Ok, heres the story. I'm not sure what bit me but I decided in April of this year I needed a project. My brother in law, father in law and friend all have bikes. Nothing I like, but I loved riding them. SO I looked and looked and I loved the look of the old triumphs, BSAs and similar bikes. I decided the cafe thing was the coolest style because you make it what you want it. No rules. Thats like me, no rules. I don't color in the lines and I don't work for anyone, basically I do what I want. SO, cafe it was. I gathered pictures for months and then realized I didn't have the extra money to buy a bike so I put the idea on hold.( im self employed and things are pretty slow right now) So my wife (girlfriend at the time) employed my now brother in law to find me a bike. All they knew is I wanted a cb550 that I could do what I wanted with. Well, on July 30th I had a party and guess what got pushed into the back yard......My cb550. Wow, it was a mess!!!! It didn't run or do anything very well actually. It was a basket case. I loved it! SO , here are the pictures to tell the story. Please ask any questions because I have tons to tell about this build but not the time to tell it. The first thing I did was ordered 4 carb rebuild kits and a set of handle bars. Upon inspection of the carbs I found one of the jets just laying in the bowl of one of the carbs. Might be why it didn't run.
Heres the brother in law making a funny face. Think hes like, uh my bad dude.
And as soon as I got the carbs rebuild I took it to my shop (small stereo shop) and ripped it apart. It leaked oil like a siv and looked like crap. This is what happened after looking at it for a day or two and getting the nerve to rip apart a running bike.This picture makes my stomach hurt. I can remember how much work it took to get it to where it is now.
Pretty. I rebuilt the top end of the motor. Never pulled a motor apart but I bought a manual and went to it. I had to build a valve spring compressor tool and it worked like a champ. Its a cheap 6" c clamp and a deep well socket that I cut the sides out of.
Next I rolled the bike around back and used 2 cans of Tal-strip paint stripper and stripped it down to bare metal. The stuff works like a champ. I highly recommend it.
After getting all the chemical off the frame and hitting a few spots with a wire brush, I rolled it back inside and made a make shift paint booth. aka I hung plastic from the ceiling. Heres the first coat of primer.
After a second coat of primer I shot the first coat of gold. Oh boy. Let me just tell you I stared at paint colors for 10 minutes and I went with gold because I knew people would hate it but I was sure I could make people love it. After this first coat I wasn't so sure any more. I actually stopped working on it and stared at it for 3 days until I convinced myself once again I could make it look good. It actually grew on me allot in 3 days.
I wished I would have taken more pictures here. But I pulled the rotor off and drilled it. I went through 3 bits before I found the magic recipe to drilling it. I was able to do the whole rotor using 1 bit and it is still super sharp. Wont go into that now, but if you are planning to do the same, Id be happy to save you a ton of time. Just ask. So here it is put back together. I also painted the inside of it gold on the front and low gloss black on the back. All the paint I used in this build was high heat paint with ceramic. Its works wonderfully. The spokes have all been painted black with the exception of the spoke nipples. A little secret, I used a paint pen.
All the bearings where in great shape so I saved some time and didn't pull everything apart. Im actually very good with a paint can and I was able to tape everything off very well. If you saw this in person you would think I took it all apart. Here are the before and after pics.
Wow, did you see those lame forks? so Dull and crappy looking. Well, I didn't take step by step pictures on them, but I did polish them. I used a few different grits of sand paper, a red 3m wheel and a polishing kit. Takes lots of time but it is so worth it. Here it is with a little re assembly. Check out those forks now
At this point allot of time and sweat have gone into the project and I needed a boost. So I put the side covers on it and tank.Yuk, what have I done? I hate it. I looked at it for 2 more days and realized it looked to bubbly. I hate those side covers. In the trash they went.
I went back and forth from working on the frame to working on the motor. While I was doing the paint, I had the head of and soaking. So much work removing the 32 year old head gasket. Took a day. Yuk, theres that stomach pain again. SO how is the head doing you might be wondering. Well here she is all clean and waiting for reassembly.
Top end rebuilt, new valve seals and gaskets. Adjusted the valves and hopefully got her back in time. We will see.
I didn't take allot of pictures of everything. For instance, in this picture you can see the rear hub that I drilled and polished. Lots of work. Also, the piece that holds the handle bars on I chopped up and made 2 separate pieces. I cut the middle out that housed the lights. I shaped and polished the 2 pieces and reassembled them. looks so much better. Also, the motor is back in the frame, kinda. I painted it black. I completely re wired the entire bike.
Here you can see one of the gauges. I scanned the original faces into my computer and reversed the image. I took the image to a vinyl shop and had them printed up.
Rear sets? this took for ever to decide. I am on a budget so this is what I came up with. A small disclaimer, I cut the aluminum with a jig saw. I am planning to get my pattern re cut professionally in the future, but as you see in the pictures, the cuts are very crooked. I looked and looked and finally came up with a design. I wanted to be able to use 2 identical rear sets. It worked pretty well and Im completely happy with it. The long bar you see in the picture is actually an automotive brake line I purchased at the parts store. I cut it to size and welded the 2 ball joints on either side. ( I actually had them welded, I don't own a welder) I had to rotate the internal piece in the hub so I could attach the arm upside down. The arm and shaft are keyed so it wont work if you dont do this. I re bent the brake bar and shortened it a bit as well.I used BMX bike pegs.
The seat......Well, I spent hours and hours on e bay and hated every hour of it. I want to be able to have my wife ride with me but I want the cafe seat look. Well, I just reshaped the foam, picked up some material (water proof suede) and took it to a shop to re cover it. Trust me, it wasn't as easy as I just made it sound.
I wrapped some 1/2" foam around it to smooth it out before taking it to get wrapped.
Also, after several failed attempts on battery choices, I finally bought a gel cell and recessed it about 2 inches in the bottom of my seat.
I built a custom blinker reminder. Its a skull that flashes while the blinker is on. You can also get a better view of my gauges and handle bar mounts in this vid.
Of course I decided to cut all the tabs off after the fact.
Some parts of this project just fell together. Like the exhaust. I didn't know what I was going to do. Then one morning I decided to go to walmart for some inspiration. I was in the automotive dept. and on the clearance shelf there was a chrome exhaust tip for like 4 bucks. I grabbed it not knowing what size it was or what size I needed. I took it to my shop and the freakin thing fit perfect. Not good or close, perfect. I slid over the exhaust snug. I used a rubber malled and its on there. I still decided the set 2 screws into it just in case, but I'm almost sure I didn't need to.
OK, wanna hear her purr? Well I'm sorry, she only roars, I love the straight pipe sound. And let me tell ya, it sounds freakin mean above 3000 rpms. Holy crap!
OK, the lighting situation. I upgraded the head light, new head light ears, LED blinkers all around. I installed 2 red LEDs in the each of the rear turn signal housings. and wired it all up.
OK, Im an hour and a half into this post. I'm getting over it. I'm gonna skip allot of stuff. Here are some pics of the bike with the seat on it.
I just dished the gas tank and don't have any pictures of the bike with the tank on it yet, but it looks sick. Here are the pics of the dishing the tank process. I only used the big rubber mallet in the picture.
And here is where I'm regretting it.
After the flapper wheel.
First body filler application
First take down
Taken down again then primed so I could see the areas I needed to work on.
First coat of black. I then sanded it with 400 grit and repainted it 2 more times
Then I added my trademark image which is simply a wedding card that I turned into a stencil. I applied a pin stripe and there she is. Took about 4 hours to complete. I put the tank on last night and it looks great.
As soon as I get more pictures, Ill throw them up. I still have several small things I need to do before it is complete. But its winter time now so no hurry. Anyways, I hope I didn't bore you. If you have any questions at all, just ask. Hope you enjoyed. It has taken almost 4 months to get it to where it is today. I'm sure it wont ever be done.