Big Blue - Tin, Frame and Wheels
Big Blue - Tin, Frane and Wheels
Unlike the the previous rebuild, this frame was actually in quite good shape. A common issue with this generation of frame is the rear brake pedal mounting shaft which also doubles as the right side foot peg mount. Frequently these are crash damaged and need extensive repair, but on this frame it was fine. The threads were a bit rough, but they cleaned up well, so I considered myself lucky that no major welding work would be required. I did spend some time checking that the frame was square and that the rear turn signal mounts were straight, but other than that all was good.
When it came back from being powder coated it looked great. I used NASCO for the powder coating here in London, Ontario and they did a really nice job for a very reasonable price.
I used new steel rims from Suzuki, although I don't really care for the big "EXCEL" stamped in the side of the flange. I positioned it on both wheels to be on the left side of the bike so they wouldn't be as easily seen when it is sitting on the side stand. The stainless steel spokes I ordered from Waldridge Motors Ltd. as they are just around the corner from me here in London, Ontario. They buy them from Central Wheel in the UK and the cost was less than ordering from Buchanans in the USA, while the quality appears to be the same. The fit was fine and they laced up with no issues. The tires are IRC GS-11(AW)'s that Terry at Wolfe Worx ordered in for me. These are 'inch' sized tube tires so the profile looks correct when they are fitted, and I've found that they work well on the GT750.
The coils on the original bike were pretty rough so I decided to replace them. Replacement coils are available from many places, but HVCCycle in the USA was close and the cost was reasonable. Easy peasy I thought ! I was wrong.
First of all (and had I thought about it I would have realised this) the wiring colours were the same on each coil. Not a big deal and I figured it out with little difficultly. Once I had it all together, I just did a quick ohm check so be sure the coils were all wired correctly and found that I had a dead short between power and ground. Further investigation showed that the power lead was interfering with the mount cradle which was a bit annoying as these are sold as direct replacements for the Suzuki GT750 coils. I had to relieve the cradle as shown in the photo to ensure I had clearance and then reseal the damaged leads with silicone. Less haste - more speed as they say and if I'd just taken a moment to check this when originally mounting them I would have saved myself some work. Lesson learned !
I started to look at seat options, and I was not really happy with what I had available for seat foam. If you take a look at the first photo you can see that while I could probably salvage the foam, it would not be easy as the two I had available were both in rough shape.
Replacement seat foam is available from several places - just not here in Canada unless I wanted to pay someone to recreate the original shape. The last time I did that, the cost was ridiculous. Suzuki still sells the entire seat for later model machines - and the cost for those are eye watering (about $425 in USD, so almost $600 in Canuck bucks), and I'm sorry to say that they actually look terrible. Replacement foam is offered by a number of companies elsewhere: you can buy from eBay at about £115 out of the UK and as well in the US I know HVC Cycle sells foam for $125 in USD. Shipping would add to both those numbers of course.
Looking further afield I noticed that CruzinImage now has its own web site (just Google to find it). Mitsuo has been selling items via eBay for quite some time and I have bought several things from him in the past. Some have been very good value and also excellent quality, and others have not been quite so "successful". His price for seat foam was a very reasonable $49.95 in USD, and shipping was quite reasonable also, so I decided to give him a try. I have to say that I am more than pleased.
I've had a set of new fork tubes/stanchions from CruzinImage sitting on the shelf for years waiting for exactly this opportunity and then recalled why it is Mitsuo hasn't offered them since then ! Basically the diameter of the tube at the lower end where the valve fits over it is too big. The tubes otherwise are very well made and chromed all the way to the top so the usual rust and pitting problems you see on the area covered by the fork ears should never be an issue with these, but making the bits fit together was a bit like working on a British bike as everything had to be fiddled with.
The plan was to grind down the over sized part on the lathe, which posed a small problem as my little lathe has too small a through hole in the head stock. I managed to mount the tubes using a steady rest and ground down the chrome the amount I needed. Then I had to turn a small step in the valve to get it to seat properly as the circlip sat too high in the groove due to the diameter being just a hair too big. After it was all done I had a very nice looking set of tubes and could move on to the next step of getting the wheel mounts etc. and do a dry fit of the headlight ears and bucket just to be sure everything actually did fit.
Excellent reproduction fork tubes are avaliable from Franks Forks in the USA for those of us in North America. Having them rechromed is also an option if you can find a company that will agree to do the work. A couple of hydraulic ram repair companies I spoke to before we left Calgary wouldn't accept motorcycle tubes for hard chroming as they said they'd had trouble with the tubes bending while being ground, but I do have the name of a company outside of Toronto here in Ontario that have done this work. In the UK of course there are options and Tarozzi in Italy make reproductions as well.
One thing you run into when updating the wiring harness is that the one three blade connector used for the regulator is no longer available for the electrical connector panel. There are two main styles of panel: the early style used on the J/K and possibly the L has rectangular holes for the connectors, and the later style used on L, M, A and B has slots cut for the connector latches. The connector originally used had a large back flange that stopped it from pulling through the panel and the new connectors available today do not have this. The later locking style of connectors have an additional problem in that the only ones available all seem to have the locking tab on a different side to the old locking connectors so even if it had the flange, if you want to use a new connector the slot in the panel is in the wrong place.
My solution won't work for everyone, but I salvage the old connectors and reuse them whenever possible. In the photos below, on the left are the two different styles of panels, and on the right is a a photo showing the original style flanged locking connector on the right and a new style connector available for purchase today on the left with arrows pointing to the problem areas. The older style connector found on the J and K models looks the same, but is missing the fitting for the locking tab.