Zen of Moto-Recycling


Drew’s 1985 Honda Rebel Project - January 2013

(Click here for Updates  -  It’s DONE!)


Drew found an old motorcycle up in the hills, and we are restoring it!

It’s a 1985 Honda Rebel, model CMX250C, a 234 cc (14.3 cu in) cruiser-style motorcycle.

1984 was the first year for this model, and Honda still manufactures a Rebel using basically the same 234cc  4-stroke OHC parallel twin with a 5-speed transmission, wet multi-plate and chain final drive.  This unitized engine and transmissions design has also been used on a few other Honda models over the years.  However, the Rebel in Candy Supreme Red paint was offered only in 1985.  That’s our color, and we’re sticking to it!

Our restoration process involves (as does any worthy project) an evaluation, a goal, a plan, and a schedule

  1. BulletOur goal: After determining that this is, indeed, a legal and restorable machine, the goal is to return this bike to original condition through restoration of existing/replacement parts for use as an occasional-use collectable with long-term ownership in mind; this is not intended to be a ‘flip’ project.  In other words, no ‘customization’ but sticking to repairing/replacing the broken, worn out or missing parts with OEM used, or new when we have to (like tires and brake parts).  The restoration process includes cleaning, rust removal, refinishing if necessary, and returning to the functionality of the original parts. The paint and trim, including the decals and labels, is to be restored to the original appearance; however we will take advantage of current paint chemistry and home-shop techniques to match the original look as much as possible.

  1. BulletThe schedule:  Get it finished in time for the 2013 riding season, but getting it right is more important than getting it done.   This is not a flip, so we are not in a hurry!

  1. BulletThe plan: Using our shops (garage and basement) we intend to remove the various parts down to the frame for cleaning and repair, evaluate what frame components need repair, then evaluate and repair the motor/transmission/clutch/electrical systems. 

OK enough already! So how ‘bout some pictures?!

What we are shooting for!

Good example of a properly restored-to-stock 1985 Rebel model, using the correct Candy Supreme Red paint and button-tucked seats

(research indicates this year’s model was panted in black or the candy supreme red only, and that this was the only year for this particular red).

As it was found, flat tires and all

This, um, as they say, has potential.  After sitting outside in South Park Colorado for many years, it is sure to have a few issues!

Yeah, like the seats!

They were repaired with slip-covers at some point, but the original covers and foam underneath are pretty much toast, with duct tape trim. Got the frames to work with, though!   $$$  You can see the faded paint on the tank to the right...

We will get our tank to this!

A little sanding, a little bondo, some paint, and there you go.

Fortunately, detail parts like labels and decals are available from several sources (we may not be the only ones fixing one up?) and we found original factory color paint available through Color Rite.

Fixing original parts - the challenge

Hi - Duct tape again. These rear turn blinkers get whacked and the outside storage gets things rusty.  Here, the before is at the top, and the finished at the bottom.  The thing in between is an LED replacement that just happened to fit nicely inside the original housing and lens - nice and bright and looks original!

Our new tires and trued-up wheels

For safety’s sake, some things just can’t be repaired using our facilities.  The old fix-a-flat soaked tires had to be replaced.  While they were getting mounted, the spokes were checked, tightened, and the wheel trued-up.  We had Woody’s Wheel Works do the work because they have the equipment, the expertise, and reasonable prices.

Just a happy old gear-head...

With any project like this, there are surprises.  No, not that I did some work, but the fact the former owner had used fix-a-flat and those tubeless tire puncture sealer plugs on the bike’s tubed tire.  It took a long time to scrape that crap off because it sets like glue.

...and here’s a happy young gear-head

We started ripping into it.  One of the things important to a rebuild, grasshopper, is to keep the hardware where it came off, when possible, or to catalog and label it all.  Just throwing parts into a coffee can makes a much more difficult reassembly! Drew did a great job keeping things sorted out.

But, if we take the wheels off ...??

...How we gonna do that?

I happened to have this really heavy-duty dolly my father-in-law made and gave me, and so we rigged it up for the wheel-less bike.  It is the perfect height and makes moving it around easy - some things just work out!

Pretty much stripped down

The frame is ready for its WD-40 bath and inspection, and at this point, the pile of parts is kinda large, but most of them just need cleaning.  The parts in need of further attention make up a sub-pile.  Most of the sub-pile can go into the basement workshop for the cleaning, fixing and painting, because it is getting cold out in the garage!  ‘Tis a winter project.

IT’S ALIVE!  (movie)

Drew got it running!

Rust removal - not exactly high-tech

Here’s one of the most rusty, crusty and corroded parts - the battery box - getting de-rusted in a vinegar bath.  This technique takes more time, but is a lot less toxic.  Acetic acid does a good job dissolving the rust, and actually cleans the paint that’s left on the part.  I used a heat lamp over the tub to compensate for the cold garage. Other parts got this same type of treatment.

The ‘ready pile’ grows!

Cleaning, repairs, painting and polishing going on in the basement workshop. 

Very close to the original, if not original

Getting the new paint to look like the original on small parts like the speedometer cover will add to the detail of the finished bike. 

Fixing parts with epoxy and JB Weld saves $$$.  Those spark plug connectors cost a lot, but the JB Weld fix makes our broken one functional if not almost identical to the original.  JB Weld was used also to reattach the mount tab on the nameplate.

Other repairs save parts and $$$

The bottom connector of the speedometer cable had worked loose, so it was refitted with some shrink wrap.  The master cylinder’s only flaw was that fluid level plastic sight window was defeated by outside storage, so we found a repair kit and installed it.  Good as new now!

The front brake caliper is getting repaired now, having suffered greatly from frostbite. One junk part plus one screwed-up original part equals one working part.

Other project stuff

OK, I don’t know if it’s ‘zen’ but for me a project like this is a journey of discovery that always requires to some degree the acceptance and adaptation to the present.  I enjoy moving forward with an idea, and developing it on the fly, without over-planning.  Sometimes it involves a quarrel with worry, but very often it all works out very well, and exceeds the original expectations.  My workshop is my sanctuary; projects my atonement.

The paint booth idea worked out in this way.  The idea was to create a small dust-free space in which to paint parts, and not spend a lot of money doing it.  The tent-like design works to that end, was made of materials on hand (bought the plastic drop-cloth is all), it fits perfectly into our small basement workshop, and collapses down, like a good tent should, when not needed.  This was not built from blueprints by any means; it just kind of came together.  Zen-like, I guess.

The pictures below show the little paint tent.  Click on the album to get to the individual pics.

  1. BulletEvaluation involves making a careful assessment of the motivations, and examining what it’s going to take to complete the objectives by committing to task.  From experience, success will not happen if it looks like the cost in terms of money, time, and/or loss will be in excess of what can be tolerated.  Yup. Got a lot of abandoned projects behind me!  Had they been better evaluated, well...
    Evaluation is therefore more important than these other three things, because it logically leads to a go/no go decision, and beyond that, creates a foundation for commitment.

Oh, yeah, the one customized thing Drew wants (personalization, really) is this red-eyed chrome skull mounted on the front.  It will stare out red as running lights, and work with the turn indicators to flash bright red.  Look out!

This is a ‘shopped photo with the skull stuck on just to show where it will go.

I will update this page as we progress!
(Click here for Updates) 

Please send comments, questions, corrections,  & complaints to   sdfco@mac.com