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XS rebuild back on track..maybe!

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by bigdog, Sep 29, 2021.

  1. bigdog

    bigdog XS400 Enthusiast

    It's been quite a while since my attention was drawn away from rebuilding my XS400, it might even be a year or three I'm embarrassed to say. Anyway, a visitor to my garage spotted the XS and after a brief chat asked if it was for sale. I was a bit surprised because who in their right mind would willingly take on someone else's half completed bike project, especially if they had to pay for the privilege? But I've got a lot of other bike-related work so I said yes. He looked it over. Everything was going well until he tried to kick it over and discovered the lever wouldn't move. We couldn't spin the rear wheel either, even though I was certain it was in neutral. He could operate the gear lever, even with the clutch cable removed.
    So long(er) story short, he declared the engine seized and there was no sale.

    Hmm, I thought, after he'd gone. I'd ridden the bike briefly before parking it up and stripping it down, so I knew the engine ran. The engine had been removed, checked over by a man who knows more than me, and pronounced healthy. So why would it seize after just 2 years of sitting in a dry, warmish garage?

    I took out the plugs, removed the 4 rocker covers and the left-side alternator cover (forgotten what you chaps in the US call it), stuck a 17mm socket on the central crank, spindle or whatever it's called and turned it anticlockwise. It moved, the front sprocket rotated (and turned the wheel) and the valve gear went up and down. Hurrah, engine not seized!
    It was a bit of an effort to crank it over TDC, but it got there. Now here's the issue. Once over TDC the kickstart lever could be pushed down, no probs, but when TDC was reached again the kick lever wouldn't budge. Once I'd hand cranked it over TDC the kick lever moved again and repeat...

    Will someone please explain in simple words what is going on here?
  2. bigdog

    bigdog XS400 Enthusiast

    Clearly the gearbox isn't in neutral (because the front sprocket turns). Not sure if it's possible to find neutral with the bars, clutch lever and cable all removed.
    It's been suggested that there's some sort of locking mechanism that prevents the kick start being used while the engine is in gear. Makes sense but having never owned a bike with a kickstart I'm a bit ignorant of it's workings. If that's correct and I can get it into neutral then the kicker should turn the engine over?
  3. JPaganel

    JPaganel XS400 Addict

    Not so much locking, as you are trying to spin over engine and transmission if you aren't in neutral.
  4. bigdog

    bigdog XS400 Enthusiast

    Ok. So I can spin the engine and transmission over by hand when I use a socket (or wrench) on the alternator crank, even though it's not in neutral, but it's not possible to do it with the kick start. Is that right?
    If I can get the engine into neutral should I then be able to turn it over with the kick start?
    Is there an easy way to get it into neutral with the clutch lever and cable detached?
    Apologies for the daft questions but like I said, I'm new to this kick start malarky.
  5. Robsteeler66

    Robsteeler66 XS400 Addict

    Our attention gets drawn away frequently. My bike is embarrassingly still sitting. It’s been more than 10 years. I’ve ordered some new bits and it’s getting worked on as soon as they get here. It’s time. Good luck with yours.
  6. JPaganel

    JPaganel XS400 Addict

    Might be there just isn't enough leverage. Might be you actually have a kickstart problem.


    Just shift it. If it doesn't want to shift, roll the bike back and forward a little while shifting. That should take tension off the gears and let it shift

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