Speed's XJ Journal

Every XJ is a project whether big or small. Create a project page and tell us about the things you're doing to your XJ.
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SpeedRacerOnline
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Speed's XJ Journal

Post by SpeedRacerOnline » Fri Apr 05, 2013 6:56 am

*Part 1*

- Well, I decided last night that I would start a project thread. Admittedly, it won't be very active for projects for now and the near forseable future. I don't currently have a garage, so I don't get a lot of good opportunities to work. That, and I'm too poor to buy parts! Still, I know I'll do some things here and there when I can. More importantly, though, I'd like to keep a history of my experience with my XJ's, and I thought this would be a good place to do it. So, I'm gonna start by going back in time to document my start with XJ's, and we'll see where it goes from there!

- I grew up on dirt bikes, quads, and snowmobiles. The first street bike I ever owned was a '86 Yamaha Virago XV1100S. It was an awesome bike in outstanding condition in the special gold trim edition. I got it from a friend who had two of them identical, and he was kind enough to sell it to me for a paltry $600. I really loved that bike, even though the frame felt a bit small for me. I had big plans to completely restore it, but I had to let it go the very next year for personal reasons.

* Here's a pic of me and my oldest riding my Virago in a parade:
Image

- In 2010, just a couple years later, I put the word out to some friends that I was looking for a cheap sport bike. I had very little money to work with, but needed something reliable, powerful enough for highway speeds, and hopefully fun to ride. I like cruisers a lot, but sport bikes looked like so much fun and I really wanted to try one out. Plus, even on dirt bikes and my Virago, I've always had a tendency to put my feet on the rear pegs and kind of lay out on it for high-speed cruising. A sport bike seemed natural for me.

- Finally, on June 10th, 2010, a friend told me her brother was selling a '94 Yamaha XJ600 Seca II because he was leaving for the military. She said it ran good, and just needed a new battery. The price? I'm not making this up...$600...again. When she rode it over to my house, I fell in love with it pretty quick.

- For an XJ, it was pretty ugly; bad yellow painted body on a smurf-blue frame (it looked like a horrible attempt at a University of Michigan theme). The fairing was pretty beat up from at least being dropped. The front fender was broken. The windscreen was missing. The engine covers on both sides were badly scratched from spills. The exhaust was scratched, along with a cracked muffler, a couple missing header nuts, and a broken header stud. The tank had a large dent in it. The seat had a small tear. The speedometer didn't work; and hadn't for an estimated 5,000 miles. The front tire was nearly worn out. It was a mess from leaking oil. It ran, but seemed to really bog and lack power. Plus, I didn't notice till later that the forks were badly bent; probably from the accident that broke the front off the front fender. She was rough, but it was a sport bike, it ran, the price was right, and as ugly as it may have been, yellow is my favorite color. The "Shooting Star", as I dubbed her since I'm a huge Speed Racer fan, didn't leave my driveway that day. Soon after, she was wearing a license plate that read "RCRX" with big plans for an eventual rebuild in a darker yellow, black, and polish/chrome.

* Here's pics of "Shooting Star" the day I bought her for $600:
Image
Image
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- I rode that bike everywhere I could that season; school, work, church, store-runs...man, I was hooked. Over the summer, I did what maintenance and repair I could here and there. She got a new battery right away. Within a couple days, I found the bogging problem; she had a K&N air filter...that was packed full of mouse nest. Man, did she ever ride better when that was cleaned out! Still not perfect, though, after some more inspection I found the air box-to-carb boots were dried and shrunk enough that they didn't seal anymore. $40 for a set off eBay, and she had a lot more power. As a matter of fact, then she had enough power for me to finally notice how badly the clutch slipped. It was bad, even with a fresh Yamalube oil change. Well, that would have to wait until I had more money. I rode her as far into the cold season as I could stand it, but in Michigan, every bike season has an end. Unfortunately, by this time we were living in an apartment, and I had no choice but to leave my poor baby out in the cold and snow.

- As soon as it was warm enough (okay, maybe a bit before that ), I fired her up for the first ride of the year. It was just a 2 mile ride to church, but oh man, it felt so good to ride again! However, when I got to church, I noticed a lot of oil coming from the top of the engine. When I turned the engine off and leaned her on the stand, there was a sudden stream of oil pouring on the ground! She literally puked about a quart of oil on the ground in just a couple minutes, and I had no idea why or where it was coming from. When I rode her home, the same thing happened again; fine at first, but once she got hot, oil came pouring out again. I rode her a couple more times, putting in more oil and watching it pour out again. It wasn't just at stop, either. On a longer ride, it kept spewing oil enough to burn my leg as it blew back and soaked my pant leg. Upon closer inspection, I finally found that the oil wasn't leaking from the engine; it was coming from a drain hole in the air box. I pulled it open, and sure enough; the air filter was soaked with engine oil and the box had seen enough oil to totally deform the seal. After talking to several mechanics...I had no solid answers. Nobody could suggest anything short of lots of labor $$$ diagnosing, and the likely need of a $700 rebuild. They all suggested possible bad piston rings, but that didn't seem likely to me as the engine didn't act any different. It still had full power, and would still make it to 120 mph, which I think would be unlikely if the piston seal was so bad it was pumping oil out of the engine. My thought was more along the lines of a plugged oil galley in the engine, but that still required disassembly to diagnose, and I had no garage and no money. My poor baby got parked less than one month into the riding season...and there, in one of my dad's sheds (big farm), she sat in exile until the next summer.

...to be continued...
"I want to drive. I want to feel all of it: freedom, wind, curves, feedback, acceleration, unsteadiness, fear, joy... I don't want to ride. I want to drive."
- Speed's XJ Journal

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MisterX
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Re: Speed's XJ Journal

Post by MisterX » Fri Apr 05, 2013 7:07 am

Wow! This is quite a story so far, and a good read. Definitely looking forward to upcoming developments.
Full Circle wrote:She's a wee bit damp. Nothing that a quick warm up won't take care of.

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Re: Speed's XJ Journal

Post by Drapheus » Fri Apr 05, 2013 7:20 am

Great write up, enjoyed the read. Usually when it spits oil into the airbox there's too much liquid in the crank case. And it it wasn't overfilled with oil, I would suspect there is fuel leaking into there as a result of bad float needles or floats that won't close all the way.

Regardless, looking forward to your continued journey with the bike.
'92 XJ600 - 50k | '95 XJ600 - 5k
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Re: Speed's XJ Journal

Post by Full Circle » Fri Apr 05, 2013 9:27 am

Good read so far, keep it up! :thumbsup:

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Re: Speed's XJ Journal

Post by SpeedRacerOnline » Sat Apr 06, 2013 7:19 am

- Thanks guys! I wasn't sure if anybody would enjoy such a looong story. I was really writing it just to chronicle everything since I'm sure I'll forget someday, but I wanted to share it with you, too. Everybody likes to tell a story once in awhile. I'm glad I have some friends who understand the passion.

- With regards to the oil problem; to keep this thread on track, I started another thread recently to try to bench troubleshoot that problem because it seems to be far less simple than it should be (it always is with me). Here's a link to that thread:


- P.S. I updated Part 1 with the missing images. ...and, here's Part 2!
"I want to drive. I want to feel all of it: freedom, wind, curves, feedback, acceleration, unsteadiness, fear, joy... I don't want to ride. I want to drive."
- Speed's XJ Journal

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Re: Speed's XJ Journal

Post by SpeedRacerOnline » Sat Apr 06, 2013 7:25 am

*Part 2*

- In the middle of the summer of 2012, a good friend of mine (who knows absolutely nothing about anything mechanical) moved into a house with a small 2-car garage that he offered to me to use for working on my bike. It's only about 1.5 miles from my house, so it's pretty convenient. I got it hauled over there, and we use a padlock that we both have a key for so I have access whenever I want. As long as I leave it cleaned up when I'm done for the day, and leave him space to park his van inside during winter, I'm welcome to work there. Really great guy! Of course, I got started right away!

- The first day I was over there, I tried to start it, but the battery was deader-than-Elvis (yes, I know "deader" is not a word...don't ruin my bad pun :-P ). I had a charger, but I couldn't possibly wait several hours for it to charge properly. I'd been having withdrawals for over a year already! I pulled the van up, hooked up the jumper cables, and started cranking. Fortunately, I did remember to Stabil the tank before parking it, so with one short squirt of starting fluid under the tank she fired up pretty quick. I gave the throttle a quick twist and giggled like a school girl at the sound I missed sooo badly (Okay, I guess it's fair to say it was the idea of my baby running that I giggled at, cuz with broken header studs, missing nuts, and a cracked muffler, she actually sounded pretty crappy...but she's my baby and I love her any way!). After warming up for a few minutes, I disconnected the jumper cables and got ready to go for a test ride down the road to see how she was feeling. I hopped on, twisted the throttle...and she died instantly. What the? I tried to fire her back up, but got no response from the button. Oh. The battery was that dead. She was so drained, she didn't even have enough power to provide any more spark to the plugs than what it took to idle. Once I started her up again, she'd idle just fine, but without the jumper cables, she'd die as soon as you gave her any throttle. Alright, alright...I'll hook up the charger and wait an hour or so. Guess I don't have a choice! It's lunch time anyway.

- About an hour and a half later, I disconnected the charger to try again, but she was still dead. Even after an hour on fast charge, the battery was too dead to even turn the lights on with the key. Looks like a new battery is in order, but I live in a small town where the only place that carries that battery costs $130 - screw that highway robbery! I ordered this one online for $70 shipped. I hate to wait, but that looks like what I'll have to do. It was my fault; Like a bonehead, I forgot to even disconnect the battery during the 1+ year it sat parked.

- Then I had an epiphany! You know; that epiphany that you get when you want something really bad, but you can't have it right now unless you think of some half-baked, hair-brained, redneck-engineered way-to-get-what-you-want-and-likely-kill-yourself-in-the-process idea... You know; that kind of epiphany? Yup. It hit me like a baseball bat and apparently knocked me senseless!

- What I really wanted was to figure out that oil problem so that I'd be ready to ride the moment my new battery arrived, but I needed to get the engine good and hot to do so since the problem never appeared until it got really warmed up. I figured; 1) With jumper cables, I can get it running. 2) Without jumper cables, it will idle just fine. 3) With the choke out all the way, it idles high enough to get the bike moving. 1+2+3 = I can start the bike with cables and use the choke's high idle to ride the bike at idle just for a short distance to see if I can duplicate the oil problem to figure it out. That's brilliant! It did work... She took right off at high-idle, and I was even able to get her shifted all the way up to third and got about 25 mph out of her for about a mile and a half. Then, I royally srewed up. I thought of calling my dad to ask him about my issues, since he has always done all his own work on the family's extensive list of motorsports (along with all the farm equipment). In my impatience, I pulled over to call him right then. With the high-idle, the bike was too loud, so I turned the choke off.....and she died. Oh crap. I'm a mile and a half away from my shop with a bike with a totally dead battery. Of course I tried, but she was still deader-than-Osama. I about killed myself trying to push-start her, but with a battery that dead that was never gonna happen. That said, I started the long almost-entirely-uphill push back to the garage. Yeah. I made it about 1/4 mile uphill before I just about collapsed (yes...I'm pretty out of shape). I started calling anyone and everyone looking for somebody that could stop at the garage to pick up my jumper cables and come get me started. Finally, I got a hold of some friends who were about to drive past there anyway, so they helped me out. Got her jumped, kept the idle high, and took her straight back to base. Exhausted.

- When I got back, I was surprised to see she wasn't spilling any oil. Throughout all of that, the engine got plenty hot. As a matter of fact, running on low voltage and at low speeds (air-cooled), she was probably hotter than during normal riding. Still, there wasn't so much as a drop coming from the air box. I checked and verified that she was correctly filled with oil; looked good. Thinking maybe it was related to engine speed, I hooked the cables back up and got her running again. Then, I blocked the throttle at about 4,000 RPM and let her run for 5-10 minutes. Still nothing; not a single drop of oil. I was stumped. Last summer, she did it every time I had her running for more than a simple warmup. I had even done this test once, and she did it last summer, but now; nothing. Don't get me wrong; I was thrilled with the idea that the problem was gone, but troubled all the more because of it. That's when I thought even more strongly that maybe it was a plugged oil galley in the engine. After sitting for a couple years before I had her, and an owner that obviously did not take very good care of her, the engine may have been pretty sludgy inside. Then, when I parked her for the winter, one of the oil galleys in the engine plugged up like Fat Tony's arteries. Depending on where that plug is in the system, it could totally screw up the oil system. The pump could have been pumping all the oil right up through the crankcase breather because the galley was too plugged to let it through. Then, after sitting again for over a year, that plug may have dried up just enough that when the engine was started again, the pressure broke at least part of the plug free enough to let oil through again so it didn't back up through the breather. I called everyone I knew who knew anything about bikes; including several shops, and everyone concluded that it was the only explanation that at least potentially made sense. Nobody, including myself, was completely convinced that actually was what happened, but it was the only semi-logical explanation (for more troubleshooting details that led to this conclusion, refer to my thread Engine Oil in the Air Filter). So, that's good news, right? Everyone agreed that was the only explanation that almost made sense (of course, I didn't know about XJRider at the time). If that truly was the problem, and it was working properly now, then, in theory, it should be safe to start riding again as long as I pay attention for any signs of problems reoccurring.

- With that in mind, and knowing I had to wait for a new battery to come in, I decided it was finally time to fix that ugly paint problem. There was a lot I wanted to do to the bike, but I couldn't afford parts. However, a few rattle cans of paint weren't too expensive, and labor is free...well, sort of (I do have a wife and 4 kids, so labor's anything but "free", but it doesn't cost money, at least). Over the winter, I had purchased a black front fender in perfect condition for $15 off eBay, the other plastics were in fine order, and the fairing was rough, but totally fixable. The tank was gonna be some work, but I wasn't gonna let one obstacle stop me from trying. The frame was the tough part, and it was the major reason for the work. I wanted to keep the bike yellow, since it's my favorite color and I had decided to go for a Speed Racer Racer X Shooting Star motif:

* Racer X's "Shooting Star" from Speed Racer (the movie):
Image

- I figured I'd pull all the body panels off for painting, obviously. Then, pull off anything that couldn't be masked enough to throw a basic rattle can coat of gloss black on the frame. I knew it would be far less than perfect, but I really just wanted to ride it and not have a blue frame this summer...which was already nearly half over. Maybe I'd tear it all down for a more serious job over the winter. For now, I want it to look better than it did and still be able to ride it in a couple weeks.

- That was the end of the good news, unfortunately. As I started to tear into it, I kept finding more and more wrong with it. It started off with little things; stripped out screws, missing nuts, etc. Then, I found some more scary stuff. Pulling off the rear sets, I found the right side was only hanging on by a couple of turns of a cross-threaded bolt! Jeez, I could have been out riding and lost my whole peg and rear brake pedal at any moment! Yowza! Still, that wasn't the worst. A bit later, I pulled off the engine sprocket cover. I found the same thing we all do; the neutral switch only had one screw still in it. The others were buried in almost 2 inches of sludge in the bottom. As I dug out the sludge, I found a large nut in the mess. What is this? Oh man!! It was the retaining nut for the chain sprocket! My heart literally skipped a beat as I imagined barreling down the highway at 70+ mph when the sprocket worked its way off the shaft and locked up the chain and wheel sending me sliding into who-knows-what kind of accident! Judging by the amount of rust on the threads, it must have been like that since long before I got the bike. Man, I'm glad I'm not dead! That was the final straw for me. I decided this riding season was pretty much out. As much as I wanted to ride, it wasn't worth risking my life not knowing what else may be seriously wrong that I might find the hard way later. I then started my first ever full tear down. I was gonna do this job right, even if it did take awhile to finance.

...to be continued...
"I want to drive. I want to feel all of it: freedom, wind, curves, feedback, acceleration, unsteadiness, fear, joy... I don't want to ride. I want to drive."
- Speed's XJ Journal

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Re: Speed's XJ Journal

Post by Full Circle » Sat Apr 06, 2013 7:50 am

Glad you found out before anything serious happened. Nice Virago!

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Re: Speed's XJ Journal

Post by Trialsstar34 » Sat Apr 06, 2013 8:42 am

If you find your self needing any parts through out youll rebuild just lemme know, Got almost a full bike worth of parts. Good luck, Hope your seca is soon the shooting star it deserves to be :thumbsup:
Check Out my Build Thread viewtopic.php?f=12&t=3001
Drapheus wrote:Yea that cam chain goes slappity slap slap rattle rattle slap rattle slap slappity
Or something like that
Noises with Drapheus, yyayyy

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Re: Speed's XJ Journal

Post by mikee112 » Sat Apr 06, 2013 8:47 am

Great story so far......... looking forward to part 3 :)

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Re: Speed's XJ Journal

Post by LeighTower » Sun Apr 07, 2013 4:27 pm

mikee112 wrote:Great story so far......... looking forward to part 3 :)
+1 on that sentiment! Gentlemen, we have a true J.D. Salinger in our midst! Let's have a round of applause for this entertaining "How I did it"! :kudos: I only feel sorry for A. his wife and kids, or B. his boss - 'cause either he's A. ignoring the former with all this writing time, or B. not getting enough sleep to do his job effectively! Their loss, our gain! :clap:
Best ride ever taken? The last one. I live for the next.

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