Hall-e-lu-jah!!!! The Holy Grail of side panels has come into my possession located not by the great Indiana Jones but in fact via E bay, discovered not near Jerusalem or even inside one of the great pyramids but much further afield. Courtesy of Mr Phonhan, my hunt for the mysterious left hand side panel is at an end, dispatched from his small motorcycle shop in Thailand. Hidden in a beer box and secured with string (true) the man from Chiangmai made me a new one in fibreglass and then lavished it in a glossy silver, does it fit?? Absolutely! ‘Sixty-five quid for a bit of plastic’ she who must be obeyed questioned my decision, ‘worth every penny and with just decals remaining the Street Scrambler will ride again’ I insisted.
A Wheely Rusty Conundrum
The options on my corroded wheels were numerous but none perfect; 1st I could purchase a new set from the far side of the planet, these are not cheap with postage costing more that the bike did to buy. Also having acquired poorly chromed wheels for a classic car before it’s only a matter of time before the plating makes a bid for freedom; so it can be a risky business. Option 2 involved new rims sourced locally and rebuilding the wheels with new spokes, this was preferred but after contacting David Silver it was confirmed three standard of rear wheel was available but no fronts. The front rim is just not stocked anymore, at all! I could wait until another batch is produced but that could be months or even years away. So, in the meantime I would try something else, it may not please the purist and I was unsure if it would work at all but with corrosion eating through the old steel rims Alan took them away and blasted until not even the smallest sign of chrome plate remained. Inspected in the cold light of day I concluded that I enjoy the capability of removing every trace of rust, every pit, mark and scratch very bold and very wrong. I planned to fill and flat until the surface was smooth as a Frank Sinatra melody then prime and paint to match the tank and side panels. Having the tyres in place first would be essential as even the best fitter would struggle not to chip my fresh finish. I contacted the boys at Sussex Rolling Road in Worthing, what most of us remember as a real bike shop.
Not one of these huge multi-brand showrooms that seem to operate from purpose built tin sheds on industrial estates nowadays but a small outlet in a row of shops where its first name terms and years of biker knowledge still exist. Where have all those places gone? In the 70s and 80s every town had a couple of these ‘Temples to Two Wheels’ always frequented by youngsters on RD’s and Fizzies and older blokes with long beards usually aboard Moto Guzzi’s. The owners of these ‘havens’ had forgotten more than we would ever know and tried to keep teenage cravings to a minimum, especially if it involved knocking the baffles out of your screamers exhaust pipe. Anyway, with rubber circles mounted it took two days to get a worthy surface (per wheel) and half a day in masking. Clamps held the tyres away from the rims allowing colour right into the wheel well and the results may not stand up to Rolls Royce scrutiny but is well beyond our expectations.
My long suffering pal Alan had also repaired the right hand side panel, this was the original unit that had accumulated several cracks and chunks over the years. He returned looking most pleased with his efforts, proudly showing how secure it would now fit before placing it on the floor whilst he fitted new points and plug into the SL motor. He would step back to admire his labours and put his size 9 boot straight onto the freshly repair panel, so that went back home with him for more hours of love and attention. I ordered a shiny new horn which he wired in and all the ancient connections received a renew and tidy up. Andy from Suffolk had somehow acquired an original front number plate and with fitting holes apparent in my front mudguard I went all out to purchase it via the on line auction; these ceased from being fitted to motor bikes in the eighties mainly because they resembled a samurai sword with any pedestrian contact. It fitted perfectly and after a rubdown and prime I applied a matt black top coat and ordered some letters and numbers from the net. These were painted the same silver as the rest of the bike, applied and then several coats of lacquer completed the 70s look.
Several tubes of autosol consumed, the drum brakes slotted back into my freshly painted wheels, with alloy hubs restored to their former glory. The chain I had purchased was 10 links too long, so another hour I won’t get back was spent removing the excess; I couldn’t find my chain splitter. With cables connected and brakes adjusted I could push the old Honda out for the first time in six months. The end is nigh and with a bit of luck the final result will appear on classic-motorbikes.net in a month’s time; whatever the verdict we are pleased this old girl wasn’t sold off for bits so she can hang around outside the chip shop again as it would have done forty odd years ago.
Returning to Sussex Rolling Road it’s the time we all dread, MOT
In period decals are on the list, fitting those is always a challenge
First ride, will it all work? Unlikely the clutch is seized!
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)