Monday, April 14, 2014

New Pony in the Stable!

The usual trolling on the Boston-area Craigslist had turned up an intriguing find: a 1973 Honda CB350F in Providence, with title, running last year, but not running now. It looked good, no rust to speak of, and had only 13k miles. Price was a little high -- $1200 -- but this is the Northeast and these bikes just don't go for a buck-a-cc anymore. I fired up the Torquoise Tortoise and headed south. Lo-and-behold, the thing looked better in person (orange tips and redline in the gauges, black switches on bars) meaning it had been stored indoors. The exhaust is shitty, but everything else looked great. Still, the spark plugs were stuck, and I could only get one out, and the compression measured a mere 95psi. Still, after some haggling, I knocked $500 off the asking price and drove away with it.
 I left for Philly the following weekend, but when I got back it was time to dig in. I figured I could sell the bike for parts and get my money back if need be (and it came with a luggage rack, fairing, saddle bags, and highway bars that could sell too). Time to check over the usual to see where we were. Dropping the float bowls showed that two of them had a goopy sealant on them that had clogged up the main jets. Well, that'll make your bike run shitty. Took off the points cover, and lo and behold, whoever used the goop to seal the carbs was a big fan, because he or she used it to seal the points cover. That and possibly overuse of cam gear oil led to points that were black with crud. That too will make your bike run like shit -- or not at all.
 The rest of the interior of the carbs looked pretty good, so I just ordered o-rings for the bowls, and a new gasket for the points cover, about $10 total + shipping. The plugs were shitty, so spent $15 on new ones. I had an old set of points and condensers from the last time I tuned up my other 350F, so I switched them out, charged up the battery, took off the carbs, cleaned 'em, and set float height, and the thing started first kick (starter motor is bad). So this is how it sits. Got some decisions to make. Dig the 4-4 exhaust, but stock or replicas will run about a grand. Might look for some exhaust tips at the same diameter, and bend a little pipe for the joint (the 4-4 mounts are still on it). Or -- use a 400F system with pegs (I have a few sets of 400f pegs for just such an occasion). Got a grab rail in nice shape for $30 -- I actually like them on these bikes, and they hold the turn signals nicely. Front turn signals were moved up because of the fairing, so I'll move them back. Tank has a little spilled crud on it, so that might need cleaning up. Stock bars have the controls wired through them -- but might switch to clip-ons, clubmans or drag bars -- depending on what Meg wants. Yep, it's gonna be her bike if she wants it.(PS look closely -- Mr. Nubbins sighting!)
The day I got the bike fired up was a nice one, so I pulled out these bikes and worked on every single one, and took a photo with the Torquoise Tortoise. Apparently it's popular on Instagram. How to monetize? Isn't that what the kids say these days?
 Regardless, welcome to the stable, nice to have something new to work on. Now to finish redoing the fender and seat on that CB160...

Monday, March 10, 2014

Attleboro Session!

 Saturday the temps were in the upper 40s, first nice day in a while, and the plan was hatched for a session at Attleboro. I fired up the Torquise Tortoise, picked up Doug and Thomas, and we headed to the ramp. Session in full swing, tons of people, and when the sun was out it was warm and t-shirt weather. 30 minutes later, clouds rolled in, and the hoodies were put back on. We joked that summer had come and gone. It was a joke, right? Attleboro is the spot. Below, Doug blasts FSA.
 F-side grindage, from top to bottom: Pete Stroke, Big Tim Mugging, and Thomas.

Doug takes the plunge and rolls in. Haven't had a major snow in weeks, but the swamp remains iced over and snowy. I'm not skating yet, but when it's cold the ramp hardens up and gets fast.

Big Tim blasted some frontside airs, and his last one was huge but not a make. This is the result. Bandaids, sticky sheets, and a scab that will likely last a few months with a scar that will continue to get peeled off. Dues have been paid.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Life in the Dick, Part 5

More life in the Dick... where to begin? There have been about 5 days where the weather has gotten above freezing since I got back from AZ and Seattle. Having a broken arm means I sat around a lot, looked for work, watched TV, and my new thing: getting my record collection entered on Discogs. Got most of my LPs, and a few of my 7"s. Nice to know what I've got, and how many. Two days ago it was 34 degreesout, and it had been dry for a few days so the roads were clear, so I took the CB160 out for a spin. Today, same deal, but I took the CB350F out for a spin. I tuned them both up in the fall, and they both ran killer (although the 350F's battery needed some help turning the bike over). Hopefully we've turned a corner and it will start getting warmer -- although it's supposed to snow tomorrow.

So I knew the Apache would have some project type stuff for me. This is what it looks like under 2 feet of snow, and since it is a manual, I wasn't driving it much with my broken arm. I can drive it now, however, and rolled it to Attleboro yesterday for a skate session (I watched). More on that tomorrow. I bought a vintage suicide knob reight before I broke my arm -- it actually arrived on my birthday, the day I did it, and I installed it that day. Manual steering can be a bitch, especially with a healing arm, but this thing helps.

One of the other projects was sorting out the heater. The ducts were all held together with -- wait for it -- duct tape. All of the heater cables were frozen. The part above, which directs heat to either defrost or regular heat, had a shit ton of stuff in it: two pencils, a corkscrew, a .22 shell, a pen, a cracker jack prize, a fish hook, random screws and clips, a fuse, a paint can opener, all sorts of shit. I pulled it out, replaced all of the cables, lubed up the box, and replaced the ducts. One of the things about working on old stuff like this is that it's all pretty easy. Heater cranks now. Turn signals this month...
 Did you watch the Olympics? I did a little, when it was on and I was in front of the TV. I'm on the USA Official Drinking Team.
 Meg and I went down to Mattapoisett to visit friends for her birthday. Great time, and we visited the NEd's Point Light House, where we got engaged and married.
 Meggers got me some pie baking accessories, so I made a cherry pie. That thing was pretty tasty if I do say so myself. I aim for edible.
 Arizonan at the hospital.
Vans and Dropout came through with the goods. Thanks guys! I'll be back on board in a month, I  hope...

Went down to NYC to see the Loud Ones play again, and to visit friends. Hung out a Ryan's crib, met his awesome wife Sheena, and saw Joe Newton. Saw Ben Sabiers too at the show. Great to hang out with old Seattle friends. Thanks for putting us up Ryan and Sheena!
 This one is for Dixon.
 Huge is dudes from Underdog, and they were great. Agent Orange, Loud Ones, Jim Carrol, and Pagans covers. Killer set! Below, the Loud Ones rocked as usual.
 Spent some time walking around. Our friend told us if we head toward the Village we might see frozen puke. Guess what? We saw frozen puke. And a syringe for good measure.

 NYC was a blast, great food, killer times, saw the new Rough Trade record store and pulled a few records (as well as from Other Music). We'll be back!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Heebie Jeebies for Girls on CBs, part 5!

 So I'm still not skating, not doing much of anything, and the snow is three feet deep in the yard. I've got the heebie jeebies, no doubt about it. Since we're working our way through the displacements, it only makes sense to take a quick detour back to the CB77, a 305cc bike that was the big brother to the CB160 -- stressed member, sloper, killer look, and unlike the 305cc Dream, had a tube frame. Those Dreams were always a bit wobbly to me and the brakes soft, (although I've had a few people tell me they're not that bad), and I've been after a CB77 for ages but haven't had any luck yet (but a few near misses). Besides the killer frame and chrome and rubber gas tank, the CB77 speedo/tach is a thing of beauty. They're combined into one instrument and are sunken into the headlight bucket. On the early CB77s, the tach needle went clockwise and the speedo needle went counterclockwise. I got one for my CB350F/400F bike, then quickly realized I would need a counterclockwise drive for the speedo. Found one on Ebay for not too much...

The CB350 was introduced in 1968 as a replacement for the CB77. No longer a stressed member, the engine sat completely within the frame. The early bikes had a great tank with rubber knee patches. Like the CB77, they also came in a scrambler edition. They were produced until 1974, and remain the most popular motorcycle ever built (which is why it's kinda crazy to see folks pony up big bucks for them these days). I like 'em, they're torquey and take off pretty quick, and are lighter than the fours, although not as smooth and not as much in the top end. In 1974 Honda introduced the CB360 to replace the CB350. It added some extra ccs (the 350s were actually 325cc, and the 360 was 356cc) and a sixth gear, but it was hampered by a winding cam chain that frequently failed (and was part of a Honda recall -- some bikes got new cam chain guides, some didn't bother bringing their bikes in for it). Similar to the CB350, fun and torquey, and the extra gear worked out great. Honda also added an extra gear to the CB400F in 1975 -- and it's become an uber collectable bike. Super fun, I've had a couple of them, and they haul ass (and will do the ton).

Bikes above: CB77, CB350, CL350 (from "Girl with a Dragon Tattoo"), and our pal Cindy (from fashion serial killer) on her CB360. Below -- the aforementioned CB77 speedo/tach on the 350F/400F project.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Heebie Jeebies for Girls on CBs, part 4!

 Although we've featured the CB160 before, found a new cool overview of one, thank tank gives it away although the speedo, headlight bucket, bars, etc., have been changed. Might as well talk about some evolution, since the CB160 sloper (sloping parallel twin, stressed member -- engine was part of the frame) gave way briefly to the CB175 sloper (adding a 5th gear), then the CB175 upright twin.

CB175 went from 1969 to 1973, and had a CL version as well (below, with scrambler pipes), and a CD version. My buddy Vargas has a killer example, in very nice shape, and we tried to source him some stock pipes since his were developing holes -- early Honda exhaust could be thin metal and sometimes poorly designed, so water pooled and rust holes developed. We went to an old junk collector with a yard full of bikes, by the name of Stan. Great guy, yard and house full of dog shit, raced Indians in the 50s, eccentric and cranky, but I've pulled some cool parts out of there. We found decent CB175 exhaust, although Vargas later decided against using it, but Stan wanted to sell the whole bike. For $200. Pretty much complete, no side covers and fucked up seat. How could I say no? 
Vargas got the exhaust for $60, so the bike cost me $140. I decided to get it running, and did the usual: plugs, points, carb rebuild, coat the tank, timing, oil change. The thing fired right up and ran through all gears. I had seen some glitter paint and I thought I would try it, so the bike became known as Gary Glitter (See blog posts here and here). Next were some nice bits: headlight bucket and speedo from a CB160 that I had lying around, clip ons that I get made, a mini-tach that I had for another project before I went another direction, cool  NOS old white grips, a cool looking cat tail light, and pod filters from Bob's, scrambler exhaust also from Bob's (those guys charged me like, $20 or something...), cafe seat old tank and "upholstered" with glittery gold fabric. I had to buy some thin metal tubing to make the pods work since they hit the frame, and rewire the battery into the seat bump, but that's standard shit right there. Probably had $250 in parts on top of the $140 entry fee. Got it dialed in and running killer, and blasted around the neighborhood for a few days. I kinda wish I woulda kept it, but the deal was it had to go, so I offered it up to friends for the "friends" price with no takers. Then I put it on craigslist for $1500, and sold it in a day to a new student at MMI, no haggling, cash on the barrel head. Wonder if his buddies at MMI gave him shit for having a tiny, glittery gold bike?

In 1974, Honda upped the displacement to 200cc and added a sixth gear, and made some cosmetic changes. The CB200s are sorta famous for the weird vinyl stripe down the tank -- some people love 'em, I think it's kind of hideous. They also had a cable-operated front disc brake.
Around 2000 or so, I picked up a CB200 for $50 on craigslist in Phoenix. Did the usual, got it running, but never got it registered or anything, mostly just tooled around the neighborhood. Roger came down from Colorado, and I wound up trading it to him for a tattoo. Easy come, easy go, I guess. Great little bikes, although Maaike's was a stubborn little fucker that took some time, effort and outsourcing.

Boring update, who cares, right?

So uh, yeah, fuck all to report. Arm is still jacked, so I am not skating or riding the motorbikes. Photo above is 6 weeks after the break, no surgery, no cast, but it looks like someone patched up my humerus with JB Weld. It's all good, gotta get it flexible first, then strong, then back on board.
Did get to see Fred SMith's band the Loud Ones play a record release show at the Taunton skatepark with Chuck Treece/McRad. Super fun, total blast, and above spokesmodel Big Tim blurs a grind while the band plays.
 It was rad to meet and talk to Chuck Treece a little, legendary dude, this is a Thrasher cover from May 1984.
Good buddy Gernot came from Austria to hang out, and apparently it was colder in Boston "than at the top of the highest mountain in Austria. That's some cold shit! Also in town: Brewce Martin, who I don't think remembers me right away when I see him. But when he realizes I work for Thrasher, it's non-stop, incessant "Hey, tell Jake Phelps a thing or two from me!", "That dude blackballed me!" "What's up with Jake Phelps, let's call him right now!" and other assorted jibber jabber until he leaves. Rad dude though, and Dug E. Death is in between 'em.

Now back to the regularly scheduled program of chicks on CBs? Shit, why not.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Le Container still killing it.

Le Container is a daily stop for me: art, design, girls, motorcycles, cars, etc. This one gave me a chuckle today.