Motorcycle Helmet Trunk

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There have been a couple of times when I have purchased a motorcycle from a private party and the seller has thrown in an old helmet to boot. Helmets have a half life of only a few years and the older they get, the more likely they will not protect your head in a crash. So when I get an old helmet, of course, I… use them. I use them until I can purchase a new helmet.  Then comes the question of what to do with the old helmet? I have held on to a couple of full face helmets with the idea that I would convert them into a motorcycle trunk. I know what you are thinking, “a helmet isn’t going to hold enough stuff to be of any use.” There is where you are wrong. I did a “stuff-it-full” test and found that a full face helmet will hold three full sized bath towels! I estimate that a person could carry in the full face helmet trunk; a sweat shirt, a pair of gloves, some odds and end tools, water bottle, power bar and a pair of sunglasses.

Today I was working on my GS 850 Suzuki bobber project, but wanted to take some time and consider a few things I was going change, so I decided to work on my helmet trunk idea. Choosing the best one of the two useless full face helmets kicking around in “Motorcycle Stable,” I removed the inside padding and foam. The padding just snaps in and came out very easily, but I had to break the foam loose from the shell with a chisel.

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To make the helmet into a trunk I figured it would have to have a bottom plate in it so my stuff wouldn’t fall through luggage rack onto the road. There are a couple things you could use for a bottom plate, wood, metal, or plastic. I used plastic from a 55 gallon barrel. Wood would have been much easier, but I’m a plastic barrel guy. The top of the barrel is the thickest plastic, so that’s where I cut out the bottom plate. Just set the helmet on the top of the barrel and trace around it.

Most helmets taper inward at the bottom opening.  I cut the plastic slightly larger than the opening, so when I put the bottom plate into the helmet and pushed it down, it would be too large to pass through the narrower bottom opening, It took several trips to the grinder to get the bottom plate just the right size. Once I was satisfied with the fit, I pushed the plate down to the bottom of the helmet shell and stuffed the shell full of towels to hold the plate in place. Using a good epoxy glue, I secured the plate to the helmet shell from the under side and then from the inside after I removed the towels.

The top of the barrel where I cut the plate is slightly concave. When I attached the plastic plate to the helmet, I put the curve so it was bowed up into the shell. I did this because motorcycle trunks are usually secured to the luggage rack with a couple of bolts, a bracket with two holes in it and two nuts. With the bow up, when the nuts were tightened they will pull that bow down, putting constant presser on the nuts so they would be less likely to come loose.

To mount the helmet trunk to the luggage rack, drill two holes through the bottom plate about 4″ apart or so the holes with the bolts through them will fit though the luggage rack with at least two rack bars between the bolts. Drill two holes in a metal bar that match the holes in the truck bottom plate. Put the bracket with two corresponding holes under the luggage rack, drop the bolts through the plate, between the bars on the luggage rack and through the bracket holes and secure with two nuts.

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The helmet was pretty ugly and beat up, but some sanding and a coat of black spray in bed liner dressed it up. I sprayed the face shield too so no one can see my stuff in the helmet trunk. I padded the bottom of the trunk with a cut to shape piece of rubber yoga mat that I picked up at Goodwill one day. So that’s pretty much it. I now have a trunk that I can easily attach to any luggage rack, carry my stuff in and gave an old helmet a second useful life.

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Anyway… for what it’s worth.

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PANNIERS MADE FROM SCRATCH

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Luggage Racks For my V-strom

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Like most people, my life has been made easier by computers and yes, better. In my job as a home inspector, WIN Home Inspection Salem, a computer saves me time and corrects my terrible spelling. A computer provides most of our TV viewing pleasure and keeps me in touch with friends and family. I know for a fact that I would have never written a dozen books if I hadn’t had a laptop computer. Most of my life of being a do it yourselfer has been spent in trial and error. I have spent many hours and lots of money making mistakes because I didn’t have the knowledge to do it right the first time. Now I just go to my computer and Google how to do what ever it is I want to do and I can find it on Youtube. Exploring the internet with my computer has kept me learning and growing like nothing else could have done. And even though I curse them sometimes, a computer has opened the world to me and enhanced my life. God bless you mister or misses computer inventor person(s).

Next to the computer, used plastic 55 gallon barrels would have to be #2 in making my live easier.

After I realized how much I enjoyed dual sport motorcycle riding on my Honda XR650L, I decided that I needed an adventure bike. An adventure bike is a step up from a typical dual sport in that it is comfortable enough to ride long distances on the highways, but when you see a dirt or gravel road that looks interesting, off you go. After a lot of study I decided that the Suzuki V-strom 650DR was the ideal bike for me. I couldn’t really justify the expense of an $5000-$7000 bike. Since I like to work on motorcycles I decided that if I could find a wrecked bike that was mechanically sound I could probably fix it up and make it, at the very least, interesting looking. I had just published a book, The Reincarnation of Joe Rocket. In the book the main character had fallen on hard times and his buddy, Two Stroke, bought him a V-strom that had been wrecked. He spent a couple weeks fixing it up and then rode it from Washington State to Maine. It occurred to me that if Joe Rocket could fix one up, I could too. I put an ad on Craigslist and a week later a guy emailed me saying he had a totaled V-strom that he wanted to sell. The bike was a 2010 with 4500 miles on it. Long story short, the bike looked brand new, except for a broken left front turn light and the shifter lever. There were also a few small scratches that I would have never noticed if he hadn’t pointed them out to me. The guy had been rear ended, tapped, at a stop sign and tipped the bike over. Since the bike was virtually new, he wanted everything with even a minor scratch replaced. By the time the insurance company added it all up, the bike was totaled.  I bought it for half the price of a new one and within thirty minutes I had fixed the turn signal light and shifter. So much for a fixer upper project. I love this bike.

I had sold my cruiser, 2002 Honda VTX 1800, the previous winter, so the Vee was going to be my all around bike. I would use for long weekend dual sport trips and my week long road trips. For long trips I needed some kind of  saddlebags, or for a adventure bike like the V-strom, panniers. Panniers are usually aluminum boxes that mount to each side of the back fender area. They are made of aluminum to be almost indestructible and watertight. I never liked the idea of big metal boxes mounted to the back of my motorcycle. I guess I have had too many close encounters with trees and boulders and knew I would end up tearing them off my bike or denting them beyond repair. As I searched the web for something I thought would work for me, I found nothing I liked or could afford. I kept thinking, why don’t they make a flexible plastic holder that you can just slip your luggage onto? Then I though, “Hey, I can make that!”

I needed to make a rack that would withstand crashes and that I could mount my plastic luggage holders onto. During searches on the web I had seen many different racks that would mount on my V-strom, but I felt I could do better or at least, as well. I made a rough sketch of what I wanted, found a 10’X3/4” piece of conduit in my shop, bought some 1/8”X 1” metal flat stock at ACE, got out my conduit bender, fired up the welder and went to work.

Showing complete rack with my stovepipe tool box attached.

Showing complete rack with my stovepipe tool box attached.

The first thing I did was bend the conduit so it would attach to the passenger foot peg frame bracket on one side, bend around the back of the bike just under the tail light and attach to the other passenger peg frame bracket. I carefully flattened the ends of the conduit and drill holes for bolts through the flattened part. The frame brackets for the passenger foot pegs on the Vee are large and there was plenty of room to drill a hole in the bracket to accommodate the conduit, bolt and nut.

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The Vee comes stock with a substantial back rack that sits over the back fender. It’s bolted on in four places, two bolts attach back rack and two more bolts forward about mid seat. In my opinion, it is always a good idea to use the factory bolts and brackets when ever possible to attach something not stock to your bike.

I cut and bent to fit, two pieces of flat metal stock that would bolt under the back rack front brackets and reach down to the conduit. For the back support, I cut and bent one piece of flat stock that ran from the conduit on once side, up and under the back rack and down to the conduit on the other side. Because of where I had to run the flat stock under the back rack, the bolts for the rack didn’t line up with the flat stock. To make the connection to the bolts I welded two small ears to the flat stock that would reach the two bolts.

Showing rack bolted under the bike's rear rack at mid-seat.

Showing rack bolted under the bike’s rear rack at mid-seat.

Showing the two ears I welded on to fit in the two back holes of the bike's rear rack.

Showing the two ears I welded on to fit in the two back holes of the bike’s rear rack.

The next step was to cut two short pieces of flat stock that would attach horizontally between the two vertical flat stock on each side and would give me something to hang my plastic luggage racks on. Once everything was cut, bent and fitted, I welded it all together and sprayed it with black spray in bed liner.

Now with the rack made and mounted, I needed to make luggage racks. After drawing some sketches of what might work, I made a pattern out of cardboard. I had in mind that I was going to use 20” carry-on luggage to fit in the luggage racks.

Now what I needed was a big flat piece of plastic. Here is something that you might not know. If you cut the top and bottom off a plastic 55 gallon barrel, then cut it down one side, heat it up with a weed burner blow torch until it is so soft it will lay flat on a shop floor and put a piece of plywood with some heavy weight on the plywood over the plastic until it cools, you will end up with a large piece of flat plastic.

Showing my pattern with measurements.

Showing my pattern with measurements.

After cutting the plastic to the pattern, heating the plastic and bending it to the proper shape I riveted so it would retain the shape and make it strong. To attach the luggage rack to the metal rack, the luggage rack needed a bracket system that would easily clip onto the metal rack and wouldn’t accidentally come off over rough road. Of course I used plastic barrel to make the brackets. The bracket is a kind of  “Z” shape and the top bracket is a flat piece riveted along the top. They are just wide enough to fit between the two vertical supports on the metal rack and slip over the conduit on the bottom and the horizontal bar at the top. To keep the plastic racks from bouncing off the metal racks, I made a “L” bracket out of plastic, then cut a slot through the back of the luggage rack and “Z” bracket attached on the back. The slot was cut just below the top horizontal cross piece on the metal rack. I attached the “L” bracket with rivets to the luggage rack so that the short part of the “L” bracket will slip through the slot, under the horizontal cross-piece and though the “Z” bracket. The plastic “L” bracket is kind of spring loaded and stays through the slot until you’re ready to remove the luggage rack.

Showing brackets on the back that slide onto rack. Note the slot in the upper bracket for "L" bracket to slide through and secure the luggage rack to the metal rack. Note that everything is riveted and hot glued on.

Showing brackets on the back that slide onto rack. Note the slot in the upper bracket for “L” bracket to slide through and secure the luggage rack to the metal rack. Note that everything is riveted and hot glued on.

Showing "L" bracket that slips through the slot, over the horizontal rack bracket.

Showing “L” bracket that slips through the slot, over the horizontal rack bracket.

20” carry-luggage is pretty typical and I was able to find one at Goodwill for a $5. The other one I bought a matching one at Walmart for $20. I removed the wheels on the bags and they slipped perfectly into the plastic luggage racks. I added two straps on each luggage rack to hold the bags securely in the racks.

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The carry-on’s looked pretty good, but they weren’t waterproof or dust proof. We had acquired some bright yellow material that school crossing flags are made out of when we owned a screen printing business and I had some left over. Using that and some water resistant material I bought at a fabric store, I sewed together some slip on covers for the bags (see top picture). That’s right, I sewed. Gentlemen, if a sewing machine is not part of your power tool assortment, your assortment is not complete.

I have used the racks and panniers for three years now and they have worked great. They are light weight, durable, flexible, inexpensive and not too bad looking. I never remove the metal racks. They act as rear-end crash bars and have saved my bike from damage more than once.

Anyway…for what it’s worth.

A Better Motorcycle Windshield

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I Love to Ride IN Comfort

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 I love to ride motorcycles. Every time I go for a ride it lifts my spirits and makes me whole. Those of us who ride, ride for our own reasons. I ride for the feeling of freedom and for the thrill. I love corners. There is nothing like the feeling of taking a corner too fast and thinking that you’re about to die and then you don’t. I don’t actually take corners too fast on purpose, but if you ride you know what I mean.

As I get older, I like to be as comfortable as possible when I’m riding. For my V-strom, I made a custom seat that fits me better and gives me better support. When I bought my Volusia with an $800 Corbin seat and I can ride it all day in comfort. My dual sport, Honda XR650L came with a $600 custom heated seat. My hind-end has got the comfortable seat issued covered, so to speak.

Another area that I like more comfort as I have aged is protection from the wind. It puzzles me to see guys running down the highway at 75 mph with ape hangers and no windshield or windscreen. They may look cool, but I know that they are not comfortable. It takes a serious grip to hold on to your handle bars with wind hitting you at 75 mph, not to mention bugs in your teeth and the road debris that gets flipped up and hits you in the face. That kind of riding is not for me.

My stock V-strom windshield is known for not offering good protection and for those of us who are a bit taller, head buffing and wind noise can be a problem. When I bought my Vee I knew that I would be using it for long trips, so I needed to solve the wind issue. After much research I found that I had two choices, buy a bigger windshield or add to the windshield I had. I didn’t want to buy a larger windshield because I use my Vee for dual sport riding and I was afraid that a larger windshield might get in the way in tight trails and would be difficult to see the rough road directly in front of me when the shield got dusty. I decided to add on to my stock shield.

In my research I found an add-on shield that would probably work, but it’s not ideal. The one add-on that I liked was designed to attach to the top section of a stock shield, extending up over the top a few inches. The thing that caught my attention was that it was engineered to catch the wind that was flowing up the stock shield, compressing it, accelerating the wind and shooting up and over your head. I like the concept and the physics of it told me that it would work, so I decided that was the one for me. The problem was that, like I said, it wasn’t ideal. I wanted to add some width to my stock shield too. I’m two foot across the shoulders, so being a homegrown engineer, I went to work designing and making what I thought would be ideal for me.

The first thing I did was cut a pattern out of cardboard. I wasn’t sure what shape would work best, so I cut and trimmed the cardboard until I felt good about the shape. Next I searched my shop and found a piece of plexi-glass that would be the right thickness and size. Using a scroll saw with a fine blade, I carefully cut the plexi to the pattern.

Once I had the plexi shaped and the edges sanded round I heated the plexi with a heat gun and formed it in the curve of my stock shield. I also wanted any wind hitting the new section to be diverted up and over my head as much a possible. To accomplish that, I heated the upper five inches and when it got pliable, I used gloves and a tightly rolled towel to curve the top of the new section forward slightly.

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Showing plexi-glass cut to pattern heated and formed to shape

When I considered how I was going to mount the new section to the original windshield I felt it would be important not to drill holes in the original windshield and to mount it with plastic bolts. I didn’t want to compromise the original shield and I used plastic wing nuts and bolts so if I crashed, the bolts would break and in theory, not the windshield. I figured out how to use two of the screws that held the original windshield for the two top brackets and two screws in the fairing on each side of the windshield for the lower brackets. I made the four plastic brackets out of, say it with me, plastic barrels and bought two plastic bolts with wing-nuts. I carefully marked the new shield so I knew where to drill holes for the bolts in the lower brackets, the four small screws in the upper bracket and carefully drilled through the plexi-glass.

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Showing plastic brackets mounted to bike with factory screws

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Showing new shield mounted to brackets with four small screws and two plastic bolts with wing nuts

After I got the new addition installed and gave it a run down the road, I notice that at 60 mph, or faster, that the plexi-glass compress too much, leaving only a small gap between the two shields. To solve the compression problem I added two medium size suction cups under the upper brackets. With the suction cups in place, the wind could only compress the new shield so far before the suction cup stem stopped the plexi-glass from compressing too much. The nice thing about the plexi compressing some was that the faster I went the smaller the gap between the two shields got and the faster the air flowing between them moved directing it up and over my head.

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The new addition to my windshield worked great. Riding down the road at any speed the new shield completely eliminated the wind hitting my head. No more sore neck from head buffing and the wind noise was cut by at least 60%. The new windshield combination looks unusual or even funky, but I gave up cool for functional a long time ago.

Anyway…for what it’s worth.

Motorcycle trip check list.

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I try to take three or four long motorcycle trips each year. I got tired of trying to remember everything I might need to pack, so over the years I have developed a packing list for my trips. I don’t pack all this stuff, but I like to use the list to decide what I will need on a particular trip. I hope the list will help to make your trips more carefree.

Most of the things on the list can be purchase in any town, so don’t fret if you forget something. I have a friend I ride with that only packs old worn out jeans. He wears them until they are dirty and then just throws them away. The last couple of years I have gone to wearing mesh riding pants. They save me lot of room because I don’t have to pack more than one pair of jeans and a pair of shorts, depending on how long I’ll be gone and if I’m only riding with guys. If I’m riding with guys, I don’t care if my jeans will stand up by themselves at the end of the week. If I’m riding two up with my wife I have to really pack light so I evaluate each item and decide if I can go without it.

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MOTORCYCLE TRIP PACKING LIST

o    CAMERA, MEMORY CARDS AND BATTERIES

o     GPS AND BATTERIES

o     MONEY, ID, CREDIT CARDS, AARP CARD

o     INSURANCE CARD AND BIKE REGISTRATION

o     HANDKERCHIEFS

o     WATER ABSORBING HANDKERCHIEFS

o     COOLING VEST

o     PHONE, CHARGER &  WORK SCHEDULE

o     GLASSES

o     SUNGLASSES

o     GUN AND PERMIT

o     MAPS

o     DRIED FRUIT

o     WATER

o     HANDI-WIPES, AND HAND SANITIZER CLEANER

o     OIL, TOOLS, AND TIRE GAGE

o      FLASHLIGHT

o     TOW ROPE (TO TOW HARLEYS)

o     GLOVES

o     EAR PLUGS

o     HELMET, DEWRAGS AND FACE SHIELDS

o     LEATHERS AND BOOTS

o     BIKE CLEANER, PLEDGE WIPES AND RAGS

o     DO SAFETY CHECK

o     TEE SHIRTS- ONE PER DAY

o     LONG SLEEVE TEE SHIRTS- ONE PER EVERY 4 DAYS

o     JEANS- ONE FOR EVERY THREE DAYS

o     NICE PANTS/SHORTS

o     UNDERWEAR, SOCKS, AND TEE SHIRTS- ONE SET PER DAY

o     COMPRESSION SHORTS

o     SLEEPING CLOTHES

o     SWIM SUIT

o     WALKING SHOES & SANDALS

o     FIRST AID KIT

o     SUNSCREEN

o     MEDICATIONS

o     TOILETRIES

o     WATER MISTER

o     MP3, EAR PHONES AND CHARGER

o     I.C.E. LIST

o     CARDS, GAMES and BOOK

o     RAIN GEAR

o     EXTRA KEY FOR BIKE

ATV: From ugly duckling to swan.

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Last year I had three grandchildren. This year that number will double. That’s a lot of pressure on this grand dad because it’s three more grandchildren that I have to try and buy their love by providing them with ATVs as they reach the “appropriate age”. Out growing an ATV is like outgrowing clothes, when a child out grows something, they get a bigger size and their smaller size is handed down to a smaller child.

A few months a go I found a good deal, $120, on an ATV that I thought would be a good size for my oldest grandson. His little brother was showing interest in riding, so I wanted to be prepared to…, buy his love. The guy that sold it to me thought it was a 70cc, but after I got it home I discovered that it was actually a 90cc. A little larger than I wanted, but, you know, gift horse.

The ATV ran, but it had the wrong size air mixture screw in the carburetor. There were other things wrong with the bike; there was no seat, no foot platforms, no hood/battery cover, the back fender was cracked in a couple of places, the plastics were very oxidized, the air filter was missing and it was ugly.

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I started by making a seat platform out of a piece of a plastic barrel from a paper pattern I cut and fitted. The platform had to have two small tabs at the front and one larger one at the back that would clip into the frame brackets to hold the seat in place. IMAG0404

I next made the hood/battery cover and two foot platforms out of plastic from a barrel.

After the seat blank was finished I started with the cosmetics. The oxidation on the plastic had to come off, so I attached a circular wire brush to my drill and went to work. It took some time, but the spinning wire brush took the loose plastic off and I was happy how much better the plastic looked. IMAG0410

For years my boys and I have experimented with different ways to repair cracked plastic fenders and other plastic parts of bikes and ATVs. Nothing we tried really worked. I knew that had to be something that would work so I scratched my head and looked around the shop for a better idea. My youngest son had left a can of plastic dip in the shop several months earlier. Plastic dip is liquid plastic that you dip handles of tools in, like a pair of pliers, to coat the handles. The can was half empty and when I opened it and found that the plastic dip had started to stiffen, but was still useable. I felt like I would need something to reinforce the repair before applying the plastic dip and remembered that I had a roll of fiberglass tape used for taping drywall joints. The tape is 1-1/2” wide, woven so there is 1/8” gaps between the strands of fiberglass and is sticky on one side. Perfect. I taped the cracks in the plastic from the underside and slathered the plastic dip over the tape. On the topside I filled the cracks with paintable silicone caulk and smoothed it out.  After it dried it was very strong and flexible. So far, after a summer of riding, the repair has held with no evidence of failure.

Have I ever mentioned that I love spray on bed liner in a rattle can? I do, so I sprayed all the plastics with it. The stuff is so great for sticking to everything and offering a good base for paint. IMAG0414

The next step was to cover the seat with foam and black vinyl and to paint the plastics.

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Many years ago I learned the importance of having an air filter on motor. I bought a Fiat when I was seventeen that had no air filter. I tried to retro-fit different filters onto the carburetor, but nothing really worked. I finally gave up and ran it without an air filter. It wasn’t long before the motor loss power and started to burn oil. So lesson learned and the last item of business was to make an air filter for the ATV. I discovered, after much trial and error, that an 1-1/4” PVC coupling fit snugly over the carburetor’s throat. Then all I needed was some foam, something to hold the foam in and to epoxy it to the coupling. I used a sippy cup to hold the filter foam. I cut slots in the cup to allow for air-flow and assembled it. IMAG0412

I put it all back together and the end product turned out pretty sweet. Someday I’m going to have to get the proper air mixture screw because the motor loads up with gas if it’s ran at full throttle, but for now the throttle governor is set at the slowest setting possible and will stay there for a few more years

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Project Sabre

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My son-in-law, Dustin, has been after me to write a blog about my last project. He is an avid reader of my blog and probably my biggest fan. So, this is for you Dustin.

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Now that I have moved out of our very cramped garage and into our new shop, I thought it would be fun to do one or two motorcycle projects each year. My first project was a 1985 Honda VF700 Sabre. This bike wasn’t as much of a project as some of my past projects, like the Hawk or the three-wheeler that we converted to a four-wheeler, but I really liked the bike and the price was OK.

When I went to look at the bike I was pleased and surprised with what good mechanical condition it was in. I took it for a short ride and it made me smile. Which isn’t to say much because I’m usually smiling if I’m on a motorcycle, but this little 700cc surprised me. Back in the early 80’s Harley Davidson lobbied president Reagan to tariff any motorcycle imported into the USA that was larger than 700cc. Honda responded with the highly energized 699cc, rounded up to 700. With the 700cc once you get the rpms up into the 6-8K rpms the bike hits a “power band” of sorts and takes off like a big dog. That’s what put the smile on my face that day. Anyway, I bought the bike. At this point I want to put a shout out to my wife who understands my need to have a motorcycle project in the off-season. And I quote her, “I just want you to be happy.”

The bike had been well maintained and the only issue I found was a very small oil leak. A previous owner had laid the bike down and did some minor damage. The highway bar on the right side had been scraped and was worn nearly all the way through. The front blinker lights were damaged and the side panels on each side were missing, along with the right side electrical cover. There was a dent in the left side of the gas tank. The seat cover was worn out, but the seller had purchased a seat cover and threw it in as part of the deal. He also included a repair manual and a full tank of gas.

The first thing I wanted to do is to make sure the bike was street legal, so I started with the lights. The front left blinker light was in pretty bad shape. The orange lens was cracked and bent. I could have bought the lens for about $15 at Honda, but my mind doesn’t work that way. I heated the lens up and reshaped it, then used clear epoxy to fix the crack.

Both front blinker light stems were slightly bent and the globes or bulb domes were damaged. The outer edges of both light domes were damaged and missing sections. One of the great things about living in this day and age is the glues and epoxy that have been developed and can be purchased at any hardware store. Using JB Weld I reformed the missing pieces, making them a little heavier duty than original. Once the JB was dry I reshaped the repairs with my dermal tool and they looked good.

The left blinker light wasn’t working, no power at the light socket. I traced the wire to the headlight. I removed the headlight and found that there was power at the connection behind the headlight. After an hour of testing this and checking that, a little bit of cussing, I discovered that there was a bad connection at the bulb socket. I fixed it and the lights worked.

After studying it for a while I realized that I couldn’t make the electrical cover for the right side of the bike and have it match the left side. I wasn’t out to restore the bike, but I felt that matching covers would be important. I was lucky and found a cover on eBay and for $30. it was mine. I also found the other side covers on eBay. They were about $140. each. Being a cheap ba#$%d I decided I could make those. I viewed the panels on eBay and cut a similar pattern out of cardboard. I had inherited some old aluminum road signs from my father-in-law and using the pattern I cut aluminum panels for each side. The flat panels didn’t really fit that well so I bent and twisted them until they formed to the bike.  DSCF6661      The original panels where held in place by the seat fitting over the top edge and a clip arm on the back that inserted into a rubber grommeted hole in the fame. I replaced the clip arm with a screw and washer and the rubber grommets with a “clip on nut” that I epoxied in place so it wouldn’t move.

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Removing the dent in the gas tank turned out to be challenge in a fiasco sort of way. I thought I might be able to push the dent out if I could get a metal rod into the tank, through the gas fill hole and to the dent. Long story short, I couldn’t. My next attempt, plan B, was to make a slide hammer out of a wood handled screwdriver shaped tool and a plumbing floor flange. DSCF6666

I ground the wood handle flat and hot glued it to the tank. After the glue set, I slid the floor flange with force to the nut and washer at the end of the rod. I did this several times and could see some minor results each time, but not being a patient man, I moved to plan C.

Plan C is the fiasco part of this tank project. The thing is I had done this very same thing before on a different tank with the same results, but for some reason I thought the outcome would be different. Seems like the definition of insane is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Well I haven’t done this same thing over and over again, yet, just twice. So, just a slow learner? Anyway, I wrapped the nozzle of my compressor air blower with inner tube until it would fit tightly into the gas fill hole. DSCF6664 My thought was that if I pressurized the tank the dent would pop right out. Most of the dent did pop out, but so did the bottom of the tank. The bottom of the tank is shaped to fit over the air filter box, frame and other odds and ends. Now it didn’t. It was at that point that I remembered I had done this before several years ago. Damn my memory!

Now I had to reshape the bottom of the tank. I turned the tank upside down on a cushioned chair and started beating on it with a rubber mallet. It was a lot harder to reshape than to unshape, but after several hard whacks I got it reshaped so it would fit back on the bike. I realize that I don’t have to share the stupid stuff I do, but if I can keep readers from making the same mistakes, then this blog will not be in vain. Moving on to plan D, I bondoed what little was left of the dent.

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But wait, it gets worse. My brother Nate mentioned that he knew a guy that pressurized a tank and split the seams. With that in mind I tested the tank for leaks and found a leak around the pipe that feeds gas to the tank. My first thought was to use gas tank repair epoxy to stop the leak. I patched it on and let it dry, but my confidence factor was low and tested it again. It leaked. I asked my buddy, Two Stroke, what to do and he said to silver solder it. I rinsed the tank out with water several times, soldered it and it worked.

The next project was to repair the highway bar. As I mentioned earlier, the right side of the bar had been nearly worn through from sliding down the pavement during a “lay-down”. That’s what us bikers call it, a “lay-down.” Lay-down sound more purposeful than, “I crashed my bike.”  Good, no, great bikers have made a mental commitment that they will never crash. They have committed that come hell or high water, they will do everything and anything possible to stay upright. When the situation becomes impossible, the great biker will purposefully lie their bike down is a controlled fashioned.

Anyway, back to the damaged highway bar. I fired up my wire feed welder and filled in the damaged areas of the bar. After I had enough metal built up on the damaged areas, I took the bar to the bench grinder and reshaped the bar to similitude of its original roundness.

At this point the bike was pretty stripped down. I removed the handlebars and front fender and prepared everything for paint. If you’ve followed my blogs at all you will know that I love spray-in bed liner. It’s very durable and sticks to just about everything. It also adds a little texture. On this bike I wanted to give it a flat, softer look, so I sprayed everything I was going to paint with the bed liner and used a satin paint. After the bed liner dried, I taped off and primed the parts I wanted green with Rust-oleum 2X Ultra Cover white primer. Then I sprayed on two coats of 2X Ultra satin green and two coats of 2X Ultra clear on everything. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on the color and if there are those who don’t like the color, they have kept it to themselves.

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I installed the new seat cover and that’s it. Except for a little tinkering, the bike is done and ready to sell. It was a fun project and I learned some things.

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ATC to ATV

Standard

  Three wheels to four!

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One day I was over at a friends house and noticed a Honda ATC  90cc three wheeler that was sitting behind his garage. The balloon type tires were flat and it was covered with dirt and leaves. I asked him about it and he told me that he and his son use to ride it around the field, but that was many years ago. He knew that I had sons and asked me if I wanted it as a project. I was always looking for a fun project as an excuse to spend time with the boys, so I hauled it home.

With very little encouragement my youngest son, Marcus and I got it running. We decided that it would be worth our time to fix it up. Marcus had become our carburetor guy, so he took it off and started tearing it apart, cleaning it. I got to work on changing the oil, changing the gas and making other needed adjustments and small repairs.

Within a couple of hours we had it running like a top. Marcus jump on and started tearing around the yard. The problem with it and most three wheel ATCs is that they tip over easily when turning a corner. The balloon tires made this ATC even more unstable and not that much fun to ride.

Several years earlier I had bought a riding lawn mower that was missing the mowing deck. It was the style where the motor is mounted in the back. I paid $50 for it and the boys rode the heck out of it, until the motor blew up. I suggested to Marcus that we use the front off the mower to make the ATC a ATV. He, of course was always up for the “Project”.

To our surprise and delight we discovered that the front of the three wheeler was held on with one big bolt. And, better yet, the front of the mower would bolt right on to the ATC by using a slightly longer bolt. Almost instantly, the ATC was transformed into a ATV.

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To help stabilize the front addition we welded on a couple of bars from the front deck back to the bottom of the neck.

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We also added a arm, with elbow, made from pipe we welded together. We bolted it to the front column and ran it back to the motor mounting bracket. It bolted right on to the motor mount when we welded brackets or ears on each side of the pipe and drilled holes in the two brackets in the appropriate places. Too easy!

The front wheels on the mower were too small and too wimpy. We took the back larger tires off the mower, but the center holes were too large to fit the front axle. I remembered that I had salvaged some high speed bearings from the mower deck of a riding lawn mower. The bearing were the ones used for the two mower blades, so they were very heavy duty. The holes through the bearing fit perfect on the front axles. The bearings mounted to the mowing deck with four bolts. We mounted the bearing to the front wheels with four bolts.

We made some front fenders from a plastic barrel and metal brackets to hold them over the front tires. At that point it was time to take it for a test ride. Marcus first of course.

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Interesting fact. Honda first made the ATC 90cc for hunters to get around in the woods and to help them get their kill back to camp. They were very popular and could haul around a lot of weight. Including my fat butt around the field.

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We made a few more adjustments and additions, including paint and a new seat cover. We rode that thing for several years, until we moved into the dirt bike faze of our lives and I bought a Polaris Trail master ATV for use around the farm.

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