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.