Saving my 1978 Honda CB400A “Decaf” bike from a near fatal blow — lower gasket blowout and huge oil leak! (like, dumped a quart+ of oil in minutes while riding fast on highway at high temps). It was inadvertently overfilled with oil (my bad) and driven too hard (twin brother’s not so good) combination that killed the Beast!
Work with my twin brother (a very gifted self-and-internets-taught car and motorcycle moonlighting mechanic!), I as assistant especially for the entire reassembly and much of the cleaning work.
We had to take the top 3 layers off the engine stack (AKA “complete top-end rebuild”),
remove the pistons, and strip all the way down to the gearbox.
Layers: [valve cover] gasket [valves] gasket [cylinders and pistons] gasket [gearbox and crankcase]
Very neatly Honda makes them all stacked and connected via 8 super long screws that compress, when properly torqued, the entire set under the valve cover.
replaced the piston rings (very thin split rings circling the pistons that make them “float” up/down the cylinders),
re-honed the cylinders (you use a “flexible hone tool” to clean, slightly resurface, polish and add a light “cross-hatching pattern” to them),
cleaned the pistons completely (lots of carbon buildup after decades!) and installed 3 new gaskets — especially paying attention to the lowest gasket that tore and blew oil using some “gasgacinch” sticky product around the oil jets).
Then we did a full valve job (gets the valves ideally aligned to the 4-stroke engine stages),
timing belt adjustment, oil change, and more.
In addition, the air filter was trashed, so replaced that and fashioned an air filter custom holder to keep it from slipping back into the air box.
Bonus points: exhaust and carbeurator gasket replacements.
About $150 in parts (piston rings alone were OEM Honda and $75+), but probably the equivalent of $800-1000+ in labor.
New Bay Bridge Span opens — VLOG 1st person motorcycle ride across.
Labor Day 2013, Monday night, ~10pm
The Bay Bridge opens *7 hours before* the widely reported 5am tuesday reopening, after being completely closed for 5 full days.
My twin, Russ AKA “Green Magic Man” (google it 😉 (on green Ninja) and I are the first 30 vehicles on to the 8th street onramp and show you how the new Bay Bridge span looks like from a first person HD camera (courtesy of Hunter, thanks, Baby!)
It is dazzling at night!
Includes 2nd raw 30 minutes of entire trip in a 2nd file.
Russ and I changed our motorcycle’s oil and oil filters today. This was the first time I’ve ever changed oil in a vehicle — I guess it sort of was a life goal I figured I’d never get around to — part of understanding cars/bikes more! So it was a nice way to kick off the start of our 3-day holiday weekend.
The actual work on my bike was quite simple:
1 ratchet-able bolt as the drain plug to release most of the used oil into oil drip pan
1 ratchet-able bolt underneath to release the bike’s oil pan and oil filter section
Russ helped figure out those bolts which I could confirm with a shop manual PDF. Harder was sorting out what oil and filter to get/use and getting them. I went with:
Putting everything back couldn’t be easier — slipped on new filter to bolt/cover, ratchet-ed the two bolts back in, and poured in ~3 quarts of oil. I was happy parts were all in good shape and aside from some relatively dirty oil, no badness or surprises for my 35 year old bike. Phew!
Whups, my new speedo’s turn indicator LED was only going on when left signal was running.
Thankfully, found this post on hondatwins that mentioned the orange and light blue bike lines were actually active lines for when left or right turn signal was on — not that they were positive and negative general lines. It also mentioned a (cheap/simple, yay!) fix to use two 3-amp diodes and tie them in together. A quick putt-putt to Radioshack and $2 later…
I focus mainly on that in this image, but also some other related notes.
I also have my new speedo’s neutral LED light now turning on when bike is on (but not running) — will see tomorrow if it *also* properly goes *off* when shift up when bike is running.
OK, so I sorted out all my re-wiring and was able to replace my stock honda huge instrument cluster with a much smaller and streamlined single mini-speedometer with four instrument lights combined in it.
I used a CB400A wiring clymer manual image that I found online to sort out which wires connect where. I also cleared up quite a few wire clusters that no longer needed to leave the headlight wire storage area and made space for the new connections.
VERY satisfying! Can’t wait to fire her up tomorrow and hopefully the speedo/odometer work properly and track accurately. The indicator lights I could test (blinkers, hi-beam, as well as instrument backlight) work. Will see if my neutral light works tomorrow too (and hopefully will not see the “oil pressure” light come on ever 😎 )
Today I did much more than I thought I would — I pulled out and disconnected all instruments and relocated the ignition/key switch.
The plan is to combine the current speedometer/odometer with four of the seven indicator lights (neutral, high beam indicator, oil warning light, turn signal indicator) into a smaller chrome combined unit, and just plain omit the other three lights (parking brake, 1st gear, 2nd gear).
Now that I’ve done more than I had planned (“oh, maybe just two bolts today to see if I can figure out more what I’m up against…”) it is time to order parts! 😎
Today Hunter helped me inspect, test-drive, buy, and drive 100+ miles home from a mom-n-pop custom bike modifier in California’s central valley.
We avoided the 5 and all freeways and started out with about an hour of “country roads” and farm roads that were mostly straight and flat. Next we nearly ran out of gas but recovered thanks to the “reserve switch” to fillup in Tracy. Finally, we started the fun curvy and up-and-down stuff through the northwest backside of Mt. Diablo and had a late lunch in Clayton. We wrapped it up through Moraga, and then our favorite twisty mountain pass up Pinehurst to Skyline Blvd and home
What an wild day!
I’ve named her “decaf” since she’s an automatic (with just “lo” and “hi” gears, no clutch) *and* a cafe racer style modified bike. I’m really pleased she did so well on the first ambitious ride all the way home.