XS650: The Day After (the clutch repair)

NEXT MORNING:  The charger (really a battery maintainer) said it wasn’t fully charged yet, but I went ahead and disconnected the charger and tried the starter, and yes, it started.  I wasn’t sure if I’d have a problem, considering how long I had let it sit.

But… the vacuum petcock must leak down a bit, as the airbox seemed full of gas, which blew out onto the cardboard I use to protect my garage floor.  Ick. Pulled the bike outside, threw the cardboard in the trash (it’s trash day so it won’t sit around here for long), and let the bike warm up.

Ran it down the road south out of town, up over the 6,000 RPM mark, and no slipping.  Killed it in my driveway on the return; clutch was dragging a bit, and I realized I must have loosened the clutch lever adjustment when I first discovered the problem almost two years ago.  Corrected that, and am now happy with it.

Still hate that Michelin Commander II. It’s going for sure; the rear looks like it’s ready for replacement, so maybe I can get something I like better.

XS650, Much Later

Well, it’s been more than a year since my last post about the XS650.  I actually didn’t realize it had been that long.  But today I actually scheduled the afternoon off to finally rebuild the clutch.

For starters, getting the side cover off was a chore.  Using a narrow wooden board to direct force from the left side of the bike onto that boss everyone says is there to get the right side cover off didn’t work… I just chewed up the end of the board.  A prybar carefully placed behind the boss, using the downtube as a fulcrum, is what finally freed it.

But I misunderstood the admonition to hold in the kickstarter, and ended up pulling it out unintentionally.  I put it back in place using a trick I found in a video:

I’d like to take this time to ask you guys who make these videos… if you do a clutch rebuild video, please include the part where you remove the right side cover.  All the videos I found either start with that cover already off, or skip over that part which is part of why I managed to accidentally pull the kickstart mechanism out.

But as I say, I got it back in.  The next challenge was the screws holding the clutch together… in the video I watched, they were socket-headed, but in my engine (as in the video above) they are JIS.  So I got into my toolbox and got out my Vessel #3 JIS impact driver, grabbed a hammer and went to work.

Fifteen minutes of hammering and cussing later I still didn’t have a single screw loose.  Yes, I do know how to preload the impact driver… it just didn’t help.

As I sat there on the floor, annoyed and with my arthritic hands sore from the hammering, I had a thought.  No, that couldn’t work…

I washed up and went into the house, where I grabbed my 20V Black & Decker impact driver and a fresh battery.  Back in the shop, I got out the 1/4″ drive Motion Pro JIS bits I bought on a whim (never thinking I’d need them), dug out a #3 and loaded it into the driver.

Had those little buggers out in a jiffy.  Dang.

The next part was textbook.  Pull out the entire pack and lay it down in front of me.  Peel off an old friction plate and throw it in the trash pile; pick up a new plate (fully soaked in oil, of course) and install it.  Follow with a steel plate.  Repeat sequence until entire clutch is reassembled.

The new springs are stiffer than the old ones, but installed easily enough, though one screw kept stopping before being fully seated.  I finally swapped it with another one, and both went into their places just fine.  Go figure.

Took a break to go get some brake cleaner to help with removal of the gasket residue, and then oiled up the new one and tried to reinstall the side cover.  How the heck are you supposed to keep that gasket in place while you put the cover on?  Gah.  I finally found a skinny punch, no bigger than 6mm at the fattest part, stuck it into one of the top holes and used that and the locator pin at the bottom to hold the gasket while I worked the side cover into place.

That’s when I discovered that the exhaust blocks the reinstallation, if you have the kickstarter in the right place.  Removed a bunch of screws and taps and loosened the clamp on the crossover, then used my prybar to separate the right side exhaust from the left.

Finally got that cover back on.  Gah.  Carefully torqued it down, then tried to put the exhaust back on.  After another cussing interlude, I took the exhaust over to my workbench, grabbed a grinder, and carefully tapered the end of the crossover and thinned it out a bit.  I put on some grease as well, and the combination got it all back together at last.

I failed to pay attention to the order I took it apart in, and reinstalled the footpeg before the brake lever… then of course, removed the footpeg because you can’t do it in that order.  But then, with the brake lever, footpeg, and kickstart lever finally in their places, it was done.

Well, except for putting in the required 2,500 cc of 20W50 motorcycle oil. I use Valvoline conventional, bought at Wal-Mart, as noted previously. I have always avoided synthetic oils because of the wet clutch, but with new plates I wonder if it would be a good idea next time.

Tried to start it, but I had fallen off of my usual good habits over the winter, so the battery was almost flat.  Put it on the charger and called it a night.

More later (tomorrow, maybe).