Winter Project, Version 2

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Winter Project, Version 2

Postby Fawteen » Sun Nov 15, 2015 7:02 pm

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Okay, my first pass at a winter project (the John Deere 455) petered out after a couple of days. Fixed it enough to use it, he paid for it and took it home.

Soooooo, another motorcycle. I've been cruising Craigslist for a couple of years looking for the right deal on a 2 stroke street bike from the 70's. As is so often the case, everything I saw was too ragged out, too far away or too expensive. Often, all three...

Found this '74 Suzuki GT550 Triple down near Freeport, which is still a 2-1/2 hour ride, but way closer than anything else. Price and condition seemed reasonable, so I took a chance, hooked up the trailer and drove down to check it out.

Wasn't able to negotiate at all on the price, but did hear it start and run briefly, so I forked over the Benjamins and trailered it home Saturday night.

Spent the day in the garage today tearing it down to a rolling chassis. There were a few surprises, but nothing that can't be reasonably replaced or repaired.

Biggest thing, which I knew going in, was that some dishpit with a pair of dykes and a roll of cheap tape had had his way with the wiring harness. Dear God...every stupid thing that can be done to a wiring harness was done to that poor bike.

Wirenuts on splices. Bare wire twisted together and taped. Bare wire twisted together and NOT taped. About 3 feet of #14 extension cord spliced in in one spot. Wires stripped back and wedged into a bullet connector with another wire. I'll be days, if not weeks fixing the harness. New/used/repros are roughly as common as hen's teeth apparently.

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The fuel system had been bodged together as well.

RTV/Silicone everywhere instead of proper gaskets and hose sizes.

A bolt had been replaced with a stud on the top of the transmission case and it had nearly worn through the float bowl on the right carb.

The slide lifter arm on the right carb had been overtightened (I suspect) and cracked.

I don't have a picture, but the aircleaner/airbox had been moron-engineered as well. No air cleaner elements, just two pieces of egg-crate foam wedged in there and the inside of the air box carved up with extra holes.

No other nasty surprises tho, and the tin is all straight and solid. The front fork stanchions are a bit pitted but I think some emery cloth and a buffing wheel will fix that.

The instrument cluster is horribly weathered, you can barely see through the bezels. Dunno if I can buff them up or not, but I may just go with different instruments anyway.

I'm thinking a stock-ish rebuild with cafe' accents.

More pics as things progress.
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Re: Winter Project, Version 2

Postby Fawteen » Thu Nov 26, 2015 7:22 am

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Okay, update time. The engine is out and compression tests don't indicate any issues. I'll probably update to electronic/optical ignition rather than fuss with three sets of points. Modern technology does have the occasional advantage...

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The same clever individual that hacked up the wiring harness is probably also responsible for cutting the battery box in half. A feller from the Suzuki Two Stroke board sent me a good used one that I've sandblasted and repainted.

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Pretty much the entire bike has been disassembled, labeled and stored awaiting necessary repair parts, gaskets, seals etc. 2 of 3 carbs have been cleaned and run through the ultrasonic cleaner and are waiting on kits. I never tear ALL the carbs down at once so I've got something to refer to if I forget how it goes back together.

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Also discovered that someone had farmer engineered what appears to be a Honda rear wheel, hub, brake and sprocket assembly onto the bike. Wouldn't have known until I started looking for replacement sprockets. Again, found a decent used one, this one on Fee Bay. Not here yet.

I've identified sources for about $800 worth of parts including new tires, tubes and rim straps (the little rubber belts that protect the inner tube from the spoke nipples) brake parts, carb parts (two throttle arms at $35 each...OUCH!), sprockets, chain, wheel and steering bearings, brake kits, handlebars, air filters, etc. etc.

Haven't sourced/ordered a battery, repair connectors for the wiring harness, shocks, a fork rebuild kit or the ignition yet, that'll likely add at least another $400. The ignition alone will ruin $200 and may wait until I get all the critical stuff done and the bike basically running.
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Re: Winter Project, Version 2

Postby Fawteen » Mon Nov 30, 2015 8:38 pm

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Well, I'll call that a success: Both handlebar switch groups disassembled, cleaned, contacts buffed and lubed with dielectric grease, reassembled and tested.

Didn't break anything, didn't lose anything (especially those itty-bitty springs...), didn't hog out any screws, didn't throw a fit or any tools, didn't even mutter any incantations.

My memory is too far gone to be sure, but that may well be a first.

Some PO must have had stock in Blue Snot tho. Damn stuff is EVERYWHERE!
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Re: Winter Project, Version 2

Postby Fawteen » Tue Dec 08, 2015 5:06 pm

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Lawd, I hate body work...

Tank is in good shape over all, but had two quarter-sized, right-down-to-the-metal paint chips, one on each side right under where the tank badges go. Plus the plethora of nicks and scratches you'd expect on a 40 year old paint job. Also a few minor dings, two of which I didn't even notice until I started wet-sanding.

Scuffed the top coat good with a Roloc disk and then started painting it with gel stripper and scraping with a hard plastic scraper. That actually went pretty well. Then block sanded with 320 grit to get all the paint and the surface rust in the big spots aforementioned. Now it's spot glaze, sand, eyeball, glaze again, sand, repeat...

Side covers are plastic so no dents/digs except where I gouged it with the razor blade getting the stickum decals off. Again, strip, wet sand, glaze, sand, glaze, sand and prime with high fill primer. Right one looks pretty good. Left one has some structural issues around the eyelets that it hangs from, being fixed with a bit of brass plate and some good old JB Weld.

Thought about hiring it out for paint, but the BEST estimate I got was ~ $500 for the tank and side covers and that was pretty much just materials and giving away the labor. Real paint is EXPENSIVE by the time you buy the minimum quantity of paint, reducer and hardener.

So, I watched a shit-ton of Ewe Toob videos, bought $80 or so worth of Rustoleum primer and Silver Metallic, stripper, sand paper, glazing putty etc. and decided to try doing it myself. Worst that can happen is it'll come out ugly and need to be re-stripped and farmed out.

Went with Metallic Silver as light colors hide boo-boos better than dark colors.

We shall see...
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Re: Winter Project, Version 2

Postby Fawteen » Tue Dec 08, 2015 5:17 pm

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Also got most of the wiring harness repaired, disassembling connectors, buffing/cleaning the terminals and replacing connector housings where necessary, crimping on male and female bullet connectors and the insulating covers, cleaning the wires, replacing the dried out vinyl sleeving, re-wrapping and retaping where appropriate.

Still a few to do, but the wires/connectors concerned have been hacked off and I won't know if or how much to splice in until the harness is back on the bike. Accommodations will also have to be made for whatever I decide to do about replacing the ugly (and power-hungry) stock turn signals and brake/tail light.

Got the kits from an outfit out on the Left Coast called "Vintage Connections" and they can match up pretty much anything for 70's (and older...) Japanese or British bikes. Pretty reasonable prices too.
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Re: Winter Project, Version 2

Postby Fawteen » Wed Dec 09, 2015 5:38 pm

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Set up my tank to use electrolysis to de-rust the inside. It wasn't TOO bad, but there was some rusty scale.

The first picture shows the rubber cork (notice the vent pipe, electrolysis generates small amounts of hyrdrogen gas) used to center the sacrificial anode in the tank and keep it from touching anything.

I blocked off the petcock holes with a bit of aluminum and a piece of innertube for a gasket, then filled the tank to the brim with some nice warm water and washing soda solution.

Hooked up the battery charger and let it cook all day. Stopped the process twice to check on progress and clean the slime off the anode. Worked great as usual.

There's still a bit of rust in the pits mostly because I just dumped the solution and hadn't coated it with anything yet.
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Re: Winter Project, Version 2

Postby curtludwig » Mon Dec 14, 2015 12:46 pm

Lookin good! I like reading these kind of builds.

I've painted several Coleman lanterns with Rustoleum or Krylon spray bombs. With good prep work they can do a good job. The biggest trick is controlling the paint so you don't get runs. The best success I've had is to lay down primer, wait 10 mins, then do 3 or 4 color coats at 10 minute intervals. Let it cure for a day or two, inspect carefully, wet sand if needed and lay down more paint if needed. Saves a ton of time over daily coats with wet sanding and still gives good results.
I then let it cure for 2 weeks, cut the paint back with 2000 grit wet paper, then hit it with polishing compound, dry it good and clear coat. The cut and polish brings out the shine in the clearcoat.

The WORST is when you get a run in the last color coat... Krylon is thinner paint and generally easier to lay down than Rustoleum. I'd been having a hard time finding it, had to order my last batch from Amazon, then I found it at a Michaels craft store...

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Re: Winter Project, Version 2

Postby Fawteen » Mon Dec 14, 2015 4:26 pm

Painting is in the last stages. All the color coat is on and sanded and the first blast of clear is on.

I'm....satisfied. It's not perfect, but it's by far the best job I've ever managed with spray bombs. The issue is some "tiger striping" in the metallic due to a VERY narrow spray pattern. If I tried to overlap enough to get even coverage, the paint was going on too thick and I was scared to death I'd get runs.

However, it's only visible in the right light, and I still have hopes that a bit more clear coat and a final buff and wax will minimize the effect.

I'm gonna hold off on pictures until I can show it to best effect... :mrgreen:

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Meanwhile the correct carb kits finally came in and I got the carbs rebuilt and reassembled and mechanically synched according to the manual. I expect there'll be more tweaking once they're on the bike and running.
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Re: Winter Project, Version 2

Postby Fawteen » Mon Dec 14, 2015 4:35 pm

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Today's project was deciding what to do about the seat. As you can see, the original seat pan was beyond repair and the cover had been jury-rigged and was too ugly to put on the bike as well.

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So, I hacked the rough shape of a new pan out of an old aluminum highway sign and started rolling, bending and drilling to get it to fit on the bike.

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I annealed it with my oxy/acetylene torch enough to roll it in my slip roll and get the kick-up on the back of the pan to match the old pan. The original pan was stamped steel and had a pocket for the arch of the rear fender to fit in. I don't have a way to do that with the aluminum, so I cut a window in it and I'll fiberglass over it before I put the foam on.

The shape of the pan needs a little fine tuning to follow the shape of the frame a bit more closely. I need to mount the side covers and the tank to check that and lay out the changes in the shape so it flows smoothly from the side covers to the back of the tank. Mostly, it'll be narrower in the front by maybe a half-inch on each side.

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All the hinges and bumpers were transferred off the original seat pan. I also need to decide what I'm going to do about a latch/lock. The original was butchered off when the PO lost the keys.
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Gerrit
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Re: Winter Project, Version 2

Postby Gerrit » Mon Dec 14, 2015 6:28 pm

Great job! Not that I expected anything else from you. :mrgreen:

If you go on in this pace you will have to look for another winter project in a week or two?

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Re: Winter Project, Version 2

Postby Fawteen » Mon Dec 21, 2015 5:27 pm

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Front end is back together with new tapered bearings in the steering neck, new cast aluminum headlight mounting ears (the originals were beyond saving short of an expensive re-chroming job, plus they were heavy).

The headlight shell was in about as bad a shape as the mounting ears, but fortunately I had one from my spare parts Yamaha that would fit. Best I could do on the trim ring around the headlight itself was sand it down and paint it black. There'll eventually be a bikini fairing on the bike any way so it won't show.

Wiring harness is all back in place, all the connections in the headlight shell are together, along with the handlebar switches, tach, speedo and various indicator lights.

Front fender wasn't too bad, but it was seriously old-fashioned, wrapping around nearly 180° of the front wheel and big braces/stays front and rear. Chopped that down to just the fork brace portion. I'll mount a lighter, smaller fender from a more modern bike. I've seen a few on Fee Bay that I like.

Master cylinder and caliper rebuilt, new pads and a new braided stainless brake line installed, brakes bled and working. Also new handlbars with a lower rise and less pullback which is my preferred riding position. Same exact bars as I put on the Yamaha as a matter of fact. New grips and bar-end mirrors on the shelf, I won't put the mirrors on until I'm essentially done so as to avoid whacking them on something.

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Swingarm reinstalled with new bushings, new Dunlop K70's mounted front and rear with new tubes and rim strips. Rims buffed up as much as possible, trued and balanced. New set of air-over rear shocks installed. They LOOK really spiffy, I hope they work. It's a brand I've never heard of before at a price I couldn't resist.

Bobbed the rear fender about 8 inches as it also had the 60's look covering waaay more of the rear tire than necessary. New LED mini turn signals on hand, need to finish designing the seat so I can choose an appropriate brake/tail light assembly.

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Engine covers cleaned up and buffed. Not a mirror finish by any stretch of the imagination, but that's way more work than I'm willing to do, plus they're a pain in the ass to KEEP looking good. Just buffed down past the oxidation and polished things up with a little Mother's Aluminum polish. Covers re-installed with a new set of SS socket head screws (Allen bolts) to replace those $(*%) JIS (Japanese Industrial Standard) cross-head screws that invariably get boogered up by trying to remove them with a Phillips screwdriver.

Generator, ignition, and shift indicator wiring harnesses refurbished with new vinyl sleeves and the connectors cleaned and buffed up. New starter motor cable installed.

Points cleaned and gapped, static timing on all three cylinders set with a dial indicator.

I need to slow down both to make this project last and to step back and evaluate what I've done so far. I have a tendency to want to bull through and finish as fast as possible which in this case is stupid on several levels. No way I'm riding it before the end of March at the very earliest anyway. If I sit and stare at it for a couple of days, I may decide to rethink this or that aspect of it.

I do know the bobbed rear fender needs to come back off and be stripped and re-finished now that I know it's going to work. Also need to finish at least the framework of the seat and start thinking about how to go about upholstering it.
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curtludwig
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Re: Winter Project, Version 2

Postby curtludwig » Wed Dec 23, 2015 11:53 am

I hadta go back and look at the first pic to see what you mean about the fender but I totally get it. Are you going to blend the taillight in a bit more? Its kinda funny looking perched way back there.

For what its worth I like the headlight ring, its a neat contrast.

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Re: Winter Project, Version 2

Postby Fawteen » Wed Dec 23, 2015 5:55 pm

curtludwig wrote:I hadta go back and look at the first pic to see what you mean about the fender but I totally get it. Are you going to blend the taillight in a bit more? Its kinda funny looking perched way back there.

For what its worth I like the headlight ring, its a neat contrast.


Plan A is to build a cowling on the back of the seat and tuck an all-new LED tail/brake light in there. Sort of "frenched in" in old hot-rodder terms.

Plan B is to mount an all-new LED tail/brake light out towards the end of the bobbed rear fender.

I mounted the new mini-turn signals this morning and there is NO way that original monstrosity is going back on the bike.
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Re: Winter Project, Version 2

Postby Fawteen » Sun Dec 27, 2015 4:38 pm

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Engine is back in the bike, carbs mounted, new chain and sprocket installed, clutch, throttle, tach, speedo and rear brake light hooked up.

Had to modify the brake light switch mount a little, PO had butchered the mount and switch that was on there. Adapted one from my spare parts Yamaha.

Had to order a replacement airbox off Fee Bay as the one I had was missing the main mounting bracket and had other issues anyway. Also ordered a used stock ignition switch which conveniently comes with a matching locking gas cap. The switch that was on it was a jury rig from NAPA and had no key anyway, and the lock had been removed from the gas cap and it was held in place with a hitch hairpin.

Checked out all the wiring except the ignition, everything works as it should once I figured out how the PO had presidentially engineered the switch wiring. The new switch comes with the proper connector to mate with the plug in the headlight so it should all be good at that point. Even the little digital gear position indicator on the dash works!

I got the throttle cable reinstalled but it's in worse shape than I thought originally so have a new one on order. Between the switch, the airbox and the throttle cable, that's another $200 I hadn't counted on spending. The throttle cable set alone is $50, but it's a push-pull with the pull side split to operate both the throttle shaft and the oil injection pump lever. Oh well, it's just the kid's inheritance...

Once that stuff comes in, I'm down to the short strokes. Just the tail light, front fender and seat to deal with. I do need to re-think Plan A for the turn signals, the units I bought are just too flimsy. Walked by the bike and caught one on my coat pocket and snapped it right off. They'll also require an electronic flasher as LED's don't pull enough current to activate a bimetal flasher.

4 of 'em from China for $10, you'd think they'd be better quality... :mrgreen:
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Re: Winter Project, Version 2

Postby Dieselrider » Sun Dec 27, 2015 5:19 pm

You do realize that if you get that thing ready too soon, we will be hit with 4 foot of snow that will last till July. :x

project is ooking good as usual.
If it was easy, anyone could do it!


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