Saturday, May 14, 2011

Project Gift Horse: And So It Begins

If you're looking for a way to make a few hours fly by unnoticed, start taking apart an old motorcycle you want to rebuild. This afternoon I took off the gas tank, rear fender, ignition switch, headlight shell, and instruments, and put all the small things in labeled zip-lock bags so I don't end up with one big box full of unidentifiable stuff when it's time to put it all back together.

The gas tank is spotless inside, although it's been used–the paint under the front of the seat is scuffed–and there's no petcock. I don't know yet if the instruments work. The headlight shell and the instrument cans are pretty rusty. I'm not sure I can save them, or if I want to.

In the short time the bike has been here it's already left a small pool of oil under the engine. The countershaft seal is bad, but like every other seal and gasket in the engine it'll be replaced. I want to rebuild the engine to stock specs. I know a lot of people pump up Yamaha 500cc singles. I've done it myself, with an XT500-based road racer I ran a long time ago. But to me the trade-off in terms of starting and noise isn't worth the small increase in power. If I wanted a fast motorcycle I'd have bought a 10-year-old sportbike.

Monday morning I have to go to the DMV to see about the title. I have the original California pink slip, signed off by the owner, and a bill of sale from 1992 transferring ownership of the bike to someone else for the sum of $50, but no paperwork after that. Having grown up in California, and having dealt with the state-run sanctuary for unemployable misanthropes that is the California Department of Motor Vehicles, I feel a looming dread at the prospect of trying to claim rightful possession of the SR with such sketchy documentation. But Oregon is very unlike California in many ways, and with luck this will be another one of them.

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