Kawasaki KZ750 E (1980)


July 2010 -

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  This was a FREE motorcycle.  I saw  the posting on Craigslist at work one morning and told John M to write to the owner (but wrote an email myself just to make sure). The guy wrote back to John saying he was going to give it to the first person who had written.  John called me wondering what sort of person replies to CL ads so early, and when I checked my email it turned out that the guy meant me. I was the first person to respond and the New Jersey owner said he would hold it for me until he was at his camp in Schroon Lake the coming weekend. 

  John M and I were there at noon on Saturday and in less than 5 minutes had it loaded on the trailer and were gone.  We got two keys, the title and just a few bits of info about the bike's history.

On the trailer coming back from Schroon Lake

  The bike looked good, even in the small photo of just the front end in the CL posting.  It was complete and stunningly original, with just 13k miles.  That was the good news.  It obviously had these issues:
  • + of course, dead battery
  • + rear tire was worn
  • + typical rust /corrosion on chrome parts, the exhaust pipes and wheels

  Once in the backyard, it turned out to have these additional problems:

  • + front brakes wouldn't release
  • + front tire had a puncture
  • + gas tank had a JB Weld patch and had more holes than Octomom's condoms
  • + starter solenoid not working
  • + broken wire from starter switch
  • + right muffler cracked at joint behind footpeg
  • + rear brakes worn unevenly
  • + carburetors seriously clogged
  • + broken tachometer cable
  • + non-working horn
  • + foot brake lever solidly frozen
   Still, the gauges and turn signals were undamaged.  Both side covers were in fine shape.  The seat was very nice.  Chain and rear sprocket were just dirty and not worn.  Bike had some surface rust and corrosion spots but was remarkably un-molested and original... just like it seemed at first.  Nothing stripped or taken apart. No damaged screw heads.  Nothing bent.  But oddly, while the horn was there and not working, some kind of wiring attempt and bracket had been rigged for a replacement which wasn't on the bike.
  I started with the electrical system since connecting a good battery did not get the starter to turn over.  I found a broken wire under the battery which was easy to patch with a new piece, but still no starter, though all the other lights, signals and gauges worked.  Fuses were fine.  I was able to figure out how to jump the solenoid leads to verify that the starter worked and that it was the solenoid that was defective.  I got a spare solenoid from a bike that John had stripped and I was able to easily wire that in place.
  The next step was to deal with the locking left front brake.  On disassembly, the piston on the left caliper was frozen, the right seemed ok, but the pads were worn unevenly.  Even the rear caliper was sticking. I was able to get the left side piston out but it was corroded. I found a set of calipers from the parts bikes John and I had stripped and used the left one instead of replacing the piston.   I figured I could re-use the right and rear calipers/pistons since I was able to push the pistons in with a clamp and pump them out smoothly enough with the brake lines connected.  Messy.  It took far longer than I expected to get the three calipers assembled, filled with fluid and back on the bike.  New pads on the front were the easiest part of this.
The front tire had a puncture that my inexperienced attempt to plug didn't fix.  I found a used tire I could use for the front at M&S Cycle in Scotia and also ordered a new rear one.  The newly mounted tires went on after I re-installed the brakes. 
  The carburetors were next.  The cables weren't stuck and the choke moved just fine, but the bike only fired up and ran full out with starter fluid, getting no gas at all.  I removed the carbs and saw that they were seriously clogged.  I cleaned the jets but could not remove all of them.  My biker friend Carl suggested that since I had cleaned the jets fairly well, maybe they would work wihtout removal.  He said I should just re-install the carbs and try it.  I did, and the bike started right up.  However, the bike ran somewhat mildly and didn't seem to spin to redline. 

 I didn't quite understand that there was still something wrong with the carbs.  Even after a few rides, the bike was subdued (pleasant enough but not what I expected from a sporty 4 cylinder bike, even from 1980).  The idle setting was finicky, too, taking too long to warm up and run with the choke off.  After getting an inspection on a cold ride in Nov., the carbs gave a small pop and ran full out from then on.  Very sharp and able to wind out in any gear.  An inexpensive and successful fix but quite time-consuming.

  The gas tank.  Underneath, there was a large patch at the rear with JB Weld.  Even after patching the two additional large holes and obvious rust spots with more JB Weld, the tank (which had looked just fine) still needed a full interior coating to deal with numerous pinholes and possible other rusted spots.  I used a POR-15 kit ($45) which had 3 components.  It took a week to complete the repair.  It was tricky to use but produced a very hard, uniform coating.

Work List:
  brake pads both sides, front $40 10 hours
  tires, new rear, used front $140 2 hours
  tank repair kit $45 5 days
  horn $10 1 hour
  starter solenoid $20 3 hours
  brake fluid $10 2 hours
  spray paint (touch-up) $10 1 hour
  oil and filter $20 1 hour
  muffler repair & hose clamps $8 2 hours
  tach cable $20 1 hour
  spark plugs $10 1 hour
  battery $40 1 hour
  carburetor work   30 hours
  rear brake level and muffler carrier un-frozen   2 hours


Fall 2010 -On the Road




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Edited Jan. 29, 2011