After losing a week to COVID-19, I was able to start back on the Bride’s frame.
I tack-welded the shock mount to the frame, along with small a gusset to distribute the stress along the frame backbone.
The frame had been down to bare metal for several weeks, and I was seeing a few spots of surface rust. I needed to get it covered. My father was an old Coast Guard seaman, and he has sworn by Rust-Oleum red oxide primer since his shipboard days. I’d had an unopened quart can on the shelf for a while, so I figured it would be a good alternative to high-build spray primer. I tried applying it with a sponge brush to the Bride’s frame. After carefully putting on a nice, even coat, I left it clamped to my welding table in the driveway for the afternoon to dry in the sun. My father neglected to tell me how long that stuff takes to fully dry! When I came back, not only was it still wet, but I had tons of runs and drips. The good/bad part is that even days later, I could scrape the runs off with my fingernail. When I tried sanding it, I also discovered that the gummy paint clogs emery paper immediately. So, the frame has been set aside to cure for a bit longer before I tackle sanding down the primer.
In the meantime, I’ll work on the other components that need to be painted: the front fender and front wheel. I need to state here that I really dislike spending time on cosmetics. Not only are sanding, masking, and painting finicky, time-consuming jobs, but they serve as a stark reminder that this bike is never going to be more than a 20-footer, at best. However, I can’t help but be inspired to put at least a little extra effort into paint and finishes when I see the efforts of guys like Fast Idle, Wildebeest90210, and YouTubers such as Homebuilt By Jeff.
The front fender — from a Yamaha XJ700 Maxim — is dark blue painted steel, but, it needs to match the white plastic rear fender. Before it can be painted, I am gamely trying to massage its dented nose. I’m not a sheet metal guy, and I don’t have those nice metalworking dollies, so I’m going really slow. Yes, Bondo may be involved. And perhaps a blind eye to imperfections.
The other part that is clearly The Wrong Color is the front wheel. The stained, dingy white finish needs to be sanded down and painted to match the 500 Ninja rear wheel. I purchased a 5-ounce aerosol can of Kawasaki Gentry Gray paint…just over a year ago. (Wow, that long ago already? Hopefully it’ll still be good when I get around to using it!)
I’ve never liked the overwhelmingly slabbly look of the “Inboard Disk” wheel design. It looks like a giant vanilla wafer. To break up the mass, I’ve wanted to paint the brake panel on the left and the hub cover on the right some alternate color. Here’s a look at Honda’s initial Inboard Disk design, as seen on a 1983 MVX250F. I find the silver and black much more visually pleasing than what turned into the VTR250’s all-white motif by the end of that technology’s run in ’88–’89.
The hub cover opposite the brake is plastic, and it had gotten pretty dinged up over the years. Learning my lesson from the frame, I chose to use regular aerosol gray primer. Some half-assed sanding in between coats and I had passible-looking parts.
I decided to use Krylon Fusion in gloss black. Fusion is supposedly resistant to cracking on flexible plastic, but I have no idea whether high-build primer under it negates that. We’ll see.
To add some visual interest, the mesh ventilation screens will be contrasting gold. On the caliper side, the screen is held on by three screws, so I could easily remove it.
On the opposite side, however, the screen is permanently attached to the hub cover. This required me to spray the whole thing gold, then carefully mask off the mesh before painting it black: another unexpected, fiddly, time-consuming task that makes me feel as though I’ll never complete this bike. Here you can see the melted plastic mounting studs and the blue painter’s tape masking from the inside.
Once the first coat had dried, I briefly installed the brake-side mesh to see how it looked. I like it, and I think it will be attractive mounted to a gray wheel. I’m going to hit the black with 600 grit sandpaper and give it another coat. And that’s probably as much patience as I will have for this particular operation.