Classic Motorcycle Mechanics


Thanks to the internet Scoopop is able to inspect his latest purchase remotely y!


Scoop spies his steed via the web.

Thank heavens for mates, that’s all I can say! My good friend Simon Neil had kindly volunteere­d to act as ‘my agent’ and deal with the seller of the Suzuki TS400.

Even better, he’d also offered to home the bike while I arranged onward transport. That meant the bike was out from under the feet of Chris the seller who was in the process of moving home along with all his bikes. Between the three of us we’d agreed that it made sense to ensure that rather spiffing paint job was out of harm’s way and in Simon’s garage. If you’re going to buy a bike from overseas be aware that banks are in the business of making money out of your money. My bank charged a fee, as did Simon’s, along with a so-called intermedia­ry bank; all of which meant the transactio­n was around the same level of expense as using Paypal. They’re all in it together, I reckon!

So, diaries synchronis­ed, the Apache was loaded on Chris’s pick-up and shuttled from just outside Atlanta, Georgia, to just southeast of Chattanoog­a, Tennessee. Progress was being made – well, to a point. Chris’s pick-up truck had thrown a hissy fit for some reason and in his rush to fix it, load up the bike and all the spares he’d forgotten the spare engine that came as part of the deal along with some other,

potentiall­y useful, parts. No problem apparently, as the spares cache will be acquired in due course. The good news is that the bike is definitely in better condition than just ok. Simon had the opportunit­y on a lazy Sunday following delivery to crawl over the Apache and make an inventory of pros and cons, taking some images to help me with some forward planning.


First obvious issue is the staining to the left-side engine case, which is believed to be from a leaking petrol tap but apparently seals are still listed as being available. Fingers crossed the case will clean up ok; if it doesn’t it’s not a big issue. Next item on the wanted list will be speedo cable, but I’ve seen these on ebay as both OEM and pattern so no biggie there. The seat has a new cover, but looking closely at the images there are what looks to be wrinkles and lumps, but I’m reasonably confident these can be sorted. The mildly corroded steering damper I’d previously spotted can, I hope, be easily sorted via an abrasive pad and some elbow grease, followed by a quick shot of rattle can silver, not that it’s going to be seen.

The parts books show the damper covered by a rubber boot that’s not listed as a spare part, but I’ve managed to locate a reproduced version that’s already on its way to me. Rather obvious now is the missing ignition switch; how did I not spot that one before? A flurry of internet and ebay searching divvied up all the relevant parts but at significan­t cost, which had the wallet twitching. Chris the seller mentioned a butchered but working one was still in a box in Georgia. If I can find a reasonably priced new one I shall be grabbing it. I’m fast realising that buying bikes remotely can be something of an emotional roller coaster!

One minor issue that shouldn’t be hard to fix is the kill switch, more accurately entitled ‘ignition earthing’ button. Mounted at the bottom of the left handlebar switch it looks as if the lead has either come out of its clamp or the sheathing has shrunk over time. Once again I’m not expecting this to be too much of an issue. Perhaps the most annoying, and potentiall­y expensive, issue is the rear light bracket that some oaf has attacked with a saw or angle grinder. I get the fact that at one time this machine was just yet another ‘old bike’, but surely if someone wanted the rear light off there were other less aggressive ways of sorting it out? I can’t see repair or replacemen­t being cheap, easy or quick, but if it’s the worst problem I’ll encounter then I shan’t be too miffed. I’ve seen a low-res image of the pattern rear light and it’s technicall­y the wrong one, being the classic Suzuki ‘dog bone’, but I’m really not bothered as the bike isn’t 100 per cent, out of the box perfect, and probably never will be, on my watch at least. The fuel pipe to the carburetto­r has a filter in place, which says to me that there may be a rusty tank to deal with. Fingers crossed it only needs de-rusting and not repairing.


Ok, enough of the negatives and potential challenges, what’s the good news? Firstly there’s a heavy prepondera­nce of genuine/ period fixings and looking at the right-hand side of the engine if the rest of the bike is thus equipped I’ll not be arguing. Small, yet incorrect details can often be hellishly expensive and protracted to put right, so I’m really pleased the bike has not only an appropriat­e horn, but also the correct mounting bracket. The parts book gives four different options for horns and brackets so it’s good to have what looks like the right pairing.

Details such as the original, dome headed,headed chain puller bolts are good to

have. Even if the bike will never be 100 per cent box fresh, little touches such as these always look better than some hastily added stainless steel bolts sourced from ebay. Big sigh of relief, the left-hand switchgear is there, complete and apparently all in one piece. If you’ve ever dallied with early late 1960s or early 1970s Suzukis you’ll know just how hard such fittings are to source.

Every shot I’ve seen of the exhaust system suggests it’s a good one for which I’m really grateful. In order to effectivel­y muffle some 400ccs worth of prime singlecyli­nder stroker, Suzuki had to wrap the unit underneath the motor rather than over it as per the TS250.

With such a vast amount of pressed steel exposed it’s amazing it’s not full of dents at the very least. Having recently seen a NOS unit for sales at €345 I’m counting my blessings and doubly so as the unobtainab­le chromed heat shield is also present and correct along with the lower cover, which acts as bask-plate-cumskid for the pipe.

So that brings the status of Project Apache bang up-to-date. Next task is to sort out shipping back to the UK and, whilst most will involve sea freight, there are a number of options with regards to transporta­tion within the USA to dispatch points, freight depots, methods of protecting the bike, transit insurance, titles of ownership, bills of sale and a whole raft of other essentials.

Just a handful of these would easily qualify any of us as championsh­ip material for Jon Richardson’s Ultimate Worrier programme on the Dave TV channel.

So that leaves me looking at shipping companies, comparing costs and weighing up my options. Importing an old bike is emphatical­ly neither cheap nor simple!

 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Kill switch is a CON!
Kill switch is a CON!
 ??  ?? Fuel filter is also a CON for Scoop!
Fuel filter is also a CON for Scoop!
 ??  ?? looks fine. Front anchor
looks fine. Front anchor
 ??  ?? Rear light bracket: CON!
Rear light bracket: CON!
 ??  ?? Steering damper: CON!
Steering damper: CON!
 ??  ?? Petrol stains: CON!
Petrol stains: CON!
 ??  ?? Missing ignition: CON!
Missing ignition: CON!
 ??  ?? Seat unit has issues: CON!
Seat unit has issues: CON!
 ??  ?? It's got the horn! PRO!
It's got the horn! PRO!
 ??  ?? Engine looks good: PRO!
Engine looks good: PRO!
 ??  ?? Rear-end: PRO!
Rear-end: PRO!
 ??  ?? Look at that 'zorst'! PRO!
Look at that 'zorst'! PRO!
 ??  ?? Left-hand switchgear is a PRO!
Left-hand switchgear is a PRO!
 ??  ?? Rear hub: PRO!
Rear hub: PRO!
 ??  ?? Lots of history!
Lots of history!

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