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Building the Beauty on the Beast

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  • Building the Beauty on the Beast

    I have long read posts on katriders, never thought to join, but I figured I would share the adventure unfolding before me.

    I got a beautiful '99 katana 750 off a trusted co-worker. It didn't run, but I knew from some experience with my old 05 ninja 250 that it sounded like a carb issue. Sure enough, i get it home, and over the course of 3 days of cleaning and pushing air through it, bike starts right up. Sounds great for sitting in a garage for 3 years.

    It had some bugs to work out, bled the brakes, cleaned the calipers, fixed a busted wire on my 3rd spark plug, nowshe's running smooth. Being the speed junkie I am, i buy a jet kit, tune the carbs, and I'm in business.

    Everythings going great, it's my daily driver, no problems until somebody at work backs into me. My fairings got busted up pretty good, broke my clutch handle, and back left foot peg (at the frame), and worst of all, put about a 3 inch hole in my yoshimura carbon fiber exhaust.

    I repaired what I could, the fairings were busted, the handle was cheap, but the exhaust seemed to be a total loss. Thus my adventure begins.

    I looked up my options. A new exhaust was beyond my budget, And I didn't have time to save up, so I found a way to patch it. I got some fiberglass mat and I patched it. If you know anything about fiberglass, you will find out what I still didn't know at the time, mats are more for corners, and fillers, but what I needed was fiberglass sheet.

    The mat worked,though. The bike ran fine until a little more bad luck occurred. I met my wife at our local hospital for a prenatal appointment, and they said that she was already in the beginning of labor, and we got a room. Not a problem, I'm excited. The only problem is my bike is going to be left out for a couple days. Nothing I haven't done before, but there is a massive freeze coming in 2 days, and maybe even snow for a day. Pretty rare in NC.

    I don't think of it much, there wasn't anything I could really do about it. So, after a few days, the baby is delivered, and we are free to take her home. I went to go ride home, while my wife took the van, but my bike is literally frozen. I can't even get the key in the ignition.

    I went back the next day, thankfully the ice melted. I start her up, she reluctantly runs. As I let it warm up, it starts spewing a large volume of liquids. It just keeps going. I can't find anything wrong, but it seemed that oil and gas had both overflown, and the engine was purging it. I also assumed there was probably some water/ice in the exhaust pipe, so after checking the oil levels and getting some gas, I manage to drive her home.

    My bike is really unhappy at this point, i do make it home that night, though, and pull into the garage. I see some smoke, but it was pushing a bit of smoke from the exhaust the whole time, so I wasn't too alarmed. Then I saw an orange glow coming from inside the bike. I noticed how it burned when I breathed in and realized something was terribly wrong. I quickly backed it out of the garage, popped the seat off, yanked off the tank, and saw my sludge soaked bike slowly starting to burn.

    The flames didn't seem to spread much, and in the end the damage only included my pod air filters, and a part of my wiring harness. I was lucky, the sludge that came out of, and covered my bike was a mixture of gas and oil, most of the gas, I assume, evaporated on the ride home, if it didn't, I probably wouldn't have much of a bike left.

    We can rebuild it, we have the technology...

    Now, just 2 days later, I begin my low budget rebuild project, and I'm here to take along anybody willing to read.


    Here is the current goal list for my rebuild.

    ~Looks: Custom fairings, lights, under glow, and mirrors.
    ~Fairings: Home built custom, full fiberglass, streamlined aerodynamics, while allowing proper air flow to the engine and carbs.
    ~Carbs: Clean out and tune to finished product.
    ~Exhaust: Clean off and properly patch hole OR cut hole out of exhaust pipe, wrap remains in fiberglass sheet, resulting in shortened yoshi exhaust.
    ~Weight: Remove excess weight as possible. Ex: plastic that holds battery between seat and back tire.
    ~Fabrication: Make fiberglass parts that streamline the final design. Ex: Fiberglass batter holder that is not visible from the sides.
    ~Electric: Fix the burnt wires, streamline the electric system on the bike.
    Last edited by 501Panda; 01-11-2017, 11:11 AM. Reason: Spacing
    The legend continues....

  • #2
    I have a great admiration and respect for anyone who has the knowledge and skills to do the things to a bike that you are doing. I know you will get that baby running and not missing a note.

    "A knight proves his worthiness by his deeds."


    • #3
      Day 1 and 2

      I Pulled apart my bike as far as I felt comfortable, nothing left but the engine, frame, and a rats nest of wires. I cleaned up the sludge that leaked out, and did a nice clean up on the frame, I might as well while I can reach it.

      I decided to take on my first major project, shortening the exhaust. I put duct tape around the spot I wanted out, and used a skill saw to cut through either side of it. It didn't take me long to get a 5 inch segment from the middle of the pipe. As I lined up the edges that were about to be connected, I was surprised by how little of a gap there was when aligned.

      I used a high tech method to keep the pieces lined up while I prepared the fiber glass sheet: A piece of duct tape at the seam, and a bucket under the tip of the pipe. I lathered up the pipe, wrapped it in a fiberglass sheet, and pulled as many wrinkles out as I saw. Once I was satisfied that it could dry as is, I moved onto another project.

      It was about this moment that I realized my work space was not nearly a good as I realized. I have my bike in my single car garage, in which I also have a large assortment of "stuff". I decided that if I was truly going to do this right, I needed a clean work space, so I burned about 3 hours and cleaned up my garage.

      With that done, I checked my exhaust pipe. The fiberglass hadn't fully cured, and the seam sagged down a little. I couldn't do anything about it though, I was passed the point of return, and I would just have to deal with it bright and early.

      Day 2:

      I opted to ignore the exhaust pipe and do something I enjoy quite a bit instead. I grabbed my carbs, and took them apart. Unfortunately, the spewing pipe was right above the carbs, and on the outside, they were filthy. Once I pulled them apart, I noticed that the diaphragms were pretty dirty too, which is a very bad thing. They were covered in the sludge that once covered my bike, which could definitely damage them severely.

      I took my time and gently wiped the diaphragms clean, careful not to tear them or leave any sludge behind. I moved on to the internals, which really weren't too bad. The float bowls were the worst, and I managed to knock about 2 tablespoons worth of crud out between them using a wire brush and a small nail. I then took the wire brush and a rag to the outside of the carbs to remove the sludge that so plagues my bike.

      Once the carbs were together, I wanted to test them out, so I checked on the pipe. I left it overnight, with a fan on it, and it still had a few patches that weren't cured, so I did what any impatient person would do and took my blow torch to it.

      I did a few passes from a distance, and slowly got the flame touching the pipe. There were a few small poofs of flame as I hit the uncured sections, but in just a matter of minuets, the pipe was done.

      I hooked up my carbs and gas tank, sprayed some starter fluid for good measure, and pushed the shiny red button. The bike roared to life surprisingly easily, with no sludge gushing out, even at full RPMs. The exhaust had anice little growl to it that wasn't there before, but it had a small section by the seam that had exhaust coming out. My work was not yet done.

      I took the tank and carbs off, and cut a strip of fiberglass. Once I knew exactly how I would wrap it, I put the resin on the pipe, and the wrap on the resin. I made sure the fiberglass was fully saturated and left it to cure.

      Onward toward the nightmare. The next challenge I faced was to repair the burnt wires, and remove any wires I deemed excess. But surely there's no extra wires, right?

      The best way to minimize wires on a vehicle, that I have found, is to run a positive cable from the front to back as an electric backbone, and ground the negative terminal on the chassis. Doing this, I can run a light by connecting the positive side to the backbone, and grounding the negative end on the chassis, putting any fuses and resistors along the positive wire.

      This is not close to how my Katana is currently wired, but it's about to be. Before I can begin cleaning up the rats nest, I have to undo all the tape that keeps the wire clumps together. Once I was done, I must have had about a quarter mile of electrical tape on the floor.

      I set a ground on the back of the bike, near where the tail light and rear blinkers are going to be, traced the negtive wires, and pulled them out. I took the license plate light, which was burnt out, followed the wires, and snipped them too(I left the orange-ish one with a good bit of wire, it seems important). The tail wires seem to be pretty neat, for now, so I moved on to the center cluster of wires.

      this is where the fire was in my bike, so I was initially expecting the wire harness to be mostly lost, but after looking at it, only the wires to the TPS (going into the carb) were scorched bad. I had to make a few cuts, splice some wires, and tape it all together, but in the end it didn't look too bad, and it worked.

      There isn't too much more I can do here, most of these wires run up to the front of the bike, and most of what doesn't goes to important things like the starter motor, or the rectifier. But there was one thing I was determined to get rid of.

      There's this little button that gets pressed when your kick stand is up, and if it isn't pressed, your bike will not start in gear, or, whats happened to me a few times, my heel hit my kickstand in a nice turn, and my bike shut off. That was not a happy moment, and it just seemed to keep happening. I traced wires, and checked to see if I could bypass it by cutting the 2 wires, and connecting them. It works!

      I tried something else, I grounded the positive wire, to see if it would make a complete circuit, and to my pleasure, this also worked. Off with one more wire.

      Here's the total cost so far, after fiberglass, resin, paint, LOTS of wires, wire connectors, and a power terminal, I'm sitting just south of $100.

      I shouldn't NEED to buy too much more, But I'm thinking of adding an LED tail light, headlights from an 06 R1, and digital displays for the dash board. The headlight is cheap enough, the digital displays are pretty pricey, so we will see.

      Anyways, more tomorrow.
      The legend continues....


      • #4

        Sounds like you've got a fun project! I need to start in fiberglass so I can make speaker mounts for my old dodge car.
        Last edited by derdmn; 02-15-2017, 11:30 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
        1988 GSX1100FJ
        Instagram @derdmn
        1976 Dodge Aspen 225 slant six
        2013 Chevy Equinox 2.3 EcoTec (plans for turbo system)