Archive for July, 2012

So the ’65 Revive project has been weighing heavily on my mind and it was time to start putting the project into go mode. The plan is to start with the engine rebuild first and ensure that the power plant is salvageable. Once the engine is confirmed good then a game plan for the rest of the bike will be made.

The idea is to strip down both the original engine and the donor engine and then evaluate what parts can be salvaged and what parts will need to be acquired in order to have a running engine. I typically do not enjoy working on engines while they are rolling around on the bench loose as I try and loosen and tighten fasteners. So the plan is to get prepped for the engine work by first building an engine stand in order to mount the engine to for a rebuild. The stand will also hopefully double as the engine running test stand. If my plan runs its course I am hoping I will get the 160cc power plant running, timed, and tuned on the stand before putting it back into the bike.

So I spent an afternoon in the garage fabricating a custom CB160 engine rebuild and test stand. I didn’t have a design to work off of so instead walked into the shop, dressed myself in my grubbies, flipped the breaker panel on, turned on the air compressor and started cutting and welding.

I will let the pictures tell the story as the build does not need very much explanation. The stand was built from metal I had laying around. I used a hockey puck mounted on a threaded rod to allow for tensioning of the engine once it was bolted to the stand. Once the stand was welded up it received a glass bead blasting and then a coat of Super Durable Wet Black powder coating.

The engine mounts onto the stand with no issues. It appears to be mounted solid enough to allow me to actually fire it up on the stand. So with the stand built it’ll be time to organize the shop space and prep it for the engine tear down and inspection.


For awhile now I have either been doing other peoples projects, building shop equipment in order to do projects, or have been doing projects that I consider a “chore”. I figured it was time to put my tools, equipment, and skills to good use and build something for myself. Every year for the past 10+ years I get a motorcycle itch. I spent my younger years racing motocross and then later on in life riding my dad’s and brother’s street bikes. I have never owned a street bike for numerous different reasons, one of the main reasons was the riding season where I live is rather short and motorcycles typically spend more time sitting rather then being ridden. Well that’s all about to change (the bike part…not the weather)

I am always intrigued by anything considered vintage. I love vintage tools, vintage metal working equipment, vintage bikes, and vintage cars. North America has seem to been hit by a Café racer theme over the last little while and I find myself getting sucked into it. I usually resist the cultural “themes” as they typically come and go however the Café racer is calling my name.

I have spent months reviewing listing after listing on Kijiji and Craig’s list trying to find a worthy candidate that would be willing to join me in my bike adventure. My criterion was rather specific when looking for a bike to modify. My guidelines were as follows; the bike needed to be Japanese (yes I know this already goes against the authentic meaning of Café racer however British is too much $$$), the bike had to be from the 1970s or earlier, under 500cc, single cylinder (this could be tough), preferably in original condition (could be rough shape but I didn’t want someone else’s mitts previously into it), spoked wheels, and under $1000.

Well an ad finally came along for a bike that my fit most of the criteria. A 1965 CB160 was listed for sale. I was not prepared to jump on anything instantly, I have already considered multiple other bikes however I find I need to ponder the decision for a day minimum before I act on it. Usually if a bike isn’t “right” the dream will die within ½ a day. Well the CB160 ad didn’t disappear from my brain, it met most of the criteria except for the single cylinder part as the bike is a parallel twin. Oh well, can’t have it all.

A bit of history regarding a Honda CB160 goes something like this. The Honda CB160 Sport was a 160cc, 4-stroke, OHC, street motorcycle manufactured by Honda from 1965 through 1969. The engine was a parallel twin with dual carburetors and linked to a 4-speed transmission. Apparently there were lots of these built and therefore used parts are available. Some quick internet searches even show active groups still racing these bikes. The engine boasts a fist full of 16.5 horsepower at 10000 RPM, with a top speed of 68 mph and a wet weight of 294 lbs.

I decided to inquire with the owner to learn a bit more about the history of this particular “ride”. Turns out the guy selling it bought it to restore however “life” got in the way and it was time to bail on the project. He never actually did any work so the bike was still in the same condition as when he bought it. The good news is that the bike was all original and most of the components were still present. The tins were in decent shape and the wear, rust, and weather factor wasn’t excessive. Now for the bad news…the bike was not in a running state on account of a hole blown through the upper engine case and cylinder. It looked as though the connecting rod wanted some fresh air so it decided to make a run for it and the quickest way out was straight through the engine case.

Now the owner was selling the bike with a spare engine. The spare had pistons that went up and down and appeared to have compression. The exterior of the spare engine was fairly rough as it appeared to have been sitting in a field for some time. It was impossible to determine just what condition it was in without a complete tear down.

So it would appear that the CB160 in question had both good and bad. One has to expect, and accept, the challenges that will come from the unknown. I suppose you could say that in the case of this CB160 one would have calculate the degree of risk involved in trying to revive the bike. It may turn out to be complete failure however I weighed the options and decided that the money I would have to part with would not leave me broke and out on the street so I opted to make the purchase. Typically the days proceding any type of purchase like this my gut will tell me if it was the right thing to do, in this case my gut is feeling pretty good. No stress yet.

So I picked up the CB160, the spare engine, an engine gasket set, a new seat cover, an aftermarket repair manual, and a Honda parts manual for the tune of $700. So with the bike sitting in my garage it was time to come up with a game plan. I have not committed myself mentally to the Café racer modifications yet. First order of business will be to see if the engine is salvageable. So for the time being no thoughts as to what is going to happen with the remainder of the bike will take place until I have some carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons flowing down the auspuff.

Looks like the metal working portion of the garage will go into hibernation for a little while and the shop will get turned into an engine rebuilding facility. Both engines will get torn down and inspected and then a determination will be made in regards to the fate of the CB.

I have been working my way through my summer “chore” project. No I am not that passionate about it however I am still able to get my head into it and find some enjoyment. The job at hand involves building a wood burning fireplace in the back yard.

By this time I already had the fireplace set in place and it was time to run the ventilation and then close the whole thing up. I’ll state it up front and admit that I have no qualifications when it comes to fireplace building. I understand there are strict codes that I need to abide by and I have followed the manufactures installations instructions. Apparently when building an outdoor fireplace one needs to ensure that there is a constant supply of fresh combustion air. Therefore the manufacturer states that intake air plumbing needs to run 6 feet up though duct work to vents located on the backside of the surround. I admit I do not fully understand why and outdoor fireplace can’t get it’s oxygen from the big hole that the wood goes in and the heat comes out however who am I to question.

So…as per manufacturers specifications I ran the required duct work for both the fresh air as well as the chimney cooling. Heat N Glo had supplied me white plastic vents to use on the façade where the ducting would plumb to. I am not a big fan of plastic, especially white plastic built into an outdoor structure that is exposed to the elements. Instead I opted to switch them out for the typical galvanized metal ones available at my local hardware store.

Since the fire place will be finished in a darker colored brick and stucco I decided to make some money back on my powder coating equipment. The galvanized vents got a sandblasting and then were powder coated matte black to allow them to withstand the weather as well as blend in with the rest of the fireplace colors.

So with the vents mounted and the ventilation ducts plumbed there was nothing left to do but sheet the structure. I admit I have done more exciting projects however for the time being this is what is consuming my “garage time”. Next I’ll move onto prepping the plywood to take on a scratch coat and then eventually stucco and brick.

A friend of mine has been working his way through a Honda CB350 café racer project over the past year. He was at the point where it was time to fabricate the exhaust system. His plan was to custom build the entire system from scratch except for the mufflers. He had asked me if I would be willing to give him a hand in completing the task. No problem on my end as far as the willingness goes however I do not have a lot of, I mean any, experience in building custom exhaust. We figured that if we put our heads together we may be able to fabricate something that resembles a corridor for carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons to travel through.

The exhaust system was going to be built from 1.50” x .065” stainless steel exhaust tubing. He had previously purchased various sections of both straight pipe and mandrel bent 45 degree, 90 degree, and 180 degree sections. For us it was a matter of figuring out all the angles and where to cut them. The idea is to TIG weld tack it as we go along then perfom final welding one mocked up.

So he hauled his bike over to my garage and we set it up on a couple of saw horses so that the underside was completely accessible. Unfortunately it is hard to apply any kind of math to this type of procedure. Keeping the exhaust system lengths equal between cylinder 1 and cylinder 2 is important however figuring out all the bends needed to be done by eye. So between the two of us we spent much time holding up pipe and staring at it. My friend has a very good eye for angles and appears to be able to envision the system as a whole much better then I can.

It took an entire day but we managed to get the entire system mocked up and tacked together. I am happy to say that no wrong cuts were made and no welds had to be cut apart for a redo. The symmetry came out fantastic as it aligns great with the lines, and frame, of the bike. All that remains is some time spent performing the final welding. After the exhaust was complete we even found some time to fab up some rear mounts to relocate the foot pegs and foot controls.

The pictures on this post lack some of the specific build details, my apologies. When working with a second person in the shop it is hard to take time out for getting shots of the process. You get what you get and will have to piece the story together for yourselves. Enjoy.