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Old 04-23-2012, 07:44 PM   #1
Maxitout77 OP
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Joined: May 2011
Location: Northern VT
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Max's '85 XL350 Retro Restoration

The backstory:
Early summer of 2011, my girlfriend, myself and some nearby riding friends decided we wanted to tackle the Puppy Dog Ride (PDR) by the end of Fall. For those who are unfamiliar with the PDR, its basically a dirt road assault through Vermont, from Mass to QC. Now my DRZ was more than up for the challange, however we were lacking a bike for the better half. The talk of doing the PDR eventually turned into a date with camping reservations.

Low on time and funds, I began searching for a suitable bike immediately. Like any good ADVer, I immediately scowered Craigslist, finding either something too broken, or too pricey. I had to look elsewhere. Luckily, a coworker of mine is a bike nut, and owns no fewer than four bikes at a time. One of these bikes happend to be an 85 XL350 for which I have been trying to buy from him for years. He was the original owner of the bike, it was in good/great shape, and carried a ton of nostalgic value. Daily I hounded him about selling me the bike. Eventually, my persistance paid off and it was mine! For a nominal sum, I had a great dualsporter, with a handfull of extra parts, oil, and a service manual.



At this point it was just a little over two weeks before the ride, and much work was needed. The bike had sat for 5+ years, however fired up on the 3rd kick everytime. What a champ. The brakes were siezed up, the airbox was nasty, cables froze, stuck links in the chain, etc, etc. I had my work cut out for me. Online orders were placed and maintanance was performed at a breakneck pace. The trip would be 500+ miles, and much work was needed. The XL got new Mefo tires, chain soaked in oil for days, new filter, cables lubed, oil change, caliper rebuild, etc, etc. It was endless.

A short time later, I hit the wall of work I could do given the time and budget. The trip was only days away. Only 2 days before the trip, I took it for the first ride years, It ran flawlessly!



This is just an example of what I was up against:


Maxitout77 screwed with this post 04-24-2012 at 02:27 PM
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Old 04-23-2012, 07:51 PM   #2
Maxitout77 OP
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After I was satisfied the XL would make the journey, we geared up and set off for the trip. We put a great deal of blind faith into the reliability of the XL. The bike performed remarkably well.





Ripping it up through Smuggler Notch, VT
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Old 04-23-2012, 08:10 PM   #3
Maxitout77 OP
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Unbelievebly, the bike ran like a top. We saw temps in the 90's, pouring rain, the works. The motor didn't so much as cough. Although the motor ran strong, a certian area of the bike showed its age, and how. During my garage time before the trip, I did notice the underside of the gas tank appeared to have been repaired. As to what depth I did not know. It didn't leak before hand, and wasn't too rusty inside so I didn't bother digging in deeper. Big mistake.

About 100 miles into the trip day 1, she sprung a leak! The filler/epoxy that had been used to seal up the tank (from the outside) let go. Gas poured all over a hot motor on the side of the road. Not a good situation. A friendly unknown ADVer stopped to lend a hand. His solution to the issue? A bar of Dove soap. I was able to take the soap and work it into a paste and mash it into the hole. Unknown to me, gas doesn't eat through soap. A little electrical tape to keep it in place and seal it more and we were on the way. Throughout the trip, we had to stop and perform this operation three more times. A few beer bottles worked well for gas transfer.






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Old 04-23-2012, 08:23 PM   #4
Maxitout77 OP
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After the trip was over and we were home safe, I had to dig into the tank issue a bit further. What I found nearly took my breathe away. How the bike made it 50 miles, nevertheless 500 miles, it a complete mystery to me. It was bad, and both sides.



At this point I had a decision to make. Used tank? Make an aftermarket or different tank fit? Fix this one?
I'm a sucker for punishment. I decided to fix what I got. Whats to loose anyway?



Fresh Metal



Death by a million spot welds. To say the metal was thin is an understatement. It was easily the most difficult thing I've ever tried to weld.




Done for tonight. More tomorrow.
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Old 04-23-2012, 09:19 PM   #5
Ghost_Mutant
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Yep, welding thin steel is a pain without TIG. I had a small rust hole in my 'good' 83 XR500 muffler which I tried to close up with an arc welder. Proceeded to make it larger and I couldn't quite seal it shut due to the gas movement around the hole. So I ended up quitting that job with a hole the same size I started with, except for the ugly welding beads that surrounded it.

You probably know how much good TIG equipment costs, but I finally found a cheap/old TIG high frequency adapter on Craigs along with a small Argon bottle and a TIG torch with manual gas valve. So I took out the 83 muffler and tried again to fill that hole with the then new to me, but quite old TIG add on. It worked like a charm, and I'll probably never use the regular ARC welder by itself again.

I hope you got that tank cleaned out before welding on it.

Anyway, nice looking old XL. I thought the 85s had blue seats and the 84s had a black one. However, your tank decal and overall paint color does look to be from 85. Did the seat get changed out?

Here is a random photo from the web:
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Old 04-24-2012, 08:11 AM   #6
Maxitout77 OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost_Mutant View Post
Anyway, nice looking old XL. I thought the 85s had blue seats and the 84s had a black one. However, your tank decal and overall paint color does look to be from 85. Did the seat get changed out?
Very sharp eye! The bike is indeed an '85, however the PO sourced a seat from an '84, along with changing the fork boots to black. The only blue part left is the rear shock spring. I do like the black look.

More to come on the tank tonight, its been done for awhile, just gotta add more pics. I used a Lincoln MIG. Both settings all the way down. Worked better than I thought.

Maxitout77 screwed with this post 04-24-2012 at 08:17 AM
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Old 04-24-2012, 02:37 PM   #7
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After endless hours of carefull welding and grinding, the metal work was done! Not too bad if I dont say so myself.



Next came the filler (bondo)



Sanded and primed, ready for paint:



After all this, I filled the tank with lock washers and nuts from Tractor Suppy and hit it with the pressure washer. Lots of rust and crap came out. Then it got 2 treatments of POR15 gas tank refurb stuff. That stuff works amazing. It looks like glass inside the tank. As of right now, the tank is at the painters waiting for its final coat of Honda red (well, orange)
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Old 04-28-2012, 04:48 PM   #8
Maxitout77 OP
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All the fuel tank work was completed in late fall of 2011. Late winter/early spring of this year, I decided I wanted to give the 'ole XL the attention it deserved. After its resurection, and remarkable dependability (less the tank) I decided she was worthy of a complete overhaul and restoration. Here's that part.

Pre tear down (less tank and seat)







Nasty..

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Old 04-28-2012, 04:53 PM   #9
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Almost there



Down to the bare frame. Rusty, greasy, nasty.

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Old 04-28-2012, 06:39 PM   #10
dentvet
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if your tank leaks, i have an extra one collecting dust
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Old 04-28-2012, 07:30 PM   #11
Maxitout77 OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dentvet View Post
if your tank leaks, i have an extra one collecting dust
After 2x POR treatments, I have a great deal of confidence in the repose. The tank held water just after welding, so it should be in good.
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Old 04-28-2012, 10:27 PM   #12
lamotovita
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dentvet View Post
if your tank leaks, i have an extra one collecting dust
And I've got a plastic Clarke doing the same thing.
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Old 03-02-2013, 09:47 AM   #13
Yokomo
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Nice work! I wish I had metal skills.

I've got an 85 as well. I'm looking for a seat (seat pan) so I can make a custom one.

I like what you did to your DRZ as well.
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Old 03-02-2013, 09:50 AM   #14
kubiak
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looking great!
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Old 08-01-2013, 04:50 PM   #15
MaxxTraxx
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Your bike looks awesome so far!! These old Honda's are hard to kill, they just run forever.
This winter my 85 XL is getting pulled apart, new paint on everything, new bearings, rebuild suspension, etc. I sure wish someone still made new plastics in Honda Flash Red.

By the way, check out www.FlashRedBikes.com He typically has random or hard to find XL/XR stuff, albeit very expensive.
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