Making small improvements to a Can Am

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DonR
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Making small improvements to a Can Am

Post by DonR » Mon Oct 02, 2017 1:26 pm

I've been riding (and falling off :oops: ) Can Ams since 1984 and although I've not ridden my own for nearly 20 years I can still remember a few niggling little design 'features' which I thought could be improved on.

So, now that I've finally got round to re-connecting my pile of green bits, I thought I'd incorporate the improvements and perhaps inspire others to share their own.

First off - and IMO the best - that bloody side stand.
This used to bug me from the first day I met a Can Am - fitted on the 'wrong' side with a stupid little wire loop that was barely big enough to get a (toe capped) boot on, never mind the side of your boot whilst still sitting on the bike. When you were doing convoy control, hopping on and off quickly was pretty important. Plus I had probably been spoiled by my Honda CX which had a massive wire loop (to clear the exhaust)

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which could be hooked down with a (left) heel almost in the same movement as leaning the bike over and stepping off. So going from that to the impossible to find postage stamp - with the wrong foot - on the Can Am was a pain.

The job was fairly straightforward - although not quite the chop it off and weld it on scenario that I had imagined - but I imagine most folk on here could tackle it.

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For now I've not modified the 'stupid little wire loop'. I'll see how it goes. For one thing I don't do so many convoys these days ;) and secondly - with the stand on the right (i.e. left) side more than half the problem has gone away. :D :D

Of course it may be that no-one else has a problem with it and I'm on my own - again :cry:

Next up - making a new (better) bracket to mount the clocks because the original fell in half. :(
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Can Am Bombardier
Most of an airhead Beemer
Some CXs

350biker
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Re: Making small improvements to a Can Am

Post by 350biker » Tue Oct 03, 2017 12:19 pm

Looks a great idea, any chance of a clearer picture showing what is needed and a few words as to how to do it from your experience?
0 x
Ian Wilkinson
Retired Refinery Safety Engineer and now light aircraft pilot!

1949 BSA Bantam (rigid)
1971 BSA A65T Thunderbolt
1980 CanAm 250
1971 BSA B50 MXR2 (work in progress!)

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DonR
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Location: Northants

Re: Making small improvements to a Can Am

Post by DonR » Tue Oct 03, 2017 3:20 pm

Hi Ian (You must know Paul :) ) I spoke to him earlier this week - Say hello for me.

The job is easy and fairly obvious but very fiddly in one area.

This is what it looks like finished - (look at it with a mirror to see how it starts off :D )

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I chopped the stand bracket off as close to the swingarm (without marking it) as I could. Lose too much metal and the stand might not have room to pivot when you've welded it back on. You could probably make a new bracket from scratch if you had the steel although it's not as simple as it looks because it incorporates the top pin for the return spring. I did this a couple of years ago so I can't remember the details but it looks like you have to cut the bracket into its original 2 parts and then re-weld them the other way round

The fiddly/'hope for the best' bit is welding the bracket back on in the right position with the right orientation. That last bit is critical as if you're a bit out (like me, see later) the stand may not finish in the correct position when up and down.

You can't fit the stand itself until you've also swapped the position of the pin that holds the spring, the angle of the foot and the wire triangle/loop. When you're done it looks (not surprisingly) like this. It took a fair bit of mental gymnastics to get everything in the right place with the minimum amount of cutting and re-welding. Modding the foot takes a bit of trial and error - only a few mm on or off the length makes a surprising amount of difference to the lean angle of the bike.

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Where I went wrong was in misaligning the bracket by a fraction of a degree. From directly above you can see that the swing arm and side stand are not exactly parallel. The problem being - when positioning the bracket - is that there is probably 5 degrees of slop between the stand and the bracket.

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This then leads to the foot of the stand (the scabby scraped bit) being too close to the rear brake rod when in the up position.

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It doesn't actually touch but it's too close for comfort hence the piece of dense rubber ty-rapped to the swing arm to hold it away. This also stops the stand hitting the arm with a loud clang every time you flick it up so even if I'd got the position spot on I'd still fit the piece of rubber. I'm still not completely happy with the clearance so I'm going to take a bit of metal off the edge of the foot. If it still looks iffy then it's 'start all over again' time....... Noooooo !! :shock:
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Can Am Bombardier
Most of an airhead Beemer
Some CXs

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DonR
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Re: Making small improvements to a Can Am

Post by DonR » Tue Oct 03, 2017 3:35 pm

I'll add the clocks bracket because it's a quick one. Mine cracked in half horizontally at the narrow point just above the handlebar mounts. The clocks are a bit bent as well so it must be a combination of crash damage and the clocks bouncing up and dowm.

I can't remember how thick the original bracket was but it can't have been much over 1mm. Obvious answer was a thicker bit of metal (No Colin Chapman philosophy here !) so a quick bit of CAD and a water jet gave me this

Image

I've added more material in the area where it cracked but otherwise - and apart from thickness - it's a copy of the original. Only better (IMO) :)

Where did I go wrong here ? - well it's 3mm thick (I've up rated the front springs :D ) so it won't break again. However the clamping ring on the ignition lock doesn't really go down far enough because of the extra thickness but it still tightens up so it will be ok. Perhaps I should have gone for 2mm thick.

Next I could show you a pic of my improvement to the main stand. It involves a rubbish bin :D :D :D

EDIT - I've just sent off an FOI to the MoD to see what history they can give me. Fingers crossed. I also dug out all my old paperwork which shows that I bought my bike in September 1987 - 30 years ! God I'm old.
The price cheered me up though - £200 for a complete running bike with 3800 miles and still on it's army plate.
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Can Am Bombardier
Most of an airhead Beemer
Some CXs

350biker
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Re: Making small improvements to a Can Am

Post by 350biker » Thu Oct 05, 2017 7:10 am

Thanks for the replies DonR, all very clear now. No coincidence that I have the same surname as Paul at Military CanAm, he's my brother. We will be spending a long weekend with them shortly for the Stafford Show. He currently has my bike at his place - must get it back!
The main problem I have is the seat height and getting on and off ok - just an age thing really with old bones and joints.
0 x
Ian Wilkinson
Retired Refinery Safety Engineer and now light aircraft pilot!

1949 BSA Bantam (rigid)
1971 BSA A65T Thunderbolt
1980 CanAm 250
1971 BSA B50 MXR2 (work in progress!)

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DonR
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Location: Northants

Re: Making small improvements to a Can Am

Post by DonR » Thu Oct 05, 2017 7:54 am

'The main problem I have is the seat height and getting on and off ok - just an age thing really with old bones and joints'

Know the feeling. Getting both knees down at the same time - having fallen off :oops: - doesn't help either.

Just looking at a Can Am seat - they're not quite as deep as they look but there's still 4" of foam where yer bum goes. A bit of surgery - to the seat :D - and then a recover might make all the difference ? I expect Paul's got a spare you could experiment with ?

If you do - just a hint - the recognised way to cut foam is with a hot wire rig but I've found a hacksaw is almost as good and a lot simpler. If you know a good seat recovery person let me know as mine needs doing.

Another thought - and going back to the sidestand - you could shorten it a bit and reduce the effective height of the seat when mounting/dismounting ? The two mods together might be enough ?

Cheers
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Can Am Bombardier
Most of an airhead Beemer
Some CXs

microliteRon
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Re: Making small improvements to a Can Am

Post by microliteRon » Thu Oct 05, 2017 12:12 pm

Nice job, might consider doing the same to mine although I am so used to it being on the right that it doesn't actually bother me, would like the' loop' on the stand a bit bigger though so I can find it without looking down to find it.
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350biker
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Re: Making small improvements to a Can Am

Post by 350biker » Fri Oct 06, 2017 8:02 am

Thanks once again DonR. As I understand it from Paul seats are not easy to come by as the British Army bikes had steel seat bases which corrode readily when the seat cover gets ripped and neglected, rain then seeps inside and gets held in contact with the base by the foam. Difficult to get hold of but the Canadian bikes have an aluminium seat base which is much better. I think Paul would recommend Leightons in Birmingham for seat work, I need to sort something out with the CanAm and the A65 seats!
I note your comment about the main stand. Mine is not fitted but if you permanently install the two L shaped stand stops (held by the footrest mountings) you can fit the stand in minutes with a couple of jubilee clips and it is very useful for changing the rear wheel.
0 x
Ian Wilkinson
Retired Refinery Safety Engineer and now light aircraft pilot!

1949 BSA Bantam (rigid)
1971 BSA A65T Thunderbolt
1980 CanAm 250
1971 BSA B50 MXR2 (work in progress!)

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DonR
Posts: 13
Joined: Sun Sep 24, 2017 9:05 pm
Location: Northants

Re: Making small improvements to a Can Am

Post by DonR » Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:23 am

microliteRon wrote:
Thu Oct 05, 2017 12:12 pm
Nice job, might consider doing the same to mine although I am so used to it being on the right that it doesn't actually bother me, would like the' loop' on the stand a bit bigger though so I can find it without looking down to find it.
The wire is 6.5mm diamter Ron - wouldn't be a big job at all to bend a piece up and weld it on. Hardest part would be fighting the spring - assuming you're taking the stand off to do it on the bench.

What puzzles me is why is it on the wrong side in the first place (the MTs seem to be the same I think ?). Surely it makes sense to dismount on the kerbside and lean your bike the same way - but that would mean manufacturing LHD and RHD bikes which would be a bit silly (although not that difficult to fit both mounts and only fit one stand ?).
Presumably at some point in history everyone decided that the left side was the right side and here we are. Apart from CanAms and MTs ?? Odd.
Last edited by DonR on Mon Oct 09, 2017 2:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
1 x
Can Am Bombardier
Most of an airhead Beemer
Some CXs

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DonR
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Location: Northants

Re: Making small improvements to a Can Am

Post by DonR » Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:03 am

350biker wrote:
Fri Oct 06, 2017 8:02 am
As I understand it from Paul seats are not easy to come by as the British Army bikes had steel seat bases which corrode readily when the seat cover gets ripped and neglected, rain then seeps inside and gets held in contact with the base by the foam. Difficult to get hold of but the Canadian bikes have an aluminium seat base which is much better. I think Paul would recommend Leightons in Birmingham for seat work, I need to sort something out with the CanAm and the A65 seats!
I note your comment about the main stand. Mine is not fitted but if you permanently install the two L shaped stand stops (held by the footrest mountings) you can fit the stand in minutes with a couple of jubilee clips and it is very useful for changing the rear wheel.
Ian, thanks for recommending Leightons - Wow ! - firms like they used to be and still in the old manufacturing quarter of Birmingham. Unfortunately they've quoted about £120 (plus VAT !!) for a recover. I'm not really surprised - it's probably a fair price for their level of skill and experience - but I don't think my bike warrants it and I need oily bits far more than I need something nice to sit on.

I'll investigate what you say about the mainstand - I didn't throw it very far - seems like a good idea although milk crates work quite well too.
I can just remember being annoyed at the stand wobbling about and permanently feeling on the point of failure - and then looking underneath to see it hanging by a couple of jubilee clips. Which turned out to be factory !!

My next little improvement was to refurb the indicators. It's probably a bit trivial and I don't mind a bit of dirt - or patina as salesmen call it - but rust pisses me off. Plus car drivers need all the help they can get to see us.

The pic shows a before and after shot (one is a front and one a rear).

Image

Basically the problem is that the mild steel bolt that holds everything together - and acts as the mounting - passes it's corrosion into the indicator body, corrodes the bulb mounting and then discolours the inside of the housing. Most importantly it stops the amps finding the bulb !

So i stripped it all out, swapped the bolt and two plain nuts for stainless, wiped out the housing and gave it a few coats of white gloss from a rattle can. Little squirts over a period of time as it tends to puddle in the bottom and then doesn't dry.

Bolts are M8x30 for the front and M8x60 for the rears.

Final job was to wire brush the bulb holder (if I was a pro I'd get them plated but I'm an impatient perfectionist) and then spray it with weld thru primer in the hope it would remain electrically conductive. It didn't. Must be a few more volts when you're welding. :D So i just scraped off the paint where necessary for the electrons to get through and reassembled. I don't know what the wire terminals are made of but they hadn't corroded. The little self tapper holding the earth had so I did replace that.

Now I just need to source some new-ish lenses. I was surprised to see that the 2 skanky ones I have are embossed 'Bombardier' even though they look identical to the Stanley ones on my Hondas.

For those that worry about such things (not me guv) the stainless nuts will be getting a smear of drab olive - which probably won't stick - and the cast ally mounting will not be getting cleaned. Can't have shiny bits giving our position away can we.

But we will have you wearing hi-viz vests at all times :? eh ?


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1 x
Can Am Bombardier
Most of an airhead Beemer
Some CXs

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