1992 Nighthawk – Take 1

I really shouldn’t ever go on Craigslist. I mean, I almost never do but I did last weekend and found an old, neglected 1992 Honda CB750 Nighthawk with less than 12,000 miles under its belt. And for whatever reason, I immediately wanted it.

The tags expired in 2002, it’s been sitting in a parking lot somewhere in Maryland ever since. For some reason, the owner decided to get rid of it now, brought it to friends who run a Honda dealership in Virginia and they sold it to me for $600.

1992 Nighthawk

This bike has literally not been moved or touched in 14 years. It’s crazy to think that the last time this bike was out on the road, I was a second-year in college.

This is where my journey with this bike begins – and I invite you to come along. Advice, suggestions and smartass comments are, as always, welcomed and encouraged.

Our first evening together

Everything “perishable” on the bike is rotten to hell, but the body is in great shape – the bike has never been dropped, not a single dent or scratch on the tank.

The seat does not look very inviting … it needs new foam in addition to a new cover.

Rotten Seat

The turn signals hanging on for dear life only by their wires.

Turn signals

The exhaust pipes are beyond rescue.

Rusted pipes

The paint has seen better days.

Sun-faded paint

And the list goes on …

I am not entirely sure yet if I want to restore the bike back to its old glory, or if I want to turn it into something entirely different, a café racer for example. For starters, I need to figure out if the engine is still okay. I suspect that it is but to find out, I’ll have to put in a new battery, replace the spark plugs, and give the air filter and the carbs a quick cleaning (a complete carb rebuild will follow after that).

Before I start wrenching, the bike is getting an air bath with the leaf blower, to get rid of all the dead spiders, leaves and debris that have collected in every crevice and hollow space of the bike.

Leaf blower

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: a leaf blower is an essential tool for every motorcycle mechanic (who is too lazy to pull out the air compressor).

The spark plugs look pretty rotten, I am worried that rust has seized the threads, so I’ll just give them a bath with liquid wrench and let them sit for a day or two.

Spark Plugs

A quick peak at the air box and filter reveals a surprisingly clean airway. I mean, it’s obviously not clean but considering that the bike hasn’t been moved in 14 years, I was fully expecting to find a family of mice residing in the filter.

Air filter

While messing with the air box, I suddenly realize that there is a greenish-clear liquid spreading under the bike, slowing creeping towards me. I had noticed a few cracks in the battery earlier and made a mental note to use extra caution during removal, but apparently pushing the bike out of and back into the garage had “awakened” the cracks and acid started pouring out and dripping down onto the floor. $H!T

Battery

Hustling to get the bracket off I run into the next problem: the bolts on the leads are rusted so badly that I can’t get them off — I have no choice but to cut the wires instead in order to remove the battery.

Cleaning up an acid spill is quite the ordeal so I am calling it a night for the little red devil. Stay tuned for Take 2.

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Rebuilding Carburetors – 1999 Nighthawk 750

Part 2: Carburetor Separation

The carburetors are off the bike – what next? In this post, I will explain how to separate the four carbs from each other and disassemble them so they can be cleaned. FYI, I took the photos while I put them back together – that explains why the carbs are so clean and shiny. They were much (much!) dirtier when I took them apart.

Before you get started, make sure you have the following items:

Carburetor kit

Four carburetor rebuild kits – I bought them online for $16/kit.

Carburetor kit

Cleaning supplies: Simple Green, a can of WD40, at least two cans of carb cleaner, an old tooth brush, a small brass wire brush, and fine steel wool;

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Rebuilding Carburetors – 1999 Nighthawk 750

Part 1: Carburetor Removal

Most modern bikes are fuel injected – our Triumph Speed Triples are. But the 1999 Honda Nighthawk and the 2004 Honda Hornet are carbureted. Both bikes feature four carburetors (one for each cylinder) … delicate little devils that don’t require any of your attention – until they do.
Carbs like to be synchronized, and eventually, they will demand to be rebuilt.

This three-post series explains how to remove, separate and rebuild the Nighthawk carburetors. Note that no matter how ambitious you are, this usually turns into a multi-day project … though it could be done in a day, I suppose. Make sure to order a rebuild kit (which is basically just a set of replacement gaskets) before you get started. And when I say “a rebuild kit”, I mean: one for each carburetor.
So, in the Nighthawk’s case, I needed four.

In case you’re not sure – the carburetors are tucked in between the air cleaner and the cylinders:

Carburetors

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How to built a paint booth for less than $50

IMG_7583
Headlight mask, front fender, and tail section sanded and primed

Last summer, I decided to repaint my Honda CB600F Hornet – I love the matte black but it needed a touch up on the tank (because the factory put the clear coat OVER the decals – so when I pulled them off, you could see where they once were 🙁 ), and the aftermarket front end’s color was off from the rest of the bike.

I had everything I needed for this project: a spray paint starter kit, a bucket of matte black paint, and no clue what the hell I was getting myself into.

Continue reading How to built a paint booth for less than $50

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Light of the wicked – snuffed out

I think this is a bible reference – hope God doesn’t mind. 🙂

This post explains how to troubleshoot a broken brake light.

Today, as I was getting the 2007 Triumph Speed Triple ready for a potential buyer (yes, we’re selling her), I noticed that the front brake wasn’t engaging the brake light. Not sure how long that’s been an issue but I didn’t want to sell the bike with a major safety feature not working properly, so I went into troubleshooting mode.

Triple wiring diagram
Triple wiring diagram

The light itself was definitely working, because it lit right up when I engaged the rear brake. I pulled the tank and the air box to get a closer look at the wires. Multimeter in hand, I incrementally went backwards, from the rear brake light switch towards the front of the bike.

Continue reading Light of the wicked – snuffed out

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Selling the Triple

2007 Triumph Speed TripleYup. We’re selling our black 2007 Triumph Speed Triple.

She’s been a great companion for the past 6 years but it was time to upgrade to the newest model and we’re running out of garage space… Oil, spark plugs, coolant, and tires are new — and the bike comes with the 2013 Speed Triple headlights (check out the pics).

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‘2 Million Bikers’ head to Washington DC on September 11

Disclaimer: As stated by its organizers, today’s motorcycle rally in DC was politically motivated. Be that as it may, the following article is about motorcycles, not politics.

Flag at the U.S. Dept of Treasury flying at half-mast today

Flag at the U.S. Dept of Trea­sury fly­ing at half-mast to­day

Bikers don’t like to be told what to do and, more importantly, what NOT to do. So when the organizers of the ‘2 Million Bikers to DC’ (2MB) motorcycle rally received a letter from the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Park Service yesterday, denying them a permit for a “non-stop ride” through Washington DC to commemorate the victims of the 9/11 attacks, they decided to come anyway.

And they came!

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Shining it up!

For this, you’ll need: small pieces of 400, 600, and 1500 grit wet-or-dry sandpaper, a clean rag, some elbow grease and toothpaste.

Yup, toothpaste!

So, I have taken the Hornet apart to paint the tank, headlight mask, and fenders, and in the process, I had to remove the tail light. It’s been sitting on my work bench, staring at me with its hazy plastic lens as if to say: ‘What about me?’

Newfinese road paint
Newfinese road paint

Continue reading Shining it up!

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