10 MPG (downhill)

The farm truck, in its natural habitat – drinking gas and eating money. Happy Friday!

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GS550 Cafe: Update Time

So it’s been a while since I did an update on the cafe bike. Progress has been sporadic lately while we fight with getting air conditioning blowing cold in the shop truck, but it’s progress nonetheless.

First on the list after getting the forks back together with fresh seals and oil was getting them back on the frame. Stuck with the original ball bearings, nice and clean with fresh grease for a silky smooth feel.

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Next up is the dive into the unknown: bodywork and paint for the gas tank. We’ve completed two ground up car and truck rebuilds, but bodywork has always been left in the capable hands of others.

The process began with aircraft remover to cut through multiple layers of poorly applied spray paint (including those I put on during the rat bike phase).

Once it was cleaned and metal prepped, the bottom side, which had a bit of rust, got a fat coat of POR-15 brushed on. Cue masking and mounting, and the real fun begins.

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Filler applied, ready for sanding

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Post sanding, 3 wet coats of DuPont epoxy primer laid down.

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Annnnd that’s where we stand now. The tank will get some spot glaze in the pinholes, block/prime/block/repeat, then a few coats of cobalt blue and clear.

Scouted out a few pieces on Dime City’s site last week, including clip-ons and headlight mounts, too. Onward we go..

GS550 Cafe: Mockup Funtime

Was doing a bit of cleaning in the garage Sunday and couldn’t resist throwing some pieces on.

It all has to come back off, but it’s nice to see it look something like a motorcycle again, even if it’s only temporary.

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This has also brought up a few new issues: what to do with the wheels? In my original render they are bronze, but I’ve seen several done in matte black lately which is tempting me, too.

Also, the raw aluminum and cad plated hardware kind of clash to me; not sure what to do on that front. Then there’s also that big mess of wire back there I keep avoiding..

GS550 Cafe: Laying Down Some Blues

Progress on the bike always seems to come on in the same pattern:

Step 1: idea forms, usually late at night, leading to lost sleep.
Step 2: idea festers in my head for a few days, sometimes weeks.
Step 3: I step down into the garage to look for something, pick up a tool, and 4 hours later I’ve accomplished the thing I’ve been pondering. Today was one of those days.

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I had bought a can of GM Quasar blue DupliColor ColorMatch paint a while back, thinking it would be close to the blue I had in mind. After looking at the tail and tank in rat bike mode for the past several months I’ve already grown completely tired of it, and that blue from my original rendering has just been sitting there calling my name.

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4 hours of work this evening and BAM! It’s blue! Well, the tail is, at least. It’s a little rough around the edges (I am anything but a competent painter), but that’s kind of the idea of the whole build anyway, so I’m pretty happy with it.

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Also got a coat of trim black slapped on the swingarm.

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All of this has just served as a temporary distraction from that giant elephant in the room that I keep avoiding – the wiring..

GS550 Cafe: Back to the Cafe.. Racer

Now that our 63 C10 project has reached a state of (relative) completion, brain power has refocused on the mass of motorcycle parts populating my garage. Let the great reassembly begin!

Got started this past Thursday, when a simple trip downstairs to reorganize some things led to a decent amount of productivity.

GS550 reassembly begins

the reassembly begins

Did a little more scrubbing with brake clean on the engine (I don’t want it too clean, the purpose of this whole project is to have character after all), and with that began the process of re-marrying it with the frame.

Work smarter, not harder

ingenuity..and thumbs..is what separates us from the animals

With the engine blocked up the proper amount, the frame drops right over, thus saving life and limb – and back. When you’re a one-man crew, ingenuity is king.

Reunited

reunited after nearly a year

Success!

successful day

And with that, the great rewiring adventure begins. Simplicity is Priority 1, so much (read: more than half) of this will be going away:

GS550 Wiring

my head hurts already

The fun, as they, is just getting started.

The Hero Shot: Product Photography MacGyver Style

As I mentioned on the about page here, I put in my 9-5 (ish) at Minuteman Power Technologies, doing a little bit of everything related to marketing; one of those things being product photography, which was previously outsourced. Here’s a look ‘behind the curtain’ so to speak, at what’s possible when you have equal parts determination and stubbornness, with a bit of resourcefulness mixed in.

The first full shoot I took on was for our most recent product launch – the PRO-LCD Series. I constructed a much-too-complicated studio setup in a conference room, utilizing natural light from outside, flash bounced off of a projector screen, and the incandescent lights in the ceiling. Needless to say, once light was finally hitting all the right places, it was an absolute nightmare in post-processing. I finally resorted to desaturating everything except the display screen to get even coloring.

   

The finished product was acceptable, but I was less than thrilled with the processing it took to achieve it – there simply had to be a better, simpler way. When the time came to shoot again, I took to scouring the internet for ideas and hints, and finally hit on the right combination.

Constructed entirely from things found around my desk, the lightbox uses the fluorescent tube as the primary light source. This is bounced off of a curved piece of white coroplast, giving a smooth highlight across the gloss face many of our products have. The right side of the box is a black board which can be flipped white or black as needed to add or subtract highlights from that side.

On to the fun stuff. With the recent addition of the 60D to my arsenal, I decided it was time to revamp the product collage that represents us on everything from print ads to webpages.

This was never a necessarily bad image, but relatively low resolution and an overall disjointed feel has never been my favorite thing. So out came the lightbox and, after a few hours, a new, cohesive, 46.6 megapixel Hero shot was born.

Now these are some products I’d trust in an emergency – might even let them watch my kids for the night (if I had any).

Anyhow, I wanted to share this as I found several posts like it that inspired me to keep plugging away until I hit the right combination – I hope it will do the same for someone else!

GS550 Cafe: Zinc Plated Happiness

Sent off a good portion of the hardware for the Suzuki GS550 pseudo-cafe project bike to Fanning Plating in Sherman a few weeks back for a little zinc goodness. My obsession with this finish started when we were assembling the Camaro; Grade 8 bolts just have a serious, kind of menacing all-business look to me. Anyway, I couldn’t be happier with the results, especially in contrast with the matte black frame.

It’s like a little box of joy – I’m probably a little too excited about this to be honest.

With fall here, and winter (well, as winter as it gets around here) approaching, it should find it’s way back onto the jack for reassemblage soon.

Remembering Green Valley

Another cool retro drag racing project has found its way to me. This time it’s recreating a sticker that was handed out at Green Valley Raceway near North Richland Hills, Texas, while it was open from the 1960’s through 1986. These new stickers were created from a high resolution scan of an original, so all the tiny details and imperfections of the screen print are still visible.

The track was opened in 1960, and hosted AHRA and NHRA sanctioned drag racing, SCCA road racing, and even a motorcycle jump by daredevil Evel Knievel in 1974. On a personal note, it was also where my Dad first caught the drag racing bug. In a way, I feel I owe my passion for cars and racing to it, even though its gates closed for the last time before I could walk.

In 1986, the same year the ultra-modern Texas Motorplex opened in Ennis, the track shut down as the towns and homes that surrounded it grew ever closer. Eventually, everything was torn down to make way for a subdivision. Dearborn Flashback, the NHRA Division 4 Hall of Fame, and many other sites have posted images and videos from the glory days of the track.

If you’ve got a few hours to kill, a quick search will retrieve countless forum posts and videos of the action from when every ‘Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!’, Green Valley was the place to race in Texas.