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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'm new here, but have been working on and riding bikes for 30 years. My first street bike was a 73 CB500F that was mildly cafed, 24 years ago. Back then I didn't have the means or the facilities to really do it right. Since then I did a bit of road racing, built all of my race bikes and have been mostly in the sport bike scene. I've own a couple dozen bikes, but most of them were just "fix them, ride them and sell them" projects.

This week I picked up a winter project, and I intend to do a proper cafe project with it. I might be looking for some tips and suggestions, here.

Enough of the background....a few months ago, a friend of mine bought this 1979 GS550 with the intent of turning it into a budget cafe:
Land vehicle Vehicle Motorcycle Automotive tire Car

He started stripping it down and buying parts and doing several things to it, but ran out of time and space for it. Long story short (too late) I picked it up from him for $600, with all the parts:
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The bike actually ran, but the carbs are pretty messed up. I have a set of 2mm larger KZ carbs that I plan to re-rack on the GS rack. (Yes I am capable of extensive carburetor work). Other parts that came in the pile:
-Clubman bars
-new Dyna ignition system (with coils)
-New N.O.S. Jardine exhaust, but the collector is for a KZ, so I may be doing some custom exhaust work
-KFY Chinese knock-off shocks (cheap I know, but I will see how they work)
-A dual cat-eye tail light assembly
-New Progressive fork springs (already installed)
-All Balls tapered steering stem bearings (I need to do some machining to finish the installation per the instructions)
-GSX-R master cylinder and clutch lever (with new clutch cable)
There is probably more, but tomorrow I have to catalog all the parts.

Things that my friend already did include drilling the front rotor, painting the forks, headlight, triple trees, and engine.

This is gonna be fun!

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Today was focused on the two highest priorities - exhaust and carbs

The stock carbs are in HORRIBLE shape, and the previous owner had a set of KZ650 carbs that he put in the parts pile.

GS550 stock carbs:
Auto part Engine Carburetor Automotive engine part Vehicle

KZ650 carbs:
Electronics Auto part Engine Font Scale model

The starter plungers (choke) were stuck in both sets of carbs:
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So I soaked them am got them cleaned up and freed:
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I disassembled both sets and installed the KZ carbs on the GS rack:
Auto part Engine Carburetor Automotive engine part Automotive super charger part

I need to find one emulsion tube for the starter jet on the #1 carb 'cuz it was broken. The GS tubes are the same size, but the height of the cross drilled hoes are different, so I will see if I can find a junk carb for the part before trying the GS one. However it would only effect the operation while choked, so it wouldn't be that big of a deal to use one from the GS carb.

And I need to get a gasket set.

Next was the exhaust. My friend said he thought that the collector/muffler that came with the Jardine system he bought were for a different bike. After I test fit the system I don't think that this is the case. It seems to be correct, except that the hanger bracket is welded in the wrong location:

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I will just cut it off and weld it in the right place.

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks kerosene. As far as tearing it apart, most of the bike was just loosely thrown together for transport. This thing will need to be completely disassembled before it is ready to go. The whole front end is just snugged together and a set of tapered bearings set in the stem, but some machining needs to be done to complete the install. That's just one example....

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
So, today I worked a bit more on the exhaust:

I cut off the mis-located bracket:
Auto part Tire Vehicle Pipe Exhaust system

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Did some grinding:
Auto part Tire Vehicle Pipe Exhaust system

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A little Hi-temp paint, and it almost disappears:
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A little more work, and it'll be barely visible.

I set it up in the correct position to be welded...
Bicycle part Tire Automotive tire Bicycle wheel Bicycle frame

...I just have to see how the new welder I bought works. Practice welds start tomorrow...Gonna learn myself ta weld!! It's been a loooong time.

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Just a little progress, today. I spent most of my time learning to use my new welder and doing practice welds. Then I had to put on my big boy pants, and actually weld the bracket on the exhaust!

Not perfect, but not HORRIBLE:
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A little paint... (still glossy 'cuz it's wet):
Bicycle wheel Bicycle part Bicycle fork Bicycle frame Rim

Exhaust issue solved!! I will re-install the system when I get some new header gaskets.

I also made the decision to buy a set of GS550 carbs rather than try to venture down the tuning nightmare that the KZ650 carbs would present. I will likely attempt that later, but not until I have a running workable bike and get all the other work done that I want to do.

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
TheGreg -thanks for that tip. I will look into finding that.

o1marc - if anyone is in a position to see that spatter and critique it....their head will be in the perfect position for me to roll over it with the back tire.
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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Some more progress over the last couple of weeks:

The cam covers needed a little sumptin':
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So in keeping with the satin black theme my friend started, I scuffed and painted them:
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I also blasted the exhaust collars and used exhaust paint on them:
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While I was at it...remember the scar left from the original muffler bracket location?
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I took care of that with more grinding, sanding and paint:
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The previous owner started to do a tapered bearing conversion on the steering stem, but it needed some machining done to complete the install, and he had pressed on the lower bearing....but hadn't put the lower seal on first! I had to remove the lower bearing, get a new one and had the machining done and the front end was re-assembled:
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As I mentioned before, I decided to get a new GS550 set of carbs from Ebay, and rebuilt them:
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I used 85 mains (stock are 80) and #17 pilot jets (stock are 15). With the pods and the exhaust, I figured that would be a good starting point.
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I might actually have it making some noise tomorrow!!
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...then, I can start really tearing it apart!

The pods, which the previous owner supplied in the parts pile got replaced with K&N filters for reasons I documented in the following thread:

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Well I have some updates....

First of all, it is running, but the intake boot o-rings were leaking:
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I ordered some Viton seals, but got some Buna ones to install in the mean time. Wile I was at it, I changed to screws from the POS phillips, to socket head:
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With the interim seals in, I was able to get the pilot circuit mostly dialed in...

Next, there was a nice little ding in the tank:
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With my little dent puller, I was able to get it to be a smaller ding:
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I actually got it even smaller than this picture shows with a little more work.

I don't like the housing that the gauges were in, so I decided to take off their clothes and run them exposed........but that COLOR! It's gotta go!
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A little satin paint, and voila!
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Finally, I need to locate the position for my rear sets. To do this, I used some 3/8" plywood to mock them up.
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The final shape of the brackets will not be anything like that. The shape will be determined by the hole locations, and minimized as much as possible.

I think this will be the position, but I am waiting for my rearsets to come in to make sure they will work. I am most concerned with them interfering with the kick starter, but the set that I got has folding pegs, and I think I can set up a quick release for the brake pedal linkage, so that it can easily swing out of the way if I need to use the kicker. But even that may not be necessary.....we will see.

I am also waiting for the steel brake line that I ordered for the front brake.


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Discussion Starter · #21 · (Edited)
So....I have been working on the rearsets, and I have the material to make the brackets, but I have to find someone with a plasma cutter or acetylene torch that can rough them out before I can continue on that, so in the meantime I piddled around with the rear of the bike.

Originally I intended to get a cafe style seat and tail, but in order to do that I would have to cut the frame or find one that was substantially long and UGLY. *I just haven't decided I wanted to make that commitment, yet (no turning back from that one). *So I tried to figure out what I wanted to do with the tail. This little gem was in the parts pile that came with the bike, but I HATED the look of it. *It is an integrated turn/tail/brake light, but I couldn't figure out how to make it work with any thing I did with the rear. *

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Then I thought, the stock tail on this bike isn't too bad, and the original parts aren't in too bad of I thought I'd combine the two!

I gutted the stock tail light and cut the bracket of the cat eye apart:
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I mounted the cat eyes on the interior bracket that held the old light socket:
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Then mounted the assembly back on the tail light assembly:
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Installed the original tail and fender with the new hybrid assembly (still ugly):
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Then covered it up with the original lens!
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Wired it up, and Voila...Tail lights:
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...Brake lights:
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Right turn:
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Left Turn:
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I will need to get a flasher that will work with the LED's.

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Turn signals aren't even required in TN....

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·

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Discussion Starter · #26 · (Edited)
I worked on wiring up the front turn signals, front brake switch and had to modify the headlight assembly because the new style H4 light lens that was installed was indexed 30 degrees off. (sorry, no pictures)

Next I borrowed a plasma cutter to cut out the brackets for the rearsets...

Here's the rough cut:
Antique tool Wood Metal

With some trimming:
Auto part Motor vehicle Tire Automotive tire Engine

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Peg holes drilled, and rearsets installed:
Tire Auto part Automotive tire Vehicle Automotive exhaust

Auto part Tire Bumper Vehicle Machine

Now that the rearset location is set, I will need to trim the brackets more, and get the linkages laid out. Kris Richardson, from Old School Speed (where I got the rearsets) is gonna send me a shifter side lever that has the linkage arm pointing down. The shift shaft lever cannot be flipped because of a notch on the engine case, so with the rearset arm pointing up, I would need to fab something up on the original shifter linkage. With the one Kris is sending, all I need is a straight rod.

While I had the plasma cutter, I cut up the front fender, as well:
Land vehicle Tire Vehicle Spoke Bicycle wheel

Tire Automotive tire Bicycle part Auto part Vehicle

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Discussion Starter · #27 · (Edited)
It's been a while since I updated this thread. I have done a few nickel and dime items and have continued working on the rearsets and linkage layouts:

First, the rear brake linkage set-up:

I cut off the brake pedal:
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Made a tab for the linkage:

Shaped, drilled and welded the tab to the brake pedal clamp:
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Cleaned it up a bit (had to grind off the rest of the chrome for paint eventually):
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Here it is installed with the link attached:
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...but why, you ask, did I use a shackle with a removable pin instead of a heim joint on the front joint?
Well, I'm glad you asked! The kick starter cant be used with the rearsets in their normal position:
Tire Auto part Motor vehicle Automotive tire Vehicle I made it so you fold the peg, and disconnect the linkage (without tools) and flip the brake pedal out of the way, and Voila! The kicker is functional!
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Next, the shifter side:

As I mentioned before, the shifter that was included in the set pointed up, but this would cause issues with the linkage,
Auto part Tire Bumper Vehicle Machine Kris Richardson from Old School Speed sent me a shifter that pointed down:
Multi-tool Tongue-and-groove pliers Bumper Tool Gun

I drilled off the original ball joint from the shifter link:
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And here it is...
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Finally, the rearset brackets needed to be trimmed down to get rid of the excess:
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With only an angle grinder and a bench grinder....not too bad, if I say so myself:
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and here it is installed:
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I need to get some 1 inch spacers made out of 1-1/4" round stock to replace the sockets I have between the brackets and the pegs, and I need to find some place to counter bore the mounting holes so the bolt heads will sit in a bit, then I can paint them.

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
I got the heims and the shackle from McMaster-Carr. Here's a link to the rod ends: McMaster-Carr

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Discussion Starter · #31 · (Edited)
OK, it's been a while...mainly 'cuz I've been out of town, but I got home and today I got back to the GS:

Today I started to work on the electrical component tray. First the general shape was cut out of cardboard:
Wood Cardboard Plywood

That was transferred onto the sheet metal, and cut out:
Floor Wood Hardwood Flooring Table

Using my backyard sheet metal break, I got the bends done...
Table Floor Wood Machine Flooring

Then I laid out the components where they will end up. Man that Shorai battery is small! (2.25" X 3" X 4", and about a pound):
Auto part Vehicle Automotive fuel system Engine Fuel line

The rectifier will end up mounted on the bottom of the tray so it will get plenty of cooling air.

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Discussion Starter · #32 · (Edited)
Today I finished up the electrics:

I got everything mounted on the tray and laid out the wiring:
Auto part Electronics Technology Vehicle Engine

I did have to lengthen the cable from the starter to the starter relay, and make a new negative batt cable, so I had to figure out how to crimp a 6 gauge wire terminal without spending a bunch of money on a crimper. So I used my AMP crimper in the 10 gauge slot to start the crimp, then finished the crimp in a vise. Then flowed solder into the crimp for a complete connection. Ugly, yes, but 100% connected:

This is where all the electrical components used to be, behind the side panels:
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...and this is how it looks, now:
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Tune in next time when this gauge cluster get fluster chucked! ...or, fun with LEDs

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