top of page
  • Writer's pictureElder

The Rusty Wanderer Bike Rebuild - Part 3

So I'm a sprint/walk kinda guy... Multiple posts on the same day, several weeks before the next one. Between work, DEFCON, and catching The Big Rona at DEFCON, I've been off the garage floor and on the regular floor for a while. But I'm back now and do I have some updates on this project.

So let's start with issues identified. As I took components off, I cleaned, degreased, and soaked everything in rust remover so I could get a good status of each part. I tried to work "gunk like you wouldn't believe" into the list that's coming up here, but couldn't figure out where to put it. It wasn't a single problem to fix. It was ubiquitous. I became one with the grease. The grease became part of me. My fingernails, hair, and skin are grease.

  • Welded-on shifter lever. This isn't a great sign and I knew about it when I bought the bike, but I have an angle grinder... Mostly concerned about how to get in there and replace the post without damaging the clutch plates.

  • Chain is 85% cracks by surface area. Don't like hyperbole? Tough. Gonna need to be replaced for sure. Relatively sure it was only being held together by cow patties, alfalfa, and 15-year-old grease.

  • Internals. The guts of this thing have probably never been maintained. Cylinders, rings, oil pump, cam, valves, timing... all unknown status.

  • Gas tank has a huge hole in it. Not like "oopsie woopsie, a rock hit me too hard", though. Like a 1/2 inch cleanly drilled hole.

Sidenote: I've decided that the gentleperson who owned this bike before me was an absolute goober (Scientific term. It's gonna be in the DSM-6, trust me). There was a nozzle tapped into this hole. According to the seller (allegedly not The Goober), this was because someone had decided to attack a NOX bottle Directly to the gas tank and inject nitrous to the tank. Did this work? The answer to that question really depends on what the objective was. Pressurize the gas tank on a machine not designed to handle this? Still no. It blew the gasket off the fill cap and shoved fuel down the lines which flooded the carburetors. Is it how NOX is used at all? Also no.

I don't have a picture of this because out of sheer disgust and confusion I threw the nozzle directly into the sun. Also, I forgot to take one.

  • Dead battery. This almost doesn't even need to be stated after what the bike has been through, but I'm adding it because I'm mad I had to spend $70 on lead rods in a plastic cup.

  • Lights are no. The all just said, "nah". No part of this machine properly produces The Photons(TM). Headlight, blinkers, brakes. No. And while I'm on the topic, the brake light casing is cracked and only hanging on by one screw. Luckily, it's going to get a redesign anyway to a new style, so they're already going to be replaced.

  • Frayed wires, missing wires, corroded wires, and cracked connectors. Basically the whole wiring harness is shot.

  • Throttle, Brake, Clutch, Speedometer, and Tachometer cables are all unusable. The plastic is cracked and the cables are rusting in their sleeves.

  • Brakes and their housings are rusty and disgusting. Brakes are only like the fourth most important thing on a vehicle though, so that'll come when I get around to it.

  • Tires. Or as the manual calls them "tyres". Simply must be replaced.

  • Ancillary other issues. Fuel filter is missing, paint looks like Picasso was shooting blueberries out of a paintball gun, some random pieces of metal are just welded onto the frame for reasons(?), some surface rust, and other minor issues that aren't gonna stop anything from running but I'd like to fix eventually.

Now that I'm done complaining about things, let's get to work.

First things first. Well, actually second things first, but we'll get to that in a minute. The tank is already bone dry, so that was easy to remove. Grind the weld beads off the shifter so it'll pull off. Disconnect the battery (even though it's nothing more than a 6 lb weight at the moment). Start removing anything that'll come off. Label some of the parts. Forget to label others. This will come back to haunt me later. Drop the pegs, exhaust, air filters, and chain. I actually read the manual. Well, parts of it. Skipped the bits at the beginning that were like, "Don't be an idiot." and "MaKe SUrE tO UsE PrOpEr SafeTy PrOcEdUrEs." You know... the stuff Squares do.

For legal reasons, this is a joke and you should wear your PPE, read the manual, especially the safety section, and not drop an engine block on your fingers. Not that I did that... I'm just sayin'.

Anyway, after a few hours of "wait, there's another bolt under that glob of mud and/or grease?", I managed to get the engine removed from the frame. It's been a few lines since a picture, so here's one to spice up the page and give your deep, beautiful eyes a break.

The carburetor came off next since it's basically just stuffed into a couple of rubber connectors and "floats" there like that... just disconnect the throttle cable, loosen a couple clamps, throw the air filter housings away (who needs that crap, we're replacing them with something Cool), and pull until your hand slips and you fall over. Then pull again while jiggling. Give up on that, stare at the carb assembly menacingly, and gently slide them gently out of the rubber connectors. EZPZ. First try.

Remember how I un-necessarily corrected myself earlier about first things first? Well it turns out that motor oil is kinda heavy and if you want to lift an engine that's full of the stuff, there's this cool little bolt you can turn that dumps it all out before you try to lift it. Super helpful if you're a weak chump like me who doesn't work out. I didn't think to do that until after I already had it on the bench.

At any rate, now I had the block up on my super-high-tech workbench, which was just a wood bench I built and threw a plastic container lid on so I didn't leak oil all over it. Parts started coming off the block. The crankshaft and gear cover came off nice and easy revealing, you guessed it, MORE MUCK! Next up was the cam cover.

This dirty little beauty caused some issues for me, but I thought it was an interesting learning moment so I'll own up to it and explain what happened. An astute viewer of this image may note that one of the bolts is missing. This is no accident. Actually, it was an accident. During the disassembly process, I briefly undertook a RE-assembly process. I was wrapping up for the night and had the bright idea to torque the bolts back down to spec before I headed in for the night to wash the gunk off and play video games until my eyes bled. This was unnecessary and pointless. So I looked up the torque specs for the bolts, grabbed my new wrench, set it to 24ft-lb, and started turning. What I didn't realize is that bolts are measured at the Thread. Not the size of the head. So even though the socket I was using was a 10mm... the thread measured as a 6mm bolt. Which, on this bike, has a torque spec of like 11ft-lb. Needless to say, I snapped that bolt. Luckily it broke the bolt and didn't strip the aluminum hole. Moral of the story, bolt sizes are measured at the thread, not the head. Grab some calipers and check. But hey, that's what it's all about. That and making a ton of noise and going fast. I managed to get the other bolts back off the next day, took the broken one to my local hardware store, and just replaced it for about 85 cents. Bonus picture, here's the same cam cover after a good rubdown!

Again, an astute viewer may look at *this* image and think, "Wait, there's still another headless bolt in this shot poking out of the bottom right." Those viewers would again be correct. Taking lessons learned from the previous broken bolt extraction however, this one was intentional. You see dear reader, when a mommy piece of metal and a daddy piece of metal love each other very much... they get completely stuck together and refuse to come apart. This is horrible and should be avoided at all costs.

The bolt you're looking at is inside this little hidey hole here on the right.

This case covers the Automatic Timing Unit. For any car people reading this post, this is similar to a distributor. More or less, there's a little spin-y piece of metal on the end of the camshaft that, as it spins around, makes electrical connection with the leads that tell the spark plugs when to fire. Pretty boring. Looks like this, but less blurry.

The two bolts that held this cover in place were very much seized and the phillips heads were stripped beyond use. So the only course of action I could think of as a professional maker of questionable decisions... was to drill the heads off the bolts, twist the remaining threaded rods out with vise grips, and replace them with something that didn't suck. And that's exactly what I did.

Turns out there's also screw extractors you can get to do this job, but I didn't find that out until that trip to the hardware store to replace all this broken stuff... Either way I'd have needed new bolts for all of this, so this is fine by me.

Additional Sidenote: If you have to replace bolts that happen to be phillips heads, don't be afraid to use Literally Anything Else. These little idiots got replaced with hex-head screws because phillips is objectively horrible and I'll take that opinion to the ring.

With that case off, I could see the top-end internals. To my amazement, they looked to my untrained eye to be absolutely fine.

Nothing too badly worn or pitted, nothing visibly broken, I know the bike ran at least a little bit back in 2010-2011 when I parked to for the cows to use as a scratching post... so I did a quick visual check of everything I could see and slapped that cover back on before I had a chance to accidentally drop metal shavings or whatever in there. Yes, the broken-off bolt is still in this picture.

Now the gunk was starting to get to me after looking at a relatively clean internal compartment. So it was time for a bath. Everything got carried out to the driveway and set on a pallet we recently used to slaughter chickens. It's Montana. Sometimes it be like this. I gathered up my tools (pressure washer, degreaser spray, brass and steel brushes, and my child for manual labor) and realized there was a problem. The engine block has four massive holes in it, two for each of the two cylinders; intake and exhaust. I was about to spray water into the cylinders. Which sounded to me like a bad idea since water causes corrosion and you tend to want those nice and smooth. Plus, "Water in the controlled explosion chamber" sounds suboptimal. New questionable decision time. I grabbed some spare 2x4, a table saw, my drill press, and a sandwich baggie and proceeded to make the most questionable gaskets I've ever laid eyes on.

They honestly did pretty well. Just enough to keep the water out. I crushed about 6 brushes and used an entire bottle of degreaser spray, but the block is about as clean as I'm gonna get it without a sandblasting chamber.

The frame also got a scrubdown, but that was much easier and I amazingly don't have anything smart-ass to say about it. It needs some surface rust busted off and the whole thing needs to be repainted, but it'll work for now.

I now had everything in place that I thought would, strictly speaking, be necessary to make this ol' kitten purr like a 50-year smoker with COPD, Asthma, and the flu.

24 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page