Tag Archives: w650

Like catching fish in a barrel

a small purple magnet is looped onto the end of a wire and has attracted a number of small iron shavings.There should be a gin at my right hand but I’m keeping it tea at the moment so there’s a mug of Tetley’s finest in a lovely autumnal orange mug from Aldi.

Why should there be a gin? Because I have spent the day crouched over the W650’s crankcase removing swarf from the inside, and it has gone Quite Well.

It shouldn’t be there, but then the barrels should come off without the need to recruit a firm of specialists with a big hammer. They had to drill things free and as a consequence there are little shavings everywhere.

And I’m picking them out, one by one. 

There are other things I will be doing later, like flushing the case out and changing the oil as often as I can afford, but it seems to me that the more tiny crunchy bits I can remove now, the better these other options will work.

I’m a child of the 70s and we had to amuse ourselves in ways that didn’t involve electronics. One game I remember involved magnets on strings, cut-out fish with paper clip noses, and a cardboard “tank” which you fished inside without peeking. The long winter nights simply flew by…. but my magnet-fishing skills have turned out to be an excellent foundation for several hours this afternoon with a small magnet on a wire.

Even better, it didn’t fall off the wire and disappear in the bottom of the crankcase, which I’d placed a 50/50 bet on. 

It’s less than ideal and I’m sure I won’t get all the flakes out, but there are very few examples of people successfully getting those barrels off thanks to Kawasaki’s decision to have four of the retaining bolts run outside the engine and rust into immobility.  I found one person discussing it online and he said he’d had to destroy the barrels to get them off. As replacements are £1,000 (or “one set of Africa Twin wheels”) I’m just glad the workshop got them off. 

More fishing tomorrow. Perhaps a squad of handsome Norwegians will turn up to make sure I’m not going over my quota. 


Filed under Garage stuff

Sometimes I get so tired

I’m between jobs at the moment – not for long, just from last Friday to the start of August. And I’m shattered. Sometimes I think it’s because I’m not expecting enough of myself. Sometimes I think I remember that changing jobs is like getting divorced and moving house in terms of the mental load it puts on you. But maybe that’s just an excuse? Sometimes I think that an aching back and a stiff neck is part of getting old.

But then I remember I spent a good few hours today in the garage removing the carburettors from the W650, which involved a lot of leaning over, and the occasional accidental punch in the nose.

“Why are you punching yourself, Highwaylass?”

No, not out of frustration or because Big Tina from the playground was holding my hand and smacking me in the face with it. I was trying to ease a recalcitrant throttle cable end from its lair and the screwdriver slipped. It bloody nearly had my eye out instead of the cable end so I declared brute force the winner and clipped them both with pliers. I’ve got lovely clean new cables to install once the hurley burley is done so it wasn’t the desperate move it felt like.

It seems that the W650 has inherited the Lomax’s love for being taken to pieces every year. I keep swearing I will sell one of the outfits now that the Wingman no longer requires them and upon hearing that the Big K sprang an oil leak. I don’t like to sell stuff with problems so I am on the hunt. So far that has involved removing the cylinder head cover, the battery, the airbox of unhappy memory and the carbs.

I really, really don’t want to have to take the pots off.

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Filed under Riding

If it was easy, lawyers would do it

It’s fair to say that not everything has gone to plan with the W650 coronavirus special. Back in May I posted, with foolish bravado, that the only job left was to patch up the seat covers.

Oh, how the gods laughed. Here’s the current state of play.

I went to buy a rear mudguard and a bike seat off a chap who had found them surplus to his requirements for the W650-based bobber he was building, and on the way back I went to see Ken-who-knows-everything to ask if he could see why there was an unpleasant sounding clunk at low speeds.

Because the joints were loose, that’s why.

In a puzzling achievement, the joints holding the chair to the bike were both welded and loose. So it all had to come off.

The good news is that, contrary to Ken’s worst fears, nothing is actually cracked. So the tasks have been dismantling, de-rusting, taking off the now-surplus welds, and deciding how to reattach the eyebolts so they don’t work loose again.

Also painting.

I don’t know a huge amount about attaching sidecars but I’m lucky enough to know a few men that do. We’re currently debating how best to attach the upper rear mount – I want it a bit further back than it had been to improve the triangulation. (See, it’s almost as though I know what I’m doing).

In theory, setting up a chair is straightforward.

But then everything is, in theory.

I have the advantage now that I know what a well-set-up rig should handle like. So once we have reached consensus on where the eyebolts are going to go I am going to bravely attache the chassis, set the toe-in, the lead and the lean-out, and see how we do.

By this time it will be 2021 and the dog will probably be in Valhalla, but it’s good to have a project.

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Filed under Garage stuff, Sidecar

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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