WHY: Because I wanted to.
You should know before attempting this project that Marker Lights are not DOT approved. In other words - "for off-road use only." Just like the exhaust systems, slip-ons and aftermarket windshields we install on our bikes. However, the marker lights I used proved to be, if anything, brighter than the turn signals they replaced. After completion of this project, I took my bike to the Honda dealer, who signed off on the mods and issued me a new inspection sticker.
Materials needed for project:
Good set of metric tools and drill
Two-pole Marker Lights (several styles are available - I got mine from Lockhart Phillips)
Quick disconnect wire connectors (either plug type or torpedo are best).
Black Silicone glue
Clear silicone glue
A small clear plastic lens about 3" by 2"
1. Remove seat and seat cowl. You will need 5 and 6mm hex keys for this procedure.
2. Disconnect taillight from main harness. The connectors are at the back of the 2 bulbs. Remove taillight assembly from fender with a 10mm wrench.
3. Disconnect license plate light from harness boot located in tray behind ECM. Remove license plate light assembly with 10mm wrench.
4. Undo rubber strap holding ECM and lay ECM over seat brace - do not disconnect the ECM from any attached harnesses.
5. Remove turn signal lenses, pull out light fixture and clip wires. The left signal and right signal have unique colored primary wires. The ground on both sides is green. Tag them so you'll remember which side is which. Locate wires in tray behind ECM and pull through. Undo bolt holding turn signal stalks and remove.
6. You are now ready to cut the fender. How much you want to remove is up to you. You can see by my pictures how much I cut out. I would suggest you trace the pattern of your planned cut with a marker. There are a number of ways you could cut the fender. I chose a Dremel Moto-tool with a cutter head at high RPM.. Sand the cut lines smooth with a fine grade sandpaper.
7. Set (but do not attach) the seat cowl back on the bike to see what kind of job you've done and if you need to touch up any areas. Since the harness tray behind the ECM will protrude slightly when viewed from the side, determine the position of the marker lights so that they will cover up the tray when viewed from the side. Using the marker lights for your hole template - mark the spot for the holes needed to mount the marker lights.
8. Remove the seat cowl and drill the holes for the marker lights (Ouch!). Attach the marker lights with the hardware provided. Install the quick-connect connectors to the ends of the wires from the marker lights. At this time, you should also install the matching quick-connectors on the wires coming out of the harness (from the turn signal relays) so that you'll be ready to connect them after you reattach the seat cowling.
9. Since you plan on removing the license plate light, you must modify the taillight lens so that it will illuminate the license plate. Un-screw the 2 bulbs (earlier models may have only 1 bulb) and set aside. You will need to find a clear, flat lens to attach to the taillight lens. I found a cheap rectangular light at the auto parts dealer and used the lens from it. The taillight lens material is a hard, brittle plastic and could be prone to cracking if not cut correctly. I chose to use an old soldering iron to cut a hole in the bottom of the lens large enough to allow the clear lens insert to be fitted. I mounted the clear lens to the taillight lens with a couple of screws and sealed it with some clear silicone glue.
10. Re-install the taillight and connect the bulbs.
11. The ends of the harness tray which sits behind the ECM need to be sealed to prevent moisture form getting in. I filled up the open ends of the tray with a black silicone glue.
12. Lay the ECM back in its original location and secure with the rubber straps. Replace the seat cowl. Connect the quick-connect wire connections from the marker lights to the appropriate harness wires from the turn signal relay. You should test your connections before securing the cowl. If it all works correctly, you can remount the seat. You will need to drill holes to mount your license plate. Position the holes where the plate will mount just under the taillight. Use the license plate as a template and mark the holes.
Comments from Mark Livingood
Having never liked the appearance of the rear fender, et al on the back of our Blackbird, I got a shot of inspiration over the weekend and did the bob-tail and turn signal shortening thing yesterday. The info on your site was both motivational and instructional; thanks!
Here is a web site with pictures of the final results:
1. License Plate Light & Bracket: Rather than re-using the license plate light and mounting bracket I elected to cut out a light window in the bottom of my tail light. Essentially, I cut out a .5" x 2" square section in the bottom of my tail light lens using a Dremmel tool and, from the inside, glued on a clear "window" that allows light from the tail lights to flow down onto the license plate, negating the need for the somewhat ugly license plate light & holder. I cannabilized a clear plastic cassette case to get the "window" for the mod. Testors model glue was used to "fix" the plastic in place and then I used a hot melt glue gun to run a weather tight bead around the edges of the cut-out on both the inside & outside of the lens. Works great -- just enough light and very clean lines at the tail.
2. Fender Removal & License Plate Installation: After taping off my cutting lines on the plastic fender, an sharp razor made short work of the excess fender removal -- about 4.3". The cutting line was defined by the amount of material that you need to leave to support the turn signal installation. With the fender bobbed, I merely set the top of license plate centered & flush where the crease is formed below the flat plastic structure surrounding the seat lock / rear reflector and the fender extension -- lowered it about 2mm and marked pilot holes for the mounting bolts. Two holes were drilled for the mounting bolts and then a third hole was added at the center of the bottom edge of the newly bobbed fender. Two faucet washers were installed between the license plate and the fender and the little rubber "nub" that was installed on the original fender that kept the license plate from contacting the fender was removed and re-installed in the new, third hole of the bobbed fender to perform the same function. Because the "nub" is sitting in the old license plate light recess in the fender, the plate remains a uniform 3mm away from the fender top to bottom -- very OEM looking.