0 to 30 in Nine Years
After collecting RC30 parts for years in anticipation of the imminent shortage of them I got carried away. I started with getting parts from eBay, then from friends, then mostly from dealers and NOS suppliers. What you see below is the realization of my recognition that I had collected too many parts. I began to refurbish parts years ago in the hopes that someday I might assemble one of these machines on my own. The bike you see below was built entirely from parts and at one time was in boxes and sandwich baggies in my warehouse. I didn't have a wrecked or worn bike to start with, or even a used engine. Over the years the used parts (and some of the new ones) were removed and restored, then returned to the warehouse. During the winter of 2012 it became apparent there was nothing significant left to restore or source, and I began the assembly.
This machine is built to Canadian specification. Difficult to find items like a Canadian rear fender and a Canadian speedometer were found after years of looking. Even the front reflector brackets took some time to locate.
Only one person laid a hand on one part of this project besides me (Ed Sorbo at Lindemann Engineering for the rear shock internal rebuild). Other than that, I did every single aspect of the restoration and build myself. Not many people can make that claim. It is easy to send parts out for powder coating or have some RC30 guru build you an engine. Anyone can do that. Most of this machine is new but then again, hundreds of parts are restored. There are approximately 1900 pieces in one of these creations and about 750 form the engine. That is a lot of parts to keep track of.
This image was captured from a video about 2 minutes after the initial start. It was cool that day so the exhaust outlet is steaming. The smoke coming up from the engine is the ceramic exhaust wrap cooking; it stops after it is baked in. It idles perfectly and is crisp and clean.
The following images are in no particular order or time sequence.These images and descriptions are merely samples. The amount of work was more than what the average person would imagine but I can't realistically show everything.
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.
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.
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.
The 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 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.
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.
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).
This is approximately the time I should have put the chain on. Everyone makes mistakes.
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 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 slightly.
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).
This bike is required to meet all of Transport Canada's regulations in order 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.