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1973 Restoration Story (yes, with pictures)

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by louis, Apr 19, 2016.

  1. Before you read on, this isn't one of those threads where you will marvel at any craftsmanship, just an opportunity for me to tell the story of my XS over the last six months. I’m posting this thread retrospectively for anyone who might like a read.

    I picked up this ’73 about six months ago, I paid $4000 AUD ($3100 USD), it had no registration (title) and wasn’t running properly. It would idle fine, but no good under load. I took the risk and bought it as it had good enough compression (135 PSI when tested wet), decent spark and matching frame and engine numbers verifying it as a 73 TX650. The bike was set up as a lazy café racer; I don’t like that look one bit, and planned to try restore it back to its 1970’s roots.


    I got it home and realised it had no air filters, so that was the first purchase. I then realised both the factory vacuum petcocks were completely useless, so ordered two new non-vacuum petcocks also. I then replaced the stock taillight with a Lucas replica taillight as I liked the style. The bikes lead acid battery was testing poorly so I replaced it with a Motobatt.


    I also replaced the OEM plug leads and caps as well. I thought about replacing the coils, but they tested well and are throwing a decent spark for now, and I had more pressing issues that you will see in a second.


    Next up was bars and grips. I got some cheap pull-back style bars from japwebike with white grips just cause I liked them. I’d already spent enough money in two or so weeks to this point so admittedly I cheaped out big-time here. Then I replaced the throttle cables with OEM parts and the clutch cable too after it snapped in my driveway.
    The next to go was the ignition barrel, as it was bored out and the key would barely fit. I just removed it and replaced it with a simple 3 way switch drilled straight into the top of the headlight, I sealed the hole up with some silicone so it was water-tight if I am ever riding in the rain.


    So, then, after approximately two weeks of wrenching I was ready to start riding with some regularity, most afternoons after work. I registered the bike as a 1973 TX650 which was an experience in itself. It had no compliance plate and they had no information on file for that bike. I was basically at the front counter of the RMS (DMV) telling them what to register it as. I was on my iphone googling the bikes weight, capacity, year of manufacture etc while telling them what to type in.

    Pretty quick I realised things weren’t too great. It took me about a week and two breakdowns to realise the charging system wasn’t working, at all. So, four pages of posting in the charging system guide thread and plenty of help from 5twins, 2M, Gary, Retired Gentlemen and Brassneck later, I diagnosed the problem to be a faulty factory rectifier. I then replace the rectifier and regulator with an eBay three-wave rectifier for 5 bucks and a VR115 Jeep rectifier for 25 bucks. These items were bought from overseas, so took approximately a decade to arrive. No riding for a while.

    While i was cleaning the grounds as per the charging system guide, I broke my starter solenoid (be careful for anyone reading, the plastic casing is easy to break), so I ordered one of them locally and wired it in a few days later.

    Took this opportunity to have a look at the running condition. The bike was blowing cold air out of the RH exhaust and fouling the RH plug instantly. Running on one cylinder. Had plenty of spark and was getting fuel, so assumed it was the carb. So, time to read the Carb Guide 2500 times and have a crack at finding the problem. I had a suspicion it was flooding as there were times when it would run one two cylinders for about 5 seconds on start-up before dying.

    So I take the carb off and what do you know. The post that holds the brass float has been snapped off by the PO and he has tried to fix it with wire, poorly. The float is not working, I double-checked this using the clear-tube method.

    [​IMG] (photo stolen from google)


    I spent about a week trying to work with the broken carb that I had before I got very frustrated and called the local XS650 wizard and asked if he had a spare RH early BS38. He sends me one for 100 bucks. Not bad. It arrives and it’s an XS1 Carb, slightly different to my 73 carb, particularly the choke mechanism. So I ask the forum, and they say don’t mix them, bad idea, etc. I figure, why not give it a go. So I used some vice grips to pull out the feeder tube from my old carb and attach it to the XS1 carb I bought. Everything lined up perfectly except of course for the choke feeder tube, so I resign to the fact I no longer have a choke. Jetting for these two carbs is “almost†identical.

    I then synced the carbs using the dead cylinder method and put 100 or so highway k’s on it. What do you know? Both plugs were nice and tanned. Seems to work.

    I bought a stepped KQ seat from a 74-78 but it never fitted quite right (at all) and I ended up attaching it with cable ties and using it anyway for the better part of 3 months. Sometimes on acceleration the cables ties would snap and the seat would move considerably in the pan, pretty scary.



    I then replaced the standard tubes with 6-overs that a friend had from an old XS chopper he had turned into a café racer (why). The seals and springs were all reusable, nothing seemed to leak. But due to the extra length in the front end, I needed to get a new front brake hose. I got ride of that weird metal manifold and just routed a cable straight from the bars into the caliper using a 10mm male seated connector. That manifold is ugly, and very easy to snap.

    Finally, I sourced a HBKQ and sissy bar from a fellow in Wisconsin, and it was in the mail. Well, it arrived this morning and now I’m pretty sure my restoration is complete. I removed the indicators, front and rear, as they aren’t legally required on pre-1976 bikes in my state (New South Wales). I removed the front fender too, I’m thinking of putting it back on.





    Hope you enjoyed.
    gggGary and arcticXS like this.
  2. gggGary

    gggGary When a whole one is just too much. XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Cool, thanks for the read! I believe you have created a period correct, "American style", chopper! In many ways it's superior to a fancy "museum restoration" job. This is precisely the way MOST XS650s have been maintained, customized and ridden!
    Power to the People!
    Scripto VU and arcticXS like this.
  3. TwoManyXS1Bs

    TwoManyXS1Bs BBQ Hunter Top Contributor

    Welcome to the '70s, Louis.

    Don't get hassled by "The Man"...
    AndersJ and gggGary like this.
  4. fredintoon

    fredintoon Fred Hill, S'toon. Top Contributor

    Hi Louis,
    interesting read. I must say that ain't a style I'm fond of but the important thing is that it's the style YOU wanted.
    Betcha those extended forks give you a flexi-flyer ride, especially without a front fender, eh?
    I've found a TKAT fork brace works wonders for fixing that problem.
    Well, just about any fork brace will do that, I chose a TKAT for it's looks, your aesthetic sense may be different.
    gggGary likes this.
  5. weaselbeak

    weaselbeak XS650 Junkie

    The 73 was always the best looking. I would prefer a 4 inch over on the forks, and a fender for sure. Nice work.
    gggGary likes this.
  6. This is my first motorcycle but I'm finding a much more pleasant ride with the longer forks? Love being slightly more upright, and I'm thinking of putting on six-bend bars.
    gggGary likes this.
  7. You know, you are probably right about the front fender. It was in immaculate condition too, might pop it back on.
    gggGary likes this.
  8. fredintoon

    fredintoon Fred Hill, S'toon. Top Contributor

    Hi louis,
    the over-length fork tubes alter your bike's steering geometry, your reported "more pleasant ride" is mostly the front wheel's increased trail making the bike steer more easily in a straight line. Mind you, it'll also slow you down in the twisties. Nothin's free, eh?
    A stock XS650 front fender serves a dual purpose, it's also a reasonably effective fork brace.
    Thus the US$105 + shipping and import tax you save by not buying a TKAT fork brace can be spent elsewhere.
    Perhaps on a chrome studwork legend across the back of your riding jacket?
    EZ-XS RIDER perhaps?
    Or HOON? Or is that term an insult or not mean what I think it does?
    gggGary likes this.
  9. Fantastic idea!

    Nope, in Australia a Hoon would not be considered offensive (to me). We have a really rich motoring history and made some amazing cars up until next year, when all manufacturing will be outsourced to China.


    gggGary likes this.
  10. angus67

    angus67 Welder's penetrate deeper!!

    Looks like a torino turned aussi? Beautiful.
    I think hoon referes to some who will fix up and race any car/ute?
    gggGary likes this.
  11. Yeah, essentially. It's a 73 (same year as my bike) Australian made Falcon XB GT, the car from Mad Max too.

    Hoon can be noun, verb AND adjective! A hoon is someone who likes cars and bikes and drives/rides them really fast. It also means the act of driving/riding fast and you could also use it to describe someone driving/riding fast!

    "Seen that cunt the other day, he was hooning down the street in his VL Turbo"

    "Fuck that cunt is a hoon"
    gggGary likes this.
  12. kevski

    kevski XS650 Addict

    kent uk
    "Fuck that cunt is a hoon"[/QUOTE]

    That made me chuckle it's pretty much how some talk over here, there is still a Brit in there somewhere.:thumbsup:
    gggGary likes this.
  13. fredintoon

    fredintoon Fred Hill, S'toon. Top Contributor

    That made me chuckle it's pretty much how some talk over here, there is still a Brit in there somewhere.:thumbsup:[/QUOTE]

    Hi (or perhaps Oi or even Yer cos Idle still speak Bristolian dunni?) Kevski,
    that reminds me of what I had to tell my boys when they were still young teenagers.
    "English is perhaps the richest of the world's languages with over 100,000 words in it.
    And only one of them is fuck, not every fucking second one."
    gggGary likes this.
  14. MplsMurr

    MplsMurr 1973 TX650

    I would put at least a fork brace on it since the lack thereof could potentially be dangerous, especially on curved roads.

    Sure is a beautiful bike! Especially with the stock colors!

    What air filter(s) did you decide on?

    On a side not, how does having the compression release cable attached differ than not having it? I know that the lever is both the starter and compression release, can be run w/o the cable to the valve, and was removed in the "newer" models. I ask because I have a TX650 without the cable, but electric start set-up. I wonder if there would be any advantages/disadvantages to adding this cable to my bike.
    gggGary likes this.
  15. Mate I ended up just putting the front fender back on, looks way better anyway.


    As for the e-start lever, mine is start only, not decompression. I don't like my friends bikes with decompression levers, they are clumsy, unnecessary (?) and annoying.

    EDIT: just went with OEM air filters for 20 dollars a pop.
    gggGary likes this.
  16. TwinLewi

    TwinLewi XS650 Addict

    Hey Louis, lewi here, hah cool read, nice photos. I own a 73 Tx650 as well. Done almost everything to it besides motor work. Brakes/lines, full rewire of the bike, New Mikuni VM#$ carbies, Pamco elec. ign., PMA kit, new dual high out put coil with new leads and caps, fuse boxes, grips bars, mirrors etc... she is coming along. Still fowling plugs. running a 185 main jet, 25 pilot. I can turn my air mix screw in all the way and the bike does not stall. five turns out and does not stall. started with a 220 main jet and worked down to a 185 with the needle clip in the 3rd position down. going through so many plugs. stock pipes and live in Melbourne. anyways... Wanted to ask you if you still happen to have that seat? The one you had on the bike before the sissy bar seat combo? cool look!
    gggGary likes this.

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