CB350 Steampunk Frankenstein Cafe thing called Isabel


Been Around the Block
So I've been running a Project Log over at Hondatwins.net, thought I'd stick up the journey and where I've got to so far here in case people might be interested! So, without further ado... Isabel (who isn't actually finished yet):

I bought this little CB250/350G Frankenstein bike (250 frame, 350 engine) a few months ago as a project bike to tear down and rebuild to learn about bike mechanics and customisation. It looks like this (yes, some philistine painted it Cadbury's Purple and put girls pushbike handlebars on it):


But, when I'm done.. it'll look like this! (well, hopefully):

Fist step was doing the gauges before I headed off for Europe for a few months, as a bit of tester fro style and finish. They ended up looking like this (yes the numerals are wrong, I've since fixed them):


Then needed to tidy up the engine:



And in the meantime started sourcing parts (found this little beauty on eBay for the headlight):


Then I buggered off to Europe for 3 months and it sat in my tiny workshop collecting 'character'... ;)
On my return I got completely stuck into it... ripped out the guts of the carbide lamp and replaced it with the stock headlight internals. Sent the frame off to get copper-plated and a few other bits to get brass-plated (had to send them interstate as no one does it here, and only one guy does it in Melbourne.. brass-plating not really called for much these days apparently). I got a CL350 front drum hub and matching rims and spokes, tapered steering bearings, new wheel bearings, handlebars, bronze swing arm bushings, and other stuff I'm sure but I can't think of right now. I stripped the tank and fenders and buffed them back to a roughly weathered metal look and clear coated them. Pre-rusted and clear-coated a few accent pieces, and made a new tank emblem.




Got an early Christmas present from Santa Copper-plater... it STILL makes me laugh every time I look at it.


But it was all a bit too brand-spanking-new and shiny, so I decided to do a bit of weathering... amazing what just a bit of vinegar will do!


But that might be a little over the top... The plan was to polish bits of it back before I put it all back together so it gets some nice patina in all the cracks and crevices, then leave it uncoated so it weathers more over time. Maybe the occasional polish on bits I can get to once it's back together just to give it that 'aged but polished occasionally' look. I'm using the headlight housing a bit of a guide, given it's about 90 years old I'm trying to make the rest of the bike match it.


Ah, that's better. Hard to get the effect across with photos, but it's now got that old, weathered copper vibe I was going for. Not too shiny, not too grungy. Weathered up the gauges too while I was at it:


And it all started to look a bit like this:

Got excited with cool little accent pieces, and respoked and trued the wheels (my first attempt... using 2 jack stands and a paint brush... apparently I got them spot-on according to the guys who put my tyres on). Also made some small saddlebags out of an old leather satchel to cover the spaces where the original air box covers would have gone.




Dude!!!! I want your time machine!

that is for sure my vote for bike of the month if not the year, can you PM me how you cleaned up the motor so nice? did you end up taking it apart or just masking off stuff?
That's different. I usually don't like steam punk, but there's a lot of original design ideas going on there. Good job so far. Somehow the "modern" parts now look out of place and I suspect that indicators could be replaced with some copper tube with some small end caps with LEDs.

The engine is such a period lump and looks out of place. Maybe black paint would work and perhaps a more industrial looking exhaust system might work. Maybe looking like a steam engine from the turn of the 19th century might suit the overall look. More black and bronze and all straight lines sort of look I guess.
Yeah, I see your point as far as the more modern stuff goes. The indicators are definitely due to be replaced, I just haven't found a suitable candidate yet, though I like the copper tube and LED idea. Another fellow over at Hondatwins mocked up a concept for indicators for me that I'm very fond of, I just need to find the right bits.


The engine... perhaps. I'm actually trying to use mostly 'true' metal finishes. So the Brass is really brass, the copper really copper and the steel really steel. I'm trying to limit the use of 'artificial' looking finishes (but am using them in places, especially to get the matt-black parts to look like steam-age iron). I'm also trying to get a finish where the for the bulk of the bike no 2 major parts touching are the same colour/finish, so it's always alternating brass/copper/steel/black. A lot of what I'm doing I'm doing with all the wrong tools in a tiny workshop with limited knowledge and experience, so I am somewhat limited to what I can achieve, but trying to 'design' around those limitations. I'm also on a bit of a budget!

As most of these kind of bikes are, I would guess, it's a work in progress. I want to get it back to a ridable stage, then I can fiddle to my hearts content and get it just right with all those bits that don't quite work.
Like teazer I usually have no time for steampunk bikes but this one is on the right track!

Looking forward to further journeys into the parallel universe.

Thanks for the kind words lads. I managed to get my custom switches made up today...

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