Half-term Report

Where do I put the pedals?
Where do I put the pedals?

Time flies, so they say. And on the TZR project, well, things have been progressing reasonably well so far. What started off as a bootload of smeggy bits last week has, largely, been cleaned, checked over, cleaned again, sworn at, cleaned for a third time and finally, bolted back together. Not all of this process has been as much fun as it sounds. Take the carbs for instance. Not only were most of the horrible little screws that hold on the floatbowl seized, but most of the bits inside the floatbowls were also pretty rancid. Not to worry – a whizz through the sonic tank to clean up the jets, and then replace the screws with allen bolts, and they’re looking good. No idea whether they’ll work, but they’ve certainly got more chance now than they had before. The forks were in a similar state of disrepair; one of them having a dribble of sludge where I’d expect about half a litre of oil. This was an easy job though, mainly because the seals don’t need replacing. Well, they probably do, but I’m not going to as they’re not leaking currently, so I’ll leave that lovely job for the next victim to get their hands on them. The swingarm and suspension linkages were cleaned up, re-greased, and put back together. This sentence covers about 12 hours of the muckiest work I’ve done in years, but it’s satisfying to see the dull gleam of alloy where previously there was a 12mm thick layer of ancient chain lube. The wheels have just had a cursory clean up so far. I need to finish the job there. Which brings us to the picture you see here. Things are going back together now, and currently on the bench is the brake caliper. More on which later no doubt. All I’ll say for now is that it’s going to be a lot more effective once I’m finished with it.

Which brings us to the engine. Well, it’s a bit of a parsons egg really. I whipped the head and barrels off, and ordered new pistons, rings, small ends and head and base gaskets. Plan A was to just rebuild the top end, but a quick look at the 200ml of old gearbox oil in the bottom of the crankcase soon killed that idea. The crank seals have gone, and I don’t have the necessary flywheel pullers and wotnot to replace them. So, a quick call to the marvellous chaps at Cambridge Motorcycles revealed that they’d be happy to take the job on, and the bottom end was dropped off with them earlier in the week. While I had the barrels off, I thought I’d take a look at the powervalves. Which, surprisingly given the state of the rest of the engine, are looking OK. Well, once I’d scraped off 20 years of cack they’re looking OK. While I’ve got them out I’ll replace the O-rings, as they’re cheap, and it’s a head-off job to do them, so I may as well while I’m here. The rest of the top end has had a really good clean-up, and the barrels look good, so nothing else to do there now until I get everything back and I can put the new pistons and stuff in there.

And that’s where we are so far. Biggest expense by far was the top end rebuild kit – about ¬£150 for the pistons, rings, gaskets and small ends. Other than that, a few quid here and there for seals and O-rings, and the normal consumables – it all mounts up though. I don’t know what the bill for the bottom end will be, but one of the joys of rebuilding someone else’s bike is that I don’t really care either, as I won’t be paying it! Plenty still to do – as well as the engine going back in, the electrics are looking like being a bit of a challenge. The loom has been butchered in a few places, and I think there’s going to be some fairly intense use of four-lettered words while I try to sort it out. And then the bodywork will need a good seeing to. So still a good few weeks work ahead, but it’s safe to say at this point that that the bike has just been brought back from the edge of the abyss – it was perilously close to the Great Breakers Yard in the Sky.


Ressurection Joe [1]

Of late, I’ve found myself kicking around, looking for something to do. Next years plans are made (a trip up the Alpe D’Huez and a quick whizz up the Galibier will be the highpoints, literally), project adequate ZXR has been an overwhelming success, culminating in a trackday up at Cadwell Park where I rediscovered an aptitude for riding (and drinking beer with Scotty) that I thought I’d lost along the way. I also nearly wrote a blog post with the most cringe-worthy toe-curlingly embarrassing pun for a title regarding re-covering the seat. Honestly, you’ll thank me for not writing it. So, what to do next? I’d dug out all my old radio control gear ready to make another plane, but, well, I’m not quite ready for the pipe and slippers yet. Only one thing for it. Another project bike.

So, I fired up eBay, and found a really nice ZRX400 to get to work on. I really like the shape of the ZRX, and I’m more suited to middleweights rather than big 1200 musclebikes. So, that was easy. Just need to get on with it. Ohhhh, what’s this? An email from old mate Kev asking for help bringing his TZR250 back from a state of dereliction? Well, that was easy… And so, this morning, I popped along to Downtown Funky Broxbourne to fill up the boot of my car with boxes of TZR250 and drink lots of tea.

Good job it wasn't a Goldwing.
Good job it wasn’t a Goldwing.

On first glance, things aren’t too bad. The bodywork is shabby, but it’s a 27yr old 250 two stroke – so it’s been crashed. Lots. The engine turns over, but will need a lot of checking and new pistons and rings at least. The chassis is, well, just mucky. I don’t think it’s ever been cleaned. So my first job was to strip the frame right back, and give it a damn good seeing to. And after a few hours, it’s looking good. Only one seized bolt so far, and the finish on the frame is something that Suzuki owners can only dream about. With a bit of elbow grease, it’ll scrub up nice. Bang tidy.

Bits of the bike are baggy where they should be firm (forks) and stiff and crinkly¬†where they should be supple and flexible (carb rubbers) but I can’t complain. I’m suffering the same symptoms as I get older too. But, all in all, I reckon this is the start of a great project. I still reckon that on UK roads, a 250 2-stroke is the perfect bike. And while Kev won’t sell me this one (believe me, I’ve tried) I’m now on the lookout for another one. So, if you’re reading this, and you’ve got a basket case TZR, RGV, NSR or KR1S, I’m all ears. I’d even swap the ZXR for a good one – that’s how much I rate them.

[1] yes, I know the story about the mis-spelling.