Thursday, 30 May 2013

Bike on a Budget - The bike that Naomi built

Hi, I recently ordered some bits from you and read the article about the bike that Jerry built, so thought I'd write in and tell you about my motorcycle rebuild...

The start of the build

About five years ago I bought a recovered Kawasaki ZXR750 H1 from a bike breakers in Chorley for £400. I didn't expect much from the old girl as she looked well and truly battered with stripped wires, broken footrests and just generally in a very sorry state. Got it home and stripped it down, found the headgasket had gone so the engine had to be stripped ready for the head to be skimmed and new gaskets fitted...

Big bike - small yard
Then my circumstances changed, I split from my boyfriend in 2009, money was non-existent and my motorcycle had to go into storage. After that I moved round for a while trying to save a bit of money to get a place of my own, and of course, my bikes came with me. Over the next four years, I spent my time working for peanuts and collecting spares and parts for my CBR track bike and the ZXR - I managed to get a pretty good collection together.

A room with a view...and more importantly...a yard!

In 2010, I moved closer to my work and into a tiny little flat...which had ...a yard! So up went the cat shed and my bikes were finally out of storage and were with me - cause for celebration!

Then on the 31st of December 2011 I was handed my redundancy letter.  I had a small amount of compensation money from a bike accident from three years previous, everybody told me it was a stupid idea as I didn't have a job and hardly any money

... but I thought...

"SOD IT!! I'm fed up of seeing this thing in boxes!! I'm gonna build it!!"...

... So I did, mainly to keep me sane.

ZXR to the rescue

3d jigsaw
So, in a way, the ZXR came to the rescue.  It got me out of bed (which I was quite happy in, snuggled up with my cats), out of the flat and kept my mind working. So work started on the 13/1/2012 in my cats' old converted 12ft X 6ft cat house (my work area was much less as you can see from the pictures).

I had a rolling chassis to start with which I could see was straight, the forks were in great condition for the bike's age and so were its wheels.

I started emptying boxes finding parts and cleaning them up. A lot of cleaning and repairing later, it was looking bike shaped. But there was one, small, vital piece of the puzzle that was missing...the engine.

Looking a bit more like it
Unfortunately having been in storage for so long (it was stored in an old curtain sided artic trailer for over a year) the engine hadn't survived, the barrels were badly rusted and the valves were seized. Completely my own fault but I didn't expect it to be in storage for so long and I had other worries taking up my time.




A new engine had to be sourced...

'New' engine
I wanted an H2 engine as they have a few more horses than the H1. I found a guy called Mark from Wigan who was stripping his H2 and I asked about the engine. He said he'd had it running before removing it from the bike, so I went and had a look. It was at the right price so I took the engine, carbs, airbox, mph clocks (mine were kph) and a few other bits. The lump had done 41,000 miles but the price was very reasonable and I was on a budget. Mark also offered his advice, as he had an immaculate ZXR H1 himself and also said the best place to get seals and such from was Wemoto. He wasn't wrong, I lived on Wemoto during the build.

Got the engine home, carried it into my yard and put it on my tool box and stood back... I had an engine...and a HUGE grin on my face! I cleaned it up, oiled it and rotated it making sure all valves were opening and closing as they should (under orders from my dad!) and they did.
Easy peasy!



My friends told me to ask for help...


My friends told me not to fit it by myself and to ask them for help...I couldn't wait any longer so fitted it myself...after a few choice words it was in! I soon found that the H2 engine was not the only thing that was different, the oil cooler was too, so I rooted through my spares and to my utter surprise found a H2 oil cooler in with a load of spares I'd bought years earlier, I couldn't believe it, but what a mess it was in!!

Jack, master mechanic, lends a helping paw

It took me two weeks of neck ache bending each fin back and scraping out all the mud from it, I'm sure I found a bit of the Titanic in it too!! But my boy Jack, my ginger cat, was there "helping" me. My friend Darren also helped by fabricating a plate so the H2 oil cooler would fit the H1 oil cooler bracket, he also helped save me money by welding up the rear brake caliper. Skelly was also there helping to re-build my CBR600 track bike while he waited for a job, so thanks Skelly.

A well earned snooze

I get by with a little help from my cats

The old and "new" loom was laid out in my kitchen and repairs were made with "help" from my cats. Loom was fitted along with a "new" un-tested ECU. Being a H2 engine, I would also need a H2 exhaust. One was found, posted (yes, posted....a full, complete, system), cleaned up and fitted (with new exhaust gaskets from Wemoto). It was coming together, new chain and sprockets (Wemoto), new brake pads (Wemoto), brakes and clutch bled up, radiators repaired and painted, lights fitted, "new" lock set fitted, there was an electrical fault that Darren found while I was pouring new oil in with the worlds smallest funnel!!  Then one day she was ready to be started.

Cleaned, repaired, and in the right place

During this time I was looking for work and had a job interview and was offered the job. Great! as funds were running low! But I'd also noticed my seventeen year old cat Jack's health was suffering,  he had hyper-thyroidism, tumours, failing kidney's and very bad teeth and gums and he was getting weaker. He was on monthly vitamin injections and thyroid pills twice daily.
My new job was going great and Jack was defying the vet's survival odds, so the bike had to be started. I needed Jack to see it working as he'd always been there for me (as you can see on the oil cooler pics) I didn't like spending too much time out in the shed as we only lived in a poxy two roomed flat where the living room was the bedroom and I didn't want my four cats feeling left out. That's why I tried to do most of the work in the flat i.e: cleaning parts, loom repairs etc.  Jack never saw the bike complete, or heard it running, as on the 4th April 2012 about halfway through the build, his bad health caught up with him and I had to let him go. Devastated just isn't the word. But once again, the ZXR (and my friends) came to the rescue. It got me off my arse and took my mind off the void in my soul from the loss of my boy.

Getting there

Here comes the sun

About a month later me and Darren got the ZXR out in the sun for the first time and I was overwhelmed...... The tank went on and was filled with fuel, it was time. The key turned, the lights came on, choke on, starter pressed...a cough...a splutter...and she roared into life!

The first smile since April came across my face! The bike sounded pretty rough but for a first start, it was great, a good place to work from.

I didn't want it running too long for it's first time so I shut it off. We pushed it back into the shed and went out with friends for a celebration!
Is there anything missing still?

As time goes by

The days went by, the tick-over had been sorted (small air leak) and it was revving cleanly and ticking over nicely, body panels were being t-cutted and fitted, new Dunlops had been ordered (thanks Josh Murray) and the jobs list was getting smaller. While waiting for it's new boots to arrive, it was time for a test ride. So another of my friends, Leon, came over to video the moment, I was sat on a towel (I really needed to get the right fitting battery for this bike!!), it clunked into 1st gear and off down the road I went, 2nd gear...3rd gear...4th gear, it went right through the box as sweet as anything, brakes or handling weren't brilliant but they were new pads, crappy old tyres and sagging old oil in the forks. I couldn't believe it when I got back. Leon was grinning and I was laughing and crying!! Then back into the shed ready to fit her new boots and to do niggly little jobs, which included fitting a cheeky six month old, £150 hagon shock, then cleaning up and painting the swingarm to match this shiny new shock and finally fitting the right battery so I could fit the seat properly. 

The tyres came


The tyres came, so the wheels came off, along with the forks for its new fork seals (Wemoto), and off to Simon's garage in Thornton-Cleveleys, Lancashire. While these were being done, a new indicator unit and flasher unit had arrived (Wemoto), I fitted and tested it. The forks and wheels were ready, so I went and picked them up (I couldn't stop smiling all the way home!) fitted them, fitted its HUGE nose fairing, connected the front indicators, ignition on and tested all its lights...everything worked!! Luckily the sun was shining so out it went, I clothed up and out I went for a test ride before its MOT. I'd sat on it in the shed while it was on it's paddock stands and I always moaned to my friends that it's never going to happen and I'm just going to put a bloody match to it!! (thanks for stopping me Ellie and Rob)...but here I was, riding it...Its MOT booked.

The MOT!

So on the 5/7/2012 I got the motorcycle warmed and ready for its MOT, it felt weird climbing aboard the big green monster and riding it the six or seven miles through town to Simon's garage. Everything was spot on. It ran better than I would ever had imagined.  

On the way to the MOT

I thought

"Can you see this Jack?"

Simon says...

Before I knew it we were at Simon's and the keys were handed over, the sun was shining and it was a scorcher. Simon took my bike and began the MOT. I paced worse than a caged tiger!!!

Simon said in a non-informative way...

"Right ok"

 I said...


Simon said...

"Yeah, it's  passed, you've done well there" passed with no passed!!! I went straight to the post office to tax it! I went round to my biker mates, but no one was in, they were all at work. But it passed! Straight onto my mum and dad


then texting all my friends

"IT PASSED!!"    

The Hulk was born

Fully-fledged and out with friends!

So from a rolling chassis with no engine and a hell of a lot of work and repairs to be done, seven months and roughly just under £900 later, it was road legal and summer ready. The Hulk was born. With me alone having done 98% of the work. My boy never got to see it but I just hope that he can see it from where ever he is.  Thank you to all my friends for being there, my mum and dad, Wemoto, Simon's garage, E.K'S, Mark and especially to my cats!   

Good Job!

Well done Naomi - what a great job and what job satisfaction you must have looking at this beautiful finished motorcycle - thanks so much for sending us the story and glad we could help with the parts. Good luck with the next one!


1 comment:

  1. I've enjoyed this. Great little story. I'm restoring a bike too, not as big and fancy as Naomi's but probably in a much worse starting condition. Wemoto have been a godsend to me as well.