Tuesday, 25 June 2013

A Phoenix from the Ashes

You will remember from the last post that Ian bought his CB400F new in 1977 but because he had other transport it ended up getting a bit neglected in the garden and being pushed to the back of the garage and used as a shelf.

I can only liken this to a woman getting a nice new oven.  We are so determined to keep it clean at first because we know that it's better in the long run - no woman wants to get on her hands and knees and scrape that old lasagne from the bottom of what now looks like the surface of a dirty miner's bath tub!  Alas the cleaning goes from after every use to every week to every month to, well, never!

Poor Bertie (a pet name I have just given to this bike).  After years of loving he sits all forlorn in the garage until one day Ian decides to make amends for his years of loving others.  Does Bertie give Ian the cold shoulder?  Not at all.  After a bit of an apology by way of battery power Bertie comes back to life within minutes.

The Restoration

First thing Ian did was strip the bike completely.

The frame was sand blasted, primed and 2 pack painted.

On trying to carry the engine back to the car for sand blasting, Ian lost his grip and fell with the engine onto concrete, breaking 4 fins off the sump and oil filter cover.  It already had a broken fin on the cylinder.  He took the engine to a welder mate with all the bits and not only did he weld the bits back into position but he rebuilt up the missing broken fin.

The engine was sealed and sand blasted.  After trailing paint colours Ian decided on Audi silver metallic for the casings and VHT silver for the cylinders and head.  That was as close as he could find to the original.  

Many of the parts were sourced from David Silver Spares and the salvageable chromed bits were re-chromed.

Wheels were stripped down and after cleaning and respraying hubs, again with the Audi silver, new rims were fitted with stainless spokes.

The front brake calliper, lines and master cylinder were overhauled.

The seat was stripped, cleaned down, repainted black and re-covered with DSS cover and studs.

New front and rear mudguards, these were painted on the inside with hammerite smooth grey for extra protection.

Carburettors were ultrasonically cleaned and new jets throughout.

New tank (DSS) and side panels sprayed black with new stickers (Ian wanted a different look to the tank so used a GB500TT variation).

Front forks stripped down and new stanchions and seals fitted.

Countless photos taken for wiring routes and connections (with a mental block for wiring but they all turned out ok).  

The carburettors had to be balanced so Ian enlisted the help of a friend with a balance guage.  

The MOT failed on binding brakes, which were virtually on by the time Ian drove it home and the brake light was permanently on until it had cooled down again.

The master cylinder was removed and stripped.  An overhaul kit was ordered from DSS but the kit arrived with 2 of the 6 riveted leaf springs on the piston bent.  Ian fitted these anyway but after phoning DSS and explaining that he had a time limit to get the MOT done, they put it on an urgent post back.

After checking in the master cylinder he found one of the two ports blocked, which wouldn't clear with an air line.  They were cleaned out with a small screw driver but but that went into a tiny hole.  Ian ground down a "pop rivet" stem and filed to clear the hole then cut off a wire from a wire brush and cleaned it through.  Very inventive.  

The whole thing was reassembled with a new overhaul kit, new battery, the system was bled and perfect, after 7 months of hard work and nearly £3,000 the restoration was finally finished on 21st May and Bertie passed his MOT on 23rd May.

So will Ian now be selling his CB400F2 or keeping it?

Keeping it!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

When is a Job is not a Job? When it's a Passion.

I have been finding this a tricky blog to write.  This is mainly because I want to be able to put over the passion that some people feel for their bikes and their restoration projects.  I don't want my own lack of passion for bikes to detract from expressing the passion of others.

I am passionate about cakes.  When I see a fantastic cake (not a decorated one that hides the beauty underneath but a cake you can taste by looking at it).  I want to know how it was made, the ingredients, the time it took, the preparation, etc.  I take pictures of the cakes I make and post them on my Facebook.  They're not perfectly decorated but I am going for the taste.  I could write all day about the cakes I have seen and which cafe or restaurant I saw them in.  I love them.  They must be served on a nice plate with a cake fork alongside a pot of tea and a teacup - not a mug!

This one I took to a bbq.  It is a fresh cream sponge soaked in rose water with fresh raspberries - yum

I am writing this entry with your passion in mind.

Ian Fife

Ian Fife has been following us at David Silver Spares for some time now, I often see his name crop up on a post as a Comment or a Like.  Ian is a retired Firefighter having worked in London from 1973 up to his retirement in 2000.  He has owned and ridden bikes since 1961 when he was 16 years old (a future Dom maybe?).

His first bike at 16, was an Ambassador with Villiers 6E (197cc) engine like the one below (it reminds me a bit of an ant??).  It had a double saddle and girder front forks with no rear suspension apart from a sprung saddle.  It was a short lived purchase as he couldn't get the timing right because the thread of the main shaft had stripped and at 16 he couldn't afford a new one.

Ambassador with a 197 Villiers 6E engine
Ian flirted with a few more bikes like his Francis Barnet (not in original trim) that he bought for a fiver, an Arial Huntsmaster, Ariel Red Hunter, Honda CB77 305cc, 125vv Honda, Triumph Tiger 100, Yamaha RD 350, Honda CBR 1000FN and of course the CB400F2, which he bought as new in 1977.

Ian on his Francis Barnet 1961
Arial VH Red Hunter in 1963

Triumph Tiger 100 in 1974

1965 CB77s fitted with Gold Star silencers (Ian's on the right)

Ian on his 1965 CB77 305cc Honda
New CB400F from Ian's bedroom window in 1977

Ian bought his CB400F2 new in 1977 from Tippets Motorcyles in Surbiton where he knew the owner, Phil Alexander.  It was bought for a whopping £650!  The bike was used to travel to work up to London and was used alongside his car and his CBR1000 so the mileage stayed quite low.  The present mileage on the bike is still only 21,900.

It was used until around 1966 when the storms knocked it over in the garden and covered it in mud.  Ian pushed it into the shed and gradually it got surrounded and covered with junk and it rusted badly during this period.  This must happen a lot to you bike nutters because my husband has 4 bikes in our garage and he only uses one of them.  Apparently there is a Suzuki GT200X5 in there somewhere that he used to use at University nearly 20 years ago!  He sees it as an "investment" - I see it as unreasonable behaviour!  It hasn't seen the light of day for the 7 years we have lived in this house!  We have been together 16 years and I only ever see it when he moves it from one garage to the next.

After a few years of successfully building kit cars, in October 2012 Ian decided to drag the CB400F out of the garage (literally as it happens as the brakes were seized on) into the workshop to start the restoration project.

First thing Ian did was check the petrol tank for leaks - clear.  He then connected up a booster battery and the starter motor just clicked.  After kicking it over for about 5 minutes the starter motor started to spin the engine over, then a couple of minutes later the engine fired up and ran sweetly.

Ian has sent me loads and loads of pictures of the restoration so have a flick through some of these before shots before I tell you about the work done in the next post.

No. plate holder bracket cushions

Frame with engine removed

Sprung clips through axle and brake drum stay

Swinging arm pivot

Engine out and ready for clean off

Tank and seat off

Front of frame stripped

Oil filter - push fit

Rear mudguard assembly with wires

Broken fin

Off side of engine and battery