Project Ascot: Getting dirty with a 1983 Honda VT500FT

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

  1. AZ Bill

    AZ Bill Adventurer

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    Thanks. That was the first thing I changed.
  2. AZ Bill

    AZ Bill Adventurer

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    Hi TwinDuro,

    It was this thread that caught my attention and caused me to sign up here. VT Ascots are really thin on the ground here in central Arizona, the Ascot Forum is nearly dead so finding ANYTHING online from the last two years made me sit up and pay attention.

    So, I trust you got the starter clutch fixed??
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  3. TwinDuro

    TwinDuro Befuddled Adventurer

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    Wow! You guys have been busy on here since the last update. Glad to hear folks are acquiring, fixing, riding and having fun with your VT Ascots! So, as we last left off 975 years ago (what it feels like) or last April (as it was in reality), the starter clutch assembly had gone out to lunch. So, we ordered some parts and then life got in the way and The Asshat sat until August. With some spare time and a few upcoming events, we got back to work.

    First order of business was extracting the lower stator cover bolt that had snapped off. Most of the engine side cover bolts were in this kind of condition.

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    So, we went about the arduous task of carefully drilling and using screw extractors on the old bolt stub which really didn’t want to budge. As they say “Any 30 minute project is a snapped bolt away from a 7 hour ordeal” :lol3

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    We then went about cleaning the gasket surfaces on both the engine case and stator cover which took another hour with single sided razor blades, scotchbrite and brass brushes

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    After everything was cleaned up, we did some light polishing and started to reassemble the starter clutch with new plungers, springs, rollers and three new bolts, loctited and torqued in place with the good red stuff :thumb

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    Checked everything for bench functionality and put it all back together

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    Jerkhead got everything squeaky clean and with a new gasket, stainless steel Allen bolts and a quick function test before everything was totally sealed up.

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    Success! Of course, I forgot to take a final photo of it all.

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    A trick I like to use on new gaskets is to give each side a very light coating of Sil-Glide (high temperature silicone grease, like the purple stuff you use on brake caliper slider pins) so that if you ever have to take the assembly apart again, the gasket comes right off, no problem. It also helps hold the gasket in place during assembly. I started doing this about 15 years ago, first on my ‘67 Honda Trail 90, and when I pulled the clutch cover recently, the gasket popped right off. :wink:
  4. TwinDuro

    TwinDuro Befuddled Adventurer

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    The next order of business was putting the bike back together. For some unknown reason in the past, someone flipped the CDI boxes upside down so they were contacting the swing arm. We remedied that with a flip and some zip tie craftsmanship

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    We then fired it up to discover the starter clutch worked great, no more death-rattle, but the bike ran like crap. After some sleuthing, this was the culprit:

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    It turns out that over the months in storage, the left-hand rear cylinder spark plug had gotten bumped, cracking the insulator and allowing the high tension spark to happily ground itself out on the base of the spark plug, LOL. I have a video of it while running, and the beautiful blue spark was dancing around like lightning during a summer storm.

    With a new plug and some new NGK spark plug caps on the way, we next replaced the totally absent muffler gasket with a new one. Of course, somebody in the bikes past just tightened the clamp down so that it crushed down on the muffler instead of just replacing three gasket, so it took some careful bending and un-cacking to get the new muffler “packing” to fit

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    With the Asshat back together and running (and starting) like a champ, we decided to take a break and take a nice, 40 mile backroads ride to a nearby lake and have a beer and a cigar for a job well done. I rode my old Kawasaki Concours 1000.

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    Much more to come, including putting the Asshat though it’s paces on a muddy, Rocky Mountain ride.

    Attached Files:

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  5. TwinDuro

    TwinDuro Befuddled Adventurer

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    Happy to hear you’ve been enjoying the thread AZ Bill! Yessir, the starter clutch is fixed and the bike is now alive and well. We’ve been busy The last few weeks with several on an off-road events, I will post more about these soon, as we had a lot of fun! Here’s a teaser shot of us up near Snoqualmie, WA

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  6. TwinDuro

    TwinDuro Befuddled Adventurer

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    No worries Ken, it’s not unrelated if it helps someone out!

    Also, you just gave me some ideas to add a fan to my non-fan-equipped 1989 Yamaha YZ250WR, so thank you!
  7. motorcyclefanatic

    motorcyclefanatic The name says it all

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    [​IMG]
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    I built one of those for my wife a while back. I loved it but she didn’t, so down the road it went.
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  8. AZ Bill

    AZ Bill Adventurer

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    I can't tell you how many times I've referred to your website as I slowly spruce up my '84 VT. Your wifes' bike has given me plenty of ideas and inspiration. it's a great build that retains the character of the original while subtracting most of the weak points. Thanks.
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  9. TwinDuro

    TwinDuro Befuddled Adventurer

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    For sure! That’s a build for the Ascot Bible. One of the best looking bikes in the land! I’m definitely living vicariously through my brother and his bike. You can’t put a good Ascot down!
  10. AZ Bill

    AZ Bill Adventurer

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    Early days shakedown runs continue on the VT. Although the previous owner cared for the bike and was a good wrench he only rode it around the block the last couple of years thus missing some problems that cropped up for me immediately. Even a reasonably well kept 36 year old Honda can present the odd challenge.

    First surprise was a refusal to start when hot. This left me calling a buddy with a pick-up truck to fetch the scooter back to my house. Some research led me to suspect the coils and/or the choke plungers. A new pair of coils and some fresh NGKs did the trick. The handlebar mounted 1 into 2 choke cable was kinked and corroded leading me to believe the enrichment valves weren't always closing so a pair of Mikuni "button" plungers straightened that out. Yes, they're a Mikuni part but fit the Keihin carbs perfectly.

    A 60 mile loop over my favorite twisty road went just fine but upon returning home the right rear was covered with the white spatter of dried coolant. That was traced to a cracked plastic over-flow tank, Seal-All to the rescue there.

    The next ride presented a tendency to run hot. Stop to check and notice the fan has not kicked on. I wired in a manual over-ride switch for that issue and today I'll take another ride. In the meantime I ordered a new thermostat (just in case) and I'll flush and refill the cooling system.

    Remember the old bike motto; "Wrench, Ride, Repeat"
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  11. AZ Bill

    AZ Bill Adventurer

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    Victory is mine, for the moment anyway. The latest test ride shows no spitting from the repaired o-flow tank, temperatures remain in normal range.

    New rear dampers arrived from Niche Cycle, a "no-name" set that I've also seen on E Bay. Upon examination they measured about one inch shorter than the worn out stockers and I considered returning them but decided to give 'em a try as this is strictly a pavement bike. To keep the geometry in the normal range I raised the fork legs one inch in the triple clamps. The bike is noticeably lower but clearance still looked ok under the rear fender, stands, and pegs, so off to try it out. I instantly noticed the more controlled ride over bumps, steering felt normal, the main change is in left-right transitions. Lordy, I thought the thing was nimble before but it's just lovely to corner with the lower suspension. The forks have Race Tech emulators and springs so that doesn't need attention.

    Next is addressing the riding position. The seat is all wrong for me being too low and angled down so I keep slipping up on the tank. An inflatable cushion from Amazon helped a little but it's too Mickey Mouse to be a permanent solution.. I'm 6.0 with a 33" inseam so with the broken down, too soft, seat my legs are at a sport-bike bend.....kinda cramped. I considered lowering the foot pegs an inch but on the right side the exhaust pipes make that look problematic. Any ideas on that????
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  12. TwinDuro

    TwinDuro Befuddled Adventurer

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    Fantastic @AZ Bill and great to hear you're working your way through a lot of the little issues and making some slick improvements. We currently have a similar hot-start problem on project Asshat that's extremely intermittent and, as you would expect, always crops up at the worse possible time. One time it decided not to start right when we needed to get the heck off of a logging platform while being shot at (unintentionally) by some folks that didn't know what using a proper backstop meant... that's a story for another time. The ignition coils had been replaced once, but it was many moons ago, so I'm thinking they might need them again. It seems like "scientifically" diagnosing the coils, even with a proper multimeter, is darn near impossible.

    The soft seat and high mounted foot-pegs are definitely an issue. My brother is about your height and inseam (6'1") and we've run into similar issues. It slides "the boys" right into the tank and makes the seat/peg/handlebar triangle way too tight. It's even a problem for me at 5'9'. The soft seat is a the largest part of the problem. Firmer foam and a taller profile will solve most of that. The foot-pegs, just like you mentioned, are a challenge, the left being pretty strait forward, the right being much more complicated. We've got some ideas to help remedy that, but they're just ideas and not plans at the moment. Most of those ideas include the welder, band saw and oxy acetylene torch, but I'm also spitballing ideas that don't change the rider foot peg mounts at all and just lower the pegs. The idea would be a lower profile and steel (vs. Aluminum) version of a foot peg lowering bracket like the ones used on this Kawasaki 1000 Concours. Some mock-up is in order!

    ZG1000 peg lowering brackets.jpg
  13. ChopperCharles

    ChopperCharles Long timer

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    Hot start may be a coil, but it could also be running rich, which makes hot starts difficult. it could also be an arcing or corroded spark plug cap.

    Charles.
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  14. AZ Bill

    AZ Bill Adventurer

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    My old coils checked out as OK with a multimeter. I checked them cold AND hot and the resistance figures were identical. When my new Rick's Motorsport coils arrived they gave the same readings as the old ones but the hot no-start issue is gone. I was always taught to "test, don't guess" but sometimes ya run outta stuff to test. Many disparage "simply throwing parts at a problem" but I say it's results that count.

    The footpeg issue definitely calls for some thought. I had a similar problem with an SV 650 Suzi. I tried some E Bay special adjustable foot pegs that lowered the peg 30mm but also spaced them out far enough that I had to ride pigeon-toed. It's always something eh?
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  15. TwinDuro

    TwinDuro Befuddled Adventurer

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    Thanks for the tips folks, its always good to talk this stuff out! @ChopperCharles we've got the proper new NGK spark plug caps and plugs to install in all four locations (reusing the upper boots on the inner plugs) and then we'll check out the mixture. When we originally rebuild the carbs, the bike, like many Ascots had a mid-acceleration stumble as well as off-throttle popping on deceleration, so we shimmed the needles very slightly (with a needle washer) and went up one size on the idle jets and put the air screws back to the stock settings and that solved those problems, but may have created some new ones. Next time the bike is in the garage I'll do some investigation...
  16. AZ Bill

    AZ Bill Adventurer

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    My VT is doing well with no trouble since replacing the coils and patching up the leaky overflow tank. I replaced the EBay special too short shocks with some proper length Progressives and 90-130 springs. The shorties worked ok but it just looked wrong.

    The next tasks will be mainly cosmetic. The clutch and alternator cover cases are looking tatty as are the tappet cover boxes so they'll need bead blasting and re-coating. The remedial work on the mushy seat will begin when my Sargent cover arrives. Then I'll try a little brainstorming on the too high footpegs.

    The VT is such fun to ride that I'll be selling my KLR. That will be replaced with a Triumph T-100 or maybe a new Royal Enfield 650.

    TwinDuro, on the carbs and the off throttle lean popping issue have you looked at these parts??? http://www.nichecycle.com/ncs/categ...emblies/honda-air-cut-off-rebuild-142942.html The popping is present on my Ascot and the air screw adjustment seems to have little or no effect so I may give these a try.
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  17. AZ Bill

    AZ Bill Adventurer

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    My Sargent seat cover arrived so I added about an inch and a half of a denser foam over the dipped section of the seat. The new cover just barely fit with the added foam but I got it done. It looks and works much better but I'm not completely satisfied with it. Upholstery is not my favorite thing

    Next is lowering the footpegs a bout an inch. I may not get to that for a little while as I just brought home a 2020 Royal Enfield 650 Interceptor and I'm having a great time riding it and doing some little mods.
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  18. AZ Bill

    AZ Bill Adventurer

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    I had a nice ride yesterday but a horrendous noise cropped up. It was squealing like a loose fan belt on an old Buick and my wife said she could hear it from a hundred yards away. The tach is the culprit. Detaching the cable silenced the racket. The tach reading seemed normal even while squealing.

    This may be the time to fit a new instrument pod as I think the weird squared off plastic housing is hideous. On my KLR 650 I fitted a Trail Tech Vapor which has worked well and the Acewell company has some interesting offerings as well.

    Suggestions welcomed.
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  19. motorcyclefanatic

    motorcyclefanatic The name says it all

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    I installed this Acewell on the bike I built for my wife. Also a traditional round headlight on one-off brackets. I didn’t like the ‘high-riding’ instruments/lights either.
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  20. AZ Bill

    AZ Bill Adventurer

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    Do you think 3962 Acewell is worth the hundred bucks over the Trail Tech? Acewell appears to handled in the USA by Dime City now but they seem to stock only the black version, the bright silver item in your photo is sharp. I'll be doing paint over the winter, either 60's Honda navy blue or perhaps Nardo grey. IMG_3731.jpeg
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