Welcome to my Motorcycles page

First up: Gold Wing
1981 Honda Gold Wing picture
This is my newest bike, a 1981 Honda Gold Wing Standard
It's an 1100 CC water cooled flat four with air suspension and shaft drive.
She's an American Classic that had been built in Marysville, Ohio for 30 years
This bike had not been driven for a long time so I knew it would need a few things
like tires, a battery and removing and rebuilding the carburetors
The previous owner knew it needed some work so I got it for only $500

1981 Honda Gold Wing picture
The Standard model came without the windshield, fairings and saddlebags
The comfortable upright seating position makes this bike a pleasure to drive
I was amazed that the chrome is still so shiny after 31 years!
The 2012 Goldwings have engines that are bigger than half of the cars on the road today
They weigh in at over 800 pounds, cost about $30,000 and they have a new feature, airbags!

stripped down 1981 Gold Wing
I had to remove the carburetor assembly from the motorcycle to repair it
The radiator and a few other things were also removed to work on them
The layout of the horizontally opposed engine makes it an easy one to work on

Honda GL1100 carburetor sliders
These are the sliders that ride up and down inside the carburetors
When gasoline is left to evaporate for years, it leaves behind a sticky tar like residue
The residue plugs up gasoline passages and the carburetor will no longer work properly
The residue on these was really baked on, but a little acetone cleaned them up like new

Honda GL1100 carburetor jets
These are the jets that the pointed part of the slider rides up and down in
The build up grime has all but closed several of the holes
Once the gasoline has evaporated out, moisture in the air can get in
The salts in the moisture build up and block more passages

Honda GL1100 carburetor grunge
This part of the carburetor holds the main jet and the needle jet
The yellow stuff is aluminum oxides that will grow and eventually destroy the carburetor
After being rebuilt, and with gas in them again, they should be good for another 30 years

Honda GL1100 carburetor assembly
This is what the carburetor assembly looks like after an hour or two with a screwdriver
and three or four hours with assorted brushes and acetone to get everything totally clean
Taking a picture like this can be helpful when you are ready to put everything back together
Note: If you decide to clean with acetone, which is the preferred solvent for gasoline,
DO NOT let the acetone touch any rubber, plastic or painted parts, they will be damaged instantly!

Next Bike: 1980 Suzuki GS1100
1980 GS1100
This is my 40 year old Suzuki GS1100. She weighs about 600 pounds and has 100 horsepower
She has enough miles on her to have gone around the world twice
This bike was stored for 5 years so I knew that the carbs would need to be rebuilt,
but I wasn't worried because I have rebuilt several carburetors before
I bought this one for $500 and I have been driving her for the last 12 years

**Update Feb, 2011**
This bike has developed a bad habit, she took up smoking!!
I was driving home one day and I saw a huge plume of oil smoke coming out of her tail pipe
So I had to open her up for some experimental surgery . . .

1980 GS1100 with head removed
Here she is minus half of her engine

GS1100 with cylinder head removed
The tops of the pistons looked downright ugly,
worse than I had expected for 60 K miles
The air box was not properly fitted when I got the bike,
so I think the engine had been sucking in dirty air for a while
It's also clear from this picture that the head gasket had been leaking for a while -
the red material along the top of the cylinder head is rusted gasket

top of cylinders with evidence of a bad seal
Here are the pistons after being cleaned up a bit
It's amazing what kerosene and a brush can do
Getting the rusted crud off of there while leaving the surface flush will be difficult

1980 Suzuki GS1100 cylinder head
Here is the head cleaned up a bit and with the valves removed
There is a small oil seal that is fitted on to each valve stem
I had to remove the entire valve train to replace the seals

1980 GS1100 valve train components
This is what the valve train looks like in a typical engine
The valves are carefully placed in bins that reflect their position in the engine
So that they can be installed in the same place they came out of.

GS1100 engine parts
Here are some of the assorted parts that had to be removed
cam shafts, carburetors and covers

1980 GS1100 cylinder head with valves removed
The head is cleaned and stripped down
I did my best to get the cylinder head mating surface flat and smooth
Now the fun part, putting it all back together!

**Update June, 2012**
It's been over a year since I opened her up and she still runs strong
I'll probably keep the Gold Wing and sell this one
Some other motorcycle enthusiast can enjoy riding this classic inline four

Another $500 project motorcycle
2000 Suzuki Bandit 1200

This bike was in bad shape with lots of miles and lots of crashes
The choke had to be on for the bike to drive or idle
Part of the smog system was the problem so I bypassed it
and it ran good enough for me to sell it and make a small profit

These are the motorcycles I have owned:
  • 1952 BMW 250 (a single vertical cylinder!!)
  • 1973 Honda CB350 twin
  • 1973 Yamaha XS650 twin
  • 1979 Suzuki GS550
  • 1980 Suzuki GS550
  • 1981 Honda Gold Wing
  • 1983 Suzuki GS550
  • 1980 Suzuki GS1100
  • 2000 Suzuki 1200 Bandit

Here is some info on them if you're interested.

The 250 BMW has a single vertical cylinder, which was very different from the majority of opposed twin BMW's. It also had a swing arm front suspension as opposed to telescoping forks. There was no shortage of heavy gauge steel on this motorcycle. It weighed more than 600 pounds which is almost twice what you would expect a 250 to weigh. It had a charging system problem so it would only drive as long as there was a charge on the battery. When I got home each day, I would put the battery charger on it.

The 350 Honda was my first new motorcycle. It was a vertical twin and it was purple! I lived in Queens, New York and it made getting through traffic a breeze. It cost $875 and I drove it for 6 years. I got it up to 100 MPH one time on the Long Island Expressway!

The 650 Yamaha was a classic vertical twin. I got it cheaply but it shook me half to death so I sold it. I had been driving the very smooth vibration free Suzuki 550's at the time and going back to a vertical twin was a bone shaking experience. After driving the twin I decided that I would only drive 4 cylinder motorcycles after that.

I bought the 1979 Suzuki 550 new. It has a 4 cylinder engine and was extremely smooth and easy to handle. The 550 engine had all the power I needed. It was a pleasure to drive but it got stolen after 2 years. It was $2100 new.

After losing the 1979, I bought a new a 1981 Suzuki 550 with a dozen improvements over the 1979 model for $1800. There was political talks of large import duties on motorcycles, so before that happened, Suzuki flooded the US market with motorcycles. That is why the newer 1981 was $300 cheaper than the 1979. I drove this motorcycle for about 10 years.

When the tranny on the 1981 started to have problems, I set my sights for another Suzuki 550. I found a 1983 Suzuki 550 for $200. It was the L model that was set up for long distance touring. It had swept back handlebars, a fairing, a luggage rack and saddlebags. The only thing it didn't have is carburetors! I bought it thinking that I could put the carbs from my old bike on it. Unfortunately for me, the carbs were not the same size. I went to my favorite junkyard and they had just wheeled in another 550 that had it's assembly of 4 carbs virtually untouched. I was amazed when I went to pay for them and the lady told me $20! These carbs did fit even though it took me a full day to figure out how to get them and the related components into the new bike. The 1983 ran good but after a few years one of the oil wiper piston rings broke. This resulted in one cylinder that would smoke and a spark plug that needed to be cleaned every few weeks.

I mentioned my smoking 550 to a co-worker and he told me he had a 1980 Suzuki 550 that I could have it if I wanted it. The bike had died with a bad alternator and it had been parked outside in the rain and snow of Reno for 7 years. My co-worker lived in a house on the banks of the Truckee River. During the New Years flood of 1999, the bike was washed 50 feet downstream and was totally submerged for 2 days. I thought this would be an interesting challenge and I had nothing to lose so I took it. The crankcase normally holds 4 quarts of oil. When I drained it, out came 9 quarts of an oil/river water mix! I had to remove the 4 exhaust headers and mufflers and run water through them to get the sand and silt out. The gas tank was full of river water and needed to be flushed. The carburetors had to be removed from the bike, disassembled, cleaned and reassembled. There were a lot of things I had to do to get this engine back to running condition. When I finally got the bike to start, a huge cloud of silt shook itself loose from the frame. After thinking about the status of both motorcycles, and after the kinks were worked out of the new engine and it would start and run reliably, I wound up taking parts from my old bike like the instrument cluster, turn signals, handlebar switches and installed them on the new bike! I was still driving this motorcycle until last year when I sold it. That was the first time in about 35 years that I didn't have a motorcycle!!

Being a self taught mechanic, I have learned many things along the way, some of them the hard way. But experience is a good teacher. My knowledge and experience with cars, bikes and many other machines that I have worked on large and small, has given me the confidence to feel like I can fix any type of machine.

To visit the cars page, click  Here

Click  Here  to ask the Cosmic Lobster about anything on 2 wheels. I don't mind helping a fellow rider!


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This counter was started on July 23, 2006
This page was updated on June 10, 2012