Author Topic: Hi all! Thanks for the inclusion!  (Read 795 times)


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Hi all! Thanks for the inclusion!
« on: March 26, 2020, 10:49:07 AM »
Finally, I can post and discuss!

I have been posting quite a bit on the facebook group(s) already, glad to be able to interact over her as well!

So, how I got roped into this is; a guy named Jake in Springfield Ohio, he had a GPZ550 and oh it was beautiful, yellow red stripes on a black base. All-though it didn't have a title, I came upon a need to go to Columbus, and tried a long shot offer, a trade. I at the time had a salvage Vulcan with a seized engine,  KZ1000P engine that had the top end off, KZP gauges, tank with a dent in it, wiring loom, front rim with bent axle, a volusia tank with a huge dent in top, a not so great shape Concourse tank. The KZP head was alone worth 300, so I thought he might be up for it, and that he was! But problem was, he actually had just sold it, and that next day would be delivering it to its new owner.

I was really sad, however, he did have another 550, a color shift purple 1982 with a shark fairing on it. I jumped on the facebook group and started cramming info and asking around about it to see if it was worth it. I saw some issues, but at first the Vision seemed like just any other bike I might run into, so standard rebuild carbs, tend to some known issues, and I should be golden, right? Right? The people in the group claimed they were manageable and they were welcoming, so I went ahead and loaded all my parts and headed up there.

I got there, and saw some red flags, like the gas tank had been lined, but it rusted under it and lifted it up, from what I could see. But dang it looked good, that paint looked new, even though it was last tagged in 2001. Apparently it was bought as part of a package deal at an estate sale, and Jake isn't a mechanic. He usually just tears apart bikes and sells parts. To me, the vision looked great, and being a Ducati monster fan, a shaft drive fan, a purple bike fan, I looked it over with perhaps love in my eyes, for a deal I should have just ran from.

Jake had been trying for two years to get rid of that thing, and just couldn't. He didn't know anything about it, and it sat on facebook marketplace for 500$. He had a potential buyer from Cincy, that said as long as the engine would turn over he would come get it that next day. He never did come back. A bit of foreshadowing there, by the way. In a way, even though I knew better, I wanted to help Jake out as well, and get it out of his way. Plus I really didn't know all of what I would come to know about the bike.

Shark fairing fell off as we tried to move it around. The plastic windshield that said Yamaha was cracked and fell apart too. Rear wheel wouldn't budge, even though the brake drum was hanging out of it. I put it back in, but he didn't have a rear axle, and it didn't make the rear wheel move. I couldn't find neutral either. Luckily he found his small 4 wheeled dolly and we put it up under the wheel and into the truck, with much fuss. Man I was so excited. It looked even better without the fairing. Seat was in good shape. I mean if worse comes to worse, I could always part it out, right? Right? lol

I got it home in the dark, checked the serial # and it was manufactured in 12/81. It is a XZ550RJ 11H. It most likely sat on the showroom floor until they fit it with the fairing to try to sell it, and did so. Original wiring, so inline fuses, looked like an owner had messed with it a bit, it had some labels on it. I knew I had to replace the fuse box. As well as cut the yellow cable. The bike was fairly complete, sans key, and then I noticed back spark plug wasn't in hole. Maybe Cincy guy pulled it? Then I see some bolts were loose on the removable frame piece and I start getting worried, as that might hint toward a previous owner tinkering with the idea of pulling the engine.

Pulled tank first, and usual spots had a bunch of pin holes in them. Dangit. Then looked online and tanks are pretty expensive and hard to come buy, and most already have that problem. umm....

Managed to get it in neutral and wow, it was even prettier without the tank! Still really glad I was able to trade, and to this day as well, though it does waver from time to time as I discover more. Because literally every single thing there is to look out for in these bikes, my specimine is suffering from.

Meanwhile, discovered my mother has cancer for the 4th time, and will be fighting it off again, so having the bike to work on really has helped give me something to focus on, and work toward.

So I continue to tear into it, going through known issues.
Drain the oil, it smelled terrible and looked a bit milky.

Took off starter, took apart starter, it was dry and dusty, so I think it will be fine.

Took off YICS as hoses looked dry rotted and the chrome cover disintegrated in my hand. I know most people remove it. Still unsure if I can get it back on, still trying to source hoses.

Removed carbs, they looked gummy, and found I had to pull top to see in bowls, so I did, and they were terribly gummy. Gaskets were old, so I though I was going to have to spend the 125 a piece. Wasn't sure, but took them all the way down cleaning them as I went. I bought the small wire brushes and cleaned it even better a second time. I have all the passages clear. Just found through Cruzin Image I can get the carb kits both for 30 bucks, and 9 shipping. Still haven't rebuilt them yet.

Still don't have a fuel pump rebuild kit. I am worried because I haven't seen the other diaphragm that is on it rebuild kit option.

I studied long and hard about a carb swap option, scared of the vision stumble, though group says it is a myth, and there isn't a complete story on the forums talking about a successful swap to any other carbs, except for one guy that says he used FZR 600 carbs, but won't give details on what it took to accomplish that. Plus rough sets are still close to 100 bucks, so I waited, at least until I found those cheap rebuild kits. I have been studying about Weber downdraft carbs to get the ins and outs of them, and think I can make the bd 34 work though I might be missing a few parts.

Fought with the emulsion tubes quite a bit. Finally got them out by drilling sheetrock screw in them. I can and will solder them. I also fought like hell to get the floats out. Turns out they are flared on both ends. Did pretty good until I broke one of the legs off at the hole it passes through. Planning on soldering it.

Stator appears to be dark black, some say it looks burnt. I am not so sure, haven't tested it yet. Later was strongly suggested Rick's electrics, but 200$?

No frayed bent or burned wires on any of the electronics. It's rectifier has XV720 painted on the back. Not sure if that matters.

I start messing with the tank, tuns out the bubbles under the paint were actually pin holes of rust. Tons and tons of pin holes. Started researching brazing, as well as making a mold to make a fiberglass tank. I notice under the purple paint in places is a beautiful red, which is also in the VIN; the "Brilliant Red" color. Start really considering making a custom, maybe a race bike out of it, inspired by the recent bikeexif featured build of the Kenny Roberts tribute XZ. This site had the most hits it ever had back in January by the way. I would guess this bike is more popular now than ever.

Pulled starter clutch, it had rounded off the bolts and it had been grinding the flywheel. I at this point guessed and or hoped that is why they parked it and planned on pulling engine. Not sure if 2001 this was a widely known issue. My actual clutch plate is cracked though, so I guess another 30 bucks there.

2/26/20 Mom had her biopsy done, with this they determine the cancer on her liver is the cancer that came from her breast cancer she seemed to beat 8 years ago.

Got in a used rear axle from ebay, it came from a XV700. It fit well.

Took off exhaust, it is in pretty decent shape actually. I don't think I will use any of it, so maybe sell to have more money for build?

Trying to paint strip the tank and nothing worked. I ended up after 6 days of trying aircraft stripper just getting a stripping grinder disk and that worked. Turns out they removed chemical from stripper that made it work, and O rielies is still selling it for 17 bucks and refusing to refund, even though the sales agent failed to mention that.

Dropped engine out of frame. It will be easier to repaint frame like that. Dropped pretty easy, I was impressed. Love that design!

Checked valve clearances and everything looked good and chain was tight. Looked like a low mileage engine, like the 12k odo confirms.

Using grinder I start cleaning up frame, and brainstorming. I bought X-O rust enamel paint for frame. Aluminum color. Jon Treber's advice.

Test paint but it streaks from foam brushes. Might spray it on. Takes a super long time to dry. Still pretty cold out.

I get inspired by prototype drawings of Suzuki Kitana and want to figure out a way to make the shark fairing fit better. Cut it a bit on the top so it can sit further back.

After getting engine on bench, I pull water pump. The fluid is bright green, most likely not mixed down. There is some gunk in there, not sure why though. Stopleak?

Pull clutch, it was rusted together. Soaked whole lot in mystery oil. I did get them apart later, but never measured them.

Pull front forks. Looks ok. Strip rest off frame. Ready to prep for paint. A lot of places I can't get into. Not sure on next move for there. I bought a oscillating tool to help.

3-15-20 I finally pull rear sprocket cover and oil and antifreeze burst out of there. It was a horrible mess. Oil was super milky. I want to cry.

After research and looking for blowby, it looked like rear cyl at base was brownish, not sure though.

3-17 I pull rear cyl. Not sure if head gasket was blown or not. I did see quite a bit of rust in there. So plug being out was bad. arg. Slight ridge on sleeve. I do have a ridge reemer.

Found rebuild kit on crusin image for 75 bucks which that is fairly reasonable. So I guess I might try to rebuild it.

Forks back on and slid down 3 inches for visions of lowering. Lower back about an inch. It is really inspiring, needed that because I want to quit.

But the parts, they don't go for much anyway. So might as well see what I can do with it. It is just money I don't have at the moment. Being a single father of a severe behavioral health challenged child, as well as a homecare provider for my mother and brother, money is super tight as it is, so just taking my time, and trying to enjoy the time I can work on it. Time for mower de mothballing, and just plenty to keep me busy.

Dreams are free! And the visions they just keep coming! The challenges are apparent, just need to be patient!

During this time, I have met a small high quality group of people that love this dear machine, and I am proud to be one of you! No way to regret that, though the bike, well, I would hold off on that one from Springfield LMAO Should have just found one of you all first, seems like everyone has at least 3!

Thanks again! May we find quicker ways to fix issues that last longer!  Best of luck this riding season!

What is life without Vision?


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Re: Hi all! Thanks for the inclusion!
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2020, 12:53:51 PM »
ChrisofVisions - welcome to the group!
  I replaced my stator. It really helps to have one that works!

fret not

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  • Mike Lewis - Grass Valley CA
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Re: Hi all! Thanks for the inclusion!
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2020, 05:22:56 PM »
Yes, welcome to ROV, and I wish you good luck with your dreams.  Some of us are or have been in much the same 'boat'.  I think some of us are in love with the idea of the XZ550 Vision, but have to deal with the realities as they are.  It does make a great long term project that can be quite rewarding.  By the time you get to ride your bike you will be a more accomplished owner, and will understand more about motorcycles in general.   8)
Retired, on the downhill slide. . . . . . . . still feels like going uphill!


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Re: Hi all! Thanks for the inclusion!
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2020, 04:16:34 AM »
Hi Chris.

Holy Cow! That's a long post! Are you a writer? If not you might be good at it! :-)

It's a bit difficult to offer shortcuts/money-saving tips for ALL the things you've mentioned because there are just so many! But there are people on this site who have excellent experience with both the XZ550 and engineering skills/training in many disciplines, and if asked questions one step at a time will be able to be of great help - should you need it.

Good luck with the project! The XZ is a great bike - even though it can be a bit @#$*%$ ^#$@*%#

Ps; One tip I will offer is that you don't need to throw money at buying rebuild kits for everything. You probably know it already, but if you take your time - especially when it comes to gaskets - you can save a lot of money. 
« Last Edit: March 27, 2020, 04:28:44 AM by MikeScoot »
Both Luthers had their dreams,
But I've just got one Vision.
Theirs got them into strifes,
Mine just takes me fishin'.