The dim light at the end of a long tunnel brightens by the day and whilst I have enjoyed a large whinge over gathering parts for our little Honda, working on this bike is straightforward and surprisingly fun. So where are we? The swing arm was the last part of the frame that required a tidy up and Alan has done a great job getting the brittle wiring into order. Oil changed, we ran up all 124 cubic capacities and she ticks over nicely. The gears operated as they should but I noticed the head stock bearings felt anything but smooth, so it was time to go shopping again. The original ball and race steering set was no longer available, the alternative was a taper roller option. David Silver Spares had those in stock and after I sent a list to Karl in Suffolk, he confirmed that many of the parts going for a ‘king’s ransom’ on a well-known auction site could be sourced via them at reasonable money; £131.28 later a large box arrived and I was more than pleased with the contents, especially the aftermarket indicators and the chrome headstock bolt and fuel cap both original Honda parts. Repro levers, service parts and a chain with front sprocket completed my haul but options on wheel rims and side panels remain scarce.
The list of parts difficult to locate, in good order or even new, has grown to the point that I have decided to try and restore as much of what we have as possible. The last time I looked to get something re chromed (nearly a decade ago) it was costly but justifiable, nowadays it isn’t cost effective for the SL Honda as we have always said we are looking to return this 125 to the road, not the Salon Prive Concours d’Elegance. Alan has access to a very nice blasting machine, so he took the fork shrouds, handlebars, chain guard, rear light bracket and headlight ring away for de-chroming, ascertaining how corroded they are. The mudguards, tank and headlight bowl have already enjoyed ‘Metalik’ filler where needed, then primed. Seventies Honda’s often benefited from the wiring running through the handle bars, nice to look at but a pain to remove and worse to refit; like trying to get a basketball through a letter box. Minus their pitted chrome finish, the parts came back looking pretty good and definitely salvageable if one has the time and more importantly patience. Finding and filling every pin head mark is a challenge, one I failed but I eliminated the vast majority using ‘Finissage-fine stopper’; comes in a tube with no mixing required, this filler goes on smoothly and comes away easily, making it perfect for small imperfections or tiny rust spots. Hours of fettling with various grit papers does give a very good finish so we decided I would paint and save the parts we had; they could always be swopped later should new items appear.
Messy Git, Me?
Evidently I am, plus my project is taking over our abode and the female of the house is fed up with bike parts on every table available. Ok so I moved my other bike into the conservatory so as not to get knocked in the garage plus I like having it indoors; I think it’s a feature. The parts though are widespread now, with some in the raw and other bits in primer whilst the amount of painted items is growing quickly. Most of the silver finished items take three coats of primer then a flat down followed by one more, then four coats of colour and the same of lacquer. Some small items like the headlight ring and rear light mount didn’t look right attached to other silver parts, so they enjoyed several coats of hi-gloss black and everything refitted with new nuts and bolts.
Head Stock and 2 ‘Smokin’ Bearings
Removing the old head stock bearings is fairly straight forward with extra care required tapping out the old cups and installing new, an easy fit and once in place the taper set offers a smooth action. The other benefit against replacing with original steel balls is their tendency to make a bid for freedom during assembly, resulting in sore knees on the garage floor trying to locate the blighters. The freshly polished top yoke sits nicely in place and our new steering stem nut holds everything secure whilst we slid the forks home. This part was tricky, as the freshly painted shrouds with rubber boots top and bottom need to be positioned at the same time but it all stayed in situ and remained scratch free. ‘On a roll’ we tackled the handle bar/wiring and after a few course words, half a can of WD40 and an hour of pulling and pushing the loom arrived at its destination. With handle bars fitted, minus damage, this brought us close to a very successful afternoon’s graft, so the following day when a set of rear shocks arrived my enthusiasm continued, this resulted in fitting the rear mudguard and shiny new indicators. Progress has been superb over the past month but things will no doubt slow now as I finish the paint whilst staying glued to the laptop desperate for the L/H side panel.
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)
‘The rustiest rims in the West’ face Alans blasting machine
Banned from painting indoors I head for the greenhouse to colour the tank
Reconnecting, every cable and wire whilst Alan ‘points towards a better spark’
Grant Ford for classic-motorbikes.net
Thanks to Karl at David Silver Spares even though I didn’t get a discount