Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Motivation is a funny thing. You can have it, and if all goes well you can keep it. If any one thing goes wrong you can easily lose it. Once you've lost it, it is so very hard to obtain it again.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance defines "Gumption" as, well, you really should read it yourself. But in short, "Gumption" is that motivation that keeps a job on schedule, keeps you interested, keeps you doing your work because you WANT to. "Gumption Traps" are those obstacles you run into that can ruin your whole day. That one stripped screw that turns a whole machine into a non-running eyesore in your garage.

I'd like to propose the term "Gumption Primer." As in something that would give your Gumption that boost to start up again, continue on, make you enjoy your work again. And I now firmly believe that working cooperatively with another person, perhaps on a separate project, can be a good Gumption Primer.

The Nighthawk project has hit various levels, and with the latest round of wiring and carb work, I do believe I fell into one of the worst Gumption Traps I know of personally - an incomplete job. The carbs were not mounting correctly, the choke was still a little stuck, and the wiring... it seemed to be working, but something was still off. And due to time constraints, I had to walk away from the job.

And I didn't want to go back.

Over the weekend, I discovered a genuine Gumption Primer, as I witnessed Jason kick over and finally start the CL Project. As I saw the minimal machine finally come to life, and what it took to make it happen, the Nighthawk suddenly took on a whole new light: something that could work. I just needed to put enough time and the proper work into it.

When I got home I pulled the bike out of the corner of the garage and took a fresh look at it. There was a reason the wiring wasn't "quite" right, the taillight was incorrectly wired. Instead of forcing the carbs into place, I removed them and started over, making sure not to force it, but take my time and put them in correctly.

After a lot of conscious effort and care, I took a step back and realized: it worked. The bike is more-or-less together.

Now to get that battery into shape (another long story), and try to feed some gas into the machine.

Monday, July 7, 2008


Nothing too fancy to post today, but I got over one of my biggest fears over the weekend.

When I tore apart various parts of the bike many moons ago, it included removing and replacing many wires. Not exactly being an electrician, I tried my best to keep track of what I was unplugging and the general flow of electricity through the bike. I obviously lost something along the way.

My first attempt to put everything back together resulted in: nothing. No power to anything. No headlight illumination, no taillight, not even the horn. This could be a problem, especially on a bike with no kick-start.

Taking a step back (and actually consulting the wiring diagram), I took another shot at it. After realizing a black-and-white diagram isn't nearly as helpful with a rainbow of colored wires, I went back to some of the old parts and matched them up to the wires still on the bike. The directionals were indeed wired incorrectly, the tail/brake light was backwards, and some various bits were loose.

Plus since I busted up the ignition switch, I realized I had to dismantle it completely, and hot-wire it. At least for now.

Add a power source, and things began to glow. Success.

Next I'll have to break out the soldering iron and make things a little more permanent. And tuck all those wires up behind the frame and even more wires into the headlight bucket.

And hope nothing comes loose. Or shorts.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


I'm so bad at keeping this thing up to date.

To bring things up to speed, I'll mention my latest additions to the project:

New clip-on bars. - Well, not exactly new. Actually they're from a 1987 Honda VFR. And although they closer resemble "heli-bars", I still mounted them below the top triple clamp, bringing them up to about the height of the top of the forks.

New seat - Again, not new. More like I took a saw to the old seat and molded it down into a (almost) cafe style solo seat. It needs plenty more work to make it look nice, but it works as a place to keep your rear in place.

Various cosmetic and hardware work - not too much to say other than little tweakings here and there.

The Carbs - The carbs were a whole other story. I cleaned them many moons ago and stuck them back onto the bike. Over time the throttle started sticking, so I knew something wasn't right. After a lot of coaxing, I got them back off the bike and tore them apart. And it was a good thing. Various hoses were cracked, throttle valves were stuck, choke valves stuck - it was a mess. After tearing the bank of 4 headache-inducing contraptions apart, and unsticking everything, I discovered the hoses I needed didn't exist in the real world. I needed two 3/4" long T-joint rubber hoses, if that explains it. But since I couldn't find anything, I bought a length of tubing with the right size inside diameter and fabricated my own pieces. They seemed to hold, but time will tell. Finally the whole works went back together, after a LOT of coaxing, but it's all together and on the bike again.

Next: electrics.

Then: time to test fire it.

I'm looking forward to it.