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An Adventure in Firsts: '83 XS650 Heritage Special Build/Rebuild

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by MarieKaramazov, Oct 20, 2020.

  1. Welcome to another episode of weird, unexpected problems on my bike. For today's feature, we have: being unable to turn the ignition key.
    I went out to do the test ride about 2 hours ago--I finished everything up yesterday as it got dark and left it ready to ride today, or so I thought. The key wouldn't go all the way in the ignition at first. I wiggled it, put the key in both ways, etc. After a good 10+ minutes, it went in more, but still seemed shy of being completely in and it wouldn't turn. I looked online. Saw graphite (or dry lube if you have it available, which I don't on hand) from a pencil being recommended put down the slot. I put some shavings in and put pencil on the key as well. Still at this point:
    Perhaps that is all the way, but it looks like it should sink a bit deeper to that faint brownish line, and at an angle you can still see some of the key shape showing. Even if it is all the way in fact remains it won't turn. I pushed, wiggled, jiggled...housing got stuck in the depressed position for a bit but I got it back up. I cleaned the key and tried again. Same. While I read from one that WD and the like could gum it up, I was feeling desperate and put some on a rag and wiped the key gently with it. Same. Won't go down further/won't turn. Looked at the key for bends--for a minute I thought it might be a wee bit curved at the top, but I think it may be a bit of an optical illusion due to the way the key is cut when you look at it from that angle.
    Note that it will turn a TINY bit, but clearly not to on position, and it's slight enough it could even been me jiggling the key in the housing that I'm feeling. Not sure yet if we're dealing with the ignition being stuck, the key not going fully, or both. I'm thinking it's just the key as of now as I feel like it should go down more.
    I also tried blowing some compressed air in there. No results.
    The last time I put the key in--a few days ago when the tire was being a stiff--it took one or two tries to get it in but it worked.

    Any ideas are greatly appreciated. I'm going to keep looking online for ideas and silently screaming. It's dark now so anything elaborate is a bit unlikely tonight, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a tiny miracle solution so I can ride tonight.

    (Sorry I haven't caught up on your responses and torque convo since my last post yet--I was going to do that and let you know how the wheel situation went--which in short is that it seems fine now; I think it just needed more grease and loosening of brake adjuster. It wasn't rubbing on anything, chain certainly wasn't too tight, and it didn't move significantly more smoothly when loosening the axle nut so it doesn't sound like a spacer/bearing issue. I can share more details later)

    EDIT/ADD: I have penetrating oil, lithium grease, regular grease, motor oil, 3 in 1 oil...if any to these sound like a wise thing to try let me know. Doing research so I don't just throw things down there or on the key as I'm seeing it may either causing gumming, leave water residue, or some things don't interact well with the plastic one post was saying

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 30, 2020
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  2. Machine

    Machine Race the wind Top Contributor

    20201130_182618.jpg 20201130_182556.jpg
    Two examples of aftermarket key depth.
    Dang, troubles.. no worries, shouldn't ride at night without a calm mind anyway.
    WD-40 seems like a good parking lot attempt but maybe you will be bringing that switch inside for a take-a-part cleaning. Its kinda interesting (and time consuming)
    MarieKaramazov and Jim like this.
  3. Jan_P

    Jan_P XS650 Addict

    Lady Karamazov is not Friend with Lady Luck at this point in time ...

    If I have problems with locks I use oil there are special oils
    or those
    I spray it on the key push the key in as far as it goes .. taking the key out wipe it off if dirty with a rag
    Continue to do that .over and over
    It might not be the best method .. But taking off the lock is by design made to be difficult and not something one wants to do.
    I have made new key copies recently for a Honda and the front door making those work flawless again
    Paul Sutton and MarieKaramazov like this.
  4. 650Skull

    650Skull SSSSSSSSSlither Top Contributor

    MarieKaramazov likes this.
  5. 5twins

    5twins XS650 Guru Top Contributor

    Yes, just spray the lock down real good with some lube. WD40 will do in a pinch, clean it out for you and should free the sliding plates inside. Use that little red straw that comes with the can and stick it right down in the lock, then blast away. But, the WD40 isn't going to keep it lubed, it will dry up rather quickly. You'll want to add some better lube. White lithium grease is good and what I pack them full of when I'm overhauling one .....


    To keep them lubed in the future, I occasionally inject some more white lithium grease into the lock. But if yours have jammed up like it has, I think a switch teardown and cleaning is in your future. The sliding plates or "wafers", as they're called, get all crusty with age. Here's some all crusty and some cleaned .....


    I clean them up with the little wire wheels in a Dremel tool.
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  6. Raymond

    Raymond XS650 rider & fettler XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    The lock has been operating? And now it's not? Might be because something is jamming and that something could be the steering lock. Before taking the lock apart and greasing it might be worth investigating - try moving the bars to full lock and back to ahead and see if there is unexpected resistance. Got to be worth a try.
    Paul Sutton and Jim like this.
  7. fredintoon

    fredintoon Fred Hill, S'toon. Top Contributor

    hi Marie,
    the photo shows the ignition key on the same ring as a whole bunch of other stuff.
    Betcha if the ignition key was stripped of all that clutter it'd work a lot better.
    Recent US vehicle studies have shown several ignition failures caused by overloaded key rings.
  8. Okay, today's quick update.

    I already mentioned this briefly, but just to be explicit and in case anyone was ever insane enough to refer to this thread to find solutions, I figure it's good to note what the answers are when located. As for rear tire movement: chain wasn't too tight, tire not rubbing on anything; I don't think it was the spacers or shot bearings because (1) I imagine when the new tires were put on, if that was an issue the mechanic would have noted it (at least the ones he could assess/see)...they are in the business of finding problems and charging to fix them; (2) loosening the axle nut didn't make a significant difference in the way the wheel spun. My conclusion was that it needed more grease, but more importantly, the rear brake freeplay adjustment needed another turn and to be loosened. It seems that on the rear brake adjuster bolt/screw/nugget, there are these kind of midway points in between a full turn and if you don't turn it fully it acts as if the brake is on.

    Re the last questions above: not sure if it did spin freely beforehand or if it was tight (though I want to say yes to the latter) as that was so long ago now. Did not remove rear wheel.
    So in all I got a second to look at the wheel tonight and moved it freely. Going to double check tomorrow before riding. And also going to remeasure the swingarm to tire gap on either side to double check--more like quadruple check as I've measured the chain slack adjustment position on either side a million times--I'm in alignment.

    I'm at the second to last adjustment mark! Just made it.

    Re the ignition--thanks everyone for the input and links. Went for the quick fix attempt first and figured if that was a bust then worst case I take it apart as recommended. Went with the lithium grease down the ignition slot and I also depressed the key and did my best to work some around and in between the inner and outer cylinder. Wiped gunk off the key as I went. Aaaaand it worked after about 15 minutes of working it in there with the key back and forth! As @5twins said though, I think a teardown may be in my future--especially if this happens again. But one thing at at time.
    Didn't seem to be it, but worth noting that I haven't been able to get the steering lock to work properly since I got it.

    Had a minute after that so I clearly had to take it out, especially since I've almost forgotten what it's like to have a bike I can actually ride. But now, you ask, isn't there another episode of weird, unexpected problems? Of course. I mean, today was a new day and the fun doesn't stop over here, so for my next trick: the foot shifter is so stiff it won't move each time. Neutral to 1st, no problem, 1st to neutral...not so much. Out of the 3-4 times, I couldn't move it at all with my foot 2-3 of those times; wasn't a problem first time, then it was. I had to wiggle and then yank it up by hand each time to get it to shift. For those of you who have been following my misadventures since the first post, you may remember that I experienced this when I test rode the bike. I have the bolt for the shifter as tight as I could get it but I believe it's supposed to be. Maybe I lined the ridges up funky but I don't think that'd be possible because if I got the screw in straight, the shifter would have to be on the little finger it snugs onto in the right position and be sitting in the ridges/teeth correctly. Again darkness thwarted me doing much beyond that at that point ( I haven't been able to get out there till later these days). I've been in and out of that LH crankcase cover so many times that perhaps I need to adjust the clutch mechanism again and at the lever. Perhaps it's not depressing fully so making the shift difficult. But still seems like if that was the case I wouldn't be able to pull it up by hand either, though I did have to get at it with my hand a bit... Last I checked my foot is working.

    In other news, the bike was not happy running. It's been mostly sitting again for about 2 months now so might just be mad, or again it could be the erratic idle I still have to solve or eliminate as a real problem. It's also worth noting that I had to take the muffler off and then put it back on when doing all this chain business. I have it back on the exhaust and the connection appears snug, but I can tell that the tail of the muffler I removed sticks out about .5" more to the side than the one on the right. Bolts on the bracket (about midway down exhaust) were snugged as much as I could and it's not in the exhaust crooked but I'll look again. The way this silly fishtail muffler attaches, the brackets and location of bolts and washer sizes etc is just :bs:, especially for a one woman setup. (Now I know why the tire shop ended up needing a fair amount of more time to get the mufflers back on.) Can't wait to get rid of it. I'll take another look at that tomorrow but I got it as tight as I could when I put it back on. I don't think I should get to ahead of myself talking about how it's running after only 5 minutes of running it.

    Let's hope the key works tomorrow and I'll get at getting a better read on these straggler issues and report back. Hoping to move to cylinder stud retorque next once all this is cleared I think. (I also got new handlebars to swap and try out :bike:)
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2020
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  9. Raymond

    Raymond XS650 rider & fettler XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Glad the stiff wheel was an easy fix - rear brake binding.

    Sounds like you need to adjust the clutch. Every time you remove the l/h engine cover, you will probably need to check & adjust the clutch. But the good news is, once you have sorted things, you won't need to take the cover off again for a long time.
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  10. 650Skull

    650Skull SSSSSSSSSlither Top Contributor

    Going down from second to neutral it would go straight through into first.......... i found i had the same problem, when i would come to a stop..

    When it would get stuck i found by releasing the clutch a bit, it engaged the gears enough to feel the bike move, then pull in the clutch and shift up to neutral........good chance it will jump or go through to second, if it does then, (and you need to learn to do this every time from second to neutral), take your foot of the foot-peg, and just using your toe, lightly tap on the gear leaver, and a tap is a tap, don't try to push down on the leaver..............

    I found this was a way that worked on my bike, i would adjust things and then when it was hot i would have trouble finding neutral again and have a similar problem..........in the end it was just a quirk i lived with............
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  11. xjwmx

    xjwmx It's just the unknown. Top Contributor

    Yes, the muffler clears the nut on the Special. Also with the Special, you can put the hammer handle in the "spokes" to turn the counter shaft nut.
    Paul Sutton likes this.
  12. bosco659

    bosco659 XS650 Junkie XS650.com Supporter

    Yikes! Hammer handle through the spokes! Then realized it was a Special with mags.
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  13. xjwmx

    xjwmx It's just the unknown. Top Contributor

    Lol. Yes. Another thing you can do with either type is jam a folded-up rag between the chain and a sprocket. Don't put it underneath the front sprocket though since it will press the chain into the rubber guide.
  14. Okay, yesterday I adjusted the clutch mechanism and freeplay. I think I'm adjusting it right--screwing in the adjuster till it feels tight, then backing off I think it's a 1/4 turn, and then tightening lock nut. I know it says to turn adjuster till you can feel it seat against the pushrod, but I don't know how else to "feel" that clearly except by feeling it get tight as if I'm hitting something. Anyway, I did that, double checked the wheel was moving freely, it was, and then took it out for a ride.
    Everything was great at first. Let the bike take it's time warming up. Warmed up, idle was steady around 1.2-1.3k. It was shifting beautifully, sounded good, felt good. (Side note: when I looked down at a stop, I noticed the drive chain vibrates/shakes up and down; it's not clanking or hitting anything. Is this normal and I just haven't noticed it before or did I poorly measure chain and it's too loose? I measured it several times and it's within spec on the loose end.)
    Issue 1: After about 20-30 minutes, I ran into problems with the foot shifter again. It is a lot like what @650Skull noted experiencing.
    However, with me, it's particularly that it doesn't want to come up from first and into neutral, especially at a stop. I can't hold the clutch in and reach down to shift it without tipping the bike so I have to kill the engine, turn it back on and then shift it. I tried releasing the clutch a bit as Skull mentioned, to get it to release, and it didn't work. I did start having the same issue as you that it would skip 2nd and go to first--your trick there of just doing the toe tap worked. Oh and at the end of the ride it didn't even want to go up to 3rd from second at one point.

    Solutions/causes: I'm not sure what to do here except try adjusting the clutch again? Look at the shifter screw alignment? The clutch is pulling all the way in at the handle.

    Issue 2: after about 20-30 minutes, the idle started to drop to at or juuuust above 1k when at a stop, as if about to die.
    If I kept the throttle on it'd be fine of course. I pulled over turned the screw clockwise (towards bike) to increase idle a touch, about a 1/8 turn. It went up a bit (about 1.6k at first), but was dropping low again at stops when I rode home.

    Possible causes as far as I can see: (1) muffler is on wacky and it's letting air in; (2) carb setting/dirt/?; (3) battery.
    (1) As I mentioned I put muffler (for those who don't know, it's an aftermarket fishtail muffler) back on after finishing chain etc job on left side. I tightened it as much as I could at the exhaust connection point and then at the two other points connecting to a bracket. I had to use different washers because I couldn't get the old ones to fit on. I even had an extra hand around that day to help holding a thing in place so I could get it back on and it was still quite the task. Point is that it's still cocking to the left by about .5" more than on the right. Connection to exhaust seems tight though... Also, went to start it this morning and on 3rd attempt I got one hell of a pop/backfire!
    (2) Carb. As those who've been following know, I had erratic idle when I did my first longer ride on the bike. (It was shooting up and staying there). While this could be a different symptom of the same problem (which may be being lean I think was the last guess), why run fine and then start having a problem, unless it's that some dirt/crud etc came in while riding? And if I have the idle set too low with idle screw, why be good for 15 minutes (post warming up) and then not...
    (3) Battery. Perhaps the battery isn't holding a charge after use/not charging so then bike wants to die and it drops in revs? (I had a bad battery on my last bike and it would drop like this at stops unless I kept throttle on; battery would show as charged but then it'd still happen). Again, as those following know, I tested rotor, and did poor man's load test, and tested battery went up to voltage it should when revving. It also maintained charge overnight. I keep the battery on a tender pretty much all the time--I know it's not good to charge all the time but was told with a tender it shouldn't just keep charging, but rather, will charge till full, stop and then charge once it drops again, so I just keep it on. The battery was new according to PO; dekka battery. I was going to switch out anyway to eliminate probs but since it passed those tests I thought I at least had more time, especially since I wasn't sure on size needed as I may/may not remove electric start and din't want to have to buy 2 batteries. I'm thinking now I might just need to get a new battery asap. Antigravity lithium. I thought 8 cell would be big enough even if I kept electric start but details under features may suggest otherwise, like a 12. They're clearly pricey, so definitely not trying to buy this one twice, but seems like my bigger mods are farther down the line as I'm still on just trying to get this going.

    Solutions... start with muffler? try to get battery asap and eliminate causes from there...?
    Jim likes this.
  15. Jim

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

    Low idle after warmup could possibly be a dragging clutch... which ties into your hard shifting. Did the idle come back up once you were in neutral?
    RE clutch adjustment: Start by screwing the perch adjuster all the way in and then back out about a turn or so. Once you've done that, then adjust the worm actuator. I like to screw that in until I get contact with the clutch rod then pull in the clutch lever a half dozen times or so, then re-adjust. Once you're satisfied you have firm contact and all the slack is out of the cable, go ahead and back the worm screw off about an eighth of a turn and lock it down. Now go back up to the perch and adjust the lever until you're comfortable with the throw. Try that and see what happens.
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  16. I can't remember if it went up going from 1st to neutral (probably because I had to kill the bike to do that), but I do remember that going from neutral to 1st, it dropped lower.
    This method seems wiser to me than the manual directions. Will do! When you say to make sure that all the slack is out of the cable, you just mean make sure that the clutch freeplay adjustment is screwed into the housing (towards lever) (which tightens cable) (sorry writing things down helps me remember and understand new things faster), or am I supposed to do something else? How onto this 2-3mm freeplay suggested by manual do I need to be? I tried to be as exact as possible on last adjustment; I measured (from the rounded end of lever) how much it moved until it felt like I was actually engaging the clutch.
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  17. Jim

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

    Then it's most likely the clutch not fully disengaging (dragging).

    What you're referring to as a "housing" is called a "perch".... the clutch perch. Screwing the adjuster into it puts more slack into the cable. Screw that all the way into the perch and then turn it back out about a turn... turn and a half.
    The "taking the slack out" I was referring to is by pulling the lever in and releasing it about half dozen times or so and screw the worm adjuster in at the same time. That way you'll be taking the slack out of the cable. Then back the adjuster out about an eighth of a turn and lock it down. Last step is to adjust at the perch.

    The number's not important, what is, is that the clutch fully engages when you let the lever out and fully disengages when you pull it in. You want to leave more wiggle room on the disengaged side (pulled in) because, as you've found out, the lever action changes from a cold to warm engine. Once you get the worm actuator right, you can play with the perch adjustment to fine tune it as you ride... fully stopped of course. Safety first!
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  18. 5twins

    5twins XS650 Guru Top Contributor

    Normally, we screw the adjuster all the way in at the perch, then do the worm adjustment, then finish at the perch again for the final setting. As I adjust the worm, I use a technique I call "fanning" the clutch lever. I pump it in and out just through it's freeplay range as I tighten the worm adjuster screw. I don't pull the clutch lever all the way in to the bar, just through however much freeplay it has, until the lever starts to get hard to pull. What this does is stack all the pushrods and balls between the worm and the clutch itself tightly together. If you screw the adjuster in until it's snug and stops, then start "fanning" the lever as you keep trying to turn the adjuster screw in more, you will often get it to turn in almost another 1/4 turn. Only after I do this do I back it off maybe 1/8 turn and lock it down.

    As you may have noticed, this bike suffers from a growing amount of clutch lever freeplay as the motor warms up and parts expand. As the freeplay grows, the amount the clutch plates get separated decreases. This can and often does make neutral finding and shifting harder as the bike warms up. So, many of us set the clutch quite tight when cold. This doesn't hurt anything because freeplay starts to develop almost immediately after starting as the parts warm up.

    This, or any bike for that matter, will shift and go into neutral easier while rolling as opposed to at a complete stop. Try to get in the habit of getting it into neutral while you're still moving, before you come to a complete stop.
  19. Jim

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

    Yes, that's a much better explanation of what I was trying to say. Just pull the lever in enough to feel for the slack and adjust it out of it.
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  20. Alright! First, side note, if anyone was wondering, my key does have to go all the way to the tan impression that was left on it in order to turn, don't think I mentioned that.
    Anyway, thanks @Jim and @5twins for the clutch adjustment info. Got it done today. Great news, good news, and not great news.
    Great news: I got to ride for 30 minutes today and it felt awesome to be able to do that again, even if brief.
    Good news: clutch, idle, and shifting all behaved properly after I reset the worm and perch. (I was twisting it the right way when I did it, for some reason I always turn it around in my head when I describe which way to turn/tighten on the perch, thanks for clarifying Jim). Also, I had been only finger tightening the worm adjustment screw because I got the impression it was just supposed to be "lightly" touching and that I had to feel for it. Screwdriver this time, as well as fanning. Anyway, I'll likely fiddle with the hand clutch adjustment a bit more but good for now.
    Not great/potentially bad news: That tiny weep at the left cylinder base that I saw and reported on when I first posted on here, well, I saw it actively leaking a bit while I was riding. Not gushing or anything. Right cylinder is dry. I think my next task should be the cylinder head stud retorque and fingers crossed that's all that needs. I can't tell if it's only leaking from the base or also from seam where head attaches to cylinder...residue tells me it's both. Would the retorque address both spots? Unless you guys think otherwise, I'll go through those posts where you guys advised me on that a bit and look at the articles I think that are in tech about that already. Would worn gaskets be a thing maybe? Really hoping it's not something more than these two things, fingers crossed!

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