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1975 xs650... let the games begin

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by Ethan Johnson, Mar 24, 2018.

  1. Hello everyone, I have acquired a 1975 xs650 with only 8000 miles. I am officially beginning to restore it while attempting to keep it close to original as possible. I know there are many options to customize these bikes, such as the chopper bobber and or cafe racer. Bur any tips or tricks would be appreciated. I have started by re wrapping the seat and bringing the exhaust back to life. Interesting what a little coke and aluminum foil can do to chrome. The bike runs okay, but I notice a leak out of the bottom of one carb when the petcocks are turned on and the bike is off. I adjusted the float level but it still seems to leak. Any idea on what order to figure this darn thing out? Well here is a few pics to start. I am officially addicted to this darn thing

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Mar 24, 2018
  2. Jim

    Jim Beyond the edge is the unknown. Here be Dragons XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Welcome to the forum Ethan!!
    I'm plum tickled to see someone new here that want's to restore one of these girls instead of hacking her up.
    You've either got a bad float needle valve or some trash stuck in it... or a sunk float.... go to the Tech section. There's lots there on carbs.
    Your pics didn't show up. Please try again.... we love pics here:)
    Jake Meadows and robinc like this.
  3. Thanks Jim! I believe the pics have uploaded. It is just a few, but I will take some more tomorrow.
    gggGary and Jim like this.
  4. Jim

    Jim Beyond the edge is the unknown. Here be Dragons XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    I see em now...
    Looks like a good resto bike.
  5. robinc

    robinc Member of the 'yellow meter gang' Top Contributor

    Welcome Ethan. Nice bike and a nice start. Enjoy the process.

    Lots of help available here. The search button will be your new best friend for awhile. And like Jim says, lots of resources in the tech section.

    I think that model is about the nicest paint job of all years.

    Looking forward to seeing more pics.
    Jim likes this.
  6. Mailman

    Mailman Hardly a Guru Top Contributor

    Welcome to the forum Ethan, it looks as though you’ve got a great staring point there. You’re definitely going to have to take those carbs off for a thorough cleaning. In the tech section , this is required reading.
    http://www.amckayltd.com/carbguide.pdf The first time you look at it, it seems dense, but trust me, you’ll find yourself referring back to it.

    For cleaning up your exhaust, I had very good results with 00 steel wool and kerosene ( mine had burnt on oil)
    Then for a final clean and shine Blue Magic is a great product, it works wonders on aluminum also.

    If you haven’t already got one, get yourself a manual or two. Chilton and Haynes are a couple good ones.
    Lots of good people on this site and a wealth of tech support.

    Have fun with your new project!
    robinc likes this.
  7. MaxPete

    MaxPete Lucille, Betty & Demi - I suggest but THEY decide. XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Hi Ethan - from Canada’s sunny southern coast in Windsor, Ontario!

    You’ve got my dream bike - a beautiful black, gold and white XS650B. I had one that I bought used in 1977 or so and rode till 1981. I installled a cheapo knock-off Vetter fairing and rode that thing all over eastern North America - and she was awesome. Nearly 100,000 trouble-free miles (except for the alternator brushes - but that’s a two-beer story) and one of the sexiest paint jobs ever put on two wheels IMO.


    Now - to your carb problems and the leaking when the petcocks are open. Here is some more advice:
    • Grab the carb guide and a shop manual or two as suggested by Mailman and others (and READ them very carefully);
    • You may get away with a carb clean - be VERY gentle on the brass floats and also on the rubber carb mounting manifolds;
    • If that doesn’t work to stop the leak, you likely need new float needle valves and seats and possibly new floats (not hugely expensive) and the best choice is to buy the OEM parts from a supplier like Boats.net who sell real Yamaha OEM parts.
    Most folks on the forum have found that aftermarket carb parts are inferior and usually either don’t work well or don’t stand up for long.

    Stick at it - you’ve got a really fine bike there!

    Last edited: Mar 24, 2018
    Wulfbyte, MrBultaco, txxs and 4 others like this.
  8. Thanks for all the great feedback! Grabbed a few more pics for you guys. For starters, I went out to the garage and as you can see I got out to the garage and there was a pool of gas under the bike. I looked and saw that I turned the fuel in the "reserve" position and it was still leaking. It looks like out the bottom overflow tube in the car. I then turned the pet cock to the "off" position and came back later to see fuel dripping out of the back of the carb. So looks like I need to start reading up!

    The next step will be to pull the carb and give it a much deserved cleaning. Below, is also a picture of inside of the tank, not the greatest picture, but I do see a little bit of rust in there. I took a little polish time on the left side cover with some sand paper. After a long time and a lot of painful elbow grease, it is starting to look okay. The handle bar seems to have a little play in it that I will have to look into. The rear shocks are quite a bit weathered and rusted. Any tips on how to remove the rust and give them a shine again? I ran a little polish on the rear chrome wheel well and it seemed to shine up nicely. Also the wheels seem to be peeling and in need of attention.

    Also don't ask me why, but the owner before me must of liked electrical tape. He taped the front fork seals that were worn down. Which definitely need to be rebuilt. And he also electrical taped the side cover tabs, I assume to stop them from clanging.

    One thing I have no clue about, is the darn polishing, sanding, restoring chrome and aluminum thing. Any short cuts or money/time saving tips will be all ears. Actually.... any kind of tips would be much appreciated.

    For some reason, I have a dream to get this thing beautiful again and take it for a nice long trip this summer. Hopefully I can get the bike road worthy. :bike:

    Here is a few more pics for starters, Cheers!

    Attached Files:

  9. MaxPete

    MaxPete Lucille, Betty & Demi - I suggest but THEY decide. XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    A couple of comments Ethan:
    • Your fuel lines (and likely most of the other rubber parts on the bike) need to be replaced:
    • The inside of the tank doesn’t actually look too bad. There is lots of info on refurbing fuel tanks - but resist the temptation to use any sort of coating. The best bet is to simply put some gravel/machine nuts etc. in there along with a couple of litres of water and swirl it around for several hours. The metal or gravel acts as an abrasive and will effectively remove the rust. Then just keep the tank full of fresh fuel and it should be fine.
    • Yamaha built these bikes from good quality materials and so the chrome usually cleans up pretty well and the aluminium engine cases and those beautiful flanged wheel rims will buff up to a mirror finish. All it takes is elbow grease.
    The difficult issues usually centre on the carbs and the electrical system. Fortunately, NOS (new old stock) Yamaha parts as well as many decent aftermarket parts are available for both of these systems and there is tons of expertise on this Forum - so go slowly, work methodically and ask lots of questions. You WILL get the answers and wind up with a reliable bike that is a blast to ride and a total chick magnet.

    (Well, maybe not a chick magnet - but at least it will sound like a motorcycle and not a kitchen appliance).

    Here is a key tip that will really help you in locating parts:
    • Go to a parts company site like www.boats.net and look for the parts listing for your model and year of bike (the 1975 Yamaha XS650B is there);
    • Go to the applicable system on the parts listing (say the carbs);
    • You will find a diagram with an exploded view of all the parts on the carbs along with a list of the part names and Yamaha part numbers (the P/N will usually begin with the digits “447 which is the internal Yamaha designator for the XS650 family of bikes - ALTHOUGH the earlier 650s used the designator “256” which is an important distinction).
    • That full Yamaha part number is absolutely golden information.
    Now - in many cases, boats.net actually stocks the Yamaha part and will happily sell it to you. However, if the part is listed as “Not available” - don’t despair. Simply take that full Yamaha part number - and stick it into the search window of your web search engine (Google etc.) and you may very well find that somebody - somewhere has got that exact part for sale - often at a very reasonable price.

    A lot of those parts were sitting on a dusty shelf in a dealership - and have been bought up by parts re-sellers and offered up on the web listed by their OEM parts number.

    NOTE: when you use Google - you only need the part number - NO words, part names or other descriptors. Just the OEM part number itself.

    The other important thing to realize is that many simple parts like nuts and bolts and standard mechanical components such as seals and bearings have been used on a wide array of other bike models - including some recent and even current ones.

    So - if you click on the part number in the boats.net listing - it will give you a list of all the other bike models that use that very same part - and THAT list of other models is also golden information.

    For one thing, you could go to a bike wrecking yard and find the correct part for your XS650B on another bike - and it widens your search window at dealerships as well.

    Let’s say you need an acorn nut to hold on your shock absorber and you go ask your Yamaha dealer for one for a 1975 XS650B. They will likely say “No way Jose - we don’t stock 40 year old parts” but if you ask them for the Yamaha part number and mention that it is used on the 2009 FZR600 (or whatever) - he will likely have one of THOSE parts - or he will be able to get one fast.

    Onward and upward!

    Last edited: Mar 26, 2018
  10. Thanks for the much needed tips Pete! And that is one awesome pic, 100000 miles is incredible.

    Mailman, what a great read. I will have the carbs good to go in no time.

    I do have to make sure I don't rush this just to be able to ride it. Will tackle one project at a time.
    MaxPete, Jim and robinc like this.
  11. Mailman

    Mailman Hardly a Guru Top Contributor

    With regards to the rubber bits on your bike, most are still available and not too expensive. Your handlebars are rubber mounted, you can still buy the rubbers. Your sidecover with the electrical tape? Again there should be a rubber piece that the sidecover hangs on, still available.
    Check out Mikes XS

    Another good supplier

    You can also find a lot of random parts on eBay

    Regarding polishing, Yamaha sprayed a clear coat on top of all the aluminum parts. Over time the clear can turn a yellowish color, or look like stains or even peel off. The first step is to remove the clear coat with a paint stripper, then start gently. You can always get more aggressive later if necessary. Go easy with the sandpaper, it’s scratchy and you may not even need it unless you have a lot of corrosion. Once you start sanding you’re going to have to finish with a buffer and compounds.

    Here is a photo of a side case that I recently did. All that was done to it was to strip the clear coat, wash with soapy water, then polish with Blue Magic. Mothers and Semi Chrome are also good products.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2018
  12. MaxPete

    MaxPete Lucille, Betty & Demi - I suggest but THEY decide. XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    .....and you should see the rest of Mailman’s bike....
    Smuggy likes this.
  13. 5twins

    5twins XS650 Guru Top Contributor

    It seems most of your questions have been answered so far but what I want to caution you about are the aftermarket rubber replacement parts. Most aren't very good and don't last long. Case in point are those rubber covers for the side cover mounting tabs. I had a couple still good originals on my bike but a couple that needed replacing. I got the repros from MikesXS. They split and basically fell apart after a few years while my good originals continue to soldier on. You can't get these from Yamaha any more but they come up on eBay all the time. Here's the parts diagram showing them, part #13 and 14 .....


    You'll notice they are different. They are actually the same size but the rear one (21747) has an added rubber lip to help retain the cover .....



    Personally, I don't use this rear type, I find it makes the cover more difficult to install and remove. I use 4 of the front "21717" covers. I recently picked up a couple from this eBay seller. I offered him $3 each for them and he accepted .....

    Last edited: Oct 15, 2018
    MaxPete, robinc and Mailman like this.
  14. MaxPete

    MaxPete Lucille, Betty & Demi - I suggest but THEY decide. XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    There ya go - the key is having the full Yamaha part number!!
  15. 5twins

    5twins XS650 Guru Top Contributor

    TwoManyXS1Bs, MaxPete and robinc like this.
  16. cra-z1

    cra-z1 XS650 Junkie

    I agree, there seems to be a rash of restorations going on at the moment. To be frank I was getting tired of the I cut this, I cut that, welded on a hardtail with my new welder with no experiance type build.
    gggGary likes this.
  17. 5twins

    5twins XS650 Guru Top Contributor

    Half those projects (and maybe even more) never get finished. It's not easy to build a complete custom motorcycle from the ground up. These guys watch a couple of those chopper shows on the Discovery Channel and think they can do it too, lol. Well, they can't. Many of them probably couldn't even properly fix up a stock bike.
    MaxPete likes this.
  18. MaxPete

    MaxPete Lucille, Betty & Demi - I suggest but THEY decide. XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Agreed. It’s such a shame how many bikes have shifted from “restorable” to “ruined” in the name of choppin’

    They aren’t my style, but I can appreciate the work and artistry in a well-done custom bike. The thing that always pisses me off is that so many are started and so few are finished.
  19. angus67

    angus67 Welder's penetrate deeper!!

    Case in point. My first xs i hardtailed. Ive put a few hundred miles on it. Rides good. A buddy of mine tried to do the same, but when he put the motor back in the frame, it was way crooked, like15* to the right. We used the same fixture. Dont know what went wrong. Mine is straight. His is not. That motor is now a designated gocart motor.
    MaxPete and gggGary like this.
  20. Thanks for all the feedback. After quite a little thought and reading, I think I'm going to take my time and focus on one job at a time. I have seen too many times people tear down any motorized machinery in the heat of excitement and never get back to them. Since i'm waiting on parts, and live in the frozen wasteland of Minnesota with no heated garage, I am going to pull the side covers and sand and polish them correctly. I know some people disagree with removing the built up "Patina", but I want this bike to look and feel when it was first purchased 44 years ago.

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