Sunday 24 November 2019

'98 Fireblade Winter Project: Wiring & Petcocks

With the carbs sorted I'm chasing down anything else that could have caused the fuel leak into the engine on the Fireblade.  Yesterday I had the petcock out of the gas tank again and tested it over a catch basin.  Fuel flows fine when it's on, but it continues to drip when it's supposed to be closed, so a new petcock is in order.  Fortunately they seem to be a regularly replaced maintenance item because you can buy them on Amazon for not much money.

The neutral light wasn't working, so I got some LED replacements - they're super bright.  The wiring to the neutral sensor was stripped down by the drive sprocket, so I cleaned it up, reattached it and taped it up.  Voila, working neutral light again.

There were also a set of wires coming out of the drive sprocket housing that look like they go to a speed sensor which were resting on the exhaust pipe and had melted.  These too got sorted and re-wrapped.  I'm also going to fasten that loom so that it can't touch the exhaust again.

There are still lots of little details to sort, but the Honda is coming together nicely.  I'll aim to have it safetied in the spring and then run it for a few months and see if having a second bike in the garage is worth hanging on to, or it might just be sold on to fund the next project.  In the meantime, I'm looking forward to running my first true sport bike.

Sunday 17 November 2019

CBR900rr Aerospace Motorcycling

With the carbs sorted and the oil changed, the Fireblade sounds like the machine it is (ie: fantastic!).  On the to-do list now is chasing down some wiring issues and shaking down the rest of the bike because a monkey was working on it before and I don't trust his choices.

In working in and around the Fireblade, it's the little differences that add up to a bike 50+ kilos lighter than the Tiger and over 100 (!) kilos lighter than the Concours (while making 33% more horsepower than either).  At 195kg, the Fireblade is even 10 kilos lighter than my first bike, a svelte 2007 Ninja 650r.

The 'Blade makes lightness pretty much everywhere.  I'm particularly fond of the speedholes all over it.

When it isn't holey, it's reduced material wherever possible.  Even the rim spokes are thinned out:

Where Honda had to use material, it's the lightest they could manage...

Compared to the Kawasaki Heavy Industries bikes I've owned, this CBR900rr is a built for purpose thing that feels more like working on an aeroplane than it does a motorbike.

... and it sure is pretty.

Sunday 10 November 2019

Fireblade Fountains

I finally got the carbs sorted on the Fireblade project (sense of achievement!) and when I fired it up they felt very responsive... but then a giant geyser of oily water spewed out of the valve cover exhaust pipe and hit the ceiling (!).  Never seen that before.

Rather than repeat the fountain, I put a pipe on it, ran it into a container and videoed the weirdness...
(it's a 360 video, you can move the mouse to look around - like at the oily water dripping off the ceiling)

So the fountain happened both times I ran it, and the stuff that came out looked like watery oil rather than oil with some water in it.  Next step:  drain the oil...
... which looks like water.  That's not good, and it's something I've never seen before.  Why on earth would anyone ever put water or coolant in an engine like that?

I've done head gaskets on cars before and I'm pretty familiar with the consequences of oil mixing with coolant.  It usually goes both ways (oil gets in the coolant, coolant gets in the oil, but the coolant looks brand new and the level is good.  When running there is no bubbling in the coolant overflow (usually a running engine will force gas and oil back into the coolant reservoir if there is a blown head gasket).  As amazing as this sounds, I think the idiot who owned this before me filled the engine with coolant instead of oil, but I really can't understand why.  It's either gross incompetence or he sold me a bike with a known blown engine, which is a pretty shitty thing to do.  Incompetent or nasty, not a great set of choices there.

Next up is actually putting oil in the engine and running it again.  I've got some used stuff out of the Tiger which is the right weight.  If it works, then the guy who owned this thing before me might be the dumbest human in history.  Once I've run the old synthetic out of the Tiger and confirmed everything works, I'll drain it and put some new stuff in.

My first sports bike has been a bit more baffling than the XS1100 (air cooled, nothing weird there other than the ownership) and the Concours sports tourer which had been through hell, but was owned by a guy who knew what he was doing.

The muppet who owned this bike before me will have me going top to bottom on it before I get it out on the road - I can't trust anything that was done to it.

Follow up:  the engine was full of gasoline because the petcock that portions fuel out of the gas tank had failed, causing the gasoline to run into the carbs, fill up the bowls and then dribble down the intake manifold into the cylinders, where it ran down into the engine.  This is evidently not uncommon on motorcycles because of the way they carry their fuel above the engine.  A new petcock, a carb rebuild and a couple of engine flushes and the 'Blade rides again.  Point to remember: check for leaking petcocks on older bikes!