Monday, June 10, 2013

XS750 Project, Part 21 -- 90 Per Cent Done, 90 Per Cent to Go

Before I bought my first motorcycle, I was into airplanes. I earned my private pilot's license in 1991, then spent the next several years pining for an airplane of my own. However, I really couldn't manage to get terribly excited over most of the small, single-engine "General Aviation" airplanes available at the time. What I really longed for was one of the kit planes that were just beginning to take the aviation world by storm. I ended up buying plans for two airplanes, a fiberglass Dragonfly and a tube-and-fabric Sonerai II. I eventually even started cutting out wing ribs for the Sonerai before deciding that metal work was not really my thing. Anyway, after years of pouring through the latest edition of Kitplanes magazine, I learned that airplane homebuilders had a saying: "90% done, 90% to go," meaning that, after the airplane was almost completely built -- looking like it was ready to fly any day -- the builders often discovered that the last ten per cent of the work left on the airplane easily took as long, if not longer, than assembling the raw foam, fiberglass, steel tube, aluminum angle, or wooden frame had taken. Making something that resembled an airplane was often much easier, and much more immediately rewarding, than the detail work of fleshing out the airplane and installing all of the interior systems.

I think I have reached the "90% done, 90% to go," milestone on the XS750 project. It now looks like a bike. The exhaust has been reconnected,

seat pan
...the seat pan and tail light mounts have been fabricated and painted, the electrical system has been mostly reconnected, the battery box has been reinstalled,

fuel tank
...the frame and fuel tank have been painted, carbs have been reinstalled, fuel and vacuum lines have been reattached, throttle and clutch cables are reconnected,

headlight bucket
the headlight bucket and turn signals are reattached and wired up. In fact, it was close enough to being done that yesterday, I reconnected the freshly charged battery and had planned to fire up the bike just to let the engine run for a bit.


When I turned the ignition key, there were no lights on the instrument panel at all, nor did pressing the starter button elicit any motion in the engine. As far as I could tell, there were no electrons flowing in the electrical system whatsoever, not even the click of a relay.

At this point, it looks like motorcycle, but the list of details left on the punch-list is daunting. The front brakes still don't work (I think the E-bay FZR750 master cylinder isn't working properly, so a replacement from Mike's XS is on the way). I still have to replace the exhaust gaskets (I couldn't remove them while the engine was cold; I intend to try again after running the engine to see if the heat will make the exhaust flanges expand enough to slip the gaskets out). I still need to connect the crankcase breather filter and route the breather line somewhere.

tail lights
I also need to wire up the tail lights, brake lights and rear turn signals, as well as pad and upholster the seat. Once all of that is done, there is also the periodic maintenance that may or may not be due (engine oil change, final drive oil change, spark plug replacement, etc.), but that I intend to complete, just to be sure that the required maintenance is up to date.

Oh, yeah...and get the electrical system working. Without spark, none of the rest of the work matters. A cafe racer is nothing more than a steel and rubber sculpture if the engine doesn't run. I suspect that for the next several days, I'll be spending some quality time in the garage with a multimeter and test probe trying to trace down the point where the electrons are going AWOL.

Should be fun!

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