Sunday, November 23, 2014

Vintage fuel tank, installing a Wix 33001 Complete In-Line Fuel Filter

Update: I have changed the carbs to Dell Orto VHB30 with build in replaceable filters however I kept this configuration and it is working like a charm.

No matter how hard and carefully you clean a vintage fuel tank, some crud will still continue to come out. Some is coming from the fuel itself, some, like in my case initially, was just 20 years worth of deposits from sitting in a barn for too long.
Long story short, I have decided to put a massive, non fuel pump, fuel filter before the carbs, especially since my vintage Mikuni do not have filters. Wow, I cannot believe I just write that, who makes carburetors without filters, arg!

So I purchased a very fine filter (see Wix 33001 ) and a couple of T couplings and put it in the middle of the flow coming from either the main line or the reserve.
The trick is to make sure it stays above the float bowl of the carburetors or, Archimedes will tell you, you are not going to get any fuel. I achieved this by making it rest atop the air filters and carefully routing the fuel lines. Done. It works like a charm and my carbs no longer require cleaning every 5 minutes ;-)
 Oh and yes, the dark stuff you see it is crud, the paper filter is actually white. Sold yet?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The maiden vojage

Very first ride after the rebuild. This is prior to timing tuning and carb fine tuning, in other words, she runs a lot better now.

Take two on the tank and powder coating parts

Well the original tank did not hold, it got worse and worse and it is a Swiss cheese waiting to happen, holes everywhere. Thanks to the good people of Norcal Guzzi Owner Group, I have found a fellow Guzzista who had a etxra one in excellent condition considering it is a 40 year old tank!
Here are some shots of the tank and a bunch of other parts I sand blasted and powder coated. Enjoy!

- powder coats from
- facilities: The tech shop 
- two component epoxy coat by 3K
before, good shape, most of the dings are actually a bad paint job

blasted, ready for coating

before pin striping
all done with epoxy clear to save the decals, done!

after chrome powder coating

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Thank you time: Mikuni carb and the best resource out there for parts and knowledge

If you own anything with a Mikuni carburetor, you must be aware of Sudco International. I have been doing business with them and considering my vintage VM28s are nearly one of a kind, they were a life saver! Chad spent time figuring out what parts would fit and he treated me like I was ordering hundreds of dollars of parts when in fact my orders have been very small. A big thank you, Ms Elly would not be alive and soon back on the road without their help! If you need help with tuning or understanding how VM28s works, there is no better resource than the Kawasaki Triple site since these were OEM on these two strokes bikes.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Ms Elly, mostly clothed

Engine operational, all electrical work is done, lights and turn signals functional, I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and she looks amazing!
Photos are actually from the 4th of July weekend, I guess she is declaring her independence from rust, mostly, but most of all from an unduly, untimely demise in a barn.


For effect, this is the before picture about three months ago.

She lives! First engine start in probably 20 years

After resolving most of the issues in my previous post, she still would not start. As it turned out, all she needed was a few minutes to fill up the carbs. What you see here is the very first start after my previous attempt a few minutes earlier did not succeed and I decided to let her sit for a minute.

I was so tuned to listen for a loud twin cylinder rumble (like my Ducati) that I nearly missed it. At first it just sounded like the starter picked up revs but I could barely tell the engine was running! In this video the revs are already north of 2000 rpm as the idle speed was way off and so was the air fuel mixture. Still, she is alive! Now the tuning can start.

Vintage Mikuni VM28 and other mistakes I have made on the path to success

  1. If you clean the carburetors except the main jet because "everything else looked clean, the main jet must be clean too" you are not done. See photo of the main jet finally removed for cleaning and covered in 20 years of crud. I initially decided to leave them alone be since they would not come out. Well I should have known better and to go after them precisely because they would not budge! Lesson learned. Not to give away the ending but after cleaning the main jet, she started right up.
  2. You cannot bench test a generator (I said generator, not an alternator). Well you can but you need to provide current to the electromagnet shields or nothing will happen since the rotor needs to actually cross a magnetic field in order to generate current. If you forgot your high school physics, you will disassemble and clean the generator three times looking for a problem that is not there. Ask me how I know.
  3. The shift linkage can be installed either outward or inwards, towards the center of the bike. If you install it towards the pegs (outward), the shift pattern is reversed so when you think you are in 1st, you are actually in 5th and so on. Sooooo when you think you are in neutral, you are actually between 4th and 5th in an accidental neutral......Face palm!
  4. Timing is everything. Especially if you want to start a 4-stroke engine but your distributor is incorrectly lined up to spark at the exhaust open cycle, two cycles off. Oops.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Fuel tank done

Go ahead, say it, it is freaking awesome looking isn't?!!
The logo is an automotive grade decal from Harper's. The pinstriping is 3M automotive tape as recommended by Greg Bender (see "This old tractor" site)

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Custom throttle cables, VM28 Mikuni rebuild, fenders back on

Not to give away the ending but I discovered that some of the oil passages on one of the heads required more cleaning. So I scrapped the idea of top end assembly and first start this weekend. Bummer.
I was however able to finish:
- headlight bucket de-rust, priming and painting
- rear fender and electrical pre-assembly
- Mikuni VM28 re-assembly
- custom made throttle cables
Here is the end result, with the tank and the seat gently dry-fitter for effect :-)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Engine bottom end rebuild and marriage to the frame

Ms Elly just gained several hundred pounds but she looks terrific!

I received the missing parts from Harper Guzzi, including the brand new half bearings. All squared off, the pistons are exactly the same weight, the connecting rods are within 1g from one another, off they go back into the crankcase.
Then I finally put the transmission on and sure enough I forgot the clutch rod plunger so I had to do it again. Sigh. All well what ends well. I dry fit the top end and realized that it makes the engine assembly too heavy for the upcoming "marriage" back to the frame so I took them off. This is after I was actually contempt to wait another week with the engine sitting on the workbench since since it was the end of a long day and the workweek was looming. Thanks to my wife however, aka my very own tool girl, we did put the engine back on the frame. It was her idea, she knew it meant a lot to me to make progress. What a gal! My wife. The bike too I guess.
But I digress, I then put the new lower cylinder gaskets on, the o-rings on the short studs and dry fit the cylinders again (see photo). This is mostly so I can keep dust from going into the crankcase and on the pistons that I carefully coated with assembly oil.
I then fill up the engine oil and gave it some hand cranks to make sure we start priming the pump and we keep the crankshaft covered in oil. She is in good shape to sit and wait for more progress this weekend. Next, carb rebuild and custom lower throttle cables. Stay tuned.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Dry fitting, a preview of things to come

As I was working on disassembling, checking and cleaning the brakes, I decided to dry fit the body panels and to install the new police handlebar. I think it looks fantastic, what do you think?

BTW: That is not the paint, that is the primer you are looking at. I will probably do a two tone metallic blue and white.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Time for some body work

The fuel tank is looking better now that is all stripped to the metal and that I have removed a ton of rust and paint from it but it has 40 years worth of dings and dents. It will take several rounds of lightly applied filler and sanding to bring it back to life but it will live another day. The good news is that the original petcocks are in good shape, they just need disassemble and cleaning.
The fenders looked pretty good once primed but there are a few spots that need more work so I am spot sanding them and going back until they are perfect. Hopefully I can post the final product soon.

Clutch back on the engine

Special thanks to Patrick H. from Norcal Guzzisti who patiently waited two weeks for me to finish the job to get his clutch centering tool back! I am telling you, Guzzisti are some of the nicest most enjoyable people you will ever meet.

Police handlebar

Straight from Mandello Del Lario (Italy), how cool is that? Meanwhile the parts needed for bottom end and top end rebuild are painfully in back order. Sigh. I guess body work and clutch is next while I wait for them.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Generator, starter, tail light and braket, and Speedo rebuild

Both the Generator and the Starter had a ton of rust and deposits. I took them apart and clean them thoroughly. I have decided that I am going for a patina restoration to keep the character of the bike. It took her 40 years to land here and earn that patina, I think she deserve to show it with pride. So I only re-painted the parts that absolutely needed protection. You can see what I mean on the starter, only the body was repainted to protect it from further decay.

Breather box and tail light bracket also could use some new paint after removing all the rust and they are now ready for final assembly.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The mother load: everything a mechanic needs to know about Guzzi Eldorado

This is a shout out for Gregory Bender, the awesome guy who created and maintained the most impressive and extensive collection of data about maintaining and restoring a Guzzi Eldorado (and others). Here is the entrance to Paradise
Thanks to Gregory I found the clearance numbers I was looking for for the connecting rods and the crankshaft and soon I will know if I need to replace the bearings. Fantastic.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Soda balsting and molasses baths

An old trick from hot rodders is to soak your metal/engine parts in a mix of 9 part water and 1 part molasses to take off the grit and the rust with little to no effort. Well it works indeed, the molasses bond with the rust releasing sulfuric acid and the parts come out clean. I have been soaking a few parts for a week now and I am amazed. The air box, for example, was dark red it was covered with so much rust. I just checked it today and it is almost metal gray, most of the rust was eaten away by the bath. Love it.
before soda blasting
after soda blasting. Still need some work but it is clean
Today I have also started soda blasting some of the engine parts like the push-rods and the heads. They just have crud and some surface rust so soda blasting works great. Here some before and after photos, enjoy. More soon, I just cracked the engine open, stay tuned!

this is the inside of the engine, I guess if you have spider web it is truly a barn find? Ugh. Poor thing!

Friday, March 21, 2014

The delivery

A few shots from the delivery. The so called crate I paid for was a joke, sigh. At least she is here now and the restoration can start.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

U-joint ready for reassembly

Here it is, ready for two new cross bearings...oh, right, need to order those ;-)

Update: parts came in. Here is a sneak peek at the first cross being installed. The fit is perfect and reinstall is a breeze compared to disassemble. It feels nice and tight, ready for thousands of miles of fun I hope!
and finally, the piece de resistance....fully rebuilt u-joint