by Ken Madden
My first order of business in cleaning up the Yamaha 650 was to disassemble it partially. I removed the gas tank, front and rear fenders, blinkers, tail light, side covers and shocks.
Lowering the rear three inches wasn’t hard after I decided to use solid struts instead of shocks. Right now, a couple of pieces of angle iron temporarily holds up the rear end until I make the struts. Using angle iron with holes drilled in line allowed me to test different ride heights for the right stance and/or fender clearance. The struts will bolt onto the stock shock mounts, so the shocks can be replaced if needed. The front end does not need to be lowered, so it rides at the stock height.
Once I had the stance I wanted, the aluminum was my next target. The engine cases were severely oxidized and looked as if they had been no stranger to the pavement. 80 to 120 grit sandpaper quickly smoothed out the deeper scratches. I then moved up through the sandpaper grits and ended the process at 600. If there were no deep scratches and all I had to remove was oxidation, I would have started with 320 grit. 3M wet or dry automotive grade sandpaper lasts the longest.
After the sanding was done, I used an electric drill with a cotton buffing wheel to do the polishing. Most hardware stores have buffing attachments and polish compounds for under ten bucks. If your aluminum is clear coated like the rims on the 650, just buff off the clear stuff without sanding. Underneath you will find brilliant, well-protected metal.
A lot of Japanese bikes have a seam that runs around the bottom of the tank. This always bothered me, so I decided to fill it. I had to take care of a couple of dents in the tank as well, so I had it sand blasted. Sanding the tank or stripping the paint is okay, too. The tank was pretty lumpy; I used filler to get it straight and to fill the seam along the bottom and front of the tank. If you’re going to use plastic filler on the tank, make sure to sand it with 36 grit paper to bare metal for proper adhesion.
The stock rubber-mount rear fender was to be retained but modified. The fender was chrome, so it had to be stripped. I accomplished this by grinding off the chrome with 40 grit paper on a drill or grinder (a chrome plater’s shop can also strip the chrome). Once the chrome was off, I welded up all unnecessary holes. I also strengthened the fender mounts before smoothing them and creating a peak with filler. I smoothed the tank and fenders to 180 grit then primed them for block sanding.
Because I am replacing the long, stock seat with a solo seat, I cut the old frame crossover and molded the ends of the tubes.
The front fender is off a Suzuki something and will receive the same treatment as the rear fender.
- Installing the solo seat
- Frame molding