This site started out as a way to track a BMW / Jupiter Sidecar motorcycle project. It has gone in many different directions since its' conception. From motorcycle projects, to personal stories, opinions and family histories. I log most of our boring motorcycle riding adventures and experiences. I have completed my "R100S/6" build and changes are on-going.
I watch the local "Craigslist" on a daily basis since you never know what might show up.
A couple weeks ago someone posted an older Yamaha XS400 for $600.00.
A one owner bike with a mere 2784 original miles on it. The down side was that it has sat dormant for many years with a couple gallons of stale gasoline in the tank.
I went over to look at the bike and ended up making a deal for $500.00. Still has original tires which are as hard as wood. They will need to be replaced prior to riding it more than around the block.
I immediately removed the carbs and fuel tank. Tank has some rust inside so it was drained and filled with vinegar to try to "cook" some of the rust out. I've used that method in the past but not sure if it will work on this....quite a bit of rust in the tank. I'm soaking it for a week or so and we'll see. My hopes aren't too high with the vinegar method.
The carbs were a mess. The floats / needle valves were stuck solid with varnished fuel remnants. The CV carb slides were also stuck. I freed the slides using "PB-Blaster" and got them removed. The float pins were another issue. After soaking for 4 days in carb cleaner they still wouldn't budge. I finally resorted to using a small butane torch and applied heat. That did the trick and eventually the float pins and needle valves were removed.
Unfortunately I got a little carried away and melted the solder on one of the alloy floats and it came loose from the holder. I was able to re-solder the float back together. The float swivels / pins required some filing / sanding to remove the near "concrete like" varnish. I had some replacement o-rings so used them, but didn't have new float bowl gaskets. Decided to reassemble with the old gaskets for now, they came off easily but are a little stiff. Easy to install new ones at a later date.
I recently ordered a new oil filter & o-rings o decided to drain the oil today....oil came out fairly clear looking and no major issues seen. The XS400 does have a small inspection plate / oil screen underneath. Haven't decided whether to remove the cover / clean the screen yet. As clean as the oil appeared it is not likely an issue. The oil filter housing thru-bolt is stuck solid so may need to cut it off to remove. I ordered a new Yamaha filter bolt today so will likely sacrifice the original one to remove. So far I've spent about $60.00 on repairs...will need 2 tires and a battery yet. Will also drain the fork legs and replace the fork oil. This model had front / rear drum brakes so no hydraulic brakes to repair. The chain was pretty loose so adjusted it to proper tightness.
Should easily have the bike on the road for well under $800.00 total, including the purchase price.
I'll definitely keep it for a "rider" for a while....or maybe my Wife might like to ride it. ... Plan on hauling it North to Montana this Spring and I'll license it there.
I ended up with a spare seat with my last BMW R75/5 purchase, but had no suspension spring or mounting frame.
I've been meaning to fabricate some reproduction QSL seat mounts for many years. I've owned a number of these seats over the years and they are by far my favorite. The seats are fairly rare and I've ran into situations where folks have the seat, but no mounting hardware.
I've seen a couple different styles of seat mounts that QSL used, but they are basically the same.
The spring was the hardest item to acquire. I actually talked with a fabricator to build me a couple years ago but the cost would have been prohibitive. Eventually I found that a parts shop had built a few of the springs and offered them for sale. I purchased one, but they supply was very limited and I see they no longer offer them....plus they were expensive. A $100.00 if memory serves me.
A friend in So. Cal. heard I was going to fabricate a seat frame for myself so asked if I could make him one too.....so I finally decided to go ahead and make up a few. I patterned them from an original seat frame that is on my BMW R75/5.
I scrounged up the steel needed at a local scrap yard and cut everything needed under somewhat crude circumstances....I only have a 4" side grinder, but with cutting wheels and a vise / clamps it worked out ok without any injuries to myself....lol
I haven't welded much over the past 40 years and was going to give it a try, but since a few of them would be offered for sale decided against that. Luckily I know a local guy with a welding shop he runs out of his garage....only a couple blocks away. His fees were not cheap, but the quality of his welding is worlds ahead of what I could do.
Below is the OEM mount which is on my /5.
I ended up making 4 of the mounts. One of which went to my CA. friend, one which I will use for my spare seat, and two to sell. If I am successful selling them, and there is anything resembling a demand, I'll maybe make up a few more. I put one on eBay starting at $50.00 with a "Buy It Now" at $80.00. I've listed another for $80.00 on a couple other sites.
Today I fabricated the lower clamp bracket which holds the seat to the spring. Had to cut it out of a plate. Bending the edge tangs was the hardest part as I don't have much of a vise, but got it done.
Loosening the Allen head pinch bolts allows the seat to be adjusted fore & aft.
So now I have a complete extra seat. Maybe need to find another bike to mount it on?
We wanted to do a little hiking a few days ago so decided to head over into California a few miles to some interesting areas. We've passed the turn off to "Gold Rock Ranch" dozens of times but didn't want to drive the rough road in with any of the vehicles we had in the past.
There are some small residences there and some RV spaces to rent. A little store with a museum describing the history of the area. A lot of off road folks filter in and out from the Algodones Dunes.
Snooping around the museum we see information about "Tumco", a ghost town / abandoned mining site back across the highway. Seems there was at one time up to 3000 hardy souls living in Tumco. It was originally named "Hedges" but the name was changed when a large mining corporation purchased the mines and surrounding properties.
Very easy road going in...only a short drive off the main road.
Recent rains made conditions possible for this lone mushroom to take hold. Poor thing was dry as a bone now, but still hanging in there.
LOTS of old tin cans, thousands of them, scattered about the area. Also lots of rusty scrap metal, mine debris.
Old foundation pit.
Two walls left standing, both about ready to collapse.
Quite a few remains of structures about.
The most substantial building left standing.
Remains of a floor slab.
Not sure what the structure above was....definitely steel.
Someone's impromptu Memorial.
Eroded tailings / waste piles.
More tailings, eroded to caves & sinks.
Old equipment foundation.
Large tanks from mining....probably from cyanide leaching process. (?)
Back in the AZ desert for the Winter.
Have lots of bike repairs to still do but kind have lost interest at the present time. Will get to them when I feel like it, which is not right now.
Been wanting a 4 WD for use here in the desert. Had my mind made up to buy a Suzuki Samurai...Sidekick or some thing like that.
Looked at Suzuki's, some Trackers, a couple Mitsubishi's. Drove a few vehicles and found the small Suzuki's to be "tinny", rattily and basically "cheap" feeling. My Wife wanted nothing to do with the small 2 door Samurai's as she felt claustrophobic in them, being so small.
The small 4 x 4's bring high dollars here. There are literally hundreds of them in our area. Cheapest ones around here priced from $3200.00 running as high as $6000.00.
After a few weeks of hunting I spied a very nice / straight 1997 Land Rover Discovery sitting along a residential street with a "for sale" sign in the window. Priced at $2950.00. Definitely the cheapest, nicest rig I'd seen so far. Auto transmission and small 4.0 liter V-8. Odometer read 154k miles.
With that mileage I suspect that most "bugs" have been corrected...lol.
Made arrangements with the owner to test drive that afternoon. Seller was a nice young guy. He bought it as a "drive to work" rig, but right after purchase he was promoted in his job and given a company vehicle. I noticed that the rear sunroof was partially open in the "vent" position. Found it would not close and glass was sitting very crooked in the mechanism, not good. The owner was not able to get it to close and just left it open as it sat in his garage all the time. He pointed out known problems to me and seemed a bit intimidated by the rig. I think his mechanical abilities were minimum.
The rig actually drove wonderfully....AC was ice cold...all the other power windows functioned properly....leather interior was very nice with only honest wear. The transfer case shifted through its' modes without problem. A couple of minor oil "seeps" found (transfer case inspection plate / power steering hose fitting) but nothing to send me running away. Had new tires installed (not aggressive off road tires), a new battery, and recent oil change.
That night I began an internet search concerning Land Rovers. Found a huge owners base.....most in a deep "Love / Hate" relationship with their rigs. Found numerous reoccurring issues that some owners have. Some folks claim they're the worst vehicles ever made....others say they are reliable and love them. Did find a huge used parts inventory via eBay....and parts fairly cheap!
After reviewing the "list" of vehicles I'd driven / considered, and weighed the risks of buying a 20+ year old British 4 X 4, I decided to make the guy an offer. Made an offer of $2.5k and after a bit of silence, the guy accepted the offer.
My first order of business was getting the rear sunroof fixed....or at least closed. The headliner is nice and clean so doesn't appear to have ever had any water leaks.
Could not find any schematics concerning the sunroof mechanism so went in kind of blind.
The glass was sitting very crooked so obviously the mechanism was out of alignment. I was able to remove the glass using a small right angle torx driver.
After some research I found that the headliner must be removed to fully access the sunroof motor....but the motor seemed to function fine. Looking over the headliner, I saw that it would be a BIG job to remove. Headliner removal would be a last resort.
I found the mechanical sunroof crank mechanism hiding behind a small plate next to the overhead electric switch. I lubricated the visible parts of the mechanism with silicone spray, then manually cranked the mechanism in and out. After a few "trips" the mechanism equaled itself straight.
I reinstalled the glass panel but could not get the window to retract "down" into its' closed location.
It would travel forward / back but would not drop. Thinking maybe it was just binding, I very carefully "tapped" the linkage (on a metal portion, much of it is plastic) and lo and behold it moved. Tapped both sides in succession and down it went. Now it seems to function properly, but we'll minimize the use of it.
So far I've spent some time looking things over, checking for loose screws / bolts (have found a few), and basically making some simple repairs. Found that the cruise control does not function, and the passenger electric seat "recline" operation is a bit finicky, but works. Small things....drivers door storage bin is missing, one headlight washer assembly was missing (found one on eBay and ordered for $15.00). Went to check the transfer case oil level (minor seep on inspection cover) and found the check / fill plug very tight and could not get it out. Afraid to damage anything so I shot some PB Blaster around the plug and will give it another try. Another Owner told me "not to be scared, put a cheater bar on it"...which is what he did when he encountered the same problem.
So far we are pretty happy with the purchase. My Wife is much more comfortable riding in this than any small 4 x 4 we drove. And I just love the looks / styling of this vehicle....all the window / glass area makes it a "wide open" feeling while driving.
Time will tell....ask me in a year if I still love it!....lol
So....a little late with this ride report. But better late than never.
The Paonia Colorado ride was uneventful. Rode through some beautiful country. I'll let the few photos I took tell the story:
Originally planned on riding the GL1000 Honda in the background but after experiencing some issues on a 100 mile "shake down" run decided to go with the simple, more reliable R75/5. Downside was that the BMW needed new tires, so tires were ordered at the last minute and received in the nick of time. Wheel bearings were lubed and final drive splines cleaned / lubed. The final drive splines are near their "end of life" but enough left to finish the Summer.
Decided to split the ride to Paonia into two days...stopping at Rawlins WY. the first night. Photo above and below is in the middle of nowhere between Riverton and Rawlins WY. Bike worked fine without any issues.
A long ways between gas stations in Wyoming. Arrived in Rawlins WY. at about 3:30 PM....way too early to stop for the day. Plus it was hot as hell and the campground I stopped at had zero shade. Decided to proceed into Colorado....maybe Craig?
Ended up at the local over-priced KOA outside Craig.. Explained to the owner that I only wanted to "rent" the camping spot, not "buy" it....but the price was still $29.00 for a tent spot. Most KOA's are higher. Place was OK and had spotless showers.
A young couple in an SUV set up a tent next to me. I noticed a large alcohol selection being placed on their table. I jokingly asked "When does the bar open?" The cute gal replied "Right now!" Her husband came over and we visited into the wee hours of the night....with a LOT of drinks. After an hour or so of chit chat he asked me what I did for a living....and I asked him. Ended up he was a Police Officer from Indiana. We had a great visit and it was fun to visit with a cop, "off the record"....lol.... He gave me a lot of insight into a Police Officers experiences.
Upon taking down my tent the next morning found that the sight was absolutely infested with "earwig's"...a pesty little bug which hides everywhere. I ended up rolling a dozen or so of them in my tent....they accompanied me to Paonia.
The following AM I pressed on towards Paonia CO. On a remote stretch a pickup forced everyone off the road to make way for a HUGE oversize load. Their traffic control was poor and vehicles were somewhat trapped and asked to pull nearly into the ditch. I luckily stopped right at a pullout spot so just shut down and watched the show.
Arrived at Top O' The Rockies Rally in mid afternoon. I wasn't planning on meeting anyone there so just set up my tent at the first spot I saw. Ended up next to some guys from Texas and had a great time visiting with them.
Later I did run into more folks I knew from California.
This "K-Bike" was parked on the site.
Some "modifications" had been performed....what a mess!
I awoke Saturday and after wandering around the campground came to the conclusion I wanted to hit the road a day early. I checked weather reports and saw that rain was forecast for Sunday. Plus 700 bikers would be hitting the road about the same time.....on the road I go!
I took an alternate route heading North through Grand Junction - Rangely CO.
Some fantastic twisty, remote roads.
I want to go back through the area again....maybe on the sidecar with my Wife.
Got caught in a pretty torrential rainstorm somewhere in Colorado. Stopping wasn't really an option although I did see a pullout with a cover....but decided to "ride it out". Wasn't too bad and I think I missed the worst of it. Later in the day I passed through the "Flaming Gorge" areas (above) and had another BIG storm right next to me. Only got a few drops as I was outrunning it.
I met a large group of Harley riders, maybe 60 - 70 of them. Mostly dressed in "do-rags" and tank tops with an occasional helmet. They rode directly into the mess photo'd above. They couldn't have faired too well.
I made it to Rock Springs / Green River WY. that evening. Stayed at the local KOA. That place really screwed tenter's with a $43.00 a night rate. But the tent spot was enclosed / private with a wooden sun shade. The showers were atrocious with a toilet nearly in the shower stall.....of course some dude was shitting up a storm 3 feet from me while I showered. It was BAD. Nuff said....The next morning as soon as my tent / gear was stored, the rain came. Nothing too bad and had minor showers over through South Pass. Temperature was much cooler.
Near Riverton WY. the bike "stumbled" on me a bit...almost like it was running out of gas. I switched fuel valves and the symptom relieved. Filled the tank at the next station and the bike seemed to be fine again. Not sure what was going on but it didn't reoccur.
Remainder of ride was great and no more showers. Back to "home" base by 5:00 PM.
Rode a total of around 1500 miles in 4 days. Just enough.