Project Ascot: Getting dirty with a 1983 Honda VT500FT

Discussion in 'Old's Cool' started by TwinDuro, Feb 27, 2016.

  1. ChopperCharles

    ChopperCharles Long timer

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    Ooooh, do you do custom seat covers for inmates? For money?

    Charles.
    #61
  2. TwinDuro

    TwinDuro Befuddled Adventurer

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    Hey Charles,

    I haven't been on ADV in the last month or two, yes sir, I do everything from full custom seats (including fabricating and repairing seat pans) all the way through custom covers. If you have any questions about anything motorcycle-seat related, don't hesitate to PM me, I should be on ADV here more in the near future. Cheers!
    #62
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  3. TwinDuro

    TwinDuro Befuddled Adventurer

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    Time for a long overdue update. In preparation for the upcoming riding season, we’re getting a jump start on doing the final build up of the long-travel conversion. Jerkhead ordered up a shiny new set of 15.75” Progressive 13 series “Baja Magnum” shocks and I determined that a set of dual stage 80/175 springs would be just about right for the Ascot’s new role as an adventure bike. It’s always fun to get boxes of parts in the mail, especially now, where a good part of the world is locked down.

    0DE5ADF5-70FB-4753-BF99-0462CE964B41.jpeg

    Since were currently on Shelter-In-Place here in Washington State and my brother Jerkhead is 40 miles away in Seattle, we’re doing a little remote work hopefully followed by a proper wrench session here in a few weeks.

    I went ahead and checked out the new shocks. While definitely not custom Ohlins, Hyperpro or other high dollar units, they are constructed very nicely and provide a lot of bank for the buck for around $250 total. They are a simple emulsion shock, but have a nice fit and finish, a 5-position pre-load adjuster and a nice 1/2” shock shaft. 9C82AB1B-F81D-4F16-9D73-139AA0C3ADB1.jpeg
    I laid everything out and used the handy dandy set of miniature spring compressors (a must have if you do any kind of rear suspension work on your home garage) to compress the main spring and install the retainers.

    580CE6C7-5473-456D-8A97-9BA320F6729A.jpeg

    Rinse and repeat and wa-la, Bob’s your uncle and a new set of rear shocks for the Asshat are good to go:

    FA51B25D-3830-4322-943A-791B4B076AAE.jpeg

    Stay tuned in the coming weeks for much more as we do the final build on the front fork, modify the dampening rods, install Race Tech Fork Emulators and mock-up the new fork springs and get measurements for the custom units from our friends in Oklahoma, Cannon Race Craft.

    Also, I’m excited that Inmate Meehowski is starting on a similar build on his recently acquired VT Ascot. Hopefully he chimes in here to talk about it, but he had some great ideas about fork springs to try out that are helpful not just for a build like this, but any custom bike project.

    Cheers and stay safe out there folks!
    #63
  4. OHjim

    OHjim Long timer

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    Is there a link to his build? I searched but couldn't find anything.
    #64
  5. TwinDuro

    TwinDuro Befuddled Adventurer

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    Not that I know of OHJim, Meehowski literally just got the bike to my knowledge and is getting the parts together. You’re in Kansas City? Could you go and grab me a Winsteads Steak burger ;) ? I miss them.
    #65
  6. OHjim

    OHjim Long timer

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    Yep - in KC. The one by me closed. I'd have to look and see where another one is. . . . .
    #66
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  7. TwinDuro

    TwinDuro Befuddled Adventurer

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    The Fork Emulators came in today. Here they are in position on top of the CRF230L dampening rod (this one is unmodified at the moment) 3E5EA289-A304-4CDA-98FA-A30B063A9427.jpeg

    15F3B4ED-5124-4D2A-AB09-46804E2F2E32.jpeg

    For those that have never used fork emulators, they replace the compression damping function of the damping rod with a fully adjustable valve. That’s the short story anyhow. The fork spring sits on top of them which holds them in place. With proper setup, they make a huge difference in ride quality for a traditional fork. After the compression holes are enlarged on the stock CRF damping rod to allow full fluid flow to the emulator and the rebound holes are enlarged very slightly, we’ll deburr and mirror polish them as part of the fork rebuild which will including polishing the fork tube and replacing the bushings and seals along with a few other tweaks.

    Attached Files:

    #67
  8. TwinDuro

    TwinDuro Befuddled Adventurer

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    So, with just about any 37 year old motorcycle (Hondas are definitely not exempt), there's always a few little issues here and there. One of the issues that just cropped up as Jerkhead was getting ready to go to the store on the Asshat was a clanking rattling sound coming from the engine. In the past, the starter clutch has given us a few fits, sometimes refusing to engage (with just the starter motor spinning but not cranking the engine over) which was remedied on the fly by turning the bike off, putting it in gear and rolling it back and forth a little. Others have had similar problems, including the three screws backing out on higher mileage bikes, causing a helluva racket which sounds awfully similar to what we're hearing (I'll post the video soon).

    Due to this, we're planning on rebuilding the starter clutch which will require pulling the stator, flywheel and finally the clutch from the left side of the engine and replacing the rollers, springs and caps. We'll check everything out when we're in there. We'll post more when we dig into it, but here's a diagram in the meantime:

    vt.PNG
    #68
  9. ChopperCharles

    ChopperCharles Long timer

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    Locktite the three bolts that hold the starter clutch together, or they WILL back out. Been there, done that. (Obviously, had to do it twice...)

    Charles.
    #69
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  10. TwinDuro

    TwinDuro Befuddled Adventurer

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    Thanks for the tip Charles! We'll definitely do that! We're planning a work day this coming Saturday so we'll post pictures of what we discover.
    #70
  11. ChopperCharles

    ChopperCharles Long timer

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    I’ve bought several Hondas with a “rod knock” that turned out to be a bolt on the starter clutch backed out and was banging the inside of the clutch cover. I knew what to listen for after it happened to my bike (the one I had to do twice), and I got a magna and a Sabre dirt cheap because of that.

    On some bikes it’s far more critical. Like the cx500/gl500 and 650 variants. The starter clutch is deep within the motor and requires a shit ton of work to get to.

    Charles.
    #71
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  12. meehowski

    meehowski n00b

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    Not much from me I am afraid. I got an 83 vt500ft in a disassembled but overall complete condition. Targeting a log road tracker on a budget, but considering it is my wrenching/fun project the progress will be super slow - 1-2 years. I have some Suzuki GS500 spares (37mm springs which may be compatible with the Ascot) which I am planning to transplant to the Ascot, along with inmate TwinDuro's invaluable suspension tweaks. Much later on.

    For now, re-jetting, stripping, cleaning and grinding the frame, repainting, oil leaks, carb rebuild, flushing the coolant system, fabricating a coolant overflow, exhaust and electrical fixes, handlebar and switches rework, etc. Too boring for this site at this point. And enough of a thread jack for now :)

    [​IMG]
    #72
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  13. kenstone

    kenstone worn out

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    I just read thru this thread after not reading it for a while, and have enjoyed it, great work.
    That has jogged my memory about another mod I did to my Shascot.
    I swapped out the glass tube fuse box located on the handlebar clamps with one from a later model Shadow that has those mini-spade type fuses.
    It was a direct bolt-on at the same location.
    just an FYI,
    :hmmmmm
    Edit: I had plans to do mods to make the Shascot more dirt worthy but after almost spending the night "out in the desert" (twice), I bought a dirtbike (see avatar) delegating the Shascot to dirt roads. :fpalm
    #73
  14. TwinDuro

    TwinDuro Befuddled Adventurer

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    Thanks @kenstone and @meehowski, I'm glad you guys are enjoying the thread, that it's helpful and for the kind words. A lot of the inspiration my brother and I got for starting this build years ago came from your posts and photos on the adventures with the Shascot Ken! :D I remember years ago I asked you about tire advice for it which was helpful too. What dirt bike did you end up getting?

    If you don't mind me asking, what happened on your Shascot that almost made you spend the night out in the desert twice? As we've been building up the Asshat, we've been trying to figure out ways to make sure its reliable as possible and the biggest stuck-point so far in that has been the electrical system.

    Thanks for the tip! We have a complete 1985 Shadow wiring harness (controls too) that we've been planning to clean up and install and I just looked in the box and lo and behold, it's got the handlebar-clamp, newer style blade fuse box in there too. Sweet! That's definitely going to be an upgrade!

    Also, any of you, please feel free to thread-jack at any time as long as it's about Ascots or similar-tech/era Hondas. Doesn't bother me one bit and could be helpful to others.
    #74
  15. meehowski

    meehowski n00b

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    Anytime. Hope you don't mind me answering, but my observation so far as for the weak points are (1) ignition coils and (2) the electrical junction box on the forks.

    (1) I *think* (not verified yet) Kawasaki vn700 coils may work or $$$$ aftermarket pieces
    (2) Needs a lot of cleaning, deoxing and Vaseline to waterproof the connections

    Any fault with those = much exercise pushing and swearing :)


    #75
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  16. TwinDuro

    TwinDuro Befuddled Adventurer

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    We had a good quarantine workday yesterday and got quite a bit done but ran into a few snags, thankfully pretty strait forward ones that are easy to solve. First we did an oil change as the Asshat was overdue. While pretty dark, the oil wasn't gassy or diluted and we drained it into a spotlessly clean pan to check for metal fragments etc. Thankfully it came out clean with only a few tiny little metal fragments which as we learned later, were directly from the starter clutch. We spun on a new Wix filter (its identical to the Honda unit but available at any auto parts store) and have a gallon jug of Shell Rotella T6 synthetic 5W-40 on deck for after the engine work is done, which is what we've been using in the bike since Jerkhead got it.

    To get the ball rolling, we installed the instant gratification parts first. First the new shocks:

    IMG_0826.JPEG

    The install was pretty strait forward on these. On the left side, the bushings were sized perfectly, if not a little tight, and slid on just fine with a little lithium grease and light taps with a dead blow hammer. The right side wasn't much worse and the top bushing slid on about the same. The bottom collar from the stock ascot/CB700SC shock setup pressed into the lower right side progressive bushing without too much trouble (for the clevis side) and even though it was a tight fit, it looks and feels skookum. There's very slight swing arm contact to the exhaust plenum at full extension as pictured here, but it looks like all it will need is a little thoughtful modification with a hammer (possibly the torch to heat it up) to provide just a tad more clearance. The shocks work perfect and don't bind during the bounce test.

    The 80/175 springs seem just about right if not a little on the light side for my taste, but seem about perfect on settings 3-5 (5 being max) on the pre-load collar for a nice amount of static sag. Only getting out and putting it through the paces will tell us for sure. There's plenty of tire clearance between everything (shocks, swing arm, exhaust) but I definitely wouldn't recommend running a larger tire in any direction then this 120/90-18 Shinko 805. I think you'd be scarily close to the front of the swing arm with a taller tire, such as a 120/100-18 and a wider tire like a 130 would either rub or be too close for comfort. I'm happy an aggressive 120/90-18 fits perfect as its an easy size to find (especially as a tube-type setup).

    Unfortunately I'm having network problems right now that are preventing me from uploading any more photos, but will try again later this evening so I'll just do a play by play for the moment. As @ChopperCharles suggested and was right on the money, the starter clutch bolts were indeed loose (meaning we could back them out with our fingers) and the plungers in the starter clutch were pretty used up as well as one of the plunger springs being broken into three pieces. Unfortunately, the starter clutch plate itself is torn up on the outside where the plunger bores are located, so we need to find a new one. They're impacted very strangely and the outer sheet metal shell was starting to come apart in small metal shards. Glad we caught it! Thankfully, the VT500C/FT/E and CX/GL 500/650 all use the same exact part and we located a good used one over in Spokane on eBay. Once that gets here we'll put her back together with new rollers, springs and plungers a new gasket and new stainless steel sidecover bolts (forgot to mention they were all rusty as hell and one broke off in the engine case, more on this later).

    We also installed a headlight guard which required a little tweaking and welding some captured nuts inside of of the headlight bucket to make installation possible. It was a bit more work then we expected (aren't all little projects?) but it looks great and should provide a little protection for the headlight. We decided not to run the large auxiliary LED lights we posted mock ups off a few years ago (they'll instead go on Jerkheads truck) as they're a bit much and provide more opportunities for things to catch on branches in the backcountry. Instead we'll just install a powerful H4 LED bulb in the housing.

    Attached Files:

    #76
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  17. ChopperCharles

    ChopperCharles Long timer

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    One thing to consider is your swingarm angle when the bike is sitting normal with a rider aboard. If it’s much more than 7 degrees you’re going to potentially wear out your driveshaft more quickly.

    By quickly it may be every 20-30k instead of 100k, though.

    Charles.
    #77
  18. TwinDuro

    TwinDuro Befuddled Adventurer

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    Excellent information Charles and we’ll have to measure the static swing arm angle when we get the bike back then on the ground. With 1.5” longer rear shocks then factory with stiffer springs the angle will be quite a bit steeper.

    When we first mocked this up last June, I put around 75 miles on the setup and kept my feelers tuned to see if there was any vibrations/weird handling quirks/etc. I was the most worried about U-joint bind and didn’t come up with anything noticeable, but of course, that short test doesn’t account for long term wear... we’ll just have to see what that looks like in the coming miles, months and years. Out of curiosity, on your CX-scrambler, are the rear shocks/driveshaft angle significantly different then stock?

    I wish the driveshaft U-joint was serviceable on these bikes but alas, no dice. They’re staked in with no provision for a clip like a traditional yoke/u-joint. Thankfully, they are still available new ($160, ouch) and there’s a ton of lower mileage used ones available for cheap.... we shall see!
    #78
  19. ChopperCharles

    ChopperCharles Long timer

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    I'm running right at 7 degrees on my scrambler. I've lately noticed some scraping sounds when wheeling it around the garage, with no rider. So, I'm going to have to investigate that. Otherwise, no vibration and no noises when riding the bike.

    Charles.
    #79
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  20. TwinDuro

    TwinDuro Befuddled Adventurer

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    6B62DE07-8BB9-403B-9459-5F3A49588BE5.jpeg

    Alrighty then, let’s try this again since the interwebs are now working in my favor! Here’s the Asshat before we tore into it.

    I’ve had a fancy mechanics’ stethoscope for years with no reason to use it until now. It worked like a champ and going back and forth to different parts of the engine, you could clearly hear the loud clanking noise on the stator side of the engine, especially close to where the starter clutch is.

    8E2FB7F8-FD36-4608-AC30-5B0E9D7FF79F.jpeg

    We drained the oil in preparation for tearing the left engine sidecover off. She was definitely dark, but still in good shape and free of any metal debris other then a few (literally two) very small chunks of metal which we learned the source of later...

    39588ED6-7996-4E43-8A82-1031B2A43FFB.jpeg

    Jerkhead pulled all of the necessary items off to remove the sidecover... the final drive guard, shifter shaft and then tracing and unplugging the stator harness which snakes up under the seat which required unbolting the tool box (one 6mm bolt hidden inside BTW)

    8807D6E9-95FB-4DC0-8348-E30A56770070.jpeg

    We then started pulling all of the bolts for the stator cover and noticed they were all in pretty rough shape, culminating in the lowermost bolt breaking off in the engine case. We’ll easy-out this (hopefully) after it soaks in some penetrant and failing that, we’ll get even more crafty.

    A109D71E-4A53-42EC-B55C-C93BE15F0F84.jpeg

    We ordered up a complete stainless Allen-Cap screw set from 4into1.com (same outfit we got all the carb jets and parts from) and will replace all the bolts and put some anti seize on them when we put everything back together.

    We then put the bike in gear and used the impact (on clockwise setting for left handed threads) to undo the stator/flywheel bolt followed by using a Motion Pro 22mm flywheel puller to pop the the whole assembly off the tapered shaft. I sure struggled a lot with other projects before impact tools so I’m thankful to have them now!

    708EBA05-D612-496D-8625-C30FFC5D1F28.jpeg

    You can see how loose the starter clutch bolts are due to the rub marks where they were contacting the starter clutch sprocket. They were jiggly-loose and we backed them out and removed them with our fingers... “That ain’t right!”

    5C9F0E35-E571-4EED-BF83-297B3D9732D0.jpeg

    B187FDB8-7310-494B-A02F-888461F6AA34.jpeg

    You can see how the bolts are messed up from being loose and floating around as well as the plungers being mushroomed out on the ends and one of the springs being broken. We also ran into a very strange problem that maybe some of you out there can identify. The starter clutch itself was weirdly impacted outwardly on the bores where the plungers are. The metal on the outer shell was peeling up and the two chunks of metal we found in the oil matched it perfectly, right down to the machining marks.

    1540E571-0BA5-405C-9D93-715248FB80E2.jpeg

    At first I thought this might just be factory peening of the outer shell into the bore, but after looking at photos of used starter clutches on eBay, all of those had a nicely machined hole, most likely for oil to escape I imagine...

    We decided that something wasn’t right here and found a good condition used starter clutch from a ‘79 CX500 (same PN) and ordered three new flywheel bolts to error on the side of caution. Hopefully the parts will come by the weekend and we’ll put it all back together (now with more red loctite!) :beer

    Attached Files:

    #80