If it aint broke, fix it 'til it is.

TZR 250 Project

24th April 2005:
Took delivery of TZR250 that I’d not seen before I’d agreed to the purchase, it was in a worse condition than I expected. No mirrors, no indicators, damaged ignition, tatty plastics (but all plastics bar a small tail piece). It looked as if it had been sitting in someone’s garden for quite a while. (which I suspect is true). Straight away I started stripping off the plastics, which were barely held on, and the tank which was just resting on the frame. I wish I'd taken more pictures before diving in, but there you go. This is my earliest pic of the TZR.

Anyway, I handed over my 300 notes, wheeled the TZR into the garage, and was given the V5 still in the previous owners' name. So I signed it on his behalf and sent that off. When I started stripping down the plastics I found plenty of corrosion, grass, spiders webs, no oil and all sorts of lovelies. I was wondering if I'd bitten off more than I could chew.. Although on the plus side the bike looked fairly complete, all bar a small section of fairing near the back. The seller (A friend's dad) assured me he had most of the missing bits, and would give them to me in due course. Another plus point the bike had race pipes, which I believe to be Swarbrick and K&N air filters, and I was assured it had been jetted to suit. (It hadn't).

24th April 2005:
Today off came the exhaust pipes, nuts on the cylinder head came off beautifully. The pipes are also held on with a hex headed bolt just behind the rider footpegs. The left one came off fine, the right one instantly rounded. It took another hour with a drill and a file before they came off. But they did. This gave me a bit more of a chance to look over the bike. This was going to be a steep learning curve. I removed the clutch cable and started making a mental shopping list.

  • Clutch lever (snapped)
  • Footpegs (snapped)
  •  Fork tops (rounded)
  • Fork oil and dust seals (mangled)

26th April 2005:
Today I bought a new clutch lever off eBay for 5 quid, that'll arrive soon enough. On the bike front I popped off the airfilters and carbs without much hastle. Decided to check the level in the coolant tank (empty) it’ll be ok to take the radiator I thought, it’ll be empty. Wrong. Smelly water all over my leg. Took the radiator off, took the side stand off, the screws that held the switch on were nicely rounded, so they got drilled out. Side stand off, gear lever and foot pegs removed (front and rear).

Over the course of a couple of hours the engine also came out with the help of Paul Odd, ER-5 owner on the Friends' page. Which wasn’t a trivial job as it seems on a lot of these websites “I just popped the engine out” and such. It took 2 of us a good 2 hours. This also included some of my delicate engineering such as hacksawing through the chain. The engine seems in fairly good condition, it turns over, it’s just dirty and a bit rusty. I’ll be attacking it with a wire brush and a can of VHT paint tomorrow evening. I think all the components just need a damn good clean, the wiring needs sorting and it may be running in the next week or so. If I can get it running I’ll take it from there and see what I want to do with it. This is how my baby stands at the moment. Not bad for a days work for a 17 year old with incredibly little mechanical knowledge. Or a Haynes manual (never made one).

27th April 2005:
Right, today I took both calipers off, took the clocks off, and the bracket that holds them on, took the back wheel off. Put the back wheel back on. Overhauled both brake calipers, put them back on. Sprayed the clocks bracket, as it was really nasty condition. Sprayed the sub-frame for the same reason. Sprayed both exhausts. Sprayed the cylinder head. Plonked the engine back into the frame. Put the carbs back on, put the air filters back on, half put the radiator back on. Tomorrow will be the day, first to check if there’s any sparks, if there is, I’ll try to start it. If it starts I’ll start tarting everything up, safe in the knowledge the engine works. Couple of problems with seized nuts today, I’m just going to drill them out, sod the threads and put a nut and bolt straight through. Spent £17 on 2 cans of spray paint and a can of degreaser, oh and some wet n’ dry paper. Still need to buy:

  • Clutch lever (snapped)
  • Footpegs (snapped)
  • Fork tops (rounded)
  • Fork oil and dust seals (mangled)
  • Fork seals
  • Battery
  • Various oils
  • Paint to do fairings.
  • Single seat unit.
  • Chain

28th April 2005:
Put the new clutch lever on, put clutch cable on, put pegs back on, put gear shifter back on, connected all the wires back up that I’d cut. I thought today would be the day to start it. But like a poor relationship, there was no spark. It turns out, it’s the black wire coming from the coil heading in the direction of the CDI. It’s made of a butter/cheese combination, and has corroded from the inside out. Hopefully a new loom should sort that, or maybe some extremely hardcore butchering. The bleed nipple’s also snapped off the rear caliper, so that’s another thing. I’ve also chosen the paint scheme, I’m going to paint it in the YZF-R6 colours, the blue and black combination. On a plus side, some of the electrics work. The headlight works, as do all the lights behind the clocks, as does the YPVS servo, which was an added bonus. Also sanded and sprayed the pipes with VHT paint.
more things to buy:

  • Chain
  • Wiring loom
  • Rear caliper

4th May 2005:
Took a few days out from working on the devil bike. I went with the hardcore butchering option of fixing the wiring loom. And low and behold, we have a spark! I think I’ve also sourced several parts from the guy I bought the bike off. (he has loads of TZR250s, so I’ll scavenge the bits I need)
which include:

  • Fork tops
  • Left footpeg
  • Rear caliper
  • Ignition barrel (this one’s given up the ghost, someone tried to steal it and killed the barrel).

So anyway, today I stripped back the wiring loom a bit, and replaced a wire which I suspected to be dodgy. When I replaced it, I got a spark, so I was happy.

Tomorrow could be the day where we attempt to start it. New fork seals may also have been sourced off eBay for just over a fiver. If it starts and runs well, then I’ll start repairing all the fairings, seeing to the details of the electrical system. Then it’s a case of deciding what to do with the bike in the long term.

The ignition barrel did work before today, but I noticed a wire has come away. Someone’s quoted me £22 for a new one off ebay. It could become my track-day-toy, meaning strip all lights and road going parts, but don’t tune it to buggery like I’d have to to make it a race bike. Or I could MOT it, and ride it, or I could MOT it and sell it. I’m undecided at the moment, I’ll decide once/if it ever starts.

5th May 2005:
The guy I bought the TZR off has leant another of his running TZRs to a mate of mine. So he pootled over today to show me what I'll eventually own. Onto the Teezer I hopped, followed by the two guys, one on a GSX-r 400 and the other on my XJ600. I bloody loved the little bike, I soon pissed off into the distance. I love these bikes! This example was of about the same condition of mine as well which made me feel good. So I got home and got feverishly to work with mine.

I fixed the ignition barrel, took it off, took it apart, re-soldered the dodgy wire and bingo, all good. I put the petrol tank on, added a bit of hose between the tap and the carbs, attached the tap to the frame. Cleaned a few bits with wire wool, including the top yoke, fork legs, fork clamps etc.

The bike’s looking good. Bought some fork seals for it as well off eBay for £6.50 including postage, will fit those as and when. Also managed to blag a set of stainless engine bolts in return for measuring all my stock ones. Found a place that supplies fairing bolt kits and anodized fork tops so I’ll be ‘forking’ out for some of those once I know the engine runs ok and it’s tarting up time.

Tomorrow I’ll buy some 2t oil, add that, bleed the 2t oil pump. Might fix the radiator on properly (only one bolt atm). Might add the YPVS servo cables, but that’s not important at the moment. All in all, today has been a very good day, I love the bike, and I think I may just have to put it on the race track, so exciting for such a cheap bike. Also noticed that there’s a 150 section rear tyre, which is very much oversized. But both tyres are also nearly brand new.

6th May 2005:
Well today, I was pretty much determined to try and start it, even though it’s been ‘maybe tomorrow I’ll try and start it’, maybe tomorrow etc. Well, I drilled out the seized bolt on the right hand rear sets, refitted both exhausts, checked for sparks, filled with 2t oil, bled the 2t oil pump, checked for sparks again. Ignition on, kill switch off, neutral, choke, KICK…..nothing. Repeat last step for about 15 minutes before swearing at bike, returning to house. I thought I'd leave it for a while and come back to it in a bit. To start with it was pissing petrol out of the left cylinder down my lovely new painted exhaust pipes which sucked. Petrol strips paint very well though, found that out the hard way. I guessed I must have flooded it in that time anyway, so I took the plugs out, had some dinner and went back to it. A few more minutes kicking, and LIFE! It started! It ran very poorly, and it ran for about 30 seconds, but it ran! I’m a happy man. I’m leaving it there for tonight, and tomorrow I’ll try to start it again and see what happens.

8th May 2005:
Today I lowsided my everyday bike, my red Yamaha XJ600 at a local roundabout. Bent bars, broken mirror, badly damaged fairing, broken throttle assembly. This now takes priority over the TZR. Could fit the fork seals I suppose.

17th May 2005:
After speaking to the guy I bought the bike off he strongy suggested I take a look at the carbs. So today I popped the carbs off, to find one of the needles had a 90 degree bend in it! "It's not supposed to be like that" I mused. Tried to bend it back to shape, and of course, it snapped. So that's another thing for the shopping list. The left carb rubber has got a nice split in it aswell. I've done my best to professionally squash it under a giant circlip, but we'll see how that holds up. Spent £50 on a job lot of bits for the XJ off eBay so that's now back on the road. (Best £50 I've ever spent).

There's currently a job-lot of TZR250 bits on ebay, which include a chain, mirrors and a couple of other bits I need.

23rd May 2005:
Right, since payday I've managed to spend a whole load of money on the bike! I've bought a battery, an anodised fairing bolt kit, got my blagged stainless engine bolt kit through the post. As you can see to the left.

Went up to Clacton today to see the guy I bought the bike off, to help him with his ZXR750 project. Ended up coming back with the tail piece I need, and a fork top (there is another one, but it's attached to a fork leg and couldn't bring it home on the bike). Also got a few rubber gromits needed to hold the side panels onto the bike. Yes, the tail section is red, and it's gonna stay that way! The paint work on the bike isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, so a red piece of fairing won't make much difference.

I also connected a few more wires up behind the headlight, the oil light, neutral light and high beam lights all now work. I also nearly killed myself by undoing the fork top and various bits shot out at my face.

Anyway, back to the TZR! Job at hand etc. The job lot of bits mentioned in the last post I won today. £39! The bits I actually need that it includes are:

  • Rear caliper (mine has a sheered off bleed valve)
  • Braided front brake hose (that'll be nice)
  • Indicators (I snapped mine off with my delicate engineering skills)
  • Mirrors (I plan to MOT it, I think)
  • Chain (I hacksawed through mine!)
  • Footpegs (Left one's snapped)

The bits I don't need, but are included are:

Rear shock and linkage, front caliper, clip ons + all switchgear + levers (could be usefull for the MZ racebike? Or when I crash this one and bend the bars),
speedo drive + cable, rearsets, fairing bracket and various other crap I'll sort through when it gets here.

Oh, also bought a complete gasket set off ebay, mainly for the exhaust gaskets. The TZR could be running in the near future, The chain will help me with bumpstarting it, the right size battery will mean I can put the body work back on. The exhaust gaskets will mean it shouldn't spew fuel on the floor/over my newly painted pipes! All I'll need then is a new needle for the r/h carb, although I suspect it'll end in me buying whole new carbs for it. Then it's all down to MOTing it!

24th May 2005:

Well, I'm like a kid in a toy shop, loads of bits arrived this morning. The gasket set and the anodised blue fairing bolt kit came from the 'net but the massive tray of stainless nuts and bolts and also the fibreglass matting kit came from the ever usefull Father. Battery arrived too. Put the rear plastics on since I've now got all the bits, pic on the right shows it charging. (Optimiser stolen from chief mechanic). Paid for my job lot of bits today from reservoircogs.com, they should be here in two days. Then I'll be able to bump start the bike since I'll have a chain, and hopefully it'll run! In the mean time, I need to fix a few cracks in the fairings, get a new needle for the R/H carb. Right, a to-do list, and a price breakdown so far:

Work done so far + money spent

Massive clean up, involving dropping engine out. (bought some degreaser £5)
Overhauled both calipers
Replaced broken clutch lever (£5)
Replaced grips (cost: nil, had them laying around)
Fixed wiring (cost: nil)
Sprayed subframe + headlight bracket (£10 for paint)

Work to do: Replace exhaust gaskets

Replace fork seals
Replace broken carb needle
Repair cracks in fairing
Fit parts (left footpeg, mirrors, chain, rear caliper, braided front hose)
Prepare for MOT
Thrash to within inch of life.

Total cost to date:

Bike £300
Clutch lever £5
Various consumables £15
Battery £15
Fairing bolt kit £10
Gasket kit £30
Job lot of parts £41 (Bargain!)

So total cost so far is: £416!

Assuming there are few bumps in the road, I think it'll be on the road for under £500. There's always the chance the engine is dead though...

25th May 2005:
Today I fixed a few breaks in the fairings with fibreglass matting. Doesn't look amazing, but they're quite structurally sound. So I put the fairings on and took a couple of pictures. All I need to do is get a new needle for the carb, which I managed to extract today, fit the chain, and I'll be able to take it out for a quick illegal spin. Then it's all about fitting the mirrors, changing rear caliper, changing hose to braided on the front, adding indicators and fixing the extremely dodgy lighting wiring. Happy days.

29th May 2005:
In there you can see..

Both calipers

Both brake levers
Clutch lever
Braided front hose
Rear shock
Fairing bracket
Front sprocket
Ignition barrel (no key)
Headlamp (with pilot light)
Speedo drive + cable
Both clip ons
Side stand
Indicators (Going on the XJ)
Both hangers and footpegs (using right hanger, peg, and gear lever.

First thing I did was use the front master cylinder + braided hose with the existing front caliper. Next I fitted the left hanger, so now I have both footpegs in tact. I also used the pilot light out of that headlamp, with a new bulb, that now works also.

Now the saga of the rear caliper! The existing one is scrap, bleed nipple snapped off. Ok, I'll just swap them over I thought, But no, this one is seized into its mounting bracket.. Again, not a problem I thought, but it is, you can't fit it with it still attached to the bracket.

I'm subtle to the last so it got hacksawed off. (Pic to the right). Managed to get the stud out aswell! One sorted caliper, fitted to the bike with no problems.


The chain was also one piece which annoyed me a bit, so out came the swing arm, which came off without too much drama which was nice. This is the point where you really want a centre stand! Gave me a change to give it a damn good clean aswell. Shock didn't look in bad nick, although I didn't change it for the new one, saw little point. As you can see, the chain is now onto the front sprocket, but getting the swing arm on and off is not a one man job, this is where my chief mechanic (read Dad) steps in to help.

In the meantime I fitted some eBay clear lensed indicators, which randomly didn't flash, and I sawed off the standard number plate bracket. Being the subtle guy I am, I used a woodsaw.

Dad finished his dinner and we re-fitted the swing arm. You can also see the new disk caliper in place, with both bleed nipples in tact! The bike is now probably a few kgs heavier due to the amount of copper grease spread everywhere!

The indicators also randomly started working aswell, I think it's possibly due to the battery not being fully charged, so I've left it hooked up to the optimate, hopefully that'll help. The bike's really coming along, all that needs doing now is fixing the carb with the bits I should have in my possesion some time next week, fit the new tail tidy, number plate and indicators, then it's all about fitting the new fork oil seals, not a job I'm looking forward to! Then there's a couple of small electrical system things I need to tidy up and it's MOT time! Oh, greased the shock and linkages today, that was a barrel of laughs..

1st June 2005:
Today I decided was the day to take the fork legs out, and start changing the oil seals, I knew I couldn't finish the job as I don't have any dust seals as yet. First thing was to take the clippons off, no big deal there. Then of course I propped up the bike in the most professional way I could think of..It did the job!

Then off came the caliper and then the front wheel. I thought the wheel bolt was INCREDIBLY tight, but I was turning the rachet the wrong way. *D'OH*, can't believe I havn't done any damage by doing that, I was turning it quite a lot, with the maximum torque setting.. Anyway, the Wheel did come off.

After that I loosened off the clamp bolts and the fork legs slid out with very little fuss. I clamped them in the vice and set to work. I un-did the allen bolts in the bottom of the fork legs, and they both pissed out oil that smelt, and looked like vomit, which was nice. Now I just need Chief Mechanic's advice on how to get the oil fork seals out, and wait 'till I get some dust seals.

When I put the legs back in I'll probably drop them through the yokes a little bit, just because I can! Dad and I only yesterday put his VFR forks back UP through the yokes! He wanted his steering slower, silly man. He's very professional though, almost as much so as me, one of our main tools was a chunk of wood and a hammer.

5th June 2005:
Still can't get the fork stantions apart, so that's been put to one side for the moment. Some bits arrived for the carbs, 2 new needles and 2 new inlet rubbers. These bits came from #7 racer in the YPM series Pete Fishwick, top guy!

Old rubber (top one) with a giant split in it, vs new rubber bottom one, in tact.

Preparing to put the new left rubber on. It went out with very little fuss, but now I can't actually get the left carb to go into that rubber, I'm sure it'll go in with a little persuasion! The new needle also went into the r/h carb with very few problems. Once the forks are back in and sorted I can take it out and get the bugger MOT'd, if the engine's good! Only problem is, I need dust seals and it'll require ordering them from a dealer, which will have to wait till I come back from Tenerife.

5th July 2005:
Forks came apart, they just needed yanking, REALLY hard. I braced my foot against the vice, and pulled hard, making sure the stantion wasn't aimed at anywhere near my nuts. That's pretty much all I did, need to order/aquire the new fork seals before I can do much more. I did manage to get the left carb into the rubber aswell, but it was /very/ tight.

6th July 2005:
Numberplate and tail tidy arrived today. Which I promptly fitted, along with the indicators previously bought off eBay.

I've booked a trackday at Snetterton on the 1st August, and I hope to take the TZR if all is well and it passes an MOT.

10th August 2005:
I havn't really touched the TZR since the last entry since the XJ head swap has taken priority. (When I crashed I broke an exhaust stud, which didn't show itself until about a week ago, we picked up a £30 engine off eBay and swapped the heads. Still not in time for my trackday though.) Although the XJ did get me thinking of a few things. The first was about the side stand switch. I think this is why there's not even a hint of it starting whilst in gear i.e when I'm bump starting it. We already know how horribly mangled the wiring loom is and as such I couldn't find the wires the stand switch should connect to.

The other thing is that the fuel tap is vacuum operated. And there is no vacuum tube, therefore it must always be run on prime.

I pick up a new wiring loom from another TZR racer #46 from Snetterton this sunday. Obviously the TZR wasn't ready for the trackday, so I took the MZ.

16th August 2005:
Over the last couple of days I've really knuckled down with the old dog. I got the loom in the post about a week ago, which I set about fitting almost immediately. It didn't help. Which just meant the old loom was fine, just butchered to hell. But it did make some more encouraging starting noises, which was a start.
I sought help.

After speaking to a few people from a few places, it was decided it simply *had* to be a carb/fueling issue. I actually had to read my own report to find out if I'd had the float bowls off or not. Anyway, I took the float bowls off. And the amount of shit was unreal.

Of course the main jet was blocked SOLID. I couldn't get the floats off to give it as good a clean as I'd like, as the screw is yet again made of butter and instantly rounded. The pin that holds the floats in also wouldn't budge. So I cleaned as best I could and gave it a good spray with a degreaser. Also found the pilot jets absolutely bunged solid. I need some bigger main jets anyway. (Still has standard 230 jets with the K&n filters and race pipes) so I may aswell get some new pilot jets while I'm at it. I actually failed to clear the pilot jets using a needle. Maybe, just maybe the TZR will be ready for its first outing to Lydden hill racetrack on the 4th Sept... (I booked my second trackday, read the trackdays page).

23rd August 2005:
You can tell I'm in the mood when I make two entries on two consecutive days. Anyway, I went to my local friendly bike dealer. (Allenby's in Chelmsford, awesome place.) I went in just to buy some main jets, and in the end walked out £65 lighter. A compression tester came from eBay but is essential to the project none-the-less.

I bought 6 jets..2 of size 240, 2 of size 250 and 2 of size 260. (I didn't know which size I'd need.)
I also ordered 2 brand new genuine Yamamha pilot jets which should be here inside a week. To cater for my tart/wannabe racer side I bought a motrax fuel coupling which should mean I can get rid of the damn ugly, heavy, useless fuel tap. Also found someone with a pressure washer, so I can give the tank a damn good going over tomorrow night. Another step in the right direction!

5th October 2005:
Well, the TZR wasn't ready for the trackday, new jets didn't help. I've since bought some new carbs and a new coil/HT leads off eBay. But I have now moved away to university in Bristol (UWE) and the TZR will have to take a back burner. Chief mechanic (whose birthday it is today, happy birthday Dad) said he will fit both things in good time, and get it running for me. Then, it will become my trackbike. Beware any trackday goers, there'll soon be a nutter on a knackered TZR250. ROCK ON! I've also forgotten to mention, somewhere along the line, I ordered the dust seals, and fitted them, and put the forks back on the bike. I can't remember exactly when that was, but that's another job done. Currently the bike doesn't start, but is pretty much complete, and if the engine ran, it would physically carry me around and possibly pass an MOT. Watch this space.

October 2005:

Today the TZR was sold to a YPM racer to become his new frame. Sold for £400, so overall I lost a grand total of £16, which I don't think is bad for all the fun I've had from it and what I've learnt from it. It's a shame I'll never ride it, and it's an even bigger shame it'll not see the track underneath me.

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