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Beginner restoration of a 82 XJ550 Maxim

Discussion in 'Hangout Lounge' started by Mancub, Mar 2, 2021.

  1. Mancub

    Mancub Member

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    Hello world of wise and helpful motorcycle lovers. I'm embarking on my first motorcycle restoration and thought it would be fun for others and great for me to go through it step by step. I have some mechanical experience but this is a new test. We all start somewhere, so lend a hand if you can and let's get this party started.

    It begins with a 1982 Yamaha xj550 Maxim. The end goal is to convert it into a cafe racer styled bike, while navigating things properly throughout the build as to not get in over my head, and doing it on a budget. The bike is pretty clean, it's been sitting for a few years and doesn't run. Checked the engine block and it matches the Stem VIN. (both are that short 9 digit type)

    First Steps Questions: (links speak louder than words)
    1. Can anyone find or point me to a great manual for this bike? From what I've researched that's a pretty good first step;)
    2. First I want to get the bike running. Here is my basic plan for this first stage.
    • Battery: What battery should I get for this bike? (doesn't have one)
    • Spark: I'll plan on replacing the spark plugs and while I have them out should I put anything in there because it's been sitting?
    • Oil: I'll change the oil, manual should tell me what type right? That should also tell me if there is any oil in it. If there isn't should I put some in the cylinder when the spark plugs are out and manually turn it over some?
    • Fuel: Like most small engines I'm betting the main problem is in the carb. Probably gummed up from old fuel. I'll plan on following the manual for cleaning out the carb.

    Is this a good first-stage plan? Anything I'm forgetting and any suggestions?
     
  2. XJ550H

    XJ550H Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    before you start spending money modifying the bike make sure the motor is viable and get it running
    a teaspoon of oil in each cylinder woukd be good.
    oil level is checked with bike on centerstand in the sight glass on clutch cover.

    check the shims
    Bigfitz's AIRHEAD VALVE ADJUSTMENT with Pics - parts I & II
     
  3. Mancub

    Mancub Member

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    Thank you! So those steps sound pretty good then? Where would you tackle the shims in this "get the engine running" stage.

    What do people think for a battery for this bike? (links are great)
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2021
  4. XJ550H

    XJ550H Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I would check the clearances first many times you can swap around what you have and only need a couple of shims. this will give you the maximum compresion.
    write down the clearances.

    then ohm out the ignition system to see if it is in spec
    this link has the ignition specs
    The Ultimate Relay, Switch, Sensor, and Diodes Guide

    it also has the charging system specs so you can check them out as well.
    battery is listed in manual as to its numbers 12N12A-4A is the battery number.
    wamart sells them or ebay has them. a gel or sealed , AGM battery from ebay is good because you do not need to deal with the acid.
    if you get an acid battery from ebay make sure it comes with acid no need to spend a lot of money on one, most have free shipping.
    https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2380057.m570.l1313&_nkw=12N12A-4A&_sacat=0

    the fuses box is likely junk and will need to be replaced an inline blade fuse holder works nice about 5$ each at hardware stores
    or a full box .
    your big cost is going to come from cleaning carbs and having to replace parts like the o rings and needle valves

    then the brakes you will want to rebuild calipers and master cylinder replace pads and shoes.
     
  5. XJ550H

    XJ550H Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    if your bike still has the air box do not remove it wait untill you get motor running well then you can go to pods if you feel the eed to do that.
     
  6. Mancub

    Mancub Member

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    Here are some pictures so everyone can see what we are starting with. What do you think? I'm not attached to any future plans, you guys are the pros to know what I should do to make it awesome. First things first though.

    Just ordered the first batch of things I'll need :
    - battery (might have to get a different one if I do a cafe racer build...)
    - some shop towels and carb cleaner and grease ("never turn a thread without grease on it" ole gramps )
    - oil and oil filter (went with 15w-40 cause my weather is in between what the manual said?)
    - Spark plugs

    First step is checking the pressure, if electrical is all working then I'll head into the carb clean, then change the oil and plugs and see if we can get it running again!
     

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  7. XJ550H

    XJ550H Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    looks like 650 blinkers on the back long metal posts . aftermarket handel bars.
    looks good
     
  8. Mancub

    Mancub Member

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    Yeah I'm pretty happy with how clean it is for its age, we will see this weekend when I dive into the engine pressure how excited I should be. What pressure should each cylinder be at? is it 120 that I read somewhere?

    And I've never tested pressure on this bike, what's the "correct" process to do it right. I'm assuming if the pressure is good then I won't need to mess with the engine?

    I also had a question on the battery, can I use a different 12v battery (one of i have for a riding lawn mower) or a mini jumper box (phone sized jumper for my car). Can I use one or both of those to try and crank things over and start it up while I'm waiting for the battery that "fits" to show? I don't know enough about batteries to know if that is a potentially bad idea or not.
     
  9. XJ550H

    XJ550H Well-Known Member Premium Member

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  10. Huntchuks

    Huntchuks Well-Known Member

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    Looks nice. Where are the front turn signals? You seem to want to jump right to the end and take off riding. Things you will need to do besides the compression testing:
    Check and test wiring, connections and components. Information Overload Hour
    Check valve clearances, yes you need to remove valve cover.
    Remove and clean carbs, replace any parts needed. Check out the Church Of Clean
    Followed by wet setting carbs, vacuum balancing the carbs and setting fuel mixtures...
     
  11. Mancub

    Mancub Member

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    Yeah the valve clearances and that last step of wet setting, vacuum balancing and setting mixtures are intimidating to me. I've never really done those. Any good resources?
     
  12. hogfiddles

    hogfiddles XJ-Wizard, Host-Central NY Carb Clinic Moderator Premium Member

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    How longs has it been sitting?
    PERSONALLY, the first thing I’d do, if not sure, and don’t know if it will even be worth doing.........would be to pul the plugs, put some oil in the cyls, then try rotating by hand (rotate the rear wheel while in gear) for a minute or so to lube the cylinders.

    ‘Then, I’d put it in neutral, hook up a Battery and see if it will spin via the starter.

    Then if it does, put a snort of gas or starter fluid in the cylinders, replace the plugs, put it in neutral hit the start and see if it’ll fire.

    1. If it turns by hand, it’ll come back to life.
    2. If it turns by starter, it’s even better.
    3. If it fires, and runs for a couple seconds on the snort, then you’re good to go forward.

    I would NOT do anything with valve adjustments first.

    ‘That’s me. I’m not too keen on doing a valve adjustment, without knowing if the engine will even rotate or fire up at all.
     
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  13. Mancub

    Mancub Member

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    Been sitting for a year or two said the last owner. I love the clear explanation thank you, I will for sure do this first (I've kinda done it when I was purchasing but I'll do it again) and that's what led me to think it's the carb.
     
  14. Mancub

    Mancub Member

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    Okay finally got my hands dirty this morning.
    1. Started by pulling the plugs and putting a little oil in.(little too much cam squirting out haha) Then I put it up into high gear and turned the wheel by hand which loosened up after a min or two. Then I connected it to a battery and had the starter turn them over which also worked.
    2. Knowing the cylinders were moving I did a compression test. Left all the plugs out, Put it in neutral, open the throttle all the way up and run it till the compression tops out. Results were consistently... poor. Sitting on bike left to right I had: 100, 95ish, 105, 108ish.
    3. While I had it all connected I thought I’d try to turn it over a bit with some gas in the tank.(fresh from guy I bought it off who tried) Put the plugs back in, turned it over a few times and got nothing. Wasn’t expecting anything anyways I was just cleaning up.

    So what do you think? The compression is a bit low but the bike has been sitting for awhile too bad right? What would be the next step? I’m thinking pull off tank, pull off and clean carbs, change oil and filter, change plugs, and... try again? Should I throw valve adjustment in there too?
     
  15. hogfiddles

    hogfiddles XJ-Wizard, Host-Central NY Carb Clinic Moderator Premium Member

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    If it turns over, yes— time to rebuild carbs, clean tank/etc...., fresh oil, do valve clearance adjustments, Go through electricals, etc... to get it running.

    once running, then brakes, tires, safety stuff.

    Compression #’s are a little low, but they’re close together so I wouldn’t concern myself any more with that. As rings loosen up again and clearances gets into spec, the #’s will go up.

    since it spins, proceed with gusto!

    dfox
     
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  16. XJ550H

    XJ550H Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    as long as you are close to the 14# spread things are good and will improve
    rings can be cleaned with 50-50 mix acetone mix if things donot improve just a little down the spark plug holes and let it soak repeteing for a few days
     
  17. Mancub

    Mancub Member

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    Awesome thanks! I’ll move on to pulling off the tank, pulling the carbs, cleaning those out, learning how to do valve clearances, changing plugs, oil. Then we can see if she runs!

    After she runs for a bit I’ll check the pressure again and see if it bumps up. At that point I could try that 50/50 mix.

    I’ve always run non-ethanol gas through my small engines. I’m planning on doing that with this bike but just had the thought to ask. I think it just keeps the carbs sooo much better.
     
  18. XJ550H

    XJ550H Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    non e is ok to run
     
  19. Mancub

    Mancub Member

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    Had one heck of a time removing the carb! That was exciting and way harder than people made it sound. The airbox rubber was really tricky, mine would not push back like people suggested. I had to use a screwdriver and a hairdryer to bend them in and shove them down while levering with a wooden handle. Got it though. First times the toughest.(I hope!)

    Also, when I took the tank off and drained it I noticed that it’s peeling inside, maybe the old sealer. Anyone have suggestions or links to videos and materials to clean it out and reseal it? If that’s what you’re suppose to do.
     

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  20. Timbox

    Timbox Well-Known Member

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    We all had to learn how to do those boots. As long as you didn't damage them consider it a job well done! Here is a link if you want to try to make them more pliable. http://v4musclebike.com/forums/showthread.php?t=13477
    The hair dryer might not put out enough heat to make them bendy, I use a paint stripper gun on low and that works really well.

    Take your time with the carbs, take them to the church of clean. Don't get in a hurry with them, you see how much fun it is to take them out and put them back in. Do it right the fist time, clean all the little sports and don't miss the small hole in the float bowl. Do a bench synch and all the good stuff.

    How is the tank?
     

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