How to destroy a vintage Suzuki and other crimes against humanity

Discussion in 'Some Assembly Required' started by Wingspan, Jul 30, 2011.

  1. Wingspan

    Wingspan Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2007
    Oddometer:
    392
    Location:
    Brownsburg, Indiana
    I've had a few requests for a build thread on my T500. I actually started one when I began the project but it quickly degraded into mod vs. stock bickering and I gave up on it. However, the damage is done now so why not share the project in our new build forum? :D

    Just a quick note here...This is not the place to debate stock vs. mod...what "is" a "cafe", etc. Also, the bike is basically finished as I type this. What you're reading took place over the past year, so if you feel an uncontrollable urge to yell "DON'T!!!"...it's too late. :evil

    The project started early last year, when I was itching for a project but had nothing specific in mind. I found an ad here on ADV by member Cogswell for a running 1975 Suzuki T500. The price was in my budget and at the time a running bike was important to me...because this was just going to be a quick and simple project (HA!!!!). I've always been a fan of cafe syled bikes and after finding a few interesting T500 customs on the web I knew this was the direction I wanted to take with my project. I made the long drive from Indy down to Tennessee, paid the man his money, and came home with my first two-stroke motorcycle.

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    The bike was complete and running, but nowhere near pristine.

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    After I got it home I made one slow lap around the neighborhood and then started disassembling the bike.

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    My original plan was for a very quick and simple project. Clubman bars, a cafe seat, clean it up and go. I ordered a seat from Roc City Cafe and started work on my creation.

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    I didn't like how the tail sat with the frame in it's stock condition. I stewed on it for a few days and decided there was no way around it. To get the bike I wanted I had to commit to it and be willing to cut the bike. No going back now...

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    I had a serious case of remorse after doing this. I sat and looked at the bike and tried to "see" the finished motorcycle and just couldn't. Had I taken on a bigger project than I intended? Could I maim a piece of motorcycle history then leave it to die? Work slowed and finally stopped and the poor T500 sat in the corner of the garage for the entire summer. It wasn't entirely forgotten though, I just couldn't seem to create a mental image of a bike I wanted with what i had. I spent hours and hours pouring over every cafe and vintage racer pic I could find looking for inspiration. Several times I thought I had figured it out, then woke up the next day hating my idea.

    The answer was simple, but it wasn't going to be cheap. I had to commit to the project fully, and be willing to change anything and everything that didn't fit what I wanted. I had to accept that I'd never be happy with quick and simple. I needed a clear direction and a set of goals. I wanted a cool looking (to my eye anyway) vintage bike that I could cruise around on occasionally. Good looking, reliable, simple. I didn't want a finicky, high strung, pseudo racer. I wanted a vintage race/cafe look (no modern components) with a mechanically sound and simple bike underneath. I knew that keeping the bike close to stock mechanically might make my bike a poser machine to some but hey...they can build their own bike. This was mine.

    Oh yea...and that stock tank had to go. :wink:



    To be continued...:D
    #1
  2. Wingspan

    Wingspan Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2007
    Oddometer:
    392
    Location:
    Brownsburg, Indiana
    The stock tank was the single biggest hurdle to finding "my" bike. I simply couldn't find a look that I liked with the shape and proportion of the stock tank. I swapped a few emails with Sean at Roc City Cafe and together we decided that a new tank based on the CR tanks he makes would be the best fit for the bike. I took a few measurements of the frame and shipped my stock tank to Sean so he could get started hammering metal. The new tank would take a few months to get, but that was ok as I had a lot of other work to do.

    I started ordering parts like a madman, and the teardown began:

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    I knew I couldn't do a lot of work on the frame until I had the new tank, so I turned my attention to the engine.

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    Measurements showed that one of the cylinders was on the high limit and the other just above it. I ordered a set of NOS 1st over pistons/rings and then boxed up the cylinders and crankshaft. They were sent to Bill Bune for boring and a crank rebuild with fresh seals. Bill does excellent work and the parts were back in about a week. It was also in this time frame that a set of stainless steel expansion chambers and rearsets arrived from Titan Performance in the UK.

    I cleaned and painted the engine cases:

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    Then cured them in an industrial oven:

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    Unfortunately, the clearcoat on the engine cases yellowed horribly when cured. So I had to do it over again. By this time I decided that I wanted to do the cylinders in black. I knew I was going to have a lot of polished/silver tones on the bike and wanted something to help break it up a bit.

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    I also started polishing all the various aluminum parts and replating hardware:

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    Have I mentioned how much I hate polishing yet? :rofl

    To be continued...
    #2
  3. mike

    mike Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2007
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    3,407
    Location:
    Central Texas
    I'll follow along.:bubba
    #3
  4. Cogswell

    Cogswell Spudly Adventurer

    Joined:
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    4,795
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    Riding with my pal Richard Cranium
    I'm glad you finally decided to post the build as you have done the bike justice. :deal

    I knew it would need to be fully gone through to be done right and just didn't have the drive to do it myself. I'm glad the bike found the found the right owner.:clap

    :freaky


    Mike
    #4
  5. PunkinHead

    PunkinHead Moobless Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2005
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    6,341
    Location:
    Land of Walmart Shoppers
    What method did you use to clean the engine cases?
    #5
  6. AfricaWim

    AfricaWim Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2007
    Oddometer:
    330
    Location:
    Seffrica
    You've probably seen this, but what the heck, I'll just leave this here to remind you how much on the right track you are. I can see a bike we all will drool over.. :thumb

    :D so you did.
    #6
  7. Chad M

    Chad M Been here awhile

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    Jan 11, 2006
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    804
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    N49, W4
    PM to Africawim.
    #7
  8. Wingspan

    Wingspan Been here awhile

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    Jul 3, 2007
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    I media blasted them. Glass beads under very light pressure with all the critical areas masked off. Then a VERY methodical cleaning and flushing...and another clean and flush...and another clean and flush to remove any remaining media. Some say never to do this, but you just have to be very careful.
    #8
  9. Wingspan

    Wingspan Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2007
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    Brownsburg, Indiana
    I have seen that bike. I'm not sure I like it. :wink:
    #9
  10. Wingspan

    Wingspan Been here awhile

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    Jul 3, 2007
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    Brownsburg, Indiana
    Thanks Mike. :D
    #10
  11. Wingspan

    Wingspan Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2007
    Oddometer:
    392
    Location:
    Brownsburg, Indiana
    Moving on...

    I didn't keep track of how many hours I sat in front of my little Harbor Freight polisher, but it was a lot. Oddly enough, I'm generally anti-chrome and polish but it really took over on this project.

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    I really wanted to keep the drum brakes on the bike. That's one thing that just screams vintage to me. However, I did start looking for a front end upgrade. First I found a nice complete GT550 disk brake fork on ebay...and the seller stiffed me. Ebay eventually refunded the money though so that's ok. Then I bought another GT fork and it was in much worse shape than I thought it would be. :cry The stock fork isn't exactly the last word in performance but it was in amazingly good condition and was functional as it sat. The fork seals weren't even leaking. So I returned to the idea of using it and keeping the drum brake. While poking around the internet I found that it was easy to adapt the 4LS drum to the stock fork. So, back to ebay and I had my new brake:

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    The stock GT 4LS drum is too wide for the T500 fork, but a few minutes on a lathe fixed that.

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    The rims I used are 18 x 2.15" shouldered aluminum parts intended for an XS650. Both rims are the same. This was a cheap way of getting alloy rims on the bike and worked very well. Buchannan's supplied the stainless steel spokes and new bearings rounded out the wheels. This was my first attempt at lacing wheels.

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    When I has happy with the truing, I spooned on a set of Avon Roadriders:

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    Then one day I got an email from Sean...my tank was nearly finished. He sent a few in-progress shots and a few days later a tracking number:

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    I was been like a kid waiting for Christmas morning. Pacing around the house, checking the tracking every 5 minutes, then I hopped in the shower. When I came out the tracking said, "attempted deliver, will try again tomorrow". NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :cry:cry:cry:cry

    No way was I waiting another day, so I threw on some clothes and jumped in the car. It took about 15 minutes, but I found him 3 neighborhoods over and he gave me a huge box. Rushed home with the big box and ripped it open like a fat kid on a cupcake.

    Out to the garage and put it on the frame...PERFECT FIT!!!! I sent Sean my stock tank for reference, but I really thought I'd have some fitting to do given that he did not have a T500 frame to work with. Nope. The front mounts slotted straight on. All I had to do was drill a pair of holes in one of the existing frame cross members for the rear hold down.

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    Now that I had the tank I could finish the frame. The project really picked up steam at this point. I also found out that the 2011 Rocker's Reunion bike show in Indy was in early May, so that gave me a goal. I don't really consider this to be a "show bike" but RR is a fun event and it'd be neat to go there on my own vintage ride.

    To be continued...
    #11
  12. AfricaWim

    AfricaWim Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2007
    Oddometer:
    330
    Location:
    Seffrica
    Well, what better compliment anyone can give you....please continue :wink:
    #12
  13. Half-Fast

    Half-Fast Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    Oddometer:
    196
    Location:
    Houston
    Correct! If you aren't pissin' somebody off, you're doin' it wrong! :D
    #13
  14. Wingspan

    Wingspan Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2007
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    Brownsburg, Indiana
    With the tank in hand, work could finally resume on the frame. First thing was a steering damper. This was an easy install, drill two holes and done.

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    Next on to the seat. The new tank is ~5 inches longer than stock. I didn't want to move the seat back, so I cut down the front of the tail and seat:

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    Once I had the tank and seat mounting finished, I de-barbed the rest of the frame and dropped it off at the powdercoater. ProKote Indy did my powder work and I'd recommend them to anyone in the area. The work was first rate and they were fast. The frame came back in a few days and I started reassembly.

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    This was the first time the Titan had been a rolling chassis in over a year...it felt good and I started to see the finish line:

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    #14
  15. KLRUSERIOUS?

    KLRUSERIOUS? Farkle-whore

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,299
    Location:
    Toronto Ontario Eh?!??
    She's looking mighty fine so far. Nice job on the parts refinishing.
    #15
  16. Wingspan

    Wingspan Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2007
    Oddometer:
    392
    Location:
    Brownsburg, Indiana
    Time to reassemble the engine...

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    ...and at long last reunite it with the frame:

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    The biggest change to the engine was a new charging/ignition system from Powerdynamo. No more points!

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    Timed with a dial indicator:

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    Fresh brake shoes and a new sprocket:

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    Rearsets from Titan Performance:

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    The carbs had been sitting on the bench for over a year now, so they were treated to a long soak in Pinesol then a rebuild with larger jets:

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    I planned on not running a front fender for a while, but came to my senses and again hit up Sean @ Roc City Cafe for one of his fiberglass fenders. I trimmed it to the size I wanted and attached it to the stock fender bracket. The bracket was modified to lower the fender for a closer fit to the tire:

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    Really starting to look like a motorcycle!

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    To be continued...
    #16
  17. Wingspan

    Wingspan Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2007
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Brownsburg, Indiana
    I had reached the part of this project I truly dreaded...wiring. the original harness was in decent shape, but I needed to shorten the handlebar wiring for the clipons and integrate the new Powerdynamo charging/ignition system as well as the Acewell gauge into the bike's existing wiring.

    First I made a new mount for the Acewell out of some scrap aluminum and some steel bushings I found in the garage:

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    Then, with the three schematics for reference i started hooking things up one wire at a time. At this point I was just twisting wires together and hoping that everything worked. I'd make it tidy later:

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    After I had checked and rechecked everything, I took a deep breath and turned the key...SUCCESS! :D

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    I used the smallest LED turn signals I could find:

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    The tail light is a small round LED unit from Custom Dynamics:

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    I pulled one of the spark plugs and gave the engine a kick. A nice blue spark was my final reward for a long day of squinting over schematics. I had dreaded the wiring for a long time but in the end it didn't turn out to be a bad job at all.

    To be continued...
    #17
  18. Wingspan

    Wingspan Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Turning toward the home stretch! It was finally time to bolt up my new expansion chambers. The chambers are polished stainless steel parts from Titan Performance and I had the stock headers ceramic coated to match. Time to roll her out of the garage again for a few pics:

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    I was only a few weeks away from Rocker's Reunion at this point so every day counted. I was working 4-5 hours per day during the week and all day on the weekends at this point. Body work was the next task. The oil tank was in perfect condition once I stripped the paint:

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    The sidecover had several cracks that needed to be repaired. I fixed these with a technique I've had a lot of success with in the past. I welded the cracks with a soldering iron and reenforced the cracked areas from the back with metal mesh from a screen door repair kit.

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    Reenforced area, lay the screen material on the part and carefully melt it into the plastic with a soldering iron and light pressure:

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    Crack repair in progress:

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    When I finished repairing the cracks I prepped all the pieces for primer and paint. I've always wanted a Ducati, but for now I'll just have to settle for the color. I used Ducati red paint from Colorite.

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    I really liked the stock "500" badges and had always planned on reusing them. They cleaned up well and after a fresh coat of black paint looked like new again:

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    Almost finished...to be continued...:D
    #18
  19. nukemm

    nukemm Been here awhile

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    Jun 9, 2011
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    Mukilteo, WA
    Beautiful! :thumb
    #19
  20. sailah

    sailah Lampin' it

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2005
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    Location:
    Turning expensive metal into scrap
    awesome, I recognize so many stages you were going through...great vision too, love the final look.
    #20