Drum Brake Redux

For one reason or another I am always fixing the crappiest, clapped out parts, Partly because I’ve sold all the good ones or I’m broke when it comes to buying motorcycle parts and have the tools to fix them. This drum brake hub was no different. The rim and spokes went to the scrap yard.

Chucked in the lathe ready to take a cut on the braking surface.


Close up of the severe rusting

Any time I have a wheel apart like this I like to resurface the drum because there is no other way to do it. This particular hub is made of aluminum with a cast iron ring pressed into it for the shoes to ride on. Years of sitting have severely rusted the cast iron part and corroded the aluminum. After taking about .020 off the surface it was looking like something useable again and a  final cut made it workable again.

After the cuts and cleaning

Spent the next few hours polishing and painting the hub before lacing it to a new SUN rim. There is a lot of info on building wheels on the net but the one I prefer is by a guy named “Sheldon Wheels Brown” He builds bicycle wheels but his info is superior to all else. Find him here. A few things to watch out for, Motorcycle wheels often have different length spokes and cross patterns in the same wheel. Meaning you can have up to 4 different spokes per wheel. This wheels spokes were the same length but the inners and outers had different lengths from the elbow to the butt end. You should try building your own wheels some time it’s fun and easy.

Looking fine

Happy New Year!

RD motor build

Went down to the shop on christmas day eve for some motor building fun. I have been collecting the parts and I needed over the last few weeks. Here it is to enjoy

Cases back and bare from getting the "treatment"

Trans in and endplays checked and set

Clutch side

Bearings on crank and seals installed

All together now

Oil pump rebuild

In the FACTORY YAMAHA manual there is a section about the autolube oil injection system. In this section it tells you how to adjust the pump stroke and remove and install it. It also says the pump is a precision machined part and is unserviceable and if needed it should be replaced with a new pump. Well that was 40 years ago and the NOS pump supply has dried up.  As you can see there are no less than 40 parts in this small pump. its about 2 inches square in size.

Heres the workings

I forgot to bring my camera to take some pictures so we are reeling on the diagrams. I ordered a new seal kit fromlast week and it arrived yesterday. Kit comes with 3 oil seals 2 pump gaskets and some new screws. Theres not much info I have found about rebuilding these pumps on the interwebs.

all the many parts

I worked on this thing for a solid 4 hours and had it apart and together at least 15 times before I had it working where I was happy with it.

setting the stroke

Last thing to do is bench test it with some oil and set the pump stroke for Idle conditions. Sorry again for the lack of pics today.

Removing A broken bolt

If you turn a wrench on an old bike for more than 5 min you bound to find a broken bolt, stripped threads, or rounded fasteners. We’ll be removing a broken spark plug from a head. A few of the things working against us here are: Dissimiler metal corrosion with the plug being steel and the head aluminum,the fact that this head hasn’t been on a running bike since 81′  and was sitting in upstate ny it’s whole life.

As you know my cases and heads are out in Oregon getting vapor blasted. Guy sent me some pics and they look great. Bad thing is the $6.50/hr truck unloader at fedex doesn’t give a shit about my parts and they arrived In Oregon with a broken fin. I had an extra head but it still had this broken plug in it and I had tried simpler methods of removing it weeks before to no avail.

Theres lots of ways to remove a broken bolt, but my favorite is to weld a new bolt to it to allow use of a socket and the bonus of this method is the added heat cycling from the welding itself. First I drilled the old plug out to the same size as a junk bolt I had, this case it was 3/8. This allowed me to put the bolt in and get a good weld on the freshly drilled metal.

Underside of head with bolt welded to offending plug

Top of new "spark plug remover tool"

At This point I heat cycled the head a few more times with a propane torch for extra piece of mind and went ahead with the removing. As you can see It came right out first try.

Plug remover with the threads of the old plug visible on the end

I was  pretty pleased that it came out easily without damaging the threads badly. Since my tap and die selection is pretty weak right now and I didn’t have the correct plug thread tap I did the next best thing. This works especially well for the CEI and WHITWORTH fasteners because I don’t have ANY of those taps. I found an old spark plug and coated the threads with valve lapping compound. Slowly I threaded the plug in by hand working it in and out. Removing all the crud and corrosion out of the threads from 30 years of sitting. Plug now goes in and out freely.

All that's needed for the trick

If you are ever in going to get some Vapor Blasting done. I HIGHLY recommend Jeff. First class dude

Truing The RD Crank

By now Im sure all of you are banshee and Rd built up crank experts. This week we will be truing the crank. With the assembly being built up of 6 parts there are plenty of places for it to be out. The spec we will be shooting for is .02mm or .000787 in, thats seven hundred eighty seven ten thousandths. There are three places to check this “trueness”, on the two ends of the crank and in the center bearings. If you paid someone to do this this is where money all went. We will support the crank on the center bearings and take our measurements with a .0005 dial indicator mounted on a magnetic base.First we set the crank on the V block and spin it through supporting the rods and making sure there are no hang ups. After you establish that you spinning free its time to put the indicator on it and establish a baseline as to where its out . As you can see from the drawing below there are 4 planes we are checking in. We’ll call the crankpin 0 then 90 degrees going around the crank, 180, and 270 respectively. Rotate the crank checking all these and see the chart as to where you should hit to correct it. Don’t be shy at first, my crank was over .040 out when I started and it took a good while to get my arm calibrated on how hard to hit it. Check all points after each time you adjust he alignment. As you get close you will want ease up and just lightly tap it to bring it home. It took me about 45 min to get it within .001 and an additional 30 min to get it to .0005 where I left it. Well within spec and at this point Don’t breathe around it as you might just throw it off a few 10 thousandths. -DAN

Square pegs in round holes

Just when I was about to button up the ’64 panhead last week after rewiring and a bunch of other improvements I found the seat pivot boss to be stripped. Dammit. Decided to go to 3/8″ bolt from 5/16 as the tab is not really thick enough for a thread repair and tapping welded areas varies from troublesome to impossible. The original pivot pin is hardened and ground and made out of that incredibly tough metal that Harley used to employ as a matter of course. Carbide wouldn’t put a scratch in it. No way to bore out the original pin.

So I made one out of 660 bronze. Sorry once again, purists. Functional over stock every time, where the latter isn’t available and I’d like to actually ride somewhere.

So the only bronze stock I have is square. No way to hold it in the three-jaw chuck on the lathe. Guess I’ll break out the four-jaw. It’d been a while. Then I figured I take a couple snaps and show how to center a part in the four-jaw chuck. Here it is. . .

A three-jaw chuck is designed to close concentrically on any round or six-sided piece with a single adjuster screw. It is the type most commonly found on lathes and has a million uses. Sometimes though, you have do do offset or square work. The four-jaw chuck has four independently controlled jaws that must each be set when aligning a part as desired.

Here is a chuck I got pretty cheap and rebuilt it. It's been around the block a few times, but who hasn't?

The first step is loosely place your piece in the chuck and get it visually centered by whatever means you like. You can eyeball it, rotate it by hand slowly, use the guide lines on the chuck face or anything else you can come up with. Once the piece is where you like it, snug each jaw, but not too tight as you’ll be making further adjustments.

Square bar loosely in chuck.

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We’ve Come A Long Way . . .

It had been my dream for over ten years to own a workshop. After years of building out rented spaces and being subject to sometimes insane landlords, always worrying about having to move on quickly, I finally did it. It was scary plunking down more cash than I’ve ever handed to anyone in my life. With a baby on the way I did plenty of wondering whether it wasn’t a stupid idea.

Then I remembered that I’ve only ever regretted the things I hadn’t done. It’s more than just a platitude. Paid my money and signed on the dotted line (three thousand times it seems).

Casey, Dan, Vinny, Chris, Erik and I transformed it completely over the last year and a half. I’m proud of what we built and honored to have such friends as these. Thank you.

I look forward to our future accomplishments and good times.


Casey working the chainsaw to rid us of some big ass weed trees.

Many trips to the dump were required.

Moving day: our shuttle.

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Learning to Wrench

You become an apprentice when you lose your fear and start taking on the new and unknown with little hesitation.

As a journeyman you improve your chops, take some hard lessons and think there’s nothing you can’t fix or make.

Glimpsing mastery, you learn judgement. When you can improve something and when you should leave well enough alone. You become increasingly aware of all you don’t know. You recognize that mastery cannot be achieved, only approached.

I’m sure this applies elsewhere.