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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Project Bike

Everyone that has more than a couple of bikes, especially vintage bikes, has a project bike lurking in the depths of the garage. I have a '66 Honda CL72 Scrambler that is hiding back in the shadows waiting for attention. It has belonged to either me, or one of my friends, for the last 35 years. I keep collecting parts to restore it but nothing in the way of progress has happened in a long, long time. Maybe this winter ...

Even worse is my XR400R. I bought it when we were all hot for dirt bike riding a few years back. A definite step up from the MT250 that had rekindled my desire for trail riding. However, it has been a trail of tears for this bike. First, I dropped it in a water crossing and didn't drain the oil immediately. It seemed to run OK once I got it restarted but the next day it suffered a couple of mini-seizures. 

When I got home I tore it down and sent the barrel out for a re-bore. I put it back together but appearently didn't get the cam chain adjuster right and the chain jumped a couple of teeth. The valves didn't appreciate meeting the piston in such a violent manner and got all bent out of shape.
Back into the shop. I sent the head out for rework and checked the piston. While I was at it I decided to pull the cover and replace the clutch. This is where I became my own worst enemy. Not having the proper $19.00 tool I promptly broke the $160.00 clutch basket. The shop I sent the head to took a long time getting it back to me and when they did it was too late for riding. I was totally discouraged. So it sat ...

That was 2 or 3 years ago. Really! One of the advantages (or curses) of owning a lot of bikes is that I can always ride something else. There is no pressure to get anything done. The XR had acquired a "what else could go wrong?" aura that kept putting me off. It had also taken on a certain reputation amongst friends who wondered "when I was going to have it bronzed?" or "are you saving it for a tombstone?"

A few weeks ago I finally bit the bullet. I decided that I wouldn't try to fix it all at once, I would just put a couple of parts on it each day and see how that went. So far that plan is working. The head is reassembled, the clutch is back in place, the covers are on and tight. I'm waiting for some parts to put the carburetor on and then the engine work will be done. While I had it apart I was thinking of replacing the suspension and wheel bearings but that might put off riding it for another 2 years. Better to just ride it and get to work on the Scrambler while I have the momentum.