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Stella - 1977D survivor, back on the road.

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by DanielBlack, Sep 24, 2016.

  1. DanielBlack

    DanielBlack XS650 Junkie

    I've been having a great time over the last two weeks as I become further acquainted with my 77D, mostly stock, Stella. After the first basic safety checks and oil change, etc. I put her quickly into her role as my daily ride.

    Most days are 5-10mi, but the last week has given me a few longer commutes close to 20m each way. The longer ride with speeds of 50-65 achieved for a ten minute run have given me the opportunity to learn a whole lot more about her than my usual 35-40mph stop/start jaunt.

    Via the Haynes manual, two conversations with MMM, various guides such as the famous Carb Guide, my colleague's general motorcycle knowledge and this forum, I have made a pretty good start at making her a more solid, reliable, and better handling, enjoyable daily commuter.

    For example, I was concerned with the jarring vibrations I was feeling as I revved up to 3500-4000 and I held back from pushing it further. Having searched the forum and finding a thread about vibrations starting at 3100, I learned about the rpm range in which the connecting rod is in flux between tension and compression. That made sense. Another member explained that our bikes want to be up past 4K, 3500 and less is still lugging the motor. Sounds good. On my next ride I held my shift until I was at 5 or 6K. Better shifts. Cruising in one lower gear than I had been, 4500 smoothed things out. I found I was able to locate the vibe range as 3400-4500.

    In addition to the bad vibes, a few other items are piquing my interest. A slight ringing I'm hearing toward the top of the motor. A misbalanced exhaust note, the right sounding weaker with a bit of clack and uneven gait.

    I figured I would eventually need to clean and rebuild the carbs, but knew there were things to do first. Here's where I am:

    Battery is good. Holds 12v+ with headlamp on for 10+ minutes. Stock alternator provides 14v @ ~3500rpm. All electrics work, but I haven't yet gone through and checked for solid, clean connections.

    The Iridium B7 plugs that were in there had seen better days. Color looked decent, maybe a little dry, but the electrodes were eaten up. I put basic coppers in for the moment, but Iridiums are here on Monday. B6 for the city driving in a desert.

    The tank interior looks good and clean, very little surface rust. I've been using Seafoam in the last couple of tanks. Fuel flows well through the existing inline filters. But the lines are mismatched in type and age and don't have any clips. The hose on the R petcock is loose and seeps. New line and filters arrive on Monday.

    I found cam chain guide bits in the first oil change. I'll change it again soon when this particular odo hits 25000 miles. I'm hoping its just a piece of plastic or two, and no aluminum this time. I adjusted it tonight when I got home from a short commute. It's the model without the lock nut, but it seemed to be in spec from when I did it at the 1st service. The plunger pops out .5mm as each cylinder passes TDC.

    I'll do the valves tomorrow again, this time pulling the plugs and using a wrench on the bolt to get a more accurate TDC rather than spinning the rear wheel.

    Turning the motor in this way tonight, I checked the timing of the Boyer ignition. It was way off by about 10-15* going by the dot in the window. It was hard stop in one direction, and the paint dot method wanted it near full stop the other way. I'll put a timing light on it when I bring it in to the local motorcycle diy shop for rebuilding the rear end.. (Very excited about that! A lift, tools, shop supplies, owners' experience all for a flat rate.)

    After the timing adjustment the idle sounded a lot smoother, and a quick carb sync by ear seemed to get it closer. I have all the parts for a DIY manometer ready to go, except the barbs which also arrive Monday.

    She's idling rather evenly and smoothly now at ~1400, and the results of a little 1st & 2nd gear test up and down the block make me excited to take her out tomorrow for a longer run after the valve adjust. I'm wondering how 3400-4500 will feel now. Then again on Monday after the manometer sync.

    Tonight's timing and cam chain tension adjustments seem to have diminished the ringing up top, too. Maybe located around the cam shaft? I'll put a screwdriver stethoscope to it tomorrow.

    We're getting there.

    Stella gets a timing.JPG
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2016
  2. 5twins

    5twins XS650 Guru

    Yes, these bikes do vibrate but yours seems to be a bit excessive. A better state of tune should help with that. Mine is quite smooth between 3500 and maybe about 4200. Cruising at about 3800 is quite nice. If your rear sprocket is still the stock 34T, try a 33, they work very well. It's only one tooth but it will drop your cruising RPMs 4 or 500 but won't kill the take-off power in the lower gears.
  3. DanielBlack

    DanielBlack XS650 Junkie

    I do feel a difference between the normal vibrations which feel in tune with the motor and these other vibes I'm working on. They feel and sound angry like a buzz saw. I'll report back tomorrow after I take it up to speed.

    The stock-sized sprockets, put in by the PO about 6 years ago, are worn and will be replaced in early October. I followed MMM's advice and went with an 18/34 sprocket set. Given my bike's use as a city commuter, he suggested the 18 might be easier on the chain and will give the same ratio as 17/32. Prior to speaking with him, reading your advice amongst others had already put me on the track for a taller setup. Thank you.
  4. DanielBlack

    DanielBlack XS650 Junkie

    This morning I checked the valves with careful finding of TDC using a simple open end wrench. The socket wrench I had been using was allowing the rotor to bounce past TDC. Each valve passed the Go, No Go Test before loosening the lock nut.

    Then I cleaned. And cleaned. And cleaned. GUNK Citrus Engine Cleaner is great stuff. I also cleaned the two scooters. My wife's and the one to be sold.

    Now I'm back from my test ride, and I'm all smiles.

    The buzz saw vibes that lived at 34-4500rpm are gone. I knew it immediately as I left the neighborhood, but as I was getting up to 40 I glanced down at the tach when I started to feel some vibe. These were the good ol' 360 twin vibrations and they barely started at 5000rpm. After enjoying a totally new feel for 15 or so miles of 30-45 city streets I felt compelled to take the 55mph state highway that runs between some hills back down toward home.

    Late Sunday afternoon, light traffic, smooth AZ road, Stella gently gained highway speed. It just happened. No strain, no struggle, no shake. Just an easy push in the seat as I joined the 70mph flow. 4000rpm in 5th had me at 65, 4500 @ 70. Cruising here felt great. A little goose gave immediate, quick response boosting us to an easy 5000rpm 75. No excessive vibration. Some shakes and specific noises to be tracked down, sure, but nothing alarming.

    I've got a good one. And the two hour clean and degrease of every crevice I could reach gave her the chance to prove herself in style.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2016
    weekendrider likes this.
  5. cra-z1

    cra-z1 XS650 Junkie

    Nice bike. Good to have another stock one saved rather than cut-up.
  6. DanielBlack

    DanielBlack XS650 Junkie

    Thank you cra-z1

    Yup, I found it just the way I want it. Minus a bunch of maintenance upgrades, of course.
  7. Nice bike. I have the same. Currently dealing with backfiring, timing issues. Here is mine IMG_2476.JPG
    artpongs likes this.
  8. DanielBlack

    DanielBlack XS650 Junkie

    Ooo, the blue was the ONE item on my wishlist that didn't pan out. D-model, survivor, good condition, price point, blue. Red? Yeah, I'll take it.
  9. DanielBlack

    DanielBlack XS650 Junkie

    It's been a long work week, with not much done other than a bunch of research and planning for the tasks ahead. I've been working a bit further from home with a ten minute 55-65mph stretch, giving me time and road to get comfortable. I've put 250 miles on her in three weeks and I'm starting to understand the passion for these old beasts. A visceral experience, indeed.

    Today I opened up the switches for cleaning and greasing as per the suggestions on this thread. Also greased up the throttle grip and cable. It made things a bit smoother, but I can still feel and hear some friction in the cable under the tank. The tank will be coming off in the next few days for testing the electricals and I'll see if the throttle needs a little rerouting.

    Mike's H4 headlamp went in. I'll be keeping a close look at the charging system in the days to come, but I'm very happy with the lumen output. It'll make my often nighttime commutes a little more comfortable. Thinking about going with LEDs elsewhere to help with the load.
  10. weekendrider

    weekendrider Iron Horse cowboy

    Uh-Oh the addiction is happening. Beware DanielBlack, you will need a bigger garage. :wink2:
    TwoManyXS1Bs likes this.
  11. XS650D

    XS650D XS650 Junkie

    Nice bike! Luv my 77,the more i work on it,the better i like it.With some time and lots off patience
    these old bikes can be made to run ride and handle really nice with pretty good gas mileage also.
    Getting the Timing rite it critical to having it run good,I originally under estimated the importance when i got mine FYI
  12. MaxPete

    MaxPete My float bowls seem to have stopped leaking!

    TOTALLY agree. It always seems sad when a beautiful old motorcycle in original shape (or even one that is.....lets say, less beautiful) is hacked up. I have no problem with people building a bobber or street tracker out of a wreck or using an XS650 engine in a custom frame - but to chop a survivor seems wrong somehow.
    txxs likes this.
  13. 5twins

    5twins XS650 Guru

    You should lube the entire lengths of your cables, not just the ends. That spray cable lube doesn't work very well. It's very thin and is pretty much gone in a few days. I use plain old motor oil. It's thicker and lasts much longer. The easiest method is to remove the cable and hang it vertically. I dribble a couple drops in the top, let it soak in, apply a few more, etc. Eventually, the oil will make it's way down through the cable and start dripping out the bottom. This may take 20 minutes to half an hour and many couple drop applications, but the oil will get through there eventually. I usually do this as I'm performing other work or service on the bike. I add a few drops of oil, return to working on the bike, come back in a few minutes to add more oil, etc.


    Even more important than the throttle cable is your clutch cable. I oil the throttle cable maybe every couple of years but the clutch cable gets it yearly.
  14. weekendrider

    weekendrider Iron Horse cowboy

    Justa thought. While we say oil the cables, and that is the literal action, isn't it the gaps in the spiral coil of the sheath that we are trying to fill?
  15. 5twins

    5twins XS650 Guru

    That and I guess the space between the actual wire or cable and the sheath. Years ago, in a Moto Guzzi newsletter, a guy recommended STP for lubing cables. I went and got some but it was really thick and I didn't see how I could get it through. Checking some MG cables though, I found them very loose, cable to sheath, compared to Jap cables. I guess maybe the STP would get through there. I never tried it though. Recently, I acquired one of these hydraulic cable oilers from England .....


    The STP just may work with this thing.
  16. weekendrider

    weekendrider Iron Horse cowboy

    They don't give any hints as to the how, do they? I'm sure the packaged instructions are a bit more revealing. Have you tried it yet?
    I know the little clamp type aren't really considered a "good" tool here, but I have gotten pressured fluid from one end to the other with them.
    Not saying it is the best thing. Not.saying it is even a good thing (like you have repeated 5twins that oil/lube is thin) Jus sayin as supplied they seemed to work.
    I used to hang the cables straight up and down, drip some oil on the top and wait to see it at the bottom and called it good nuff. Now I hang with both ends up and give it time to settle in the coils and sheath exterior. I suppose any effort at all is better than none.
  17. 5twins

    5twins XS650 Guru

    No, I haven't tried it yet. Here's a video on how to use it .....

    It looks like it will exert quite a bit of force on the lube so that's why I'm thinking it may work with the STP. The guy who suggested it said the STP makes the cables soooooo smooth. Gear oil may be an option with this thing too.
  18. weekendrider

    weekendrider Iron Horse cowboy

    Yepper I think it would force STP through. I didn't make it to the end though. The music put me to sleep zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz:jk:
    JimHag likes this.
  19. DanielBlack

    DanielBlack XS650 Junkie

    Thanks guys. I'll give those cables a good, thorough oiling this weekend. I have off Saturday through Wednesday and am hoping to get the sprockets, chain and carbs done. At the same time, I'll address cable and joint lubrication and checking torque on my motor mounts.

    Running the H4 headlamp seems to be fine. My battery was at 12.54v (ign & lights off) after a 30 or so minute ride. And the Boyer didn't complain at all. If anything, I felt like Stella was running better this morning. Likely the drop in temperature. We're finally down in the 70s in the early morning.
  20. DanielBlack

    DanielBlack XS650 Junkie

    I invested in a simple timing light and applied it this morning.

    Setting the Boyer via the paint dot in the aperture had been a huge improvement, getting rid of some really nasty vibration between 34 and 4500rpm.

    Checking it with the light, at idle, the timing mark was at the TDC position and at full advance the rotor fell shy of the mark by a good amount. Adjusting the timing plate until full advance landed the rotor right on the full advance mark, I've got another whole new bike. She's happy idling at 1200 now, used to be a 1500 minimum. On the highway, she saved 300rpm at any given speed. Vibes have been reduced again, I feel almost nothing in the handlebars below 5000. Acceleration is improved as well.

    Every little step toward a good tune is reaping huge rewards. Battery and charging system working well. Cam chain tension, valve lash, timing all adjusted to spec. Carbs are next.

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