A fellow tripler is keeping a diary of his re-build.

Diary of a Rebuild


Way back when, when I was curly rather than grey and my age was less than my waist size, I had a Kawasaki Z650 and my best mate had an XS750. Funny thing was, although the Zed was quicker than the XS I always preferred my mate's bike and promised myself that that would be the next bike I had.

March 2004

After a 26 year interlude (two kids, two marriages and a succession of family cars) I rejoined the biking fraternity with a Suzuki Bandit 600. My, haven't things changed in the time I've been away!

Oct 2005 

I wouldn't say that I'm bored with the Bandit but there's never anything that needs doing to it. Just clean it, ride it and change the oil every now and then - I miss the old Zed, something used to go wrong with that every week, I wonder how much I could pick up a 'decent' XS750 for?

7 Nov 2005

Beat some fairly lukewarm opposition to 'win' a 1977 XS750 on e-bay for the princely sum of £401. Only problem is, it's a 270 mile round trip from home to Rhyl to collect it.

11 Nov 2005

First expenditure and I haven't even got the bike yet! £20 to hire a bike trailer and off we go to Rhyl (I'll ignore the petrol costs because after all, I am trying to keep the rebuild costs down), First sight of the bike other than the photo on ebay and it looks..........well - like you'd expect a 28 year old bike with five previous owners and 58,551 miles on the clock to look. Save a pound because the previous owner wouldn't take the odd quid - so I might keep costs down after all!Stop for a coffee on the way back and have a good look round the bike. The wife who has come along for the ride wonders aloud why I've bought "that pile of old junk" while I've already got a lovely bike in the garage. Try to persuade her that it's a classic but am not helped by a couple of passers-by who readily join her side.

Expenditure to date;


12 Nov 2005

Borrow the battery off my Bandit to try and start the XS and flatten it within 20 seconds - use the kick start and it starts first kick. Ride it up and down the Close, but the urge to rip it apart and get stuck into the rebuild gets the better of me before I've really had chance to see what's working and what isnt. Can't believe how heavy the XS is - check the stats on a web site and find that it's 133 pounds heavier than my Bandit!

15 Nov 2005

A couple of evenings in the garage and I'm surrounded by heaps of gently rusting parts with everything removed other than the forks, engine and wheels. The Haynes manual is interesting on the subject of engine removal, stating that "manoeuvring the engine from place is awkward and is more likely to be approximate than precise" - they weren't kidding!! Got my brother round for a "quick lift out with the engine" and at first thought I'd missed one of the bolts. But no, all the bolts were out, it just really is that heavy. After much huffing and puffing decided that it's totally impossible to remove the engine in one piece - so we'll try again tomorrow.



Wasn't quite expecting what I found with the frame. The only thing holding on a five inch section on the right hand side was the rear mudguard - it'd cracked right through. The left hand side wasn't much better, although it was just hanging on.


16 Nov 2005

Now minus the cylinder head there's some room for manoeuvre - still bloody heavy though, they don't build them like that anymore! Anyway, the engine is out, I wonder how long it'll be before I hear it running again?

21 Nov 2005

Finished the strip-down and noted that the swinging arm swings almost as much side to side as it does up and down.

22 Nov 2005

Well now it's all stripped down I suppose I'd better decide what I'm going to do with it. Some parts seem to have survived the ravages of time pretty well, while others show definite signs of some less than careful attention from one or other of the five previous owners. I'd imagine that my strip-down technique would amuse the more experienced restorer, but I've put everything much smaller than a wheel into envelopes and clearly labelled them - 60 odd so far and counting. Past experience tells me that whatever I do I always have a few 'spare' bits left over that I can't quite remember where they go.

26 Nov 2005

Got the Jizer out and decided to start on the big pile of filthy, oily bits that are heaped up in a corner of the garage - centre stand, swinging arm etc. Then thought better of it and decided to take apart some of the smaller parts instead.

2 Dec 2005

Got the Jizer out again and managed to transfer most of the old grease and crud from the parts onto my jeans. Still, at least I can see what I've got now.

8 Dec 2005

On the basis that you've got to start somewhere, the first parts I've attacked have been the wheels. And, even if I do say so myself, I'm pretty impressed with the results. They were badly corroded and looked as if they'd been painted once or twice before, but plenty of attention with wet & dry, a coat of Hammerite special metals primers and three coats of smooth, black Hammerite (£9.50) and they look great. Wrapped them up in a couple of old sheets and stuck them under the bed in the spare room to stop them getting knocked about.

Expenditure to date;


12 Dec 2005

Fitted new bearings (£9.30) to the swinging arm accompanied by much cursing and general messing about. Pulling the bearing on the 'blind side' with no rear access to knock it out took forever, but eventually my home made 'tool' beat it into submission. The arm then got the three coats of Hammerite treatment and is off to join the wheels under the bed.

Expenditure to date;



Swinging Arm

15 Dec 2005

Hit eBay for some more bargains; a parts manual on CD (99p) which turns out to be for a later model than mine, a very second hand throttle assembly (£4.00) which may or may not have a working kill switch (the description on e-bay said mine was u/s) and an original rear mudguard (£2.99) with immaculate chrome - some you win, some you lose I guess.

Expenditure to date;


17 Dec 2005

Christmas shopping! Mrs Christmas bought me a new bench grinder and polishing kit - far more useful than a pair of high-heeled boots - for her not me!


20 Dec 2005

Had an overnight visitor to the garage who seems to have developed a taste for my new polishing mop. A mousetrap (£1.75) from the hardware shop and morsel of Jaffa Cake (free) should soon show him not to mess with my Christmas presents.

Expenditure to date;


21 Dec 2005

Mouse 0 - Simon 1.

29 Dec 2005

Another eBay 'bargain', a used pair of headlamp shrouds (£6.51) which turn out to be in worse condition than the ones I've already got!Expenditure to date;£455.043 Jan 2006Started cleaning the old paint and rust off the frame with a wire brush (£2.49) in an electric drill. The straight sections clean up really easily but soon run out of those and have to tackle the tricky bits that the brush wont quite reach. Yes I know I could send the frame away and have it blasted and powder coated, but I just have this idea that if it's possible to do myself then I want to do it.

Expenditure to date;


19 Jan 2006

The thought of finishing the frame off keeps me out of the garage for a few days so I decide to start on something else. Soon get the brake callipers stripped down and then hit on an easy way to clean them up although nothing is going to clean up the piston from the rear calliper which is rusted to hell. As the usual custodian of the dishwasher has gone to her Mothers for lunch I decide to give it a go and stick them and a few other parts in on the hottest, longest wash it can muster. The parts come out sparkling but the inside of the dishwasher doesn't look quite so impressive - I wonder if she'll notice?

23 Jan 2006

Stumble across a great American web site on the internet for anyone with an interest in XS triples; www.yamaha-triples.org . As I wasn't sure which model of 750 I'd got I posted a question to their forum and was inundated with answers from as far away as Sweden and as local as Coventry (4 miles up the road). Apparently as my bike has an IT5 engine/frame number it's either an E, D or 2D - the fact that it has points and 36mm fork legs makes it a 2D - mystery solved. Beer is stated to be the standard currency for answers to questions although in truth it's a site populated by very helpful people who are only too happy to share their knowledge and the odd 'spare' brake calliper - cheers Warren.

27 Jan 2006

Plodding along quite steadily on what's now a well rehearsed routine; degrease, sand and three coats of Hammerite, and the number of parts ready to go back on (not that there's anything to go back onto yet) are growing quite steadily. Some parts just don't look right in a gloss finish, but black, satin Hammerite (£4.20) looks great on them.

Expenditure to date;


7 Feb 2006

Two more wire brushes (£4.98) and a heap of determination later and the frame is as stripped as it's ever going to be. Once I've had the cracked sections at the back welded up I can get on with painting it.


Expenditure to date;


10 Feb 2006

'Won' two OEM fork dust covers on e-bay for $12.95 (£7.40) to replace the perished items on the bike. Even with postage costs of $9.00 from Michigan (not that I'm counting postage costs because I'm trying to keep costs down - remember?) that's still cheaper than I could find them for in the UK. Although for that price I suppose they'll be coming by slow-boat and will be here around Christmas.

Expenditure to date;


13 Feb 2006

Fork dust covers arrive - UPS certainly don't mess around.

16 Feb 2006

Painted the rear hub in silver paint (£4.30) and it looks awful. It's the first time I've used anything other than Hammerite paint and it looks like I should've stuck with that - so that'll have to be sanded down and done again.

Expenditure to date;


19 Feb 2006

Used the polishing mop that I rescued from the mouse to have a go at one of the fork legs and with very little effort its come up a treat. It'd look even better if I sanded the casting marks out but there are too many nooks and crannies to start that.A mate of mine who has offered to weld the cracked off rear frame section back onto the bike came to have a look at the job and just happened to spot the old brake hoses which I'd scrubbed up. Apparently he has got a drum of braided brake hose and all the gear to cut and fit the hose to the banjos - and would I like him to make me a set up? Would I ever - have you seen the price of them to buy!!

21 Feb 2006

Stripped the rear brake master cylinder which by the look of things could hardly have been working at all. Everything that can rust had just about disintegrated and the rubber seal had worn away to nothing.

The wheel bearings (£13.74) I'd ordered from www.simplybearings.co.uk arrived. It was only when leafing idly through the Haynes manual that I realised that the XS has five wheel bearings rather than the four that I'd ordered - my mistake not theirs and a good job I'm ignoring postage costs!

Expenditure to date;


26 Feb 2006

Popped into my local M&P Direct which is only just down the road for a pair of fork oil seals hoping to put the forks back together today. They weren't in stock and I've had to order them, but had a good chat with the bloke behind the counter who has just finished rebuilding a 1981 Kawasaki Z750. It looked a treat in the photos he had with him and I'm definitely going to use PJ1 satin engine paint on the XS when I get that far. Interestingly his photos were taken in a room with a radiator in the background which set me wondering ..........but them again I'm perhaps already pushing my luck washing parts in the dishwasher without thinking of turning the dining room into a workshop as well!

Expenditure to date;

£485.40 - fork oil (£6.99)

5 Mar 2006

Picked up the fork seals (£7.99) and set about the first bit of reassembly - it feels great to be putting something back together rather than keep taking stuff apart! Good job the Boss is at her mothers for lunch again otherwise I'd never have got away with measuring out 170cc of fork oil in her best Pyrex measuring jug. Polished the second fork leg up this afternoon but couldn't reassemble it because somehow I've managed to lose one of the spring clips that holds the oil seal in place - looks like I'll have to pay my first trip to the Yamaha dealers across the road from where I work for a replacement.

Expenditure to date;


7 Mar 2006

I've been watching a pair of used Koni rear shocks on eBay for the last few days thinking that they looked pretty good and might be worth a bid of thirty quid or so. The auction just ended tonight and they went for £82.00 - and they're used!!! 

10 Mar 2006

Picked the new spring clip up from my local Yamaha dealers (£1.85) and promptly found the one I'd 'lost' as soon as I walked into the garage! Anyway - put the second fork assembly back together, just need a frame to fit them back into now.

Expenditure to date;


13 Mar 2006

Popped home from work at lunch time with Brian the welder to sort the frame out. Soon done although I'm pleased he turned down my offer to hold the broken section in place while he welded it - that burn looks sore!
Straight into the garage that night and ground the welds down, then hand painted the frame in grey primer. Don't think the repair will be noticeable at all when it's painted in black.

14 Mar 2006

Seems like I'm making some progress now. Another evening in the garage to give the frame its first coat of smooth black Hammerite paint. It took nearly two hours with a ½inch brush, not sure I've got the patience for another three coats.

18 Mar 2006

Did what I normally do when I can't face doing the job I should be doing (painting the frame) - started something else! So far the engine has just laid on the garage floor where my brother and I dumped it after wrestling it from the frame. So I decided to start on the cylinder head which was looking a bit sorry for itself. First technical hitch was that I don't have a valve spring compressor, but by cutting away most of the sides of a 22mm plumbing fitting with a hacksaw, fitting that over the top of the valve and then compressing the spring with a carpenter's quick action clamp, I just managed to create enough space to flick the collets off with a screwdriver - Heath Robinson would be proud!Put the head in the dishwasher overnight on the 'dirty saucepan' setting.

19 Mar 2006

Shi*! Just look at the state of the dishwasher!!! Took me over an hour to clean it up to something resembling only just filthy before I was rumbled. I think it'd be quicker to go back to the Jizer and toothbrush method. A can of Nitromors (£2.98) did a good job of removing what was left of the paint.

Expenditure to date;


24 Mar 2006

Decided that life is too short to hand paint the frame. Although the finish on the swinging arm with smooth Hammerite is great, I just couldn't face giving the frame another three coats at two hours a coat. A couple of cans of PJ1 gloss black soon had the frame (and swinging arm - so it matches) sorted in less than a hour. I'm not sure that PJ1 is suitable for the UK market though. The instructions on the can say not to apply in temperatures below 22 degrees centigrade - when does it get that hot here?

Expenditure to date;

£510.20 - 2 cans of PJ1 gloss black @ £5.99 a can


27 Mar 2006

Impressed with the PJ1 paint I'd used on the frame, I re-did the rear hub in PJ1 silver (£5.99) and again it looks great. While I was in the mood for painting I cleaning all the gunk and gunge off the rear shocks - using Jizer this time rather than the dishwasher - and discovered that under the muck they are actually Koni's! Not sure how serviceable they are but polished the alloy parts and spray painted the rest and they look quite good. Soon going to be ready for some reassembly at this rate!

Expenditure to date;


1 Apr 2006

'Won' a Motad 3 into 1 exhaust on eBay for £56.50. Quite pleased with that as the last one that came up went for eighty-odd quid and I was in two minds whether to keep bidding or not - glad that I didn't now.

Expenditure to date;


2 Apr 2006

With reassembly in mind I decided I needed 'one or two' new fasteners to replace some particularly rusty ones - mainly the wheel castle-nuts and the fork yoke pinch bolts. After browsing round the net for a while I came across Custom Fasteners web site and in about half an hour 'one or two' nuts and bolts had turned into £42.78 worth! How did that happen? Still, I think the black engine cases should look the part with shiny, chrome bolts.

Expenditure to date;


3 Apr 2006

Do I hate changing wheel bearings or do I hate changing wheel bearings? Spent a totally fruitless hour tapping away with an old screwdriver trying to 'drift' the old bearings out of the rear wheel. The problem was that there was only a tiny lip to hammer against and every time I hit the screwdriver it promptly slipped off. So I resorted to a bit of brute force and destroyed one of the bearings by hammering a thin punch through the race to remove the bearings and centre, then I could see that the central spacer could be pushed out of the way to get a decent purchase on the old bearings. If only I'd known that at the start I could have finished the job in half an hour instead of messing around for ages!

4 Apr 2006

Exhaust arrived - looks very nearly brand new. Wonder how long it'll be before I hear what it sounds like?

15 Apr 2006

Fortified by a week in the sunshine, set about the XS with a vengeance. Fitted the swinging arm, forks, both wheels, and pushed it out into the sunshine for a photo. It's starting to look like a bike again.



18 Apr 2006

After the rapid progress at the weekend, it's back to the fiddly jobs. Stripped the clocks and both handlebar switches taking care to take loads of photos of the handlebar switch innards as I'll never remember how they go back together. Easy to spot why the bike was advertised as not having a working kill switch - it's not there! The switch has obviously disintegrated at some stage and the wirings been 'modified' to bypass the switch. I did get a second-hand throttle and switch assembly off eBay, but the wiring to that is pretty knackered as well so it's not easy to make up one good unit from the two I've got. The simple decision is not to bother - I've never used the kill switch on any bike I've ever had , I just use the key - so I'll leave it bypassed as it is.

20 Apr 2006

Reassembled the switch gear and the clocks after spraying them with PJ1; satin for the clock covers and gloss for the switches - very pleased with the results.

23 Apr 2006

I suppose the next job should be to paint the engine and get it back in the frame. But true to form, not being able to face tackling the big greasy, oily, dirty lump - I started something else. Not that the wiring harness was too much fun, but several perversely satisfying hours later I'd completely degreased and rewrapped the wiring and removed, bleached and cleaned up all the connectors.

26 Apr 2006

Time to spend a bit more money. Not being able to source brake service kits in the UK at a reasonable price I ordered kits for all three callipers and both master cylinders from Partsnmore in the US along with two new brake pistons, a set of carb intake mounts and a few more odds and sods for good measure - all for what I thought was a very reasonable £92.84 (not including the postage of course - I'm still trying to keep the cost down)!

Expenditure to date;


29 Apr 2006

Unless this is going to be the first rebuild where the engine is the last thing to go back in, I can't put off tackling that big oily mess any longer. Heaved the lump up onto my B&D Workmate and set about cleaning it up with determination if not a great deal of enthusiasm. The alternator cover has a few 'interesting' scars in it where it looks as if the bike has been thrown up the road - these will take a bit of elbow grease to remove to achieve the polished covers I want.


Total Expenditure to date - £708.31