Once years of corrosion and factory black paint were removed the motor looked great

Honda SL125 Street Scrambler Salvation Part 3

Once years of corrosion and factory black paint were removed the motor looked greatClassic bike spares, a worldwide, multi million pound business where every part one desires is but a mouse click away, unless you want a left hand side panel for a 1972 Honda SL125, or maybe a pair of rims that aren’t totally rotten; it’s a lottery for sure. In the words of some guy called Harry from a film that screened when this ‘street scrambler’ brightened the dealer’s showroom, ‘Do you feel lucky?’ well no, not really.

Keep the Faith

Just when I was starting to despair and beginning to give up ever finding any viable parts for the old SL, the ‘Ebay Gods’ took pity and tempted me with a lovely set of forks; far nicer than I could have dreamt of finding. A breaker named 1836Rocky in Folkestone has 100% feedback for a reason; his parts are as described, in-fact better. The frame is making slow progress but by the time part 3 is online that will be completed, as hopefully will the metalwork. The front mudguard took a little time and a fair scoop of ‘Metalik’ filler, the rear though was bad and I resorted to fibre-glassing two areas then a skim or five chasing that nice finish.

Still trying to locate a left-hand side panel; an original would take the combined talents of Laura Croft and Indiana Jones to bag without paying an ancient king’s ransom. Re-chroming all the parts of the SL just didn’t add up financially, so our alternate plan needed to succeed and we tested our theory on the chain guard. Alan took it away and tested the rust/chrome mix with a gentle blast, enough to remove the plate without damaging the steel. On this part it worked really well, so with a light fill where the rust had left its mark and two coats of primer it’s now looking fairly good.

Forced to call in support from Dremmel our headlight-ring bolt meets its makerNext the large chrome rear light holder which houses a small nest of tin worms; after the wire brush had done its best our part looked even worse. However, this returned looking pretty clean and whilst we will never remove every blemish caused by years of corrosion some classic recycling means we can afford to replace the unsalvageable. The seat cover has a small split in one side and that as always is a job for mum; renowned repairer of classic vehicle seating, this job was a breeze for the ‘veteran of vinyl covers’. The seat base enjoyed a coating of surface rust but nothing severe, whilst the original securing bolts (to frame) had long since perished. An alternate bolt had been riveted to one side so I would follow suit and replace the other by cutting the head from a bolt and tacking the thread to a small plate. Now a spare piece of material has been glued under the tear and the smart looking base has a coat of gloss the seat is finished; about the only thing that is.

We like Shiny Things

Tanks, chain guard and front mudguard all prepped and primedThe SL motor is easy to work with apart from removing the factory black finish that has departed some areas over the decades. The choices were reapply the finish where missing or remove completely and then polish the alloy for the ‘eau natural’ look; I took what I thought was the easy option and stripped. Two days later after much bad language the engine was ready for refitting into the frame, this would be a turning point in the build because until now the old Honda has been movable. The weight of the motor allowed me to balance the bike on the scissor stand and remove the wheels, forks and headlight whilst Alan was able to sort out the electrics. Crusty wiring and green connections, it’s a surprise that the 6 volt battery can power any part of the Honda’s loom, so the decision was taken to replace all the rough connections and clean where good, rewire certain areas and replace the main fuse section, then encase everything securely inside some black conduit; most professional.

Original Honda SL125 AdvertThe air box contains a lovely unmarked filter but the exterior needs some treatment and the small tool storage section was only good for the bin; too rusty for repair, once that was separated from the filter housing the remainder enjoyed a rub down then blown over before refitting. The rear mudguard is in primer and in one solid piece although my filler work could have turned out better. My old habit of ‘putting too much on then taking too much off’ kept me entertained for many hours. The headlight looks worse than it is, but it looks terrible with rusty base and scabby chrome ring, once released from the looms grip that will face the blaster. Finally, I test painted the chain-guard in a silver finish and it proved two things; first, we were right to remove the rusty chrome as it looks rather good and second, the finish shows up any blemishes, so some additional filler work is needed. Prior to any more work I am tied to the laptop trying to source those wheels and that bloody left hand side panel.

Alan’s new ratchet crimper arrives from Laser tools and gets a Honda loom workoutNext time:

Alan gets a large horn and needs to find a home for it on our Honda.

The exhaust goes back on and oil goes in for an engine test

If I can’t find the bits, the project could be ‘doomed’ and that’s not good

Honda SL 125 Specification

  • Engine – Single cylinder 4 stroke 124cc
  • Output – 12hp @ 9700rpm
  • Top Speed – 63mph
  • 2 Valves OHC
  • Gearbox – 5 Speed
  • Front tyre: 2.75-21
  • Rear tyre: 3.25-18
  • Front brakes: Expanding brake
  • Rear brakes: Expanding brake
  • Weight: 108.0 kg (238.1 pounds)
  • Fuel capacity: 7.50 litres (1.98 gallons)