The Old Grey Mare — That's all folks... or is it?
Page 1   Page 2   Wrecked   Rebuilt   Page 5   Wrecked again   Re-rebuilt
Getting this sidecar fender vertical proved to be a challenge. Once everything was bolted up, the fender was canted toward the sidecar. No way was that gonna fly, so everything had to come back off... twice. I've been through this scenario before and had a pretty good idea how to address it. Even so, it added a considerable amount of time to the project.
The solution consisted of several things. I elongated some of the holes for the lower support which permitted some adjustment. Another thing was to place a 5/16" thick rubber spacer between the main bracket and the fender. It appears grey in this photo due to the camera flash, but it's actually black. You'll also see some &*%$! hex-head bolts instead of painted carriage bolts. This was a last resort due to one of the square holes getting rounded off, allowing the carriage bolt to spin. This hardware is stainless steel, and it will likely get painted black before all is done. I'd much rather have carriage bolts here.
There. I spent a lot of time monkeying with this fender, but the results are A-okay. The lower support is now black instead of red, and it shows off the nice contours of the fender. The fender on the other bike is square at the bottom, unlike this one which is nicely rounded. Messing around with this fender illustrates the sad situation with modern CJ parts—lack of standardization and lousy quality control. The fender itself is fine. The problems were with the two brackets and the sidecar frame. The holes weren't where they should have been, and the angle of the main bracket wasn't right.
That's the bike as of last evening. None of these photos really convey the actual shade of red which, in person, is quite attractive against the black frame. This bike is probably going to attract more attention than I'd like sometimes. Anyway, now it's time to get cracking with the sidecar.
And there it is. There's quite a bit to do hereassemble the trunk lock mechanism, install hinges on both the bucket and the lid, install the battery carrier, install the knee guard, seats, floor mat, toe board and duck boards. I'll also install the edge protectors salvaged from the wreck. They fit over the vertical sheet metal edges next to the passenger's legs.
Might as well start with the mat. I'm using black "runner" from the local home improvement store. It's just rubber with some corrugations, the same stuff I've been using right along. It's cheap and easy to work with. It also looks fine, but it needs to be cut carefully in order to fit properly. To make a pattern, I just used some newspaper pages taped together. The floors in these buckets can be pretty irregular, so this is a good way to determine how to cut the mat. Blocks of wood hold the paper snug where it crosses the hump for the frame.
Here's the resulting pattern laid over the rubber matting. Now you just make an outline and cut the mat with a Stanley knife, or even a pair of scissors. I used a utility knife and a metal straight-edge. It took about 15 minutes to make the pattern and a minute to cut it out.
The mat fits pretty darn good. Of course, the toe board hasn't been installed yet. A good way to make the toe board bolt holes through the mat is with a soldering iron, poked through the holes from the outside. With this technique, all the holes will line up perfectly. A set of duckboards will be going in this bucket as well. I'm going to take a crack at making a set next week, after everything else is finished. The metal strips needed for duck boards aren't available locally so we'll probably be heading down to the big city (Corning) for those.
 
The best laid plans of mice and men, subject to change, of course. In this case, it's the intended external routing of the wiring for the sidecar lights. I just couldn't get it to look right, so it's now underneath the fender. Two steps forward, one step back.
We're just about ready for the sidecar. The front bracket for the sidecar fender isn't in place yet as I made a last minute decision to repaint it (black instead of red.) The fender is slightly cocked without it. Check out the tank emblems from Keith Pedersen. They're neat!
 
Man, they really start to resemble motorcycles when you put a gas tank on 'em. Wiring is now 80% complete. Still gotta do inside the headlamp and all the sidecar stuff.
Note the front mounting tabs for the gas tank, visible in the lower left-hand picture. They're painted to match the frame, and the result is better than I expected.
 
The front fender seemed a tad high so I lowered it slightly. This is much better.
Tomorrow, I'll do the wiring. Then it'll just be a matter of installing the gas tank and sidecar.
 
Plans change. All the work that went into prepping and painting the visored headlamp bezel was a waste of time. The ring fell off while I was whacking something on the back end of the bike, resulting in a nice dent. So... a chrome, old-style bezel it is. Despite my indifference to chrome, I think we can probably live with this.
And, for the sake of visual balance, the taillight bezel has also been swapped out with a chrome one.
 
I was moaning about the way the rear fender sat on the bike. I wasn't going to mess with it until the next vacation from work. Guess what? I couldn't wait.
The results are exactly what I was hoping for. The top part of the rear seat pedestal now sits horizontal instead of tilting backwards. The hinged part of the fender now closes completely.
The solution was to elongate the two mounting holes drilled on the centerline. Doing so permits the entire fender assembly (including the pedestal) to be rotated forward, thus bringing the pedestal to its proper position and providing sufficient clearance for the hinged portion to close properly.
In the earlier photos, it's not all that evident that there was a problem, but to someone viewing the bike in person, it stood out like a sore thumb.
So, there she is, all buttoned up for the next month. I'll be chompin' at the bit to get this project finished during the first few days I'm home again.
 
Parts delivered from the body shopin style! I had to make two runs, and this was the second one. The first was made with the pink Edsel sedan!
The prep work underneath the paint is top notch, but the paint has a few problems that I'll sort out as things progress.
This is how the bike looked by mid-afternoon. It's getting there.
I hate to say it, but I'm starting to see a few things I don't like about all that red and black. There may some changes coming down the pike, but the first objective is to get everything back together. Unfortunately, time won't permit me to finish before returning to work. This upcoming weekend is pretty well spoken for.
This shot was taken before I oriented the taillight. Also, because the frame is suspended from the overhead, the forks and rear suspension are both extended. That gives the bike kind of a funky stance. She'll hunker down once she's back on the ground. For the time being, this is a pretty good arrangement for working on the bike. It's not gonna tip over, that's for sure. It makes adjusting the brakes is a piece of cake, too. Sure beats using the floor jacks and jack stands.
Black front fender brackets, something new. Stock fishtails are back for now. The fishtail-straightpipes I was running before were the cat's pajamas. If I can get my hands on another set of empty fishtails, we'll go that route again.
 
Ideally, the engine and gearbox would be pulled from the frame so that all three could be thoroughly and properly detailed. Screw that. This bike's a rider. Here's the new header pipes in place. Guess what? They didn't fit... but they do now.
The fishtails and the headers were originally chrome. Sand blasting took the chrome off like it was paper. They were then shot with stove paint. It works, and it's a far cry cheaper than powder coating.
You can probably spot a few subtle differences from yesterday's pictures. The headers, cabling, battery, air filter box, and other small deatails have been added. The spark advance cable was an excellent learning experience that you can read about in the blog.
 
With wheels on, it really does resemble a motorcycle. I moved it indoors at 8:00 AM and finished puttering eleven hours later! With the bike inside, I'm no longer at the mercy of the weather. That's a good thing because it rained quite a bit today. The project is really moving along now.
 
Here's one of the carriage bolts used to mount the headlamp. The flat washer behind it is painted black (for no particular reason.)
 
It's starting to resemble a bike again, but there's still so much left to do. Luckily, the parts at the body shop won't be ready anytime soon. That provides plenty of time to take care of everything else. Tomorrow, I'll start on the wiring. Anyway, here are the forks and handlebars. The steering damper is now blocked by the handlebars! &%$#!
Headlamp bucket #2 is freshly painted. The mounting holes for the first bucket were out of position, making it useless. This bucket was egged in an earlier incident, but I think it's now sufficiently straightened. (Plus the mounting holes are exactly where they're supposed to be. I checked this time.) That bolt you see was temporarily installed for handling.
There's an engineering field change in the SL-II Slim-Line Fender Brackets. I came home with the wrong diameter tubing and decided to use it anyway. This is 3/8" instead of 5/16", so no beefed up ends.
 
These are thick carburetor spacers. You should insulate the carbs from the jugs as much as possible to help minimize boiling. I've always used layered cork, but I was getting tired of having to cut new ones every time the carbs were off. These babies are reuseable.
 
NOS PLA sidecar axle and mount. This is a very well-made, heavy duty item. The old one was crap by comparison. Take a look at the tabs for securing the nuts. Does your bike have that? Stripping off that army green paint seems sacrilegous
 
The headlamp and visor paint turned out just fine.
Which speedo face plate should I use? The one on the upper left is from a Jiangxi. The one next to it is from a modern, cheapo km/h-mph speedo, and the bottom is a Huangshan.
Huangshan it is, mainly because that's what the speedo is, and it's a very good one at that. The Chinese characters give it character.
Handlebar risers, ready for action.
Foot pegs, ready for action.
Gas cap, carburetor tubes and sidecar frame mounts, ready for action.
Clutch lever, cable guide and handlebar levers, soon to be ready for action.
Sidecar running light with my trademark nifty bullet lens, ready for action.
The footboard was just a rough cut piece of lumber with a few extra holes, etc. I filled the holes then coated the whole thing with bondo, sanded it nice and smooth, then painted it. Looks much better now.
 
Sidecar trunk hinges, all bright and shiny red.
As are the clips for the external taillight wiring...
...and the sidecar fender front mount...
...and the fork shrouds. (Parts supplied by Jimbo.)
Sidecar axle torsion bar face plate with fresh paint.
Handlebars, blacker than the ace of spades.
Black clamps for the hoses that connect the carbs to the air filter outlets. They're stainless, so they were blasted and primed with zinc-chromate.
Sidecar leaf spring U-bolts, courtesy of Jimbo.
This is the original sidecar axle. Notice anything unusual about it?
Spark advance from Shao.
NOS rubber parts! It's in the details.
Repeated crash testing has shown a need for improvements in the Slim-Line Fender Brackets. The SL-II model will have reinforced ends as seen on the prototype (right). Those tubes will become the end pieces.
The sidecar backrest was looking pretty rough, so saddle soap and black shoe polish were utilized to bring it back to life. Worked like a charm.
There's all kinds of freshly primed stuff hanging from the ceiling of my garage. These are just a few of the parts that got done today. The handlebars will be black. The headlamp visor got a second shot of primer after some scratches were filled. The first coats were done with zinc-chromate.
The face plate for the sidecar axle torsion bar. It was a bit worse for wear, but not anymore. It will soon be black.
One of the sidecar mounts. I wasn't going to mess with some of these parts, but one thing leads to another and, well, you know...
Like this, for example. It's the front mounting plate for the sidecar fender. I didn't want half a dozen layers of paint on it so here it is, stripped, primed, and waiting for red paint.
The carriage bolts turned out quite well. I then realized I need eight more, so that got done today too.
These clips will be used to secure the external wiring on the rear and sidecar fenders. They'll be painted to match the sheet metal. A total of ten will be used.
There were some really nice detail items hiding in my parts stock. For example, brand new foot peg rubbers that will replace the badly worn ones that were on the bike at the time of the accident. Ditto on hand grips, carburetor boots, cables, etc. Pictures tomorrow.
 
Stainless steel carriage bolts, sand blasted, then primed with zinc-chromate primer—two details that guarantee the paint will stick forever.
The trunk hinges are crudely made. They had a fair amount of surface rust, too. A good blasting followed by a shot of primer, and they're ready for a smidge of filler, wet sanding, more primer, and then paint.
Ditto on the handlebar risers. These are cast parts with a few bumps and irregularities that will be smoothed before painting.
The sidecar axle mount, blasted and primed.
This little plate goes behind the trunk release handle. It had a tab angled off at 90 degrees which was for a padlock. I cut off the tab, cleaned up the edge, blasted away the surface rust, and primed it with grey stuff.
And last, but not least, the shiny new headlight bucket and visor, blasted and primed. The visor gets zinc-chromate primer since it's chrome. There's a tiny bit of finish work remaining before they're sprayed.
 
What a mess, but it's the kind of mess I like. Finished goodies await installation.
Handlebar risers from CJ Sidecar. This type is far superior to the ones that got wrecked. Since each side is a two-piece assembly, dealing with painted handlebars now a piece of cake.
The fork shrouds from Jimbo's have been stripped and primed. The first application of glazing compound has been smeared over the welds.
Today I also mounted two 4" Russian tires on two new M5 wheels (also from Jimbo's.) Now we've got three wheels, ready for action.
Squaring holes for carriage bolts is only as time consuming as your file is dull. The trunk hinges are 6.5mm thick, and the first few holes seemed to be taking longer to square off than they should. So, I made a run to the hardware store and bought a new file, and presto, 3-4 minutes per hole. The fifth picture gives you a rough idea of how they're going to look. Everything will be sand blasted tomorrow. The carriage bolts are stainless steel, so a little texture will assist the zinc-chromate primer in adhering to them.
I just got home after five weeks at sea, and two deliveries were waiting.
The first is this sizeable crate from Shao Yiqi in Beijing. Let's open 'er up.
Oh boy! It's all the sheet metal stuff for the rebuild. Plus, there's a new headlamp, hand lever assemblies, handlebar risers, clutch lever and some other items.
 
Jeez, I sure do love this kind of stuff. Sorry, I have no idea what it says except for the "CJ750" part. The second picture shows the box the headlamp was in. Note the "M1".
 
But wait, there's more—a second, smaller parcel from Jim Bryant of Jimbo's
These are the famous M5 wheels, and they are, beyond a doubt, the best laced wheels (or probably any other type of wheels) you can get for a CJ. Jim had them powder coated black for mespokes and allwhich captures the thirties-forties big bike persona just beautifully.
 
Jim also sent a set of well used but still very good fork shrouds. You won't recognize them in a few days.
 
The wiring harness I ordered from LRM arrived today.
It's really well-made, with soldered and heat-shrunk connectors, rubber boots, andbest of allit uses fabric wiring. All the wires are cut to the correct length, including those for a rear mounted horn.    
   
 
Sand blasted and coated with stove paint. What I'd really like is another set of empty fishtails so I can have that excellent straight-pipe sound, but with the vintage look of fishtails. My previous set got trashed in the accident.
 
The front brake platter after a quick clean-up and respray. I painted everything black. I've always liked the way this and certain other components look in black as opposed to raw aluminum (or chrome.) Of course, it obliges one to do the final drive the same way.
A couple freshly painted taillights, one for the sidecar and the other for the bike. This might provide a clue about OGM's new color! I'm not satisfied with the paint texture of the big bezel. That will soon be corrected.
Do you remember me saying I was inspired by Ross Kowalski's bike? Well, here it is. The big difference will be my bike having black paint instead of chrome. The black fender brackets look really good, so I'm going to copy that, too.
Here's another Ross thing that'll be going on the bikecast CJ750 swoosh badges for the gas tank as seen above, however I'll probably go with a jaunty 20 degree angle with mine. The background will be a darker red than the rest of the bike. The lettering and outline will be natural aluminum.
 
Zinc-chromate etching primer has been applied to the new Model A taillight. Tomorrow I'll paint it. I'll do the sidecar taillight and possibly some triple-tree parts too, weather permitting.
The headers were sprayed with 1200-degree stove paint after being sand blasted and wiped down with mineral spirits. This method was tested successfully on the other bike.
I painted the jugs and put the heads back on today. We're getting a good leg up, but nearly every inch of the bike needs some attention, mostly detail cleaning and paint touch up.
I decided which bike will get new 28mm carbs—this one! I jetted them out to 1.1mm. Needless to say, there's going to be some fiddling needed once the bike is back up and running. BTW, notice anything funny about the head bolts? I'm trying something new on one side.
 
Most of that rust you see on the jugs is from all the riding I did in the salt this winter. Since I don't have many of the rebuild parts yet, I might as well use this time to address all of the corrosion and dirt issues. Now, a pro would probably pull the jugs, give 'em a good sandblasting and then refinish them. Thankfully, I'm not a pro.
Egads. The inside is even as nastier than the outside. That carbon is as hard as a rock. Mineral spirits, a wire brush, some scrapers and a bit of elbow grease will come in handy in removing it. Ahh, the joys of owning a flattie.
There. As always, I added a few more scratches and gouges to the tops of the pistons. Luckily, they're superficial.
Before heading to the sandblasting area, I thought I'd experiment with this stuffRust Reformer by Rust-Oleum. It turned out to be crap.
Yipes. The port side head was packed with mud after the wreck. Fortunately, it wasn't damaged. Let's see what a little bead blasting and wire brushing will accomplish.
That's much better. I opted to leave the external surfaces with a natural finish as opposed to polished. They cleaned up really well with the blaster. The internal surfaces were polished to inhibit carbon build-up and to provide nice smooth surfaces for the headgaskets.
Meanwhile, back at the bike...
For the time being, OGM has been living with six 1959 Edsels lined up in a row, out behind the garage. Since she'll be camping out this summer, she needs a little weather-proofing, especially until the jugs are buttoned back up. It's not supposed to rain tonight, but there will probably be some dew, so these plastic bags should keep the internals dry. I prefer to paint the jugs when the heads are off since it's impossible to avoid getting paint on the heads. Tonight, the heads, carbs and headers will remain dismounted. No, we're still not finished here just yet. There's still a PILE of parts that need to be blasted.
So much for the PILE. I reached a point where it was starting to feel like work instead of play, so I only did the new header pipes. The chrome lifted off like paper. The next step will be spraying them with black stove paint, the method I used on the tan bike (successfully.) I sure am gonna miss those fishtail straight pipes, though. (One side got wrecked.)
 
Oh boy! The Model A taillight from Whitney arrived today. I'll bead blast it, prime it with zinc-chromate, then paint it to match the fender. I'll use that glass lens with the amber part on top. The sidecar taillight was purchased at the local NAPA store. It too will be painted.
Here's the old sidecar taillight. These are actually quite bright. The lens matches the amber running light. This time, the mounting bracket will point downward instead of being folded like you see here. Today I prepped the fender for carriage bolts by squaring off the holes.
The final drive after freshening up the paint. I replaced the Chinese number tag, too.
I've started at the rear and am working my way forward. There's plenty to be done while waiting for parts. The jugs are looking pretty nasty right now.
 
Why, oh why couldn't his eBay item be located in the States??!! Look at that frame!
 
In gathering up the parts needed to fix the grey bike, I was happy to find that JC Whitney still stocks their stainless steel Model A Ford taillights, and they're still under $30, including shipping. Clicking on the picture will take you straight to the item in their on-line catalog.
 
First on today's agenda; salvaging tires and tubes...
...then removing the remaining mud and degreasing.
The frame appears to be A-okay. This frame was specially manufactured for Jimbo a few years ago. He told me it's very robust, and he wasn't kidding. The bike landed vertically on its tail, but you'd never guess by looking at the plunger. It's fine!
So, I guess this little project has gone from being a salvage operation to another rebuild. This is the scrap pile. The gas tank dents might be fixable, but it's probably more practical to just replace it. I'll see what the body guy thinks. Meanwhile, there's a few things I'm gonna be needing. The two biggest items (sidecar bucket and frame) will likely need to come from China, so we're looking at a couple months minimum before the old girl is back on the road. Maybe a color change (for better luck) is in order. I can't complain about not having anything to do on my vacation.
 
No obvious frame damage in the stern. We'll see how the rest of it looks once the rain lets up.
 
The smashed Ford Model A taillight makes a good theme image for this page... I guess.
Anyway, here we are, the bike and me. I'm about to strip damaged parts.
A couple hours later. There ain't much left.
The next step is to clean off the mud and grass, then degrease. That'll make it easier to inspect the frame for cracked welds, etc. The third picture shows the crumpled sheet metal bits. I'll salvage the carriage bolts and all the stainless steel stuff.
More of the same, and another shot of the scrap. The sidecar frame is bent, probably not evident in the photo, though. The sidecar axle is also bent.
The standard CJ wheel was on the sidecar. It's missing some spokes now, but the tire and tube are fine. One M5 survived... the other one didn't.
With rain in the forecast, OGM is under plastic. Once I get everything cleaned up, I'll know if this is a salvage operation, or a rebuild project.
 
Oops. March 27, 2009 is a day I won't forget, but I'm gonna try real hard. It was the first day riding after spending five weeks at sea. I was exploring an excellent pipeline trail I found on Google Earth. It was just begging for some sidecar action. The ride was very nice for sure, but the last section turned out to be way, way too steep to descend.
It's just too bad I didn't quite grasp that fact until I was far enough down it to be committed. No problem, though. I'd just walk the bike in a zig-zag, like a switchback. The engine was off, and gearbox was in first gear. That allowed me to use the clutch for rear wheel braking in addition to the front brake. The technique seemed to be working pretty good... until the front wheel hit a rut which kicked it, steering the bike straight down the mountain. That's when gravity took over. I decided not to accompany her down the slope, and I actually said "goodbye, bike" as we parted company. I reckon she went about 300 feet, and she did two or three endos before she finally stopped.
It was spectactular, it and might have been pretty funny if it weren't my bike! Anyway, all I can do is be thankful I have a second CJ, one that will never be going off road. As for the grey bike, I think she got done in for good this time. I'll know for sure once I start tearing the wreckage apart, but I'm not very hopeful.
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