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As the title so states, I acquired an EX500 which has not been registered since 2003. Strangely, it's a 1998, so somebody parked it after only 5 years on the road with 20,000 miles on the clock.

Anyways, I got it for free from a friend of a friend. Guy got it years ago from the original owner (who was an acquaintance of his) in very non-running condition with no paperwork, owner had lost the title. He had it for a number of years just parked somewhere and was finally moving and just needed it gone. Long story short, I got it over winter for free and didn't even have to go far to get it, thing was less than a half an hour from my house. I didn't know what to do it at the time as I was busy with other stuff so I tossed it in the backyard with a tarp over it to keep the rain and fog off.

Two weeks ago, I took vacation from work, went camping for a few days, got back with several more days of vacation to kill. After being up for a couple hours on a Friday, I decided to see if it was possible to get this fossil of a bike running in one day without spending a dime, using only parts I had on hand.

Rolled it out to the front yard, which is a difficult task on mostly flat 17 and 18 year old tires. This is how is spend the winter on my property.



Proof of the 17 years off the road. The last registration sticker.



First order of business was the carbs. No way were they going to be any good as it. Got them off with little fuss and immediately began disassembly. I used my fantastic little electric mini-impact and that this is a miracle worker on old phillips head screws. Zipped every one right off the carb brackets no problem. Once I had the carbs able to be split, I discovered the vent tube was very stuck in place and it didn't take much force to break. No worries though, I didn't need to be careful as I have spares. I flipped the carb upside down to remove the float bowls and that allowed whatever liquid was inside to ooze out the open vent hole. Not a good sign.



And now behold, the carburetor from the black lagoon! Or is it green lagoon? 馃槅



Amazingly, these carbs cleaned up very nicely in only a half an hour in the carb soak. I did have to replace the pilot jets with my spares, but everything else I was able to clear up. Initially,the pilot circuit on one of the carbs was being stubborn and was plugged, but I was able to clear it out with some safety wire, brake cleaner and compressed air.
I had good used float valves which went in along with still good used float bowl gaskets. The gaskets had been sitting in a bag for a number of years, so it's not like they've been compressed for a long time and haven't dried out. Sealed up fine.
This was the result after the cleaning.

 

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Discussion Starter #2
Oh here's another disaster shot of the other carb body before cleaning but after the first carb body got the cleaning work done. Not how the brass jets are just black.



Some interesting issues I ran across when rebuilding these carbs was both vacuum slides being fairly corroded and was was even stuck. Had to spray some lubricant (nothing aggressive, didn't want to risk damaging the rubber diaphragm) and pry it up with a screwdriver. I was able to sand off the corrosion and get them both moving freely. No holes or tears in the diaphragm too, dodged a bullet there I'm sure.

The other big issue was the butterflies. The left side, which I consider the primary as it's the spring loaded side, was almost stuck but not quite. The right side, the passive side as it has no spring and relies on the spring pressure from the left side, was seized solid and this was after a half hour in the carb soak. I alternated between tri-flow and PB Blaster and was eventually able to get it moving but not very easily.
Ultimately, I think I spent close to half an hour just freeing up that butterfly. I was never able to get it floating freely as it should when new, but well enough to not drag, it would sometimes flop on its own when I rotated the carb body around as a test.
The left side took much less work to free up. I got it to the point where it was be a little bit stiff at first whack open after sitting then move freely if I kept playing with it. Let it sit for 30 seconds and the first opening of the butterfly would have it bit stiff again but immediately free up. Good enough for this bike.

Here's an assembly shot with everything working as well as it ever will.



Tossed those suckers back in and actually put the PAIR system back in too. I know I know, I can do the PAIR delete with my eyes closed and a beer in one hand, but I just wanted to get it running and I didn't want to take the time just yet to swap in my spare block off plates.

You would think that the air filter would have been shot if only by being used a stuffing for a mouse nest but it actually wasn't. It's got a somewhat greasy stock air filter but is otherwise fine and no chunks falling off to clog the carbs.

Once the fuel and air system was squared away, it was time to look at the ignition system. Before pulling the plugs, I trimmed the old plug wires to get rid of the corrosion which was definitely there. The, I sprayed the dickens out of the spark plug wells with 100psi of compressed air. There was a ridiculous amount of crud down there, not to mention some rust and other corrosion. Sprayed out the area under the carbs and starter too, don't want a brush fire in my front yard.

Then I finally pulled the plugs. How this man managed to wear out a set of spark plugs in 20,000 miles this badly is beyond me. I am also baffled at how much worse one is than the other. Note how the right one is now of the "electrode free" variety. I can't remember if the oil there was engine oil or some penetrating oil I put down in the spark plug wells before hand.

 

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Discussion Starter #3
So those spark plugs were garbage bin ready. Not to worry, I tend to replace plugs long before they are worn down to the nub, plus all the complete engines I have acquired over the years usually have plugs in them, so I rooted through my pile of various spark plugs and used the best looking two. I went with a set of DR8's instead of DR9's (gen1 vs. gen2, not sure why factory changed the spec requirement). They're a bit hotter which is good if this thing is an oil burner.

Keep in mind, at this point I still have not spent a single cent on this project. That is, no runs to the store. I do wind up using a few gaskets and seals I had bought specifically as spares but that's money spent a long time ago so I don't count it.

I don't install the plugs right away. I wanted the chance to crank the engine over with no compression to build oil pressure. So, I drain the oil and pull the old filter, which both actually looked like I could have gotten away with using, but I had a 2.5 gallon jug of Rotella T4 and a spare new in box filter (the master of spare EX500 stuff), so no sense using the old stuff. That's when the 2 hour oil pressure debacle began.

I used a spare car battery, an Optima Yellow Top, which is one hell of a spare battery to have kicking around, with jumper cables for cranking in this operation. Didn't want to kill the battery for my daily just trying to build oil pressure. Well, first time I hit the starter button, nothing happened. Not a damn thing. I checked all my safety switches and they looked good, fuses good, so I take it apart run sandpaper through the contacts, still nothing. I run a continuity test on the old switch and got nothing with the button pressed. Grabbed a spare, pressed that and got excelled continuity. Swapped that out in a jiffy and got the starter spinning.

That's when the 2 hour oil pressure debacle began.

After 10 minutes of off an on cranking, always being careful not to overheat the starter, I wasn't able to get any pressure. I tried cracking open the oil filter a turn, I even took the oil filter completely off and not a drop. So I drain my fresh oil out and capture it in cleaned out quart yogurt containers to reuse and pop the oil pan off. I also removed the clutch cover in hopes of removing the clutch basket to access the oil pump mount bolts but no go, gotta split the crank to do that. It did give me the chance to remove all the clutch plates and wipe them down so no sticky clutch when I fire it up.

Oil pan internally was in good shape, no sludge or metal chunks, just the usual stringings of sealant from the factory when the cases were mated. I pulled the oil pump pickup tube, at which point a bunch of oil was suddenly released from some sort of vacuum air lock and made a nice mess. I tuned the engine over by hand, watching the oil pump and it spun just fine. Huh.
Put it all back together, fill it with oil, crack the filter just a bit, crank it over and finally I get fresh oil coming out of the block behind the filter. Snug it back it, crank again for a bit and FINALLY the oil light goes out! Success!
Just as I heaving a sigh of relief, I spot the oil pickup tube on the work bench.....Uhhhhh....
Oil change number 3 in just as many hours, if not less, drop the pan, slap the pickup tube back in, slap the oil pan back in, still reusing the original gasket as I got lucky and it came off in one piece stuck to the pan, no RTV, banking on hopes and prayers as a sealant. I am grateful this bike has an aftermarket 2-1 (a lefty no less, allowing the factory center stand!) which runs clear of the oil pan, so no need to remove it. Fill it up with the same re-re-captured oil, build pressure once again and finally, for reals this time, I'm done scattering oil all across my driveway.

Oh, and I had dumped a decent amount of Marvel Mystery Oil down into the combustion chambers before all this, so everything on the bike got a dusting of oil.

No pictures taken during all of that as my hands were covered in oil the whole time.
 

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The last part of the puzzle was a fuel source. I wanted to use an actual fuel tank, not a temporary one like a water bottle or something.
Original tank was junk as was the petcock. So, grabbed the best looking spare tank I had. As for the petcock, I had to get creative. All my spares were pretty nasty and missing the screens, so I had to bank on my quick tank cleaning abilities and no crud breaking loose from the petcock, otherwise I'd be cleaning carbs again very soon.
I dropped the best looking turd of a petcock in my carb cleaner for a bit after taking it apart. Lucky me, spare NOS gaskets to the rescue. I had a new gasket for the fuel selector lever, a diaphragm (OEM, not one of the junky aftermarket ones) and petcock to tank seal. Get it all as clean as I can in short order, put it on the tank and mount the tank. I grab the fuel can for the mower and start filling. Of course, it start leaking.
Long story short, my pristine tank had mysteriously gotten whacked good and hard by something right next to the petcock and got a hole in it. This tank was originally on the totaled bike I fully restored last year in my thread where I finished with a white bike with green wheels. My guess is the hole happened during the accident as it was fine before.

On to another tank, this one used to be Apriliarider's way back in the day, that bike now belongs to my brother and this tank, ironically, also hasn't had fuel in it since 2003. This one has a small bit of debris inside, I do my best to blow it out with the compressor. Slap it together and no leaks this time.

An amusing anecdote here, I completely skipped over the tank from the freebie I got from the towing company I got at work last year for parts to finish the restoration of the white bike mentioned above as the cap is locked and key is MIA. The next day, I drilled out a hole to access the hidden screw, using a spare gas cap mount as a template on where to drill. Turns out, If you remove all the external allen head bolt, drill a hole, remove the hidden phillips head bolt and wiggle the cap enough, it'll come off still locked. Tank looked perfect inside, though very much low and high sided on the outside. Pull the petcock off and of course it's mint. I do a quickie rebuild on it just to be sure there's no bits of anything hiding and there isn't. I transfer over my new diaphragm, dump old gas and add fresh stuff. Good to go.
Here's a picture of the junky one I used initially (on the right) with the fresh and clean one out of the locked tank (on the left).

 

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Discussion Starter #5
Back to the one day shot at running this thing, I'm in the last hour and a half of daylight and just about ready to attempt an actual start.

Despite having the petcock sort of rebuilt with a good diaphragm, fuel just flowed regardless, but it didn't leak. So, fuel supply wasn't an issue.

I was still using the car battery with jumper cables to crank. Since I now had to add throttle to the mix and, as I was soon to discover, manual choke operation (the plastic choke lever was broken so I had to open the controls so I could pull on the choke) on top of making sure the positive jumper cable didn't ground out on the frame, I had a friend who had just showed up help by holding the jumper cable safely away from the frame while I manned the everything else.

I didn't fire at first, but that's because I had no choke. Once I was able to give it choke, it began to make some noise like it wanted to fire. It was interesting keeping tension on the choke cable while hitting the starter button and giving it a bit of throttle but it finally fired off. Smoked like a choo choo train and ran pretty terribly, but it ran. Cooling system was full of surprisingly not brown coolant, so I was able to run it for a while and get some heat into it.
I ran it for several minutes and it smoked and smoked, cleared up a bit but not as much as I had hoped and still sounded like it was firing on 1 and a half cylinders. I was still amazed I was able to get this bike running in one day entirely with what I had laying around.
I wasn't able to test ride it, needed a bike sized battery in it plus other stuff needed to be done first too, but a running engine was a huge step in the right direction.

Here's how it sat at the end of the day next to my daily EX.



Not content with just a running engine, I wanted to have a bike I could ride up and down the street going through the gears, so I kept at it the next day with the help of my brother. More on that tomorrow, it's late and I'm tired.
 

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good write up nice read. I noticed you wrote "Oh, and I had dumped a decent amount of Marvel Mystery Oil down into the combustion chambers before all this, so everything on the bike got a dusting of oil".
probably the reason for the smoking engine mine did the same when rebuilding the gen 1 on first start up it smoked worse than a freshly lit BBQ. but gradually subsided during the the 2 heat cycles. once burned off it was fine no problems. keep it up mate.

edit. I also seem to remember it first ran like a dog breakfast due to plug contamination a new set of plugs once settled down fixed that.
 

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Reading that almost makes me feel sorry for the motorcycle. After 17 years of peaceful slumber, all of a sudden Saabnut barges in with his technical expertise and near infinite supply of free spare parts to resurrect it from the grave. That poor thing didn't have a chance.....some people refuse to just let sleeping dogs lie.

Fun write up, Saabnut. Well done....
 

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This is my favorite kind of project. Great write up. lol at "heaving a sigh of relief, I spot the oil pickup tube on the work bench.....Uhhhhh...." Classic. Happens to me regularly.

What type of mini electric impact do you use? I need to get one of those.
 

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the screws are not pozzie or phillips but JIS that why folk have issues removing them not having the proper driver you can make one reprofiling an old crosshead driver. I only remove them once. then they go in the bin to be replaced with allen bolts
 

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the screws are not pozzie or phillips but JIS that why folk have issues removing them not having the proper driver you can make one reprofiling an old crosshead driver. I only remove them once. then they go in the bin to be replaced with allen bolts
Yes, replacement with allen is best. I've had good luck with grinding my assortment of phillips screwdrivers to fit various JIS sizes. And I also have a drawer full of old flatheads which have been ground to fit various size carb jets perfectly. Makes a huge difference.
 

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In the final anaysis, was it actually a gift? :-0 Anyway, smoking on start up can also be stuck rings that free up after a little thrashing. A little flooding with today's glue-like gasoline, some time to harden and there you go - stuck rings.
 

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My bike sat for 13 years and I didn't have nearly as many problems bringing it back to life. I did have to clean the tank out heavily and buy a new petcock since mine was completely corroded through and not rebuild-able. Not sure how you go about cleaning rust out of a gas tank but I put a gallon of apple cider vinegar in mine, shook it around every five minutes for about an hour, and then flushed it out with a hose and dried it out with my air compressor. Got probably 90% of the rust out of it, and ended up with a pile of rust bits on the driveway afterwards. Also had to put the front wheel against the wall and drop it to 1st to free the clutch up.

Anyways cool write up, I always love bringing the dead and abandoned back to life, 3 of the 4 bikes I've owned I resurrected.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I was expecting it to smoke due to what I dumped down the spark plug holes, plus stuff sitting that long will smoke regardless on firs start up. At that point, I had not checked the valve clearances which I was certain were way off. They always are as most people don't bother having them checked and the length of time it took for the engine to hold idle without choke was a strong indication of very tight exhaust valves. The engine did eventually clear out, just not until the following day.

I do want to share some pleasant surprises of the good kind I encountered while working on this bike.

First, it came with both original keys which, after some liberal use of lubricant, worked on every lock, including the ignition.

The wiring harness is completely original and un-hacked. Nobody had even done any funny business with it and mice never found it, the latter of which is a serious miracle.

The engine had no oil leaks and I think still has no oil leaks, though I believe the oil pan is weeping now, no surprises there after reusing the gasket 3 times.

Forks were not leaking, at least not initially. After swapping out the fluid for fresh stuff and running it up and down my very bumpy backroad of a street, one side did spring a leak.

Original air filter in decent shape I already mentioned.

It's a 49 state bike and I am in California, so that was a bunch of CA emissions crap I didn't have to remove.

More on this maybe later this evening once I'm back home from work.
 
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So, the next day, Saturday, rolled around. I was taking a short break from running so no usual long Saturday morning run. Instead, I headed over to my brother's shop (he runs a bicycle repair shop) to get some work in on my Klein Adept Pro project. After a couple hours of that I hit a snag and had to stop. My brother was just putzing around not doing much so I conned him into helping me work on this project. We got burritos and headed back to my place.

First thing on the menu was swapping out the ancient and cracked tires with tires marginally less old from whatever I had up in the rafters. I also needed to change out the chain. Not because of the external rust but because a bunch of the o-rings had long vanished so it was internally rusted beyond use. I usually chop my chains when I replace them but I was certain I had saved one or two from part outs. I did know I had an impressive pile of sprockets, so replacing those would be easy.

Got the rear wheel removed in short order while my brother drank my beer, which was fine as removing the wheels is something I can do in my sleep. I then hand off the sprocket carrier to my brother to swap out the sprocket for a less worn unit. He noted that the bearing in the sprocket carrier did not turn smoothly, not to worry, I've saved a good number of my old bearings at the regular service internals as they are often still good. Handed him one and he went to town on it with the hydraulic press. Rest of the wheel bearings felt good in the donor wheels so left those alone. Rear rotor on the donor wheel, however, appeared warped, which it was and badly, I'll post up a picture later along with an amusing explanation. Swapped over the original rotor and was good to go.

My brother and I then tackled removing the swingarm to swap out the chain, which I managed to find just one of in my supply. It's quite externally rusty but all the o-rings were in good shape and it had not stiff links, good enough for this project. 90 weight gear oil went on it after install. My brother added some fresh grease on the unitrak linkages and we slapped it all back together. We were working fast so no time for pictures.

For those wondering, the wheel and tire combo I picked out of the spares had tires that were 10 and 12 years old. Not something I'd do on a normal bike, but they're far better than what came off and have been in dry storage for years, they'll do the job until I source tires less than 5 years old.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Once the rear suspension was back together, we had to get the rear brake working correctly. It would slow the wheel but not well or easily. Brake fluid was all sorts of nasty. When I first cracked the bleeder open, I could barely get anything out with the vacuum bleeder. So, I jammed on the brake pedal again and again to free things up. Brute force in this case worked well. Got lots of popping I could feel through the pedal which I assumed was the rusted piston breaking free. That was the initial path of least resistance. Once the piston freed and got its full travel, I was finally able to force the bleeder to unclog. Rusty brown fluid is what came out and I could see rust flakes in the fluid. Not good, but I'll worry about that later. With clear fluid flowing, I capped it all off and was rewarded with a surprisingly strong brake that didn't leak.

On to the front. Lifted the front end and got the wheel off. Donor wheel had good bearings but, like the rear wheel, had a warped rotor, so I had to swap it out for the original. Steering head bearings were miraculously not sticky or notched, so left those alone, at least for now. Forks were ultra spongy so I knew I'd need to change the fluid but that could wait until later. Got the "new" wheel installed and went about bleeding the front brake as it was arguably worse than the rear. Got it bled and right at the end of that process is when my brother made the astute observation that we both missed how badly worn out the front pads were. I'll have to post a picture of it tomorrow but it was seriously impressive how little pad there was. One side had to have been 100 miles from grinding on metal. I have no idea how this bike got blown out pads in 20,000 miles. My pads on the daily have 50,000 miles on them with probably another 40,000 remaining.

Well I didn't have the time or patience to make a nasty mess trying to rebuild the terrible looking original caliper, so into the the brake bin I went. Scavenged a decent looking gen2 caliper, a pair of pistons and the necessary seals and put it together just like that. Took all of 10 minutes as everything was already taken apart. For pads, there was a used set floating around which didn't have any brake fluid spilled on them so those went on. Did my best to do the caliper line swap as fast as humanly possible to avoid making a mess and managed with admirable results. Another couple minutes of bleeding with my brother manning the brake fluid reservoir had the front brake generally grabbing the rotor, though the used pads would prevent a nice hard bite.
 
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"Free" bikes. It seems that, in either time and/or money, they are not so much free as they are a test of your perseverance.
 

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Mine came from a guy who had 17 bikes. It was basically a barn find. His family said he drove all of them. My brother in law bought 13 of them one being my ex. They were all meticulously taken care of. Mine is a 97 and sat from 03 - 18 when I got it. Amazingly it fired right up and drove (not that good though) It had 36k in just 5 years of that guy driving it while owning a lot of other bikes in NY none the less.

The first thing I did was carb cleaning and PAIR DELETE. hint, hint.

I eventually cleaned the tank with a bit of PB and beebees. It worked great. Took all the rust out in like a half-hour of swirling.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
What type of mini electric impact do you use? I need to get one of those.
The brand is Makita, it's a 1/4 inch cordless, 18 volt, not sure of the model as it belongs to my landlord. I do know he get it less than 2 years ago.

the screws are not pozzie or phillips but JIS that why folk have issues removing them not having the proper driver you can make one reprofiling an old crosshead driver. I only remove them once. then they go in the bin to be replaced with allen bolts
Usually I do replace all the phillips head-like screws on the carbs with allens, same goes for the cylinder head coolant tubes, the ones you need to remove at every valve check, except those I can swap in standard m6 bolts with a 10mm head. If I keep this bike around long enough, I'll pull the carbs off again and swap out the hardware.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
"Free" bikes. It seems that, in either time and/or money, they are not so much free as they are a test of your perseverance.
Absolutely. My daily was technically free, key word technically.

This bike also being free and so far very much free. Spending time spinning wrenches is fine by me, I do that for fun. Spending money I prefer to do a bit less of.
 
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