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.