New-to-me '93 XR650L - Needs work - Advice please? (Long)


10 replies to this topic
  • Poe

Posted July 31, 2006 - 06:28 PM

#1

Hi all,

I'm a 41-yr-old kid who grew up on dirt bikes (all 2-strokes - with the exception of brief stint with an XT350). Sold my last dirtbike (a sweet RMX250) several years ago to buy hop-up parts for my car (HUGE mistake) - and regretted it almost immediately. Got the bug bad enough to do something about it again a couple of years ago, and decided to try a street bike - and bought a new 2003 Suzuki SV650. Absolutely LOVE it. However, I was still missing the fireroads/trails/woods. Well, it's finally time to get back to my roots and get dirty again. A good friend/coworker/street riding buddy offered me a deal I couldn't refuse on his old 1993 XR650L. Nice shape for it's age... smog junk removed, big IMS tank, "XR's Only" Supertrapp-style exhaust, lowering link, etc. The odometer's only showing about 4k miles if I remember correctly. Good chain/sprockets and unused tires.

Here's the deal:

About five years ago, he decided it was time to freshen up the top end, so he put in a new piston/rings, etc. but decided to re-use the existing timing chain. He said it ran well for a short while, but apparently the timing chain jumped a tooth and threw the timing off - so he put in a new timing chain. He said it was running afterward - but not great. Either the valves or the timing, or both needed adjusting. About that time, he found a good deal on a new XR650R, so he bought that and pushed the poor 'L' into a corner of his garage without ever completing the job - where it sat until yesterday. He said he had put a new gasket on the right case cover, but all the oil eventually leaked out past it. One other thing: He THINKS he had a couple of parts left over after he buttoned up the top end the second time and says he honestly can't remember now if he went back in and put them back in or not. He can't find the parts now, so he doesn't know. He said they were something to do with the auto-decompression mechanism. He THINKS they were part numbers 8 and 9 in this microfische: clicky He said he thought there was a little ball-bearing on the end of the spring, but the fische doesn't show anything like that.

So, I need to figure out what-all I need to do to get it running again. This is what I've come up with. Please feel free to offer advice as you see fit. My experience with 4-strokes is very limited.

1) Pull carb & clean thoroughly (I've read many threads here regarding that, so I think I'm good there).

2) Clean tank & petcock. What's the best way to do this? It's completely dry inside now, but he thinks he left fuel in it.

3) Remove valve cover (cylinder head cover) and try to determine if those decompression release parts (or others) are missing. (He says it's possible to remove the cover with the engine in the frame, but it's a pain). Double-check timing & adjust valves. Will I need a new gasket up there - or can I re-use? Do you use just the gasket dry - or apply some kind of gasket sealer/adhesive?

4) Do something about the right case cover gasket. Should I replace with a new one or try to make the old one work with some gasket sealer/adhesive?

5) Add fresh oil & gas, replace the old air filter, stick in a new battery, push the start button, and pray.

I have a shop manual, tools, and the desire to RIDE this bad boy, so please let me know if you can add to or correct any of the above. Any/all help will be GREATLY appreciated.

Thanks in advance!

  • jbird710

Posted July 31, 2006 - 07:15 PM

#2

1) Pull carb & clean thoroughly (I've read many threads here regarding that, so I think I'm good there).

2) Clean tank & petcock. What's the best way to do this? It's completely dry inside now, but he thinks he left fuel in it.

3) Remove valve cover (cylinder head cover) and try to determine if those decompression release parts (or others) are missing. (He says it's possible to remove the cover with the engine in the frame, but it's a pain). Double-check timing & adjust valves. Will I need a new gasket up there - or can I re-use? Do you use just the gasket dry - or apply some kind of gasket sealer/adhesive?

4) Do something about the right case cover gasket. Should I replace with a new one or try to make the old one work with some gasket sealer/adhesive?

5) Add fresh oil & gas, replace the old air filter, stick in a new battery, push the start button, and pray.

Thanks in advance!


2.) You can use gas or a good solvent to clean. A bottle brush (brush on the end of a flexible handle) will help with the tank. It may be rusted. If so, there are chemicals you can you to clean it out and reseal it if there are no holes. Most motorcycle shops sell the chemicals.

3.) It might be a good idea to pull the head and check the valves to see if any are bent and that the valve seats are in good shape based on the description of the "slipped" timing chain. Replace the head gasket if you remove the head. Valve cover gaskets usually can be reused if not damaged, but from the sound of your friends mechanical abilities, he doesn't sound like the kind of guy who owns (or uses) a torque wrench. I've always had good luck just putting a coat of grease on cover gaskets and I have had the best luck installing head gaskets dry.

4.) Replace the gasket and tighten the bolts to the correct torque. Sealers are a temporary fix.

5.) Good luck. Take you time and do it right the first time. :thumbsup:

  • Poe

Posted July 31, 2006 - 07:30 PM

#3

Thanks a lot JBird. I'll have to consider pulling the head while I'm at it. The tank is an aftermarket plastic tank (IMS I think), so rust won't be an issue. The bottle brush is a good idea.

  • jbird710

Posted July 31, 2006 - 08:19 PM

#4

A plastic tank probably won't be that hard to clean; you may be able to get away with just sloshing around some gas in it. As much of a PIA as it is; if you do pull the head, you'll have that secure feeling of knowing exactly what the condition is. While I've never worked on that particular year model, I've never had to remove an engine from the frame to work on it.

  • Poe

Posted August 01, 2006 - 03:16 PM

#5

Good news... I talked to the previous owner today and he says he pulled the head after the timing chain slipped and had the local Honda shop check it out just to be safe - and it was fine - so I'm not pulling it. He says the chain only jumped a tooth or so... because the engine was still running - though badly. He says it started and ran much better after he replaced the timing chain, but still wasn't quite 100%. I'm thinking that if he did actually leave out those decompression-related parts, that could be why it wasn't running so great. Just a guess. Hopefully, I can dial it in. I'll clean the carb, double-check the timing, replace any missing parts, and adjust the valves and hope for the best. If that doesn't do it - I'll probably hand it over to a pro. I got it for next to nothing, so I'm not complaining.

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  • XR650L_Dave

Posted August 02, 2006 - 07:44 AM

#6

Good news... I talked to the previous owner today and he says he pulled the head after the timing chain slipped and had the local Honda shop check it out just to be safe - and it was fine - so I'm not pulling it. He says the chain only jumped a tooth or so... because the engine was still running - though badly. He says it started and ran much better after he replaced the timing chain, but still wasn't quite 100%. I'm thinking that if he did actually leave out those decompression-related parts, that could be why it wasn't running so great. Just a guess. Hopefully, I can dial it in. I'll clean the carb, double-check the timing, replace any missing parts, and adjust the valves and hope for the best. If that doesn't do it - I'll probably hand it over to a pro. I got it for next to nothing, so I'm not complaining.



The decomp stuff won't affect the running, and the starter can start the engine no problem without it.

Dave

  • jbird710

Posted August 02, 2006 - 09:45 AM

#7

Good news... I talked to the previous owner today and he says he pulled the head after the timing chain slipped and had the local Honda shop check it out just to be safe - and it was fine - so I'm not pulling it. He says the chain only jumped a tooth or so... because the engine was still running - though badly. He says it started and ran much better after he replaced the timing chain, but still wasn't quite 100%. I'm thinking that if he did actually leave out those decompression-related parts, that could be why it wasn't running so great. Just a guess. Hopefully, I can dial it in. I'll clean the carb, double-check the timing, replace any missing parts, and adjust the valves and hope for the best. If that doesn't do it - I'll probably hand it over to a pro. I got it for next to nothing, so I'm not complaining.

Glad to hear the head's ok; it can be a pain to work with. Hope cleaning the carb will fix the remaining problems. :thumbsup:

  • cleonard

Posted August 02, 2006 - 10:05 AM

#8

The cam chain does not slip unless something is wrong. That can either be that the chain is so worn that the tensioner can't keep it tight any more, or the tensioner is shot. While I have never seen a 650L or 600R motor with the chain so bad that it slipped, I have seen them make a lot of chain slap noise. On both my friends 650l and my 600R the real problem was the tensioner. I would replace both the chain and the tensioner to be safe.

Of course, the other possibility is that it was put together with the chain off a cog.

  • Hooter4444

Posted August 03, 2006 - 12:11 AM

#9

IMO I would replace any gaskets you expose, for a few dollars you can get an upper or a complete gasket set. I am sure you would be throwing a wrench or two if you got it all back together, it runs like a top, and then you discover a leaking gasket. Do it right once and you'll have no regrets. As far as sealer goes, I have always used it. A little (I do mean little) will go a long way. I would consider throwing a stage 1 Hotcam in there while you are fooling around if you can afford it. There is a great post from BWB63 about this, but I cannot remember the exact thread. In essence it makes the L a power horse. I am waiting for winter to do mine in addition to a Wiseco 2.04 over bore, just to see what it will do :thumbsup:

Good Luck,
Rick

  • Motosprtman

Posted August 03, 2006 - 04:58 AM

#10

what bothers me here is the mileage, only 4K on it and needed a top end job? hmmmmmm... I would completely disassemble again and go through everything and install all new gaskets too, new cam chain tensioner a must. Send the head off to a reputable machine shop and replace all valves

  • Poe

Posted October 01, 2006 - 07:40 PM

#11

It's ALIVE!!!

So, after several weeks of finding no time to work on the XR-L (added to the fact that I don't have a good place to work anyway), I finally heeded the advice of a friend and took the bike to his friend/mechanic. This mechanic currently works at a very small Triumph/Artic Cat dealership in a very small town, but he previously worked at a large Honda dealership for several years and knows XRs inside-out. So anyway, I dropped the bike off at his shop and told him what little I knew about it and asked him to just go through it and check everything he thought needed to be checked and fix whatever needed fixing. Well, three weeks later (this past Friday) he called and said it was ready. The bill was more than I was hoping it would be (isn't it always?), but was very fair for all the work that was done. I still have less money in the bike than I would have spent for a typical solid XR650-L given the prices I've seen on here and eBay so I can't complain. He put nearly 12 hours of labor into it - and found several things that I surely would have missed, so I'm positive I did the right thing. I could go into all the gory details of what he found & fixed, but suffice it to say that the top end of this engine had "issues" - having had two different people messing around in there before it sat for five years prior to my buying it. Nothing major like bent valves or anything like that... just lots of minor things that would have turned into BIG things if not addressed. Anyway... the bike runs FLAWLESSLY now. It starts easily hot or cold, and runs STRONG. Idles smooth & quiet and ROARS when you twist the throttle (especially with the loud "XR's Only" Supertrapp-style exhaust). It shifts nicely and revs out smoothly. I'm ready to rock & roll now! There's a great-sounding dual-sport ride coming up in a week or so in the NC/TN mountains that I'm going to try to make with a couple of co-workers. Anybody else here doing the "Snowbird" ride described in this link? clicky





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