Monday, December 17, 2012

#2 is Done

Took some time yesterday afternoon to bag and tag #2. I got almost everything into a medium sized moving box. Score.

What my corner now looks like.

I then tried to remove the exhaust manifold studs from the good head.  No dice.  I ended up breaking both studs off at their welds.  I then center-punched and attempted to drill out one of the studs.  My carbide left-hand drill bit barely made a dent.  I tried a right-hand drill bit as well with equally poor luck.  Either all my bits are dull or this stud is seriously hardened.  :-(

Monday, December 10, 2012

Total Annihilation

After what has felt like months of no physical progress, I finally picked up a wrench and did something. The CRF hasn't sold [yet], so I haven't been able to order/send off the engine parts I need to make progress on that bike. Instead, I tore into the second DR (dubbed "#2") and disassembled it.



The resulting mess.  This is what I still have to go through, clean, label, and box.  Some of it will be discarded.  Most will be kept, especially small or expensive stuff.

The case cleaned and ready to be put away.  All in all, it looks pretty good.  I like the gray color that Suzuki used on the DR cases.  If someone knows the paint code for this color, let me know.

One total bummer was the wiring harness.  Since #2 is an S and had turn signals, I hoped the wiring harness would be unmolested.  Not the case.  At some point, someone decided to use speaker wire to get power to the back of the bike, not to mention sever a lot of the original wires.  Grrr...  So much for that idea.

One bit of good news is the oil pump in #2 works... even if the oil it pumped out smelled like burnt hydraulic fluid.  If the same test in #1 does not flow oil, at least I can rob #2's crank case of its oil pump, or in a worst case, use #2's crank case and internals, which feel pretty good considering the bike's life outside.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Organ Donor

My number on the donor-list has come up.  I have a cylinder head.  Had to drive 2.5hrs to Breckenridge for it, but it is exactly what I need and only cost $180.  Score.  [Un]fortunately, it included the rest of the bike... and she's no show queen.  It looks like she has spent some long hard years outside enduring high altitude UV and cold winters. 

I keep reminding myself that there is more to be salvaged from this new garage occupant than just the cylinder head, but it's a hard fact to accept when there are three motorcycles camping my parking spot, two of which don't run, and one is absolutely filthy.  My wife is staying silent on this subject; probably because the cold steering wheel and daily windshield scraping is a fitting punishment in her eyes.

Look at those beautiful journals.  They do have some minor wear, but certainly good enough to be used again.

Remember how I said all the DR donor bikes have their own closet full of bones?  Well, this one's head has two mended exhaust studs.  Hey, it's better than toasted journals.  I can at least drill these out and retap the holes if I can't get them loose with a little heat and PB Blaster.

Here's a fun comparison.  That's a 2005 CRF450X piston on the left and a 1991 DR350S on the right.  Formula 1 technology versus Briggs & Stratton technology.  Short skirts versus ballroom gown.  Anorexia diet versus hand-me-another-bag-of-Cheetos diet. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Buy My Bike

I have made the decision to sell my 2005 CRF450X.  There are a few reasons for this: 1) it is far more moto than I need or use, 2) the maintenance cycle on the bike is more than I wish to follow, and 3) its sale should fully-fund this project, I hope.  Since I have more interest in what TWM will become than roosting dirt on local single track, the CRF is gonna go.

My hope is that the new piston and rings, recent valve adjustment, brand new rims and spokes, CO title, and a bunch of other goodies will fetch a decent dollar.  If you know anyone interested, send them my way.

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Head[ache]

Over the past week, I have come to a few conclusions regarding my toasted cylinder head...
1) This is exactly what happens when the engine is starved of oil.
2) This is a relatively common problem on the DR350s because the oil feed line is exposed on the side of the engine.
3) I need a new head
4) ... and so do a lot of other people.

This small chunk of aluminum is proving to be both hard to find and expensive. The trusty ebay has turned up only one hit and the UK-based seller wants more than the bike originally cost, not to mention that it looks as if it's a survivor of the 1666 Great Fire of London.  Pass.

Donor bikes seem to show up on CL occasionally, but none are close to me and all seem to have their own closet full of hollow bones.

Next stop are the salvage yards, but based on forum posts, my confidence in finding one in good condition for a reasonable price is low.

I think patience is going to win this race, which is a little discouraging since getting the bike running is the first step.  And it needs to be running before I can begin any other phase.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Bike

After 87 days of searching CraigsList almost daily, I found the bike.  Actually, my boss found it, which doesn't surprise me much since he's a CL ninja.  A 1990 Suzuki DR350S with a clear Colorado title and a bad engine.  Several phone calls with the owner later, my wife and I drive to Salida to check it out.  We got the price down to $300 from $400 and drove home with Mad Max's non-running battle bike.
On paper, this bike hits all my main criteria and even checks off almost all bonus criteria.  In fact, the only thing this moto doesn't have are USD forks, but not many did for this vintage of dirt bike, so there's no points lost there.  The 6-speed transmission, rear disk brake, and wiring for turn signals, headlight and brake light (S-model of the DR350) were huge perks.  The bike also came with a Clymer manual, all original tools, spare tubes (F & R), and spare rear tire.

The dented tank, scratched plastics, worn seat, tired fork, and 4-bolt front hub won't survive this project, so their wear doesn't bother me.

The damage to the piston and cylinder is significant and apparent.  My plan is to have the cylinder bored from 79mm to 83mm to make it a 385cc bike.

The previous owner had disassembled the engine and did a pretty good job of bagging and tagging everything.  He used a cool trick for the bolts that I have never seen before.  I'm not sure I would have purchased this moto in the condition it is in if all the parts came in a shoebox.

One thing I didn't notice until I got into the garage and under some decent light was the significant scoring on the cam journals.  I noticed the rockers were seriously worn, but figured I would just replace those.  I did not realize I would need a whole new head too.  [insert frowny face here]  My guess is that this engine was starved of oil.  I only hope this was a user error and not an oil-feed problem that resurfaces after I replaced everything.

CRF disapproves of DR and is not afraid to show it.  CRF... behave.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

About Tiny War Machine

Bikes.  I love 'em.  My two-wheeled mistresses occupy a lot of my time, and my patient, loving wife will attest to that.  Over the years, I have watched many of the best riders I know alternate between pedal power and horsepower to stay fit and hone-in skills.  This year, I broke my own no-moto policy, earned my M-endorsement, and acquired a 2005 CRF450X from my good friend Ryan.  I have only one real trail ride on that moto as of today, but I am hooked; not so much with the single track that I lust for on a bike, but with wide, flowy dirt... roads.  The CRF, while a great bike, is a lot of moto for dirt road duty.  And it's also about the worst possible thing to commute on.  I want something more dirt road/fire road/back road/paved road/open road-centric.

That is where this project is headed; to build a dirt-oriented street-moto that is cheap, reliable, low maintenance, and fun.  It must have character and be something unique to me.  This is also my way of reentering into a project vehicle, which has traditionally worn an Audi or Jeep badge.  The benefit to this project as opposed to past projects is that the entire build should be less than the cost of a complete long-arm lift/coilover set and set of wheels and tires.

Project Goals:
  • Road-friendly - It will see about 50/50 pavement and dirt.  It needs to keep up with highway traffic (no more than 60mph).
  • Cheap - I hope to complete the entire project for less than $3,000.  Maintenance needs to follow the same trend.
  • Reliable - My parents live about 90 miles away.  If this moto can get me to and from their house without issue, I will have won.
  • Unique - It must have its own flavor.  I want to take pride in this moto and know it is my own.
  • Fun - Have fun with the build.  Have fun working on it.  Have fun riding it.
  • Completed within three years of purchasing the donor moto.  Sound like a long time?  Yes, but I am on a budget and will have to build when I have the spare money to do so.
I have been searching for a project moto for about three months now.  I have seen some great deals go by and have turned them down in fear that their high entry cost would consume too much of my starting cash.  XRs, XSs, TT/XTs, GSs, DRs, and CBs are all in my sights.  With a little patience, maybe I will have "that one" by mid-winter.

Main Criteria for a Donor Moto:
  • Titled
  • Single or dual cylinder
  • Four stroke
  • Air-cooled
  • 300-600cc
  • Steel tube frame
  • Large aftermarket following and parts availability
  • Not fast, but quick enough to keep up with traffic and get out of the way when necessary
  • Kick-start required
Bonus Criteria:
  • Disc brake in the rear
  • Mono-shock
  • Wide ratio transmission
  • Upside-down forks
  • Lack of electric-start and/or battery

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

It's coming...

Tiny War Machine is coming.  Sit tight.  Be patient.  I hope to start the project soon.