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XJ550R Winter Refresh

Discussion in 'XJ Modifications' started by Idle Ender, Dec 4, 2019.

  1. Idle Ender

    Idle Ender New Member

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    Despite ending up here occasionally, this is my first post. Hello! Anyway, Im currently in the process of tearing down and refreshing my 82 550 Seca. After riding it all year with the bare minimum of work done to it, I figured I should fix the few things wrong and clean it up. I bought the thing for $400 only needing a battery, tires, and the carbs rebuilt. Since then Ive put new bars/grips, headlight brackets to bring the headlight down a bit, and Ive trimmed the rear fender.
    Last time I rode it before taking it apart (why is it upside down?)
    20190904_154140.jpg

    I recently wrecked my 125 and spent the last bit of the season recovering, so now is the perfect time to tear it down and truly make it my own before spring. Ive pulled the engine to replace the broken exhaust studs (it sounded like a clapped out lawn mower) and replace the leaking valve cover gasket. The plan is to degrease and paint the engine black and polish a few spots. Fins, etc. New exhaust gaskets and intake boots are also on the bench for installation. Ive been deep cleaning parts as it comes apart. The carbs came out great with just a little WD40 and a toothbrush! Also painting the cheesy factory plastic chrome turn signals black. The seat needs recovered and Im unsure if I want to source a European Guiliari seat or recover the factory one with some old brown Maserati interior pieces I have stashed in the garage. Forks need rebuilt but if I can swap to dual disks on the cheap, Id rather hold off and rebuild the replacements. Whats a bolt on dual disk swap for these? I know the box swingarm from a Radian bolts on, so thats on the "to do" list. I also spotted some JDM Koni rear shocks that look sick to replace the pitted ones on it now. Beyond that, I just need to clean up and wrap the 4 into 1 header that came on it and replace my guages that blew up. Possibly a 600cc swap if the right Radian parts bike rolls by. Lol. Leaning towards a ratty street fighter look. I love the missmashed patina of the thing and itd be a waste to paint over it. Just need a set of Beet side covers to round it off. Any thoughts or ideas?

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  2. a100man

    a100man Well-Known Member

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    For dual discs you need a set of Euro Seca sliders - these had the caliper mounts as standard. Your wheel will also take two discs I believe. While you have the motor out you must also set your valve clearances..
     
  3. Idle Ender

    Idle Ender New Member

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    So a set of Euro forks, huh? Should be easy to get my hands on. I assume the tube diameter is the same. How different are the forks on a 650, 750, or 900? Figure the more options the better. And yes, the wheel has bolt holes for a second disc. Just has a little plastic cover over them.

    Not a bad idea. Its on a list of things to do, but Id forgotten about it. Nows the time.
     
  4. XJ550H

    XJ550H Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    look in our wanted for sale there are a set of euro xj550 forks listed there
    XJ550 dual-disc conversion

    also the seca 550 has the smallest fork tube diameter of all the XJ bikes at 35 mm everything else has 36 and 37 mm fork tubes
     
  5. Idle Ender

    Idle Ender New Member

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    Little update since getting the engine out. First thing I did was hose the engine and frame off with some Simple Green and a wire brush. It certainly needed it. While I was doing that, I also painted the turn signals like I planned to. They turned out pretty good! I also painted the tops of the carbs before I slapped them back together with a new fuel T that hopefully WONT leak.
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    Once the carbs were ready to go, I was feeling frisky and decided to polish up the engine covers. Not TOO much, because I didnt want them making the patina-d tank looking funny. Painting the Yamaha lettering turned out pretty nice too.
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    Next up was a valve adjustment. Took the cover off and replaced the gasket and did some measuring only need two shims (which Im currently waiting on). While it was off, I painted the cover with some crinkle paint and let er cook in the oven for a little while. Thank goodness I live alone or I wouldnt hear the end of it. lol. Turned out just alright.
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    In hindsight, maybe I should have done this last because I still plan on painting the engine and it would have been one less thing to tape off. OH WELL. While I was baking those paint flavored cookies I started tearing down the seat to recover. Some black vinyl had been stretched over the original cover. It functioned just fine, but looked like ass. The original obviously looked much worse. Classic black duct tape fix. Dug out the Maserati leather to get some ideas and decided to use the padded back rest pieces for the top. Thoughts? My friend is going to try her hand at upholstery to save me some $$$.
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    Last but not least, I was impatient and I wanted to see how the engine would look painted black so I just went and did it. All thats left is pulling the broken exhaust studs, so I dont plan on painting that part of the head until I get that done. It was a pain in the ass keeping the cams covered without using the cover, but I think its going to turn out pretty good!
    20191211_174437.jpg 20191211_174704.jpg

    P.S. I know this post is very picture heavy. I dont know about you, but I love SEEING other peoples builds rather than just reading about it. lol
     
    Franz likes this.
  6. jayrodoh

    jayrodoh YimYam Premium Member

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    I like picture too but my neck hurts from trying to look at all your pics sideways lol.
     
  7. Idle Ender

    Idle Ender New Member

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    I agree. Not sure why they do that. Lol
     
  8. a100man

    a100man Well-Known Member

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    Nice work - I like the crackle effect too!
     
  9. Idle Ender

    Idle Ender New Member

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    Thanks! A couple spots around the edges didnt get quite enough paint and didnt crinkle up. Otherwise it turned out alright. I would definitely recommend baking that stuff. Ive never had it turn out decent otherwise.

    Also, drilling out the broken studs is going terribly. Lol. One of my few weaknesses as a mechanic. Worst case, a new head can be had for ~$100. From the looks of it, the bigger valve/hotter cam 600 head will bolt on without any issue. Is that right? Im going to try cleaning it out and tapping for a slightly bigger stud or possibly helicoil it first. Save money where I can.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2019
  10. dkavanagh

    dkavanagh Well-Known Member Premium Member

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  11. Idle Ender

    Idle Ender New Member

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    I poured some hot alum solution into the holes I had drilled into the studs and put a heater next to it that struggles to stay warm, let alone hot. From my understanding this solution needs to be near boiling the whole time to be effective. Im not going to hold my breath, but what could it hurt? That heater will at least keep it from freezing and doing more damage. Lol
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  12. dkavanagh

    dkavanagh Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I hope it works! I, thankfully, haven't had the need to try this yet, but heard enough people talking about it. I'll probably be pulling my exhaust studs in the next year or so, so we'll see if I get away with it, or need the Alum.
     
  13. a100man

    a100man Well-Known Member

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    People talk a lot about it.. I fear though it is mainly internet hearsay and you need 'lab conditions' to get good results.. Before you f*ck it up too badly I'd be tempted to take the head to a local engineering shop with precision driller and/or spark eroder.

    WRT the 600 head note that you will lose your tacho drive as on the 600s they are electronic. Also not sure what the effect of a slight mis-matched bore will have. No much probably
     
  14. XJ550H

    XJ550H Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I have tried the alum it only works on hardened steel it took me 24 hours on the stove to disolve a broken tap enough so it would come out.

    mild steel alum did nothing

    the best way I have seen is a constant flow from what looked like a IV bag so you were constantly refreshing the alum solotion while the part was soaking in a crock pot. if it is not bubbling its not working
     
  15. Idle Ender

    Idle Ender New Member

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    Im determined to do it on my own one way or another. If only just to save money because I am currently out of work due to a destroyed leg. In the end, Im positive Ill get something to work. It may not be pretty, but it will hold the damn exhaust on reliably. Also, I dont mind losing the tach. The original blew up going about a buck fifteen down the highway. lol. Pulled up to the house and the needle was sitting at the bottom of the housing and the middle was spinning in circles.

    Yeah, thats my understanding of it. Watching the videos and reading up on it makes me think that things have to be juuuuust right in order for it to work at all. And even then it was only on very small parts. I havnt been out to the garage to check yet, but Im sure it hasnt done a thing. lol.
     
  16. dkavanagh

    dkavanagh Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I "think" the '81 used mechanical tach and later ones used electronic. If I'm not mistaken, you could probably use a tach from a '82 or '83 550 and the later head.

    I stand corrected. I just check parts for '82 and '83... tach cable still there.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2019
  17. Idle Ender

    Idle Ender New Member

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    Good thought. Lol. Its technically an 82 anyways. Just running the 81 tank when I bought it. Much prettier color! Either way Ill need a new tach, so if I end up with electronic nbd.
     
  18. Idle Ender

    Idle Ender New Member

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    Yup. Unsurprisingly, it didnt do a thing. Im sure it can work under very specific circumstances. But it isnt gonna work for me.
     
  19. Idle Ender

    Idle Ender New Member

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    Good news and bad news. Good news is I managed to drill out and tap 2 of the 3 broken studs. Theyre a little snaggletoothed, but they now have good thread and wont be going anywhere. Bad news is the last stud snapped the drill bit in it. Dangit. So close! I decided to walk away from it for the night and Im seriously considering the $200 Radian engine sitting in my Facebook marketplace. lol. If only I didnt have bills to pay. In the meantime I went back to my "To Do List" and crossed off quite a bit of stuff. Of course, I added quite a bit more than I crossed off! Heres where Im at:

    * Finish fixing exhaust studs
    * Finish painting engine and engine bits
    * Euro dual disk fork swap
    * Rebuild/clean/paint new forks
    * Rebuild front calipers (Current caliper is dragging)
    * Stainless front brake lines
    * Figure out simpler dash solution (Tach, speedo, dummy lights, and I want to try to keep my functional gas gauge)
    * Support for exhaust (I have a suspicion that my studs broke because nothing was supporting the header)
    * DB killer for header or run pipe for Moriwaki Foresight or Ladybird muffler ($$$$$)
    * Clean and fix the slightly bent and rusty shift lever
    * Recover factory seat or replace with Euro Giuliari seat (Factory seat is currently being redone by a friend)
    * New grips (Looking at Randakks "Amazing" grips)
    * Fix a possible bead leak on the rear tire
    * Check swingarm bearings (Possibly Radian swap)
    * Upgrade rear shocks (JDM Koni)
    * Replace VERY bent kickstand
    * Fix/upgrade disintegrated fuse box
    * Finish valve adjustment (Still waiting on shims)
    * Fix falling apart spark plug boots
    * Check timing chain tension
    * Compression test
    * Tank badges
    * Beet side covers
    * Beet front fender
    * Beet fork brace
    * Carb sync/tune with YICS tool
    * XJ600 or 900 belly fairing
    * Rickman CR style front fairing
    * Replace red tail section with a used white (81) one
    * Hunt down ANOTHER OE key blank
    * Horn works intermittently
    * Route battery drain hose
    * Spark plugs
    * Oil and filter change (Rotella and Wix filter)
    * Wire trickle charger and phone/gopro harness
    * Lube locks and cables
    * Clubman or clip on bars
    * Rearsets
    * Oil cooler and possibly spin on filter mod
    * Print out the damn shop manual

    Anything I should add to this list? It seems a bit excessive, but this is a short list compared to the Suzuki I finished this season. Which I proceeded to wreck. ugh.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2019
  20. Idle Ender

    Idle Ender New Member

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    Got it back together and running! Just gotta do a little adjusting and then all thats left is to wait on the seat! I also wired in a USB port and a plug for my trickle charger. Sounds nice and healthy and the blacked out engine looks significantly better. I definitely need to put some baffles in ASAP before my neighbors lose it. As a side note; does anyone have a white tail section they want to trade for my red one? lol.

    No matter how I edit it before I post, my pictures dont want to post right. Very frustrating.
    20191229_173932.jpg
     

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