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Getting an XJ550 Running Again

Discussion in 'XJ Technical Chat' started by Antothoro, Dec 15, 2019.

  1. Antothoro

    Antothoro Member

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    Howdy,

    Several years ago I bought an XJ550 to keep by hands busy and learn something new. Ended up never getting it running.

    I'm looking to get it running this winter. Has anybody written a document up on the things to check when it's static for years? I'm thinking new plugs, oil change, break fluid, filters, etc.

    Thanks
     
  2. Ryengoth

    Ryengoth Active Member

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    Quick list from my rebuild: head bearings, carb cleaning (search "church of clean"), wheel bearings, fork oil and seals, chain, front brake pads and rear shoes, master cylinder fluid and fuses.
     
  3. Simmy

    Simmy Well-Known Member

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    These are all secondary measures once you have it running.
    First thing is pull the valve cover and check if the valves are in tolerance.
    Second step is a compression test.
    Third step, see if you have spark.
    Other than some maintenance tools you haven't sunk any money into this yet which is good.
    Step 2 might tell you it's not a good candidate and better sold on to someone else as a parts bike.

    If step 2 shows it to be a good candidate for a runner then pull the carbs off and completely apart.
    Rebuilt carbs, spark, compression and fuel is what it needs to run.

    Even before any of this, take an honest appraisal of the bike. Are the cosmetics good? Is the tank rusty?
    Clocks faded, pipes rotted?
    Add up what you need to spend. It might not make sense but if you love to tinker that's good enough for me.
     
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  4. Ryengoth

    Ryengoth Active Member

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    Assuming it wasn't running then compression test would actually be my first step, then the clearances. Personally, I'd tear into the head regardless and check the journal wear. :D Not everyone enjoys tinkering though.
     
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  5. XJ550H

    XJ550H Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    you want to look at the periodotic maintance items and do those things
    so first is to change the oil I use shell rotella T4 oil its about 14$ a gallon at walmart. change the oil filter,
    replace vacuum line from carbs to petcock 4mm ID

    ohm out ignition system clean the connectors

    this link has specs on ignition system
    The Ultimate Relay, Switch, Sensor, and Diodes Guide

    next is to check valve shim clearance. get in spec. now you can do a proper compression test if you want or need to. I do one for a base line.
    Bigfitz's AIRHEAD VALVE ADJUSTMENT with Pics - parts I & II


    charge the battery.how old is it ? may need a new one.

    do a voltage drop test on the battery when cranking over starter.
    also give it a shot of starter fluid to see if it fires.

    carbs may need a good cleaning
    IN THE CHURCH OF CLEAN



    light reading
    The Information Overload Hour



     
  6. Hillsy

    Hillsy Member

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    Yep - all good advice. Don't go buying bits for it that are unnecessary at this stage until you can assess if the engine is OK.

    Who knows - it might have a spun big end bearing which is more or less game over.
     
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  7. Antothoro

    Antothoro Member

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    Thanks for the feedback guys.

    Here's a bullet point status of the bike:
    - No oil in the bike
    - No running for 9 years
    - Carbs rebuilt (but not synced again)
    - Gas tank was drained and attempted to be de-rusted

    I've got the battery on a charger. That might be toast.. old battery and not regularly charged. So we'll see what happens. Any suggestions on powering the electrical system without a battery?

    Low hanging items on my initial list is:
    - oil & filter
    - gas filter
    - spark plugs
    - battery

    When I was working on the bike last, some 8 years ago, I was focusing on the electrical because it would not start the starter.
     
  8. Ryengoth

    Ryengoth Active Member

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    You will need some sort of lead-acid 12V battery to test the electrical unless you have a 15A 12VDC power supply you can hook up.
     
  9. XJ550H

    XJ550H Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    car battery
    how long has the oil been out of the bike?
    batterys are not expensive at wall mart and ebay

    a gallon of Rotella T4 oil is 15$ that will get you a oil change and an oil and filter change
    get a new filter. check that the spring and flat washer are behind the filter bolt side of housing.
    washer may stick to old filter or be missing the spring may be missing.

    run switch could be dirty.
    starter could be bad fuse or dirty button contacts , poor connection from control harness to main harness. poor ground of control to handlebars and bars to frame.
    if the oil light comes on when starter button is pushed you have a good ground. check and clean battery connections . clean connections on solinoid and frame ground under battery box and at motor.

    to check solinoid undo wire going to starter hook meter or test light to that connection and battery ground see if you get voltage when starter button is pushed

    starter motor could be bad
     
  10. Antothoro

    Antothoro Member

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    It's been without oil for like 8 years.
    The battery just won't get above 8v. So I'm thinking it's toast.
     
  11. Ryengoth

    Ryengoth Active Member

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    Make sure none of the plates have been exposed to air. If they have, the plates are ruined.
     
  12. Antothoro

    Antothoro Member

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    I'm thinking about putting some, small amount, of oil in the cylinders and manually turning it over. Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2020
  13. Antothoro

    Antothoro Member

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    The plates? *insert blank look here*
     
  14. Ryengoth

    Ryengoth Active Member

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    battery cells
     
  15. Antothoro

    Antothoro Member

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    Oh yeah, it was dry.
     
  16. Timbox

    Timbox Well-Known Member

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    If the bike has been sitting that long without oil in it, I would definitely turn the crank by hand counter clockwise to get some oil in the engine. Before filling up the bike with oil, check to make sure there is a oil filter in the bike and it is in correctly. Remove the ignition cover on the left side of the bike. Using a 19mm wrench you will able to turn the engine slowly to get some much needed oil into the engine. Do with with the spark plugs out of the bike so you don't have to fight compression. Taking a little oil into each cylinder would help the rings free up if they are frozen as well.

    As mentioned above, do all those steps as well. You have to look at the bike and see if it can be made road safe, has all the parts ect. There is always a price to bring these bikes back from the dead. Many have said and I will repeat, they don't make these bikes anymore, hate to see them parted out or sent to the yard. Good luck, take it slow and keep us posted.
     
  17. Ryengoth

    Ryengoth Active Member

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    Then it's toast. Buy another one. You can't recover cells once they oxidize.
     
  18. Minimutly

    Minimutly Active Member

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    Counter clockwise? Why?
     
  19. Ryengoth

    Ryengoth Active Member

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    The starter will hang up otherwise.
     
  20. XJ550H

    XJ550H Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    good idea let it sit for a while before turning motor to let it sink into rings
     

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