Gauges Right side Back side Top
Tank and seat Badge Lower front Left side

I’m happy to announce that I rode my creation for about 20 miles today, and it was a blast. I wanted to get a few miles on it, but not too many before I go back and re-check all the nuts and bolts.

You may notice that I made a few small changes. I changed the tachometer faceplate to black, installed a small digital speedometer just below the tach, and made a small bracket to relocate the ignition key to the left side of the tach. The digital speedometer is there because my homegrown GPS-based speedometer is given me some problems, and I am tired of messing with it for now. Relocating the ignition key allowed me to pull the tach in closer to the handle bar, and I think it gives it a cleaner look.

After getting the instruments worked out (at least for now), I re-synchronized the carburetors again and took it out for it’s first significant ride. The bike really draws a lot of attention, there were looky-loo’s everywhere.

Tank badges

1977 CB550F

Just a quick post to show the bike with the badges I ordered. If I’m not mistaken, the badges were originally for a Superhawk, but I think they look great on this bike. I had to bend them slightly to match the curve of my tank, and they were originally screwed into place with two recessed screws, so I cut the heads off of four stainless steel recessed screws and JB welded them in place. I mounted the badges using the same kind of double sided tape that is used for mounting car molding.

Paint job is finally finished

Finally, after a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, the paint job is done! It’s not perfect, it has flaws, but I did it myself, and I’m happy with the results. I have been mostly following the advice of an article I found online. I sprayed the body work with three coats of brilliant silver, and five coats of clear, waited several weeks for the lacquer to cure, then wet sanded the finish with 1200 grit sandpaper soaked with warm soapy water until the finish was perfectly smooth. After all that sanding, the finish was flat and had lost it’s clear coat shine completely. I was a little nervous about the result, but my reference article confirmed that this was to be expected. Today I finished the last step in the process, I rented a DeWalt polisher and bought a Meguiar’s SoftBuff polishing pad and a bottle of Meguiar’s Mirror glaze swirl remover number 9. This stuff is amazing and applying it was easily the most rewarding part of the entire process. Within minutes the shine was brilliant. I tried to capture pictures that demonstrated the reflective qualities of the finish, if you look close at the seat cowl, you can see my neighbors house across the street, a few trees, and clouds in the sky.

After all that work, I couldn’t resist temptation, so I put some gas in the tank and took it for a ride around the neighborhood. It’s not really ready for that since I still have to build the gauge bracket and hook up my tach/speedo combo guage, but it was fun anyway.

Getting close

I’ve been busy! I finally got all the right parts to replace my front brake line with a stainless steal line, and my brake light sensor with this tiny bolt integrated sensor. I’m also ditching the dual gauges in favor of a single tach with an integrated speedometer. I shopped around for these for some time but they all seem to cost around $500, so I am making my own with a tiny GPS sensor, a micro controller to ping the satellites for speed, and three 7-segment LED’s to display my speed. I already built this setup on an electronics breadboard as a proof of concept and it works great. I also created a new gauge faceplate in Photoshop and brought it to a commercial printer to have it printed on heavy card stock.

The picture of the seat shows the dense foam I’m using for the seat and the tank plug to fill the hole in the tank where the original seat used to sit. I’m going to wrap the foam in marine vinyl and sew heavy Velcro on the bottom to fasten it to the fiberglass.

The last picture shows my new tail/brake light mounted and wired up, and my refurbished and relocated rear LED blinkers.

Paint and exhaust

I was finally able to start on the paint job. In the shot above, there are three coats of brilliant silver, and five coats of clear. I’m going to give it a week to cure, sand down any orange peel, shoot it with two final coats of clear, wet sand one last time, then buff out the finish. Painting requires a ridiculous amount of patience that I don’t normally have, but I am pretty happy with the outcome so far.

Since the bike is getting close to how it’s ultimately going to look, I figured it was a good time to show a side-by-side comparison of where it was and where it is now. I think I’m hooked on bike building, I’m positive that this will not be my last project bike.

The third shot above shows what I worked out for the exhaust bracket that I lost when I cut off the rear passenger peg braces from the frame. The bracket is for handle speaker mounting, and I paired that with a length of steel that I drilled and painted.


I finished prepping the tank and seat today and got a few coats of primer on. It looks good to see everything in one color. I’m planning on letting the primer cure for the week and hopefully I can get it sanded and ready to paint next weekend. I actually kind of like the look of the primer, but I’m excited to see it in silver. I hope it turns out okay since I have never painted a vehicle before.

Relocated electronics

I finally finished relocating all of the electronics under the seat. Basically, I hacked up the original bracket and welded it onto my modified battery bracket. It’s a tight fit, but it works, and I think it really cleans up the look of the bike. I still need to tape it off and shoot it with a rattle can.


Well school has really gotten in the way of my rapid progress, but hopefully I can get things going again. I finally welded in my rear battery bracket and it turned out great. I hated sanding off two small spots on my brand new powder coat, but I completely forgot to deal with the battery during frame prep. Fortunately, it turned out to be far less traumatic than I thought it was going to be. A little touch up paint and it’ll be good as new.

I connected up a new extended battery cable to my starter so that it will reach the new electronics location, and I think I still have plenty of room above the battery to fit all the electronics.

The fourth picture is a little teaser of the scratch-built custom instrumentation I’m working on. I am planning on removing the stock speedometer, and integrating a GPS-based speed indicator into the tachometer housing. The confirmed components so far include a GPS reciever, and an Arduino Pro Mini micro controller. I’m still playing with the 7-segment LED’s and the small LCD screens trying to make up my mind on the direction I want to go.

The new face plate in the image is just a mock-up.

Rolling chassis

1977 CB550F

It’s rolling and looking good. I’m hoping to start on the new wiring harness, and work out the battery and electronics mounts this weekend.