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Sticky So you just acquired an old triple...
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Steeley
Posted 2005-07-17 12:03 PM (#10271)
Subject: So you just acquired an old triple...


.. and what a deal.. it's in pretty good shape, has less than 15,000 miles, been sitting in the back of the guy's barn or garage for some unknown long time. Yep, she needs some cosmetic work, the seat might need recovering, but she starts (with a jump) and runs, so $100 to get it out of his way is SWEET.

Or.. maybe the PO (Previous Owner) did fire it up/ride it occasionally. Or rode it a lot. Anyway, you now have a new bike, and you want to get her cleaned up and go ride.

Hold your horses.

AS SOON AS YOU GET HER HOME (trailered preferrably), PARK IT! On a clean concrete pad (or just a sheet of ply wood if you don't have a garage floor or solid level driveway).

You have lots to do first if you want that bike to work fine and last a long time.

First, forget everything the PO told you about how well it was maintained. You will "baseline" your bike. That means you WILL change the spark plugs and all the lubricants and filters RIGHT NOW. Engine oil and filter, middle and final gear oil, fork oil. You will check (preferrably replace) front and rear brake fluid. You WILL get a manual (you can download one from this site - if not exactly for your particular model and year it will be close enough for servicing yours.)

You will cast an evil eye on everything that drains out of your new "vintage" bike (is there gas in the engine oil? Oh oh.. darn glad you trailered it home rather than rode it, aren't you?).

You WILL remove the tank and set it on a trash-can and see if, over an hour or two, gas leaks out on the ground through the petcocks set to any position other than PRI(me). If so, you will fix that first (lots of tips on this site). Good or bad pet cocks, you WILL then dump that gas out. You WILL see if ANYTHING comes out with the gas, besides gas (rust flakes, insect hulls, bird feathers, rat bones...). If feeling diligent, you'll remove the pet cocks and inspect the screens inside the tank for rust flakes, insect hulls, bird feathers, rat bones...

With the tank off you WILL blow out the crud in the wells around your spark plugs so nothing can fall into the cylinders, and then cast an evil eye on the old plugs as you remove them, as well as the caps and plug wires. You'll remove the little screw inside the cap and inspect the little resistor that falls out once you find it, if this is your first plug cap you're checking (aren't you glad you're on ply wood instead of grass now?). If it's intact and clean, reinstall it and the screw and tighten it snug. If the caps and wires are good (no cracks, caps are tight on the wires, wires tight in the coils), gap your new plugs, install them first starting them using your fingers on the socket extension for a few turns before slapping the wrench on and cranking them in. Cross-threaded heads suck (literally, and blow) and are very difficult and iffy to fix and expensive to replace.

You will NOT use a crescent wrench, ever, on your vintage motorcycle. You wll not use standard allen or box wrenches on your metric cap and hex screws. You will not use standard screwdrivers on philips or allen screws. You will get the RIGHT tool of the right size for removing and reinstalling anything. The time and money you save shortcutting proper tools will be lost many times over removing and replacing stuff you buggered up.

With the tank and seat off you WILL inspect (and probably replace) the fuse holders - at the very least remove the fuses and clean the contacts. While cleaning, one of the contacts will probably snap off. Better now than 20 (or 200 or 2000) miles from home. Four-fuse holders are about 5 bucks at the auto-parts store. You will spend some quality time looking for and removing any corrosion around electrical connections to various modules and switches as you visually walk the wire loom toward the front and rear of the bike.

You will inpect the vacuum hoses (and center cylinder vacuum plug) for cracks, tears or degradation. Ditto the fuel lines, and the rubber boots from the carbs to the intakes.

While you're at it, grab some feeler gauges and an allen wrench, and pull the valve cover and the left side cover, and check the valve clearances. (If you don't know why you need to pull the side cover, once again I'll state, download a manual!). As Clint can attest, it's nice knowing about the stuck or tight valve now instead of after you fire it up and hear the valve head break off and rattle around inside the cylinder. You'll probably need to head down to the dealer for some replacement valve shims and a replacement tool also, while you're getting a new valve cover gasket.

You WILL go on-line ( I recommend http://www.batterystuff.com ) and order a new sealed battery to replace the stock electrolite battery (you thusly will have no idea what all the starting/idling/electrical problems people talk about on this list is all about).

You WILL inspect the tires and check tire pressure. If the bike has been sitting for years, you will check tire pressure after you replace the tires, which you WILL do before you ride it again, never mind how good you think they look.

You will reinstall the tank, fill it with gas, set the pet-cocks to PRI(me), and with the bike on the side stand, let it sit for a few hours to see if there are any leaks out of the carbs or the air cleaner. If so, you will order a carb rebuild kit from Steve Lloyd ( Benelli6@aol.com) and get a bunch of carb-cleaner spray cans and plan on tearing the carbs apart, at least to spray clean everything liberally (excessively) and replace the float seals and float bowl gaskets. Or you can take it to the Yamaha shop and have them do it, which will probably cost you as much if not more than you paid for the motorcycle - not CBMMA but you may not be ready for that sort of work. Maybe someone on this board or on the discussion list lives near you and can help you out. Beer is the standard labor exchange rate).

You'll lube the speedo and tach cables and lube and adjust the clutch cable and clutch per the manual you downloaded.

You'll check the shifter and rear brake levers, and the kick start (if you have one) to see the nuts are tight. Now that you're on a roll, you might check all the cap screws and other nuts you can find to verify they aren't loose either.

Notice I haven't said anything about chrome polishing yet. Now's the time - go ahead and clean up everything. Four reasons for that:

One - good looking well cared-for bikes show pride of ownership, and you should now have a bike that you can be proud to own.
Two - clean bikes run better (No bovine excrement! They do..)
Three - clean and polish is when you will find the cracked and rusted stuff you will need to fix or replace.
Four - when stuff on the inside leaks to the outside you can spot it easier before it becomes a major problem.

Once all that I've talked about above has been done, NOW you are ready to insert and turn the ignition key for the first time.

If everyone were to do this, we'd have a lot less traffic on this site and the discussion list, and we'd be mostly talking about beer and rides upcoming and past.

One more thing - to get the most out of your triple ownership pleasure and experience, check out the discussion list too.

And last, memorize my Biker's Prayer, and repeat it everytime you punch the starter or kick her over. Ride safe..

-Steeley


Edited by Steeley 2005-11-09 12:05 PM
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