Author Topic: GR400's 400. First timer restoration  (Read 16692 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline GR400

  • Club Member
  • Port Hacker
  • Posts: 626
  • Age: 57
  • Location: Canterbury, Kent
GR400's 400. First timer restoration
« on: June 02, 2015, 08:38:29 PM »
I thought it was about time I started a diary.  I am a bit late, I have actually had the bike a year now, but no worries there is still loads to do and I have been taking plenty of photos along the way.

I will kick off with a quick recap of how I got here:

It was my visit to the Stafford Classic Show in April 2014 that finally convinced me I needed a project.  I had seen some lovely preserved and refurbed bikes, but realised that what I really wanted was the enjoyment and satisfaction of restoring one myself.  When I say myself, I am the unskilled labour.  I can take apart, clean and put back together again, but the skilled tasks will go to people who know what they are doing.  Certainly no regrets so far - Learning about every last nut, bolt and tie wrap has become an addictive pastime, but I know I don’t need to tell you lot that!

 I guess like many on here, my goal was to finish up with something that I either had, or wanted to have, back in my early years of biking.  I passed my test when I was 17 in 1979, and as soon as I managed to sell my GT250 found a Brandy Red ’74 RD350 for sale locally (TKJ 65N anyone?). On went a pair of matt black Allspeeds and I had a glorious year or so hooning around Kent with my like-minded mates on an assortment of RD’s, GT’s and KH’s.  Happy days.

I couldn’t afford a new bike then, but spent a lot of time at my local Yamaha dealer, Westree Motorcycles in Maidstone, and my abiding memory is of drooling over the white E and then F model 400’s sitting in the showroom.  I never did own one, I saw Mad Max and had to have a Z1000 which is another story, but with hindsight that year on the RD was probably the most fun I have had on a bike.

So, 35 years on, it had to be another RD, either a 350, or the 400 I never had.  I settled on the 400 - A bit late but I will finally have one!

So the search started.  There were restored bikes out there, but I wanted a project and they were not so plentiful.  Fast forward a couple of months and this one popped up on Ebay, a barn (shed?) find 1980 400F in white.  Probably came over here late ’79 or early ’80 on the same boat as some of those bikes that got covered in my grubby fingermarks at the dealers in Maidstone, so spot on.  A few phone calls and lots of photos later a deal was done.

When it was delivered, it was just as ratty as the photos had promised – But that was what I wanted wasn’t it…





It was last taxed in 1989, and by the looks of it was already getting a bit tired by then, and had been forgotten in a damp corner for most of the 25 years since.  But on the plus side, it was a proper matching numbers UK 400F, and was pretty much complete.  Definitely a non-runner, but turned over with compression.  The seller had bought it as a project himself, but realised it needed more than he wanted to do, so had done nothing to it before selling it on again.

Once I got it registered in my name I did a history enquiry with DVLA (a great service) and found it was supplied new by Bridge Garage in Exeter in February 1980.  It had 7 owners over the next 10 years, all in Devon and Somerset.  It then festered in a shed in Devon with owner number 8 for 22 more years before being sold on twice to potential restorers who decided against.
 
I have not done anything like this before.  The closest I have come was kit building a Caterham Seven 20 years ago, so lots to learn.  Best move yet was finding this club and forum as soon as I starting looking.  By the time I found the bike I knew enough to verify from frame and engine numbers that it was genuine, and that it had the correct barrels etc, so I didn’t make an expensive mistake before I even started.  The Club has already been a fantastic source of knowledge and encouragement.

The second good move was finding an original Yamaha parts book.  It is a much better build manual than Mr Haynes’, and it has helped me a number of times already check that parts for sale really are what the seller thinks they are (but I’ve still been caught out a couple of times too).

So that gets me to the point a year ago when I was ready to start getting my hands dirty.  Next post I will report on progress to date.  I still have a long way to go, but I am enjoying it immensely.  This is a great hobby.


'80 RD400F, coming together slowly
'75 RD350B, my retirement project at this rate!
'01 ZRX1200R
'01 GSX-R1000 K1

Offline T reg angst

  • Club Member
  • Port Hacker
  • Posts: 1870
  • Age: 52
  • Nottingham, England
Re: GR400's 400. First timer restoration
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2015, 09:16:59 PM »
great write-up,
 what is the plan? back to original? or 'period' mods? I would get rid of the K&N filters[they cause all sorts of tuning issues] and get an original airbox, or single K&N into a Y-Boot.
 Good luck, and stick with it, this forum is fantastic for advice, and knowledge- just ask

 Chris

Offline Motty

  • Richard
  • Club Member
  • Port Hacker
  • Posts: 4176
  • Location: England
Re: GR400's 400. First timer restoration
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2015, 09:30:47 PM »

A excellent introduction to your restoration, I will look forward to your updates
“...inside every old person is a young person wondering what the f*@k happened.”
Terry Pratchett

Offline GR400

  • Club Member
  • Port Hacker
  • Posts: 626
  • Age: 57
  • Location: Canterbury, Kent
Re: GR400's 400. First timer restoration
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2015, 01:17:59 PM »
Thank you for positive comments.

I am restoring it back to original and have managed to source quite a few of the parts needed over the last year, including an airbox and stock 2R9 exhaust system, but my one nod to what I would have done with it had I owned it in 1980 will be a pair of Martin's lovely expansions, so the standard silencers will stay in the loft.  Will go into more detail in 'part 2'.
'80 RD400F, coming together slowly
'75 RD350B, my retirement project at this rate!
'01 ZRX1200R
'01 GSX-R1000 K1

Offline RD JOCK

  • Club Member
  • Port Hacker
  • Posts: 3161
  • Age: 57
  • Location: Ayrshire Scotland
Re: GR400's 400. First timer restoration
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2015, 07:07:42 PM »
good write up Gary  and a good base for a restoration

look forward to watching your progress  8)
club member 075
AYR SCOTLAND              
400F Minter
400F   Tidy 
ypvs f2
400E rough
05 ZRX 1200R
RD350LC

Offline GR400

  • Club Member
  • Port Hacker
  • Posts: 626
  • Age: 57
  • Location: Canterbury, Kent
Re: GR400's 400. First timer restoration
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2015, 03:48:06 PM »
So, my second diary entry.  A bit of a long post because it covers a year, but having said that by many of your standards progress is pretty slow.  I don’t get to spend loads of time on it, and I set out to enjoy myself and learn as I go, so it was never going to be a quick job.  I am trying to be methodical, photographing and labelling as I go, which slows me down even more but I hope will stand me in good stead when it comes to putting it back together again.

I have never been one for shopping, but I must say I am enjoying the other part of this job, scouring the net for parts.  Some are quite elusive and there is a real sense of satisfaction from tracking down those hen’s teeth bits.  I have had a few decent wins so far, and have also bought some crap!  That learning curve again.

So, back to June 2014:  Having got the bike home and washed off the worst of the dirt and rubbish, I got my ‘before’ shot for Del and rolled it into the garage.  Hopefully the next time it moves it will look a bit different.



My first purchase was a main stand from David James to get the bike upright and stable while it is coming apart, so off came the Allspeeds to fit the stand.  Any thoughts of refurbishing them were soon put to bed!



Next off were seat and paint set.  Tank and panels had aged to a greyish matt white patina, and the tank had acquired some brush painted 70’s style hot rod flames, presumably to cover a few knocks or scrapes, but on the whole they were in decent nick, with no major corrosion or damage.  Tank looked clean inside, and when tested over my wheelbarrow ‘wash tank’ it didn’t leak, so not a bad start.  The only minor problem was that one of the balance pipes on the bottom of the tank was blocked, but after an hour or so working on it with a stiff bit of wire I got it cleared.  Battery box also came out at this point to get access to back of oil tank, so that was first item for the ‘black stuff’ shelf.

Air box would also have been taken off at this point but it didn’t have one.  The very rough looking K&N’s have since gone onto the scrap pile, and I found a nice condition standard air box complete with all clamps and rubbers.   It is off a 250 so will need the funnel cutting down before I use it.

Seat and cowl were not so good.  Cowl had quite a few cracks and splits around the mounting holes, and one chunk fell off completely when it was unbolted from the seat.  Mr 3ma came to the rescue there with a sound cowl he was prepared to part with.  Seat strips were missing so I bought one of the pattern pairs off Ebay following recommendations on here, and I now had a complete set ready for paint.

Then the seat…  This had had an amateur re-cover, by the looks of it when the pan had already started to rot.  Whoever did it clearly had a sheet of old vinyl, a load of nuts and bolts left over from another job, and a bet with someone he could use them all!



When I stripped it down all was revealed – Turning to dust before my eyes.



A good used seat or solid base for restoration went onto the shopping list, and then I had a stroke of luck.  An unused NOS seat came onto Ebay with a ‘buy it now’ price well below the £400+ I have since seen a couple go for, so I snapped it up.  Lovely, it really is brand new. 



Indicators and rear light came off next.  I will get new indicators when the time comes, but the rear light is good and I hope will clean up OK.

Mudguards were 2 different stories.  Rear completely rotten and into the scrap pile, but the front is solid and undamaged, so would be good to re-chrome.



Post script to that story is that some time later a thread on here resulted in Mr Nuts offering a NOS front mudguard for sale.  I couldn’t resist it, so my original one is now a spare.



Next task was to strip out all the electrics.  So coil and indicator self-cancel units removed, then the painstaking task of unpicking and labelling the birds nest in the headlight bowl.  Once it was all disconnected, off came the clocks, light box and switchgear.  Along the way I twigged that it is not supposed to have 2 neutral lights, so had in the past gained an earlier rev counter.  After doing my research on clocks through the ages I found a nice condition replacement, complete with correct lower case ‘rpm’ script.

I also saw a set of fully refurbished switchgear advertised, so thought I would save myself a job later on and bought them.  Unfortunately not as good as the seller thought they were, so back to square one and will do my own.  That was a lesson learned in different peoples’ definition of ‘very good’.
 
Loom and fuse board could then be taken off frame, and it started to look like I was making some progress.



The loom looked pretty rough to me – Dirty, with lots of peeling tape, but when Dave and Glen  kindly dropped off the front mudguard they took a look and assured me it should be fine after a warm wash in a pillowcase, and some re-taping.

I was all set to do that when I had another bit of good fortune.  On my daily Ebay scan I spotted an ‘E’ loom for sale in a very low key ad.  Words suggested it was good used condition, but the photo showed the paper part number sticker was still attached to it.  I contacted the seller and it turned out to be NOS.  He had bought it many years ago from a Yamaha dealer and ended up not needing it.  I got it for a decent price, less than a new pattern one, and I am much happier using that than fixing up the old one.



Next was brakes.  Front all came off OK, but one of the master cylinder cap screws was seized solid.  I tried all sorts to shift it, but only succeeded in snapping the screw in the reservoir body.  I found another one quite cheap but when I got it was even worse than mine, so I am looking for a good front master cylinder if anyone has one?

Back brake system all came apart with no major dramas, so callipers are now on shelf ready for rebuilds.  I have seen recommendations for NSR Nick, so expect they will be heading his way at some stage.

I had from the start been keeping an eye out for 2R9 exhaust systems.  I plan to re-live my youth and fit expansions, but want to keep the main stand and have the option to easily put it back to stock, so I at least needed downpipes.  I know they are one of the notoriously difficult parts to find, and months went by without anything coming up for sale.  I suppose back in the 70’s and 80’s by the time the bikes got to a couple of years old they were often fitted with full system expansions and the tatty ‘worthless’ original systems binned!  I put Allspeeds on my RD350 in the late 70’s and don’t remember seeing the stock silencers again.  My Dad probably took them to the tip.

Anyway, after months of not a sniff of anything a full 2R9 system popped up on Ebay with a buy it now price of £425.  The seller put it up one evening and I lucked in by spotting it almost as soon as it went up.  To cut a long story short I picked them up a couple of days later.  Downpipes are near perfect, and silencers need chrome mainly in the places you don’t see when fitted, but are undamaged.  I didn’t appreciate at the time what a good deal that was.



So with an exhaust system on the shelf, I turned my attention to the front end and a few more nasties.

When I bought the bike the headlamp was not fitted in the bowl, and the front indicators were angled backwards.  I can only guess that someone had tried to move the bike by pushing against the indicator stems?  Net result, both headlamp ears bent and one stress cracked, and I think that the mounting points on the headlamp bowl have also been pushed in a bit. I found a replacement pair of ears quite cheaply, so not a major problem.

When the forks came out, the full extent of damage to one of the mudguard mounting points could be seen.



I am sure some of you engineers would weld that up and re-tap it, but I don’t have those skills, so it was cheaper and a lot less hassle for me to source a replacement lower leg.

Then finally, when the forks were out and the top yoke off, the bottom yoke didn’t want to drop out of the frame tube past the bearing track.  With a bit of persuasion it all came out together, and the obstruction was revealed.  It looks like at some time the steering lock has been forced off, which made a right mess of the slot in the stem.



I have a spare triple tree, and there is no steering lock left in the frame.  I probably won’t replace the lock but just fit a key cover flap to make it look tidy.

I put a jack under the front of the frame to take the weight and moved to the back.  Wheel out first.  Both wheels look straight and undamaged so should refurb nicely.  I will find out if discs are good enough to skim, and am keeping an eye on all the ‘tyres advice’ threads for when I am ready to take the plunge.

Edit to say this is a rogue pic below! Not my wheels and nowt to do with me


Chain guard, shocks and swinging arm came off next.  Shocks look like the originals – They are very shabby and I doubt have any damping ability left in them.  I will hang on to them but don’t think rebuilding is viable, so will replace with new.

Now that I had unrestricted access I took the cdi box off.  Is there any way of testing this before the bike is built up again?

Not much left of it now…



While I was getting on with this I made contact with Med and sent him my paint set.  I was not in a rush for it, but liked the idea of getting it done and having something perfect and finished in the garage to cheer me up while I am up to my neck in degreaser.  After some courier problems (won’t use them again) I have it all back and on display until the bike is ready for it.  A lovely job and I am another happy Med customer.



As I said previously I want to run expansions, so after seeing the pics of Paul Dawkins bike and hearing all the positive feedback, I asked Martin Newlyn to reserve me a pair from his next batch as and when he made them.  I got the email earlier this year and took delivery.  They are superb, a real work of art.  I can’t decide whether to put them on the bike or hang them in the house!

I couldn’t resist dressing up what was left of the bike for a couple of photos – Thanks Med and Martin.



The final part of the strip down (other than when the engine comes apart) was to pull engine out of frame and remove the stands.  So here you have it, a matching numbers RD400F!



That just about competes my first year or so of RD400 ownership, and is pretty much where I am now.  I am currently getting all the black bits ready to go.  I have agonized for months over powder versus paint and where to get it done.  It seems to me that this is one of the most important decisions I will make.  There is nothing else that can’t be changed without dismantling the entire bike!  I have some ideas, but am happy to hear all suggestions and recommendations before I take the plunge.  I live in Kent but will travel for the right job.

I am hoping my next post will be a happy one with lots of glossy black bits.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2016, 06:03:34 PM by GR400 »
'80 RD400F, coming together slowly
'75 RD350B, my retirement project at this rate!
'01 ZRX1200R
'01 GSX-R1000 K1

Offline Admin

  • Admin Group
  • Port Hacker
  • Posts: 2762
  • Age: 59
  • Location: Europe
  • Webmaster and European Correspondent
    • Drone pilot and website Designer
Re: GR400's 400. First timer restoration
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2015, 04:42:19 PM »
Great thread already. Keep us posted  8) 8)
Just my 250 special left now !

Offline Sfbrain

  • Sfbrain
  • Club Member
  • Port Hacker
  • Posts: 2939
  • Age: 58
  • Location: Kent
  • sfbrain
Re: GR400's 400. First timer restoration
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2015, 06:53:34 PM »
Hi GR400,

Snap !!!  :)

I am also just starting the resto of a 400, mine is an 'E' rather than an 'F'

mine looks like this ....



To the best of my knowledge there is no test for the CDI unit, the Yamaha supplementary workshop manual for our models, details some tests for the components down the line from the CDI, it simply says, if all the other tests are OK, the replace the CDI unit  :D :D :D

The best thing is to test the generator (these have been known to 'partially fail' ( I had this with my 250E ) and if the genny is ok, hope the CDI is  ;D 

Done a few Yam 2-stroke twins in the past, if you need any help, just shout, i'm not far from you too, in North Kent  ;)

Have fun

Steve
RD250E (Running)
DT175C (Almost !!)
FS1E '74 (Running)
XS750E (Waiting)
GSXR750F (on bench)
CB750K2 '74 (waiting)
CBR900RRN '92 (Running)
GS1000S '80 (waiting)
TRIUMPH TINA '63 (restored)
Honda P50 '68 (Running)
RD350B (Running)
TDR250 (waiting)
Club Member 1556

Offline twostrokelooney

  • Club Member
  • Port Hacker
  • Posts: 1253
  • Age: 59
  • Location: Shrewsbury, England
Re: GR400's 400. First timer restoration
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2015, 10:17:52 AM »
Excellent thread, you've put as much effort into documenting this as you have into the actual resto so far.... 8) 8)
Just started my 250E, hopefully it will look just like yours when finished next year. Was going to just ride and fix mine but I've had lot's of little problems so going to start again to be sure it's A1. Great work so far and good luck going forwards.
Never Mind The Four Stroke.
Club Member 170.
RD350 (1973)
RD250E
TZR250 2MA YPVS
Z1000J3

Offline Neil53

  • Club Member
  • Back Lane Scratcher
  • Posts: 139
  • Location: Sidmouth
Re: GR400's 400. First timer restoration
« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2015, 10:45:30 AM »
Hi, great thread and story but was really drawn to your comment that the bike was bought new from Bridge Garage in 1980. I bought my new RD400F from Bridge in 1980 though suspect mine was post August as had a 'W' reg - is yours a 'V' reg?
Guess they sold quite a few RDs and Bridge Garage was the biggest in the area back then.
Good luck with the restoration, I got myself a yellow RD400F back in February and is great fun to ride, maybe not as quick as I remember but nothing beats the front end going light and the exhaust note hardening when it hits 6,000revs!!

Offline 5port

  • Club Member
  • Port Hacker
  • Posts: 7707
Re: GR400's 400. First timer restoration
« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2015, 12:41:14 PM »
Great thread, thanks for posting. :)  For the airbox, it is worth tracking down the 400 type joint between the top and bottom halves. Cutting down the 250 one is a bit of a fallback option.   Cheers
5port

Offline GR400

  • Club Member
  • Port Hacker
  • Posts: 626
  • Age: 57
  • Location: Canterbury, Kent
Re: GR400's 400. First timer restoration
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2015, 01:08:56 PM »
Thanks gents.

Steve - Great to know there is another one local'ish.  Would be good to catch up sometime, and the offer of help may well be taken up particularly when I am struggling to remember how something should fit!

Neil - Reg is HOD 776V.  First owner was Paul Crowley, then Glen Harper.  Would be a nice coincidence if you knew either of them

and just seen 5port post - Will look out for the proper airbox part
'80 RD400F, coming together slowly
'75 RD350B, my retirement project at this rate!
'01 ZRX1200R
'01 GSX-R1000 K1

Offline 5port

  • Club Member
  • Port Hacker
  • Posts: 7707
Re: GR400's 400. First timer restoration
« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2015, 05:43:58 PM »
Thanks gents.
and just seen 5port post - Will look out for the proper airbox part

Yes, especially as you have some time, and don't be led astray by the parts book, the 400 type "joint" points down into the lower airbox!     At the same time( ::)), watch out for 5J6 needles and #284 O-8 needle jets, both of which are rare-as...!  Also, don't be afraid to ask about engine stuff, I run a couple of 400E,s that I have rebuilt. Cheers   
« Last Edit: August 22, 2015, 05:47:38 PM by 5port »
5port

Offline Motty

  • Richard
  • Club Member
  • Port Hacker
  • Posts: 4176
  • Location: England
Re: GR400's 400. First timer restoration
« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2015, 09:19:09 PM »

Great to see the progress made, thank you for taking the time to post
“...inside every old person is a young person wondering what the f*@k happened.”
Terry Pratchett

Offline GR400

  • Club Member
  • Port Hacker
  • Posts: 626
  • Age: 57
  • Location: Canterbury, Kent
Re: GR400's 400. First timer restoration
« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2015, 08:52:59 PM »
35 years of oil and grime removed from frame, and now ready for stripping and powdercoating when all the other (smaller) bits done.  Not the nicest job I have done, I think it took as long to clean me afterwards!  I am considering Windridge Coatings in Broadstairs.  They are quite local to me and they have done lots of bikes over many years.  Their website tells a good story, but does anyone have any experience of them?



I also got my forks stripped now my 19mm hex socket has arrived, so stanchions are ready to send off to Philpotts.  I think there was a thread in the last week or so asking which up the springs go.  Mine are laid out as they came out, so one with tight coils to top and one to bottom!  I think the advice on here was tight to top, so will get it right when they go back together.  Do many of you replace or upgrade springs when you rebuild forks?

The parts book does not I think show the small springs on the damper rods, I assume for bottoming out? Do they all have them?



As ever, all advice gratefully received
'80 RD400F, coming together slowly
'75 RD350B, my retirement project at this rate!
'01 ZRX1200R
'01 GSX-R1000 K1