Skiddz' 1987 Yamaha YFZ350T Banshee Reborn
"Seein' Red"

The old page with all the pictures in list form is still available HERE

I welcome questions regarding the rebuild. You can reach me HERE

This whole project began as a result of an engine meltdown on October 18, 2003 on the last run of the last day of a very fun trip to Buttercup. Just a couple hundred yards from camp, on the way back, the right cylinder quit working at about 70 mph. A post-mortem back at home showed signs of leaning out so off came the jugs and I discovered a bent rod. At a minimum I was looking at a top end and a new crank. Little did I know what I was really looking at.

To put it mildly, this old girl was pretty ragged before the rebuild. No real rust to speak of, but she was dingy and was in desparate need of some TLC. After the engine was out and parts ordered, I decided I'd spend a couple weeks rebuilding the entire thing and give it a coat of paint and scrape all the grime off. My "quick fix" turned into a full blown restoration and several months and a pile of money later, I've got a better than new Banshee, for a fraction of the cost of a new one.

The pictures below were taken as the rebuild progressed. There are a LOT of pictures so some patience is warranted for those without a broadband connection. Comments for each group of pictures will be below the thumbnails. Click on the thumbnails to get a bigger image. Companies and individuals that helped with parts or technical assistance will be linked to in the descriptions and also in the "Thanks" section at the bottom of this page.

The Teardown

Frame and Swingarm

Swingarm & Rusty Pivot Bolt

Fresh Outta The Blast Cabinet

Fresh Outta The Blast Cabinet

Shelf o' Parts

Not a lot of "before" pics but this is the end result of several hours of thrashing and the beginning of hundreds more. The pivot bolt required some serious applications of heat and a BFH to get loose and probably 1/2 the total teardown time to remove it and free the swingarm. Once I got the swingarm off, it wasn't difficult to see why. The left side bearing had pretty much welded itself to the swingarm with rust and the internal bushing was just as bad. Amazingly, after 15 years of serious abuse by yours truly, the frame showed no signs of cracks and only one small ding on a lower A-arm mount. This is even more amazing if you consider that up until 5 years ago, I pretty much rode Ocotillo Wells and anyone who's ever ridden there will tell you, they don't call it "Rock-o-tillo" for nothing. Definitely a place where you'll need some serious skid plates.

Let The Welding Commence!

Lower Mounts Rewelded

Conversion Kit Welded In Place

Off To The Powdercoater!

I decided early on in the rebuild - right about the time the powder coater said he couldn't guarantee the survival of the ball joints on the stock upper J-arms or lower A-arms - I was going to do an A-arm conversion and the folks at ATV Racing had a nice pre-fabbed kit, ready to weld in at a reasonable price. Since my welding skills are pathetic at best, I farmed this job out to Banister Iron Works in Escondido, CA. They did a fantastic job and the installation was nearly perfect. I decided to alter the "normal" installation of the kit and leave the existing rear mount in place to help stiffen up the pivot bolt for the new upper A-arms. You can clearly see the kit in the pictures. I also had them remove the ding from the lower A-arm mount and weld the entire length of the mounts for added strength. Next stop, Electro Tech Coatings in San Marcos, CA!

The Engine Gets Some Show and Go

The engine was completely torn down to the empty shell by my cycle mechanic buddy Tom. I figured since I was looking at a new crank, I might as well do the tranny as well. 6 gears had to be replaced because the dogs were pretty rounded. All bearings and seals were replaced as were all snap-rings, retainers and internal screws/bolts and shift forks. Tom provided me with a list of parts and they were all purchased through Bike Bandit with the exception of the Wiseco HotRods crank - which I picked up at Trinity Racing - and the Wiseco pistons which I bought from an online retailer who's name escapes me at the moment.

Polished Case/Heads 1

Polished Case/Heads 2

Polished Case/Heads 3

Polished Case/Heads 4

While I was waiting for parts to arrive, I decided to polish the upper and lower cases. This was where the rebuild really started to get out of hand. Once I'd got the cases polished, I knew I couldn't just clean up the rest of the bike. I'd have to do it up right. I bead blasted the cylinders/head and hauled them over to Alba for porting and some head milling. Once Alba was done, the jugs and pistons went to Racer's Toy Store for boring and piston matching.

Pre-Paint Cylinder Mockup 1

Pre-Paint Cylinder Mockup 2

Painted Cylinder Mockup 1

Painted Cylinder Mockup 2

Once I got the head and cylinders back, they were degreased, bead blasted again, cleaned and painted with PlastiKote Brake Caliper paint. Curing was accomplished by baking them in a 350 degree oven for about 30 mins. I sanded and polished the reed cages, the water outlet fitting, the balance tube and all the nuts. I found one stud that had been completely chewed up so decided to replace them all. Alba had a full set in stock so I took the drive over and grabbed 'em and mocked up the cylinder/head assembly to see how it would all look when it was reassembled.

Clutch Cover Polished

Clutch Cover Mockup 1

Clutch Cover Mockup 2

Clutch Cover Mockup 3

Tom called to tell me he was going to need the clutch cover so he could leak test the engine after it was reassembled. I had initially planned to wait to polish the cover because I'd entertained the idea of buying a billet cover. After I discovered the ridiculous prices of these things, I decided to strip the stock cover, polish it and paint the water pump cover and "fake" clutch cover with Krylon Fusion plastic paint. I scuffed up the plastic parts with a Scotch-Brite pad and shot it with the Krylon. After several days of drying, I tried a scratch test on an indiscreet area of the water pump cover. This stuff seems to be pretty durable as it took a bit of effort with a screwdriver to scratch it.

Engine Reassembled 1

Engine Reassembled 2

The day after I got all the parts back from Racer's Toy Store, my Bike Bandit's order arrived - less than a week after I placed the order!. A quick inventory of the parts received versus parts required and the whole mess less cylinders, head and reed cages and clutch cover - I was still painting and polishing - went off to Tom for reassembly. A couple days later I delivered the finished jugs, head, reed cages and clutch cover to Tom for final assembly. The finished result came out very nice looking and should run very strong.

The Frame Returns

Bearing Carrier Fresh From Powdercoat

Frame Fresh From Powdercoat

Refinished Frame and Assembled Engine

The frame and rear bearing carrier were taken to Electro Tech Coatings in Escondido, CA for powder coating. These folks are very cool. When I 1st brought them the frame and bearing carrier, I told them I wanted to get the frame sand blasted so I could haul it to the Banister Iron Works for the A-arm conversion kit installation and then return it for coating. Not a problem. They called me the day after I dropped it off and said it was ready to go. Nice! A couple days at Banister Iron Works and I brought the frame back to Electro Tech. 3 days later it was done. These pics were taken not 30 seconds after I pulled the parts from the truck and about 10 minutes from getting the frame up on stands and prepping the engine mount hardware.

Reassembly Begins! - Engine Installation

Engine Mount Hardware

Engine Installed 1

Engine Installed 2

Engine Installed 3

Engine Installed 4

Now that I had some significant parts back in hand, it was time to start reassembling the old girl. The 1st step was to bead blast all the engine mount hardware and get it painted and polished. Again, all the bolts were polished and PlastiKote Brake Caliper Paint was used on the metal parts and then cured in the oven. I also had to do something with the left side engine cover so it got the same treatment as the water pump cover and the "faux" clutch cover. I had a few hours of work ahead of me so while the paint on the cover dried, I got the engine installed into the frame and snugged up.

Alba 260W Stator Installed

Flywheel Installed

Right Side Closed Up 1

Right Side Closed Up 2

Now that the engine was installed, it was time to start bolting on accessories, get the front sprocket on and get the covers installed. The Alba 260W stator was 1st. This thing just kicks ass. I ran it for two seasons before the rebuild and pushed 220W of lights with no problems. Bolted on the flywheel after that. This big stator makes getting the flywheel on a bit of a chore, but once it was on, some blue locktite and a serious application of my impact wrench made sure it was staying put. I had to wait a few days for the left side engine cover to completely dry so bolted up a new 13-tooth front sprocket, finished up the clutch cover side and got the CDI module bolted up. Once again, I bead blasted and polished all the hardware.

As The World Turns

Steering Stem Installed 1

Steering Stem Installed 2

Handlebar w/Controls Installed 1

Handlebar w/Controls & Front Brake Lines Installed

Front Master Cylinder Closeup 1

Front Master Cylinder Closeup 2

Throttle Polished & Installed

Clutch Lever & Perch

Next up was the steering stem. I wanted to get this installed before I started rewiring the bike. I thought it would be a very good idea to get this and the handlbars mounted up before I dove into the electrical harness. Of course, since I was "doing it right", that meant I had to take apart both lever perches and my twist throttle and either polish or paint it all up. New OEM bearings and seals were installed when the stem went in. The front master cylinder proved to be a pain in the ass to completely disassemble and reassemble, but after a couple small temper-tantrums, I got it all reworked. The other pieces were pretty much cake, although the throttle housing took quite a bit of sanding to get smooth before I could polish it. The Renthal bars polished up pretty nice and they were secured by a Ricky Stator billet top clamp with ignition switch hole and light mounting holes. I decided to install the front brake hard lines at this time so there wouldn't be any interference problems with wiring later. I discovered the left side line had been damaged at some point and would absolutely not screw into the block on the end of the master cylinder hose. I ended up having to replace it with a new OEM part. The pictures of the levers, perches and throttle don't do the actual appearance any justice.

I've Got This Wired!

Wiring Harness Installed 1

Wiring Harness Installed 2

Wiring Harness Installed 1

Wiring Harness Diagram

Armed with the Banshee wiring diagram, I set out to rewire the old girl and in the process, remove all the connectors I wasn't using since I'd ditched the TORS system back in 1990. I also wanted to tuck the harness up against the frame rails instead of running it down the center of the frame under the gas tank. I never liked that big mess in there because it made changing plugs harder than it had to be. Unfortunately, as I worked, it soon became clear the length of the factory harness was several inches too short to accomplish what I wanted. Luckily, I was working on a job (I'm a C-7 Contractor) where the electricians had bazillions of small spools of wire and I was able to get several feet of the various colors/guages I needed to modify the harness.

I rummaged around in my truck and found several different sizes of split tube and spiral wrap and set out to rework the harness, soldering iron and shrink tube at the ready. After a *LOT* of measuring, cutting, soldering, checking and double checking the diagram (and some cursing) I had what I thought was a neat and tidy wiring harness that would plug right in. I got the harness secured to the frame and was feeling pretty smug when I discovered one small problem. I couldn't connect the stator whip to the harness. My harness was too short! ARRGGHH!! I had to pull the harness off the frame, rework ALL the connectors at the stator end and reinstall it. I polished up the 1st two Ricky Stator Aluminator lights and bolted 'em up to the frame. I knew the rewire would take some time, but not the 10 hours it did. My back and knees were killing me after this session, but one of the hardest steps was finally done. I just hoped it all worked.

What's All The Hub, Bub?

Rear Axle Hardware Painted

Left Front Caliper Sanded & Polished

Right Front Caliper Reassembled

I was ready to start working on suspension installation but there was one small problem. My new A-arms and rear swingarm were still MIA so I set out to get the hubs and spindles ready to go. Once again my trusty bead blaster was pressed into service and after all the parts were stripped, they were primed, painted and tossed into the oven to cure. Between coats and while waiting for things to dry/cure, I tore down the front brake calipers, bead blasted, sanded and polished them. A dunk in the parts washer and then a hosing down with brake parts cleaner and I reassembled them. I was sure some (if not all) of the rubber parts would need replacing, but once they got a good scrubbing, they all turned out to be as good as new!

Left Front Spindle/Hub 1

Left Front Spindle/Hub 1

Right Front Spindle/Hub 1

Right Front Spindle/Hub 2

With the calipers polished and reassembled, I gathered up the front spindles, hubs, wheel studs and a new set of bearings from Pivot Works and got to work bolting it all together. I ran into a small issue with one wheel stud and discovered it wasn't pressed in properly. In the process of removing it, I dinged the crap out of the hub and had to strip it and repaint it. No big deal, but it took time I could have been used on something else. All in all, the spindles came out nice.

Links & Bones

Rear Link Before & After 1

Rear Link Before & After 2

Rear Link & Dogbone Reassembled

I was making progress, but still had a long way to go. The new +2+1 A-arms hadn't arrived, nor had the rear swingarm and foot pegs come back from the platers. Time to rework all the rear suspension components. 1st up was the rear link and dogbone. The bearings were in real good shape when it came apart and I discovered why the frame was in such good shape after all those years at Ocotillo Wells. The rear link had evidently taken the brunt of the rock damage. It had some serious gouges on the bottom and some good nicks and dings all over it. The casting quality was pretty crappy so out game the Dremel and a grinding wheel to smooth off the casting flash and then out came the orbital sander to try and remove the gouges dings and nicks. Once I got it all smooth, it was wet sanded to 400 grit then polished. The dogbone was bead blasted and painted red and cured. Another set of bearings from Pivot Works was employed for reassembly. All hardware was bead blasted, cleaned and polished - even the zerk fittings. New bearing seals didn't come with the bearing kit so I cleaned up the old ones, polished the cups, greased 'em up and reinstalled 'em.

All Dressed Up & Nowhere To Go

Shift Lever Polished 1

Shift Lever Polished 2

You Call This Clear?

One Polished Axle

Let There Be light!

I was starting to run out of things to do as I was still waiting for parts. I decided I'd get some of the little things out of the way and get the engine buttoned up. I bead blasted the shift lever and polished it up. Looked like chrome when I was done. For giggles, I thought I'd try clear coating the lever with VHT FlameProof Clear. I shot it on and was a bit disappointed at the poor atomization and orange peel surface it left behind. I thought it might flow out like the PlastiKote brake caliper paint did when it was cured in the oven so I forged ahead and followed the curing instructions on the VHT can. The result was nothing I expected, but it looks like black chrome so I let it be. The rear axle was lookinng pretty shabby so I cleaned it up and had at it on the buffer. It polished up pretty nice although you can't tell in the picture. I also got the last 2 Ricky Stator Aluminator lights polished, installed and connected.

Yes, Master

Rear Brake Lever

Rear Master Cylinder Installed

Brake Lever/Master Cylinder Installed 1

Brake Lever/Master Cylinder Installed 2

Still waiting on the swingarm and new A-arms, I figured I'd get the rear master cylinder torn down, cleaned up and painted/polished. This thing was a pain to disassemble, probably because I was tired and it was getting late in the day. I finally managed to get the master cylinder torn down and bead blasted clean and then dove in to the polishing and painting routine. I was initially going to polish both the master cylinder and the caliper but then thought the master cylinder would look cool if I painted it, then sanded the paint off the ribbing and polished the exposed edges. I did turn out pretty cool, but it took some work. All the bolts and hardware were then bead blasted and polished and then I installed the master cylinder and brake lever and called it a day.

Christmas All Over Again

Ready To Be Installed, Sir!

Swingarm Bolted Up

Axle In Place

View from Above

Got home from work early and was finishing up some minor stuff on the rear master cylinder when the UPS guy shows up with a big box from Quicksand Motorsports. Woohoo! It's my new front suspension arms, swingarm and foot pegs! I stopped what I was doing and got to work on the swingarm. I'd had the rear axle assembled and ready to go for a couple days so the swingarm should be a quick bolt on. Again, a Pivot Works bearing kit was employed for reassembly. I had to do the clean/polish/grease bit on the seals again, but that was accomplished pretty quickly. A chain slider set from UMI (red, of course) was quickly installed on to the swingarm and I got it all bolted up. Next was the link/dogbone assembly and rear axle installation and I finished up the day by Welcoming the UPS guy again. He'd forgotten to drop off the new Dual Rate Steeler front shocks from Works Performance Products on his previous stop. Looks like I'll be getting to the front suspension next.

The "A" Team

I had a couple days away from the rebuild to kind of regroup and to get some other things done. To be honest, I was kind of tired of coming home from work and breaking out the tools for several hours so it was good to get away. I'm glad I did get away for a bit because the front suspension turned out to be a challenge, both to my patience and my sanity.

Right Front Suspension Test Fitting

Another Test Fitting View

Plug For Quicksand

The Quicksand Motorsports A-Arms looked sweet. The plating on them was super smooth and the big, fully adjustble Heim joints looked mighty beefy. Gary Martin does a really nice job on these things and is a helluva nice guy to boot. I pulled out what I thought were the right side arms and slipped 'em in to place. Well, the bottom one slipped right in to place but the top one didn't fit. It was about 1/8" too wide. Uh oh.. I called Gary and told him about the problem. His solution was quick and dirty. "Just push it in. A little bending won't hurt it." He was right. A little persuasion and it slipped into position. For giggles, I broke out one of the new front shocks and tried to slip it in to place. WTF? The upper arm was in the way. Oh, duh.. I've got the left upper arm on the right side. A quick swap and it all slipped together, almost like it was made to! I slapped the front hub spindle assembly on to see how it'd look. Sweet!!

Front Brake Line and Tie Rods test Fit

Startin' To Look Like A Banshee

I soon discovered a couple problems. 1) The stock brake hoses were too short. I expected this so took a drive over to Crown Performance Brakelines and had them build me a new set of red hoses to my specs. 2) I couldn't get the OEM tie-rod ends off the stock tie-rods. New rod-ends were over $30 EACH and I wasn't real thrilled about buying new ones since the originals were in good shape. Finally, with a little help from my torch and a BFH, I got 'em out, got 'em cleaned up and polished. Gary had provided some beefy looking tie-rods with the A-arms, but I didn't like the machined finish on 'em so out came the buffer and I shined 'em up nice before screwing in the newly revamped rod ends. Another test fit with the new brake lines and tie rods and I was ready to bolt it all up for real. Both sides were test fit and checked before I created my own next issue.

Upper A-Arm Spacer Modification 1

Upper A-Arm Spacer Modification Closeup

Custom Brake Line Bracket

Also included with the new A-Arms was a machined spacer that, on originally A-Arm equipped machines would have slipped right into place and the upper mount bolt would run through it, providing some stiffness to the bolt. In my situation, since I'd opted not to remove the original J-arm rear mount, I would have to modify this spacer. Basically, all I needed to do was cut the thing into two pieces and make sure the pieces were the proper length. Easy enough, right? I started out by breaking out my chop-saw and tape measure and making a few test pieces out of wood. I wanted them snug, but not too snug so it took a couple tries to get the measurements just right for both front and rear spacers. Once I was satisfied I had the proper measurements, I carefully measured and marked the 1st spacer and cut it on the chop-saw. 1st piece was perfect so I cut the 2nd. Again, perfect. A quick trip to the buffer and the 1st set was polished and ready to install.

I carefully measured the other spacer and cut it. Should be a no-brainer, right? Nope. Dumbass me made the 1st cut on the wrong side of the line and now the longer of the two pieces was exactly 1 sawblade width too short. %^&*%&^$ See what ya get when you're in a hurry and not paying attention? Luckily for me, there's a machine shop next to Crown Performance Brakelines and they were able to duplicate the good parts in just a couple hours. I got the A-arms, spindles and tie-rods bolted up ok and had to really scratch my head to figure out a way to connect the new brake lines to the OEM hard lines. The clip end of the new lines didn't work with the stock mount points so I fabricated my own.

Back To The Back

Rear Hubs & Shock Installed

Polished Top Of Rear Shock

Left Side of the Engine All Buttoned Up 1

Left Side of the Engine All Buttoned Up 2

Almost Done Back Here

Now that I had a front suspension, it was time to finish up a few things on the rear end. I had to mount the chain, install the rebuilt rear shock and get the rear brakes installed and ready to go. I had to press the wheel studs into the rear hubs before I could bolt 'em up. No alignment isues like I had with the one front hub so I bolted 'em on on and secured them with new cotter pins. I then got the chain slid into position on the new front sprocket, through the chain guide and over the rear sprocket. Had a little problem getting the master link in (fumble fingers) and secured then I bolted on the left side engine cover and bolted on the shift lever and foot peg. I gave the rear wheels a quick polish and coat of wax. Once they were polished, I mounted 'em up. It was time to tackle the rear brake caliper and get the chain adjusters on.

Give Me A Brake

Rear Brake Caliper Bolted Up 1

Rear Brake Caliper Bolted Up 2

The rear caliper was a little bit of a challenge. As I disassembled it, I discovered the piston was stuck and just would not budge, even if I shot compressed air into the bleed screw hole. I did manage to finally get it to move a little bit so I filled it up with fresh fluid and let it sit, hoping the fluid would lubricate the piston and seal/o-ring and help me out. I initially considered polishing the entire caliper, but after mulling it over for a bit, I thought would look better "half 'n half" so I polished the parking brake block and lever and planned on painting the caliper itself.

After polishing the parking brake hardware, I tried to remove the caliper piston again. This time I cranked up the compressor to about 90 psi and tried again. Of course, the piston popped right out - at about a zillion miles an hour. Normally this wouldn't have been an issue because the piston would have been stopped by the outboard part of the caliper. Unfortunately, my finger was in the way and the piston was stopped by flesh and bone. Felt like someone whacked me with a friggin' hammer. After the cursing subsided, I managed to get the caliper fully disassembled and bead blasted then went and had a cold one to ease the pain of my throbbing finger.

The cold one turned into several and once I did venture back in to the garage, I dove in to the rear caliper. It was bead blasted, cleaned, primed, painted then baked then reassembly began. I discovered a real problem upon reassembly. Both caliper bolt dust seals were shot. I thought it'd be an easy fix - just buy new ones. I found out this particular part wasn't listed on any exploded parts diagrams I found on-line at at two Yamaha dealerships. I got lucky in that my buddy's Clymer manual had a drawing of this assembly and Troy at Alba was able to scrounge up the proper part number and get a couple into my grubby hands. (Thanks Troy!) I finally got everything assembled and installed. It came out looking pretty good "half 'n half". The chain adjusters got the usual bead blast, paint, cure treatment and the bolts and nuts were polished before installation.

These Things Suck

Right_Carb_Cleaned_Up and Installed

Left Carb Polished & Reassembled

Carbs Installed & Initially Adjusted

Induction System Completely Installed

The light at the end of the tunnel was getting brighter and I could see I was getting close to breathing life into the Old Girl again. In order to breathe, she was going to need some carburetors. Both carbs were completely disassembled and cleaned I'd thought about bead blasting the outsides of the bodies but didn't want to chance getting all that grit stuck in some passage. They definitely needed freshening as they were so oxidized, they looked they'd been sprayed with battleship grey paint.

Since I was polishing everything that wasn't being plated, painted or powdercoated, I figured I could chuck up a bunch of small polishing bobs in the Dremel and clean the carbs up pretty quickly. Boy was I wrong! The dremel didn't have enough "oomph" to raise the slightest luster on the bodies, even at umpteen thousand RPM. For giggles, I tried the big buffer. Yeah, that was the ticket. I managed to turn a 6" buffing wheel into a 2" buffing wheel because I had to really bear down on the wheel to get it into all the "nooks & crannies", but the end result was very nice. I hit the caps as well and then cleaned the hell out of the bodies with carb cleaner and a toothbrush.

Reassembly went pretty well and I used my new digital micrometer to set the float level EXACTLY at 21mm. New needles, float bowl gaskets (Friggin' impossible to find!) main and pilot jets completed the reassembly. I'd installed a brand new throttle cable when I did the controls so I hooked it up and set the carb sync and did my initial adjustments. I'd been running a 2-into-1 filter setup since bolting up the Toomeys in 1990 and I ditched that in favor of an OEM airbox, Pro-Flow adapter and K&N style filter. Since I had no idea where all those old parts were, I had to purchase it all new. I'd forgotten what a pain in the ass it was to get the stock airbox in and out and with only a couple of choice words, I was able to get everything installed a secured. The final step was an Alba pre-filter wrap before calling it quits for the day.

What Comes In, Must Go Out

Left Pipe Before & After Polishing

Right Pipe Installed

No Spring Shall Go Unpolished

Left Pipe Installed

I'd got the sucking side of the engine done up the day before, so now it was time for the blowing side. I spoke to the folks at Toomey about upgrading from the T4s to the T5s but decided I was already WAY over budget on this little project and decided to get the old pipes replated as they were pretty stained and well blued at the exhaust port end. For giggles, I grabbed the left pipe and hit it with the buffer. Wow! The bluing was actually going away! I buffed out the entire pipe pretty quickly and hit it with a nice coat of wax. Looked just like it did the day I brought it home from the plater back in 1990! The right pipe got a similar treatment and then both pipes were installed with new billet mounts and new O-rings. New OEM springs got the buffer treatment before securing the pipes in place.

Stingers & Silencers Installed 1

Stingers & Silencers Installed 2

The stingers were in good shape except for a couple small areas of melted foam from my 2-into-1 setup. Some acetone took care of that funk and they got a quick trip on the buffer as well. The silencers were in decent shape, but oxidized so they were going to need some attention. The snap-rings that held the endcaps on were a bitch to remove and once I got 'em out, they were bead blasted, cleaned and the visible ends polished. The cans were given a quick sand with 400 wet/dry paper after scraping off the stickers and then polished. I'd had a manilla envelope with new packing floating around the garage for years and couldn't find it for the life of me. I ended up ordering more from Toomey and wouldn't you know it, as soon as I hung up the phone, I found the envelope with the packing I already had. I thought about calling Toomey back, but figured it'd be a good idea to have some extra packing on hand.

A quick reassembly of the silencers and they were ready for installation. They were bolted to the stingers with a thin coat of red RTV and the stingers slid through the frame rails and secured to the pipes with new billet clamps and hangers. (Which I of course, polished) I had to relocate part of the wiring harness as it was too close to the right stinger pipe and I was afraid it might burn through. A couple new zip ties and 5 minutes and everything was tucked out of the way and secured

Refreshments Anyone?

Cooler Rack Installed

Other than the carburetors, the cooler rack was probably the most difficult item to get polished up. It's an AC Racing unit and I've got to be honest, the fit and finish of AC stuff is, well, poor. I remember when I bought this unit how disappointed I was in the finish. Lots of weld splatter and it took quite a big of tweaking to get it to install. I wasn't looking forward to wrestling with it and chancing a scratch on the frame's new powdercoating.

Peeling the sticker off the rack was an exercise in frustration. It wouldn't peel off in one big chunk, but kept breaking off into tiny pieces instead. I finally resorted to a single edged razor blade and scratched the hell out of the rear tube in the process. Not a real big deal as I was going to polish it anyways, but it make for a bit more prep work. The rack was too big for the blasting cabinet so it was entirely hand sanded, beginning with a file to remove the weld spatter, then to 100 grit emory cloth and moving to 400 grit wet/dry before it was offered to the buffing machine. Several hours and two bleeding knuckles later, it was looking pretty good. I blasted and polished the bolts and mounted it up. Thankfully, I was able to get it installed without too much hassle and no damage to the powdercoat on the frame. The tail light bolted right up and was plugged in to the wiring harness.

I Love The Smell of 2-Stroke in the Morning

Ahhhh, 2-stroke smoke!

I was about 3 months into the project and things were really coming together. The suspension work was done, electrical was done, engine was buttoned up and it was getting very close to finding out if the Old Girl would even run. I woke up early on a Saturday morning and decided today was the day. I took the petcock off the fuel tank and cleaned it up and polished it. I backflushed the pickup screens to get 15+ years of crap out of 'em and then thoroughly washed the tank inside and out with degreaser and left it in the sun to dry.

While the tank was drying out, I got the radiator topped off with a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and distilled water, filled the crankcase with oil and double checked all the hoses and fittings. I also double checked my carb sync and air screw adjustments and bolted up the front wheels. Once the tank was dry, I reinstalled the petcock and bolted it up to the frame and connected the fuel line to the "T" between the carbs. I poured about a gallon of fuel in the tank and cracked open the petcock. The right carb started spewing fuel out the overflow almost immediately so I shut off the fuel and gave the carb a couple sharp raps on the bowl with the handle of a screwdriver to free up what I believed to be a stuck float.

Turning the fuel back on, I saw the right carb was now leak free and checked the rest of the fuel system for leaks. Not a drop of fuel to be seen so I slipped the key in the ignition switch, turned it on and flicked the kill switch to the run position. The choke lever was pulled out and I stepped onto the footpegs for the first time in months. I pulled out the kickstart lever and slowly pushed the engine through compression a couple times before really getting after it. The Old Girl fired on the 3rd kick, ran for a few seconds and stalled. I tried again and she wouldn't fire so I clicked off the choke, twisted the throttle wide open and tried again. She lit on the 1st kick and then settled into a rough idle, belching white smoke like crazy. I opened the throttle a bit and she smoothed out and I let it run there for a couple minutes before dropping back to idle and making a couple small adjustments on the air screws.

I figured since it was running, I'd let it warm up to normal temps before shutting it down. I checked the coolant level before it got too hot and was happy to see the level hadn't dropped at all. I checked all the lights and they worked as planned; Fender lights only at the low beam setting, all 4 on the high. Even the taillight worked right off the bat. I thought for sure I'd have a few electrical problems since I'd "rolled my own" harness.

I shut her down after about 15 minutes and looked around the garage. Looked like fog had rolled in from the ocean and the smell of 2-stroke was in the air. Glorious! My wife came out to complain about smoke getting into the house so I set up a large industrial fan to vent the smoke out of the garage - it still took about 20 minutes to clear the smoke out. Now that I know she runs, I can't wait to finish her up and see what she can do. Still have quite a few things to do, but she's lookin' good so far.

The Old Girl Steps Out

Looking Good 1

Looking Good 2

Got home from work well after dark and didn't feel like doing any wrenching so I wheeled the Old Girl out onto the front lawn and took a few pictures. My neighbor happened to come out as I was doing so and was amazed at what I'd done over the past few months. I have to admit, the thing looks pretty damned sweet even without the body plastic on it.

The Empress's New Clothes

This Thing Looks Mean

Body Plastic Set In Place

After the photos from the other night and the effort that had gone into the Old Girl's rebirth, I just couldn't fathom bolting up the old body plastic on top of all this shiny new stuff. I never did like any of the aftermarket plastics and was very pleased to find out I could get OEM plastics in red so back to Alba I went to order it up. About a week later I get a call from Troy and he says the new plastic is in. I drive down to pick it up.. The front fenders look like a near perfect match to the powdercoating and paint but the rears are yellow? Huh?? Turns out Troy made a typo when he placed the order and a couple days later, I got the correct pieces, in addition to the new radiator cover I decided to replace. The only original body plastic on the entire machine would be the two side covers.

As soon as I got home, I just had to see what the new plastic looked like installed on the bike. I broke out my trusty utility knife and cut open the various bags and set the plastic in place and then snapped the seat into position. Now that's what I'm talkin' about! I only hope she goes as good as she looks.