Joe Blogs

Teardown: Exhaust, tank and switch gear


Spent a few minutes in the shed this evening.

Dismantled the exhaust,with the aid of a hacksaw to the clamp bolt. Not sure what to do with it, whether to clean it up and try to polish it or paint it. I lean towards the latter. I can hear rattly bits in the silencers, not sure whether to try to do anything about that…

Note to self: bolts for the clamps were 3x M6 30mm hex bolts with nut.

Took off the fuel cap, petcock and mounting rubbers from the tank and drained most of the remaining dregs of fuel. Seems impossible to get it all out, and don’t want to flush it with water. Maybe the last dregs will evaporate and I can then sluice it with something else. Will soon be ready to paint.

Lastly, removed most of the bits from the handlebars, except for the left switchgear and grip as I couldn’t get the grip off. I imagine it’s bonded and don’t want to cut it off…yet. Will probably replace the grips but don’t want to burn my bridges yet (I’ll also likely replace the bars with ones which aren’t so silly.

Teardown: Beginning frame prep



Oscar and I began the tedious process of stripping paint, beginning with Nitromors. I realise that I’m probably wasting time and money on this, because I’m going to get it grit-blasted anyway, but it’s a good opportunity to do something together. Oscar was pretty careful, and I’d got him wearing safety glasses and gloves and cautioned him not to splash it around.IMG_20130606_173457 IMG_20130606_173522 IMG_20130606_174445 IMG_20130606_174457

Teardown: frame nearly finished and ignition issue


The frame is nearly ready to be stripped and coated. Just need to get the races out of the headstock and do some preliminary chemical stripping and rust removal/treating. Getting the races out could be a job. There’s a special tool from Kawasaki for doing it, but it’s silly money and in theory some kind of drift should do it, I hope.


Frame nearly ready for stripping and painting

Manky, rusty front mudguard

Manky, rusty front mudguard

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While tidying up, I had a look at the ignition switch (faulty) and thought I could see some fraying wire. A new one is hard to come by (used, actually) and I’ve looked at the possibility of re-wiring with a new, aftermarket switch. Figuring I had little to lose, I had a go at getting the switch apart. A bit of grinding to remove a stripped screw got the the mechanical, key switch away from the electrical switch assembly and I then managed to get that open to find an obviously frayed connection. Typically, I then took it a step too far and the various mechanical bits underneath went “ping” and I didn’t know how it went back together.

This looks rather iffy, if difficult to see

This looks rather iffy, if difficult to see

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Managed to get the ignition assembly apart without breaking much.

Managed to get the ignition assembly apart without breaking much.


This all went "ping" and I'm not sure how they go back together.

This all went “ping” and I’m not sure how they go back together.

Dirty contacts

Dirty contacts

I think I may have re-assembled the bits right, but not sure. I intend to give it all a good clean, re-solder the bad wire and hope that it works!

Re-assembled switch-gear. Not sure it's gone back together right.

Re-assembled switch-gear. Not sure it’s gone back together right.


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Connection nearly broken

Connection nearly broken

Teardown: Steering head bearings



With some advice from the folks on the LTD forum, I gave the top of the stem a sharp rap with a hammer and piece of wood and the stem dropped out, leaving the upper bearing behind, which then lifted out. Both races show some pitting, which looks bad but I can only just feel them with a finger tip. However, the Haynes manual says:

If even the slightest amount of wear or damage is evident, the races should be replaced with new ones

Bearings seem to be readily available for non-crazy money, but I’m struggling to locate races. More questions!

Update: found a full set of bearings, seals and races…in the US. Think I shall be taking advantage of my executive courier in August :-)

Further progress, removed the centre stand with a lot of heat and wrestling. Something peculiar had been done to it on one side. If I want to re-use it, it will need a lot of cleaning up, possibly welding. Also removed the helmet locks and side stand switch, which all had to be drilled out. I just need to drift out the races and double-check for any remaining bushes etc to be able to start cleaning it up for painting/coating. It’s been suggested I get a bunch of bolts and thread them in wherever there are thread in the frame, to keep out the grit and powder to avoid having to clean them out. Makes sense.


Pitted races

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Teardown: Various mounts, footpegs and triple tree


A bit more progress, removing various rubber bushes and mounts from the frame, the footpegs and beginning on the triple tree etc. Ran into some stuck fasteners on the helmet locks and the centre stand. Will have to try heat, having applied penetrating oil.

Panel mounts?

Panel mounts?

Panel mounts?

Panel mounts?

Tank mount

Tank mount

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Also made some progress on the steering head, but got stuck on the upper bearing, which doesn’t seem to bear much relation to the images in the Haynes manual.

It makes it sound so easy:

Remove the stem locknut. Using an adjustable spanner wrench, remove the stem adjusting nut while supporting the steering head from the bottom. Lift off the race cover and upper bearing (see illustration).

Hah! Got as far as removing the race cover (I think), then found a rubbery washer thing over the bearings and can’t make them budge at all. There seems to be a separare silvery metal band which doesn’t seem to want to shift at all. I don’t want to break anything, so have taken a break to think (and ask the folks on the forum)

Upper bearing

Upper bearing

Upper Bearing

Upper Bearing

Upper Bearing

Upper Bearing

Race cover, adjusting nut, locknut

Race cover, adjusting nut, locknut


The Haynes Manual makes it sound so easy!

The Haynes Manual makes it sound so easy!

Teardown: Loom removal


Spent half an hour down in the shed working on getting the loom off. In the process, finished removing last bits of the cooling system, remnants of the rear mudguard and the battery box. Bit concerned about how few of the connectors I’ve labelled, and really wishing I’d been more thorough. Was clearly a bit gung-ho about disconnecting them. Oh well. I think my plan of reconnecting everything on a board has merit, if only to get a better idea of where things go first.


Radiator filler with electrical connections. Note ground wires.


Same again


Radiator filler cap and connections


Connectors for side stand (now labelled on the loom)


Connectors for side stand sensor


Ground wire on side of battery box, attached to the negative battery connector


Ground wire on battery box, screw also retains battery box to frame.


Bits attached to the side of the battery box. What are they?

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LTD project update – thoughts and ramblings


During my downtime, I’ve been obsessively reading the excellent forum dedicated to this bike at and found that the problems with the electrics I was having may have simply been a bad ignition switch. It’s also possible that the running issues were down to bad valve clearances, as this engine appears to like to have those adjusted rather frequently (every 5-6000 miles)

Still, photos should make it apparent that the poor thing was well overdue some TLC and I’m hoping that I can do it justice. It will be a great learning experience for me and a good father/son experience and learning opportunity for Oscar. I’m doing most of the nasty taking apart on my own for the time being, and will get Oscar more involved when there’s less chance of stuck fasteners and frustration.

To get my head around the electrics, I have a plan of fixing the whole loom to a wooden board as if it were on the bike, and re-connecting all the electical components to it, and maybe even the engine to see if it will run off the bike where access to the various bits will be easier. Might be a pipedream, and I don’t know what would happen with the ground/earth wires, for example, but it might be worth a try.

I have contacted a local grit blaster and powder coater and discovered that the cost of blasting and coating bits aren’t as bad as I had imagined. I think we’ll strip the frame and do some basic cleanup first, to ensure that there are no cracks or other nasty surprises, but will probably drop it in there eventually to be finished up and coated. We’ll do the tank ourselves with a rattle can (proper prep and a 2-part clear coat), I think, as it’s easier to manage than tubing is, and can easily come off and be re-done at a later date. I only intend to do the frame once :-)

I also found somewhere not too far off that does vapour cleaning of various bits (engine, carbs) – and I’m considering whether to do that. Maybe the carbs, and just paint the engine, not sure yet.

I’m not decided yet on whether to modify the bike, or just clean it up and put it back together and hope it runs. I really like the modifications done here:

and, because I like the solo look, but feel it would be unfair not to have the option of a pillion for Oscar if he’s been involved in building it,  I like the fact that it enables the possibility of using either a solo seat or putting back the original seat with pillion:

Solo seat from Suzuki LS650


Original seat

Teardown: starting on the front end


A bit of a hiatus for the last few weeks as I have been in hospital and then laid up post-surgery after getting a nasty appendicitis. Took advantage of increased mobility and a bit of free time to do a little light wrenching (literally, most of the fasteners gave up without any real effort on my part, result!) and started taking off some of the remaining bits attached to the frame. I figured I’d start with the front end as that’s mostly what’s keeping the loom from being removed. Took off the indicator brackets, rectifier, “dashboard” and ignition and the assembly with the horn and fusebox off, freeing up the loom at the front. The pictures are mostly for my own reference, as I realised I’ve not been taking as many as I ought to and there are a few dangly bits I can’t remember where they came from (notably what I think is an earth/ground, the other end of which I don’t know where it attached!). Should make re-assembly fun.

I also mostly drained the fuel tank, finally, and had better take a look at the carbs as I don’t remember whether I drained those adequately. I’ll be cleaning them, anyway, but sitting around with old fuel in won’t be doing them any favours.


Left front indicator


Right front indicator






Horn and fusebox routing


Front end


Front left side


Front left hand side


Front end


Front left


Front left


Foot peg and side stand switch


Right foot rest


Fuel tank fixing and battery box etc


Routing of harness from headlight into frame


Rectifier (?) and coolant reservoir


Right hand side, from top


Front end, inverted


loom/harness under headlight


Ground wire. Note to self, where does the other end attach?


Bottom of triple tree


Top of triple tree

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The teardown continues – engine


After a hiatus, I took advantage of the dry weather and some time to crack on a bit further with tearing down the LTD.

I’d got as far as removing the exhaust, but couldn’t actually release it from the bike due to a stuck fastener that I didn’t want to deal with in-situ, and the way the bike was supported.

Haynes manual in hand, off came the ignition coils, and the pulley cover. Progress came to a screeching halt when I realised I didn’t have a big enough (27mm) spanner to get the rear wheel undone. Cue a run to Halfords for a big-ass spanner. With the right tool, that came free pretty easily, but I couldn’t get enough play in the pulley belt to free it from the pulley at the engine after I’d removed the cover. I should have read the Haynes manual better as it turns out I should have removed the pulley retainer and the pulley itself (pulley starts to look really wrong when you’ve typed it a few times). As I didn’t trouble to do that, I remove the rear wheel first. All so far, so good with a distinct lack of the usual snowballing problems that I get.

Once the rear wheel was off, and I’d disconnected everything I could find (clutch, etc) from the engine, it was time to take a deep breath and start loosening engine mounts. Again, the quality of the photos in the Haynes manual (black and white, grainy) and descriptions weren’t very clear to me and after removing the 3 main mounts I still couldn’t figure out how to free the engine. I could see it was moving, but it couldn’t clear the frame. The manual made it sound so easy!

After some more wrestling and pondering, it became apparent that all the mounts on the right-hand side had extra flanges or similar that needed to be removed to create a clear path for the engine to come out. A couple of them gave me some concern due to stickiness but they all came off with relatively good grace and…out came the engine onto the carefully positioned footstool. Woo hoo!

This was the point where I regretted forgetting to drain the oil from the engine before I started all this. D’oh! Not because it started pouring oil everywhere (thankfully), but because it must add 5+ kg to the weight. Being the stubborn ass that I am, I wrapped the engine in an old curtain to avoid it messing me or the house too much and hoisted it up for a cross between lifting a McGlashen stone and a Hasafell stone carry. I managed to get it through the house and outside in one run, then down to the shed in 2 more runs. It’s quite heavy!

I’m left with basically the frame, rear mudgard, handlebars and switchgear, loom and all the other “fiddly bits” to shift, and don’t think I’ll try to tackle moving that alone (likely to bash up the house on the way through, apart from anything!). After that, I’ll have room on the drive to receive the V-Max!


The teardown continues


Oscar and I continued the process of dismantling the LTD this morning.

First off, drained the cooling system and removed the radiator.

Second, remove the exhaust. Overjoyed to find that the nuts on the stud came off easily (not snapping).

Next was to begin the process of removing the engine. The Haynes manual has a fairly short list of steps for this, but each one refers to one or more other chapters. In some cases, this was a little recursive:

Remove air filter box

Remove carburettors

On reading the section on removing the air filter box, it turned out that the carburettors needed to be removed first. But the carburettors were extremely difficult to budge with the air filter box. Argh! Horrible job, ending up with basically brute force to lever them free of the intakes on the engine and the air filter box. I think I shall investigate using pod filters instead when we rebuild it (probably needs rejetting etc if we do).

Discovered that the choke cable was totally shot, so that’s one more think that will need replacing.

After fighting the carbs off we called it a day and bagged everything up in ziplock bags and labelled them. Next time, I hope to get the rest of the engine out.