Continuation of the diary and further progress on the rebuild 

Latest update

4 May 2006

Made quite a good job of the alternator cover even if I do say so myself! The worst scratches were around 3-4mm deep which I removed by filing - although of course it wasn't as simple as that because I had to remove the same amount of metal all over to keep the cover flat and even. Then even more laboriously used four increasingly finer grades of wet and dry to firstly remove the file marks and then the marks left by the previous grade of paper.........and so on. Eventually I was able to use the polishing attachment on my bench grinder to bring the cover up to 'as new' condition. Very satisfying if not all a little tedious.

14 May 2006

Despite the aforementioned enthusiasm the engine clean up hasn't been progressing very well to date, amounting to little more than a few tentative tickles with the Gunk and an old toothbrush. I'd already removed what was left of the paint on the head with Nitromores back in March but the barrels still look a complete mess - so true to form they're pushed to one side for the moment. As to the rest of the lump, one filthy day sees most of the oil and the crud of ages transferred onto my jeans revealing the paintwork underneath which is in surprisingly sound condition.

20 May 2006

With the head and barrels still out of sight and out of mind, the rest of the lump has been painted. This was yet another laborious job as the engine isn't exactly light enough to dangle on a length of wire from the garage ceiling so that it could be painted up in one go. Instead it had to be painted one section at a time and then turned - once the previously painted section had dried - to reveal the next section. Several turns later it was all wearing a rather smart looking coat of PJ1 satin heat resistant paint (£5.99).Expenditure to date;£714.30

27 May 2006

This weekend it's finally the turn of the head, barrels and cam cover. More Nitromors removes what's left of the paint and a couple of fun packed hours with sandpaper, wire brushes, scouring pads, finger nails and anything else that could be persuaded to fit into all the nooks and crannies and they're both ready for painting. And with three or four coats of PJ1 satin they look as good as the rest of the lump.

30 May 2006

Ambushed my brother when he popped round for a cup of coffee to lift the bottom half of the engine back in. Despite cleaning several pounds of crud off it, it doesn't seem to have got much lighter and to be honest I'm quite pleased that it's his finger and not mine that gets trapped between the engine and the frame!

3 June 2006

'Won' a complete headlight unit on eBay for the very reasonable price of £11.75. The original unit is completely knackered, the bowl is dented out of shape, the chrome rim has a couple of deep gouges in it and goodness only knows what type of bulb the previous owner (perm any one from five) has 'fitted' to the headlight with copious amounts of bathroom silicone sealant!Expenditure to date;£726.05

6 June 2006

Time to refit the wiring harness and am I glad that I labelled every single wiring connector and took dozens of digital photos of exactly where the loom runs! If there's one thing that rebuilding this bike has taught me it's that you can never take too many photos and that what seems blindingly obvious when you dismantle it will seem like a complete mystery when you come to reassemble it some time later.

8 June 2006

Headlight unit arrives and is in nice condition - no dents or scratches. Just a quick rub down with fine wet and dry to provide a key and a couple of coats of PJ1 gloss and it looks good as new.

10 June 2006

Fitted the 'new' headlight shell and the indicators. The chrome on the indicators has gone a bit milky-looking which no amount of cleaning with Solvol will remove, but they'll do for now although I'll keep my eye on eBay for a better set. Also refitted the handlebar switch gear and now have all the wires threaded through into the headlight shell.

17 June 2006

Not that progress with the rebuild has ever been what you might describe as rapid - but it's about to get a lot slower. The coarse fishing season started yesterday and so tomorrow and just about every Sunday between now and Christmas will find me out match fishing with Bedworth Police A.C. instead of getting the bike back on the road.

1 July 2006

The project seems to be becalmed in the doldrums. Have spent hours in the garage over the last fortnight gradually emptying the boxes of rusty cycle parts, wire brushing the rust off, sanding them down, applying rust proofing primer and a finish coat of black gloss - but very little has gone back on the bike.

7 July 2006

Decided to do some 'proper' mechanics today and refit the valves to the cylinder head. Everything looked in reasonable condition despite the 58,000 miles on the clock - I suppose I won't know just how reasonable it all really is until it runs again - but for now I'll just gently lap the valves in and refit them. The first five valves all lap in nicely with just a few twirls of the grinding stick, but the last one - why is it always the last one - just refuses to lap in evenly. Much perseverance later I've finally got the valve to seat evenly but I can't say that I'm too happy with the amount of grinding it took. The Heath Robinson valve spring compressor just about did the job of reassembly but a G-clamp would have released the pressure on the springs in a far more controlled manner than the carpenter's quick-release clamp I've been using.

8 July 2006

Bolted the cams into the head (still on the bench) to check the valve clearances. But even after juggling the shims between the valves, I still need two shim sizes that I haven't got - including a particularly thick one for the valve I had so much trouble lapping in. Popped out to my local main dealer and was pleasantly surprised to find that they run an exchange system from their workshop at just £2.00 a shim. Now that I'm on a roll I decided to reassemble the rest of the engine. Apparently there's supposed to be some sort of sleeving that fits on the barrel/head studs to prevent the studs corroding themselves solid to the barrels. But as there was no sign of any sleeving when I disassembled the engine - and it didn't seem to have caused a problem - I decided that it could go back together that way too. After fitting a new base gasket (gasket set £34.00 - eBay), persuaded the barrels into position without breaking any rings and dropped on the head.It's getting late now but decided to persevere and refit the cams and cam chain. The Haynes manual started not to make a lot of sense - it obviously reads entirely clearly if you already know what you're doing, but if it's the first time you've done the job - it doesn't quite add up somehow. Anyway, bolted the cams down, fitted a new link in the cam chain, turned it over a few times to check that the reference marks all lined up and bollocks. it's one tooth out! Gave up until the morning.Expenditure to date;£764.05

9 July 2006

Cams out again, made the adjustment that I thought was required and during refitting suddenly had that sinking feeling when one of the cam bolts that was just approaching its torque setting 'slipped' and lost all resistance. This instantly bought back memories from 20 years ago when the same thing happened on a Z650 head I was working on which Kawasaki had seen fit to manufacture from Swiss cheese. On that occasion no less than four of the threads in the head stripped and had to be repaired with a helicoil. Backed out the bolt gingerly and was amazed to find that it was the threads on the bolt that had stripped and not the thread in the head - how tough is that? I decided that I'd pushed my luck enough for one day and after checking that the marks all lined up properly this time, dropped on the cam cover and called it a day.

29 July 2006

With the guardian of the dishwasher and all other kitchen appliances away for the weekend, decided to clean the carbs up. I'd been following the discussions on the forum of the Yamaha Triples web site with some interest and had been persuaded that boiling in lemon juice would bring back an as-new finish. Quickly stripped down all three carbs and found an enormous saucepan under the sink which the whole lot fitted into. Added several bottles of lemon juice and soon the pan was simmering nicely accompanied by an evil smell which permeated every corner of the house.30 Minutes later, drained and rinsed everything off and whilst all the brass parts were absolutely gleaming, the aluminium bodies of the carbs had a dingy, grey, slimy finish and looked far worse than before I started - what have I done?

Unsure how to remove the grey slime I tentatively scrubbed one of the carb bodies with a brass, wire brush which instantly revealed a bright, shiny finish - it was more effort than I'd anticipated, but well worth it in the end. Unfortunately the same couldn't be said for the saucepan which seemed to be permanently etched by the lemon juice, so that went into the bottom of the wheelie-bin and fingers crossed she'll never miss it!Tinkering with and reassembling the carbs was somehow the most satisfying job to date. The sun was shining and I sat for hours in the garden polishing up the bowls and diaphragm covers. After reassembly I synchronised the carbs so that the slides all lifted at exactly the same time. I'd seen a method on the net where you use a thin strand of electrical wire as if it was a feeler gauge between the bottom of the slide and the carb body - it was surprisingly easy to 'feel' when the gap was the same on each carb.

30 July 2006

Refitted the carbs to the bike with the new intake mounts I'd bought from Partsnmore and some 'newish' airbox mounts (cheers Warren) to replace the completely perished ones that had originally been fitted. I can see why K&N type air filters are so popular because fitting the carbs with the standard airbox is a right bitch of a job and one I wouldn't like to repeat very often.

6 Aug 2006

For no particular good reason decided to strip the seat down. The cover was cracked and torn and the metal base was very rusty with a couple of cracks which gave the seat a hinge-in-the-middle effect. I was pleased that the two trim strips that run on each side of the seat were still fitted as I think the bike looks much better with them. After stripping I was left with what could best be described as a pile of junk. The seat was far worse than it originally appeared with several large cracks and a not very attractive colander effect where it was rusted right through. And the trim strips were twisted out of shape and all of the fittings had terminal doses of corrosion. All in all a new seat looked the only option.

20 Aug 2006

It's starting to look like a bike again now and there isn't that much that's stopping it from running. Borrowed the battery off my Bandit again to attempt to sort the wiring connections out - how is it possible that after labelling up every single wire and connection nothing actually works properly? Perhaps it never did in the first place - I wouldn't really know having been so impatient to strip it down! Two hours messing around later and the only things working are the idiot lights on the clocks - so, true to form, when the going gets tough - gave up and did something else!

3 Sept 2006

Well all the electrics are working. Not quite sure what I've done, perhaps it's a combination of boring it into submission, trial and error and a few blown fuses. It's even closer to running now - what's next?

4 Sept 2006

A recovered seat described as being in excellent condition has just come up on eBay - and the description looks justified from the photos. As just a seat cover would cost around £20 I reckon that its got to be worth bidding up to around £45. At the moment there's a week to go on the auction and it's not attracted any bids so far.

9 Sept 2006

If any job needs more than one pair of hands - it's fitting an exhaust! If it wasn't so obviously made for a triple, I'd have never believed it was ever going to fit. Much juggling and not a little bad language later and what a transformation - my eBay bargain Motad 3-1 really looks the part. Fitted the new battery (Wemoto £21.58) and all it needs now is the petrol tank dropping on before the 'moment of truth'.One of the few parts I hadn't done anything with at all since I took it off was the tank. The paintwork had a couple of minor chips but other than that looked fine and I really had no way of knowing whether the Achilles heel fuel taps worked or not. There was still a bit of petrol sloshing around in it (no time to fetch some fresh stuff) so on it went reusing for now the rock-hard fuel lines.STOP!!! engine oil might be a good idea at this stage. 5L of Castrol GTX (£12.99) from the local motor parts shop soon sorts out that obvious omission and after remembering to prime the oil filter housing we're ready for the moment of truth take two.You know what they say about pride coming before a fall? Perhaps I should have gently pressed the starter button on my own instead of shouting to the wife (who was busy searching the kitchen for her XXL saucepan) to come and witness the momentous event. So with press-ganged audience in attendance I gingerly stabbed the starter button just as I realised I hadn't checked the points and timing or turned the fuel taps to 'prime'. Fuel on and we were into take-three - and what do you know? IT STARTED!!! If I could do cartwheels I'd have done the length of the street and back - the audience was substantially less impressed and soon returned to the kitchen coughing theatrically and wafting away the clouds of smoke that have reduced visibility to zero. It only runs at 3,000rpm and above and rough as a bear's arse even then but we'll call that success enough for one day!Expenditure to date;£798.6210

Sept 2006

Just to prove that yesterday wasn't a fluke tried it again today - it still starts!In all the excitement nearly forgot about the seat on eBay which ends tomorrow and is currently up for £30. I'll keep my powder dry and bid at the last minute.

11 Sept 2006

Ten minutes to go on the seat and it's starting to attract some interest. It's up to £50 now which is over the limit I'd set myself but decided it was probably worth the extra fiver anyway.The bidding went mad in the last couple of minutes eventually reaching £87!!! At that price the pile of rusting junk in my garage was looking much more repairable!

14 Sept 2006

No wonder it ran a 'bit' rough. One set of points was loose on the back plate, the second set had a gap smaller than my thinnest feeler gauge, and the gap in the third was big enough to measure with a ruler! The loose set of points were a bit of a problem, looks like one of the previous owners had managed to strip the threads in the back plate so had fitted the points with a self-tapping screw. The simplest solution was to refit them with a slightly larger self-taper and we were in business. With the points and the timing adjusted started it up again and after warming up it ticked over quite nicely at about 1,000 rpm.

23 Sept 2006

Of course now it's a runner the next thing I couldn't wait to do was to ride it. So some brakes might be a good idea next. I'd done nothing with the brakes since stripping them down months ago and repainting the callipers and other metal fittings. Rebuilding them with the service kits bought earlier from Partsnmore was entirely straight forward although I'd forgotten that I'd managed to break the front brake light switch when I stripped the unit down and I hadn't yet ordered new brake and clutch levers to replace the mismatched and bent items previously fitted.

1 Oct 2006

Fitted the new levers and brake light switch (Wemoto £12.73) and bled the brakes. After pumping through a bit of air both offered solid resistance which gave some reassurance that I'd managed to fit all the seals the right way round. Connecting up the brake lights meant that everything electrical was now fitted and working other than for some mysterious reason the neutral indicator which had previously worked fine was now not illuminating.Expenditure to date;£811.35

11 Nov 2006

As might be spotted from the increasing length between diary entries progress was now becoming sporadic at best. I'm not really sure why, other than perhaps after the rush to get it running the 'odd jobs' to get it finished didn't seem very appealing. In over a month I'd done almost nothing other than a few tinkering around jobs which didn't really add anything to the finished look.

18 Nov 2006

On a nice sunny morning I decided this was the day for a first test ride. It's far from road-legal, still missing technicalities like a seat, but as the close I live in is nice and quiet, a run to the end of the road and back shouldn't hurt. After some last minute fettling and a couple of rolled up towels in place of the seat I was off and managed to get into third gear by the end of the road - everything seemed to be working as it should although the 'clunk' into first gear could probably be heard in the next town. After some adjustment to the clutch the 'clunk' was no worse than my Bandit although after another couple of runs proceedings were brought to a halt by a fairly copious oil leak which had developed from the left hand side of the engine.A little detective work showed that the problem was the clutch push-rod oil seal, past which oil was flowing quite freely. I was a little surprised to see that the push rod was actually spinning - why would it do that - is it supposed to?

20 Nov 2006

A little research on the triples web site ( ) revealed that the push-rod oil seal is a regular source of joy to owners but yielded some good news in that it can be replaced without splitting the engine cases horizontally - although some pessimists reckoned that it was worth getting hold of two seals before attempting the job because you were bound to ruin at least one before getting it right.

26 Nov 2006

With a single new oil seal in hand (Wemoto £3.68) set about tackling the job. Once stripped down it was obvious that the job had been done before - perhaps even several times if the degree of inexpert chamfering to the edges of the recess the seal fits into was anything to go by. The seal itself was easily removed with a pair of long-nosed pliers and of course the push-rod just pulled out. The push-rod showed a few worrying marks as if it was 'picking up' on something which was perhaps the cause of it spinning. The marks soon polished out with some fine wet&dry and after smoothing down the previous attempts of chamfering the new seal drifted straight in using a suitable size socket.Reassembly showed the repair to be oil tight (at least for now) and that the push-rod wasn't spinning anymore - so perhaps that was part of the problem?

Expenditure to date;£815.03 (yes I know I must have had to buy some more oil to refill the engine - but as I'm still trying to keep costs down I'm not counting having to buy things twice)!

14 Dec 2006An early Christmas present from Mrs Christmas has provided the wherewithal to tackle the rusting piece of tin masquerading as the seat base. I've never done any welding of any description before but now a virtually brand new mig welder (from eBay - where else) awaits my first attempts.

22 Dec 2006

Fabricated a few patches from some sheet steel (£2.20) bought from my local car accessory shop and prepared for my first attempts at welding. After a couple of hours of enthusiastic (although not particularly skilful) welding and some intensive grinding to get rid of the worst of my excesses, the seat base was looking solid and ready for some further finishing.The welded patches were all applied to the top of the seat pan so will be hidden by the seat itself - though that didn't help with the holes still visible from the underside. These I covered with car body filler which when sanded and hand painted with a couple of thick coats of satin black Hammerite gave a finish that I was quite pleased with.Expenditure to date;£817.23

31 Dec 2006

When I innocently bought the XS back in November 2005, I never imagined for a moment that I'd still be rebuilding it in 2007! But, here we are, the third calendar year of the rebuild starts tomorrow, I wonder how many more months it will take to finish?