DIY Videos & Ideas

Probably by now you've been told at least once before "Google it". I use Google searches and YouTube videos a lot. Sometimes before I do a job and then sometimes after I've done a job and know I've done it wrong. Here's a list of YouTube videos that I've found helpful; the list here is just as much a reference library for myself as it is a service for you.

Changing motorcycle tyres. 2013
Especially pay attention to how to install the rim lock properly and proper tools.

Previously I found that common household window cleaner was the best, cheap tyre lube. It is cleaner, easier to apply and evaporates completely when done. The last two tyres I did I didn't use windows cleaner as I had forgotten it and really regret it. Other hints from watching the videos are to use a "Bead Buddy", long enough tyre irons, three tyre irons, wheel protectors. Also to push in the rim lock before filling the air. However in more recent times I started using Yamalube tyre mount lube. This comes in a convenient spray can and just transforms the job. Its neat and clean and the tyre just slips into place. Mind you, it is $35.00 a can so some may rightly say that it is expensive. For the five or six tyres a year that I do, I find it very convenient. Northstar Yamaha had to order it in and I suspect that may normally be the case for most Yamaha dealerships.

The yellow dot on the tyre indicates the lowest weight part of the tyre and that should match up with the valve. This will reduce balancing effort.

Transworld MX Video for MX tyres

Jay Clark and Dunlop changing MX Tyres (This is my favourite for technique)

Changing street tyres #1

Changing street tyres #2

Changing street tyres #3

One thing to remember if you have "cush drive" rear wheel is to cable tie or wire down the sprocket to the wheel spokes. That way you won't have the sprocket and sprocket carrier falling away and the rubber cushions dropping out.

Tool Tubes. 2014

A great for any bike that travels either long distance or in areas where support may be difficult if to work out a good way to carry your tools. The best advice is to pack it low and pack it tight. The idea is to keep the centre of gravity low and close to the physical centre of the bike, when looking front to back.

I'll be mounting a set of tool tubes onto the grab handles that make up the rear rack. Not as low as I would like, but better than leaving them stored in the black palstic case on the rear rack. As it turned out, I had some zip-up bags that fit closely to the interior dimensions of the tool tube, so that should work well.

It really only takes some PVC pipe and some imagination

A few tips for changing wheel and steering stem bearings

In March this year a friend and I changed the front wheel bearings and steering stem bearings on his 2010 Yamaha Tenere. We got through it but it was a case of the blind leading the visually impaired in a few spots. After we completed the job, I spent a bit of time reading up on tips and watching Youtube clips and here are a few tips I picked up that I will do on my own bikes over the next year or so:

1. Purchase the wheel bearings in advance and leave them a minimum of overnight in the freezer. A week if you can. They will shrink down and probably drop straight in. If not, a little bit of heat on the wheel hub will expand it and then they will. No banging them in.

2. If you are using roller bearings in the steering stem, the same applies for the triple clamp races.

3. If you can, do the same with the steering stem.

4. Be sure to have appropriate sized steel tube to use as a drift on the lower steering stem bearing or purchase one of the professional tools for that.

5. Consider how you are going to remove the races. We did a combination of rotary tool and punch and I have some friends who run a bead of MIG weld; this heats up the race and it shrinks to smaller than original when it cools down and then just falls out. I will be purchasing one of the MCS tools with 'fingers' that catch the lip and then you just knock it out.

6. There is an old trick of using a masonry bolt, also called a dynabolt to remove a bearing. You use a dynabolt that is just smaller than the inside hole, push it through, tighten up the nut and the collar expands. This creates a surface the you can hit with a large punch or drift. I'm sure this will work and have already bought a range of dynabolts to go into my motorcycle specific tools toolbox.

7. Pack the roller bearings with plenty of waterproof grease such as Belray Motorcycle Waterproof Grease. I use Castrol Boating Grease as it is easily sourced although I do notice that more shops are stocking Belray now.

8. Whilst the front wheel is off, take the time to clean the brake calipers, check the pads and the pistons and make sure everything is working just fine. Measure the brake disc with a set of digital verniers to ensure that it is still within a safe and legal width.

 Looking forward to doing the wheel bearings on my bikes now and applying what I've learnt. Practice makes perfect.

Some workshop tips for nuts and bolts. Jun 2015

Use a punch to place a mark on the top of the magnetic parts tray. When I pull bolts out of a side cover for example, I can then place them in order, the first one starting at the mark and moving around the tray in sequence. Makes putting things back in order much easier.

Take the time to thoroughly clean the holes and the bolt threads. To clean the holes you can either use a tap and die set or make a specific tap. As the Suzuki only uses a handful of different sized bolts, I make custom taps using stainless steel bolts. Using a rotary tool such as a Dremel or a hacksaw cut an oblique gash along the threads. This creates a sharp edge to cut into any built up grease, much or threadlocker as well as a path for it to come out of the hole. Here is a Youtube video that explains it better. Whilst I have a tap and die set in the workshop, I can take the three DIY taps on the bike for trail use.

Clean the bolts. You can use some degreaser, a die and/or move a nut up an down. I found that a suitable wire wheel mounted in my drill press an excellent method. Of course you should pay attention to the usual safety things such as glasses, gloves etc.

One final tip is to put all the bolts back in and just tighten a few threads. If you have everything right, the bolt heads should all be an equal distance from the cover.

I really only started doing the above tips in the last month and found them to really make life much easier. Tightening by hand is much easier and torquing to the correct specification much more exacting as well. The cleaned bolts look nicer too.

Gaskets and silicon. Nov 2015

There are plenty of arguments for and against using silicon instead of gaskets. I have found that using the Permatex product called "The Right Stuff" a very suitable replacement for factory supplied gaskets. However sometimes I have my doubts and so looking at the various concerns about the two sides, this is something that I found doesn't fail but it does take patience. It is more or less using the silicon as a dressing that ensure the gasket has a good seal and remains flexible. It helps counter any issues with a less than perfect facing:

Clean both surfaces. This is a given no matter what method you use.

Lay a bead of silicon on the part that becomes detached from the bike such as a crankcase cover. I use Permatex "Ultra Black". Its specifications well and truly cover the heat range of a motorcycle engine and gearbox and it stick to everything.

Place on the gasket and drop in bolts in every bolt hole to stop the gasket from moving around. Rub the gasket to squeeze out excess silicon and clean that excess up. Have plenty of small rags and when one has too much silicon on it, just throw it out and use another.

Let it cure for a few hours. Ultra black has a full cure time of 24 hours and that is why this method doesn't really appeal to many shops.

On the exposed surface of the gasket, rub in a good engine grease, all over.

Installed the part, making all bolts snug but do more.

Allow to cure fully.

Torque down the bolts as per manufacturer's specification.

To date, this method has yet to cause many any problem and has ensured no oil leaks.

Permatex Super Penetrant. Jan 2016

After church one Sunday morning the old 4WD starter motor failed. There was no way I was paying for a mechanic for such a simple job and so I ordered a replacement motor and set about replacing it. Problem was that the bolts were frozen on. I even bent a socket 3/8 T bar on them.

Out of desperation I bought some Permatex Super Penetrant. Permatex products are very reliable, in my experience and it has received some very good reviews. 10 years ago you couldn't even buy it in Australia. Anyhow, squirt, wait five minutes, squirt, wait one minute and presto chango, those bolts came out. The stuff works.

Since the starter motor incident I have used this on a range of bolts on the V-Star that I could not undo previously and it worked every time. So it has my recommendation for every serious home mechanic's workshop.

Colour Coding. Jan 2016

As I do more on the bikes I find myself wanting to do things more effectively and more efficiently. Sometimes looking hard are various parts and taking too long to identify where they all fit frustrates me. Especially so with basic stuff like electricals.

So to help make things a bit easier, I am going to try colour coding things a bit. On older Suzukis there is a strong pattern on the electrical cabling and so I will use that as a starting point. Depending on electrical tape ability, I will start colour coding taped up wires as follows:

Black = Main loom
Yellow = Lighting. This may end up being yellow with green stripe yet.
Red = Power from battery
Orange (if I can source any) = Power after the ignition switch.
Blue = Ignition circuit, especially coils
Red = Port / left side indicator circuits, following old maritime navigation rules.
Green = Starboard / right side indicator circuits

I think that there is a limit on how far this can be taken and will experiment with this as I go. Perhaps some parts can be painted to match. Say, for example, the headlight frames may also end up yellow. In poor light this may help distinguish parts from each other. On the other other hand, I don't want the bikes looking outlandish or garish.

Speedo cable maintenance. Jan 2016

Many theories on the best way to maintain a speedo cable, or even the need to do so exist. One theory is to just fill the speedo cable from the top with WD40, which of course would leave plenty of dust and rust inside the cable. Another is to take it apart, clean it and lubricate the inner cable with any grease available. I agree with the thorough cleaing but many greases dry out or mix with dust to create a grinding paste.

The final theory, the one I went with, was to clean out both the inner cable as well as the outer layer and then lubricate with with either CRC Dry Glide or WD40 brand Dry PTFE lubricant. I think that both do the same thing, using a Teflon product suspended in a fluid to lubricate the cable. The local hardware store had the WD40 PTFE and so that got the nod.

Cleaned both the cable and sheath with mild degreaser, flushed with WD40 and then very light machine oil and left hanging to dry whilst we went out for an hour. When I wiped down the inner cable with a rag, I was very surprised to see how must dust and rust actually came off. So the need is real, not imagined and I will add this task to the yearly maintenance for all bikes. Sprayed the inner cable and outer sheath with the WD40 Dry PTFE and put it all together. I then spun the cable by hand to compare the resistance before and after and there was a noticeable difference. Very happy with another minor improvement that cost almost nothing. Here are pictures of both products:

Indicator reflector. Jan 2016.

Some Permatex Ultra Copper RTV silicon, a Diet Coke Can, some spring loaded clamps to hold everything together, tin snips and some metal polish = a new reflector. I'm not sure how hot standard bulbs get and if any RTV silicon would work but the Ultra Copper works on very hot surfaces such as the DR800 exhaust, so I know all bases are covered.

Feb 2016. Wheel spoke tension

Wheel spokes need to be kept to a certain tension and that tension needs to be consistent across all spokes. This ensure the ability to transfer the energy of a hard hit on a wheel across the entire wheel, the rim, the spokes and the hub. In turn, this increases the resistance to dings on the rim. The consistent tension also helps prevent broken spokes.

So the next question is, how do you do this job properly. I've seen this done before on TV and read about it but to be sure I watched a number of YouTube clips. Here's one that explains the process fairly clearly:

Some people do this process just using a spoke spanner, hitting the spokes and listening to the sound. I am not confident that is very consistent and several years ago I bought a proper spoke tension wrench. Mine is a Pit Posse brand but there are plenty of others. These are not cheap so if you have only one bike, you may wish to ring around and see if you can borrow one. If on the other hand you look after a range of bikes, I would definitely recommend that you add one to your workshop.

Armed with the correct tool, empowered with YouTube knowledge I did the front wheel first and then the rear wheel. The number of spoke that were loose on the front was a surprise and I think I ended up doing about five passes to be sure that everything was nicely tensioned and secure. The most important points of doing this job are:

  • Be sure to set the tension to the manufacturer's setting.
  • You do not tighten each spoke one after the other. Start at spoke number 1, next to the valve and then skip two or three and do the next one. Continue in this pattern all the way around and then move to spoke number 2 and proceed in the same fashion. Weather you skip two or three spokes on an individual run depends on the total number of spokes in the wheel. The DR800 has 36 spokes and as 36 can be evenly divided by either 3 or 4, I could have done either option.
  • Only turn the spoke a maximum of a quarter of a turn each run. If that is not enough to reach tension, then keep doing the process until all spokes reach tension. This may take a while.
  • Your final run is when all spokes click the tension wrench.

According to everything I have read, the wheels should transmit a more solid feel through the frame and handlebars. I'm not sure I am a good enough rider to actually sense that but I am looking forward to trying it all out.

Feb 2016. Cush drive maintenance

On the rear wheel of most large motorcycles is a cush drive. This is simple a series of interlocking metal lugs and rubber cushions and its absorbs the impact of acceleration  and engine braking. Without this absorption, severe jolts are transmitted through the chain or shaft drive to the gear box and this results in premature failure of the chain, shaft drive, sprockets, gears or gearbox. Its fairly important to be running properly.

Unfortunately I haven't given this much thought since owning the bike, some six years now and so now is the time. Servicing quite often involves inspecting and if necessary, replacing the rubbers. The cost involved in replacing the rubbers would be getting close to $100.00 and if they are very worn or have hardened this cannot be avoided.

However, if the rubbers are a little bit worn and have not yet hardened, there is an alternative. Simply shim the rubbers with rubber from a tyre tube. You can use a bicycle tube, a motorcycle tube or a car tyre tube. If fact, if you do this regularly and properly, you can easily prolong the life of the original rubbers dramatically. Here's how this job went:

Whilst the rear wheel is still on the bike test to seen if there is any movement between the sprocket and the rim. In this case, there was a tiny bit.
Remove the rear wheel and separate the sprocket carrier from the hub. If the cushions are still very good this may not be too easy.
Inspect the rubber cushions for hardness and wear. In this case they were still quite soft and a small amount of wear and so therefore good for shimming, no need for replacing. Essentially I followed the idea as per this YouTube clip:

However I would like to point out some differences with what I did. The first is that I used a car tube, which is slightly harder and thicker rubber. This allowed me to cut a single piece that wrapped around the outside left, bottom and right edges with just the one piece per cushion. Just a bit neater and I suspect a bit easier to fit in.

The next difference is that I did use some grease. I have read arguments for and against using grease and had to think this through a bit. I ended up using a slight film on Bendix Brake Grease on all mating surfaces and fairly happy with that decision. Here is my thinking:
  • I wanted it all to go back together easily and I recall the first time I tried to separate the sprocket carrier from the hub. It was not easy. With the grease, it slid back together firmly but smoothly.
  • Everything I read suggested that the rubber hardens due to heat. Heat is caused by friction and so anything that safely reduces friction will also reduce heat and prolong the life of the cushions.
  • Bendix Brake Grease is a high temperature grease and thus will not easily melt and weep out over the wheel and tyre, one of the main arguments for not using grease. It is also very thick and perhaps contribute to the cushion effect; perhaps not though as I used just enough to lubricate the area and it will get squeezed out over time anyhow.
  • Bendix Brake Grease is used for both metal-to-metal and metal-to-rubber and so is perfect for this application. Increasing the opportunity for parts to move without friction and wear also increases the cushioning effect. One of the arguments against using grease is that many greases contribute to premature failure of rubber parts that have not be designed to come into contact with oil and grease. Bendix Brake Grease is a ceramic based product that does not attack rubber. That is possibly why it is a bit more expensive than many other products.
  • The grease is very sticky and acted as a mild adhesive, keeping the rubber strips in place whilst I placed the rubbers cushions back in place.
  • Finally, I have a thick tube of it in my workshop from when I rebuilt the rear brake caliper and so I did not have to go buy something else. That appeals to me greatly.

When it was all back together that small amount of movement was definitely gone and I am fairly certain that I should be able to feel the change whilst riding. We will find out soon enough I guess. For the amount of time  about 30 minutes, the minimal cost and potential savings it may offer I think that this is a job that I will do every time I change a rear tyre, which is about twice a year.

Working with Perspex/Acrylic
I have done a fair bit with different types of plastic sheet and that includes shatter proof windshields and learnt a few things that make life easier:

  • For holes, use step drills. These grind rather than cut and as a result, don't create the lateral forces that catch and crack the sheeting. Additional, they grind out the holes in small steps and thus less material is remove each step of the way.

  • For straight lines, use a saw blade designed for wood of medium sized metal. To me, that seems to offer the number and right sized teeth to cut through AOK.
  • When bending, try to make a jig that will force the sheet to go where you want it to go.
  • Taubmans White Knight "Squirts" spray cans seem to stick very well to plastic sheeting.
  • Wear a mask and glasses when cutting or grinding, especially grinding.
  • Marking and cutting is sometimes easier if you mask off the area and mark the masking tape.
Working with ha bike lift. October 2017
I just thought it might be a good idea to highlight two of the safety things to be aware of when using a bike lift. These two issues are to be sure that you strap the bike down and to support the bike in such a way that if you remove something heavy, such as a wheel, that it does not tip. Here are some photos to help explain what I mean. The bike lift is a common model in Australia, bought from Repco. Lefts are readily available now from the Internet stores and Super Cheap auto. Note how the bike is secured to the lift using standard tie downs, one at each corner.

In this last photograph, you should be able to see that a standard bike left is position to take the weight if the bike settles forward at all when I remove the rear wheel. Doing these things gives me confidence to walk around and work on the bike in relative safety and get the job done. Well it will once I work out how to break the bead on the rear tyre.

More to follow ...