Back when I was in my 30s I was big into Can-ams and Maicos even though I was a flat tracker. 45 years later I’m back into Can-am. I even have plans to start vintage MX racing next year at 75--we’ll see.
$225 got me back in. It’s in pieces slowly coming back as Cinderella. Craigslist was my failing. Couple of years ago I spotted a 1979 250 Qualifier for $225. I snapped it up and am rebuilding it as an 80 MX. Last year I bought a bunch of parts and from from Mark Schrapel in southern Minnesota-Mankato. From his parts I’m going to make a 1977 125MX spider which they never made. The frame and engine turned out to be a 1978 “Fun Bike.” I think it was a way for Bombardier to dump a bunch of pre-1979 parts before the new line came out.
I tell you this because getting parts is a challenge. This section of my site will be to 1) offer parts others don’t have, 2) share information I’ve learned, 3) give you a list of all the suppliers I am aware of and 4) do a photo series of my builds-which may give you ideas.
Can-am builder ideas
Making a pretty Can-am engine
Most of you guys rebuild a can-am to race and don’t give a hoot how the bike looks so long as it howls. The other bunch of you are the beautiful builder types who want a show bike. Then there the fringy minority who want to race with a stunning TNT, Qualifier of MX. I’m on the edge of the fringe with custom show/race builds.
If you get into the weeds enough that you are painting your cases here’s how to reveal the painted Bombardier embossed logos on the case sides.
- Use a cutting/polishing band like this on your grinding wheel. These parts are on the web-I get mine from McMaster-Carr. The idea is to cut through the scratches and leave a smooth top surface to the logo-with a power tool. If you don’t use this step, you’ll grind up an hour minimum, sanding down through paint, primer then into the metal going after the use-scratches. Use the blue fine band.
- Prep the metal for prime and paint. Paint all the case parts because you’ll go fruit loops trying to mask off the raised logo. There some trick new wet media blasting techniques that may reduce the post-blasting clean up to keep the crud from destroying you engine an hour after starting it for the first time.
- Mask around the logos with a couple layers of tape. If you don’t the sanding block will over-shoot and screw up the paint job.
- Wrap a sanding block with 320 wet/dry and water and attack the logos. Sand until they’re clear of paint and primer. If you have nicks and gouges-attack them with a pick. Re-sand with 600 w/d or finer if you are picky.
This case is for a custom 1977 MX/Qualifier hybrid built from a 1978 125 Can-am “Fun Bike” which nobody knows anything about. Bombardier used the “Fun Bike” to dump old parts prior to the new 1979 models.
Bypassing the oil injection system
The only good reason for trashing your oil injection system for pre-mix is you have a rusty-crusty frame oil tank. There is one important proviso however. The stock ignition side main bearing will have to be modified or replaced. The factory main bearing had a seal-like oil sling plate which was oil directing. That seal/bearing can be popped off. Replacement bearings will not come with this plate especially if you buy your bearings from the famous Tony Murphy at 661-944-1624 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I guess you could leave the oil injection pump in place to act as a plug or remove it but it is easy to make an aluminum cover plate which plugs the drive gear passages. Do a little high temp silicone plug job where oil lines exited the outside cover to block dust/dirt or use a simple tube like above.
Can-am 1977 MX tank decals
Now these aren’t exact replicas. They are configured to fit the earlier white TNT and MX tanks which are in greater supply than the 1977 MX tanks which are rarer and pricey. The larger TNT/MX tank has the same profile as the MX tank so to the unwashed it will be hard to tell the difference. I’m using the same general specifications outlined by Bombardier. Same color too.
Price includes two orange fading strips and two to-spec Can-am logo stickers. RTR Moto has the 1977 fender stripes and fenders. He doesn't have tank stickers that's why I had to do my own and heck, while I'm at it, it may be of benefit to others.
I would advise you to consult this page on Classic CanAm before prepping your tank for black paint. I’d clear coat over your vinyl stickers but there are two warnings:
- Don’t use a clear coat the calls for a reducer. The reducer attacks the adhesive and lifts the sticker as it cures. You come back in the morning to a sticker that looks like a walnut.
- Apply clear over large area stickers with many mist coats and let tack in between applications. If you don’t the clear will puddle and you’ll be starting all over.
Call 952-607-6063 or write email@example.com to talk about rebuilding Can-ams and maybe we can share secrets.
Well it looks like I start with the 1979 250 Qualifier which will re-enter life as a 1980 MX. That explains the light orange color. Not hard to do with the commonality of parts. The next mission is to rebuild the stand higher so I’m not bending over so much. When I drop the engine in you will be wowed because it is totally tricked out.
Here's an ad I did years ago when I was Omar's Dirt Track Racing. That 250 Can-am in dirt track trim had black screws and you could lay it over like a Russian speedway it stuck so good. I still sell dedicated ice fenders, but I redesigned them.