Getting into rubber !

One of the (many) problems you run into with trying to restore older equipment is sourcing the soft rubber and plastic components. While some items such as plastic panels and trim can be repaired, if they are too sun bleached/perished or hazed, the rubber or plastic material is really beyond repair so replacement is the only option. Some parts are being re-issued by the manufacturers in their original form – good examples are the water pump driven gears (17522-31031) which Suzuki has re-released a few times, as well as the frame side covers (47101-31810 and 47201-31811)  for the 1972/1973 GT750’s.  Unfortunately, quite often the part offered as a replacement does not match the original  – an example would be the oil pump rod boot on the GT750 which originally had a pleated sleeve (16765-31200) and which now is only available as a plain seal (16765-31201). As well, some parts have not been offered for so long that even trying to find a good used example is almost impossible, never mind trying to find a NOS (new old stock) item as the supply was sold out long ago.

Another problem you run into, is that in many cases, the part you need was never offered as a separate component to begin with together with its own part number, so locating a NOS part to copy is not even an option. The rubber hoods that cover the water temperature sensors for the cooling fan and water temperature gauge that came with the wire harness for the GT750 for instance. While it is quite easy now to restore the wire harness as the components for the wiring are readily available from several sources including  Vintage Connections, the rubber hoods are unique, do not have a part number and were never available as a separate item. This means to get a good one requires you to scavenge salvageable hoods from other old harnesses.

So – replica parts are increasingly a necessity. The availability of replica parts tends to be model specific – early CL/CB Honda or Z1 and H2 Kawasaki parts for example are readily available. In contrast good quality late 1960’s and early 1970’s Suzuki replica parts and services actually are only really starting to come into the market, but I expect these will increase in number rapidly over the next decade. With that in mind I have started to try to help the process along by collecting a few specific good NOS or used parts and have started to arrange to have them copied and made available for sale – but not by me. While this may change in the future, currently I’m just interested in increasing the supplier list for folks who, like me, just want to keep these old girls running and looking original so other than satisfaction, I’m not making a penny on these.

For my 1977 GT500 rebuild, one item I’d been trying to track down for some time was an original style battery protector (33651-15000). While it would have been easy to piece something together that would do the same job, it would not have looked the same. This specific part has not been available from Suzuki for many years, and the NOS stock seems to have disappeared long ago also. The part was used on the T/GT500 series of twin cylinder oil burners between 1968 and 1977, and the Cobra and Titan models were, and still are, quite popular both as collectable bikes as well as for use on the vintage racing circuit.

After much searching, I was finally able to locate a used item in very good condition which could serve as a pattern, and then I hooked up with Gregg Clauss  the owner of Clauss Studios in California.  Gregg has been providing reasonably priced, small volume ‘unobtainium’ reproduction plastic and rubber parts for  Lambretta, Vespa, Honda and Kawasaki plus many other makes for several years now, and is well-known on the US west coast in the vintage motorcycle world. As of last week, Gregg can now add Suzuki to his list of parts offerings !

In the photo to the right, you can see the original battery protector on the bottom, and Gregg’s copy is above it – I’m really pleased with how well it turned out. These replica battery protectors are now available directly from Clauss Studios so just drop him an email to get pricing and delivery info.

If you own a Suzuki Cobra, Titan or GT500 and care about its originality, I suspect you probably really need one !

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