Yamaha RDLC... 
                       ...A restoration!

Never say ‘never’... No really....! Ok, that’s a cliche for sure, but every time I open my big mouth and say I categorically will NOT do something, I end up eating my words. This project is no exception...

Remember this bike?

(if you don’t you should read about it here - RDLC 421)

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So... this is where I am at for now, stop by and check out the progress going forward.....

Next order was a set of full footrests, throttle cable, handlebar switches, brakes shoes and a bunch of other things in the form of OEM Yamaha ‘goodness’, mostly from an ebay seller in Malaysia who has very very good prices and fast post. I know that I will need to add substantially to this pile before the build is done, but this is a good start.

I found a set of Hytech reeds in ported cages in the UK and got them sent over, they may not be sexy like vforce or anything but they will be fine for this bike as they look standard, plus they are exactly what we would have done back in the day, I even have some old Hy-tech stickers in my drawer that I may fit! ...then again...!

These will be run with 31K carbs I had from the original parts I bought to convert the F1 to 350. They look close enough to 4L0s and offer a slight upgrade over those.

Side panels... how many colours can you have? I was worried when I got these, they were hand painted in gloss white house paint that had yellowed with ingrained dirt in the brushstrokes, plus it was laid on so thick that it was chipping off. The sort of panels you wouldn't pay much for and don’t have high hopes for anything good underneath. I actually stopped myself giving them away to a guy who came round a while back as they didn’t speak well of any kind of friendly gesture.

There was a kaleidoscope of colours under the off white and the blue was actually nice, very metal flakey in real life, more than the pic suggests. But after a lot of effort they came out very nice and bizarrely these panels had no cracks whatsoever, even after all their lives!

Next to arrive was this! I bet you have not seen one of these since you were thin, had more hair, less money and felt that you time to kill?

Speedometer from the infamous Salty The Cat that was in good condition only missing its reset knob, which of course are NLA now, hence why it was missing I suppose. I pulled one off an old RZ unit.

The Tacho came from the same local-boy Paul who swapped with a spare I had with a faded red portion of the dial as he wanted to put white dial stickers on his build.

And yes it was almost ready for the road.... but... it’s going to come apart!

Yeah, that's crazy on the face of it*, but somewhat sensible once you dig a little deeper. Over the past few years values of LCs have gone up in Aus. That’s not in itself an issue, but the problem I found is that the frame I used for the 421cc build also had the original matching numbers motor stored in a box in my garage and it was beginning to make total sense to re-unite those two items and build a restored LC, while at the same time not at all affecting the value of the yellow 421 as its very much removed from standard and the random frame number isn't an issue as it has RZ cases of course. So, with that in mind I always said that if I could find another complied frame for sensible money that I would swap the parts over onto a loose frame and build a standard(-ish) LC with the matching numbers parts.

* I actually had a number of posts and PM’s on the forums from people who were very worried that I would ruin my yellow 421, rest assured people, the LC isn’t about to be lost forever, it’s just taking a(nother) short hiatus before completion.

Over the years I had a few aborted attempts at finding a nice LC frame; the first was bent, another was too expensive and another had all its lugs cut off for a nasty cafe racer conversion that the seller lost interest in (go figure!? haha!). Downunder most people won’t sell a frame on its own and I don’t need the rest of the bike. So finding one can take a while... I sat back and let the searches drop in... I waited and I waited... That all changed when a local lad offered for sale a complete LC in pieces as he was breaking it up. All good so far, and nice for him and I wished him well, until I realised that he was located about 20 minutes from my house. He was offering most things, including the frame... hmm.... yes, the frame....

I dropped over to check out the parts and on the seller's driveway was his Mars Bar LC... oh my giddy aunt! I now want to own one of those... While I’m not a fan of gold, the black, red coupled with said gold really exude class. Damn.... I don’t think I had ever seen a mars bar in the metal before then, it’s quite something really. Of course, we didn’t get that colour here in Aus, we only ever got the white versions, so if I paint my bike as a Mars bar it won’t be original. Decisions, decisions...

Long story short the seller, lets call him 'Paul' since it’s his name, and I did a deal on his frame and some other bits for when he had swapped the parts around on his mar bar LC, as he is using the matching numbers frame and motor from the bike that he was selling, so I’m getting the unloved frame from his LC for my 421. Everybody wins, perfect. Ive just had to wait until he was done. Exciting!

Ok... So... Yes... I did say a couple of things to people over the past few years:

1, I will never build a standard LC, I prefer modified bikes and the LC has spindly forks and thin rubber

2, I would never build a motor on the LC cases with LC cylinders, its old technology

3, If i ever do a standard looking LC I will do it white with blue stripes

4, I wont build any more LC/RZ motors, Ive done enough over the years

To all those people I have to admit it looks like I lied... yeah, sucks to be me... sorry.... I, er, guess...

The plan was for Paul to strip his 'new' frame down and get it ready for coating and then I would help him move all the parts from one frame to another, it’s a ton of work to rebuild one but you can rip an LC in bits quickly enough, and it’s also good practice for me doing it to my 421 so I can only think my bikes win in the end, and in fact I’m quite looking forward to it! Another friend also offered to come and help me do my 421 swap over, so what goes around comes around, gotta love karma.

As soon as I got home from Paul’s place I started going through all my boxes of parts and dig out a bunch of LC goodies that I was originally thinking of selling, but now needed to keep. I had actually sold off and given away a bunch of them over the preceding few months but that now had to stop and I began sourcing replacements for those that had gone.

I quickly tracked down a bunch of new/nos parts including; foot rests, switchgear, throttle cable, headlight with bezel. Yes you read that right, I said a nos headlight with bezel! eeek! That is the sort of find that makes you want to do a really clean nos resto bike... I had to resist that urge, few afford to get caught up in the details of things like green passivating original headed bolts!

While this project wont be done fast (few of my projects are of course!), this should be a nice bike when done. Question is... will it be white or black? Read on...

The tacho needed a through dismantle and clean including the temp needle repainting. The eagled eyed amongst you will have noticed that the two needles don’t match exactly as the rev needle has faded, but many nos units look like this now as the plastic changes colour over the years. I decided to leave it as it was as it matches speedo, so I felt doing it like this was the way to go. The bezel was lightly dented and the body was also cracked plus the tabs were missing from the sides... I didn't notice any of that when I picked it up due to the overwhelming desire for an original red rev range dial, hmmm. I will clean up and size / drill the new mounts when I build up the dash with new cases.

Yes, that’s a NOS headlight in the original box; a bit special!

Turns out it was from a totally cool guy with a collection of amazing bikes and a bunch of the rarer NOS parts.

I was blown away by this find, and in Aus too. I mean, when was the last time anyone sold a NOS headlight and bezel? And he actually had two of them...

Sometimes you get lucky, it’s not often with LC stuff as so many guys are looking for it, but when it does work out its very special indeed!

At this point I got a lot of emails from people who love the yellow LC421 and were worried it would die and never come back from this deviation into building a restored LC. This made me soul search and in answer to some of those questions about the sense of the work, I crafted this:

I dont know if my affliction with Yamaha's parallel twins is sensible or not, but I do know its filling my garage! I keep saying 'no more' and then something happens and I embark on yet another build... hmm... But, I will say that I reckon I have the right set (let’s not call them a collection it might send the wrong idea!) of them now; Two each of LC and RZ, one highly modified and one standard(-ish) of each. Who knows if i can keep ultimately them all, but I love having them around, if only I could find a cheap way to rego them so they get ridden, maybe the standard-ish bikes will go on Historic rego, that’s a cheaper version of the road registration but limits you to club runs and local ‘testing’ without more effort, enough to have fun but not use them daily etc) and at least can get road tested now and then, even if not able to be ridden 100's of kms.

We also didn’t get the Mars Bar colours here in Aus, and agree that these days such a deviation from original is not a worry. If these were $100k+ machines I might seek out the original colours and get all excited to 'be all original', but at 'around 10k' I reckon we don’t need to worry, so long as they look good they will be fine, it’s not like we can’t get paint or stickers if someone wanted to redo it at a later date, tho how they might work out the original colour would be hard I reckon as no paperwork seems to be evident for our machines and I doubt Yamaha Aus knows either, not that I’ve asked, but I guess it was either blue or red decals on white tank for our market, denoting 250 (red) and 350 (blue). The year would dictate the actual decal type, so maybe its simpler than I thought.

As for building more than one of the same type of bike - Experience tells me that if you’ve built one of something that the subsequent builds of the same type are often easier and often quicker and potentially cheaper. I say that as youve already made the contacts, found manuals, garnered knowledge and often already have a bunch of parts left over from the first one, plus you don’t over buy cool shiny parts that wont actually work LOL! My experience is that if you decide to tackle some other brand and/or model it can be very tough. I was talking to a local lad about this as he is rebuilding a bike for a work colleague and was struggling as it was a totally different bike in every way to his normal crop of builds (it’s some sort of mid 70s 4cyl 4T Honda roadie) and that meant learning, getting manuals, making mistakes getting parts etc etc and he was drowning in the project a little, poor sod. I remember it took me 5 years to skill up and find all the parts to build my Honda XL500R as it was a one year bike, and I had a whole bike to start with, it was just missing some parts and needed tidying. It was not that much fun to be honest, and I later found the XT500 to be a much better proposition as I knew where to buy Yam parts, grab some manuals and then just needed to learn the XT specific things, join another forum and pretend I understood 4Ts...

So, while I’m not sure I can build and LC in my sleep, I will say that starting with a bare frame and little cash is no longer a worry for me; I always see opportunity in bare frames now and would happily buy more. I also recognise what parts fit what bikes and what parts I need without much recourse to manuals now which helps and have some of the tools I need so can make things happen quite quickly when I have to. I think all that helps and I see the same traits in others who also have a few of these bikes in their stable. In fact visiting those guys can be quite an odyssey as a 30mins visit always last all day with boxes being pulled out and rare and exciting parts being fawned over. Perfect for the afflicted of course!

Back on with the build....

I pulled my LC tank down from the rafters of my garage. I have some history with this one, I bought it sold it and ended up with it back again over the past 4 years or so. Back when I first acquired it they sold for about $100-150 in ok condition, that would be a bargain now... and this one looks great from one side...

(it’s covered in about 3 years of dust in this pic )

....but the other had a nasty dent it in.

These days a tank in this condition would be significantly more that what I originally paid and luckily a few months back I managed to reacquire it for what I sold it for, phew! The bizarrity is that it never left my garage as the new owner never collected it, so I cheekily offered to charge storage if the price went up too much! During its tenure hanging from my rafters it constantly drew admiring glances from visitors and could have been on sold many times but due to the fact that it wasn’t mine it remained a permanent fixture. With this project now happening, I'm glad that it did! It's actually a very original tank with OEM paint and no repairs underneath. Amazing really.

The paint is actually original and it would have been quite usable except for that horrible dent, though for some reason it has been lined but I can see no reason why in fact as there are no pin holes or obvious signs of any leaks (no paint discoloration or lifting) on the seams. Perhaps a PO lined it ‘in case it leaked’? Obviously the liner was fitted before the dent happened and is now chipping off on the inside where it’s been stress cracked due to the metal being pushed in. It all needs to come out anyway and be redone as there is very light surface rust on the exposed metal as you would expect.

Primer off and you can see the dent a bit clearer. It looks to have been made with something quite solid and rectangular a done in a single hit. nasty.

I had hoped I might find enough tools in my garage that would allow me to gently push and pull the dent outwards as its so close to the filler, but the filler neck baffle was in the way for the area furthest away. I tried gluing some tabs on and using a slide hammer and that worked a bit and coupled with the pressing out from the inside I’ve made it better. I didn't expect to do a full PDR on this as the metal is obviously stretched and the idea was to save myself a bit of money as all the painter now only needs to do is skim it with filler rather than pull it first, tho they might get a little more out than I did, but it won’t take quite as long and at least I can use any painter to do the work, rather that one who also can do dent removal of course.

So, yes, it's still not pretty but it is better and I've probably gained 250ml of fuel capacity!

I found a center stand and this rare uncut tray/number plate holder. After a wash in the dishwasher and some brake fluid to eat off some blue overspray and then a clean up with Autogylms finest, ie. Their Rubber and Vinyl Care we have this beauty:

Interestingly it’s very hard to find an uncut number plate holder in most countries, apart from Canada where they were a different two-piece unit anyway. Back in the day they were chopped up as young lads (like many of those reading this) sought to 1, make their bikes faster by reducing weight, 2, put their own stamp on their machines. This means there are lots of ‘modified’ (chopped up) parts out there, and few of the ‘as they came out of the factory’ units of certain items, mudguards, number plate holders and rear subframes being the most sought after for LCs.

Thinking about this now, it’s mental really how the first thing we did back in the day was to modify these bikes (the cheapest way possible a lot of the time) and yet now we all want them to be as they came off the shop floor. So, Why do we do it?

When I was growing up in the UK and back when LCs first hit the shops the very first owner of any example of the new market beating, and ultimately law changing, LC rode either from the bike shop directly to a tuner or went home via the newsagent to pick up an MCN or Bike magazine and from the small ads bought a range of ‘go faster’ products. Perhaps with an Allspeed or Micron pipe, a set of HyTech reeds, natty coloured grips, or a (questionably) tasteful seat cover. We also randomly decorated our bikes with stickers from the products we fitted, EBC brakes were a firm favourite, and ditched superfluous weight like center stands, tool trays and coil covers and set about cutting down the mudguards and indicator brackets to get the coveted 'racey look'. This mild customising made them our own and no two LCs were were completely the same, there was never any doubt which was your bike outside the chippy and you would instantly recognise your mates round town. While the richer lads could afford clever paint jobs and engine work the rest of us made do with mere randomly fitted stickers (once we found that they covered scratches well) and liberated a set of our Dad’s old files to attempt MCN’s '£35 porting guide'. In fact I can clearly remember a time when all our hard earned money from those dead end first jobs either went on HP for the bike or on goodies for it... and beer, chips and birds of course (not always in that order!), but I digress...

So why on earth are the most sought after parts today all those parts that we cut down and trashed back in the day? Well It's because we seem to think that what will make our lives complete is to build an LC as it came from the factory. But, hold on... Isn’t that nuts? We didn’t ever keep a one standard back in the day, why do we need to build one now? Are we atoning for our sins at messing with uncle Yamaha’s beautifully designed product back in the day, if so isn’t this actually some kind hell that we envisaged when we were in our late teens and early twenties?

I will admit that I don’t get it, yet I'm part of it... I know, and you know, it’s not right, but... Well, a standard LC looks great. It's one of the most iconic designs of the biking world and filled our heads during our dreams both day and night back in the day as we read and re-read the sales brochures pinned to the walls of our bedrooms. Yamaha got it very right when building our bikes, the design has endured as long as the legend, and shows no signs of abating. So that’s all good. But, standard... C’mon lads... Why?

I mean, I see a standard LC and my head spins and I start thinking, “ohh a set of ‘spannies, port work, a nip 'n tuck here 'n there and maybe some garish stickers and I could enjoy that...” Yet I sit for hours on end perusing online sales and auction sites looking for standard parts and I'm visiting mates and asking if they’ve seen a (insert uncut hard to find part) in their spares boxes. I mean, that’s just silly... made worse when you don’t even see some of these parts when the bike is built!

But... I know all this, yet I (like many others) will still build a pretty standard LC. Crazy perhaps, but don’t judge me until you’ve ridden in my adidas. I can only assume I feel the need as I don’t really remember what one is like, I never rode one for more than a day or so... Damn, I really hope it’s not boring...

As if to back up the fact that a restoration can get out of control, the next thing I found was a NOS seat cover from the UK. These things are not cheap as they are nigh on impossible to find now sadly, so you’ve just got to grab them when you are offered. So, that’s what I did and I started a slippery slope of NOS purchasing which plays out as you read on down this page. This sort of thing takes a rebuild into the realms of Restoration with a capital R. The costs escalate, the bike looks amazing, but tracking down parts and getting things right becomes all encompassing. Be very wary if you consider this route.

I got a text from a local lad... In itself that’s not strange, its pretty normal in many ways... The content was the issue; He was spending my money!

Yeah... Usually I spend his! Sending him all sorts of good value parts and deals I’ve seen, but today the bugger was beating me at my own game... He had found me a set of barrels and head for an LC350 on standard bore and about 25mins from my house. Good lad!

And it looks like my thoughts on engine size are now crystalised for this build... It’s going to be a 350. I do have a set of 250 barrels and was wondering about sending them for a fahron conversion, but it seems like a decision has been made; 350 it is!

Ive already got the ported reed cages and carbon reeds, I just need the carbs, manifolds and rubbers and I’ve a working system as Ive got a fully rebuilt airbox already that came from my 421 since I couldn’t use it with the bigger (34mm) carbs that bike has. Also have a new OEM throttle cable and Arrow will work his magic on my spare 350 oil pump, so it seems like I’ve most of the parts... Just got to get my crank checked over and some pipes...

A few more nice things that I’ve ordered arrived for this bike.... a few more of them are NOS OEM parts too:

- Rear sprocket – suits my 250 wheel (different bolt pattern to the 350) and with a 17T front sprocket will be pretty much the ratio of the 350.

- meter covers – not really NOS, more ‘new’ but needed to complete that ‘what you touch and see has to feel new’ effect

- Master cylinder – I tracked down a 250 1/2” unit which people say they like on the 350, which should have a 5/8. We’ll see.

- Key set – Again not really NOS, but its great to know I've got a new OEM Ignition, also comes with seat lock and fuel cap (plastic of course)

I've also grabbed a few other small items along the way, small things of no real consequence, but needed all the same... but I was really enjoying seraching out the new and NOS OEM stuff so this build was gradually racking up some quite rare parts.

Next job... this time its the wheels

Pretty horrible ‘as found’ (hanging in my shed, bought to save them from the scrap man about 2 years back)


Amusingly this being a 250 wheel the paint on the non-disk side was very solid and not as faded as the other. Brake dust is nasty stuff and remember back in the day it contained all sorts of nasties, and probably still does, the medical profession just hasn’t identified them as nasty yet. Anyway, compared to the rear wheel the paint was decidedly average, so it was time to get busy...

(For those who don’t know, the 250 only had a front disk on one side, the other had a blanking plate that covered the holes. The actual wheel is the same part between the two bikes)

First it was back to cleaning with the ‘big toothbrush’ device using a ‘pro prep’ type degreaser... not only to remove the polish but this time to get into every crevice and fold to get the last of the dirt out. I also used some wire wool to remove the last of the bigger dirt and also any oxididation, plus provide a gentle key in places on the old paint. The wire wool was particularly good for removing the ingrained dirt on the ‘polished’ Italic parts as it does not remove the machining marks, just cleans them up. I would absolutely advise that if you have some to clean up.

I wiped everything down one last time and started masking... I usually hate masking up wheels, if you just have a roll of masking tape then it can take hours and hours... but I had a new plan... Go a bit more ‘pro’...

One of the great things about the internet is that plenty of pro masking tape is available on there and you don’t have to look like a fool trying to find a paint supplies place the other side of the city who will be unhelpful and sigh when they realise youre not a pro... Yeah we’ve all been to those places. Anyway, I picked up some 6mm wide line tape a while back for painting something else and it came in handy for the Italics on these wheels as its about the right width and the (minimal) overhang isn’t an issue as you mist enough paint around these areas. The pro lining tape is also flexible enough (it’s plastic like electrical tape) to conform to most shapes and curves and goes onto the rims edges well too. Masking was a much quicker process with this tape compared to how I did wheels previously. I would say it saved 30mins+ per wheel, halving the job – I have mentioned before how time consuming wheels can be haven’t I? FWIW a roll of tape is 55m, an LC wheel uses about a quarter of a roll. Obviously once the spokes and rim edge were done with the good stuff then good old cheapo masking tape was used to cover the rest of the polished rim and the other parts that did not need to be painted.

For paint I used a simple satin rattlecan (White Knight Squirts for those who always ask) from the local hardware store. I did a couple of coats and in this case they sit on top of the solid OEM paint that’s squeaky clean with very minimal marks in that coat, it’s just faded. So these layers keyed in well and I’m not worried about it flaking off as the surface on the wheels is not even or flat. The beauty of this type of paint is that you can easily clean up with thinners and dries very quickly, and re-coating is simple if it’s needed. While I wouldn’t deliberately drip solvents on them I’ve found that once fully dry that they can be quite safe with fuel and brake fluid if wiped up and not left to stand, but few paints survive brake fluid anyway. I’ve actually found paints of this price range from the hardware stores to be very good, they dry well and do not chip like the cheapo rattlecan stuff that everyone moans about and if you need to you can match them later you can with another from a different batch. Ok, sure it’s not ‘pro’, but I’m not riding through salt and leaving my bikes in the sun for years on end and costs are minimal, half a can will easily do a wheel and I would use a clear primer if you can find it, that way when you clean up the edges you wont see a grey line smear.

A simple wash and a run round of sandpaper on the rim, cleaner but highlights some minimal (I’ve seen much worse!) marks :

Marks, dents and scratches removed:

With the paint on and almost dry the tape was pulled off and it came of very cleanly leaving a neat edge, that’s what you pay for with this pro stuff LOL.

Only the tiniest amount of cleaning up with a small (inch square) cleaning pad of thinners had the rim edge overspray (minimal in this case but (you can see a little bit at about 10 o'clock and 3 o'clock in the pic below where the masking tape didnt stick perfectly on the polished edge) and the overspray on the disk faces that I forgot to mask very quickly sorted (not in the pic, I did that after) – one of the reasons you do this when the paint is still quite fresh, it cleans up much better than when its set hard. I used the same small square of pad with an edge and my finger to gently tidy the edge of the paint to the polish, this smooths out any small deviations (there are no bleeds with the pro taping if you press it down properly) that you did when laying down the edge as its notoriously difficult to run the tape round that concave bevel.

(not much difference, but up close you can tell... Not that anyone gets up close to a wheel very often!)

I wish I had done a pic of the same wheel at that point before i started really... it would be quite a difference... 

I will run the wheel back thru the balancer to give it another coat of polish to protect the rims and also clean up the bosses on the brake disks. Ive since noticed that some of these are black and some are left in bare alloy in photos of original bikes and brochures, perhaps its a 250 vs 350 thing due to the lack of disk on one side. I will lightly sand and grain them on the balancer like I did the rims as I think that will look good, if that is not right I can always paint later of course.

So... the original plan was to paint the front wheel and keep the rear OEM with its good original paint. But you probably all knew I was having a laugh really, no sooner had I pulled off the tape on the front wheel than I could instantly see the rear now looked like a shoddy mess... Well, not that bad, but it looked like it needed doing... So, of course, I got on and did it...

So all up... Two wheels... Cleaned, dents and marks removed, inner edges cleaned, polished rims and paint... About 15 solid hours of work, and believe me - that’s quick...! probably because I’ve done wheels before, I used a power tool to do the rim edges, the balancer to spin them and decent line masking tape for the paint. If you’ve done the same job quicker with the same results, fair play to you. If you read this and think you can do it quicker and still get the same results, give it a go... I’d love to think you are right

While idly perusing ebay I found a wrecker selling a loom... Hmm... I was tempted but... it was in a bag and there was just the one photo... of the bag. Sigh. I've bought used looms before.... Sadly most looms in Aus are really shot on our bikes as the sun here eats the connectors plus we Aussies use our transport to death so often looms have been cut n shut a few times to fix faults by now.... but when I enquired, he said it was ‘very good’. Hmmm.... again...

It was cheap, so I bought it... and you could knock me down with a feather, he was true to his word! Cooool!

This is what arrived:

A gentle run thru the ultrasonic cleaner with some pro prep in it and a wipe over with Armorall and I now have this:

Ok, yes it's a bit grubby, and would need a clean up.

The fusebox had seen better days with the connectors pulled out, but none were broken or overheated. It was missing its lid, luckily I have a few spares.

I rebuilt the fuse box after cleaning the plastic parts with more armorall, it just works so well on this stuff.

So, was it perfect? well no... but its 35 years old! In fact there were only two issues with the loom, one brown wire had broken off at the near the tail-light connector, probably snapped when something was pulled off and also the damage shown below, where the loom has been trapped in something, easily fixed with some white electrical tape as the wire is intact.

Actually all the connectors are very nice on this unit and the wires themselves have not oxidised like those looms you get when bikes have been left in the wet.

As you can imagine, this purchase has saved me a headache with an aftermarket loom like I used on my LC421, or the other choice which is to dig deep and pay the seriously wallet lightening prices for NOS, as those were still available when I was doing this work.

So, I’m naturally very happy indeed, and proof that not everything on ebay sucks!

I picked up another seat as part of a job lot of parts, this meant I could finally see how much of the original tang had been broken off (more like been sawn off I think looking at the damage) the seat I had earmarked for this project. The ‘new-to-me’ seat which was in better condition is now for sale since I knew I could repair this one and be happy with it, but not everyone feels like that about repairs so the other one will be the one that is sold etc.

Anyway, it gave me the data on how the tang looks before I consigned it to the ‘For Sale’ pile and I recreated it with some molten plastic, which sets up strong and flexible, like OEM.

In this photo it’s not pretty as it still a raw repair that needs to be tidied up, this was only a very rough clean up with a die grinder.

Luckily the horns I had in my spares box are the same as the LC units, they were fitted to a few bikes but Im pretty sure these came from an old ex-racer’s LC and YPVS stash, so are on the money.

Blasting and painting took them from horrible to as new:

You might remember that this project started with just a handful of parts so I’ve had to work through and locate pretty much everything needed for a whole LC. I found out the early RZ speedo drive is the same as the LC, same part number. Actually the front axle and spacer is too. Easy to find for me as I have quite a few RZ parts still. Phew!

So while I was about it I stripped the speedo drive and cleaned out the old grease and other junk and serviced it. I’m always amazed that no one cites maintaining this part as a way to make more power, they must sap a bhp or two when gummed up.

Cleaned and repainted...

I resisted using and old joke about being horny when introducing the restoration of the horns, but could resist what come next... I should get out more ;)

Pipes.... I’m exhausted... Terrible pun, but you’ll get the idea...

Obviously with this being a restoration it needs to have original pipes... Not ideal in a country that uses all vehicles beyond any possible use by date, and made worse by the fact my bike will be a 350, and most of the bikes sold here were 250s.... So I had my work cut out... Luckily, I like a challenge as you know.

Regular readers may remember this next story - When I bought the parts for my LC421 it originally was advertised with a set of pipes... I didn’t get them as the PO decided to use them on a project in the 24 hours it took me to drive up and collect the dismantled project. Hmmm, yeah... This kinda sucked as I wanted them and he didn’t discount the price of the sale. More hmm... After the initial sale agreement, subsequent non sale 24hours later and then with the next sale back on the next day I was a bit ragged so I just hopped in the car drove the 1.5hrs up there and took what he let me have, gave him his asking price and left.

The postscript is that later he sold off his project in bits as he didn’t want to get a road worthy certificate and offered me the engine with pipes and carbs, I immediately suggested he return ‘my pipes’ instead. He did actually comply and a friend of a friend picked them up and brought them here next time he was passing, saving me the journey, phew! They were pretty beat up 250 units but better than nothing, the RH pipe was badly damaged from an accident or two, but the left was better, not great, but better... Both had plates welded in where the section after the downpipes joins the body and many dents... Typical Aussie LC pipes really...

So thinking I wouldn’t be able to improve on these much I figured that was a part-set in the bag and all I needed was a better RH pipe... Er, yeah... That’s the hard one to get as our roundabouts swing to the right and anyone worth their salt will always hone their cornering prowess on a roundabout. Until they shout 'Bugger!' and gone is one nice RH pipe...

Reading around the subject I found out that I didn’t necessarily need 350 pipes, you can cut 250 ones open and drill the 4 extra holes and you’ve done the same job yamaha did. Sure, they don’t have the coveted ‘0’ stamped in the hanger, but they would do the job. I could even invest in a 0 punch of course... (joke).

So I kept my eyes peeled and waited....

Recently a localish guy sold off a set of LC pipes on ebay, I won them for sensible money and zipped over and collected them. They turned out to be genuine 350s and again the RH pipe was accident damaged, this time the left one had a plate welded where the header met the first cone but the rear end was pretty good.

...but the 250 pipes had a better header on that side and they are 100% the same pipe at that point...

Yes, you guessed it... I started to think;

1, no one is going to have a nice set of pipes for sale, and if they do I can’t afford them

2, If I can collect enough knackered pipes I could cut ‘n shut a decent pipe from the mess...

So... I kept looking... This time I broadened my search for part pipes with good ends in the hope of finding a RH cone and/or body so I could build up a decent RH pipe.

Placing a WTB ad for something else got me into a chat to a friend in another state (well technically he’s in a Territory, but I digress) which netted gold when he suggested that he had a set of pipes he would let go that belonged to a friend who raced them, so since I was heading down that way for the weekend I dropped in and collected those too. They are both damaged, and 250, but my parts gathering was making progress, the headers on these were really good and interestingly it was the LH pipe on these that had the most damage... I reckon that’s the difference with road and race, on the road you get lots of roundabouts that you need to turn right to navigate, so we get used to the fact that turning right is fun, left not so much. On the road you crash more trying to get your knee down on all those roundabouts, but when you race, all corners are equal.

NB: naturally this is for UK and Aus where we drive on the left, plus Americans don’t really have roundabouts like we do.

Next up I emailed a local chap who I knew had some LCs over the years and asked if he could help and he offered me a RH pipe. It’s true that it’s ‘who’ not ‘what’ you know as ever... Last week I picked it up, it’s another 350 unit and while it did have some road rash and was covered in dirt, it’s actually the best of what I’ve got.

Ok... I agree, this plan of gathering and cutting and shutting pipes isn’t ideal, but the more pipes I’ve collected the less work I’ve found I needed to do to each one as they seemed to be getting better and better quality. So while it’s a bit of a mixed bag, I was hopeful I could work out a decent set from this lot with minimal work to keep them as original as possible...

So this week I pulled out the ‘new to me’ 350 RH pipe and started work, Ive cleaned all the mud and 3 layers of paint and rust off with a wire wheel and filled the damage with JB weld. Sanded and re-filled and I think I’ve made progress. In fact the whole JB Weld thing looks like its working quite well, it sands to a feathered edge and you can recreate the contours of the flattened parts, or just fill in the scratches, either way its not looking too bad. Of course JB Weld probably won’t like the temps at the headers, but down the back where it's not so hot I reckon it will work ok and many forumers swear this will work, we’ll see.

I covered the exposed steel with a rust eater and searched paint for these as I knew that I couldn’t have them ceramic coated as the idiot who does that here will blast off all my JB weld and probably put holes in them, he seems to use maximum pressure when doing all his work. Anyway, plan was to grab some KBS Xtreme Temp Coating in Satin black and give that a whirl, its certainly got the specs to do what I need.

I could have JB Welded it like on the other pipe, but decided as I had the welder handy to just do it properly, welded and the ground back.

So, barring paint that was one pipe done.... But, there was always going to be more serious pipe work for No.2....

On this one the downpipe was plated to cover a hole on both the downpipe and the first cone section, so it needed to be swapped for another part from another pipe. Looking closely I found that the first and second stages of the cone parts are made from a single piece, actually a single rolled cone cut and folded up and then welded to get the angle. This meant I needed to cut further back between the 2nd and 3rd stages.

I figured that the alignment at this point was to be fairly easy as I figured if I cut in the same place with a jig I would have two parts the same shape so they would fit back together the same way, and Yamaha actually has the joins on these rolled cones in a line underneath, so it was easy to get the parts back in the right orientation.

NB. When cut apart I noticed that inside my 350 pipe it has the 8 hole perforated plate and the 250 had 4 holes, we see this mentioned elsewhere but it was easy to see when they were cut open.

Cutting on my ‘jig’... And yes, it does look precarious in the pic, but it was not in real life... This setup gave me a repeatable cut and I was able to cut one side long and one side short off each pipe to take care of the thickness of the blade in the final result. Simple work, just exacting.

Inside both pipes were old baffles that also got cut in the process, one pipe I knew had something in it as I could hear it, the other one was silent. These parts wont do your performance any good for sure...

Interestingly, I remember that when I pulled the baffle out of the 350 pipe that the baffle had snapped off just like these units I guess. Looking at it now I can see that it had fractured at the joint between the smaller perforated pipe and the in-n-out-baffling leaving the larger end wedged in the pipe. Eventually I coaxed it out, but it didn't want to come out as it was firmly wedged... I guess in this pipe there was enough carbon to hold it in place rather than let it fall in. Whats scary is that this had obviously happened before to this pipe and it could have ended up with two baffles lodged in the belly. 

I can only assume that the constant vibration coupled with the heat cycles that the steel gets brittle / rusty and the heavy in-n-out baffle becomes too much to just be held by the bolt on the far end, so the steel fractures and gravity does the rest. Considering the baffle sits inside the body surrounded by the plates it actually cant move that much, but it must be enough with it’s weight acting as a cantilever to just put enough strain on it over the years. Annoying tho. I also found one unit that had failed welds at the part where the perforated tube bolts to the pipe. This was one of a set of 'short silencers' that a PO had made, he had actually drilled and riveted it and I’ve now welded it and will try using these 'shorties' and see what the sound is like, since I had them on my bench, why not!

(Not shown in these pics was a big bit of perforated tube from the blackened set of bits, it had rolled off when the pipe was cut and I found it later)

Welded, dressed and then welded again, then welds were cut back with a Dremel to give the straight and thin look of the factory single weld. Few could weld like that at home.

(Not the worlds best pic, but you get the idea)

Later I dressed the edges again and played with this a bit more to get it to look more ‘factory’. Not perfect perhaps, but with paint on I doubt anyone would know and it’s not obviously a nasty weld of course.

The end of this pipe had a deep scuff as well that had flatted the end a bit too

So, I now have 2 OEM 350 pipes ready for paint. Happy days.

Next I pulled out an old flywheel side engine cover and after cleaning off the old paint I repaired it as someone had broken one of the bolt hole 'edges' off. Lets hope JB weld will hold that when it’s done up, we'll see, I may just not do it up too tight and use thread lock on that bolt anyway, no sense stressing it as it’s one of the small ones at the top edge that doesn’t really need to be too tight, it is just a cover after all. Anyway, painted it with VHT satin and it looks good. Another part in the box to await the build up.

I had a few hours spare and spent them working one some cleaning up of parts. Got most of the chipped OEM black paint off the cylinders and the head and packed away some parts that arrived recently, including an Arrow serviced 350 oil pump, some engine case bolts and a 350 (4L0) reproduction horn loom. Sure, not mega progress, but as I’ve said often, even 10mins spent will move the project forwards!

Decided that I can’t live with this... Could you?

Back in the day guys would file off the 3 (or all the numbers) from the 350 cyls they used to upgrade their 250s and either leave the space blank or replace them with a 2 that they made from araldite. This is the effect of one (or all perhaps) of couple of things, a 250 race series, a cheap tax bracket for smaller engined bikes or a law that gives 250s a break for learners all coupled with a range of engines that also included a 350 that offered more power of course... So really this ‘modification’ is a little piece of history now that the laws have changed, the tax breaks have gone and Im not racing (or would that even fool anyone these days LOL!).

But... Thinking about all that, the history should be preserved right?

With that in mind I decided to ‘cast’ my own ‘2’s for each of my cylinders.

I found that my Plastex kit had a malleable-when-heated plastic bar that I could press hard onto a set of 250 cylinders with an intact '2' to create a mould.

I then mixed up some JBWeld to create the 2’s.

I always think that there are a few bits of restoring / building / modding our bikes that are stumbling blocks. For me it’s often when I have to involve a 3rd party as I’m reasonably competent (debatable, Ed LOL!) for most of the tasks needed, but sometimes you just need a pro... And that usually means I’m presented, as Blackadder said, with feeling like a Pelican, ie. I’ve got a big bill.

FYI, I think of a ‘big bill’ as anything over $300, as that’s ‘noticeable’ when I look in my bank account or in my ever thinning wallet, you might be different of course but, with as many projects as I have on the go, my bank account gets drained down too regularly to have hits of that amount too often, so I notice it.

The main things I’m forced to outsource are paint and the exacting engineering work needed on the engine like rebores and cranks. Rebores are something a bunch of us suffer with locally as no-one seems to be ‘the right place’ and cranks... well... Cranks can be a very painful experience, especially if you have one that’s failed and taken out half your engine, but even if you just pull a running motor down to rebuild it you can run into a big bill when you start looking at your hitherto ‘good crank’ as once the specialists get involved the dollars soon add up. And being in Aus means that buying one from overseas is crazy due to the postage costs.

I actually have a go-to crank guy. He is called Link who is in Victoria, Aus and last year did me proud by recycling 3 dead cranks into 1 decent unit for my 83 RZ project. Link is happy to work with what he’s given to keep the costs down if he can, so long as the parts are not blown up, out of spec or worn out. He’s not one of these guys who will tell you to replace everything if it’s not damaged, unless you’re racing and want to see 12k revs every time you use your bike in which case I’m sure he would be getting you to order all manner of new parts to keep the engine together as long as possible. So, he’s the guy I send my cranks to, he assesses them and then gives you the good or bad news, you source the parts and he rebuilds them and sends ‘em back for an hourly labour charge. Simple and effective and a good service.

Anyway Link pulled apart the crank that came with my LC engine, the story goes that it was from a running 250 which should mean it has led an easy life and since it wasn’t a blown up bike which would have been an instant no-no, I had a chance at least... but as we know leaving these bikes to stand without blocking the pipes up (and who knows what the PO did?!) can mean humidity gets in and the journals start to rust and once the hardening is pitted its all over for the bearings and in short time the motor is finished. This engine came to me already stripped and while the crank was swathed in clean oily rags, but who knows how it was stored before that, and when in the bike. Rust and dirt and bearings don’t live well in the same space etc.

The good news was that with a quick journal polish it could all go back together... Phew! Link did suggest that while we had it apart it wouldn’t harm to fit new thrust washers and put in a set of new big ends since both those had done some work. Sound advice of course.

Luckily these two parts weren’t just used on the LC which helps with finding them. Scouting around I found that the place that comes up most when looking for the bearings is PJME in the UK and at sub 10quid (Au$20 these days) I could buy them all day long, but the issue was that when two of them were purchased it would be 15quid (Au$30) in post to get them to me.. Seems kind of rude for two small items, but that’s what they charge apparently. Link actually texted me with a link to a set of OEM bearings on ebay with a cheap start price which was kind of him, and doing a bit more digging I found a guy selling off a stock of yam dealer parts for ‘best offer’. I offered him $30 for a pair and he sent them with free postage. Result!

Thrust washers were a bit more tricky, but at least they seem to be easier to find, best OEM price was around US$5 each, but the closing down TSS shop had them at a dollar each, less if you bought more. I actually did need another set for a mate’s crank I had sent to Link at the same time, so that was a no brainer.

For those interested; As I said, I also sent a mate’s crank to Link in the same box and it was a bit of a ‘mare... He had split it himself and I just know he would have done it properly as he’s a very exacting mechanic. He had decided that as he had never put together and timed a parallel crank that he would let a pro do it. He had bought a brand new centre and 2 rod kits, both non OEM, but good quality. He’d either lost or never got thrust washers with the rod kits, which was a minor annoyance, but what was a killer was that Link found that some idiot had split the crank previously with a cold chisel when he looked the parts over! Now Nick and I had not noticed that when we looked it over but to to be fair we weren’t expecting such damage of course. A good reason to have someone who knows what they are doing look at these parts for you I think. Anyway, a quick ask on the 2SDU forum and a friendly forumer (cheers Mark!) had a good primary side outer wheel in his spares, so we were back in business!

FWIW, The total cost of getting the crank checked over and new big ends and thrust washers fitted including the parts and postage back ‘n forth was just over $300. Which is pretty reasonable for a good running LC crank with new bearing parts in it. My friends crank came in at $250 with post, the spare crank wheel and the work, but he had already bought new center section, bearings and rods of course.

Returning form the USA I brought a few(!) bits home from the US OEM parts sellers and also a box of goodies from a forumer, Cheers Rob! In that box were a few good things of note for this project: A stator and rotor, 350 (same as 250 for sure!) CDI, a set of brake calipers, side stand, kick starter (I only had 29L versions) and a few other odds ‘n sods, but most exciting of all (well to me!) was an OEM tool kit! These parts form a much needed injection for this project as those parts were tough to find in Aus.

This all means that this project gets another leap forward again... and after the holiday and the purchasing ‘at least’ (hmm) im not weighted down by a heavy wallet any more.. sigh.

First on the bench of those parts was the brake calipers. They look good on the outside, less good as you delve deeper, but we can sort that.

Then carefully fitted new piston and seal kits to both sides using the correct red rubber grease and soon had them now looking like this:

Note: The kits were Yambits supplied and worked/fitted well. Yambits gets a (deservedly) bad rap for some of its products (crank seals being an obvious one), but these kits were fine and im 99% sure they are the same kits other suppliers sell as many of the aftermarket parts come from a single supplier.

And, new parts.... a rad cover arrived from Holland. 

FYI I spent a long time searching for one of these that didn’t cost the earth and was just about to pounce on a used one with a small repair here in Aus for Au$75 + $35 (post) = $110 on ebay, and since I was about to hit the BIN I decided to do a final web search ‘just in case’... and found that CMS would ship a brand new one to me for Au$140 all up! Usually the sellers of these ask a lot more, like the ebay sellers from Asia who are usually good, but kill us on some prices.  I should probably have had someone check the Canadian prices at the dealer as they usually do us proud, but post is killer from Canada as Canada Post see to it that most stuff stays in country, especially when it’s the size of this part (approx. 40cm x 30cm x 8cm + packaging = huge box charged on volume!) 

Of course, I placed the order in minutes in case the price later changed, and there is always the risk with that seller that they will refund you down the track when they discover the part is on back order. So I waited with baited breath and my patience was rewarded. Phew!

As an aside, quite why Yamaha remade this part I don’t know, it doesn’t fit other bikes and isn’t truly necessary for the running of the bike, I just wish they made some of the other hard to find parts that we really do need...

Back to brakes... The front brake caliper refurb was next to be done. It’s been a bit of work to bring these old units back from the dead, but I expected that, they came from Canada where they salt the roads and the bike they were on was laid up for a very long time.

I  blasted the bodies and brackets with glass beads, cleaned up the seal groves and polished the stainless plates, then laid it all out on clean paper ready with the new pistons and seals so I had everything in one place and a clean working environment.

Flushed with that success but having to wait for the rebuild kits, I decided to fit the new wheel bearings I picked up stateside. I actually got a set of front and rear All Balls RZ bearings with the view that the bearings are the same, I just would be left with a spare rear wheel bearing and a couple of seals. I had already bought the correct OEM LC250 rear wheel seal a while back, so I was set.

Front wheel... not very exciting pics for wheel bearing fitments... but they’re nice and blue.

I then decided to fit the new (NOS) rear sprocket with my new OEM tabs.

(Yes the sprocket is upside down in this photo)

Apart they come... remarkably easy actually for an old caliper and I could have reused one of the pistons perhaps, but new ones are not expensive, so of course we will do this properly.

Here is the job in pictures:

After a final clean up, into the box they go, ready for the time when they need to be fitted.

I also found when I went thru all my old bolts that I had 4 original chrome caliper bolts that could be re-polished. Thats pretty rare I reckon and while they are not perfect, its better to have them Original than new ones of course. half an hour later and they were done too. I did find that the stainless washers and lock washers I had in my stash were the same size and shape as the OEMs, so replaced the rusty old ones of those.

I also found some chrome brake line clamps that would re-polish as well, it’s pretty amazing what I have in my spares as I often replace OEM stuff with something else on modded bikes and squirrel things away that are half decent.

So, with my NOS 1/2 master cylinder (for a 250LC, and said to be a good upgrade), new OEM lever, reclaimed OEM pin (another re-polish job) and these units I am almost set. I also have a very good set of hoses that I may try and reuse as they don't appear to have seen much sunlight, but you never know... those will have to be tested first.

Next up I painted the blasted disks, clutch perch, throttle clip, triple clamp top clamps and also found some time to pull out my clock parts from many different boxes around the garage as I decided I now have all the parts to build them.

The Speedo earmarked for this bike has 89,000 kms, got to love that! I should probably reset it, but something tells me to leave it as it’s history... even if it’s probably not been done on this bike. So with old-but-very-clean speedo, tacho with great red scale (how on earth did it avoid the Aussie sun?!) that I cleaned up a while back and a new set of covers and the light-tree and the bracket from Canada and a set of really good rubbers cobbled together from all the other sets Ive had over the years I figured I should have a nice set. We'll see....

I also had to whip the glass/rim off the tacho and replace the body with another unit with the OEM mounts on it, not the plastic welded ones I did a while back when I found them missing on the tacho I got in the swap locally. This job was one of those bizarre bits of good fortune in a 'meant to be' kind of way as I bought a bunch of parts off ebay a while back and in the box was this body, the exact one I needed for my tacho. I didnt actually need to replace it, the repaired one was fine, but I had it and it seemed like fate. Also tested the temp gauge and it works, phew. Need to blast and paint the bracket now and button it all up.

So while I wait for the paint to fully dry on the dash bracket, I embarked on another small assembly.... The passenger footpegs.

You may recall I bought brand new OEM rider ones, they were good value when you consider how horrible trashed originals can be after all this time and abuse.

I should add that I’ve never ever wanted to take a passenger anywhere on a bike, right from my first ride on a borrowed moped I knew that two wheeled transport was going to be mainly a solitary pursuit for me. So, I used to hate it when I was a kid riding a moped (when mopeds looked like small real bikes and had actual gears, not plastic toilets on wheels...) about ferrying stingy mates around to parties and the like, almost everyone one of them had no idea how to behave and late night dark twisty roads and a few (not too many for me of course, but many of them) beers meant it could get a bit ‘hairy’ when they remembered to lean mid corner. I won’t mention dumping my sister on the deck when flipping a borrowed bike with a broken clutch cable, the less said about that the better in case my folks read this, but she was much softer to land on than the ground I guess... She thought it was hilarious, so that’s something I s’pose. It didn’t get better over time either, even when I took an ex-girlfriend on the back of my RD350R in the mid 90s. We only went for a short ride to the local petrol station (circa 1 mile away) and when we got there she was crying medium-silently in her helmet. To be honest I actually thought she was joking, laughing or something else... but no... She was petrified. Not one of my better days but I counted my blessing as she never wanted to ever go on the bike again if I’m honest. My next bit of fluff loved bikes, especially the 350R which became hers after she passed her test. Very early on in that relationship I did take her on the back of the RD to see her folks just the once on a nice summers day as she loved the bike and was intrigued. As we left, with the family on the door step waving us off, I forgot she was there and to be a bit of a show off to her young brother I decided to gently wheelie away... which turned out to be a lovely near vertical minger! Oooopps... I finally managed wrestle the front wheel down about 1/4mile away when I realised what was happening and got it all under control; I hadn’t taken the extra weight on the back into consideration, school boy error... It was weeks ‘til I went round there again and the parents played nice and no one mentioned it... until her brother came home from school and shouted from the door ‘Cool Jon’s here! Ohhh! mega wheelie mate!’, Er... Thanks... You can imagine the parent’s faces as they remembered. I swore off passengers totally after that.

So it was with some barely disguised annoyance that I embarked on sorting out the passenger footrests for my LC restoration, I mean, they will never be used, but you just have to have them... Not only for the law here (you would need to live in QLD and register as a solo machine and have a shortened seat for that to be allowed, and this bike actually has had that approval in the past, but I digress), but cos the bike would look unfinished without them... Sigh. Spending good coin on stuff you will never use is galling, but such is life... so lets do it!

I’d been surfing the parts books and running parts numbers and about 3 months back I mentioned a bizarre phenomenon to another LC nutter when we were chatting about parts; that while you can’t buy the whole LC footpeg now, you can buy all the bits except the brackets that hold the pegs to the hangers. Nothing too strange in the fact the LC runs parts that you can’t buy now but what’s weird is that with the parts you can buy I found that as those parts are common to many models it’s cheaper to buy whole OEM footpegs from another bike that contain the exact same parts you want, namely the footpeg, pin, rubber cover) and you just swap the brackets over, leaving you some spare brackets for something else later, and if we’ve learnt anything it’s that spares are good...

Today a couple of sets of brake pads arrived. I bought OEM as I could get them for much the same price as aftermarket versions but also because if you can find the older versions of the OEM kits, they come with not only the pads, but also new pins, clips and shims! That's right, the new ones are just a set of pads like everyone else sells, but back in the day you got new shims and pins as well. And since I was missing the pad shims it made sense to get them as I’m trying to be original with this one.

The one thing I would say is that the old brackets were pretty bent (from spills I guess), so needed a bit of bashing back into shape, and the pins are quite short so you may need to clamp them to apply pressure to get the split pins in. I know I did. Sadly that chipped my paintwork a bit, which needed retouching as you can see... {grumble}

I blasted and painted the lift rail and the clutch lever.

Annoyingly I blasted the clutch lever to make it match the Brembo on the 421 when I had the OEM clutch setup fitted, but since I'd removed it and put the ASV unit on there I now had it spare... Time will tell how well the paint holds up, I can always buy another if needed but seemed silly to do so when I had a perfectly good one in my parts haul.

More time spent on the internet meant that I finally found a NOS grab rail! This was an unlikely find to be honest. The LC doesn’t have many chrome parts and they are now very hard to find new, or even in good condition, as they got damaged by the weather as well as accidents of course and Yamaha’s stock was used up quickly.

Note: People have told me these rails re-chrome poorly as they retain acids from the process due to the welded in spacers for the mounting screws almost blocking the rail tube. The trapped acid eats the steel, ruining the rail. So for me finding a good one was key, and I factored in the cost of re-chroming on top of a the price of a decent original and found the NOS one to actually be only 1.5x the cost; a veritable bargain, even if in monetary terms it wasn’t cheap.

Top and bottom triples were next... Still no recipe for olive drab so these are satin black as well.

The top was pretty easy but the lower caused me a bit of grief. The first one of these that I cleaned up, blasted and painted turned out to have a bad helicoil fitted in it when I ran a tap thru it. That was a bit of a nasty surprise as it gutting to find once the hard work was done of course. Luckily I had a spare and this one is much better, phew!

So after blasting and painting they have been fitted with cleaned up and polished OEM bolts with new hardware, the pick of all the ones I had lying around from various builds and spares - quite a lot of these were trashed but i found enough that would polish and Im happy with the results, as I wanted to restore as much or the original hardware as I could, it not only saves money but its satisfying and also means I don’t have boxes of old bolts I don’t know what to do with LOL!

Terrible pic, but this is my progress.... After trying and failing to produce an olive drab colour I painted the clock bracket satin black and have the whole clock assembly in one piece... It comprises; brand new OEM top ‘n bottom covers, rebuilt rev counter with repainted temp gauge needle, Wiring is a mix from Canada and Aus, repainted bracket and cleaned up OEM rubber mounts, and of course it wears new dome nuts to clamp the whole plot together.

I have to say that in real life it looks better than this horrible pic suggests, the camera does lie in this case!

I needed a horn bracket... And I know I’m not alone, the horns and their parts are not easy to find.

So I searched hi 'n lo... (see what I did there? Hmm) ...but it's true... It had become obvious that no one wanted to part with an LC horn bracket. Maybe no one had one, or maybe they just wanted to keep them if they had them, I respect that. But, since Im building a 4L0 from a 4L1, I had to find a solution... And I’m from the generation where when you cant find something, you have to make it if you have the skills... That or I’ve watched too much Cuban Chrome or Roadkill, you decide!

Rather than start from scratch I found that I had a random horn bracket in my spares. This was originally going to supply the correct grommet and the spacers, but with that special shape already cut out for the grommet and the fact it was the right thickness and width I decided to bend it where needed and add metal to make longer... nothing a bit of vice time and welding couldn’t fix, surely... Lets see what we can do...

Bit of bending and hammering gave me this (the silvery bracket was flat to start with, I didn’t have a pic of it in that state):

Next to arrive was this NOS gear lever.

Like a lot of the NOS parts it wasn't exactly cheap, but it is an original older part and I knew from the start that I didn't want one of the cheapo looking aftermarket units. After all there has already been quite a lot of effort to locate hard to find NOS stuff for this build (headlight incl. rim, grab rail and seat cover to say the least), plus a lot of new larger OEM parts like switches, plastic covers (rad and clocks) and many many other smaller parts, so scrimping on things like this seemed a bit, well, 'cheap'.

Ahh, no... while I have the grommets I don’t have the spacers... Damn... Out with some steel...

Blast, primer, paint... Just needs some decals now... (the new one is on the left by the way)

Weld on some more length and fill in the old mounting hole, then trim and drill the new hole:

I've looked around for the other end that fits on the shift-shaft and haven't found one yet with the old 4l0-18112 part number, but I have found that the old part number now supersedes to the 29L version (29L-18112) so perhaps its acceptable to use a nice YPVS one, in which case I have one. We’ll see what I can find while I wait for the bike to get built.

I have decided that I will make up the adjustable linkage arm from stainless since that part is NLA now and to be honest it was quite a nasty plated mild steel part anyway... ok, yes, that goes against what I said above using OEM parts perhaps, but it will last longer, look the same but be better quality. It’s a simple thing to make if you have a mate with a Lathe and a piece of 7 or 8mm stainless rod, which I found was only $11 posted - bargain!

I already have new fixing clips / washers and I also found that I have the rubber covers. I bought them for the F1 build (yes its the same part number on the ypvs as the LC) but as I then went for Heim / Rose joints with Wicked's billet lever I still have them new-in-packet, so can use them on this bike. Some good news there then!

The parts we need for the LC:

I love carbs! Sadly, that refers to the ones delivered by burgers not the things that mix fuel. I’ve been mostly hating those recently... Not least as I embarked on one route to fuel / air perfection and then with my new found ‘let’s keep it original as possible’ plan I was forced to start again when I lucked onto the correct units. Read on...

Regular readers may recall I got a set of 31K carbs in the deal when I bought a 350 upgrade ’kit’ for my F1 many years back. That upgrade ‘kit’ was not cheap and very little of it lived up to its promise, something that would be a recurring theme from this seller for others, but lets no go there. For me the CDI was the wrong year for my bike and wouldn’t work, the cylinders were not ‘ready to use’ and needed a rebore, and the list went on. So what made anyone (especially me) think that the carbs would be any different? Yeah... I don’t know either...

Pulling the right hand carb apart was ‘interesting’, in the same way that its ‘interesting’ when you step on some glass on the beach. I.e. while distinctly unpleasant, you just can’t stop looking at the blood dripping on the sand. Ok, perhaps an analogy too far as the carb wasn’t hazardous to your health, but it was full of some kind of ectoplasm you couldn’t look away from. It was a green sludgy greasy paste and smelt like it came from some ugly animals behind. If you got it on your fingers, you couldn’t get it off. Get it under your nails and you would catch whiffs of it all week. Gross.

Tapping (which became actual ‘hitting’ in the end) the needle valve out delivered fresh lumps of green ‘carb poo’ all over my clean bench and it soon became clear that the alloy carb body and the brass metering parts were rotting to create this gloop, so obviously it had got some water in it along with lovely modern fuel to create quite this new concoction. After a good brushing with all sorts of cleaners and chemicals I dumped the lot in the ultrasonic cleaner for a couple of hours and it finally began to clean up.

It was at that point I found that it was wearing a 155 main jet, 15 Pilot and the wrong needle jet with less than half the holes, tho it had the correct needle. The Left carb was much cleaner and was to 31k spec, 240 main and 22.5 Pilot with a P345 needle jet. Both were missing the gasket for the bowl... Defo not the promised matched pair that would run on any bike. Thanks Mr ‘Kit Supplier’...

At this point I remembered I had a pair of 1GU carbs from a later model Aussie 250, they are a fixed PJ carb but the same base Mikuni carb. I pulled them apart and they were clean as a whistle with what looked like many new parts inside and they both had the 345 needle jets (but 4N10 needles) and a bunch of other parts I could use, Wahooo!

More cleaning and hours later I finally had a set of carbs with a decent flow through the passages and good clean floats and other parts. I chose the best of the slides and cleaned the 1K5 needles and figured that once I got some jets and gaskets and possibly a rebuild kit for the small seals, I would be sorted.

No 'before' shots on these, they were pretty ugly though. Coated in grime with rusty screws and fittings. Pictured below is the right side with loose fittings as it still needed to come apart for additional new parts.

It was at this point that my focus changed. I had assumed that In Aus I would just not find any of the correct 4L0 carbs. That thought was not a huge problem for me, the base Mikuni VM26 looks identical in almost all its iterations, so 31K or 4L0 units look the same. In fact, you have to look very closely to see the stamps to know what variant you have in your hands, so no one would see that when they were fitted to the bike, plus the 31k units are understood to be a little bit of a performance upgrade.

But, things changed when a local enthusiast put me onto a bike that was for sale in the next suburb - a whole LC partially stripped and left in a garden. While I hoped it might be another project, it was too far gone and it was only good for spares. The matching number engine and (rusty) frame went to a friend and the rest into boxes.

During the strip down I pulled the carbs to find one was a 4L3 and one was a 4L0. {needle hastily removed from record noise} Hold up! Did I just find a 4L0 carb?! Yes... I did!

Immediately upon seeing this I recalled that in my box of carb spares I had a stripped 4L0 carb body that came as part of a ‘job lot’ many years before. Now, carbs are left and right handed and what were the chances that I would now have a complete set? And that both carbs were usable, without stripped threads or broken parts?

I was into the spares box tout suite and you could have knocked me down with a feather, they were a set. Both were 4L0-01 units and with a little swapping of parts from the 4L3, I had a matched set of left and a right 350 LC carbs!

So, now I just knew that I had to use them - fate had intervened once again to have me build this bike as Yamaha intended.

This meant I had to clean up both carbs like I did for the 31Ks and then locate a bunch of parts or steal them from the 31K units, rendering them useless. In the end I did a bit of both, firstly using the old parts to make sure I had working units and then locating some better slides and needle jets, thanks Rob!

Note: The spec for the 4L0-01 is 220 Mains and 22.5 Pilots. Im going to start 230 and 22.5 in these as there are a few gentle (and hidden) mods going into this engine and hopefully that will be a good start point.

A question: How far would you go for originality?

It’s a fact that many of us have tracked down long lost and NLA parts for our bikes, myself included, and for this bike I’ve found some of the holiest of LC grails; NOS seat cover and headlight rim amongst others and I’d rather not stop there.... Y’see, restoring is a bug... and if you can avoid it, I would perhaps caution you to do as your wallet will thank you, but the converse is that it’s also rewarding and addictive...

But where does that obsession end? And what if you can’t find a part you so desperately think would complete your restoration?

I can’t answer that truthfully, but with it in mind I’ve been looking at petrol caps...

For any non-LC guys you must be thinking I’m (even more?) nuts now... As in truth, a gas cap is not an exciting part, unless you own an LC...

If you look hard at the LCs they actually have a unique cap compared to other bikes. Mostly as The LC has an offset lock... It only a few mm, but its an obvious difference to other fuel caps and subtly harks back to another era, i.e. Yamaha’s cool designs of the ‘70s that appeared to be loosely based on 60’s race cars.

At the start of production the LC was delivered with an alloy cap.

It was painted black like many of the parts that adorned the LC, to give it a cutting edge look. in previous years those would have been chromed, ie pipes, bars, mirror stems etc. but the 80s eschewed the bling and black was the future.

Asking around it seems that in 1981 Yamaha discovered that it could reduce cost and instead manufacture these caps with a plastic lid of the same design as the alloy casting and they deleted the old alloy version and moved to the new material, the only difference when looking at one in pictures is that the alloy version has a very prominent pointer cast into the surface, the plastic version does not.

In ‘83 when the LC morphed into the YPVS, the cap changed subtly again. The main difference is that lock became central, but the plastic also became textured and slightly redesigned. The changes are slight when looking from bike to bike, but when placed together you can see right away how much smoother the LC cap is to the later version.

Anyway, why bother with the history lesson? Well... You pretty much just cannot buy a NOS LC cap now. I know, I’ve looked... a lot. Naturally now I‘ve said that someone will find one, [And after posting this, they did!] but my experience has been that its an impossible part to find. Even more so if you want an alloy version.

Ok, all is not lost.... you can still get the brand new (yes, still available from dealers) OEM Yamaha fuel cap using the old part number, but beware that it is a later part substitution... 4l0-24602-02 supersedes to 11H-24602-10-00. The new version is a plastic unit with a central lock. I.e. It is the same unit fitted to the YPVS models. While it is said by some to even have graced some LCs, I doubt that as all the LC units I remember over the years had the offset key hole version.

And, since the YPVS unit was around for a while in many markets, and used on other bikes, there are plenty of decent YPVS copies out there, and no one would blame you for using one.... Same with ignition switches of course... The key is a bit less than special with aftermarket stuff, but it is just a key... And... You can ‘key alike’ the locks if you get the right units (or have enough old parts to make it happen) and no one would really know... Not unless you are an LC fuel cap anorak, which it would appear that I am. Damn...!

Ok, with me so far? Good... So yes, the new OEM unit is a fine cap. I have one as I bought the (not cheap sadly) still available OEM full lockset for this restoration. It came complete with fuel cap, ignition and seat/helmet lock. The cap is well made by Mr Yamaha, but for me I always feel that its not totally original to what was delivered on the bike.... And this irked me. Obviously, I really wanted to fit the original type of cap, it’s ‘part of the LC’ as far as I’m concerned. While I’m somewhat less bothered by the odd nut and bolt being the right colour or material, I do think the things you touch should be as delivered when new on a restoration.

What to do...

I asked around and a generous local(ish) forumer offered me an original cap in rough but restorable shape. Wahoooo!

As I’ve mentioned above, I’ve previously restored an original alloy cap for my 421 and this time the cap was the plastic version, that’s fine for this bike, it’s an ‘82 model and would have had the plastic cap when new. Phew!

I set about restoring it by dismantling and then blasted the rust pitted underside parts and re-painted them, cleaned and lubed the mechanism, keyed it alike to the brand new OEM lockset using parts from my lock stash, sanded and refinished the plastic top and reassembled it with new grease and screws. Not a bad few hours or work, but no it’s not a NOS part but in the hand it’s not a bad looker either, and it is original LC and as close to an original NOS OEM gas cap as I could find.

Here it is with the OEM later model, and yes in the harsh light of the close up photos you can see it needs a bit more work on the plastic surface as there are some swirl marks from the sanding. And sadly it does have a small chip in it. I did try and fill that with some black liquid plastic but this is one of those plastic types that is different to normal bodywork so I stopped before I made a mess as I don’t want to make it worse and its not as noticeable as the close up pics suggest of course.

Only trouble is now I wish I had an original looking key... The newer plastic tab on the brand new OEM lock set is too modern as its got the 2000’s Yamaha tops... But... Where do you draw the line?

{short amount of time lapse...}

So, I guess we got an idea of how far I would go for originality from the above.... Hmm...

I also reworked the surface of the plastic cap once more to remove the scratches seen in the pictures above. This time with 2000 wet ‘n dry and more plastic renew product. The surface looks better now and is flat to the naked eye, thought picks up marks easily of course.

The only other option to make the later keys a better ‘age fit’ for my restoration is to find some good condition older plastic key tops and then fit them instead of the tops I have now. Again, if anyone has random keys they wont use with good tops on them, feel free to let me know...

While I searched high and low, the only OEM yamaha key blanks I could find were for the all-steel keys, none of the earlier style plastic tipped versions seem to exist. I should add that if anyone reading this comes across a ‘B’ keyblank like that, please do let me know of course.

In the end I bought one of the older style steel keys and had it cut.

While this may seem trivial and in many ways pathetic, to me it feels so much better to use a key like this than the modern style plastic ended ones with the lockset .

Holy grails are funny things. The desire for some can be confusing, at best, to the rest of us. Some grails cost a lot, some not. Some grails are location based... {needle pulled scratchingly from record} What did I say? Yes... Some grails are really only grails because of their location... This is a story of one such grail.

I’ve found that life throws you the odd curveball at times, to be honest I have to say that they seem to be flung at you more often than you’d like if you spend a while gathering the parts for a restoration... A blessing in disguise perhaps, perhaps not. LOL! I’ve sometimes wondered if it’s perhaps just better to get on and build your bike quickly and be done instead of slowly gathering the best of the best that’s possible from the parts that are out there and holding on in the hope something wonderful will come along next week. To be honest my experience has been that if you drag your heels a bit you will invariably build a better bike as the end result... I think this is the same factor that old sages are considering when they say ‘don’t worry another will come along’ when you miss out on a rare part on ebay by a dollar, or forget to bid entirely and it sells for cheap... 

You might remember over the long time my parts gathering for this project has taken that I’ve been lucky enough to improve the chances of this project actually becoming what I wanted by happening across better parts. It’s not that I’ve been lazy, sat back and waited for them to fall into my lap as such, in fact I’ve trawled all the sources I can think of repeatedly over the time, and that effort has been rewarded. I found a set of 4L0-01 carbs by a twist of fate, LC brakes to replace the 31K units I’d been given and plenty of other bits of good fortune from friends and auction site sellers when it’s come to NOS and nice used (rare) parts. None of that happens overnight, if you try to do the kind of restoration I’ve always envisioned for this bike in a few weeks then you’re stuck with what you have in your garage and what is out there ‘today’, if you wait a bit, well... Things come along... This is especially true if youre building and LC in Aus, even more if it’s the 350 parts you need.

So, what’s the latest to derail me on the LC project? You ask... Well, do you remember this wheel?

Looks good, doesn’t it?!

All polished, painted and fitted with new bearings and a brand new (NOS) OEM sprocket with brand new OEM locking tabs. Perfect. It’s a horribly long job to refurbish wheels properly so I always feel that its a huge tick in the box for any build to complete them, and mine was no exception.

Having used the best parts from all the LC rear wheels i’ve collected over the years, new bearings and OEM seals, then fitted a NOS OEM sprocket and the lock tabs it was about as good as an LC rear wheel could get and I was pleased to have the set done and on the shelf with the other good parts...

So, all good right? ...er, no....

Y’see, I had met a new friend online who after we got to know each other told me he was breaking an LC 350 he’d recently found. He offered me parts from it including its rear wheel.

Why would I want that then? Well... The problem was that I only had a 250 wheel for my build and had given up finding a 350 wheel in Aus as they are very thin on the ground here (read impossible to find) and it costs way too much to have one sent from anywhere else as wheels are large and heavy. In fact I’ve only seen one LC350 wheel in the past 5 years, and it was in really poor condition, even the seller suggested it wasn’t really of any use to me and I walked away from it.

Of course, other than the 350 wheel being a rare and curious thing in Sunny Sydney, a definite grail if you ask the local lads in fact, why is this something I even care about? Well... The 350 wheel is different to the 250 unit. It has a separate cush drive, the 250 does not. Instead the 250 made do with four silentblock bushes sunk into in the wheel hub to hold the sprocket instead of a separate removable unit. To be honest, it’s debatable if the 350 has enough power to warrant the upgrade but hey, Yamaha decided it needed the separate cush unit with replaceable rubbers like the YPVS models so they must have deemed it important, even if it doesn’t seem worthy for the power really... 

The problem is that we didn’t get many 350LCs in Australia. We did have quite a few 250s though. In some markets they didn’t take many (any, in some places!) 250s and just had 350s. Mostly this anomaly seems to have been due local regulations, usually learner laws or registration costs, or lack of thereof. So while in, say, Canada there are no 250 rear wheels, in Australia we have very few 350 units.

So, naturally, while I’d have liked one for this build, which is a full conversion from 250 to 350, and I had always hoped to include all the parts to make it a ‘true 350’ of course with everything that entailed, I just had accepted that a 250 rear wheel was all I was going to get. Hence I refurbished mine... But now, with the spanner tumbling thru the figurative works of my project I was left with a decision to make.... This was the wheel that my project should have, but it was going to be a bunch of work and cost money, not only for the wheel itself and some freight, but also for new bearings and a sprocket... Yes the 250 unit doesn’t fit the 350 wheel... and I’d even need to find a new 350 16T front sprocket as well as Id bought a 17T front to adjust the ration when using the correct-for-a-250 41T rear unit. Sigh... What to do....

So... Naturally.... I ignored Nancy Regan’s advice from the 80s, and “just said yes...”

Today this beauty arrived. Canadians who can’t see what all the fuss is about boring LC wheels have probably stopped reading by now, so for the rest of us, let’s bask in it’s, er, beauty!

So with the new arrival I now I have another wheel polishing project on my hands... Damn... But of course this would be worth it in the end.

One thing I noticed is that this wheel is different from all my other LC wheels, it’s made by Enkei.

What is interesting to see was the wear in the cush drum on the wheel, see the photo below where you can see the paint is rubbed away. This is from the rubber rubbing on the alloy, not helped as there was some dust and oil / grease in this chamber, hmm... I’m thinking someone oiled it at some point, maybe to stop it squeaking!

The next piece of an originality puzzle... Proof that restorations can serious tax your mind, pocket and patience:

The pic on the left is the example pic from Xavier’s site, the one on the right is my kit (sourced from Canada)

Next to arrive was a NOS reflector, subtly different to the modern version of course!

Since I’d been working on pipes for the F1 I decided to pull out and tidy up the JB weld filler areas on these pipes as well as I wasn't totally happy with them and also remove the OEM washers that all these pipes seem to have.

I’ve mentioned it before but I don’t remember these on the UK/EU spec ones I’ve seen before and they're just tacked in so an easy fix with the Dremel and a hammer as I’m sure they form some sort of restriction and are only there to center the gasket.

It seems I’ve a few issues....

1 – I’m missing the same 4mm allen key. I’m told it says ‘4mm KKT’ on it.

2 – My other 5 and 6mm allen keys also do not have the ‘KKT’ stamp on them, but they do look ‘right’ and have other squiggle marks.

3 – I’m missing the extender bar. Luckily a friendly forumer (Thanks Scott!) sent me one.

4 – I’m missing the 2nd 10/12 spanner, it seems yamaha gave 2 with the LCs, tho some say it’s a 12/14, anyone got a spare one?? please contact me if you do.

5 – My ‘C’ spanner for the shock is incorrect, it’s obviously for a spoked wheel bike as you can see the spoke wrench cutouts, but it’s considered these are probably still correct for the LC as the kits do differ over time/markets.

Anyway undaunted by what was missing I cleaned the tools, washed the bag and also the OEM ‘shoelace’ which with a bit of work came up bright white.


I took the cylinders to the reborers along with a YPVS set for the 31k build, while they were there I took a look at my LC pipes. 

To be honest they'd been on the back burner for a while really as I had been waiting for the F1 to become 'exhausted...'. Regular readers may recall that I decided a while back to return the F1 to a 'more standard look' so the TSA pipes were sold and I sourced OEM pipes which took a while and effected the wait to complete these pipes as I planned to sprayed both sets on the same day with KBS's Extreme temp paint to save on messing about. 

Next up I refilled and sanded the last of the damage on the LC pipes to get them ready for paint. Then using a spray gun I gave them multiple coats of KBS Extreme and hung them to dry.

They say that this paint takes a while to go off and will fully cure with heat when running. This was born out when they started off a bit grey and textured, but finally went satin black and much smoother over a few weeks.

The ends of one were trashed, but a bit of manipulation and it became round again, phew!

Quick blast, weld together and then paint.... And yes I did wrap them, even tho no one ever does... I actually had this wadding left over in the correct size in my ‘used pipe bits’ bag, so rather than chuck it away I used it, I even reused the wire the PO used, talk about being green with a 2 stroke!

A quick run through with a tap and some new stainless allen bolts and they’re ready to go in the pipes...

Originally I made up some short stub baffles from the old baffle parts I had for these pipes, but with me now needing something to baffle the F1’s pipes I had to have another look in the big bag of trashed exhaust parts and see what I could find. I actually impressed myself as over the years I had managed to hurl enough of the rusty (or oily) bent and broken bits of metal in there to allow me to locate enough parts to make up two serviceable OEM LC baffles! This meant I could use the stub ends I had made for the LC on the F1 and most of the bag of trashed metal parts is now used up or chucked out in the bin - result!

The final job was to dig through my boxes and find the 2’s I had created ages back to complete the engine size on the sides of the cylinders. These were glued on with JB weld and left to cure. I’ve found that JB weld is a funny thing, it’s quite dependent on weather and to achieve a full cure (so its rubbery’ness is gone and it becomes sandable) can take a couple of days. 

The head was easier, I only had to tape up the joint surfaces for the top hose, the head studs and thermo were easily covered with washers. Simple and effective.

So, Here we have a very rare machine, the Australian spec only 4L0 250cc cylinder!

With the cylinders back from the reborer, bored and honed to fit 64.5mm Wiseco pistons. I cleaned up the threads and dressed back the inlet manifold area to make sure there are no raised areas around the threads or chunks of alloy (you see those issues on many of these) to ensure a tight seal.

The cylinders and the head received a huge clean up at a mate’s workshop where I was able to use his super luxurious powered and heated parts washer, wonderful in the winter weather! After a rinse and a comprehensive blow dry, the steel parts were coated with a marine vaseline from a tin that looked like WW1 army issue that was in the shop. I did that as these won’t be fitted for a while and bore protection is key.

As I had already hit these with aircraft paint stripper a while back they just needed to be totally clean for the new paint, so after a final wipe over with wax ‘n grease remover and some time spent masking I was I was almost ready for a coat of VHT Satin Engine enamel.

Cooking at 200degC (measured with a thermocouple not trusting a domestic oven for that!) as it says for 10mins.... Once the powder starts to flow:

The paint was just done when I took that photo, so looks glossy, but will dry Satin of course.

What amuses me about the 2’s is that back in the day people crafted these from body filler if they were bothered and did it with files, it seems that most just gouged off the 3 and left it ‘blank’, pathetic really. These days with more time on our hands and better products I’m still using an old school product (JB Weld) but with the clever moulding bar off a plastic repair kit and it’s worked like a charm and they came out really nice. Back in the day if we'd have had ebay I could have sold a bunch of these to people like me! haha!

I do wonder... what’s the betting this pic turns up on some random forum in a couple of years where someone argues that there really was a 4L0 250 in Aus... hmm... I should probably rename the pic as 5E1SP or something. I blame google images who will link this without a thought and then some pinterester will claim it as their own... in the modern world there are so many who copy and claim. Let's watch it unfold....

Next task on the list was to complete the resto of the footrests (one set for me and a set for my mate who owns the powdercoating setup). These were the usual well used, dirty, oily and trashed items you get on well used LCs so needed a lot of work.

There were cleaned, polished, glass bead blasted on the non polished areas and then crystal clear powder. I will say that when initially polished they looked too bling, but the powder has dulled it a bit, and also brought up the finish on the bead blast, pics are really crap sadly as on my phone, actual results were really very good on such old cast trashed parts. 

Either way they all look a billion times better than they did and I doubt they are that different from new when held in the hand or you’ve got your feet on them!

I used various high grade wet and dry and then the machine in the background of the last pic above to get the finish, then hand finished the edges again after I blasted the non polished areas. The LC footrests are polished all the way round as well as the front, when Yamaha got to the RZ they were only polishing the fronts LOL. Amusingly on the RZ footrests the glass bead finish really does look like the OEM cast finish, the LC isn’t actually quite a rough but this is close enough in real terms, very very few would notice... I probably shouldn’t have mentioned it...

One thing to note, you really need to clean them well with something like brake cleaner and the off gas them in the oven first to give them the best chance at taking the powder without any bubbles. These are cheap alloy castings and they’re old, plus they been on a bike in an oily environment, none of this is conducive to getting a good powdercoat finish. My advice if you do this is to take your time, cleanliness will pay off for sure.

I took a couple of better pics, while they look a little dull, the finish is really more like the edge closest to the camera.

Obviously the brake lever pad surface will wear away where it contacts a boot and eventually it will probably rust and look bad, but really it did that with OEM passivate as well of course.

It should be noted that in Sydney we don’t ride in the rain much and there is no salt on the roads so rust is less of an issue for my LC, and I can always redo the parts that wear if needed, I have plenty of powder now.

These tanks are available from multiple sources and I actually bought it from Yambits for two reasons: 1, they offer VAT free pricing which saves a bunch of money (20%) and 2, they offer a worldwide postal service for these using Fed EX which while not cheap means you’re paying much the same as the Brits buying one at full VAT price and having it sent within the UK. That sounds like a sensible deal to me.

Lots of people asked about this tank and my thoughts are that I'd rate it as very good and I would think close on 10/10 really. It’s very crisp and follows the lines of the originals in every way. There are a few small parts where some high build primer will be needed, especially under the rounded front parts but other than that it’s nice and flat, has oil inside too to protect the surface. Quite a few of the UK chaps are using these on restorations and are very happy with them and when I look at my other tanks I reckon the less well defined edging is a factor of Yams less good dies and also filler over the surface over the years. Of course the crisp lines will be a bit less well defined on these when they're painted too as right now they enjoy only a thin white primer.

Note: These are really very different to the Indian tanks that don’t fit the bikes at all and also are badly shaped. Those were done by hand I think. These are stamped out and it shows, the sides are equal and the shape is correct.

At this point I started to strip the 421 so this project officially ‘started’. With the frame now bare I reversed the Triumph side stand mods and whipped out the steering bearings. Firstly I checked the alignment with the rear wheel as I never got the chain alignment I wanted on the 421 and found that the frame was fine, it was a swingarm issue and that I also had the same issue with the original LC swingarm for this bike with the axle ends about an inch over to one side.

I also started to work on some more sub assemblies and fitted the OEM indicator lenses I bought and this will make you wince... plan was to fit OEM orange indicator covers to my aftermarket LC indicators, they are US$3each so bargain as they look ‘more OEM’. The OEM bodies are NLA now but look identical. These lenses are tight to clip on as they have to not bounce off when riding an LC of course... One was being a total ba*tard to get on, nothing would made it go 'clip'... it was like it was a bit big. Anyway it finally with lots and lots of squeezing loudly went 'POP!' into place... and immediately after I went 'OOOOUCH!'... it had grabbed a bit of thumb skin when it went in and ripped a 5x8mm pretty thick piece of skin off which was now sticking out of the join between the indicator body and orange cover. Of course there blood everywhere instantly as there was nothing to hold it in. Blood, sweat and tears... and a bit of skin in my builds it seems. sigh!

So... next..... Olive drab....

After waaaay more hassle than I ever thought... hours and hours of annoyance, rude customer service (from multiple organisations), lost parcels and attempted rip offs... Yeah really... you couldn’t make this lot up over a simple purchase; the RAL6006 powdercoat arrived!

In Aus I couldn’t find anyone who could reliably green passivate my LC parts, I even looked into paint and that was hassle as few people seem to have the ability to reliably produce the RAL codes (its a European thing really) especially in Sydney and paint in pressure cans has to go surface mail as cans can explode in planes I was told. In the end I happened across powdercoat and while sourcing it wasn’t simple, after a 3 month saga it arrived.

It’s hard to catch in the light, but its very dark when its not sunlit and flash makes it look very green, just like the original passivate which was a bit variable in finish actually the more parts I look at. Looks good I think.

Perhaps not much in the way of actual progress, but I did buy one of these (here it is test fitted to my 421)

A while back a forumer read through this and took pity on my horn brackets and sold me his 3 spare ones which was kind of him. I finally got the decals so I paint stripped, blasted and powdered these:

This only(!) needed new cush rubbers, bearings and seals / o ring to complete. Cush rubbers were NLA but I did find some, not cheap but good to have. I’ve seen that the aftermarket has risen to the challenge with these now, but I played safe and searched for OEM, and eventually found them in Australia....

When they arrived I sat typing this with what felt like the gentle smell of rocking horse poo wafting up from the newly arrived packets on my desk... ok, maybe not... it’s more a mild acrid smell of Yamaha’s rubber mix, but to my mind it brings the same... er, ‘joy’.

I guess there is a moral to this, and one that I already knew but like everyone else, don’t always follow. I.e: You buy things when you see them, and not when you need them. 

In 2015 you could buy RD350LC cush drive rubbers from Fowlers, CMSNL and even Yamaha dealers. Just make the call and they turn up. By the start of 2016 they were NLA, both Fowlers and CMSNL occasionally listed 1 set each and who knows if that was just a system glitch*. The production had probably halted years before but finally stocks had dried up. In 2015 I saw a few sets go up for sale for cheap but didn’t buy as I didn’t own a 350LC rear wheel, I never expected to find one so only owned the 250 version which uses different cush rubbers. Of course, I should have bought them... By 2016 I had managed to find an elusive 350 wheel, itself a part only found under the back end of a rocking horse these days.

* - CMSNL list some today actually, and I recently found out why. They bought all Tiaro’s Yamaha stock it seems who had some. An irrelevant fact for anyone not in Aus perhaps, but proves that CMSNL is actively searching out caches of NOS worldwide so while things go out of stock they occasionally come back into stock as well.

For quite some time I had idly looked for them but each time came up either blank or they were in a part of the world that wanted silly money to post them, they’re about half a kilo so never cheap to post. However my patience and persistence paid and I found a localish (same state) place with a set and even managed to get a bit of discount (which didn’t mean they were cheap or anything) by buying 4 of their stock. Here they are in all their glory:

Plenty of people have asked about powdercoating and I should add here that smaller parts aren’t beyond the home mechanic, the powder is really very cheap to buy and the rest of the kist isn't expensive as such. Im lucky that the setup I use belongs to a good friend of mine and lives in his workshop, but it really wasn't silly money to buy; the gun is one from ebay for about $150 with a power supply, the oven is a domestic oven bought new for the purpose from the scratch and dent place down the road. Ok, he did get into it a bit and later bought a kiln for larger items from the art department from the school down the road, but we'll get to that another day and it still isn’t big enough for a frame of course, but swingarms and wheels would go in it. With the oven he's added a thermocouple (cheap on ebay) to be sure of the temps and other than that you just need somewhere to hang the parts to powder them and when they’re done (they’re very hot! 200degC of course), a timer and a supply of compressed air and you’re set. 

I’ve found that with a bit of a play you can yield very good results as long as what you’re coating is clean, as a rule I blast and then clean everything with brake cleaner and off gas it first in the oven at a higher temp and for longer than the powder requires, before applying the actual powder. 

I really do urge people to have a go, it’s worth buying a setup if you've a few friends to share the cost (which isn’t huge really) as its been a revelation for me and I’m slowly redoing many parts I’d already painted as it’s a better finish and is generally more durable. 

Powdercoat's detractors sometimes complain that the coating is 'thick', but I've found that is just the visible proof of a lazy 'coater. You can put it on light if you want, it just takes a bit more time and a little more 'skill'.

“Ohhh those look nice!”

A good mate of mine stopped in and picked up my zinc plating for me as its more local to his place, these are the pics he sent me... Thanks m8!!!  

Ok, yes there is more than one bike's worth of bits here, some are also for another mate of mine and some are from my other projects. I actually think this is the first of 3 trips to the platers I will make as some of my bikes are built and these bits will swap onto those and their parts will get plated later.

So, in case anyone is under any illusions, this lot was mostly junk. I had boxes and boxes of crappy rusty, painted, oversprayed, carbon’d up and damaged bolts and they were just sat there. Finally after an epiphany I realised I could turn them into useful things rather than have them sit here 'too good to throw away, but ugly as sin', and thats how this started.

Of course, you cant save them all... some threads were trashed, some bolts were bent and some of the heads were just too mangled to be worth the work, and some were so pitted they would never be 'new looking' again.

If anyone is interested, I cleaned everything in small vats of vinegar (I found you should change it when it is yukky black and smells vaguely of onions!) and brushed them with a small stainless wire brush - wear gloves! The black sludge gets into your skin and looks and smells terrible. Naturally, some needed much more work than others. The vinegar lifts paint, loctite, silicone, gaskets and of course rust! It’s a slow process but each day I claimed back more and more 'good' bolts from my stash. Some of the transformations were legendary to be honest, what a few days before had looked like rusty junk often cleaned up to be 'as new'.

After vinegar'ing you need to stabilise the acid (water dip) and then coat them with something that will stop rust, and I used Metal Rescue's Dry Coat product. This has worked well.

I also dressed the JIS screws that needed it with a gentle hammering to give the slots a chance at looking good, and cleaned up some of the heads of bolts that were ‘mullered’ as well with a hammer and file.

The platers seemed pleased I wasn’t bringing them rusty and horrible stuff and I think I got a better deal cos of that, perhaps cos it saves their own dip from contamination.

Sadly they don’t do the green passivate, but many of the bolts were zinc so thats what I was after, as were the LC mudguard 'hoops'.

I’m already working through cleaning up for my next batch, it will include things like head bolts, water pump plates, gearchange rods, lock/latch plates and levers and the oil pipe clamps and other engine parts. 

One thing I should say is that you probably don’t really need to clean up and prep your stuff at all with most platers as they pickle everything to eat rust, oil, paint etc. But what I would add is that if you want a better end product then it’s worth cleaning and repairing everything yourself first, that way you can chuck away anything totally useless and save a bit of money as well... plus, lets face it you’re only doing this really to use on restos and bikes you want 'nice', so anything you can do to get a better and more OEM finish is worth the effort, right?!

One thing i didn’t say is that plating is like painting and reflects what you do with the prep, I.e I probably should have scotchbright'ed the LC mudguard hoops before sending them, at least on the lower part as OEM they were more shiny as standard than the finish I have now as I had them plated over a blasted finish. Tho if you were present during the story of the initial coating of these hoops (it was a powdercoating gone bad nightmare) then you might understand I was just pleased they have the OEM coating again, and really you only see the very bottom edges of them when on the bike so I think they are fine really, but worth remembering if you do go this route.