Garage Scene IV

Dave Rayner's Cafť / Tracker project

This page is dedicated to the garage dweller, the X650 enthusiast who has that special project hidden away from prying eyes waiting for the day when he, or she, can take it for it's first ride. So if anyone out there just can't wait for people to see their pride and joy, and you want to share that secret project you've been working on for years with those who will be interested. Then this is the place!


The story of my cafť racer can be read in K & D Raynerís Cafť Racer elsewhere on our web site. It finishes at the point where Iíve just began reconditioning a few parts after several years of living under a cover (the bike, not me). This was several years ago and not much has happened since. The story picks up here in January 2009 when I made the decision that it could not sit and rot any longer, and to have it finished and back on the road by the end of this year.


Since my dad had the frame powder coated and I hate the stuff (partly because itís a pain to remove), I decided to start with a spare frame I had, paint it, and transfer most of the gear from the old frame over to the new. Not sure what colour the frame will be yet.



Above Ė The old bike as itís been for around 9 years.

Below Ė New frame, ready to begin.



Before I turned the first spanner, I decided that after almost 30 years of working on bikes that were on the floor, with me squatting or on my knees, Iíd make this build easier and bought a seat on castors and a bike lift. In short, Iíve done my bit for queen and country and deserve some luxury.


I bough a cradle lift to save space in the garage when itís not in use, and because it makes it easier to remove wheels and such if the bikeís not resting on itís wheels as it would be on a platform lift. However, the 650ís cradle is short and quite rounded and therefore wonít sit on the rails of the lift. Something with a long, flat cradle like a H-D would sit perfectly. Notice in the first pic sheís tied down like a small aircraft in a hurricane and even then, if I bumped it sheíd fall into the gap between the rails. So, I had to fabricate brackets to fit the 650ís frame and bolt them to the lift. A bit of extra work, but now she sits there as solid as a rock and doesnít even need to be tied down.



Above Ė It took a couple of days to design, make, and fit these.

Below Ė Bike sits here with no tie-downs.



First up, I want to make an exhaust system like a Jemco. See pic below. Yes, I know itís printed backwards but a Jemco runs on the right side and I want mine on the left. I printed the pic backwards and have it on my garage wall so I can refer to it when I need to.



First thingís first, I need something to hold the pipes onto the head. Iím using 1 ĺĒ (or 44mm) pipe, so I could bore out the original flanges but I decided to make new ones out of steel plate.



I donít have a mandrel bending machine so I bought a bunch of bends, and a meter or so of straight pipe from the local muffler shop. As an example, a 180 degree bend in mild steel costs $22. I like the look of stainless pipes but I donít know how to weld the stuff. In fact, as you can tell by the brackets I made for the lift, I can barely weld mild steel but I get by.





A few more bends and a bit of fiddling and the headers are done. Well almost - I made a slight miscalculation resulting in a gap that must be filled so I'll take 1" out of the side towards the head and put 1 1/4" in. 


DEC 2010 - FEB 2011.


Here, the pipes are finished. Well, the fabrication at least. They still need to be coated and I'm thinking of going with HPC or similar in black - gloss if it exists, otherwise flat. The mufflers will be stripped of their chrome and done to match the headers. The system also has Mike Morse's anti reversion cones at the head and peak torque optimisers back near the mufflers.




Not much has happened since these shots were taken as I pulled the head off and sent it away to get the Weekes porting job. It came back just recently and is back on the bike so I can now continue to make and fit other things that are dependant on the head being there. About all I did while the head was away was smooth out the welds on the pipes. I was going to leave them as they were laid as that looks OK on a race bike (or it's street cousin) but when it's all said and done, I'd prefer it if the pipes looked as if they were made in one piece. Oh, I also had Megacycle do me a cam and it's now gone to Nick McGinn to have the sprocket made adjustable. 


Whilst I work 2 weeks on and 1 week off, I'm collecting parts for when that changes to 2 on and 2 off which will free up an extra 56 days per year and when that happens (hopefully soon) I'll should be able to do some real work on the bike as it's been stagnating for over a year now.

When the bike was built by my dad, he put a steel front guard on it. Much as I like chrome, I prefer paint on body parts. I could have had the steel one stripped and painted but when I put the wide front end on my other bike, I put its old front end on this one, mudguard included.  

 The forks had already had their tubes hard-chromed, and Iíd fitted Progressive springs and drilled the damper rods as per Joe Mintonís recommendation. The guard is from a Suzuki GSX-1100EFE and has the correct radius for an 18Ē tyre which my other bike had and not only that, but the mounting holes are in just the right place. Trouble was, it was always a little too wide and touched the forks. I never worried about it back then but now I wanted to trim it down so while I was doing that, I took the opportunity to narrow it as well.  

 It needed 8mm taken out of the middle so I marked out some lines, cut it in half with an angle grinder, and trimmed up to the lines with a belt sander. The guard is plastic and like all plastic, it melts when it gets hot so I had to take a little bit off, move to somewhere else, etc. Once I had that done, I welded it together and filled the flutes that run parallel to the forks. They may look good on the Suzuki and other body panels on it may even have matching flutes but of course, the Yam doesnít so they had to go.  

 I then put it back on the bike and sure enough, thereís 4mm clearance each side. I marked its final shape by placing a pair of dividers on the centre line and scribing a nice arc at each end. Then, to get all 4 arcs along the sides to be the same, I bolted to a piece of wood held in a vice so I could place the dividers so an arc would run from the one Iíd made across the front to near the mounting holes. I then reversed the guard on the board and used the same mark the dividers had mad in it and repeated for the other 3.  


Out came the angle grinder again and then off to the belt sander. As well as cleaning up the edges, I had to sand along the join because when you take a section out of a curved surface and then close up the resulting gap, it leaves a peak which has to be made round again.

I mounted the guard up and stood back to admire my handiwork. Itís pretty short but I wanted it to be obvious that itíd been shortened. No point taking half and inch off in my book.



September 2011


I began working 2 weeks on and 2 off a short while ago and have resumed work on the bike. However, before I could even start, I had to clean out and re organise my garden shed (where all my parts are kept) and my garage (where the work is done). 


Due to lack of time over the last year or 2, I'd gotten into the bad habit of not cleaning up after each little job and going onto the next one, working in the mess and clutter of the last one and the one before, and the one before that.............



The pic above wasn't taken on a particular day when there was a lot of mess just for effect. Sure, it was taken recently but my bench had been like this for more than a year. You can't work in filth like this.  

It'd been so long since I'd stored most of the parts, I'd forgotten what I had and where half of it was so last time I was home, I gathered up all my parts which were stored in unmarked boxes in various locations and laid them out on the garage floor. I then labelled boxes "cafe parts", "chopper parts", "spare parts", etc., put all the parts into the correct boxes, cataloguing each part as I went, and put those boxes into the newly cleaned out garden shed. Then I cleaned the garage out, got rid of all the crap on the bench, and bought a sheet metal top for it. Now at long last, I can start work and with the foregoing done, I anticipate going through it like a runaway freight train. I've never had one and hope I never do, but God I love that expression.

This bike will have a belt drive and I'd bought the trans pulley ages ago. They come solid with just a tapered and woodruff-keyed hole in the middle for use on industrial machinery so I had Lance machine a sprocket smooth and machine out the pulley to match, to a depth that would have the belt running the correct distance from the centre line of the bike, thus clearing the tyre and frame.

As with my last bike, I'm going to bolt these two parts together. However, Lance only put 3 holes into the sprocket and I wasn't sure if 3 X 6mm bolts would be enough to transfer the load. My other bike has 6 and that certainly is enough so I wanted 6 on this one. I knew the sprocket would be hard but wondered how hard. I put the 2 parts together, clocking the sprocket so the holes in it were between the holes in the pulley. I then put that in the drill press and made 3 marks. Well, that's all a HSS drill will do on the sprocket, just make a mark. I bought a cobalt drill and that was no better. Man, this steel is so hard it'd be way off the Rockwell scale. I probably should've bought a tungsten carbide drill. In the end, I heated the areas to be drilled and let them cool gradually, making them soft. I made sure not to get too close to the splines as they must remain hard so they don't get flogged out. Anyway, the drill went through quite easily, the 2 parts are bolted together (only 3 bolts for now), and are on the bike.

The pulley clears the clutch mechanism but even so, I'll have some metal taken out of the outer face just to save weight - it's cast iron you know.  


Dec 2012.

I ordered a pulley for the rear wheel a couple of weeks ago and started work on it the other day. As delivered, itís a solid lump of cast iron meant for industrial machinery and weighs around 3/4 of a ton.

First operation was to drill the 6 mounting holes and another 6 further out to start the slots that would go in. Then, although itís meant for a 21mm wide belt, the teeth are around 27mm wide so next operation was to take it down to 23mm. That gives 1mm either side of the belt. Iím new to milling and I began this with my largest bit, a 19mm, but soon realized it would take forever so I changed that for the slab cutter. It was much faster but it still took several hours as there was an awful lot of metal to remove.


My rotary table is the same size as the pulley so I canít hold it down from outside of the teeth which is why itís held through the hole in the middle. Soon enough though, Iíll have to work there but while itís still as is, I machined a dish 11mm deep into the flat area as far towards centre as I could and with a nice radius on the outer circumference. I then put bolts through the 6 outermost holes and began machining the centre out to the required depth, as far out as to meet what Iíd just done. The hole in the middle is for a tapered shaft and the small end is a little smaller than the boss on the bikeís wheel so I began boring it to the size I needed. Unfortunately, there are 2 threaded half-holes that go through the centre hole which must be used to key it to the shaft of whatever machine it was meant for and boring it out to the required size leaves a fraction of them still there. Not much one can do about that.


With the outside face done done, I flipped her over to do the inside face. Itís just a repeat of the other side but one concern I had was that now that the underside was dished and thus elevated off the tableís surface but with the outer circumference sitting on the table, if it was held by a centre bolt and tightened down hard, it may crack. Maybe not right now, but as more metal is removed it gets weaker and weaker and by the time the slots are done, there wonít be much there at all and what is there is designed to take a rotational load, not a side load. This chunk of iron cost me $400 and many hours of my time and if it did break, itíd happen towards the end and thereíd be no warning. CRACK Ė a $400 paper weight.


I thought of several ways of holding it but none allowed an easy change from inner to outer. I eventually came up with using the centre bolt but with 2 lengths of steel to spread the load to 4 locations, each raised off the table by pieces of steel (T-nuts, actually). With the entire pulley raised, no part of it was under any pressure and I machined away happily for several more hours. Here is the inside face dished and like the outside, with a radius on the outer circumference.



All I have to do now is cut the slots. Wanting to remove as much metal as I could in a single cut, I used my largest bit and cut 6 slots. As I said, Iím relatively new to milling, having not done any since high school, and this is the most ambitious job Iíve tackled so far. Needless to say, I was afraid of making a mistake that would ruin the job and right at the last, I very nearly did. I decided Iíd take out 2/3 of the metal with the slots and calculated that to be 240 degrees, leaving in the other 120. Divided by six, that meant each slot would cover 40 degrees with the metal between them 20. Iíd already discovered that slotting drills donít like to be driven head-on into metal like a conical-ended twist drill does so to make it easier, I cut small slots first Ė call them pilot slots. I machined the first slot the required 40 degrees, withdrew, and rotated the table another 20 degrees to start the next slot. I realized at that point there didnít appear to be the correct distance between the slot Iíd just cut and the one I was about to and that when I came back with a much larger bit, thereíd be almost no metal between the slots, but how could that be? I checked my maths and it was correct. What hadnít occurred to me was that the 40 degrees was from one end of a slot to the other, leaving 20 degrees between slots but what Iíd just done was to machine a slot that was 40 degrees between where the centre of the bit started and stopped. Iíd not thought to subtract the diameter of the bit from the length of the slot.

Since I was using a small bit, maybe the slot was still not too long and after some more calculating, I found it was indeed OK Ė just. With new numbers of 35 degree slots and 25 degrees between them a perfect set of 6 slots was produced. If that first one had proved to be too long, I wouldíve gone with 5 of a different size but I really wanted 6 simply because there are 6 bolts and anything but 6 would look odd. In the end though, the slots couldnít be placed symmetrically over the bolt holes because the pulley (as made) has a couple of other holes in it that are at odd locations and to eliminate them while placing the bolt holes clear of those 2 half-holes through the centre dictates that they must be placed not exactly where Iíd have liked.


Anyway, that aside, here is the finished product fresh off the mill. But does it fit the wheel?



Looks like it does.



I intend making a rectangular section swing arm but in order to do that, I need to know the distance between pulleys and the easiest way to accomplish that is to fit the wheel and belt, tension the belt, and take a measurement which will give me the length of the new swing arm. I have a pretty good idea of what itíll be and have a belt of a certain length for that but just to be sure before I go making a new swing arm, Iím going to modify a stock swing arm to accommodate the pulley.

Here is the swing arm which will donate its pivot tube to science but before harvesting that, Iím about to take a section out so the pulley will clear. Actually, the section Iíve marked out is way too long and too wide but that doesnít matter as this part will go for scrap but if you wanted to run the stock swing arm with a belt, you need only take out half of this.


You can see the axle is at the 2nd last adjustment mark so even with a stock rear Ďguard, the wheel would still look quite in place. I may have spent more hours machining that Iíd ever spend cleaning crap off the rear of the bike and I may have spent more money than would buy 2 sets of chains and sprockets which I wouldnít wear out in 10 years but Iíd rather spend my time and money making a belt drive than buying chains and sprockets just to clean them. I suppose when itís all said and done, I did this for the same reason as a dog licks his nuts.

Wheel restoration

It may be just a wheel but it has aluminium, steel, chrome, moving parts (bearings), etc. Unlike say, a motor, itís also quite simple and an easy one to start us off so letís begin by assessing what we have.

It has a steel rim which is undamaged but the chrome is badly rusted. The spokes and nipples are rusted. The hub originally had clear paint on it like all the aluminium parts did, but 40 years has seen most of that disintegrate, leaving the metal badly corroded. The braking surface is rusted. It's a fair bet the bearings are worn. All in all, it looks a total mess but is easily saved, if you know how.

Re-chroming will make the rim as good as new with no effort required by me, other than sending it away. You could have the spokes and nipples either cad or chrome plated but itís easier and probably cheaper to buy a new set. The hub will be sandblasted all over, the outer surface of the spoke flanges will be polished, the braking surface will be machined, and the hub will be coated in POR-15 clear except for the braking surface. You could clean and repack the bearings but new ones arenít that expensive so theyíll be replaced.

This process is the same for virtually any part of a bike. Assess the part and determine if it can be restored or if a better one should be sought. On that note, you could certainly buy a better looking wheel than this and itíd probably cost less than this one will to restore, but you wonít find a wheel thatíll look as good as this one will. Being undamaged goes a long way to it being able to be saved and with that in mind, aside from repacking the bearings and removing the rust from the braking surface, this wheel could be put on a bike and run as it is if you didnít mind the look of it Ė but I do mind the look of it. Yes, I know half the spokes are missing but I cut them out before I took the picture. It was complete when I got it.

You might want to photograph the part so youíll know how it goes back together. If you do that, catalogue your pics into folders with names like; Rear Wheel, Front Forks, etc. Actually, you probably should have been doing that prior to this, starting with a couple of pics of the complete bike as ďbeforeĒ pics because youíll certainly want to compare them to the ďafterĒ pics when itís all done.

Next, disassemble the item and begin bringing each individual part of it back from the brink. In this case, if you wanted to reuse the spokes and nipples, youíd unscrew them using a small shifter or a spoke key on the spoke side or a large, flat screwdriver on the tube side. On a wheel of this age, you can bet your left one that some nipples will be frozen or rusted solid so before you even start, spray penetrating lubricant into all of them and let it sit a while but as these spokes and nipples are not to be saved, theyíll be cut out. You can use bolt cutters, an oxy torch, or an angle grinder.

We left off last time with the spokes being cut with an angle grinder but I neglected to mention that the wheel had an old tyre on it, which first had to be removed. That fact deserves a mention because it caused me some minor grief which Iíd like to save you. Iíd never use tyre levers on an aluminium rim if I could avoid it but as these (plural - Iím doing the front wheel at the same time but if youíve seen one, youíve seen them both) are steel, I gave it a go. Unfortunately, the rubber had gone as hard as a rock (but still had plenty of tread on it Ė see preceding piece on timely maintenance) and no amount of prying would get the bead over the rim. All that prying made a couple of noticeable marks on the rim so I took both wheels to the local bike shop to have them remove the tyres by machine, which I probably shouldíve done in the first place. That cost $10 and is the first money Iíve spent on the restoration (of the wheels, not the whole bike). Back home, and Iíve cut the spokes and removed the hubs from the rims and we pick up the story there.

First job was to use a bench grinder with a multi-tool attachment to remove the marks Iíd made on the rim. This is one of those tools that you can get by without, but if you do cough up and buy one youíll wonder how you ever lived without it. (Iíll add to that by saying if you are restoring to stock you can get by without one but if youíre customizing - making your own parts - you must have one.) If youíve done what I did and donít have one, be sure to draw the platerís attention to it so he removes the marks. Of course, if itís really bad youíll have to take the rim to someone who can straighten it. This is when youíd compare the cost of that against buying a new rim which, by the way, will not need to be re-chromed.

Above Ė A regular bench grinder with a Multi Tool attachment. This one has a polishing mop on the other end, and a drill sharpener can also be seen. The cardboard is a flattened box attached to the wall to catch the crap the polisher throws out. The whole thing must be bolted down securely. Earmuffs are a good idea.

With the marks removed, I boxed up the rims and sent them off for chrome. I couldíve driven them to any number of chrome shops in Sydney but my preferred shop is in Queenbeyan so $20.25 ($30.25 so far) was spent at the post office and presumably, a similar amount will be added to the platerís bill to get them back to me. I donít know what the chrome will cost and I donít really care as it simply has to be done. Perhaps new rims from Mikeís wouldíve been cheaper than whatever this will cost but I canít see the chrome on them being as good as these rims will get.

I will say that although this story is about restoration, which is rejuvenating whatever is there, the wheels are going onto a heavily modified bike (why doesnít that surprise me? Ė Ed) and I originally thought of replacing the rims with shoulder-less aluminium jobbies. However, the front wheel is off an XS-1 and you canít just buy an aluminium wheel for those things. Iíd have to buy a dimpled rim and have it drilled to suit the hub. Thatís 2 trips to the wheel builder (drop off and pick up). If youíve never thought much about building a wire wheel, each dimple is drilled in a certain location so each spoke runs straight from its hole in the rim to its hole in the hub. Where that hole is in the hub relative to the hubís dead-centre (in 2 planes - distance out from the axle and from centre line of the bike) determines the location of the hole in the rimís dimples. Thereís more to buying a replacement rim that it just taking the correct number of spokes. If the holes in the rim are not correctly matched to the hub, the spokes will be bowed when theyíre tightened up and thatís a no-no. Spokes must be dead straight.

Ah, you say, but I have to go there and back anyway when I take the newly chromed rims for lacing. Yes, but if Iíd gone with aluminium rims itíd be 2 trips for drilling and 2 more for lacing. If youíre wondering why I wouldnít have it all done at the same time itís because Iíd want to coat an aluminium rim with POR-15 clear so I donít have to spend the rest of my life polishing it and that job has to be done between drilling and lacing. Not only that, but my other bikes have aluminium wheels so I wanted something different on this one. Oh, and this bike is of a certain style and the wheels must be period correct and while both kinds are, steel is probably more so. In any case, if you have more than one option, itís another example of checking all the alternatives before you commit yourself and that includes not only cost, but running around, follow-up work, etc.

With the rims away, I can now focus on the hubs. They need to be cleaned and the bearings have to come out. You could do this in either order but I chose to remove the bearings first. The seals need to come out so clean around them so thereís nothing to impede their passage, and then try getting a large screwdriver under the inside and levering them out but be careful not to damage or deform them if theyíre to be reused. If they wonít budge, leave them in place for the time being or only if they wonít be reused, you can use more force and it wonít matter if you damage them but thatís only if theyíre headed for the bin.

Of course, driving the bearings out from the inside will push the seals out but if theyíre in tight, it makes the bearings all the harder to move so at least try to remove the one thatís smaller and/or has less distance to travel. The other one can then be easily pushed out by its bearing as weíll see shortly.

Heating the hubs makes all this a lot easier as the aluminium hub will expand more than the steel bearings, making them a looser fit and more willing to be driven out. You can use an oxy or propane torch and gently heat the area around the bearing but beware if youíve never used heat on aluminium because unlike steel, it doesnít change colour as it gets hotter and gives no warning itís about to melt.

If you donít own a torch or you just donít want to risk it, use your kitchen oven but again beware as that comes with its own dangers. Heating aluminium in an oven at around 250 C is perfectly safe but not if your wife catches you and especially if you havenít used a tray covered with foil. If the hub has grease or oil on it as these did, she must not only be out, but not expected back for several hours during which time every window must me opened to air the place out. I forgot the tray and the windows and yes, words were said. Itís amazing that even after all these years I can still make that mistake.

Above Ė As Nigella Lawson would say ďHereís one I prepared earlierĒ. Jokes aside, if you want to go on living, for Godís sake donít get caught doing this.

While the hubs are in the oven, go to the garage and place a couple of wooden blocks on the bench, and get your hammer and a drift ready. About 20 or maybe 30 minutes should be enough and you can remove the hub (if youíre doing both, leave the other one in until youíre ready for it) using the wifeís favourite oven mitts, I mean rags from the garage. By the way, in restoring a bike youíll go through a ton of rags so make sure you have plenty on hand before you even start.

Place the hub horizontally over the blocks of wood with a gap between them wide enough for the bottom bearing to fall into and if youíve only managed to remove one seal, have that side facing down. The wheel bearings in most bikes (certainly Yamahas) are ball bearings which have an inner and outer race. The outer race butts up against a shoulder in the hub and so canít be driven in any further than that. The spacers between the forks and/or swing arm and the wheel butt up against the inner races. When the axle nuts are tightened, the inners would be squeezed closer together than the outers can be and this would cause side-load on the bearings and indeed lock them up. Because ball bearings (as opposed to tapered rollers like the front wheels of cars have) canít take any side-load at all, there is a spacer between the inner races of the bearings to stop them being pushed closer together than the outers can be.

The axle running through the spacer keeps it in place radially but with the axle removed, the spacer can be pushed away from centre to expose a small part of the inner race of the bottom bearing. This is done by inserting the drift or a large screwdriver down into the spacer, the closer to the bottom bearing the better. Then, using the top bearing as a fulcrum, try to lever the lower end of the spacer away from centre. If itís in tight, you may have to get someone to hold the hub while you do this (using rags or gloves Ďcause itís hot). You could mount it in a vice if you have one big enough, but only in a way that will not cause any deformation or breakage when you tighten it. If in doubt, go with the helper. You only have to move the spacer a small amount to expose part of the inner race of the bottom bearing and indeed, the spacer will now be askew and wonít want to move very much but once youíve done that, position the drift on the race and gently tap it down. As soon as the bearing starts moving downward, the spacer frees up and becomes much easier to move around in there.

Once that happens, you move the spacer over to one side and tap the exposed part of the race once or twice, then move the spacer across and tap the other side of the race. Go back and forth in this fashion so the bottom bearing is driven out as squarely to its bore as possible. If you tap too many times or too hard on one side, itíll become askew and jam. Also, as weíve said, a ball bearing canít take side-load and by driving it out by its inner race when the outer doesnít want to move, thatís what youíre giving it as you do this so try to keep it to a minimum by tapping gently and only once or twice in any one location. This is especially important if you intend reusing the bearings should they prove to be OK.

In any case, be mindful of the hub cooling down so donít take all day about this and if youíre really lucky, you may not even have to as sometimes the bearing falls out at the slightest touch. When the bearing does come out, the spacer will follow it and when that happens, turn the hub over. With what would now be the upper bearing and the spacer gone, you have an easy shot at whatís now the lower bearing. If you have a socket just smaller than the bore, put an extension on and tap that down onto the outer race. This will drive the bearing out squarely but if you donít have a socket that size, use a drift on the outer race, tapping gently once or twice on opposite sides until it falls out. If the seal is to be driven out by the bearing, it wonít be difficult as youíre tapping on the outer race which transmits all the tapping force through to the seal. Thatís why we left this side till last. Once both bearings are out, leave it all to cool and while thatís happening, check the kitchen and the path you took from there to the garage, cleaning up any mess you made. This is vital if you wish to live long enough to ride the bike. Was that a car I heard? Oh shit, sheís home early!

With the hubs cooled off, itís time to clean them. This can be done in a plastic container with a few inches of kerosene or proprietary degreaser in the bottom, or thereís cleaning equipment you can buy if you think youíll get the use out of it. Parts cleaning tanks are a metal tank with a perforated shelf about halfway up that you rest the part on. Under that is the cleaning solution which an electric pump circulates around and out a small hose aimed at the part so as you brush the part, a constant supply of fluid washes over it. They come in all sizes with prices to match and are available from auto parts suppliers and accessory shops.

I use a plastic container but in any case, youíll need a selection of brushes including toothbrushes, bottlebrushes, etc. As for cleaning solution, buy as much as you think youíll need. I have a 20 litre drum of kerosene with a tap on it which saves me having to tip the drum over and is more than enough for one bike (thatís every last part). If you canít spare the space for a 20 litre drum, just buy a litre from the supermarket whenever you need it.

Scrub every square inch of the hub with whichever is the most suitable brush for each area. If the crap is really hard to move, let the hub soak for a while, even overnight, and try again. Once clean, hose the solution off and dry with compressed air if you have that, and here again is another piece of equipment Ė a compressor Ė that you can get along without but if you think youíll get enough use out of it, is handy to have. If you donít have one, you can simply let the hub dry naturally or to speed things up and dry the water out of every nook and cranny, put it back in the oven on a medium heat. Using the oven is perfectly safe this time as the part is clean. No mess, no smell. No sleeping on the lounge.

The other parts also need to be cleaned and inspected. Iím throwing these bearings out as new ones arenít that expensive but if you want to save some money, check to see if yours are OK to reuse. Clean them until all traces of grease are gone, hose out with water, and dry them off. Be aware that unlike plain bearings (of which the XS has none), rolling element bearings donít wear out gradually. Rather, they can be fine for years and then a piece of the chrome in the race will come off and the bearing will shit itself very quickly. Check yours by looking all around the rolling surfaces of the inner and outer races, and by rolling it by hand while listening for clicking noises and feeling for ďnotchynessĒ. If they seem OK, pack them well with HTB (high temp bearing) grease and put them in snap-lock bags or similar.

Above Ė Bearings and spacers as they came out.

Below Ė Donít throw the baby out with the bathwater.

If they didnít pass inspection or youíd just prefer to buy new ones, make sure to extract the sleeve/spacer from the LH rear bearing before you throw them (or at least that one) out. Just like you got the bearing out of the hub, sit the bearing over something with a gap in it and using a socket just smaller than the ID of the bearing, tap the sleeve out, clean it and save it. There have been people whoíve not noticed it was there (thought it was part of the bearing), thrown the bearing out, bought a new one either from Yamaha or the local bearing supplier (go with the latter) which is just the bearing and no sleeve (itís a Yamaha part), installed it into the hub not knowing they were leaving something out, put the axle through and tightened the nut. Without the sleeve, the ID of the LH bearing is much bigger than the axle and so only the RH bearing is supporting the wheel and because itís over to one side, itís being forced askew in the wheel. If that werenít bad enough, without the shoulder between the LH bearing and the long spacer between the two bearings, the inner races will be drawn together more than the outer races can be as theyíre hard up against the shoulders in the hub. Theyíll be locked up by side-load and if the bike is ridden, both will fail very quickly. We know for a fact itís happened. One idiot who bought his bearings from Mikeís XS was convinced Mike has sold him the wrong bearing and when Mike insisted he hadnít, never thinking the fellow had thrown the spacer out, the man waged all-out war on Mikeís XS and urged every 650 owner on the face of the Earth to do the same. Please donít do that.

If youíre buying new bearings, they are an industry-standard size and can be had from any bearing supplier. Either take them with you or just record the numbers stamped into the seal. The number ends with a Z, which denotes a metal seal on one side only. Tell the bearing supplier you want them with a neoprene seal on both sides. Theyíll come in a sealed bag inside a box and should stay there until youíre ready to fit them.

Even though the hubs are clean of grease and such, theyíre still covered in corrosion and even traces of the clear paint they had when new are still there. All of that has to go and the easiest way is to sandblast. A blasting cabinet is another piece of equipment that you can get by without but is handy to have when you need it. Iíve never owned one but I have access to one. Even if you do buy one, it probably wonít be big enough to take the frame so youíll be going to a commercial sandblaster sooner or later. With that in mind, you can take everything that needs blasting all at once but that means taking the bike apart to the last nut and bolt when you may prefer to finish one part before starting on the next and if youíre new to all this, thatís a good idea as a whole bike taken apart can be a little overwhelming. Again, the choice is yours and depends on how you want to tackle the entire restoration, how far away the nearest sandblaster is and what they charge, whether you can accommodate your own cabinet, etc.

Above Ė Sandblasted hub ready for beauty treatment. Inside of brake drum is as clean as outside.

The backing plates were painted and to make blasting them easier and quicker, I soaked them in stripper while I blasted the hubs.

Above Ė Industrial tank of liquid stripper (not mine). Most people would buy gel stripper in cans and brush it on.

Below Ė A longer soak is needed.

I said last time that the braking surfaces would be machined but it turns out that once the rust was gone, they were quite OK so thatís one job I donít have to have done. On the way home, I dropped the hubs off at the polisherís. Up until now, Iíve always done my own polishing and you can too if you like. Weíll look at polishing aluminium and stainless steel next time and check out all the new and newly-beautified bits thatíll make up this restored wheel.

In the meantime, what did we learn about restoration that could be applied to any part of a bike?

1; If something wonít move, donít just apply more force or use a bigger hammer in case you do some damage.

2; See if thereís a better way of doing it, even if you have to spend some money.

3; There are certain tools and equipment that are not essential but can make life a lot easier if you think youíll get enough use out of them to justify the expense and the space theyíll take up.

4; Decide whether to do the whole bike at once or break it down into smaller projects.

5; Youíll sometimes have a choice of parts to restore and you must decide which one suits your needs best.

6; Send stuff that must be farmed out (like chrome) away as soon as you can so itís being done while you do your work at home.

7; Assemblies come apart a certain way.

8; There is a certain way to clean parts and a certain way to inspect them.

9; Donít throw anything out if thereís a chance youíll need it.

10; You donít have to buy your supplies and consumables all at once.

We left off last time with the wheels having been taken apart and the various bits were sent away for chrome, polishing, etc. I also said that while I prefer not to do my own polishing any more, Iíd do a small piece just to show how itís done in case you want to try it. Well, I havenít had time for that but Iíll get to it in the next instalment. In fact, due to other commitments, no further progress has been made other than all the parts have arrived back and Iíve bought a few new bits as well.

With some hole drilling and machining of the fins with my new milling machine the hubs are now finished and ready to lace up.

The hubs are polished and cost $80. The rims are chromed and cost $420 with return postage but a pair of Mikeís aluminium rims wouldíve cost around $265 delivered plus the cost of coating them with POR-15 clear, so the true cost of having these chromed is really around $180 or a little less. By the way, the chrome is the best Iíve ever seen in my whole life. Mikeís stainless spokes cost $145, and new bearings set me back $60. So far and not counting what I could have saved by buying Mikeís wheels because I didnít want them anyway, thatís $705.25 for the pair and theyíre not laced yet. I shouldíve mentioned at the outset that wire wheels are by far the most expensive wheels you can have on a bike. If your bike has cast wheels, restoring them wonít cost you anywhere near these figures.

Next job is to put the new bearings in and then coat the hubs with POR-15 clear so I donít have to spend the rest of my life polishing them. When thatís done, Iíll have them laced.

Update 10/12/12

I just picked up my wheels from Chivoís. Theyíre XS-1 wheels with the rims chromed by Queenbeyan Chrome (best chrome Iíve ever seen), outer part of the hubs polished, inner part sandblasted with the fins machined off flat and with scallops cut in an alternating pattern, new bearings, and laced with stainless spokes from Mikeís XS. I also put 12 holes into the left side of the rear hub. Some say it helps with ventilation and cooling and that may be, but I just dig the look of it.

Update 11/01/13

I cut the loop off the rear of the frame and made a replacement from 25 x 50 mm tube that went straight across (refer back to 2nd pic of this story if you want to see it). This was to mount the taillight and number plate and maybe even a small container for a rain jacket or whatever inside the tail. That was done several years ago but I recently discovered that the tyre would hit it if the shocks compressed enough. So, out with the angle grinder. I wondered if I should put one in that went up over the tyre at full bump but decided it wasnít necessary. Looking at it, the bracing that connects the engine cradle to the seat rails and mounts the shocks would be more than strong enough to stop any flexing that might occur. Not only that, but thereís a boxed section running across the frame just forward of that area. Removing the section Iíd made left holes in the ends of the seat rails so I made plugs out of 25 mm solid round bar. I know you can buy hemispherical end-caps for round tubing but I donít know from where around here, I had the solid laying around, and I wanted to try my hand at turning up something like that.

Hereís one hammered into place and ready for welding. On my bike, youíd have to get down on your knees and look up under the tail to see this but even so, you canít just leave parts of the frame cut off and not finished.

Update 27/1/13

Iíve welded the ends into the seat rails and ground them off smooth. I thought long and hard about how best to mount the seat and finally came up with this.

Fairing and headlight mount made and welded in place.

Since Iíve already established that a belt drive can be used with the stock swing arm without modifying too much, Iíd go with that except that Iíd want it braced to stiffen it up but since you canít run a belt with a braced swing arm, one that wonít flex but needs no bracing will have to be made. All I want out of the stocker is the pivot tube. You could get a piece of tubing and machine it to size but I didnít have any laying around, I did have a stock swing arm, and liberating the pivot tube is no more work than making a new one.

I donít really like destroying perfectly good, stock parts when itís possible to make what I want from scratch but I reason that an untold number of frames have been hard tailed so there must be an abundance of swing arms. I donít think this one will be missed. After it was cut into manageable pieces, a short while at the belt sander produced this.

The pipes were made ages ago but just recently I welded in the peak torque optimisers from 650 Central. This involves grinding down the head-facing end so itís a tap-in fit into the pipe, filing a groove into the flare so it will go over the seam of the pipe and not jam as itís being tapped in, drilling a few holes around the pipe where the end of the PTO will be, tapping the PTO into place, and welding it in, and grinding down the welds so with the mufflers in place, you donít know theyíre in there.

The other day and just for fun, I ďRickbieledĒ the LH engine cover.

Next job is to make the new swing arm and get it and the frame to the sandblaster.

With all the fabrication on the frame finished, all that was left to do was detail it. That means dressing some of the welds (both mine and Yamahaís) and carefully going over every inch of the frame removing any nicks and other imperfections, including welding spatter (mostly Yamahaís) with a file. You wouldnít believe how much welding spatter is on a frame when it leaves the factory. Anyway, that done, I reached a minor milestone the other day when I sent it off to the sandblaster. I wanted to send the swing arm with it but time at home is running out and aside from the pivot tube, the swing arm hasnít been made yet. That doesnít matter as I bought a blasting cabinet the other week so I can do the swing arm myself at a later date. The idea is for the frame to be blasted when I come home from work so I can paint it, with or without the swing arm. Getting the frame painted is a major milestone in the building of any bike, and where I am now is like around 3.30 pm on a Wednesday Ė almost over the hump.

With the frame gone, I could turn my attention to said swing arm. After designing it on paper, I wondered whether to just make a swing arm or make a jig first. I made parts of the swing arm on my cruiser many years ago but this will be the first one Iíve made from start to finish and I decided that if I could make one for this bike, I should make one for my chopper as well as I donít really like the Kawasaki swing arm it has now. So, to make the second one easier, I made a jig first. At the risk of stating the obvious, a swing arm needs to be absolutely straight so to make sure the jig was straight, I wanted to make it on a surface plate but since I donít own one, I used the only piece of metal I have that I know is perfectly flat.

This is it with the main rails in place, perfectly parallel and level with each other for their entire length and the pivot shaft at perfect right angle to them. All I need do now is weld in the cross rails and then I can start cutting out the two main elements of the swing arm. During all this, Iíd constantly refer to the drawing on the drafting table in my garage.

The two arms have had a small wedge taken out, closed up, and welded to form the bends and are now having the coping cuts where they attach to the pivot tube done.

UPDATE 1/4/13

Well, the frame hasnít been sandblasted yet because I forgot to weld on a couple of brackets so I called the blaster and told him not to do it. I went and picked it up the other day with the only difference being that itís even more rusty than it was before.

Before I go back to work I want to take a few bits to have work done and have been getting them ready. On one trip, Iíd like to take the crank, rods, and pistons for balancing, pipes for ceramic coating, all outer cases for vapour blasting, and the frame for sandblasting. The places that do those things are a fair way from me but all close to each other.

The mufflers were originally chromed and I had them stripped ages ago. Trouble is that the atmosphere in a chrome shop is very conducive to rust so anything de-chromed will rust like thereís no tomorrow. That didnít bother me as I intended soaking them in molasses and indeed, theyíve been in a tank of the stuff for the last two weeks. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a pic to show how rusty they were but take my word for it, they were rusty.

I had Ross Pistons make 4 slugs for me, 2 for this bike and 2 for my chopper. I sent a sectioned head to them from which to design the pistonís crown.

However, I wasnít sure what compression ratio I wanted at the time so I told them to make the crown a good deal too high. Iíve had these for 2 years now and just the other day I pulled them out to check the compression ratio as is, and adjust if needed. I had a crankpin made of plastic that was a push-with-your-thumb fit into the flywheels so I could assemble a cylinder and inject water into it from a syringe. You smear grease around the valves, on the gaskets, and around the top of the piston to make the cylinder watertight. You then tilt the motor so the spark plug hole points straight up, and squirt water into the hole until it reaches the bottom of the threads, recording how much it took. You take the head off (4 nuts and only just tight), empty the water out, wind the crank around 180į, and repeat.

The cylinder had a volume of 408 cc with the piston at bottom, and 35 cc at top which is a ratio of 11.6:1. The info that came with the Lillie head I had done says 9.5 Ė 10:1 is good for the street so metal had to be removed, but how much? I took 1 cc of metal off the piston (only on paper at this stage) which would give volumes of 409 and 36. I kept doing that until I had taken 6 cc of metal off which gave 414 cc at bottom and 41 cc at top. Thatís a ratio of 10.09:1, close enough to 10:1 for me. That done, I worked out the depth of cut required to take off 6 cc.

I assembled it again and checked the volumes just to make sure. I was telling Terry Iíd done this and he advised me to check the dynamic compression ratio. Thatís the ratio taken from the point when the intake valve closes, as opposed to the static compression ratio which is what Iíd measured. The cam Iím using is a Megacycle 250-30 and closes the intake valve 59į after bottom. At that point, the piston has risen 13.5 mm up the stroke and itís only then that the gas begins to be compressed. Subtracting a volume of 80 mm (bore) x 13.5 mm (that part of the stroke) from 414 cc and dividing that into 41 gave a ratio of 8.4:1 which is at the high end of whatís good for petrol. The pic below shows before and after machining.

Iím writing this on Sunday the 31st of March. Tomorrow is Easter Monday which Iíll spend doing the last few things that have to be done before I can send all these parts out. Iíll make a few brackets for the frame and weld them on, gap the piston rings, hose the molasses off the mufflers, etc., so on Tuesday I can do my rounds before going back to work on Wednesday morning. The idea, of course, is that all the work will be done when I return 2 weeks later. Fingers crossed.

Update 03/05/2013

I intend throwing the gravel strainers that were Yamaha's first attempt at oil filters in the bin and running either a Mike's XS or a 650 Central filter. I have 1 of each and either would be fine but I also want to run a cooler and although piping the oil out of the motor is easy, I can't seem to figure out a way of piping it back in with either of those filters in place. As I see it, I can go 1 of 3 ways; I can use either filter but no cooler, I can use a remote filter and run a cooler in conjunction with that as I did on my other bike but that takes up space that I want to leave empty so I'm hoping for the next option which is to figure out a way to run the filter I want with a cooler. Just in case I have the required brainwave, I made some lugs that will mount the cooler and welded them onto the frame. So they are in line with each other and can have something flat (like a small radiator) bolted across them and sit squarely, I bolted them to a steel strap prior to welding them on. If I don't have the required brainwave and can't use them, I'll screw stainless button-heads into them and hopefully, they won't be too much of an eyesore.

I also put braces between the rearward part of the cradle and the seat rails to stiffen up the rear end as I'd removed the loop behind the upper shock-mounts. I'm not sure whether the loop contributes that much torsional rigidity or is just something to hang the mudguard and such from but in any case, with no side-panels on this bike, that area looked a little sparse and some extra tubing certainly won't hurt. This was the first time I'd done coping cuts on round tubing. I measured the angle between the existing tubes of the frame at 58į and since I wanted anything but a scalene triangle, I'd simply make the cuts on the new piece at 29į. A trip to the local hardware store for a pair of hole saws in the sizes of the cradle and seat rails' tubing, set the mill to a tilt of 29į, and a perfect set of coping cuts were made. It was much easier than I thought it would be but this is frame building at its most basic and I doubt I'll ever emulate Kevin Palmer's efforts. I'm just happy my first attempt produced tubes that were a perfect fit into the frame.   

As I didn't get to do my rounds when I was home last time, I'll try to do them this time and one stop will be at the engine balancer's. Although shortening the boss on the new #3 flywheel won't affect balancing and so doesn't need to be done at this stage, I did it because when I pick it up from him I want to take it straight to Greg Ball to have it put together. Doing this now will save a trip halfway across Sydney and back later.

With the pistons machined and the rings gapped, the Honda CR-500 crankpins shortened and little-end of the rods bushed, and the flywheels cleaned and polished the crank is ready for balancing and assembling. The headers have all welds filed smooth, Mike Morse's peak torque optimisers welded in place, mounts for heat shields fitted, and mufflers are no longer as rusty as the Titanic. The frame is as ready as it'll ever be and so are all the motor's external parts so at long last, this lot is in the back of my wagon as I head off the circumnavigate the western half of Sydney, dropping bits off as I go.

In the course of rebuilding a bike, this is one of those milestone occasions. You put in countless hours of work over umpteen months (more than 12 can still be counted as months, you don't have to use the y word) just to get to this point which is the top of the hill. I go back to work tomorrow and as long as it's all done when I return home, I'll paint the frame and start putting it all together.


I went around yesterday and picked everything up. The pipes are now black ceramic inside and out but came wrapped in plastic and I don't want to unwrap them so you'll have to wait until they go on the bike to see them. Terry Edwards Engine Balancing had to drill a couple of holes in the flywheels and take some metal off the piston skirts but he said it didn't need a lot of work. I took the crank from Terry's straight to Greg Ball's to have him put it together. Last stop was at the sandblaster's to pick up the frame. Back in my garage, it's time to clean up some of the rough areas with plastic filler. 

The swing arm area in particular gets a lot of criticism and you can buy "ugly plates" from Omar's and others to cover it up but I thought I'd smooth it out a little instead.

It'll never be pretty but this is better than just painting it as it is.

Next step is to get it into primer. Tomorrow I'll go to my brother's panel-beating shop to get the paint and Rams Head Service is nearby so I'll take the head there while I'm about it. The head is one of three I had "Lillied" a couple of years ago and Rams will be fitting the Kibblewhite bronze guides and 1mm OS stainless steel valves.

I took the frame to my Brother's last Friday and primed it. It'd been sandblasted some two weeks before and I was worried that it'd be quite rusty but straight after blasting, it was coated with a mixture of phosphoric acid and something or other and showed no signs of rust at all. Even so, I spent a good hour or more cleaning the metal before I sprayed it. I left it to dry over the weekend and went back on Monday to paint it. Of all the things in the world you can paint, a bike frame is one of the worst. If the surface area of all that tubing were added up, it'd total less than the bonnet of a car but it's so intricate. It took four hours of rubbing with 240 and a further two hours with 400 to get it ready for colour. Speaking of which, way back at the beginning I said I wasn't sure what it would be but that was a few years ago and I'd long since settled on black and in fact, I bought some black paint recently. Black ties in well with the overall colour scheme as it's one of the three colours that the bodywork will be done in. Then just the other day I decided that black was too boring. One of the other two would have to do.

As for the swing arm area, it'll never be Jennifer Hawkins but it's sure as hell not Roseanne Barr anymore either.

I'm off to work again tomorrow so it'll sit here curing for two weeks. When I get home, I'll start putting it back together. Yippee!

27/6/13 Update

Now that the frame is painted, the bodywork will have to be done soon. Iíve seen seats attached to the base but I want the seat to be removable so I made a new pan from fibreglass, using the seat/tail as a mould.  

First step was to cover the seat/tail with gaffer tape because Iím too lazy to polish it for easy release as is the normal practice, and brush on some gel-coat.  

The next day, I pulled it off, cleaned the tape residue off, and marked the outline for trimming.  

After cutting away most of the excess with a hacksaw, the edges were cleaned up with the belt sander.  


Last thing to do is insert bolts into some of these holes and glue the heads in place so they wonít turn as I tighten the nuts up as theyíll be inaccessible once the foam goes on. Speaking of which, the whole thing is now at the trimmerís.  

I also picked up the crank but itís wrapped in plastic and Iíll leave it that way for the time being but itís worth a mention that Iím using the rods from a Honda CR-500 (thatís a 2-stroke moto-crosser). At 144mm long C-C, theyíre 14mm longer than XS rods. The big-end is identical to an XS and you could use the XS crankpin but the Honda rod comes with its own which has a hole through it, making it a bit lighter so I used that. However, itís a few mm too long and so has to be shortened. Also, because the rod is for a 2-stroke, it comes with a needle bearing in the little-end. That goes in the bin but the hole is way too big and needs a bronze bush. The Honda thrust washers are too thick so the XS items have to be used.  

The rod kit is not genuine Honda, but a Hot Rods item. I have no idea what a Honda rod looks like but these are really nice. They are an I-beam as per stock, not a H-beam like a Carrillo, but at least they come with no surface imperfections and are shot-peened. They have 2 oiling holes in the little-end and the big-end bearing has 15 rollers compared to the Yamís 12. The crankpin is not splined as is the Yamís pin so as it goes into the flywheel, it doesnít try to pick up a spline in the hole.  

One last thing, if youíre thinking of using these, youíll need pistons with the pin-hole raised 14mm. I had mine made by Ross a couple of years ago.  

Update 27/7/13

I picked up the seat from the trimmer the other day and what a great job he did. Bad Arse Trim Co of Werrington and I'd thoroughly recommend him. Call Dave on 0402689955. Sure, this is a very simple job but it's well done and exactly what I asked for. Many times I've found that when you ask someone to make something, you get something that's not quite what you had in mind. Not this time. 

Anyway, you may have noticed that this seat is not the same Ducati SS-750 item the bike had at the beginning of the story. You may have also noticed that the small part of the tank you can see is not from a Manx Norton but is from an XS Special. So, am I still building a cafť? Yes, and no. Quite a while ago, I thought it might be fun to have 2 sets of bodywork for the same bike. Yes, I still have the Norton tank and Ducati seat and fully intend using them, but not for a while. Because I rode the bike in cafť guise for a number of years, I thought I'd run it in tracker guise first this time around. I have to say that I never really wanted a tracker as they just didn't interest me and I probably hit upon the idea of the dual identity after a session of many JDs but the few times I've had it all mocked up in tracker form, I really liked it and can't wait to see it finished. When it is, I'll get the cafť gear ready at my leisure and change it over every once in a while. You heard it first, right here.

The forks are off my '77 with the skulls painted on it and of course, take twin discs but I think a cafť (I still call it that) needs a drum brake in front. I cut the lugs for the callipers off and filed them down to the contours of the leg, and then took them and a bunch of other stuff to the polisher as I just hate polishing. You can see the upper lug is completely gone and the lower has just been cut off with a hacksaw and is ready for filing down.

My other major accomplishment was to get the swing arm finished. It's sat around as you last saw it, in 3 pieces, for several months but now it has to go on the bike so I can fit certain things up to and around it. Having a jig was great as I could (and did) get it half done, put it aside for several months, and resume work with no setting up. Not only that, but have to make one for my chopper and having now done it once, I could do another in half the time.

I'm off to work tomorrow and when I get back I could paint everything that still needs painting, or I could assemble the motor up to the head gasket, unless Rams has the head done in which case I could fully assemble it, or I could make more bits and pieces. We'll see.

Update 21/8/13

The forks have sat idle since I put the wide front end on my other bike several years ago so I thought I'd rebuild them. They already had Progressive Suspension springs and while I was about it, I decided to fit cartridge emulators from Mike's. Here they are in bits on the bench.

The frame had tapered bearings but the cones were rusty so I fitted new ones, had the upper tree polished, cleaned the lower which was chromed but had surface rust, and installed the front end. Even though I don't have the shocks I'll use yet, I put the rear wheel in just to get an idea of what she'll look like.

Well, the shocks I ordered from Ikon came the other day so at last I can set up the rear end. Before that though, I had to make the missing bits - paint savers, belt tensioners, and axle spacers - to properly fit the wheel into the swing arm.  

 That done, I could then lower the bike to the ground and set the ride height at the rear. To do that, I tied the handlebars to the garage walls so she wouldnít fall over, took the lift away, and put a trolley jack under the rear of the frame so I could raise and lower it as required. Of course, the height of the front end is set at stock.

 To get the rear end right, I placed a level gauge along the seat rails and adjusted the jack so the gauge read zero. That looked right, but is it really? To make sure, I checked a spec sheet which listed the rake at 27 degrees so I placed the gauge on the forks and guess what?

 Now I could make the lower shock mounts and weld them on.

 At long last, I could now put the bike on the floor and throw a leg over it. Like getting the frame into paint, this is one of those milestones in building a bike. Speaking of the frame being painted, I hate paint to be scratched by simply using the bike so I glued rubber bungs onto the steering stopper and also on the lug for the side stand. As for the stand, itís of the early type (forked over the frame) so I wanted to put washers on both sides of the lug so the stand doesnít touch the frame. This required the fork in the stand to me machined out a mm or so wider. Itís one of those things that no one would ever see but little things like that make all the difference to me. Now, not only can I put the bike on the floor and push it around, I can even leave it parked wherever I like. However, it still needs to go back onto the lift for further work and I forgot to take a picture while it was on the floor. Here it is though, on the lift but this time with both wheels in place.

I picked up the head from Ramís Heads in Windsor and the last transmission bearing I need is on its way. With those bits, I hope to assemble the motor or at least the bottom end next time Iím at home.

Update 17/10/2013

The transmission bearings (1 for this bike and 1 for my chopper) arrived so I dug out all the gear-sets Iíve had in storage for several years and picked out the 2 best looking (1 for this bike, you know the rest).

 Here is the one for this bike apart.

 I cleaned this set and put it all back together with 4 new bearings. Itís in a plastic bag until I get a crankcase ready.

 About the only other work I got done this time at home was to machine some metal out of the trans pulley just to lighten it a little, and then send it and a bunch of other parts to the plater to be done in yellow chromate zinc. They should be done when I go home again and I can put them where they need to go. In this pic, you can see the kick starter shaft, gear-change shaft, brake-shoe cams. Although they are mostly out of sight, you can see the ends of them and I hate that theyíre not very nice to look at. So, even though the gear changer for example, has a fair bit of surface area to be plated, itís only the end thatís smaller than a 1c coin youíll see. Did I mention I have detailitis?


If you look at the rear brake pedal shaft on your bike, youíll see the arm welded to it was stamped out of a larger steel plate and the edges are very rough. I hate that so I ground it smooth all around. While I was at it, I drilled a couple of holes in it just for fun.

 I also found these foot peg rubbers in my collection. I have no idea where they came from but theyíre genuine Yamaha so I thought Iíd use them. I know most people would make aluminium pegs considering the bike is a street replica of a race bike (either cafť or tracker) but I owned Yamaha DTs as a kid and they had rubber pegs. Iím trying to replicate the ďstreetĒ version of Yamahaís dirt bikes of the day, that is DT instead of MX or YZ with their steel, serrated pegs. Itís also the reason I used steel wheels instead of aluminium. In any case, theyíre entirely different internally to XS pegs so Iíll have to make mounts to suit. Here is the unknown rubber outer with an XS inner.

Well, itís about time I put a motor together. Here is the crank sitting in the lower case and you can see the pins are welded in. I was in two minds about asking for this. Yes, it increases rigidity (I dislike built-up cranks) but itís also permanent. Greg Ball said he only welds a crank if the fit is too loose and thereís a real chance it could separate and when I said I wanted it done regardless, he gave the distinct impression he was unhappy about that, but did it nonetheless. I hope it never bites me on the arse.

This crank was from an XS-1 or 1B as it had no gear for an electric starter so I sourced another No. 4 flywheel from a later model. Back when I started playing with these bikes, the starter mechanism didnít work very well and there was no fix so many people, myself included, removed the starter motor. When I built the motor in my other bike (the one with the skulls all over it) I also removed all the gears and shafting. Well, nowadays we know what the problem was, there is a fix, and Iím thoroughly sick of kick-starting that bike. I bought 3 starter motors (having sold all of mine many years ago), 3 replacement gear sets, and 3 relays. I recently tore the motor in the other bike down to install the gears and cross-shaft. The lesson here is that if you want to remove the starter because it doesnít work, to save weight, only sissies need a button, or whatever, leave the shaft and the gears either end of it in place in case you ever change your mind. As long as theyíre there, the rest can be put in without splitting the cases or even taking the motor out of the frame.

Well, itís finally time to start putting the motor together and the first thing to do is clean everything. I wanted to make sure the oil gallery that runs across the front of the motor, and from which the mains, big ends, and the top end are fed, was completely clean. Being so long, with smaller feeds going off to the side every so often, and plugged at the far end, itís possible that over the years, crap thatís come through a torn oil filter would be carried along in the flow of oil and keep going past the last side feed and settle in the section thatís full of oil that doesnít go anywhere. If enough crap settles there, it could bank up past the last side feed, blocking it. That means something will be starved of oil and thatís bad.

I wrapped a small cloth around the end of a length of wire thatís end was bent into a hook. The idea was to wet the cloth with solvent, and push it right to the other end, turning it as it went. The hook on the end of the wire was to catch the cloth so as to pull it back out. Bugger me if the hook didnít catch on one of the side feeds and no amount of jiggling would free it.

Iím not a fisherman but I do know thereís only one way to remove a fish hook thatís in your finger and thatís to push it through. It looks like Iíll have to do that here. I drilled and tapped a 6 mm hole in the plug at the other end, put a bolt in, put the head of the bolt in the vice with the crankcase resting on wooden blocks, and tapped the case away from the vice with a soft hammer, thus pulling the plug out.

With that done, I could push the wire through.

OK, the gallery is clean but to make this job easier in future, I bought a gun cleaning kit. Anyway, the hole needs to be plugged so I got a piece of metal the correct size (actually, it was a section of shank I cut off a drill bit), heated the case in the oven (you know the rules for doing this), and tapped the new plug in.

It was then a simple matter of cutting off the excess and grinding it flush.

Job done but what a pain in the arse. Still, with the correct tools now I wonít have to do this again.

Next step was to get the cases ready to paint. You wouldnít believe how rough the cases were made, and years of use and abuse by unknown POs just made them worse. I spent many hours filing off dags, sanding out gouges, and even milling some areas to get them ready for paint. Before that however, itís off to the sandblaster. Here is the lower case masked up and about to be sprayed with black satin engine enamel. Like the colour of the frame, I changed my mind about the motor at the last minute. I was going to leave it bare.

I forgot to take a pic after I painted it but weíll see it again soon.

Iím running Ivanís high-ratio primary-gears in this bike. He said the inside of the clutch cover needs some metal removed to clear the larger gear on the crank.

It probably doesnít need that much taken out but what the hell.

Here is the head all cleaned and ready to have its Kibblewhite valve gear installed. I know a few people who run these heads and they all say they are the duckís guts. I had 3 done in the US around 4 years ago, this one had the valve guides put in and the seats cut by Rams at least a year ago, and Iím only now getting it ready to go onto a motor. If you need something like a steam locomotive, a ship, a WW2 aircraft, or anything like that restored, donít call me. It takes me long enough to do a bike. Incidentally, the other 2 heads are off to Rams tomorrow.


You know how I like short front mudguards, well the Suzuki item looks nice but since it has a very round cross section and goes well with the cafe tank and tail, I thought it might look a bit odd with the tracker tail which has a square cross section. So, I bought this Ďguard off a pre Ď77 model but just like the Suzuki item, itís way too long. First job was to separate the sheet metal from the bracket. Then, some rough cuts were made.
I marked out my final cut lines with tape and dug out the old angle grinder.
Much better.

Problem is that it sits way too high so the bracket will have to have a section taken out of it. Iíll remove the part thatís bent around the steel brake lines as I wonít be using them (for obvious reasons). Not only will that give me the height I want, but no one will ask ďwas something meant to go through thereĒ?


Well, itís time to get at least one set of body panels into paint and since the tracker set is stripped and the cafe set is not, the tracker gets the nod. Not only that, but I had decals made for the tracker tank a good six months ago and Iím sick of looking at them sitting on a shelf. Before I can take it all to my brotherís shop though, I had to check the fit off the front mudguard and that means ďadjustingĒ the bracket. I marked out lines following the curved section as mentioned earlier and cut along them with an angle grinder. The belt sander cleaned up the edges and after a test fit just to make sure Iíd taken out the correct amount, I tacked all the pieces together as seen here.


Thatís better. Now to weld the seams and grind it down smooth.
With that done, itís off to Richmond tomorrow and since Windsor is just down the road, Iíll see how Rams is going with my other two heads.
Whilst Iím at it, I bought another Ďguard from Moto Tumbi  and you guessed it.......tape and lines. How many front mudguards do I need? Ah, this oneís not for the front, itís to be a hugger for the rear as I want the area under the seat as clear as it can be. Thereís no place for the usual plastic Ďguard thatís behind the battery box. 
The joys of customizing. The swing arm is much bigger than the stock item and the brakeís actuating rod fouls on it. The easy option was to lay the lever on the back of the brake pedal back to an angle thatíd make the rod clear but then it would give much less leverage. For maximum effort from your foot to reach the brake, it needs to be at 90į to the rod and so does the lever on the drum.
I thought Iíd modify the lever by adding a new section but it also required trimming in an area Iíd put holes so that wouldnít work. If only I hadnít drilled it.
In the end, I decided to make a whole new lever. Here, Iím separating the lever from the shaft by machining the weld away.
With that done, Iíll make the new lever.

Update 7/3/15

Itís about time I got things placed in the middle of the frame and the most important things in that area are the carbs. Oh, but donít they just bolt up to the head on the rubbers? Are you nuts? Nothing on this bike ďjust bolts upĒ. Firstly, Iím using Delorto carbs and secondly, the Lillie guide that came with the head says the ideal length for the intact tract is 7Ē from the centre of the carb to the rear face of the head. That seems like a long intake and as itís meant for a race bike thatís presumably running at full noise all the time, I might shorten that to letís say, 5 or 6Ē. In any case, the intake runners have to be made.

Here is a flat piece of steel thatís becoming the mounting flange. Yes, I know steel is heavy and I should be using aluminium but I had the plate and the pipe (which is the exact right size for the carbs and ports) laying around, I canít weld aluminium, and I put the electric starter on this motor so clearly, an extra kg here or there isnít going to hurt.

Obviously, the big hole is for the intake port and the two smaller holes at the outside are for the mounting bolts but you may have noticed two even smaller holes. I mentioned that the runners will be made of pipe thatís ID is a perfect match for the carbs and the ports. Thatís true, but when youíre bolting any intake runners onto the head, youíd stick your finger down inside them and feel that theyíre lined up perfectly with the ports so as not to create a step that would upset the air-flow. That is, unless theyíre longer than your finger. Simple, just look down into them. You could, unless they have a bend in them. Why put a bend in them when straight runners are better? Because the carbs will be right next to the frameís backbone and clearance will be very tight so a slight bend in the runners will spread the carbs apart and make simple tasks like hooking up fuel lines and using the chokes much easier. Thatís been a problem on my other bike for as long as Iíve had it and Iím finally putting bent runners on it too. The pipes were mandrel bent and remain perfectly round right through the bends. Anyway, how to mount them and know theyíre correctly located?

With dowels, of course. Needless to say, the plates were bolted to the head and the dowel holes drilled through the plates and into the head in one operation. With the big hole cut with a hole saw, itís then just a matter of boring it out with a fly cutter until itís the right size, which is the OD of the pipe. The pipe will fit into the flange and butt up to the head. Trouble is, I had to take an approximation of the location of the port so with each cut on the mill, I fitted the plates to the head and checked to see if the hole I was boring was concentric to the port. Iíd make a mark on the circumference in the direction the hole needed to go, adjust the table on the mill, bore again, and by the time it was nearing the finished size, it was spot on.

I pressed this short section of pipe into place and ran my finger around the joint and couldnít feel a step anywhere. As I was doing that, I mustíve had a ďpleasedĒ look on my face and I may have even said something like ďooh, that feels goodĒ when my daughter walked into the garage on her way from the driveway into the house. She saw what I was doing and the look on my face and said ďDad, are you having sex with your bike? Thatís disgustingĒ. She went inside and I heard her yell ďMum, Dadís having sex with his bikeĒ.  Non petrol heads, they just donít understand. Next thing to do is cut the plates to shape and weld in the long runners.

Update 30/8/15

The runners are now finished, painted, and are actually for my other bike but I just wanted to show you a finished product before I moved on to the next job and these were finished first. As for the length, the Craig Weeks performance manual says the ideal length is 7ĹĒ from the rear face of the head to the carbís venturi. That seems awfully long but then again, thatíd be for an race engine thatís running in the upper rev range all the time. This is a street bike so I made these around 5ĹĒ. Not only that, but this bike has the stock seat mounts which limit how far back the carbs can go, as well as air filters and a battery which live behind the carbs.

As for the bends, these are only 5į which that might not sound like much, but itís just enough to give clearance around the backbone so I can get my hands in there to connect fuel lines and operate the chokes. The ones on the tracker are slightly longer and have a 10į bend in them as it doesnít have the stock seat mounts and the area behind the carbs is completely clear.

As weíre looking at this bike just for a minute, Iíll relate a little story that has to do with the cafe/tracker. As I mentioned a while back ,Iím putting the electric starters on all my bikes and since I took the gears and shafts out of this one when I rebuilt the motor years ago, it needed to have the cases split to reinstall all that stuff. As I was putting the cases back together, I made sure to tighten the crankcase nut thatís behind the clutch. As I was doing that, it occurred to me that I couldnít recall doing that on the cafe. I probably did it on auto pilot. No, I have to pull the clutch off it and have a look. Lucky I did because hereís what I found.

There was no nut because for some reason unknown to me, the stud was so short I didnít even notice it and therefore didnít put a nut on it. My first thoughts were that there are close to 20 other bolts holding the cases together and surely thatís enough. No, this one is one of two that are on the main drive bearing and itís here that the cases are under most load, which tries to spread them apart as the power is wound on. Shit. That means motor out, split cases, remove stud, install a longer one, assemble cases, and fit motor back into frame. All this for peace of mind.

Now, where was I before this little interruption?

UPDATE 24/4/16

Weíve sold our house in Penrith and have bought a block of land at Medowie and all my stuff is in storage while we live with our #2 daughter until the new house is built so all my projects will stagnate for 9 months or so. Something I can do during this time is paint the body work so I kept it with me. As I said earlier, I had the decals made quite a while ago and Iíd like to get them on before they get damaged or lost. The word YAMAHA consists of one decal placed over the top of another and thereís a bit of an art to getting them positioned correctly so the printer said heíd do that for me and Iíd like him to do it before he forgets who I am.

This is a tank I bought from Kevin Boss. I bought another years ago from a member in Tasmania who advertised it as having no bog or filler of any kind. When I went to strip the paint off, well you can guess the rest. Not only did it have half a ton of the stuff, but the paint job that was on it was very bad so I assumed the bogging was done the same way. It was also lined internally with Kreem or similar and, given the quality of the work on the exterior, there was no guarantee the steel was properly cleaned so a call to the Boss for a replacement was made. I did repair the other tank and itíll go into storage to be used as a plug for a Ďglass replica if ever I need one. I also have a 17 litre tank thatís full of bog but perfectly shaped thatíll use for the same purpose. In fact, Iím not fond of steel tanks at all and now that I have those plugs, this will be the last steel tank I use.

This tank had a few decent dents but nothing I couldnít repair and they pulled out quite well with a spot welder and slide hammer. There were also the dents which house the brackets that the YAMAHA badges attach to, which had to be removed. After all that, the tank was sandblasted and the dents were filled.

Priming of the tank, seat/tail, and front mudguard came next and they sat like that for a couple of weeks. I went over to my brotherís shop yesterday, rubbed the primer, and on went the base colour of straight white tinter. This is my brother Daryl, about to apply the last coat.

You may have noticed heís not nearly as good looking as I am. He was a little busy and would have preferred I did it myself but my mask is in storage at Medowie. This paint is deadly and when it first appeared on the market while I was an apprentice, no one knew how deadly. One of my tech teachers was among the many who found out. When the autopsy was done, they found the chemical in every inch of his body, carried there by his blood. I have no wish to join him. Notice the air-supplied hood to the left of frame?

The bodywork sat for a few weeks until I could get back to it to mask up the stripes. Iím going with one of Yamahaís two racing colour schemes. Iím told each one went to different markets but Australiaís had both over the years. One is yellow with black broad stripes and white pin stripes as seen on the early MX and SC models and many 650 trackers have been painted in these colours.

My preferred scheme however, is white with red broad stripes and black pin stripes which came on TZs and some YZs.

The only real departure I made is the decals which are red and black to match the stipes, rather than in white as part of the stripes. The process was; rub the white flat, mask up for the red, spray the red, unmask and rub the red down flat, put on the black stripes with tape, apply the red decals, apply the black decals, final check and spray the clear, let dry for a week, rub the clear down flat and apply more clear.

Painting a bike is extremely labour intensive and most people almost have a stroke when they get a quote for having their bike done. Iíve always said never skimp on paint because itís what you see when you look at the bike and thatís still true but Iíd hate to have paid retail price for this job and the frame. Thank God thatís done. Another one of those milestones in rebuilding a bike. Now I canít wait to see it all on the bike but thatís in my shed at Medowie so it may be a few weeks until the bike and its bodywork are reunited.

Well, I took the bodywork to my shed the other day and put them on the bike just to see how itíd look and I must say I like it very much. I was going to paint the frame black but decided on red at the last minute and Iím glad I did. By the way, the white is straight white tinter and the red is True Red off a Mazda car. The swing arm is still unpainted as there is more work to do on it. The motor is assembled only up to the base gasket and so has a garbage bag over it. Itís painted satin black (the motor, not the garbage bag). After the pics were taken, I put the cover back over the bike and she wonít see daylight again until the house is built which should be around eight months. Even then, Iíll have to do a bit of work around the place to keep the wife happy before I can set up my workshop and only then can I resume work on the bike. God, I hope it doesnít deteriorate too much in that time. You can see the rear tyre is going flat so Iíll have to pump the tyres on both bikes up next time Iím there. Donít bother checking for another update for letís say a year.

Keep watching more to come..........