What do you get when you cross an Irishman a deep fryer & an '82 Honda Hawk?
So here's the deal. I recently lost some hairline and gained some grey to an '82 Honda Hawk.
Pretty standard UJMC, we had a selection of service manuals in hand, FSM, Haynes & Clymer. The Hawk's a nice little bike, it was getting a lot of attention from passers-by, positive vibes and goodwill abounded. I was just, righteous, and well-armed.
pretty straight-forward job, replace the fork oil seals.
Now I'm the first to admit that fork seals are not my favorite job, and I will gleefully pass the task along with the slightest provocation. Dried out, metal-ridden ATF & oil sludge that hasn't seen the light of day in 30 years can be a bit ripe. Especially when it gets into everything. Like your armpits, and your ears. That's right, your freakin' ears. Don't ask, it was a truly tragic evening, spent with a KZ440 Ltd, I still shudder when I think on it.
Now these forks use a differential fitting design. This means that, to remove the fork lowers, you need to use a slide hammer technique to allow the bushings to pass one another. AKA, "Tugging one out". Be sure to have removed the circlip, and if possible the backing plate, first.
Everything was going along tickity-boo until I realized that the lower slider bushing hadn't come out with the oil seal. Not only that, but it was still firmly seated within the fork lower recess. Firmly like a nun's knickers type firmly. like, sealed by the word of God, type firm. Like, I'm gonna need a young priest and an old priest to move this thing. Like Indiana Jones is gonna have to make a house-call, with a boulder, to the Temple of Doom that Had so belligerently replaced my once cozy little shop. This was an un-removed bushing, and it rapidly became clear that it was a bushing of ambition, vying for the title of PITA Stuck Bushing Of The Year.
Okay, we've all been there, (and if you haven't, trust me, your time will come). these are old machines, stuff happens, and we all have a long list of tricks, procedures and prayers in the event of catastrophe and asshole stuck fasteners and bits.
So we worked the list. Heat, penetrants & elixirs, gear pullers and vigorous physical debate. No dice.
Just to add some jocularity to the predicament, the bushings in question are teflon-lined. not conducive to blasting with a torch. Which means steaming rags and a double boiler quickly make an appearance, are rebuffed, and slink off into the darkness in shame, (just a quick note, let the Missus know before she unwittingly makes vintage ATF soup for dinner, whoops). The bushings were perfectly good, getting too aggressive could very well damage the fork lowers themselves, and it's a rule of mine to not trash original parts and equipment without a damn good reason. So breaking out the cutters and grinders and torches was the absolute last resort. Days stretched on in an unending line of misery and desolation.
Now, if you're laughing here, I can get behind that. Just remember that although there is certainly a place for arrogance in custom and vintage wrenching and riding, even the mighty will be laid low one day. Somewhere out there is a patch of sand, or an invisible, fused by the fist of Satan, bolt, with your name on it. I have seen grown men cry after spending a week chasing electrical gremlins that inevitably turned out to be a loose connection that had been checked at 8 o'clock, day one.
Okay, time to hit the pipeline. Never give up, never leave a job unfinished, work the problem. Keep asking questions, talk to folks, you will eventually root out the information you need.
You will find a solution.
Talked to a machinist friend. no love. Wrenches at local shops came back with the usual unsatisfying advice. You know the ones, "Buy a new Fork" or even more infuriating, "Buy a new bike". Yeah, okay, thanks for the help and fuck you too, (pardon my French, but it really burns my ass being told to give up tried and true, and beautiful machines and equipment out of sheer laziness).
So I started burning up the wires on the build sites, and finally my Prince Charming appeared. Gentleman by the handle of CXMan, over on DoTheTon.com, (now who better to talk to about a vintage Honda than a guy who calls himself CXMan, I ask you) tells me about a little trick. Deep fry the bastard.
Now this might seem crazy, but it was like finding the missing link. Aluminum expands faster than steel, but it gets bendy at about 500 degrees, so what I was looking for is that sweet spot at around 350-450 degrees. Temperature regulation is what it's all about. Hence the torch being a no-no, and I haven't yet installed a pizza oven in the shop. The oil was an added bonus.
Sounded good, off I went to buy a deep fryer! Four minutes after dropping the fork in, and a solid couple of whacks, and there it was. A shiny, perfect, no-longer-in-the-fork teflon lined bushing. Trust me, angels wept.
So the forks went back together, with the new seals, air, and ATF fluid. Probably for the first time in 30 years. Owner took it for a ride through some twisties yesterday. Called me twice to rave about the handling. Doesn't know how he rode it the other way.
Buy a new bike my ass. Enjoy the ride Glen, and you're welcome :)