Sunday, July 11, 2010

Patience, Grasshopper

So, Friday I picked up another VX800. For only $200 I bought a 1990 (first model year) donor bike. Plans... What are plans if they aren't bent or broken a little?

The initial plan was to get this bike and use it as a test-bed of sorts. The previous owner told me that just before it was put in storage about six years ago, the entire engine was rebuilt; both top and bottom end. The rear carburetor started giving him issues so he just parked it in one of his storage units and drained the fuel.

Over that time he sold, gave away or had stolen several pieces from the bike. There was no fuel tank, no plastics, no speedometer worm gear on the front wheel and no exhaust. Perhaps a challenging project at best for many. Given I already have two 1991 model year bikes, this was a purchase dream come true.

On Saturday I started cleaning her up and checking parts. It occurred to me that rather than just using this as a parts bike, why not just build on this one instead? Sure, I have a great bit of time invested in the other VX carcass. It was cleaned, painted, clearcoated, received a new steering head bearing set, completely re-wrapped wiring harness and likely quite a few other things.

Optimistically I picked up a fresh battery, oil filter, oil and battery strap from Nevada Suzuki. After returning home I replaced the oil and coolant. Carefully attaching the battery, all the electronics seemed to check out except for the brake light switch for the front brake. No problem, I had a working one. The choke cable was seized but an afternoon soak in WD40 took care of that. Plugs were giving off a good spark, oil pump was able to generate acceptable pressure when cranking, cylinders and valves were holding compression; it was a very promising and productive day.

After mounting the exhaust system (incorrectly the first few times I may add), the temp had soared to near 115 in my garage. As much as I really wanted to continue working, continuing would have likely been a little dangerous.

This morning, bright and early at 5:30 I couldn't sleep. There was an excitement in the air. I wanted to hear her run, as admittedly unlikely as that could be. Bikes usually don't crack right off after a six year nap in storage.

By 6:45 I had a mixture of SeaFoam and fuel in the tank and had installed a new fuel line and fuel filter. After taking my daughter to work, it was time. With fire extinguisher close by, I mounted the tank and connected the fuel line. With the petcock open, all fuel lines and electronics were methodically checked. We have GO.

The choke is open, key on, clutch in, I hit the starter. Within five seconds of cranking the front cylinder starts catching. It was exciting but not elating... yet. Then the rear started to catch. Blue and white smoke and all sorts of dust and dirt start flying out of the exhaust. A few twists of the throttle and the bike is showing life! She is limping and coughing and sputtering but is alive.

Now I am elated!

The blue smoke is from old junk hydrocarbons that have accumulated in the engine. The white is from the SeaFoam. All is good. Then I smell fuel. That is something I didn't want. As sublime an experience this was for me, attention to every little thing was necessary.

Under the bike was a large pool of fuel. Hitting the kill switch and turning on my vent fan I go over everything. After consulting a few people it was obvious. The floats or needle valves were gummed up. This caused fuel to be pumped out the carb breather tubes and enrich the air/fuel mixture to a point where running the engine would be a severe challenge.

After several further running tests, each time the engine running smoother and more confidently, it was obvious the carbs needed to be removed and cleaned. The temp was about 115F. As much desire there was to continue, as much drive as there was to hear her growl again, doing so would have been, as it would have been on Saturday, dangerous.

Yes, she growls. Two separate people heard her run and they both used the same adjective; growl.

Before the dis assembly process began, I HAD to do it. After a few minutes the plastic pieces and seat were mounted. She is tall, narrow, she growls, balance is better than any bike I have ever been on, and in the saddle, she feels wonderful.


mq01 said...

OH MY, and all for the enormous price of $200. :) your mechanical savvy and intuition were correct... that is TOO COOL!!! Congrats Razor!

WooleyBugger said...

What a frekin steal Ken. She looks great.

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