Not a Honda, followed me home anyway...

Discussion in '1st & 2nd Generation 1983-1989' started by lsc86, Apr 6, 2021.

  1. lsc86

    lsc86 New Member

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    Well after 20+ years of on/off "keeping my eyes open for the right deal" I finally came across a complete and reasonably priced Yamaha Seca 550 to scratch the itch of my adolescent years.... Flashback to the yesteryear of Don Johnson, MTV, and everything '80s & I had just bought a brandy new 1986 Interceptor 500 and my best friend picked up a clean '82 red/white Seca 550 w/factory fairing and together we terrorized the streets for many years and many miles together. Even though only a couple years old with not so many miles on it, that Seca sure seemed dated by 1986 standards and was affectionately nicknamed "the scooter with a pipe" because of it's Gemini 4-1 exhaust (that actually made it sound like a real bike!).

    Anywho, recently during my usual interweb perusing, came across what I hope to be the perfect time machine to transport me back to my glory days, if only briefly. She's a mostly complete, 1-titled owner 1981 Seca 550 w/factory fairing in white/red scheme. So while not quite 100% "the" bike my buddy had back in the day, it's close enough, mostly unmolested, and should be fairly painless to get back on the road and save another survivor from the scrap heap or the hands of some backyard butcher that watched too many episodes of "watch me hack up a perfectly good motorcycle and pretend I'm Jesse James or Roland Sands". Once my collection of parts arrives, I'll post some pics and info in the regular forum sections.
     
  2. lsc86

    lsc86 New Member

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    Joined the VFRW forum way back in 2010, mostly to track the classifieds and see if an interesting Interceptor or other vintage bike came up. As much as I've been tempted on various examples over the years, even though I have the skill, tools, training, and experience, I just don't have the dedication for full on restorations (project ADD hits me fast) and I tend to prefer less involved rehabs and send them down the road to a new owner. Thoroughly appreciate the levels of efforts many of you display, but no way in HELL I'd ever spend 'x' hours polishing or cleaning a brake caliper or turn signal cover or whatever!

    I'm terrible with photos in general and even worse documenting my progress on projects. It lives in my mind and that's usually good enough I guess. So I'll post a couple here and there, but sorry to disappoint, this surely won't be a detailed step by step rehab. I knew the bike was a non-running project prior to showing up to see it, and even though I've been through many a rodeo before, I was a bit over-confident by the overall external condition and didn't thoroughly check it over like I normally would. It was close enough to "the" bike and the price was reasonable enough that I figured the risk/reward was well worth it in this case. Cash exchanged, bike on trailer, off we went.

    Now that I'm a few weeks into the project, not saying I have complete buyers remorse, but it's now more than I had bargained for from the beginning, but close enough to the end that there's now no going back. Live and learning never ends.
     
  3. Hellapet

    Hellapet New Member

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    A belated welcome and can't wait to see the bike. Emphasis on SEE. Where are the pics???
     
  4. stewartj239

    stewartj239 Member

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    I think that 99%+ of the time, these "projects", no matter how big or how small, always end up being more work than we bargained for, but the satisfaction comes from the finished product. I too would love to see some pics.
     
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  5. Laker

    Laker New Member

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    Yes we can't wait for pics. In the meantime here is mine from 1985 with my cat Leddy and my '81 RD350LC, which I still have to bring me back to the glorious '80's. The Seca was replaced by a Spectacular new 1986 VF500 which was light years ahead, but I really liked that Seca. It was simple and fun and way better then the Stupid Yamaha Vision I had prior.
    Good luck with your '81 Seca!


    IMG_3096.jpeg
     
  6. Captain 80s

    Captain 80s Member

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    Awww.... Kitty Cat!!
     
  7. Captain 80s

    Captain 80s Member

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    Those were good bikes. Long lasting, easy to work on, reacted favorably to mods, good looking.

    Fucking Visions...
     
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  8. sixdog

    sixdog New Member

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    Very NICE!!!!!!
     
  9. lsc86

    lsc86 New Member

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    @Laker - nice Seca, that was the exact bike my buddy had!

    So here's a couple pics.
     

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  10. lsc86

    lsc86 New Member

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    The story was the bike hadn't been registered and on the road since 1991. Plates on the bike are dated 1991 and the title was still in the original owners name from 1981. He signed it when it was sold, no date, but assuming it was in the late 1990s based on the bike itself. Supposedly the guy I bought it from, his brother had acquired it from the original owner at some point "a while ago" and spent a few bucks at a dealer getting it running and road worthy-ish.

    After it was running, he never plated it and it sat in his garage for "a while" and sold it to his brother. Brother never did anything with it, was going to maybe do a cafe mod with it but never got around to it. Tired of it being in the corner of the garage and that's when I bought it from him. So technically I guess I'm the 4th "owner" but the title and registration only in 1 person's name.
     
  11. lsc86

    lsc86 New Member

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    When I showed up, I knew it wasn't running but was mostly complete and original. Given a quick once over, it seemed mostly all there, was told gas tank had been re-painted (which it obviously had, no stripes left, but decent pearl white paint job), stock mufflers rotted out, but fairing and side panels intact, so cash given and I hauled it home.

    Once a more thorough review was conducted, gas tank was missing gas cap and petcock assembly. Starter button missing, and someone had done a hack job replacing original buss fuse block with a universal blade type fuse block. Small oil leak out of the tach drive cable, common issue on these engines. Spark plugs looked brand new, air filter newish, and it actually had a lithium battery in it.

    First thought was, gas tank is completely dry and with it not being hooked up to carbs, maybe the carbs had actually been drained properly !?!?! Charged up battery overnight, hooked up my aux fuel tank, gave it the huffing gas, and I'll be damned if it didn't pop right off and basically idle! Could I be ~that~ lucky for once???? Nope. Of course not. Wouldn't take any throttle and started to not want to idle that well. Oh well, carbs gotta get pulled.

    Totally forgot how much I loath factory airboxes, especially on 4 cyls. After countless sportbikes owned and worked on, all with the airbox immediately being ditched for K&N filters, the "joy" of pulling these off quickly came back reminding me why I hate this chore! Anywho, once the rack was out, clearly could see that someone had indeed been in here before, multiple times too. First thing noticed was the 3 of 4 slides wouldn't even budge, no wonder it wouldn't take throttle....internally far from bad, but still some deposits in the bottoms of the bowls and the pilots completely plugged up. Floats looked good, needle/seat assemblies good enough for the crowd I hang with, mains cleaned up after a brief soak in the sauce. Ordered up new pilots, gave the body and passages a good once over and air treatment, new fuel line, and with some help from the heat gun on the boots and a little dab will do ya, reassembly didn't quite require calling heaven and earth down to stuff the rack back in.

    Back on the aux tank and a quick squirt of the huffing gas and bob's your uncle, she popped right off, instant idle, and no issues revvin up on the center stand. Booyah! Maybe this will indeed be an easy rehab.

    Shoulda known better....
     
  12. lsc86

    lsc86 New Member

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    While awaiting my gas tank parts and trying to figure out what to do about an exhaust (I've tried like heck for many many years, never ever come across another Gemini 4-1 pipe for a Seca and had little success recently for an inexpensive 4-1 option on this particular Seca), I had a good friend come over and tidy up the fuse block for me. He's an EE and circuit board genius by trade and can quickly and very neatly solder the tiniest connections far better than I can dream of. Half box of wobble pops later, mission accomplished there. A guy just has to accept his limitations sometimes.

    After some interweb research, and since the stock headers and collector box were in good shape, I settled on some fleabay universal Dunstal type reverse cone mufflers. Once those arrived, went to getting them fitted up. RH side, after some initial doubts about clearance on the swingarm, got the can to sit in a good location, found some coated type mounting hardware in my various bins and a suitable metal spacer left over from some other snow machine or atv or bike project (that almost looks factry-ish) as well. Cut down and smoothed up the included bracket, off to the other side.

    LH side, same process and pretty sure I won't even have to cut down the bracket, as the extra length will serve as a perfect stop for the center stand. I love it when a plan comes together..... nope says the project gremlins, not so fast..... as I'm tightening up the muffler clamp on the collector box, unlike the RH side, I can zip it full closed by hand (hmmm extra soft ching chow metal here) and it is not even clamping down on the muffler- which just falls right off. Perfect. Pull the clamp off, definitely mis-manufactured ears and also too large ID even fulled closed up. So now I've got 1 muffler on, bracket modified. Other muffler is fine, just needs a proper clamp. I don't want to return this stuff, it should be more than adequate for this rehab and I think looks period correct. So now I'm waiting on "mike" from Fong Wong MFG Inc. to get me a replacement clamp (shouldn't be shocked, but it's day 6 on that process and as of yet, no confirmation of shipment of replacement clamp).

    Gas tank parts arrived, guy might as well get that wrapped up and take the old girl on a shake down run at least. Oh those pesky gremlins resurface quickly don't they....saga recap TBC
     
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  13. lsc86

    lsc86 New Member

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    As previously mentioned, the gas tank had been repainted, but looked great, so never really paid it much attention. As I'm about to install the new gas cap assembly (it screws to the tank and is a flip-up style), I happen to notice that what I thought was white overspray in the neck area, was actually the dreaded streaks of Kreem liner. Noooooo!

    Grab the pen light and stick it down the filler hole, sure enough she'd been kreem'd worse than a 1970's nickle porn video at a truck stop and it was not even close to sticking to the bottom of the tank. Stick a dowel rod down there, it cracks and flakes very easily. Perfect. Pull the sending unit for the fuel gauge, nice big glob of goo on the float and the float arm has plenty of kreemsicle all over it. M-Fer. Why oh why. Not only kreem, but a less than hack attempt at it as well. And from what I can tell/see, the tank didn't need it. Tank is solid, no pin holes, no extreme rust evidence, nothing. As hard as it is for all us Honda guys to believe, but original 1981 Seca 550 tanks are even more rare than a 1986 VF500 tank these days. What now. The easy rehab, on a bike that is only at best a sentimental journey, just may have gotten real expensive.

    I've had plenty of good luck in the past reviving bike gas tanks with Redcote as well as simply getting them good and cleaned and just running inline filters to trap any minor particles. But that's always been starting with a base factory tank and no kreemed mess.

    Bit of google-fu and as expected, no miracle answers. Stop by my painters shop, who's a long time motorcycle guy too, he just laughs and says "good luck. I'm happy to repaint it if you ever get is cleaned". Gee thanks. Talk with a few other long time bike resto guys local I know, same story pretty much, SOL with bad kreem. Best consensus is acetone to try and melt what is in essence liquid PVC dried.

    Off to the hardware store and pick up a gallon of acetone, which BTW in SE Wisconsin retails for almost $30- damn been a while since I bought acetone I guess, fab up some gasket material to cover the huge sending unit hole and the petcock hole. Say goodbye to a decent paint job and dump in about 1/2 gal (which for my international friends is like 43,453.67 millee litrees I think???) toss in some random screws for good measure, and start the aicky braky shaky on it. After some sitting time and enough shaking around that I can no longer pick up the tank, dump out the contents into a drain pan, and to my surprise a major milkshake full of chunks of gawd knows what comes out. Hmm, maybe this can be saved. Blow it out with some compressed air and give it a look see and while it's done some serious cleaning, she's a long long way from usable. Ugh.
     
  14. lsc86

    lsc86 New Member

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    Completed the flush of the tank with the acetone on hand, flushed with water and then mineral spirits, she wasn't nearly as bad as it was to begin with. Interesting side note, the very first batch of milkshake mess I had dumped into a drain pan the day before had evaporated the remains of acetone and reformed into a semi-solid disk of kreemsicle goo. Solid enough I was able to simply lift it out of the bottom of the drain pan! Evidently sticks to itself quite well, just not much else (pics included below). Now what to do, I'm couple days worth of effort into this, it's better but far from usable, and I'm really not wanting to spend more $$$$ on acetone attempts at this point.

    Called up a local radiator shop that several people I know recommended as a possible solution to finish the clean out. Talking to the guy there, first thing he asked was "had it ever been coated". Sadly, yes. Nothing they can do and won't touch it. However, one place might be able to help, check out Restoration Specialists http://www.metal-cleaning-rsi.com(which happens to be only about 30 minutes from my house) and hope for the best. Give these guys a call, first question "has it ever been internally coated?". Sadly yes. No guarantees, but bring the tank by for an analysis.

    So off to the shop one morning and see what they have to say. After a quick look over, owner states that in his experience, this tank "has a solid chance to get cleaned" with their process. But, whether it works or not, they get paid either way. Not much choice at this point, seems like maybe 75/25 odds in my favor at least, so it'll either perfect or maybe good enough that whatever is left is so stuck that it won't wash out with gasoline use anyway, inline filter to trap anything that might slip past and it's the best you can expect on a 40 year old bike. Owner figured couple weeks to get to it, so the wait continues.
     

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  15. lsc86

    lsc86 New Member

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    Put a short video on the MyPipe channel. This was the actual first start after many many many years of sitting, simply charged up the power cell, hooked up the petrol IV, and a quick shot of the huffing gas, and she lit right off.

    (apologies to NorCal and the others with uber neat garages. We downsized our house few years ago and I went from a 4 car garage with 10ft. ceilings plus a nearly 1-car storage shed down the what, at best, is a 2 Miata car garage and even after a deep purge, it all still doesn't fit! Drives me nuts on the daily)

     
  16. lsc86

    lsc86 New Member

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    To quote the great Tom Jones "For as long as I can remember. It's been struggle and worry every day. It's been a long time coming, such a long time coming"....

    And boy has it ever, but the rescue revival of the Seca 550 has indeed crossed the finish line! For a while, I wasn't sure either of us had it in us to see it through to the end, but the sun shines on a dogs behind somedays & that day has finally arrived. First a bit of recap, can't sprint past first base and expect the full monty on the first date laddie!

    Without a doubt, the gas tank did indeed end up being the real adventure inside this journey down Mr. Toads Wild Ride. First off, I can't say enough good things about the folks at Restoration Specialists and the job they did cleaning the Kreem mess out of the tank. Based on what minimal success I had with the acetone attempt and getting his initial semi-optimistic thoughts about success in their dunk tanks, combined with my natural lack of any positive luck (insert any anecdote under the sun for bad luck here please), and I was about as confident as George Costanza asking out a Kardashian that things would work out just swimmingly. To my utter surprise, a few weeks later when I picked the tank up, other than being in bare metal, it looked brand new inside and out! Chalk one up to the pros from Dover for sure. In all seriousness, if you have any project from a bucket of bolts to a complete 1970 Dodge Charger (yes they were lowering one in the day I picked up the gas tank) that needs stripping & cleaning, and you're anywhere near Milwaukee, I wouldn't hesitate to use these guys again. Outstanding service and outcome.

    Have I mentioned my aura of bad luck yet that follows me around like the cloud over Pig-Pen? With freshly stripped gas tank in hand, off to the painter I use only to find out that he'd been shut down due to some issues with the city and wouldn't likely be doing any paint work any time soon. Perfect. Hmm, call one other guy I was recommended to, nope, he retired 2 years ago. Briefly contemplated doing it myself, but quickly realized that it was still snowing out (gotta love upper midwest "spring"), my garage isn't heated, my garage isn't ventilated enough, and simply my garage isn't suited to do paint work. Now I've done a couple less than professional paint projects in the past, you know, the typical college 20 footer turn & burn cars that you spray in the parking lot of your campus dive apartment complex hoping the mosquitoes don't stick too deep and the neighbors are too drunk to call the cops about the overspray floating like radioactive mist above Chernobyl. 30 odd years down the road, I occasionally do strive to learn from the past. Plus, I'd already invested a decent amount to get the tank cleaned up, why risk a crappy DIY paint job on an otherwise great survivor like this one was? Sometimes you actually have to do the right thing the right way.

    What now then. After reaching out to as many of my hot rod and biker contacts as I could, a local referral came up that does good paint work at very fair prices. Is that a glimmer of hope coming my way? Sure enough, the rare and odd stroke of luck shines down and the tank shall soon be whole again. If only things work so smoothly for me....couple weeks after he has the tank, I get a call from him "sorry for the delay, but having issues getting the paint. Local supply houses have a shortage and I'm low on the priority list because of the lower volume of work I do". Understand, thanks for the update. Now by nature, I'm not a conspiracy type, but over the past 18 months, I sure as hell am on that side these days- what isn't "hard to get" these days? Sorry for the side rant, but geez, the entire world can't be out of stock of everything....

    Nothing to do now but wait. April turns to May, May turns to June, and this is the point where I start to contemplate project options. My project A.D.D. is in full swing for sure, the longer this continues, the more likely I'll let it go as-is. Get tired of looking at it so sadly in the garage like a fluffy puppy that's just been shaved down and now resembles a weiner dog. I throw a cover over it to hide its shame. Every time I bump into it, the more I want to see it gone. Fortunately, there's just enough of that good angel on the other shoulder, quietly reminding me of how well she purrs on the aux fuel tank....just a little more time is all it needs.

    Tick Tock Tick Tock. Pink Floyd "Time" plays on endless repeat. Finally the day arrives, the call comes, the wait has ended and the tank is finished. Wholeness at long last. The next day I scoot over and pick it up. Came out really decent for sure. 3-step pearl white with hand painted stripes, all clear coated and shiny. Matches very well to side covers, front fairing is a bit yellowed out when set next to each other, but for being 40 years old, this old girl sparkles! Sure am glad I listened to the good angel, the payoff makes the pain bearable at least.

    In the interests of time, for the 2 of you that managed to read this far, there were a couple more hurdles to clear in the plumbing of the wang chung petcock- because, well let's be honest, it's my project. Got those all sorted and she's a runner as well as a looker. I'll post a link to her running on my 'tube channel and drop some still photos here soon too. Thanks for listening and watching this far, hope the rest of the revival fans appreciate the trip down memory lane too.

     
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