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So, I snapped my tappet cover bolt today...

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...by loosening it!!! Oh, what crappy-ass pot luck I have. Never ever ever EVER trust mild steel bolts. The thing wasn't even torqued tight enough, yet it snaps right off. Going to drop the engine this weekend and see what I can do. These things come at a bad time, since I'm off to Baviaanskloof in June and still have major work to do to the XT 'fore she's shipshape.

Anyone know of solutions to my problem? I can't see any way to get to the bolt without dropping the engine, since the backbone runs right over it and there's no space to get a drill bit in:banghead:

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Depends on how much is left and what tools you have available.

By any chance is there enough sticking out of the hole that you can slide a slightly oversized nut over the stub and tack a couple of weld globs on?

If you can get the whole cover off, can you get a vice-grips around the stub?

If not, sounds like you're SOL and will need to yank it and drill it - at least that's the cheap solution.

The expensive solution involves no work at all, send your butler to call your mechanic and pick up the bike to repair it. No butler? Damn, me neither, ok, you can call the mechanic your self.

Bummer, I've had similar problems in the past and you sit there and wonder if there's a better way. But no answer comes. Then, you do it the hard way and as you're putting it all back together again, you realize there is an easier way.

Can you loosen a few bolts and remove others to rotate the engine (may require taking the chain off too).

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Thanks for the advice. I thought of tilting the motor forward, since it only involves the intake/exhaust manifolds, headers, chain...small stuff. Just please o please, I NEVER want to remove those carbs ever again. I'm gonna look into the welding part, but I was wondering...if I tack a lil' blob onto what's left of the stud, and apply the vice grips/elbow grease/swearing, wouldn't that work? The cover comes off, but ATM all that's holding it on is some gasket maker, a piece of bloudraad (tough wire, blueish in colour) and a wedge of wood. It's just one thing after another...

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Oh tell me about the carbs. BUT they're not as bad as my other bikes. That has four of them and about negative one centimeter clearance. To put them on, I gingerly apply a screw driver and cursing.

Lots and lots of cursing.

Followed by begging.

And pleading.

If you can rotate the engine, it may make putting the carbs back in easier.

To be honest, I don't think you have to pull the exhaust.

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I'll have to pull the headers, since my res chamber ain't exactly small and things get tight around there:ride:. I tried to get into my float bowl w/out removing the carbs the other day, but still impossible since the right hand side rear screw sits above the piece on the airbox where the breather tube goes to:banghead:. Damn those lil' rice-eaters and their compact everything. With all the carb troubles, the Megasquirt system looks more appealing every day...maybe even the Raptor 660 mod would do. Don't wanna lose my great mpg though (I adjusted it so that the 2nd carb kicks in at about 3/4 throttle) and the dual carby's could be bearable. Let's just not hope I need to open them too soon. TBH the 550's whole design is, to put it into better words, retarded. Why the dual carbs? Why the ancient Egyptian swingarm? Why the weak clutch? And the CDI? Ah, I'll just shut up now and ride it:ride:

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Hey! I know the answer to some of these:

Damn those lil' rice-eaters and their compact everything.
Japanese tend to be small people to begin with. I'm convinced they hire only midgets with even smaller hands as well as children in their assembly plants
TBH the 550's whole design is, to put it into better words, retarded. Why the dual carbs?
To provide bottom end torque and top end power.

A small carb is good for low end torque, but chokes when you try to make it flow larger volumes. So the second carb opens when it thinks you need more flow.

Why the ancient Egyptian swingarm?
At least it's uni-track, could be a dual shock like on my gf's KE100 (designed in 1974).
Why the weak clutch?
Hmm, that I haven't experienced.
And the CDI?
This one I don't know, thankfully there's an aftermarket so you don't have to spend $500 on one that's going to fail again later.
Ah, I'll just shut up now and ride it:ride:
Best idea.

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Lol, awesome replies. The 550 is a nice little bike, light for the power it produces etc but the layout wasn't that great IMO. Since this thread isn't gonna go anywhere anytime soon, might as well rant about the bikes shortcomings, eh. You making any progress with the dual exhaust project yet? That'd be an interesting project if it works out.

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Nothing yet.

I ran into a problem that I don't have a solution as of yet.

I have a welder, it works great on everything up to 1/8", although it's only rated to 12 gauge. This is a difference of approximately 4 mm. If you're creative, you can even go thicker than that. That's not where the problem is. The problem is I really want to use stainless steel. My welder won't do stainless at all.

I have three choices:

  1. Don't use stainless
  2. Pay somebody else to do it
  3. beg, borrow or steal a welder that will do stainless

While it's a losing battle, I'm still fighting for option number three. I really should just abandon this ambition and use regular steel and paint it. I don't want to do that because over one season, the best header paint I can get my hands on (at a cost of $40 to do the stock pipes) washed off when pressure washed, and it was cured according to the directions from the paint manufacturer. I think it's simply not designed to be power washed. Thus, I have nice white and rust colored stock pipes right now. (the high temp primer is white, appears to have survived the pressure washer assult.)

Or swallow my pride and pay somebody else to weld it.

In the mean time, this has given me more time to perfect my pipe cutting and welding skills. It's still ugly, but getting better. AFAIK it's air tight which is the important part. If I go stainless, it's gonna have to be water tight because I can't rely on paint to seal it, even if I could rely on paint to seal the exhaust, it's not a good idea, because it is exhaust and will be subjected to moisture from the inside and lots of heat - prime candidates for rust.

Bikes short comings:

Mine: bent forks. I can't wait for my replacement forks to show up, hopefully tomorrow. Can't find a license plate bracket for any reasonable cost when I can find one, so I'm gonna have to make my own.

XT550: why oh why does the seat have to be so damn tall? There's nothing under the seat, the frame could easily be an inch or two shorter under my butt.

Since I can't change the seat height any more, can somebody make a flappy-lever so when I dump the bike cause it's too tall, it doesn't break off my hand levers?

Yamaha, thanks for severely limiting my local mirror choices by using screwy threads. 10mm, but polish threads.

Really, that's all I can complain about with it for 25 year old technology. Sure, a little longer swing arm with a stiffer shock for more rear travel, but it works. It's not an MX bike after all.

A nice bright headlight would be a good start since it is intended for street use. A front fairing would look good, even if it's covered in mud.

A digital owners manual would be awesome. - I may buy one and scan it just because.

Carbs are a PITA, but nothing like my street bike. I spent an hour last night fighting with the boots only to fire it up and find out one cyl is not firing. I hope it's a loose spark plug wire, because I don't want to mess with the carbs again.

Still trying to figure out what the purpose of the inner-weld seam at the head joint is for. I'm very tempted to grind it down for a potential increase in power. The XT has a good bit of torque and adequate HP, so I know the gain won't be huge, but more is more. And grinding something is basically free. Of course, I don't have anything to replace it with if I FUBAR it, so that's why I haven't done that yet.

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Mine also has bent forks! Shortened my wheelbase by about an inch, but eh, nothing major. I see why you'd want stainless pipes, they rock and much better than the flaky leppar-like mild steel pipes you get these days. I'd also go with option 3, as borrowing one would cost you a 6 pack at the most. My headlight is quite bright, but with a 4ah battery I don't expect much. Mine just shines too far ahead ATM. There was a manual on here a while back, maybe do a search, perhaps it shows up. I don't mind the seat height really, except when going uphill, since stopping is then a death sentence. BTW, what forks did you order to replace the old ones with? Regarding the grinding, as long as you don't put a hole in the pipe, it should be fine. It's not like the bumps are there for flow or anything...

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wabbit i see you were trying to take the float bowl w/o taking the carb of i did i moved the airbox back and loosend the intake boots got the carb off the intake turned it so i can get to all the screws did this yesterday by the way got the bowl off noticed that there was water mixed w small dirt in my carb its not hard doing the oil line comming from the crankcase you can move that a 1/2 inch just enough to get a long screwdriver to the screw the rest with a shorter screwdriver try not to strip the screws

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Phillybean;

my screw heads were already so stuffed I had to use vicegrips to remove them. Not the easiest of jobs to to in a small space, so I just left it. Thanks for the advice though, will keep it in mind for next time:ride:

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Mine also has bent forks! Shortened my wheelbase by about an inch, but eh, nothing major.
I wonder if this is making the bike significantly taller... I'll find out tonight or tomorrow.
I see why you'd want stainless pipes, they rock and much better than the flaky leppar-like mild steel pipes you get these days. I'd also go with option 3, as borrowing one would cost you a 6 pack at the most.
Pipe lepracy! Too funny.
My headlight is quite bright, but with a 4ah battery I don't expect much. Mine just shines too far ahead ATM.
That's easy enough to fix, loosen the two bolts on either side a turn or two and pry the light down.
There was a manual on here a while back, maybe do a search, perhaps it shows up.
I haven't found it, but I'll look here, before I was trying just google.

I have the 500 manual, which is close enough.

I don't mind the seat height really, except when going uphill, since stopping is then a death sentence.
Or down a hill, or across a hill, it's best to commit to hills and stop at the top or bottom.
BTW, what forks did you order to replace the old ones with?
I found some 82 forks in Utah that had decent seals (from what I could tell) and I was told were straight.

But you can use any fork that will fit in the triples as long as the length is similar, the axle diameter matches and is located in a useable place (some forks put them on the bottom of the fork making the bike taller) and the tab for the brakes is close enough. From http://www.car99r.com/chopperfiles/fork_diameters.doc

Candidates are (all 38 mm forks):

38 Kawasaki KX-80R2/R3/R4/R5/R6/R7 (92-97)

38 Kawasaki KX-125 A6-A7 (80-81)

38 Kawasaki KDX-200 A1-A3 (83-85)

38 Kawasaki KX-250 A5-A7 (79-81)

38 Kawasaki KDX-400 A1-A2 (79-80)

38 Kawasaki KX-420 A1-A2 (80-81)

38 Kawasaki KL-600A1 "KLR" (84)

38 Kawasaki ZX-600C1-C6 "Ninja" (88-93)

38 Kawasaki ZX-600C7-C10 "Ninja 600R" (94-97)

38 Kawasaki KL-650A1-A18 "KLR650" (87-04)

38 Kawasaki VN-700A1 "Vulcan" (85)

38 Kawasaki VN-750A2-A20 "Vulcan" (86-04)

38 Kawasaki ZX-750F1-F4 "Ninja" (87-90)

38 Kawasaki ZL-900A1/A2 "Eliminator" (85-86)

38 Kawasaki ZX-900A1-A3 "Ninja" (84-86)

38 Kawasaki KZ-1000C1-C4 "Police" (78-81)

38 Kawasaki KZ-1000J1-J3 (81-83)

38 Kawasaki KZ-1000K1/K2 "Ltd" (81-82)

38 Kawasaki KZ-1000P1-P20 "Police" (82-01)

38 Kawasaki ZL-1000A1 (87)

38 Kawasaki KZ-1100A1-A3 (81-83)

38 Kawasaki KZ-1100B1/B2 "GP" (81-82)

38 Kawasaki KZ-1100D1/D2 "Spectre" (82-83)

38 Kawasaki ZN-1100B1/B2 "Ltd" (84-85)

38 Suzuki RM-125 N/T/X/Z (79-82)

38 Suzuki RM-125 D (83)

38 Suzuki PE-175 Z/D/E (82-84)

38 Suzuki RM-250 N/T/X/Z (79-82)

38 Suzuki RM-400N/T (79-80)

38 Suzuki LS-650 FG/PG/FH/PH/PJ (86-88)

38 Suzuki LS-650 PS/PT/PV/PW/PX/PY/PK1/PK2/PK3 "Savage" (95-03)

38 Yamaha YZ-125 H/J/K (81-83)

38 Yamaha IT-175 J (82)

38 Yamaha IT-175 K (83)

38 Yamaha IT-250 H/J (81-82)

38 Yamaha YZ-250 D/E/F/G (77-80)

38 Yamaha FZR-400 U/SUC/W/SWC (88-89)

38 Yamaha FZR-400 A/SAC (90)

38 Yamaha YZ-400 D/E/F (77-79)

38 Yamaha IT-465 H (81)

38 Yamaha IT-465 J (82)

38 Yamaha YZ-465 G (80)

38 Yamaha XT-550 J/K (82-83)

38 Yamaha FZR-600 W/WC/AC/B/BC (89-91)

38 Yamaha FZR-600 RA/RAC/RB/RBC/RD/RDC/RE/REC (90-93)

38 Yamaha FZR-600 RF/RFC/RG/RGC/RH/RHC/RJ/RJC (94-97)

38 Yamaha XJ-600 SD/SDC/SE/SEC/SF/SFC/SG/SGC "Seca II" (92-96)

38 Yamaha XJ-600 SH/SHC/SJ/SJC "Seca II" (96-97)

38 Yamaha FZX-700S/SC/T/TC (86-87)

38 Yamaha XJ-700N/NC/S/SC "Maxim" (85-86)

38 Yamaha XJ-700 XN/XNC/XS/XSC "Maxim" (85-86)

38 Yamaha XV-700L/LC/N/NC "Virago" (84-85)

38 Yamaha XV-700CS/CSC/CT/CTC "Virago" (86-87)

38 Yamaha XV-700 J1/J1C (97)

38 Yamaha XV-750 U/UC/W/WC/A/AC/B/BC "Virago" (88-91)

38 Yamaha XV-750 D/DC/E/EC/F/FC/G/GC/H1/H1C/J1/J1C "Virago" (92-97)

38 Yamaha XV-1000 L/LC/N/NC "Virago" (84-85)

38 Yamaha XV-1100 S/SC/T/TC/U/UC "Virago" (86-88)

38 Yamaha XV-1100 W/WC/A/AC/B/BC/D/DC/E/EC "Virago" (89-93)

38 Yamaha XV-1100 F/FC/G/GC/H/HC/J/JC "Virago" (94-97)

BUT DON'T GO ORDERING YET! You need to confirm that the other measurements match or are close enough. Another thing to note is some forks (like the XT550) are tapered between the upper and lower tree, so you need to make sure that taper is not going to interfere. It's best to have the two forks in hand to compare them before purchasing.

My gut instinct is the Yammer IT series are the best bet. The street forks are not going to have enough travel and it's a crap shoot with other makes if the axle and other stuff is even close.

But you might just get disk brakes out of the swap if you get a wheel too, so it's not to be discounted out of hand either.

Regarding the grinding, as long as you don't put a hole in the pipe, it should be fine. It's not like the bumps are there for flow or anything...
True, but I'll leave it as is for now, I'm almost street legal and I'd like to avoid doing things that might keep it off the road (like grinding a hole in a head pipe).

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Great info. Enjoy some gas for the links and the fork info. You won't believe me but my light just won't point down. I have a square headlight and the 'prongs' on the sides are bent since it's a bit bigger than the round one. The wiring that goes into the light prevents it from pointing down any more, but I'll make a plan sometime. I'm gonna look at the snapped bolt tonite, and see what's what. Good point about the bent forks heightening the bike; something I never even thought of. Re: the manual, It should be around page 7 or 8 of this forum, but do a search for 'xt550 manual' and you should find it. .pdf IIRC.

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Update: I had a brainstorm...dropping the engine sounds like a crap idea, now that I've realized all I have to do is remove the head...

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See... if I were doing it, I'd have realized that AFTER I put it all back together again.

But is that really going to save much work since you'll have to pull the chain and everything else, or (I don't have my bike to look at) is the problem related only to the valve cover and you don't have to do that?

Unless you had to pull the head anyway in which case I'm fairly certain you're right and it all can be done on the bike.

Might I suggest running fishing line or similar through your timing chain so you don't drop it in the engine case. The nice thing with fishing line is it's strong and slippery, so if you leave it tied off to the frame and start cinching down the head bolts, all you do is pull it back through and all is well.

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Yet again, you come up with a great idea! And all the things I wouldn't have thought of, too. The whole head isn't going to come off, but only the top cover that covers the rockers. Got 10/17 bolts loose tonite, the other ones are hybrid's (5mm allen too small, 6mm too large) and I have no clue how to get them out. Might buy a single 6mm and file it down to fit the 5.5mm hole or whatever it is. Holy crap, but whoever built the bike up sure loved gasket maker. Every single bolt has it on the threads, and it's all falling back into the engine all the time. Guy must be a real dumbass...or he got sponsored by the silicone company...

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Another update: Got the cover off today. But man, what a mission...I could just have dropped the engine, because the cover wouldn't squeeze through the backbone and the camchain sprocket:banghead:. I loosened the exhaust, carbs, front plate that covers the oil line, and the tranny mounting points. Tilted the motor forward, but still, not enough space. A hammer and cussing got it out in the end...the wear on the parts look good. Little wear on the rockers, but the part on the valve where the tappet taps (for lack of a better word) seems pitted and quite worn. Could explain my engine being so loud. Also, the new exh gaskets still leak, so I'm assuming I have a warped head.

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Bummer. Use gasket maker, lots and lots of gasket maker. :thumbsup:

I don't know how I manged to yank the carbs and give them a decent cleaning last summer, but I tried to do it again last week it was the biggest pain in the ass, even after sliding the air box back.

I'm wondering if the 40 degree F difference in temperature had anything to do with making it easier?

After all that work, the bugger still doesn't want to run with the choke off, I think I need to soak it in carb cleaner, compressed air alone wasn't enough this time.

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I hate doing the same thing more than twice to get it right. I sent my head in today to get that sonuvabitch removed, might have it back up 'n running by tomorrow arvie. Kickstarted a suzuki djebel 250 today with flip flops, and managed to put a hole in them and bruise my foot and tear ligaments at the same time...and this just the day before I get my XT working again:banghead:. As I said in my 1st post...only I have that type of crappy-ass pot luck...

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