moto culture

Tanks For the Memories

It has been a while since I’ve really had the time to go into the shop to put any meaningful work in on TIM. So yesterday I decided to take the morning off writing, instead of sitting around waiting for the muses I thought I might get a chance to finally clear coat the gas tank.

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This gas tank has been a thorn in my side for almost the entirety of the project. Among the litany of abuses the previous owners inflicted upon TIM, one of the worst has got to have been the gas tank. The knee dents they put in it were atrocious and unequal in size, forcing both them and me to use a massive amount of bondo, just to make it look okay.

However, despite the massive amount of time it took me to finish the body work and get the tank painted, it has generally turned out okay. In the rare chances I’ve had to get to the shop I’ve been able to put on several coats of paint and every thing looked pretty good, or so I thought until I walked in and saw this.

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The gas tank lock flap had started flaking, bad. Even just touching it caused it to flake worse than in the above picture. The only option? Sand it down to bare metal and redo the whole thing.

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Someone, I don’t know who, thought it was a good idea to drill a bunch of holes in the flap, and then fill them back in. Apparently, this mystery person thought speed holes in a piece of metal meant to prevent water or thieves from getting into the gas tank was a good idea. Probably the same person who drilled all the other speed holes.

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With a little help from Dave, the bondo didn’t come out looking like a birthday cake. I managed to get it all sanded and primed, but forgot to take a picture. I’m hoping it will only require one last paint day and then I can final finish it up with a clear and be done with body work for a while.

I forgot to take a picture of the primed flap, but here’s a picture of a sick Yamaha xs650, Dave is building for a customer.

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Stay tuned for the next installment of the ongoing adventures of TIM’s resurrection: They Don’t Make that Anymore.

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Cheaper Than Therapy

Standing at the paint table for what seemed like the umpteenth time (really only the fifth) sanding spot putty and primer from my gas tank I began to wonder, what’s the point. Why am I doing this? Why am I spending over a dozen hours trying to smooth down the lumps, fill the holes, and round the curves? Wouldn’t it be better to spend my hours toiling on a project that pays me money so I can just hire someone else, someone more skilled, someone who could do a better job than I could ever do?

TIM before

TIM before the rebuild.

The resounding answer is no. I wouldn’t be better off letting someone else do it. Why? Because the point isn’t the end result. No matter how misshapen, or terrible the paint turns out, the point is the act of doing.

Tank all stripped with paint idea marked out.

Tank all stripped with paint idea marked out.

Some people build bikes, because they have a passion for it or because they can’t do anything else. Other people build them as a hobby, something fun to pass the time. And a few, mostly naive hipsters fueled by trust funds, foolishly try to build them as a way to fame, fortune, and glory.

Me, I work on my motorcycle as a form of therapy, It gives me something physical and tangible to show for my money and time. Something that works, something that’s not just bought with money, something I’ve built.

 

This is way too much bondo.

This is way too much bondo.

When I first left my big boy job as an associate attorney, the one with the secretary, paralegal, office with a view, healthcare, and decent salary. I thought I was crazy. Many of my friends, who were still struggling to find work, almost two years after being licensed agreed. At the time I was despondent and filled with anxiety, so I began to see a therapist. Once a week for over six months I sat there telling him all my problems, paying him money to listen. Eventually though I realized that instead of repeating my same problems, I needed to do something.

 

A lot less bondo, not quite, but getting there.

A lot less bondo, not quite, but getting there.

I don’t have anything against therapists. I find they can be helpful and I have at times benefited greatly from talking to them. But for me the act of creating is ultimately more therapeutic than sitting around endlessly talking about my thoughts and feelings.

Building a motorcycle is more than just a hobby, it allows me, even if for a brief period of time each week to turn off my over active brain and ignore the problems I see in the world. It doesn’t matter if it’s, the rising trend of religious fundamentalism, Russian separatists in Ukraine shooting down a jetliner, the ups and downs of the stock market, my frustration with a piece of fiction, or just my often depressed and anxiety ridden thoughts, even a bad day working on a bike allows me a respite. It allows me to escape into reality.

Underside painted with Truck bed liner.

Underside painted with Truck bed liner.

When I first got TIM I loved the knee dents and black pearlescent paint job. I wasn’t a fan of the silver stripes. So I took them off. In doing so I removed a not insignificant amount of paint, which led me down an epic rabbit hole. The knee dents were poorly done, and it was only massive amounts of paint, bondo, and spot putty that made the tank look decent. All of which only became apparent after I’d stripped the tank to bare metal.

Mandatory selfie of your Intrepid author covered in dust.

Mandatory selfie of your intrepid author covered in dust.

Lessons I’ve learned From my Work on the Tank:

1. Use less bondo than you think you need.

2. Sanding down takes longer and is more of a pain in the ass than layering up.

3. Mr. Miagi was right, “wax on, wax off.”

4. “Whatever you can see after it’s been primed you will see when it’s painted.” (Words of wisdom from Ernesto)

5. Doing it the wrong way is still worth while, but only if you learn how to do it better the next time.

6. Wear appropriate protective gear.

Tank prepped and mocked up on the frame.

Tank prepped and mocked up on the frame.

If I had to do it all again, I would be able to do it quicker and better. In all so far, I’ve spent close to fourteen hours sanding and prepping my tank. This doesn’t include the time I spent stripping the paint and old bondo, the time spent staring at it in agony trying to figure out what I was going to do with it. It also doesn’t include the time I will spend painting it, sanding it, repainting it, cleaning the insides of rust and then resealing it so it lasts another thirty plus years. I expect when its finished to put in close to fifty hours on a single gas tank.

Why? Why am I doing all this? Because it’s cheaper than therapy, that’s why.

(Side note, look for the soon to come release of the first original fiction piece Odyssey of the Heliotrope, written by yours truly, cover art by Tom Vincent, available for purchase digitally.)