Lessons learnt

It’s been over three months since the motorcycle was fully dismantled, the final assembly is in progress now and we are expecting to wrap up by the 22nd of February. The painting has come out really well. Though we didn’t get the brown I had in mind when we were mixing the paint, the brown we ended up with is just perfect. The golden stripes perfectly complement the brown and make the whole thing more complete. We are facing some hurdles during assembly because of some digressions I made in the plan after completing a major chunk of parts procurement. Some of the D250 body parts I procured – the head light assembly, front mudguard, and handle bar are not fitting perfectly, as a result of which we have to do some rework. The reason behind these issues could be that I purchased salvaged parts that belonged to different Yezdi motorcycles. There is a possibility that there were some minor (but acceptable) variations in the body parts that went into each Yezdi when these were assembled by hand back in the 80s.

The problems I am facing could have totally been avoided if I had a clear picture of how the finished motorcycle should look in my head before we began the dismantling stage. By doing so we could have test-fitted the newly acquired parts, especially body parts (not the mechanical parts). This could have helped plan some tinkering or modifications ahead in time. [On a side note – Brough Superior were assembled twice. The first assembly was to ensure that all components fit well and the second was the final assembly after painting.]

I purchased my body parts after totally dismantling the motorcycle. Now, during the assembly stage, we discovered that the handle bar has an exposed cable slot that the throttle assembly is not able to conceal; and one arm of the front mudguard has its securing point slightly offset that’s not aligning it with the wheel. Some amount of machining will fix the problems but we might have to re-paint the parts.

Considering some of the things that didn’t go well in this restoration project, here is stage-wise plan I think one can follow to make the process as smooth as possible,

  1. Visualise: have a clear idea of how the motorcycle should look in the end. Take some time to think and rethink, consider and reconsider all variations and modifications you can make to the current motorcycle. Once your are 100% sure of what you want, go to your mechanic for the next stage or do it your self if you think you are a qualified mechanic.
  2. Evaluate: the mechanic and you must do multiple test runs, under different road and driving conditions if possible, to determine the current state of the motorcycle and figure out what needs to be done. This is applicable if your motorcycle is in running condition and safe to ride. Also discuss with your mechanic if the ideas you developed in stage 1 and determine if those require any changes. Based on your evaluation and discussions document a list of parts your require.
  3. Procure: start procuring the required parts. If you don’t get what you require from the first store or seller, don’t buy an alternate part that is not in your plan if you are not 100% sure that it’s going to work/fit. Be patient and persistent till you get the right parts.
  4. Test-Fit: This is mostly applicable to body parts you may also test-fit the mechanical parts if required. Determine and document what changes need to be made to the procured parts.
  5. Dismantle: Dismantle the motorcycle completely and make separate inventories of parts that need painting, and nickel coating and buffing.
  6. Paint (1): Send the parts that need painting to the paint shop. The mechanic, you and the painter will need to have a discussion on the paint job. After you’ve finalised the details of the paint job and ensured that the painter understands what your requirements are, give the painter a copy your parts inventory (marked for painting), so that both of you are aware what parts have to be delivered back to you.
  7. Tinker: after the painter removes the existing paint and applies the first coat of primer, you may have to take some of your body parts to the body shop to remove dents on have some modifications done – these modifications may have been determined in stage 2 or 4. Ensure to make a note of the parts you take from the painter to the tinker. Making an inventory of parts when they move from one technician to the other and cross checking when they are delivered will avoid confusion, blame games, and wars when the technicians misplace the parts. (Note: Parts that have gathered excessive rust may have to be scrubbed with emery in the body shop even before the painter starts his work in stage 6.)
  8. Nickel coat and buff: send the parts marked for nickel coating and buffing to the electroplater. Nickel coating and buffing is usually done in the same shop. As in stage 6 and 7, ensure to make an inventory of parts so that you know which technician has which parts.
  9. Paint (2): cross check inventory after receiving parts from the body shop. Painter will now apply putty, second coat of primer and finally the actual paint. You may have to go along with the painter to the paint shop to get the mixing right for the colour you want. It will help if you have a sample part or shade card or name of automobile brand and color (example: BMW X-1, Marrakesh Brown, B09). If you don’t know the name of the colour you want but have a photo of a part/automobile/thing with that colour, you can have the paint shop technician manually mix paints to get the desired colour. A picture with uniform light will be good and will avoid confusion created by color gradients. (Note: Mixing paints to get desired colour, reconsidering your colour/designs can happen in stage 6 or before the final coating in stage 9.)
  10. Assemble: cross check inventory after receiving parts from the paint shop. Take all parts to the mechanic to start the final assembly. The final assembly may not go on smoothly. You may discover that you might have to buy additional parts, replace existing ones that you thought were alright, or modify existing ones for a better fit. The issues that crop up during this stage can be avoided to a great extent by better planning in stage 1 and 2.
  11. Touch up: take the assembled motorcycle to the paint shop one final time to patch up surface damages caused during assembly and give your motorcycle a nice polish. Stickers if required will be applied either in this stage or after the final coat of painting in stage 9. You may have to find a separate sticker designer if your painter is not able to meet your requirements for stickers. Stickering is followed by a coat of automotive clear, which is done at the paint shop.
  12. Test ride and fine tune: test ride on different road and driving conditions and have final adjustments made to carburetor, ignition timing, clutch, brakes, and cables to suit your needs.

Be very sure about what you want in stage 1. It’s okay to have a back up plan but don’t try to mix plan A and plan B (there may be some exceptions). Develop a clear plan in stage 2 on how to execute your stage 1 ideas. Ensure to make an inventory of parts when they are changing hands and do a cross check when they come back to you.

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