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Old 03-10-2012, 05:02 PM   #1
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Suzuki GS550T complete re-build

I've been posting my progress on this bike on a couple of forums, and thought I should start a thread on here.

Rather than re-write everything from scratch, I'm going to re-post my progress notes beginning from last November (when I bought the bike) up until now. From now on I'll post regular updates here as things progress. I tend to over-post on the details, but the idea is an attempt to document as much of the process as possible - and hopefully point out things I've learned from others or "the hard way!"

Yes.....it's a cafe project. I've lusted for a cafe bike for a while (even before it became "trendy" to do them), but this is the first time I've owned an older bike that I felt OK about cutting up (my last project was a Honda CL-350 scrambler that was just too pretty to alter). As you will read, I got my little Suzuki for next to nothing, and it's in rough shape. I'm already in a LOT deeper for parts than I'd planned, so now my goal is to do things in a way that I'll be proud of in the end (or as close to it as I can get while doing as much as possible myself). I'm building this bike for me, and I've been trying to learn the skills required as I go along.

So sit back, pour yourself a beer and come along for the ride.

NOVEMBER 19, 2011

I bought this "Redneck Rocket" yesterday for a cool c-note. Rumor has it (from the guy I bought it from, who I actually trust) that it was running last year. Carbs were cleaned at that point. Original owner was in Indiana and last owner was up north somewhere.

Picking her up. That tank paint job has gotta go. I'm not exactly a fan of WWII German Eagles as tank art.


Gauges. Sooooo close to 20,000 miles. Will she ever get there? Maybe, but not soon! At the top it actually has a light for each gear (kinda cool, but I'll probably get rid of it).


Carbs. Don't look too bad. With those pods, I'd better check the jetting at some point. So much to do.....


No seat with the bike. I originally thought it was the "L" version of the GS550 with the high stepped seat and 80s cruiser-ish stance (think Purple Rain). Thankfully, it's the "T" version, which has much nicer lines IMO. I'm going to completely remove the fender and replace it with a cafe-style seat.


Hmmmm...interesting wiring "modification" No turn signals anywhere, no high beam, no running light. If you look closely you'll see that about HALF of all of the fasteners on the bike are missing.


Headers don't look to bad. Lots of sludge on the engine. Tach cable looks stripped out.


Let's look underneath the tank.......easy enough since there are no bolts, rubber pieces, or anything else holding it on. Looks ok here.


Brakes kinda seem to work with some pumping. A quick check shows that the brake fluid has the consistency of maple syrup (here is the front reservoir). Yikes! Rear cylinder is dry and the caliper clearly had a leak of some sort.


Threw in an old battery I had and everything lights up, but the bike won't turn over. Jumping the relay/solenoid yields an exciting light show and causes the starter to fire. Good. I didn't have fuel to actually start the engine, but I'm hopeful it will fire up. I'm thinking my problem is the handlebar switch or relay itself. Turns out the kill switch/starter were "modified" by a previous owner using aluminum from soda cans! Nice. Jumping it didn't seem to do anything, so now I'm looking at the relay.


I really need a new key before this one snaps. This one isn't original and the lock number wasn't on the fuel tank lock, ignition lock, or helmet lock either.


Over the winter I will tear some things off. We'll see where it goes from there. I'd like to convert her into a cafe racer, assuming the engine is ok.
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Old 03-10-2012, 05:05 PM   #2
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Here's an update from the 1st week.....at this point I'd been messing around with electrical issues in an attempt to get the bike running. Although it did run (below), I've since torn the top-end apart anyway (more on that later).

-------

It turned over by hand ok, so it didn't seem like there was a ring stuck in there, and the fact that all cylinders were similar was actually a promising sign to me. The carbs look a lot better than the rest of the bike (previous owner cleaned them last year and drained them properly), so I popped on my aux fuel tank and plumbed it in......what the hell.

I was in a rush, but couldn't help myself. I had only 2 minutes until I had to run to a meeting at work, but I HAD to try and fire her up. Nothing. Cranked and cranked and cranked (with brief breaks) and nothing. Damn. Battery was running low at this point.

Just as I turned off the garage light it occurred to me that I had forgotten the most OBVIOUS thing. CHOKE Duh. :lol:

Pulled the choke, pushed the starter, and after about 5 slow cranks SHE FIRED RIGHT UP! All cylinders (I think). A little popping, but nothing serious. WOOT! SHE LIVES!!!!!!!!! Made my whole day (with this kind of project you gotta savour the small victories).

Now to bankrupt myself loving her to death. That Ducati I wanted is rapidly disappearing into the horizon with every minute I spend on this rat project. Next steps are to try and repair the charging system problem (after confirming it exists) and then I'll start to really strip her down. I bought a bench buffer last week, so it's gonna be a long winter of sanding and polishing I think.
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Old 03-10-2012, 05:06 PM   #3
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Update from later in November 2011.....

--------

Well, that was nice while it lasted.

The bike still runs - it's just that the long agony of what it's gonna take to make her run right is now starting to set in.

Compression - still sucks. I'm really thinking it's my compression gauge at the point because the bike will fire up instantly in the cold (I can't even hear the starter - it's like it senses that I want it to start and it just runs). If I can find a better one soon I'll try it. If not, I'll do a leak-down test at some later point after the engine is removed and go from there.

I've never witnessed such poor running in my life. The backfiring through the pod filters is pretty entertaining. Jetting is likely waaaaay off, carbs are probably dirty, and based on how much gas it leaking I'd say that at least one float bowl is stuck. Hopefully the igniter is ok, but the coils look to be about 1000 years old and the spark is weak. So lots of good reasons for its problems.

As the p/o told me, the bike is not charging either. I've spent several hours chasing electrical deamons that might be causing the issue. What's frustrating is that the stator and regulator/rectifier test good in every way, so I'm now looking at possible issues with the harness itself (and I'm finding PLENTY, but none is "the" culprit yet). In their wisdom, Suzuki did all sorts of interesting things with the wiring. For one it's super small and has the absolute cheapest bullet-style connectors I've ever seen. They also got creative and decided that one leg of the stator should run through the HEADLIGHT so that it would shut down unless the headlight was on (I chased the damn wire all the way up and nearly all the way back before pulling out the correct wiring diagram and finding that out). I'm now going to bypass pretty much every unnecessary circuit and see if that helps. If not, I'll probably end up replacing the stator and r/r (which are both widely known to be absolute crap on these bikes even if they test well). The fact that earlier owners patched wiring together with PAPER CLIPS (yup!), household wiring connectors, and by just twisting ground wires together in various places isn't helping :crazy: I've never seen a bike with so many frame grounds on it either.

I'm going to end up rebuilding the entire wiring harness by the time I'm done. That'll probably be a good project for next summer (when I take a motorcycle electrical class).

I'm anxious to start tearing things off, but I'm trying to be patient enough to identify some of the major issues first.
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Old 03-10-2012, 05:08 PM   #4
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December 4, 2011:

Update time!
Since the petcock is completely blocked (even on prime I canít get any fuel to come out, and the PO disconnected all the vacuum lines long ago) I rigged up an old fuel cell to the bike to try and start it.

Below is a video of the bike running (EDIT: Never mind it won't work.....). There is backfiring through the carbs and out the pod filters. Nice. With holes in the exhaust and loose aftermarket filters itís obviously very lean. Carbs are probably pretty clogged as well and compression readings are still in the basement too. No matter Ė I will eventually run a leak-down test and likely rebuild the top end anyway. Carbs will get a full cleaning, rebuild, and complete rejetting on a dyno (I have some access to one and Iíll be doing a complete tune once itís back in running orderÖ..which will be a loooong time).

Now that Iíve determined that the R/R and possibly the stator are gone, itís time to start pulling stuff off the bike. The next task was removing the exhaust pipes. Recall those rusted bolts on the headers? I soaked them in PB blaster+WD-40 for three days with cycles of heating and cooling. All were nice and loose when I started to remove them. Result? Less than idealÖ.

Only THREE exhaust bolts came out cleanly. It turns out that another three were ALREADY broken off in the collar (!) and held on by some sort of glue/JBWeld/wire!? Lovely. I guess the previous owner decided that it would be ok to just glue the old bolt heads back on and forget about it!? The two that I broke snapped off with very little torque. Crap.

I broke out into a bit of a cold sweat when the first one snapped off, but all but one stud is protruding a little, so thereís still some hope. I will continue to PBBlast them. Worse-case scenario Iíll deal with it when I remove the cylinder (a little EDM can always save the day if I decide not to drill it out).
Behold the OEM exhaust. Really heavy! It will likely be replaced with a 4-1.

Up next was removing the rear wheel. It went well, but I rushed a bit and everything got hung up on the rear axle. A little maneuvering and it was out (needs grease, and I probably should check the run-out too).

I removed the carbs next. Boots were stiff, but itís very easy on this bike compared with some of the twins Iíve worked on. Note how theyíre ďbleedingĒ fuel on my work benchÖÖright near a charging. I really gotta get a fire extinguisher for the garage.

Then I removed the intake rubber piecesÖ..

Ö.and I saw LOTS of this inside the engine!

It looks like the PO was in love with gasket sealer. It flaked off in huge pieces in my hands. I wonder how much of this stuff the engine has digested?
More in the next postÖ.
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Old 03-10-2012, 05:09 PM   #5
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More from December 4, 2011:

Next up I removed the counter-sprocket coverÖÖthe screws were already pre-stripped. Here it is removed.

My little impact driver was having no effect, so I ran off to Sears and bought a much larger one. Heh heh. It made short work of three screws. The other three were too far gone, so I dremeled slots into two of them and got them off! This is my first time struggling this much with fasteners (small impact driver and heat has always worked for me before). I also have a set of Japanese screwdrivers, which usually helps, but these were just too far gone.

The big problem was the one remaining screw at the back of the sprocket cover. Itís recessed, so all attempts to dremel a slot in it resulted in me carving a slot into the cover! Doh! I ended up drilling it off, and the release in clamping force allowed me to spin the shank off with my fingers. Unfortunately, since I couldnít get the drill centered, I accidentally machined a little out of the cover. Argh.

Itís a minimally important screw since itís not fastening anything that holds in oil. Iíll probably stick an o-ring in there and see if that works. Replacement on Ebay is only $14 if that fails. Itís a bummer that I got so close to getting it off flawlessly. Iíll need to be more careful with the cases.
Check out what was behind the sprocket cover. This is AFTER I removed about 2lbs of soil, pine needles, and pine cones from back there!

Upon removing the sprocket cover, I discovered that the counter-sprocket was COMPLETELY LOOSE (not even hand tight). The only thing holding it on was a single bend in the locking piece! The sprocket is badly worn and looks to be an original (it has the right number of teeth anyway and it looks like a sprocket with 20,000 miles on it).

Then it was off to the store for a 21mm socket to remove the oil drain plug. There was definitely some gas mixed in with the oil - likely from the stuck float bowls combined with the lack of a vacuum operated petcock shut-off. I was careful to check the oil level before I started the bike (made sure it wasnít too full or thin), but Iím glad I didnít run it too long like this! (The smaller dish to the right contains old brake fluid).

My last project for the weekend was to remove and disassemble the calipers Ė also a first for me.
I got them off the bike easily enough (although I forgot to loosen the rear ones on the bike so I marred the cover getting them apart in my undersized bench vice. Hereís the rear, which looks worse than the front.

Would you trust your life to this?

Inside, the seals and boots looked worn, but intact. The pads will be replaced along with all of the seals, etc. (no sense taking a chance on brakes!) Getting the caliper pistons out was a BEAR Ė especially one of the rear ones, which was rusted in place. After applying high pressure air, I got the worst one to turn enough to grab it and pull it out. I marred it in the process, but it is definitely getting replaced anyway.
Ugh.

Iím now boxing up everything Iíve removed so far. Iím off to buy a small parts washer (and fire extinguisher) tomorrow and then Iíll be looking over the calipers, removing and looking at the master cylinders, and pulling off more bits in preparation for removing the engine.
I will have lots of time to work on the bike over the next couple of weeks.

Iím a little ahead of myself, but any suggestions for a color scheme? I really like red/black/silver, but Iím clueless about what colors to put where. Iíve looked over all sorts of cafť bike pics but I have trouble making up my mind, so Iím very open to options. Everything is getting repainted except the engine if I can help it (although I might paint the cylinders to set them off from the bike a little).
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Old 03-10-2012, 05:10 PM   #6
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December 7, 2011:

Big day today. Went out to the garage, pulled out some electrical connectors, undid some bolts, and before I knew it there was something not quite rightÖÖ



Ah thereís the missing ďpiece!Ē All set up for a warm winter inside.


Now that the engine is out (HEAVY for a little 550!) I can work on pretty much anything. Iím itching to pull apart the forks and start sanding/polishing them and the wheels. Brake calipers and master cylinders still need to be rebuilt. Hell, EVERYTHING needs to be rebuilt!

So much to doÖ...I feel like Iím a loooong way from seeing this bike on the road, so Iím going to split my time between further disassembly and making some improvements. Itís gotta go farther backwards before it can go forwards.
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Old 03-10-2012, 05:11 PM   #7
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December 11, 2011:

Hereís the latest on the build:

After I removed the engine, I thought Iíd spend the rest of the week on the brakes, but I lost my motivation when I saw all of the exposed parts after the engine was out. I decided to remove the front wheel and forks, and take apart one of the forks so that I could polish it (one was leaking and the other didnít seem to have much fluid in it).

Forks. Tough to tell here, but the fork lowers are in rough shape.


Fork cap.

To get the forks apart, you need to push down on the top cap to remove the snap ring. Iíve never dealt with forks like this before, but it wasnít hard once I found a volunteer to help. Once one fork was apart I hit the lower with stripper and then sanded it with 220 to smooth the more severe pitting. This is gonna take a while! (and no pics until Iím closer to finishing). I went out and bought 220, 320, 500, 800, 1000, 1500 wet sandpaper, and lots of polishing supplies (buffer wheels and wire wheels for my new bench buffer, and some Dremel attachments). Iím not very patient, so this will be a good learning experience for me. I left the other fork intact so I have a reference in case I forget how it goes back together. :)

I also spent some time this week tearing down the rest of the frame. I labeled all of the wiring as I went along, which I hope will make reassembly easier. Compared with my last bike project, Iím starting to understand what all of the wires are for. Some picsÖÖ




Getting some of the bolts loose was a little tough, but the impact driver and punch set I picked up last week saved my bacon on several occasions. Finally, I was down to removing the last few bits from the frame. Might as well strip everything off I guess.

Swingarm. That chain has gotta go!


Frame with steering head. Sorry for the crappy pic.


Steering head removed! Only one set of races remain in the frame.


I then packed up the various smaller bits and moved them to my shop/lab.


Next up will be some cleaning/stripping/sanding/polishing. Iím also thinking Iíll start ordering a few replacement parts this week (new bolts/seals etc.) Weíll see how it goes.

At some point Iím going to start sorting out my design plans. Iím going to cafť this bike, but I havenít decided exactly how much. Right now Iím leaning toward ďall outĒ which would include cleaning out the area where the battery/airbox sits and relocating all of that stuff to the rear. Iíve never done anything like this before, but Iím taking a welding class in January, so that ought to help. Iíd like to powdercoat the frame too, but Iíll need to know exactly how everything will fit before I can send it out. I might go ahead and start looking over the tank and making a seat soon, and then design everything else around them. Make sense?
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Old 03-10-2012, 05:12 PM   #8
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December 12, 2011 (part 1)

I had a few thoughts late last night.

Rather than go with clubman-style bars, I'm thinking of going all the way and doing clip-ons. That way I could grind down bar holders on the top of the triple tree and maybe mount a gauge a little more flush with the top. Make sense? I might be able to fabricate a new triple tree at some point as well (I'm taking a machine shop class next summer or it should be easy enough for someone with a C&C machine to do).

I'm still not sure about the gauges either. I could rebuild mine and use them, although I want to simplify the front end a bit though so I will almost certainly dump the huge cluster between the speedo and tach, and maybe replace everything with a combined gauge (Acewell makes a cool one for $$$). That means moving the neutral and oil pressure indicator lights too. The bike actually has a gear indicator (not bad for 1981), which would be kind of cool to keep, but that's a lot of extra wires. Maybe I'll make a bracket of some sort with LEDs showing the gear indicator? Maybe just keep an "overdrive" light for 6th gear?

So many decisions.

I think I've decided on a color scheme. I'm going with silver + black accents.

December 12, 2011 (part 2)

I started the morning off looking over the front and rear brake calipers. WowÖ.theyíre BAD! I ordered OEM replacements for all of the various seals and fasteners on the front, along with some aftermarket pads. For the rear calipers I ordered pretty much everything except the caliper body (which is rough enough too but can be refinished). Not cheap, but I donít take chances with brakes. I suppose I could have just gone with another set of calipers, but I would like to be somewhat true to the vintage of the bike. I also broke down and ordered the Haynes manual to go along with the OEM and Clymer ones (might as well have them all Ė itíll be worth it when I start the engine work).

I am planning to repaint the calipers soon. I didnít take apart the master cylinders, but I think theyíre in better shape.

Next I looked at the ignition switch. Unfortunately, none of the eBay sellers has this number available (my key is mangled). The switch itself is also bent at the top (!) and badly dented/faded, so I might just get a replacement anyway. Weíll see.

Putting that aside, I picked up the fork Iíve been working on. I measured the springs from the disassembled fork and they checked out fine. I then continued sanding the lower fork leg I removed last week. Here it is after a 220 grit sanding.


I went up and did a little sanding with 500, 800, and 1000. I should likely have spent a little more time on 220-1000 (I spent forever with the 220 getting the pitting smooth), but I was trying to avoid having my hands bleed too much (!)Here is a leg in comparison to the one that hasnít been touched. Ready or not this is ready for polishing!



I then set up my new bench polisher. Within 10 minutes the leg was looking like this (a little brown followed by white compound on a softer wheel).


I didnít really need this much shine, but it just came out that way and I kind of like it. It still needs a hand polish to be complete (and I polished it again after this pic was taken). Itís not perfect (if you look closely you can see varying degrees of cross marking), but itís more than good enough for me. Itíll be faded soon enough anyway, but it looks 1000x better than when I started. FINALLY, some PROGRESS.

Should I clearcoat the leg or just leave it and polish it regularly? [I ended up leaving it]

I also dropped by the hardware store and picked up an angle grinder. Iím gonna need it to grind down the top triple tree and to cut off the rear of the frame.

I spent some time taking off the rotors from the wheels and I brought the wheels to my lab. I cleaned a little of the grime off the engine as well.

Tomorrow I wonít have any time to work on the bike, but Iím planning to do more stripping and sanding starting on Wednesday.
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Old 03-10-2012, 05:14 PM   #9
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December 15, 2011:

Update:

Tuesday afternoon I dropped by a large industrial shop and picked up some grinding wheels to grind aluminum. Iím going to use them to carve off the handlebar mounts from the top triple tree bracket. Itís full cafť for this bike. I mention this event only because while at the shop picking them up the President of the company backed up and scratched/dented the side of my wifeís new BMW. I spent the rest of the afternoon driving to a distant body shop for an estimate. $1300 to repair, and this is only the second time Iíve driven her car (I normally drive a van on the verge of becoming a true ďbeaterĒ).
Things got better Tuesday night when I took apart the second fork. It put up quite a fight, but itís done. Here it is mostly disassembled. Looks rougher than the first one on the inside. The OEM manual calls for ENGINE OIL mixed with TRANSMISSION OIL. Since we now have this stuff called FORK OIL, I will be experimenting with that instead of the voodoo recipe when the forks go back together.

Fork from hell.

I woke up bright an early yesterday morning, sent the kids off to school, and headed directly for the ďlab.Ē I must have been feeling sadistic because this morning I decided to try and get the crankcase and alternator covers off before I even had my morning coffee. Over 20 ancient Phillips screws (mostly #3 size) stared back at me....laughing. The left side ones looked pretty good (intact), but the right ones were deliciously pre-stripped.

I started with the left side to warm up (alternator cover). It wasn't so bad. My impact driver made short work of ALL of the screws. Once inside, the stator looked like crap - no wonder the bike won't charge properly. A lot of little washers came flying out of the starter gears, but the parts diagram will help me here.

-------
WARNING: A pointless and overly-detailed account follows. If you donít enjoy reading about endless frustration and silly drama, please close your browser NOW.

So next I tackled the right (crankcase) cover. ELEVEN rounded off screws. Ugh.

Screw #1 Ė no go with the impact driver; no go with a punch on an angle, no go with vise grips. OK. Time for the Dremel, which is at home, so on to #2 for nowÖ.

Screws #2 through #6- WOOT! Some tense moments, but these all broke loose.

Screws #7 ĖNope. Nadda. Frozen hell.

Screws #8 & 9 Ė Easy as pie with the driver.

Screws #10 and #11 Ė It was CRITICAL that these break loose because they are partially buried by the engine. One false move here and I might have to use the drill (and the last time I did that I machined the cover badly). Using ALL of my skills, I carefully set the driver and struck it soundly. Nothing. Again. Nothing. Again 25 more times. Nothing. Then #10 stripped out. The #11. Damn. Damn. Damn. 10 more minutes of various tools. Nothing.

So I went back home to get the Dremel. On the way outside I dropped it. Oops! I broke my last cutting wheel. ARGH. So it was off to Tractor Supply. What?! No cutting wheels? Off the local hardware storeÖ.none either?! Fine, off to the nearest ďrealĒ town 25min away.
About $100+ in tools later (got a 6Ē bench new vise on sale + screwdriver set + locking pliers set), I bought my $5 pack of cutting wheels and headed home. I really gotta stay away from the tool section. Itís killing my budget for this project.

Wait! Thatís not a dremel wheelÖÖ.


Back in the shop, I carefully cut slots in Screws #1 and 7. No problems. Both broke loose with the slot impact attachment.
Then it was on to Screw #10. I had to cut a little toward the edge of the screw because of a lack of room, but after about 10 attempts at slicing into it, I got just enough to get a good bite and it came out. YES!

Finally, it was Screw #11. It was almost totally buried (pic below). By flipping the engine on its side and sliding the wheel in, I could just touch the screw, but the wheel was skimming the side of the engine. I wrapped the engine in duct tape as a ďwarningĒ to myself (if the tape started cutting, I knew I was getting too close). I had to lean over the table to reach the screw as I carved, and carved, and carved. It was pretty much hopeless. I was starting to score the engine, but I gave it one last try and barely managed to get a tenuous bite with the driver. I had one more shot to break it loose before I had to get out the drill. I reached backÖÖtook a deep breath, and smacked the hammer square onto the driverÖÖand.......it spun loose. Yes!

Screw from HELL.

I finished up the morning removing the oil sight glass. It was badly clouded and the seal on the outside looked terrible. The inside seal had been ďrepairedĒ with some sort of pink-colored substance that looked like silly string. I think it was some kind of GLUE ?! Anyway, it was flaking off and I was planning to blast the case with stripper anyway, so it had to go. I punched it out and it will be replaced.

---------
After lunch I spent a little time stripping and sanding the side covers and fork leg #2. This is gonna take a while! I also pulled the timing cover and discovered that it was so badly ground down with road rash that itís not worth salvaging. In an ironic twist, a previous owner had replaced the ďDOHCĒ Suzuki cover insert with a black piece of plastic that had the Harley Davidson emblem on the back side. Classy. I also pulled out the stator.

Broken stator. It has since been removed from the case and tossed unceremoniously on the floor.


A shot before stripping.


A pic of the stripping process. Yummy.


The fumes from the stripper spray nearly put me into some kind of 80s flashback (one side effect of the spray is that it impairs your ability to absorb oxygen into your blood!), so I quit early for the day and arrived home to find that my Haynes service manual had arrived. Excellent.

--------
This morning I did some mock ups of various seat types. Not enough pics, but hereís one that was rejected (seat too short - you can't see the rear "hump" here because I didn't bother to make one yet). I re-installed the rear fender to give me a sense of where the rear wheel goes. I will NOT be using the rear fender.


Tomorrow I will finish the seat mock ups and pick a design. I plan to spend the rest of the day sanding parts.
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Old 03-10-2012, 05:15 PM   #10
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December 16, 2011:

Ended up without much time to work on the ďrocketĒ today (damn I hate that tank Ė canít wait to strip it).

Did some parts sanding for an hour. Very slow progress. Iíll be out of 220 grit long before Iím done with it.
I did a better mock-up of a cafť seat/cowl. The rear of the frame sticks up about 4-5 inches, so the template is NOT lying properly flat yet. Obviously Iíll be cutting off the rear part of the frame that sticks up past behind the shocks, but thatís for a bit later (planning on doing it in January). Overall, the frame is really well suited to a cafť project.
Imagine this seat style, but sitting about 4 inches lower than shown here.







The whole thing is close to 29Ē long and the seat part is about 17Ē long and ~9-10Ē wide, so Iíll be able to move around a little. The hump is about 6 ĹĒ tall at the highest point, which should be enough to conceal a battery (Iím thinking AGM battery, which I could mount sideways if needed). Hiding the other electrical components will be a little harder, and I have no ideas yet about how to do it exactly, but Iíll sort something out. Thereís no avoiding it Ė Iíll be diving into the world of fabrication soon enough.

I hope to spend a little more time stripping/sanding parts tomorrow. I have a looooong list of stuff I need to order, but it will likely have to wait until the new year. Iíve started too many different parts already). At some point soon Iíll have to bite the bullet and start order some more expensive parts (many of which cost more than I paid for the bike!) For now, Iíll stick to making a few things look pretty.
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Old 03-10-2012, 05:16 PM   #11
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December 17, 2011:

Ended up doing a lot of shopping today. :(

I did manage to spend a few hours sanding and polishing though. Iím happy with how the second fork lower turned out, but the cases could be a LOT better. They still have some character marks on smudges on them (although I havenít polished them beyond the wheel, so some of this will come out). Still, I kind of like the ďdullĒ aluminum look on them since it will blend better with the engine, which will be painted grey. I still have the generator cover and sprocket outer cover left to polish, but both of mine are so badly scratched/cracked that they are probably too far gone to use. Iíll probably buy replacements on eBay or at the local salvage yard in a few weeks.

Before:


After (no flash Ė a roll of tape is sitting on the top of the tall case where a new ďSuzukiĒ emblem or something similar will go):


Tomorrow I start on the wheels. Keeping true to the original design, Iím planning to sand/polish the outer rims and ďspokesĒ and then mask them and re-paint the inner parts with VHT wheel paint (black). If it doesnít look good or last well I can always have them powdercoated later. If I get a chance I will also paint the caliper bodies.

After looking over some frames, Iíve decided that I will be have the frame and swingarm powdercoated after all. It just looks sooooo good. If anyone has suggestions for good powdercoaters in southern Michigan, let me know.
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Old 03-10-2012, 05:16 PM   #12
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December 20, 2011:

My fingers got a lot of exercise over the past two days.

Yesterday afternoon I ran some errands, which included picking up more wet/dry sandpaper and some paint. I ended up buying VHT caliper paint (dull black) for the calipers and painted parts of the wheels because everyone sells it and it came recommended.

I then scrubbed the wheels with a scotchbrite pad and various brass/steel brushes. They were nasty, but having a giant sink at work made things easier. 30 years of grime can take its toll. Looking at the codes on the tires, one appears to have been made in 1991 and the other is older (old coding on it indicates that it was made in the 7th year of a decade Ė likely 1987, or maybe even [gasp] in 1977 since the sizing is non-metric on that one. Both are cracked badly and will be replaced before the bike hits the road.

Wheels started like thisÖ..


The wheel bearings still moved ok, but I could see some rust on them. What the hell, I might as well replace them now. They are originals with 20K and 30 years on them Ė mostly sitting. I drove them out and only one looked really bad. What a mess.
This morning I removed the third rear bearing (the large one in the outer hub). The dust seal was nearly gone on it, but the bearing drove out easily.

Then I did a little sanding. I started by removing the rear rotor and sprocket from the hubs and cleaned them up. Then I carefully cleaned and sanded the paint on the rotors themselves.

Cleaned rotors ready for new paint.


After TWO MORE hours of sanding I managed to get the rim of the front wheel partially done with 220 grit. This is taking FOREVER. I figure Iíll need a full day of sanding just to get the wheel hubs and spokes clean. Then Iíll mask them off and re-paint the inner hubs and replace the bearings. My fingers are badly cut/bruised/scraped from all the sanding and busting knuckles on rusty fasteners. The grease embedded in my hands looks permanent.

A wheel after a little sanding. I still have to do the spokes, polish the bare aluminum and re-paint the hub.

-----------------------

I spent the rest of the day exercising my fingers by going on a major buying spree! My dad sent me a little cash for my project, so I decided to put it to good use.

I started by ordering many, many OEM seals, clips, nuts, washers, bolts, side cover gaskets, new sight glass, and replacement studs/nuts for the oil filter cover. Basically enough replacement fasteners and replacements for wearable parts to rebuild the forks and wheels (itís CRAZY how quickly this stuff adds up!) I paid a little more and ordered everything from Bike Bandit because thereís still no sign of any of the parts of the brake calipers I ordered about two weeks ago from another supplier. From the looks of it Iím doing a lot of catch-up on decades of neglected maintenance. Good learning experience for me though.

In a departure from sticking with Suzuki parts, I ordered new aftermarket shocks (low end knock-offs) to replace the rusted-out ones that came with my bike. I got them for about $100 via eBay and from what I hear theyíre at least as good as stockers and they look 100x better. Iím pretty excited about it. I wanted them now so that I can see how they affect the frame geometry.

I also ordered a stainless steel bolt kit and replacement wheel bearings/seals from Z1. These guys are super-reliable and ship quick.

Then I bit the bullet and ordered a new aftermarket stator from Electrosport. Since I have the alternator cover completely apart, I figured I might as well do this now. Iíll get their regulator/rectifier once I get closer to doing the wiring.

After that, I realized that I had won a couple of used parts on eBay (e.g., a bracket, a Suzuki emblem, a NOS ignition cover to replace mine, which is absolutely destroyed). I broke down and bought a few other parts Iíve been watching as well.

I finished my ďshopping spreeĒ by buying a set of clip-ons and a composite seat from Dime City Cycles. They have a great looking seat and a 10% off sale going on this week, which put me over the edge. Iíve spent many hours staring at these things. Weíll see how they work out. My ďmotorcycle accountĒ is officially drained for a while, but all of this stuff should give me plenty to work on over the next month.

My valve cover gasket and breather gasket from ďreal gasketsĒ arrived today. Excellent stuff.

Iím taking a little holiday break, but Iíll be back sometime next week with another update. Happy holidays!
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Old 03-10-2012, 05:17 PM   #13
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December 29, 2011:

I hope everyone is having a great holiday! I'm back from vacation and starting in on the bike again. Since I donít have too many bike pics from today (at least none showing much progress), hereís what Iíve been up to lately.

Went and saw thisÖ..

Hung around here (Santa Monica pier)

And I lost a little money at this place, although my wife did much better and we ended UP $4.50 cents on the casino. Iíve already used the money to buy more sandpaper!

While I was gone, the UPS guy got cozy with my housesitter, and a nice pile of boxes was waiting for me when I got home.

Parts, parts, and more parts. I can already tell that Iím missing a few critical things for the rear caliper. Argh. At least I have enough to rebuild the forks now, and hopefully the front caliper. My clip-ons came in too!

Stators Ė old and new

Gen cover Ė old one was ground down to the point where I decided to replace it. The new one will be stripped and polished to match the crankcase covers.

Sightglasses Ė new and old.

New cheapo shocks. The extra bushings that came with them are a good replacement for the stock ones. Unfortunately, they donít stay inside the larger rubber bushings on the shocks very well. I hope this isnít a problem. I might wrap the metal bushings in a piece of inner tube to make them a snugger fit. They are a tad longer than the stock ones.

I did do some work on the bike today, but nearly all of my time was spent sanding the front wheel with 220 paper (6 HOURS today alone!) Iím about 75% done with the 220. The rest should go much faster. The tough part is sanding down all of the little ridges cast on the spokes. I hope to get the sanding/polishing/masking/painting done over the next week, but my hands are KILLING ME. Although they had 10 days to heal on vacation, it didnít take long for new blisters and open wounds to show up. I know this is gross, but it seems like the outer layer of skin on my fingers is actually SANDED OFF. Ouch. Feels like a burn. I gotta find a new way to sand this stuff or Iíll be typing with my face by Monday!
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Old 03-10-2012, 05:18 PM   #14
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December 31, 2011:

Happy New Year!

I got a little work done today. Yup. More sanding. Got the rear wheel sanded with 220 on one side (yesterday I finished the front wheel with the initial sanding). Not terribly exciting, but itís coming along. Wearing nitrile gloves with mechanicís gloves over top is helping my hands. Too bad I trashed my fingers before I figured that out. Itís been slower sanding without the use of my thumbs (!), but Iím on track to finish polishing them next week so I can finally start painting.

I also checked over some of the parts I received last week. Iím now ready to reassemble the forks. I will do this next week when I have access to a fork vise.

I do have something that might be worthy of a pic or two. I finally got around to securing my new vise to the workbench and decided to have a go at modifying the top triple tree. Since Iím now going with clip-ons, I donít need the original handlebar mounts. Iíd like to fabricate a new triple tree top, but for now Iíll settle for modifying the old one.

I broke out the hacksaw and cut the tops off most of the way down (thereís a faint casting line on them that makes a nice cutting point). Very easy and quick.

Cutting.

Hereís what they used to look like (pic actually taken after I cut the tops off, so I placed them back on to give you an idea). Excuse the protective duct tape.

One side removed.

Both sides removed.

Angle from the front.

Next I will use my angle grinder (with a proper wheel for aluminum) to smooth them out a little. Iím not sure exactly how much I can remove safely, so Iíll probably just round off the sides. Then Iím planning to strip off the paint and shine them up.
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Old 03-10-2012, 05:19 PM   #15
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January 2, 2012:

I went in for a few hours late last night and did some wheel sanding. This afternoon I finished the initial sanding (220 grit) on both wheels, and quickly sanded the front wheel with 400, 500, and 1000 grit. Then I took it home to buff it with an assortment of drill attachments.

Front wheel ready for buffing.


One side polished. Not perfect by any means, but it shines!


Other side polished.


I will wash and dry it thoroughly, mask off the polished edges and re-paint the inside this week. FINALLY! Iíll likely finish sanding and polishing the rear wheel first though so I can paint them both at the same time.

I got some better looking emblems off e-Bay and attached them to the covers. Here they areÖ..



New sight glass installed. I used a little Yamabond and pushed it in level from the outside. Hope it holds!
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