1981 Suzuki GS450L - Cruiser to Scrambler

MattL9

New Member
How did you level out the tank? I can see that you raised the front and lowered the back, but what did you do to do that?
 

hillsy

Active Member
MattL9 said:
How did you level out the tank? I can see that you raised the front and lowered the back, but what did you do to do that?

I think he's just raised the back - the front looks untouched.
 

dualero

New Member
Northish said:
At this point the tank mounts have been modified/created and welded into place. The front was dropped just over an inch and the rear was raised about as much.

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Northish

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MattL9 said:
How did you level out the tank? I can see that you raised the front and lowered the back, but what did you do to do that?
Here's a better shot showing the new mounting locations with arrows where the old locations were. The front mount was cut off and I made a new one with a piece of rod welded under the frame bar with a couple washers on it to hold the rubber bushings in place. I reused the original rear mount, but cut it from its position between the frame rails and welded in bar stock on each side to stand it up. Hope this helps answer your question.
 

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Northish

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YoungMoneyyy said:
That is one beautiful looking bike, great lines with the tank reset and seat setup. strong work.
Thanks Young$, glad you think it's heading in the right direction! Now to keep it going. I hope to update on fender progress soon.
 

YoungMoneyyy

New Member
Northish quick question about your tires, I read you went from the stock 16" & 19" setup to a 17" & 18" setup for the stance, which turned out great. I plan on doing something similar on my kz440, my question is did you need and modifications to the rims (looks like you used the stock ones) or were you able to simply swap the rubbers. Sorry if this seems like a basic question... just need to know before I bite the bullet and drop 200$ on new tires.

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Northish

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YoungMoneyyy said:
Northish quick question about your tires, I read you went from the stock 16" & 19" setup to a 17" & 18" setup for the stance, which turned out great. I plan on doing something similar on my kz440, my question is did you need and modifications to the rims (looks like you used the stock ones) or were you able to simply swap the rubbers...
Not a dumb question! I spent a good month trying to figure out the wheel situation and was actually looking at KZ wheels at one point. I ended up going with Suzuki wheels again as I knew that they would fit right in with no problems with the stock brakes and modifications. Also, I kind of think they kind of have the approximate "look" of a spoked wheel.

Here are the specs of the stock wheels vs. the ones I'm using if interested:
Stock GS450L wheel sizes:
Rear: 16x2.15
Front: 19x1.85

Bought Wheels:
Rear: 17x2.15
Front: 18x1.80

I picked my tire sizes so that the front and rear would each have the same overall outer diameter as that symmetry is appealing to me. The front overall diameter with an 18" rim and 4.10 tire is actually pretty close to the same as it came stock with a 19" rim and 3.6 tire, so I wouldn't have to modify the speedo if I didn't want to, but I will be :) Hope this helps, ask more if needed. I'm not an expert at all but I can tell you what I did.
 

Psycrow

Member
Northish it might be helpful to state what bike (model and year) rims you ended up using. Nice build so far BTW. I'm working on a similar conversion to a Yamaha XS 750 triple.

Psy

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Northish

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Hey Psy - thanks for the suggestion. I'm not 100% sure what Suzuki bikes the wheels came from. I bought each separately off eBay but the sellers didn't list the source. From what I have found I believe that the front wheel (18x1.80) likely came from a '80-'82 GS-450E or S. As for the rear (17x2.15) I'm still not quite sure what the source was. I believe the GS550's had a 17x2.50. Perhaps someone with a broader knowledge than I may have to chime in here, as I'd be interested as well :)
 

Northish

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canyoncarver said:
Nice little twin you have there. Great progress.
Hey canyoncarver - thanks for the compliment and stopping by to check things out! :D

I've got a few more update photos from the build progression to share. These updates deal with the fenders and making them a bit cleaner and less bulky, while still retaining a good deal of functionality. You'll see that I have masked them off and then sketched out what I felt to be a slightly sleeker profile on the tape. Then got out the angle grinder w/ a fiber disc and flapper wheel to "sculpt" them a bit. I did this to both the front and rear fenders. Because the rear fender was welded straight to the frame when I got it I had to spend some time cutting off the angle iron it was attached with ans smooth things out. It also needed a new mounting scheme, so I cut up some bar stock and welded it in place across the frame for top and bottom mounts. It can now be removed with just a few bolts, which is really nice. I plan to re-use part of the plastic fender insert as an extension to the rear fender near the swingarm area to keep things tidy. I'll try to get a picture when I get that far. I also filled in the hole in the front fender where the brake line stay was mounted in the front fender by welding in some filler metal and grinding things smooth. I also had to pound out a few small dents to clean them up. They will eventually be painted. It's a little to see the trimmed down rear fender in place in the last picture, but it's there. I'll try to get a different angle on it in the future. Still having fun with this!
 

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Northish

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Another update to share with you all on this conversion from earlier this week.

The last major piece to be welded has been the muffler onto the header. Welding it in place didn't go too bad. I got a pretty clean bead with the wire feed and then took the angle grinder to the excess weld and was able to get it smooth to the header to look like it's all one piece. The muffler actually has a bracket on the back of it that I've bolted into the original muffler mounting point. It's worked out better than I thought. The weld will be getting a few coats of high temp. flat black paint to cover up the weld.

The title I gave this when I started out indicated that I'd be making a scrambler. But, seeing as I'm not going the route of a high-mount exhaust, is it still a scrambler? Or will this be better defined as a tracker?

Anyways, I think that most of the heavy cutting and welding is done at this point. The build is now going to take a destructive, or rather, de-constructive turn for awhile now as I start pulling things apart.
 

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djmaynard

Member
Northish said:
Hey canyoncarver - thanks for the compliment and stopping by to check things out! :D

I've got a few more update photos from the build progression to share. These updates deal with the fenders and making them a bit cleaner and less bulky, while still retaining a good deal of functionality. You'll see that I have masked them off and then sketched out what I felt to be a slightly sleeker profile on the tape. Then got out the angle grinder w/ a fiber disc and flapper wheel to "sculpt" them a bit. I did this to both the front and rear fenders. Because the rear fender was welded straight to the frame when I got it I had to spend some time cutting off the angle iron it was attached with ans smooth things out. It also needed a new mounting scheme, so I cut up some bar stock and welded it in place across the frame for top and bottom mounts. It can now be removed with just a few bolts, which is really nice. I plan to re-use part of the plastic fender insert as an extension to the rear fender near the swingarm area to keep things tidy. I'll try to get a picture when I get that far. I also filled in the hole in the front fender where the brake line stay was mounted in the front fender by welding in some filler metal and grinding things smooth. I also had to pound out a few small dents to clean them up. They will eventually be painted. It's a little to see the trimmed down rear fender in place in the last picture, but it's there. I'll try to get a different angle on it in the future. Still having fun with this!
I was going to trim down my fenders as well the exact way you did it. Tried to do without and the day that I took off my front fender it rained the next day. So I put it back on.
 

Northish

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Psycrow said:
Looking good!
Thanks Psy!

Well, the de-construction has commenced. All the rust and grease is beginning to get to me so it's time to start stripping things down and begin the long process of cleaning.

I've separated the engine from the frame so that I can start working on getting the frame in more decent shape. The plan is remove anything that is easily removed and try my hand with media blasting. There is a lot of surface rust, and I'm seeing evidence that the back end of the bike has been repainted by one of the previous owners, so I'm hoping there aren't any surprises waiting for me under the newer paint.

Now that the engine is out I can see that the wiring harness really is a mess. Lots of wire splices and questionable crimps. I had planned from the beginning to just make a whole new harness with proper wire and connectors, so this inspection just confirms that I'll be going through that whole process. I'll have some learning to do before I get to work on that step, though.

The engine is mostly just dirty with a lot of scratches and chips in the clear-coated parts. I'll be sanding them down to bare metal and re-painting them at some point. Some of the Phillips head screws holding the various covers on are pretty well stripped so I'll be picking up some new hardware when I get that far. I'd like to get the frame shaped up first before I dive too deep into the engine.

I'm starting to feel a bit like I'm going backwards as I look at all the pieces and parts strewn about. It's hard not to think about the fact that I started with a drive-able motorcycle and now have a growing pile of parts and wires that is far from drive-able. I suppose one has to deconstruct things before they can be reassembled into something better. I hope it ends up better than when I started! We'll see...
 

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Northish

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Deconstruction has more or less been completed. The frame has been stripped of basically everything so that it could be cleaned up and blasted.

I was able to use a simple media blaster hooked up to the air compressor and made a "blast chamber" out of painter's tarps. That definitely cut down on the mess and allowed me to recollect and reuse the media several times over. I used furnace slag as the media and seemed to do well without being overly aggressive. I didn't take off all the paint as most of it was in good shape and pretty tough, but did focus on the rusty bits and areas where previous owners had repainted the frame.

After blasting the frame was coated several times over with self-etching primer. It cleaned up quite well and will then be painted semi-gloss black :)
 

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Northish

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Alright, it's Friday so let's get some more progress pictures going, shall we?

The frame and related bolt-on bits have now been media blasted, primed, and finally painted. Paint was applied courtesy of the rattle-can. Actually, several rattle-cans.

I've taken the tank down to bare metal and started putting body filler on to smooth out the dents and emblem attachment points. Hoping it holds tight near the emblem mounts. I did as much roughing up as I could of the base and wiped everything down well with acetone.

The wheels have also been cleaned, polished a little (but not going for mirror finishes on this bike) and then painted. The "spokes" were masked off with tape and then the tape was trimmed with a razor along the edges of each spoke. Took some time. Then everything was painted black. Once 3 layers of black paint were sprayed and dried all the masking was removed and 4 layers of clear coat were applied. I think they look sharper than when they were new!

That's all I've had time for now. Hope you find the progress still moving the right way.
 

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