I didn’t need those knuckles anyway – Kawasaki W650 air box refit

What does the modern woman do on the extra day that science has gifted us to keep the calendar in order? Well, I did offer to propose but no-one was available so I ended up doing what I do every other weekend of the winter – wrestling with a rusty heap in the garage.

I pine for the days when I lived in a house with an integral garage that housed the boiler and a radiator. That was the first year I rebuilt the Lomax and it was not only warm and comfortable, it opened onto the kitchen so top-up brews were only a few feet away.

Now I live in a house with a concrete sectional garage at the bottom of the garden that lets a lot of water in under the door. I need to buy a rubber threshold seal but I also need it to stop raining long enough to let the glue set so that one’s parked until spring.  A bit like the bikes…

What’s the task in hand? I have a Kawasaki W650 and sidecar previously owned by one of my very best friends. He converted it to pod filters but I’m a traditionalist and I do like things to be stock so I thought I would convert it back thanks to a fortuitous find of a complete air box on Italian eBay.

It arrived a few weeks before Christmas and a few days before Christmas I took a closer look, psyching myself up to get stuck in after Boxing Day.

Not quite complete after all.

Missing – one 8-inch long plastic rod. That has to come from Japan, about three weeks after you ask for it. And if you have a bike on which someone has removed the Kawasaki Clean Air system then you need a 50p rubber bung for the hole in the top. So I ordered a rod and a bung and some new seals and some clips and a side order of patience.

There are some good resources about how to remove the air box – and I’m going to give a shout-out here to Captain Jake’s brilliant photo guide. Note this small, helpful sentence

“As you wiggle the airbox back into place, you’ll have to mush the rubber cone to get it around the air horn of the carburetor. I started mine with one finger.”

Worst. Job. Ever.

I started on the right hand side at the end of January. The right-hand half of the airbox butts up hard against the battery carrier, so you can’t ease it rearwards to make room. And when you push the box into place, half the horn gets caught inside the carb.

I soaked the rubber horn in hot water. I applied red rubber grease. I applied washing up liquid. I soaked it in hot water again because it’s cold in the garage and the effects wore off pretty quick. I modified a plastic picnic knife from IKEA to try and hook the folded side out over the bellmouth.

I undid the clips on the carbs to try and shove them towards the bars a little. I tried to evolve an extra hand and a couple more thumbs.

I had more tea.

And then at the hundredth attempt the rubber squished in without folding under and all I had to do (hollow laugh) was squish it onto the end of the carb.

Victory was mine.

Rinse and repeat…..

Here’s the game for the left hand side. You’ve got to do it sitting in the sidecar. You’ve got to slide the left-hand box over the two plastic rods, that you now know take at least three weeks to come from Japan so you DO NOT WANT to fucking break them. And the rubber on this side is rock hard with age. Yes, you could order a new one from the very lovely chaps at Cradley Heath Kawasaki but spring is coming and you just want this job done.

Wiggle the box over the rods, get the rubber stuck. Wiggle the box off the rods. Wiggle the box on the rods, get the rubber stuck.

Get the butter knife and the washing up liquid.

Get the hair dryer.

It reminded me of two things. The first time I tried to replace the driveshaft rubbers on the 2CV, and disappointing sex. Every time – it would almost, almost go into the right place and then just slip away.

The answer to “how do I get a rubber gaiter onto a 2CV driveshaft?” turned out to be “put a pointy cap from a roll-on deodorant over the end of the driveshaft to give the rubber something to slip over.” And the answer to “how do I get the bastard rubber bastard over the bastard carburettor end without the bastard getting bastard stuck” turned out to be “cover the end of the carb with a piece of plastic cut from a milk bottle until you’ve past the danger point and then pull it out slowly.”

So now you know.

 

 

 

 

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