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750 Katana Restoration

Discussion in 'Modifications and Projects' started by jd, Nov 10, 2007.

  1. It's not a total restoration in terms of stripping the bike down and rebuilding it completely (at least not yet), more of a systematic dismantling of key parts to make sure they're not likely to fail anytime soon. I'll admit the main purpose of this thread is just so I can keep track of what I have/haven't done already but hopefully it might also provide inspiration to encourage others to find a bike to restore, or useful advice for those forced to buy an older model bike and want to know what problems they might encounter.

    For those that missed my earlier thread this is what I started with:
    Basically in reasonably good condition, but had been sitting unused in a shed for at least the last 7 years (as evidenced by the insect nest in the engine cooling fins) - but on the plus side it had less than 50,000kms. So figured that the engine should still be reasonably sound - but the suspension, brakes etc. needed some work - and cosmetically there's some minor surface rust in the usual places where the paint had been rubbed down.

    Day one I tackled the obvious basic stuff - fresh oil and filter, new plugs and a fresh tank of fuel which saw the engine running a lot better (was having problems with dying at idle). Still waiting on prices for a new air filter.

    Next step was the brakes. Checked the pads to find they were actually brand new - but there was some rust on the guide pins which I cleaned up. Front wheel seemed to be dragging a little and since I couldn't tell if it was just the new pads or the bearing I took the front wheel off. Found out the bearings were actually brand new which was a nice find - but also discovered the front axle support studs were stuffed, see this thread for more on that:

    Still waiting to chase up some new studs, will replace all four as well as the nuts just to be sure. In the mean time some jobs like changing the brake/clutch fluid are on hold. Of course I've found other things to keep me busy in the meantime, simplest being to give the thing a decent wash and polish. Other minor things include replacing the rubber on the shift lever and replacing the clutch lever (not broken but slightly loose from wear which was annoying).
    Also fitted the new ignition lock that came with the bike (previous owner lost the key and had to buy a full set of locks, the ignition was the only one he hadn't fitted yet). Of course while doing that I dropped one of the tiny bolts and had to remove the oil cooler to get it - and of course when I did that one of the bolts holding it on snapped in half. Not really a big problem since it'll just require cutting the nut welded on the other side and probably best I found it was weak now than have it break later. I'll be replacing all four bolts just to be safe.

    At the other end of the bike I was worried I'd have to replace the chain but what I thought was rust turned out to just be dried lube and after a good clean I realised that it was actually brand new, again another bonus. Faulty brake light was easily solved by replacing the globe. Also made sure to oil/grease all the usual spots like the side stand pivot, footpegs, centrestand etc.

    Since there's not much to do at the front end of the bike I spent this morning dismantling the other end. I'm gradually trying to undo pretty much every nut and bolt and replace those that are stuffed, whilst those that are still good are being put back with the correct torque and/or a bit of threadlock (nothing worse than having bolts fall out when riding). So at the moment the bike's looking like this:
    Also going to use this opportunity to respray the black bits that aren't plastic - specifically the chainguard, taillight and blinker brackets and the side rails. Might also respray the bits of frame that aren't that visible since I don't have to worry about matching the colour - of course if it the paint I buy is close enough I'll do the other bits of frame as well. (I know silver is hard to match but a slightly different shade looks a lot better than little orange spots ;)).

    Think that's pretty much all I've done so far, expect further updates and pics as things progress. Not sure when it'll all be finished at this stage, probably would have passed a RWC if I hadn't touched anything but since I'm not going to ride it any distance until I'm happy it's safe that would have just meant paying rego on a bike I wasn't using. Was hoping to get it finished in time for the Christmas BBQ but not too sure now, biggest problem I face at the moment is just not having enough time (this is why I actually wanted to buy a bike at the start of winter). Oh and apologies for the long post - just try and think of it as several posts compressed into one :).
  2. Well best of luck with it jd. As a practical, reliable old bike with a bit of style, it's really hard to go past air-cooled Suzuki fours. I absolutely love 'em to bits I do.

    What's the wiring like? Back in the UK (where the weather is not kind to things automotive) I knew very few older Suzis that hadn't had at least a partial rewire due to corrosion of wires and connectors and disintegration of the insulation. Not to mention the infamous regulator/rectumfrier which was best binned and replaced with either a CB250/400N unit or car components. Ahh the smell of boiling battery acid.

    Not that that made them bad bikes. It was just something you had to do if your Suzuki was over 10 years old. Indeed, it made for bargains as a non-runner could often be had for cheap and fixed fairly easily with a little electrical nous.

    I went the whole hog on my GSX 550 chair puller, wiring everything through Bosch relays to take the load off the switchgear, and feeding it all with heavy gauge cable. Worked like a charm.

    Keep us posted on progress.
  3. Onya JD :cool:

    Just read your other threads about the Katana, and I'm still umming and ahhing about getting a retro bike or something, say, ten years old.

    Any chance you could you do up a costing and time summary for us thinking about the same thing.

    All the best with it.
  4. PatB - Wiring seems pretty good from what I've seen, not surprising given the previous owner was an electrician ;).

    Toecutter - Was thinking of trying to do a cost/time summary but kinda difficult given that I've probably "wasted" a lot of time just trying to figure out things (part of the fun), and of course a lot of the expense so far has been buying tools and stuff which don't really count. Still I'll try and sum up the work so far:

    Oil Filter - $20 (I think)
    Spark plugs - $16
    Oil - $45 (using semi-synth to "clean it out" but will probably just switch to plain mineral oil later, air-cooled engines don't have high tolerances)
    New clutch lever - $10
    Brake Fluid - $8 (on sale)
    Black Spray Paint - $15
    Sandpaper - Free (pinched from work ;))
    Shift Lever Rubber - $1.50
    Brake/Tail Light Globe - $1.00

    Time spent so far - hard to say since I'm often doing other things as well but maybe most of one full day and a couple of afternoons. I'll try and keep a running tally of both but the time doesn't really bother me so much since I do enjoy working on the bike - it's the reason I bought something 20 years old rather than just going out and buying something brand new.
  5. Looks good Dave. I see yours is also running a 4-into-1 exhaust (4 into 2 was standard wasn't it?). Mine is the '85 model and does have a fuel gauge, though I'm not that sure if that's entirely accurate. Was it just Aus versions that had silver wheels? Every picture I've managed to find of the '85 version have all had gold wheels :? (so hard finding info on any bike not sold in the US).

    Haven't had much of a chance to work on the bike of late, and unlikely I could have got it RW'd and rego'd in December even if I had got it finished. Has been the perfect opportunity though to do a little rust removal and respraying. Started out just removing some of the black painted items from the frame (ie blinker brackets, mudguard, chain guard etc) which had a fair amount of surface rust. Of course with that stuff looking good I figured I'd try and "tidy up" some of the areas of the frame where the paint had rubbed down and rust was starting - which has ended up turning into a respray of most of the frame. I'll try and post up some pics later today.
  6. Even though I am more into the later model sportsbikes, I can appreciate these awesome motorcycles. Hope the rebuild goes well, keep us updated! :D
  7. I actually don't like the exhaust and you are right it is not original. I was going to change just the muffler and see if I can get the pipe bent a little closer up to the frame (it hangs down too far) rather than replacing the whole thing. All the silver models I have seen have had the silver wheels, the wheels on mine came from a silver bike (one of my gold originals was slightly damaged). I ride mine a lot! It still goes pretty darned well for a bike nearly 25 years old and has a better riding position than a lot of current models! Plus the styling still turns heads today!
  8. Fair enough, I was taking my info from here which suggests at least some had gold rims standard. Certainly don't see any reason why a previous owner would have replaced them.

    Riding position was definitely a big plus for me as well, one of only a few bikes that just felt "right" the first time. Still have to look into options for hauling luggage so I can use it for touring, I already have soft panniers but might look into a Ventura rack as well.
  9. As promised here are some pics.

    Here are some of the previously mentioned "black bits" as removed from the bike.

    And here they are after some serious soaking in degreaser to remove all the old chain lube (think I know why people buy shafties), followed by a sand with wet 220 grit, a bit of phosphoric acid to kill the last bits of rust, then a coat of VHT self-priming epoxy.

    The picture in my first post gives an idea of what the frame was like. This I sanded back with wet 400 grit and again hit with phosphoric. It was then masked off using my quick and easy "damp newspaper" method (and a careful aim), then sprayed with a can of self-priming Wattyl killrust. Colours not an exact match but it's reasonably close so I'll probably continue on and try and do a few more bits of the frame, including the more visible areas. A slightly different shade of silver is a lot better than orange spots of surface rust.

    Total cost for all of that - about 30 bucks.
    And yes I moved the car before painting ;).
  10. Those parts came up nice as... I'm looking forward to seeing the ol girl when you are finished with her
  11. How are you finding the cost?
    I restore real bikes for a hobby and they can be expensive, but not nearly so expensive as it cost me to restore a couple of 750 Honda Fours

    For example - a pair of BSA pistons cost me AU$300; that included the pistons, rings, gudgeons and circlips. whereas for the 197- Honda 4s it cost me $180 per set of rings per piston - thank goodness it didnt need a rebore and oversize pistons!

    So i just wonder what it's like for a kazuki sultana - not that it matters greatly, its just good to see the older bikes being cleaned up and used and appreciated
  12. Haven't really looked into the prices of major parts but given the old oil-cooled GSX engine had a long and varied history I'm guessing (hoping) they won't be that expensive or that hard to find. As far as the common consumables go, they're all generic 80s Suzuki and are about as cheap as bike bits get.
  13. Although I remember Honda spares prices to be ball shrinkingly expensive, I'd be very surprised if you couldn't improve on that price by buying overseas. $180 a pot for rings sounds suspiciously like the Perth Premium.

    Even with the PP my K100 would only cost me $57 a pot for the same parts at BMW prices.
  14. Time for another update I guess since I have been able to get a little more work done. Repainting of half the frame (everything from the engine back) is now finished and after much confusion I've finally managed to get everything back to where it's supposed to go without any bits left over. But I've definitely learned that if you're going to go stripping a bike down to the frame then it's probably an idea to have a better system than just creating several different piles on the workbench. Might be fine if you're putting stuff back together the same day but the memory gets a little fuzzy after a couple of months :LOL:. Labelling wires before disconnecting them would also have saved a bit of time trying every possible combination till stuff worked properly ;).

    Now it's on to the front half of the bike......

    Should also add that I replaced the air filter a couple of weeks ago with a genuine Suzuki part (60 bucks I think) - also refitted the "snorkel" thing that feeds it which the previous owner had removed for some reason but thankfully had still kept. Not sure if it was that or the new filter (or both) but the erratic idle speed which the bike had when I bought it (and which the previous owner had complained about) is now gone.
  15. That's why God gave us digital cameras and enough memory to take a zillion pics for memory jogging purposes :grin: .
  16. Time for an update I guess, and a warning that it is very easy to get carried away with a restoration ;).

    Removed the tank to get at the front half of the frame and figured I'd also replace all the fuel lines since they looked like they were the originals. This is probably one of the most overlooked bits of a bike I reckon - at least until the fuel line splits and leaves you stranded somewhere ;). It was then I noticed the external fuel filter was full of fine bits of rust, guess I probably should have looked at the tank before playing with the engine.

    Unfortunately like all good bike designs the fuel line is a complete bastard to get to - so off with the carbs.

    This however wasn't an easy task, unfortunately the only real way to get the airbox out of a Kat is to remove the engine :shock: - so there wasn't a great deal of room to play with to get the carbs out. Removing the battery holder and pushing the airbox back as far as possible means the carbs will just touch both the engine and airbox tubes.

    This turned out to be a good thing though since I figured since I'd already gone that far I may as well dismantle and clean the carbs - which revealed that a fair amount of very fine rust had got through into the float bowls. Otherwise the carbs looked in excellent condition which was good, makes me even more confident the odometer is accurate.

    With the carbs all clean and shiny again (inside and out) next step was the fuel tap. Sure enough there was some crud in there too which I soon cleaned out - only to bend up the bit of metal that activates when it's set to "PRI" :facepalm: . Much swearing, and bending/hitting with a pair of pliers got it back into something vaguely resembling it's original shape eventually though so all is good.

    Still need to do something about the remaining rust in the tank so I've drained the contents as best as possible (getting a moutful of rusty unleaded in the process). Once dry I'll chuck a litre or two of phosphoric in there and let it sit - mainly because I've got a ready supply of the stuff, and I'm lazy.

    Hopefully sometime today I'll finish respraying the rest of the frame. I've also got to fix some dodgy wiring near the rectifier which caught on fire last time I ran the bike (the reason why I never use electrical tape to fix wiring).

    Picked up all new hoses for the carbs and a new filter this morning along with some new electrical connectors which has added another 20 bucks to the cost. I reckon I'm still well short of 200 bucks total so far, makes a hell of difference when you're not paying for labour :grin:.
  17. Good move cleaning the carbs; another one of those small but necessary services which always gets neglected on resto jobs

    best way to clean a tank (as youve probably been told countless times already) is a cleaning agent (i use petrol) and a handful of blue-metal or similar. mix the ingredients in the tank, shake dont stir and ta-da, a clean tank!
    are you repainting the bike? i only ask because if you've been getting rust from the petrol tank its pretty vital that you strip the old paint off comprehensively - my experience with the hondas is that the metal is wafer thin to begin with and you get holes in the side of the tank if you so much as look at it sideways.

    anyway, good to hear things progressing
  18. No plans to repaint the tank as yet. The rust is due to the fact the bike's been sitting for 7 years and only seems to be fairly minor - but is spread over much of the inside of the tank. Don't think there's any real danger of it rusting through, Suzuki seems to use fairly thick metal for their tanks.
    Was aware of using blue-metal/bolts/chain to clean the tank, but the Kat has a very complex shape and I'm worried I might not be able to get all of it back out. I'll give it a go if the acid doesn't work.

    Edit: Found this site has some good tips for dealing with rust in fuel tanks.
    Think I'll definitely go with Option B (should have no problems sourcing some some Sodium Metasilicate or something similar - just need to raid the chem store at work ;)).
  19. Time for another update I guess.
    Half a litre of phosphoric acid swirled around the tank seems to have done the job as far as removing rust goes, of course it also produced some pretty potent fumes :shock: . Once it'd been in there long enough I washed the inside with copious amounts of hot water then chucked in half a litre of method to dry everything out.
    Carbies have been synched (thanks to Johnny O and Loz's Spanner night ;)) and put back on the bike - this took a lot more time and effort than I was expecting. Would have been sooo much easier if you could actually remove the airbox without removing the engine (damn you Suzuki designers).
    Of course I'm so pleased with how well the respray of the frame and tank underside went I've now started to seriously consider respraying the whole bike (it's not like I'd ride it much over winter even if I could so I have time).
    Only problem is deciding between keeping the bike original, but rough, or trying to create something unique. Not sure what colour to go for either, this is just one idea I've been toying with:

    Obviously the original decals would go, doubt I'd bother sourcing up replacements (I know what bike it is, don't need stickers to remind me)

    Any thoughts/ideas on that colour scheme, or a suitable alternative, would be most welcome. I was also contemplating a much lighter metallic blue but suspect that wouldn't be an easy colour to do at home.