RD350LC front wheel spindle removal

1980 Yamaha RD350 LC 4L0 Restoration – Part 7 – Is That Wheelie Necessary?

Project Elsie Part 7 – is that wheelie necessary?

Hi folks, so after getting the brakes all hunky dory a decision has been made to change the brake pipes. I wasn’t really happy with the old ones, if you squeezed the brake really hard the pipes would move slightly as if they were bulging a bit. While I couldn’t see an actual bulge we decided to be on the safe side we would have a chat with the experts in these matters – Venhill engineering (www.venhill.co.uk). They are going to make us a brand spanking new set of braided hoses and they are also doing a new clutch cable to match. These things are super high quality and will give the brakes a much more solid feel and better stopping power – something I think the bike needs.

As they are custom made there is a short lead time so in the mean time I thought I would get on with the forks.  First job was to move the bike from the platform lift to another lift that would make the job of lifting a lot easier. I needed the wheel in the air so it just seemed easier and better all round. Just a quick safety note – when using this  sort of lift it’s really important to strap the bike down to it – it’s too easy to knock the bike off otherwise while trying to undo a stubborn bolt or something.  I use at least one ratchet strap and make sure it’s really secure before getting mediaeval with anything.

First job was to get the front wheel spindle out – easy enough a 19mm castellated nut holds it in place, with the split pin out the way the nut came off without issue and the spindle was withdrawn – someone had kept it well greased which was appreciated. The two calipers were removed – the keen eyed amongst you will spot a no – no in that I left the calipers hanging by the hydraulic hoses my excuse here is that the hoses are being replaced so it doesn’t matter – it is bad practice though so do as I say and all that.

RD350LC new fork sanctions

RD350LC new fork sanctions from Wemoto.

The Elsie’s twin discs came off easily except the lock tabs all broke when the tabs were flattened. I suspect they are deliberately made like that to encourage people to use new ones. I shall ask Scottie to source them – 3 each side so 6 in total. The discs themselves are fine with hardly any wear, we can certainly use them without any concern.

So the next job is to do the new seals and dust covers, with the forks off the bike and nice and clean the first job is to remove the wire clips that hold everything together.

All the parts came from our good  buddies at www.wemoto.com again including some scrumptious looking fork stanchions from Italy, they are made by a company called Paulo Tarozzi.. I dread to think how much these are as they really are a work of art with incredibly deep chrome and a perfect finish – my photography skills will never do them justice. I suspect though they will last a life time so whatever they are they are worth the money – you buy cheap you buy twice.

Anyway, before I could fit them the forks had to come off which was a bit of an adventure as every single nut and bolt decided to make my life difficult and either round off, snap or refuse to budge. One of the little blighters holding the mudguard to the fork was a particular nightmare and I had to resort to welding another bolt to it and undoing it that way. Fortunately the heat from the welding broke the bond and it was then really easy to wind out.

RD350LC stubborn front mudguard boltThis was a precarious task as I had to be really careful as firstly I did not want to melt the plastic and secondly I noticed that both sides of the mudguard are split quite badly – I didn’t see it when it was all together. I think I shall have to put in a couple of pop rivets each side to hold it altogether properly, I don’t think finding a replacement will be that easy.

Although this is an oily rag resto the forks had to be cleaned as you don’t want crud getting inside the tubes while the stanchions are out and you don’t want it knackering up your brand new seals either. So without taking the age out of them I just ran them over the wire wheel in the bench grinder and cleaned them without polishing them. It would be dead easy to go on and make them look as pretty as a super model’s botty but once again, that’s not what this is all about.

Here’s a quick before and after type shot.

RD350LC forksAs the wheel had to come off it seemed sensible to replace it with the much better one that Scott and Ian had found on one of their world famous bike buying expeditions. I reckon if Edmund Hilary had taken Scott and Ian up Mount Everest they would have come back with at least 20 bikes and enough parts to fill half a Transit. How they find these things I don’t know but they do and their find of two wheels in rather nice nick was a welcome one. The ones on there had been painted white and it had gone very yellow, both front and rear had numerous chips in them. They would have come up fine with a media blast and a repaint but I don’t have a blaster so it would have been a bit dear and time consuming. The ones they found still need some work but it’s minimal, the others will be sold to help offset the cost, somebody will want them.

Scottie asked me to do them as per original which required a fair bit of masking and careful painting. I’m not the best painter in the world or even the best in our village but it’s come out rather well.

Being aluminium it’s important to use a good quality etch primer, otherwise six months down the line all the paint will be coming off again in big ugly lumps.

The paint is still a bit wet in this shot so it looks more gloss than satin but it will dry to the right sort of finish.

RD350LC forks, post rebuilding and cleaningSo with the wheel done it was time to progress to the fork rebuild. Getting them off was far from easy but getting them apart was a whole new adventure of Herculean proportions. I hate the way these forks are done and hope I never have to do another pair as long as I live! Instead of having a screwed cap at the top to retain the spring they have a steel bung with an o ring on it, this is retained by a circular spring clip that sits in a groove in the fork leg. It all sounds great until after 40 years – probably half of that with the plastic top cap missing – water sits in it and the whole lot corrodes up pretty badly. You are supposed to push the bung down slightly while you use a screw driver or pick to remove the steel retaining ring. It sounds so easy. The first one wasn’t too bad the second wasn’t shifting. I tried everything – heat, penetrating fluid, persuading it with a hammer, sacrificing a virgin and praying to the God of hell fire – nothing worked. In the end I had to take an angle grinder and cut the stanchion tube – a really precarious job as I didn’t want to damage the spring within.

In the end I ground it nearly all the way through and finished the job with a chisel. Once I had smacked the bung out from the opposite side it became obvious why it was such a mare to get out.

Rebuilding the forks was a breeze, the replacement stanchions were a perfect fit and the Yamaha recommended 140cc of Rock Oil’s finest was measured and poured in to each leg before the bungs were cleaned, fitted with new o rings and replaced. They feel so much better now and don’t leak or weep any more so that’s job done.

They even look better for a bit of a clean, the final job was to fit the plastic caps and the dust seats before refitting them to the yokes.

RD350LC Venhill brake lines

Sexy or what?

Just to finish up this exciting episode the new brake hoses came from www.venhill.co.uk so I thought I had better fit them. They really are excellent quality, the kit comes with all the fittings and washers you need including new banjo bolts all round. They are available in several colours – the order number for these black ones is YAM-3002FS-BK, go to their website to see any other stuff, they do hoses and cables , we have a matching clutch cable to go on a bit later, which will look really nice and being PTFE lined should work pretty damn well too.




RD350LC wheel


RD350LC wheel

















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Article provided by David Powell of Boston Bike Bits.

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