Motorcycle restoration: seat and tank

How to restore a motorcycle gas tank
If you like to tinker with your bike at weekends, we’ve got a treat for you here. The latest clip in our Saturday Sessions YouTube series shows our Honda CB550 coming together with a freshly restored tank and seat unit … and it’s enticingly close to hitting the road again.

The bike’s owner, Harry Woods of New York agency Woods Witt Dealy, popped into the E3 Motorcycles workshop to help with the tank and seat prep, and discuss finishing options. “The stock tank looked great on film and from five feet out,” says E3’s David Browning. “But the interior was rusty and needed work to get back into service.”

A decision was made: the tank would be sent out for nickel plating, and the seat foam would be slimmed down a little. “I then took the seat pan to Jesse’s Plastic Covers in Brooklyn,” says Browning. “It’s an old school shop with no website, but I can’t say enough good things about those guys and their upholstery.”

E3 repainted (and dressed down) the tank badges to offset the bright nickel plated finish. Next up was the fun task of removing the rust and old gas varnish from the tank, and applying the liner.

The headlight mounts needed attention too. “On the SOHC4s they tend to trap water between the upper and lower triples, causing the fork tubes to rust,” says Browning. “The lower forks and travel area on this set were in great shape, so we opted for a simple black wrap to cover the affected area—after cleaning up and neutralizing the rust.”

Browning has also earmarked a Yamaha SR250 rear fender as an alternative to the large stock unit. Any parts from the CB550 that were not reinstalled were bagged, tagged and stored away—should Harry ever decide to go back to an all stock configuration.

Hit play and enjoy.

E3 Motorcycles | Woods Witt Dealy & Sons | Jesse’s Plastic Covers, 167 Havemeyer Street, Brooklyn NY. 718-387-0886 | Previously: Part 8: Starting the Engine