Monday, February 23, 2015

Stutter Steps

 Remember those weeks when progress comes in stutter steps?  You know, two steps forward and one back. These past few weeks have been non-stop stutter steps.

While waiting for a few more parts to arrive and before reinstalling the fuel tank, decided to check and adjust the valves.  Having worked on BMW and Ural motorcycles, I knew adjusting valves was a quick simple process. But since the Kawasaki is a different animal, did my research on KLR650 valve adjustment.

For a simple one cylinder engine, adjusting the KLR valves is a major process. At least the fuel tank was already off.  In this photo of the cylinder head, beneath the silver cross bar is the top cover plate over the valves.  This has to be removed.

But, to remove that top plate, one must first remove the radiator fan, the top engine mount, various electrical connections, wires and cables, then carefully slide the cover out through the left side, all the while trying very careful to not damage the fragile gasket. This is not something you want to do in a motel parking lot.  While sliding the top out, FEDEX delivered a box with the awaited carburetor parts. Great! Oh NO,  NO... they sent parts for a different KLR.  Oh well, send it back and wait another week for the correct parts to arrive.

Back to the valves. There are four valves, two intake and two exhaust. All four were out of acceptable range. Quick call to a local Kawasaki dealer to find the right size shims, a race across town to be there before they closed and returned to finish the job.  Now on a BMW or Ural, they don't use shims, so you can just adjust their valves with a wrench and screwdriver in a motel parking lot. Not the Kawasaki.  Finally got everything set right and closed up. Won't know if it will run until I finish with the rest of the bike.

The new exhaust muffler arrived. Looks cool. Repainted the old rusty header with high temp paint. They are ready to be installed, except for a small issue.

Look again at the top photo, center left, you can see the carb with cables going into it. Remember the wrong parts FEDEX delivered?  The easiest way to work on the carb is to loosen the clamp screws and rotate the carb to gain access to the bottom without having to totally remove it. If I install the exhaust, it will block access to the carb bottom. So installing the exhaust will have to wait until the correct carb parts arrive. Rework the carb first then install the new exhaust.

Okay, let's do something else while we wait. Upgrading the wiring and fuses is something I want to do and is best done with the fuel tank and seat removed. However it seems the US Postal Service has lost a two day Priority Mail package that was sent ten days ago..... Called the supplier, Twisted Throttle. They graciously agreed to ship another wiring set up at their expense and they will fight with USPS. Great service from Twisted Throttle.  

Now what? Several mornings I noticed a small puddle of oil under the rear.  Hmmm, the only oil back there is in the rear shock, Since I have to upgrade to a a heavier spring on that shock for sidecar use, let's remove it now. 

Found the source of the oil. The rear shock is shot.  Looks like someone might have tried to rebuild it previously as the bump stop is missing.  A friend suggested I rebuild this shock, But after investigating the cost and issues involved in rebuilding, decided to try to locate a slightly used shock. Rebuilding can run as high as $300. 

Spent three days on eBay, Craigslist, web sites and phone trying to locate and negotiate a replacement shock. There are some very good new aftermarket shocks available from $600 to over a thousand, but since the plan is to sell this rig after I finish the ride in South America, am trying to keep the total investment down.  Spent hours chasing several dead end leads in Florida and California. As of this writing, have a lead on a used factory shock in Kansas for $100. Keep your fingers crossed. 

Hopefully this week more parts and missing boxes will arrive. Then some progress can be made.

Ride safe my friends,


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Disassembling a Kawasaki

This last week was spent pulling apart the KLR650. Rusty bolts and stubborn nuts were the highlights  and the lowlights. Used a can of B'LASTER PB, a penetrating catalyst, and lots of muscle power to loosen fasteners that didn't want to be loosened.

This rusty bolt took a half day to remove. Spray, wait, wrench, respray, wait, wrench, spray, wait, etc etc.  The lower parts of this bike were not lubricated properly after riding in water.

Ordered a stronger bolt kit to upgrade the rear subframe for carrying heavier weights without breaking. Required drilling through the solid steel backbone of the bike. With patience and lots of cutting oil, we made it through...
 with a battery driven drill too.

Was warned about the achilles heel of the KLR - the infamous Doohickey. Also known as the cam chain tensioner. The spring that supplies the tension can break allowing loose pieces of steel to wander around the inside of the engine causing havoc.  The way to check this is to open up the left side case of the engine and look to see that the spring is in place and connected.

With the case opened, the cam tensioner bolt is at the bottom center of the flywheel in the left half. 
Could not see the spring. Using several lights, nothing. 

Had to removed the flywheel which is not a simple process.  Still no spring in sight.  Should be in the dark recesses, where the white spot is. 

Now to remove the next case behind the flywheel and starter gear.  What I find.... hiding behind it all...  a snapped spring. Luckily both ends are still connected to the case. 

Those little pieces of steel can destroy an engine if they get loose and into the wrong places. 

Count my lucky stars it was found in time. Installed a much better and stronger torsion spring, then buttoned everything back up. Won't know if it is reassembled correctly until I start the bike, which won't be for another month or so.

Slowly parts and pieces are arriving. Have been overworking my PayPal account this week.

As boxes arrive, the work continues. The sidecar itself will not be here for six weeks, so there is time to wrench, replace and upgrade the bike itself. 

Nite all

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Looking for a Dual Sport rig

Da'mu the White Wing is almost ready for a long distance USA ride, however attention recently has been paid to seeking a dual sport sidecar rig for South America.

As some of you know, I was riding Chile and Argentina in January 2012 after reached Ushuaia, the southern most city in the world in time to celebrate New Years Eve 2011. Riding back north across Tierra del Fuego in anticipation of seeing the Andes mountains up close,  the bike went into a serious tank slapper and we flipped - head over heels. After a week in the hospital in Punta Arenas, Chile, I sold the BMW and most of my gear down there so I could fly home to see a specialist.

Am now fully recovered and riding once again, after learning how to drive sidecar rigs. My goal has been to return to Chile and finish my ride. The most scenic spots in South America have yet to be visited.

Da'mu the White Wing to too big and heavy for the hundreds of miles of soft gravel road one has to navigate in southern Chile/Argentina. Da'mit the Ural was given serious consideration for the trip but Ural parts are not available down there. There are no Ural dealers anywhere in Central or South America. Nor is the brand well known to motorcycle mechanics there.

For that type of ride one needs a dual sport motorcycle, economical to operate and maintain, parts readily  available, high ground clearance and a network of mechanics who could repair it if need be. That narrows the field down to single cylinder 650cc Japanese motorcycle. Both BMW and Honda have 650 dual sports, but they can cost 40% more and parts are not as readily available as are Kawasaki or Suzuki. So a KLR650 or a DR650, both of which have excellent reputations for durability and reliability, are the best choices to fulfill my requirements for this ride. I started looking back in December for a low mileage slightly used Kawasaki or Suzuki sidecar rig. Found two on the internet - one in Virginia and the other in California. The California rig looked to be stronger, better built. Photos and a short video of it running were encouraging enough to  haul an empty trailer to north Los Angeles to pick it up.  Once there I spotted several fatal flaws in the design and construction that were not apparent in the photos. Returned to Texas empty handed.

Finally concluded that my best bet was to find a low mileage Kawasaki or Suzuki that I could hang a sidecar on. The plan is to later sell that rig in South America at the end of the ride.

In South Texas I found a 2006 Kawasaki KLR650 with under 9,000 miles. I hauled it home.

In Texas, one sees lots of cattle, even bulls. But this as the first time I've seen a bull in a boat...
 in a truck - going 70 mph.

Once home, the KLR went up on the lift for detailed inspection. Every used motorcycle requires service and inspection. One does not know how it was treated or service previously. So everything must be check over. You do that by stripping the major pieces off, cleaning, servicing and replacing parts where necessary.

The partially stripped KLR. 
Have already found several items that need replacing. Rusty bolts, stripped threads, leaking exhaust, bearings, loose wiring, etc.  

While the bike runs, I test rode it before buying, but knowing where I plan to going with this bike, everything must be in sound reliable condition. I don't need mechanical surprises in the middle of no-where. By personally stripping and rebuilding this bike, if I do have problems with it later, being very familiar with it will aid in diagnosing and solving any issue.  

This bike might be Da'mit II if it checks out and is adopted. After the bike is finally approved for use, will order a sidecar cargo chassis to hang on it. 

Ciao for now,