Honda Shadow Forums banner
1 - 20 of 49 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
74 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
About a week ago, I succumbed to motorcycling madness and bought another bike. This time it was a 1986 Honda Shadow VT500C. It was bought for two reasons:

1. It was cheap (relatively speaking).
2. I've a mechanical jones. Don't do much in my spare time besides work on stuff - and this crusty old bike represented a nice challenge.



Low rez digital photos lie. This is a crusty bike, courtesy of Guam's triple threat of sun, salt and heat.



The weather is so severe here, it can reduce a motorcycle to rubble within ten years.

Somewhere underneath that rust and corroded cases is a motorcycle, and it will be my task over the next couple of weeks to find it and bring it forth.



Ugh.

On the plus side - it ran. Actually, that's a bit of a bummer, as I like to get old iron lit off after extended storage - which usually isn't done properly, making it an interesting challenge. This bike survived on Guam for so long as it was parked in some sort of shade, and originally came from Oregon.



To make up for marginal operating condition, the bike was absolutely covered in mud dauber wasp's nests.



I've lost track of exactly how many - I think I found eleven so far.



I'm not a huge fan of mid 80's metric cruisers, as a matter of fact, this is the newest bike I own. My hobby involves getting old iron really cheap (as in free quite often) and freshening it to the point where it's presentable and fun to ride.
I'm thinking along the lines of a muscle bike style for this one, as aftermarket items are non-existent here, and most suppliers don't ship to the island. It should look "kind of" like this when done:



But perhaps slightly more aggressive.

This serves as the first post in a "build" thread where very few new parts will be used, and what few parts are used will be repurposed items to get to the 'look'.

Trust you'll enjoy the ride.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
74 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks!

A quickie build sheet includes:

- lowered bars
- blacked out wheel centers
- lowered headlamp
- a more open exhaust
- red highlights here and there
- lowered front end (less rake)
- raised white letter tires (in the rear to start)

and a general detailing of the bike. I've had about 20 bikes in my career, and can freshen them pretty quickly. The bike above is The RatZook, a '78 Suzuki GS 850 which received a similar treatment about ten years ago. Dead for 11 years, I got it for free, freshened it and then rode the snot out of it. Great bike - sold it to help fund (in part) a new kitchen for the boss.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
74 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Holy rust Batman. Good luck. That will be quite a project.
Thanks!

The liberating part about doing an island bike is one does not strive for perfection; one strives to arrive at a presentable bike which is fairly easy to maintain.

This means minimal chrome and pretty much all alloy gets painted. Clearcoat over polished alloy looks like crap in less than five years. The good news is there are rattle can paints out there which, when applied properly, look just like a fresh sand cast alloy part.

So - that's what's gonna happen to The Pig.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
74 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Getting caught up with the process to date - then the posts should drop off to about one a day, based on progress:

The first step in a project as this is to banish all the crud one can easily get to so as to make an assessment of what's there. Normally this involves a degreaser and a pressure washer, but I'm on Guam living in an apartment complex, not in a proper shop. So - I improvise.

Bleche Wite (pronounced Bleach White) is the most aggressive cleaner I've ever used. I don't recommend it for alloy, as it leaves behind a caustic residue which has to be neutralized to prevent "white rust", but in this instance, the bike is so far gone that it doesn't make much of a difference. Besides, all exposed alloy gets paint this time around.

Rust is funny. Due to it's chemical structure (FeO3, I believe), it expands 14-17X the size of the original granular structure. So - a part can have a ton of rust barnacles on it and still clean up fairly well. This is what I'd hoped for on The Pig. Using a combination of water, Bleche Wite, various sharp implements as scrapers and a little 0000 steel wool along with a kitchen brush resulted in a much cleaner machine.



Some parts cleaned up better than others.



Some areas turned out pretty darned nice on the first pass.



Still - there were oxidized components, especially plastic pieces which get killed by UV radiation, which will need some paint work. Note the fender "spats" just above the passenger peg - they're supposed to be jet black, for example.

Others are just too crusty to leave as-is, making paint mandatory.



Took about six hours to get it to this point. Moderately presentable, but still very much The Pig.



I took it our for a ride:

1) Loads more power than I expected; easily the equivalent of my '69 BSA Thunderbolt.
2) Low-speed handling SUCKS. This is not a stop and go bike. The combination of the pullback bars and rake make the bike 'floppy' below 10 MPH.
3) Engine note sounds like a Jetsons air car. A proper motorcycle does not sound like a Hannah-Barbera cartoon, IMHO.

Pleased with the purchase?



Mostly. Need to fix the handling right quick, tho. Not only does it handle poorly, the riding position is all scrunched up when you're 6' tall on this bike. No room for me elbows.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
74 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Still getting caught up...

Went to the local Honda store for some spare parts. True to form, even though many of the components are common to tons of other Hondas, nothing was in stock.

Nada.

They did, however, have a nice set of Renthal 3" rise motocross bars with a removable crossbar and pad. I bought 'em, installed 'em and it changed the entire look of the bike.



While at it, the triple tree was unbolted and the forks slid down 2" to start. Clamped it back up and did a detail job on the gauge pod and surrounding stuff, as I can't stand looking out over cruddy instruments.



The fuse cover was shot in Rust-Oleum Textured Metallic Silver - and looks GREAT!

On a roll, the front fender and associated pieces were attacked next.



I don't have a spray gun here, and Guam is SUPER humid, meaning that quick drying paint can get a 'chill haze', where condensation gets stuck in the paint as it's curing rendering it cloudy. To prevent this (and simplify the process of protecting a pitted fender) it was sanded nearly bare and shot with Rust-Oleum Black Metallic Hammertone. Hammertone is slow to cure and yields a bumpy finish, but sticks to crappy metal better than any other rattle-can paint I've used.

Unfortunately, the paint on the bike came back pretty easily with some Meguiar's Cleaner Wax and a bunch of elbow grease, so I'm going to have to wetsand and buff the fender flat to match the original paint.



For the really crusty chrome areas like welds and the backside of control components, I break out some Rust-Oleum Silver and a small artist's touch-up brush. Light application over the cleaned up areas seals the part from further corrosion.



Remember - not aiming for perfect - just good.

Took it our for a ride with the flat bars and lowered front suspension (which reduces rake angle) and...

Ahhhh.

Stable like a freight train down to walking speed - no more wobblies. I'm stretched out to a comfortable riding position, too! Much nicer, and I'm much happier with The Pig now that it's starting to look and act like a real bike.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
74 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
it makes noise now!

The George Jetson exhaust note was really bugging me. Sitting In Key West, I have a BSA Thunderbolt with a Spitfire cam in it (A95?) which makes the most delicious exhaust noises out of a pair of ****tail shaker mufflers.

This motor's about the same size, so it should be capable of something similar.

Did some researching on the internet, and figured my best bet was a set of straight pipes, except that straight pipes usually cause bikes to lose midrange torque (not something a 500cc motor has an abundance of) and I'm on an island notorious for having nothing.

I'm gonna hafta be inventive.

I'll probably end up cutting up a shower rod and fabbing it to make do, but in the meantime, I noticed whilst looking at custom exhausts the "Purple Rain" muffler cans (how 80's can one get?) are removable. On a whim - I pulled 'em.

Fired up the bike and took it for a short spin, concerned with changing the air/fuel mix (loss of exhaust static pressure leads to a lean motor).

Bike ran fine! the resonator must provide enough static pressure to keep the carbs happy.

Went a-looking for something to finish the system off with and found a pair of 7" rolled chromie exhaust tips at Car Quest. Hung them on the bike, and they did a nice job of finishing what's there.





An added benefit is the bike's lost 8 pounds of mass with the swap. It's not exactly what I'd do if I had mainland access (I once fabbed up an exhaust with stripper poles - honest) but one makes do on a small Pacific Island. It has a deep tone and makes a nice bark at 3500 RPM; interestingly warm idle speed went up a good 300 RPM and throttle response improved - all without a rejet.

I've jets to enrich the setup, but it seems to run pretty good as is. I like that when I whap the throttle open, the forks go up to their upper stops now. It's pretty sparky; when I get a fresh rear tire and decent brakes on it I may take it to the dragstrip just to see what it will do.

No - it won't be awesomely fast, but it shouldn't be embarrassingly slow, either.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
74 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Setback!

Mike Cassidy, who graciously puts up with my weirdness in exchange for kernels of mechanical wisdom, offered up his garage for the weekend so that I may work on the bike. I was pretty jacked; packed up my tools (and I have a LOT of tools for someone living "temporarily" on a Pacific island) and ran them over to his house Friday evening.

Mike and his lovely wife Sharon live in a gorgeous spot near one of the high points of the island, on a golf course with ocean overlooks, no less. Downside is it's a half hour away - like traversing a couple of time zones on an island. In any case, the tools made it there and I fell asleep dreaming of a long day of making the bike look pristine. Built a work plan in my head which couldn't be beat.

Which all fell apart around 1:00 AM that morning.

We live near Matapang Beach, and the local kids like to achieve state of "WHOO!" in the parking lot directly beneath our apartment. If you live in Key West, state of "WHOO!" is instantly recognizable - it's the level of drunkeness one must achieve to raise a wobbly Bud Lite in the air and scream "WHOO!" from the top of one's lungs.

I can't show you a photo of it, as it's dark. I'm pretty sure the population increases nine months later when a bunch of kids get together and achieve WHOO! here.

If it starts on a weekend, it goes until dawn, which it did last night.

<sigh>

Once up, I checked email and phone mail. Emily's email account had been hacked, and some Canadian Pharmacy thingie was sending everyone and their half-brother emails re: cut rate drugs. I was groggy, but fielded a call indicating we'd received an unasked for credit card.

<sigh>

One more thing to chase down.

Early morning came and went, as phone service was poor on the island morning; couldn't easily access voicemails. The power went out, too - a subject for yet another island story.

7:30 became 8:30, 8:30 became 9:30.

Finally suited up and went to the bike...

Dead battery.

This is a mid 80's bike with a Euro spec Park setting in its ignition. I guess the All Gear All The Time (AGATT) crowd is not satisfied with armoring up, one must operate their tail light and license lamp when parking on the street so a drunk-ass German may see what he's plowing into at 4:00 AM upon achieving state of "WHOO!"

I kid.

I doubt Germans ever achieve much more than a very quiet, "jaaah".

Anyway, this 25 year old Euro-spec ignition arbitrarily decides to cycle from "LOCK" to "PARK" in the middle of the night, thus draining the contents of the battery.

<sigh>

Up nine floors to fetch a charger, down nine floors sweating like a pig in AGATT gear (I suspect there's an AGATT conspiracy somewhere suppressing stats on death by motorcyclist heat stroke) to retrieve and install a battery charger.

I leave the parking lot 2-1/2 hours late.

If you know me or my father, neither of us are in what we'd call a jovial mood when our schedules are delayed by such things.

I get to Mike's place late and commence stripping down the pig.

10:30 AM mind you.

2-1/2 hours later, the bike was stripped to here:



The rags are the functional equivalent of closing the barn door after the horse has run away. Why?



Well, you see...Wasps hate me.

No sooner had I tapped loose the cam cover on the front cylinder, a winged terrorist operative cut loose a hidden sleeper cell nest, allowing what felt all the world like a half-pound of sand, grit and gravel to enter the engine's innards. Anyone familiar with reciprocating engines can tell you a bucket of gravel dumped on an exposed internal combustion cam and valve train is Certain Death in 20 minutes or less.

The engine was toast on Mike's garage floor at 10:40 AM. I'd planned on being at the point in the pix at 11:00 on my revised schedule - Nope. notgonnahappen.com.

I was sick to my stomach. New iron to me - dead on arrival. It's not enough that an angry wasp may chase me down and put me in a hospital, or that a half dozen vespids in tight formation may send me to an early grave - Noo! They gotta mess with my mechanical stuff, too! I organized a recovery plan involving jamming rags into the depths of the motor, removing the camshaft and valve train, and spent the next two hours with a tiny artists' brush and two cans of carburetor cleaner removing every last particle of grit I could find.

Ugh.



Eventually, the carb cleaner revealed no more grit, and I was able to move on to the task at hand - painting grotty alloy bits.

<sigh>

I was able to get the tail section painted, along with the cam covers and the right side engine case. A couple of small plastic pieces were painted , too, making the bike even more presentable than it was before.



Note the omnipresent charger lashed to the seat.

Still haven't painted the side stand, center stand, final drive, engine or right side case along with wheel centers. Only about half of what was intended for completion was finished today, due to fricking terrorist wasps who hate my guts.

I found three more nests, by the way, and it was with great pleasure I eviscerated the little *******s.

(excerpt from blog post, "Wasps Hate Me.", Guam and Beyond)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
278 Posts
Great thread man! I really like the progression, and those bars really changed/upgraded the look of the bike too. Yeah, I really hated the sound of my bike as well, and when I changed it to the current set up she began to roar like a motorcycle should.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
74 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks!

I try to apply a little lipstick every day; in doing so, the work progresses fairly quickly.

It's hard working out of a covered parking space on an island. Have only about half the tools I'l like to have, and since we're so close to the equator, the sun sets around 6:30 whether you like it or not. Cleaned up the shocks the other day - they turned out well, although I am thinking of lowering and strutting it. Problem is, the side stand is a limiting factor - if I were at home, I'd hit it with a cutting wheel and re-weld the pad on. Can't do that here.

Also lowered the headlight bucket 3" - looks better, but the bucket needs to go down a total of 6" - and get pulled in about 3". Will have to fab up a new headlight bracket - no mean feat when one doesn't have a vise or a torch.

I'll post up progress later.

in the meantime, I've talked myself into painting the engine in sand cast aluminum silver. I think this will keep the black/silver balance right.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
74 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Took a 2" wire brush disc to the rear shocks the other day. Figured they were so crusty and that I was thinking about strutting the back of the bike anyway - no big deal if I mucked them up.

They cleaned up MUUCH better than I thought they would!



Perhaps I'll run them for a while longer.

Don't much care for the profile of the bike - headlight is much too high for my liking. Bought corner braces from Home Depot, split one and used it to move the headlight and ear assembly down the fork tubes about 3".



The idea is to get the centerline of the headlight bucket in line with the tank - making the bike look more linear from the side, causing the lines to flow a bit better. While the 3" drop was an improvement, it's not enough.

With the bucket unbolted, it's obvious it wants to sit down on the lower triple tree clamp and inward about 2". The "look" will be correct then.



The wiring harness had to be reworked to get everything down that low - took a bit of futzing to make it so, but it did eventually work. Gonna hafta fab up a headlight bucket mount using strap iron and ingenuity, as I've not the the tools to do what I'd normally do.

Raining today. Doubt I'll get much done, as most of what needs to happen is paint related. Unfortunately, this is high rainy season on an island receiving over eight feet (yes, feet) of rain annually.

Great time to dive into paint work, eh?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
74 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks!

As a kid, I didn't have a lot of money - just ingenuity and the ability to drag junk home and work on it. Comes in handy on an island with limited resources.

Turns out aerosol paint is a hazardous material - stuff is rare as hen's teeth here, and can cost $12 a can. I'm limited as to colors, formulations, etc...so I make do.

When I have more tools, I work on stuff like this.

 
1 - 20 of 49 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top