greasy fingers… (updated)

Notes on mechanical work. Started with the trashed stator in the DRZ and continues. Most current updates at the top.

July 2017:

Bike decided it wouldn’t downshift. It would shift up but not down. Of course it didn’t decide to do this on the way back from a trip to the corner store. No, it caught me 20km out on the logging roads, and then another 90+km of pavement to get home. Of course I didn’t figure out what was up until I’d up shifted to 5th (where it stayed), so I put a good bit of extra wear on the clutch getting home.

That pin slides in a hole, with a spring behind it, it pushes out a ratchet. The crap to the left looks like it might have been part of the stator that got destroyed 18 months back. Anyhow, that chunk of whatever it is, wedged the pin so it wouldn’t slide.
The “wings” under my thumb and finger are pushed out by a pair of those pins. The whole unit fits on the shaft and into the “hole” just behind where I’m holding it. The wings form a ratchet that allows the bit I’m holding to rotate that hole and then return to their normal position. (I’m holding the thing backwards, there’s a pin on the other side that the effectively does the same thing as the shift lever, e.g. goes up and down.

Anyhow, so the bike got another oil change (just had one… 249 hours on the clock now, last one was no more than 20 hours back, previous one was at about 110).

Shift mechanism back in the bike. Note to self, put the main clutch hub on before the crankcase cover.

I was about to replace the clutch plates and springs, but on measuring the ones on the bike, they are well within spec. I also learned that there’s a little bit of engine vibration that goes away with a little pressure on the clutch lever… not enough to slip. I learned that while slipping 5th gear coming home. So I’m not sure what to do… but changing out the clutch plates/springs is pretty trivial… not much more difficult than removing the rear brake lever which has to be done to get the clutch cover off.

March 2017:

I somehow persuaded myself that I wanted to buy one of the off-road versions of the DRZ and move some parts across to my street legal bike. I was talking to a couple sellers in the interior, but nothing was happening, and then the bike that set the idea in my head came back up for sale.

The parts I really wanted were the camshafts, the FCR carburator, and the wheels (since I’ve been using a wide (street) rim on the back).

The offroad/enduro/parts bike turned out to be in quite good shape compared to mine. So I made plans to swap the whole engine across. The parts bike was kick-start only, but it seemed relatively simple to just swap the electric-start bits between engines.

Well… the first challenge was getting the motors off the bikes. The swing-arm pivot bolt is one of the motor mounts. It is also infamous for getting corroded and being very hard to remove. I ended up needing to pull the subframe and shock out of both bikes so that I could get a heat gun into the area where the pivot bolt goes. That, in combination with a 3/8″ threaded rod (effectively a big clamp, squeezing one side of the bolt, and the frame on the other side), some time to let the heat sink in, and a 4 pound hammer … did the job.

Next challenge was finding out that the crankshafts differ between the kick-start and electric start engines, so adding electric start to the kick-start engine would require opening up both crank-cases… something I wasn’t prepared to do.

So the fall back was to put the SM engine back in the SM, but just swap in the camshafts and the carburator. I did that, but the bike wouldn’t start. It just didn’t want to fire. It would occassionally seem to turn a little faster than the starter would push it, but nothing more. After much time and hair-pulling, it turned out that I had no compression. Adding oil to the cylinder improved the situation (30+ to 50+ PSI) but not enough to get the engine to actually run. If adding oil helps, it generally means the piston rings aren’t sealing well.

So the next plan was rip the engines apart down to the piston, and then swap the piston and cylinders between engines. At this point I found that the piston rings in the SM engine were stuck (compressed) in the grooves in the piston. I have no idea how they suddenly got stuck there, and why the bike was running fine up to that point.

piston rings stuck in piston groves, fully compressed (no end gap).

From that point, things went pretty well, After getting the cylinder head back on, I put the compression tester in it and cranked it over… 120+ PSI … far more than the 70 PSI required to get it to fire. It was about two days to get it back together.

Starting to put things back together, piston and wrist-pin going back onto the connecting rod.

While I had the bikes apart, I swapped the SM swing-arm and shock for the enduro one. The enduro swing-arm has grease nipples to make maintenance easier (and the SM bearings were shot, and the chain had worn right through the chain slider and into the swing arm). The enduro shock has a slightly lighter spring (less stiff) and longer travel … good for off-road. (It is probably softer than the normal S spring, as the enduro isn’t  supposed to carry passengers.)

I pulled the muffler apart and put it back together with some high-temperature silicon (and a bit of fiberglass where the holes were big). Not sure what happened with that, as I got back from the first real ride with 2 of the 3 bolts in the end cap missing. The real goal with the silicone was to try to stop exhaust coming out of the front of the muffler and going back into the airbox (and turning everything black). That much seems to be working.

Feb 15th (2017):

Been riding, and broke some stuff… and tidied some stuff while I was in there. Was a fair list actually. Busted the trailtech X2 headlight shield… couldn’t have been much of a hit, but destroyed the bottom of it where the mounting pins go. $30 part + $50 shipping (USD), to replace… which is about what I paid for it ($130 CDN). So rebuild the shield with fiberglass, and made up a mounting plate out of sheet metal. Not a good solution, but I have to have a headlight to ride. Replaced both front turn signals as they had both been bent and broke. I have 8 new “flexible” ones, ordered on ebay. I pulled the rear fender and redid the epoxy patch as it was nearly broken off. That was likely caused by the idiotic mounting of the brake light and licence plate, which was simply bolted to the plastic fender. Pulled that unit off, cut it down a bit so it would mount to the subframe. While I was there, the turn signals were mounted via a big chunk of heavy (1/4″ or thicker) aluminum plate. That wasn’t going to work with the brake light, so fabricated a simple bracket. And since I had the headlight shield off, I replaced the LED strips on the handguards.

Which doesn’t mention the only thing that I was expecting to be working on: replacing a failed JB weld patch from previous owner. I’d noticed a very slow oil leak, and Luke guessed it was the counter-shaft seal. Well, I replaced the seal and it didn’t make any difference, but I did run the engine with the area cleaned up and the sprocket cover off… at which point the leak was VERY apparent.

Previous owner must have broken a chain or had some other chain issue which caused a pile-up in front of the front sprocket and chewed through the side of the case. They patched it with JB weld… which was basically hidden by the sprocket cover. Anyhow, it was leaking, probably because the “clutch activation rod” (my name, cable attaches via a lever arm at the top, and there’s likely a cam at the bottom which pushes the clutch plates apart)… is probably a bit bent, and it pushes their JB weld out of the patch when the clutch is activated. I’m pretty sure JB weld’s compresile (sp?) strength is way higher than it’s bonding strength. Anyhow, cleaned that up, strapped the clutch lever down and redid the patch.

Damaged area after stripping off the old JB weld patch.

Got all that done, and was feeling rather pleased with myself, so of course it was time for something to smack me upside the head.

Missing a couple inches of subframe here !?!!

I gotta admit, checking to see if all the frame is present is not normally on my pre-ride checklist. I suspect this is where the strange squeaking noise was coming from. I thought it was in the rear shock, but it might just have been the sub-frame bending/shifting because it wasn’t supported on the right side.

Certainly was a shock to find that not only had the salvage weld cracked, but the lower bolt had totally backed out and the frame chunk had fallen off and I hadn’t noticed!?

That certainly wiped the smug look off my face and plunged me into a bit of depression.

The current plan is to take the bike out to Dave Fair and have him rebuild the subframe arm. Of course he needs the whole frame (e.g. whole bike) in order to know where the new extension is supposed to go… and I can’t trailer the bike as we sold the van with a trailer hitch…

… which means I get to learn how to stuff a DRZ into the back of a minivan. That means getting it through the 40″ opening of the rear hatch. With some elbow grease (“fabricatinging” some “smaller wheels”, removing the headlight shield, disconnecting or loosening most of the handlebar mounted stuff, and rotating the handlebars), I think this will work.

Bike stripped so that the subframe is trivially removable
These DO roll. They are designed to fit over the stock axle and just keep the caliper off the ground.
Front end is about 38.5″ high. I could run a strap from the axle over the handlebars to compress the front forks if I needed to make more space. Handle bars are rolled back.
No real story at the backend. DRZ seat height is about 37″, so even with the seat and fender on we SHOULD be ok (both currently off).

Taking it to the welder should get be a solid “full length” subframe for about half the price of getting one delivered on e-bay ($200 vs $400). There is an E subframe that in theory I could get here for $100, but it wouldn’t support the top rack I currently have, and the lights would have to go back to being mounted directly on the plastic… and of course, I dearly want to grab a 400E from the interior as a parts bike, which would leave me with two “E” subframes. The interior trip is also part of the justification for stuffing the bike in the van instead of begging/borrowing a pickup… I’d like to bring the 400E back inside the van instead of dragging a trailer that far and paying the extra ferry fair. Might even be useful to truck the bike around over the summer.

Dec 8th (2016):

Learned some bits today. The drz400s and sm have slightly different gearing from the factory (44 and 41 tooth rear sprockets)… which basically just accounts for the difference in the 18 vs 17 inch rims. Strangely, my 17″ sm rim had the s (44) sprocket, and the 18″ dirt rim I bought locally had the 41 tooth sprocket (e.g. backwards). So I was “right” way back when I first climbed on that bike and suspected that someone had lowered the gear ratios… I just didn’t know it when I checked the ratios because I would have looked up the S specs and not the SM. Anyhow, I’ve got a new kenda K270 on the 18″ rim, and moved the 44 tooth sprocket to that rim as well…. but will seriously consider getting a larger sprocket… 47 or 48 tooth should give me about the same ratio I had on the 17″ rim with the 44 tooth… and I have another front sprocket in the truck, but the teenager is out for the night. Suspect it might be a 14 given that it came from the guy who had the little 41 sprocket on the big 18″ wheel. (14/41 is aprox the same as 15/44).

The KLR is gone. After getting the DRZ running my mind had started to think that I could work on the KLR… but I’d already gotten an inquiry and the guy didn’t seem to want to hesitate, he just wanted to grab it before I changed my mind :) :(.

November 17th:

KLR is down and out unless I decide that sinking $$ into it makes sense. it seems to be coming down to that or part it out.

Anyhow, after finding out the KLR was down, I got moving on the DRZ, put the head back on the bike, measured the valve clearances… they had shifted significantly with the lapping, ordered new shims, took the cams out to change the shims, put them (cams) back in again and re-measured… bang on! Everything in spec and on the loose end of the range (apparently valves receed into the head closing the clearance, so you want to start wide).

So now, AFAIK, it is just a game of trying to figure out what I took off, and how to put it back together. I sure pulled a lot of lines and hoses off… but it was a thrill to hit a point in the manual where it talked about putting oil back in the bike!

Brendon is supposed to weld/patch that hole in the frame tomorrow, insurance has been swapped, I might conceivably be riding on the weekend!

Good to have the cylinder head back on.
Doesn’t look much different, but valve cover is in (important) and so is the carb, the horn, the left side radiator… it is turning back into a bike!

November 4th Update:

I ended up cutting off the head of the stuck bolt on the exhaust manifold, as that frame tube needs to be patched with a weld. I tried welding a nut back onto the bolt, but it just kept twisting off. So, I ended up taking the cylinder head off the bike and in to a machinist to get the old bolt drilled out and re-tapped (Martin Spriggs, did a great job at a budget price)… That was probably back in July. Summer bike camping season came and nothing got done. If anything, I got farther behind because David Williams said I’d be silly to have it that far apart and not doing some valve work (and the mileage on the KLR was adding up, more “maintenance debt”). While asking Adrenaline for references to who in town would do a valve job, Scott suggested I just “lapp” the valves. That’s now done. I used a little bit of vinyl tubing and a cordless drill to spin the valves with the lapping compound. The valves were in pretty good shape, so I was careful to keep the lapping light. Then I was fussing about how to clean the cylinder head. Between the machinging, my cleaning and “polishing”, and the lapping … it was covered in stuff you didn’t want inside an engine. I ended up just dunking it hot soapy water (in a plastic bucket), then rinsing it off and blow drying it.

Which brings me to putting the valves back in the head. Scott/Adrenaline took them out with a fancy spring compressor. I bought a cheap spring compressor on Amazon… but it didn’t work (doesn’t even seem complete).  A little online research shows lots of versions of the chunk of 3/4″ schedule 40 PVC shown here:

PVC tool for compressing valves... well for getting at the keepers... plus keepers and springs.
PVC tool for compressing valves… well for getting at the keepers… plus keepers and springs.

That in combination with a big woodworking style C-clamp ($18), and some tweazers, worked hot damn.

So, the valves are in, and passed the solvent test. (Pouring some solvent in the exhaust port and seeing if leaked past the valves… then draining it and doing the same thing on the intake side.)

Unfortunately, the KLR is misbehaving (a short circuit), so I’ll be side tracked for a bit…


May 2016:

Finally opened the DRZ. Haven’t ridden it since Joel busted his arse to give it (and me) a lift home a couple weeks back…


Whomever was last in here didn’t do more than finger tighten the six hex nuts that hold the starter clutch (?) to the back of the rotor/flywheel. All of them turned trivially, and two came out far enough to do damage while I was riding.

“smushed” stator

That said, I did get some other useful stuff done.

The miata wouldn’t start after spending a summer outside. I had figured it was bad gas, so looked up how to drain the tank, and it looked fairly simple… pull off the fuel lines under the hood, route them to a gas can, jumper the fuel pump relay in the diagnostic box and turn the key on. So I did all that and nothing happened. A couple weeks back I finally dug into the miata far enough to get to the connector for the fuel pump to determine if it was getting power, or if the problem was upstream (relay, etc.). It had power. Napa wanted $250 for a “fuel pump”. I gotta wonder if they were trying to sell me the whole assembly… but they did say they had one in stock?! Anyhow, got one on amazon, showed up in a few days. Less than $35 delivered. Don’t know how long it will last, but it did run well enough to drain the tank, and then when I was trying to get new gas through the system the car actually started when I was just trying to bump the starter to get the fuel pump to run (it stays on for about 5 seconds)… anyhow, started on the 3rd “bump”… caught me by surprise.

Miata fuel pump assembly/stalk

… and on the KLR, I noticed that the rear sprocket (hidden by the luggage) was quite worn, so ordered a new chain and sprockets… and a chain breaker. That turned into an adventure when I broke the breaker by backing out the pin too far… bad combination of simple design and LOUSY documentation. Thanks to adrenalin coop for saving that mess. The chain tool was $30, and I bought it because I saved $20 by getting a stock (110 link) chain instead of the custom 106 link one the bike needs (wierd pricing). Well, without a chain tool, and having already removed the old chain (ground the rivet down and pounded it out), I was “down a bike”.

New sprockets (both) and chain

and while I was avoiding starting on the DRZ, I finally installed the used IMS footpegs I ordered at the end of the wet season.

IMS footpegs

…. So. I’ve ordered a new stator assembly from RMStator in quebec. No real idea if they are any good, but (crossed fingers) a $149 stator with a 1 year warranty has to be better than the $35 chinese one on ebay? The best reviewed ones are from in the states, but apparently they are either not making them anymore, or are out of stock, as they are just selling an OEM one now (and NOT cheaply). The Suzuki one is supposed to be good, but again, expensive.

While I was in there, I had a look at the exhaust header that I thought was rubbing on the frame…

Exhaust header on frame = BAD.

… looks like it was. I thought it was just causing a little extra vibration/noise, but apparently it is worse than that. Worse, one of the header bolts is frozen… although strictly speaking, getting one of the two off is more than enough to rotate the header a bit… still, not sure wtf to do about the hole… should be covered if nothing else.