Befriending the Fat Bastard (a Renovation Thread) - Kawasaki Vulcan Forum : Vulcan Forums
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post #1 of 48 (permalink) Old 04-11-2016, 11:46 PM Thread Starter
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Befriending the Fat Bastard (a Renovation Thread)

"Chuck! Do you want a bike?"

That's how the conversation started. The result is I have a '97 Vulcan 1500 sitting in my garage awaiting its license tags later this week.

The bike was free - yes, free. The owner, now in his mid 70's, had purchased the bike from the original owner about 13 years ago. Over the course of five years, he had put 2000 miles on it - not very many at all. Sometime in 2008, he decided to stop riding and parked the Vulcan.

He's cleaning up his affairs, downsizing. He had tried to sell the bike several years back; a neighbor kid showed up and took it for a ride. Three hours later, he returned. "I kind of put it through a fence", he confessed.

The front fender is bunged up a bit, along with a smallish dent in the tank and the right side mirror went missing. A little road rash on the highway bars and the edge of the windshield, along with some shallow chunks out of the front tire where barbed wire met rubber and rubber lost.

I was originally aghast at the idea someone would just "give" me a 91 inch Big Twin, but in its condition and time sitting, I didn't feel all that bad. I really like the guy and will do for him whatever he asks as repayment for his generosity.

So - this is the resurrection/renovation thread of the fattest, heaviest, largest displacement (and lowest cc to HP) bike I've ever had - the Fat Bastard.



So far, I've sprung for a new battery, some fuel system cleaner, and the few bucks a month for insurance. Both the original owner and the previous owner kept immaculate records, so I know exactly what's been done to the bike, right down to what is essentially a new air cleaner and sparkplugs. I have coolant and oil waiting for swap out.

In reading this site, I'm concerned about the oil pump gear - but one thing at a time. I'm treating this as a "near" antique - I had, sixteen years ago received another "free" bike and had great fun with it.

So - look to this thread for updates/insights/observations on something I never thought I'd have - a large displacement metric cruiser. Not that there's anything wrong with that - it just wasn't on my radar until someone uttered those fateful words...

"Chuck! do you want a bike?"
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post #2 of 48 (permalink) Old 04-12-2016, 11:28 AM Thread Starter
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I get a kick out of lighting off motors that have slept for a long time. Somewhere in my parents' photo archives is a shot of Dad and I lighting off a '46 Mercury that had sat for about 20 years. We'd pre-emptively squirted a bit of oil down each cylinder, so when it finally lit the shop was filled with thick blue oil smoke, even though the doors were wide open. That would have been around '88 or '89.

After wrestling the Fat Bastard out of the back of my '59 F100 (which is now torn apart awaiting fresh headgaskets - in my zeal to build a full race Y block, I went with OEM steel gaskets; when the motor is spun past 5 grand it pushes combustion gases into the coolant system. it woudn't be a huge issue, except the motor sounds so damned nice up there it's hard to resist twisting its tail) the old battery was removed and the new one was prepped for installation. One problem: It didn't fit. The supplier (NAPA) had incorrectly labeled the battery so it was the wrong size.

Through pure luck, the battery out of RedZook - a one owner '79 Suzuki GS850G and my daily rider - fit just fine. Twisted the key and all the lights did what lights are supposed to do. Electrical system checked out! Okay, let's roll it over a few times to hear if there's compression. Yes! Not only that, but the oil pressure light dropped out right away, a sign the bottom end and the fragile oil pump drive were intact. The bike had not been put up due to an engine issue.

The former owner had indicated he'd drained the tank, but in reality he'd filled it. He'd also told me it had over 70,000 miles, yet the clock showed 28K. Fortunately, the original owner had kept a very complete log on the bike and the 2nd owner kept every receipt for work, so the overall maintenance indicated everything was up to date - save for sitting eight years. New plugs, new air filter and an oil change occurred just before it was put up. I've only ever encountered one other bike as well prepped for sleep as this one - save for the fuel issue. The owner could not recall if he used fuel stabilizer or not. The fuel looked okay and didn't have the "old bad gas" smell my wife loves to hate.

I'm standing on the figurative doorstep to running bike nirvana, so I have to give it a try. I reasoned that a splash of fuel in the carb throat would light it off long enough to let me know the ignition system was functional, and I could listen to the motor for a few seconds. Pulled the right side air cleaner cover, splashed some fuel into the carb and spun the starter...

After a dozen or so revs...BAM! It lit off! IT RAN!!! The splash ran out and it sputtered to a stop. Emboldened, I figured I'd pull the enrichner (choke) and try again. After a couple of turns, it lit off on the old fuel! It ran like poo, but any motor which has sat for more than a year is going to run like crap unless the owner drained everything bone dry, so this didn't bother me. It was popping and cracking, occasionally spitting fire out the carb which can blow the CVK's slide diaphragm.

What did bother me was the gas smell. "Where's that smell coming from?", I wondered. Looked down a a large wet spot was forming at my feet. The carb was overflowing, puking gas on the floor of the garage. Time to shut it down and tear into the carb, secure in the knowledge the bike would run once the carb was cleaned.
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post #3 of 48 (permalink) Old 04-12-2016, 09:02 PM
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If it was mine, I'd pull the left side cover and take a look at the pump gear. If it looks like new, I'd put it back together and forget it. If the teeth are worn at all, or any cracks, no matter how small, replace it. You'll enjoy that bike, they are good ones.
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post #4 of 48 (permalink) Old 04-12-2016, 09:57 PM Thread Starter
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It's a great suggestion, and I'm sure to follow up on it!

I'd like to clock a couple hundred miles on the bike first - just to make friends. I have a whole story on blown oil pumps which I'll share at a later date. Suffice it to say I'm good at shutting a motor down before it eats itself.

The whole La-Z-Boy riding position is hard for me to get used to. Even my Harley had mid controls. That - and I like motors that wind up along with snicky gearboxes; this whole two wheeled tractor thing will take some getting used to. Hell - even my truck can wind to 7000 RPM!

That being said - I'm willing to try on the cruiser. No bike should be left to rot. I confess - I like the looks of it. The Design staff did a good job of hitting the high points of a classic cruiser with this bike. If I hung a few Genuine Harley bits on it, the Big Twin crowd would have a hard time discerning the difference. Tail light and turn sig bar may be jettisoned soon - we will see.

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Originally Posted by waldowales View Post
If it was mine, I'd pull the left side cover and take a look at the pump gear. If it looks like new, I'd put it back together and forget it. If the teeth are worn at all, or any cracks, no matter how small, replace it. You'll enjoy that bike, they are good ones.
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post #5 of 48 (permalink) Old 04-13-2016, 07:00 AM
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Love the story to this bike, kinda like my boss this past Christmas, gave me a 2001 1500 Classic for a bonus. Had a aftermarket solo seat, VH longshots, jetted carb, aftermarket cams, Harley hard bags also and he gave me a set of Harley highway lights. They still are good people in this world. Enjoy the bike as I am sure it will give you alot of good riding and memories.
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post #6 of 48 (permalink) Old 04-13-2016, 10:17 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crystal View Post
Love the story to this bike, kinda like my boss this past Christmas, gave me a 2001 1500 Classic for a bonus. Had a aftermarket solo seat, VH longshots, jetted carb, aftermarket cams, Harley hard bags also and he gave me a set of Harley highway lights. They still are good people in this world. Enjoy the bike as I am sure it will give you alot of good riding and memories.
That's pretty neat! Sounds like it's set up nice as well!
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post #7 of 48 (permalink) Old 04-13-2016, 10:32 AM
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I'd replace the POG anyway. You can do it without splitting the case, and when they do fail, it's usually without any warning at all, and it usuaslly results in a fried motor. On the one hand, they have about an 8% failure rate. On the other hand, would you board a plane if you knew it had an 8% chance of crashing? LOL

Chances are the fuel leak is from a stuck float or float needle.
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04 1500 Classic
Mustang Seat
Sissy bar, luggage rack,
light bar, 2" risers,
Isogrips, Fatbar crashbars,
offset hiway pegs, tank bib,
passenger floorboards,
new brake pedal, throttle lock,
Cobra Lowboy Shotgun pipes,
Baron's Big Air relocated right side,
tombstone tail light,forkbag,
detachable hard leather bags,
alarm, power port, clock,
and a cool cupholder
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post #8 of 48 (permalink) Old 04-13-2016, 10:47 AM
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I should also tear down the carb, clean, inspect, replace any suspect rubber parts and adjust according to Kawasaki specifications. Also, clean and inspect the tank, replace the fuel filter.

Might as well do it now as you will be doing it later.

All hydraulics will have to be flushed, for sure.

As to the POG, it just depends on how far you like to walk.
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post #9 of 48 (permalink) Old 04-13-2016, 10:48 AM Thread Starter
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I went upstairs for dinner - after shutting down the fuel supply. Can't tell you what I ate, as my head was in the carburetor the entire time. Sometimes things work out better when you get away from the problem. It occurred to me CV carbs are super sensitive to changes in the intake tract - I've worked on bikes with swapped carbies and bikes which have had the airboxes pulled in favor of pod filters. In every case, the overall rideability of the bike suffered until the jetting and needle were adjusted accordingly.

"Perhaps - just perhaps the bike will run okay with the intake tract buttoned up", was my thought. Additionally, these late model carbed bikes are jetted insanely lean in an effort to meet emissions standards. So - I headed back down to the shop for one final attempt. Buttoned up the intake tract...

For the record - this is one of the weirdest intakes I've ever seen and I've seen a few. Air gets sucked in off the hot side of the motor, makes a 90 degree turn through the air filter, then another 90 degree turn through a trapezoidal cross-pipe (more heat) and then has to make a 180 degree turn to enter the carb. It's restrictive, turbulent and adds a ton of heat to the intake charge. This will get a modification once I get a solid running baseline.

Pulled the enrichner and hit the starter. It lit - and this time, it ran halfway decent! Steady idle, would respond to the throttle (after the enrichner was pushed in) albeit with a flat spot as the throttle was cracked. To be expected on old gas and a potentially mucky carb. To my surprise, whatever caused the float to stick unstuck itself and the carbie was no longer puking gas.

Well, hell! This thing's darned near rideable! Where's my helmet?
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post #10 of 48 (permalink) Old 04-13-2016, 10:51 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PatC View Post
I'd replace the POG anyway. You can do it without splitting the case, and when they do fail, it's usually without any warning at all, and it usuaslly results in a fried motor. On the one hand, they have about an 8% failure rate. On the other hand, would you board a plane if you knew it had an 8% chance of crashing? LOL

Chances are the fuel leak is from a stuck float or float needle.
I have a whole story about a failed oil pump drive which I'll share at a later date. In the meantime, I'd like to get a couple miles on the bike just to get a feel for it.
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