1984 Honda Shadow VT700C Brain Transplant

The electrical system on my project bike, a ratted-out 1984 Honda VT700C, is giving me nightmares. I’m in the process of replacing nearly every electrical component on this bike, including the wiring harness.

Between eBay and OEM replacements on Amazon, I’ve pretty much managed to get everything I need, except for one major component: the ignition control system.

In fact, on the 1984 VT700C has three separate boxes controlling ignition. I’m not really sure what each box does, but here’s what I need:

2 x IC Ignitor (red label) TID12-11 A ME9, mfg. Hitachi, Ltd.

1 x ICU-06 ME9, mfg. Hitachi, Ltd.

I have no clue what those numbers and letters mean, only that the replacements I can find are just as suspect as the boxes I gave on hand.

In researching this problem on HondaShadow.net, I came across a reference to a Czech company that has some experience making replacements for these old black boxes.

The company is Ignitech, and they have a wide range of programmable ignitions. Of course, getting the right ignition means emailing photos of your existing mess of wires and parts. But these guys have a reputation for getting it right, so I’m going to give it a shot and have them build me a new ignition system.

Stay tuned!

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Melting the Parts-cycle

I knew rebuilding a 1984 Honda VT700C was going to challenge my meager skills, but I didn’t expect to be stopped in my tracks by a bad stator that refused to separate from the clutch cover.

At first I thought it was just an issue of leverage: it’s hard to get a solid grip the stator in one hand and the clutch cover in the other. I did manage to get what I felt was a good grip, and proceeded to twist and tug and turn and tap (and maybe bang a little), but that stator didn’t budge.

I got online and surfed the forums for a clue as to where I was going wrong. Did Ibmiss a hidden bolt? Did it pull straight off or thread onto the case (the new stator seemed to be finely threaded). My usual go-to site for the VT700C, HondaShadow.net, was silent on the issue.

I was tired, frustrated, and seriously considering parting the rest of the bike out on eBay. Then I did what I should have done five minutes after figuring out the stator was stuck: I called Big Daddy for advice.

He took time out of his shop renovation project (new drywall, new shelves, and an actual ceiling instead of bare beams) to listen to my problem. I texted over a few photos of the stator and clutch case so he could see the fresh batch of heartache I’d managed to find.

But, of course, Big Daddy had the answer.

He told me to head down to Autozone and pick up a can of CRC Freeze-Off, which is designed to dissolve rust and other muck that can cause bolts, screws and parts to bind together.

I picked up a $5 can of CRC Freez-Off (and another $50 worth of tools I don’t really need but probably will some day).

Back in the garage, I used the Freeze-Off ti liberally soaked the rim of clutch cover where the stator attached. I could see the grime dissolving and rinsing away at the edge, but I was skeptical about it actually penetrating deep enough to unlock the part. I started tugging and twisting and pulling again, but nothing happened.

I read the back of the Freez-Off can again, but paid attention to the instructions to “wait two minutes’. So I sprayed again and waited.

After two minutes, I got my grip on the clutch cover and stator, and I started twisting and wiggling. After a few seconds, I felt the stator shift a quarter of an inch on the clutch cover. I started pulling and wiggling some more, and with surprisingly little muscle, the stator popped right off.

CRC Freez-Off delivered on its promise once, but I had another test for it to prove if this was just luck, or if it actually works.

The clutch bolt where it attaches to the clutch slave cylinder was so stuck I was worried bout stripping the bolt if I put any more muscle (or body weight) into it. So I used the CRC Freeze-Off again.

It took a couple of applications, several minutes of waiting, and a little more muscle than the stator, but I managed to loosen the bolt from the clutch slave cylinder without stripping it or hurting myself.

So, CRC’s Freeze-Off gets top accolades from Oden Motor Shop.

New Photo Gallery: 2012 Rolling Thunder – Ride of the Patriots

Ride of the Patriots is a lead-up to Rolling Thunder put together every year by Patriot Harley-Davidson in Fairfax, VA. About 6,500 riders gather together in Fairfax to ride a police-escorted parade rout to join up with about half a million more Rolling Thunder participants at the Pentagon parking lot.

Finger vs. Table Saw

In a match-up between a table saw, who do you think the winner is? My dad taught me at an early age to be extremely careful around power tools, especially his table saw.  When I was a little kid (and even into my early teen years), I would avoid even going out into the garage if I heard the whine of my dad’s table saw. I had a fearful respect of the tool that could turn a rough length of treated lumber into a anything from a fence post to a plank for the backyard deck, or even into a couple pirate swords for my big brother and me  (although mother was never fond of these particular creations).

But when my dad was at that saw, I was always careful not to disturb him. I could easily imagine his thumb flipping away from his hand along with a scrap of board. I even think blood was shed on the Altar of the Power Saw on one or two occasions, but this were usually just from flying splinters. Fortunately, my dad still has all ten fingers.

When I was old enough, even though I was a bit fearful, he taught me how to use that table saw, and I eventually became fairly adept at cutting whatever he asked without wasting a good piece of wood or losing a digit. But that uneasiness is always there when I hear the whine of a power saw.

But all that could change.

I recently came across a video on YouTube of the SawStop. In a nutshell, SawStop saws can detect the difference between wood and flesh by measuring the conductivity of the material being cut. When flesh is detected, an emergency stop is triggered, and the blade is halted within a few milliseconds, fast enough to prevent serious damage to whatever appendage happens to have found its way in the path of a spinning blade.  Of course, the emergency halt mechanism destroys the blade and the “crash cage” that absorbs all of that energy,  but the $60 replacement cost is probably worth at least one finger saved.

The video below illustrates the sheer awesomeness of the SawStop.

Father’s Day is coming up, and I’m thinking hard about getting one of these gadgets for my dear old dad, who taught me how fun and dangerous power tools can be. Then again, I’m a dad, too. And Father’s Day is coming up.

Learn more about the SawStop at SawStop.com.

I Brake for Working Brake Lights

100_0114I was first alerted to a problem with the brakes on my bike when I started slowing down to make the left turn into my neighborhood and was suddenly assaulted by a blaring horn an obscenities from behind me. The guy driving the express delivery truck must have been pretty mad, because I could hear him clearly over the rumpling of my Screamin’ Eagle, and inside my half-face helmet. I made a quick check of my turn signals (I new I hadn’t forgotten to press the left turn button), and everything checked out.

A few minutes later, when I was back at home, I ran through a quick check:

  • Did something fall off my bike and hit the other car? — No. Everything was where it should be.
  • Did I have anything offensive written on my clothing?— Nothing that would elicit more than a disapproving glare from my grandmother (then again, she was very open minded and tolerant).
  • Were my tail lights out? No. When I pressed the footbrake, it all lit up.

But…

I check the brake again, using only the handbrake, and tail brake light stayed dark.

When I took off the break lever, the pressure-pin on the brake switch (which the brake releases when depressed) was stuck in its housing. No amount of coaxing could get it out.

So I headed down to Patriot Harley-Davidson in Fairfax, VA, and picked up a replacement switch for about $30.00 USD.

I was a bit nervous about replacing the switch myself: I can turn a wrench and change oil, but electrical troubleshooting is a bit beyond me. But the replacement switch came with good instructions with lots of drawings, so I decided to go for it.

Removing the brake lever was a simple task, since I’d already done it to check out the problem. Removing the electical switch housing and getting in to the bad switch proved challenging because my wiring is run inside the handlebars, and there really was no slack.

The brake switch was completely burnt out and had melted itself in a locked position. I had to gently muscle it out of the housing.

When I go the new switch in, I found that the release button (the part the brake pushes in and lets out to trigger the brake signal) was jamming. I loosed the screw holding the switch in to give it a little play, and jamming ceased to be an issue. I suspect this is what cause the earlier brake switch to burn out.

After some close wiring work (at least it was close to me), I got the new switch in and screwed and bolted everything back together.

When I tested the brakes using the hand lever, the brake light lit up instantly.

Hopefully the express delivery guy appreciates my effort and won’t drop my packages in the mud.

Fat Boy on a Softail

This 1993 Heritage Softail Classic isn’t a small bike, but when Curt gets on it, it looks down-right tiny! Fortunately, an aftermarket Screamin’ Eagle motor helps him keep up.

Z-Rod: Undead V-Rod

While it may be hard to believe, one of Big Daddy’s little buddies trashed his V-Rod, most likely as a result of doing something he shouldn’t have been doing, somewhere he shouldn’t have been, and probably with someone he knew better than to be doing anything with.

It’s funny how many Oden Motor Shop projects start out this way.

We’re not sure how Big Daddy ended up with the wreckage, although repayment for bailing the previously mentioned Little Buddy out of jail is a strong possibility.

For a while now, Big Daddy’s been wanting to get Son Number One off of his tiny 1980 Honda CX500 Custom, and onto something more suited to a man of great … stature.

Granted, the CX500 is a great motorcycle, but the circus clowns want their bike back.

So, for Son Number One, a junked out V-Rod is zombified by the mad geniuses of Oden Motor Shop. We give you: Z-Rod!

This Bolt’s Driving Me Nuts

I have an embarrassing problem. My bars just won’t stay erect. I can’t tell you how embarrassing it is when I have to come to a sudden stop, and my handlebars flop down onto my knees.

Oddly enough, the first person I go see whenever I have a mechanical problem is my Big Daddy (who in real life is my daddy, and still pretty big, but not nearly as big as me). Big Daddy also built my bike, so he already knows the peculiarities of this particular situation.

As it turns out, the original handle bars were not knurled, so Big Daddy set a screw in the bar so it would catch on the inside of the riser bracket before dropping all the way down.

On one hand, this was a brilliant idea: adjustable height handle bars. On the other hand, it didn’t work out so well for me. After the set screw mod, the bars would still clear Big Daddy’s short little legs, even at their lowest point, but my long, lean, muscular, sexy … OK … My big fat legs were tall enough that the bar would knock my knees when my feet were flat on the foot boards.

We just couldn’t figure out why the bar was still dropping. After some deep discussion and clearing of cobwebs, Big Daddy recalled that there was always something odd about the top bolt on the right hand riser. The bolts seemed to go in fine, but even after torquing them down, the bar could slip under pressure.

In a moment of genius (and because he was supposed to already be on the road to Daytona at the time), Big Daddy had inserted a zip tie into the bolt hole and torqued it down. The bars were tight as can be, and the temporary nature if the fix slipped Big Daddy’s mind (likely with the help of several gallons of beer and tequila during bike week).

Now, a few years later, when the bike is handed over to a gentleman of even greater stature (myself), that poor little nylon strip couldn’t handle it any more.

So, let’s get back to the real problem: factory bolts, after market bolts, bolts found in an oily bucket in the corner of my garage would not seat properly in the riser. The threads didn’t appear to be stripped in the riser, and the bolts (especially the chromied ones) are pristine. And since the bolts all fit fine in other riser bolt holes, the only conclusion we can come to is ….

Factory defect.

That’s our story, and we’re sticking to it.

So, I went to the local hardware store and purchased a nice course thread Grade 8 bolt and nylon lock nut. everything righted down beautifully, and my handlebars are stable.

It’s not particularly pretty with one odd nut hanging off the bottom of the riser mount, but if will do fine for the next week while I wait for my new risers to arrive.

 

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Big Daddy’s New Ride

Do you ever get that not so fresh feeling? Well, at some point in the life of every one of Big Daddy’s motorcycles, the seat stops smelling so much like leather, and starts smelling like old, hairy, STANKY, Big Daddy ass. When that inevitability happens, Big Daddy goes shopping.