A Silk Purse From A Sow’s Ear

A Silk Purse From A Sow’s Ear


The Yamaha collection continues to breed and at the last check there were 16 in the workshop!
Very soon some of them will return from whence they came and delight the bidders on E-Bay.
In the meantime anyone is welcome to come and view what must be the largest selection of
vintage and twin shock TY’s in the USA.
After a few years riding modern machines, the mind thinks that it might be fun to try and find a
vintage bike and rebuild it and compete. My first choice was a Triumph Trials Cub…. But the cost
was as high as a new Montesa!! So after looking through lots of ads the choice soon became,
either, the old Bultacos, Ossas, Montesas or the Yam. Knowing how soft Spanish steels were,
it soon got whittled down toYamaha, especially since I had the first one in the UK. My 1974
TY 250A was flown from Japan for me to ride in the ‘74 Scottish Six Days. It arrived at the Officers’
Mess at 11 at night with two mechanics assembling it in the back of a transporter. The only
problem was the frame which had not had the down tubes from the rear suspension welded
…. Robotic welding error!
So the first of 16 is found in Nov 2002, and one month later, with shipping costs more than the
bike, it arrives at Hard Rock Trials. When I go to pick it up “they” look at me as though I have
lost it and gone completely mad. Well as I can’t even push it, I am almost agreeing with them
and I haven’t even got it home yet.
The $300.00 delight is unloaded and carried to the back patio where the doctor makes the first
examination. The rear wheel does not rotate! Some clown has the chain link on backwards, the
bars are bent, the bash plate is missing, along with the seat and rear fender; and a fin is
missing off the head. The forks, side covers and tank look as though it has been dragged
through a Holbrook section by a tractor! Now add a birds nest in the air cleaner, various leaves
and twigs all nicely glued on with some Cow ****……No matter, we CAN rebuild it, we have the
technology but we don’t have the parts!
The disassembly begins with tons of WD40, but despite best efforts some screws break off for
even more fun! Now the rear wheel spindle refuses to move so using father’s motto of
“don’t force it, get a bigger hammer”, we give it the BIG wellie! That does nothing other than
ram the nut on the threads. Well time for the saw, and out comes the wheel and on removing
the brake hub we have a collection of bits or alloy which were once the brake shoes. More work
with the hammer and dead spindle and bearings are out. Up front the cables are so bad that
major surgery is required with wire cutters. Soon I have more of the bike in the trash can than
I do in the workshop. ….. Time for a list!   Tires, tubes, fork seals, bearings, fenders, Miller tank
and seat unit, rear shocks, rear axel, carb, bars, bash plate, levers, end muffler, cables and a
kill switch.  OK, so where am I going to find that lot?
Somewhere on Indian School Road there just happened to be a dead Yam lurking behind a trailer
under piles of other dubious wrecks. No engine, but nearly all the other bits are there! WOW
this is like Christmas!!!  I take my new “wreck” home to join the other, order some parts from
Mike, forgot the chain, but he did have a new original front fender and tires, tubes, and cables.
Seals are on his shopping list with tank and seat unit. Now with 2 wrecks the jig saw puzzle
unravels. This one has a reasonable back wheel and new sprocket. Take out the wheel and
discover brand new brake shoes! Remove dirty rear shocks to find they are actually bright
chrome Showa units!!  Up front a closer look reveals alloy Renthals…Yippee! But the front fork
legs are in the wrong side!! Never mind… more new brake shoes!
Decision time, let’s chrome everything. So a collection of rusty metal is dropped off at the
plating shop. Parts are ordered from the UK, Speed and Sport, and Mike has the others in hand.
 Several weeks later the chrome Glitzmobile emerges from the plating shop and home it comes
to take up residence in the lounge (one of the benefits of not being married!) While the bike has
been away, a bash plate was located in the UK, the engine has been de-cowed inside and out,
parts have been polished and the barrel painted yellow with all the edges of the fins cut back
to bright alloy. The original carb was worthless but the Christmas tree one was workable…..
Assembly begins!
19 big ball bearings in the lower head race, 22 diddy ones in the top. So far so good, time to fit
the rear Showa’s…… why won’t these fit???   …. OH, OH! Looks like “someone” forgot to remove
the steel eyelets from the old suspenders…. And yes they are now nicely chromed on!!

A spare Carpenter’s wood chisel will do (my father would have lynched me if he had seen
this!)….. Hours later with bent and worthless chisel the new suspies are on and it’s looking
good. The Virgin bash plate from a ‘77 era TY is unwrapped and fitted with the new stainless
Allen bolts, yes a trip to Copper State is always needed for all the replacement Metric nuts and
bolts, and unless you buy stainless they are reasonably priced.

Next up some tire wrestling! …… Stand back …..  Removing a 30 year old 4-ply Dunlop from its
resting place is not easy, but there’s only going to be one winner here! Security bolts undone
and pushed free, the battle enters phase two with much use of an extra 30 years of weight to
walk that bead down into the rim well, and after tirades of abuse and profuse sweating the
worthless rubber is free of the rim. More sweating and bulging arm muscles, wires break, bits
of rubber fall off and bit by bit Dunlop waves the white flag and surrenders. A few hours of wire
brushing and the wheel looks like it might take another tire. Of course it would be a good idea
to see if it is anywhere close to being round! Light tapping with a chrome wrench on the
spokes gives us the concerto by DID with “ding-ding” and “dung” and using the “every 6”
principle light tightening of every spoke begins until the entire orchestra is in tune. Don’t
forget to file off the excess on those spokes unless you want a puncture. Now with some
fine emery cloth to bring back every spoke to showroom finish……yes this really is a labor of
The motor had all the initial work done while the frame was away, except we have no real idea
if it will work, but at least it’s clean and polished. The piston and bore looked average and the
250 never seemed to need the re-boring that the 175’s suffer from. The flywheel side did not
look quite so rosy! A tangled ugly mass of copper wire and rust lurked beneath the encrusted
flywheel …..  This does not look good! The old oil pump is removed and a blanking plate made
to cover the hole. Blank off all the other holes and at least that side is finished. Remember to
fit another blanking screw in the oil inlet at the base of the cylinder on this model. The later
models have the oil inlet on the side of the carb.
Back up front the forks have had new seals and the hardest part of this operation was
separating the top and bottom. Another visit to Hard Rock to use their hammer air tool follows.
Removing the circlip on the TY is easy and doesn’t require 2 hours on your hands and knees
trying to find “it” when it suddenly flies off the end of the pliers and pings off something
metallic in the workshop. To remove the old seal, use a tire spoon (it has the right curvature
to give max upward pressure and the width of the handle will not damage the alloy on the
leg top.) Then use the old seal on top of the new one and gently tap in with a soft hammer.
Forks all back together and with 150cc’s per leg, time to put them in the new chrome yokes.
On with that new front fender and she is looking real pretty!
With the wheels and spokes all polished it’s time for the new IRC tires, well, these have a
direction of rotation marked on them! The original rim tapes have been discarded and have
been replaced with electrical tape which is generally better because it sticks to the spoke
nipples and stops them coming undone and it also allows the security bolts to move more
freely when tire changing. So, a few squirts in the new tube, and on goes the new tire. Boy,
are these new tires a joy to fit? And with a little washing up liquid the fitting line pops right up
first time!! Tighten up the security bolts and throw away that worthless collar for the valve stem.
Reason, if the tire creeps on acceleration or deceleration then if it’s still there then it may rip the
valve out of the tube. (Everybody learning something?)
In goes the front wheel and by now I have discovered under that gray paint there lives polished
alloy, so pretty, pretty at the front, and all those horrid little split pins have been discarded in
favor of self locking nuts. The new brake cable is fitted, but beware here as there is a
difference, between the ‘74’s and later models. The ‘74 has a 6mm adjuster and the later ones
are 8mm. The best and cheapest option is the OEM Yamaha part that comes complete with the
adjuster and also the lever shroud, the Venhill cable has neither!
The engine slips back into it’s new chrome frame, and with those scrap yard Renthals nicely
polished, the clutch cable is mounted in the new Domino levers supplied by Mike. Front wheel
in and brake connected. Wow!  This is coming on nicely. Time for some sparks. On goes the top
coil and connect up a test wire. Kick, kick. Nothing! Not even a glimmer. Well, no surprises here.
Fortunately I have another system which I found on E-bay so no problemee, off with old and on
with the new, and blue flashes light up the lounge and delight the shade tree mechanic. Can’t
find a 250 air boot hose to the air cleaner so cut and graft a 175 system to do the job. Now
the carb is another problem! But it will work eventually after many visits to the high pressure
air line. Sparks and fuel, what more could a man desire? The chain guard gets the paint
remover treatment to expose more polished alloy and with a new chain tensioner block
(amazingly the modern Montesa and Beta chain block has the same size holes and all that is
required is to trim one side and the top and it fits perfectly). Footrests have been acquired
from Sammy Miller but I decide to have Mike weld them to the original ones and then have
them chromed. A rear fender by Maiier is found and cut to shape for the frame. Well that’s
nearly it! Put on a new front sprocket and cut the new chain and it’s almost time. On goes
the tank and seat unit and with a well modified throttle cable the test firing is about to
3 kicks and it spits back delightfully. YIPEE!!! And on kick 4, a 30 year old motor bursts into life.
Try first gear and the projectile hurtles across the patio as the clutch plates are stuck! Drain
the oil and replace with Dextron. 3 hours of hot running at Alto pit while checking and, joy of
joys, the clutch works perfectly.
A couple of rides reveal teething problems and the ignition system is rewired to better than
original. New reeds are fitted (they are not cheap!) and new carb with smaller jets purchased.
The original air system is discarded and the old fender box removed which requires replacing
all the rivets to keep the “proverbial” out and on goes the Uni filter.
  Well, Glitsmobile didn’t disgrace itself with only one second place in 8 rides, and it sold 3
weeks ago on E-Bay at it’s “buy it now” price of $3200.00!!!!
 So now I must build another for 2005.
Tony Down

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