Reader restora­tion: Kawasaki 750 H2

Dave Thomp­son is a cer­ti­fi­able Kawasaki nut­case. But this H2 resto had the po­ten­tial to drive any­one prop­erly in­sane. Here’s how it played out

Practical Sportsbikes (UK) - - Contents - WORDS ALAN SEE­LEY PHO­TOG­RA­PHY JA­SON CRITCHELL

One of the more pop­u­lar resto choices th­ese days – and it’s only too easy to see why th­ese big stro­kers ap­peal

BRAND LOY­ALTY is one thing but the level of de­vo­tion shown to all things Kawasaki by Dave Thomp­son is quite an­other. Like the metaphor­i­cal stick of rock, Dave is in­deli­bly stamped with the mark of the Big K.

Be­fore our eyes even alight on the ob­ject of to­day’s at­ten­tions – Dave’s 1972 Us­mar­ket Kawasaki H2 750cc two-stroke triple, the mighty and fore­bod­ing Mach IV – we’re dis­tracted by just a few of the other Kwaks in the re­tired Bri­tish Steel trans­port man­ager’s col­lec­tion.there’s an S1, an S2 and an H1 in view as well as an S3 cur­rently un­der­go­ing restora­tion.those are just the two-stroke triples rep­re­sent­ing all the ca­pac­ity classes Kawasaki of­fered for its early blue-smoke threes.then there’s a 250 Sa­mu­rai twostroke twin, a Z1A and a ZRX1200.

“It’s all about the Kawasakis for me,” says Dave, just in case we hadn’t guessed. “It al­ways has been since a lad in the vil­lage I grew up in got a 250 Sa­mu­rai in 1970 when I was 12 years old. It blew me away.”

Five years later and Dave got his first Kawasaki of his own, the first of many. “It was a brand-new S1C bought from the long-gone Kawasaki­world in South Shields. I had it for just five weeks be­fore I wrote it off break­ing my an­kle and my wrist in the process,” says Dave. Plainly un­de­terred, now aged 59 and seven years into his re­tire­ment, Dave is per­fectly placed to grow and en­joy his col­lec­tion. “I went to Bri­tish Steel on a three-month con­tract and stayed for 23 years. They made me an of­fer I couldn’t refuse to take early re­tire­ment,” he says.when not em­bark­ing on Euro­pean tours on the ZRX, he’s work­ing on restos, the lat­est to be com­pleted be­ing the H2 we’re here to ride to­day.

“The bar­rels were not just seized to the pis­tons but the crankcases too”

The story starts as so many of to­day’s restora­tions do, with dig­i­tal pics on the in­ter­net. “A guy in Not­ting­ham had it up for sale. It had been painted in gold but I knew I was go­ing to re­fin­ish it in blue which is the other colour for 1972,” says Dave. “I paid £6400 for it which was a good price even then back in 2012.”

A pic­ture might paint a thou­sand words but doesn’t al­ways tell the whole story. “The seller wasn’t hid­ing any­thing,” says Dave. “But the one thing nei­ther he nor I could tell were that the bar­rels were seized on; not just to the pis­tons but to the crankcases them­selves. I’ve dealt with seized up triple en­gines be­fore but noth­ing like this one.”

Dave tried all the usual tricks in­volv­ing heat and ev­ery pen­e­trant known to man. “I cooked them, I soaked them then when all failed I sent them to Pit­stop Mo­tor­cy­cles in War­ring­ton.they said they wouldn’t have touched them if they’d known how much ag­gra­va­tion it was go­ing to be.the bar­rels are held down by cap­tive bolts and ev­ery sin­gle one had to be drilled out,” says Dave.with ev­ery­thing apart it be­came ap­par­ent that there were cracks in the cas­ings so th­ese re­quired re­me­dial work too in the form of ally weld­ing.

While all that was go­ing on the crank went off to SEP for a re­build. In­spec­tion of the bar­rels re­vealed that th­ese would re­quire a re­bore and they had to be taken to the max­i­mum over­size of 3mm over so there will be no more re­bores for this H2, at least on th­ese lin­ers.

There were still a cou­ple more tricky lit­tle is­sues to sort out.the slides in the Mikuni VM30SC carbs had seized to the bod­ies al­though even­tu­ally th­ese did re­lin­quish their grip but not be­fore one of the slides be­came ir­re­triev­ably dam­aged. Kawasaki triples guru Rick Brett loaned Dave a box­ful of slides to pick out a suit­able match. Some con­ster­na­tion fol­lowed when a suit­able du­pli­cate could not be found among this se­lec­tion. Rick then fig­ured out that the carbs on Dave’s bike had some­how es­caped a man­u­fac­turer’s re­call to have the slides changed, mak­ing them some very rare items in­deed. How­ever Rick was able to find one in his cache of spares which he gen­er­ously do­nated to Dave. On Rick’s rec­om­men­da­tion, Dave fit­ted H2B pi­lot jets to the carbs to mit­i­gate hunt­ing is­sues at low en­gine speeds. Z Power sup­plied the carb rub­bers, as well as var­i­ous other bits and pieces. With the petrol tap ul­tra­son­i­cally cleaned and its host of pipes at­tached like so many oc­to­pus’s legs, ev­ery­thing was all set to go in the fuel sup­ply chain.

The fi­nal is­sue in the en­gine depart­ment came from the gen­er­a­tor cast­ing that car­ries the ig­ni­tion plate.the stud bosses were miss­ing on the one that came with the bike and a spare that Dave had sim­ply

would not of­fer the cor­rect range of mount­ing ad­just­ment to give cor­rect tim­ing. That meant ally weld­ing and shap­ing the orig­i­nal to re­fit it to the bike.again Pit­stop stepped in to sort the job out.

At least all was well as far as the gear­box cogs went so all that was deemed nec­es­sary was a fresh set of bear­ings.

Orig­i­nal pipes were present but a long way off cor­rect. Heav­ily dented and pit­ted, seizedin baf­fles were the fi­nal stum­bling block that ruled out their re­fur­bish­ment. In­stead Dave opted for the span­nies that have rightly be­come the de­fault choice of Kawasaki triples fans – a set of Hig­gspeeds.

The frame was pow­der­coated by Ro­max UK in Stock­ton while Qual­ity Chrome in Hull took care of the bright stuff. Dave was par­tic­u­larly im­pressed with Qual­ity Chrome’s work on the gear link­age with its myr­iad small parts as well as the job they did strip­ping the chrome from the front mud­guard so it could be painted as is cor­rect for the year.the ref­er­ence books will tell you that the US mod­els should have a plas­tic rear guard and the Euro ones stain­less, but this one is stain­less and we’ve seen pics of Amer­i­can mar­ket bikes with ei­ther type.the pre­vi­ous owner had taken care of the wheels, right down to fit­ting the over­sized tyres Dave has left on the bike for now. He had also re­cov­ered the seat us­ing the orig­i­nal and un­re­stored base but with­out the trim strips.

That left the main cos­metic is­sue that Dave had known he wanted to deal with be­fore he even got the bike – the switch from gold to blue paint­work. Dream Ma­chine un­der­took the job but when the now ex­ter­nally pris­tine tank was re­fit­ted, Dave dis­cov­ered a prob­lem. “There were a cou­ple of lit­tle pin­holes in the base where the tank had rusted through from the in­side,” he says. I had no idea they were there un­til fuel started to leak through, lift­ing the paint in a cou­ple of small ar­eas. I could have kicked my­self. Hav­ing re­stored one of ev­ery other Kawasaki two-stroke triple of the era, I was re­ally con­fi­dent that I knew what I was do­ing.”

To Dave’s ir­ri­ta­tion the tank is­sue was com­pounded slightly when he re­paired it us­ing POR15 and spilled a cou­ple of drips of the resin onto the tank paint.

“It’s al­ways the lit­tle things, isn’t it?” says Dave. “I still need all the parts to com­plete the fric­tion damper but I can’t re­ally say I miss it when I’m rid­ing it. I haven’t fit­ted a hy­draulic damper ei­ther.the shocks are af­ter­mar­ket.things like the horn and in­di­ca­tors aren’t orig­i­nals but they’re good enough in the way they look.” Equally im­por­tantly, they work so the H2 was deemed fin­ished and ready for the MOT min­is­tra­tions of Damien Hornby at Ge­off Tow­ers Mo­tor­cy­cles in Guis­bor­ough.

All of which means that we can take Dave’s H2 for a ride, an op­por­tu­nity any se­ri­ous mo­tor­cy­cle con­nois­seur would be crazy to pass up, even if the triple’s fear­some rep­u­ta­tion in­stead sug­gests you’d be crazy to take it up.what­ever.we’re here now.

Dave im­presses Alan with his speed on the draw

Dave was ex­tremely pa­tient with Alan

Blue wins over gold ev­ery time. Good choice

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.