Tinker Talk – June 2020: Hack Attack, Restoration Edition

By Justin James

With everything being shut down I am sure many of you are doing like I am and tackling those old build or restoration projects you have been putting off. As I write this, Team Tinkerin and I are in the home stretch of completing our 2020 Blue Collar Build Off bike, Kawaclysm. If you know anything about me, then you know I shop for my bikes at salvage yards and not sales floors. Essentially, this ground-up custom motorcycle I am building is also a restoration. So, for this edition of Tinker Talk I will go over a few hacks that I have found helpful when bringing an abandoned bike back from the dead.

Rusted Tank (Photo 1): In most cases, an old bike that has been left for dead will have some rust inside the tank. There are many techniques to knock this rust down. The method I use involves crafting sand and distilled water. Fill the tank with a mixture of 3-parts sand to 1-part water. Seal the tank off and shake it vigorously as long and as many times as you can handle. When finished, thoroughly rinse the tank out with distilled water. If possible, blow the tank out with compressed air after rinsing it to speed up drying time.

Hardened Spigots (Photo 2): Over time the rubber spigots that mount the carburetors to the cylinder head can dry out and harden. This makes removing or installing the carburetors a pain. All you typically need to do to soften them back up is boil them for a couple of minutes in a 50/50 solution of water and vinegar.

Protecting Cylinders (Photo 3): As an engine sits, gravity will do its thing and pull any oil downward. This leaves the cylinder walls and rings unprotected when you finally crank that engine over. A trick I like to use to protect the engine at the first start up is to shoot 2 or 3 milliliters of oil down the chamber. I prefer to use 2-stroke oil or Marvel mystery oil since any excess will burn off cleaner and faster. A simple children’s medicine syringe is my go-to tool for this hack.

Obviously, there are many more things to look for when pulling a bike from a junkyard or restoring the old relic in the barn. You may come across seized engines, locked up clutches, leaks, bad bearings or stuck cables. There are really no hacks for these more serious issues, just the good old-fashioned R’s (remove and repair or replace). For those of you that choose to start your masterpieces with a rusty canvas, I tip my hat to you. It is a tough job, but somebody must do it. Seeing neglected bikes sit and rust away breaks my heart. No bike deserves that fate. All bikes matter!!!

Tinker, Shred, Destroy, Repeat
-Justin James (follow more of my Tinker shenanigans on Instagram @justinjamesmoto)