ends of the exhaust that I had chopped down last month, then I used steel pop rivets to pin them down.  I folded over the edges with a large screwdriver and then used a rubber mallet to pound the copper, trying to enhance the rugged, industrial appearance that I am aiming for in the finished product.  Here are the before and afters.

February 12, 2012
Over the last few weeks, I have made a tremendous amount of success with this project.  I am already on the second of coat of paint for the disc covers, side covers, and storage box.  I used a very coarse sanding paper before the first coat and used a 600 grit paper between the first and second coats.  Everything is being painted a gloss black.  I just received the rear fender from an 84 Standard that I ordered from eBay as well a replacement coolant reservoir that I needed after finding out that the original was leaking through the frame mount hole. 
With the exhaust pipes on and everything else seemingly prepared, I filled the bike with oil and coolant and changed out the gear oil and then made the first attempt at turning the engine over.  Despite my crossed fingers, the engine wouldn’t start.  Tom and Dan came over to give me a hand and we found that the choke cable is too long, so using the choke switch was useless.  Pulling the choke cable further down the line, we also the choke levers on the right side of the engine were sticking.  A bit of lubrication and we were finally able to make some magic happen.  We spent an hour or so playing with the choke and a few of the vacuum hoses and we finally got the engine running.  We had quite an interesting time filling the garage with smoke as the engine burned out impurities and rid itself of all the surface WD-40 that was used to clean the exterior of the engine. 
Now I am down to changing out the brake pads and fluid and making some adjustments to stop coolant from leaking at the hose connections.   There is also evidence that the starter may need to be replaced and I do feel that now is a better time than later.   

April 14, 2012
Well, over the last two months, I’ve had my attention diverted from the Goldwing quite a bit while I’ve been working on other projects, but my time is starting to get back to the garage.  Now is the time to really dive into the cosmetics of the bike.  All of the black coating and clear coating paint has been completed.  Today I start designing the overall look of the bike as well as building brackets and reassigning the placement of all the controls that I have removed from the handlebars.  I’ve been looking at a lot designs that people have done for steampunk motorcycles, cars, guitars, computers and a plethora of random household objects.  The idea is to make this bike look like something Nikola Tesla might have wanted to build, if he were a tattooed motorcycle fanatic instead of the overly neat and tidy personality I’ve read about.  I don’t want this bike to look nice and shiny and new, but rather as if it was built 100 years ago and has been weathered and rode ever since.  Here is a picture of where the bike stands right now.  You can see that the exhaust worked out pretty well.  The seat still needs to be recovered and all the lights need to be added.  There are a few parts that need powdercoating before they are added back on, but all of the mechanical end has been taken care of.

May 29, 2012
I’ve been making slow progress for the last month or so, but it is progress nonetheless.  I’ve been applying the base leather to the seat, before any of the fancy stuff happens.  For this I’ve been using Performance High Temp Trim Adhesive and a staple gun, which I’ve used on motorcycle seats before and have been pleased with the results.  The speedometer has been coming along well.  I took the original speedo from the fairing and sanded down the face’s edge until it fit the old mechanical pressure gauge body that I bought on eBay awhile back.  Then I created a new face with Adobe Illustrator, patterned to look like it was made 100 years ago.  I roughed and aged the surface until I got the look that you see here.
My good friend and favorite tattoo artist, Dark Mark, gave me a hand with the headlight assembly that I’m creating.  I found a great idea for a pair of copper LED headlight here: and based the design from this, since I thought it fit perfectly with the theme of the bike.  Mark helped me out tremendously with putting the LED bodies together and suggested bridging the two of them with smaller piping rather than leaving the connecting wire exposed.  We also decided to use the same piping to create the supports, which produced a great look.  The high center stem will house the small gear you see to the side and will be illuminated with a smaller LED.

July 2, 2012
The progress has been scattered across the length of the bike for the last month.  The headlight assembly had to be resoldered to strengthen up all of the joints, which just got done tonight by Dark Mark while I finished up my speedometer, which you can see here.  I reprinted the face and this time smeared it with a mix of copper and yellow paints to get the right aged appearance.  I added a small LED from a Harley license plate light to give it some illumination.  I purchased an old clock from the Not Just Antiques Mart in downtown Las Vegas (Western Ave.) and used the longer minutes hand for the needle.  I cut a square from the back of the mechanical gauge body so that the speedometer’s mechanics could pass through.  Lastly, I used a Copper Bond Epoxy and some 5/16 nuts and bolts to add the copper piping feeds.  To put this into the storage tank, I drilled holes for the bolts and cut a square for the speedometer assembly to give a perfect fit along the top left portion of the tank.  I used a small amount of pipe foam padding behind the gauge body to eliminate any road vibration. 
I have most of the storage tank prepped as can be seen here.  Along the top left are the box and holes just mentioned for the speedometer assembly.  Along the right side are holes for the indicator lights and a few manual switches that will be added soon.   I’ve hashed it back and forth in my mind, what to do with this storage tank and how best I can utilize the uniqueness of its construction on a motorcycle body.  Some great ideas were thrown around, but what I’ve decided is that my coolant reservoir will be in the form of copping piping mounted to the sides of the tank and my turn signals will be knee operated, also on the sides of the tank.  More to come on that.

The other exciting piece for me was getting the disc covers finished and having the front tire assembled.  I used the buegler striping tool for the first time and made a simple copped stripe on each disc cover.  I am very happy with the simplicity of this tool and even happier with the metallic copper One Shot paint that I ordered from  This will soon be making its way to the storage tank and to the rear fender.  Speaking of the rear fender, I just received my Model A taillight in the mail from and I’ve got to say that those guys have some really cool parts.  The light and plate bracket make a beautiful addition to this bike.  Pictures will come once I get the wiring harness finished.  Yes, I am redoing the wiring harness.  I’ve decided not to take any risks and just replace all of the wiring entirely. 

Anyway, as I said in the beginning: progress has literally been scattered across the length of the bike for the last month; from finishing the headlight assembly frame all the way to the new taillight.  I’m hoping to have a few more things finished in the next week and I’ll be posting the next bits then.

Nov.11, 2012
I decided to change from the design of the headlights.  Instead of using the copper tube assembly as the main headlight assembly, I've dismantled the three light assembly and am using a two light assembly as high beams only.  A separate 7 inch headlight is going to be used for standard illumination, while the high beam will include this LED and copper tubing assembly.  All electronics have been built and safely stowed away within the copper tubing assemblies and the lenses have been tested to a blinding effect, just one part of what helped me to decide that these lights would serve better as high beams than as standards.  The assembly consists of two LED pads connected in series, powered through a Buck Block in line with the high beams portion of the headlight assembly.  This will allow these two LED lights to illuminate the hell out of the dark roads of the Nevada desert at night.  They do not replace the headlight’s original high beam; they will all work together for maximum illumination. 
Most of the assembly has been soldered together, except the very end caps, which are applied with an epoxy to allow access for repairs if needed.  The next step in the process is going to be building a headlight assembly that will mount a 7 inch headlight, the front turn signals, the high beams shown here and the temperature and fuel gauges at the top, facing the rider.

Dec.31, 2012
Over the last week and a half of being on vacation, I was finally able to get a significant bit of work done.  My buddy Tom came by and helped me to set up the wiring harness on the bike itself, making sure the wires were properly routed and loomed.  We added connectors to all electronics going into the false tank housing and everything leading to the front end.  Every component was put into the housing as well, including the knee operated turn signals, starter button, speedometer, kill switch, high beam pull switch, 3 indicators (high beams, neutral and oil pressure) as well as the LuminDisk that I am using as the center piece on the bike.  An additional switch has been installed since this photograph, but I’ll have more on that once the circuit is hooked up.

I've also started some of  the necessary welding elements of this project which include moving the tabs that will hold the false tank housing in place (since this housing came from an 84 Standard while the frame is expecting the housing for an 84 Interstate) and creating what is going to be the front fender.  Unfortunately, I don’t expect any more work to be accomplished now until March.

April 6, 2013
Throughout the month of March, I was able to get quite a bit work accomplished, now that I’m done with school and have some actual free time to be in the garage.  I ordered my headlight assembly and mounting brackets from Dime City Cycles and I really couldn't be happier.  Once I was able to get this mounted on the bike, I quickly realized that my plan for the copper high beam LED lights just isn't going to do the overall look of the bike any favors.  So, I've decided to nix those altogether and save them away for a future project.  As you can see here, the 7” headlight gives this a great look on its own.
I finally got the speedometer mounted into the storage tank as well as the starter button and the swipe switch that is now going to be used for the LuminDisc.  The old Harley license plate LED that I was planning to use didn't survive the assembly process, so I wound up having to order and install another.  The size was off and the style was different but it actually came out to give it a much cooler look. 
Once I was able to get most of the wiring done, I had the opportunity to trace through and find certain problem areas.  The first of which was a flasher relay for the brake light that was bad.  Since this setup is so different than the Interstate’s original, I simply pulled the relay and wired the brake lights direct and now everything works great.  I need to rewire the headlight configuration and possibly find a new switch for my high beams (since I've changed plans on that setup), but other than that, things are going quite well.
As of this date, the Goldwing is just a $7 fuel pump relay away from running.  I've still got to add the turn signals and the horns before it’ll actually be street legal and there’s quite a bit of cosmetics that I’ll be doing over the next few months, but I’m excited to have it this far.

May 4, 2013
Ladies and gentlemen, we have liftoff!  I managed to get everything in order last week and can proudly say that I took this Goldwing to Laughlin and back (190 miles round trip) without a single hiccup.  This bike rode so smoothly, I wasn't even aware of the 90 mph speeds we managed from time to time.  This is of course due in part to the fact that my speedometer is currently locked in at 25 mph.  So that is one item on the list of issues that still need to be dealt with.
 I was able to get the coolant reservoir finished, if only lashed on with a belt (a custom made belt, emblazoned with my nickname).  The seat wasn't finished either so simply stapled the leather in place on the front and sides and used a canvas belt to lash the rest of it on.  Having some problems with the rear brake, which in this case also means problems with the right front caliper as this Goldwing uses the Integrated Braking System.  No turn signals as of yet, but they are coming soon, no gas gauge and no fuel gauge.  I have a boat load of cosmetic work to do and I still need to attach the LED high beams that I built, which will take a lower mounting position than I had originally planned (thanks to a co-worker’s suggestion).  Oh, and I still need a louder horn.
On the plus side, the fuel pump relay issue turned out to be a loose wire, so no problems there.  The LuminDisc works perfect to make this bike look like a time machine.  The front fender that I welded together does a lot to add the Mad Max feel to the bike while all of the little blue lighting effects give it the proper Nikola Tesla feeling, just as I wanted.  Anyway, the pictures here show the bike just after its return from Laughlin.  Stay tuned for the continuing saga in “Finishing the Goldwing”.

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