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Don't know if i saw it here or on the dutch VFROC forum but there was a topic of somebody making his own clear lenses.

First making his own moulds in silicone and pouring in some kind of epoxy or resin.

 

I checked, it was the dutch forum but all pictures have been lost

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Just run your dual headlights wiring via a relais as not to overload the on/off switch assembly.

 

10 (2).jpg

 

Wee yellow glass domes over the H4 bulbs for that endurance racing look  :tongue:

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On 9/20/2018 at 10:26 AM, koekum said:

Don't know if i saw it here or on the dutch VFROC forum but there was a topic of somebody making his own clear lenses.

First making his own moulds in silicone and pouring in some kind of epoxy or resin.

 

I checked, it was the dutch forum but all pictures have been lost

 

JZH said:

 

If you want clear rear turn signal lenses, you kind of have to get the clear tail light as well or it will look a bit strange...

 

 

The project-r clear lights all look pretty good to me. Clear lenses and LEDs. Nice... $250?! Ain't gonna happen... Maybe some day. But home made? That's another idea. A friend with a basic 3D printer tells me that he can't make any parts for the bike. His printer just can't do that. I don't know the technology for mapping and cloning stuff. I'd think the interior of the lenses would be just as important as the exterior. Now silicone molds? Epoxy? I'll see if I can find something more on that.

 

 

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On 9/20/2018 at 2:26 PM, Dutchy said:

Just run your dual headlights wiring via a relais as not to overload the on/off switch assembly.

 

In the American VFR, the low beam light is on all the time. The rocker switch is only for the high beam. But the lights automatically cut out when you hit the starter.

 

Near as I can tell by actually um, looking at the lights, they both run all the time, low beam and high beam, like in a car.

 

Low beam:

IMG_3181.jpg.fa9ca893a7d58f228e86854f1b43971b.jpg

 

 

High beam:

IMG_3182.thumb.jpg.963887c5e28f8d4496961574b0b0b4c2.jpg

 

And if I'm reading the wiring diagram right, then it says the same thing. It looks like both the Bu/Bl leads and the W/Bl leads are joined before any switches.

 

IMG_3179.thumb.jpg.c9d671a7700a1cdfc4b786f4b38ca46f.jpg

 

 

So, I'm thinking I should probably replace the lamps as a matching pair, not separately as I'd been planning.

 

BTW Dutchy, are you parked on like, the railroad tracks? Is that a good idea in those parts?

 

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On 9/21/2018 at 2:25 PM, LID said:

And if I'm reading the wiring diagram right, then it says the same thing (or not). It looks like both the Bu/Bl leads and the W/Bl leads are joined before any switches.

 

IMG_3179.thumb.jpg.c9d671a7700a1cdfc4b786f4b38ca46f.jpg

 

 

So, I am thinking I should probably replace the lamps as a matching pair, not separately as I'd been planning.

 

I often run one yellow and one white headlamp in my bikes, just for conspicuity.  It's usually the same type of bulb, just that one of them has a "French yellow" capsule on it:

 

s-l1600.jpg

 

But there's nothing really stopping you from running a 55/60 on one side and a 55/100 on the other.  They don't have to match, but the wires (and switches) do have to be robust enough to handle it.

 

Ciao,

 

JZH

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On 9/23/2018 at 8:22 AM, JZH said:

But there's nothing really stopping you from running a 55/60 on one side and a 55/100 on the other.  They don't have to match, but the wires (and switches) do have to be robust enough to handle it.

 

I was thinking it would just look weird to mismatch the bulbs. Folks would be telling me that there was something wrong, like one bulb was burning out or something. But a yellow bulb would have the effect you mention, and people would realize it was intentional. It's a fair solution John. The whole issue of overloading the wiring and relays is enough to make me think twice. You can see my pictures. The lights work okay. But brighter would be better and presumably safer...so long as the bike doesn't catch fire. 😛 And there are LEDs too. More expensive for now. They apparently come with their own cooling fans(?!). Lots of options.

 

I'm still muddled about the whole lighting design. My bulbs each have two filaments, low and high. But for one filament to be a "high beam" it can't only be brighter, it has to point up from the bike to focus further down the road. That presumably would be built into the design of the bulb or the glass lens on the front of the bike. The only obvious difference I can see, is that one filament in each bulb is positioned in front of the other by all of what, 1 cm? It might be possible that that tiny difference from the light source position is reflected through the lenses at enough of an angle difference to point further down the road. I don't know. It's not important to any practical choice, just something that has me muddled. Maybe I should just ride with the high beam on all the time...

 

 

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On another semi-related point, I get in pretty good rides even though the bike isn't entirely up to scratch. Like yesterday. My local riding mates are on equally scruffy machines, although theirs are German. 😛 The hills in northwestern Connecticut are close by, not crowded, and pretty enough. Not spectacular by any means, but pretty enough.

 

IMG_3177.thumb.jpg.0f0e4d64f720848e4ad6eb36442cfbc7.jpg

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The main difference between the two filaments in an H4 bulb, apart from their positioning, is that the low beam is shielded internally so that its light hits only the top half of the reflector.  Top of the reflector means all of the light is reflected below the middle line of the headlamp, so onto the road and up to the "cut-off", which is roughly at the same height as the headlamp is mounted.  The high beam filament is unshielded, so its light hits both the top and the bottom of the reflector, and thus there is no "cut-off" to the beam, all of which is thrown down the road, some above and some below the mounting height of the headlamp.

 

The H4 bulb design, however, is a compromise because, while the two filaments are in different locations, the reflector is in the same position, so the light from each filament (at least in the top half of the reflector...) is reflected slightly differently, depending on which filament is illuminated.  I imagine that the reflector engineers, whose job was to direct certain proportions of the light appropriately into different regions in front of the vehicle, probably hated that!

 

Ciao,

 

JZH

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On 9/23/2018 at 6:45 PM, JZH said:

The H4 bulb design, however, is a compromise because, while the two filaments are in different locations, the reflector is in the same position, so the light from each filament (at least in the top half of the reflector...) is reflected slightly differently, depending on which filament is illuminated.  I imagine that the reflector engineers, whose job was to direct certain proportions of the light appropriately into different regions in front of the vehicle, probably hated that!

 

how reflector headlights work

 

Thanks for the explanation John. I'm getting there. This illustration mostly confirms what you say, and helps. (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headlamp) My misunderstanding was on several levels. For starters, I'd been assuming...for no particular reason...that the high beam filament was the one closer to the front. I'd also thought that conversions, like HID and LED, used the same multiple mirror reflectors. Now I think they may be 'projector' bulbs rather than reflectors. And if the position of the filaments is so critical, then maybe Honda oem bulbs really are better suited for their own reflector. That could be a reason their engineers made the tabs unique. So we wouldn't substitute with normal and less expensive H4 bulbs. Hah! I guess we showed them... 🙂

 

For those who realllly want to get into this subject (not me), there is this: Reflective Optics Design for an LED High Beam Headlamp of Motorbikes, from the Scientific World Journal. Maybe better suited for another thread entirely: 

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4414011/

 

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There's an archived link that explains a lot too. Hey! You're in it John! I just gotta get better at navigating vfrd...

 

 

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18 hours ago, LID said:

how reflector headlights work

 

Thanks for the explanation John. I'm getting there. This illustration mostly confirms what you say, and helps. (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headlamp) My misunderstanding was on several levels. For starters, I'd been assuming...for no particular reason...that the high beam filament was the one closer to the front. I'd also thought that conversions, like HID and LED, used the same multiple mirror reflectors. Now I think they may be 'projector' bulbs rather than reflectors. And if the position of the filaments is so critical, then maybe Honda oem bulbs really are better suited for their own reflector. That could be a reason their engineers made the tabs unique. So we wouldn't substitute with normal and less expensive H4 bulbs. Hah! I guess we showed them... 🙂

 

I believe the Honda H4 bulb has the same dimensions as the regular H4--save for the positions of the tabs--so if regular H4s are put into a headlamp designed for the Honda bulbs the filaments should be in the same positions--provided the process of tab-snipping does not alter the overall position of the bulb.  Even a slight tilt relative to the OEM position would likely move the positions of the filaments by 1mm or more.

 

This is also why HID and LED conversions (where just the bulbs are swapped into reflector headlights) are such utter bodges: the "filaments" (or, the light source location) simply cannot be located in the same position(s) relative to the reflector as the H4's precisely located filaments.  These conversions do produce a lot of light, but it is no longer cast where the engineers wanted it to go.  Whether that's a problem or not probably depends on the specific conversion (and on which side of the headlamp you sit).

 

On some bikes it is fairly easy to re-engineer the headlamp assembly to accept regular H4 bulbs, thus making your own "Euro-spec" headlight.  However, on the RC36-I the reflector is smooth and the focusing of the light is done by the glass lens, which may or may not be the same for US and Euro-spec bikes.  But it's the same problem if you snip tabs.  Anyway, all you need is a Dremel...

 

Ciao,

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4 hours ago, JZH said:

I believe the Honda H4 bulb has the same dimensions as the regular H4--save for the positions of the tabs--so if regular H4s are put into a headlamp designed for the Honda bulbs the filaments should be in the same positions--provided the process of tab-snipping does not alter the overall position of the bulb.  Even a slight tilt relative to the OEM position would likely move the positions of the filaments by 1mm or more.

 

 

 

H4%20TILT%20SMALL.gif

 

 

Your own illustration, poached from the archived link (2009), shows the problem John. But as discussed in that link, folks don't seem to think it's a big deal. For me it would be a trade between a brighter standard halogen headlight and a properly aimed headlight. If I assume my current lights are original(!) then they presumably have dimmed over time anyway. Lots of reviews on newer H4 headlights are critical of the lifespan. They say cheapo lights last just a few weeks while even good ones (e.g. Philips) are rated for only 500 hours. There is no explanation for why new bulbs don't last as long as the old ones. The manufacturers may think 500 hours is good enough. In any case, I'm guessing I won't get 25 years out of a replacement bulb 🙂 

 

LED tech advances pretty fast. It may not be so long before halogen bulbs are no longer available at all. Meanwhile, I'll know more when i dig into the assembly and play around with a standard good quality replacement. Stay tuned for that. Thanks again.

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Volt Meter


Even though my electrical system seems to be functioning fine, I keep anxiously waiting for the day it fries itself. And so I have been monitoring it with my volt meter. Something like Magnetman…

 

0512142002.jpg

 

I’ve also been muddling over which proper meter installation is right for me. This has been endlessly discussed in a link from 2012, still going strong. It seems just about everybody has a different solution...

 

Since the US spec gen3 fairing has the unused gas tank switch imprint, I had at first been leaning toward a Honda marine voltmeter. It mounts there perfectly and looks stock. (VFRpilot picture)

 

image.png.6fe98c709cf27f9808e507bee22b2511.png


So what's the downside?  Well, it’s pretty far out of the way. I need something that’s going to scream at me when things go wrong. Or at least sit in my general field of vision. Something like an LED up on the panel.

 

Signal Dynamics makes an LED like that. A tiny light that blinks.

Head's Up⢠Voltage Monitor

That's better, except then these guys went and over engineered the thing. Their flash pattern gets too complicated for me. It is green, or red, or yellow, or blinking, or fast blinking…or not blinking. They had to make a demonstration video on their website. And then there’s a little chart to interpret the lights. http://www.signaldynamics.com/heads-up-voltage-monitor/  Geez. I just want a damn warning light.

 

Koso came up with just the thing. A tiny row of LEDs from left to right. And it was even on sale. So that’s the one I ordered.

 

Related image

 

And yes, here it is. Ta daaa. Well, sortof...

 

IMG_3264.jpg.5a131646aea116c9dde1b020ca7d7b3e.jpg

 

Turns out, they decided to send the wrong thing. Yeah okay. Curiously, somebody just put the label of the device I ordered over the label of the product they mailed to me. Did they think I wouldn’t notice it was the wrong thing if it had a sticker on it? The actual product label is still attached underneath. Nice...

 

oltmeter2.jpg.485305d2bdc79a0b8ee89650b6f1f86d.jpg

 

 

And no LEDs. Rats. I can reorder of course, except whaddya know, now they’re out of stock. Uh huh. That might explain things some about the stickers in the shipping office. We’ll see. I’ll give them a call or text. At least they didn’t send me a shelf (re: post 15 September) I'm thinking I'll just wait for the back order.

 

Meanwhile, Magnetman's solution isn't so bad. 😉 
 

 

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LED Brake Light

 

In a weak moment I decided to spring all of $5 for an EBay 30 LED light bar. These are sold as license plate lights with Samsung 5630 LEDs. I’m not sure what that means but I think it means each individual LED is a Samsung 5630. Samsung is a reliable brand. Based on a glance at the overall cheapness of the bar, I wouldn’t be surprised if these things are just generics. I see no branding at all on the assembly. No installation directions either. That’s okay. It’s a $5 experiment and three wires.

 

IMG_3392.thumb.jpg.63255c222eca7e267f6b94391a4d6457.jpg


IMG_3393.thumb.jpg.d802446fd3a08abf70c4055522e64e44.jpg

 

I started out thinking this might be a respectable lighting update. It’s supposed to be bright. That’s always good. And the LEDs might freshen up the appearance of the bike. So at first I thought I might just remove the standard bulbs in the taillight using this as a replacement. Now I’m thinking I’ll try this as a supplement maybe. The strip could be mounted above the license plate or inside the reflector, where it’s just about as long as the reflector is wide.

 

The LEDs are white and red. The thing is sold for cars to mount over the license plate. And the idea is that the red LEDs are an auxiliary brake light and the white LEDs are for backing up. Since my 92 VFR didn’t come with the secret reverse gear option, I am thinking the white will be wired as an addition to the regular tail light and the red as brake light supplement...mounted inside the stock reflector of course. That is my thought. I’m wondering if either the LEDs behind a red reflector will be weird. We’ll see. There are three pathetically thin wires. Black, Red, Yellow. What do you think? Black for ground, red for red LEDs and yellow for the white LEDs? That seems reasonable. 

 

I plan to test the thing first by hot wiring to the battery. See if it even works. Then if it looks okay, I’ll figure a way to install it, and wire it into the circuit. The official wiring diagram is simple enough. I just need to hunt down the stock wiring harness and find an elegant way to splice the new wires. Electrical tape comes to mind. And of course my oxgard and/or dielectric grease. I haven’t forgotten that lesson. 🙂

 

IMG_3394.thumb.jpg.47f517a39cb243b08df4c6e61115b504.jpg

 

 

Headlamp Update

 

...And an update on my headlight replacement. I found a couple bog standard Philips bulbs, also for 5 bucks. They’re rated 67/60W. A little stronger than standard, despite the 'Standard' label on the package. Those should be fine. 

 

IMG_3381.thumb.jpg.3fc20c1761d7e8997d7f2c6a748a381b.jpg

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LED Test

 

…now sure enough, the LED thing works. Here’s a picture of the regular taillight. Everybody knows what that looks like. 

 

IMG_3395.thumb.jpg.0cd791fd1c131d03fc34c8188fe0dbf4.jpg


…and a picture of the red LED, hotwired. It’s at least as bright as the stock taillight. 

 

IMG_3396.thumb.jpg.b13c56a087cee24bc1f52dbd6e8b2431.jpg


…and both together. They don’t quite seem to match, do they...

 

IMG_3397.thumb.jpg.b05bd5d77ca85248a406515925cfa8c8.jpg


It’s not only the colors are a little off. The 21st century LED just doesn’t look quite right next to the incandescent bulbs. This may have been what JZH was hinting at a few weeks ago when we were discussing the aftermarket LED clear blinker replacements. I tried the white LED part of the bar too. I didn't get any pictures of that but imagine staring into a arc welder to get an idea. Youch. They're really bright. So my original idea is still workable: mounted inside the lens, red LED tail light and white LED for the brake. But what to do. I could disconnect the original bulbs and install the LED behind the lens. I’d have to do some surgery for that. Or I could forget the LED bar entirely and replace the stock bulbs with new LED bulbs. They seem to be type 1157. Lots of options out there in LEDs, many with an LED star pattern. And then it seems I would have to at least replace the blinker bulbs with LEDs too. Type 1073. Also lots to choose from. Or yes, here's an idea, just leave the whole thing alone. It’s been good enough for 25 years. It’s classic. Done. 🙂

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There's a 92 being parted out on Marktplaats in Holland today, 17 January. That's like a Dutch version of Craig's List. Sortof. Anyway, I found several bits I've been scrounging for at prices that are much better than I've been able to find in the USA. Lots of bits still available as of today, 17 January. The seller will mail parts. Of course, if you live outside Europe, postage will add up...

 

https://www.marktplaats.nl/a/motoren/onderdelen-honda/m1362885237-alle-onderdelen-vfr-750.html?c=9b26ed2a557deff636f4f8b9c5b7a618

 

I posted this on the vfrd classified forum but then read the rules which specifically state you cannot post third party sources of stuff there. I can't think of any alternative than to put it here. Of course, the bits will get sold off in a couple days and then this posting will be a dead end. I'm not trying to get around the rules here. I'm only thinking this might be an opportunity for a member to find bits he'd been scrounging for...

 

Not fluent in dutch? Don't let that stop you. You might try english. I've yet to meet a dutch person over the age of about 6 that doesn't speak english...

 

Ed. As of March 17, the advertisement is gone.

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Volt Meter Update


It being now February and all, I am itchy to make some small progress on things. My plan had been to sortof retire the bike for winter, strip all the plastics off, fix them up indoors and have everything shiny for spring. Plus there are those techy things that’ve been on my mind, which are probably more important than cosmetics.

 

That was the plan. More or less.

 

So far it’s been less. I never quite put the bike away for winter. I only bothered to clean it some, cover it and stash it in the back of the garage on the charger. This works out fine as long as the weather stays awful. Last week it dropped to 2F around here. There  was snow. Plenty awful. Today, 60F and the snow is going fast so on to plan B; I took the bike out for a ride. One good thing about having bad plastic…there’s less guilt about getting it salty. I’ll hose it off anyway. Of course the salt gets on plenty of metal bits too.

 

Anyway, small progress. I ended up keeping the wrong volt meter from Koso.  (re: 28 Sept, above) This is the one: https://kosonorthamerica.com/product/mini-3-clock-volt/ They were nice enough, the Koso folks, and apologetic for sending me the wrong thing when I had ordered an LED display. And they offered to swap mine over at my convenience. Ah, what the hell. A digital readout is probably better. So I wired the one I got to a trailer plug, the same thing I use on the charger. Like this… 

 

IMG_0360.thumb.jpg.3af0ab74f3fe3e1e848b016f585ba8ed.jpg

 


And I can stuff it in the map pocket of my Aldi/Lidl tank bag. As far as that temporary kind of mounting goes, it’s not great. I have to drop my eyes down to read it. And depending on the sun, there’s glare on the screen. I really don’t want to permanently molest the panel but I’m currently thinking it would work pretty good down where the clock goes on the euro spec bikes. As it happens, this meter also has a clock mode which I am completely uninterested in. (Koso makes these things with all sorts of inputs…air temperature, coolant temp, amperage, tach, hobbs meter for racing, probably other things…). The meter has three wires, hot, ground and switch, so you can run it through the ignition. Then it’ll go on and off with the bike. But the display doesn’t look all that weatherproof to me. For now at least, into the map pocket it goes.

 

IMG_0359.thumb.jpg.d3ed317e1060912a93b2be518f2c77c1.jpg

 

 

And it works. Um, I’m only getting between 12.7 and 13.6 volts. On the weak side. The guys at Signal Dynamics…yet another source of meters…seem to suggest that’s good enough, if only barely. Their LED display follows these numbers:

 

Voltage Table
• Flashing Green   Above - 15.2V
• Steady Green   12.9V - 15.1V
• Steady Amber   12.7V - 12.8V
• Steady Red   12.1V - 12.6V
• Flashing Red   Below - 12V

 

http://www.signaldynamics.com/heads-up-voltage-monitor/

 

Since my numbers are steady. I guessing the regulator/rectifier is doing its job. Since the numbers are low, I’m thinking the stator isn’t. You guys have already told me to check the stator and the harnesses. It might be okay. But if I’m reading the Honda service manual right, 13.5v is minimum at 5000rpm. I think the battery is getting sufficient charge. At least the engine starts every time. I can do more testing. There’s a terrific thread here from Talus in 2007:

If I copy him, then nothing much more than better ground wiring and some excellent craftsmanship could get me up to 14.3v. And oxgard. Anyhow, another part of the story to come. At least I’ll be monitoring now.

 

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I've been sidetracked a few months but I’m still here. A few things to mention. Nothing major.

 

Taxes

 

Am I the only one to get assessed by the tax office at $3380 for a slightly battered 92 VFR? That’s apparently what the city thought my bike was worth. Boy. I’d be the happiest guy in the world to get $3380 for the thing. Or even 3000. How about 2000? …Anybody?

 

In Connecticut you have to pay an annual property tax to the city for the vehicles you own. The tax covers things like the fire department, so they’ll come and put out your fire when the electrics melt down and ignite. In general, that seems like a good idea to me. But they’re supposed to tax you on a percentage of the real market value of your stuff. I gave the tax guys a call when I got my bill. They were very nice and told me to file for an appeal. I did. At a later date, I was invited in to the office to defend my personal assessment that the bike was worth maybe $1000 tops, even though I paid a lot less and had the DMV records to prove it. They told me they got their valuation from the NADA. Sure enough, that says these old bikes are now worth over 5 grand. Yikes!

 

https://www.nadaguides.com/Motorcycles/1992/Honda/VFR750FN/Values

 

(note: the NADA values have changed a little since last year)

 

Of course, the taxman also assumes every bike out there is in very good to excellent condition. I don’t know where the NADA gets its ideas but the local Honda dealer seems to think that valuation is um, not based on reality, at least not for trade-ins. In the end, the taxman agreed to lower my assessment to $900, which I decided was fair enough. Then they sent me a new bill based once more on the original $3380 assessment. Grrrr. Happily I did not need to go through the entire appeals process a second time. At another visit to the office, the clerk just XXXed out the big number and entered the new, lower one. I paid my lower tax and am now awaiting a nasty dunning letter saying I am overdue on the original tax and better pay up or they’ll break my legs. And then yet another trip to the tax office.

 

As an aside, Connecticut also has a nice tax break for poor people. If you own any vehicle 25 years old or older, you can get it registered as a classic and the assessment value is then limited to $500. This includes your 1957 Corvette or gull wing Mercedes. Why don’t I think the legislators had my bike in mind when they came up with that rule?

 

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Electrics, again.

 

I reported in February that I was getting marginal outputs from the r/r. So I thought to go through the harness and clean up the connections. I’d looked it over before only to find no sign of any melting anywhere, but it wasn’t all that tidy in there either.

 

 

IMG_1810.jpg.9644087da477084083ccc0ad91c53961.jpg

 

 I know. I know. Not my fault. That was a previous owners work. I’m getting between 13v and 13.5v most all of the time… I’d hoped to goose that a bit with cleaning and with my new Oxgard in the connectors, as generally recommended. I also followed the drill insofar as measuring outputs along the components. Everything checked out and after an hour or so of moderate effort, I was done and ready for my new voltage output. Sonofabitch. It was down instead of up. 12.7-13v. This is the quality of my work folks. Damn. But I also blame the Oxgard. I’m thinking I got a bad batch. Yeah, that must've been it... 😉

 

Anyway, I tried a second time…and after another +/-20 minutes, got voltage back to where I’d begun. JZH intelligently and gently suggested the connectors to the stator and to the r/r could be better. Ya think? I’m procrastinating. I should absolutely spring the $55 for the vfrness and be done with it. I’ll probably wait until getting stranded before taking such prudent steps. Meanwhile I’m monitoring. Also meanwhile I continue to look for a better mount of the voltmeter. My latest temporary solution is at the brake reservoir with an elastic band. The sight line is good there even if it looks sloppy. Need I add that sloppy is normal on this bike...

 

IMG_1791.jpg.a0096ae6e3ef879b7e86a44899169928.jpg

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Grab Rails, part 2.

 

To distract myself from anything requiring spending money, I decided to try some modest cosmetic improvements. I have lots of choices here given the overall condition of things. I decided to take a whack at the grab handles. I figured the job was manageable and would give me a chance to try a few new things that I’d been reluctant to try. Like polishing aluminum. Lorne had encouraged me last fall to take on my fork sliders. I needed to try something small first to make sure I wouldn’t inflict any serious damage. So if you look at earlier notes (last September 12) you’ll see that my grab rails are black and the coating is in rough shape. Like this...

 

 

IMG_1755.jpg.3fa99cbaed824cbda0874bb96bfa53b1.jpg

 

I could redip them myself…still a possibility…but wanted to see just whattheheck was under there. Lorne had also pointed out that some of these rails came from the factory without the plasticky coating and I had the idea that burnished aluminum would be better than gnarly plastidip. That brought me to one of those point-of-no-return moments when you begin to wonder if you really want to do a job at all. Anyway. Here goes...

 

The plastic coating peals off without too much fuss. But it’s relatively thick and the aluminum underneath scratches easily if you’re careless with any sharp tools. As it turns out, twenty-five years of plastidip did a good job of protection. 

 

IMG_1764.jpg.5dbbf1d874f06d905019013604595a88.jpg

 

 

 

The unfinished finish of the metal I like. It’s similar to unpolished parts of the mid-frame. But there were a couple serious small scrapes in the metal in places where the plastic had been torn right through...

 

IMG_1760.jpg.8e8c39500f4d6d54c98418a565c246e2.jpg

 

 

So more experimenting and my next lesson. Turns out a wire wheel is waaaaay too abrasive for getting out small scrapes. I know steel is harder than aluminum so I expected a dramatic result but a wheel is overkill and just added to the damage. Old scrapes became new, deeper scrapes. A dremel sanding disc worked better.

 

IMG_1761.jpg.100bd1da5367ef5d00ccc0bc0fd0a44b.jpg

 

 That got me through the serious gouges, but even it was too abrasive. It must have been probably around 80 grit. A little bit of wet 500 and 1200 grit sand paper worked much better. Not perfect, but good enough for me. 

 

IMG_1762.jpg.6fff4e024016987680ca565c25acc1ec.jpg

 

 

I wanted to try out my little Harbor Freight polishing pad kit too.

 

I’ve never tried polishing metal before. Near as I can tell for polishing, you load a pad up with some of that white or red clay stuff, and just run it randomly around the aluminum. That’s what I did. And hey! It actually seems to work. I used the white, less abrasive(?) compound. The pad gets black and molts bits of cotton like a duck molts down. I may have been spinning it at too great a speed. And why the black? I mean, I get that the cotton may be shredding because it’s a cheap pad but the black? It’s not like the metal is dirty. Also, the blackness doesn’t appear to affect the polishing ability of the pad so I don’t think you have to keep cleaning the pad. I polished a bit and admired my progress. When I wiped the grab handle, more of that black stuff got on the white towel. 

 

IMG_1763.jpg.341be63e0974155bda4ddf07d9d54a00.jpg

 

It felt like pencil graphite. Slippery. But it was easy, gratifying work. The second grab handle went even better. And in the end they both looked okay...

 

IMG_1767a.jpg.c7f92f973466d242cf7278f7107e27e3.jpg

 

 

(Ed. The black stuff may be Aluminum Oxide, liberated from the surface of the metal. This is yet another of those internet theories that gets batted around endlessly. I haven't found an authoritative link yet, like from from a chemist.)

 

As they are now, I’m thinking the handles may need some kind of protective finish. Just to keep them from picking up dirt and new scratches. But Lorne wrote last year that he never put clearcoat on his fork sliders and they remained in really good shape (re: September 12) So for now I won’t bother with anything. And also for now, the grips look like the newest things on the bike and are making everything else look worse.

 

At my current rate of progress, I’m thinking the bike will be up to my good enough standard in about 5 years. But it’s running fine and I’m having fun and that’s what counts most with me.

 

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Frame heat.

 

It being summer again, I am bothered, again, by the radiant heat along the aluminum spars under the gas tank. In order to get a handle on the initial condition, I borrowed one of those thermometer guns. It's registering up to around 165F (74C) on both sides of the gas tank. That's the surface temperature of the aluminum below my knees after everything is warmed up. Ouch.

 

IMG_1563.JPG.340b6dbf55eda5c8b508eefe31c8e3b8.JPG

 

 

I’d come up with a safety standard that said 140F is probably a maximum acceptable temperature, and as you see I’m well past that.

 

ASTM C1055 (Standard Guide for Heated System Surface Conditions that Produce Contact Burn Injuries) recommends that pipe surface temperatures remain at or below 140°F. The reason for this is that the average person can touch a 140°F surface for up to five seconds without sustaining irreversible burn damage.

 

I also checked under the tank to make sure that all the little heat shield blankets are in there. They are. Obviously they aren’t doing much to keep the heat away from the frame itself. 

 

There’s plenty of room under the gas tank and above the rear cylinders for additional blanketing. I’m not sure what would work. It has to keep the heat away from my knees, but I don’t want the heat contained around the cylinders to cause the engine or any local components to heat up too much.  So just stuffing a bunch of fiberglass insulation in there may be a bad idea. For now, just another glitch I’m living with. 

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More polishing.

 

Since the polisher seems to work, I went over as much of the metal as I could easily get to. Pretty much every bit of metal on the bike could benefit from some treatment. There are some small scars in the frame that I haven’t repaired. Like you can see here...

 

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I could sand them down I think, but then the surrounding frame will not match the repaired area. So I’m leaving them alone. In general, the more I disassemble of course, the more access I get and the better the final result should be. Because I am impatient, I’m just racing through bits I can get at. This was the exhaust...

 

IMG_1799.jpg.76ea75db296adcddbfa1d648cdd3729a.jpg

 

It was in semi-grotty shape when I got the bike last year…like everything else. The little polishing wheel shines it up easily. But I can’t get close enough around the screws or seams. I’ll look for a smaller wheel for those bits. Polishing also highlight scars. I don’t know what to do about them. They’re all over the place. Do I just keep polishing? It's not getting me anywhere. Here's a detail picture. You can see the tiny blotches and scratches, not exactly a mirrorlike finish...

 

IMG_1802.jpg.22684078ed4dd0863cdf55932b0bc833.jpg

 

Maybe I should try the red clay, which is slightly more abrasive. Overall, it all comes out sortof blotchy and mottled. I’ve been over it a few times and it’s always mottled. I’m doing something wrong. Here's what I have so far…

 

IMG_1812a.jpg.ffb3ee9cc98c57879cf151fa041be2b1.jpg

 

 

Fork sliders

 

I went over the fork sliders too. Lorne posted me results from his work. This is his bike...

 

D200-B04871.thumb.jpg.f6d2f80a782ede08f3a31228eaf6696b.jpg

(picture from Lorne)

 

Yeah, I'm never going to end up that good. I’d been reluctant to cut through the clear coat but the things are so cruddy I didn’t have much to lose. And, as Lorne said, any clear coat was probably long gone anyway. Like other components in need of work, I really need to take the forks off the bike to do a proper job. I just went over the leading edges to see what I was up against. Lorne had suggested steel wool. For me, 1200 grit wet sandpaper got rid of all the mess. And then I polished. The picture makes them look okay, but the real result isn’t so great so far, although it’s better than before...

 

Before...

 

IMG_3053.jpg.8e57a0cb2545fdb960b6789027497b04.jpg

 

 

Annnnnnd after...

 

IMG_1808.jpg.be51d0ec1c9e3886e65eb28ffb0441d9.jpg

 

You can see that I'm still getting that uneven effect from the polishing.  My sliders were originally painted with aluminum gray colored paint. I didn’t even notice it until getting on with the job. It must be factory paint; the Showa stickers are still in place. I could repaint when I get everything apart…one of these days. Or I can just strip away the rest of the paint and then polish. Again, like Lorne did. That seems the better solution. And easier. Still, slow progress.

 

 

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Looking good!  I am definitely not a polisher, but I'm sure there are tutorials on the 'Net.  You can definitely get a mirror finish if that's what you want (and want to put in the work).  I've seen wheels polished like that--oh my eyes!

 

Ciao,

 

JZH

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Thanks for the encouragement John. I may have overstated my ‘mirror finish’ goal. ‘Brushed look’ seems just about right for me, like in Lorne’s pictures. After all, the thing isn’t chrome… 

 

To be clear, this is a picture of LORNE'S bike. Not mine. LORNE'S...

 

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…and there are definitely scads of tutorials out there. Many are surprisingly unhelpful…or maybe not so surprisingly. I got a google link to Here's How To Restore Your Crappy Exhaust System. My kind of title, even if my system isn’t all that crappy. The guy was even working on a Yoshimura. What are the odds?

 

https://jalopnik.com/heres-how-to-restore-your-crappy-exhaust-system-1794718932

 

As it turned out, he wasn’t all that helpful either. But he did a decent job with not much money or effort. So I recommend the link. 

 

Other folks endorse Autosol, like Lorne did. So I may have to spring the 10 bucks for that I think. There are lots of other recommended products, most likely recommended by folks who sell em. Can’t I just use toothpaste or baking soda? How about Brasso? As always I don’t want to make things worse, but most solutions seem to begin with serious sandpaper and scouring pads, and then gradually bring out a shine with finer grades of polishes. I’ll think on it. 
 

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I was thinking, "wow, that looks fantastic".  And then I realised it wasn't your bike... :sad:

 

Ciao,

 

JZH

  • Sad 1

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