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Blog posts tagged with 'Floyd Finch'

Interview With Floyd Finch, Motorcycle Restoration Hobbyist

Floyd poses with his recently completed 1980 Honda CB650C converted to a scrambler (foreground) and a barn fresh 1970 Honda CL450 factory built scrambler that needs a total restoration.

Floyd poses with his recently completed 1980 Honda CB650C converted to a scrambler (foreground) and a barn fresh 1970 Honda CL450 factory built scrambler that needs a total restoration.

As you know, I'm not a biker. I'm interested to hear about how you got into it, why you do it, what you get out of it?

I started with dirt bikes when I was kid. Some of my friend and relatives had them and I had to have one too. I was quite content to have that at the time, then from about age 15-20, I didn't have one, but then got back into it with street bikes. Got started into repairing them and customizing and restoring them because of bad experiences with shops.

Did the shops have difficulty with the restoration or were they poorly executed jobs?

Well, one put the brake pads in backwards, I noticed it was sort of stopped, but they were making an odd noise like metal on metal, and that's when I decided to take care of things myself. I do restoration and customization part time for the money and I still charge people to do it. I'm in a situation where I don't have to do it, but every time I put out an announcement that I’m not going to do it anymore, I end up with more business! I just finished restoring an '85 Goldwing SEI that took a few months. That was just completed a few months ago.

Any other interesting projects lately?

Most of what I've done recently are pretty well laid out in my blog. If you look at the green motorcycle in the pic, the tank is from 1974 Honda CB750, I custom welded the rear fuel tank mounts, swapped out gauges for older model gauges from a 1976 model. One of the things I also do is custom build bicycles, my wife tells me the way I do things, they look like a factory job, and that might be my single biggest weakness because you can't tell how it originally looked in the beginning. After an accident my wife got me a used Kawasaki Ninja that had been abandoned at a dealership. Someone had taken it to dealership to be repaired, the dealership gave them an estimate, and the owner never came back for it. It went up at auction. It was one I had expressed an interest in.  I like smaller motorcycles and scooters.

What are some of the best road trips you've been on?

I used to pick places, like, 200 miles away, pick out a restaurant that far away and go to it! I went to Daytona Bike Week a long time ago. I would like to do more long distance riding again. Now that I've gotten back into it, I've concentrated mainly on things I've been doing in the garage. I usually have just as much fun working on a motorcycle as I do riding one. Saturday was the first time I've ever towed a motorcycle to an event in my entire life, but it was the first event [Bull City Rumble] I've been to since I had the crash six or seven years ago.

Why did you bring the motorcycle?

I entered it into the show. For me, entering was just for fun. It's like a juried art show; judges go through and pick out the ones they like the best. I once went to a custom bike show in NC and they did popular choice voting, but the vast majority have a judging panel. They are looking for combination of originality and craftsmanship in classic bike category. In a restored motorcycle you're looking for one that looks as close to what it looked like the day it was bought. The weird thing is you can take a fully restored motorcycle that looks just like it did when it left the factory, and if you compare it to one that's never been redone, the judges will pick the original, if it's still in good condition. These guys are judging, it's like people judging a beauty contest. What looks good to them isn't always what looks good to us.

What's the best part of the biker lifestyle?

It's a great community with all kinds of people. There's a point there might be snobbery amongst some but if you want to start a conversation with someone, pick something you like about their bike and ask how did you make that, where did you get it, etc. then you might see that person down the road 10 years later and you recognize them. I do keep in touch with some people I've met, such as a fellow blogger who lives in Wisconsin, I keep in touch with him, I have a friend who lives in Delaware now who I'd ride with to get the 200 mile hamburgers! He's been across the country on several of his Harley Davidsons. He's put 100,000 miles on each of the ones he owns.

You've mentioned you are into European and Japanese bikes. What is it that draws you to these bikes?

I tend to like middle size ranges 500-900ccs. I like lightweight, good handling motorcycles. Larger longer motorcycles are more stable in a straight line, but they don’t turn as well. It comes down to obeying the laws of physics. The laws of physics are one set of laws I don’t know how break! I have in my shop right now an 1800cc Honda that although very comfortable on the highway, actually worries me a bit to ride it on the dirt road I live on because it weighs nearly a thousand pounds.

What bikes do you prefer?

Lots of different old Hondas. Another brand I was looking at is called Moto Guzzi, it's a quirky Italian motorcycle. Really cool, moderately expensive. They cost a little more than Japanese motorcycles, but are not nearly as expensive as Ducati or Aprilla. They have an unusual engine configuration, V-twin like a Harley Davidson. But it is turned sideways in the frame, so instead of being front to back, they turn sideways. They have a shaft drive on them like a car. They have this wonderful long history going back 80 something years. I like oddball things. Around here that would be very oddball. At the time I crashed I had a 79 Triumph from England that I was restoring - I did not finish it and I sold it. Kawasaki Ninjas are a perpetual thing, the ones that I really like in that vein are pretty much the early superbikes when they first started coming out with those in the mid-80s and early 90s. It doesn't really matter what manufacturer. They give you about 90% of the performance you can get from the newest models, the seating is more comfortable, and they are bigger, though not necessarily in engine size. On the newer superbikes the chassis size is so small and the engines powerful. They are fun to ride, but they are uncomfortable. On newer supersport bikes, the handlebars are a lot lower. They're a lot of fun and I like them, but not riding to work 60 miles and back. The older sports bikes were a lot more comfortable because the seat position was not as extreme. Some examples of early superbikes: Honda Interceptor, the original Suzuki GSXR, original Kawasaki Ninjas, and Yamaha FZR. I also had a 1980 cb750F Honda - I bought 3 for $300 took parts from each and made one bike. When I sold it 10 years later, it had 136K miles on it. Only in the last 3-5 years fuel injection has caught on in all forms of motorcycles. Interestingly enough the 1985 Goldwing restoration that I did has computer controlled fuel injection; it also has a built in air compressor, automatic leveling suspension, built intercom system, and a tape deck. It even has heater ducts for winter!

Lastly, you mentioned you were going, so I have to ask: How was Bull City Rumble over Labor Day?

It was neat, there were several hundred bikes. One of the most interesting things was a motorcycle owned by Gary Nelson, he is a designer for Nascar, he was the designer of the NASCAR “Car of Tomorrow” back in 2007. He has a CB750 Honda, and I had seen it at the Charlotte International Motorcycle Show, but of course, it’s one of those fancy things where the show bikes are parked up mirrors and roped off, so can’t you can't get too close to them. Well at this show he had it parked right on the street so you could get close to it. I even got to talk with him about a little bit, too.

We thank Floyd for his time and interesting conversation! You can visit Floyd and read about his restoration and customization projects at

Strategies for Dealing with Stuck, Frozen or Stripped Bolts and Screws
I stumbled on Floyd Finch's blog during a Google search and we struck up a nice conversation. Floyd was interested in writing a guest post for our blog; after reading his blog, I felt he would be a perfect fit. Floyd is an industrial designer & blogger residing in South Carolina. His love of motorcycles (and all other vehicles with wheels and/or engines) started at a young age. He spun wrenches for a living working at a couple of different motorcycle shops along the way, before moving into industry & going back to school. He still enjoys puttering around in his shop restoring & customizing old motorcycles & bicycles, going to shows, & writing about it all in his blog. We’ve all been there, that frustrating little moment when you realize that the blankety-blank screw you are trying to remove just isn’t coming loose without above normal effort on your part. First thing to do is to retrieve the screwdriver or wrench that you just tossed across the room in frustration. Now instead of springing into action stop for a second and plan your next move. Step 1: Insure that you are using the proper tool for the job. For example make sure you don’t need to be using a JIS screwdriver instead of a Phillips, & that whether flat, Phillips, or JIS that you are using the correct size to match the screw that is bugging you. [caption id="attachment_4017" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Phillips, slotted & JIS screwdrivers From left to right: Phillips, slotted & JIS screwdrivers[/caption] For hex head cap screws I always recommend using a good quality 6 point sockets or wrenches whenever possible. Since the vast majority of the nuts and bolts used on nearly everything in creation are six points, it just makes good sense to use the right wrenches. 12 point sockets & wrenches have their place but are much more likely to slip and round off a stubborn fastener than one specifically made for six sided nuts & bolts. [caption id="attachment_4019" align="aligncenter" width="500"]6 & 12 point sockets 6 & 12 point sockets[/caption]

Be careful not to confuse metric & standard Allen keys either, some of them sort of interchange but trust me as soon as you are trying to loosen a stuck socket head screw the difference becomes very apparent.

Step 2: So you have got the correct tools but the bolt or screw still won’t budge or the head has been mangled beyond hope. The next step is to clean and lubricate the screws if possible, using a good quality penetrating oil, and if you are dealing with a bolt or screw that goes all the way through a part spray the oil on both ends of it and clean it if possible with a stiff brush. Soak everything down good & go have a beer or something, for a while then come back to try it, if the head of the fastener is still usable that is. If you have one that is damaged you’ll need to skip ahead a step or two. At this point it is worth mentioning that you should make sure you are not dealing with a reverse threaded bolt before you proceed. I once broke 2 wheel studs on a vintage Chrysler I once owned because I did not realize that the car had left hand threaded wheel studs on one side. It’s not likely to be the case but it is possible especially with reciprocating assemblies. In all honesty. if you are working on a vintage machine, especially a barn find or something you dragged up out of the woods somewhere this should have been your first step before you ever put the first tool to the metal. When I’m dealing with a really crusty pile of junk I spray every bolt & screw I can reach several times a week for at least 2 weeks before I even start on it. At this point it’s worth trying an impact driver on Phillips & slotted screws just to see if they will budge. Or if the head is destroyed try using a center punch and hammer to drive the screw around in the direction needed to remove it. Sometimes it works and sometimes it won’t. [caption id="attachment_4021" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Hand impact driver & accessories Hand impact driver & accessories[/caption] Now if it still won’t move it is time to try a little bit of heat. On aluminum or magnesium parts use an electric heat gun. Oxy-acetylene torches can melt or destroy aluminum & will ignite magnesium, which would have horrible consequences. In fact you should be very careful with the hot air gun if you have any magnesium parts as most alloys will ignite at around 850 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course if you are dealing with steel you can use flame torches but use common sense personal protection and be careful not to do any unwanted damage. Heat up the nut or the part that the bolt is screwed into and then carefully without burning yourself remove the bolt or screw. If your screw or bolt still will not move now is the time to decide whether to try to drill it out or cut it off. If the screw is one holding something in place like an engine side cover or any other part that will leave a portion of the screw shank protruding go ahead and drill, or grind the head off of the bolt or screw and remove the part. A lot of times once you remove the head the rest of the bolt will come out easily because the tension on it has been released. I can give you a particular example of this. On 1960’s through 1980’s Honda motorcycle engines the oil filters were housed in an aluminum casting usually bolted directly to the center of the engine. A lot of owners and service technicians were very paranoid about the possibility of an oil leak directly in front of the rear tire, and greatly over tightened the large center bolt that holds the oil filter & housing into place. These bolts are often galled into place & need to have the heads ground off to remove them. The interesting thing is that the bolt seizure does not occur at the threads inside the engine but where the flange of the bolt rests on the outside of the filter housing. Once you grind the head away the bolt will usually unscrew with just your fingers. Or if you need to grab it tightly with a pair of locking pliers and turn it out. [caption id="attachment_4023" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Honda oil filter bolts Honda oil filter bolts[/caption] For through bolts with a nut on the other end use whatever safe methods you prefer to cut either the nut off or the bolt into two pieces and remove them. One tip I will give you if frequently encounter damaged fasteners is to get yourself a set of quality left handed drill bits. I have been pleasantly surprised a number of times when the broken fastener that I was trying to remove simply backed out of the hole under pressure from the drill. This brings me to the next thing; dealing with bolts that are broke off level with or recessed into a casting or part. If you’re lucky the bolt will be broken in such a way that you can get a center punch to make a good dimple directly in the center of the broken bolt. Then using plenty of cutting oil, drill through the fastener in steps until it is almost completely drilled out. Now is the time you should attempt to remove it using a screw extractor. Screw extractors are a mixed blessing I have a set that I have been using for years but as anyone who has ever had to deal with removing a broken extractor will tell you, removing a broken one is a nightmare. Try the easy out if you have one, always use the largest size that you can, but if the bolt does not come out fairly quickly , put the extractor away & just drill the bolt completely out and re-tap the hole or install an insert. [caption id="attachment_4025" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Screw extractor set Screw extractor set[/caption] If the bolt you are trying to remove is broken in such a way as to preclude simply punching it and drilling it more ingenuity is required. It may be possible with a hand held grinder or Dremel type tool to flatten it enough to punch it in the center. I have in the past fabricated bushings or guides to hold the drill bit centered but sometimes this just leads to a broken drill bit. The best way for you to handle a broken bolt or screw if all other methods fail, is to have a machinist clamp it to his milling machine and cut the bolt out with an end mill. I am interested in reading any tips you might have for dealing with stuck or broken fasteners as well, who knows we might all learn something, so please share in the comments section below. Peace Y'all Motorcycles, Bicycles, & Freedom! visit