Putting a 1988 Suzuki Kan of Tuna back on the road

Discussion in 'Some Assembly Required' started by mrchristian, Feb 17, 2018.

  1. mrchristian

    mrchristian Been here awhile

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    Hey everyone,

    I picked up a 1988 Suzuki Katana recently for $150, clean title on non-op. Was thinking about parting it out but it's almost complete so it seems a shame to dump the parts onto eBay. It was a former track bike and everything has been safety wired which is neat. Right now the plan is to get it going under it's own power for minimal $ and enjoy it for a bit. I wanted a project to expand my mechanic skills on and this seems to be the perfect one.

    How it sits - it's missing a lot of hardware for the fairings. I'll probably clean/zip tie fix the fairings but otherwise they won't get replaced.

    [​IMG]

    First thing I did was remove all the fairings. I have a piece of cardboard I have been cataloging the bolts although I may need to get a full bolt kit in the future as what is there is pretty motly and most everything is missing.

    There are some neat bits including an old school Ohlins shock.

    [​IMG]

    I removed the airbox which was surpringly easy...I've never attempted a project this complex before. I'm used to dirt bikes which tend to be very cramped. The airbox wasn't attached to the carbs so I assume I need to get some hose clamps to hold it in place.

    [​IMG]

    Sprayed down the choke linkage which was seized with PB Blaster and it started sliding nicely again. Sprayed the bolts on the top of the carbs, opened one up and everything looked surprisingly clean inside. Huh.

    I figured at this point I might try and get it to crank. Hooked up my XR650L battery, clicked the engine on switch and...nothing. Hooked up a multimeter to the whole mess and when I click the starter switch there is no drop in voltage either.

    Checked up and cleaned up the ground off the battery and it was fine.

    Checked the starter switch and...bingo. Fraying wire and cut wire. Might be why this ol' girl was sitting.

    [​IMG]

    It looks like there are 3 wires coming off the starter switch on one side and four wires have been bypassed it seems (assuming clutch and side stand safety switches). There's lots of extra length on the wire, any way I can pop open the connector, feed in some new wire and get it buttoned up again?I tried getting the female pin to pop out with a paperclip but no luck. Any trick to these things?

    Also not sure what the 3rd length of wire (which seems to be missing) is for but I'm working on my wiring diagram skills but if anyone knows, feel free to let me know!
    #1
  2. mrchristian

    mrchristian Been here awhile

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    Figured out how to de-pin the plug and fix the starter wires - not so hard, just took a little fiddling with a paper clip and a pair of needlenose pliers. After plugging everything back in and stealing a battery, it cranks!

    Cranked it a few times and noticed a HUGE oil leak. Took a peak under the carbs and the whole oil line leading to the front oil cooler is totally missing or broken - hard to tell.

    Either way I think I know why this bike got retired...oil line burst and possibly destroyed the head, looks like the end of this project, not totally sure.

    [​IMG]
    #2
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  3. Eddieb

    Eddieb Long timer

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    They were only given the 'Katana' label in the US to try and make them appealing, for the rest of the world they are a GSX600F, or occasionally a teapot. They never deserved the Katana name.
    #3
  4. neppi

    neppi Been here awhile

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    Keep going! Clean up everything and replace the crucial missing thingies, like that oil pipe. Pop a valve cover open, maybe, and see what's there.

    It cranks, so it's not all destroyed, if not at all. Fresh gas and oil and give it another go.

    They're not bad bikes at all and if your intentions were to expand your wrenching skills anyway, why stop now?

    You spend a few hundred bucks on it and some hours of work, you'd still get your money back if you get it going and if not, just part it like your one idea was.

    Good luck! Don't give up!
    #4
  5. Dino de Laurentiis

    Dino de Laurentiis Working on it

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    Seems to be a US thing in general. Same with the Kawasakis and the Ninja name. In Europe, it was only the ZX-yR bikes that got the Ninja moniker but in the US, seems any road going Kawasaki with a full fairing can have it?!

    Teapot makes sense :D

    OP: apologies for the intermission. Bummer about the oil line, but if this was used as a track bike (strange choice if you ask me) when it burst, you’re probably right that the engine is toast.
    #5
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  6. fast1075

    fast1075 Fasterizer

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    I put the forks and wheels off one of those on a 2006 250 ninja to get 17" rims, dual disc brakes and 41mm forks with rebound adjustment. Swapped steering stems and it all fit under the stock fairing. What an improvement on the brakes, and got rid of the limp noodle stock forks.
    #6
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  7. tntmo

    tntmo Oops, I did it again.

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    If I remember correctly, the 600 Katana won the AMA 600 SuperSport title in 88?
    #7
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  8. Egoland

    Egoland Adventurer

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    It is a pretty robust engine, so maybe you can save it. Otherwise find a donor engine and swap it in. They are pretty cheap..., and you already got the title.
    #8
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  9. mrchristian

    mrchristian Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the encouragement everyone!

    I plan to keep going - looks like the oil line is all that's missing. Although the seller didn't mention that, not much reason to for $150 and he said his son wanted the motor. This bike has been sitting for 20 years so maybe rodents got the line, IDK. I cleaned the remnants of some nest in there right in the pocket next to that line. Realistically, not holding much hope that the motor is OK though, probably blew the line on the track and that's really why it sat.

    I have an awesome wrecker/motorcycle shop/cool place to get parts from (Johnson and Wood) near me and they know a lot about these air cooled Suzuki motors of all sizes. I told the guy what I needed and he was like...yeah I got that without even looking it up. Had to remove an intake carb boot to get at the oil line...of course when I pulled it off the seal looked pretty bad. Looks like I'm ordering four of those :bluduh

    It's got a couple track doo-dads. Anyone know about these side covers? They're sort of granular and rough. I did a bunch of Google searches on track specific side covers but didn't find anything. Stock ones are included but these are neat and will probably stay on.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Also this exhaust - it's pretty rusty, the header looks pretty gone. Might put the stock exhaust back on which is in good condition and let this one go for free/cheap.

    [​IMG]

    The stock harness is in good condition. The turn signals still work after all these years.

    Also - anyone know an easy way to remove the throttle cable from the carb without pulling them apart?

    This has been a learning process...as in I'm learning I hate working on street bikes. Remove the exhaust to change the oil? UGH I GUESS :umph
    #9
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  10. mrchristian

    mrchristian Been here awhile

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    Got my oil line installed. $20! Crested the $200 mark for the project :)

    Got the carbs clean and put back together. Cleaned out all the jets - there wasn't much crud in there surprisingly considering we have ethanol gas. And the brakes are absolutely nasty. No start, gave me a starter fluid burble once. This won't be easy as I thought I guess.

    I wanna change out the spark plugs but spark plugs have never given me an issue ever. For some reason my two spark plug wrenches don't work so I'll have to order new plugs and make a trip to an auto parts store.

    The throttle cable design on this bike is the pits. Super annoying to hook up to the carb body.

    In frustration I decided to set the valve clearance. Popped the top off and everything looks OK to my eye but I'm pretty inexperienced. There's one cam that has a little bit of marking but I can't feel them with my finger so I'm assuming I'm in the clear. It also has a metric buttload of compression as the back wheel is hard to turn?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Did I mention the kickstand needs to get welded back on? Yup, this thing is a total basket case.

    The process continues...
    #10
  11. mrchristian

    mrchristian Been here awhile

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    All the exhaust valves were tight? Assuming that seems like the normal process of how things progress...everything to spec now.

    So...had the correct spark plug tool all along in my XR's toolkid. :doh

    Oil flouled? Too rich? They're always on the lean side for me, never saw one come out like this.

    [​IMG]

    It's not really oily, just black. Maybe too rich?

    [​IMG]


    Johnson and Wood didn't have the right plug so I'll have to order some. Looks like we're on hold for now.
    #11
  12. grub61

    grub61 mild mannered maniac

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    I had the 750 version, here in Aus. Almost indestructible, handled pretty well , reasonable brakes. A little bit overweight compared to the sports bikes of the time , but way more comfortable.
    I would clean up those plugs and get it going before I spent much more money on it , Change the oil , oil filter and air filter , brake fluids and check the electrical connections , I will be surprised if it doesn't go. As for the exhaust , Jardine make good quality stuff , it must have a full 4-1 aftermarket system if it's covering the sump plug - might be worth a dollar or two. That could also account for the plugs being black , might need a tune to suit the pipe.

    Graham
    #12
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  13. mentolio

    mentolio Adventurer

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    You could check your jet sizes vs. stock and also see if the jet needles are adjustable (top of needle has multiple slots cut in it for a "c" clip). That would at least tell you if it has a jet kit. If not, you could likely still find one online. Caution: if you're looking to go "stock" pipe and jetting, you may have a problem with the slides. A lot (if not most) of the Dynojet kits from back then required you drill the bypass hole out in the slide. That's kinda permanent (new vacuum slides are expensive), and I'm not too sure how that would effect stock jetting throttle response (I suspect it would make it stutter badly). Maybe just get it running as is before effecting any changes and see how it goes. Dark and dry plugs are not a terrible thing.
    #13
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  14. nuggets

    nuggets It's all my fault...

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    I brought an old Kat 600 back from the dead once. Mine wouldn't start until I cleaned the plugs. Once I cleaned them, I just used them.
    #14
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  15. neppi

    neppi Been here awhile

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    Another vote for just cleaning them first.
    #15
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  16. mrchristian

    mrchristian Been here awhile

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    Thanks for all the advice! I tried cleaning them up with CRC Electronic parts cleaner (which seems kind of weak, maybe I should have hit them with carb spray) and still couldn't anything aside from a burble or two.

    Went out late last night and bought new plugs since Auto Zone had 'em - only $12 after all. Stuck them in this AM. Lil' bit of ether and it fired and ran and sort of idled...really badly and died as soon as it got into the lower rev range when I turned off the choke. Here it is with choke in middle, sounds terrible but at least it goes!

    Video:
    https://imgur.com/w6kds3a

    I assume this means my pilot is still gummed up. I just sprayed the pilot + main with carb cleaner and compressed air and shot the same mix through the air screw on the top/needle side - quick and dirty just to see if the bike would fire. I also didn't pull the needle jet out out of laziness, just shot cleaner/air into it but I've never had that clog up on me, always is that stupid pilot. Guessing I should pull all jets and give them a nice soak...one more time dealing with the F@$#@#$ throttle cable

    It's got some sort of jet kit with an adjustable needle. I'm gonna have to pull them again anyway so I'll try and mark down everything. I remember the mains all being 124's which doesn't match Mikuni or Dynojet. Pics coming soon for that.

    I don't think I want to go back to stock jetting, it's usually super lean in my state for emissions.

    I'll take some pictures but I didn't notice any drilling. I would be surprised if it was unmodified, looks like everything has been touched in some way as this was a track bike. I don't know much if anything about track riding but practically EVERY bolt is safety wired which seems overkill to me. Even the valve cover got some RTV run around it. There's little dabs of RTV everywhere.

    [​IMG]

    Unfortunately the brakes are absolutely crusted up with rusty brake fluid so I'll probably need a full seal kit of some sort in both master cylinder and calipers. I grabbed the front brake while backing it down a ramp moving it and it basically seized the front, had to get my mitivac to suck out the crud in the lines to roll it around nicely. It's that bad.

    I assume they can be saved somehow though. Not sure how salvageable brake components are honestly, haven't done any research there yet. The forks also have some rust pitting...one spot might be deep. I'll try aluminum foil + WD40 to save those for now and change the fork oil in the future. Got plenty of that from various dirt bikes.

    It's got a 4-1 exhaust but the header looks really rusty. Maybe electrolysis + exhaust paint? I had a nasty Big Gun (crap) that came with my used WR and it looked way less terrible but rust had eaten it from the inside. My friend tried to weld it (he welds on aerospace/communications satellites) and said it was rotten and pointless to fix so I tossed it. I'm assuming this one is a goner too.

    It also has those two stroke style springs which I don't have a tool for to remove. Gonna try using some cable or rope.
    #16
  17. neppi

    neppi Been here awhile

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    Put everything in slow cooker with PineSol over night.
    #17
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  18. mrchristian

    mrchristian Been here awhile

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    Carb markings:

    Pilot - 37.5
    Main - 122.5
    Air Screw - 150
    Needle - 40Z5
    #18
  19. XR4EVER

    XR4EVER 919 excuses to ride!

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    Seriously? Is that a thing? For carb cleaning? :ear
    #19
  20. Roofchop

    Roofchop Been here awhile

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    I once re jetted an old Suzy, and the kit had the two inner carbs main jet bigger than the outers to compensate for them running slightly hotter.
    Are all your mains the same?
    Dave
    #20