Honda Santee Chopper, replacing worn out engine covers

As you may know, I picked up an old Santee framed Honda Chopper in a Local Garage a while back, progress has been slow as I am making parts for it to offer to the Chopper builders that are all around the globe, but i noticed that the engine case covers were looking bad.

The covers had been chromed, and as these are aluminum, the material gets hot and then cold and sweats, causing the chrome to bubble as it can’t expand like aluminum does, so it had bubbled, peeled and then started to corrode the aluminum, so I thought I would try and repurpose some old spare covers I had by polishing them to a chrome finish . As you can see from the photo above, the transmission cover was removed and the old gasket was toast, so luckily I had a New one in my cupboard as well as other parts needed to refurbish this area of the bike.

I removed the stator cover, but it took me a while to get this sorted as that round dark blue plate that is on the starter collar, fell off and hid behind the crank sprocket, took me a bit to fish that puppy out but never lost hope and now it’s time to remove the coil winding and the infield coil that are screwed into the case, I also leant the bike over and placed a blue tarp on the floor, as I did not want to drain the New oil that’s in the bike that I put in when I got the bike running for the first time, I knew I would lose a little bit of oil, so placed a catch tray under the chassis to save any catastrophes that could occur on jobs like this.

Make sure that when you remove any Factory Phillips shaped screws on your Honda- That the screwdrivers are JIS models. ( Japanese Industrial Standard) as regular Phillips screwdrivers will most like round the screw heads off.

What is the difference between JIS and Phillips?
JIS, or Japanese Industry Standard screws are just different enough in shape that Phillips drivers will not fit well and slip/strip them. The difference is in the leading angle of the point of the driver. Phillips bits have a larger angle and therefore don’t bottom out in the JIS screws, causing slippage.
Also, make sure that you use OEM Factory Gaskets, as the aftermarket versions not only fit badly, usually the holes do not all line up and the gasket seems to be inconsistent in thickness, I did learn the hard way, thinking I would save a few bucks on the cheaper brand, only to find I had to take the case all apart and fit OEM ones to stop the leaks.
Glad that I managed to get some time to work on this old girl today, she was left in an old garage in La Mirada for many years, sat on a pile of dirt and then covered with years of hoarding, so I will be happy to have it running and use it for a bit, before I put her up for sale, its a good looking rig now and I am sure when I have the New Stainless exhaust system on, it will find a new home ok.
I have lost count of how many SOHC motorcycles I have built, let alone worked on but in the hundreds for sure and always something different to find on some, I love what I do and continue to offer service for customers all over the world.These inline four Motors are fantastic machines and have given me many miles of smiles once they are tuned right.
Covers are on now on this side of the bike, still got to add a finned cover on the stator and fit another gear shifter as the old one is a horrible welded thing that I do not want to use, then I need to turn the bike around and remove the clutch cover and give that the same treatment.
On closer inspection of the front drive sprocket, I see a couple of issues here, the offset is out a little as the sprocket is wearing against the side of the chain and secondly, the sprocket that is fitted is an earlier version 530 and 77 and 78 Motors had 650 chains, I will fit a 540 but will address the issue here and have a sprocket on the way as I do not want any dramas of the chain breaking and destroying the cases.  Also, Chops have super long chains so need to count the links so that I can buy a custom one to replace this tired version.
The Old girl was looking tired, dirty and in need of a good clean up before any polishing can take place on this part, I always like to vapor hone these, that way the material is super clean and ready for some serious polishing, using some good old Jewelers Rouge.
Time to change the look of this 40 year old girl and turn it into something fresh and clean and to be honest, look like a brand New factory part, now I could refit the part in its OEM look but want to polish the piece to a chrome finish seeing this is a Chopper and not a restoration bike.
Now you can see how different that the Clutch cover looks after a process of vapor cleaning and now this part is ready for another transformation and get it polished up for that Custom styling that is so popular.
I am going to try and vapor many parts before I polish, as it makes everything so much easier to buff with no oil residue or grime in the way when I begin the Polishing stage, I am sure that you agree that this way is way better than the old school way? Now, the stator cover that’s on the bike is chromed and all peeling off, I want to use a spare old Stator cover I have and will vapor hone it to make it clean before trying to polish it.
This  spare old stator cover was just as tired as the other parts on the inline Four, and I am sure that yours looks in the same way too???? This Chopper will not be a show winning machine but a traditional Custom bike that was created back in the day and want to try and show what was in the magazines in the 70’s and 80’s when these were seen all over the place.
There is a bunch of old dings and scratches in the stator cover but many will buff out luckily and then it will have an old Finned cover going on the outside to embellish the engine as I have other finned covers on the bike, also these parts are getting harder to locate and finding some parts in my boxes of old stash came in handy but of course, still needed a lot of work, but the other one on the bike had been chromed and was peeling off and oxidizing badly, so this is the better way to replace it i think?
There is still a ton of stuff to do on the bike but wanted to share this with you today as it’s almost the weekend. Here are a couple of little videos that I took with my phone to show you what I am doing as the weather was raining outside, hope you enjoy?



Steve Carpenter

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