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RENOVATION PROJECT OF 1972 YAMAHA YR5
BY STEPHAN MORRIS

Parts 1-7

The R5 is a complete redesign from the previous R3 model, with very few common parts, and the last model before reed valves and disc brakes were introduced on the RD350A model in 1973. Many R5 design features went through all subsequent air cooled models until the LC in 1980 such as the frame and swing arm design, oil tank as side panel, crankshaft and crankcase design. Even the LC models still used the same base gaskets as the R5 demonstrating similar crankcase design, and it was not until the powervalve (YPVS) models came out in 1983 that 5 cylinder studs were used instead of 4.

The rebuild has been shown here in chronological order, it is possible to jump to any installment by clicking on the links below:

JANUARY 2007 - Part 1
I have owned this R5 since 1980 and I am the second owner. The first owner used it to commute into London from Kent and back. He was an older chap, and did not thrash the bike at all, in fact he raised the gearing ridiculously high to get better fuel economy. Apart from this the bike was standard, which was unusual for the model, usually bought by younger riders and modified to go faster or handle better. It was on first oversize pistons and rings when I bought it. I restored this bike in the first few years of ownership, and it looked and ran pretty well on second oversize pistons and rings after a rebore. I was not totally happy with it however, because there were electrical problems that needed fixing now and then, and the engine would not rev past about 6500, whereas the red line is 8500. It would do about 70, and should have done maybe 95. Nevertheless I rode it round a bit. The front fender got damaged when it was outside my house - I know not how - and the rear fender suffered when a car hit it at the approach to a roundabout. Other items wore, got corroded or damaged in use. It got up to about 50000 miles. I used it less and less over time because of these problems. The battery went flat and the seat base rusted through so that the foam that had turned to dust came out of the holes and covered the bike with a yellow powder.

Other projects came to an end in autumn 2006, and my thoughts turned to the poor old R5. I decided to first see what spares I had accumulated over the years, and there were quite a lot, ranging from a completely new crankshaft assembly to the scabby old alternator stator pictured below and lots of bits of rubber and metal in between. I cleaned them all up, identified them with part numbers and put them all into a database so I know what I have and where it is.

That completed, I started the stripdown over the Christmas 2006 period.

Yamaha R5 1972

R5 before stripdown. Seat already reconditioned by R. K. Leighton in Birmingham, but base still has perforations. I am looking for a good seat base around which to fabricate another seat. RD 350 A and B seat bases are the same, so maybe I can get one of those.

Yamaha R5 1972 stator
This was a spare stator I have had for about 25 years. The plan is to restore the bike to original condition apart from some improvements to the finish such as stainless steel fasteners and better paintwork, so I will use this stator with its original points and condensors rather than the aftermarket electronic ignition. This stator therefore needs stripping and restoring.
Yamaha R5 1972 wiring
Rat's nest of wiring that goes into the headlight shell (removed in this photo) and hardly leaves room for the headlight bulb! I labelled some of these wires years ago in an attempt to sort them out. I am not too good with wiring - all I can do is put it back together the same way it came apart, so I have made some drawings of the connections and put some more labels on the wires. Over the years there have been quite a few wiring bodges of the insulating tape and block connector type, and even a wire that runs from the headlight back to the tail light bypassing the loom for some reason! Fitting the electronic ignition also required some bodging because it was not made for the R5, only the later RD 350 A and B models. I suspect that I will have to dismantle and reassemble the wiring loom. I recently did this for my XS1100, so I am less underconfident than I was!

Yamaha R5 1972 stator

Stator as fitted to bike now showing electronic ignition pick-ups and wiring bodges. I converted the chain and sprockets from 520 (standard) to 530 (wider chain) a long time ago. I plan to continue using 530.
Yamaha R5 1972 clutch
Clutch cover removed showing clutch assembly from an RD350LC that I fitted because I could not stop the original R5 one slipping. The later clutch has stronger springs and wider friction plates. The clutch centre nut was very difficult to remove. From previous experience of the difficulty of undoing shaft end nuts from engines on the bench, I thought that I would loosen such nuts with the engine in the frame so that it is held tight and I can put it in gear and use the rear brake to stop engine rotation. That was fine for the other nuts, but for this one, even though I was standing on the rear brake pedal, the rear wheel was rotating when I tried to undo the nut with my half inch drive breaker bar. It did not help that it took 180 degrees of rotation to take up the slack in the transmission. In the end I had to lock the centre clutch boss by welding an old sidestand to an old clutch metal plate, and only then with a lot of grunting and heaving from two old men would it shift!
Yamaha R5 1972 parts
I gave the stripped parts a preliminary clean and stored them in bags as shown. The numbers are the diagram numbers in the parts book. So in each bag are the bits illustrated in that diagram, or a note of where else they might be! For example in the photo of the right side engine below, you can see a small rod that acts as the hook for the kickstart spring just below the clutch cover dowel hole at 10 o'clock on the clutch cover gasket face. It is an interference fit in the crankcase, so I will leave it there, but place a note in the bag containing the kickstart parts that it remains in place on the crankcase. I have found that it is best to be meticulous when stripping a bike to know where every nut bolt washer and grommet removed from the bike is subsequently located, otherwise when you want it you have to look in every possible location, and it will only be found in the last place you search!
Yamaha R5 1972 clutch removed
Success! The clutch centre nut was removed and the clutch assembly came easily off the shaft. The primary drive gear that is on the end of the crankshaft is on the right, the nut is already loose. The metal kickstart idle gear is to the left of the clutch shaft, and behind it is a smaller gear that drives the white plastic tachometer drive gear top left. The external (to the gearbox) gear shifter mechanism is below the clutch shaft. So far, internal engine parts look fine with no corrosion, and the oil had not emulsified even after 6 or 7 years of zero use. Maybe I should thank the dehumidifier I run in my garage.

January 2007 - Part 2
The Yamaha RD250, RD350 and RD400 variants that succeeded the R5 from 1973 onwards were very famous motorcycles, of which many of today's older riders treasure fond memories. They looked modern, they were cheap, they were reliable and fast. They were quite close in design to the phenomenally successful and popular TZ 250 and 350 race machines. I have heard it said that in the late seventies Yamaha motorcycles had won more races than all other manufacturers put together since racing began. Maybe difficult to believe now, but then they were so dominant you thought "...that could easily be true." So inevitably the RD denomination for these road machines became known to stand for Race Developed, and now that is common knowledge.

But should that be so? Where do the initials RD come from? What were the models that preceded the first RD250 and RD350 bikes of 1973? Well, there was the R5 which was the 350 and the DS7 which was the 250. Might it not be the case then that the Japanese simply combined those two letters to use for the 250 and 350 models that varied only in the size of their pistons and the holes in which they fitted? A bit boring really, but probably true.

Before 1973 Yamaha used letters to signify the capacity of the engines in their bikes. U = 50, Y = 100, A = 125, C = 200, D = 250, M = 305, R = 350. Don't ask me how they decided which was which, but it was all so prosaic, I can't imagine them suddenly deciding in late 1972 that RD meant "Race Developed" and not "250cc and 350cc model variants"!

Yamaha R5 1972 engine removed
Engine out and filth revealed for all to see. It was no problem when everything had been disconnected. There are two triangular plates that hold the back of the engine to the frame, and once they are removed there is plenty of clearance to remove the engine
Yamaha R5 1972 engine
During its years of disuse the crankcase had filled up with petrol. The float valves in the carburettors had obviously given up. The petrol had combined with unburnt two stroke oil to give a red liquid that you can see under the piston. The crankcase breather is visible with the hose running behind the tacho gear housing.
Yamaha R5 1972 top end
Second oversize cylinders shown here. You can see that they are 0.5 mm bigger than standard cylinders of course. Note short reach spark plugs. NGK B8HS or Nippon Denso W24FS as these are. The RD350 changed to B8ES in 1973, meaning that the thread is 3/4" long instead of 1/2" for the B8HS. Various rusty engine mounting bolts in the foreground. If I clean them up they will only rust again, so should I replace with stainless steel? I think that in the long term I will, as I have done for my XS1100, but stainless has doubled in price in the past year. I reckon that the Chinese are machining motorcycles from solid stainless, the amount they're buying. Maybe I should replace hard to access fasteners with SS, but leave bolts such as these until a later date.
Yamaha R5 1972 frame
Frame inverted for removal of stands and footrests etc. The footrests are a bad design on the R5, looping under the mufflers as they do they ground out very easily and because they are solidly mounted the rear wheel lifts off the deck and you are on your ear. Guess how I know!
The frame had little corrosion visible until I saw this under the steering stem. It had not been powder coated very well. I think that I will need to have the frame refinished, so there is another £150 up the Suwannee
Yamaha R5 1972
Yamaha R5 1972
This is where the centre stand pivots and collects all sorts of muck. I have cleaned this frame now if only to prevent it making a mess in my garage. I had to clean it first with soap and water to remove the dirt you can see here, and then clean it with petrol to remove the grease that had attracted the dirt in the first place.
Yamaha R5 1972 rear footrests
This is the right hand rear footrest bracket. The rear brake lever pivots in the big hole, and the two holes above that attach the bracket to the frame. The hole bottom right takes one of the rusty engine mounting bolts pictured above, and the hole top right is for the swing arm pivot shaft. The projecting lug has a thread in it for the brake lever height adjusting bolt. Originally it was a 6mm thread, but I noticed when I took the bolt out that it was 7mm, so I obviously tapped it to that thread after some damage or other. Not too much rust here, but there is a scrape under the brake lever pivot hole.
Yamaha R5 1972 swing arm
This is the bottom front section of the swingarm showing accumulated dirt. The rear brake torque arm bolts to the bracket shown. This was in better condition than the top in fact, as you will see in the next report.
Yamaha R5 1972 shox
Shocks look quite good, but I need to disassemble them really for proper cleaning and assessment. These are original Yamaha shocks. There are plenty of cheap aftermarket ones that fit, but they never look quite the same as original. I will clean these up and rechrome and repaint if necessary.
Yamaha R5 1972
This is the right hand footrest bracket with the somewhat rusty swing arm pivot shaft poking out. The rear footrests pivot through 90 degrees from horizontal to vertical as shown here. There is a big steel washer at the inner end of the footrest rubber that you can just see. This means that when you powder coat the bracket, the washer then wrecks the finish where it pivots. Any of you Baldricks got a cunning plan?
January 2007 - Part 3
Here is the next instalment of a fascinating insight into the thought processes of an anal vintage Japanese motorcycle enthusiast. Wait a minute... does that sound right? Don't think about that too much!

I have been in South Africa for the past few days, but due to the marvels of that there Internet thingy, I have been buying R5 spares from Dallas in Texas. There were two rear fenders and a wiring loom up for auction on ebay. The end time for auctions in the US is always about 3 AM for us in the UK. South Africa is usually 2 hours ahead, so that's not much better. In the past I have got up at some unearthly hour to bid at the last minute, only to lose to some lowlife across the pond, so now I don't bother. I just put in what I want to pay and if someone wants to pay more then good luck to them. Well it was good luck to me this time because I won two rear fenders for $27 and the wiring loom for $46. Dollars being worth next to nothing these days I was quite pleased.

My regular reader will know that Martyn Whittington with great reluctance and against all his better instincts hacked my wiring loom to death back in 1980 to get my Piranha "tronic nishun" to work. I hope that the Yank version fits OK, if not I will make it. So that's $46 please Martyn!

My regular reader will also know that my rear fender is the worse for wear having been drastically modified by a woman in a car that didn't stop before achieving this task. Another problem solved, although from the description it will need rechroming. There were only two bidders for the rear fenders, and the loser contacted me after the auction to offer me $10 for the one I did not want. Another deal done.

The poor seller of these items told me that this sale was his most complicated on ebay after I said to him that I had already sold one of the rear fenders I bought off him to someone who lives in Dallas and he would come to fetch it, how much would it cost to send the remaining fender to the UK along with the wiring loom, and while you're about it how much to send to my friend in Indiana, and can you wait a while before sending to see if I win the auction for the steering damper assembly that you are also selling!

But this guy is a real star. He rebuilds early Yamaha two stroke twins: LS2 (100cc, reminding me that L=100cc, not Y), RD400C, the first Yamaha 400, and an RZ350LC that we call the RD350LC (incidentally lending weight to my contention that RD does not mean "Race Developed"). AND he has an immaculate XS1100! Clearly a man of exquisite taste and intelligence. I am sure that he and his wife must also be very good looking. He even cancelled the auction of the steering damper assembly and sold it to me for a paltry $50. These were only ever fitted to the R5 and are therefore seen less often than Whittington's wallet

He sent me a picture of his fantastic XS1100SG that I will send to Paul to put on the website as well.

Yamaha R5 1972
There are four rear sprocket mounting bolts, and this is the one that committed hara kiri before moving. That's a 10mm helicoil then.
Yamaha R5 1972
This is the top of the swing arm underneath the chain run where a loose chain has removed some of the paint. I hope that the same does not happen to it after I get it powder coated!
Yamaha R5 1972 chain guard
Nasty corrosion on the chain guard. This will need some effort to bring it to a condition ready for chroming. The problem with chromers is that they will just chrome whatever you give them with no thought of contacting you if they think that it won't turn out OK. You go to pick up parts and express mild disappointment, and they look at you as if you are stupid and say I could have told you that!
Yamaha R5 1972 rear brake lever
The rear brake lever was powder coated successfully 27 years ago. One of the very few parts that I will be able to re-use methinks.
Yamaha R5 1972
This is the front end of the rear brake torque arm and the strangely shaped head of its mounting bolt, next to which is a smidgen of the original silver paint as a counterpoint to the rather fetching rust colour I have gone for on the rest of the surface. I will have a go at painting this myself for now, but it is a candidate for conversion to stainless steel because of its exposed position next to the rear wheel.
Yamaha R5 1972 front wheel spindle
One 35 years old front wheel spindle untouched by the passing of time.
Yamaha R5 1972
I had forgotten this episode entirely... This is the hole in the centre stand where the pivot shaft goes through. Farcically, it is a very thin walled tube and a very tight fit through the stand. In fact you can see that it is still there. The reason being of course that it rusts into place at the shadow of a damp cloth never to be moved again.
Yamaha R5 1972
Sorry this is a bit over-exposed, but here you can see the rather hefty solid bolt and nut that I must have used to replace the standard item in 1980. In principle I prefer to keep my bikes pretty close to standard, but in this case I will have to make an exception!
Yamaha R5 1972 piston crown
The top of both pistons were black, showing a rich mixture. I will try smaller main jets when the day comes I think. This type of piston ring where the top ring is L shaped and comes up to the top surface of the piston has a special name that I forget. They were originally not used on the R5 model, only on the RD 350 A and B models, but I suppose they worked better because Yamaha stopped supplying the 278 (R5) pistons and rings, and only supplied the 360 (RD 350) pistons and rings from 1973 onwards.
Yamaha R5 1972 cylinder
Cylinder head as black as the piston. The marks from where I last cleaned it can be seen clearly. I will try not to be so aggressive this time!
Yamaha R5 1972
Front of bottom crankcase half. You can see where the front wheel deposits its dirt! I hope to show future photos contrasting with this filthy appearance.
Yamaha R5 1972 wheels
Front and rear wheels. I think that I will need new rims due to rust on these ones, and I will go for stainless steel spokes. The mild steel ones lose their finish very quickly, although do not seem to actually rust too much.
This is the tool my father made to hold the clutch centre and allow removal of the clutch centre nut as described previously. Yamaha have a part number for this tool, but it is not made out of old sidestands and scrap metal!
Bottom crankcase half showing dirt to compare to later photos showing absence of dirt, and showing some of the 8mm nuts removed from the studs in preparation for splitting the two cases.
The top crankcase is fastened to the bottom half by 6mm socket head screws towards the back of the engine - the 8mm studs are towards the front. Again they are shown loose here. In the next instalment the cases are split to reveal what expensive horrors? Hold on to your seats...

FEBRUARY 2007 -PART 4
I know that I have kept you all in suspense in the best tradition of soap opera cliffhangers while you wait to see what splitting the R5 crankcases revealed. Well, nothing untoward actually! Sorry about the anticlimax. I should not have been surprised really. This engine was a total redesign from the R3 of 1968 I think it was, and the bottom end remained fundamentally unchanged until the advent of the 5 cylinder stud powervalve model in 1983, so this was a really strong, successful design. >From 1970 to 1983 was an eternity in Japanese two stroke engine development. Evidence of this lies in the fact that I fitted an LC clutch into this engine in 1981 to cure it from slipping. The differences from the R5 clutch were wider springs and wider friction plates and that was about it.

Anyway, lots of photos to peruse in this instalment so I won't waffle on too much about peripheral matters.

Nice and clean inside the crankcases. The totally circular webs of the crankshaft can be seen with the lead counterbalance insert visible above one of the centre main bearings. The reason that the crankshaft webs are circular is to increase the primary compression of the engine. There is little space left inside the crankcases so that when the piston descends the velocity of the mixture through the transfer ports is high, and scavenging of exhaust gases in the cylinder head is improved. The white gear in the top crankcase half takes the drive for the tacho from the kickstart idle gear to the shaft that can be seen inside the case.
The primary shaft and countershaft for the gearbox were removed complete from the cases. The gears show little wear and the bearings are in good condition.
There was some sludge in the bottom crankcase half, just visible in the upper part of this photo. The brown staining visible was caused by the petroil mix mentioned previously that had drained into the crankcase principally from the carbs.
This is the bottom crankcase half showing the grease flung off the chain where it goes around the gearbox sprocket, and the contrast between the dirt on the outside and the clean inside of the cases.
Not all was hunky dory. This 5mm screw for a shaft retaining plate was previously broken so the plate was only held by one screw! I bought a 5mm helicoil kit just in case, but in fact luckily it came out with the careful use of a stud removal tool.
When this exhaust stud snapped on one of the cylinders things became complicated...
I tried to drill it out, but it was only when I had completed the task that I realised that the drill had travelled off centre and produced a nice oval hole. I write this as if the drill had a mind of its own but of course it was the idiot holding it who takes the blame. It is precisely at this point that I have finally consented to let a young lady stick needles in me in the cause of acupuncture here in Ghana, although I have no idea for what I am being treated... If my English further deteriorates I am not to blame!
What to do? I needed something that would act as an insert into the hole I had bodged and could then be drilled and tapped itself to give the original 8mm x 1.25mm pitch thread. Fortunately I had this 12mm x 1.5mm pitch bolt lying around. 12mm is one of those thread sizes that commonly occurs in different pitches. 1mm, 1.25mm and 1.5mm. Luckily the tap I had matched this bolt. I now have 8 needles inserted into various points of my body...
I marked the hole with two lines to show where the centre point should be and then tapped the hole to the 12mm x 1.25mm thread to accept the bolt. I knew that after I inserted the bolt I would need to grind the hexagon head away, so I cut off most of the head first. 4 needles removed now...
Here is the remains of the hacksawed bolt with a couple of lines again identifying where the centre of the hole should be. All needles now removed.
I used the two lines to identify where the hole for the 8mm thread needs to be drilled and then went ahead. This is halfway.
Having completed the hole I tapped it to the correct thread for the stud...
...and then ground it away to be flush with the surface of the exhaust header mounting face.
Job done! The whole process only took about three hours, but the repair is now stronger than the original and what could have been the disastrous destruction of a second oversize R5 cylinder that had not been hacked to death for the sake of a power increase was avoided.

FEBRUARY 2007 -PART 5
278 11351 00. That is the part number of the base gasket for my R5. As I have said previously, Yamaha used the same base gasket on all 250, 350 and 400cc two stroke twins from 1970 to 1983. In about 1966 Yamaha changed from their existing part numbering system to one developed by IBM, and this part number is an example of that. I used to work selling Yamaha spares in a motorcycle shop, so I learnt a bit about these numbers as part of my job. Anorak that I am I found it interesting to discover how these numbers are constructed. It is common knowledge that the first three numbers designate the Yamaha model, 278 in this case designating YR5. (The Y just means Yamaha by the way). Usually, even minor changes from one motorcycle to another warranted a different model code. For example the XS1100 for the USA had a 2H7 model code. That for Europe had a 2H9 model code, and there were a few quite significant differences such as the colour of the engine, and the position of the footrests. That for the UK was different to both. It used the same speedo as the US model marked in MPH and using the 2H7 part number prefix, but the headlight dipped to the left, not the right as in the US. For this reason the relevant parts of the headlight for the UK model only had a 2H8 part number prefix.

The following 5 numbers in the IBM number designate the part itself, and from the numbers of which it is comprised, there are clues about its location on the bike. All Yamaha engine parts have a 1 as the first number of the five figures in the middle of the part number. Cycle parts have a 2 and electrical parts have an 8. There are no Yamaha motorcycle parts where the middle five numbers begin with a 3, 5, 6, 7 or 9. There are very few that begin with a 4, and those are for shaft drive models only. The next two numbers further narrow down the location of that part on the motorcycle. For example 11351: 1 = engine; 1 = cylinder and cylinder head assembly; 3 = cylinder assembly. Other parts in the same location are the cylinder itself – 11311 – or the cylinder stud – 11361. The last two numbers in the five are the designation for the part itself. The next two numbers, 00 in this case are used to show any modifications to the original part. If the part number ends in 01 it has been modified from the original once, 02 = twice and so forth. Two numbers are sometimes added to Yamaha part numbers, but are often not shown in parts books etc. because they indicate the colour or finish of a part, and for many items this is not relevant. For example 93 = chrome; 98 = satin black; 33 = gloss black. Many different paint colours can be shown in this way as well, for example 1A = New Yamaha White which is the exquisite off-white used on my XS1100F 1979 model. Where Yamaha ran out of numbers, letters are an easy substitute.

Right, that is the lesson for today, perhaps more tedious than some other words you may read on motorcycling, unless you are as sad as me and have managed to read to the end.

After the difficulties in removing and repairing the exhaust stud that I wrote about in instalment number 4, I thought a bit about whether I should remove the cylinder studs and crankcase studs, both sets of which are in the upper crankcase. In the end I decided that I would do it and accept the consequences of any broken studs because I would then have a true knowledge of the condition of these vital components, and it would allow proper cleaning of the crankcase and studs.
I resolved to use plenty of heat to try and ensure that the torque needed was minimised and the chances of the studs snapping were reduced. The flame here is difficult to see, but there are some red hot particles visible at the base of the stud!
I have great faith in my stud removal tool made by Klann in West Germany as it was when I bought it. There is a female half inch drive on the top of the tool, and in this photo you can see my half inch breaker bar in use. At the bottom of the tool (see photo below) there are three jaws that grip the thread at the top of the stud. As the breaker bar is rotated anti-clockwise in the normal direction for fastener removal, the jaws close up to clamp the stud. It is important that the jaws are positioned on the threaded portion of the stud so that the jaws obtain a firm grip. If they engage the unthreaded part, then the grip can fail as torque is increased. When the stud is undone, a 36mm spanner is used to unclamp the jaws from the stud whilst continuing to steady the tool with the breaker bar.
There are 8 cylinder studs and 8 crankcase studs, and they all came out with no damage caused to threads or studs – result! Some of them needed a lot of persuasion, and were groaning a lot with the first turn or two, but yielded in the end. If I could be forgiven such a non-PC comment then I would of course describe these studs as feminine, but I know that I would never get away with it.
These are the jaws at the bottom of the stud removal tool as mentioned above. They do minimal damage to the stud, and only rarely does the die I run down each thread after removal pick up any material to remove. I have used this tool to remove the 10mm crankcase and cylinder studs on several XS1100 engines and as you can see, there is no wear to the teeth. Those studs are very strong, and would sometimes twist through 720 degrees before releasing from the aluminium with a loud report! When that happened they could not be re-used of course, but they rarely broke.
In the interval between this photo and the last one, there was a lot of paraffin splashing about in the parts washer, out of the parts washer, on my clothes and on my shoes. For some reason this caused more complaints than normal from senior management about my personal odour and enquiries about why it was necessary that the living room should smell the same as the garage. At least I think that is what she was saying, but the six nations (That's some Rugby tournament involving England and others-Paul) had started so I could not be sure. The photo shows the contrast between the uncleaned sections and the cleaned sections of the bottom of the crankcase. The recesses are several centimetres deep and it is difficult to remove all the dirt to this standard! The bottom crankcase was maybe 6 hours work…
Now for the top half!
FEBRUARY 2007 -PART 6
I think that I have disassembled virtually all the major assemblies apart from these wheels now. After I finished the top crankcase you saw in the last picture of instalment 5 I got stuck in to cleaning a set of DS7 (the 250 version of the R5) crankcases that were just as dirty. I cannot for the life of me remember where I got this DS7 engine, but now I have a few bits of it to sell on ebay I am not sure what the difference is between the R5 crankcases and the DS7 crankcases, but the engine number stamped on the top does begin DS7. The crankshaft for the two bikes is exactly the same, the capacity difference coming from the 64mm bore of the R5 versus the 54mm bore of the DS7. Last week I attended a BAND quiz ably organised by Paul and Lyn Watts. I had suggested some questions for this quiz, one of which was "what is the bore diameter of an RD250 divided by its front wheel diameter?". I am sure that my intelligent, knowledgeable reader will have no difficulty in calculating the answer to be three, but Paul said that it would be too difficult for a pub full of North Devonians after 7 pints of beer. I think that he was right! Anyway by the time I finished the DS7 crankcases after having done the R5 crankcases as well, I was fed up to the back teeth of bending over my parts washer!
Left side of the rear wheel with the sprocket carrier and cush drive rubbers removed.
Rear wheel rim before cleaning showing spots of chain lubricant and dirty spokes. Reminds me why I favour shaft drive bikes although not appropriate for a 350 twin two stroke. However, I am willing to sacrifice that convenience for the noise, smell and environmental unfriendliness of this engine!
Left side of rear wheel with brake plate assembly removed. Brake drum is in good condition.
Years of accumulated dirt covers the shiny aluminium.
...and steel
Bearings and collar came out easily with a modicum of heat and persuasion.
After I cleaned the rear wheel rim this nasty little bit of corrosion became apparent. I had been trying to decide if I should replace the spokes and rims with stainless steel items, and this has made my mind up for me I think. I must check the cost…
I hate removing tyres, and I will not even try to put them on again. I was engaged in a life and death struggle with the rear tyre for about an hour before I separated it from the rim, which had corroded quite a lot internally.
Some of the spoke nuts under the rim tape were very bad. I expect that the wheel builder will just cut through the spokes and pull them through the hub and the rim as necessary. This doesn’t look as if it wants to move!
The rim also has this dent that I had not previously noticed. Another reason to replace this item rather than renovate it.
This is the front wheel with the brake plate removed. Still looks circular doesn’t it?
Bearings out reasonably easily again. These aluminium housings are often damaged where people have accidentally damaged them during such processes. I am lucky that the first owner was so careful with this bike. Many items are just as good as when they came from Shizuoka, Honshu, Japan.
This front wheel rim is not quite as Yamaha-san intended. I think at some point this corrosion and the less serious corrosion on the rear wheel were caused by water sitting at the low point of the wheels. I run a dehumidifier in my garage now, so this probably started a long time ago.
It cleaned up to this with a wipe of WD40, after the tyre was removed, but those are pits where the chrome plating has been penetrated. They will not go away no matter how much elbow grease is used.
More corrosion on the inside of the front wheel rim. How would this be prevented in the event that I used normal chrome rims again? You can’t really grease the inside of a wheel rim can you? The tyres might slip or something. Although it took 26 years to get to this state, I could not sleep at night knowing that my wheel rims were slowly rusting. No – stainless steel it must be.
This area of the front wheel rim was relatively free of corrosion for some reason.
This is the speedo drive bushing that sits in the front brake hub. You can see three of the four recesses that fit the special tool you need to remove this part. It took me ages to get this photo because the camera insisted on focusing on the edge of this recess rather than inside it! So how was I going to remove this bushing without the special tool? Well I would have to make one…
Here is my storage system for the type of base material I would need…
found an old cold chisel that had the sharp end broken off a few years ago. I always keep things for which there could be a possible use in the future, and that day had arrived for our lucky old tool! It was exactly the right diameter to fit neatly inside the recess pictured above. I hacksawed off the broken end and then marked two parallel lines and hacksawed those to about 5mm deep. Here I have just started the second cut.
Then I made two cuts at 90 degrees to the original ones to leave the central ridge of metal you can see here. All that remained was to grind away the middle of this central ridge to leave the two square prongs I needed.
This is the finished tool and the offending bush removed from the brake plate. Sorted! I could have left it in place of course and who would have known any different? Only my conscience and my insomnia. Anyway it was a good story to tell! This tool now available at a very reasonable hourly rate to all those hundreds of you that have the same burning desire as me to remove R5 speedo bushes!
So here are all the front wheel bitties cleaned up and almost ready for reassembly. I forgot to include the brake actuating levers that I put in a separate bag. They need rechroming in fact and the fasteners replacing with stainless steel. I can reuse all these parts except the rim tape that had a small hole in it, as did the one for the rear wheel as well.

MARCH 2007 -PART 7
In the last instalment I said that the wheels were the last major components to be stripped, but then I saw the two stanchion (fork tube) and slider (fork leg) assemblies sitting on the floor next to the mufflers.

Writing those words takes me back to my youth when I worked in a main Yamaha dealer called Brockliss Motorcycles in Brockley, South London. That was where I met Paul actually, he would come to the shop to buy parts for one or the other of his lovely XS650s, and I would sell him some bitty in what I hoped was an efficient way. Only later did he tell me that he thought that my attitude to him and other customers was arrogant and that the dealer had a reputation for very poor customer service. He was absolutely right, we thought customers were stupid and would compete to mock them to their faces. Appalling when I think back on it, and I don't know why the management let us get away with it.

I remember reading the advertisement for a spares assistant in Motorcycle News in 1979. At the time I could think of nothing better than to work with the machines I had grown to love in the two years since buying a Honda CB200 in 1977. The obsession even survived a failed relationship with a Triumph Bonneville in 1978 before I bought the first DOHC 16 valve Honda 750 in 1979, the CB750KZ. So off I went from Telford to South London for the job interview on the 6 month old Honda. I made it 10 miles before a cretin in a Mini did a right turn across me on the A5. My front wheel smashed his passenger door (no-one in the seat fortunately) and I flew over the car breaking my right arm at some point in the process. The bike was written off, but I did see it on the road in later years.

A month later I made it to Brockley on the train for my interview. After about 2 minutes of pleasantries the proprietor Mr Hockley asked me if I knew what a stanchion was? I muttered something about the forks and he offered me the job! While such informality has its attractions, perhaps our customers would have preferred a somewhat more selective process and perhaps some relevant training. Too bad, they got me!

I learned a few things and made a few friends there, and I retain some of both. One of the habits that I fell into from working with parts books all day was to name parts using American terminology rather than British. Unsurprisingly the Japanese thought it unnecessary to produce both versions. Therefore to me a mudguard is a fender, a number plate bracket is a licence bracket, and an exhaust silencer is a muffler.

So if my reader has made it this far he/she will understand why writing about the stanchions sitting next to the mufflers brought back a few memories. Now to the present...

Here are the left and right forks stubborn in their state of assembly. Typical 70’s design has sensible rubber dust covers over the fork oil seals concealed by stupid chrome covers.
Off with the fork cap bolts with their chrome hexagons and chrome washers and invert the forks to drain out all the oil… er…except the oil that stayed in that is and would subsequently drip everywhere and coat everything.
Now I had to get the damper assemblies out. This is not an easy task as I knew from disassembling some DS7 forks recently. There is a socket cap bolt with a 10mm thread, 1mm pitch that holds the damper assembly to the bottom of the slider and stanchion assembly. If you turn it, the damper turns with it, so you have to hold the damper assembly somehow with a tool that can reach the length of the stanchion. This is a picture of the top of the DS7 damper assembly, which is the same as the R5. Right, I thought, there are two flats (one the other side in this photo) so all that Stephan the master engineer has to do is make a tool to fit across the flats, poke it down the top of the fork tube and Bob’s your uncle…
This old ½ inch extension bar will do – cut off two of the sides and grind out the middle a bit - here I am halfway through cutting away the two sides.
Grind it out to the 15mm I measured across the flats. OK we’re ready - put on an adapter to my 3/8 extension bars for the length I need, locate it on those flats, and turn. Turn again. Turn again. Oh dear! I have just spent an hour making a useless tool because the flats are just to narrow for the torque I need and it is rotating freely.
I don’t know why I didn’t do the same as I did for the DS7 forks in the first place. Actually, maybe I do. It’s the fault of you the reader for encouraging me to show you how I make special tools instead of doing it the simple way shown here where I compressed the fork assembly under my drill table to prevent the damper turning and used an impact driver to shock the bolt free. Worked first time for both assemblies. (Idiot).
Rubber dust cover and chrome cover mentioned above. Rubber always cleans up OK and can be reused if it has not gone hard. The chrome covers were OK on the outside, but rusty inside as you can see. I hope to avoid rechroming however because this rust cannot be seen until disassembly. I will grease them inside before reassembly.
Exhibit #2 in the trial of Stephan Morris for criminal idiocy. I had not disassembled this side and managed to drop the oily assembly thus denting the other chrome cover
This bottle of rum served to reform the circular appearance of the part because the neck was itself circular and tapered to an increasing diameter towards the main part of the bottle. A few taps on the rim of the chrome cover…
… and job done (stupid error rectified).
I cleaned it up a bit inside with the trusty Dremel. Bit of grease in there and no-one will know.
One of the fork stanchions had no corrosion at all, but annoyingly this one had the small amount you can see. At some point I had used a bit of wet and dry to smooth it out in what turned out to be a successful effort to preserve the fork seals. One of the fork cap bolts was also slightly corroded. I will need to send the pair of stanchions and the pair of bolts away to be chromed along with everything else. At this point I reckon that the chroming bill will be about £600, the powder coating bill about £600, the painting bill about £400, the wheel rebuilds about £400 and the parts bill around £500 composed of payments to both ebay and Yamaha. That takes us to £2500. Will it be worth that amount when I have finished? Definitely not to everyone except me, but it’s all good fun isn’t it? Isn’t it? (I bought this bike for £100 in 1980 and spent about £750 when I first rebuilt it in 1981.)
Here are all the fork bitties set out for the photo. Apart from the chroming, I plan to replace the fasteners with stainless steel and refinish the sliders where the lacquer is coming off. I will just restore the finish with some fine wet and dry and not bother with lacquer. My XS1100 forks have been like that for 10 years now no problem.
The licence bracket (tail light bracket) fitted to my bike is a strange item. In the parts book there are three different types of bracket, but none of them is mine. I have also not been able to trace it to other bikes of the period such as XS2 or FS1. Please see above for pictures of it on the bike. I have seen this on other R5s, but that doesn’t help really. If anyone knows the part number or what other bike it came off, please let me know via this website. This arm pictured above goes from the rear of the light fitting to the top of the rear fender. It acts as a mounting point for the licence bracket and conceals the tail light wiring. At some point it received a dent on the top, so because I cannot get another one I thought that I would try to fix it. I forgot to take a “before” photo – sorry – but here it is after I had tapped out the dent from the inside with a punch and sanded it down a little. You can just see the slight depressions that remain.
I decided that there was enough metal to just keep sanding to remove all trace of the dent. I knew that the silver powder coating finish I plan for this part would accentuate the appearance of any irregularity, so it had to be a good job. Here you can see it is virtually finished…
…and here is the job done. Not a very good photo, but it shows the absence of the dent at least.
This is the tail light base. It is bolted to the licence bracket and the tail light lens sits on a gasket on the surface in this photo. The rim of this part where I am gripping it is visible between the licence bracket and the tail light lens, so this needs powder coating silver as well. The problem here is that the light bulb socket is part of the tail light base, and the wires are soldered to the bulb contact surface you can see here. I had to release the bulb contact surface from the bulb holder…
…and drill through an aluminium rivet holding the earth lead to be able to pull the wires the “wrong” way through the bulb holder. Having done that it is ready to be sent for shot blasting and powder coating.
The wiring itself needs a lot of attention. After passing concealed along the arm mentioned above, it runs on the inside of the rear fender. The black insulation had cracked and allowed in all this dirt shown where I have split the insulation to remove it.
The wires cleaned up easily with a squirt of WD40, and I will use some of the aftermarket heatshrink sleeving to finish the job. I can only do that after the tail light base comes back from powder coating and I have fastened the black earth lead to it again.

These are the mild steel fasteners that came off the licence bracket on the left and the stainless steel ones I will replace them with on the right. Today is Saturday 3rd march 2007 and I am sitting at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam writing this on my way to Egypt for a holiday with my wife, daughter and son in law. Part of the work I did in preparation for this project was to put all the part numbers and descriptions into a spreadsheet on my laptop so that I can catalogue my existing spares, correct errors in the parts book, and apply my own descriptions to parts: “Top, mixing chamber” becomes “carburettor cap” for example. Now that everything is disassembled, I can use the spreadsheet to categorise all the parts into different groups according to what I will do with them. Categories include: 1. Chroming; 2 Painting; 3. Powder Coating; 4. Replacing with new part; 5. replacing with stainless steel. Maybe one or two more. Then I can collate all the parts on each list to send away in one consignment to various businesses. So in the quiet times that arise in Egypt I will be happily categorising away…

 

“Is this entirely necessary?” you say. Of course not, but I am not doing what is necessary, I am doing what I want.

APRIL 2007 -PART 8
Right then are you paying attention? Just because I have not updated this project for a few weeks it does not mean you can go to sleep! Paul came to sunny Quadring this weekend and threatened to push me into the Irish sea off the Isle of Man ferry unless I did some work. Well I have been working. I accepted delivery of a package weighing 150kg (no, not Paul's groceries!). It was a motorcycle workstand. I had to assemble that and then persuade the XS1100 onto it - not the easiest task with R5 bits cluttering up the garage. The XS1100 hibernation period also came to an end. This was achieved by switching on the ignition and starting the engine. First time on the button with stale petrol after 6 months inactivity so that was nice. Last autumn I hadn't even drained the float bowls or switched off the petrol taps! Anyway we are restoring an R5 here, not eulogising XS1100's.

I have been doing some tedious stuff with the bags of bits I now have everywhere. I went through each lot of parts (organised into sets according to parts book diagrams if you recall) and identified those to be replaced, those to be used as patterns for stainless steel parts, those to be chromed, those to be painted, those to be powder coated and those to be rebuilt with stainless spokes and rims (those would be the wheels then...)! I then wrote out cards for each set of parts to identify what was happening to each of the part numbers not present in the set. Using this method, I can locate any part quickly by looking in that set of parts or reading the card. A foolproof system? Well, no actually! Could I find the rear shocks that I wanted to show Paul when he was here? Could I hell! That was because the idiot who is using the system (me) forgot what it was, and did not realise that the shocks would be with the parts to be replaced, not the parts to be chromed!

I also found an RD350 seat on American ebay I just need the seat base from this and will get it rebuilt to the unique R5 design by R.K. Leighton in Birmingham. The seat and carriage was £55, and the rebuild will be £75. (For God's sake do not let my wife see this website Paul! Can you bar her e-mail address or something?)

So all that's a bit boring really, and tolerant as I know my reader is, he or she would not want to see a photo of a man with a pen, however much he may also need reconstructing! So here are some photos of more interesting things.

This is the oil tank, which doubles as a left hand side panel and has a sight glass in the side. Here it is removed from the hole. As you can see from the marks on the rim, it did not want to come out. Having established this, I went onto American ebay and purchased two NOS replacements conveniently on offer in a "buy it now" auction. A snip at $30. I could now take more risks with this one. The evidence before you is that of two hours increasingly frustrated use of a screwdriver to persuade it to move!
As in many such cases, if I had paused and tried some lateral thinking instead of feverishly poking about with the wrong tool, I would have saved time and stress. It would not come out so what do you do? You push it in of course! Sadly, I only learned this because my cack handed attempts to extract it had the opposite result!
Here is the wiring loom I bought from Tony Rackelin in Texas. It is in very good condition for something almost as old as Paul, although considerably more wiry!
The steering damper assembly I bought from Tony. I think that he had restored this because it is in great nick. These are very rare, this design was only fitted to the R5/DS7 model, so I am delighted with it.
Rear fender from Tony on the right. I will get this rechromed. As explained above, mine was modified by a lady in a car.
You will recall that one of the rear sprocket mounting bolts had sheared when I tried to remove it. It was time to do something about it. The 10mm bolt screws into a steel insert in the aluminium hub. I started to drill it out. How the drilling starts is crucial because you want it to be as central as possible...
…so this looked OK ...
Until I turned it over to see how off-centre it really was!
I used round files and more drills to try to regain concentricity...
...and was ultimately successful.

Drill it out with the specially sized helicoil drill
(this one is rotating although it is difficult to see).

Tap it out with the specially sized tap...
...and there neatly sits the 10mm helicoil
The rear wheel brake plate and the helicoiled sprocket carrier from the photos above now needed an application of elbow grease to clean them up.
This was done with succeeding grades of wet and dry abrasive paper culminating in 400 grit. I did not really want a more polished appearance - if you go up to 1500 grit it gives a finish just slightly less smooth than a mildly abrasive polish such as T-cut.

Sad old git that I am I started removing some of the carbon from the exhaust baffle with my wire wheel and could not stop for about two hours until it looked like this! Half of this was with a smaller wire brush on my Dremel. So then I had to do the other one didn't I! No wonder I haven't updated these reports recently.

Time to stop this one now and get into the garage to clean up the centre stand ready for powder coating. Watch this space!

APRIL 2007 -PART 9
I have spent the last 4 weeks in the UK which is an unusually long time for me, so I have made some reasonable progress with this restoration. I have made lists of the various parts that need some further attention of one kind or another. I have previously listed these (I like lists!) in this write-up as including:

1. Parts to be replaced by manufactured stainless steel items, including the wheel assemblies. The wheels will go to Leicester Wheel and Brake Restoration. (07947 822940). This is a small business that will clean the wheel hubs, skim the drums, refit the tyres that I can't do etc. I spoke to larger businesses that were slightly cheaper, but to them, cleaning the wheel hubs, which is impossible with the spokes in place, meant shotblasting and lacquering at a cost of £35 per hub. I have had a lot of stainless steel parts manufactured in the UK for my XS1100. They are high quality, but very expensive. I now have about 75 different parts that I want in stainless steel for this rebuild, and I reckon that is about £1000 at UK prices. These are items such as the rear brake rod, the front footrest pivot bolts, the wheel spindles, the swing arm pivot. The complete list would be boring. Solution? Get them made in Egypt! I went there in February for a holiday, and found a shop from which I bought some stainless steel fasteners. I wanted some studs the correct size with the centre portion unthreaded, but they didn't have them. They would be available the next day. "No thanks" I said. Later I realised that they would not have gone somewhere to buy them, they would have made them, and that if they can make those, they can make other parts as well. I am going there again next month on business and I will take my 75 parts as patterns for them to be made. I work in the food industry, so I will get them made at one of our existing suppliers of stainless steel equipment.

2. Fasteners to be replaced with off-the-shelf stainless steel items. I already have a lot of stainless steel fasteners and I have now inspected my sets of R5 parts to see what others I may need to order. I will place a small order with Custom Fasteners (01686 622620) for these.

3. Parts to be chromed. Fenders, fork stanchions, mufflers, brake levers on wheels etc. I will choose a specialist from Classic Bike for the fork stanchions, because they will need to be reground to size after chroming. I will check with my local chromers if they will do the mufflers, but I don't think that they will - the oil and carbon inside contaminates their tanks of chemicals - so I may have to take all the chroming elsewhere.

4. Parts to be painted. Tank, oil tank, side panel, headlight brackets and shell, oil tank and side panel inserts. I have to get the chroming done first because the oil tank and side panel inserts are part Mandarin Orange paint, and part chrome. Dream Machine in Long Eaton near Nottingham (0115 9736615) will do the paintwork.

5. Parts to be replaced. Paul kindly checked with Fowlers in Bristol (0117 9770466) what was available from the first list I wrote. Surprisingly, they had more in stock or available than discontinued, so there are some parts I thought that I would have to scratch around for that can simply be bought new, and most of them are less than £1.00! These are mainly service items such as cables, clips, seals and rubbers that cannot be restored or replaced with stainless. There will be further lists to go to Fowlers because I will always look to get original parts first.

6. Parts to be powder coated. Frame, swingarm, cylinders, bottom yoke, centre stand etc. I have used Triple S near Bradford (01274 562474) several times in the past and they do a great job. They will get my business again.

OK, so is everything hunky dory? No, it is not. Where would I get the parts that Fowlers did not have? Shocks, flashers, lower throttle cables? I am not going far on this bike without such items. How am I going to find a spare frame that has a sidestand lug still attached, and when I have got it, do I get it powder coated and ignore the different engine and frame numbers, or can I use it as a pattern to fix my frame?

Last night I spoke to Nigel Willoughby and Geoff Newton. They had advertised spare parts in a magazine Paul had picked up at the Shepton Mallet show, and I wrote down their telephone numbers last time I was in Shebbear. Both incredibly knowledgeable chaps about many things, including Yamaha R5 motorcycles, and both extremely helpful. I thought that I knew a bit about my bike, having owned it for 27 years, but they knew more than I did! So Nigel is going to lend me a frame as a pattern for the positioning of the sidestand lug, purely motivated by his revulsion at non-matching engine and frame numbers! He also said that his friend would rebuild and rechrome my shocks. Fantastic! I then rang Geoff and said about some of the other bits I am looking for. He knew exactly what I wanted, and why, and knew where to get quite a few of them!

I am writing this in a plane above the Sahara on my way to Ghana and then South Africa after a few days. Work does intrude in my life occasionally, but at least it is a break from long hours in the garage! I am feeling optimistic about progress on this project having talked to Nigel and Geoff.

I have been going through all the parts that I have put by for sending away to make sure that they go in the right condition to be returned how I want them.

Here is the swingarm prepared for powder coating. One of the photos above showed the damage done to this part of the swingarm by the chain at some point in its life, now when it is powder coated, that won’t show.
The frame had various weld blobs and spatters from untidy welding in Japan 35 years ago. When previously powder coated, these had been ignored, but this time I have removed the worst of them.
Another one here…
Here are the cylinder heads with one of them cleaned up ready to go…
…and the same with the cylinders
I got hold of the centre stand to check that it was OK to send and I started to tidy up the bosses at the side of the stand where the pivot shaft goes through. The pivot shaft was not as welded to the stand as I previously thought. (See past instalments). I decided that I would try to remove it after all. Here I set up my pillar drill to drill right through to the other side, but after a minute or so I became worried when I realised that the pivot shaft had completely worn or rusted away on one side, and that I risked making and oversize or oval hole.
I decided that it may be best to use a bit of heat and a punch to see if it would shift, and fortunately it did. Here it is halfway out…
…and here it has been completely removed. The only problem now is finding another one!
Next were the exhaust pipes. They had rusted quite badly where they are clamped to the cylinders as you can see. I have learned from past experience that if you send parts in this condition to chromers, they come back with the same surface texture, only chromed, and it looks completely naff…
…so I ground off all the rust with the trusty Dremel and then sanded the surface to something reasonably smooth as you see here. I hope that the chemical process used for stripping off the remaining chrome does not make this surface deteriorate too much…
This is a similar story with the rear fender that I bought off Tony Rackelin in Texas. This damage had been caused by battery acid, and obviously was not suitable for obtaining a decent chrome finish.
I used the grinding stone on the Dremel and then abrasive paper to get this smoother surface that will hopefully chrome up OK.
So here are the parts to be sent for powder coating all wrapped up and ready to go.
This is how my garage now looks with various boxes of bits to be taken away. The frame and exhausts are too big to be boxed.
Here is the stainless steel 10mm bolt that I will use as a sidestand pivot bolt. The unthreaded portion is just the right length for the sidestand to pivot, but it needs drilling for the cotter pin. I used the castle nut so that I could grip the assembly effectively in the vice without marking the bolt.
It was not too easy to get this hole to be central because the drill wanted to slide off the high portion of the bolt diameter, but a carefully positioned punch finally made an indentation that the drill was happy to accept…

…and the finished job looks the business.

Finally, here are some photos of the petrol tank in its condition before painting. Soon to be transformed I hope! Bye for now…

MAY 2007 -PART 10
The nice weather is here so I got on the XS1100 to the International Classic Bike Show at Stafford on 28th April. There was not much there apart from British bikes, hardly anything Japanese, no Yamahas. Virtually nothing at the autojumbles, and what was there was going for silly prices. Pattern flashers for £30 each, a rusty, ripped seat for £100, and an R5 rear fender in worse condition than the one I am replacing on my bike for £100! The rear fender had the tail light wire still attached and the vendor wanted £5 just for that! Thank God for ebay! Fortunately it was a nice ride there and back, but there was little reason to go otherwise.

I also took all the items that I need chroming down to Central Engineering Design (01303 266505) in West Hythe, Kent, right next to the English Channel in a lovely little village. I saw a small advertisement of theirs in Classic Bike, and they can do fork stanchion chroming and regrinding to size, exhausts (some chromers won’t do these) and repair of minor dings before chroming. Just what I need. I think that there are only some parts of Cornwall that are further from me than West Hythe and still in England, but if they do a good job then that is OK. Of course I would have to pay them as well, and the bad news there is that it came to over £1200! The very knowledgeable Ken did question me about chroming things such as handlebars that may be obtained new at a cheaper cost, so I said that I did not think that they were available, but I would let him know. In fact Fowlers said that the handlebars, the kickstart lever and the rear brake lever that goes on the hub were available from the Yamaha European spares warehouse in Holland near Schiphol airport, so Paul has now ordered these for me. The handlebars are about £35 new, but £70 to rechrome. I have also seen a very nice grab rail on ebay in the US that should be cheaper than rechroming mine so I will bid for that as well. The vendor emailed to say it does not need rechroming, so I hope that his assessment matches mine if and when I receive it! I know that Paul has been to see several XS1100s described as “immaculate” to see perforated rubber boots, rusty frames, misfiring engines, damaged paintwork! I said to him the other day that I would not even describe mine as immaculate because it has a few minor faults, so one person’s “showroom condition” is another’s “corroded scraped-up MOT failure”

If I were to decline the irregular verb “ to work on motorcycles” the first, second and third persons singular would be:

I lovingly restore

You scrape an MOT pass

He knocks together a field bike

Front brake hub before receiving attention - does not look too bad actually, but it was looking very dull and greyish before my flash went off.
These few photos show how I used different grades of wet and dry and lots of elbow grease to improve the appearance of this part. This one is 80 grade...
...120 grade...
...180 grade...
...240 grade...
...320 grade...
...and finally 400 grade. That took me about 4 hours. The photos don't show the improvement as I had hoped so you will just have to believe me that it was worth it!
This is one of the two 6mm diameter pivot pins for the brake levers that mount to the front hub pictured above. The other one I had put by to take to Egypt as a pattern for a pair of stainless steel replicas. The problem here is that even if these pins are replicated in stainless steel, I would still have to use these rusty E clips, or at least ones that would rust again pretty quickly. I can get a complete set of stainless steel E clips for about £65, but I don’t need that many!
So what I did was to make a couple of these pins from 6mm socket cap bolts that had the correct length unthreaded.
Cut off the socket cap and the thread, then use wet and dry to give the right finish, and drill some small holes so that I could use stainless steel R clips instead of mild steel E clips.
…and Bob’s your uncle!
This is one of the sets of piston rings…
…and piston before cleaning
There was a lot of carbon build up to remove from the outside …
…and inside of the piston, and especially the grooves where the piston rings seat. These grooves must be very clean or the rings won’t work too well.
The rings themselves must also be nice and clean as you see here.
Here is a problem that I did not see on disassembly of the petrol tank. The main petrol feed pipe on the petrol tap is cracked. This means that there will be little petrol left when switching to reserve.
Fortunately I have two petrol taps – this one that was on the bike…
…and this one that was on a spare petrol tank that was generally in much better condition…
…except for the filter that was damaged – the one on the top in this photograph.
So I was able to make one good petrol tap from the two that I had as shown here. Another job done!
Here is a picture of the base of the RD350 seat I bought from the US. It is similar to the R5 seat base, although not exactly the same. It is a bit rusty, but not perforated as is my current seat. I have taken some photos of the slightly different looking R5 seat to give to the restorers to make sure that they give me back an R5 seat, not an RD350 seat! I will show a photo of the restored item later this year. Don’t go away!

July 2007 -PART 11
Well it has been a bit quiet on the R5 weblog the past few weeks because I went to the centenary TT in the Isle of Man with Paul and other friends, and then I went to Ghana and South Africa to do some work. Now back in the land of the subjugated and I can get on with what I want to do.


This shows the right hand carburettor stripped for cleaning…

Close up of the float pivot and main jet showing the same green crud…
…as the inside of the float bowl which I think is a residue from the petrol so those surfaces needed cleaning.
The carburettor on the left is clean here and the one on the right has not yet been done, although I have failed to show much of a difference in the photo! The lever on top of the right carburettor is for the choke that acts on the other carburettor by a hose about an inch long that connects the two.
The next assembly to tackle is the forks. This was quite daunting because there was a lot to do. Let’s start in a small way then. Here are the plastic spacers that sit between the side mounted reflectors and the chrome bottom yoke shrouds. This was a bike that was built when the Japanese made little differentiation between models for the US and Europe, so we got the reflectors just like the yanks. Amazingly, the one on the left was the standard finish for these parts, albeit now a little dirtier. It cleaned up OK with a little wet and dry and some solvent.

This is it fitted where it is supposed to be.
Now for the hard work. The lacquer on the outside of the aluminium sliders was flaking badly and looked a cosmetic disaster. As with the wheel hubs above, this meant a lot of work by hand with succeeding grades of wet and dry to get to an acceptable finish…

This was how they looked after the lacquer had been removed using 120 grit.
The handlebars I had ordered from Fowlers by the original part number of 278 26111 00 turned up to give me a break from all that rubbing. The 278 bars are in front and the 2L0 bars that Fowlers sent as a substitute are at the back. They are not exactly the same shape, and contain lead in the ends to combat vibration. As well as that the knurled sections for the handlebar clamps are slightly wider on the 2L0 bars. I may get my original 278 ones rechromed after all.

Here are the sliders after all the rubbing and polishing…
…and an “after” photo to compare to the “before” one above. I will leave this finish as it is now without lacquering.
Here is the inside of the switch. There is only a left hand switch on the R5, nothing on the right. This looks a bit of a mess. The grease I put in there years back has accumulated a lot of grime…

…and the horn button has fallen off.

Amazing how many little bitties and bobbies are in there when you take it apart.
This is the outside of the finished switch. I had saved a horn button from an XS1100 switch which fitted fine. I used some red paint, a small brush and a razor blade to remove excess paint to restore the “L” and “H” markings.

This is inside the bottom half of the restored switch.

This is the top half.
This is the wiring loom before restoration. It shows all the dirt, but not the many parts of the loom that had been repaired, some more successfully than others, and some parts that had been damaged, such as melted block connectors. I bought a loom from Tony Rackelin in the US earlier this year, and it was better than the one which was on the bike, so I decided to restore that one. I also had another R5 loom in quite bad condition, and an RD350A loom which were both OK to use for some spare bits.
This is what a wiring loom looks like when the insulating tape is removed and the wires cleaned up with WD40.

Halfway through the restoration – will I ever remember how it all goes back together?
Strangely, I discovered that single wires had been connected to double wires just using a small brass connector and some insulating tape that I had removed for this photo. This seemed to be a standard technique because there were several of them. I decided that it would be a better job to use some small diameter heatshrink tubing for insulation. This was quite difficult because I had to completely remove the wire from the loom and then remove a connector from one end to enable the heatshrink tubing to fit over the outside as you can see here.

After a bit of heat the job is much neater

Nice clean new insulating tape on the restored loom…

…and all connectors cleaned up or replaced.
The part number tag from my original loom was cleaned and transferred to the US one. The only difference I found between the two was that there were bullet connectors for the horn instead of spade connectors. These are the pink and brown wires you see here.
This is now a turning point in the rebuild. I have completed my work on all the parts that I have kept for restoration. My thoughts now turn to the work to be done on parts that I have sent or will send to other people.

1. The shocks are being rebuilt by a friend of Nigel Willoughby.

2. Nigel lent me a frame to use as a pattern to fabricate the sidestand pivot. This looks a little difficult to do, so I am trying to find an old RD250 frame on ebay so that I can simply cut the sidestand pivot off and weld it to my frame. It is still useful to have Nigel’s frame to see how it should be.

3. The wheels have been taken to Leicester Wheel and Brake as mentioned above. When I dropped them off the place was closed and I left the wheels with a neighbour. Unfortunately this firm have not responded to any messages I have left regarding my wheels. I now must go there again to retrieve them and take them elsewhere.

4. The chrome should be almost ready now, so I will collect that soon.

5. I need the chromed side panel flashes to put with the rest of the items to be painted by Dream Machine.

6. The items to be powder coated need to be taken to Triple S.

7. I must fetch the parts being fabricated in stainless steel from Egypt.

8. I took the RD350 seat to R. K. Leighton in Birmingham this week to be made into an R5 seat.

I am targeting spring 2008 to be on the road, unless Ben comes to help me do it any quicker.

There may now be an a little more time between instalments while other people do the hard work and I will just be making phone calls and fetching and carrying, but now you have got this far, I am sure that you will want to read until the end!

November 2007 -PART 12
Thank you for your patience dear reader. I know that you have spent the whole summer logging on to read the next instalment in vain. Not a lot has happened on this project during the period when the rain was warmer, but now as winter nears, nocturnal activity in the garage resumes. I write this without reference to the previous instalment marooned as I am offline at OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg as I wait for my KLM flight to Amsterdam . I seem to recall that I summarised what parts had been sent to whom and for what purpose. I will now bring you up to date...

1. Seat sent to RK Leighton in Birmingham . I went to collect this recently but I was not happy with the finished article. The seat cover was sticking out from the seat base where it had not been glued successfully, the chromed seat trim was damaged, and the height of the seat was too high, as for and RD350, not an R5. I have a seat previously restored by RK Leighton which is perfect apart from the seat base. My plan now is to take that one back there and ask them to make one good one out of the two.

2. Painted items including oil tank, petrol tank, side cover, oil tank and side cover flashes, oil tank and side cover emblems, headlight brackets and headlight shell have been taken to Dream Machine. Not yet finished.

3. Shocks taken to Nigel Willoughby to be restored by a friend of his. Not yet finished.

4. Items for powder coating not yet taken to Triple S due to sidestand bracket repair to frame discussed below.

5. Wheels taken to Leicester Wheel and Brake Restoration. They have since not responded to phone messages, emails, nor letters and were not there when I visited. I have purchased two more wheels off eBay that I will collect from up north when I go to Triple S, hopefully next week.

6. Chromed items now returned from Central Engineering Design and looking good. Photos and descriptions below.

7. Some stainless steel items collected from Egypt with the remainder to be collected later this month. Some photos below.

This is the rechromed inside of the rear flasher mounting bracket/grab rail. It is normally an area that rapidly rusts, but has been beautifully finished as you can see.
These are what I call the oil tank and side panel flashes. The top one in the photo has the outer surface upwards, and the bottom one has the inner surface upwards. These have now gone to Dream Machine to have the flat quadrilateral that surrounds the emblem mounting holes painted mandarin Orange.
Small chromed items…
Fork stanchions chromed and reground to size. Now look better than new.
End of exhaust mufflers where the baffles will be inserted.
Shiny headers.
New R5 mufflers are available on eBay from Singapore for about £250 plus postage, but my old ones have rechromed very well.
Mufflers showing mounting brackets. These are also normally a rust trap. Of course in use they get very hot, and so it is not practical to protect them from rusting in future by coating with grease. The method that I have used successfully on my XS1100 mufflers is to remove them every winter and paint the vulnerable surfaces with heat resistant silver paint. I have already done these ones.
The header clamp is shown here having moved down the header pipe to the header/muffler junction. For the first RD350 in 1973, Yamaha used a flexible rubber joint at this junction to isolate the muffler from engine vibrations. It is probably a better design than the one piece R5 system because it was used on all RD250, RD350 and RD400 models until the LC models in 1980, but it was a service item and very expensive to replace. LC models had rubber mounted engines (if I recall correctly) and did not need this rubber joint, so they reverted to one piece exhaust systems.
Underside of muffler showing original welding indentations.
Header with header clamp in normal position. When suspended in the chromium plating tank, the clamp was in this position. This means that the very end of the header near the cylinder receives very little chromium plating. This is also true of the original mufflers chromed in Japan . The resulting rust is shown in photos in an earlier instalment. I have now used the heat resistant silver paint on this area to delay recurrence.
The sidestand bracket had broken off my original frame. I wanted to keep the frame because it has the same number as the engine, so a repair was needed. I cut the right size piece of steel from some 3/8 plate that I had that was a really good fit in the sidestand. I then had to bend it about 35 degrees to make sure that the sidestand propped the bike at the right angle. This required a lot of brute force with a large hammer but the result was near enough. I chose a 10mm bolt to convert to the sidestand spring post. The photo shows the decapitated bolt.
I put the bolt in my pillar drill and cut the groove for the spring using a small cutting tool on my Dremel while the bolt was rotating in the drill.
I then drilled and tapped the bracket in the correct position for the spring post, and mounted it with a 10mm nut for easier welding. I also made the strengthening bracket you can see in position from some thinner plate steel. I drilled the bracket to accept the sidestand pivot bolt and shaped it as required for the pivot arc. As you can see it now almost matches the bracket on a pattern frame I borrowed from Nigel Willoughby in both form and function, and is ready for welding.
Stainless steel front wheel axle nut made in Egypt . The finish was unsightly as you can see. It was also 24mm hexagon instead of 22mm.
I removed 1mm from each face to give a better appearance and the correct size.
Machining marks on the SS rear wheel spindle…
Removed.
Oh dear! The rear brake torque arm was badly finished, scratched, twisted, and both ends had the mounting bolt holes 4mm too large! The original arm is on the right in this photo. I had to grind down these 12mm SS nuts to make sleeves so that I could use the correct size bolts.
Poor finish of torque arm can be seen…
Here as well.
This shows the sleeve I made from the 12mm SS nut to achieve the correct size, and the improved finish. The original torque arm was a V section. This confused me initially because I thought that it was made that way to give the arm strength in compression, but in fact the arm works in extension, so the flat bar you can see will be more than strong enough.
November 2007 -PART 13

A quick update on recent events...

The frame, swingarm and all other bitties painted black except the brake pedal which is cosmetically OK were taken to Triple S in Bingley near Bradford for powder coating satin black. I also took the tail light base and licence bracket for powder coating silver.

On the way I went to Steve Chapman's house near Leeds because I had bought a pair of wheels off eBay from him. There are some photos below. You will recall that my original wheels were left for conversion to stainless steel with a business that apparently then went under, and I never saw them again...

I also took my R5 seat with the poor condition base but good seat trim and cover to R K Leighton in Birmingham to make one good seat from that one and the one they recently did for me that has a poor cover and damaged seat trim.

I am off to Egypt tomorrow, where I hope to collect all the items that I asked to be made from stainless steel. Somehow I suspect that only some of the parts will be ready, knowing how Egyptians work...

This is the sidestrand bracket that I made some time ago.


A local fabrication company made a good job of welding
the spring hook and strengthening piece in place,
then welding the assembly to the underside of the frame.


I left Nigel Willoughby's frame with them as a pattern.

...another view.
Front wheel inside rim and spokes
Front wheel brake lining
Inside front wheel hub
Outside front wheel hub
Front wheel outside rim
Rear wheel inside rim
Outside rear wheel hub showing four compartments for the rear wheel transmission dampers
Rear wheel spokes
Rear wheel brake lining
The only parts of these wheels that I will use are the hubs. Obviously the spokes and rims are beyond help. The hubs will need bead blasting before lacing them to stainless steel rims with stainless steel spokes.
 
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