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Rebuilding an '85 XT350

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Hi Everyone,

I'm rebuilding an '85 XT350 and it's also my first motorcycle. Yeah, I'm 34 years old and it's my first bike. What can I say, I've been busy! :goofy: 

I'm hoping to not only share my own ideas, pictures, what I've learned, etc., but also get some answers and ideas from others out there. If you don't like reading, feel free to move along now. I tend to write a lot about things that interest me! :thumbsup:

I have boldfaced my questions along the way. If you have answers or input, please reply! I am very grateful for your knowledge and insight!

Also, if you have any questions for me, about how I did anything or where I found anything, feel free to ask!

Brief history: I got this bike for $1,000 with 15k original miles (supposedly) out in Forest Grove, OR a couple months ago. Right away she needed a valve cover gasket, a tune up, a chain, a rear tire, a battery, and lots of cleaning. She started, idled, and rode well, though. Anyways, I plan to rebuild her as more of a street bike, and I have set myself a budget of $2,500, which includes the purchase price as well as the additional $125 to title and register her in my name. Some of you might say that I could have just bought a newer, nicer bike for $2,500 and saved myself the trouble. Well, you'd be missing the point. This is a very fun project for me! And in case you were wondering, I named her "Yammy". :rolleyes:

So I did the valve cover job, spark plug, fuel filter, and oil change at my buddy's house there in Forest Grove, then rode her home to Sandy, OR (90-minute ride). I then rode the bike fairly hard in city and on highway about every 2-3 days for a few weeks in the hot summer weather to make sure she was in good mechanical condition before tearing her all apart. She handled everything I put her through great, and I discovered that I really enjoy riding this little bike, even in her orginal, ugly state! Light and nimble with plenty of torque, even for a 200-lb white boy! :ride:

When I had the valve cover off, the cams and chain and everything inside looked super clean and bright. Not sure if that is normal for a motor with this many miles, or if it has possibly been rebuilt in the past. The number on the engine matches the VIN so I know it is the original motor (VIN ends in 000116... Oregon DMV said that means this is the 116th production XT350 ever made). Since it rode so well and didn't smoke at all, and the clutch and gearbox seemed to work and feel well, I'm not going to put any immediate work into the engine/trans. I will certainly rebuild and rejet the carburetor, though before I am through. ;)

I have attached some pictures from the beginning (in my buddy's spacious garage) to where I'm at now (at my tiny condo!). And I just finished removing the swing arm and engine from the frame yesterday so the pictures are a little behind (more pics with my next post). I am now ready to start reworking the frame, which will include inspecting and fixing/straightening any damaged threads or tabs, stripping the factory red paint, and applying 4 coats of Rustoleum trim and bumper paint just like I did on the handlebars, which turned out great (I figured this paint is made specifically for car exteriors, including metal trim, so it should be a good all-weather outdoor paint). 

And yes, I know the frame can be acid-dipped or bead-blasted and then powder-coated and blah blah blah... but I don't have room in my budget for those wonderful things. This is more of a tight-budget, DIY kind of project, as much as possible, anyways. 

Looking at the pictures of the completed handlebars and headlight assembly should give you an idea of where I am going with the rest of this bike. I plan to add a white "YAMAHA" decal to the lower region of the cowling, like you see on some of the newer XT350's.

Here are the things I plan to do (or have already done) that will be upgrades or changes from stock beyond just a change in color:

1) convert to a beefier 520 chain with new front and rear sprockets for better highway riding

I am going to start with a 16-tooth in the front and a 40-tooth in the rear. Before you go bananas with your criticisms here, I would prefer to only hear from those that have ACTUALLY tried to run this same set up on this same bike. I don't care too much for theory. I'm an engineer, not a scientist. I remember reading a post where a guy said he was able to run the 16-tooth in the front, but the clearance was close. Others have said 15-tooth max in front for the 520 chain... well I decided to give the 16-tooth a try. Once I have it fitted up, I'll post pictures to show the clearances around the front sprocket and chain. Also, I'm not sure how sluggish she will be in the low end with this 2.5 gear ratio, but the new sprockets are cheap enough. If I need to get different ones, that's what I will do. It's not like they get welded on or anything. Thoughts on the subject?

2) replace factory turn signals with 10x smaller LED turn signals (just some cheap ones from China, but they look good... we'll see how they work and last)

3) custom-fab rear fender assembly to relocate license plate to factory taillight location and incorporate aftermarket fender with LED taillight below license plate

4) aftermarket mirrors have already been installed on the handlebars

5) shave off header pipe heat shield tabs, strip off rust, paint with high-temp primer and black header paint

6) install DG Performance R-Series slip-on exhaust

I could not find many muffler options for this bike other than this and the over-priced Supertrapp. Any other ideas/suggestions?

7) Modify or replace airbox for increased airflow?

I haven't done much research on this topic yet. I know there are instructions on modding the airbox out there. But has anyone ever replaced it with cone filters like the ones in this link? Would that work? And if not, why? https://www.knfilters.com/search/product.aspx?prod=RC-1060

Other than that short list of mods/changes, everything else is just cleaning, repairing, replacing, stripping, repainting, etc. The biggest challenge I think will be the gas tank. It is pretty clean, but has a few dents I would like to take out. Also it has a few small spots of rust inside. Luckily my brother has been doing auto body for almost 20 years so I'm going to have him straighten it out and primer it for me. Here is my full plan for reworking the gas tank... please comment if you have ideas/suggestions/concerns.

1) Remove tank from bike, remove petcock, drain all fuel (already done).

2) Wash out inside with hot water and dish soap.

3) Rinse out inside with hot water and blow dry.

4) Use heat gun and/or acetone to remove factory decals.

5) Use paint stripper to remove factory white paint.

6) Submerge tank in bucket of Evapo-Rust for 24 hours.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00M0TLQ6Q/

7) Rinse tank inside and out with hot water and blow dry.

8) Treat tank inside and out with a rust inhibitor (to protect during body work).

https://www.amazon.com/CRC-Aviation-Corrosion-Inhibitor-Aerosol/dp/B0013J4008/

9) Have body shop fix 3 dents and paint outside with black epoxy primer. ($150)

10) Spray paint outside of tank semi-gloss black.

11) Install new petcock.

12) Rinse tank out with non-ethanol premium gasoline.

13) Install on bike.

14) Fill with non-ethanol premium gasoline.

I am hoping this will all work out well and result in a straight, beautiful, and rust-free gas tank. I am not planning to coat the inside with "kreem" or a similar product as I don't see the need for it. The tank is currently over 30 years old and is nearly pristine inside. Has anyone taken a similar approach to this before to remove rust and prep a gas tank for weld/repair at the same time? 

The bigger-ticket items I still need to purchase include the slip-on exhaust I mentioned above, a new rear tire, a new seat cover (black), and a new battery. Parts I have already purchased include black Daystar fork boots, black Oury grips, aftermarket mirrors, aftermarket rear fender with LED taillight, aftermarket LED turn signals, OEM petcock valve (original one leaked a bit), an EK heavy-duty 520SR chain (made in Japan), and 16-tooth and 40-tooth sprockets from JT Sprockets.

I think I have everything else I am planning to do figured out, except for rebuilding and rejetting the carburetor. But I've got a Clymer's manual and the internet to help me with that, and if I get stumped, I will certainly bring my questions here! But for now, please feel free to chime in, and stay tuned for more pictures, updates, and questions! Thanks for your interest in my little project!

-Kyle

 

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The DG pipe will look good - better than that eyesore stock thing.

Probably a bit overkill on the tank prep - you said its pristine inside but still going to submerge it in rust killer ?

 

 

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Well I said it's almost pristine inside, especially considering its age... but there are a few small (1" diameter or smaller) spots of rust inside.

I'm freaky about rust. It is the spreading cancer of steel. Once you let it start, it's only a matter of time before that tight rust eats deep enough to cause holes and leaks.

But your probably right... it's overkill. I could just clean it out well, treat the inside with the rust inhibitor, remove the decals, and give it to the body shop. Let them sand and primer right over the factory paint and call it done. But I sure would like to hand them a clean, bare-metal tank instead. It's arguably the most important single part on the bike.

I'm no engine expert, either, but I suspect the very slightly orange fuel this tank produces isn't great for my engine. The fuel filter doesn't stop it... it's still a little orange in the carb.

Here's a picture of the bare frame (with some hardware still on). Next time you see it, it will be black and clean! -don't hold your breath...

IMG_20170904_100409.jpg

Edited by ghosted_rider
Forgot to add picture of frame...

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If you have slightly rusted clean it and use it. You don't have to do anything else. Having good gas in it will prevent rust from starting.

Sent from my XT1635-01 using ThumperTalk mobile app

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5 hours ago, FUHL said:

I had a 96.
If you need more preload on the rear shock, there is another notch on the shock body that holds the Spring collar on. Move it to the lowest position.

 

Thanks for the tip. When I take that thing apart for cleaning and learning, I will certainly keep this in mind. It would certainly be nice to tighten her rear up a little more. Hmm, seems like I had that same issue with a recent ex. Never did work that one out! :lol: 

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To clean up the inside of these tanks I use apple cider vinegar , fill it full let it sit for 1 to 2 weeks , sloshing it every day , drain out and quickly flush then dump some premix gas oil fuel in it . it'll be spanking clean , no rust . I also use Stabil 360 for several tanks because it's supposed to put a film on tanks above the fuel level to stop rust . It all helps .

 

 

.

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To clean up the inside of these tanks I use apple cider vinegar , fill it full let it sit for 1 to 2 weeks , sloshing it every day , drain out and quickly flush then dump some premix gas oil fuel in it . it'll be spanking clean , no rust . I also use Stabil 360 for several tanks because it's supposed to put a film on tanks above the fuel level to stop rust . It all helps .
 
 
.

Why waste so much time? If it's bad enough to need a cleaning use some CLR, or Zep CLR. Works fast less than a day.

Sent from my XT1635-01 using ThumperTalk mobile app

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Whatever trips a persons boat . 

 

For the air filter setup , i'd never eliminate the air box to replace with pods unless a person plans to only run pavement and on bright sunny and dry days . For offroading , riding in rain , ect.. those pods take all the elements without protection for little gain . Do some of the airbox mods but don't get carried away , the airbox design and shape will help with flow in most case and as long as there is enough cubic inches of flow there is no gain in cutting big holes . I like using those 1" dia filtered vent plugs instead of big open holes  https://www.ebay.com/sch/sis.html?_nkw=Uni-Filter+Air+Box+Vents+%2F+Filters+UFV-6+-+Pkg+of+6&_id=142232057584&&_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2658  . Stick with Uni , Twin Air or even Funnel Web's filters if available and a good filter oil , don't go with a K&N for an offroad bike unless you use a Outerwares or Filter Skinz to help stop dust from making it to the engine .

 

.

Edited by jjktmrider
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13 hours ago, jjktmrider said:

I like using those 1" dia filtered vent plugs instead of big open holes  https://www.ebay.com/sch/sis.html?_nkw=Uni-Filter+Air+Box+Vents+%2F+Filters+UFV-6+-+Pkg+of+6&_id=142232057584&&_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2658  . Stick with Uni , Twin Air or even Funnel Web's filters if available and a good filter oil , don't go with a K&N for an offroad bike unless you use a Outerwares or Filter Skinz to help stop dust from making it to the engine .

 

.

Thanks for the good tip about the vent plugs. I didn't know about those. I will definitely stick with the Uni dual-element filter if I keep the factory box.

I AM actually planning to ride this bike on street only, and likely not in the rain at all either unless caught off guard. That being said, I also considered the problem of the cone filters letting too much 'junk' in ,but K&N has these covers that are designed for marine applications to keep out mist and water, and if the filter is oiled properly, it should not let much dust through either. However, I am also concerned that this might make the bike really loud? Which I don't want. And you're probably right, the performance gains would likely be minimal, but it might look/sound cool? Maybe it's not worth it.

Still need to do a little more research.

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Whatever trips a persons boat . 

 

For the air filter setup , i'd never eliminate the air box to replace with pods unless a person plans to only run pavement and on bright sunny and dry days . For offroading , riding in rain , ect.. those pods take all the elements without protection for little gain . Do some of the airbox mods but don't get carried away , the airbox design and shape will help with flow in most case and as long as there is enough cubic inches of flow there is no gain in cutting big holes . I like using those 1" dia filtered vent plugs instead of big open holes  https://www.ebay.com/sch/sis.html?_nkw=Uni-Filter+Air+Box+Vents+%2F+Filters+UFV-6+-+Pkg+of+6&_id=142232057584&&_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2658  . Stick with Uni , Twin Air or even Funnel Web's filters if available and a good filter oil , don't go with a K&N for an offroad bike unless you use a Outerwares or Filter Skinz to help stop dust from making it to the engine .

 

.

I second the 1" vents. I used them

on my 96.

 

Sent from my XT1254 using ThumperTalk mobile app

 

 

 

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On 9/9/2017 at 11:13 AM, ghosted_rider said:

Thanks for the good tip about the vent plugs. I didn't know about those. I will definitely stick with the Uni dual-element filter if I keep the factory box.

I AM actually planning to ride this bike on street only, and likely not in the rain at all either unless caught off guard. That being said, I also considered the problem of the cone filters letting too much 'junk' in ,but K&N has these covers that are designed for marine applications to keep out mist and water, and if the filter is oiled properly, it should not let much dust through either. However, I am also concerned that this might make the bike really loud? Which I don't want. And you're probably right, the performance gains would likely be minimal, but it might look/sound cool? Maybe it's not worth it.

Still need to do a little more research.

In my sand duning toys I always used OuterWares which are probably the company K&N uses to make their "pre-filters for water protection . They do indeed do a damn good job and keeping water out even though they're just a mesh cover , except the spaces are smaller than water droplets can go through easily . The setup always did a great job of keeping everything out of the motor. I used to put a couple strips of a sticky grease in a few spots inside the intake tract before the carb so if any fines got through they'd be caught and I could see an issue , they were always clean . Just keep the filters completely oiled , it tends to settle down and leave the top of the filter thin on protection so I'd generally give the top a quick spray of oil just before each ride that'll be dusty.

I now use Motorex filter oil , it is the stickiest crap I've ever dealt with , hard to get off my hands, takes several washings in a grease cutting soap so it's a great filter oil.

.

Edited by jjktmrider

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After a long break I think I am ready to start working on my bike again. Long story short, life threw a couple curve balls at me and I had to move and change jobs and the bike has been sitting in pieces in my new basement. Being winter time (cold and wet almost every day here in the northwest), and still very busy at the new job, I haven't had much motivation, time, or money to work on the bike. But I think I'm going to try and get the frame done soon. I'll post more when I have more to post!

Thanks to everyone so far for your tips and advice. It's been a big help. I decided to mod my airbox and add several of the 1" vent plugs, by the way. Updates to come on that, too. Someday...

Cheers!

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Got the frame back from my brother today. It looks brand new! =)

The frame was sand-blasted and hit with two coats of black primer. I will add two coats of black automotive paint in the near future. Also had the kickstand tab straightened and re-welded. $120 total... money well spent I think.

Time to get to work on the rear suspension bits!

 

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On 7/25/2018 at 10:28 PM, Shackleton said:

How about an update?

Well unfortunately i have no updates on the bike, so a quick update on my crazy life will have to suffice! 

Started a new job in late May that's been keeping me real busy and mentally exhausted. Also I'm buying a house near my new job and will be moving into it in about 6 weeks. Really excited, big garage, definitely going to be a great spot for working on this bike! 

So i probably won't have any significant updates on this project for another couple of months. Man, i didn't expect this rebuild to drag out so long, but that's just the way life goes sometimes. 

Stay tuned! 😊

Edit: I almost forgot, my brother is now working on the gas tank (slowly). He worked out a couple dents and now just needs to mud and primer it. Not sure yet what I'm going to do for final paint on that. It will be black, but I think i might have that one professionally painted. Well see. I'll take some pics when I get it back. Might be a while though. I told him no rush. 

Edited by ghosted_rider
Forgot some info...
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Im putting my carbs back on tomorrow after a rebuild. Replaced all the o-rings, the coasting enrichment diaphragm and parts, and went up one on the pilot jet, main jet and shimmed the secondary needle. Will let you know how it goes. FYI its an XT350 88 with only 1200 miles I just bought after having my 98 with 7700 miles stolen last month. 

Edited by Shackleton

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