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yooucan2 02-25-2009 02:37 PM

Newbie Questions
Hello everyone. My name is Bob. I live in Columbus, OH. Last spring I bought an 81 special. I had a blast on it last summer. These really are some great bikes! This is a really great forum and I am impressed with the amount of information that can be found here. I do have a few questions though.

1) I bought some used engine guards on ebay. They are the 2 point ones. I was wanting to put them on this spring. My questions concerns the installation. The bolts that need to be removed look like they support the engine. Do I have to put something under the bike to support the engine before I remove these bolts?

2) At the end of last fall, probably early October, I put my bike in my sister's unheated garage for the winter. I removed the battery and the gas tank. I did not do much to drain any of the gas from the carbs (like I said, I am new to all this). My question is, is it likely that the carbs will be gummed up when I try to start her up sometime in late April?

3) After removing the battery from my bike, I took it home and it sat (not on the ground) for about a month before I bought a battery charger to maintain the charge over the winter. When I hooked up the batter to the charger, it showed that it was charging for only about 2 seconds and then the green LED lit that means it is fully charged. I was thinking that I read somewhere that if this happens, there is a good chance that the battery is bad. Is this correct? I would say this battery is only about 2 years old.

4) One of the POs of the bike had painted the exhaust manifolds with a gray paint. It looks like the manifolds are rusting through the paint a little bit. I was considering taking the exhaust and manifolds off and painting them with some black duplicolor high heat paint to help stop the rust and to approve the appearance (I like the blacked out look). Is it relatively easy to remove and reinstall the entire exhaust system? Will I need to buy replacement gaskets?

5) The PO painted my gas tank with some really crappy paint and clear coat. I am going to repaint it this spring. I am also going to remove the little bit of rust that I have noticed inside the tank and seal the tank. My old lady bought me a kit from por15.com for Christmas. Have any of you ever used this kit before and did you have good results? I was also wondering what sequence I should do the coating and the painting. I was thinking I would have a local body shop remove all the paint, fill in the gaps on the side from the Yamaha emblems, and then put a coat of primer on it. Then I would coat the inside of the tank. Then I would paint and clear coat the tank last so that the chemicals do not mess up the paint job. Is this what you all would recommend?

6) Late last fall, I began to notice a problem with my clutch or tranny. What happens is that it slips under hard acceleration. I crank the gas, and in the past I would be rocketed forward, now I just hear the RPMs shoot up and I no longer take off like a bat out of hell. Is this a common problem with this bike and what needs to be done to remedy it? I don't really think I would trust myself to go digging into the tranny or clutch. What can I expect a repair like this to cost? Anyone know of any good bike mechanics in the Columbus area that works on these old bikes?

Wow, that was a lot of typing. I hope I have not overwhelmed you all. I appreciate any info you can give me about these questions. I thank you all in advance..


CatatonicBug 02-25-2009 03:05 PM

First, welcome to the site! I'm not an expert, but I have a couple of opinions/answers for your questions:

#2: You may end up with gunk in your carbs. What a lot of people do is run sta-bil or seafoam in the gas just before closing it up for the winter. This allows it to run again without too much difficulty in the spring. However, there are those who have no problems at all with not adding anything, and going just what you have done. I would suggest using fresh gas when you start it up again, with some seafoam in it. If it runs after that, then you're good!

#4: It is relatively easy to remove the stock headers. Loosten the clamps that link them together, loosten the clamp that holds the #2 & #3 header onto the #1 and #4 (respectively) and remove the 1 bolt on each side behind the rear footpeg. Then take the 8 allen-head caps off the header mount studs, and wiggle and pull. New gaskets are recommended.

#6: You may be experiencing the fabled 2nd gear slip. Is it happening in all gears, or just on certain ones? Lots of threads on how to fix this, and don't be afraid to tear into it yourself. It requires opening the side covers and (possibly)removing the oil pan, removing the secondary drive shaft and taking a dremel tool to the gears.

One of the biggest problems with repairing these bikes is finding a professional that can/will work on them. Most of the time, you'll be much better off doing it yourself, even if you have little or no prior experience. You'll save a TON of money and gain a TON of satisfaction and knowledge in the process. Remember that there are plenty of people here willing to lend help from afar, and some that may even be close enough to swing by and help out for the cost of a 6-pack.

yooucan2 02-25-2009 03:14 PM

Thanks for the info Catatonic. in regards to #6, it is in all gears. I would actually love to be able to do all of my own repairs on this bike, but I, unfortunately, do not have a garage and would not really have anywhere suitable to do any of the larger or more time consuming projects. If I had the garage and the time, I would jump right into it. I WILL have a sweet garage someday.

red bandit 02-25-2009 03:40 PM

The engine won't fall on the floor if you remove the 2 bolts but putting a jack under the engine to take the weight off of the bolts to remove/replace the bolts makes it a lot easier.
Some guys worry about the gas. I don't. I fired mine up the other day, first time since Oct. Fired right up. No Sta-bil or anything.
The batt. might be good. Give it a try before buying a new one.
I would remove all the old paint and rust, coat the inside before any paint or primer on the outside.
If it's slipping in all gears it's probably the clutch. Synthetic oils can cause that or weak clutch springs or adjusted wrong.

trbig 02-25-2009 03:49 PM

1. Not knowing exactly what type of crash guards you have.. even if you remove all the front engine mount bolts, the engine will drop about a 1/4 inch maybe to the frame. A floor jack with a piece of wood under the oil pan will help align the holes for re-installation

3. You can take your battery to just about any auto parts stores now days and have it tested for free if you don't have a battery load tester.

5. I can't answer all of it, but I personally wouldn't coat a tank (Inside) except for EXTREME cases of rust and that was the only way to save the tank. There are possible problems associated with the coating. You can always do that later if you see a problem.

6. You are simply having clutch slippage. There are a variety of things you can do. You can take the clutch cover off without even draining your oil if it's on the sidestand, but be ready to replace the gasket if it tears... or I have mine sealed with Yamabond (Tribond) without the slightest hint of a leak. You can replace the clutch springs for @ $16, and you can also install an extra steel disc in the clutch basket to firm things up. DON'T pay someone else to do this.. it's simple to do.. and the more/better you know your bike, the better you'll feel about things and the more money you'll save.


yooucan2 02-25-2009 05:20 PM

Thanks for all the info Guys.

I think I may hold off on coating the tank like you mentioned. I don't think there is that much rust in there and I just bought some inline fuel filters and I would think they would catch any rust.

As far as the clutch is concerned, I think I will try to do it myself if it is as simple as you it is. Is there any specific name to this steel plate when trying to find one? Do you have any suggestions as to where I should purchase this plate and springs?


Crazcnuk 02-25-2009 06:21 PM

You can just try and adjust the clutch, too, as per spec.

When I picked up my new 80 special a couple of weeks ago, the clutch didn't work at all. I just did the normal adjust procedure and now it works fine.

For me it was way too loose, yours may be a bit tight.

For the gas, i would throw a can of Seafoam in and top up the tank and go.

I also leave mine sit all winter every winter, and never had a problem from sitting.

yooucan2 02-25-2009 06:30 PM

Thanks Crazcnuk,

What exactly is the normal adjust procedure? LOL. Remember, I am new to all of this. That would be great if that was all it needed. I feared it would be more complex because it worked fine at one point and then it didn't and also because the clutch still works fine under light to moderate acceleration, it is only when I really get on it that I notice it and it seems to get worse as time goes on. It slips now worse than it did when it first started.

DiverRay 02-25-2009 09:15 PM

You can look fore the adjustment specs on the forum, or do a "search" to fine a thread about the clutch. If you only have about 25K miles on the bike, the clutch plates SHOULD be good. I would replace the springs, though. After almost 30 years, they just will NOT push as hard as they need to. about $16 plus a tube of Yamabond, and you have a like new clutch.
2 years on a battery is about all you can get. If you buy an AGM, they will usually go about 4 or 5 years. They DO cost a lot more, but the no maintenance is great on a bike.
Last but NOT least, buy a manual! It will give you an idea of what you need to do, and that with this site will keep the bike running for a LONG while.

yooucan2 02-25-2009 09:28 PM

Thanks Ray,

My bike only has about 18,000 miles on it. Where do you suggest I pick up these springs and the Yamabond?

DGXSER 02-25-2009 09:51 PM


Look there for the springs, one source. The extra steel plate , some of the members mihgt have an extra, not sure where to buy one except maybe Andreas Weiss, a member that sells alot of parts and very fair pricing from what I read. That does sound like you have clutch slippage.

Exhaust comes off very easy compared to any car I have ever worked on. I found the new gaskets ( where the headers attach to the engine) locally no problem and $3 each. I took mine off by removing the allen nuts that bolt the headers in, removing the bolts back at the rear foot pegs, and loosening the crossover clamp (I have a stock exhaust) pull each side off separate.

yooucan2 02-25-2009 10:05 PM


I'll check the site out. I think you may be right about Andreas. He sent me a msg about clutch parts, so If the springs don't do the trick, I think he may be able to help me.

yooucan2 02-25-2009 10:09 PM

Looks like that site has the springs, exhaust gaskets, and yamabond. Thank you all very much for the info.

TopCatGr58 02-25-2009 10:16 PM

Hey YouCan2,

Welcome. Now, take some time and peruse the tech tips, either from the Drop down menus at the top of the page, or in the TECH TIP FORUMS! Look at the MODs, extra steel clutch plate tip, not so much for adding an extra plate, but for the info on replacing the springs, the concern with the STAR PLATE, etc., a little technically delicate job, but can be done with a bit of care. ALSO, check your clutch cable, can corrode, rust and create a lot of drag that can also prevent the clutch from releasing completely. There are 2 adjustments points, the engine side, and also a simple slack at the handlebar.


yooucan2 02-25-2009 10:51 PM

Thanks T.C.

I found the post about the star plate, will have to be careful with that.

If i get the clutch cover off without taring the gasket, should I still use the tribond stuff to help seal it? Also, Is there any particular type of lube that works best for the clutch cable? I would guess something like lithium grease spray or something similar.

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