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1978 XS650E "Shakey" Build Log

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by Simebone, May 17, 2017.

  1. Simebone

    Simebone If it's not broke, wait week.

    This is the ongoing saga of a black 1978 XS650E that had been salvaged, bought then sat parked for about 20 years. This post is an ongoing log of all the things I have found to be broken and how, with the help of this forum, 'fixed' them to the best of my ability.

    I got the bike in September 2016 for a tidy $1000 with 16500km on the clock. The bike fired right up, but was vibrating to beat hell. I had checked the forum and it appeared that this vibration was part of the charm. OK no big deal. The first things I did was to put in a new sealed battery and a set of fresh tires as the ones on the bike were looking pretty hurting. The choke lever had broken off at some point in time, so i put on a new one. At this point the bike was running OK. TIME TO RIDE!

    On my first ride to work, after about 3km of riding I noticed that my brake light indication was solid and my turn signals stopped blinking. It turned out that the bike vibrated enough to cause all the rear bulbs to shatter. The bikes vibration had caused the turn signals to rotate and point down. Once I got home I straightened the turn signals, retightened the bolts, and replaced the bulbs.

    The next day the same thing happened, all bulbs smashed, only this time the threaded rod left turn signal had actually snapped in half and was dangling by a wire. After checking out the gallery I realized that the turn signals aren't supposed to be what holds the rear fender on. While I waited for new signal stocks to arrive I bought a couple bolts and washers and attached the fender properly. I figured over the winter I could figure out how to build a bracket for the lights. I replaced the brake light with an LED bulb from princess auto.

    In the next two weeks I had found and resolved the following:
    -There was no oil in the shocks, so clean, fill.

    -The brake "fluid" that was left was brown and dank, bleed bleed bleed, fill.

    -The left controls for turn signals had broken internally. Buy a new one and install.

    -The rear brake switch had snapped in half. Buy a new one and install.

    -The throttle would bind at 4000 rpm. Installed a new throttle cable.

    -Rear brakes were for show only

    -The clutch was hard to pull, and would skip a bit.

    For the sake of maintenance I thought I'd take a look at the carbs/timing etc. Upon removing the vacuum lines from the carb holders, the barbs came with the hoses. JB Weld did the trick temporarily until new parts came. I adjusted the cam chain tension, cleaned up the points, and did the timing. Cleaned and adjusted the chain tension.
    After all this the bike would still vibrate backwards on the center stand whenever the engine was revved. What fun! What Character!

    Winter came and the bike sat in the garage until the spring.

    The rear brakes worked about as well as dragging your feet. So I installed new rear pads.
    When I put the wheel back on the bike, the axle wouldn't tighten without binding the rear wheel.

    New rear bearings seemed to do the trick. Tightened the axle to spec and was good to go!

    One more thing I thought. I better adjust that clutch. When i tried loosening the locknut on the adjuster I heard a filthy pop/crack, but thought it was the nut releasing. Tightened the screw, backed it off a 1/4 turn.


    I rolled the bike out to the driveway. Fired it up. Beauty. Helmet on, visor down. Clicked into first and NOTHING. The clutch wouldn't grab.

    It turns out the famous worm mechanism had cracked. OK OK. No big deal. Ordered new worm gear and new cable (just to be safe)

    Once again I rolled the bike out to the driveway. Released the lever. NOTHING HAPPENED.

    I figured I'd take off the right crankcase cover to take a look at the actual clutch. HEY DID YOU KNOW THAT THE RIGHT SIDE IS FULL OF OIL! Well, better drain the oil, and check the bottom sump filter. It's full of holes. Also, the gaskets for the crankcase covers and sump were shredded to bits. The clutch just kept slipping when I'd roll the bike in gear, so I took apart the plates. Checked the thickness. OH MY! Too Thin! So new gaskets, sump filter, friction plates. Time to wait for parts....
    robinc likes this.
  2. Simebone

    Simebone If it's not broke, wait week.

    New parts came. Kevlar Clutch Plates (kevlar! Rad!) New springs and allen bolts for the plates.
    It turns out that the new friction plates were the exact same thickness as the ones that came with the bike. That spec in the manual was for 71-72 plates. HAHA! Well I got these new ones now, so soak em in oil, installed them.
    The new springs were longer, but thinner then the old ones. I put both in a vise and are the same length when compressed.

    I had managed to knock off the kickstarter shaft, so I installed with the help of this video:

    So I buttoned up the clutch. Replaced the gaskets, and sump filter. Filled with motorcycle oil.
    Since I had the tank off I replaced the fuel lines, and vacuum hoses which were hard and cracked.

    Once again I rolled the bike out to the driveway. Released the lever. BOO YAH!. SHAKEY'S ALIVE.
    Last edited: May 17, 2017
  3. auh heck its part of the fun!
  4. Simebone

    Simebone If it's not broke, wait week.

    The bike was running but still shakey as hell. It turned out that the bottom motor mount bolt had sheared off at some point. I couldn't source a bolt, so I made one.
    The official part is Bottom Engine Bolt, Dome Head 90106-10029-00
    The bolt shaft is about 265mm and is a m10X1.25 thread.
    I used ~285mm of 3/8" bar stock and threaded with a hand die.

    I couldn't find the exact length so I took some pics for posterity: 20170418_125915.jpg 20170419_165945.jpg
  5. Simebone

    Simebone If it's not broke, wait week.

    The new bolt seriously helped vibration, and I tightened the rest of the mounts (They were all loose)

    After all this hard work I treated myself to a new side stand. The other one had been cracked and bent under the exhaust. (It came that way.) Holy hell was that spring hard to get back on until I watched this video, and spent 10 bucks on spring pliers
  6. Simebone

    Simebone If it's not broke, wait week.

    The CarbMate:
    At this point the bike was running great. It would start with one stab of the button, or a kick from the kickstarter. I still hadn't tackled syncing the carbs. And since I can't help myself I ordered this thing: (As of May 2, it was $130 Canadian Pesos)

    I know I could of bodged something together with tubing and 2x4s but I didn't want to piss around. Also, sometimes you gotta treat yo'self.

    This thing worked like a charm. The carbs were a bit biased to the right cylinder, but 5 minutes later and a half a turn of the sync screw she was balanced. I used a long narrow flat blade so I didn't have to take the tank off. I totally recommend this gizmo.
  7. Simebone

    Simebone If it's not broke, wait week.

    This past weekend (May 13) the bike started running rough and misfiring. So I tightened the carb clamps. Cleaned and gapped the plugs (They were a bit black). That didn't solve it so I checked the mechanical advance and it seemed to be sticking open. I cleaned and lubed with teflon bike lube, ended up cutting a coil off of one of the springs and that got it clicking back nicely. However, the bike was still running poorly, it would start well, but idle a bit rough. Maybe it's a bit of bad gas as I recently filled with Husky 94 octane (10% eth) maybe that's the issue.


    Yesterday after work I was in the parking lot, and the bike wouldn't start. I checked the points and 'cleaned' with a business card I had on me. That didn't fix it. I got the bike idling by slight holding the throttle open and removed the left spark plug lead. No change in idle. Pulling the right lead would kill the engine. So I limped it home and sure enough my left coil was showing open on secondary.

    I guess it's a good thing I have a Pamco + e advance with new coils plugs and leads coming tomorrow.
  8. Simebone

    Simebone If it's not broke, wait week.

  9. fredintoon

    fredintoon Fred Hill, S'toon. Top Contributor

    Hi Simebone and welcome,
    you "assessed, adapted and overcame", and all without being in the USMC.
    However, the outfit you seem suited to join is the CVMG. The South Saskatchewan Section is based right in your home town.
    Just Google CVMG to find the site.
  10. Simebone

    Simebone If it's not broke, wait week.

    Thanks man. Will definitely check it out.
  11. retiredgentleman

    retiredgentleman XS650 Guru Top Contributor

    The 1978 year is a good year for these bikes, and I mean the 78 Standard and the 78 Special. You are doing really well on the repairs, and there will be many more to come.
    Sounds like you're a "tool" guy, which is OK, but there are often cheaper ways to do the same job. The $130 device will not sync the carbs any better than a slip of paper (bench sync), which costs almost nothing. A small slip of paper, used as a feeler gauge under the butterflys, is very accurate. After using a slip of paper, I use a U tube manometer, and find its already so good that only a tiny touch up required.

    Can you post a picture of your bike? You will be happy with the Pamco and E-advancer; so much better than points and the mechanical advancer.
  12. Simebone

    Simebone If it's not broke, wait week.

    A picture of the brute, taken last fall. Note the taillights holding on the fender. IMG_20161002_141059805_HDR.jpg
    gggGary, robinc and nj1639 like this.
  13. retiredgentleman

    retiredgentleman XS650 Guru Top Contributor

    Good looking bike there!
    MaxPete likes this.
  14. fredintoon

    fredintoon Fred Hill, S'toon. Top Contributor

    Hi Simebone,
    nice looking machine, eh?
    But as you have learned, it ain't just a bike, even with all of it's frame bolts installed and tightened and it's carbs balanced , it's also a paintshaker.
    Which is why the rear signals hollow mounting stems won't stand up for long if they're bolted solid and doing double duty as fender mounts.
    The signals will survive a lot longer when their stems are held in their own little teardrop shaped rubber cushion mounts.
    Best you bolt the fender in solid with metric fasteners and fabricate separate brackets for the signal cushion mounts.
    As you can't really go anywhere without taking some stuff along, think about installing a luggage rack that incorporates
    the rear signal brackets.
  15. Simebone

    Simebone If it's not broke, wait week.

    Funny story about the luggage rack (The ongoing Tail Light Saga)
    Shortly after the above photo of the bike was taken the threaded rod sheared off, so I removed the lights and mounted the fenders with a set of bolts. Then I fabri-cobbled up some mounts out of aluminum bar stock, this included drilling a tiny hole for the little bump on the light stem to fit in to prevent the light from rotating.

    . 20170517_165737.jpg


    After yesterday's one cylinder tumble home the bike managed to cold work the left mount enough that it snapped. You can see a stress fracture starting in the not quite fubar'ed mount above.

    As far as luggage racks, the bike came with this grab bar which has ACTUAL tail light mounts.
    20170517_165822 (1).jpg
    BUT!!!!!! of course it doesn't fit. I think this grab bar is off of an SE if you notice the fender mounts vs the shock mounts.


    What I really need to do is buy some of these off of ebay:

    But where's the 'Fun' in that !?
    Oh well, I got some steel flatbar, and a welder and a saw. I'll get the lights sorted eventually....Right after I get it running again.
  16. Simebone

    Simebone If it's not broke, wait week.

    PAMCO with E Advancer Install part 1:
    After removing the mechanical advance, and breaker points I found that the stock pins in the cam rod were slightly too long for the Pamco Rotor and Advance Adapter cover to be installed.

    You can see in the first two pics above the small impression in the Advance Adapter made by the right hand advance locating pin.
    I used a drill press to mill out the notch in the cap, then a slight tap tap taparoo with a rubber hammer got that sorted.
    20170518_195421.jpg 20170518_195434.jpg

    The pins in the stock advancer rod were also slightly proud (good for them) few fractions of a milimeter. I used a small file to deepen the slot, then with the advancer rod out of the bike, I used the washer and nut to tighten it down over the pin.

    20170518_195924.jpg 20170518_200929.jpg

    Now I gotta figure out a slick way to mount that coil....
  17. Simebone

    Simebone If it's not broke, wait week.

    Pamco Installation complete. Bike's running pretty great! Here's some pics of how I wired it up:

    First,I used crimp on spade connectors to connect the wires from the Pamco to the 'Sensor' line of the e-advance:

    Then, on the wire coming out of the 'Coil' side I connected:
    1)Female spade connector to the green wire, connected to male spade on the actual coil
    2)Male bullet connector to the red wire, connected to one of two Red/White wires on the bike.
    3) Ring lug on the black wire, connected to the bolt holding on the coil. Also attached to this bolt was the ground wire from the condensor (removed) on the left side of the engine.
    4) On the second Red/White wire (on the bike), I cut off the bullet connector, replaced with at female spade and connected the Red/White to the other terminal of the coil
    20170519_202634.jpg 20170519_202736.jpg << Reused ground wire. From coil to engine

    The orange and gray wires that went to the coils/condenser I plugged into themselves as shown below

    Then after confirming this worked, I mounted the e advance under the seat using the rubber band that hold the battery:


    Good to go!

    Attached Files:

    gggGary likes this.
  18. weaselbeak

    weaselbeak XS650 Junkie

    That rod you made for the lower mount is a bit light at 3/8". The original I think was 10mm? When I had this problem on a chopper I fetched a long drill bit (maybe extended one) and drilled the channel out to 7/16. Much more substantial.
    Simebone likes this.
  19. '78 E, nice! Good story, love how you're sorting it out as there's a smile and a nod on every post along with some chuckles too. Yeah, fun stuff.
    Simebone likes this.
  20. Simebone

    Simebone If it's not broke, wait week.

    So this past weekend for fun I thought id throw a can of seafoam in the tank and take her for a rip.

    The bikes running great and the only issue was the chainguard falling off of the rear mount on the highway, and I almost lost the license plate (the first one feel off after the first 200k). I'm taking the attitude that if those parts don't want to be on the bike, they can walk!

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