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'82 - Cabernet

Posted: Sun May 30, 2021 6:26 pm
by NotSoLilCrippseys
So a guy drives into Laconia with a trailer and rolls out with an '82 GL1100 that was last on the road around 2012. He spies it in the "parts" section of CL listed as a Salvage, recognizes it as a great deal, and pays $100.

So begins a possible joke that I hope doesn't turn into the kind of great deal one gets when one brings home a free puppy.

Here's the ad:
Screen Shot 2021-05-25 at 4.23.02 PM.png

This is my second GL1100 - actually, my third, as we picked up an '83 Standard for parts to bring the '83 Blue Phoenix to life over the COVID winter. That donor has given, and given, and is still giving. (What a purchase!)

Known for now as "Cabernet," owing to the repaint color that is close to something original but perhaps not quite, it's something of a looker even if it's not (YET!!!??) a runner.

Good News
  • She's complete.
  • Her repaint is nice
  • After pulling plugs and getting PBB and oil in, we confirmed she turns over
  • Never been down, or so the panels and guards would suggest
  • We have a donor '83, with some things - like carbs - that we may make good use of
Not So Good News
  • Head gaskets are probably bad (as reported by PO), or maybe a head is cracked. I'm thinking the former is more likely given the story he told, but I'm both hoping he was wrong about the smoke AND thinking we have spare heads on our donor '83 with a hole in the crankcase in case it is a cracked head.
  • Mice lived in the plenum - and died there, eating acorns and the like to their hearts content
  • Carbs will need total overhaul if we can't use the '83 donor carbs
  • It's been off the road for nearly a decade, so its tires, brakes, likely suspension, and so on...
Here are a few quick teaser shots.
I'll be posting more in the not-too-distant future, particularly once we get the carb rack from the '83 bolted onto Cabbie to see if that gets her running. (I'm not interested in starting by fishing acorn bits out of carb orifices.)

This bike will end up being a 10-month move back toward the road. Cabernet has to be my winter project.

Re: '82 - Cabernet

Posted: Sun May 30, 2021 8:28 pm
by Chainman
Congrats on the new addition; she's a great find.
Those hundred dollar bikes are hard to turn down :)

Re: '82 - Cabernet

Posted: Mon May 31, 2021 10:53 am
by Fred Camper
She deserves better owner than the past one. Thank you for taking her it, she will ride again. Hope it is just a new head or gasket, makes it faster to get her on the road.

Re: '82 - Cabernet

Posted: Mon May 31, 2021 5:39 pm
by Track T 2411
Man, you got it bad (but you've got several bikes to go to catch up with me), lol!
Looks like a great score!

Just saying, I don't think I've ever seen a wing with a cracked head...

Re: '82 - Cabernet

Posted: Mon May 31, 2021 9:39 pm
by robin1731
Track T 2411 wrote: Mon May 31, 2021 5:39 pm snip..........
Just saying, I don't think I've ever seen a wing with a cracked head...
Had a member here send me a pair years ago for a rebuild. Both were cracked at the casting plug. Almost missed them.

Re: '82 - Cabernet

Posted: Tue Jun 01, 2021 8:27 am
by NotSoLilCrippseys
I was thinking a cracked head would be unlikely, as I've turned up no discussion of heads being cracked in all the talk of gaskets, white smoke, sweet-smelling exhaust, etc. I guess it happens.

My son and I pulled the carbs off our '83 donor and did a not-so-quick cleaning of bowls, jets, etc. They're shooting fuel , so we'll bolt 'em up and try to start the Cabernet to see what we see.

Time - hopefully just a couple weeks until we swap in the donor carbs - will tell me about the coolant issue. (It's a crazy couple weeks, with HS graduation and more.)

I did notice the other day that the bolts holding the coolant tube to the left head were backed out a bit. At first, I feared one was stripped, but it was doom/gloom thinking as they both were easy to back out and tighten down. Not sure how to explain why that happened - half-assed reassembly after pulling a head, finding a crack, and giving up? PO did not wrench the bike; the story he told is that he brought in "one of the best motorcycle mechanics" in the area to replace front brakes and the starter solenoid. That mechanic told him he had a blown head gasket - or maybe a cracked head - because of white exhaust/steam. Or perhaps the loose line enabled steam to escape the head.

Re: '82 - Cabernet

Posted: Tue Jun 01, 2021 8:00 pm
by Track T 2411
Sounds like one of those things you're never going to know until you dig in. I hate waiting!
lolol lolol lolol

Re: '82 - Cabernet

Posted: Sat Jun 05, 2021 9:28 am
by NotSoLilCrippseys
Not a whole lot of work on the Cab this week.

I filled the rusty tank with Evapo-rust, drained it, and refilled, and drained. It needs to come out if I'm going to get it clean. OK. I'm not that surprised, but I had hoped I'd avoid pulling the tank.

I pulled the carbs from our '83 donor and disassembled bowls, slides, jets, etc. I cleaned the parts, reassembled, and was able to shoot gas. Turns out the choke was completely gummed up on the left bank and wouldn't open/close. But it's now opening/closing as it should. I need to wait until maybe next weekend before finding a couple hours to bolt it up to the Cab to try to start her.

Here's why I need a carb solution to try to fire her up.
Someone cut the pipes on the bike - with a drill bit, it seems. I have no idea what that'll sound like. PO said he didn't even know they had been cut, and that it wasn't really loud. (Hmm. Not sure I buy it.)
The gold pinstripes on the tank turned out to be taped over the clear. I was able to pull them easily enough, which offers a cleaner look - or an opportunity to go from gold to something else down the road. With just a bit of wax and not much effort, the painted panels cleaned up to a high-gloss "wet" look. If a bike could run on looks alone...
That's going to be it until I get the carbs swapped and run some gas through from an aux tank. With luck, one more weekend and I'll know I have a runner, and I'll know something about the possible blown head gasket(s) or cracked head(s).

Re: '82 - Cabernet

Posted: Thu Jun 10, 2021 10:07 pm
by NotSoLilCrippseys
Yesterday after work, I pulled the carb rack from the Cab and bolted up the '83 rack I "refreshed" a week or two ago.
This afternoon, I hooked up an aux tank to see if she'd start.
Using the syringe I use to fill fork tubes with oil, I pumped fuel into the carbs to get the bowls semi-filled before hooking up the fuel pump. Lo and behold: She fired right up and ran! All 4 header pipes promptly warmed up, so we're firing on all cylinders.

Some quick impressions:
  • The straight pipes are loud. No surprise, but really, they're loud.
  • There's smoke from both exhausts. The left side calmed down quite a bit pretty quickly. Right side was still smoking when I shut her down. I didn't run her more than a few minutes, barely moving the temp needle. (This was just the "will it start" test, a proof of concept.)
  • The smoke is not steam in the exhaust - or at least mostly it's not. (I'm hoping the smoke will tail off once I get her running a bit more and the rings do their thing a bit better.) The Blue Phoenix smoked a bit when we first got her started, and she settled right in over time.
  • No signs of coolant leaking anywhere so far. Nothing is dripping off the heads, down the radiator, etc. No oil in the coolant when I drained the radiator. No coolant signs in the oil I drained. (Both were pretty "fresh," actually, which was interesting. The oil was still golden yellow and the filter looked brand new. Did I change it last week and forget I did it? No.) Maybe the purported coolant leak will emerge once I get the bike warmed up to the point that a fan kicks on.
  • Tach doesn't work right now - Cable is broken inside the housing, it turns out.
Did I mention that the exhaust is super loud? I could ride into Bentley's up the road - a pretty well-known biker bar up this way - and she'd fit right in with the Hogs.

I don't know if I can handle putting the motor through its "start after long layup" paces with the current exhaust. And my neighbors surely won't be happy if I'm running it at 4500rpm to work out the crud, both bellowing loudly and billowing smoke. I may need to bolt up our set of stock pipes that have a few holes in them just to tone things down a bit. If not, I'll surely be wearing earplugs when I'm running her in the driveway - and definitely once I move her to the shed.

In other side note news, the rear shocks had about 18psi in them this evening. They haven't lost all pressure over the last couple weeks. I should probably do a bit to track pressure loss and consider whether I have an issue that must be addressed - or just something to keep an eye on over time.

I'm feeling pretty good about where things stand just a couple weeks after picking up the Cab.

Re: '82 - Cabernet

Posted: Fri Jun 11, 2021 9:41 pm
by NotSoLilCrippseys
Looks like I got ahead of myself...

Some of this post might belong in a Tech Discussion, but I'm documenting a build/project progress so I posted here.

After work today, I filled the Cabbie with an oil/atf solution to flush out whatever gunk might break free in a good 20-minute run with some high revs. I filled the radiator with water as a flush of the system. It's all part of the start after a long layup procedure. My ears are still ringing and my next door neighbor is definitely hating me today.

The good news, which I want to hang with:
She started right away, and the smoke quickly faded over maybe the first 5 minutes.

While I really didn't care to test rapid throttle response from idle up above what I imagine might be 5k rpm, the efforts I made yielded no real hesitation or stumbles. I do need to adjust valves, tweak the idle screws, sync the carbs, and more.

The fan kicked in somewhere just above the midpoint on the temp gauge, and started pulling the temps down. That seems to be working.

I peeked in at the water pump. It's the original bakelite blade version, but there's no wiggle or wobble. I'll check for a clogged weep hole, but I'm not going to do a preemptive pump replacement if I don't pull the transmission cover for something else.

And the bad news:
Left head has a definite coolant leak out of what seems to be the #2 exhaust. It's pretty bad, and it wasn't happening yesterday when I gave her a test start after installing the carbs. I know I didn't flush the coolant before starting yesterday, but I did pour a bit of water in to top it off. I thought I topped it off, but perhaps not.

Today, with the rad topped off with water, I saw water dripping off the #2 header bolts before I even started the bike.

Here's a video I shot to help me try to pinpoint the leak.

The head definitely needs to come off. But maybe it's just the gasket. I'd love some input/thoughts on what we can "know" from that water running out.

Also, the gasket for the coolant line bolting to the head leaks (photo below). It's pressurized water. That also wasn't happening yesterday.
This is the coolant line with the bolts that were backed out and loose, and that I snugged up the other day.

If it helps with armchair/distance/virtual diagnosis, both leaks stopped once the bike warmed up. I'm thinking expanding metal worked to compress gaskets. Or for the bigger leak around the #2 exhaust, maybe the water was simply vaporizing before getting past the header?

Kudos to the PO, who was up front and honest about the bike probably having an issue in this department. I'm not into something I wasn't warned about before handing over the Benjamin.

I haven't pulled heads since the last time I spent lots of time sitting on a bucket working on a flat 4. But those were German heads. This'll be a trip in a time machine - back to the '80s for me. At least the motor doesn't need to come out to remove the heads. (Back in the day, working at the curb on the street, I could pull a VW motor solo in 20 minutes or install one and drive away in about 30.)

Query about oil pressure.
I don't have a working tach on the bike, and it might be idling a bit too low right now. But I noticed that at idle the oil pressure light would flicker/come on with the bike at temperature. It went off right away with a touch of throttle.

I don't think I saw it yesterday at idle, and it wasn't showing up today until after the bike was "hot" with the gauge around the midpoint.

Is this somewhat common on these bikes, or might it be a sign of something else to dig into? Would a 1/2 ATF solution somehow reduce oil pressure?

Re: '82 - Cabernet

Posted: Fri Jun 11, 2021 11:07 pm
by wingrider
I think before pulling the head, I would replace the gasket under that water inlet and see if that fixes it.

In regard to your other question, ATF is quite a bit thinner than engine oil….so don’t Worry yet.

Re: '82 - Cabernet

Posted: Sat Jun 12, 2021 10:50 am
wingrider wrote: Fri Jun 11, 2021 11:07 pm I think before pulling the head, I would replace the gasket under that water inlet and see if that fixes it.

In regard to your other question, ATF is quite a bit thinner than engine oil….so don’t Worry yet.
I second both of those. If the head gasket was leaking that bad the cylinder would probably be dead.

Re: '82 - Cabernet

Posted: Mon Jun 14, 2021 8:40 pm
by NotSoLilCrippseys

So I haven't done much to sort things out on the mystery waterworks, mostly because we buttoned up the other NGW project this past weekend - and the right front caliper on my son's GTI Mark IV seized up late Saturday. Unscheduled repair occupied some of our Sunday, and Sunday parts (un)availability stretched it all out until early Monday evening. But the GTI is back on the road, so that's good.

As I was mainly playing "supervisor" on the brake work, I did manage to fill the Cab's radiator again to watch water pour out and drip off the #2 header bolts. But then nothing happened. Weird as all get out because I did NOTHING to change that situation. I filled the crankcase with oil again, planning to try to run her up to temperature and see if there was a leak. That didn't happen, owing to the car brake issue.

My son and I have already concluded that Honda motorcycles can repair themselves. This coolant thing may be another example of the phenomenon. Water comes; water goes.

Re: '82 - Cabernet

Posted: Wed Jun 16, 2021 8:59 pm
by NotSoLilCrippseys
So the Cabbie quite smoking and pissing all over. This is a mystery fit for Scooby Doo.

Honestly, I did nothing, really, to address that water pouring out under the left header. I tightened down the water intake to the head just a bit, but nothing serious.

And the bike isn't smoking either. Wingrider seems right about the ATF, as there was no flickering oil pressure light at low idle with a belly full of motor oil.

For those who care to watch some video, here's the evidence:

I'm happy. Hondas can fix themselves, it seems.

Next up: Some work on the brakes. I can't roll this thing around the driveway.

Re: '82 - Cabernet

Posted: Thu Jun 17, 2021 10:19 am
by wingrider
It is funny that it fixed itself. Years ago, I had some that would fix themselves, but haven’t had that luxury in quite a few years.