Time to get all six of those mighty pis­tons back in their re­spec­tive homes, eh Ralph? Project Kawasaki Z1300 part 6

Classic Motorcycle Mechanics - - CONTENTS - WORDS AND PHO­TOS: RALPH FER­RAND

Ralph gets fur­ther on with the mighty six.

Time to get six big pis­tons in their right­ful home: and let’s face it, fours can be awk­ward enough! More of that later: first up I re­moved the oil re­stric­tor jet from just be­hind No. 4 crank­case mouth to en­sure that it was clear and with­out de­bris. It’s a cu­ri­ous lit­tle chap, but I washed it with brake cleaner and blew it through with my air­line (while wear­ing safety glasses/mask of course). My tip if you’re new to tools: Google the safe use of such items be­fore you be­come a fur­ther bur­den to the NHS. Next job was to clean up the pis­tons which had the usual cloak of car­bon over the crown. The eas­i­est way to re­move this crud is with a ro­tary multi tool such as a Dremel with a lit­tle wire wheel. The only down side I have found with this method is that the wheels seem to moult and you find your­self be­ing stabbed by the dis­em­bod­ied wires that have be­come em­bed­ded in your cloth­ing. Once the crowns were freed from their car­bon prison, I gave all six pis­tons a swim in the ul­tra­sonic clean­ing tank, which re­moved the re­main­ing filth. I then broke out the gen­uine Kawasaki pis­ton rings. Firstly, I fit­ted the oil con­trol spreader ring that keeps the two oil con­trol slider rings in po­si­tion which I fit­ted next. Lastly I fit­ted the com­pres­sion rings be­ing mind­ful to en­sure they were the right way up. Now it was time to fit the part that caused all the trou­ble in the first place, the wa­ter pump drive plas­tic bevel gear. After lu­bri­cat­ing the bear­ing sur­faces, I in­stalled the gear into the block. Th­ese gears have been un­avail­able from Kawasaki Heavy In­dus­tries for many years, which is very an­noy­ing con­sid­er­ing what a short life they seem to have. Any NOS (New Old Stock) gears were snapped up

many moons ago and there are no pat­tern ones avail­able in the UK. I thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gated get­ting some made, but dis­cov­ered that those with the abil­ity to cut bevel gears are very thin on the ground and those that are kit­ted up, charge like a wounded rhino for the ben­e­fit of their skills. From my own re­search­ing, there is only one place in the world that can help out with this part and that is www.z1300.de. They are avail­able as an ex­change item where you send them what’s left of your bevel gear and they bond a new plas­tic bevel gear to the har­dened steel part. As we are still in the EU I had to pay the full €189 and prob­a­bly a bit of car­riage. Cheap th­ese parts are not, but the qual­ity is first rate and the despatch is brisk, though they will not send out your new one un­til they have re­ceived the duff one. I fit­ted a new oil seal into the block for the wa­ter pump shaft and care­fully fit­ted the shaft from the front and re­placed the drive pin. I then in­stalled the steel bevel gear, en­gag­ing it with both the plas­tic gear and the drive pin on the shaft. There are suit­able flats on the shaft to at­tach an opened span­ner to pre­vent the shaft turn­ing while you reat­tach the se­cur­ing nut and tighten it up. I torqued it up to the pre­scribed set­ting of 14.5lb-ft. I slid the drive shaft in from the left-hand side, en­gag­ing the male shaft spline in the cor­re­spond­ing fe­male in the gear. I then fit­ted the se­cur­ing bolt through the round win­dow on the right hand side of the block. The re­main­der of the coolant pump drive sys­tem is fit­ted once the block is fit­ted back on the crankcases. All th­ese bolts were given a dab of thread lock and seal to pre­vent them from aban­don­ing their posts with­out leave and caus­ing hor­rific en­gine dam­age. I was now at the stage I had re­ally not been look­ing for­ward to – in­stalling six pis­tons in their bar­rels; to this end I thought I would min­imise the po­ten­tial for mis­ery by get­ting my­self kit­ted out prop­erly be­fore start­ing. I can tell you from years of ex­pe­ri­ence that there is only one safe way to fit rings and that is the right way, us­ing proper ring clamps; they’re not even es­pe­cially ex­pen­sive! There was no way my nor­mal home brewed tools for hold­ing pis­tons at TDC (Top Dead Cen­tre) were go­ing to work on a six, so I breathed in hard and sourced the proper Kawasaki fac­tory spe­cial tools which were dif­fi­cult to trace and at a not in­con­sid­er­able cost, par­tic­u­larly with sev­eral lots of in­ter­na­tional car­riage in­volved. Be­lieve you me though, when I came to do­ing the job I was hugely re­lieved that I had been able to over­come my nat­u­ral miser­li­ness!

I fit­ted the spe­cial tools as spec­i­fied in the man­ual with Nos 3 and 4 at TDC. I fit­ted ring clamps to 3 and 4 as they would be first to dive into their req­ui­site tun­nels of love. I but­tered up the mat­ing sur­face at the bot­tom of the block with Wellseal and also the bot­tom of the base gas­ket as I didn’t want to risk any leaks. I at­tached cords to both the cam-chain and the wa­ter pump drive chain. It’s a right old faff try­ing to keep the cam-chain in the cor­rect po­si­tion as it has a ten­dency to get it­self in the wrong place. If you do one of th­ese, you’ll know what I mean. I stuck the base gas­ket to the un­der­side of the block out of the way and em­ployed the ser­vices of SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed) to help me get the block in po­si­tion and drop it down on the wait­ing and ea­ger pis­tons. The first two slid into their bores with rel­a­tive ease and I re­moved their ring clamps and at­tached them to 2 and 5. I only have two sets of ring clamps in my workshop be­cause un­til you work on a six, that’s as many as you need! Luck­ily I have a tool busi­ness so was able to rob an­other two sets from stock! I added clamps to 1 and 6 and we were ready to roll. We gently eased the block down over the four re­main­ing pis­tons si­mul­ta­ne­ously keep­ing it level at all times, lit­tle by lit­tle tap­ping each end of the block with ul­tra­light blows with our hands as the lin­ers slid the ring clamps down as the rings en­tered the bores. Us­ing the fac­tory tools, the job was ac­tu­ally far eas­ier than I ex­pected and be­fore long we were dis­man­tling the clamps and push­ing the cylin­ders down into the crank­case mouths.

I en­gaged the wa­ter pump drive sprocket with its chain and slipped the sprocket over the end of the shaft, se­cur­ing it with a bolt. I made sure that the cam-chain was again in the cor­rect align­ment. I coated the top of the cylin­der block and the bot­tom of the head with Wellseal, fit­ted the head gas­ket and then dropped the head on after check­ing all the dow­els were in their cor­rect places. I fit­ted new cop­per wash­ers where re­quired and stock steel wash­ers where ap­pli­ca­ble, fol­lowed by the main cylin­der head nuts and the re­main­ing M6 bolts. All fas­ten­ers were torqued down in stages, in the pre­scribed se­quence shown in the di­a­gram in the fac­tory workshop man­ual. I tend to do more small in­creases in torque than spec­i­fied in the fac­tory man­ual to en­sure that such a long cast­ing is never stressed; it might not be es­sen­tial, but given the rar­ity and ex­pense of ma­jor parts on classic bikes I’d rather be over cau­tious than sorry. Even when I reach the fi­nal torque I still keep torque­ing them as the head gas­ket does tend to com­press and a few laps with the torque wrench is es­sen­tial un­til the fi­nal torque is achieved. Next month I’ll start play­ing with cams and ten­sion­ers.

Six go swim­ming.

Clean­ing a pis­ton crown while si­mul­ta­ne­ously cre­at­ing au­to­matic acupunc­ture cloth­ing.

Oil re­stric­tor jet re­moved for clean­ing.

The plas­tic driv­ing bevel gear in po­si­tion and the wa­ter pump shaft with gear at­tached and nut started.

The vil­lain of the peace – the sole rea­son for this whole re­build!

Fit­ting the com­pres­sion rings with pis­ton ring ex­pander pli­ers.

The first oil con­trol ring.

…and look what you get!

Only £57.52 per pis­ton…

All the pis­tons lined up fac­ing north ready to dive into the block.

Tight­en­ing up the bolt with a torque wrench. Note: I did not ac­tu­ally rest the span­ner on the machined face while tight­en­ing as this could cause dam­age, but I needed a free hand for the cam­era.

Push­ing in the drive shaft through the re­place­ment plas­tic bevel gear.

Gently do­ing up the nut with a cranked ring span­ner be­fore torque­ing up.

Do­ing up the bolt se­cur­ing the drive shaft to the gear.

A gen­uine set of Kawasaki spe­cial tools to fit the pis­tons in the bores.

Head gas­ket in place, cam chain idler sprocket in place and wran­gling the cam-chain into the cor­rect po­si­tion be­fore drop­ping the head on.

Paint­ing the block mat­ing sur­face with Wellseal.

Ap­ply­ing Wellseall to the bot­tom side of the base gas­ket.

The cylin­der head back on its throne await­ing the torque­ing down se­quence.

All the pis­tons are now safely in their bores. At long last!

At­tach­ing a ring clamp to pis­ton num­ber 2. Steady as she goes...

Pis­tons 3 and 4 are in and the ring clamps re­moved.

Ap­ply­ing Wellseal with a cheapo ‘artists’ paint brush.

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