The ’78 Project

Phase 1: Disassembly

A few months ago we had a shiny and new GL1800 sitting in the front lobby of the Home Office, ready to find a new home. Once it did, it was time to decide if we should replace that bike with something else and, if so, which year and model would be appropriate. After doing some searching, we found a 1978 GL1000 with a Vetter kit that seemed perfect for our needs. Better yet, it was owned by a Member who worked — quite literally — next door. Money changed hands, paperwork was filled out and GWRRA became the proud owners of a black ’78 Gold Wing.

We decided to restore the bike in multiple phases to not only keep the cost down, but also because we wanted to document the process in the magazine. Our initial plan was to freshen up the Vetter kit, plug any leaks and go from there, but soon we discovered that there was going to be a little bit more to the project than we initially expected. Time to strip it down and start over.

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GL1800 Full Side
Here’s the bike in all its glory, just as it was when we bought it. Let’s walk through the good and the bad of this particular project.
Side Trunk
The ’78 has a full Vetter kit, including the top and side trunks, which are in pretty good shape, minus the paint and stickers. No worries, Vetter still sells all of these parts online.
Front Fairings
The front fairings were a little rough, but again, Vetter sells chrome trim, stickers and windshields, so we thought we were all set.
Heel/Toe Shifter
Another issue is the heel/toe shifter arrangement. Not only does it have a leak, but it’s tweaked slightly, making shifting more difficult.
Rear Tire
Then there was the bald rear tire. A relatively easy fix and one we’ll cover soon.
Suspension Kit
On the plus side, it does have a Progressive Suspension kit, which is in pretty good shape.
Replacement Windshield
We bought our replacement windshield at Chrome World (, which Vetter recommends. It came with all of the hardware we needed to reinstall it.
New Parts from Vetter.
The parts from Vetter direct ( were delivered quickly and include everything we need, including new trim, epoxy for the chrome, moldings and stickers.
Removing Windshield
We started by removing the windshield using a 10mm wrench and the clips in the top corners.
Removing Screws
Next, it was the two screws just below the clips, which we soon discovered also held the radio pod in place.
Taking Out Speakers
Taking out the speakers was easy: just four Phillips-head screws and pulling off the wires, as they were just twisted in place.
Cutting Stereo Out
Since we had already removed the battery, and we had no intention of reusing the stereo pod, we cut the wires to the stereo to make it easier to remove.
Pulling Stereo
With everything disconnected, it was as easy as pie to pull the stereo pod away from the fairing.
Finishing Up Removing Windshield Bolts
Now the rest of the windshield bolts were free, so we undid those with a 9mm wrench and a Phillips-head screwdriver.
Taking Off the Windshield
Taking off the windshield at this point was just a matter of applying some outward force to free it from the adhesive seal underneath.
Sketchy Wiring
At this point we discovered some sketchy wiring. We had a decision to make: either continue moving forward with the Vetter kit, or pull it so we can get it all refinished the right way, with new paint and the like. We opted for the latter.
Removing the Headlight
Since now it became about disassembly, we removed the headlight by untwisting the retaining ring and unplugging the bulb from the socket.
Broken Electrical Harness
On the inside of the left side of the fairing sits our electrical harness, which was partially broken. We unplugged it to aid in removing the front end.
Front Fairing Screws
The bottom half of the front fairing is held in place with three screws on each side, which come out with a Phillips-head screwdriver.
Removing the Shelter Cover
Removing the shelter covers is easy. Lift out the center tray and then unscrew the large knobs on the inside. No sweat.
Removing the Front Fairing
After we unbolted the 10mm bolts on the lower edge of the front fairing, it came off with no problems at all.
Front Fairing Bracket
The front fairing bracket is held in place with hose clamps (at least it is on this bike), so a flathead screwdriver and/or socket will work out fine.
Calling it Quits for the Day
With the front end off, we called it quits for the day. Next on the list is to disassemble the rear components, change out the shifter linkage and get some leaks fixed.


Tune in to future issues to watch the ’78 get built!


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