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Chapter XI: Finishing the Triage Build – False Start #2



Three days after finishing up the suspension work I received a box at the front door.  It took five weeks, but the top-end work by Eric Gorr was flawless.  Out of paranoia, and at the request of some doubters on one forum thread, I had etched a marking on the cylinder casting to ensure I got the same part back.  There should never have been any doubt.  There was also a new number stamping/etching by Gorr’s shop, letting me know they keep notes on cylinders that come through their business.

I knew it was the original head only because there were still a few minor pits in the freshly-cut head from the prior ring-shrapnel damage.  Everything looked better and cleaner than new.  Everything went together with absolutely no issues.  From the looks of it, this cylinder should last me another decade if I treat the bike properly. 

Since everything else checks out on measurement/inspection, I hoped to avoid any other work to the motor for now.  This left me with only one other note of interest…The Other Oil Question. 

On a two-stroke, case oil bathes the gears, the seals and the friction plates of a clutch.  No cooling or lubricating of a top-end comes into question.  Well…this list of items/internals sounds very much like another familiar system…an automatic transmission with gears, seals and friction plates.  Given this, the price of lubricants and how often I intend to check/replace fluids, I’ve decided I’m going to run something made purely for this kind of mechanical environment…transmission fluid.  Specifically, I’ll be running ATF Type-F.  Many have used it in this application with no issues for many years, and nobody has given me a strong explanation why I shouldn’t. 

I’ll have to report back on any issues if they arise, but I don’t foresee any at this stage and with my prior experiences.

The motor was complete, the suspension, wheels, brakes, running gear and body repairs were all done.  The countless rubber bushings and isolators had been replaced.  Electrical systems were back in place.  The cooling system was refilled.  Fresh fuel was in the tank, feeding the original (but cleaned) carburetor, on the jetting from the previous owner, breathing through a new filter in a clean airbox…but then there is always something, isn’t there?

I noticed that the kickstart shaft was laying heavily against the FMF pipe.  If I moved the kicker back one spline on the shaft, the kicker contacted the frame and wouldn’t fold in.  Pictures of stock bikes showed the kick-starter exactly half-way between the two available positions I had.  Grrrr…   This led me to believe that internal components were misaligned by the PO when working in that area, or that the mechanism was somehow worn.  I was thinking I’d put a rubber shrink-tube on the kickstart shaft…I wasn’t about to pull the clutch and dig into the kickstart mechanism for a spline alignment issue.  However, it was just another potential problem shown by a minor external detail pointing to prior mistreatment by an owner who either didn’t care or wasn’t a solid mechanic.

After parking the bike and leaving it for a while, I came back to a nickel-sized coolant spot below the motor.  Once again, a sad but expected issue.  The previous owner said he had rebuilt the water pump.  He did it incorrectly and damaged a coolant seal.  The leak was small enough that it was likely being absorbed into the dirt and grime that had built up under the pump weep hole.  Just like with the fork seals, a clean bike would have exposed more problems.  This didn’t surprise me, given the mis-aligned kickstart shaft and the missing flange bolt on the flywheel.  Since I need to pull the clutch…again…to realign the kick start shaft assembly, it will be very little additional work to rebuild.  If it were just the kick shaft, I’d let things pass, but I don’t want to go riding with a failing coolant pump seal.

So…into the motor we go…again.  Of course, this uncovered even more joy.  You may recall that when I put the first fresh ATF-F in the gearbox, I also installed a high-gauss magnetic oil drain plug to the bike.  Remember now…the bike hasn’t really been run yet.  All I did was the work described, followed by filling with fresh fluids, kicking the bike through a few times, rolling it around the garage, and shifting it through gears on a bike stand while spinning the rear wheel by hand.

The drain plug came out in a manner that reminded me of that iron-shaving beard/moustache/hair game some of us old-timers may remember from our younger years…the same game that can still be purchased at Cracker Barrel waiting areas.  The magnet was completely covered.  I’m talking about a layer standing out easily ¼ to ½ of an inch in every direction.  I cleaned the silver mess off onto a shop towel, then looked at “sparkling” ATF coming out of the motor.  Either his gearcase had never been flushed, or I inherited a major/imminent component failure in the gearbox.  Since the motor had been far enough apart for someone to replace the clutch basket, misalign a kick-start assembly and botch a water pump seal, I’d have to assume fluids were changed. 

Regardless, the heavy magnet pulled huge amounts of debris out.  I also wiped more silver mess out from under the clutch hub when pulling both covers for the water pump rebuild.  If this much came out with a single fluid change and no motor run-time, I had to assume there was similar debris just sitting in the transmission bearings and chewing away at internal seals.  The thoughts that came to mind with this created a knot in my stomach, but I had to press on at this point.  If a major transmission failure mid-season is avoided, I’ll have to assume that a case-split and detailed transmission inspection will be needed over the winter.

Well…the kick starter was now properly aligned, the water pump no longer leaked, and I removed a bunch of shrapnel from the gearbox…getting closer.


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