Archive for December, 2012

Title muffler

The planning of the next phase for the 65 Revive project continues to take place. When I build projects that require raw materials, like metal, I can usually obtain everything I need locally and therefore the collecting of the materials do not consume much of my time. In the case of the CB160 cafe racer build I find myself having to work 3-4 weeks in advance since many of the components need to be ordered and shipped.

GFTP Parts

GFTP order. The “ears” on the front fender will get trimmed up.

Rock guard placement

Rock guard set in place. The portion that extends above the frme will get trimmed down.

Well I am getting closer to being able to cut, grind, and weld since most of my crucial “fit” components have showed up. Previously I had done my “best guess” as to the proper seat dimension required to give the “cafe racer” look but also ensure that the bike fits me and is comfortable to ride. I had put in an order from Glass From The Past for an upholstered seat, a front fender, and a rear rock guard. The parts arrived and passed initial inspection. The fibreglass finish is fairly rough and will certainly require some high build primer, and maybe even some glazing putty, to smooth things out before painting. The front fender and rock guard will also require some trimming to give them the required “look”. I had chosen to have the seat upholstered and spent the extra few dollars for the genuine leather cover. The upholstery work looks great, super clean, and nice lines. I am not qualified to critique stitching however I have no negatives to report.

Seat upholstry

Seat pad unbolted

The seat pad unbolts from the fiberglass seat pan to allow for pan body work and painting.

Part of my planning process involved spending lots of time mentally designing the custom exhaust. The plan is to change the factory dual exhaust into a full custom 2 into 1 setup. When it comes to planning out angles I do much better if I can physically work with the components to make them fit. Unfortunately, in the case of the exhaust, I need to order all my bends therefore I did what I could to design the system using Vise-grips, angle gauges, and protractors. I did the best I could to pre-determine all my required angles and then took a deep breath and put in an order with Columbia River Mandrel Bends. I opted to go for 16 gauge stainless steel pipe. The plan is to build a race style system and leave all the TIG welds exposed to give the set up a real raw look to it. All my exhaust components showed up as ordered. It will be interesting to see if my grey matter design will turn into a reality.

SS mandrel bends

My complete order of 16 gauge stainless steel mandrel bends. Hope I guessed right.

Another crucial component required to finish off the exhaust is a muffler. I stumbled onto Megs Mufflers website and was immediately sucked into all their products. They offer everything in order to build your own custom mufflers and look to supply quality components. The CB160 will eventually have to go through a mandatory government inspection before I will be able to register it. Part of this inspection involves the muffler and its noise level. My intent with the bike is to make it 100% legal as well as have a finished product that won’t annoy my neighbors. I opted to go with Megs “Quiet Core” Street Series muffler. It is the quietest one they have plus it sports the “look” I want. It’s a brushed 304 Stainless steel unit. The build quality looks great and the size should match the bike great.

Megs muffler

Megs quiet core muffler. 18 inches over all length.

So as I was waiting for all my orders to show up I decided to start working on the first actual bike modification. The center kick stand is going to interfere with the way the exhaust system is going to be routed. I expelled a substantial amount of mental energy trying to come up with a solution that will allow me to maintain clean lines yet still serve a purpose. In the end I decided that the center stand has to go and get replaced with a side stand. Unfortunately the CB160 lacks the typical “down tube” that most bikes have. The down tube on my Honda is the actual engine therefore custom building a side stand and welding it to the frame was not an option. Instead I decided to incorporate the old foot peg mounts on the lower engine case casting. Since I am relocating my pegs the original cradles on the engines underside were no longer required.

Side stand components

Roughed out side stand components.

So away I went with not much of a game plan. I have never custom built a side stand and therefore needed to brush up on the physics surrounding the operation. Once I knew what requirements would have to be met I started to cut, grind, and mill. Normally I would have dedicated a complete blog post to the build however my head was more into building than picture taking. So basically all you get is a glimpse of the unfinished side stand. There are still some angles to figure out and final welding to do but it all seems to be coming out fine. The stand looks as though it will tuck up out of the way very cleanly yet still be allowed to maintain full functionality.

Side stand mock up

Kick stand idea

Still lots of work to do on the stand.

So it looks like the new year will allow me to make some progress now that I have the necessary material to perform the tasks at hand. I am looking forward to seeing the bike begin to morph into my own creation. I welcome the challenges that will come and the hurdles that will need to be jumped.

Seat resting rear

Seat resting

Title rotor

It’s been awhile since I performed a quick afternoon project but it so happened that one fell into my lap recently. A friend had scrounged up a used LCD computer monitor at his work that he wanted to use as a second monitor for his work station. He works in a shop and has his computer situated on top of a rolling tool cart. Well this monitor that had been dragged out from the bottom of a bench was lacking a stand but otherwise was a perfectly good functioning unit. So the task at hand was to build a monitor stand.

The criteria were fairly basic. Had to be cheap to build, solid enough that the monitor would not accidentally get tipped off the cart, there was no need for angle adjustment and just needed to have the screen set vertically, and the base of the monitor needed to be 6.75 inches from the table height. No Problem! The objective here was to build something quick and cheap and as long as the function was there the fashion would not be a factor.

First up was collecting the materials. Needed a solid, heavy, cheap base so an old Jaguar brake rotor would do the trick. The remainder of the stand would be built from spare metal I had laying around the shop. The design? What design! I decided to let the plasma do the walking and see what shape the stand would morph into.

Monitor and base

No sense in elaborating on the details. The pictures will lead you through the highly complex build as you will see that a lot of time and precision was put into the build . It was a mindless couple of hours in the garage which is just what I needed. The stand turned out great and the function performs to spec. The red wrinkle matches the tool cart and the stand even sports a ”garage” look to it. Mission accomplished!

Fabbing the vert

The veritcal support was made from a section of 5″ x 1/8″ flat bar left over from the fireplace pergolia project. The top was radiused using the plasma cutter. Here a 1″ hole is drilled as to act as the splitting into two legs.

Trimming the vert

Legs get trimmed out with the plasma. I love that thing! Slicing metal helps make up for what I might be lacking in testosterone levels.

Ready 4 tigging

Here I have the vertical support mocked up on a circular base. The clamped angle iron is a quick and easy way to ensure I have a good 90 degree angle. The base was a chunk of steel I had left over from my gazebo table build.

Joined to base

Ran a couple of TIG beads to join the couple in holy moltenry.

Blasted rotor

The old Jaguar rotor got a quick glass bead blasting. The rotor was fairly worn and the ridges were a bit deep however if I cleaned it up then the project would no longer be quick and easy and I would have suffered failure.

Wrinkle red powder

Decided to lay down some wrinkle red powder that I had as extra.

Coated rotor

Here the rotor was coated and ready to get slid into the oven at 375 degrees for 15 minutes PMT

Baking the vert

The vertical support was powder coated to match, here the baking session is just finishing.

Rubber base

I didn’t want the brake rotor base to scratch the top of the tool cart so I decided to adhere a chunk of fish pond liner to the underside of the rotor. I used contact cement to secure it. BTW contact cement eats powder coating, who would have thunk.

Rubber base installed

After the rubber base was glued on the edges were trimmed up, came out pro looking. Too bad no one will ever see it.

Cleaning up bolt heads

I had some funky flat head 6mm torx bolts in the bolt bin so I faced them on the lathe to get rid of the production stampings and then gave them all a quick polish.

Monitor base 2

So here you have it, quick and dirty but funtional and having met all the desgin specifications.

Monitor base 3

Monitor base 1

Title headlightLife has gotten busy for me lately, the garage projects, and blog, have both been suffering. However the lack of bike building and metal work has been exchanged for other things that are necessary to maintain a healthy and balanced life. Christmas time is busy and unfortunately many of life’s needs cannot be fixed by welding or machining. Anyway…hopefully January will provide me with cleared schedule that will allow for a bit more metal in my life.

With the CB160 engine rebuilt it was time to turn my attention onto the remainder of the bike. There is much to accomplish with the entire bike requiring rebuilding and it was time to take a serious look and what is the procedurally correct approach to take. A job well planned is a job half done so I figured I would cut my work down 50% by giving the tasks at hand some serious thought.


Stripped seat and fender


Whenever people are faced with a “restoration” project the initial reaction is to start ripping and tearing into it. I had the same urge but then decided to slow it down a bit. I wanted to get the frame stripped down and start to detab it, clean it and modify it. The issue came in that modifications are dependent on many factors. New exhaust requires proper clearances, seats and foot pegs require proper positioning, and modified handlebars require proper placement. All of these things will be very difficult to place once the bike is stripped down to nothing.

So I decided to start the project backwards. Before I strip everything apart for cleaning and rebuilding I decided to make my modifications first while the bike is still intact. Riding position is crucial and, as I learned, there where sacrifices to be made. I’m converting the bike to a cafe racer therefore many of the existing components are going to get removed from the bike and the riding position will be getting modified. I suspect there are many complexities involved in engineering the correct position to ride in for both performance and comfort. Certain angles work and certain do not. When moving the foot pegs I am concerned that the leverage involved in shifting and braking stay within realistic, and comfortable, positions. Handlebar placement is important to ensure that not too much of the body weight is uncomfortably supported by the arms.

Flipped bars

So what it came down to was a lot of time spent staring at the bike and reverse engineering the frame geometry tying to teach myself what the people who built the bike were professionally taught. I had a certain image in my head of very specific things that I wanted to incorporate however experimentation would show that what I wanted and what was practical were two different things. I like the look of short, stubby, cowl style cafe racer seats. Well base on my own observations it would appear that these seats only work for bikes with long fuel tanks. In the case of the CB160 the tank is “average” and certainly not long. Installing a short seat on a bike with a short tank compresses the riding position to the point of major discomfort. My policy has always been “function over fashion” or “function first” so as much as I wanted a stubby seat the fact is that the bike would be too uncomfortable to ride.

Mocked seat

So it came down to addressing three main factors. The handlebar position, the seating position, and the foot peg position. I knew that I would be running clubman, or clip on, style bars so I unbolted the original bars, flipped them 180 degrees, and turned them 180 degrees to simulate the new bars best as possible. The new foot pegs will be placed very close to where the rear pegs already are so this was a no brainer, I just used the rear pegs. Next was the seat, I really struggled with this one. I debated building my own cowl style seat. It would be a major learning experience for me, which I welcome, since I have very little experience with sheet metal shaping. I have much respect for those individuals how can shrink, stretch, shape, and “feel” sheet metal however my lack of experience has me second guessing myself. Perhaps building a cowl style seat may be a bit too ambitious for my first project. So I opted to purchase a fibreglass seat. After much internet research I decided to do business with Glass From The Past as many of their products are geared towards the CB160.

Tester set up

I spent way too much time on the GFTP website reviewing all the seat dimensions trying to determine what would work. Well after doing lots of measuring it came down to having to build a mock up seat and actually trying it out too see if the angle and dimensions would suit my riding position. So I build a seat, based on a GFTP seat, out of scrap plywood and 2x4s. With the handlebars flipped, the rear foot pegs installed and the tester wooden seat installed I was able to actually sit on the bike and get a feel for the riding position. This is where I discovered that a stubby seat will not work. The riding position was way too cramped. The bike would be rideable but it would not be fun, nor would it feel as though the rider was tuned with the rest of the mechanics. So I built a mock up seat based on dimensions that were not my first choice but where more suited to the existing bike geometry. Well it turns out that a longer seat was the way to go, the angles were great. I had my brother, who rides a GSXR1000, try out the seating position and he described it very close as the feel of his Suzuki. The longer seat with the dropped clubman bars and the rear mounted foot pegs seemed to suit a great, and comfortable, riding position; the angles are sporty and feel fantastic.

Clubman bars

So with the geometry figured out it was time to start ordering up some parts. Foot pegs, bars, and a seat were on the list. My plan was to start performing the frame modifications before stripping everything down. Again, my parts research led me to a few suppliers. The first one being Motobits which is a company that manufactures rear sets specifically designed for racing application CB160s. The quality looks good and the option of having full adjustability is more than enough reason to make a purchase. Ordered! The handlebars where a challenge. Originally I had my heart set on a set of clip on bars but as I looked at more images and performed more research I decided that a set of clubman bars form Lossa Engineering was the way to go. Lossa Engineering has built multiple CB160s with the clubman bars so I knew they would work for my application. The final purchase was made from Glass From The Past where I ordered their VINBTB seat. I am not completely comfortable with the way the seat cowl angles up as I really like the lines created by a straight base however life is comprised of comprises.


So at this point in time I have received the rear sets from Motobits and the clubman bars from Lossa Engineering. The design and quality of both products are great, no complaints and nothing but positive comments. The seat will take awhile before I see it since I opted to splurge for the optional leather upholstery. Anyway…t he geometry all seem to be coming together which puts me one step closer to turning bolts counter clockwise and applying 120psi to a bag of sand.

Leg geometry