Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My Rims Return...

I picked up my rims today from the powder coating shop. Oh man, they are beautiful. I'm very pleased. I really worked on removing the raised lettering, sanding it all out so that I wouldn't see a texture difference once they were coated. And lo and behold, you can't tell that the lettering was ever there!

Again, these were coated using a GR-539 silver with 50% gloss clear coat. The process involves two different coatings, and two trips to the oven. The clear coat gives the finish a significant depth. It's like you're peering into the surface of the rims and down below the surface, you see the texture of the metal. It was definitely worth the extra $60 for the clear coat.

Check 'em out:

(rear)Going back and reading my own blog, I realized I forgot to photograph the side of the wheel that had the raised lettering. Tomorrow I'll take the shots and post them up. It's dark out now...

I also received my new bearings. Now, I've been working 70hr weeks lately and haven't had much personal time. When I go to work on my bike, I like to get things done. Sometimes I'm a little hasty. I jump right in before thinking through the process, looking at the manual, etc. When I don't think and just try to make something happen it usually goes wrong or I damage something. I get this overwhelming 'I must get something tangible done on the bike today!' feeling that is irresistible.

So I was installing my new bearings in the front wheel, got the first one in, and immediately moved on to the second one. Both were in and I moved on to the rear wheel. I got the first bearing in the rear wheel, went to look for some parts I couldn't find, and came across the baggie of the old wheel bearing and fixin's for the rear wheel. What did I see? The spacer. Duh. I installed the front wheel bearings and forgot to put in the spacer. Not only that, in my haste, I didn't have the best tool for driving in the bearings and slightly disturbed the seal on the front ones.

It's only a $20 loss, if that. But it's not the money, it's the damage to my ego and my attitude that really hurts. I learned a good lesson today. Be patient. Wait, isn't that in my guiding principles? Duh, again. I forgot to work by my guiding principles and look what happened.

I'm going to remove both front wheel bearings, buy new ones, and do it right this time. I'm going to bring the bearing with me and find just the right size pipe to drive it in with. I'm going to thoroughly clean out the passage where the spacer goes, I'm going to research what kind of lubricant to put on the spacer, buy the lube then come home and read about the process. You think something couldn't go wrong with such an easy task, but leave me to screw it up.

Enough beating up on myself... The wheels are awesome and are everything I was hoping they would be.

Frustrated for now, yet remaining determined,


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Gauge Cluster

I started working on my gauge cluster today. I had thought about upgrading the gauge cluster to something fancy, but I can't change everything on the bike and I didn't see any advantage to upgrading. All I really need is tach, speedo and odometer.

I spent a fair amount of time buffing out the metal that rims each gauge. I didn't take before pictures but they were quite scuffed up. I've got them very shiny now and all the scratches removed.

I purchased several OEM replacement parts for my gauge cluster:
New 'dampers' - the rubber piece between the gauge itself and the bracket.
New gauge cover.
New rubber grommets that go between the bracket and the steering stem head.
New bolts to connect bracket to steering stem head.

I also purchased several small parts that are not OEM but work:
Small washers that fit between gauge attachment studs and the acorn nuts that screw onto the ends. I got four new acorn nuts as well. I'm missing two of the rubber grommets that fit between the cover and the mounting screws also. I tried finding something at ACE Hardware but nothing worked. These are on my list to buy OEM.

The plastic gauge cover was scratched and ugly enough that I didn't want to try and refinish it. So I bought a new one for $38.00. Well worth the price.
See the old one:

It's hard to tell how bad it is from the picture.

Here's a picture of my new cover and 'dampers' as Suzuki calls them. You can see my nice shiny gauges in the back. The gauges are original.

Here's a picture of my gauge bracket in its current condition:

And close-up:
This is too expensive to justify buying new. I can get it blasted and powder coated for $25.00. Again, trying to decide the color. I might change this to match the color of my frame rather than a silver or gray.

I noticed an unsightly gap between the gauge cover and the gauge bracket and was thinking about water and vibration causing a problem here.
I couldn't find anything in the manual or fiche showing a gasket that goes there so I decided to put some weather stripping around there to act as a cushion and to just fill in the space. I used closed cell weather stripping 1/4" thick. I cut it down to just the right width and installed it on the cover, not the bracket.

The finished product:

Here's the gap filled in by the weather stripping:

It's a little hard to see in the photo but I like the effect and it should reduce vibration once I'm riding.

Here's a documentary shot of the back of my tachometer, so I remember the wiring connections:
You can see the old washer, acorn nut and rubber grommets in this photo.
And a final shot of my gauges with the new dampers on. Old damper is laying next to gauges.
You can see the new washers and acorn nuts on the right gauge. Looks much better.

The colored lenses for turn signal, neutral, etc. that mount into the bracket are in bad shape. You can't find these by themselves, so once I research how to polish plastic to make it shiny I will spend some time on the little lenses.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tail brackets, cross-brace and welds

I made these brackets from sheet mild steel and bent them to form over the bulge where the shock mount comes through to the inside of the frame. I welded them on using a wire-feed MIG welder.
I used a heavier steel plate for the end pieces on the angle cut. I welded the end pieces all the way around then sanded out my welds. The end pieces close the rectangular section and significantly improve rigidity.

The brackets indicated by red arrows are for attaching an under-tail cover to hide the battery, electronics and hoses.
The green arrows are tabs that I will use to hold the brake light to the frame. The brake light will be slipped over the ends of the frame. This provides some support as well. I haven't quite figured out the whole brake light support issue just yet. I'm really trying to get all the welds taken care of before I powdercoat so I don't have to ruin the finish later on.

I also shortened the cross brace so it would sit lower between the frame. The stock fitting of the cross piece sticks up quite a bit and leaves an unsightly gap between frame and seat. This is usually covered up by the frame covers but I'm removing them, so I'm dropping the seat a little bit. After cutting the cross piece off the frame, I ground it down so it was a little skinnier. I then welded it back to the frame. I had to lay a bead down on the frame then set the cross-piece on this, then do a second weld on the top, and a third weld underneath.

My bike was missing the seat latch piece, cable and key assembly to release the seat. You can see the outline of where the seat latch used to be in the above photo. I ordered these new OEM parts from Suzuki of Oakland.That reminds me that I don't have a place to mount the key/lock assembly to the frame... Wonder where this is on the stock setup. I'll have to consult the fiche.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wheels and Bearings

I finally bit the bullet, got off work early today and ran my rims down to the power coating shop. It's costing $105.00 for each rim. Not cheap, but worth it. I know they are going to look great.

My last step before powder coating was to get the tires removed and sand out any little spots and dings. My local Suzuki dealer pulled the tires off the rim for free. I was so happy I tipped the guy. Everyone else I talked to wanted to charge me $17.00 per wheel and a 5 hour or next day wait. That kind of service is unacceptable for me so I found someone who was on my level. Concord Motorsports in Concord, CA. I've always gotten bad vibes from the guys in the store, but then again, sales guys in general give me bad vibes. The service guys on the other hand were great.

I'll be getting them back next Tuesday or Wednesday August 20th.

I also ordered new wheel bearings for front and rear, from the All Balls website after getting the part numbers correct based on a post on the VX Forum by bwringer. Well, we'll see if their right once they arrive and I fit them up...

Forward progress!

Wheels ready for the shop:

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Rear Wheel

Since I haven't been able to choose a frame color yet, I decided to go ahead with getting the wheels coated since I know what I want for them. I'm going to have them coated with a GR-539 aluminum silver w/ 50% gloss clear coat. Basically it's like stock but maybe a tad shinier.

In prep for this, I decided to clean the wheels up and document what I've done on the rear wheel. Pictures following are somewhat jumpy. I get into working and don't feel like stopping to photograph each step of the process, unfortunately.

Pic of when I first pulled the final drive assembly:
Notice the raised lettering on the rim. This will be removed later.

Cleaned it up a bit:

And after several cleanings and sanding of all the mating surfaces:
I've sanded of all the raised lettering on the rim using an angle grinder. I need to make a finishing pass to remove the fine grind marks.
I removed the rubber drive bushings using a power drill and varying drill bits. I pretty much drilled into the rubber bushings enough to remove significant material, then popped them out by prying them. This process took me over an hour just to get out the rubber parts.

Removing the bearings without a puller was also a real fun process. I used a drift and a hammer. The problem was, that I took apart one bearing to remove the inner sleeve so I could drift out the other one, but the bearing I took out was on the side of the wheel with the tapered passage. This meant the outer bearing ring was incredibly difficult to remove because I couldn't get the proper angle on it. I finally got it out using a small cat's paw nail puller that I ground down so it just fit in the outer race. I also ground a small flat place on the inside of the bearing using a dremel tool so I could get purchase with my makeshift drift.
I ended up slightly scratching the walls where the bearing sits. I've since sanded out the rough spots and the damage isn't enough to keep the new bearing from seating properly. Oh for a good bearing puller...

The brake disk side of the wheel presented its own challenges. 4 of the 5 bolts broke off with nothing to grab onto. I'm still working on these. One I drilled and tapped perfectly, the other I messed up and drilled off center. 2 left. Other than that, all is good on this side.

My brake disk is fractured though. I'll buy a new one soon.

The gear assembly is in great shape, so I don't have to worry about that.

That's it for now. I'm shooting for getting the wheels into the powdercoater by Monday.