Monday, December 28, 2009


There is a problem when stripping at night; not enough light to take pictures.

Get your mind out of the gutter! Paint stripping!!! :-)

Tonight I stripped the paint off the removable portion of the frame. Worked like a charm for the most part, given I was doing it with light from a single 60 watt bulb with goggles on over my glasses. With only my novice attempts, it removed about 90% of the paint in about an hour.

So, this weekend will be set aside for stripping the entire frame and applying some primer.

That brings me to my second topic of the night. Yesterday, after removing the plastic, saddle and tank from V2, my mind probed the planning necessary to remove everything, clean everything, paint everything and then put things back together.

This morning it dawned on me... I have a perfectly good, stripped down frame! So, here is the plan. Step one is to completely prep V1's frame, paint and all. Then pieces will be removed from V2, cleaned, repaired and/or replaced if necessary and placed on the frame of V1.

If you don't already know, V1 is the VX800 carcass I bought in February of this year. V2 is the one I just purchased.

And, there it is. A workable plan. I should have a completely operational, rolling chassis within a couple of months!

That brings me to the second topic; finishes. Originally I had planned on wrapping the plastic and tank in carbon fiber, with a black paint base, then applying clear coat. Well, after seeing the black plastic and tank of V2, I think shiny black will not only be less expensive, but will look nice.

So, here is my updated finishing plan:
  • Tank and plastic (including front fender) will be finished a shiny black without stickers or labels.
  • Frame, supports and battery box will be painted a right red.
  • Wheels will be painted a matte black... Maybe. A more final evaluation will be made after she is more together.
  • The engine will likely be completely coated in flat black. Probably.
As you may see, now that there is a complete bike in my garage, plans are changing a bit.

Here are a few pics of my VX800 (V2) for you visually stimulated folks out there.
Yes, there is a bit of work to do before we tear up the twisties.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Donor Bike Is Here!!!

What in the hell am I getting into?!?!?!?! For me, that's a good thought.

At 6:30 this evening we pulled into the garage. She is a Black 1991 Suzuki VX 800. ALL of her is there, not just an engine and frame. AND, she seems to have been taken care of up until about six years ago when one of the pistons gave out. Condition of the engine is questionable; should know more tomorrow.

BUT! I have a rolling frame and now, about 1.75 VX800s.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Day 342 - Donor Bike On the Horizon!

Evenings have been busy with the typical holiday requirements. Baking and trips to the post office and chatting with friends has been the norm. BUT, 365 Days of New has not fallen by the wayside.

Here is the issue - it is not bright enough in my garage, even with the lights, for my camera to take respectable photos. Last night I experimented with a paint and finish remover with great results. However, the lighting was so poor, there was no way my camera would work. Ah well.

Pictured on the left is what I experimented with: Rust-Oleum Aircraft Remover. Although I have no aircraft that needed to be removed, well, it was worth a little try.

After deciding on an experimental part, the rear caliper bracket, I put it on a piece of cardboard and covered the piece with the remover. It comes out as a foam and sticks fairly well.

One warning... This stuff is a very strong solvent, is very flammable and quite dangerous if inhaled. Be careful!!!

After the proscribed five minute wait, with a little steel wire brush, the dissolved paint just fell off. The caliper bracket does have a few hard to reach spots so a smaller brush is necessary to properly remove all paint.

A bit was sprayed on Vixen's tank. After five minutes the paint was quite loose, but due to how thick the paint is here, it was not completely loose.

This weekend should be fun and quite productive. Two days to work on Vixen, and one day to drive out and pick up another VX800! Don't worry. I promise some real pics.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Day 344 - Scrubbing Away

Well, the last few days have been busy with all sorts of 'life' things. BUT, that did not keep me away from my little VX800 project. Using some basic brake and parts cleaner, steel, brass and plastic cleaning brushes and a Scotch Brite pad, about a dozen groups of parts were scrubbed and cleaned and inspected.

Above is a before and after photo of the rear axle. The right side was quite badly caked with old gunk. After a little spraying and scrubbing, it was nice and smooth. In the 'after' picture above, what is shown, is metal staining. Not worried about that, in the least.

Here are before and after photos of some pieces off the bottom of the engine.

The inventory list is nearly complete, but sitting on a flash drive I tossed in my desk drawer at work, several days ago. From here on out, when I show a part, the proper parts numbers and descriptions will be used. "pieces off the bottom of the engine," is honestly not very descriptive.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Day 351 - Temporary Slowdown

Just a temporary slowdown to my 365 Days of New. How do I KNOW it is temporary? Well, Christmas is NOT every day of the year, and the last four days has been spent making Christmas Cookies. This year, instead of sending gifts, I decided to send cookies.

Why not. I like baking.

That does not mean Project Vixen is stagnant. The inventory list is being proofed and corrected. Pieces are being looked at and roughly evaluated. AND I am trying to figure out just when I can make it to San Diego to pick up that donor bike!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Day 356 Continued - Parts List Complete!

Yes, that's correct. On my computer is now a complete list of every part on the American model of the Suzuki VX800. There are even fiche drawings and exploded parts diagrams!

Admittedly, there are a few items missing. They are few and far between, and as such should be easy to find and correct.

Within the next few days, a final proofed version of the list should be available. Stay tuned...

Day 356 - Paperwork!

I is tired wurk tooƂ hardsee more Lolcats and funny pictures

PAPERWORK! Without some kind of heater in my garage, that is likely the only kind of work Vixen will be receiving on the weekdays. Getting home at 6PM, a little snack for dinner, little conversation with my daughter and before I know it, it is 7:30 and quite chilly outside.

Vixen's inventory list is nearing completion and will be posted here for people to download and use in their own Suzuki VX800 repair or rebuild projects.

There were several 'oh crap' moments yesterday, day 356.

'Oh Crap' number one: My weekends are fairly busy until the first part of next year. Not that they will be non-stop action, but there will not be a single complete day free to drive to San Diego to buy the donor bike.

'Oh Crap' number two: Money, money, money... After spending money to repair my Harley and then take care of some other unexpected expenses, bills are behind. SO, even if I could pick up the other VX800, coming up with the cash might be tough.

'Oh Crap' number three: Reading through the VX's service manual, in the Rear Master Cylinder section, there is a strong admonishment against using solvents or cleaning solutions on the master cylinder. After previously spraying and scrubbing it down with brake cleaner, this worried me. According to some folks on the VX800 e-mail list, in the worst case, the rubber o-rings and other pieces will need to be replaced. One told me he had done the same as I with no adverse effects. Well, guess we shall see.

Now, does anyone have a space heater for my garage???

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Day 359 - Not much today.

No, not much. This morning after taking my daughter to work I read some of the VX800's manual detailing the carburetors and fuel supply. Looked at the heads and evaluated the cylinders for rust. Unfortunately there is a little rust on the sleeve of the front cylinder. If you recall, that was the one already mucked up.

The rest of the day was spent doing non-motorcycle riding things. This evening spent some great father - daughter time at dinner, at the dinner table! That doesn't happen very often.

Then, returned some e-mails, paid a few bills and detailed my Sporty, Athena. Tomorrow we will go on the Iron Crossmen ride. Afterwords, take my daughter to her grandparents for the afternoon.

If all goes well, there will be a little time for me to clean and catalog more parts. Hope to pick up the bike I posted about earlier but a whole day is required. Now it looks like next weekend is filling up. Well, we do what we must.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Day 360 - Sporty Versus the VX800

With two operable bikes in my garage, I thought of comparing them to the specifications of a VX800. Comparing my Honda Rebel would be like apples to oranges, but comparing my Harley Davidson XL1200C Sportster might be interesting. So, here we go.

HD XL1200C SportySuzuki VX800
Compression Ratio
5 speed
5 speed
7.5 ft
7.3 ft
Seat Height
26.3 in
31.5 in
Ground Clearance
4.4 in
5.7 in
Wheel Base
60.4 in
61.6 in
Fuel Capacity
4.5 gal
5.0 gal

Day 360 - What Luck!

What Luck!

Yes, this VX800 doesn't look like much but she has everything I need... A front end, exhaust pipes and parts, parts, parts!

Plus, the title is clean.

The owner is asking $250, so with $50 in gas to drive from Las Vegas to San Diego and back, I have a donor bike! Now I just need to get a free day and $300. Hmmm....

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Day 361 - Headlights

Almost... No time today to finish my inventory list so I stopped at a local Cycle Gear to look at possible headlights. What do I find? The Acerbis DHH Headlight.

The size looks good. I want a dual headlight setup. It is a dual 35 Watt assembly with high and low beam capability. It includes the small windscreen and is quite inexpensive.

Then I arrive home and pull up more information.

Not DOT approved for road use. Sure I could use it, but would much rather use something DOT approved. So, the search goes on.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Day 362 - More Paperwork

One mistake that was made early in my disassembly of Vixen was that my parts cataloging was severely lax. Many parts were unceremoniously put in grocery bags with nothing more than "Vixen" or "VX800" scrawled on them.

So, now this mistake needs to be rectified. Before any more parts work is completed, the inventory check-off sheets need to be done. The less I handle the parts, the better.

At this point my inventory sheets are nearly 50% complete. If all goes well, they will be done tomorrow. Then, back to the parts cleaner and soapy water!

On a related note, several parts bikes are starting to show up on Craigs List. Unfortunately they are on the other side of the continent. BUT, hopefully that is a good omen of things to come on my side of the country.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Day 363 - Paperwork

Day 363.

If you don't already know, I am entering a journey of 365 days. There should be a custom Suzuki VX800 motorcycle at the end of this path. Who knows... There may be some other things as well.

So, Day 363 was a paperwork day. Parts views and "fiche images" were downloaded from According to Suzuki customer service, this is where the most accurate information can be found.

After downloading, each image was edited, adding large text at the top of each image, indicating what part group it is. The goal is to create printable fiche pages and parts list. Using my laptop, or any computer for that matter to research parts while my hands are greasy and filthy is likely not the most effective think to do.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Past the Turn, Onto a Straightaway.

Project Vixen has now passed a vital hairpin turn. She's getting the wash of her lifetime. With parts cleaner on the right side of my bench and soapy water on the left, every single piece will receive my sharp attention.

Yes, Vixen is now on the straightaway of rebuild. She is no longer being disassembled, labeled and tossed in bags or boxes. She is now being gently scrubbed and checked down to the smallest pin.

Further, I now have TIME!

There are some major concerns that may alter plans somewhat.
  • Cost. Plain and simple, spending $3,000 on a rebuild by a rank amateur (yours truly), while enjoyable, may be financial stupidity. Other VX800 motorcycles, operable ones, can be purchased for as little as $1,000. Why spend $3,000 or more on a rebuild, especially when I have never done this before?
  • Parts Availability. The VX800 is not a common motorcycle in the USA. She was only available in 1990, '91, '92 & '93 through US dealerships. There are few opportunities to purchase 'junker' VX800s for parts. Luckily some parts can be substituted from other Suzuki bikes.
Stand by... 365 days of motorcycle rebuild and personal journeying ahead... Details later.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Good Carbon Fiber Link

For those who want to build your own motorcycle plastic pieces or otherwise use carbon fiber on your project, here is a great place to start: Motorcycle Parts from Carbon Fiber on WebBikeWorld.

Slow going on Vixen recently. Update on that soon.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Not Much of an Update

Other that deciding on the basic rebuild on the last post, and discovering that the paint job on the plastic side panels is exceedingly tough, not much has been done.

Yes, the plastic parts. I purchased a 320 grit wet/dry sanding sponge to experiment with the panel paint. The thought was to remove the paint, repair the plastic and start the carbon fiber wrapping process.

Not that easy. After 30 minutes of scrubbing, the sanding sponge did almost nothing to the paint. So, a fellow at work suggested I simply repair the plastic, scrub the paint with a coarse sanding medium, not removing it, just roughing it up, and then start laying down my black, clear, carbon fiber, clear, clear, etc...

The only concern I have with that, is that the plastic panels will end up being slightly larger than stock and may not fit. Well, considering the condition of Vixen right now, that may be the least of my concerns.

I did manage to get some tar off the radiator and rear fender. At the recommendation of a fellow I know at AutoZone, I tried Rust-Oleum Wax & Tar Remover. While it doesn't just turn the tar to jelly, the chemicals do loosen the tar enough to scrub it off with a brush.

Also, I will soon have a parts inventory and refurbish list completed. It is a form of spreadsheet; one for each parts fiche page. It will help me keep track of what state all the parts are in. When it is done, it will be available here for your downloading pleasure.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Reconstruction Begins...

Unfortunately, even after searching, not only could I not find a decent picture of a VX's plastic panels on-line, but I could not locate my camera! The lack of photos on the 'net does not surprise me. Considering the fact that I just finished a move, it is no wonder I can't find my camera.

But, it is time. The plans are roughly set and I am going to get started. Here are the plans:
  1. Color Scheme: Frame, radiator guard and swing arm will be fire engine red. Engine will remain aluminum. Exhaust will be matte black, eventually being ceramic coated. Most chrome will be black unless appropriate. Plastic parts will be cleaned, stripped, painted black and coated with carbon fiber composite; finished off with plenty of clear coat. Tank will be the same as plastic pieces; black, wrapped in carbon fiber and clear coated. Honestly, I have not decided if the wheels should be painted or not.
  2. Basic Concept: Most of the mechanics will remain the same as necessary. The goal bike will be a sport tourer style where comfort and functionality will be paramount. This bike should ride well on asphalt and gravel.
  3. Lighting: Incandescent turning signals will be replaced with high intensity LED. The typical single VX800 headlight will be replaced with two HID lights.
  4. Fairing & Additional Plastics: The dual headlight mount will likely be custom. The headlight cowl and small sport-like fairing will be make similarly to the method, builders of the KR2 use. A positive mold will be made of foam and fitted to the bike. Then it will be built up with carbon fiber and epoxy. The black color scheme will remain.
  5. Engine: If possible another VX engine can be merged with mine. If that is not possible, an Intruder 800cc engine will be used.
  6. Saddle: Unless a saddle in great condition can be located, a Corbin will fit the bill nicely. Corbin's black saddle suits the basic color scheme. Not sure about the purple piping though...
So, first things first. Now that my move is complete, I will start cleaning and cataloging the parts I have, and cleaning and working on the plastics.

Oh, what a wonderfully strange path this is going to be!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Little Update

Well, not much forward momentum on Vixen. There do seem to be some inexpensive parts bikes out there. With my recent move and my daughter starting her second year of college, money is exceedingly tight.

An interesting little thing I did learn from the VX800 e-mail list was that there are likely less than 10,000 VX800s on the globe. That may seem like a lot, but in the grander scheme, it really isn't.

According to some statistics at there are roughly 204,100,000 motorcycles in the world. So, on average there are 20,410 motorcycles for every VX800. Given that the VX was sold in the United States for only a few years does indeed skew the numbers.

What does this boil down to? Well, there just aren't many VX800s around anywhere.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

OK, ok, ok... Getting Dirty Again

After a little discussion, the final decision has been made. I keep Vixen. The end of this path is unknown. If Vixen is rebuilt and running, there will likely be no worry about the end of the path. We will simply blow past it.

OK... Links for Motorcycle Restoration, Parts, Research, Repair and other information.

Jaxed Motorcycle Craigs List/E-Bay Search Tool. This is a pretty cool little tool that allows the user to search all locales in Craigs List and e-Bay. It is pretty good, but does seem to miss a few things on the e-Bay search.

Cheap Cycle Well, maybe not cheap, but definitely reasonable.

Suzuki VX800 Discussion Forum. Not much traffic but some good information. Mailing list, links, FAQs, information, manuals, pictures and other stuff.

Finish Restoration. This is a nice place to go for information about restoring the finish of a motorcycle and reviews of products.

Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Restoration. Some interesting points about motorcycle restoration. This is a Geocities site, and as such, will be coming down soon. At one point, I should copy it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Good News - sort of...

After inspecting the cylinder, getting some feedback from others and contacting a local engine repair shop, there is some good news... The cylinders and heads are likely repairable! The cylinders will need to be bored out. Pistons will need to be replaced with new ones to fit the cylinders. Valves need to be replaced. Valve seats cleaned and honed.

Good news for someone wanting to rebuild her. Alas... I think the conclusion that she may be too much for me is settling in. She could be a great bike, but alas my time is limited. Maybe it is time for Vixen and I to part company.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Wrenching the Heads and Cylinders

You want to see something more gruesome than the river sludge picture? OK... Here it is...

After a particularly trying day that is far beyond the scope of this blog, I drove the cage to the local AutoZone. In exchange for two liters of old used oil and about $30 I picked up a new pair of vice grips and two pairs of snap-ring pliers. The successful removal of the heads from cylinders required the extraction of the cam chain tensioner spring. Each one has a strong spring on a shaft mounted in a sort-of ratchet mount. The spring is held on the shaft by a little snap-ring.

So, I get the pliers put together and guess what... too big. They wouldn't fit into the rather confined space where the cam chain tensioner is. So... A large blade screwdriver snapped the rings right off. Not that they are usable again, but by removing the springs, the head and cylinder could be separated.

OK, more bad pictures...

The front head may be recoverable but forget those valves.

A little scrubbing with parts cleaner and brass cleaning brush yielded marginal results, so the front cylinder goes in a bucket of parts cleaner for the night. Hopefully that hard crusty grime is not rust. If it is, I don't think that cylinder is recoverable.


And the other cylinder and head you may ask? In pretty good condition I think, given the circumstances...

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Why is there river sludge in the engine?

Please tell me... Why is there river sludge in the front cylinder?

The rear piston and cylinder look pretty good for not operating within a year or more.
The cylinders and heads are free! Apparently using daily sprays of penetrating oil for a few weeks caused the piston and cylinder to release their unnatural hold on each other. It was a surprise, really. I wanted to lift the engine onto a work bench. Working on an engine setting on the ground is simply not very good on my knees. I am still taking ibuprofin for the pain caused by my afternoon of work a few weeks ago.

Anyway, I gripped the cylinders, thinking the whole engine would lift. I wish I had a camera on my face when the cylinders just slipped up and off the pistons!

Looks like I have my work cut out for me. Hopefully I will not need to split the engine case, but first things first. The pistons, heads and cylinders need to be completely disassembled and checked. Hopefully they can be restored but I have a bad feeling about that front cylinder and piston.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Back Into Project Vixen

Yes, there is some shame in admitting a project like this stalled. I admit it. Project Vixen stalled. As with many human enterprises, she took a back seat to other priorities. With the recent purchase of my Sportster, the need for faster, more powerful two wheeled transportation was severely minimized.

The stall was exasperated by my ex-wife's stuff being moved into my work area. The cause was noble; She wants to sort through her stuff, separating those items she is moving to her place, and those that she is selling. Unfortunately her temperament towards such things is rather lax. Needless to say, her things are still in my work area.

On the plus side, one needs little room to work on a motorcycle engine. Saturday I moved the bags of parts and bolts and plastic pieces to a new location.

This is a nice protected area under a roof overhang. Very little rain gets into this area, and after covering the whole thing under a tarp, it should be fairly secure from the elements.

Now for the engine.

While moving it out of the backyard shed, I am greeted with the jingle jangle of loose parts in the garbage bag used to wrap the engine. Without looking at the repair manual it was fairly easy to determine they were part of the transmission shifter linkage.

Then, my mechanical nemesis and I meet for the final time. A head bolt that laughed at previous attempts to jar it loose, lodged with the remnants of a broken bolt extractor, was soon to yield.

Earlier that day, for some inexplicable reason I purchased a file set. After a few failed attempts, it occurred to me that I should try to file off the remaining rough part, leaving approximately 1/3 of the bolt head.

Then, using a hammer and punch, strike the bolt head to give it a counterclockwise rotational force. After a few strikes... Success! It rotated! A few more pings and the bolt was rotating with no more pressure than that supplied by the tips of my fingers!

The bolt head claimed four drill bits, several grinding wheels and even a diamond Dremel grinder. It was time to go.

Now, with all head bolts out, the next little roadblock presented itself. The front piston seems to be somewhat... stuck in the cylinder. It will move in and out of the cylinder by an inch or so, but that is it.

Next up - More engine disassembly.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Weekend Update.

This weekend was quite productive.
  1. Detached the right side of the frame from the main portion of the frame.
  2. Removed the engine from the frame. (All by myself, might I add.)
  3. After drilling out a badly stuck head bolt on the front cylinder, was able to remove the head cover and rocker arm assembly.
  4. Cleaned more of the swing arm.
  5. Cleaned many frame bolts and miscellaneous pieces.
And, here is the bad news... Previously I had thought, and was indeed hoping that the only major problem I would have with the engine would be a stuck valve or two. Unfortunately it seems as if there is rust in the front cylinder.

According to the manual, the only way to get into the cylinder is to remove front and back cylinders and heads at the same time! Given a few coolant hoses and head bolts strategically placed between the cylinders, there is no way, without a cutting torch or sledge hammer to effectively inspect the cylinders.

Soooo...... This week the heads and cylinders come off... all at the same time. Pictures soon.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

What to do with Vixen???

This has been going through my mind. Last year I did a Coast to Coast (well, almost) ride on my little Honda Rebel for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. This year there is another ride in my future. Three weeks, like last year's ride will likely not be available from work, so it will need to be a two week jaunt.

If Vixen isn't ready, I will likely take the Rebel down to Austin, over to Louisiana and then back.

But, if Vixen IS ready, I think a 50CC ride would be appropriate. What is a 50CC you may ask? It is an evil little ride across the country, literally coast to coast. That's not the hard part.

The hard part is the fact that it must be done in 50 hours. The Rebel likely can't do it. Vixen? You bet! We shall see. Right now she is little more than a skeleton of an engine and a bare frame.

She looks so... naked.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Main Drive Splines - Officially Shot

Yup. The main drive's rear wheel driven spline is shot. Here is a pic of the horror.
You can see here that most of the driven spline teeth are completely gone.

That is just part of the horror. According to what I have read, the driver spline is harder and should not wear as much. Well, the picture below does confirm that it does not wear as much. Unfortunately, because the wear pattern is uneven, acquiring a new driven spline would merely cause the driver to cause uneven wear on the driven. Not my idea of a good restoration.
See the uneven wear pattern on the driver spline teeth?

These parts are available on and some other parts distributors. Total cost for the pair is nearly $350 USD. Used will work as long as the wear is minimal. A few people have contacted me with suitable replacements so the bike is at least ride-able. We shall see...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Two Breaks, Coming Up

The good kind of breaks!

A few days ago I find in my e-mail in-box a note from a VX800 rider who has several parts I need, just cluttering his garage. And to add, he will be in Vegas soon!

Then, after work I rode over to one of the last independent motorcycle dealerships in Las Vegas - Nevada Suzuki. Within five minutes he was recounting the time he collected VX800s and had more that a dozen in the 90's. Then there was the time Suzuki shipped several from Europe to the states and rewarded many of their top European dealerships with a tour of the US on the VXs.

But here is the good part... He still has one in his storage unit. It may not be pristine and likely has a few engine issues after being stored for a decade, but it is a definite candidate as a donor bike!

Not holding my breath, but fingers are crossed!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Setbacks - Maybe not such a good deal...

After discussing my problem on the VX800 list it was determined that the final drive spline set and the 'U-Joint' would need to be replaced. Yes, the parts are available but these three things ring up to nearly $425.

She still needs a complete front end, exhaust, carbs, tires and a host of other things. This will require some thought. Even if the engine is easily repairable, the cost may be in the area of $1500. I can buy a used, operational VX800 for that price.

Time to sleep on it...

Worn Part aqnd a Conundrum

Here is what I wrote about yesterday. The rear drive, near the where the wheel is mounted, looks to be ground pretty badly.
And here is my conundrum for the day. The bottom plate is the starter cover. I would like to get the starter out of there to test and lighten the weight of the engine. If I am going to lift that big boy out myself or with minimal help, it had better be as light as I can make it.
Here, you see a bolt coming up from the starter cover. It cannot be removed because it abuts the coolant pipe attachment. Why not remove the coolant pipe attachment? If you look to the right of the bolt circled in red, there is a bolt that holds the attachment onto the cylinder. It cannot be removed without removing the starter cover!

The only solution that comes to mind here is to remove the other two attachment bolts, loosen the third (the one shown) and rotate it enough on the third so that the cover bolt will come out. Then I can get the cover off and then completely remove the third bolt.

But another little problem. That little bolt on the pipe attachment is exceedingly tight. Neither socket nor closed end wrench will fit. An open end wrench would not hold and wore two edges off the bolt.

I am certainly not done with this one yet...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Just a slight pause...

The more I investigate Vixen's status, the more I think one or more of the previous riders and or owners thrashed her hard. Here are a list of a few items that seem to do some finger pointing.
  1. Worn Kickstand Joint. The pivot point where the kickstand attaches to and swivels is severely worn as if no one ever applied lubricant.
  2. Main Drive Universal Joint. One of the bearings is obviously worn, and not by a little.
  3. Main Drive Rear Wheel Spline. A posting on the VX800 mailing list brought this to my attention as a possible wear location. Sure enough, 1/3 of each spline is worn off.
  4. Wear on the Rear Wheel Spline Assembly. The rear wheel bearings are so bad that the stationary rear wheel assembly has been greatly worn by the rear wheel near the spline drive.
  5. Dust and Dirt in the Drive Shaft Area of the Rear Forks. I removed a small access shield to discover about 1/2 inch of dirt inside.
  6. Radiator Gunk. At least the previous folks change the coolant. It was nice and clean and free from oil. Unfortunately the external portion of the radiator is about 30% obstructed by this sand/tar mixture.
  7. Rear Tire Abuse. While the rear tire would likely be considered a throw-away item anyway, it is an indicator of previous use. And it was indeed used. The only tread left is on the far edges. The entire center is burned flat and is devoid of anything that would resemble respectful riding.
So, my restoration plan is changing a bit. Due to the likelihood that more bearings will need to be replaced than I originally thought, powdercoating the frame may be out of the question.

Ah well... Pictures tomorrow.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Little Update, no pics.

Project Vixen is moving slowly forward. Most of my long weekend was spent putting the engine of my Honda Rebel back together. And... Success! She now runs fine. Without a doubt, that was one hell of an experience. More than once I would look at the pile of envelopes and bags, all labeled with descriptions of their contents, and then look at the poor motorcycle, seemingly stripped and unable to move under her own power, and wonder, "What in the Hell am I doing??? I am not a mechanic!"

But with the successful completion of that project comes an ego boost. If I can tear a Honda Rebel engine apart, put it back together and make it run, I can do it with Vixen!

At any rate... Vixen is now torn down to frame, rear swing arm and engine. Once I get that engine out and decide if it is worth working on, then I will start cleaning and ordering parts.

Pictures of Vixen will be up here later this week.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Radiator Soup Anyone?

After consulting with several people, including bike mechanics there were two possible solutions to cleaning out this radiator. This gunk seems to be a very hard mixture of asphalt and sand. It doesn't come off easily and is the consistency and hardness of concrete. The only thing that partially softens it is penetrating oil. The dark spot on the left side of the picture (bottom of the radiator) is my little test patch. Success was limited. I tried gasoline as a solvent but had no luck with that.

So, my next option is to make radiator soup. I will take the temperature sensors and rubber pieces off and boil the radiator in water for a while. It can't harm the radiator and should soften the glommy mess. We shall see.

Slow Going - Little under the weather...

Wednesday I hopped out of bed at 5AM like a squirrel on crack. I felt GOOD. Did a few minor things on Vixen, showered, dropped my daughter off at the bus stop and got to the office. Over the course of the next hour I acquired a huge headache, little cough, sore throat, pressure in my ears and a heavy, achy chest. Needless to say, my boss told me to get the hell home.

So, my work on Vixen has been minimal for the past few days. The radiator is off and ready for cleaning and with the help of a torch and penetrating oil, the top engine mounts are off.

This weekend is all about my Rebel. I have finally accumulated the necessary gaskets and parts to repair her properly. All I need is some time. Once road-worthy, she will be moved out of my work area, lending more space for Vixen.

There is a big plan all laid out here somewhere...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Little Ten Day Update

I have had her in my back yard now for about ten days, and MY how she has changed! Here are a few updates:
  1. No water in the oil. Oil was rather sludgy but no water or fuel.
  2. No oil or fuel in the coolant. There was about 1.2 liter of coolant still in the system.
  3. Nearly all that is remaining is the rear wheel, tire, final drive and engine. Just last night I pulled the radiator.
Thoughts on the engine persisted. Do I work on the engine while attached to the frame? Likely, no. I would like to paint the frame or perhaps powder coat it. As I understand the process, having an engine attached to a frame that is being powder coated is less than desirable.

So, it is time to start thinking how I am going to lift the engine from its cradle onto my work bench. At nearly 200 pounds of aluminum and steel, it is a bit more than I can handle alone.

Monday, February 9, 2009

VX800 Specs

Suzuki VX 800
Naked bike / Standard
Engine Type:
805 cc, liquid cooled V-Twin
61 hp
Valve Configuration:
Overhead cam, 4 valves per cylinder
Transmission:Five Speed
Final Drive:
Dry Weight:
450 lbs
Fuel Capacity:
5.1 US Gallons
Front Tire:
Rear Tire:
Brakes:Front and rear hydraulic, disk, dual caliper.
Seat Height:
31 inches
Wheel Base:
61.6 inches
Ground Clearance:
5.7 inches

Information gleaned from several places on the internet.

The End Result?

This is what Vixen will resemble when done. My goal is to make her a good touring bike that isn't afraid of a little gravel.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Welcome to Project Vixen!

Here she is. My starting point. Doesn't look like much yet, but I have named her already. Gifting a name to something inanimate in the conventional sense, tends to make it difficult to chop up and sell for parts.