OK, so it's not a car. But it burns gasoline, goes fast, and I worked on it. Two wheels and no steel cage around you makes stupid more painful, but it's fun as long as you use a good measure of common sense and keep the the Law of Gross Tonnage in mind while you're out on the highway. I had fun for the time I owned it, but in the end it never got ridden that much, so I sold it in August of 2006.
Beginnings and Background
At some point I decided I needed to own a motorcycle. Both my parents rode them for years and I had even had a moped when I was in high school, so two-wheeled transportation was nothing new to me. I had often ridden motorcycles owned by friends and when I finally had a spare $400, I ran across this one for sale in a local paper. It had been in storage for years and had trouble starting as a result of a bad battery and bad gas, but was in cosmetically great shape and with only 8000-odd miles on the clock I figured the mechanicals should be in good shape also. I got it running enough to ride it home, and proceeded to fix some small stuff that was messed up.
First up, the starter and starter clutch both needed to be replaced - the starter clutch work was a chore, but I found a decent used one at a local motorcycle salvage yard for cheap and got that installed without too much hassle. I must say that getting the cover aligned right with the alternator magnets trying to pull it out of alignment was a real PITA, but I finally got it done, though it does still have a small drip when parked for a long time. The starter was easy to replace, but expensive - rebuilding my starter set me back a whopping $500 - more than I paid for the entire bike. But, I was not as wise in the ways of motorcycles as I later became, so I paid it and went on about my business.
I then rode the bike on a semi-regular "fair weather only" basis for a few years, always keeping it parked on a porch or otherwise under cover. However, the overall state of tune was slowly degrading and the bike had developed a nasty habit of not starting, as well as a serious misfire on the front cylinder under 4000 RPM when it was not fully warmed up. I gave it a basic tune-up with new plugs, wires, and a new air filter, but eventually, it stopped running altogether unless you gave it some serious coaxing. The carbs were finally plugged up, and I hate working on multiple carb setups, so I parked it under cover and ignored it for a few years.
Back from the Dead
Finally, the urge to ride was too much, and I found a friend who would rebuild the carbs for me. I trailered the bike to his house, and voila - days later my bike was back from the dead. Almost. It started and ran fine - I even rode it home - but it wouldn't idle on it's own for more than few seconds, even with the idle speed cranked up more than it should be. It appears crud from the fuel tank has already messed up the carbs or something else was still wrong, so it needed to go back for some more cleaning and tuning. Before I could get it back for that work, one of the cylinders quite firing altogether - just my luck. On further investigation, it had one seriously fouled plug and a split vacuum line coming from the rear cylinder that was causing the tuning to be all over the map. After fixing that, cleaning the fouled plug, and resetting this idle - behold - it runs and idles on it's own. Yeah!
No Crud Allowed
Most motorcycles are (apparently) shipped without a fuel filter in the fuel line. They just have a little "sock" over the fuel pickup in the tank to prevent large junk from getting into the petcock assembly. That's pretty lame, especially once the bike is older and has some rust in the tank - the rust particles are small enough to get through the "sock" and are still big enough to plug up stuff in the carb. So, when I got my bike running after a long time in storage, the guy who did the tune-up-and-clean-out-the-carbs work for me made the (in retrospect) rather obvious suggestion that I put a small disposable in-line filter on the bike. So I did.
I used a Fram G4715 filter. It's a small plastic filter about 2" by 2" with the inlet and outlet coming off the top pointing roughly in the same direction which is perfect for this application. There is a small groove around the upper circumference of the filter designed to snap into a bracket on a car. Since I didn't have a bracket, I made a small "L" shaped bracket out of scrap sheet metal and bolted it to the front two screws on the carb linkage mounting bracket so that it went forward and then up. I made a small bend at the top of the L that pointed towards the middle of the bike, and then ran a tie-wrap around the bracket and around the filter to hold it in place. Maybe someday I'll scavenge the proper bracket out of a junkyard and mount that to my custom bracket. For now, the tie-wrap works quite well to keep stuff from flopping around.
Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow
After watching the motorcycle collect dust under a cover for far too long, in August of 2006 I finally decided to sell it so some other lucky soul could enjoy this fun toy. I got $360 for it, which wasn't too bad considering I couldn't start it and the buyer had to trailer it home. I was never riding it, and it was time for me to give up on my desire to own a motorcycle so I could spend my time and energy on my other vehicles. Hopefully, somewhere around Seattle there is someone who is really enjoying my old motorcycle. I hope it brings them lots of smiles.
This was Vehicle #13. My first motorcycle.
Page last updated 01/02/2009 01:51:39 PM