We're staying busy in these cold winter months. Here are some pics of a 650 motor we've just finished. It's about to head to Finland, so we took lots of care to make sure this motor was built properly given its long commute.
Friday, August 16, 2019
We've been very busy lately doing a lot of paint work. Here are some photos that show the work it takes to get gas tanks ready for painting.
The first set shows how sandblasting helps us discover hidden defects. This gas tank was not yet showing evidence of a rust perforated bottom seam. We fill those holes with lead solder which will not resolve like body putty. We also solder around the welded stud then cut it off to ensure that there are no torn thin spots which could later break through. With thin metal I recommend use of a sealer inside after the soldier is applied.
The second set of photos reveal why we never paint a piece of vintage steel without stripping AND sandblasting before doing repair and filling. The upper panel looked like good original paint which concealed an elaborate matrix of rust about to pop the finish. When we fill dents we often prefer to use old school lead which is more resistant to vibration. We also use a slide hammer with spot welded studs to pull out dents as much as possible to minimize the amount of fill required.
The third photo is a reminder that good safety practices along with sunlight corrected paint room lighting are necessary practices to insure consistent high quality results.
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Here is another XS2 that we are just finishing up this June. The owner sent us a very rough bike to restore and we rejected it due to lots of rough details, preferring to supply a much straighter example which costs a little more up front but was a better deal at the end due mostly to the fact most of the components of this running bike were able to be restored rather than replaced. The video (below) shows the first startup.
As usual, we completely dismantled the bike, including the spokes, brake support arm, various fasteners, soaked them in phosphoric acid, wire wheeled them, then sent them off to the zinc plater. In the meantime all the aluminum is polished, the chrome replated, the engine torn down for rebuild, the frame is either sent out for sandblasting and powder coating or painted, depending on its condition. The body work is stripped and painted as described in the “about us” section.
When the zinc and chrome come back we have Marty Mataya at GO MOTO in Minneapolis lace the fresh spokes and rims, true, mount tires, and balance the assemblies. In the meantime the instruments are disassembled, cleaned and lubricated, the best available original faces are installed, rechromed bezels are installed, and cables are lubricated. The polished and rebuilt forks are attached along with the triple tree steering head bearings and swing arm with shocks. Once the rims are installed we have a roller. The engine received a second over bore, again by Marty, and after checking clearances we assembled the cylinders. We do the heads in house with a 3-angle valve seat grind and leak test before assembly.
Fuel components are ultrasonically cleaned and in extreme cases briefly soaked in phosphoric acid first. Then carburetors, petcocks, and the gas tank interior are rebuilt and sealed as needed. As the subsystems are rebuilt and restored Mike assembles while I paint and detail the tiny bits. So far the smaller trim pieces are still available so we sometimes use new instead of rechroming. Examples are turn signals, side cover trim, and European style handlebars, which most clients prefer. We also prefer the original double wall headers because they provide a better low end and mid-range street performance due to the smaller inside diameter, and they resist discoloration better than a single wall.
Collectors send us their bikes, we restore them, and send them back. Contact us for more details through email: email@example.com. I usually don’t hear the phone while at work.
Here is a pair of 1972 Yamaha XS 650s. The one of the left had just finished its shake down ride on the 6th of December 2016, and the one on the right is in the queue for a restoration. The left bike has had a complete restoration including full tear down, sandblast powder coat frame, $2,100 on chrome, full engine rebuild, 4-stage candy red paint (white base coat, tape stripes, silver base coat, candy red mid coat, urethane clear top coat). All systems were tested for electrical, fuel, braking, and power performance. Instruments were serviced when the chrome trim was at the chromer, anything weak was replaced, anything original that could be repaired was repaired, the original rims and spokes were chromed and zinc plated, new tires/tubes, new battery, etc.
Below the picture, the first video shows the original start up, and the second video the test run. Also have a look at the video on September 14, 2016 (below), the one where we're restoring the gas tank. That's the very same tank that's now on the restored bike on the left.
Check out this video (link below). It shows one of the techniques we use to remove rust, rotten gas, and improperly installed gas tank sealer. We employ sandblasting, phosphoric acid, acetone, and a wire rope flail to remove different forms of crud in the tanks.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you! A ride home worth waiting 25 years for. She ran perfectly, the evening was perfect, and I came up Highway 10 into St Paul just as the sun set and the sky was turning red. By the end of the ride I was feeling much more comfortable and appreciating her more and more. Thanks for the work you performed and the expert advice."
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
This is the latest testimonial from a satisfied customer:
"I called Mark because of a referral from a friend as I had just purchased a 1975 Honda CB360T that was not running. I replaced plugs, poured some Sea Foam into the tank, took the gas tank off and also poured Sea Foam into the top of the carbs. Cleaned everything up as good as I knew how and got it started. There seemed to be a fuel issue right away as it did not run well. This bike sat since 2004 I believe. And I suspected carbs as the problem. After talking with Mark the first time he prepared me for what could be wrong with the bike and that he would be glad to take a look. Mark gave the bike a full inspection and found there was not only a carb issue there was also a problem with the front brake as well. He explained what would need to be done to the bike and I decided to have him order the parts. I thought I could handle the brake work and asked Mark if he would be okay that I do that. Of course it was but when I initially looked at it and consulted in some friends we thought it would be best if he do that as well. He was fine with that. There was a slight delay before I could get the bike in, so I decided I would do the brake work anyway - knowing it was a good amount of work and a lot of refined cleaning out of the brake parts. Mark was also completely fine that I changed my mind twice on that. And he also had to make a slight adjustment to the front brake that cost me next to nothing and it's perfect now. The job was finished by Mark and his crew cleaning out the carbs and the bike runs perfect now. The Honda CB360T pulled off a nice little wheelie when I gave it a little bit when I got it home. My daughter was terrified as she watched me take off. This is a 1975 motorcycle and I realize it will take time to make it perfect as a whole. Mark will be the mechanic I will go to for everything. Great to have a person like Mark in our town."
the 1975 Honda CB360T
Wednesday, October 7, 2015
This is how we service brakes. Complete dismantle, sandblast, paint, or plate, with new or excellent used components. The viewable aluminum is sanded and polished to a high standard.
brakes from the shop
Here are a few testimonials we've received this summer:
1. From Norton:
Received the boxes today. Send me an invoice so I can get with Mike and divide the expenses. Thanks for the fabulous shipping. It all arrived undamaged. I did receive all the boxes. They held one at the Post office for some reason. Total of 6 boxes. BEAUTIFUL WORK my friend. I should have another coming at you soon. This one will be a XS-2. Delivery is not scheduled until March next year but I want to get you the painted parts before the arctic freeze up there. Again thanks so much for the hard work. You know I appreciate it more than the people who see the finished product.
2. From John:
Hope this e-mail finds you in good health and all well. I pulled my completed bike out of the basement yesterday for the first time in a year and 3 months. I started it today for the first time. It runs perfectly as if it rolled off of the assembly line. I want to thank you again for doing such a professional job with the engine. I had some major mechanical issues with my other bike and a death in the family that sidelined this project for over a year. I will send you a picture of the bike once I put all accessories back onto bike.
3. From Malc (picture of his bike below):
I hope this email finds you well. Just a quick email to send a few completed pictures of my XS1B. I have finally got it finished and registered on the road here in the UK. I really appreciated the help that you gave me both technically and supplying parts. The Speedo and rear mudguard let it down a bit, the speedo has a fair bit of surface rust and a couple of large scratches, and the fender has been creased and panel beaten back. I'm guessing they are near impossible to source in good condition. Other than that overall I’m really pleased with the result. I know the purest will pick bits and pieces which are not period correct, but my ambition was to get it back to a tidy rideable state of which I have achieved. Wishing you well. Kind regards from sunny UK.
Monday, June 9, 2014
We just finished this Moto Guzzi Ambassador in lush crimson and cream ordered up by the owner. The gold striping really sets off the colors. The more ornate and decorative the paint the more I seem to enjoy the work.
Here are a couple of shots and a short video of the Guzzi on display at the AMCA Nationals in St. Paul, MN (June 13,14 & 15 2014). Once again, please note that the video may take a few minutes to load.
We're keeping busy on these cold winter days! Here is a picture of us going through the bottom end and transmission of a current restoration.
bottom end and transmission
Monday, October 7, 2013
These are a series of pictures of paintwork we did for Norton Muzzone down in Florida. He was very pleased with the work, and called us to say: "Hey Mark, I just received my painted parts and they are absolutely gorgeous. It is 85 down here in Florida and when I take them out into the sunlight the paint is blinding! The metallic and the color, it is absolutely perfect! People are going to be gawking more at the paint than the rest of the bike."
Following up on this: Norton took a second place award at this October 2013's Barber Vintage bike show in Birmingham, Alabama, for his gold 1971 XS-1B (pictures below).
Friday, June 29, 2012
Recently Bob V. brought us an 86,000 mile 1977 Yamaha XS 650 with oil leaks. He gave us the authorization to repair anything else that was needed. Remarkably, it tested 165 lbs. on both cylinders and ran like a top with no wear to the swing arm bushes or steering head bearings. We determined that all it needed was a new countershaft seal, so we had it back on the road in a few hours. Here is Bob's unsolicited note of appreciation:
"Hello, just wanted you to know that bike and rider arrived home in good shape. Thanks for getting it done so quick. Sounds and runs great. It's nice to be on that thing again. Thank you also for being honest when I asked you about changing the swing arm. You said it didn't need to be changed. It was perfectly good. You could have said it was bad, but didn't."
Friday, November 25, 2011
This summer and fall we spent a lot of time and money on upgrading our shop addition with insulation, heating, humidity and condensation control, and better space utilization. Recently we acquired a surplused 1998 General Electric X-ray table with electric lift from 14" - 44" and a capacity of 1,000 lbs along with a dentist's lift chair with adjustable seat height and ratcheting crescent arm steady rest. The dentist's chair is perfect for extended hours of close work for old backs. Now all we need is an operating room overhead light and scrubs to make the OR complete.
Now that the shop is upgraded we can return to working on bikes instead of working on the shop. In mid November we sent 3 more 650s to Norway, acquired a 257 mile since new 1980 Honda CB125s (pictures below) and a nearly completed '63 Honda 305 Super Hawk which only needs a little detailing to finish. The Super Hawks are a petite, elegant, and nimble complement to the 650 collector's stable. We now have a matched pair of red and silver examples.
We are now returning to serving our client's and our own restoration needs and look forward to the next round of projects that are approaching. There are 2 '73 TX650s and a '79 standard that have been waiting patiently for our attention. The pictures below show the upgrades to the shop (with X-ray table and dentist's chair), the '63 Honda 305 Super Hawk, and last, but not least, the 1980 Honda CB125s.
This irresistible 1980 CB125s has 257 original miles. Everything is original except for the battery and fuel line. It runs perfectly and it all looks new. First break in maintenance is at 600 miles, so it is still a new bike after 31 years.
Friday, August 5, 2011
Click on the link below to load a video of us firing up this '72 for the first time (this is the same '72 detailed in the Friday, January 14, 2011 entry below). Seems like we had a good time!
NOTE: the video often takes a few minutes to load. Please be patient.
These 9 images are from our current '72 restoration. Everything on this '72 is either new, painted, plated, polished or rechromed. Two of the images display the front triple tree looking aft just after the bike became a rolling chassis. One is of the rolling chassis and the other is of the front brake. The details of the rear wheel are very nice: other than soap residue resting on the rim, the images show the '72 with new or painted or plated everything including rim, spokes, nuts, etc. I especially like the shot of the freshly rechromed rear fender being installed.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
This has been a very busy and productive summer. We have expanded our shop in order to increase our inventory and working space. The following 4 photos give you a sense of what our expanded shop looks like.
Monday, March 8, 2010
Two photos below of our latest acquisitions:
The first (on the left) is a '73 that comes from Jeremy Ruport in Superior, Wisconsin. It's a 14,000 mile bike with possibly the most awkward handlebar we've ever seen. However, the bike performs well, and is a testimony to Jeremy's diligent care for this excellent candidate for restoration. I call it the "Superior '73."
The second (on the right) is a front end challenged but sweet running '77 we acquired from a guy with the best garage in Wisconsin: half of the garage has a bar with a view of a beautiful lake in northern Wisconsin!
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Our shop is busy at work on our many new acquisitions over the last 6 weeks. Here are a couple action shots pulling down an XS motor; in this case, a wounded 750 kitted motor from 1970. The small end rod roller bearings had lost their cage and collapsed allowing the wrist pin to rock about with bad consequences to the piston and bore. The 750 kit had Forgedtrue pistons installed by a Yamaha dealer in 1971. Later Yamaha went to a bushed small end rod which solved that problem.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Our shop has been very busy lately. In the last 3 weeks we have acquired 8 new 650s. This includes two '71s, two '72s, two '73s and 2 '77s. One of the '77s is a very well preserved original with the exception of an updated front rotor, progressive springs, K & N filters, new tires, and a sealed battery. Any of these bikes are solid candidates for restoration and are available as is or as completed restorations.
Please check back shortly. We will post a number of pictures of these acquisitions as soon as they're taken.
shop is currently working on a 1973 TX 650 (see photos below). The
photos show the front third of the bike being restored. Check
back in a month and we should have more documented progress on this and the
other bike in the shop (the 1963 Honda 305 Super Hawk). The bike is on a jack stand so the entire front end can be pulled
down and inspected, repaired, and reassembled. At this point the forks have
been rolled on plate glass to insure straightness and put on a press if there
are any bends. If there is a flaw in the chrome in the stanchions, they are
discarded. The sliders are stripped and polished, cleaned and flushed on the
insides, and new seals installed. The fender and fender supports are cleaned
and polished or sent out for re-chroming. In this fender example, a small dimple
was able to be pushed and teased out. Then the chrome was polished on a buffing
wheel with white rouge for a clean clear finish. The triple tree and Triple
Crown were removed in order to clean, inspect, and assemble the steering head
bearings with fresh assembly grease. If the races are bad, new roller bearing
sets are used to replace the original balls. The freshly painted brilliant
metallic blue headlight ears and bucket are installed with the forks. The front
rim/hub assembly is cleaned and polished and the bearings are checked for wear.
The brake caliper will get a rebuild with new pads and the original worn master
cylinder will be replaced with one with more hydraulic leverage. The handlebar
has been replaced and the instrument cluster mount has been cleaned, touched
up, and polished. The gauges are excellent, so they were polished and
reinstalled. The handlebar mounts along with the switch housings on both sides
and the triple crown are repainted the correct satin gloss black. Once the new
front tire and tube are mounted and balanced the rim will be checked and
adjusted for runout and then the front end will go back on the ground and we
will take the rear end apart. Because the original paint on this frame is so
well preserved we decided not to repaint it. This bike was the property of an
aircraft mechanic at the O'Hare airport and was kept in good condition.
This little beauty is a complete restoration. It is a 1963 Honda 305 Super Hawk. Although a 650 Yamaha enthusiast, I have a soft spot for the 1963 Honda Superhawk I rode from 1967-1970. It was the first bike I owned that could run from Los Angeles to San Francisco and back and expect to make the trip without a problem. It was capable of 100 mph in ideal circumstances, it could handle, and it had superb brakes for the day. This is a bike I have regretted selling for the last 39 years so I decided it was time to make amends. Sandblasted frame, epoxy primer, velvety silver instead of high gloss, new or re-chromed just about everything including the speedometer bezel, new swing arm bushes, fork seals, aluminum polished, cylinders bored .50 mm, fresh head by the guru in these parts who does head work for Bonneville Speed Week record holders, NOS exhaust, cables, mud flap, etc. I look forward to riding this bike and showing it at VJMC events for the next few years as a compliment to the muscle of the 650 twins.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Two new additions to our shop: what you see here is the starting point of a 1971 XS1B and a 1972 XS2. As the photos clearly show, we've also acquired many new spare parts for future restorations.