Members bike


Part 27-28

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:
Part 28 The Final Bit - at last

August 2010 - Part 27
Hello dear reader. As I said, #27 did not take long! Well # 26 described how I stripped the seat and modified the seat base before sent it to be re-upholstered. Now I have it back, but it is still not good enough. The base line of the seat that I had worked so hard to get right still appeared uneven! How could that happen?

You can see here the uneven line has reappeared.

Here is one cause where there is some brown material under the seat cover serving no purpose.

…and then the seat cover itself was not fitted properly – this seam was folded in the wrong place.

…and here is the same issue.

There are photos below of the seat on the bike. After I had fitted it I tried to start it with no success for a long time. After some thought I realised that I had fitted the float bowls on the wrong way around. Although the right fits the left, and vice versa, if you get them mixed up it won’t start because only the left carb has the choke circuit and this is connected to the right carb with a hose. This means that it will not start if the right float bowl (above) is on the left carb because it does not have the drilling for the fuel to enter the choke circuit as can be seen below.

Drilling for fuel to enter choke circuit can be seen at 1 o’clock from the float bowl drain plug.

Right side of completed bike

Left side of completed bike

I gave the bike a test ride for a few miles and it seemed to run OK except that the front braked squealed. I took the brake plate out and saw that the brake cam was not flat against the brake shoe as you can see here…

…it was also a bit dry so I put some coppaslip type grease on it...

…and the pivot spindle.

Martyn Whittington also suggested that I roughen the friction surface of the brake shoes. Here you can see the treated surface and the untreated surface. Right that should sort out the squeaking. Brake plate on and front wheel in and off down the road again. Not a blind bit of difference! I will see if it gets better with a few more miles.

The left headlight bracket was very close to the tank on full left lock as you can see. On the right there was about 2mm clearance. I used extra rubber spacers where the tank locates on the frame rubbers to solve this problem. Sorry no photo of this. Some are snags are easier to sort than others! Next instalment will describe the procedure for taxing a pre – 1973 bike which is eligible for zero duty. It will be more interesting than it seems right now!

April 2011 - Part 28

Well dear reader welcome to the final part of our journey. As you know it has taken four years to reach this stage. There have been many delays on the way, but the longest one has been navigating through the bureaucratic quagmire that I describe below. It is a nice feeling however to know that the integrity of our vehicle taxation system is maintained so diligently by these helpful and intelligent people.

I insured and MOT’ed (annual vehicle safety inspection) the R5 in spring 2010. The next step was to apply for the tax disc which is displayed on the bike to show that the owner has made his contribution towards the cost of maintaining our roads…supposedly. In fact we all know that ensuring our economic survival by governmental financial support of the banks that threaten it does not come cheap.

I knew that vehicles that were manufactured before the 1st January 1973 are categorised as “historic” vehicles and that whereas they require a tax disc to show that they are insured and MOT’ed, that tax disc is free. I assembled all of the documents I needed to obtain the tax from the local post office, rode there on the XS1100 and approached the counter. I was looking forward to getting something for nothing…

“£33.50 please” said the lady after checking all my paperwork and scanning the barcode on the registration document. “No it is a pre-1973 bike” I said “the tax should be free”. The date of first registration is shown on the document, and is 20 June 1972. Of course the lady could not rely upon anything as prosaic as reading numbers and words, and said that the barcode told her that I must pay up. After a short conversation it transpires that I must obtain a new registration document which shows a barcode that identifies the old R5 as a historic vehicle. Obviously the barcode identifies my bike to a central computerised database which contains the relevant details for the purposes of vehicle registration etc. Clearly someone considered carefully and decided that the best way to change the status of a vehicle to “historic” was to require the owner to go through the process of mustering all the bits of paper and applying to the vehicle licensing authority in person for a new registration document that shows a different barcode. This is clearly far easier than editing the database with the correct information. OK then – a new registration document – this should be easy. I rang DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority) and negotiated interminable questions about the nature of my query by listening to lists of options and then pressing the appropriate button on my phone. Of course in these situations you fondly imagine that you will be directed to an expert in the resolution of your personal issue who is sitting in front of his computer only waiting for the system to marry your problem with his knowledge. DVLA: “Historic vehicle is it? Well now! How do you know that?”

Me: “Well the previous owner bought it in 1972. It shows that on the registration document”

DVLA: “Yes I can see that on the screen, but when was the vehicle manufactured?”

Me: ”It was made in Japan then sent to the UK by ship, so I suppose that it could have been sometime in 1971”

DVLA: “So you don’t have any evidence of the date of manufacture?”

Me: “No, not really, but it doesn’t matter much does it? If the vehicle was sold in 1972, then it must have been manufactured before 1973.”

DVLA: “That’s what you may believe, but actually we will need documentary evidence of that before we can do anything.”

Slowly, I became aware that the sounds I was making down that telephone line had been heard by this jobsworth many times before. He eventually said that the vehicle manufacturer should be able to help.

If I was representing Yamaha in this country I would do it a little differently to Mitsui Machinery Sales (who imported my R5) and their successors, Yamaha themselves. They have no idea about how motorcyclists relate to their brand, and behave as if they are selling photocopiers. This was amply demonstrated for a long period over the spring and summer of 2010 when Yamaha failed to respond to my emails and telephone calls requesting verification of the date of manufacture.

Yamaha: “An R5B? Is that the same as a YR5?”

Me: “Yes it is. The `Y` means Yamaha.”

Yamaha: “Oh. Hold on while I ask… Yes that model was made from 1970 to 1972”

Me: “Yes I thought so. My bike is engine number 109061 and it is registration number FUR 81K which means that it was registered in 1972. It must have been made in Japan in 1971 mustn’t it? Would you be able to send me a document stating that please”?

Yamaha: “That is an old motorcycle you know”

Me: “Yes.”

Yamaha: “Our records don’t go back that far. It is an old motorcycle you know. I can tell you when the TR3 was made.”

Me: “I am not sure how useful that would be because my motorcycle is an R5B. The TR3 was actually a competition motorcycle that was not road legal.”

Yamaha: “Really?”

Me: “Yes it was the first photocopier with a textured plastic finish.”

No I didn’t actually say that. It would not have made any difference what I said. Eventually (after 4 months) Yamaha said that they could not help. I was very disappointed in their lack of interest. Even if I consider that their only imperative is commercial, can they not visualise that someone who is interested in old Yamaha motorcycles may also buy spare parts and new Yamaha motorcycles? They have totally failed to recognise the burgeoning interest in older Yamaha motorcycles and what it means to their brand. I predict that in future they will recognise this mistake and change their business practises accordingly. I knew that the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club offered a dating service. (Could this lead to a new method of motorcycle manufacturing? Oh not that kind of dating service…)

I went to their website and saw that I would need to submit some money and some photos to Geoff Ward in Falkirk …

After a while Geoff sent the document above. I wish that I had gone down this road months earlier instead of wasting my time trying to convince Yamaha that they had a motorcycle factory before 1973.

So now I had my MOT certificate, my insurance certificate, my original registration document, my age certificate. So off I went down to the local office of DVLA to obtain my tax disc.

There were two queues leading up to a desk behind which were two ladies dealing with the customers. I reached the front and handed over my registration document which showed the date of first registration in 1972 as mentioned above. “Here Mavis”, she said to her colleague, “…this one’s historic isn’t it?” “When was it registered?” Mavis responds “1972” said my lady. “Yes – free tax” said Mavis.

There we are. No requirement for proof of age after all that!

The new registration document came in the post a few weeks later.

I collected the tax disc the same day, and here it is attached to my beloved R5 at last. So dear reader thanks very much for staying with me over this long journey. I now have a nice, clean, legal, roadworthy 2 stroke motorcycle -and a list of further things that need doing. I knew that it would never really end. Work has already started on the next project, the first phase of which is the protracted process of explanation to senior management why the requirement has arisen for a V-max.

Stephan Morris standing proudly next to his creation
Grandson, Luke trying it out for size


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