Poor Mark Haycock. This is a hound of the basket cases.
Master Mark delves deeper into the bowels of the bargain XS650 – but what does he find?
We looked last month at a few of the electrical faults I found on a Yamaha XS650 I bought a little while ago, but the problems were not just electrical, as we shall see. To remind you, if we look at Photo 1 the bike really did not look too bad when I got it home. I think this just goes to show that judging the condition of a bike from a photo of a general view can be rather deceptive. Let us take a closer look at some of the mechanical and cosmetic issues. This is a pretty common one unfortunately (Photo 1). The headlamp rim has been scraped because clearly the bike has been down the road on its side at some point. It is not feasible to repair this damage as although it could be filled with body solder, the rim would need to be rechromed and it would be cheaper to just get a new rim. It is a small point but rims are quite expensive for what they are and this damage spoils the whole bike, so it was a pity the owner did not highlight this in the ebay description. The cause of the rim damage is confirmed by the state of the front brake master cylinder (Photo 2). This would probably have allowed moisture to enter and cause corrosion within the hydraulic system. The replacement bolt is a neat touch, no doubt being necessary because the Phillips screw head was hopelessly chewed up, even worse than the other three. Photo 3 shows another example of the unsatisfactory nature of Phillips heads for screws on motorcycles. The screw itself is too soft and it is very easy to damage the head, particularly if it has rusted in place. It should have been replaced but no doubt as it is chrome-plated it is quite expensive. But at least it was there… unlike what we see here
(Photo 4). Instead of three chrome-plated domed (acorn) nuts we have quite a mixture: a rusty domed nut, a plain nut and, well, nothing: the nut and its stud are completely missing. I don’t like insulating tape as the adhesive always deteriorates into a sticky mess. It might be okay as a temporary repair but these often end up being permanent. The previous owner evidently did not share my view as there were lots of bits of bright blue sticky tape over various electrical connections, but at least they were not visible from the outside. The tachometer drive is visible so he had been careful to use black tape instead to bodge it up, as it would match the frame colour (Photo 5). Needless to say the repair did not work and there was basically nothing holding on the drive or the oil within it. The main problem was that there was a bit missing for some reason, presumably because someone had put it down and forgotten where. Why not just replace it then, as it was available as a Yamaha part and not expensive? Probably because the mechanic did not have the benefit of a proper parts list so just gave up. Another piece of lateral thinking is demonstrated here (Photo 6). A piece of wire is useful in an emergency toolkit, but it is meant to be for a ‘get-you-home’ bodge, not a permanent repair. Maybe the pins which were meant to be used could have been found in the same place as the tacho drive part. A couple of nuts and bolts would have been a rather more acceptable bodge. Later I needed to remove the left hand crankcase cover and was struck by this curious projection on the gasket face (Photo 7), which exactly matched a cut-out in the cover. I wonder how that modification was made? Maybe by someone not noticing that one of the fixing bolts was still in place followed by a light tap with a big hammer. The same someone had attempted a repair with what looked like epoxy resin, but evidently this had not been a great success. The failure of the fix might have been caused by a lack of surface preparation before sticking. However, even if it had been done properly I still think it is asking a bit much for epoxy to stick hot engine parts together: again this might work as a temporary bodge but not a permanent repair. There is a reasonable way to do this and I shall be exploring the technique soon. If you do intend to leave a bike unused for over a month or so it is best to drain the carburettors if you can. The reason is shown in Photo 8. This is all that was left of a float-bowl full of petrol after about 10 years. Actually, this is not as bad as some cases you come across as there is still a sign of the gunge being a sort of liquid so it will be slightly easier to clean out than solid gum. The smell is very hard to wash off so wear gloves for this. Now, the rear suspension is a pretty important part of a bike as it does affect safety and one would like to think that people would not take chances with these critical components. So how about Photo 9? There is quite a prominent crack in this upper mounting so I wonder how it was caused? The clue might be in the flat area towards the outside (left in this picture) which certainly gives the impression that it has been belted with a fairly heavy hammer. This is strange as I should have thought that the only reason to be tempted to do this would be to get it to fit or to get it off: and a blow downwards would not be much use. Maybe the previous owner had got as fed up with the bike as I had become. More to the point, how did it get through the MOT? Will we find out? Stay tuned!
1 1/ Don’t judge a book... The XS looked good in pics, what happened? 2/ Master cylinder and moisture really do not mix! 3/ Phillips head screws aren’t the best in this application. There may be trouble ahead... 2 3
4 5 4/ The mixture of bolts and fastenings really beggars description on Mark’s XS650! 5/ Previous owner had style: he chose black tape on the visible tacho drive! 6/ That ‘get-you-home’ wire bodge is here installed as a permanent fix. Oh dear, oh dear! 6
7 7/ This was the view Mark saw when he removed the left-hand crankcase cover. What on earth? 8/ This is why you should drain the carbs when you leave a bike be for a good while. 9/ Cracks on the mounting point for the rear suspension is the icing on the crappy cake!