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DCC Tech Tip: Building your own Fiberglass Cafe Seat Video w/ Herm

Saturday, January 7, 2012 11:16:38 AM America/New_York

Alright Speed Freaks, time to get your hands dirty and build that Cafe Racer seat you’ve been lusting after. You know the one, it fits the lines of your custom creation better than a mini-dress on Lindsey Lohan!

In the two video parts below watch Herm as he walks you through the process of building a seat from fiberglass with nothing more than fake plant potters foam which can be had at any local Michaels of craft supply shop, fiberglass, resin and spray adhesive which you can pickup at any local autoparts store and some sanding tools that any Home Depot or Lowes will have. Other than that, all you really need is the patience and some rubber gloves! We hope you guys enjoy this one!

Part 1:

Part 2:


DCC Tech-Tip: Installing a Cafe Racer seat (No Welding!)

Thursday, December 1, 2011 12:02:37 PM America/New_York

One of the most common questions we receive via email and the phone is “What is the best way to install my Cafe Racer seat without welding or fabrication?” Well, until now, there really wasn’t a good answer or solution. Like all the other problems you guys present to us, we prevailed on this one too though! We hooked up with our newest Boutique Manufacturer, Legendary Motorcycles who builds some of the best Cafe Racer seats and fuel tanks on the market and put together this How-to for installing a fiberglass, ABS plastic or sheet metal seat pan.

The FAQ is brand agnostic and although every install will be a little different, it gives you the idea of what you need to do to get the job done! It requires no major tools and the kit is available through Dime City care of Legendary. How easy is that? Just [CLICK HERE] to purchase the kit and read the instructions below and you’ll be off chasing the TON in no time, bub!

Figure 1: Test the baseplate in the kit for general fitment. If you need to trim the sides to fit your frame rails better or the curve in the back, now is the time to mark and cut those areas.

Figure 2: Once you’ve trimmed (if needed) your base plate fit your actual Cafe Racer seat on top to ensure everything fits and lines up accordingly. If you need to trim the overhang or make any modifications to the actual seat, do so now.

Figure 3: Keeping them slightly loose so you can move them around, position the clamping blocks on the frame rails. Take note that the large block needs to be on the top side of the frame rails. Position the mounting base plate where it looks and fits best (ignoring the height.)

Figures 4 and 4-2: This is where you will set the actual height and pitch of the seat. Measure the space between the bottom edge of the seat pan and the top of your frame rails. This is the distance you will be cutting out of the clamping blocks in the following steps.

Figure 5: After placing the top clamping block in a vice and using a straight edge to mark a clean line, use a saw of your choice to trim the block. In this case, because the blocks cut so easy, it’s best to use a hand saw. Using a cut-off wheel on a grinder is an option, however it will kick hot plastic back which isn’t fun when it hits you in the arm!

Figures 6 and 7: Position the upper and lower clamping blocks together around your frame rails and measure the distance between the bottom of the rail and lowest portion in the valley of the lower clamping block. Divide this number by 2 and take that amount off of both sides of the peaks on the upper and lower clamping blocks. This will ensure a tight and secure fit.

Figure 8: Now that we’ve trimmed the mounting clamps we’ll need to trim the mounting bolts to eliminate the excess. Place the bolt through a finished and trimmed set of mounting blocks, add the washer and thread the nut on until threads come through the nut. We like to leave 1 thread showing above the head of the nut.

Figure 9 and 9-2: After taking the measurement of excess between to head of the bolt and the top of the top mounting block, mark it with a sharpie (taking it off of the bottom of the bolt) and then cut the excess off. In this case, an angle grinder with a cut-off wheel does work best. Once you’ve cut off the excess, roll the bolt on a belt sander to help clean off the burrs. If a belt sander isn’t available a file or hand sand paper will work as well.

Figure 10 and 10-2: In order to allow you to adjust the upper clamp blocks to fit into the seat you will need to trim them. Place the upper clamp blocks and the mounting base plate on to the frame rails and then mark any excess that needs to be trimmed away.

Figure 11: Trim the upper clamp blocks making sure you don’t cut off any of the surface where the upper and lower blocks meet.

Figure 12: With the blocks now trimmed properly and fitting inside the seat you’ll need to mark and drill the holes in the mounting base plate. Label each block for front and back with left and right designations to keep things lined up.

Figure 13: Using a 3″ piece of masking tape placed sticky side away from the upper clamp blocks adhering one edge to the side of the block, loop the tape over the block with the sticky side out.

Figure 14: Fold the edge under and adhear it to the other side of the block.

Figures 15 and 15-2: Tighten the loop flat against block and then mark the postion of the hole on the sticky side of the tape.

Figures 16 and 16-2: Set the clamping blocks loosely on the frame with the tape facing up.

Figure 17: Position the base plate on top of the tape and press so the tape and the blocks stick to one another then lift it off slowly ensuring the blocks stay in position.

Figure 18: Peel the tape from the blocks while leaving it adhered to the mounting base plate. This will transfer the position of the holes which need to be drilled into the base plate.

Figures 19, 20, 20-2: Drill the newly marked holes and trim the blocks accordingly using a scroll saw if one is available. If one is not, you could use a jig saw, Dremel or grinding wheel flap disk.

Figures 21, 22 and 22-2: Assemble the front and back clamps and the mounting base and tap the bolt heads with a hammer to seat them into the mounting base plate. Make a mental note for when tightening the bolts, be sure not to over tighten then. They are carriage bolts but given the softer nature of the mounting blocks, they could strip out the anchor point created when hammering them into the base plate.

Figures 23, 24 and 24-2: Tighten the mounting bolts and drill pilot holes for the mounting screws to ensure accurate fitment.

Figures 25 and 25-2: In most cases you’re going to want to cut an access hole to get to your battery, wiring or anything else you might have stashed under your seat. Simply mark the area you need to cut for the window drilling four holes, one at each corner and then use a jig saw (take the mounting base back off the bike before cutting) to cut out the window.

Figure 26: Position your seat pan on top of the newly mounted base, drill pilot holes and then screw the pan to the mounting base plate and viola, you’re done! Install your foam and cover if using a snap style or, use industrial strength velcro if you’ve created a secondary pan with a custom cushion and that’s it!

We’d like to thank our good friends over at Legendary Motorcycles for taking to the time to work on this install with us and know that whether you’re using a Legend’s, Roccity, other or custom built seat there isn’t an easier way to install it with the universal seat kit. And the best part, there’s no welding or cutting the bike which is great should you ever want or need to go back to a stock style seat.

Ride Fast. Live Well.

The DCC Crew


Honda CB Gauge Disassembly and Face Replacement

Wednesday, February 2, 2011 10:27:48 AM America/New_York

Note: These steps and directions are purely suggestive. If you feel that there is a better way to disasemble your gauges please do so. We take no responsibility for damaged parts. As an additional note, take your time and be very careful. In most cases these 30+ year old parts are sensitive and brittle.

These instructions are specific to a 1972 CB350 K4 Speedometer, but much of the information will apply to other gauges.

The first step is to remove the metal band that holds the case and backing plates together.

Start with a large hose clamp and a piece of rubber. You can find a similar piece of rubber at any hardware store as a “discharge” hose. Cut it to size and this will protect the metal band on the gauge from the hose clamp.

The hose clamp will preserve the round shape of the band when you are prying the metal lip up. Locate the bottom of the gauge and place the screw part of the clamp on the bottom, as this is the least visible part of the gauge. Tighten down the clamp so it is snug, but not too tight because then the clamp will dent the outside of the metal band. I found that a paint can opener works well for starting to lift up the band on the back side. You will need to file the end of the opener down to a sharper lip so you are able to get the opener under the band. This is the most difficult part about pulling these vintage Honda gauges apart. Be patient and use caution. The 1-piece metal ring seals the gauge together. You will need to take your time as it will take many passes to get the ring started and lifted up.

After your many passes around the metal band you should be able to get a set of small flat pliers on the metal band. I wrap a piece of duct tape around the one end of the pliers to protect the outside of the metal band from any markings. Now you can start bending the band so it’s parallel to the case. Having the metal band fully open will make for easier disassembly and re-assembly.

Next step is to remove the trip meter knob. There is a small screw in the end of the knob. Remove this screw, and the knob can be pulled off. A heat gun may help with the loc-tite that is holding the screw. Be careful not to strip the head.

If you are painting the cases (Satin black) Leave the rubber housing attached to the case. It will be much easier to remove once the entire backing plate and the guts are removed from the case. Removing the knob only (not the rubber housing) will allow you to remove the entire backing plate and guts while the rubber housing stays in place. Once the band if fully open and the trip meter knob is removed, you should almost be able to pull apart the two piece by hand.

If you cannot, go back and open the band up some more. If needed, you can very carefully insert a flat blade screwdriver between the housing and the backing plate. Be careful though because underneath is a rubber seal that you do not want to damage. If you are painting the case, go ahead and remove the rubber housing for the trip meter now. It’s easier to remove once the guts have been removed. These can be brittle, so use caution when removing. A heat gun may help soften the rubber. Now that the case and backing plates are separated, it’s time to remove the needle and the face plate mounting screws. The needle is a pressed fit, but many times it’s a very tight fit. I used a pair of small, curved, needle nose pliers.

DO NOT LEVER THE NEEDLE OFF. THIS WILL BEND THE THIN FACE PLATE AS WELL AS BEND THE NEEDLE BEHIND. Make sure you are prying up behind the round chrome center as the actual needle is thin metal and could bend. A head gun will help loosen any glue used to secure the needle. Use caution as there is a possibility of melting the plastic numbers behind and melting other components. Pull directly upward to remove the needle. Again, do not pry or lever the needle off. Now remove the two face plate mounting screws.

Now the plate can be removed.

Now it’s time to strip and prep the face plate. Make sure the face is very clean. It is a good idea to sand the face with a 600-800 grit paper then wash clean. Wipe the surface and your fingers with denatured alcohol before handling and applying the new face laminate. Now it’s time to adhere the new face onto the clean plate.

It is easier to place the new face onto the plate by completely removing the protective paper on the face. Use caution when removing the protective paper. Hold the new face down with your finger and carefully roll the protective paper off the face. If not done carefully and slowly you could stretch or tear the new face. Leave the new face on the protective paper on the back until you are ready to place it onto the plate. Use some fresh clean water and lightly mist the plate with the water. Do not drench it in water. This will allow some movement for final placement of the new face. Carefully align the screw and needle cut-outs with the plate. Using your clean finger, start in the middle and LIGHTLY start to apply the new face to the plate. Start in the middle and work your way to the outer edge. This will remove any air pockets as well as push the water out.

Once it’s in place, where you want it, take a lint free, smooth cloth (to avoid scratching the new face) and firmly apply the new face to the plate. Be sure to get the edges of the odometer and trip meter holes firmly placed down, as there is a slight dip in the plate from the metal punching process. Allow the new face and plate to dry at room temperature for at least 24 hours. Do not leave it out in a cold garage, because the adhesive will not cure properly. DO NOT take a heat gun or blow dryer to it to hurry up the process. After the new face and plate have been cured for 24 hours, use a razor to trim the trip and odometer cut-outs, and any edge overhang that may occur. You can now re-install the face plate to the guts and backing plate, two mounting screws, and needle.

We suggest touching up the needle tip with a dab of model paint that matches the red-line. The needle is a simple press-on fit however; make sure the mounting needle is at its resting spot at 0 mph. If you removed the rubber housing for the trip meter and painted the cases, now is the time to re-install the housing, before the guts go back inside the case. Insert the whole backing plate back into the case. Check your work before crimping down the metal band. Make sure the glass is clean, and there is no other debris inside, etc. Make sure the trip knob turns correctly. With all that checked, now it’s time to crimp down the metal band.

This also needs to be done with caution especially if you painted the outer case. Using the same flat pliers with duct tape wrapped around one end, carefully ROLL the upper edge of the metal band towards the center. DO NOT SIMPLY SQUEEZE THE PLIERS TOGETHER. THE BAND NEEDS TO ROLL ONTO THE BACKING PLATE FOR A TIGHT FIT. Make sure the band is tight up against the case before rolling the upper part. This is also a tedious task and needs some patience. Once the band is rolled over, you can actually start to crimp the band down as tight as possible.

Be careful not to mar up the outer edges or the front side of the band or the case. The band will not be seen on the back side, but do your best to get it as flat as possible.


Aluminum Polishing 101…with The Herminator!

Sunday, September 12, 2010 2:35:48 PM America/New_York

Ok, so your engine covers are in desperate need of attention. First you think, paint, but having a full winter to work on the project you commit to polishing them. Now the question is what do you need and how is it done. Here’s a quick way to get those cases to bling!

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First, get yourself an intern! Then get a good bench buffer. The 6” models from places like Home Depot or Lowes are ok, but will take you twice as long to get the result you want. Try to get at least an 8” 3/4HP 8amp unit (1hp is the real deal). Trust us, you’ll thank us later. A bench grinder motor will work fine too. There are a ton of sites on how to set-up your own polishing motor from used dryers, washers, etc. Whatever you use, make sure it is no less than 3400 rpm, anything less isn’t possible for polishing.

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Next get some wheels and buffing compounds. We use a sisal wheel, spiral sewn and a canton flannel wheel along with some emery compound, Tripoli compound, and white rouge. For final finishing I like the Autosol polish as well. All supplies can be ordered from www.eastwood.com. They have a real good supply of buffing and polishing gear. Your local hardware store will have some too. You’ll also need some good wet/dry sandpaper, I like to have all grits on hand, from 220 up to about 1000. And lastly get a can of aircraft stripper and some rubber gloves. This can be found at any automotive parts store.

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For this scenario, we’ll use an engine case that’s in really bad shape. The cover has a deep gauge in it, and as you look closer the finish also has a coat of that old yellowed clearcoat on it, and to top it off, the aluminum is badly oxidized from sitting for the last 30 years.

First thing we need to do is remove the clearcoat with the stripper. Put your gloves on and be careful with this stuff, it will chemically burn your skin instantaneously, trust me, I know! First, scrub the part with some very fine steel wool to break the surface, it allows the stripper to sink in under the clearcoat better. Spray the part thoroughly and let sit, you’ll see the clearcoat start bubbling almost right away. After about 5 minutes just brush it off with the steel wool and wash the part real clean.

Now the sanding begins. If it weren’t for that deep gauge you could go right into the cutting, but we need to try and get rid of it first. Start with some 400 grit. Wet sand until it’s gone. If the rest of the part is ok, you can move to 600, then 800 throughout the entire part. This could take some time and will be messy, so have at least a 6 pack nearby! (Depending on how deep the gauge is you may have to start with lower than 400 grit.)

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Now we’re almost ready for the fun to begin on the buffer.  But before you start here’s a few setup tips;

Wrap a towel around the base of the buffing motor, maybe duck tape it down so it doesn’t get caught up in the wheels. Also put an old blanket on the floor and on the bench, believe us here: The buffer will at some point grab the part and cause it to FLY OUT OF YOUR HAND, it will happen!

Use cotton gloves, the oils from your fingers will drastically alter the compounds effectiveness. I have a few different sets of gloves, one for each wheel. Nothing sucks worse than having to go back and forth to take out emery scratches. ..well parts flying out of your hands sucks pretty bad too.

dime city cycles,cafe racer,aluminum polish,polishing,honda,tech

Use only 1 compound per wheel, NEVER, EVER, mix them. Use a sharpie and label your wheels.

If your part gets too hot, let it cool. A cool part polishes much better and the compound won’t cake up. Alternate your parts while letting each one cool by a fan.

Put compound on the wheel often. How do you know if there’s enough on? When you feel dusty-like bits touch your face and you can’t help but wipe, then it’s enough. Make sure you’re wearing safety glasses of course.

And MOST IMPORTANTLY, aluminum oxide is a direct cause of Alzheimer’s disease so wear a mask or wet bandanna always when sanding it or polishing!

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Ok, now we’re ready, let’s get to work!

First step, use the black or ‘emery’ compound and that new ‘sisal’ wheel. This process will remove any leftover oxidation as well as the small scratches left by the sandpaper. The compound will ‘cut’, but don’t expect it to do a lot real fast. Take your time here and DO NOT push the part against the wheel very hard. Get a feel for it and be careful not to feed any irregular angles into the wheel or it will launch! Keep cutting until you have even color and all scratches are gone. Don’t expect or try for a mirror finish just yet. Also remember to let the part cool down from time to time.

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[Hey Herm, where's that mask?] – [Huh, what mask? Who's Herm?]

Now the Blingn’ begins! Move to the tTripoli compound and a ‘spiral sewn’ wheel. But first, clean your part. The best way is to wipe it with a clean cotton rag and some all-purpose flour. The flour soaks up oil microscopically, and doesn’t scratch the surface. Again do not push hard into the wheel and take your time. Sometimes if the oxidation is not too bad, and if we sanded up to 1500 grit we can start with Tripoli instead of emery. But if there’s oxidation emery is a must.

Tripoli finishes are pretty good for most people including the crew here at DCC. We like it because it gives us the vintage feel and look we like for most of our bikes and it’s real easy to maintain. But if you want a real mirror finish, move onto the white rouge.

This final step is where your part will emerge with some serious professional looking results. This part is called ‘coloring’, as opposed to buffing. You’ll need the white rouge compound and the canton wheel. Again, clean your part with a cotton rag and flour before starting. With rouge, you need very light pressure on the part, and don’t let the part get hot! It’ll change the color of finish and not get you the results you want.

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In some cases you might need to break out the Dremel to get into the tiny areas that can’t be reached with the buffing wheel. Use the same steps with the small buffing wheels on the Dremel which can be had from any local Home Depot or Lowes.

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You’re part should have a mirror finish now! If you’re happy with it, finally use the Autosol, once the part is completely cooled. The Autosol will basically give the part a final cleaning and leaves a protective film to help prevent future tarnish and makes it easy to clean and buff while on the bike every now and again.

dime city cycles,cafe racer,aluminum polish,polishing,honda,tech
dime city cycles,cafe racer,aluminum polish,polishing,honda,tech
dime city cycles,cafe racer,aluminum polish,polishing,honda,tech

- Herm Narciso


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