Specialising in the Supply of Vintage and Classic Japanese Motorcycles for Your Restoration Project
Getting StartedIf you haven't already done so, join the Owners Club or Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club. There is an absolute wealth of experience and expertise you can tap into within such clubs, for the price of a few beers! The temptation is to jump straight into the dismantling of the bike, PLEASE TAKE MY ADVICE -DON'T DO IT! The Workspace:
It may sound a strange place to start, but I recommend you prepare the garage/shed etc in which you are going to undertake your restoration, before lifting a spanner to your bike! Set yourself a clear workspace in which to work, with good lighting. The workshop should preferably be free from draughts and at the least, dry - cold hands are a recipe for an accident. Identify where you are going to store the pieces of bike you will end up with. Collect as many ice-cream containers with lids & self-sealing bags as you can (freezer bags are great because you can write directly upon them to label the parts within).The Tools:
Once the workspace is prepared, think about what tools you will require. I don't intend to list all the tools you may need, a toolkit is something which develops as you broaden your own restoration skills. What I would say is buy the best tools you can reasonably afford. The very cheapest tools are in my experience, ALWAYS a bad choice. At best they are of a poor fit/tolerance/accuracy, leading to unnecessary damage to fasteners etc. At worst, they fail when you need them most or, least expect them to, usually causing injury to you, or damage to the bike component. Good tool manufacturers will back their tools with a comprehensive/lifetime guarantee, take advantage if you can afford to. Alternatively, buying good quality, second-hand tools (particularly hand-tools such as spanners, screwdrivers, etc.) is a far better option to purchasing cheap & new. Look for them in local free-ads papers and in autojumbles, there are plenty out there, just check them carefully before buying.
Information is power, as they say. Unless you know the model well, get yourself a Workshop Manual (Genuine Manufacturer's Workshop Manuals usually provide better detail, but other publications are ok) Also, experienced or not, a manufacturer's parts book - microfiche or paper print, is invaluable, containing exploded views of all the components which go to makeup your bike. Check the internet, or owners clubs, or even the dealers, to see what is available for your model. Armed with as much of the above as possible......still leave those spanners alone!!
Now is a good time to decide the level of restoration you want to undertake. Is your goal a tidy everyday working classic, or a concours winner, it's down to you and to some extent your budget. Clarity of what you want to achieve, at this point, will influence the decisions you take when it comes to refurbishment or replacement of the parts you remove.
The temptation is to jump straight into the stripping of the bike, PLEASE TAKE MY ADVICE - DON'T DO IT! This will be the last chance to check the bike over whilst in one piece. Original or not, begin with looking your project bike over very carefully and make note of any missing parts, or parts that are non-standard (use the manual & parts book as reference). Take lots of photographs, buy a disposable camera if necessary and keep it in the workshop. I have used a video camera to do this (just once!), but would not recommend it, as I found it awkward when re-assembling the bike, running to and fro to watch the video on the television in the house and attempting to remember the details for when I returned to the garage (Oh and the wife objected to missing her soaps!). Lots of photos you can keep in the garage and easily refer to are what is needed, particularly of the bits the manual/parts books don't detail, for example, the routes of the wiring loom (NB. also label both sides of the electrical connectors with tape and a permanent marker before disconnection).
Now it is time to begin stripping down your bike, BE LOGICAL and METHODICAL and keep photographing as you go. I suggest you clean and inspect each part as it is removed. Take note of any repairs/replacements needed, so you can order or start looking well in advance of when you need the item during re-assembly. Once noted, bag or box the article and label it with a permanent marker. Non-permanent markers fade over quite short periods of time - be warned!
Be very organized in your disassembling and leave parts joined in sub-assemblies for as long as possible, where this makes sense to do so and if you have room. Tackle the cycle parts early (frame etc.) as too, the locating/purchase of obsolete parts (depends on the make/model but usually trim/tinware items). The frame and wheels etc. form the spine upon which you rebuild your bike. It will stand for some time without harm (if coated/painted properly).
Hence, I usually leave the engine until the later part of the restoration, although I do search for parts & gaskets early-on if I know an engine rebuild is necessary. NOTE: Leaving a half built engine, or even a fully built engine for that matter, whilst you go about other tasks, is a recipe for disaster in my view. Moisture, dust and debris will all contrive to ruin your work and probably the engine. If you must store the engine for a long period, keep the oil in it, pour a little oil down the cylinder bores through the spark plug holes, turn the engine over (not physically - I mean crank the engine by hand see your workshop manual for best method for your model) then refit the spark plugs (repeat regularly). Blank the inlet and exhaust with lint-free cloth whilst not in use (remember it is there later before attempting to crank the engine!) When you do begin working on the engine, the same rules apply. Be methodical, refer to the manual/parts book as required and bag and label everything. If you are to re-use anything, store with a good film of oil on the part to protect it.
I won't try to go through and explain a complete restoration, but I hope the above provides you with an outline from which to start. I would like to develop this page and the restoration gallery to assist you with real-life experiences. If you would like to contribute, please contact me.
Customers new and old can always call me for assistance. I will be pleased to help where I can. Rest assured if I cannot help, someone will have the answer you are looking for - that is certain!