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Hi all,

My name is Arthur. I've been a forum troll for about two years now and finally decided to post my project's progress in hopes that people might enjoy it as much as I've enjoyed looking at everyone else's.

I'm not very experienced with posting on forums and I won't have enough time to tell the whole story (so far) today, so please bear with me. Also Before I start, I want to say a special THANK YOU to all the members who have helped in any way, especially murrayf and CXPHREAK. Those two are Heroes!

So, anyway, I purchased my 1981 CX500 summer of 2014. It looked like this:

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about 31,000 miles on her. Brakes didn't work, carbs needed tuning bad, all the things you would expect from a barnyard bike like this.

After phase 1 (winter 2014) and phase 2 (winter 2015), here is how she looks today:

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I ran into a large number of bumps in the road along the way but I'm really happy with the direction it's going.

I'm out of time today but I'll start to dive into the past work in greater detail soon.

Thanks!

Arthur
 

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well done ! handsome looking motor cycle :)

is the rear view handle bar mirror situated on the right side not better suited for left hand drive roads , like here in the RSA ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
well done ! handsome looking motor cycle :)

is the rear view handle bar mirror situated on the right side not better suited for left hand drive roads , like here in the RSA ?
Thanks!

Honestly, I'm waiting for another set of mirrors and in the interim, I've been trying all sorts of places and positions with this one I had laying around my garage. I kind of liked the way this one looked like this though, so I might just keep it as is? An issue I'm running into with mirrors is they tend to make my bars look too long. I already cut an inch off each end of these bars to help with that but cant go any further because of where they bend in to head to the mounts.
 

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You ought to make a custom lunch box to fill in the hole in the frame behind the air filters. Then you could ride it to work, eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches until you saved up enough money for your next project. :haha:
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
I have a little free time today, so I'll start eh story of the journey here. It's been 10 years since I turned a wrench. I used to work as a technician for Honda (cars not bikes). I learned the hard way that I should keep business and pleasure separate because it didn't take too long before all the pressure to get jobs done as fast as possible in tandem with literally turning wrenches all day, took the fun and joy out of mechanics for me. I did the whole back to school thing and have found myself 10 years later finally missing it all again. I missed the idea of being able to create something piece by piece. I called this thread sleepless in Seattle partly because I spent so many nights up late brainstorming what I wanted my bike project to look like. Anyway, I found the CX500 and decided to go with it because I see so much potential in these big little bikes. I personally really like the unique vintage-esk looks that they can achieve. So, again, I started with this guy:

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The first thing I changed was the seat. I purchased this brat,cafe style of seat on ebay. It's from Vietnam. Not bad quality over all, I wondered when I got it if I should have gone with a brown seat and brown grips, but I stuck to my guns and kept the black seat and grips with the intent of going all black, a sort of murdered out look if you will.

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In the winter of 2014 I really started in on the project by buying all the major parts that I thought would change its look. I call this phase 1. I purchased new handle bars, (Emgo low rise bars). New turn signals, had the wheels powder coated, new tires, replaced the headlight and mounts, added some fork gators, purchased Murray's carbs and exhaust system, wrapped the pipes, powder coated the tank and changed the tail light to an old ford type.

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This is where some of my headaches started to show up. Being that it had been over 10 years since I worked on cars, and truthfully had very little experience with working on motorcycles specifically, I made the mistake of outsourcing most of phase 1's labor. I thought as long as I was the one making all the decisions about what parts go on the bike, It would still be fun and feel like my project, I was wrong. There wasn't any issue with the people I hired to do the work, they did amazing work and are really fun people but I learned that if you want to enjoy the project and the journey, you have to roll your sleeves up and do the work your self. When I drove the bike, after having all that work done, there were two main issues I had. The first was that I felt like if someone complimented me on the bike, I could only take so much credit, because I didn't literally bolt the tank back on once powder coated etc. I'm not saying I judge anyone who does pay to have the work done on a project, or someone who even buys a turn key awesome bike, it's all good! But for me, I knew I wouldn't be able to enjoy the ride, nor the compliments on my project unless I did it all myself.

The second issue I was having was very odd to me. With Murray's carbs and exhaust installed the bike sounded amazing, seriously, such a rich, mean, sexy sounding machine. New issue though was it wanted to die when ever I rolled the throttle past about 65%. So literally, if I rolled my wrist, while riding, to any point under that 65% total throttle roll, I was fine, anything past that, bike would bog and die unless I let off. When I would reach 65% or lower, power picked back up immediately. I trolled to forums for weeks, spoke with Murray a good number of times, (he would tell me what an idiot I am for doing this and that and then proceed to help me despite it being very late and after hours, he's a good man..thanks and sorry again Murray!!) he ran a number of possible issues off to me and was of a lot of help. He had me mail his carbs to him, ran them on his bike and returned them to me. that way he knew while we spent time diagnosing my issue, that his carbs were not the issue. (they were not the issue of course) but the one thing he couldn't explain to me was why when I added vacuum lines to the carb's atmospheric pressure ports long enough to put in my mouth and blow on while riding, the issue went away. I did this because I suspected if I could change the pressure from atmospheric inside the float bowls to a slight pressure which I could vary by blowing soft or hard, I could speed up my diagnoses. Or learn if I needed to change jets or something, for reasons I didn't understand. (stupid shit like this is why he called me an idiot. understandable.) We went over all the possible reasons that changing the pressure would cause the issue to go away for weeks. We had some data that was tough to reconcile. For one, my compression isn't amazing. I think it was testing in around 158? or something like that on BOTH sides. He suspected I might have fried my motor and not even known it because I was running with the engine temp sensor broken. Before buying a whole new motor or rebuilding mine from the rings out, I decided to see if there were any other members in the Seattle area that I could swap carbs with and test things out for myself. I found a nice fellow member named Cafebully on the forum. We met up and BS-ed for a while. He told me a funny story about when ever he has engine trouble he goes to plugs. It was a bit anecdotal in nature, particularly since I had of course already checked spark a few times by pulling the plugs and checking for spark, running resistance checks on the coils and stator etc.. before I totally dismissed his suggestion though, I instantly recalled seeing a post on the forum about replacing the little resistors in the spark plug wires. I knew from the post that it could cause spark issues and come to think of it I hadn't tested resistance in the wires since I had what looked like perfectly good spark on the plugs. Also the more I thought about it, I realized that spark isn't some binary type thing where it either works or doesn't, there are shades of gray where resistance in the wires could totally create an issue. I realized I might have some corrosion on those darn resistors in the wires which could create a threshold that when surpassed by increasing pressures in the combustion chamber could do something like no spark after 65% throttle.... I whipped those wires apart and sure enough, corrosion city baby! I ordered some of the fancy little rods sold by Brian at speedmotoco but couldn't wait to see if I finally figured out my issue. So I had my friend whip up some makeshift rods for me on his lathe. Sure enough, fixed the issue. To this day, I can't explain why changing pressure in the carbs also fixed the issue other than to guess that changing pressure in the float, changed the fuel ratio under load etc. It must have changed the pressure dynamics and lowered the resistance in the plug's gaps to band-aid fix or mask my real issue, spark. I'm no engineer, so I don't know for sure, but that's my best guess.

That's all the time for now, but next time I'll go into the details of phase 2, the decision to tear the whole thing apart and do it all over again and the choices that led up to me personally spending I guess over 300 hours to get this thing closer to where I wanted it.

Even though I liked the look so far but realized pretty quickly that I should have started this entire project by taking the entire bike apart
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
It became clear in phase one that my frame was a touch bent. The swing arm had been tweaked by something, I assume someone layed the bike down once upon a time. One of the toughest parts of a large project is scope creep. I knew I wanted to make some serious headway toward getting this bike the way I wanted in this last winter, but I had no idea how much I could achieve in that time and I knew I wanted it back up and running before the summer. I knew I had to start making the poor thing uglier before I could make it prettier, I just didn't want to spend the entire winter rebuilding the motor, and straightening out the frame, and then run out of time and have to put it all back together for the Spring/summer ride still even uglier than when I started. I had faith though that I would be able to chew all that I bit off. So I started with getting that darn frame back in proper shape. I strapped it between a pickup truck and a utility pole. It took like 5 straps and some wacks with a heavy hammer before a friend and I had it looking straight again. I tell you, that frame is quite sturdy... ps I'm sorry, I have no idea why some pictures are sideways and some are upside down? I see that if you click on the link above the picture, it shows a larger version right side up. I'm sure there is a work around, but I don't know what it is yet.

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Interesting way of re setting the frame, which portion of the frame was bent?
The sub-frame was bent about an inch in relation to the swing arm. So the tail light which was more or less centered in the rear was left justified in relation to the rear tire. You can see it if you look closely at one of the rear end view pictures above.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Found some free time, so here's the rest of the story on this build:

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After straightening out the frame, and figuring out the spark issue, I got to cracken on the motor. I knew that since I was going to remove everything from the frame to paint, I might as well do the quadruple bypass or regret it later. As it turned out, the bypass was just in time.

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After taking a closer look, picture above and below, I realized the mechanical seal for the water pump was failing, coolant was already beginning to leak/weep as it was getting past the seal and the cam chain was cannibalizing right on into the housing.

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When I ordered all the parts for the bypass (thank you so so so much to all those who composed that parts list and how to!) I went the fancy rout and purchased all the parts ala cart and OEM mostly from David Silvers and Ebay. Those all added up pretty fast, so when I got to the stator, for some reason that I don't even really know why, I went cheap and purchased the one on Ebay for only like $60.00. I guess I figured if it does fail after only 500 miles or whatever I could just swop the stator again, though I would likely hate myself while doing it for taking that gamble. (I'm up to 400 miles already and no issues yet, fingers crossed) The one I received in the mail actually doesn't seem too bad. But I'm no specialist with coils so who knows?

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The hardest part about installing the new stator was to ensure I used enough washers (not included) to prevent the retaining screws from putting pressure on the housing as often mentioned in other more technical threads. Beyond that it was just cutting the wires to the right length then crimping/soldering and re-wrapping them with some friction tape etc. No biggie, just have to take your time.

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I also of course cleaned up all the gasket surfaces and did the "Shep's Method" of replacing the mechanical seal on the water pump. Super easy, awesome way to do it. I went with the Yamaha seal listed in the master parts list somewhere else in the forum. It worked perfectly. ( I did forget to apply a dab of dish washing soap to the seal, so I had to crack the whole completed motor apart once more to do that)

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Here is the old and new chain and tensioner:

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Here are two last shots before wrapping up the motor work:

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After that I went to work re-shaping the rear fender off a 1974 Yamaha DT 250 Enduro to fit it to my CX500. I cut it and started the body work with bondo on it. I also started the work on the tank. I tried stripping the powder coat off of it chemically, that did NOT work out well, so I had to revert to sanding it. It took hours... it was the worst part of the project for sure.

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
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To affix my old Ford style tail light, I cut a bracket out of steel, ground it down a bit drilled some holes and mounted it to the rear fender as you can see here:

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Than I got back to work on the tank, I had applied about 2 or 3 rounds of bondo, sanding it down each time trying my best to work it into a nice round/straight piece to paint. I primered it, wet sanded it to find high/low spots and then re-primered it. I ended up finding a spot on top that primer just wasn't going to fill, so I had to bondo again.. this got really tiring after a while.. I got it to the point that I felt it was good enough to be proud of, and then what did I do?! Freaking dropped the darn thing on the concrete, FML.. I watched it do a little head spin dance in slow motion while basically experiencing a complete breakdown inside my head. I honestly was so over it at that point I washed it all off, tossed a touch of bondo on the worst part, and tried to fill the less deep scratches with primer. I slightly regret that, I should have just put it down for the day and come back to it fresh another day. It ended ok, but I know where to look at the finished product and find the little flaws on the bottom.. pisses me off every time I look at it.. oh well, another lesson learned!

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After that I hung the frame up, sanded the entire frame to prep for painting and noticed that the bearings on the triple tree were actually totally shot. I don't know how I didn't notice that riding it last year, and this is the exact thing I'm talking about with scope creep. Here I am taking even the frame down further, to it's sub-most compartmental elements to get this project where I wanted it. I ordered up the bearings from amazon.com, they were allballs brand but came in two days and for less money. Score!

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After that I cleaned up the old rear shocks (today I actually ended up replacing them with some new Hagons, and Hagon USA has some really nice reps working for them, great experience with them on the phone!) and received in the mail the fancy battery hiding box from the UK. Man, these guys know how to make a custom part. I love this box! It's perfect, it's placed right under the motor where the exhaust crossover used to hang out, it bolts right on and does what its supposed to do. Make the battery invisible from to the naked eye when looking at the bike. It even has stock mounts for the starter solenoid. Amazing.


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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I really like what you've done. What tires and sizes are you running? They look awesome.
Thanks man! Those are Firestones from Brian's company Speedmoto.com give him a call, he'll hook you up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Moving forward, I painted everything, I went with a BMW black and a brown that doesn't quite show up right on camera, you will just have to come hang out with me to see this color, I love it. Very different from what you tend to see. For better or for worse, that's what I went with :)

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After that I started putting it all back together. The project had crawled all winter long, biting off two, three hours at a time a few days a week. Now I could feel it! It was starting to speed back up, I knew I was close to finishing for the year! So excited!!

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
One of the last big hurdles to complete was hiding all my wires as clean as possible. I ended up realizing I needed more space under my seat to accomplish my goal, so I went back to the metal sheets, cut up another bracket to bolt on and went from there (note, I'm not a professional welder, please don't judge my welds haha)

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I ended up needing to use some helicoil threads to affix my rear fender/turn signals:

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I tossed the tank back on:

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Than I tried to start it for the first time. It cranked and cranked and didn't start. I was getting red in the head but fortunately before I totally lost my sh*t, I realized that I had painted the entire frame, I realized that my coils would have lost ground from that so I whipped up a quick ground wire to the nearest bolt and sure enough, she started right up! Wonderful sound! I was pumped!

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Once I knew that was my problem, I ran a longer ground from a more trust worthy location and left it to rest:

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After that, I took it for a test ride, drove for about 10 minutes, parked in in front of my local café, and just sat and stared at it for probably an hour. I'm sure people thought I was the weirdest guy they had seen all day.. I realized real quick that I needed to adjust my turn stops to prevent my bars from hitting my tank, so I drilled a few holes, tapped them and screwed in some bolts to prevent future damage. I painted them with a paint pen in the end:

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
After that I mounted my seat on, changed the rear shocks (later) replaced my license plate mount with a side mounting one, installed some LED light bulb plate bolts, re wet sanded my clear coat and buffed it to a near perfect finish and painted the valve covers.

That's pretty much the uber long full story on this build. I'm real proud of it and had an absolute blast with it. Here are a few pictures I took and edited this week for fun of it. :) Cheers!

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