Area51 Project - Bassan's Survivor 1985 Big Red:


Machine Specs:


1985 Honda Big Red ATC

250cc Single Cylinder Four Stroke

5 Speed Manual Transmission

Shaft Drive

25x12x9 Tires

Drum Brakes Front & Rear

Showa Front Forks

Showa Single Rear Shock



Ever since I started hunting with the Bassan's in Trepassey, Andrea has been telling me about his fathers Big Red which is stored at a fella's house down the road in Trepassey and how we should bring it back to town. It was purchased by Peter Bassan one year old in 1986 and has spent a lot of its life in Trepassey. With a quick and successful one day moose hunt this year, we finally got time to go down and pick it up. The bike wasn't pretty, it had been stored outside under a tarp for a few years, all the tires were dry rotted and split.


However, the bike was all there, all the side panels, racks, even the original 2 piece rear fenders! The tank had been recoated by Gas Tank Renew years ago, although it was the wrong colour it was solid and not leaking. The motor and rear end didn't appear to be seized. I call it a survivor because its not often you find a trike in Newfoundland that is in decent shape and all original.


The first order of business was to install a set of temporary wheels/tires so it was mobile. Between Andrea and myself we had enough old Honda rims/tires in stock to install.


After a thorough mechanical inspection, I put some gas in the tank, boosted the battery and fired up the bike with the electric start! The bike ran decent so I took it for a few test laps around the yard to make sure everything worked. All the gears were OK, even all the lights worked!


With the major mechanical components checking our OK, I started a partial disassembly of the bike. Since this bike will occasionally be used, I didn't perform a show quality 100% disassembly, but opted for a thorough cleaning and repainting of the entire frame, engine, exhaust, tank & front forks and replacing any worn parts as necessary.


All of the racks were sanded, cleaned and received two coats of Temclad Rust Paint.


For the tank and forks, I found a shade of red in Dupli-Colour Perfect March Autobody Paint identical to the original colour and opted to use the matching primer & clear coat which will provide a bright , durable finish.


The tank and forks were sanded, cleaned and treated to 4 light coats of primer.


Next came colour coat and finished with Clear. Its important to use the correct clear for the paint product you buy. The directions will list the correct part number to use, and often what not to use. Using the incorrect product can cause the Clear to react negatively with the colour causing it to lift or deform. The factory Honda decal on the fork was in great shape so I masked it for the primer and colour coats, and removed the masking tape before I applied the clear coat.


In between coats of paint I disassembled the carburetor and performed a cleaning. There was a lot of crud in the bottom of the bowl, most likely from the gas evaporating over the years while it sat unused. Once it was reassembled I reinstalled it on the bike and rerouted the choke cable correctly as it had been ran improperly previously.


Tremclad painting continued as I cleaned the entire frame and applied two coats of fresh black paint. The frame was in great shape with only light surface rust and no deep flakey rust. This coat of paint will extend the life of the bike well into the future. I hit the exhaust with a coat of high heat black exhaust manifold paint.


With everything else looking so nice I gave the lower engine cases a fresh coat of silver paint. They were painted from the factory so I used a similar colour high heat engine enamel, masking off the motor and painting it while still in the bike. If the motor ever has to come out  for repair it can be re-sprayed in detail at that time.


The rear brakes were very stiff but not completely seized. I took them apart, thoroughly cleaned all moving parts, coated them with high heat brake calliper grease and reassembled with new shoes. Amazingly none of the brake cables were seized, and now they work perfectly.


All of the plastics were washed before reassembly. New aftermarket Decals arrived in the mail and were installed on the tank. They are identical to the original decals for this bike.


Next I was on to the front end. The front wheel bearings were rough and the fork tubes were leaking so it was completely disassembled, cleaned and repaired. An All Balls front wheel bearing kit was installed along with new front brake shoes.


The front forks were completely disassembled, cleaned and repaired using a Honda front fork seal kit and new fork boots. While disassembled I gave the lower fork bodies a coat of the same paint I used on the engine. I have a full write up on the fork rebuild in the How To's section of the "Projects In The Shed" page.


The last item on the list at this time was the replacement of the torn seat cover. My buddy Ronnie has some experience recovering seats, and has the proper air stapler. He came over one night and installed a brand new cover Andrea sourced on EBay. Fitment was great and the installation even better. Working from the back, he lined up the seam and gently heated the vinyl with a heat gun so it would stretch and match the curve of the seat stapling back to front as he went.

The Big Red Project is finished for now but will see a few more tweaks come spring. A new set of stock size (25x12x9) tires will be installed on the original rims, a new battery installed and a few other little touch ups, then its off to hit the trails in Torbay!

Cheers, MIKE

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Copyright 2011 Michael Smith