1980 xl500s, a top end job turned restoration

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by redprimo, Oct 17, 2012.

  1. redprimo

    redprimo Been here awhile

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    579
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    I picked up this mostly complete titled and supposedly running 1980 xl500s for $100. Unfortunately I failed to get a picture of it before tearing into it but I think this gives a good idea of the condition it was in. It lived its entire life spitting distance from the Pacific Ocean and looks like it.
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    My thinking was that it would be a beater to ride around town. I actually got it started and rode it down the street and back and quickly decided that it needed a top end job. I priced out the parts and figured for what I had into it I could afford to do the top end.
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    My down fall came when I had finished with the motor. Before I started it was the color and texture of concrete so I bead blasted the top end and then cleaned up the case a bit. It looked so nice it seemed like a shame to put it in a frame with peeling paint and rust spots, besides there really isn’t that much to strip off once the motor it out, right?
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    One thing lead to another and for the money vs. available time I decided to have the frame powder coated. I picked up a few parts and then things sat for a few months and now I am finally getting started putting things back together. There are a lot of details still to be worked out so I am hoping to be able to get a bit of help as I move forward with this thing. I think it is going to end up as something more than just a beater.
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    Here is a picture of where things sit now. The swing arm is back in the frame along with the triple tree and fresh all balls tapered bearings. I pulled the forks apart and started to clean things up and decided that the fork tubes are too pitted to put back in. I just bought decent looking pair of forks off or eBay and am waiting for them to arrive.
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    I have a few Ideas of some things I might like to do, and a lot of unknown areas still to sort out, so any suggestions are welcome.
    #1
  2. redprimo

    redprimo Been here awhile

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    I guess you get what you pay for when you bid on something with free shipping, it seemed like it took forever for my replacement forks to arrive. I had pulled my forks apart and cleaned up all the internals and even started on polishing up one of the lowers before I decided to buy another pair. Here is a pic of the new fork tubes with the worst of my original tubes.
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    All those dark streaks are where the chrome is blistered. The new tubes have a few scratches near the triple tree but they are 100% pit free where it counts.
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    It’s hard to tell the difference in the condition of the lowers but if you look at the nuts on the axle clamp you can get an idea. The one with the rusted nuts are my original lowers and the aluminum is also very corroded. It took a bit of work but I did manage to get one of my original lowers polished up fairly well before the new forks arrived. I was very encouraged by the lighter overall corrosion and then once I popped them open the Teflon coating on the bushings inside was in perfect condition vs. the scratched u ones in the originals. I don’t know what the guys were smoking when they wrote the manual on how to remove the oil seals in these things but I want some of it! Some bozo thinks I should be able to pry it out with a screw driver. I have a nice slide hammer and had to really work at getting the seals out of my original forks but I couldn’t get the seals out of the new ones. I finally gave up and polished the other lower from my original forks and just swapped out the tubes into my set and finally got them installed.
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    They look a bit better in the photo than in person but overall it’s looking good. I don’t think I mentioned it before but the color on frame is a dark silver hammertone.
    A while back I found a front wheel on eBay for about half the cost of new spokes and since the spokes on mine are pretty heavily rusted I picked it up. I finally pulled it out to start cleaning it up and that’s when I noticed that the drum on in is over an inch larger in diameter. The brake shoes are also a bit wider. I did a quick check and it looks like the seals and bearings are the same but I have no idea what to do for new shoes. The manual I have doesn’t show any 6.3” front drum for an xl or an xr.
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    Anyone have any idea what this larger drum is from?
    I can’t wait till this thing is a roller.
    #2
  3. amockalypsenow

    amockalypsenow dirtybiker cam smith

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    Have you thought about swapping in a different front end altogether? I've heard of people swapping in 79 cr250 or similar and xl500r double leading shoe front ends, and I swapped on a klx250 front end on my bike. Here's my project thread, http://www.thumpertalk.com/topic/986809-honda-twinshock-xl500-baja-commander/ -if you still want to use the 23 inch xl500 frontend, I have a nice one that I'm open to trading or selling.
    #3
  4. amockalypsenow

    amockalypsenow dirtybiker cam smith

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    -cameron
    #4
  5. redprimo

    redprimo Been here awhile

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    For right now I plan on keeping the stock front end with the 23” wheel, just in the interest in getting it up and running. The options I’m leaning towards for future front end mods are either re-lacing my hub with a 21” rim or using my spare lowers and welding on a disc brake mount and swapping in something like a 83 xr front wheel/ disc brake.
    I wouldn’t mind finding out what my front hub is from and maybe converting it to a twin leading shoe. My manual lists the xl500s and the xl500r as both hav9ng a 5.12” diameter hub with the xl500r having a twin leading shoe. My front hub is 6” in diameter with a single leading shoe.
    Right now I have the front wheel mounted in the forks but I need to pull it back out and swap rubber with another wheel I have. When I do I will measure the width of the brake shoes as compared to what my manual shows.
    You’ve got some nice pics in your thread. My stock exhaust is salvageable but the metal is badly pitted. I’m not sure what I am going to do but I do like the exhaust on that Al Baker bike. You have a pic of a bike with what looks like a chrome Elsinore tank. Is that a dual exhaust or a single?
    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p> </o:p>I bookmarked your thread for future reference on carb tuning, I have a 38mm Mikuni round liked on my bike. Along with a 10,5 Weisco piston, standard size stainless valves and a slightly higher lift longer duration cam with stock style bearings.
    Any thought on what you will be doing for a stator/electrics?
    #5
  6. amockalypsenow

    amockalypsenow dirtybiker cam smith

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    I guess the problem with lacing a 21 to the stock front end would be the effective lowering of it, which I wouldn't want to do unless I was building the bike for somebody pretty darn short...

    Wowee, that motor sounds sweet. That thing will rip. As is, the stock motor rips. My motor runs good as is, so I'm going to get my suspension and custom stuff all going nicely before playing with it. My stator works well and I want to keep the indicators and horn etc, so not changing that much although I will delete the battery for sure.

    In answer to your question, yes those are dual pipes on the pic in my thread. Looks pretty cool, I think!
    #6
  7. amockalypsenow

    amockalypsenow dirtybiker cam smith

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    Also, not to be negative here, but lacing a 21 inch rim and custom fabbing a working disc brake conversion on the stock front end is going to be less effective and wayyyyyyyy more hassle and time/money spent than just finding an ebay deal on the frontend of your dreams (theres a lot of cheap and appropriate frontends up at any one time) and sticking some bushings on your stem and mounting it up.
    #7
  8. redprimo

    redprimo Been here awhile

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    The moter is pretty much the way I got it with the exception of the piston. It used to have a 12:1 Venolio but it was toasted and I decided I wanted to be able to run regular pump gas so I "de-tuned it with the Weisco 10.5:1. That and some new valve springs are about all I had to do to the engine.

    I'm in no hurry to do any swappong out with the front end. I did convert to tapered all balls so I would kind of like to keep the tripple as is.

    The short bit I did ride the bike before tearing things appart I thought it steared like a bus so I don't think I would be bothered by a bit quicker steering. Relacing my hub with a 21" rim would only lower the axle by 1" so I figure I can mock that up by raising the forks in the tripple tree by an inch and that would give me a close aproximation of how differently it would handle with the smaller wheel. It will end up being a possible mod after the bike is up and running.
    #8
  9. amockalypsenow

    amockalypsenow dirtybiker cam smith

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    Don't let the bearings put you off, the way most people believe is the best way to fork swap involves adapting the donor triple to fit your bikes stem- not affecting the bearings in any way.
    #9
  10. redprimo

    redprimo Been here awhile

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    I had a slight set back this evening. I started cleaning up the rear rim getting it ready for some new bearings and noticed a crack in the side of the rim.

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    It looks like the weld popped and deep down I knew that little craqck meant I needed a new rim. I didn;'t want to admit it an thought maybe if the rest of the rim was good I might me able t get by for a while. about 6: away from that I sotted this small crack.

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    and about 6" on the other side of the popped weld I found this larger crack.

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    Kind of a bummer because the wheel has decent rubber and would have cleaned up pretty easily. I did go aheaad and fit it up so I have a roller even though I wil need to swap out the rear wheel. Its kind of a pain in the neck every time something gets attached to the frame I have to file down the powder coating so things fit, like the axle, and the rear brake stay.
    #10
  11. redprimo

    redprimo Been here awhile

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    Ive been slowly making progress on my "top end job". took this picture a week or so ago and forgot to post it. My stock shocks cleaned up ok but the upper rubber bushings were in pretty sorry shape. As luck would have it I was ordering some parts for one of my Ct90's over at dratv.com and I happend to look and see what the size specs are for the rubber bushings on the ct. Guess what, they are the same as on this bike. Pretty easy to change out the old ones and now the shocks have no play and no squeeks.

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    When I finished putting the engine together I put it out in my shed, so now that I had a rolling frame I dug it out and realized that the upper half of the head had not been installed and was just loosely bolted on. I decided to go back and double check the cam chain timing, good thing I did because the chain had a lot of slack in it. So after applying generous amounts of assymbley lube some anti-sieze to the bolts and a very thin coat of RTV the rocker cover got torqued down. Then all that was left was to adjust the valves and then the engine was finaly installed in the frame.

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    Besides having a lot of parts left to install before it is done I still have a lot of little details left to sort out. The next pic s a close up of the case and besides seeing that I need to pull the side covers off for paint you can see a pretty cruddy looking crank case vent tube. there used to be something that vaguely resembled a crank case filter if you had dipped it in crap and then rolled it in oil. I have used K&N stye crank case vents on VW builds years ago but I would kind of rather use a canister and then run a vent off of that. Anyone know of an after market set up? Ive seen stock replacement canisters sell for about $30 on ebay and they always look like death warmed over.

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    #11
  12. Shooter1

    Shooter1 Been here awhile

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    Lookin' good, always like seeing bikes brought back from the grave.
    #12
  13. Stretch67

    Stretch67 Mad Scientist

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    Wow... this is going to be sweet!
    #13
  14. redprimo

    redprimo Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the encoragement guys. I'm starting in on the electrics, so far mostly cleaning things up.

    Anyone got a pic of where the horn gets mounted?

    I could also use a bit of help with this little bracket. I'm pretty sure it's to guide the speedo cable and mounts on the bottom left of the tripple tree. My question: Is there a second half to the bracket?
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    #14
  15. redprimo

    redprimo Been here awhile

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    Tonight I decided to take a brake from cleaning electrical conectors and bolt up the carb. I vaguely remember an alignment issue back before I tore things apart, but back then I was just cleaning the carb so I could see if the bike would run. The previous owner swapped out the stock carb for a Mikuni 37mm VM but used the stock intake. The phenolic block is the same size as the port in the head and within .020" of the carb. the intake on the other hand is 4mm smaller.

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    If that were the only issue I could use a die grinder to match things up. The next picture shows how the carb dosen't line up with the air box. not really a problem except that it will put the uni filter in the middle of where the seat should be. The stock intake is 9* and it looks like I need it to be about 15.5*

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    I suppose I could make a phenolic block with a 6* angle to bring the carb down inline with the air box and I may go that route. The right way would be to make a pattern and cast a new intake. any other sugestions?
    #15
  16. redprimo

    redprimo Been here awhile

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    Progress has slowed a bit around the holidays, but I’m still making a bit of progress. I had to have a de-comp cable custom made but the good news was that they had a clutch, front brake, and speedo cable in stock and the pice was pretty reasonable. The guys at Motion Pro do top notch work, there was a spot on the de-comp cable that had rubbed on the header and melted the insulation off the stock cable. They noticed it and put a spring on the outside of the cable to keep it from doing the same thing. Unfortunately I forgot to order a throttle cable, I suppose that’s just as well until I resolve the intake manifold and the angle of the carb. If I fix the angle I may need a longer cable but the end could be straight where as if I leve things as they are I think Iwill need a “j” bend on the end. I would love tho hear from anyone running a Mikuni on one of these and find out how others do this.
    I still need to finish up the last of the wiring but I’m starting to work on the tank and plan for some trick plastics as well as thinking about what I need to order to fab up a custom SS exhaust system. This is where she sits now.
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    #16
  17. cyclewizard

    cyclewizard Long timer

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    Lookin good mate.......:clap
    #17
  18. kubiak

    kubiak Long timer

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    super nice honda. looking great!
    #18
  19. Rot Box

    Rot Box Been here awhile

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    Looks great! Can't wait to see more :evil
    #19
  20. redprimo

    redprimo Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the encouragement. Right now the tank is soaking with some evaporust in it to clear up a bit of an acne problem. This coming week I hope to repair the hand full of pin holes in the tank. I posted over in the garage section asking for advice on how to repair the tank and the overwhelming opinion is to use lead solder. I'm still considering silver solder only because I have a lot of experiace with it and very little with lead. from what I can see inside the rust is somewhat localized in a relatively small area around each pin hole.

    Next on the to do list is a custom stainless exhaust system. I couldn't find very many threads about fabing up an exhaust so I will be sure to post up lots of pics once I get started.
    #20