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Thread: amgarrety's 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C

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    Super Moderator amgarrety's Avatar
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    amgarrety's 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C

    I had a day off work today, so I did what any car guy might do on their day off... I bought a motorcycle. I was in need of a moderate project, and this one was just right.

    It is a 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C. Never thought I'd own a Honda. It's only 430 lbs (fueled) and 50 hp, but that power-to-weight ratio gets me from 0-60 in 5.3 seconds. Top speed is somewhere near 100, but I will not be testing that for myself.





    These things go from $1500-$2500 (for a 1985) in good driving condition. I got mine for $400 because it runs fine, but has an overheating issue. I'm 99% sure only one head gasket went bad, but I'm in the process of dropping the engine to replace both head gaskets, valve cover gaskets, and to replace the water pump, which will pretty much completely eliminate any issue that would cause overheating.



    Other than that, the chassis has 35,000 mi on it as of when I bought it, and the engine was completely rebuilt on the top end, only being driven for about 1000 miles before the overheating began. I have full service documents for it, so I am fairly confident that it was well taken care of. It is just my job to get it back on the road. It's been sitting for 3 years, waiting to be completed. Hoping to have it running (and keeping its cool) by the second week in June.

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    Super Moderator amgarrety's Avatar
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    Re: amgarrety's 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C

    Pulled the engine out last night so I could get to the rear head gasket and check the water pump (which was my biggest worry). The water pump looks like it is still in great shape, and both gaskets are still nice and elastic, so that is a massive weight off my shoulders. That means as soon as I replace the rear head gasket and replace both valve cover gaskets, it is going back together!




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    "Proby" Felipe's Avatar
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    Re: amgarrety's 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C

    What are your plants for this... That bike would make a awesome cafe racer

    http://motohype.com/?p=478

    Pros:
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    Cons:
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    Super Moderator amgarrety's Avatar
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    Re: amgarrety's 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C

    To have a cafe would be my dream. Right now my goal is to get it running without overheating. I'm mostly interested in saving gas right now. Once I start modifications (and I will try to hold off for as long as possible), a better looking seat is first on the list, followed shortly by flat handlebars, depending on how far I'll need to drive it at a time. If I'll be driving long distances, the stock bars will definitely be more comfortable, but less bad ass.

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    "Proby" Felipe's Avatar
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    Re: amgarrety's 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C

    Just getting ahead of my self, i like cafe racers that all lol

    Now you have the motor out, just go down the ware n tare list.
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    Super Moderator amgarrety's Avatar
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    Re: amgarrety's 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C

    I'm being careful. The motor was rebuilt only 1000 miles ago, and the front head gasket is brand new. I'm not going to mess with the front cylinder at all now. I pulled the rear apart to change the head gasket, and decided to get a new base gasket too. Turns out those are no longer made. Luckily I found one, and as soon as it is installed, I'm putting it all back together and not messing with it. I don't know what is and isn't made anymore, and I don't want to be stuck with it not running because I can't get a part. Also, most of it is near brand new anyway.

    But if the front cylinder is anything like the rear, I have nothing to worry about. The cylinder is perfectly smooth and the piston rings are in excellent shape.

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    "Proby" Felipe's Avatar
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    Re: amgarrety's 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C

    If was rebuilt not that long ago... Why would it overheat... I mean it should have new gaskets n stuff right?
    Pros:
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    Cons:
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    Super Moderator amgarrety's Avatar
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    Re: amgarrety's 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C

    It looks like the guy who rebuilt it might have used gasket sealer on the head gaskets, and it might have clogged the water passages.

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    Super Moderator amgarrety's Avatar
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    Re: amgarrety's 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C

    Upon closer inspection, it was limescale buildup. It looks like the guy I bought it from used tap water to mix with his coolant and calcium built up.

    This is the water passage around the rear cylinder:


    The rear cylinder was the cylinder without any problems. The front was the one that overheated, so I expect the buildup to be worse in that one. The previous owner only changed the front head gasket, so I doubt he cleaned any of it out. I did clean the rear out though. I'll put it all back together, then run Muriatic acid through the coolant system for awhile to clean out what buildup I can. Then I'll flush it a few times and do a 50/50 mix with distilled water.

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    "Proby" Felipe's Avatar
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    Re: amgarrety's 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C

    Looks like he only used tap water with no coolant lol
    Pros:
    99 legacy, wagon, 30th aniversary

    Cons:
    color and auto trans.

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    "Proby" Felipe's Avatar
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    Re: amgarrety's 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C

    That reminds me... I need to dip my shower head in CLR lol
    Pros:
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    Cons:
    color and auto trans.

  12. #12
    Super Moderator amgarrety's Avatar
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    Re: amgarrety's 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C

    Haha you're welcome for the reminder

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    Re: amgarrety's 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C

    Dont forget to clean out the gas tank
    Pros:
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    Cons:
    color and auto trans.

  14. #14
    Super Moderator amgarrety's Avatar
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    Re: amgarrety's 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C

    I was going to put some seafoam in there when I get it all back together.

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    t3h ub3r m3mber dodik's Avatar
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    Re: amgarrety's 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C

    welcome to the bike world, stick to your plan fix it to ridable condition first then if you still want to modify it only then go for it. Another bit of advise before putting engine back in pressure wash it, its much easier to do with it out of the frame. same thing on polishing cases easier now than later. oh and that 100mph will be tested once it runs, there is a giant urge to see where it will scare the shit out of you once you get accustomed to it.
    98 GT -- Intro to Subaru. Cooked HG, dead suspension, and lots of ricer mods.
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    13 E350 S212 -- No more Subaru!! Why does that make me happy?

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    Re: amgarrety's 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C

    On days you feel on not working on the engine... You can clean n maybe repaint frame now that engine is out too
    Pros:
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    Cons:
    color and auto trans.

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    Super Moderator amgarrety's Avatar
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    Re: amgarrety's 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C

    I've cleaned up what I can. It doesn't look too bad.

    So an update. I got the gaskets, and installed them fine. I re-assembled the cylinder and head, put the camshafts in, and timed it all correctly. As I tightened the last camshaft sprocket bolt though (the very last bolt between be and a completed engine), this happened:



    And that's not good. Especially because just like every other part on this bike, it is discontinued. Luckily I found one though, so it should be here Monday or Tuesday. Granted I can keep myself from breaking anything else, the bike should be back together the same day.

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    t3h ub3r m3mber dodik's Avatar
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    Re: amgarrety's 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C

    one thing i noticed bikes are so much more gingerly built, a lot of places bolts only need to be hand tight anything tighter than that results in broken parts or stripped holes.
    98 GT -- Intro to Subaru. Cooked HG, dead suspension, and lots of ricer mods.
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    13 E350 S212 -- No more Subaru!! Why does that make me happy?

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    Super Moderator amgarrety's Avatar
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    Re: amgarrety's 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C

    Yeah that's something I'm learning. I was surprised by how little torque it took to crack. Only about 20 ft lbs.

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    Re: amgarrety's 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C

    I did that once in my raptor and the cam is only supposed to be about 7 ft/lbs. 20 seems like a little much.

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    Super Moderator amgarrety's Avatar
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    Re: amgarrety's 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C

    Well, my manual says 14-18 lbs, and I didn't have a torque wrench socket small enough to fit that bolt, so I estimated it by hand. I say 20 ft lbs because 18 was the upper limit and I obviously exceeded that haha

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    Re: amgarrety's 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C

    You sir are stronger than you think lol
    Pros:
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    Cons:
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    Re: amgarrety's 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C

    on bolts like that i like to use thread locker this way even though not too tight they would still not loosen up
    98 GT -- Intro to Subaru. Cooked HG, dead suspension, and lots of ricer mods.
    02 Outback H6 -- No more HG issues, but ate two 4eats.
    09 Subaru Tribeca -- slow and ....um fat, definitely fat.
    13 E350 S212 -- No more Subaru!! Why does that make me happy?

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    Super Moderator amgarrety's Avatar
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    Re: amgarrety's 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C

    That's what the service manual suggests. I won't do it this time but I will do it in the future. I need to change the front cylinder head soon. I cracked it by using the wrong sized screw (it was too long). It's not a big crack. I fixed it with JB weld for now because its not under pressure and it won't heat up very much (not to the 500° limit anyway), so that will hold until I have the cash for a new cylinder head.

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    "Proby" Felipe's Avatar
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    Re: amgarrety's 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C

    Quote Originally Posted by dodik
    on bolts like that i like to use thread locker this way even though not too tight they would still not loosen up
    Agreed....
    Pros:
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    Cons:
    color and auto trans.

  26. #26
    Super Moderator amgarrety's Avatar
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    Re: amgarrety's 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C

    Spent all day putting it back together, and for the amount of time that I spent working on it today, I surprisingly only had one minor issue (and it wasn't even my fault!).





    Today was spent replacing the camshaft, retiming the front cylinder, reassembling the engine, putting it back in the frame, hooking up the drive line, reattaching the cooling, intake, and exhaust systems, reattaching the wiring, and getting all of the cosmetic stuff back in place. I've done everything to this bike thus far without any help. Even dropping the engine and putting back in was completely by myself, and yeah, it was a bitch, but I've got a good amount of satisfaction knowing I did it all myself.

    The only issue today was I discovered one of the plastic threaded pieces that connects my choke cable to my carb was broken. I plastic welded that back together so that shouldn't be an issue anymore come tomorrow.

    I haven't started it yet. I'm letting vinegar soak in my radiator for about a week to clear up most of the calcium buildup inside the radiator. Next weekend, I'll run water through it and install it. The rest of the bike is ready to go, so as soon as I reattach the radiator, I'll fill it with coolant and oil, put a new battery in there, and start it up.

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    "Proby" Felipe's Avatar
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    Re: amgarrety's 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C

    Wow that was fast...

    Nice scooter in the back
    Pros:
    99 legacy, wagon, 30th aniversary

    Cons:
    color and auto trans.

  28. #28
    Super Moderator amgarrety's Avatar
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    Re: amgarrety's 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C

    Yeah, I don't get very much time off work, so when I have a full day off like I did yesterday, it's a marathon, trying to get it all done while I have the chance. That was actually about 9 hours of work yesterday.

    And yeah, that is my dad's. It's a nice scooter, except it is bright yellow. I make fun of him often for it. But really, it gets the job done.

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    "Proby" Felipe's Avatar
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    Re: amgarrety's 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C

    I always wanted a scooter to fix up with jdm goods...

    Give your dad a hand with it for fathers day! lol

    Pros:
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    Cons:
    color and auto trans.

  30. #30
    Super Moderator amgarrety's Avatar
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    Re: amgarrety's 1985 Honda Shadow VT500C

    I haven't updated this in awhile, but progress has been made. Since the last post, I got everything back together and put oil in it. Then I tried to start it, and had some issue. It would try to start, then make a clanking sound, and then cut out. The clanking sound sort of worried me, so I let it sit for a week or two until my one buddy whose bike we just finished building came home. So he was helping me with it yesterday and today, and after fixing some spark plug wiring issues, it runs now with no bad sounds. In fact, it runs beautifully. No overheating, no misfires, and it sounds great when you open it up a bit.

    The only problem we are running into now is the idle air/fuel mixture. We know how to adjust it (like how many turns it needs to be from closed), but one of my choke wires is broken, and it is making the simple task of adjusting that one screw much more difficult. I can't find a new choke cable anywhere though, so I'm not really sure how I can fix it.

    It was almost ridable today though. I let it warm up to operating temperature for about 10 minutes, and then went to take it out for its first ride in years, and just as I got my helmet and walked back to the bike, it cut out. So it's back in the garage for another day. As soon as I can get my hands on that choke cable, I hope to have some better luck.

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