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'79 XS650 Special Low-Effort Resto

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by BSAKat, Aug 23, 2020.

  1. BSAKat

    BSAKat XS650 Member

    I'm back! I changed the title to make this a thread about my work on this bike in general rather than just the carbs. Here's what I've done so far, what's happening soon, and some pictures.

    Work Done So Far:
    - New (to me), fully-rebuilt carbs using K&L rebuild kits.
    - New rubber intake boots, carb mount boots, and the little airbox crossover boot.
    - New fuel lines.
    - New points.
    - Valves and cam chain adjusted.

    With that done, the bike started right up and idled like a champ. It's extremely eager to run and will start with just the merest, most low-effort nudge to the kickstarter. The other day I decided to take a break from my BSA project, so I pulled the Beezer off the lift and replaced it with the XS as seen below.

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    Y voila. Once I got it in the air, I gave it a thorough once over. It is, without a doubt, the dirtiest, crustiest, scabbiest, most forlorn bike I've had in the shop to date. The underside of everything is caked in ancient dry mud, and there's a layer of mixed road grime, oil, grease, and general filth covering just about every flat surface. It's real gross. It has solid bones, though, so here's the plan going forward:
    - Suspension: These forks are hashed. The seals are garbage and the tubes below the triple clamps are rusty. I'm going to replace them with a very nice set from a junked XS750D I have laying around. The KYB shocks are the ones the bike came with from Japan, so I'm replacing them.
    - Brakes: I bought new brake lines and rebuild kits for both the master cylinders and the calipers. The rotors are in rough shape, but I'm going to give them the flappy wheel treatment to see if I can spruce them up. If not, I'm going to just pull the ones off the XS750.
    - Exhaust: The head pipes are in great shape, but the mufflers are shot. I'm going to cut the mufflers off and replace them with something close to stock using the instructions outlined here on the site.
    - Electrical: I put a new fuse block in to repair some previous owner hackery in the loom. Surprisingly, this thing still has both the RLU and the headlight relay in it, along with the OG regulator and rectifier. I haven't actually seen the headlight work, so I don't know if either of those units are any good. I'll probably still remove them, though. The speedometer was broken, so I'm replacing it with a full set of gauges I bought off eBay that are in way better condition and cost less than the one working speedo I could find. I'm going to convert the headlight from sealed beam to a replaceable bulb then change everything out for LEDs like I did on my triple. I may install a modern regulator/rectifier and an electric ignition.
    - Everything Else: Every piece of rubber on this thing is trash, so I'm replacing all the dampers. New Metzeler tires (ME77 rear, ME11 front). All new cables. A thorough cleaning, which may include multiple cans of Gunk and a trip to the coin-op car wash. A ton of wire wheeling and polishing to get all the rust off. This bike is suffering from the starter gear problem, so I have a repair kit on the way. A new chain, of course.

    So, yeah. I have a lot of work ahead of me but I got a garage heater and a fridge full of beer. Should be road ready by spring. Here's how I left it this morning after more poking around. Poor thing...

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    ThatXS650Guy and Jim like this.
  2. 5twins

    5twins XS650 Guru Top Contributor

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    Your stock fork tubes are 35mm diameter. I'm pretty sure the 750 ones are larger, maybe 36mm, so your swap may need to include the triple tree as well.
     
  3. BSAKat

    BSAKat XS650 Member

    I measured 'em with a caliper to see if I could even do it, and they're both 35s. Swapping the triple tree wouldn't kill me if I had to, but it doesn't look like I do.
     
  4. BSAKat

    BSAKat XS650 Member

    Every plan is a great plan until first contact.

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    Since my last post I've gotten a whole lot of work done, but every task I complete on this thing creates at least two more. I ditched the fork swap idea because the 750 forks were in way rougher shape than I thought. Using the instructions Hugh laid out in his fantastic fork post, I made myself a fork tool and got to work. I ended up rebuilding the 650's stock forks, buffing off the rust, and slapping on a set of gaiters (for no other reason than I love gaiters).

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    The rust on the 650 forks was relatively light, and any pitting is well above where the slider tops out so they were salvageable. Fresh seals, washers, and clips from Mike's XS and some 30-weight fork oil and they're good as new. The left-hand fork's drain screw was ground flat at some point in its life and there's some kind of sealant around it. I didn't fool around with it, and it holds oil, so I'm just gonna act like I never saw that.

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    Now, the brakes. Yikes. Yikers island. After a thorough inspection, I ended up having to replace every piece of the braking system save for the calipers and caliper pistons. I probably should have gotten new pistons, too, but alas... Anyway, after some back and forth with Mikes XS regarding parts and returns (all my fault), I'm now set on brakes.

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    Unfortunately, I haven't installed said brakes yet for a couple reasons. A: I don't have the new tires on yet and I'm not putting the wheels back on until I do. B: Uhhhh...

    So, yeah. The new bushings are on their way and should be here Monday. Surprisingly enough, the pivot bolt and the sleeve inside the swingarm were heavily greased and just slid right out. I had all my heaviest hammers and didn't even need 'em! I pulled the swingarm off and it's currently soaking in my parts washer since, as you can see, it's filthy.

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    While I waited for parts I decided to do some cleaning. I pulled out the disgusting battery box, cleaned it, and painted it. I'll be sanding and painting the frame around the left side of the box where the paint was eaten away by a battery acid spill. I wiped down the wiring harness and the top of the frame (I'll be painting the latter, too, just to cover up the rust), and once everything is cleaned up I'll pop the new rear master cylinder back on along with anything else that's easier to get to with the rear so empty.

    I also started cleaning the fenders, which included pulling the taillight assembly apart. That's when I discovered the tiniest, four-tube wasp condo behind the license plate. I swear, this bike was an entomologist's dream. I've found so many insect and spider nests in this thing. It is, by far, the filthiest, scabbiest, dirtiest, greasiest, rustiest, most neglected bike I've worked on.

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    So there you have it. Right now we're just waiting on parts. Next week I should be able to get the tires mounted, the brakes done, and the headlight/gauges installed. I'll also get around to doing the starter gear fix now that my new gasket is here. If you're interested, you can also follow the misadventures of this bike over on Instagram.
     
  5. Mailman

    Mailman Hardly a Guru Top Contributor

    Very nice progress your making! Hitting all the usual trouble spots I see! :laugh2: I’m looking forward to seeing this come together, keep us posted!
    -Bob
     
  6. 5twins

    5twins XS650 Guru Top Contributor

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    All that side to side swingarm play looks more like a loose pivot bolt than worn bushings.
     
    timbeck likes this.
  7. BSAKat

    BSAKat XS650 Member

    Possible, but the nut was tight against the frame and a serious bear to get off. Either way, the swingarm is getting new bushings.
     
  8. Jim

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

    If the steel shaft (bushing) was tight against the frame, you'll likely need to shim the swingarm. Soon as you get the new bronze bushing in, you'll know if you have excessive side play.
     
    Mailman, BSAKat and Paul Sutton like this.

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