Dealing with obstacles on a bobber project

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N–E–W. For such a small word, it can really get the juices flowing. For instance, just think of that new car smell. Who doesn’t like that? How about that new (to you) motorcycle sitting in the driveway. A new job. A new girlfriend. New work boots.

Of course, it’s only a matter of time until the shine wears off, or until you hit a bump in the road.

My ‘new’ BYOB project is no different. When we first kicked off the project—the bike and the website—it was exciting. Something new and interesting to wrap our heads and hands around. Cool…what could possibly go wrong in the first few weeks? What could possibly take the new shine off a new bobber project?

Parts stranded at the Post Office for days
Parts stranded at the Post Office for days

Well, let’s see. How about uncooperative weather—single-digit cold, snow and ice? Yeah, we’ve had a lot of that the past few weeks. How about unavailability of certain parts? Yeah, we’ve had that too. How about parts that don’t ship on time? Check. How about the Post Office losing track of parts that do get shipped? Uh huh. How about throwing my back out so I can’t bend, lift or twist? Yeah, and we have hit upon the winner of the bunch.

I’m a planner by nature. I like to make a list, go down the list and check things off. Simple.

My plan for last week included cleaning out the rusty inside of the tank, which was going to involve working outdoors with muriatic acid, plus lifting and shaking the full tank for 15 minutes (see previous post). Bad weather and a bad back threw the monkey wrench into that.

Underside of tank with paint removed
Underside of tank with paint removed

My plan also included removing the paint on the tank, which was in progress until I injured my back. A trip to Harbor Freight for a few odds and ends was put on hold when getting in and out of the car literally became a pain. And various small steps leading up to the main event—seeing if the engine turns over—had to be shelved when the parts I ordered didn’t show up. It was that kind of week.

It’s great to have a plan and stick to it. It’s also good to keep in mind that no matter how good the plan, it’s still not good enough because, well, stuff happens. That’s the reason, among other things, that there are so many unfinished project bikes for sale on craigslist.

So, do we trade in our cars when the new car smell disappears? Do we sell off our bike because it won’t start one morning? Do we dump our new girlfriend when we have our first argument?

No, we’re Americans dammit. We sit back, eat a double Whopper with cheese, large French fries and…oh wait. Yes, we apparently do that, but we also forge ahead as best we can and enjoy it.

Although patience isn’t my strong suit, if I can maintain some perspective, these inevitable bumps in the road can have some benefits.

While being ‘out sick,’ for instance, I’ve found paint codes, developed an idea on how to build a heel/toe shifter, and got some solid advice on painting by a biker on YouTube who puts out good videos that are to the point, easy to understand and easy to do (warning: his videos contain what some might consider colorful language). I also came up with my own tank-cleaning process that doesn’t involve the outdoors and 15 minutes of vigorous shaking (see next post), and researched a few other things that will help out later in the project.

Last but not least, my wife suggested doing our taxes instead of freezing my ass off cleaning out the tank (pre back injury). I did, and filing early meant we beat the crowds and got our refund in less than a week. More money for that trip to Harbor Freight. Plus I won’t have to stop and do taxes in a month or two when the weather’s nice and I have BYOB momentum.

The BYOB project is still new, and it’s still exciting. While there may be a short break in the action, things are picking up again. Why, just this morning at 3:40 a.m., I received an email from the USPS letting me know that my package was found and is on its way. Hey, what’s not to like? I paid for 2-Day Priority Mail and it arrives in five days…with no mention of a refund. Who am I kidding? Close enough for government work.

So, I’m forging on. I refuse to run a craigslist ad stating “bobber project for sale because I don’t have the time to finish it.”

Next: Another way to clean out a rusty gas tank

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