Ready to assemble the front brake calipers. These are stock Nissin 4
piston calipers done in charcoal metallic powder/clear. The HH metallic
pads in the picture were not installed. I used GG rated EBC pads with a
lower coefficient of friction material. I do not want to grind away my
cast iron Moriwaki rotors. The GG pads on the cast iron disks give a
fantastic feel. Much better and progressive than metallic
pads on stock stainless disks. Note that some RC30's originally came
with GG pads and some with HH pads.
The clutch cover just after the powder was put on but obviously before
it is cooked. This cover was undamaged before I started but I wanted it
to match the other engine covers. It was from an early H Spec bike. I
fixed the ugly casting zits that afflict all clutch covers on the lower
portion below the ribs.
Before finishing the outside the valve covers were coated on the inside
with satin epoxy
powder to protect the magnesium. Epoxy is great for oil and
temperature resistance but is generally poor for UV resistance. Not many
UV rays inside the engine. If there is it blew up big time so it won't
matter anyway. This is the rear cover as evident by the central hole in
it where it connects to the oil vapour breather/separator. There is a
hokey little pickup that bolts to the inside of the valve cover and
provides some initial vapor separation. Use Loctite on those pickup
bolts for sure.
The rear valve cover. This is the "base coat". A proprietary mixture of
3 TGIC metallic powders. It has to be baked on, then the high gloss
TGIC clear coat done over top and baked again. These valve covers were a
pain in the butt as there is nowhere to easily hold them while you coat
and cook. I devised a tool to support them and provide a place for the
ground wire for powder coating.
The rear valve cover after cooking the base coat then clear coated and
baked again. Much nicer than the splash job Honda did. I had to remove
the threaded in nipple to clean the threads off before I did any work on
it. The powder coating would have cooked the sealant and the smoke
would have destroyed the finish. I powdercoated the nipple separately
and installed it after the coating was complete.
I was not satisfied with the clutch cover finish so off comes the powder
coating and the clear coat. The clear coat was not up to my standard.
The second try worked perfectly. I had mixed up extra powder so had no
concern about the color matching. It came off easily with chemical
stripper because of the shiny bead blasted finish.
This is a good
example that powder coating is not "bullet-proof" as some people think.
Brake fluid will do the same thing as the chemical stripper did, it
just takes longer.
Some of the rotating assembly ready for final inspection, prep and
installation. All the parts are new; a "B" weight crankshaft, rods and
standard bore (70.0 mm) pistons. I hand picked the pistons to match the
bores of the new crankcases that Honda was kind enough to pre-hone for
me. Preparing the cam drive gear on the crank took me hours with dental
tools and other devices. I was not happy about having to do this. I believe it was caused by oil contamination on the gear during
heat treating of the crank gear. Other than that the crankshaft was a
very well made forging. If I was to do this over I would use Carillo
steel rods for their robustness over the Honda titanium alloy rods. If
you ever re-use the Honda rods you should re-apply the anti-friction
coating to sides of the big ends if they are scored up, and they likely
will be. Titanium is really bad for wanting to gall/weld itself to
itself; one of the many undesirable properties of the material. Titanium
is far from being all roses from an engineering perspective. Carillo
steel connecting rods would not need a coating. The cast piston skirts
also have an anti-friction coating. These pistons are of a single
compression ring type. I would have preferred two compression rings but
nobody makes them unless you go the Arias custom route and I have too
many Honda pistons to do that.
Honda uses a number-letter code system to determine what bearings to
select. Although this is a great idea and can save a lot of time during
engine assembly for a motorcycle repair shop I still measure things to
double check and use plastigage as a final check, just as Honda says to.
If you have a used crankshaft or connecting rods sometimes the codes
may be missing so you will have to measure the journal or bare bore to
initially pick a bearing. Crank journals can also wear enough that you
may have to tighten up the bearing selection also. The crankcase letter
codes are dot etched into the right side of the crankcase behind the
primary drive gear/starter clutch. The primary drive gear has to be
removed to read the codes. The crank codes (rods and mains) are painted
on the counterweights. The numbers are the main journal codes and the
letters are the rod journal codes. This engine was assembled using all
new rotating/reciprocating parts so one would hope that the end result
color codes for the bearings would be correct, and they were. I nailed
all the clearances on the first try as I should. Above is the left crank
main at around 0.0018" and the right main is below at
about the same clearance. This is on the loose side of spec. The two
center crank main bearings have smaller central oil holes in order to
provide adequate oil pressure to the camshafts which are fed from the
gallery above those two main bearings. When doing this sort of thing
cleanliness is extremely important. Bearing babbit does not tolerate any
The carburetors after restoration. All of the steel parts were zinc
plated and chromated where necessary. Carburetor casting were cleaned in
dip carburetor cleaner for a few days and then boiled in distilled
water. These are low mileage units but I hate dealing with carburetor
problems at start-up so they still got the full treatment. Nobody likes
to take RC30 fuel mixers off (but it really is not that difficult). I
glass bead blasted the plenum and used an new flame arrestor. Always use
Honda rebuild kits on these and for do not over-tighten the float
valves, they are very fragile and are $50 a piece! I set these up
initially using 4 dial indicators on the butterflies. When set them up
like that vacuum syncing is not required, at least not initially. These
carburetors spook some people as far as maintenance goes but I find them
fairly easy to work on. Being a Honda everything just seems to make
sense and many pieces have that one-way-only fit. Patience and taking
some photos before disassembly are a good idea, especially for the hoses
under the plenum. If you ever have your carburetors off I cannot stress
enough that you replace the fuel hoses under the plenum. The ones on
these low mileage carburetors were like concrete. Same goes for the
o-rings where the plastic fuel delivery tubes enter the carburetors.
They were very hard. Honda sells an o-ring kit for this (one kit does
all four carbs). The last thing you need in the valley of your V4 is raw
fuel. The vent hoses and tubes/o-rings that pipe to the little filter
on the side of the #3 carburetor are usually in good shape as they are
not in direct contact with the fuel. The air cutoff diaphragms were
replaced in these carburetors but I just could not bear to cough up $100
(each) for Honda ones. Aftermarket cut-offs are available but I
recommend re-using the original Honda diaphragm spring and the new
o-ring that comes in the Honda carburetor kits.
For those of you
living in Canada or the USA I recommend using fuel that does not contain
ethanol. I will not go into the politics or technical issues
surrounding ethanol but if you can avoid ethanol you should. In Canada
one of the last fuels available that is not laced with ethanol is Shell's V-Power 91 octane premium
Other Shell fuels, all of Petro-Canada's and the locally produced fuels
all have ethanol. Like the fuel pump says... "may contain up to 10%
ethanol" That means they have it. Stick with Shell's 91 octane and
forget about it. Do not be swayed by the higher octane fuels that run
about 94 octane at 10% ethanol.
Time to put the clutch in. The basket/gear
unit is from a low mileage US bike that had an unfortunate end to life
and was subsequently dismantled by chimpanzee with a ball peen hammer
and a screw driver. Thankfully the clutch survived the little guy. The
clutch was like new. Nonetheless all the bearings and high wear parts
were replaced because I did not want monkey hair, or worse, in my
clutch. The primary drive gear is new because the clutch gear was used.
I did not have the original that mated with it. Mixing used gears from
different machines is a recipe for noise and wear. A new gear against an
old gear is OK as long as the old gear is in good condition.
Most parts for these clutches are discontinued now. Be careful if you have yours apart.
The clutch all put together. With any luck it will only slip when I down
shift. The ignition pickups, starter clutch/ignition trigger, starter
reduction gear and starter have to go in yet. The steel band around the
clutch basket allows the basket to be made lighter and more compact.
With such a thick clutch pack the long basket fingers would get
excessively thick to make it strong enough at high RPM. A thin steel
band makes sure everything stays in place.
The rear caliper, bracket and brake hanger. The rear caliper was fully
rebuilt; it even got new pistons. All steel hardware was re-zinc plated
and the brake hanger was bead blasted and got a coat of matte clear
powder coating, same as the swingarm and pro-squat linkage. Never run a
tap through things like the thread shown unless you have special
undersize taps. Even undersize taps are not a great idea. As long as the
threads are not damaged I use handgun or rifle bore brushes rotated in,
or preferably right through, to clean threads out. I use brass brushes
on aluminum, stainless steel brushes on steel or stainless and plastic
on anything plastic or otherwise sensitive.
Everything checked and double checked.
Looks like I am ready to bolt the new crankcase halves together. These
were the last set of new crankcases in American Honda's possession and
probably in the world outside private hands. They were not cheap but a
lot more value than beat up used cases and four sleeves from Millenium. I
had two sets but sent one set back because of damage. Honda's packaging
was almost criminal on the crankcases. A final check for things like
the little metering orifice and we are ready to mate them. I pre-marked
where the Threebond 1194 sealant has to go. I do not like to think much
when I do this, everything should be thought out ahead of time so it is
automatic. If you miss a spot it is a nightmare later. Putting it where
you don't need it is bad also. We are not building a Triumph or BSA
here. It's Honda so it better not leak; if it does you screwed up.
transmission is mix of new and used but mostly new. The used parts are
the mainshaft and the individual gears that I hand prepped. I have new
mainshafts but it was unethical to not re-use this one considering it
was like new. The mainshaft did get a new ball bearing pressed on the
right side. A new countershaft was used but Honda has superseded the
original MR7 part with the 1988/89 VFR750 part. You should run a 1mm
spacer on the inside of the sprocket to make up for the slight
dimensional difference. Honda doesn't tell you about this so it probably
is not super critical. I used a stainless 1mm thick washer from a
Badger Control valve that fit perfectly. All bearings, bushings,
c-clips, thrust washers etc. are new.Note:
Threebond 1194 replaces the old standby 1104. 1194 is a low lead
version of 1104 (now discontinued) in keeping with our so called "green"
times. If you cannot find Threebond 1194 then use Hondabond 4 or
Yamabond 4. They are made by Threebond. Same stuff, different package.
If you use anything else you are uninformed at best.
Just about ready to start lapping valves and putting these together. Lots of parts in the cylinder heads.
Just to show the valve lifter bore protector I got from Honda. It is the
white nylon thing around the spring. The spring retainers you see are
the ones that supersede the original RC30 (MR7) part number. The
original RC30 retainers do not have the beveled edge.
Setting the valves was a bit of a pain as I had no baseline shim
thicknesses to work from with everything being new (even the bolts). I
had to guess at shim thicknesses, install all the cams, check
clearances, then tear it all apart again and install the calculated
correct shims. I nailed them all, no third tries. Honda shims are arm
twisting expensive so I bought two of the Hot Cams shim kits to get
enough to start off. The Hot Cams shim kits go up in twice the thickness
increment that Honda ones do so I had to buy almost a full set of Honda
shims in the end to get the valve clearances perfect. Those are iridium
tip NGK plugs in there, nothing but the best. The guy I bought the cams
from in Spain tried to convince me front and rear cams are the same!
This was done to justify the fact that he sent me two front intake cams.
Some guys will try anything. I bought a new rear intake camshaft to
compensate for his behavior. The other three cams were taken from a new
engine back in the day so I had no problem doing this. The lobes were on
the high end of spec and the inner/non-replaceable needle roller
bearings like new. One seal was damaged on one of the outer bearings so I
replace the double ball bearing/seals on that cam. Another outer
bearing on one of the other cams had some rust visible on the outer race
so I replaced it in a fit of caution. The seals are something to watch
for as the cams need the seals functional and in the correct places or
you will starve the lobes of oil. There are left and right cam bearings
for a reason.
Nice finish for an oil pan. I also have an old VFR750 oil pan I might chop up some day to hold a bit more oil.
Most of the oiling system ready to go in. The oil pump in the top right
was in excellent condition but I rebuilt it with internal components
from an RC36 oil pump. Only the three cast housing parts were re-used as
they differ from the RC36. The RC36 has an extra gear set to push oil
to the cooler so the housings are machined differently and have an extra
My friend Bill once told me everyone has their level of detail. This is
typical of the parts I replated. I did not use the kickstand spring, I
used a new one. When you find yourself replating c-clips you know it is
going to take a while before you insert the key to start it.
New Honda valves being hand lapped to the valve seats in the brand new
cylinder heads. You can buy aftermarket valves for RC30's but I prefer
using Honda parts when I can. Most aftermarket valves are some type of
stainless steel and I like steel for the service this will see. I did
exactly what Honda said to do and checked every seat width. Very
important on the exhaust side. The valve on the left is ready to install
after putting some moly lube on the stem. I used a very fine lapping
compound (1000 grit) to lap them in. Some guys say you do not need to do
this. I say otherwise, and so does Honda. Just do not overdo it. I'm
sure there a lot of experts out there who will disagree but they have
probably never torqued a cylinder head bolt or do not know how to use a
If there is one thing that will drive you to drinking it is electrical
problems when a bike will not start. To alleviate this I used a spiffy
new wiring harness. This harness is for a US or Canadian bike so the
daytime running lights will work properly. It fit perfectly. Excellent
job whoever made it for Honda. It was worth the $180.
The fork legs. You would not recognize these fork legs from what I
started with. It was a lot of work to refinish these. After many hours I
achieved the correct profile finish (and correct directions) then
powder coated them with gloss clear directly on the aluminum. It took a
week to get the black aluminum oxide off my hands. These forks were
assembled from parts. The lower legs and clamps from New Zealand, most
of the internals from a guy in Japan and the rest is new including the
fork tubes from Honda that are wallet melting expensive. I never want to
do this again and was stupid not to use the nice spare set I had.
Nothing like a challenge though. RC30 fork springs are known to be quite
weak (around 0.75 to 0.77 kg/mm). I put some HRC 0.85 kg/mm fork
springs in these and a slightly heavier fork oil than the ATF Honda
recommends. I could not bear to cut down the discontinued spring spacers
so I made some from another bike to the correct 129.6mm length for the
HRC springs. The HRC springs/spacers have ever so slightly less of
initial preload but make up for it before the static sag is complete.
The forged aluminum shock linkage completely rebuilt with new bearings,
seals and shafts. The bolt in the picture was not used. I have a new
linkage but rebuilt a used one because I wanted the finish (bead blasted
with matte powder) to match the swingarm and pro-squat linkage that are
used castings and forgings respectively. The bearing where the knuckle
bolts to the swingarm is different than the rest, it has no roller cage
so extra rollers can take the higher unit load.
The wheels. Stock Honda parts but the front is a 3-1/2" wide NC30 wheel.
These have been glass grit then glass bead blasted. They subsequently
got a coat of pearl white powder for something a little bit different. I
didn't clear coat the wheels, they would have been too gaudy for my
liking. The pearl finish still looks nice in the sun but doesn't jump
out at you as tacky any more than plain white wheel is.
I polished the stock exhaust headers. This was a colossal waste of time
as I later decided to wrap them with black ceramic heat tape. Where you
can still see header pipes at the cylinder heads they turned some neat colors after the first start as is usual with polished stainless steel
A stock RC30 Showa shock absorber. The internals were rebuilt by Ed
Sorbo at Lindemann Engineering, the external stuff was done my me. Ed
cut down a bumper for the shock to my dimension The original bumper was
missing but a NOS shock I have provided a good dimension for the bumper.
This is typical of my experiences with aftermarket parts for most
anything. Generally very well made but something is always not quite
right. This is a clutch hydraulic line from Goodridge in the UK. Though
beautifully made it doesn't fit the factory Honda clamps as it is too
small of diameter. I made it a larger diameter by cutting off some fuel
hose and lengthwise slitting it. I then put some shrink sleeve over the
fuel hose to hold it in place. Pops into the clamp nice and tight. You
have to do this before you finish installing the hose so the shrink
sleeve will go over the the hose end. I put some nylon spiral wrap on
the hose where it passes over the unused, and generally considered
unnecessary, lug for the steering damper which could damage the hose.
The gauges. Mostly used parts in excellent condition. The speedometer
cover is new. I have a couple new gauge foams but this one was so nice I
had to re-use it. I replaced every bulb in the gauges so they are nice
and bright. The speedometer is unique to Canada with km/hr on the
outside and mph on the inside. The fella I got it from lived in the US.
He wanted a mph speedometer on his Canadian bike. One man's junk is
another man's treasure.
I was missing the little harness for the tachometer and as luck would
have it Honda discontinued it. With some electrical trickery I made one
using an NC30 harness. One of the pins/wires had to be relocated from
outside the connector to inside it and one wire deleted from the
connector to make space. After the modification it was exactly the same
as an RC30 harness except the connector color. I could have changed that
but did not. Sometimes you just have to let things go and live with it.
I had a new speedometer wiring harness but I made one of those from NC30
parts also. You can read how to make both of them by reading Article 7
on the Articles Page.
Almost done back here. I used a custom made ride height adjuster just because I had
one. I had to destroy a 1-1/16" open end wrench to be able to adjust it
on the bike though. My Dad would turn over in his grave if he saw what I
did to his wrench. Sorry, I will make it up to you some day. The
exhaust wrap is horrible stuff to work with. Makes me itchy just looking
at it. The two rear pipes are really close together and the exhaust
wrap touches between them but it is not a functional problem. For you
guys putting those Ladybird systems on your bikes consider wrapping the
pipes instead of putting those hokey heat shields on. You get the added
benefit of reduced under-seat heat and your shock absorber, thigh,
genitals etc do not bake as quickly.
The chain is a new Honda one that came from a new bike in 1988 that went
racing with 520 kit parts. The sprockets came from the same bike so I
got to use one of the original small sprockets with the floating o-ring
things on it.
A word of advice. Put the chain on the sprocket BEFORE you put the
engine in the frame. If you try to do it after you have to remove the
sprocket cover, shifter cover and water pump or break the chain and
install a link. I ended up doing it the difficult way. I did not want a
rivet link in my original Honda chain.
Note the ugly Mig weld on the cross tube ahead of the damper where it
meets the frame casting. Honda used two different weld processes when
welding the frames up. Honda used Mig (aka GMAW) welding on the inside
where you cannot normally see it and Tig (aka Heliarc or GTAW) welding
wherever a bystander would see it with the bike assembled. Mig welding
is much faster than Tig and anyone can do it, but Tig produces a higher
quality weld with no spatter and a smaller heat affected zone. You can
see and feel Mig weld spatter on the inside of RC30 frame rails. Honda
also Tig welded the seat subframes together so they look very nice.
The guy at 1:46 in this Honda video
is Tig welding on the outside of the frame (and a fuel tank).
A mating ritual you will not see on Wild Kingdom. After this it got
hoisted to the assembly stand for final engine bolt torquing. Installing
the frame on the motor is so much easier than trying to lift a 180 lb
engine into a 20 lb frame don't you think?
This is approximately the time I should have put the chain on. Everyone makes mistakes.
Most of the steering stem parts. The NOS steering stem cost me a fortune and I still grumble when I think what I paid for it.
The steering stem has a serial number. The 21 prefix is the same coding as the frames; that meaning it was made in 1989.
The front end going together on the assembly stand. The steering stem,
triple clamp, fender, fork tubes, horn/brackets, bolts are all new. I
have a restored upper clamp without the HONDA emblem in it but I don't
mind the looks of this one even though the casting finish is really
rough compared to the older versions. You can see the rough casting in
the picture. The handlebars were used ones but in really nice shape. I
polished them to Honda's standard, maybe a bit nicer and clear coated
them with DuPont Chroma clear. Some guys like "billet" stuff (which is
not made from a billet) but I think they are cheesy alongside these one
piece forgings Honda went through the trouble to design and specify.
Nobody makes aftermarket forged clip-ons. I used all new Honda bar end
weights. The bar end weights have an extraordinary amount of pieces
considering what they do.
Most people would shake their heads if
they saw the underside of one of these front fenders. Fingerprints in
wet paint everywhere. I thought it was cool. A sign of a low production
bike and the parts for it.
The rotors are made by Moriwaki and are 310mm works of art with cast
iron rings with beautifully machined aluminum carriers. I polished every one of the stainless steel floating buttons, clips and
washers. Doing this forced me to visually inspect each one. Moriwaki
also made a 320mm version of these. The white marks you see on the
caliper bolts and brake line fitting are there for the same reason Honda
does it. When a bolt is torqued it gets a swipe with the paint pen. I
like to be able to look over a bike after it is complete and know that a
bolt was torqued.
Ready to go back here it looks like. This is a good mix of new, restored
and aftermarket. The Goodridge brake line could have been an inch
longer but it did work alright. I put some spiral wrap on it to protect
the protective outer covering of the braided line. Safety wiring on the
sprocket bolts and axle nut replicates what Honda did, except mine is
done with more care.
The turn signals, license holder, reflectors, rear fender and the tail
light are unique to the North American market (Canadian and US bikes).
The seat cowl is unique to the Canadian bike only, it has a decal around
the petcock knob to indicate ON-OFF-RESERVE and the knob has no
markings. On all other bikes (excluding US bikes) the markings are on
the knob with a little arrow on the cowl. Our Safety standards require
certain wording, thus the minor change made. The decal is a good idea on
any RC30 if you are getting a seat cowl painted.
The bad news is that Dunlop no longer manufactures the rear tire in the
picture. It is the correct size Roadsmart in 170/60-18. This tire has
been deleted with the advent of the newer Dunlop Roadsmart II. A
160/60-18 is made in the new version, though it appears a 170/60-18 is
available in Japan and Australia. This tire hits the rear fender
You have to love the waviness in the Honda FRP bodywork. Bubbles are not
good but wavy is how it was made. Bubbles in RC30 bodywork are caused
by the porous FRP mat used for building thickness absorbing moisture.
After the moisture gets in heat causes water vapor to form under the
paint and blister it before the moisture can migrate out where it came
in. I have never had it happen but it is normally very dry where I live.
Lower cowls are infamous for this. The engine and exhaust provide the
heat source. Some people have had this happen to new bodywork in storage
(very poor storage I might add).
Canadian spec warning decals on the fuel tank. In the correct locations of course.
An RC30 would be incomplete without the factory tool kit(s), stand and
owners/shop manual. Strangely enough a manual was never made for the
Canadian spec bike. Too low of production to bother with I suppose. This
bike will carry a European manual in English. I do not have a picture
of the stand but it was restored to like new, even a new sticker and
nylon eccentric. The tool kit was bought from a friend in Japan but I
had to track down an original spark plug socket and buy a new 0.7mm
feeler gauge to complete it. The bag was replaced with a new one that is
much darker than the original but still has the funky yellow stitching.
I use the original tool bag to hold the other "SUB TOOL SET" as Honda
calls it. As always, the tile work is impeccable.
The underside. I am fortunate I purchased new exhaust clamps when you
still could. The bolts used for the clamps are correct for the service.
Do not ever use a zinc or cadmium plated bolt for the exhaust clamps. I
am sure everything in the picture will get dirty soon.
Completed except for the front bodywork and to put the tool kit in the
back. It has to make some trips in
the back of my truck yet so that will have to wait. There is a picture
on the Street Bike Pictures
page that shows it with bodywork.
bike is required to meet all of Transport Canada's regulations
to be registered for the street. Fortunately I built this motorcycle to
Canadian standards and it did meet the requirements when it was inspected, right down to the cross sectional area of the reflectors.