Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Starter switch, cont.

Stopped in to Radio Shack today during lunch and they have a pretty good selection of automative switches that I can choose from for replacing the kill switch and starter switch. I figured that by this point they would have abandoned the home electronics enthusiast completely in deference to the phone sales dept. Everything pretty much around $3. I dismantled the switch assembly and took this picture of the switches and wiring.

Seems pretty straightforward so I think it should be no problem to swap out the switches and solder new ones on. I also remembered that when I removed the starter motor it required taking off the cam chain tensioner and the gasket ripped. Add that to the list of items I'm going to need to track down.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Starter switch

Got a short opportunity to work on the bike this weekend but didn't make much progress. The starter switch is really corroded so it looks like a new one is required. I got a quote for an OEM from inside Suzuki for $45 which is pretty much what I'm seeing on ebay, etc. so I'm thinking Radio Shack may be a better option. I saw a cool mod from some guy who did this as part of a bobber project but lost the link. He had it mounted under the seat so you could barely see it. I also found a nice troubleshooting post for the starter circuit here, that I'll be trying out as soon as baseball season is over. Hopefully not for another month... go Giants!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

We have ignition! Sort of.

After a lengthy hiatus, I was back in action this weekend and made some major progress on the bike. Maybe 'findings' is a better word than 'progress'. I got the instrument cluster re-installed (was mis-placed for a bit) and the new battery hooked up. Still nothing when I hit the start button but the headlight works (both high and low!) and the indicators light appear to be functional. According to the grainy pdf I found online of a close-match gs450, the red light in the pictures below could be the 'side stand check light and buzzer'. I wasn't able to get it turn off so it is either something else or maybe there a bad switch somewhere. For the first picture, I had the bike in neutral, the clutch in and the side stand up but nothing happened. I put it in gear for the second picture and tried again and still nothing (but was not expecting anything).

Key is in the 'run' position,
bike shifted into gear.
Key is in the 'run' position,
bike in neutral.

So obviously there is a wiring issue with the starter since the starter relay is brand new and the battery is new as well. As a test, I removed the starter and used jumper cables to connect the battery and tap the contact. It spun up so it seems like the starter is not the issue. Next up is to test the switch wires. I have isolated the starter wiring harness so it should be pretty straightforward to diagnose. Once I got the starter re-installed on the bike, I repeated the battery test and the bike turned over. Overall it sounds pretty bad with a loud clunking sound. Not promising but then again this was never supposed to be a quick flip. Each time I put some effort into it I am learning more and making progress so I have to be happy with small victories.

There are still some other lingering issues as well, like these random, loose wires:

Disconnected from something, but what?

I think these two went to the original gas tank.

That's about it for now. If anyone has suggestions about the mystery wires, let me know.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Progress! sort of.

After a bunch of emails back and forth about the missing starter relay, I finally got fed up (and had a minute) to call them and let them know how frustrated I am. The guy seemed hesitant but eventually conceded that they will ship me another relay while the claim is pending with the USPS. Have to figure another week or so for it to show up so hopefully I can get some work done on the bike next weekend. In the meantime I have discovered that it is leaking a little bit of oil. I guess not surprising given the age and mileage but hopefully that won't end up being a big issue.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Quick note to break the radio silence this time. I ordered the new starter relay and it finally showed up, sort of. What I got was an empty envelope in the mailbox. I now have pending investigations with both the company and the USPS. so basically the project is on hold until I get a new one with no current ETA on when that will be.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Electrical 101

I managed to get some time this weekend to work on things and being the aggressive/impatient type I was curious to know if I bought a motorcycle or just 400 lbs of dead steel. I took the old battery to the battery store knowing that it was probably not up to the task and got confirmation from the guy who said it was pulling a mere 2 volts. Getting $10 was too much to pass up so I got a new sealed battery and a tender/charger which has nearly doubled my investment. (see the tally page for details). I got back to the house, hooked it up and much to my surprise the headlight lit up and the high/low switch even works! The bike doesn't turn over, though, so I got the manual out and after some debugging feel fairly confident that it is the starter relay, as pictured here:

I labelled all the loose wires with painter's tape since you never know when this will resume and then ordered a new one online for $35.95 + shipping. Should be here in a week or so. Hopefully I don't have to replace everything electrical because at this rate it will take $5000 and the next decade to get this thing done (while the current value of a good version of this bike is worth maybe $1k at best, see this).

On the bright side, at least there was a general functioning of the electrical system and as a bonus I got the new ignition switch installed. It may the only new and clean part on the whole deal currently.

Overall the swap out was pretty easy. Two bolts hold the headlight to the collars on the forks so once one was removed it swung out of the way (sadly dropping the nut into the headlight bowl). After that there were just a couple bolts with hex heads holding the ignition switch itself onto the top of the triple tree. In order to get the dropped nut out I unscrewed the 3 retaining screws and pulled the light out, revealing a bunch of nastified cob webs but nothing too terrible. Since the kids were napping I just left it and have not vacuumed out yet. I figure it isn't worth putting back together until I know the electrical stuff is all in order but will probably clean it out at some point.

That was it for the weekend. If I'm lucky the replacement starter relay will be here is time for next weekend but I'm not that hopeful that it will be since I ordered late on a Sunday and they said 5 - 7 days shipping.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

New tires? Maybe not...

Tiring at the end of the week and sporting a wicked cough still so not much time or desire to work on the bike tonight but I did have enough time to put some air in the tires to test them and get the gas tank back on. Stupidly I bolted the tank on only to realize that I forgot to put the petcock on first. It didn't really fit so I had to remove the tank insert the petcock and bolt the whole thing back only. Amateur!

My previous assessment about having bad tubes was way off since the bike has tubeless tires. I inflated the them to 42 PSI based on indications on the sidewall for cold tire pressure and so far they seem to be holding their own. There is still a ton of tread on them so we'll see how it goes. If this ends up running well enough to get back on the road I'll definitely take them in to the shop and make sure they are good before any serious riding.

No new pics tonight, it pretty much looks the same. If I can get the bolts from the deport this weekend I might just try to fire it up. Based on replies (thanks!) from the suzuki-l listserv, I am good to use off the shelf bolts since this is a low torque and low stress cover. Having taken the cover off and inspecting, I would tend to agree. Another good resource that I was referred to and have just started to tap is the GS Resources web site.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Oil change complete

So I think that the oil change phase of the restoration is complete! Got it finished tonight and overall I would have to say I'm pleased with what I saw. I took of the oil filter cover and it looked like this:

There wasn't much sediment in there and no metal chips that I could find so perhaps that is a good sign for the project.

I also pulled out the plugs and they both look like they have seen some use but are in good condition. There are no indicators of anything amiss visible so I'm pretty happy with that.

That still leaves a bunch of recommended services I need to go through, though. I'm keeping the list up to date in a separate page here. Going to try everything up to the 20,000 km level once I know the engine at least runs a bit. Check back to see what I'm knocking off in my free time. That's it for tonight, peace.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The clutch is a dusty, dusty place

Sometimes peer pressure is a good thing. I posted a comment on facebook and my buddy Chris replied that I should post some pics since it is good motivation to keep going. He is definitely right and because of that, I stopped doing real work and took a break to do some fun work on the bike. Little did I know the amount of work I think I am in for. I think I have figured out the clutch cover bolt specs. Based on a tip from a co-worker I just measured the depth of the holes using a wire coat hanger (the hanger was my idea). Turns out I need a 2" and a 2 1/2" bolt. It feels like that is the true depth and there isn't a pre-existing bolt sheared off in there (which was my original fear) because of how accurate the depths are. Also, there are other bolts on the cover which are those lengths. That is the good news. The bad news is that out of curiosity I pulled off the clutch cover to peek at the clutch & tranny itself. I can tell you I was not expecting to hear the creaking of cobwebs when I pulled the cover off but that's what I got. Pre-shop vac it looked like this:
Yes, that is cob webs, leaves and general dustiness inside. After shop vac-ing it really isn't much better it looks like I'll be adding a complete cleaning of that sub-assembly to the list. Maybe I can just power wash and re-lube? I also drained all the oil out of the bike in preparation for the 7,500 tune up which will magically restore the bike to working order.

Here are some more pics of the naked bike. I removed the gas tank so I could clean a little better and get a look at more of the engine.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Missing clutch plate bolts

As previously mentioned, I am missing a couple bolts from the clutch plate cover. Here is a picture of the exact location:

My poor camera's minimum focal length made it tough to get a crisp shot of it but this should suffice. The manuals I have do not indicate what the specs are for these bolts but I have some calls in and feel free to comment if you have thoughts.

Spider update: bike has been sitting for a week and there seems to be only 1 spider left. I think one more vacuum session should finish them off.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cleanup Continues

As promised, here are some pics of the bike the day I brought it home.

The next pic kind of shows a 3/4 view. I think the bike must have been dropped on its left side since the ball is missing on the clutch and the left side of the engine is a bit pocked up.

From this angle the bike actually looks pretty good... almost shiny!

I'm not sure if the angle is off a bit or the pipes are actually different heights. It may not matter if they're off a bit, though, since the left side pipe has what appears to be a poorly welded hole that is now a rusted out hole.

I did some major cosmetic cleanup and pretty much got all the cobwebs out of the crevasses and also removed the tail section down to the frame. I realize that this is not how the standard maintenance regimen would go but it seems like making sure I don't get tagged by a spider reaching into the bike seems like a priority.

I am now kind of stuck until the manual shows up but here are some more current pics and an addendum to the list of known issues:

  • ball end missing on the clutch lever
  • hole in the left exhaust pipe (pipes look to be conjoined somehow which probably means having to replace the entire assembly)
  • the clutch cover plate appears to be missing the two lowest screws

Speedo, reading 31,480. The ignition is just for show!

Here's the pocked left side of the engine case:

This is the new rear end. I think that with a new seat and maybe an integrated brake light, license plate holder would help with the whole cafe racer look.

So far there are a few good things about the bike (aside from the bargain basement price):

  • Hasn't leaked anything onto the garage floor. Either everything is dry inside or the seals are all pretty good
  • Gas tank is dry as a bone. Again, if I'm lucky it got drained before getting mothballed instead of having to degunk everything.
  • Looks pretty badass already. while not exactly comparing apples to apples, it seems to be 6" - 8" taller than the GZ250 I have been riding around and if restored to full working order should provide much better commute capabilities.
  • Almost no rust. Certainly living in Cali for 30 years is better than the northeast or many parts of the land but so far the frame and engine components seem to be in reasonable shape. That may change when I start trying to take parts off and find that the bolts are rusted into a single blob but who knows.

New Project - Update

Checked in on the bike this morning and there don't seem to be any new spider webs. Best case is that I got them all, worst case is that the are now hiding everywhere, just waiting for me.

Friday, July 16, 2010

New Project

Last week I found a bike on craigslist which appeared to be in reasonable condition and also in my budget (< $200) which is a highly unprobable combination so I had to jump at the opportunity to get it. I ended up paying $150 for the bike and borrowed a car/trailer to go pick it up (what a deal!). In the listing it looked like this:

When I went to pick it up with my buddy Dave and my two nephews it appeared to be in approximately the same condition so I made the deal. We dragged it home and due to company I left it sit for a week. Last night I finally had a chance to take another look and was fairly surprised (and panicked) when I found a black widow in a full web on the bike. I crushed that one and another I found and vacuumed up as many of the males and spider webs as I could find. I think I got everybody but wonder if any escaped into the garage, doh! Apparently there was a catch after all.

I am hoping this is a summer rehab project but at the rate I get free time and depending on the state of the bike itself it could take much longer. More pictures are forthcoming but here is my current list of known issues:

  • no paperwork, title, registration or anything. the bike is pretty much a ghost in the system which could cost some scratch later when it is road-worthy.
  • hasn't been run in about two years
  • seat not attached
  • gas tank is from a different suzuki bike (the original came with it but it is rusted out and would need to be restored by someone)
  • no front brakes (wtf!?!?)
  • flat tires (probably dry rotted but I haven't really checked yet)
  • no ignition (previous owner just taped the the wires together)
  • sheared bolt fell off when I was trying to wipe off the cobwebs (not sure what this is from but drilling out the hole and re-tapping looks to be in my future)

Overall they are all addressable issues and the frame seems square so maybe this could work out after all. From what I have seen the bike itself is fairly rare since it was not a big seller in the US. It also has been mentioned as fairly advanced for 1980, easy to work on and in general a very solid bike so I'm hopeful things will work out eventually. I think ideally I will convert it to a \cafe racer with a new set of handlebars and maybe rims eventually. Getting the original gas tank restored would be awesome but seems a long time off right now. We'll see what happens. So far I have taken off the plastics, cleaned it up a little and ordered a Clymer manual from BikeBandit.com which should show up late next week.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Home improvement project


This is post is going to be dedicated to the closet project (more or less). The main, perhaps only, shortcoming of the house (now that we've lived here over five months) is the closet in our bedroom. It is the typical old style door to a small part of the closet and you can't ever hope to reach the stuff in back type. Kind of like this:

We had been planning on replacing the door with a bigger opening and installing a curtain for easy access for some time but visitors then the kids' birthday party kind of pushed it out a bit. Last weekend I actually made some time to work on it. In one day I got most of the demo done. I got the wall opened up and then cleaned. It took quite a while due to interruptions from the kids and not being able to make noise during nap or sleepy time.Now the whole thing looks like this:

So far, so good. Now I need to chop out the studs and put in a new header then trim it out.Maybe in another couple months, I'll get to that. But now, your pic o' the post. Two cute kids inspecting the dog trying to eat breakfast.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Garden pics

As promised here are a couple pics of what we planted last weekend.

First up are the blueberries. In the before picture (which I forgot to take) there would be 4, 8 - 10 ft tall shrubby sumac-y type things. Those are now gone and replace by the existing rose bush and the 2 new blueberries. We found out that it will probably take 3 years to produce. Since we're ideally never moving, I think we have the time.

Next is a shot of the planted beds from above. On the left (in the paritally cleared bed) are the herbs. The fully planted bed are the three rows of corn we planted a while ago and behind them to the right are the 4 tomato plants. 

Finally, a bonus pic of the new and improved climber. On the left side (sort of behind in the pic) is the stair-ramp i built a month ago and the front side is showing off a brand spanking new slide we found online for < $100. I was super easy to install and the kids love it. Mainly the love watching things go down it and Matty is constantly trying to climb up.

It rained pretty hard last night but everything seemed to make it through alright. The forecast is for nice weather starting tomorrow so maybe we'll see some serious growth soon.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Spring planting season

Back when we moved into the new house before new year's one of the things we were really excited about was the raised garden beds in the back yard. The neighbors mentioned that the previous owners once had tons of fruits and veggies coming out of the gardens so we couldn't wait to get going. There were originally 5 beds but we whacked one in order to enlarge the yard a little for the kids. That left 4 well-overgrown beds that we had to work with. Maybe a month ago we stipped the weeds off the top of one and planted 3 rows of corn plus some random wildflowers on the end. This weekend we saw the Home Depot had a buy one get one special on 3" - 5" seedlings and couldn't resist. We wanted to get some tomatoes and hot peppers but somehow ended up leaving with the following:

- 2 hybrid tomato plants

- 2 heirloom tomato plants

- 2 thyme plants
- 2 rosemary plants
- 2 parsley plants
- 2 basil plants
- 2 blueberry plants
- 1 gallon of paint

Notice the lack of peppers. Apparently tracking down nearly two year old while picking out plants has as adverse affect on remembering the list. They were really great in the store, though. They have been awesome at listening and behaving in public places and have really never let us down. Especially now that they can talk so well and have definite opinions on how things should be and what they want to do.

We actually followed through and got everything in the ground today. Having recently picked up a copy of Golden Gate Gardening, we were relieved when they say to start with a small piece of garden and don't bite off too much. That made us feel so much better about seeing our haul from the deeps only taking up the ends of a couple of beds. We'll see how it goes but hope to just keep reclaiming garden square footage and adding more veggies every month. We still have 3 beds (about 100 sq ft or so) left to transform from weed haven to functional garden, pending successful completion of Phase I. I'll let you know how it goes. Once I take a couple pics of the current setup they'll show up here as well.

As always, here's your picture of the month:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Olympics follow-up

I know everyone is wondering how the ad performed but I have sad news. It sat for so long in the Facebook approval queue that it never went live. I'm sure that had it been shown on the site together we would have reached the 1 million member mark but alas we only got to 15 brave souls. Thanks, team!

All is not lost, however, as spring is in the air and the kids are getting psyched up for baseball season! They are finally big enough to get the sweet baseball gloves that Ell & Marisa gave them last Christmas when we went back east and all got sick.

This is Sarah getting the feel for things. We started out easy so nobody took one to the face. I'm sure it won't be long before Matty plunks her with a giro-ball the way he loves to throw. We're thinking he make the Giants this year, based on the current quality of their farm system.
Here's Matty working on taking fly balls. Two hands, kid! He loves the concept but is still working on execution. For now we pretty much just exchange the ball glove to glove but, hey, they're not even 2. The one thing he is good at, though, is calling out which sport we're watching on TV as well as knowing which types of balls he's looking at. So far we know: football, baseball, soccer, hockey and tennis (Nana!, Nana!).

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Non sequitur

Realizing that is has been a while since I posted I've been thinking about what, if anything, I have to say these days. Life has been super-hectic and every day pretty much conforms to the following schedule:

6:30 - woken up by 'mommie, dada?... mommie, dada?... mommie, dada?...'
7:20 (or 8:20) - on the bus to work
5:40 - on the bus home
7:00 - bedtime for kiddies
8:00 - 11:00 - house projects
11:00 - 12:00+ (optional) more work stuff or indy research and indulgent dev projects

To say the least it is fairly tiring for both the wife & I and many potentially interesting details of each day are lost in the fatigue. It is certainly rewarding and almost always lots of fun, but hopefully will shift to us getting more rest at some point in the near future. But I digress. The impetus for posting today was that I performed some social experimenting on Facebook the other day and created a group entitled 'I bet I can find 1,000,000,000 people who think that the NBC Olympic coverage sucks' not so much on the actual merit of such a claim but more so based on all of the bad press they have been getting and the fact that I see half a dozen of these types of groups a day and felt the need to spoof. I urge you to join here and show your support for the struggling masses who want real-time coverage of sports that matter. That isn't even the real reason for the post. It is as follows:

I decided that in order to further my own knowledge of the industry in which I work, I'd place an ad for my group on Facebook itself and see what happens. I started typing in a couple keywords and this was what i got as 'bonus' suggestions. I'm not sure but it seems like the algorithm is way, way off. I'll post again when I either have some data on the ad's effectiveness or have reached 1m members. Either way, don't hold your breath for another post this month.