XL500S - Restomod

Discussion in 'Some Assembly Required' started by shinyribs, May 12, 2018.

  1. shinyribs

    shinyribs doesn't care

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,997
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    Back last July I ended up buying a '81 XL500S. I really didn't know anything at all about these bikes, but I've always been a fan of Honda's and recently fell in love my XR400R. I was actually on Craigslist looking for a trials bike when I stumbled on to an ad titled " Honda street and trial". Bad spelling ftw! When I opened the ad I instantly loved the funky looks. A quick google search showed me the bike's specs and I decided I had to have it. This will be the dualsport I always wanted my KLR650 to be.

    I went to look at the bike and it started up easily, but would not idle. That's alright. No rattles or heavy smoking is good enough for me. Clean title and pretty decent body. So I paid the man and brought her home.

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    Once home, I couldn't wait to actually ride this thing, but I knew it needed a thorough going-through. I'm super particular about the mechanicals on my bikes. I used the stale gas out of her own tank to clean up the carb a little bit. Shortly after it was...

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    Nearly bald rear tire and a slipping clutch ( sticky cable), but I was still having a blast zipping around the yard. The wife snapped a pic of my childishness :D These bikes are a hoot to ride.

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    #1
    5th-Elefant, MATTY, G600 and 3 others like this.
  2. shinyribs

    shinyribs doesn't care

    Joined:
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    The forks were pitted and we all know the deal with 23" tires. As cool as running the 23" front would be, it just made sense to use a decent fork on this bike. I had the stock front end from my old KLR still laying around ( I stuck a XR650R fork on that bike), so I decided to use that. It's a decent fork, the KLR is just too big for it. Sticking it on the XL should be a good fit since this bike is about 130lbs lighter.

    Trimmed off the unneeded bits from the KLR lower yoke with an end mill chucked in the lathe and some creative clamping. :lol3

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    Cut off the lower section of the KLR steering stem (ridiculously thick tube) and fitted it as a slug in the the XL stem.

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    Press fit + couple plug welds will keep it together.

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    Sorted out the steering stops.

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    Then made this plate to reattach the steering lock. I hate fork swaps where everything doesn't function as stock.

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    Had to hire a buddy with a mill to bore out the KLR top yoke for me ( to fit over the XL stem) because my lathe was too small. Went to work cutting off the unused tabs and fitting on mounts for the XL instruments.

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    Turned up a couple stubs that got welded on to recreate the same mounting situation as stock.

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    Fitted the steering lock and everything functions as it should.

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    Very happy that the instruments are in such nice condition. The only snafu is the hole in the top nut is blocked by the bars, so I can't route the fuel tank vent hose there like stock. Will get around to that eventually.

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    Spooned on a spare tire and stuck on a random fender for a look. The ride height looks good so far. Nice fit. :thumb This rolling chassis weighs nothing. There's no tube in that rear tire. :D

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    Next job is to sort out the rear suspension/brakes. The shock shafts are pitted and I'm still researching options. No point trying to save them, but I will stick with dual shocks. The rear brake isn't bad, but the whole assembly is incredibly heavy, so I'll be fitting a different hub/wheel out back that will use a disc. I like shaving pounds anywhere I can. The stock rear wheel/brake is over 20lbs without a tire.

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    #2
  3. REALGRAVEROBBER

    REALGRAVEROBBER LEAVING GRAVES EMPTY

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2008
    Oddometer:
    747
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    GFY, Montana
    Excellent work! I too dislike any swaps where original stuff is lost.

    Your choice of klr650 front end is excellent. Works fantastically well, looks era correct.

    Your level of workmanship is ideal, keep it up!
    #3
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  4. Wattner

    Wattner Long timer

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    Key West, Florida
    Awesome!!!! I got my big bore teeth cut on a '79 Xr500. Definitely THE wheelie machine

    Great build and nice workmanship!

    I'll follow along :clap
    #4
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  5. shinyribs

    shinyribs doesn't care

    Joined:
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    Thanks for the nice words guys. It's much appreciated.

    I put out some feelers for rear wheels and think I have a winner. Gonna check on that after work tomorrow. Still researching shock options, so time to do some busy work to keep the ball rolling.

    Ran next door and retrieved the engine from the other shop. Pimpin'...:D

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    While it ran great, this is one seriously leaky engine. So up on the bench she goes.

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    Aluminum spray paint over top of years of grease. Woo hoo.

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    Found the decompressor seal was completely missing, so that explains the majority of the leaking. The shift shaft seal was also partially dislodged. Good stuff! But tearing down the engine showed nothing but good news inside.

    Journals on the head and cam like practically new. Cam chain is tight.

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    Trusty ol' spring-popper-offerI made out of a piece of blackiron pipe long ago. Valve seats and faces looked great. Guides are nice and tight, too.

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    Piston skirts show very little wear and the wrist pin looks great. Big end bearing feels great. Looking between the rings shows some signs of blowby, but nothing I would consider excessive for an aircooled bigbore thumper. Nothing here needs replacing IMO.

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    Cylinder even still has a little crosshatch showing. Really not a horrible amount of carbon buildup, either.

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    Tagged and bagged. Stator coils ohm'd out good. Clutch steels look great, but I'll replace the frictions just due to age. I had an old clutch delaminate on a CB750 one time...not taking that chance again. Clutch basket is pretty dinged up, so that'll need to be dressed up. Oil pump checked out good and the cam chain guides look solid. Not sure how they do with age. May replace those if it's affordable.

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    Can't dig in to the bottom end until a flywheel removal bolt shows up, but I also need to study the manual to better understand the balancer system before disassembling that.

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    So for now it's just soaking and scrubbing parts.
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    I would like to remove the two dowel pins that retain the rocker shafts, but I couldn't budge them. Tried a little heat and had no luck. The rockers looked great, but I'm assuming there's an o-ring seal in there and I want to replace those. Anyone have any tricks or tips on this job? Also, what's up with the whole "you can't run a head cover gasket on these engines" that I keep reading about. I mean, I get that it will raise the head cover away from the cam, but I can't imagine a few thousandths could mess up the valvetrain geometry THAT much. The RFVC engines run a gasket there and these engines aren't that much different. Kinda don't understand that and I can't stand leaky engines.Any advice on these issues would be greatly appreciated!
    #5
  6. shinyribs

    shinyribs doesn't care

    Joined:
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    1,997
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    Anyone know how to remove the neutral indicator switch? I'm planning on powdercoating some covers and would like to pop this little guy out of possible.

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    #6
  7. Slytheslayer

    Slytheslayer Ride or Die!!

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2017
    Oddometer:
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    Fort Lewis, WA
    If it's like the XR650L I believe it screws out from the outside. I would just try it with a small wrench from the outside and see.
    #7
  8. canadius_maximus

    canadius_maximus Quaere verum

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,995
    Location:
    Lower Mainland, BC, Canada
    What a great project! A great bike for it's time, so resto-ing a good platform and modding it can't but result in a fantastic (and practical) bike.

    Subscribed.
    #8
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  9. shinyribs

    shinyribs doesn't care

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    Thanks. I'll give that a go. It feels like you can push it back and forth through the cover, so I'm not sure it's threaded, but I'm also not sure that it isn't. :D
    #9
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  10. shinyribs

    shinyribs doesn't care

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    Apparently the neutral switch is just a push in deal.

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    A fresh one is only $18 if I screw this up.

    Been looking in to Progressive and Hagon shocks. Not seeing any choice of spring rates for the Hagon's, but the overall look of the Progressive's is just wrong.

    Progressive

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    Hagon

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    Probably both ride like poo,so might go with the Hagons just on looks alone. Progressive just look like cruiser shocks to me.

    Also kicking around the idea of twin undertail mufflers. Hmm....
    #10
  11. rexelstar

    rexelstar Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2014
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Netherlands
    I would like to remove the two dowel pins that retain the rocker shafts, but I couldn't budge them. Tried a little heat and had no luck.

    Take the headcover under your feet, grip very tight. Pull and turn with great force. WhatsApp Image 2018-05-18 at 11.24.03.jpeg WhatsApp Image 2018-05-18 at 11.24.02.jpeg Should give a sound-crack and it will come free.
    Be carefull not to damage the headcover when turning. The pins can be used again.
    #11
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  12. tHEtREV

    tHEtREV Encouragement award recipient. tEAM iDIOT.

    Joined:
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    10,862
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    Middle Park, Brisbane, Australia
    If they are like the old XL/XR?CB250RS then the manual suggests grinding a notch in them with a dremel, then through the valve inspection cover, put a blade screwdriver and give it a tap with a hammer...

    I'm pretty shit at explaining things I read about 20 years ago.:lol3
    #12
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  13. shinyribs

    shinyribs doesn't care

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    I used a different approach, but I just popped them out last night. Man, they are tough little buggers to get out! I do not like that design at all. However, if I owned a pair of pliers like the one in your pictures, I wouldn't have had an issue anyway. Wow, those really bit in to the pins nicely.

    I also removed the neutral switch, which came out way easier than it should. Kinda surprised those things even stay in at all. Then again, all my seals are old and shrunken.

    My gasket set showed up last night, but I'm still cleaning parts and waiting on a flywheel tool.
    #13
  14. NoelJ

    NoelJ Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2016
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    For future reference, pulling dowels like that is best done with a Vise-Grip where the adjusting screw [usually 1/4-20] is replaced with a long-ish rod containing a sliding weight and end stop, converting it to an adjustable, gripping slide hammer. Whap, whap,...poing. The needle nose style are the best in my experience. Threaded rod would work but is pretty shade-tree.
    #14
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  15. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @oneworldcycles

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2008
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    Sunny Northern Cuba (aka: South Florida)
    One of my favorite bikes!! Looking forward to following your build. I'm also greatful that we don't live near one another. Don't think we'd get any riding done with all the projects we'd come up with! :lol3
    #15
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  16. shinyribs

    shinyribs doesn't care

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    @Noel Johnson , that actually what I did. But to be honest my vice grips had trouble grasping the rods. Kept slipping off, but the dowels are still usable. If I'd a pair of pliers like @rexelstar had used I think I would have been better off. Really impressive how well those pliers bit in. Currently shopping for a pair.


    Flywheel puller got here today so I popped the bottom end apart.

    I was disappointed in Honda at first. Didn't understand why the chain for the counterbalancer was so complex. Why run it all the way back to the transmission and require a chain guide and all the extra length? Why not just go from the crank straight to the balancer?

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    Ah, that's why. Because there's a second balancer on the input shaft(far right). Good job Honda. Much more compact than the XR setup. Dual balancers also explains why this engine was quite a bit smoother than the XR4. Actually a bit jealous.

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    Scratched my head when I saw this odd plate. Turns out it's just world's most elaborate breather baffle.

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    I've seen worse sludge in engines before. Under the breather plate...or above it, rather?
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    Pic for my own reference later. #transmissionoilrestrictor

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    Gears and forks look like new. I'm officially good to go on the engine. No hard parts need replacing, so my budget for new shocks is :thumb

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    Seems Honda loves these countersunk philips heads to hold in shift drums. Progress stops here until I find my impact driver (apparently lost it in the move- it was a cheap one anyway- upgrade time!) to get these bastards out.

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    Once the shift drum is out I can scrub the main cases. Everything else is deloused and ready for to be sent out for vapor honing.

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    Any recommendations on paint to use? I thought about powdercoating everything but I just don't feel up to it. And I've never found any silver/aluminum type coatings that weren't super easy to scratch. I have some sating black powder that has proven to be super durable, but I don't want to black the engine out. Thinking of using Harley's wrinkle black on the jug and head, and painting everything else silver. No clue what the best product to use, though. Any insight would be much appreciated.

    Oh, the WR rear rim deal fell through. My buddy took a peak at eBay and got greedy :D I'm not paying $250 for a used early 90's WR250F rear wheel with rusty spokes. :fpalm Dug up a couple other options, though. Waiting to hear back from some people.
    #16
  17. shinyribs

    shinyribs doesn't care

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    Sorry about the pics. I know why the suck (cellphone), but I have no clue why they are so big. I'll fix it if I can figure out how.
    #17
  18. AusMuppet

    AusMuppet Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2018
    Oddometer:
    58
    Location:
    Canberra, Australia
    If it helps you at all, i had a set of Hagon twin shocks on my old DR400 project and they were fantastic.
    And if it makes you feel any better, my current Yamaha project has the exact same countersunk Phillips head screws for the same purpose, and i ended up drilling them out and replacing them after a solid two hours of attempting to get them out in a reusable condition.
    #18
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  19. NVTS

    NVTS Are you ennen oh eff tee

    Joined:
    May 18, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,090
    Location:
    Big Lick Virginia
    I've got a complete KTM cush hub, wheel if you think it might fit. It's from a 01-07 640 adventure.
    #19
  20. shinyribs

    shinyribs doesn't care

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    That wheel would have the chain on the right, so I'd be running that cush backwards on this bike. Can't see that it would cause any problems, but I wonder if that would cause the brake caliper to eventually poke backwards at an odd angle? Need to do some research on that and I'll shout back at you. Thanks for the offer either way.
    #20