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Intro: Lots of cursing and a eventually an 79 XS Rebuild.

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by Robj, Apr 3, 2012.

  1. Robj

    Robj XS400 Enthusiast

    Thought I would share my rebuild experience. I hope in this tread I can share a small amount of my 'trial and error' knowledge seeing as this site has already given me so much knowledge. My name is Rob I am a physics student and I love tearing things apart and hopefully putting things back together.I am from the South west of Canada. I picked up a 79 xs last year out of a shed now im finally geting into the project. :thumbsup:

    Day one.


    I tried to get the bike to turn over. I failed. I believe the starter motor is shot and I know the Head Gasket is gone. On-top of that the electrical system is corroded. Ran out of time for the bike so I let it sit for a while more, poor neglected bike.

    A year later...


    I love this bike.

    So sexy.

    So with new vigor I have started to remove the motor.

    - I first stared by cleaning the bike with a dry rag, drained the oil, and sprayed all visible bolts with a penetrating oil in prep for the future dismantle.

    - I then removed all electrical connections to the engine (I marked all connections with tape and a corresponding symbol) , removed the carbs and then the exhaust system.

    After a two day massive struggle with a oil case bolt I was finally able to remove The bolt allowing me to remove motor!


    Today I proceded to wipe down the filthy engine with soapy water. It was like an archaeology dig in a mud swamp there was so much caked on crud.

    I found this in the Muck from the front sprocket area I was wonder what it could be? :wtf:


    This Is what I am up against. You motor, you look scary.

  2. sharps09

    sharps09 XS400 Addict

  3. Greasey Fingers

    Greasey Fingers XS400 Guru Top Contributor

    Damn what the hell is in there?!! You need to employ the services of a VERY good vapour blaster :laugh:
  4. That looks like the master link retaining clip to the drive chain, unless you bought a replacement you should make sure you have the other side of it too. I can sympathize with you over that archeology dig, though. I ended up tossing that sprocket cover into my ultrasonic cleaner for hours! I probably should've scraped more of the gunk off first, though...
  5. Sandrew

    Sandrew Estonian XS rider


    This little thing, sir, holds your chain together.
  6. Greasey Fingers

    Greasey Fingers XS400 Guru Top Contributor

    Hey just on a side note: I have heard RUST can actually be good for metal. Apparently it draws out the impurities of the metal. I heard rolls royce actually bury theyre engine blocks in the ground for months and let them go rusty then unearth them and sandblast them, then machine. Is that bullshit or have you guys heard that too?
  7. I don't buy it; automobile manufacturers start with nearly pure metal and alloy it to their desires. If they didn't want something in the mix, they would refine their materials beforehand so as not to screw up the alloy mixture. To be fair, I know that chromium tends to migrate toward temperature extremes in steel, but you can just heat and hone the surface if that matters that much.

    I know that oxidation is terrible for iron alloys, since it takes up lots of space and usually happens slow enough for the rust to flake (which exposes new metal to the air, causing that to rust, etc.). Maybe you are thinking about aluminum? Since aluminum oxidizes almost instantly it tends to form a dense crystal structure with whatever is around it instead (so no new metal is exposed), but that happens whether you bury it or not.
  8. What about Burt Munro and what he used for cylinders in the movie "The World's Fastest Indian"?
  9. frwinks

    frwinks XS400 Addict

    welcome aboard..looks like you have your work cut out for ya:D good luck and keep us posted on the progress:thumbsup:
  10. bentwrench

    bentwrench DOHC Crazy Top Contributor

    Note - that may not be the master link for the current chain on the bike... it could be from a previous chain as well. Time to clean a chain and see what's holding it together!
  11. drewpy

    drewpy Excess twin Top Contributor

    never use an old master link anyways, just buy a new chain to be on the safe side. If you look on ebay regulary a 530/98 to 102 link chain can be bought cheap, they are common enough!
  12. 226dark

    226dark 78 2E

    Don't mean to hijerk the post but small question not critical enough to rationalize a new post.
    My new chain - 102 link - and too long. Don't have a chain rivet/press/break so I grinded and punched and it's 100 link now. It is still long enough that the chain-adjust bolts are all the way in, maybe 3 threads out. If I make it a 98 link I am thinking it will be opposite and be to much forward although if chain were to stretch, the 100 link i'd have no adjustment left. Is it advisable to grind once more and shorten to 98?

    Welcome Rob, my bike, in front sprocket area looked the same but without the master link thing. So rest assured it is not part of the bike at least. I used foamy degreaser from walmart, and lots of it, and repeat.
    My exhaust ports/cylinders did not look quite like that, yikes. Liberal carb cleaner and spray away maybe. Then ATF or MMO then in spark plug holes. Funny how I've seen so many bikes advertised as is and looking pretty decent from the pictures. But just what lurks within???
  13. drewpy

    drewpy Excess twin Top Contributor

    use your old chain as a guide, that's what I do as I can never remember the length.
  14. Pork Chop

    Pork Chop XS400 Junkie

    All she needs is a couple of squirts of stater fluid ad she'll purr like a kitten. :laugh:

    Mate, you have your work cut out for you - good luck & post lots of progress pics. :D
  15. Robj

    Robj XS400 Enthusiast

    Thanks for the welcome, cleaning tips and good advice, I will remember to keep my old chain for a reference. :thumbsup:

    Im happy to hear thats not a motor critical part...Critical for me now anyway, I feel sorry for the last owner :laugh: .

    The Rust as a good thing, to protect the metal, I have not heard about that. I have seen bridges that they leave rusty...

    As more of a side note on rust. I know that most moving metal parts that are 'metal to metal' like a hinge, require the 'rust' as lubrication at an atomic level to lubricate movement against one another. So for example in vacuum-space applications were oxidation (Rust) does not occur. Metal will actual weld together. So you cant put a door hinge in the vacuum of space because it could weld together.

    Did not get to work on the bike today. I will crack the motor open next time any tips or things to look out for under the valve-cam cover?
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2012
  16. Robj

    Robj XS400 Enthusiast

    Just waiting for me to tear it apart.

  17. Greasey Fingers

    Greasey Fingers XS400 Guru Top Contributor

    Well, it looks a lot better from that angle:)
  18. Robj

    Robj XS400 Enthusiast

    :laugh: The angle make all the difference.

    I have decided to wait for my Gasget set to arrive before really tearing into the motor, I did take the valve cover off. So I have been cleaning up the bike scraping much oil and wire brushing rust. I think I will take everything off the Frame and paint it a dark grey or a dark blue. I have black rust paint so to save money its probably going to end up black :) . I was thinking about painting the entire bike, motor, fork, and wheels black, and clean the tank so its metal but Im still thinking about painting the tank black too. glow in the dark would be awesome. I also have a 20's chevy hood ornament kicking around so I might see If i could use that.



    How do my Points look? Do people clean them up or buy new ones?


    I Cracked it open.I slowly moving each bolt so as not to warp the cover. It came off with no problem. Seeing as the motor has not run in 4+ years it did not look bad....for now. Is there any thing i should be measuring or looking for/ at in more detail? Any advice at this stage in the dismantling would be appreciated.

  19. Wow looks bloody clean inside for an old girl.

    As said by women all over the world "Its not about looks it whats on the inside that counts" Pffft!

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