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Author Topic: 76 KZ400 "Grimy"  (Read 20810 times)

Offline diggerdanh

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76 KZ400 "Grimy"
« on: Jun 04, 2012, 02:30:57 »
I figured it was about time to post my thread here to share and track my progress. I picked up my first bike (new rider too) a little over a year ago in May of 2011. It looked like this when I unloaded it and rolled it into my garage. My wife was less than pleased at the "hunk of shit" in her garage.





The pictures make it look better than it was. It was really, really grimy, lots of corrosion on chrome and aluminum. I don't think anything was shiny. It was missing a lot of pieces here and there (side covers, cam cap covers, missing a lot of cotter pits, brake and clutch lever were broken, speedo cable was broken, dry rotted tires, old tired battery, etc). But it ran, only had a little over 14,000 miles on it, and it had good bones, no major rust - just the normal rusty bolts here and there - and hardly any spots of rust on the frame. Some PO had shot a coat of flat black on the tank but didn't take the time to do much sanding of their poor bondo work.

From what I could tell from the title history and the seller, it had been sitting for a while but then I was the third owner in less than a year. The 2 owners before me fixed a little here and there but they left me a lot to still do.

Over the first two months since I cleaned, cleaned, cleaned, fixed broken parts, replaced the missing ones, replaced the fork seals and dust caps, added gaitors, performed regular maintenance and cleaned up the appearance a little with smaller turn signals, replaced the rear bumper and fit a rear cowl from a 78 kz400 in its place, drilled the front rotor, sanded, painted, polished, etc. It was a trial by fire in motorcycle maintenance and repair. A lot of stuff was missing: the caps over the valve adjusters, the side covers, one passenger peg. A lot of stuff was busted: broken speedo cables, both brake and clutch lever were broken, the threads on the front axle were stripped - the castle nut was just kind of hanging there, horn didn't work, turn signals didn't work, forks leaked, needed new grips, needed new tires and tubes, the stock mufflers had baffles drilled out and it was running really rich and wouldn't rev past about 3000 RPM.

Here are a few pics of how it looked as of July of 2011 after a few months of cleaning, repair, and getting everything sorted. It cleaned up really well. Under all that grease, grime, dirt and rust was a good looking bike. It really was in good shape for the most part, just looked like it had been neglected for quite a while.













At this point the only real customizations I had done so far were the paint, rear fender removal, use of the 78 rear cowl, rear tail light, turn signals all the way around, aftermarket headlight ears to lower the headlight, and lowered the gauges. I wrapped the seat with a piece a leather from a coat I picked up at Goodwill (for $7 !!). Some former PO had trimmed up the foam a bit and I cleaned up the mess a bit, but it still looked a little lumpy and I planned to take it apart and trim up the foam a bit again eventually. I had also just put on the new tires this weekend (Shinko 712s, 100/90-18 up front and 110/90-18 rear) and I had a new set of mufflers on the way: a set of 23" megaphones (EMGO probably, an Ebay score).

By October I had the new mufflers, superbike bars and new grips installed. I finally got the carb issues sorted too - it was missing the rubber plugs on the pilot tubes. I replaced the coil and added new plug wires and boots, and I did the coil-power mod as well as replaced the old fuse box with a new ATC-style box and fuses. I sanded (steel wooled mostly) the black paint off the headers and they weren't in bad shape - chrome wasn't beautiful but it had more of a polished stainless look. 

I had not ridden it by this point yet other than up and down the driveway a few times because I was to take my basic MC safety course starts a week after these pics. Luckily we had a warm fall and I was able to get a couple short rides in October and November.









That pretty much takes me through the end of 2011. I'll follow up with another post or two to bring things up to date.
« Last Edit: Jun 04, 2012, 02:57:23 by diggerdanh »

Offline diggerdanh

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Re: 76 KZ400 "Grimy"
« Reply #1 on: Jun 04, 2012, 02:41:08 »
As can be seen in the last pic of the first post, the paint on my tank started to bubble and I found 2 small pinhole leaks. The tank has been RedCote'd by a previous owner, but after stripping off paint I found a lot of bondo (up to 1/2" in some places) and I started thinking of getting  a new tank. I used some epoxy to fix the leak and that worked fine, but I was still looking for a new tank.

In the meantime I had collected the electronic ignition parts from 82-84 KZ440s and in February 2012 swapped out my points-based ignition for the electronic one.

In April my Dad sent me a link to a guy selling a tank on Craigslist in Tennessee that looked in really good shape for $50. At the time all the tanks on Ebay were either NOS tanks with a price to match, nice on the outside but rusted on the inside, or nice inside but dented outside. I finally broke down and bought that tank.

It was awesome. It had some rust dust inside the tank but I fixed that by filling it with Evaporust and letting it sit a few days. Once that was done I set about stripping the old paint. There are a couple very small dings in the tank but it was very nice. I stripped off the old paint with paint stripper, scouring pads, wire wheels on my rotary tool. And then finished cleaning it up with steel wool and sand paper. I liked the clean look so much I decided to keep it like that (at least for a while). So I sprayed it with a couple of coats of satin clear.

Over Memorial Day weekend I swapped out the petcock and lid on the tanks and installed the new one. While I was at it I took the carbs apart again and cleaned them. There was a ton of junk in the petcock screen, which might explain why it was running a little rough the last time I took the bike for a ride. And the right side carb had some sediment and gunk in it too. I polished the carb piston covers and float bowls while I had them off.

The bike started right up after I had everything together and it idled really steady, better than it ever had before. But I know that I messed up the float height on the right side carb when I had it apart. The bike ran well except for when I tried to give it a quick twist of the throttle and then it stuttered a little and even backfired once.  A few days later I reset the float heights and everything ran fine.

After putting the tank on I knew that the green headlight bucket and side covers didn't look good with the raw tank. So I disassembled them and painted them satin black. I also removed the 78 rear cowl that I had on there and put the old duck bill rear fender back on. I may end up bobbing a few inches off yet. I also removed the headlight visor that I had added previously. It had looked fine with the "British retro" look that I had going early on, but it didn't fit with my newer "industrial look" as my wife calls it.

Here's some pics as it looked as of Memorial Day weekend 2012. The new tank had Kawasaki emblems in fantastic shape too...













« Last Edit: Jun 04, 2012, 03:02:58 by diggerdanh »

Offline diggerdanh

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Re: 76 KZ400 "Grimy"
« Reply #2 on: Jun 04, 2012, 02:42:49 »
After seeing those pics I decided that it was finally time to fix the lumpy seat. A PO had done a pretty poor job of trimming the seat foam and when I got the bike it was covered in a green canvas. I covered it with leather almost immediately but did not deal with the lumpy and uneven foam.

I could not stand it any longer so I took the cover off, sanded the foam to a better shape and re-installed my cover. Probably difficult to tell from the pics but it looks a lot better now in real life.


Offline diggerdanh

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Re: 76 KZ400 "Grimy"
« Reply #3 on: Jun 04, 2012, 02:52:24 »
So that's where it stands as of today, mostly. I lowered the headlights another inch and I lowered the gauges another quarter inch, but I don't have pics yet.

I found a few new issues to sort out. One of the throttle cables is frayed badly with only about 3 threads holding the barrel on. I'm getting ready to order a new pair of throttle cables now. Additionally one of the places where the throttle cables attach to the throttle cable bracket on the carbs was stripped so the cable was loose and I couldn't adjust it well. I found a new bracket on Ebay and that's sitting on my desk now. So that means I'll be pulling my carbs and tearing them down once again next weekend or maybe sooner.

I don't plan on doing to much more to it this riding season. I want to do something more with the seat and the rear of the frame and rear fender. It looks okay now, but I think I can make it cleaner - maybe cut off the rear of the frame and add an upswept hoop. And I'll eventually want to tear everything down and paint the frame or get it powder coated. I don't know if I'll teardown and get the frame powdercoated this winter or the following. Also on the to-do list is a new pair of rear shocks. The stockers on there are okay but they're 35 years old and I'm sure something newere will perform better.   

Offline diggerdanh

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Re: 76 KZ400 "Grimy"
« Reply #4 on: Jun 04, 2012, 03:07:47 »
Oh yeah, and as for the wife. I don't think she'd say that she likes the bike yet, but she's doesn't call it a piece of shit any longer. And she went with me (for a couple of hours at least) to the Cincinnati Mods & Rockers event this past weekend and had a good time looking at the vintage bikes and scooters. And she's decided that she wants a retro scooter! She spent a couple hours last night searching Craigslist and Ebay and pointing out the styles that she likes: Vespa, Stella, Buddy, etc. Of course she wouldn't like anything cheap :)

Offline sinbad85

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Re: 76 KZ400 "Grimy"
« Reply #5 on: Jun 04, 2012, 08:07:30 »
looks WAY BETTER black and raw!
nice one!

ps it sucks its "HER garage"....haha.....
sounds like shes been sucked into the scene! my girl bought a rusty old rat vespa too! haha too funny...
im going to start a thread for that aswell!
keep up the improvements!

Offline diggerdanh

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Re: 76 KZ400 "Grimy"
« Reply #6 on: Jun 04, 2012, 10:07:09 »
Thanks, Sinbad. I've been following your 750 twin build - love it, you're doing a lot of creative stuff there. I follow all the KZ twin builds :)


Offline diggerdanh

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Re: 76 KZ400 "Grimy"
« Reply #7 on: Jun 05, 2012, 00:39:40 »
Yeah, by "her garage" she meant that she figured she'd never get her car back in the garage. Obviously the bike doesn't take much room so she actually did get it in the garage during the winter.  And of course she has much more crap in the garage than I do ;)

Offline diggerdanh

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Re: 76 KZ400 "Grimy"
« Reply #8 on: Jul 01, 2012, 23:48:46 »
I changed out the Emgo 23" Megaphone style mufflers for a pair of MAC tapered mufflers I found on Ebay recently for a very good price. The MAC pipes sound fantastic compared to the old ones. They are a bit louder, but different - they have a deep tone and a "gurgle" sound that is simply awesome.

I also completely removed my old duckbill rear fender and added a much shorter and smaller one instead. It is actually half of a front fender from a 76 Goldwing that was partially mangled (no good vintage Goldwing fenders were harmed). Looks much better now.

The only thing left to do on the rear of the bike is get a new pair of shocks that are a little shorter than stock - around 12" instead of the 12.5" on it now - and cut off the back part of the frame after the shock mounts and replace that with an upswept hoop that follows the line of the seat.













Offline PjkF

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Re: 76 KZ400 "Grimy"
« Reply #9 on: Jul 02, 2012, 00:08:56 »
What a transformation! Golly that's a beautiful bike now! Love the seat and the rear fender. The tank is really sweet too!
"Ride it like you stole it, rather, ride it like it's yours."

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