Suzuki GS1000SN (1979)

I got this bike in Jan. 2013, and as you can see from the pics below it was pretty-much nothing more than a rolling chassis, the bottom end of the motor, the wiring loom, and the tank. Oh yes, and a crankcase filled with oily water, straw and gum leaves!

Naturally it would have been much cheaper just to buy a running example and work from there... but I didn't do this to get a cheap bike -- I did it for much-needed 'shed therapy'. And I got a GS1000S into the bargain.

And now here we are in June 2015, with the machine as my daily hack. Having put so much of my own blood, sweat and tears into this thing, it gives me lots of satisfaction to ride it around town.

A few specs:

  • 1085cc Wiseco piston kit
  • Australian-model 1980 (ST) VM30 carburettors
  • Yoshimura titanium tri-oval muffler
  • Old skool fork brace
  • 'Eliminator' drag handlebars
  • Tingate rearsets with LSL foot pegs
  • Lockhart oil cooler and diversion adapter
  • Pingel fuel tap
  • Wezmoto (Hel) braided brake lines
  • Oiled-foam dual air filters
  • 'Bazza Sheene' RG500 replica tail piece
  • Dyna S ignition pick-ups and 3 ohm coils
  • 1978 GS1000E pneumatic rear shock absorbers
  • 530 chain & sprockets conversion kit
  • Oxford mini indicators

Resurrection 'blog' of the old machine...

27 Jan. 2013
Well, I got this project today from my mate Pete for a carton of beer. Actually I think he's taken pity on me for my 'why-don't-I-have-a-GS-any-more' moanings, and into the bargain has got me to shut my whining mouth. Which makes it a win-win, I'd say. ;-)

It's a 1979 GS1000S... well, what remains of one. My good wife knew nothing about this 'purchase' until I tootled home with it on Pete's trailer. "See what followed me home, luv!" I triumphantly chortled. This was soon quashed by Kerry's first words after laying eyes on it: "Well, that's pretty-well MUNTED," she said. This gal of mine, she has such a way with words.

It's history? Well all I know at this stage is that it's been parked around the side of Pete's house under a tarpaulin for quite a while. This didn't stop the open crankcases filling up with rain water — but in a strange kind of way this may have been the engine's salvation, for it turns out that everything submerged in the oily water is rust-free, but the pistons of cylinders 1 and 4, exposed to the air, were well-seized onto their gudgeon pins and it wasn't easy to get them free. But closer inspection has revealed that the crankshaft freely turns, the conrods aren't seized and in fact show very small amounts of lateral 'play' (sign of an unworn engine), and the gearbox cogs swap through the gears without any noticeable problems. So I'm moderately optimistic that this bottom-end is salvageable.

A quick scout around on eBay shows that cylinder blocks and heads, etc. are still readily available — which is just as well, as whole engines seem to have dried up in the last few years. But there's a long list of other parts to source, too: headlight, tank cap, brake lines, front calipers, front discs, oversize piston kit, valve stem seals, gaskets, carburettors, front mudguard, exhaust system, sidecovers, tailpiece, coils... and all that's just off the top of my head in 20 seconds. So there's going to have to be some money spent.

So how will this little project be financed? By selling something. And as there's no way I'm selling the Katana, that means that the super-dooper ZX9 is now up for sale. And before anyone emails me to abusively question my sanity, don't worry, Warwick's already beaten you to it.

And the plan? Well, I could try and restore it as an original GS1000SN... but I'd much rather go for something like this Yoshimura GS1000 replica. So, maybe a single-seat thing with upswept dual exhausts, late-model running gear (USD forks and nice wide grippy rubber), etc. Whatever happens, I'm looking forward to the next 12 months or so of sourcing parts, conquering fiendish problems, and putting it all together. Stay tuned for further installments!

2 Feb. 2013
Well, the long slog has begun! After drawing up a list of everything that was missing or munted on the bike, I ended up with, um, a very long list indeed. Then I started attaching approx. dollar values to each item, totalled it all up, and got the shock I had a feeling I was in for.

This means, quite simply, that everything that is salvageable must be salvaged, if I'm to stop my $4K budget from totally blowing out. So the old horn I'd first just carelessly tossed to one side was tested on a battery, found to be deafeningly good, and then cleaned back and resprayed with my favourite satin black paint. I think a lot of bits are going to be getting this kind of treatment... it's much easier and cheaper than chrome, and good for 'understating' all those bits that you don't want to have standing out like the nuts on a buck kangaroo.

Other things I've done over the last few days include:
  • removal of pistons and gudgeon pins.
  • making up a gasket for the ignition cover.
  • cleaning the ignition and clutch covers.
  • dropped off the sump cover and discovered (i) a stripped thread on the sump plug, and (ii) about 1" deep of oily sludge, decomposing gum leaves, and bits of straw. I think I'm going to have to blast the whole motor out with the pressure-washer at some point.

  • removing the alternator cover to check out the stator. Surprisingly, it looks to be in good condition with no cooked windings. But I still need to test for shorts between the phases...
  • dismantling and cleaning of ignition lock. Now that I've got it apart, I can 'read' the little tabs inside the lock, and work backwards to cut a fresh key from a blank. In principle this should be achievable, but reality may have different ideas.
  • removal of the clutch cable. It actually looks like an old Katana item with that distinctive bent steel tube up the top end. It probably won't fit well with the flat handlebars I'll be putting on the machine, so I might have to source a newie.
  • removal, testing, cleaning and painting of the horn + bracket.

6-9 Feb. 2013
  • Spent some time on the old wiring loom. The main problem was approx. 30 years of dust and dirt... so I took it all apart, replaced one or two wires that were visibly dodgy (eg. battery acid had seeped about 5 inches up one wire, transforming its innards into brittle green crud), then re-bound it all. Looks good now but how will it perform?
  • Removed the sprocket cover for inspection and cleaning, and found the usual tell-tale signs that a drive-chain has come adrift at some stage... damage and fractures to the inside of the sprocket cover casting, and one of the gear position indicator screws has been caught by the flying chain and bent horribly. But thankfully there aren't any fractures in the crankcases themselves. The sprocket cover will still look fine and locate properly, so that's the main thing. ;-)
  • Also took a bit of a look at the clutch. It seems that some PO thought that popping a few extra washers behind the clutch plate bolts would cure a slipping clutch. Whereas, of course, the real cure for a slipping clutch is to replace the friction plates, and then maybe go with a set of heavier-duty springs if your bike has been a bit hotted-up. So we'd better get a fresh set of clutch plates in due course. Something I'd half-expected anyway.
  • Stripped, rust-proofed and repainted the battery box. Ditto the lekky 'side panel' which holds the fuse box, regulator, rectifier, etc.
  • Marvelled at the 'genius' who fixed this blown fuse by wrapping it in aluminium foil...

  • replaced the LHS switchgear with a much better set I had lying around. I like the design of this stuff, it's just so much simpler and easier to work on than the nightmarish Katana switchgear.
  • Started cleaning up an old XJ900 oil cooler I had on the shelf. It's a good size to mount on the front of the frame there... but to use it, I'll have to get an oil cooler diversion plate fitted to the rear of the crankcase.
  • Found 2 good fuel taps rummaging through my stuff, too — a z650 jobbie and the old Katana item I ditched because of its impossibly small lever. I think I'll go with the z650 tap; it also has a nifty little built-in filter you can clean out by unscrewing the cap on the underside.

12 Feb. 2013
Well, I thought the alfoil 'fuse' (see above) was a fairly impressive bit of bodging... but I've since discovered far worse...

Like, if you are having trouble removing the fork caps, what do you do? Why, you reach for a big hammer and cold chisel and bludgeon the soft aluminium senseless:

But instead, why didn't this clot READ THE MANUAL? He would have then learned that you need simply to loosen the upper triple-tree bolts so that they're not clenching the threads of the fork caps, and then they will unscrew quite easily.

Our next example of innovative mechanical technique, gentle souls, is similarly mind-boggling. I mean, if the steering head bearing races are difficult to remove (and we all know they can be in there pretty tight), well, what do you do? Why, you reach for a big hammer once again, and pound the living daylights out of them with a drift until the steel surrounding their holders is deformed beyond belief. So note the yawning gap (red arrow) between the bearing race and the steering head tube:

Look, I know it's easy to be critical of other people's repairs whenever you inherit a machine... but this guy's workmanship has taken us to new depths of butchery. My friends, the trick for removing bearing races is WELL KNOWN (but I shall now repeat it in case any of you lot still don't know): simply get your arc welder out, and lay a line of weld around the inside of the race surface — naturally taking care not to weld the race into the headstock which would be, um, counter-productive. Then let it cool down, and you will find that the races will now fall out — literally.

Anyway, now it falls to me to fix our lobotomised slater's handiwork... but how? Well, I think I'll have to heat the steel red-hot and carefully tap and coax it back into shape with a variety of my own hammers and clamps. Of course it will never be 'factory tight' again, but I am confident it will securely hold the bearing race if I use a couple of drops of Loctite for good measure.

So I wonder if there will be any further 'surprises' courtesy of our brainless newt?

13 Feb. 2013
Took out the clutch today, expecting to find further incomprehensible examples of 'home engineering', but instead I was pleasantly surprised. The clutch itself displays very little wear; the basket and hub are virtually pristine. I also took apart the trochoid (just love that word) oil pump, and apart from a few drops of water it was likewise absolutey fine, well within tolerances and neat as a pin. I was also happy to see that the bearing retainer plates behind the clutch had not been removed since the day the bike left Hamamatsu... no tell-tale 'witness marks' on the screws, phew.

4 March 2013
Well it's been a busy couple of weeks as far as the GS1000 project is concerned. I have attacked the frame with gusto, removing the pillion footpeg hangers, blanking off some ghastly holes left in the frame by Mr. Gorilla, fixing his munted steering head bearing holders, and generally tidying up the original rough welding by the apprentice boys at the Suzuki factory! So now we have a bare frame ready for sandblasting and 2-pack etch primer:

I've also scored an engine block, cylinder head, camshafts and cam cover from Trav! The block will be bored-out to accept a next-size-up Wiseco piston kit. I've started work on the head, which will be getting the valves lapped, as well as new valve stem seals. A full engine gasket kit is on the way too.

Trav also advised me that I really *should* split the cases and inspect the roller bearings on the crankshaft; any traces of rust here and you can basically just toss it in the bin, he said. So I split the cases; thankfully no crankcase bolts sheared off (unlike when I split the Katana's motor, ahem), and it all came apart easy as pie.

And then it was time to slip a bearing shell to one side and gaze at the legendary Suzuki crankshaft roller bearings, which had not seen the light of day for the last 34 years:

YES, clean as a whistle! I spent the next 2 hours joyfully cleaning out the remaining grime, blasting things clean with degreaser, carbie cleaning fluid and compressed air. Then I treated all the bearing surfaces to generous squirts of oil, and then it was time to use that excellent grey Permatex bond on the mating surfaces of the crankcases, and bolt it all back together. I made sure all the bolts got a wipe of anti-seize grease and then torqued them down to spec. And so now the crankcases are sitting ready to accept the top-end stuff once the block has been bored-out, etc.

Today I turned my hand to fitting the new front tyre to the nice straight rim that Pete dug out for me before he shot off on hols to England. It was so much easier than I expected... actually thinking about what you're doing and taking your time seems to work. Maybe I should try that more often. Anyway, here is the end result, along with the freshly refurbished forks and yokes. Also I've installed an old set of presentable flat handlebars from my collection of stuff. The other minor coup was successfully dismantling the old ignition lock and reverse-engineering an ignition key — that's saved me some bucks, let me tell you. It's all starting to come together!

This coming week a little swag of new parts should be arriving... rear master cylinder rebuild kit, footpegs, wheel bearings front and rear, steering head bearings, inner tube for the rear wheel, oil filter, reg/rectifier, and a full engine gasket kit which includes the valve stem seals. The frame will get carted off for sandblasting, I will start work on the cylinder head, and start shopping around for a Wiseco piston kit. I have also started thinking about bodywork, and have found 'Prixhistoric Fibreglass'. They do a bikini fairing for the GS1000, and also some neat tail/seat units. I particularly like the look of the tail/seat unit for the old TR750/XR11... that would look choice on the GS1000 I think, bro.

17 March 2013
The frame came back from the sandblasters yesterday, coated with 2-pack primer. Then I gave it a coat of satin-black engine enamel, popped it back on the bench, and it wasn't long before swingarm and forks, etc. were reinstalled. Ah yes, the dismantling has ended and we are now reassembling... but as Nigel Molesworth might have remarked, "Distance to pavilion is now 16,000 miles..."

Now then, I've had another minor victory with the wheels. I had been thinking about all the wretched masking-off that I would have to do, if I was to use spray paint. But then I had an idea: why not just use a brush to paint the bits that should be painted, and then carefully scrape away any places where I go over the line?

So I realised I was after some brushable enamel paint. Well the guy at the rinky-dink auto paint shop was about as helpful as an echidna in a sleeping bag, telling me I could buy 5 litres of polyurethane paint for $240. I politely bade him adieu, then walked next door into the hobby shop, where I bought 3 small tins of satin black 'Humbrol' model paint (you'll remember that wonderful stuff if ever you've mucked around with model airplanes) for $2 each, and a small (10mm wide) fine-bristled flat brush for $3.50.

And mate, that paint went on like magic! So easy to use, and one piddling little tin easily does a whole Suzuki cast wheel! It was very easy to tidy up with a razor blade wherever I'd gone over the edges or whatever. Being an enamel paint I think it will be pretty durable, too.

28 March 2013
Well it's starting to look like a motorcycle again! A swag full of good bits arrived from Robinsons (Suzuki outfit in the UK) with correct wheel spacers and so on, so at last I could get the wheels back on. Mysteriously the centre spacer for the rear wheel didn't appear to be correct at all... it was 88mm long, whereas my measurements with the vernier caliper told me it should be 82mm... so I trimmed it back 6mm, popped it in, and all was spot-on when I reassembled things.

Other things I have done over the last 10 days include:
  • putting the bottom-end of the engine back into the frame
  • a lot of miscellaneous electrical wiring stuff, such as wiring-in some GSX-F 750 right-hand switchgear
  • removal of the clutch backing plate so that I could pop in some washers I mean shims to take up the slack in the rattly old springs. For some pics and a run-down on how to do this, go here
  • hooking up the clutch cable, so that the clutch is now operational for the first time since the dark ages
  • fixing the stripped sump-plug thread with a M14 x 1.25 helicoil spark-plug thread repair kit. Worked a treat
  • grafting on a pair of Bandit pillion footpegs for the main footpegs. After a bit of fiddling they fit perfectly and look excellent
  • mounting some aftermarket indicators at the front. They fit well and with 21W globes will be nice and bright (we want car drivers to get the message, don't we)
  • popping a pair of new handlebar grips onto the 'bars
  • digging out an old pair of modified mirrors from my collection of bits, and mounting them on the ends of the 'bars there. They went on without too much hassle. Not sure I'll keep them on, but they can sit there in case I totally run out of funds, in which case they might be semi-permanent!

Finally, the electrical side-panel is now largely sorted and wired-in as well. Figuring out how to wire-in the combined reg/rectifier unit in place of the original separate items took a bit of sleuthing through the wiring diagram... but I think I got there in the end. Note the nice new fuses, too.

31 March 2013
I dug an old pair of Katana coils out of my collection; they are a bit tatty but still function OK. Had to make up some intermediate brackets to mount them further back, so that the tank can be fitted easily. I've ordered a set of new NGK spark plug caps so that the leads won't foul the cam cover.

8 Apr. 2013
Scored some reasonably priced parts on eBay: a complete '78 tail section with mudguard, bodywork, brackets and brake light. I think this '78 GS1000 must have been barrelling around the back roads of NSW for years, judging by how much red-brown dust and dirt came out. Anyway I dismantled it all and repainted the steel mudguard support bracket and the number plate bracket. Then it was easy enough to connect the stop and tail lamps to the wiring harness. And after making up a couple of indicator brackets, the indicators got wired-up too. Mate, it's almost road-legal!

I also picked up a pair of '78 sidecovers, presumably off the same bike. They'll be staying satin black, as per the 'Yoshimura' scheme.

12 Apr. 2013
Well I was finalising the valve clearances today (thanks for lending me the shim set, Pete!), when what did I spy on the camshafts but these auspicious letters:

Instantly I had an epiphany, err I mean a revelation, I mean AN IDEA: did these letters stand for... [reverent pause]... Pops Yoshimura?? Aka the patron saint of go-fast motorcycle freaks the world over? Indeed, a bit of internet sleuthing has confirmed it for me. Which means, folks, that this 'Yoshi GS1000' won't be one in name only. You beauty!

And in another coup, the starter motor I landed on eBay arrived a couple of days ago. So I tentatively opened it up, half-expecting the commutator to be way past its best, along with worn bushes and stuffed brushes... but no! Very little wear evident at all; all I had to do was use some 1200 emery paper to polish the copper, then clean and re-grease the bushes, and reassemble. Can't ask for much better than that, hmm?! It's now slotted into the motor and wired up to the starter solenoid.

18 Apr. 2013
I'm particularly chuffed with the way the footpegs have turned out... only one of the originals was present, and the rubber on that was so torn that it was never going to be presentable. So I got a couple of Bandit pillion footpeg reproductions from China, and they're very good indeed. They even came with pivot pins of the correct length, and a small 'E' clip to secure them. All I had to do was build up the inside of the original footpeg holders with weld so that the new pegs would sit perfectly horizontal. Then I dug a couple of springs out of my collection so that they have a sprung return function. Here's a shot of the left-hand peg, taken from the rear...

Also pleasing was the nicely finished and very reasonably priced gear lever that arrived from Germany:

After finalising the painting of the sidecovers and the priming of the tank (as well as treating it to some POR15 epoxy liner), I couldn't help myself -- I just had to put them on and take a pic. Ah, the sweet taste of progress. And in case you're wondering, yes that's the gasket kit at the upper left there. I've got it hanging from the ceiling so that the gaskets don't get lost or trodden on in my somewhat 'cosy' garage space. ;-)

3 May 2013
No point in uploading too many photos at the moment, as most of the last week's fiddling isn't that photogenic. But I've been able to do quite a bit of stuff. Most significantly, some more, um *judicious* scrutinising of the budget meant that I started wondering if there was a way to avoid the rather hunky financial outlay required for a Wiseco piston kit along with the associated reboring of the cylinder block.

So I thought I'd give the cylinder block a hone and see how it scrubbed up. I gave the honing tool a spin in each pot, and then borrowed Warwick's T-piece kit so that I could accurately measure the bores. Good news! The manual sets the service limit at 70.1mm, so I was relieved to find that after honing all the bores were within 70.02 and 70.03mm at the various points of measurement. In other words, uniformly worn and well within the service limit.

The next step was to sus things out with Trav -- and yes, he had a set of 2nd-hand pistons he was happy to trade for a lawn mower. In fact just the previous evening a friend dropped off a mower they'd plucked off the verge in Dianella -- a choice little beastie indeed. And being powered by a Suzuki 2-stroke motor, naturally it had Trav's name written all over it. I managed to get it going without too much fuss, and then it was off to Trav's joint to pick up the pistons, drop off the mower, and spend some time slurping beers as we looked over his race-prepped GS1000 before the next weekend's race.

Apart from cleaning up the pistons, the other thing I did last night was fit the cam chain. This chain -- a noice brand new item -- has been sitting around in my parts box for years, ever since some cam chain noises from the Katana turned out to be a dodgy cam chain tensioner instead. The nifty thing is that the GS1000 takes exactly the same chain -- even the same number of links, fer goodness' sake (120 links, if you must know). Which means it's one less thing I've had to buy. ;-)

Another key acquisition in the last couple of weeks has been a GS1000S bikini fairing via eBay UK. Wasn't exactly a bargain... but bidding for bits like this can get serious so I was still glad to win it in the end. Aside from prepping and painting the thing, I'll have to make up a set of steel brackets. This is good because it gives me the opportunity to improve (well, in my opinion) upon Suzuki's usual position of the fairing. Basically I've always thought the original was tilted forwards too much -- so I'll have a bit of fiddling and fabrication on my hands to come up with something better located.

Other bits that have arrived are an aftermarket tank cap complete with keys, and an aftermarket tail light lens. Both are excellent quality items, and they fit very well... and have left me wondering why anyone would really bother with original parts when these are visually indistinguishable, and a fraction of the cost. The next thing in the pipeline is Ashley welding up the damage to the alternator cover... so I'd better stop rabbiting on and head out to the shed to burn those troublesome traces of engine oil out of the casting before Ash takes to it with the welder. Stay tuned!

6 May 2013
I'm starting to bump into the myriad of miscellaneous 'little' things... that may not be so 'little' on price! For example, this afternoon I bought a set of zinc-plated bolts to secure the cam cover, along with some stainless steel bolts to trim back and double-thread for use as exhaust studs. All of this cost more money than I care to mention and I really only did it on a whim while waiting for other parts to arrive. Motorcycle restorers beware!!

26 May 2013
Right, it's been nearly 3 weeks since I jotted any ramblings down here -- not because nothing has been happening, quite the opposite! A steady stream of parts has been arriving, with me getting home most days to find yet another parcel on the doorstep. From there its straight into the garage, grab the Stanley knife, and hoik the box open to reveal goodies such as... tacho drive and cable, pod filters, headlight assembly, instruments, piston rings, etc. etc. ETC! I've been like a kid in a lolly (= candy, for our American readers) shop. Then I spend the next few hours spannering in the garage, fitting the new parts, pondering how to get around some problem... until one of the girls sticks her head out of the laundry door and tells me its dinner time.

So what's been happening? Well for starters, I got the ground-through alternator cover welded up expertly at a workshop close to where I work. Mawdy did a great job, and once I'd shaped the cover back to the correct profile with files and some heavy-duty buffing gear, you would be hard-pressed to tell it had ever been down the road.

Then I put the top end together for a test build, to check the clearance between the valves and the piston crowns. With the extra lift on the Yoshi cams (about an extra 0.8mm on the intake, and 0.7mm on the exhaust) I was wondering how close things were getting.

So with the top end of the motor assembled with base gasket and an old head gasket (already compressed, see), minus piston rings for ease of assembly, I set the camshaft timing as per the manual, and then torqued up the head to 30ft-lbs. Then I put a bit of plasticene on a slender strip of paper, slid it into the open spark plug hole, and placed it between the valve and the lower part of the piston's valve 'pocket' while I turned the crank by hand. Then I retrieved the plasticene using the paper strip and checked its thickness.

And the result? Well, I needn't have worried -- around 1mm is still plenty of clearance, and so it was ON WITH THE REBUILD... and the final assembly of the top end. This is always pretty straight-forward; I just had to be careful I installed all the various gaskets and O-rings here and there. Although as usual getting the piston rings into the bores required a bit of patience, despite the generous bevel on the piston sleeves of the stock liners.

The easiest way I've found to do it, is to make up a couple of piston ring compressors using thin aluminium sheet. Make them about 1" wide, and calculate their length from the circumference of your piston (C = 3.14 x D, remember?!), and then allow a bit extra for the bent-up ends which will take a self-tapping screw. (Of course you could buy a pair of piston ring compressors... but it's much cheaper and a lot more fun making your own.) Compressing the rings with these things is quite easy and safe, and as you push the pistons into the bores the compressors slide down the piston and pop off the end of the skirts. And voila, two of your pistons will now be in the bores. Then just repeat for the other pair of pistons, taking care that the first two don't pop out of their cylinders in the process. Finally, I reckon it's easiest to start with pistons 2 & 3 (the inner two), but just do whatever works for you.

Then it was on to torquing it all down, not forgetting the three 6mm bolts (one either end of the cylinder head, the third at the front), screwing in the spark plugs etc. And here it is in all its mechanical glory:

Once the instruments arrived and I had them wired in, I realised that it was time to get a battery and start a few electrical fiddlings. Would everything work... or would I be greeted with a smoking harness and frying fuses? So I darted off to the local battery supplier, and despite originally wanting a sealed low maintenance battery, a conventional jobbie was priced so cheaply (around $60 -- crazy!) that I went for one of those instead. Even the guy at the checkout said, "Erm, it's listed here for $89... but I'll let you have it for the $60." A rare win at the register for me, then. Then it was off home to hook it up.

The grand moment came, I turned the ignition key and... NADA. ZIPPO. ZILCH. NICHT! Nothing at all. Well, at least things could only improve from here. Suspecting that the most likely cause was the ignition lock, I was about to unplug it from the harness when I discovered that the block connector hadn't been pushed fully home in the first place. Ah... I turned the key again, and found to my utter surprise that the headlight, high beam, low beam, brake light, park light all WORKED! Naturally the indicators haven't yet come to the party, but this is typical for me; they never work first time and they are perverse suckers to sleuth out. But all in good time.

The other great thing is that I thumbed the starter button and... (drum roll)... the engine cranked over like a beauty. I kept it cranking for a bit to see if the oil pressure light went out, which it did. So all's good so far. The starter clutch is a bit ropey but it seems to have settled down a bit more, so maybe just some regular use and it will come good.

Now then, it's amazing how some things can make a motorcycle look, well, more like a motorcycle. With the headlight and instruments installed, suddenly it's looking like a motorcycle with a few bits missing, instead of a few bits in search of the rest of a motorcycle!

And if you add Trav's donation of a 4-into-1 exhaust system, then already I can hear the thing firing up and making beserk deafening noises in the garage -- to say nothing of the open road. The great thing about this 4-into-1 is that it gives plenty of room to access the oil filter and the sump plug, and it exits at the perfect point where the pipe can start its upwards sweep to the high-mounted conical muffler I'm going to make.

27 May 2013
Today yet more goodies arrived: the chain guard, the new shock absorbers, and the rear brake caliper. The caliper was in such excellent condition... nice thick clean pads, intact rubber boots around the pistons, and bleed screws that undid easily and freely. So without much further ado, I just mounted the caliper, connected the brake line, charged the system with brake fluid, and now we've got a rear brake system that is a goer. The Hagon shocks fitted very well indeed. And finally, the chain guard was in perfect nick, really; it even has the original tyre pressure and chain maintenance decals in scratch-free and unsullied condition! So all in all, a fun couple of hours this afternoon fitting all these very nice bits.

By the way, do you see those nice Wezmoto braided brake lines? Well, they were the cheapest braided lines I could get my mitts on. I asked Wez himself about whether they were ADR compliant (very important to always have the Man With The Clipboard in mind), and he said he'd never heard of any trouble, but just to be certain he would add a certain tag which would attest to their ADR-ness. So when I looked at the lines after they arrived, I found a nice bit of official-looking transparent sleeve with (presumably) the required data. And also some tell-tale little words: "HEL PERFORMANCE". Then the penny dropped... why do these lines look identical to the Hel lines I've got on the Katana? It would appear that Wez may well be sourcing his hardware, or even sets of lines, via some deal he has with Hel. So it seems we have somewhere we can buy top-of-the-wazza Hel brake lines, for a much cheaper price. You didn't read it here. ;-) But just remember the name Wezmoto.

28 May 2013
Another important job got knocked on the head today: fibreglassing the woefully rusted seat base. The thing had more holes than Swiss cheese! But after wire brushing, rust-proofing and two layers of the glass on the top side of the base, it's nice and super-rigid once again. Now I just have to reshape the old seat foam, and it will be ready to be taken to the seat upholsterers. Although I wonder how hard it could be if I bought my own vinyl and gave it a shot... ?

12 June 2013
Well the steady stream of eBay bits has started slowing down. A lot of smaller jobs have been completed... cleaning and repainting calipers, refurbishing master cylinders, fitting drivechain and sprockets, modifying and painting the front mudguard, trimming the old seat foam to a better shape (but I will let the seat reupholsterer guy finish it off properly), etc. .. all I really have left to do is finish the paintwork, get the indicators working, get the seat reupholstered, and fit the carbies. Oh yeah, and there is also the minor matter of MAKING SURE THE BIKE ACTUALLY RUNS before whisking it off to the licensing centre for the acid test. I'm still waiting on the bikini fairing to arrive, too.

It's looking like a real bike, hey?! I'm about 95% satisfied with the paintwork... the pinstriping tape was quite difficult to get around those tighter curves on the side of the tank, but I managed to just coax it into the correct arcs after a bit of fierce concentration. The paint colours (just some matt white I had lying around, and 'Maranello Red' out of an autoshop spray can) are spot-on, and it will all get a coat of clear once the Yoshimura decal kit has arrived and been applied.

What I'm only 5% satisfied with is my muffler fabrication and the routing of the piping between the headers and the muffler. So I will just have to re-do it all... a bit frustrating but sometimes you have to do things several times over to get them right. The up-side is that you get to hone your skills along the way. But I am happy with the final position of the muffler: swept upwards, clears the shock absorber, and is nicely 'tucked' in to the side of the bike... one thing I've always loathed is the way so many bike manufacturers shove great ugly mufflers miles out from the side of the bike! We shall not be imitating them in that respect.

I'll start work on the carbies tomorrow when I pick them up from Pete's place. The other major thing will be getting the seat reupholstered; I spoke with the auto upholsterer bloke that Pete recommended, and so the seat will be dropped off this Friday arvo at the workshop in Midland. And finally, I've decided that I can't live with those cobbled-together mirrors any longer -- so I bit the bullet and bought a discrete pair of small bar-end mirrors on eBay! Yes I'm over-budget now... but the end is in sight and as the old saying goes, "Quality is remembered long after price is forgotten."

My lovely wife wandered into the garage this afternoon and actually said some nice things about the progress of the project... which I thought was rather gracious of her, since she's been a 'workshop widow' for the last 4-5 months. "What are you going to do when it's finished?" she asked. Without a moment's hesitation I declared, "RIDE IT!" Of course that will only be the start... for then there will be things to tweak, more performance to coax out of the 34-year-old donk, etc. Anyway, hopefully I'll be able to report in the next post that (i) the motor is running, and (ii) that the finished seat looks pretty good! Stay tuned...

14 June 2013
I picked up a set of the correct Mikuni VM28 carbies from Pete yesterday. Pulled the bowls off last night, and the first thing I found was that the main jets were missing! No worries, ordered a set of #95's via eBay for $6 each. That was the easy bit, because then I checked the fuel pipes and the T-piece between the carbies, and found that the rubber seals had shrunk with age to the point that they were actually rattling around. So I hopped onto the Robinsons Foundry microfiche to order some newies, only be greeted with that dreaded message, 'part no longer available'. Blast!

So I had to find a way to coax the old bits into sealing. I tried various options involving bits of Tygon fuel hose... but I ended up just gently prying the rubber pieces off their metal pipes, putting about 4 wraps of teflon plumbers' tape (the yellow variety, which is fuel proof, and not the white stuff which breaks down!) around the metal pipes, and then sliding the rubbers back on over the teflon-wrapped pipes with the help of a little grease. Now they are a snug fit into the carbie bodies once again. ;-) A light smear of fuel-proof Loctite goop and all was then reassembled.

The next step is cleaning out the various carbie passages, jets, adjustment screws etc. with carbie cleaning fluid and compressed air. When the jets arrive we can stick the carbies on and try firing up the engine!

The other thing I did today was drop the seat off to the auto upholstery crew. Spent a bit of time there discussing with them what I wanted with the seat; I made sure I took in some photos of the seat fitted to the bike, to help explain how I wanted the lines of the pillion area to 'lead in' to the tail piece, and so on. The seat should be ready in a week or so.

Lazarus has risen!

28 June 2013
Well it's just over 5 months since I hauled the shell of a machine back from Pete's place... and where have we come to? The short answer, folks, is that IT RUNS! That's right, the motor has fired up, and I've even had the thing out for a couple of short rides.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Last Friday evening, Warwick came around to witness (and film) the proceedings, as the correct main jets had arrived and I was on a mission. But unfortunately the old bike seems to be a bit camera-shy and didn't want to perform. The real reason was, as Herr Bludnut and I correctly deduced, a dead ignition condenser.

So on the Sat. morning, I did a bit of sleuthing on the internet, and learned that the correct capacity for the GS1000 condensers is around 0.2 microfarad. Well that's one of the weirdest units I've ever heard of, but there you go. A single farad would probably kill you… but 0.2 microfarad would only give you a bit of a zap. Which is what we're after.

So I bowled off to Veale's auto parts… but the teenage lad there was unable to offer much help; I don't think he knew what a condenser (aka capacitor) was, looking at me like I was an idiot. Typical. From there I went to Repco where the older gent still hadn't heard of microfarads (who can blame him), but he had heard of condensers, and brought a box full to the counter. I fished out a matching pair of 0.22 microfarad, which I figured are close enough to 0.2 microfarad not to matter for the shorter term. Then I shot home to slip them in, press the starter button and… drumroll … the motor fired up without any fuss and settled into a fast idle! A bit of adjustment of the idle mixture, and it was simply lovely to listen to! A nice responsive throttle, no suspect rattles or noises, and no smoke coming out of the exhaust. There was only one very minor leak from the fuel bowl gasket of #4 carbie, which stopped after a while as the gasket swelled a little. All in all, a very encouraging start-up session indeed!

So at this point I'd like to say THANKS to:
  • Pete for the rolling chassis, tank & carbies
  • Trav for most of the motor's top-end & exhaust headers & front mudguard
  • Watto for some very nice tools to help me fettle the thing
  • my little brudder Con for helping with painting and fibreglassing, and...
  • special mention must go to Warwick (aka Herr Bludnut, aka Magoo) for his endless ribbing, but constant interest in the project and encouragement nonetheless!

OK, that's the credits out of the way. Last Tuesday I had a day off from work and the house was quiet. What better way to spend the morning than getting the bike ready for it's first little outing? The seat was missing but an old rolled-up blanket did the trick. I half-filled the tank with juice, charged the front brakes with fluid (best not to go riding with only a back brake, hey Warwick?!) and backed the idling beastie out of the garage. Off we went! Apart from being completely STUFFED in the mid-range, the bike went fine... tootling along just off idle was good, and flat-out was good (took off with a lovely rush!) -- but man, that mid-range hole! It wasn't just a 'flat spot', it was a veritable TROUGH. So it was back to the garage to raise the jet needles by a notch. Better. Then the next notch. Even better, but still not good enough. Then I realised I was out of notches. Hmm... it was about at this point that I remembered Pete mumbling something about the carbs coming off a 750. A quick phone call to Pete confirmed it. So then I hit eBay and ordered a set of needle jets to suit the 1000cc donk.

But apart from that, I am so rapt with the way the GS1000 goes! Handling is nice and stable. The gear box is smooth and precise, and it performed without a problem. The brakes are pretty good, even though the pads have got plenty of bedding-in to do yet. The supension is spot-on... the old Katana fork springs give about 25mm of static sag, which is pretty good in my book. The Hagon shocks at the rear are comfortable and the damping is fine. So, all in all, we just have to get that midrange sorted and we're away!

Well, not quite. A few days in the garage with fuel in the tank revealed an ever-so slight fuel leak on the left-hand lower edge of the tank -- first betrayed by one of those gorgeous (excuse the sarcasm) blisters of paint. But the leak is so slight that there was no liquid fuel in the blister... just a little dampness and vapour. So I will have to give the tank another internal coat of POR15 epoxy stuff -- hopefully that should fix it!

So that about brings you all up to date! I am SO looking forward to getting this thing registered and on the road where it belongs. Then we can pursue other modifications at leisure... maybe monoshock rear suspension, different bodywork, Mikuni or Keihin flatslide carburettors, who knows?!

20 July 2013
Three weeks later and I'm still fiddling with the vagaries of tuning the stock VM28 carbies to the non-stock pod-filters, Yoshi cams and exhaust system -- but we're getting there!

The midrange has been pretty-much sorted with the correct O-2 needle jets, and with the needles raised to the max. Might need to go a touch further (this is where tiny washers come in for getting another 0.5 mm of lift if needed) but I will wait until the new pilot screws arrive, as a closer inspection of the old ones reveals they've been over-tightened in the past, and so their fine brass tips are visibly deformed... which will make it very hard to accurately meter the fuel for the correct idle mixture. There is a bit of backfiring/ spitting coming out of carbie #1 (you can tell because the pleats on #1's pod filter flex outwards whenever the carbie spits back), which indicates a lean pilot mixture on that carbie. I've tried richening the pilot mixture for #1 but it's not really coming to the party, possibly because of a munted pilot screw tip. So I'll hold off until the new screws arrive. If still no joy then I will rip into #1 carbie and triple-check every nook and crannie of the thing.

Another important mod. has been lengthening the sidestand by about 2". I mean, the bike just leaned soooo far over with the stock stand, that it looked like it was about to kiss terra firma (probably due to the aftermarket Hagon shocks which are a bit longer than standard). Can't have the bike leaning like the tower of Pisa, can we. So I have welded in an extra section and all is now good in the sidestand department.

Besides the new pilot screws and associated O-rings, a Gunson 'Colortune' kit is also on the way. Essentially it's a clear glass spark plug that allows you to see the colour of the burning mixture inside the cylinder: too blue and it's lean, too yellow and it's rich. So all going well that *should* eliminate the guesswork from trying to sort out the correct idle mixture for each cylinder.

I FINALLY got the seat back a couple of days ago, after nearly 3 weeks of politely badgering the somewhat tardy seat upholstery guy. The weak excuses were starting to wear a bit thin, but we got there in the end and he did an OK job; not exactly what I'd been at pains to spell out when I first dropped the seat off, but... well, what do you do. :-/ Anyway it's not a permanent thing... just something to get the bike passed by the inspector, and then we can look at some old-time GP-style tail piece options. Anyway, now I just have to finalise the jetting, revise the exhaust system's muffler and its routing, and get the indicators working -- then it's off to the motor registry and see how much red tape I will have to battle through. Not long now!

Here's a photo of the current state of the machine:

24 July 2013
I set to work on the non-operational indicators last night. At first I thought I would try to cirucmvent the original Suzuki auto-cancelling setup, but as I was fiddling with the connectors to this black box of ingenious electrical hardware, suddenly the left-hand indicator started working! Hmmm... perhaps the main problem was just the connectors being filthy, then? Closer inspection confirmed it: lots of grunge on the brass spades inside the plastic connector blocks. So I set to work with some slender lengths of 400-grit emery paper, and soon had the little things nice and brassy once again. Pushed them together and voila! now the left and right indicators blink and cancel perfectly. So much for that being a pig of a job then!

The next little job is to take apart the instrument pod and replace the panel globes, as most of them have snuffed it...

29 July 2013
Well the panel globes were easy enough to get sorted. Thankfully they weren't the newer-fangled 'spade' type globes (which can give you no end of grief courtesy of their crappy little wire terminals), but proper little globes that are a push-and-twist into their own decent sockets. I'm still waiting on the new pilot screws and O-rings for the carbies to arrive. The time waiting has not been a total waste, though -- I've been patiently exploring and cleaning every nook, cranny and hidden passage that I can find within the old VM28 carburettors, checking and triple-checking each orifice and jet... so that HOPEFULLY when I get them installed again, tuning the suckers will be relatively straight-forward! I have also popped in a new set of pilot jets, going with a slightly larger set (#20 as per the GS1000ST, instead of the standard #15 for the GS1000SN). And as the standard float height for the GS1000 is quoted at 23-25mm, I have carefully set the float heights at the richer (ie. higher fuel level) end of that range, being 23mm. Also, while wandering through the garage each afternoon, I swapped out a few of the older rusty bolts for some stainless steel items. So it's looking the part, even if it's not yet going the part. ;-)

30 July 2013
Still sitting here waiting for the new carbie bits... so I thought I'd give the engine a quick compression test this afternoon, just to make sure that nothing dodgy is happening with the inlet valve on #1 cylinder, and causing the backfiring/ spitting back through the carbie. So I dusted off the old compression gauge, hooked it up to each cylinder in succession, and landed the following 'dry' test figures: #1, 155psi. #2, 155psi. #3, 155psi. #4, 160psi. As Paul Keating (ratbag former PM of ours) once said, "What a BEAUTIFUL set of numbers!" The new piston rings have barely begun to bed-in to the freshly honed bores, and already we've got a set of compression figures which are (i) even , and (ii) relatively high, which will only rise further over the next 1000kms or so. So yeah, I think we're definitely looking at some pilot mixture problem with carbie #1. As soon as the new bits arrive we can see if it's fixed. Patience, patience...

18 Aug 2013
STILL sitting here waiting for the 'Gunson Colortune' glass spark plug thingy... which will, I hope, help me sort out the mysteries of trying to tune the pilot mixture of the VM carbies with their fuel screws and air screws. Ordered and paid for it over a month ago now... and have only just found out that it got returned to the eBay vendor with torn packaging, so they put a new one in the (snail) mail, but neglected to let me know. Well I guess they did the right thing in regard to sending me a newie, but tell you what: if I was the vendor, I'd (i) let the customer know what's going on, and (ii) make sure the second one was sent via some super-fast delivery option so that the customer isn't left hanging high and dry...

Of course, this has got me musing on something many vehicle restorers before me have noted, viz. that you can get 95% of the vehicle sorted in a certain timeframe, but the last 5% of getting it sorted will take you as much time yet again! So I have been trying to get on with other minor things while the Gunson waiting game continues. So a number of stainless fasteners in cosmetically more visible areas have been installed, eg. the handlebar mounts. I've also taken the opportunity to check the valve-clearances, since I've done about 50 'test' kilometres on the machine since firing it up. I found that the exhaust valve clearance on cylinder #1 was a touch wide... about 0.18mm, versus the 0.15mm recommended for Yoshimura cams. So I popped in a slightly thicker shim there; I wonder if that's what might have been contributing to #1 carbie 'spitting back'? We will see.

Other than that, nothing to report. Oh, I have decided that the nice new stainless steel carbie bowl screws aren't that wonderful. I mean, have you tried retrieving those things if you accidentally drop one into the maze-like nooks and crannies on rear of the crankcase when working on the carbies in situ? How much easier some plain steel screws would be to retrieve, simply by using a magnetised screw-driver or some-such! As it was, I ended up having to pull out the entire starter motor to retrieve one pesky screw. You have been warned.

20 Aug 2013
You beauty, the 'Gunson Colortune' FINALLY arrived yesterday. It was a doddle to use and I had those pilot mixtures on each carbie adjusted so easily I was amazed. I just turned the fuel screw for each carbie out until the combustion flame colour was yellow (ie. rich), then slowly wound it back in until it turned blue, and that was it! Then balanced the carbies with the mercury vacuum gauges... and the result? Simply excellent! I hopped on the bike and went for a quick ride, and it's just so much better; responsive and smooth at take off, very nice indeed. So if you have a carburetted bike that you're having a hard time tuning, get the Gunson, that's all I can say. It turns a difficult, time-consuming job into a dead sinch.

However, there is still that erratic spitting back through carbie #1, but interestingly, it switched across to carbie #4 for a bit there. Immediately I thought, is that a coil problem (one coil 'feeds' carbies 1 and 4, the other does carbies 2 and 3)? So I went to bed pondering this in my bonce. Somehow I must have kept on thinking about it in my sleep, because when I woke up this morning, the likely problem and solution just popped into my head! Let me explain...

Some months ago, see, when I was checking the GS's timing with the strobe light, and I had the graphite clamp on spark plug lead #4, I noticed that whenever there was a 'spit back' through carbie #1, the strobe would go out momentarily. I didn't realise the significance of that at the time, but last night when I was off in the Land of Zed I finally understood what the momentary loss of light from the strobe meant, viz. that there has been no spark travelling down the lead at that instant. And what that means is that there has still been unburned mixture on the non-compression stroke immediately following, which has been ignited by the 'redundant spark' (a feature of all twin-coil ignition systems on old skool Jap 4-cylinder motorcycle donks) as the intake valve is opening, and so it fires back through the open intake valve and blasts through the carbie and into the air filter pod. EUREKA! At least, I think so.

So what I'll do is borrow a spare coil off Pete in the next few days, and see if that fixes it. The other thing I could do is simply swap the coils over, and see if the problem moves to cylinders 2 and/or 3. But I'd rather have a spare coil installed so that I can test things out (i) at speed and (ii) under load while zooting around my favourite test route.

The other thing that arrived today is a fork brace I scored on eBay, along with an old pair of alloy clip-ons:

I don't think I'll be using the clip-ons any time soon (they need a bit of work and tidying up, for starters), but the fork brace itself just bolted straight on. As you can see it's a substantial and stylish bit of kit. I'm not sure if it really improves the handling that much, but who cares -- it looks great!

27 Aug 2013
Well, it's been a week or so of eliminations! I swapped in the 3 Ohm 'Dyna' coils from the Katana, but the spitting-back through carbie #1 (and sometimes #4) continued. And here I was thinking I might have solved the problem! So then I put in a bypass wire from the points up to the coil, to see if maybe the cause was some dodgy wiring in the harness going to the coil for 1&4 -- but no, still had it spitting back.

Right, time to check the timing again. Yes, 1&4 were bang-on when I checked things with the strobe light. But then I thought, better check 2&3 with the strobe as well. And mate, they were about 5-6 degrees out! So then I attempted to adjust the timing for 2&3, but ran out of adjustment -- what the?! It was then that I saw a little more sparking coming out from the contact breaker gap of the points for 1&4. OK, I thought, it might be one of my new condensers I'd put in there. So I swapped the condensers over, but still the excessive sparking from points 1&4 continued. Hmmm.

So then I pulled the set of points for 1&4 out for a closer examination, and MATE, they were so worn away that there was a hole burning through the upper contact! The points for 2&3 were quite worn, but still OK. Well, what's it all mean? I think that, due to the points for 1&4 being so worn, it's become impossible to set the timing for both sets of points. A couple of new sets are on the way, and we'll see if THAT fixes things! In the meantime, I'd better get on to re-routing that exhaust and making a better muffler...

9 Sep 2013
Well the last few weeks have been spent largely trying to sleuth out one persistent problem, viz. the minor back-firing aka 'spitting back' through carbies 1 and 4. I have trawled through and eliminated just about everything you could ever think of… coils, spark plug leads, spark plugs, spark plug caps, valve timing, points, condensers, ignition timing, ATU (automatic timing unit that sits behind the points base plate, on the right-hand end of the crankshaft), as well as cleaning out every conceivable nook and cranny in those old Mikunis. And let me tell you, they have PLENTY of nooks and crannies!

But still that problem persisted… and I have to say that the 'therapy value' of working on the GS was starting to wear off. So it was that I spent most of last Friday night and most of Saturday trawling through the points ignition setup. And the more I worked on it, the more I've come to realise that those old point ignition thingys are crude things indeed. In fact, I can't for the life of me understand how they can deliver a well-timed spark at anything over 1000 rpm! I mean, when you go to rotate the base plate to change the timing with the mighty Optimax strobe (now there's a ripper brand name, eh), there is a small but significant amount sideways play in the base plate WHICH THEN CHANGES THE GAP IN THE POINTS ENOUGH TO STUFF IT ALL UP AGAIN. But finally, after hours of fiddling and marvelling at the crudity of the whole thing, I got the timing for 1&4 and 2&3 nailed. <wipes perspiration off fevered brow>

But still, that erratic and intermittent backfiring through 1&4 continued. It was then that I read an almost incidental comment on one of the GS Resources forum threads re. making your own Gunson 'Colortune' (another excellent moniker) transparent spark plug. The fella said that not only did he use his Gunson plug to tune the idle mixture via the fuel pilot mixture screws, but what he did then was run the rpm up to 4K and THEN TURN IN THE AIR SCREW FOR THAT CARBY UNTIL THE COMBUSTION FLAME CHANGED FROM YELLOW TO BLUE. Hmm.

Out I stumped to the garage, whipped out the mighty Gunson, and screwed it into cylinder no. 4 which seemed to be backfiring through the carbie a little more that morning. As the bike warmed up, right on cue #4 started spitting-back erratically. So I dialled the rpm up to 4K rpm and then turned the screw inwards (as the flame colour was a light blue, ie. lean). Immediately the spitting-back just WENT AWAY. Repeated for #1, and then checked #'s 2 and 3 for good measure.

Then on with the helmet and gloves, and I went for a ride around the usual figure-8 test circuit that winds between the lakes nearby. Only one piddly little fart-back made its presence felt! After that, I was riding a reasonably well-tuned motorcycle… lacking a bit of punch when taking off in 1st (but maybe I'm too used to the über-torquey Katana?), but from about 3.5K the thing just flies! Got it up to a rather unmentionable speed between the lakes and shot it through those sweeping bends with a rather large grin on my dial. Fast and stable, just like a GS1000 should be! You beauty!

So is the problem solved? I dare to hope so. But I've decided that the only worthy state of mind with a problem that's been this long in the solving, is one of constant low-grade scepticism. That way you're not going to get your hopes totally dashed, see.

Finally, and following a timely suggestion from Pete, I'll be screwing a regular pair of mirrors onto the 'bars, as a mate of his got knocked back at the pits with a set of bar-end mirrors. Then of course, once home, they can get popped on the shelf and the much svelter and effective bar-end mirrors will be reinstalled. Blasted bureaucrats.

The only remaining niggle with the bike is the fact that the right-hand indicators will only work after the bike has been warmed up for a bit. The likely culprit here is the ancient Suzuki indicator auto-cancelling box, that sits strapped to the side of the battery cage. I managed to confirm this tonight, but pointing the heat gun at the auto-cancelling box for a couple of minutes, and then YEP the right-hand indicators started working. So I pried the top off the box, but the relevant bit that's not performing when cold appears to be buried in the heart of the sealed part of the unit. Might just have to bypass the whole thing, then. Ah, whatever... I'll think about it tomorrow afternoon.

11 Sep 2013
Fixed those indicators today, using some sage advice from a couple of the GS Resources forum chaps once again...
  1. First, I tossed the faulty auto-cancelling box for the indicators into the bin.
  2. Then I bought a couple of 2-pin flasher cans (aka indicator relays), and wired them into the 4-pin plug that exits the loom and used to go to the auto-cancelling box.
  3. I modified the indicator switch on the LHS switchgear block, so it wouldn't self-centre, thus cancelling the flasher cans I'd just installed. This was simply a matter of hoiking out the little self-centreing spring with a very small pair of pointy pliers.
  4. Final move was to take a small round-ended punch, and knock a dimple in the brass plate inside the switchgear, so that the indicator switch lever now has a distinct spot to slot into when centred.
And now they work just the way all good indicators should! For more details, just check out the GS Resources thread here.

Lazarus is now road-legal!

13 Sep 2013
Took the GS1000 in to the Licensing Centre today, down in Kelmscott... only a few hundred metres down the road from where I work. The usual trepidations gripped me as I braced myself to deal with 'The Man With The Clipboard'. I was a bit concerned that he'd notice:
  • it has only one throttle cable (there is the facility for 2 on the GS1000's... but only one was ever fitted at the factory);
  • the muffler is homemade and possibly a bit loud;
  • the ex-Katana front discs are a bit worn; and
  • the pod air filters meant that the crankcase now vents into the atmosphere instead of the original airbox.
But I jagged a fair examiner, thankfully... he was concerned with safety, not hair-splitting enviro-nazi crud. So he went over the brake lines carefully, checked all the lights, looked for oil leaks etc. After taking the bike for a short ride, his only comment was that the suspension at the front was a bit stiff. Well, they always have to find something wrong, don't they. So then I went into the office and paid up for 6 months registration, got my nice spanking-new number plate, and I was out of there!

However, winding my way home on the usual 25km run, the bike started doing ITS BLASTED SPITTING-BACK THROUGH THE CARBIES TRICK ONCE AGAIN. Well, at least it didn't start doing it for the examiner guy, huh! But my high spirits at having the GS registered were now somewhat dampened.

14 Sep 2013
Ah well, only one thing to do... and that was to spend most of today focussing on what I am sure is a fuelling problem.

So I put the fuel screws and the air screws back to the settings recommended in the GS Resources VM carbie rebuild instruction, viz. 1 1/4 turns out for the air screws, and 1 turn out for the fuel screws. Then I started the bike and mate, it was popping and backfiring and carb-spitting like there was no tomorrow. Hrmmpf, not impressive. I fiddled for an hour or two, but not really getting anywhere.

In the end, I realised I had to take some sort of systematic approach if I was going to get anywhere. So I decided that my methodology would be to put the fuel screws all at the same setting, but then tune the pilot mixture for each carbie by using the air screws combined with the mighty Gunson 'Colortune' plug.

So, at 1 turn out for the fuel screws, and then turning the air screws for each carbie until that cylinder yielded a blue combustion flame, I then took the bike for a spin. Yup, spitting-back galore. OK then, I put the fuel screws out 1 1/4 turns, and then tuned the pilot mixtures using the air screws again. Less spitting-back this time. So fuel screws out to 1 1/2 turns, adjusted the pilot mixture using the air screws. Less spitting-back, but it was still there. Then 1 3/4 turns for the fuel screws, tuned the pilot mixtures, and off for another short ride, and the spitting-back was mostly gone. "Right then," I thought, "I'm going to 2 1/4 turns out for those fuel screws, and then adjust the pilot mixture using the air screws, and we'll see if that fixes it!" Off for another test ride, and hooray, no spitting-back happened.

So, is it fixed? Dunno, I'll see what it's like in the morning when I start the bike with a cold engine. Onwards, ever onwards we slog...

1 Oct 2013
Well, at last I think I'm getting close to sorting the jetting on the GS1000. Currently I've got the main jets drilled out to 1.2mm, the needles at their highest position (clip slot #5), the pilot screws at 2 3/4 turns out each, and the air screws set so that at 3000rpm the combustion flame (as viewed with the Gunson 'Colortune' plug) is a touch on the rich side. Then, as this made the idle mixture way too rich, I wound the idle screws in a bit, until the combustion flame was yellow-turning-to-blue...

... and this seems to be the best compromise I've hit on so far, that will give me a good idle mixture, but minimal 'spitting back' through the carbs at a steady throttle at 3000rpm. Now the only time it spits back, is when the motor is still running a bit cold after start-up, or once in a while when using that light throttle at around 3000rpm. I will keep fiddling, but I think we're nearing the best possible compromise. I may be able to get things better sorted when I change the pod filters from those rather free-breathing pleated items, to better-filtering (but more restrictive) oiled foam jobbies.

In other news, today I took the GS1000 for its first spin outside Perth's metro area. Pete had the day off as well, so he fired up his GS1000S, and we took the bikes to York for a counter lunch at the pub (if you must know, steak sandwich for Pete, fish & chips for me, and a pint for us both). It's a nice open road, the sun was shining, the paddocks were lush and green, and the bikes rolled along nicely through all the bends and hilly stuff. It was great! Both machines performed flawlessly... well, except that I had to help push-start Pete's bike owing to a rather past-its-best battery. And then when we got to York we discovered that Pete's fuel tank was fairly dribbling fuel out the bottom! We 'fixed' this by stuffing a rag underneath. Pete seemed to be fairly unfazed at the prospect of becoming the motorcycling equivalent of a Molotov cocktail, but I did notice him a few times checking under his backside as we rode home, obviously wondering if the whole plot was about to go 'whooomphf'.

These minor dramas aside, the ride reminded us why the GS1000 remains the best bike ever made (with the possible exception of the mighty Katana GSX1100S). Which is, of course, a completely objective view.

24 Oct 2013
I think the myriad fiddlings with tuning the carbies have basically come to an end. In short, I've been unable to totally eliminate the spitting-back through the carbies when starting from cold, and when on that light throttle at approx. 3000rpm. It hardly ever does the little spit-back now, but just when you think it might have disappeared you get that tell-tale "PFFFFT!!". So, after hours upon hours of experimentation, mulling, research, and picking the brains of just about everyone who knows about these mysteries, I've decided that essentially I'm asking too much of the original spec. carbies to cope with the pods, the pipe, and the high-lift Yoshi cams. So until I can get my mitts on a bigger set of carbies, these will have to do. Maybe a set of GSX carbies will do the trick? The downside is that I love the look of the VM carbies on the GS... so maybe I will just have to save up for a set of performance Mikuni smoothbores or Keihin flat-slides or whatever.

But don't get me wrong; apart from the rare spit-back, the bike starts easily, runs beautifully, has plenty of power, and is an utter joy to ride. Just today I was throwing it through the corners on my way home from work, enjoying the superb handling and the great control you get from a wide, upright set of 'bars. Bliss!

And here is the bike in its current incarnation:

You will notice that the bike is now sporting a genuine Yoshi 'tri-oval' muffler. Cost a small bomb if you buy them new from the 'States, but I got this pristine titanium jobbie via eBay for a paltry AU$85 -- less than 20% of the price of a new one! According to the vendor, it was originally off a GSX-R1000, and had then done service on a '07 Triumph Tiger 1050. So I'm pretty pleased to have found a blingy bit of kit like this. But here's the thing: the GS performed better, and sounded better, with the conical muffler I'd made myself! In comparison, this Yoshi muffler seems to have choked a bit of the 3500rpm+ performance out of the bike, and changed the assertive howl to a more muted affair. Well there are some things I'll probably never understand, and this would be one of them... But for now the Yoshi muffler can stay. I think it looks the part, and that has to count for something!

5 Jan 2014
After a few months of riding the GS around as my daily hack, the bike has settled down very nicely. The fuel cap was allowing petrol to fairly flood up out of the tank; dismantling it and inserting an O-ring into the gap around the lock tumbler fixed that. I also tracked down a fibreglass repro. fairing plus screen -- unused and showing only light 'shelf wear'. Mounting it was straightforward and it painted up nicely! Some black trim around the edge of the perspex and it's really made the bike look like a proper GS, I think.

Also, I managed to find an old set of Mikuni VM30's on Gumtree for a good price. They're in pretty good shape, but I'm still waiting on air filters and a couple of new needles to arrive, as well as a set of replacement choke siphons. Hopefully this set of carbs will suit the pods, pipe and Yoshi camshafts alot better than the VM28's currently installed. I do like the look of the VMs, and I don't want to take the easy way out with a set of CVs. So once the parts arrive, no doubt a day or two will disappear tuning the suckers but at least then I'll have some idea if the switch has worked or not.

And while I think of it, let me put down the factory settings for these carbies in case any of you have a set and are wondering where to start. Pilot screw: 5/8 (turns out from *lightly* seated). Air screw: 1 1/4. Float level: 22.4 +/- 1. Pilot jet: #20. Main jet: 97.5. Jet needle clip position: 3rd (central) slot. Needle jet: O7.

And how can you be certain if you have a set of these uncommon (seems to have been Australian & NZ markets only) VM30 carbies? Well, they have a 5-digit ID number stamped on the flange of each carbie (see red circle in photo above), 49120. It may be too faint to read easily, in which case just check the same spot on each of the other carbies until you find it clearly stamped.

27 Jan 2014
Well here we are, a year to the day since the GS was backed off the trailer and rolled into the workshop. Time has flown... which has to be some sort of indication I've been having fun. ;-)

The VM30s are installed and YES we have a much better launch off idle, and a stronger mid-range as well. The excellent top-end remains, err, excellent. There is STILL an annoying "PFFT" once in a while, however... but some patient tweaking of the idle circuit will hopefully eliminate this. If not, it might just be an ignition-related thing after all, in which case it will be time to definitely ditch the points ignition and go with a 'Dyna S' setup.

19 Feb 2014
At last I think I've got these VM carbies tuned. Size 140 main jets, jet needles raised one notch from standard, air screws 1 1/4 turns out, and pilot mixture screws set via the 'Gunson Colortune' plug. Pulls really well from down low, and as the revs rise over 4K the top end kicks in with an ever-building rush that just keeps on coming... I like it very much. Also realised that the steering head bearings had bedded in and were now a touch loose, so another 1/2 turn on the slotted nut at the top of the steering head and all's fixed.

That persistent and occasional "pfft" hasn't showed itself for days, either -- so I'm actually wondering if it was related to not having the jet needles raised far enough? Who knows... time will tell, as always.

13 Apr 2014
The bike had started losing a bit of it's 'zing' (a technical term for mechanical happiness), and I suspected that it must be time to adjust and re-gap the points. Whipped the cover off, and sure enough, pitted points greeted my eyeballs. So I dressed the points flat with a small file and then soime 400-grit emery paper, and then reinstalled them and set about statically adjusting the timing.

Well what a PALAVER that turned out to be. Twidding here, movement there, and finally about TWO HOURS later I had it all back to where it should be. Then and there I made a vow that this would be the last time I adjusted those wretched points. Hopped on to eBay and ordered the cheapest Dynatek 'Dyna S' igniton kit I could find. (It's worth shopping around and doing a careful search, as the prices do vary a lot for exactly the same Dynatek hardware.)

This afternoon I installed the new ignition system. It was very easy, the instructions were clear, and it runs like a beauty. And maybe even better than before, thanks to the sharper and hotter spark that these after-market ignition systems are said to provide. But best of all, it's 'set and forget' -- so I will never have to adjust the blasted things ever again!

In fact, so chuffed am I with my Dyna S ignition, that I made up a decal to go on the ignition cover. The original decal/ aluminium disc wasn't on there when I got the bike, so I just cut out and shaped my own from thin aluminium sheet. Then I printed my own decal (using a transparent inkjet transfer sheet), gave it 2 coats of clear polyurethane, and stuck it on.

The other thing I did a few weeks ago, was rig up an LED side-stand warning light. Having had a few forgettable occasions where I'd scooted off down the street with the sidestand still down, I got to thinking how that could possibly be the dumbest way to crash your bike (apart from some of the idiotic footage you can see on YouTube). So, prevention being much better than cure, here's what I did:
  1. I bought a 12V red/blue flashing LED on eBay;
  2. then I bought a small button-switch which I mounted down next to the side-stand;
  3. the LED was mounted up in the fairing where it can't be ignored in a million years; and
  4. finally I wired it in to a circuit that's live when the ignition is on. There are many options here, but I just grabbed one of the nearby orange wires with the green trace.
So now if I have the ignition on and the sidestand down, the LED flashes blue-red-blue-red etc. which for some reason gets my attention like few other colour combinations.

30 Apr 2014
Today I set about replacing those cheap 'Emgo' air filters with some oiled foam items. The Emgo filters are popular enough, but apparently they are not made to be oiled and if you hold them up to the sky you can see lots of spots of daylight poking through. Basically I don't think I'd like to entrust my engines to them for the long-term. However, the steel flanges and rubber manifolds are perfectly OK, so why not use these as the basis for making a set of oiled-foam filters? After all, the usual 'Ram Air' items available on eBay aren't a good fit for the GS1000 carbies, as they tend to foul each other.

So I took to the Emgo filters and removed the steel mesh and filter material, in order to re-use the flanges and rubber manifolds. Then using some aluminium sheet I joined the flanges together in pairs, so that carbs 1&2 and 3&4 would each share one oval filter (they're less prone to coming unstuck if you do that). Then I cut some 'Ram Air' filter foam to size, and glued it around the flanges using some contact adhesive. After a soak in filter oil and then squeezing the excess out with a clean rag, I think we have a set of filters that will take out the fine stuff as well as the blue metal. That's more like it!

13 May 2014
You will also see a lever there, that I've installed to retard the timing for start-up. This is known locally as the 'uber-lever', that is, 'the lever that is above and beyond any other lever'. How and why is written-up here.

And now the latest shots of the bike...

7 June 2014
Lately I've done a couple of things to the bike that you wouldn't think would make that much difference... but they have.

First off, I've switched from using a 20W-40 mineral-based engine oil, to a 20W-50. So, I hear you say, it's a little bit thicker when hot; what's the big deal? Well, that small increase in viscosity has made the engine SO much quieter... the touch of clutch rattle has all but disappeared, and the motor just sounds smoother and 'happier', if that makes sense. After all, it's been patched together from a variety of 2nd-hand parts, so it was always bound to be a bit rattly. Not any more!

The other thing I've done, is converted the original spec. drive chain & sprockets from the heavier '630' size down to a more conventional (these days, anyway) '530'. I have retained the original gearing ratio, however (15T front srocket, 42T rear). So it shouldn't make any difference, should it? Well, it does: the bike is just that little bit nippier and quicker on the up-take when accelerating! This is because the smaller-sized chain and sprockets are that much lighter, and so soak up less power to get them spinning. I had read this was the case, but I never thought you'd feel the difference in practice. With over 25 years of motorcycling under my belt, I'm still getting surprises.

31 June 2014
The most bizarre oil leak appeared a couple of weeks back: a slow drip off the lower front cooling fins on the cylinder block. More to the left-hand side than the right. Hmm... wasn't the cam chain tensioner, wasn't the cam cover, wasn't the head gasket or base gasket as far as I could see. Nothing for it in the end but to take the top end apart.

And what was it? Here goes: oil was leaking past the O-ring at the LHS front oil-way where it goes through the head gasket. From there it was leaking along the underside of the gasket, but still not making it to the outside! It kept travelling until it got to the stud between cylinders 1 and 2, and then it was just slowly dribbling down the stud cavity, and from there out onto the cooling fins. Bizzare, eh. There's probably some small scratch or something on the cylinder block. So next time I'll be using a smudge of silicone on the O-rings for sure. :-/

While I'm at it, I've helicoiled all the bolt holes for the cam cover, as another one or two of these would strip every time I went to bolt it down, grrr. Have also helicoiled all the cam cap bolt holes while I'm at it, for good measure. Will also do a mild bit of porting on the inlet tracts, to remove the small 'step' between the inlet manifold rubbers and the start of the inlet tract. Also taking the opportunity to slot in a standard set of cams to see if they will better suit the bike around town. Of course that means re-shimming, re-tuning...

There's also a replica TR750 tail piece on the way from Victoria; should get here tomorrow or early next week. So I'm looking forward to fitting that and getting the bike looking more like an old skool GP machine!

Still wondering what I'll do in terms of brake/tail lights. But there are lots of LED options around, so I should be able to come up with something that looks the goods.

3 August 2014
A couple of days ago I got brave and bought a small 'burr' attachment from Masters (new mega-hardware outlet just up the road), as well as some fresh sanding-cylinder thingys for the 'dremel', and then took my first little foray into cylinder-head porting. I was wondering if the burr attachment would be up to the task, but I needn't have worried -- it worked a treat. And finishing off with the sanding attachment on the dremel was a doddle. First thing I did was use the dremel to sand away the rubber 'dags' from the inside edge of the manifolds; you can see a few of them below, in the first photo. Then with the rubber manifold bolted back in place, I scribed a circle to mark the point to which I wanted to enlarge the port entrance. Then I removed the the rubber manifold again, and set to work with burr attachment, until almost up to the line I'd scribed on the face of the aluminium. The last bit of fine-shaping was done with the dremel, then I bolted the manifold back on, and that was that.

And how much more power will this scintillating bit of handiwork deliver? Look, probably not much -- although sometimes it's the little things that can make a surprising difference. After all, the machine that leaves the others in its wake is usually the one with that myriad of small but significant tuning tweaks!

11 August 2014
I've started work on fitting the TR750 replica tail piece, too. A bit of fiddling and fibreglassing to do (and while I'm not the world's most accomplished fibreglasser, I do love the stuff), but the good news is that the frame rails have not had to be trimmed as they fit up inside the tail piece very neatly. The only thing I've had to trim off the frame was the old helmet hook on the right-hand side. I could have also taken off the seat hinge mounts on the left, and the seat lock on the right... but I want to leave things so that the original seat etc. can be reinstalled later if needed. (Any old gorilla can modify something -- but can you do things so that they can be easily unmodified, hmm?) So the hinge mounts just protrude through the lower left-hand side of the tail piece. They should be reasonably inconspicuous, and won't foul the tender insides of my thighs -- I hope. But if they do, then it will be out with the angle-grinder, mwuah-ha-haaaaah! Finally, the seat base will need to be lengthened to reach the fuel tank, and I will have to clear a 'scallop' out from the underside, so that there will be enough clearance for the rear wheel & mudguard.

The other thing I did today, was fit the camshafts to the cylinder head and use the correct shims to obtain the correct clearances (0.03 -- 0.08mm 'cold'). So now the motor can be reassembled at my leisure.

9 Oct. 2014
Well, the body work is all finished, and the engine's back together... but do you think I can get the carbies tuned properly? So in desperation I ended up taking it off to a well-known motorcycle dyno guru, to see what the air:fuel ratio (AFR) was like across the rev-range. The short answer was: "It's lean everywhere." OK... so judging from the graph of the AFR I should lift the needles a click or two, and get a bigger main jet. Well, thought I'd try doing stuff before the main jets arrive in the post, but alas I just can't get the thing running well at all. I've tried clip positions here, clip positions there, and fluffed around with raising and lowering the fuel level in the bowls -- all to no avail. So I'll wait until the larger main jets arrive and see how we go. In the meantime, I'm riding the Katana around town. Which is lots of fun but I'm sure to get sprung by the fuzz before too long; it's just way to difficult to keep to the speed limit on that thing.

And here's the dyno chart. As you can see, the old girl puts out a bit over 70HP at the rear wheel; not bad for a GS1000 on standard cams, barrells etc. With the fuelling corrected we should get even more herbs and berries out of the old donk.

26 Dec. 2014
Larger jets (#125) went in. Clips were raised a notch. But still it was running worse and worse -- very frustrating. After having the top end apart another time, and the carbies in and out and synced more than a few times, I was just sitting there completey stumped. By now it was backfiring randomly, as well as spitting back through the carbies merrily, esp. on start up. Then I found that spark plug #3 was giving up. Right, off for a fresh set of spark plugs. Popped them in, and the bike ran like a dream! Arrrrrgh, don't tell me I've spent the last 2 months chasing my tail over what I was convinced was a fuelling problem, only for it to be a dud plug?!!

Then I did a bit more thinking: how come the plug had curled up its toes? It wasn't that old. Hmm... knowing that a weak ignition system will produce dud plugs, I put a multimeter to the charging system. What should have been a nice crisp 14 volts (or thereabouts) was instead a limp, insipid 11.6 volts. Well, you're never going to get a bike running right with a charging system like that. So a new stator is on the way, and a new reg/rect. for good measure, in case that's needed too (unlikely, but I'm not trusting anything any more!). Stay tuned for the next installment...

1st Feb. 2015
The charging system was fixed with installing the new stator: now we've got a healthy 14.6 volts with the headlamp on. The bike naturally has been running a lot better, but still it ends up getting problems with #3 spark plug. Hmm, time to do a compression check. A year or so back, the bike had been showing a healthy 160psi on all cylinders... but now, we're basically down to 120psi. Not a good result. So is it rings, valves, or both? I hate to admit it, but I've had enough farting around with innumerable top end dismantlings, so I've simply ordered a brand-spankers Wiseco 1085cc piston kit, and will get the block bored and honed to suit the kit. Then I'll get the motorcycle engineer guy to cast his much-more professional eye over the valves & valve seats, and see what he might think of those while he's at it. We're going to get this top end sorted... one way or the other! And for good measure, there's a fresh pair of coils on the way (3 ohm 'Dyna' items) and a fresh set of spark plug leads as well.

Apart from the recent problems, there is still much to be satisfied with re. this GS1000 resurrection. It looks a treat (appreciative comments and glances wherever I go), handles and brakes the best out of all the GS1000s I've had, and when all's said and done it's simply loads of fun for blatting around town. Much lighter feel than the Katana, and not having such brutal torque & power on tap means the plodmeisters are bound to take less interest. Well, hopefully. And here is the latest incarnation, with the new tail piece & seat installed:

15th June 2015
The Wiseco 1085cc kit has been installed and has now run-in nicely. The kit was sourced on eBay (cutting out the Australian middle-man saved a few hundred bucks) and Ray Easson bored-out and honed the block to accept the new slugs. It all went together easy enough and now the motor is much quieter, smoother and easier to start. Seems we must have had a bit of piston-slap going on with the old set, hmm. Anyway all this is now behind us and a little more fine-tuning (might go 1/2 a notch leaner) on the needle-heights and I think we'll be there. The new Dyna coils are in with their new leads, and the ignition is now significantly healthier. I have also taken the opportunity to re-do the seat (the old one looked too much like a H*rley saddle-bag with all those press-studs) and I think I'll only do a little more fiddling with it before I will be satisfied with it.

Finally, I've installed a 'Pingel' fuel tap, as I was tiring of the old tap not having a reserve setting. The only real hassle with installing the new tap was making up an aluminium adapter plate out of 6mm aluminium; I had to find a 3/8 NPT tap to cut the right tapered hold in the middle of the plate. You would think that these would be easy to find in Oz, but noooo... ended up having to fork out an eye-watering amount of dosh for the tap. But the hole was finally cut, the fuel tap is installed, and YES every good thing you read about Pingel taps is true!

19th Sept. 2015
I found a set of old Tingate rearsets on eBay, made for the GS1000SN ('79) frame. There ain't no cool like that old skool cool . The pegs themselves were long gone, as I've heard they were quite prone to snapping off. Not to worry; I cleaned out the threaded peg holes, and screwed in an 80mm length of 12mm x 1.25 steel thread. Then I bought a pair of LSL aluminium racing pegs, tapped them out to 12mm x 1.25, and screwed them on the steel thread with some blue loctite for good measure. A couple of aluminium spacers (cut out of 16mm thick billet with a hole saw -- ya gotta use the tools you've got!) make sure the short-ish pegs are the right distance out so that my boots can be lined up with the levers. Having my legs tucked back a further 6 inches has made the riding pozzie a lot better. And everything looks and feels faster, too.

I also picked up a NOS Lockhart oil cooler, still in the original packaging! Cost an unmentionable little bomb as it seems I wasn't the only one who wanted it. But now installed and lookin' groovy. Sure, the motor isn't majorly hotted up so maybe it's a bit superflouous to requirements -- although summer is coming up so anything that helps dissipate heat in stop-start urban commuting has to be a good thing.

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Well, you have now arrived at the end of the GS1000 'resurrection' page. Updates will now come to a stop because the bike is now basically finished, and is now serving as my daily hack. Yes it's been a bit of a saga at times, but the satisfaction in doing your own nut & bolt rebuild of a machine, and then riding it everywhere, is enormous. So if a restoration/ renovation/ resurrection is an experience you haven't yet had (with either an old bike, car, gyrocopter, hovercraft, whatever), then my advice is to dive in and give it a go!


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