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Old 11-29-2012, 07:31 PM   #1
panzerfahre
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Default Fix it or sell it

Guys,

I have a 1996 Vulcan 1500 D with 72,000 +/-.

The situation:
I need to rebuild my forks and replace the valve cover gasket.
I am not a mechanic. I have a fair selection of tools and can serve as a basic parts-changer on most cars.

Replacing the valve cover gasket will cost $7-800 at the local Kowie dealer. My understanding is that the engine has to be pulled to clear the frame.
I have no idea what goes into rebuilding the forks -- that was to be my first foray into learning how to work on this bike.

I need to know how big of job - complicated and time consuming - pulling the motor to do the valve cover gasket is.

I am not sure that paying to have it done is worth it for this bike. If I put $800 to 1,200 into the bike and ride it for another season, I have a ride worth about $1,800 with roughly 85,000 miles and more things to fix.

So I need to either do this myself or sell the bike to someone that can do it themselves.

Tips, advice and tricks would be appreciated.

p
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Old 11-29-2012, 08:23 PM   #2
rick
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Havent really rebuilt my forks. but did install new progressive springs and change the oil 2 summers ago. Piece of cake. The valve covers shouldnt be to difficult. The manual says I have to remove the motor to do a valve adjustment on mine, but can be done in the frame. The rear cover is a tight fit, but will come out. This is on an 800, so may be a bit different. Even so, the motor isnt that hard to remove if you have to. If as you say, your a capable parts changer, you should be able to handle this yourself. You'll get to know your bike better, and have the pride that you did it yourself.
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Old 11-29-2012, 09:58 PM   #3
sfair
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Any grinding or jumping out of second gear?

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Old 11-29-2012, 10:12 PM   #4
panzerfahre
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sfair View Post
Any grinding or jumping out of second gear?

Post back.
Great question. I get a strange surging in first. At about 20 mph in first, it sometimes feels like the transmission disengages and reengages.

Occasionally there is a little grinding on both sides of second gear. I just figured I need a clutch within the next year.

p
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Old 11-29-2012, 10:36 PM   #5
The Heater
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Hello, Panzerfahre:

Pulling an engine in most large displacement motorcycles is a tough job for the homeowner who is not set up to do it. At a minimum you will need to build a jig out of wood to hold part of the bike in place while you drop the engine out of the bottom of the bike, or in some cases, slide it out the side (using an ATV type of jack or some other jerry-rigged set up). That is a lot of money to pay a shop to do it, however.

The question you have to ask yourself is: do I have the disposable time to spend on this project, including hidden or unexpected issues that may substantially increase my forecast of time required to finish it? (and can you just let it sit part way disassembled if you don't have time part way through the project?). OK, that is two questions. Sorry.

On the forks, this is what I would STRONGLY recommend: call Race Tech. You can Bing or Google them and get the number for them in California, call and ask where the nearest Race Tech shop is to your location. They are all over, some in garages of guys' homes. Also ask them if they can rebuild your forks. I think they probably will say they can. When you rebuild them through Race Tech, they can put in the correct springs for your body weight and change the valving if you wanted a more controlled front end for better feel. On the other hand, they could make them feel mushier if that is what you want. I personally like a firm feel for going through turns and for braking. This is also controlled by the compression and rebound damping, which again can be modified by them to suit your riding style and body weight (and any extra weight you carry on the bike).

You will have to remove them, and to do that you have to jack up the front of the bike at the front of the frame and take off the brakes, fender, etc. and then remove the forks from the triple tree. I would mark where the forks were placed in the triple tree on the tops of the fork tubes before removal, using masking tape to show the exact location, or use a Sharpie and make a line. You can remove the marker ink with a solvent like Acetone or Toluene (I prefer Toluene).

Yes, I have used Race Tech to rebuild both front forks and the rear shock on a motorcycle. The results were very dramatic. They changed the valving and the springs to match how I rode the bike and for my body weight. I also have used Lindemann Engineering (also in CA) to rebuild front forks on another bike, and they came out so good, the handling of the bike was about 500% better than it was before. I had real mushy forks before that work was done.

Last edited by The Heater; 11-29-2012 at 10:39 PM.
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Old 11-29-2012, 10:48 PM   #6
panzerfahre
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Heater View Post
Pulling an engine in most large displacement motorcycles is a tough job for the homeowner who is not set up to do it. At a minimum you will need to build a jig out of wood to hold part of the bike in place while you drop the engine out of the bottom of the bike, or in some cases, slide it out the side (using an ATV type of jack or some other jerry-rigged set up). That is a lot of money to pay a shop to do it, however.
That is one of my concerns. If buying the tools costs more than paying for the repair -- it doesn't help me.


Quote:
Originally Posted by The Heater View Post
The question you have to ask yourself is: do I have the disposable time to spend on this project, including hidden or unexpected issues that may substantially increase my forecast of time required to finish it?
Great question. Honestly, I am in law school. I have the break between semesters. I can handle the expense -- I am trying to decide if it is worth the expense. If I'm at the point where there is no recovering investment, I'll just go buy a new bike. I think I'm leaning that way.


Quote:
Originally Posted by The Heater View Post
(and can you just let it sit part way disassembled if you don't have time part way through the project?). OK, that is two questions. Sorry.
I have the space -- but it means the bike will be disassembled in my wood shop.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Heater View Post
On the forks, this is what I would STRONGLY recommend: call Race Tech. You can Bing or Google them and get the number for them in California, call and ask where the nearest Race Tech shop is to your location. They are all over, some in garages of guys' homes. Also ask them if they can rebuild your forks. I think they probably will say they can. When you rebuild them through Race Tech, they can put in the correct springs for your body weight and change the valving if you wanted a more controlled front end for better feel. On the other hand, they could make them feel mushier if that is what you want. I personally like a firm feel for going through turns and for braking. This is also controlled by the compression and rebound damping, which again can be modified by them to suit your riding style and body weight (and any extra weight you carry on the bike).

You will have to remove them, and to do that you have to jack up the front of the bike at the front of the frame and take off the brakes, fender, etc. and then remove the forks from the triple tree. I would mark where the forks were placed in the triple tree on the tops of the fork tubes before removal, using masking tape to show the exact location, or use a Sharpie and make a line. You can remove the marker ink with a solvent like Acetone or Toluene (I prefer Toluene).

Yes, I have used Race Tech to rebuild both front forks and the rear shock on a motorcycle. The results were very dramatic. They changed the valving and the springs to match how I rode the bike and for my body weight. I also have used Lindemann Engineering (also in CA) to rebuild front forks on another bike, and they came out so good, the handling of the bike was about 500% better than it was before. I had real mushy forks before that work was done.
A rider friend of mine said there is a small shop on the other side of town that works on metrics. I plan to visit with them later this month.

p
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Old 11-30-2012, 07:42 AM   #7
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If you are leaning toward getting a new bike anyway and can afford to not sale this one to get it, then why not try it. The only way you will learn to wrench on a bike is to do it. I still have a lot I can learn but I have also learned a lot by just jumping in there and fixing it. The experience is worth it. And after you figure out how to do it once. The next time will be MUCH faster (or usually is for me).
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Old 11-30-2012, 09:24 AM   #8
sfair
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Second gear issues could be the deal breaker here as you will need both second drive and driven gears and a shifting fork, at minimum. You would have to check and see if the parts are still available and the job should be done if the engine is out.
And if the engine is out for the transmission, it should be at least freshened up......

The tricky part is to kmow when to fish and when to cut bait.
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Old 12-04-2012, 07:39 PM   #9
vulcanfun
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The rocker cover gaskets are 6 or 7 dollars each. A nice motorcycle jack from harbor freight which is all you need to pull a motor is 120 dollars or so. You will need a decent set of metric sockets with wrench (3/8 is good), a metric wrench set, metric hex keys, 2 or 3 philips and 1 or 2 standard screw drivers, a decent torque wrench, an ice pick or awl of some sort, a dead blow hammer helps. All that stuff is maybe 200 dollars. Get a good manual and get going. And by the way you shouldn`t have to actually fully remove the motor to re-gasket either of the rocker covers just pull the front mounting bolt and side of the frame while the jack hols the motor and lower it until you can remove the cover. All I`m saying is an old bike that has little value is a learning oppertunity far cheaper than going to mechanic school and fun too.
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Old 12-04-2012, 07:55 PM   #10
panzerfahre
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vulcanfun View Post
The rocker cover gaskets are 6 or 7 dollars each. A nice motorcycle jack from harbor freight which is all you need to pull a motor is 120 dollars or so. You will need a decent set of metric sockets with wrench (3/8 is good), a metric wrench set, metric hex keys, 2 or 3 philips and 1 or 2 standard screw drivers, a decent torque wrench, an ice pick or awl of some sort, a dead blow hammer helps. All that stuff is maybe 200 dollars. Get a good manual and get going. And by the way you shouldn`t have to actually fully remove the motor to re-gasket either of the rocker covers just pull the front mounting bolt and side of the frame while the jack hols the motor and lower it until you can remove the cover. All I`m saying is an old bike that has little value is a learning oppertunity far cheaper than going to mechanic school and fun too.
Thank you. That is definitely going to be cheaper and easier than fighting with the wife for a new ride with 1.5 years of school left.
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