I Love Metal Work!

As the title says, I Love Metal Working ;)

One problem I find in my life is that there are too many things I like to do. It makes it very difficult for me to settle down and do just one job.

I keep looking at the calendar on my wall, and freaking out! This is the month that I will be moving out of the apartment. And there is so much that I haven't done yet!

Then the last couple of days it rained, so I wasn't able to work on the motorcycle. Today, we had sunshine!

I've been putting together a list of "dependancies", for lack of a better word. Goes something like this:

I want to mount all the cargo boxes on the motorcycle. But before I do that, there is a "Sub Frame Bolt Kit" that needs to be installed.

To do the Sub Frame kit, I need to remove the seat, the gas tank, the side panels, etc. And its best if the tail box isn't installed, or at least empty. Because when I take the bolts out, the whole back of the bike will drop down!

I had ordered the gas tank a couple weeks ago. Turns out its back ordered. The place I bought it from doesn't even have it at their place yet. Grrrr.

And I was hoping to do things only once, not take the gas tank off, do something, put it back on, take it off to change it, etc.

Anyway, today I decided to at least get the frame bolts changed out, so I could start mounting all the Panniers.

So the order of today was:

Drain the gas tank.

Remove the seat.

Side panels (I have them off already, might actually just leave them off, will make everything else easier for later)

Remove the gas tank. (Drained it because 5 gallons of gas is kind of heavy when its sloshing around!)

Then the actual changing the bolts.

And finally put everything back together. Seems simple enough right?

Ok, step 1, drain the gas tank. I had gone to Princess Auto this morning and got some gas line, and of course some other odds and ends. Figured, no problem. Turn off the gas petcock, disconnect the gas line to the carb, hook up the new line, drop it into my gas can, turn the petcock back on, and wait for the gas to just run out. What could be simpler?

I was quickly reminded of the last time I took a fuel line off of a motorcycle. It was back in 1993 or so, when I decided to take my Ninja motorcycle apart. Like down to the bare frame, because I wanted to sand blast it and repaint the frame. Maybe I got bored, I don't remember. Anyway, get it all back together, and darn if I can't get the bike to start. Sad day. Anyway, I finally go to the local motorcycle place and ask a mechanic for ideas what to be looking for. He mentions that the fuel petcock has a safety gizmo, a vacuum operated shut off valve. Basically, when the engine is running, its sucking air into the intake, through the carb. That vacuum suction, through a hose, goes to the petcock, and only lets gas run through it when the bike is running. So, if you forget to hook up that hose, there will be no gas coming into the carbs, and the bike won't start. Its a safety thing, because if the bike crashes, or just tips over, gas won't run through the carb and leak all over. It will probably leak out the tank vent though.

Or in my case, since the bike wasn't running, I couldn't get the gas to drain out of the tank. But at least I knew why!

Ok, fine. I'll just use the gas line I have in my hand, and siphon the gas out. Spit, sputter... gag... oops mouth full of gas... but after that, the siphon worked pretty well! I was quite glad I had brought my ice water out with me, so I could rinse my mouth out good, and get back to work!

Once the tank was mostly drained, I put the bike up on my lift, and proceeded to take all the body work off. The lift I bought back when I had my flat tire. I kind of wish I could bring it along, but its pretty heavy, and takes a lot of room. The guys I bought the gas tank from are also supposed to be sending me a center stand, which attaches to the bottom of the frame, and basically holds the bike upright and level. Its just easier to work on the bike when its level, not leaned over on its side stand.

Then it was a couple screws to take off the seat... oh I probably didn't tell you about the seat yet. I'll get pictures of that up soon, but in the mean time, I realized that where I wanted to put the tail box, would over lap the seat. And the seat has to be removed to do just about any work I need to do. And I really didn't want to take the tail box off anymore. The only logical thing to do was cut about 8 inches off the back of the seat. Now I have a great little storage area behind the seat, and under the tail box. And while I was taking the seat apart to cut it down, I decided to replace the black vinyl with some green Denier fabric, which is the same as what I made the sleeping bag from. Turned out ok even.

Left Side Shot
Shot from the left, the bike looks kind of naked without the fuel tank, side panels, and seat.

Ok, seat off, only 2 screws. Side panels were off. Gas tank, 2 hoses, 2 bolts in the back, then take the air scoops off from the front, around the radiator and coolant tank... a few more screws there, then the tank just lifts off. It kind of sits on rubber bumpers, so isn't held on by much at all when you get right down to it.

Left Side Shot
Just another shot of the left side of the bike. I always laugh when I see a liquid cooled motorcycle engine... they look so small compared to the old air cooled engines with all the cooling fins!

Its amazing how much stuff is hidden by the tank and the seat. All kinds of wires, connections, etc... its easier to work on stuff with the tank off.

Now we can start! Well, not quite, because about this time I remembered I'd forgotten some stuff up in the apartment, on the 4th floor. I'll be all ready for nature hikes when I hit the road after all these trips up and down the stairs! NOW we're ready to start!

Right Side Shot
Right side of the bike. Some of these pictures I took just so I can plan where I'll mount things to later. So much easier to look at the picture than to run downstairs, take things apart, then sketch it out, run back upstairs...

So, instructions say to take the top bolts out of the sub frame, and then support the back as it starts to slide down. Also loosen the carb boot from the air box, and the exhaust clamp, and take some other stuff off that's in the way. Should have read the instructions before I started, back up stairs to find the other ratchet... sigh.

And we're back!

Bolts out, and cool, they're not even broken yet! That is the actual reason for this job today. On the KLR-650, there are only a short list of problems people worry about. One big one, is when you get it all loaded up for conquring the world, and go down a few zillion miles of bad roads, the bolts that hold the sub frame to the main frame tend to break. I mentioned this earlier, but when the bolts break, the back of the bike drops down, until the fender is sitting on the rear wheel. In the process, some wires usually get broken, the exhaust gets pulled apart, the intake gets pulled out, and its just over all bad. Plus, the bolts, when they break, have to be drilled out, so you need to find someone with a drill, and broken bolt extractors, then find new bolts. Then fix all the other stuff.

Right Side Shot
Now, Imagine, you are riding down a bumpy road, and the whole back half of the motorcycle droops down underneith you...

So the fix, is to remove the smaller bolts, drill a hole all the way through the frame, and replace those bolts with a much bigger, stronger bolt. If this big bolt should break, which is unlikely, its much easier to just knock it out, through the hole, and put another one in. Odds are though, before this bolt breaks, the frame will crack. That's the way it is in the mechanical world, when you fix one thing so its unbreakable, the next thing has to take the extra strain. And if you really think about it, the first thing was easier to fix probably!

Here is where the top bolt will go. I have to pull the back apart from the front so I can drill the holes out. Notice all the wires there, and the rags catching the shavings... The red shirt was from Compaq, around Y2K time frame. I just stopped wearing it a month ago, it was a good shirt!

Next, we get to drill the hole. Bonus points if the hole goes straight through the frame. Didn't do too terrible here, not quite perfect, but I was satisfied with the hole. I guess all those years drilling holes in fighter jets for the US Navy paid off!

A Fine Hole
Daylight! A Fine Hole, not quite perfect, but pretty good for free hand drilling. And consider I drilled it from both sides, and met in the middle!

Time to clean up the mess. Lots of metal shavings everywhere. I had been careful to put some rags around to catch most of the mess, but there are always ones you miss. A shop vac would have been nice, and I do have one here, but there is not any power in the parking lot. Used to be, though. One nice thing about a Canadian parking lot, there is often plug ins available, for the car heaters everyone has to keep the cars from freezing solid in the winters. What I am guessing, is when spring came, the apartment people turned off all the outside plug ins. So no more battery charging, air compressing, or vacuuming... bummer!

More Shavings
More Shavings...

Got the new bolt in, tightened the nut, and even did a poor mans Torque Stripe on the nut... used my handy black Sharpie marker, to mark the bolt and nut, so I'll be able to see if it ever moves. The nut that was supplied with the kit was self locking, so I seriously doubt it will go anywhere, but just in case!

Torque Sharpie Stripe
My highly advanced and technical Torque Stripe, made with a Sharpie marker. It will do :)

About this time, I notice big black clouds coming in. Todays forcast was for sun all day. I don't know why I even bother to look at the weather anymore! So I kind of did some triage. I had 2 more bolts to change, and then put the bike back together, then pick up all the tools. I realized that the last 2 bolts I could change after everything else was put together, so I decided to put the gas tank back on first.

When I bought the bike, I'd noticed the air scoops around the radiator were loose. Well, now I know why! Most of the hardware was missing! These bikes have a cool feature, kind of an environmental efficiency mode... the extra vibrations tend to rattle nuts and bolts loose and then they fall off. If it goes long enough, bigger parts fall off too! Then the bike gets much lighter, and since power and mass and energy are all related, the less mass, the less energy, so the less fuel is needed. Brilliant!

Since I was there, I decided to put in some more bolts. The ones I have handy are a bit bigger, so some more drilling, and then they fit nicely. I'll have to remember to bring some of my standard, non metric tools along, because all my extra bolts and nuts are not metric. So far its all been 1/4" hardware, so a 7/16" wrench or socket will do it. Oh, and since this is Canada, some of the screws are Robertson heads (square drive instead of Phillips) which will really screw with people if I take the bike to a shop in South America!

Lower Bolt
One of the Lower Bolts. Nice of the supplier to color the bolts Blue, so you can show everyone how cool you are!

Got the bike back together, the tank on, the front scoops fixed, seat on, picked up most of the tools, and it still wasn't raining. Great, now I can swap out the last two sub frame bolts. The bottom ones don't get drilled out, the replacements are just a higher grade bolt, so they are the same size but stronger. That was actually an option on the top too, but this way I have both bigger and stronger, so that makes them super duper bolts on top, and just... super? on the bottom?

YAY! Got everything put away, carried the stuff back upstairs, sat down, grabbed my coffee, and FLASH... BOOOM! Lightning... really close, less than a 1 count before the thunder. Perfect timing! Although, several hours later, it never did actually rain, go figure!

Sky Shot - Looks like rain!
Just before I was finished I noticed it was getting kind of dark. Shortly after I got everything done and put away, the lightning and thunder started!

Next up... we'll do the Doohickey
Stay Tuned!

By Carlin Comm posted on 2012-07-5