Beat The Clock

When I picked up the SV, it was immediately apparent that the clocks needed a lot of sorting out. Well, it was immediately apparent that pretty much everything needed a lot of sorting out, but the clocks in particular, as they fell off when I wheeled the bike out of the van. The back of the housing was smashed, there was a large grommet missing which exposed the circuit board to the outside world, three of the four mounting lugs had been hacked off, and the loom appeared to be about a metre too long.

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I didn’t worry too much about this initially, as there was no guarantee that the moribund piece of wreckage would ever need the services of a tacho, never mind a speedo.

But, time moved on, and as detailed further down in the blog, the bike has now got to a point where it runs, and I needed to consider the electrics. In order to do that, I needed to mount things like the clocks and CDI, which is how we ended up here. The first thing to sort out really was whether to stick with the standard clockset, or put on something aftermarket. The advantage with going for aftermarket stuff is that you can drive the speedo from a GPS signal, so no need for a speedo drive from the front wheel. Also, there’s about 20 years of development, so a modern clockset will look nicer for sure, and probably be more accurate. However, pragmatism overcame artistic vision in this particular case. I decided to stick with the stock set (at least for now) as I’ll be doing a lot of hacking around in the loom later on, and if anything doesn’t work, I’ll know that it’s down to my loom bodgery more than an incompatibility between the bike and the clocks. Also, a set of clocks with smashed glass but good internals and backplate came up on eBay for a tenner, so it was a simple matter to combine the good bits of both sets into one good set. Besides, the stock clocks don’t look too bad anyway, and my personal preference is for analogue speedo and tacho rather than digital. All in all, it wasn’t a tough choice.

Having decided what to mount, I now needed to mount it in the right place. In order to do this, I started by replacing the frame. Yes, really… I think I probably mentioned this before, but one of the previous owners of the bike had hacked off one of the mounting lugs from the headstock. This is such a monumentally idiotic thing to do that I just can’t for the life of me work out what the thought process was that went into that decision. Maybe they just got a new angle grinder and were wondering what to do with it. Anyway – a very nice second-hand frame was picked up, registered in my name, and the bike was built up into the donor frame. The old frame was sold on eBay for 99p, collection only. And now, six weeks later, it’s still sitting in my shed waiting for the buyer to come and collect it. But anyway, I digress. Now that I had a frame with the right mounting points, I needed something to join them to the clocks. This was actually made pretty easy, as the company that makes the bodywork I want (more on that later too) also make an SV650 specific clock mount to suit the bodywork. An order was placed with the help from my friend Michael, and I got a mail in return saying that it would take about two weeks to fabricate. I also got a bill for the (very) thick end of 100 quid. Did I mention that it came from France? Hence the requirement for a French speaking friend, and the large bill courtesy of shipping and the current ruinous exchange rate. However, the order was placed, and I sat back and waited. Sure enough, about three weeks later, a large box turned up with the clock mount/fairing stay. First impressions weren’t that good really – the welding wasn’t the best I’ve seen, and the mounting holes were badly aligned.

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Rather than send it all back again, it was an easy enough task to clean it up. Besides, I quite like an excuse to get the Dremel out and make lots of noise and sparks. The frame also needed a little attention from the angle grinder to get things to fit nicely, but nothing to write home about really. Once I’d cleaned up the welds and spatter with the Dremel I gave the whole thing a good scrub with a Scotchbrite pad, cleaned it again with acetone, and then stuck a couple of coats of etch primer and satin black to stop any rust forming, and this is where we are now:

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I’m rather pleased with that. The mount will no doubt need to be knocked around a bit to fit the bodywork, so that finish is only temporary. It’ll get a proper coat of paint when the time comes. But it’s good enough for me now to finalise the position of the clocks, so work can begin on the loom. But that’s for another time and blog post. You’ll love the title for that one… One thing that I wasn’t really expecting was the necessity to drop the clipons by 40mm to clear the fairing stays. The seat was thrown on temporarily to check the seating position, and it’s safe to say that this bike will never be a great long-distance tourer unless you have the build of an orangutan with an extendable neck. I don’t, so I suspect this bike will be used mainly for the odd Sunday hack with a few trackdays thrown in for good measure. It’s definitely going to be road legal though – I’m not going to make a trackday only bike.

So, what next? Well, as mentioned, I can start getting stuck into the loom now – I have all the connectors, crimps, loom tape etc. etc. that I need. I can at least work on the front end, and finalise the connectors to the clocks and controls. Also, it’s time to order the bodywork. I’ve agonised long and hard over this, as it will be by some way the most expensive aspect of this build. But, for every other bike I’ve restored, I’ve always skimped on cosmetics. Function over form, every time. This time, however, I’d like to make something that doesn’t look like I’ve just recovered it from a scrappy and crashed it three times on the way home. So, a nice set of very expensive bodywork will be ordered in the next day or two. Gulp. Hope I don’t louse it up with the paintwork.

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Intermission

As mentioned last time out, a small spanner had been thrown in the works of the rebuild progress – I had tried running the engine up to temperature, and been rewarded with a smoky exhaust and water in the oil. I wasn’t overly despondent about this really, as it’s all part and parcel of rebuilding crap old bikes. These things just happen. There were a few options I could take, and one of the tempting ones was just to take the moribund heap of shite outside and set fire to it. I’ve been a bit grumpy of late.

However, once I’d got over the shock of the spares prices (and I mean that in a nice way) it was really a no-brainer to drop the motor out and fit new head and base gaskets. While I was in there I’d also give everything a thorough clean-up and fit new valve stem seals. The engine dropped out easily enough (as it should do – I’ve had enough practise now) and one of the nice things about working on a little V-twin is that I can pick the thing up and just plop it onto the workbench. If I tried that with a GSX1100, I’d end up with a hernia and a big pile of splinters where the bench used to be.

First thing to strip was the front cylinder, and other than needing to buy a new 12mm socket to remove the head studs (they’re quite deeply recessed, so a deep thin walled socket makes this task a lot easier), everything came apart quickly and easily, to reveal quite a buildup of carbon on the piston crown and combustion chamber.

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This picture shows the piston half-cleaned. I didn’t get a picture of the combustion chamber, but it was in a similar condition. Cleaning it up was easy enough with a small wooden stick to get the worst of the gunge off, then a good clean up with some contact cleaner, and finally a soft mop in the Dremel tool. Easy enough. Pulling the barrel revealed that the rings were largely OK, but the top one was pretty sticky in its groove. Again, a good cleanup got everything moving nicely before a new base gasket was plopped in and the barrel refitted. I’d been warned that this could be tricky without a decent piston ring compressor, but in the end it was easy enough just to squeeze the rings with one hand while juggling the barrel back on with the other. While I was faffing with the barrel I also replaced the exhaust studs with some nice stainless ones, just to make life easier in future. The valves were popped out of the head with a valve spring compressor, and again everything was given a really good clean with cloths, contact cleaner, and the Dremel. I also got one of those little chimney-brush style whizzy wire things in the Dremel to get some more stubborn carbon deposits out of the exhaust ports. The valve seats all looks good – no real pitting to speak of, so I just cleaned it all up, popped new stem seals and head gasket in there, and put it all back together. I also replaced the gasket for the cam chain tensioner while I was in there – at about £1.50 it was pointless not to really. With all that done, the head went back together, everything was torqued down to the proper settings (as opposed to the 12000Nm that the head bolts were originally tightened down to), the cams were timed, and the motor was span over by hand to check there was no unexpected piston/valve shenanigans going on. There wasn’t, so I moved onto the rear cylinder.

This was really a repeat of the front cylinder. No surprises during the stripdown, but there was a lot of oil in the inlet tract, so I suspect that was where the bulk of the smoke was coming from. Again, new gaskets, and a jolly good clean, and everything was ready for reassembly. Timing the cams was again a simple job, so I span the motor over by hand, and, it jammed solid… Eh? I checked and double checked the timing marks, and everything looked fine. Just to be on the safe side I popped all four cams out, and started again. And again, the front cylinder was just tickety-boo, but as soon as I fitted the rear cams, everything bound up when the inlet cam was opening the valve. In an effort to see what the piston was doing at this point, I put a stick in the spark plug hole while I turned the motor, and noticed that the piston was nowhere near TDC – so it wasn’t the descending valve meeting the ascending piston that was causing the binding. Nothing for it, but to strip the lot and have a good look around. It was immediately apparent what the problem was – somehow I’d managed to put two spring seats under one valve spring – which was causing it to go coilbound under compression. I’ve no idea how this happened, as I was pretty meticulous in keeping all the bits separated and identified as not to get them confused. Anyway, with that problem fixed, it all went back together for the last (hopefully) time, and this time, all turned over perfectly. As a last check before buttoning up the cam covers I measured the valve clearances, and all were perfectly within spec.

To quote the sadly lamented Mr. Haynes, reassembly was the reverse of removal, so the engine went back in the frame easily enough, and once more fuel, exhaust and electrics were thrown back together. With fingers firmly crossed I hit the starter button and after a few seconds turning over, it fired up, and although still slightly smoky (which I think was down to the oil that I put in the bores when reassembling things) it was running cleanly, and more importantly, there’s no obvious signs of water in the oil this time.

So, I think we’re back on track, despite this small deviation from the plan. The clock mount is on the way from France now (I had confirmation of shipping a couple of days back), and I just ordered up a bunch of connectors, wire and loom tape to make the necessary changes to the loom to mount the clocks – more of that in a future exciting installment no doubt. I enjoy wiring, and am looking forward to getting stuck into this.

 

Running total

  • Bike: £250
  • Starter solenoid: £11
  • Resistors: £1 (for 20)
  • Frame, yokes, swingarm: £11.50
  • Fork lower (bent): £15 (wasted)
  • Scrap forks for spares: £22
  • Air filter: £0
  • GSX-R shock: £0
  • V5: £25
  • Fork seals: £12
  • Tie-rods: £0
  • Rear brake hose: £0
  • Various carb screws: £0
  • Assorted allen headed fasteners: £4
  • Front wheel spindle: £10
  • Fork oil: £11
  • Alternator cover gasket: £3 (yes, really. Genuine Suzuki gasket for three quid).
  • CR8E spark plugs: £0 (found an old pair of CR9E in the garage. These will do for now).
  • Oil filter: £6
  • Sold fork leg: -£17
  • Clocks: £10
  • Sold frame: £-1 🙂
  • 41mm Clipons: £0
  • Oil: £0 (taken from spare)
  • Exhaust gaskets: £0 (had them for the TRX rebuild)
  • Exhaust studs (42 x 8mm): £6
  • Rear caliper, footrest, m/cyl: £28 (bit of a risk)
  • Disk bolts: £0 (bodged with stuff found in the garage)
  • Clock & top fairing mount: £97. Faaark. Exchange rate disaster.
  • Clutch pushrod seal: £5
  • Sold ZXR750 bodywork: £-38
  • Head and base gaskets: £40
  • Valve oil seals and camchain tensioner gaskets: £20
  • Connectors, cables, loom tape: £80

(Note – not included delivery charges where I’ve bought stuff online, as I’d have paid petrol money to go and pick stuff up anyway).

 

Shopping list

  • Battery
  • Clutch actuator
  • Brake pads
  • Brake hoses
  • Brake rebuild kit
  • Brake fluid
  • Exhaust clamps
  • Chain
  • Sprockets
  • Switchgear
  • Clutch lever
  • Brake lever
  • Tyres
  • Bodywork
  • Paint
  • Number plate
  • Plugs for bar ends

That shopping list is getting a lot shorter now, but sadly, the most expensive bits are still on there – bodywork, tyres chain and sprockets etc.

New Dawn Fades

Over the past couple of weeks project SV650 had made some good progress, and generally speaking I was feeling good and confident. I had a plan, a shopping list, and a head full of ideas. Top of the list was still the wiring, and fortuitously I had the chance to spend a couple of hours up at Rupe’s Rewires the other day. This was brilliant, as I picked up a couple of little tricks that I could use on the SV when tidying up the loom. And more to the point, chatting with Rupe was a marvellous way to spend an hour – he’s a genuinely lovely chap, with a real passion for his work – if you have any electrical gubbins that needs doing on a bike, I’d highly recommend dropping him a line. Anyway, as previously mentioned, I need to locate the components before I can modify the loom, so that means things like the clock mount and subframe need to go on – I was feeling so good that I even put my hand in my pocket to order the clock mount to be built. I’d also managed to blag Sol’s old footpegs from his gorgeous Katana, and they fitted the SV first time. They’re lovely. In fact, they’re so nice that I may well transfer them to the TRX, as that’s my daily ride to work.

Last thing to do really was just a quick run up to temperature. An oil leak from the alternator side of the engine had been found where one of the previous owners had been a catastrophic pillock, and I’d attempted to make at least a temporary fix and at the same time I replaced the clutch pushrod seal. And this time, I was confident enough that I didn’t even bother jump starting it from a running car – I just took the battery out of my TRX, and fitted it. A splash of fuel, some fresh oil, and this time, I remembered to check the coolant drain plug was more than finger tight. I bolted the recently polished exhaust on, and it fitted perfectly, first time. A bit of choke, and within about 4 seconds of pushing the starter button, it was burbling away beautifully, sitting at about 2000rpm, sounding lovely. There was no coolant or oil dripping anywhere, and all was very well in my pink and fluffy world.

After a couple of minutes I knocked the choke off, and gave it a little tweak on the throttle. hmmmm… was that a puff of oily smoke out the back? Well, yes, quite possibly, as the bike *has* sat for a long time. So I did it again. And this time, there definitely was a big puff of smoke, and the acrid smell of burned oil. Still, things sounded OK, so I thought it would be safe just to run it a bit longer to see what happened. And sure enough, every time I gave it a few revs, at anything other than minuscule throttle openings, there was definitely oil being burned. Despondently, I shut down the engine, and went to check the oil level. In my heart, I already knew what I’d find:

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Although it’s not showing that well in the picture (but doesn’t that exhaust look shiny and lovely?) that’s water in the oil. So, that’s probably a head gasket gone, or one of the infamous SV650 freeze plugs gone walkabout. And the amount of oily smoke in the exhaust has me worried about the valve stem seals, and possibly the piston rings. I’m cautiously hopeful on this front though, as the engine sounded solid and quiet when it was ticking over with no obvious piston clatter. While I can service the top ends with the engine in the frame, it’s going to be a lot easier to drop it out again. And that’s where we are really. Progress has been put on hold while I sort out mechanical gremlins, and the engine will shortly be on my bench with the top ends off. I was initially worried about the potential costs of this – but seeing as I just ordered both head and base gaskets for 40 quid, this could well be the cheapest bike to work on I’ve yet found. Heck, those valve stem seals I mentioned? £1.50 each.

While this is a bit of a setback in the schedule, I’m not unduly upset. Really, I was surprised that it ran so well in the first place given the horrors inflicted on it by previous owners. And anyway, I like messing around with engines. What it does mean though, is that it’s now unlikely to be ready for the summer. I dunno. If the engine carnage isn’t too great, and I get my skates on, it may all be back together before that clock mount arrives from France.

 

Running total

  • Bike: £250
  • Starter solenoid: £11
  • Resistors: £1 (for 20)
  • Frame, yokes, swingarm: £11.50
  • Fork lower (bent): £15 (wasted)
  • Scrap forks for spares: £22
  • Air filter: £0
  • GSX-R shock: £0
  • V5: £25
  • Fork seals: £12
  • Tie-rods: £0
  • Rear brake hose: £0
  • Various carb screws: £0
  • Assorted allen headed fasteners: £4
  • Front wheel spindle: £10
  • Fork oil: £11
  • Alternator cover gasket: £3 (yes, really. Genuine Suzuki gasket for three quid).
  • CR8E spark plugs: £0 (found an old pair of CR9E in the garage. These will do for now).
  • Oil filter: £6
  • Sold fork leg: -£17
  • Clocks: £10
  • Sold frame: £-1 🙂
  • 41mm Clipons: £0
  • Oil: £0 (taken from spare)
  • Exhaust gaskets: £0 (had them for the TRX rebuild)
  • Exhaust studs (42 x 8mm): £6
  • Rear caliper, footrest, m/cyl: £28 (bit of a risk)
  • Disk bolts: £0 (bodged with stuff found in the garage. It’s only brakes.)
  • Clock & top fairing mount: £97. Faaark. Exchange rate disaster.
  • Clutch pushrod seal: £5
  • Sold ZXR750 bodywork: £-38
  • Head and base gaskets: £40 (That’s ridonkulously cheap)

(Note – not included delivery charges where I’ve bought stuff online, as I’d have paid petrol money to go and pick stuff up anyway).

 

Shopping list

  • Battery
  • Carb heater (optional)
  • Choke cable (optional)
  • Clutch actuator
  • Brake pads
  • Brake hoses
  • Brake rebuild kit
  • Brake fluid
  • Exhaust clamps
  • Chain
  • Sprockets
  • Switchgear
  • Clutch lever
  • Brake lever
  • Tyres
  • Bodywork
  • Paint
  • Number plate
  • Plugs for bar ends
  • Valve stem seals
  • Various connectors and cables for loom