This Wheel’s On Fire

Time for a slight change of direction in my bloggy outpourings. Normally, I kind of wait a month or so, think of a song title that vaguely matches something that I’ve done, and then post a list of “first I did this then I did that” kind of stuff. Which while being easy to write, probably is a bit difficult to read with a lot of bouncing around between subjects. And besides, I was running out of song titles. So, now that the SV650 is in bits, I thought it might be better to write fewer words but a bit more often, on a particular part of the renovation. (Nearly called it a restoration, but I fear that this bike is way past restoring. Actually, it should probably be called a resuscitation more than anything else).  And, as I’m keeping track of costs, I’ll also keep a track of jobs done, and jobs to do. Both of these lists will, of course, change greatly as things happen and I discover more horrors that have suffered the repeated application of the bodging hammer.

The logical place therefore would be to start with the inspection and cleaning of the engine I suppose. Or maybe the frame, as both of these items are crucial to the success of the project, and are really the foundations of any motorbike. So of course, I’ll start with the wheels. Now, there’s not much to do on a wheel really – so this shouldn’t go on for too long, hopefully. First thing, of course, is to get the wheels off of the bike. The rear wheel came out without any problems. Just get the bike up on stands, slacken off the chain adjusters, whip the spindle out, and pull the wheel out from the back. This was made slightly easier in my case, as the rear brake caliper was already off – if it’s still fitted, you may need to wiggle things around a bit, but things are still largely the same. The front wheel was more challenging. First step is to get the calipers off, which was easy enough – no seized bolts there, so the calipers were put in a box ready for cleaning – that’s going to be another story. Next step is to slacken off the pinch bolts at the bottom of the r/h fork leg. These felt pretty loose already, which was a bit worrying – I think the threads are on the way out there. No matter – that’s easy enough to fix later on. However, the spindle was completely seized in the thread in the l/h fork leg. Normally, a good few days of soaking in penetrating lubricant (I’m currently using Halfords own brand, and I have to say, it’s right up there with the best I’ve tried) and some heat will shift most stuck threads. Not in this case though. I ended up with a three foot bar on it, and the spindle was actually starting to twist. I suspect that the last time it was fitted, is was spectacularly crossthreaded, and rather than backing things out and starting again, the butcher just leaned on it with longer and longer bars until it was kind of in the right place.

In the end, the only way forward was to get the angle grinder out, and hack off the end of the fork leg:

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Note to everyone out there: *Always* wear eye protection when using an angle grinder – I know, this is basic stuff. But I had a proper exploding disc moment, which took a chunk out of my safety specs. I shudder to think would would have happened had I not been wearing them. Anyway, with both wheels now out, it was time to decide which one to attack first. I decided on the front, as it’s always a pain to get the disc bolts out, so I may as well get this out of the way. Again, over the course of a few days, I soaked them all in penetrating lube, both on the disc side, and also by squirting a load into the holes in the hub, to get to the back of the threads. And when the time felt about right (errr, when I had a slack couple of hours at work actually) I got stuck in. Again, the blowtorch was pressed into service to start with, to pour some heat into the surrounding metal. This didn’t get off to a good start, as the inside of the hub was by now full of grease, penetrating lube, old spiders webs, and what appears with hindsight to have been tinder-dry wood shavings for some reason. Obviously, the whole bloody lot went up like a Roman candle, which didn’t do my nerves much good (errr, or those of the nearby Guinea Pig I expect, who sadly expired the day after. RIP Bubble) but it did a fine job of heating the threads. In fact, I may try this deliberately next time. So much so, that seven of the ten bolts came straight out with just an allen key and a bit of light persuasion from the Brummie Screwdriver. The other three were stuck fast. So, I broke out the angle grinder and flap disc to give them a good clean up, and then attacked them with the MIG welder. The normal way to approach this is to weld a bolt on there, and then get a spanner on it. This time though, I tried something different. I poured quite a lot of weld into the hex head of the bolt and then ran a bead out to the edge of the head. Then, I simply punched it around with a centre punch and hammer. All three of them came out easily enough with this treatment. This was a nice turn of events, as I was fully expecting at least one of them to snap off.

With the discs off, the next step was cleaning the crap off. First stage for this was a really good scrubbing with some three-in-one heavy duty degreaser. This isn’t really a product endorsement, just what I had in the garage at the time. With the aid of a stiff scrubbing brush, it actually made pretty light work of the worst of the grime. It’s not cheap stuff (and as such, I wouldn’t normally use it on wheels, but like I said, it was really all I had at the time) but it did the job well. Stage two was a pan scourer and some bleach. Now, I can see I’ll probably get all sorts of people saying this is a bad idea, but in my experience, as long as  you wash it off well afterwards, it’s actually pretty good on ground in brake dust. Just remember to wear gloves when using it! A quick comparison of the wheels shows how successful this was:

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Happy with that. Next step is to clean up the brake discs, and refit them. That, however, can wait until I get paid, so I can buy some new disc bolts. Or, more likely, given my extreme tightwaddishness, some slightly less badgered s/hand ones that I can polish up.

 

Running total

  • Bike: £250
  • Starter solenoid: £11
  • Resistors: £1 (for 20)
  • Frame, yokes, swingarm: £11.50
  • Fork lower: £15
  • Air filter: £0
  • GSX-R shock: £0
  • V5: £25

 

Shopping list

  • Assorted allen headed fasteners
  • CR8E spark plugs
  • Battery
  • Carb heater (optional)
  • Choke cable (optional)
  • Clutch actuator
  • Fork seals
  • Fork oil
  • Brake pads
  • Brake hoses
  • Brake fluid
  • Rear caliper
  • Oil
  • Oil filter
  • Exhaust gaskets
  • Exhaust clamps
  • Chain
  • Sprockets
  • Rearsets
  • 41mm Clipons
  • Controls
  • Clutch lever
  • Brake lever
  • Tyres
  • Bodywork
  • Paint
  • Exhaust studs (42 x 8mm)
  • Alternator cover gasket
  • Front wheel spindle
  • Disc bolts
  • Suspension tie-rods

 

Plan of action

  • *Initial stripdown
  • *Prove viability of engine
  • *Complete strip and inspection of chassis
  • New frame registration/SORN (applied for)
  • *Engine checkover as far as possible
  • *Install engine in frame
  • Clean, and install shock and swingarm
  • Install carbs/fuel lines
  • Sort out ignition switch
  • Install loom
  • Rebuild pipes (May need to have them test fitted first).
  • Install pipes
  • Install cooling system
  • New subframe and battery mount/tank mount
  • New alternator gasket
  • Oil/filter/coolant/plugs (basic service stuff)
  • Test run
  • Overhaul wheels (in progress)
  • Overhaul brakes
  • Fork rebuild
  • Install forks
  • Install wheels/brakes
  • Controls
  • Clocks
  • Bodywork
  • Paint
  • Tyres
  • MOT/Tax
  • Tea
  • Gravel trap

 

As already mentioned, that plan of action is very draft right now, and will change over time, both in the content and the order of events. But it helps me to keep track of what needs doing, and what the dependencies are (for instance, no point in trying to fit the brakes until I’ve fitted the forks…). Hopefully I’ll be able to keep this blog vaguely updated with the tasks as they happen. We’ll see. Whatever happens, there will be tea. There’s always tea.

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Pulled to bits

Without further ado, here’s where we are with the SV650:

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(Sorry for the terrible picture quality. Taken with a phone in a dark garage in the depths of winter. But you get the general idea of progress).

First job with any project really is to strip it down, to see what you’re dealing with. And in this case, while I’d like to show you photos of every bodge uncovered, I only have about 15TBs of space for images. Nowhere near enough. I’ve been stripping and rebuilding bikes since I was at school (which was rather a long time ago now) and I’ve never seen anything quite this bad. The stripdown started with just enough to see if the engine would even turn over. First job was to pop a socket on the end of the crank, and give it a gentle turn. This was very positive actually – no creaking, just an easy turn of a complete revolution. No graunching noises, no obvious piston/valve problems. Armed with the knowledge that the bike didn’t run, I dived into the wiring. The loom was full of horrible bodges, presumably inflicted by the previous owner in an attempt to fix the non-runneriness. What made things worse was that they didn’t have a soldering iron (probably a good thing, as I’m sure they would have picked it up by the wrong end) so all the splices were just twisted together and taped. I soldered what needed doing, threw on a set of jump leads from the car, crossed my fingers, and pressed the button.

Nothing. Not even a click. A bit of head scratching followed, with the aid of some tea. So, first things first. Are we getting 12V into the starter solenoid? Yup. Are we then getting 12V out of it to the rest of the bike? Errr, nope. Not a sausage. Nothing to the instruments, nothing to the starter, nothing anywhere. This was pretty quickly tracked down to a horribly corroded solenoid, so I replaced it, and tried again. First thing I noticed was the instrument panel lighting up like a Christmas tree, which was a positive sign. Again, I crossed my fingers, and pressed the button. The motor span over, which was good. But no spark was forthcoming. I checked and rechecked quite a few things (mainly things like clutch and sidestand lockout switches, HT leads, the obvious stuff) before a mate suggested that the genuine Suzuki ignition switch had a 100ohm resistor built into it as an anti-hotwire measure. If the ECU doesn’t see the 100ohms, it doesn’t make any sparks. Sadly you can’t buy just one resistor. I had to buy 20. But for 5p each, well, I’m not complaining. Anyone want to buy a resistor or 19? A bit of hot soldering action later, the resistor was in the right place in the circuit, and it was time to try again. And this time, there was definitely sparky action happening.

Now, armed with a rotating engine and a spark, attention turned to the carbs:

 

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Yeah. As you can see, they needed a lot of cleaning. And before I could get any of the fasteners out, I had to invest in a set of JIS screwdrivers to even have a chance. However, with a bit of heat, and a lot of patience, they eventually came apart, and while they look like they’ve been buried in the garden for three months, they’re actually pretty clean inside, and the diaphragms are OK. That’s a relief, as replacing bits of carbs is expensive, and you always end up just chasing the least worn-out bits around the carbs until you’ve ended up replacing every single sodding needle, jet and spring. The choke plungers were a bit of a challenge to get out, but again, with a lot of penetrating lubricant, a bit of heat, and the right tools, eventually, they came out too. Everything was cleaned up, put back together, and bolted onto the bike, along with the fuel tank and a splash of super unleaded. Right then, would it fire… Oh, hold on. Oil. Best check the oil first. Good job I did, as the sump was emptier than a politicians promise. I topped it up with some old gloop I had kicking around (no point in filling it with nice oil, as I just want to hear if it fires) and pressed the button. After a bit of churning, there was a couple of pops, and the sound of an engine definitely trying to run, and the headers were definitely warmer than they had been.

I switched it off, and went to have a celebratory cup of tea. 15 minutes later I came back into the garage to find most of the oil now on the floor. Bollocks. Right then, now I knew I had a viable project my hands, it was time to tear it apart. I could post any number of photos of seized fasteners, stripped threads, horrific bodges, but I’ll just leave this one here, to give you a feeling of the kind of challenges that I was presented with:

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I did get the rest of that out in the end, with the aid of a lot of heat, a lot of penetrating lubricant, and a bolt extractor. Which is just as well, as I wasn’t planning on replacing the cylinder heads necessarily. Similarly, the front wheel spindle is completely seized in the l/h fork lower. I think that it’s been horribly crossthreaded at some point, and the only way this is coming out with with an angle grinder and a new fork leg. Excellent – angle grinder action ahead!!

Brakes are, of course, horribly neglected. All pistons were seized, as were the sliders. I suspect that it’s lucky that the bike wasn’t running, as it would surely have killed the hapless pilot at the first corner. But, again, with a lot of patience and cleaning fluids, they’ve been stripped, and cleaned up. Of course, they’ll be treated to new seals and bolts and hoses before going anywhere near the bike again. But that goes to the bottom of the list really – as there’s no point in having perfect brakes if the thing doesn’t run well enough to need them. Exhaust system is pretty badly corroded, but I reckon recoverable with a bit of imaginative TIG action. Controls need basically throwing away and starting again, which is OK, as it’s going to be a long time before I worry about that side of things.

Also worth mentioning the biggest bodge uncovered… one of the mounting lugs for the lights/instruments had been hacked off. Aaaaaaaaaaargh…. This is a massive pain in the neck, but easily solved, as a s/hand frame came up for a tenner on eBay. As a bonus, it came with a new set of yokes (the originals, had, of course, been horribly bodged to fit the ridiculous motocross bars), and swingarm. And to make life even better, I got it delivered for free thanks to the massive generosity of friends. And at the same time I got a lovely GSX-R750 shock thrown in the box along with a bunch of other goodies. Woohoo! It was like Christmas. All in all, things are going well so far. The bike has thrown up a lot of challenges, but I like that. Some of the bodges have just been funny (like the clipons just hacked off, rather than actually fully removed), some have been stupid, like some ****ing idiot putting back in half an alternator cover gasket, which explained the massive oil leak. But all in all, I’m now confident that with a lot more cleaning and de-bodging, I’m going to have a roadworthy bike. And a massive pile of bits spare – I’ll list them at some point, and if anyone wants anything (frame, bodywork, tank, shock, 100ohm resistor (I have a lot of these), whatever) just let me know and we’ll work something out.

Running total

  • Bike: £250
  • Starter solenoid: £11
  • Resistors: £1 (for 20)
  • Frame, yokes, swingarm: £11.50
  • V5: £25

Shopping list

  • Assorted allen headed fasteners
  • CR8E spark plugs
  • Battery
  • Carb heater (optional)
  • Choke cable (may be able to bodge something)
  • Clutch actuator
  • L/H fork leg lower
  • Fork seals
  • Fork oil
  • Brake pads
  • Brake hoses
  • Brake fluid
  • Rear caliper
  • Oil
  • Oil filter
  • Exhaust gaskets
  • Exhaust clamps
  • Chain
  • Sprockets
  • Rearsets
  • 41mm Clipons
  • Controls
  • Clutch lever
  • Brake lever
  • Tyres
  • Bodywork
  • Paint
  • Exhaust studs (42 x 8mm)
  • Alternator cover gasket. I’ll be radical and buy the whole thing, rather than just the half that I need.