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- Broken Blade 05/10/03
- Blade rebuild 30/01/04

Rebuilding a Blade - last updated 25/04/04
or... How NOT to repair a Fireblade!

Time for the rebuild then. Realising I missed a lot of the good weather last Spring while my bike was having the new engine fitted or parts were being resprayed, I'm determined to get this thing back on the road ASAP. With the likelihood of it ending up on it's arse again sometime, I'm not fussed about spraying it up nice and purdy. So long as it runs well and straight then I'll be as happy as Colin Edwards on a full spec RCV211! ;)

In order to try keeping costs to a minimum, I've spent the last couple of months trawling ebay for bargains. Late nights spent at the 'puter waiting for the last few seconds of an auction, before trying to steal it with a late bid. Or emailing people who didn't sell their item and offering a low price to save them rebidding usually works too. Read on for some tips on how to (or not to) fix bent or broken parts of your bike.

Condition 20/04/04

Running Cost of repair (not for the squeamish)

Running Cost of Repairs:
Front Forks & master reservoir
Replacement forks  
  Colchester Motorcycles
Sale of spare forks  
- £165.00
Brake & Clutch levers
ABBA central lifting bike stand
Crash bungs
  ebay - (Has more!)
Rear brake lever & footpeg assembly
  The Firebladeshop
Front brake braided lines
2 x new tyres & fitting
Torque Wrench
  Dennis Trollope Racing
Spark Plugs (x4)
  A & R Racing
Front Wheel Spindle  
  The Firebladeshop
Halogen Bulbs
  Redline Honda
Fluids (Oils etc)
  Redline Honda
Front brake discs
  Colchester Motorcycles
Front brake pads  
Clutch Lifter Pin  
  Colchester Motorcycles
Fork seal & oil  
  Redline Honda
Extras (fasteners etc)  
  Redline Honda
Petrol tank
front fairing bracket
front nose fairing
Front indicators
Screen brace
RH fuse cover
Double bubble screen
  Dennis Trollope Racing
Slip-on exhaust
RH mirror
Lower fairing panels x2  
RH seat unit  

30/01/04 - Head Bearings & Replacement Forks

Removing the forks was something I'd done before, but I hadn't a clue about sorting out the head race bearings other than what I'd read in the Performance Bikes article. So nothing else to do but buy a bike stand to lift the front end off the ground, remove the forks, then take it as it comes.
Once I lifted the wheel off the ground I tried to push the front wheel spindle back through the wheel and out, but it was having none of it. With the aid of a hammer and socket extension I banged it out to discover even the spindle had bent! I also presumed the front wheel would be buckled, but after taking it to Redline Honda to check it over we discovered there was only a minute warp which was nothing to worry about thankfully.

The process for removing the top yoke, bottom clamp & steering stem was straight forward enough.
With the forks removed, remove the top nut (which was loose!), and you are faced with a bizarre lock nut system. You should in theory be using a specific Honda tool to remove these (allegedly) I dug out my monkey wrench and whipped the top nut off, followed by the lock washer and finally the lower thread nut. This is the point when I discovered I should have bent the edges of the lock nut up first to prevent damage, ahem. Next, remove the top dust seal, let the stem slide out the bottom a little bit, then push it back up again to poke the top bearings out, then let it drop out the bottom finally... err, while holding it of course. The bearings were looking a bit dry, but not damaged as far as I could tell.

I had bought a set of yokes and forks from ebay allegedly for an RRW, however after comparing the bottom clamps it was clear these were from an RRV or earlier. So I decided against swapping these thinner clamps, instead giving my original setup a good clean and packed the bearings with a liberal dose of grease (as you can see from the photos below) Thankfully this stem and bearings contained an as yet undamaged lock nut which I could replace my knackered one with.

Lift front end off
with ABBA stand


damage then!?

Forks & yokes
bought on ebay

Original removed
clamp & stem

Packed new
lower bearings

Replacing the
top bearing

Followed by
the dust seal

Adjuster nut added

Replace the top yoke

The replacement process was simply sliding the stem (complete with lower dust seal and well packed bearings in place) back up through the head (pic 5). Slide the packed top bearings into place, followed by the top dust seal.
If you do not have the required specialist Honda tool to tighten the adjuster nut, use a 'C' spanner and tighten hard to pack the bearings. Next slacken the adjuster nut slightly so there is only slight resistance, so the bearings are left under very light load to remove any free play. Next add the lock washer and fold the edges down into place. Hold the adjuster nut to prevent it turning and screw the locknut on finger tight. Using a C spanner hold the lower thread in place and tighten the locknut a further 90 deg's so the lock nuts edges can be folded into the slots. Replace top yoke and screw on the top nut. Replace the forks to align both triple clamps then tightent the steering stem top nut to 105Nm with handy new torque wrench.

Align the top of each fork with the top of the triple clamp and tighten the top clamp bolts to 22Nm and the bottom bolts to 27Nm.

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07/02/04 - BT010 tyres, exhaust, spark plugs & footpeg assembly

I bought a pair of BT010's from the London Bike Show the previous weekend and the good folk at Redline Honda fitted them for me during the week. Having given the wheels a good scrub up, I slotted the front one back into place, gave it a spin with my hand...and discovered BOTH discs were more warped than Zodiac Mindwarp. Arse...not a good start. :(
After a few phone calls to local dealers and a couple of websites, I was a bit miffed to find out how much a replacement set would be. Ruling out genyoowine Honda discs and looking for the allegedly more sensibley priced pattern parts, I was quoted £160 per disc by one shop and £115 each by another, neither of whom had the discs in stock. So this will have to wait until later in the week. There goes the test ride tomorrow.

Onto the rear wheel, but before replacing I gave the rear end a good scrubbing using "Fuchs Off" for the lesser dirt and "Yoshimoto Degunge-Ofreen" for the caked in chain lube, dirt and oil. After that the chain needed a thorough cleaning too, using a bowl of paraffin and a sturdy scrubbing brush, it came up like new. Considering it had only done a couple of hundred miles prior to the crash, it needed to! I then gave the wheel bearings rubber seals a good layer of grease, before refitting the collars and sliding the wheel into place...not forgetting the endless fiddling about trying to get the wheel and caliper etc in place?

larger 46k image
Paraffin to scrub off the kak
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One nice shiny chain
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Road legal....ermm...

Next problem I encountered was fitting the Harris carbon exhaust. The previous slip-on took a fair wack in the crash, but I hadn't counted on the main exhaust getting bent out of line. I also noticed a 2 inch scrape on the swing arm where the exhaust must have banged against it when sliding. I'm now beginning to fear either a bent rear swing arm, or worse, a bent frame. When fitting the 3 stud slip-on I needed to add a bit of liquid gasket as there was a bit of a gap in one section. Then when trying to bolt the bracket through the pillion footpeg it wouldn't reach...without a fair bit of elbow grease.

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07/02/04 - Creations Carbon/Kevlar engine covers

I bought these last year from Creations Armour for £90 pair and had them fitted to my previous engine, but removed them when I sold that and hadn't quite got round to putting them on this bike before binning it. The covers I bought were 'Road' versions of the Carbon/Kevlar weave with a Carbon cover for the generator and clutch casings.
I tackled the generator cover first, by fixing the stator comp to the inside of the cover, then adding a good layer of liquid gasket around the edge before slotting the cover into place. Next I hit the second major fuck-up of the day...

Alternator cover in place

M ullered clutch pin

How the clutch cover should look

Once I had added a layer of liquid gasket round the edges of the clutch cover, I rotated the cluth lever round so the clutch lifter pin could slot into place when I pushed the cover back on. Or so I thought I had! With the cover in place I worked my way round the bolts slowly but surely until there was a rather disturbing bang from inside the cover. Removing the cover I had managed to snap off half the head of the lifter pin. (see pic) I was beginning to take one step forward and two jumps back. I'll add this to the list of parts being ordered on Monday.

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08/02/04 - Levers and Earls braided lines

How can someone have so much bad luck with just one bike?
The first half of the day got off to a promising start when I replaced what was left of the front brake lever and the scuffed clutch lever with some pattern parts bought from Kevbikes on ebay. Next I checked the plugs to find they were in tip-top condition and didn't need replacing. Next I gave the middle of the bike and front end a good cleaning, before tackling the front calipers. These took a fair bit of wire wool and brake cleaner to get the caked in brake dust and dirt off the outside, but I soon had them shiny and almost new. I attached the braided hoses to the master cylinder routing them straight down and around the horn, before attempting to attach the right hand caliper to the fork. Strange...the bolt holes on the caliper were about 5-10mm out from the holes on the fork legs! I kept moving the caliper about and checked to see if anything had jammed between the pads but all was okay and similarly on the left hand side.
At this point I had a sinking feeling about the entire fork set-up I had been sold on ebay. Considering the clamp was from an earlier model, this would explain the difference between the calipers and the new forks as earlier models have smaller front discs. I held the old forks up beside the new ones and sure enough the bolt holes were further away from the fork leg. Double bollox. At this point I threw my toys in the pram and packed it in for the day.

I've emailed the seller to try and sort something out about this, but my options seem limited. If I wanted to leave the forks in place I would have to fit smaller brake discs, which would mean I would also have to source calipers to match, adding up to a bodge job. Therefore the forks will have to be removed, resold and a new set bought from somewhere. Gauranteed a fair bit more than the £155 I paid for these ones. :(

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19/02/04 - New EBC discs and 'correct' forks

Well I ended up having to buy another pair of forks from Colchester M/C's who have a fairly good 2nd hand department. Add in a new set of EBC discs and my pockets have never felt so empty! Today was spent in the freezing cold, going about undoing what I had done on the front, resulting in much boredom. What I did discover though during this, was how I had been previously been fastening bolts and clamps up 'way' too tight if this torque wrench is doing is anything to go by?!
I'm shortly aware, that I can no longer find enough screws for the screen, nor a set of brake disc fasteners. These along with requiring a new set of pads for the discs are added to the shopping list...again.
Next up, the new braided lines are attached to the calipers which are then bolted to the forks...which fit for once. The lines have no shrink wrap on them, so I'll need to be wary of how I fit the front guard for fear of adding a few more scratches. It's noted now just how badly butchered the wiring loom has been in it's past life, so I reconnected a few of the looser connectors and wrapped them up with new electrical tape. I had bought some more powerful bulbs for the headlight, which are touted as providing "whiter light & 30% more vision" which I fitted. Finally I stuck the tank on to kid myself I'm nearly finished.

Shiny stuff
Shiny stuff to stop the world
Halfway home
Not quite colour matched...

After buying the tank on ebay, I coincidentally bought the matching front nose cone. So I thought it'd be a wise idea to keep an eye on ebay for further matching parts, to try and get a complete bodykit in the end. Even if it is for the RRX model it's all the same fitting. I've since bought a decent pair of lower panels for £30 (inc.P&P) in the same colour and put the earlier forks up for auction on ebay to try reclaiming some funds.

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20-21/02/04 - Clutch pin, brake pads, new battery

One major pain in the arse about living in this back water town, is the nearest decent bike garage happens to be 15 miles away in Colchester. I took a trip over last night to pick up my new clutch pin, plus some EBC pads for the front, considering I've got expensive new discs on the front I don't want to damage with worn pads. The clutch pin was straight forward enough removing the clutch spring bolts, then the cover, swap the broken pin for shiny new one and replace bolts. There's no recommended torque setting for this so I was very wary about fastening these too tight and snapping summit off. Finally apply a layer of silicon sealant around the outer clutch cover and screw back into place ensuring everything fits correctly this time. Not having electricity in this garage I've got now, means I've got to leave the rest tilll tomorrow.

Today felt like I made some progress....then again...
First up, replacing the new brake pads was straight forward enough, but I thought I'd leave the joy of pumping them until later knowing how long it took me last time! Instead I thought it would be good to try turning it over now the sealants were dry, so I filled up with semi-synthetic. Then I added a gallon of new full fat fuel to the tank, during which I remembered I hadn't fully attached the tank and it's hoses yet. Panic subsided when I realised I must have wisely left the fuel tap in the off position. Once we were all hunky dorey, a turn of the key sees the welcoming neutral light come on, hit the start switch.....nothing but a click from the relay. Huh? A quick fiddle around the rectifier, alternator and anything else with wires coming out of it gets me nowhere. Each time I press the start button there's no other sound but a loud click each time I press the starter button, eminating from the battery region...balls. I'd put the battery on charge the previous night, though it had been ignored since the crash so chances are I was flogging a dead horse....or battery. Nothing for it then but to take another trip over to Redline Honda and pick up a replacement battery.

I got home as dusk was setting in, so I put the new battery on full charge and started with the brake pumping. A much easier task without the top fairing in your way, but still led to knackered forearm from pumping the lever. Next time I will invest in a pair of the valve bleed nipples to make life a bit simpler. I went through one bottle of brake fluid and have managed to get rid of the bulk of the air in the lines, so I've left the lever cable tied to the bar overnight, before finalising the brakes tomorrow. I'm praying the thing will actually bloody start too so I can check it goes in a straight line! :)

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22-23/02/04 - Still Not Starting

Well then, guess what?! After leaving the new battery on the optimate all night, I went out this morning to try again, and same thing happens! The flywheel whirred a bit stronger first time, but after that it sounded weaker and weaker each time, leaving just the relay click making any noise in the end. Gave up and tinkered with a few other areas of the bike which needed attention in the morning while I had, before packing up and emailing a few people with pleas for help. One thing I didn't examine was the voltage reading before, during & after trying to start it which would have been a bit intelligent of me! This plus some other feedback from the Yahoo mailing list and others gave me some thoughts for tomorrow.

Today after work, I dug out my multimeter and checked the voltage of the battery with the starter button pushed in and the voltage drops from 12.5v to about 5v or so, before I let go.
I then used the Haynes manual instructions to check the stator coils and this appeared normal, though the specified resistance quotes 0.1 to 0.3 ohms, whereas the reading I got between each of the yellow wires was 0.7ohms. I also checked for continuity across various wiring sections and all came up ok.
Finally thought I should check if the starter motor actually turns, so I detached it from the engine and pulled the starter motor out of the crankcase. I reattached the earth wires and tried the starter button to discover this works fine on it's own (plus a fair few sparks from the loose earth connections)!!

So from this feeble piece of detective work I'm presuming the problem lies within the alternator?! Perhaps I've reassembled or reconnected something wrong when putting it back together a couple of days ago? I've left the oil draining now daylight has faded, and will remove the alternator cover tomorrow to see if anything isn't as it should be....not that I would know! ;)

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02/04/04 - Finally a working engine!

My next thought was if it could in fact be the starter motor playing about...not that it should considering it was working fine prior to the crash. So to play safe I bought a replacement motor from ebay again for £25. Once it finally arrived, I swapped motors over and brimming full of confidence I fired her up... I wish! Same old story. Least I got something right this wasn't the starter motor, so that's going back on ebay.

Right then time to suck eggs and drain the oil and open up the alternator cover again. Except this time I thought I'd be clever and ocnsidering the petrol tank was off, I could press the starter button quickly with the cover off to check for movement. (I have my moments of clarity) With the cover off, I checked the gears were all in the right place and after removing the starter gear I noticed some teeth markings on the inside, as if the gear had worked itself loose at one stage!

Gear teech marks showing
Teeth marks visible
Gears in position...allegedly
All bits in their place

Checked all was still in one piece after that and using my skill and observation, decided it was and bunged it all back together as the piccie shows. So touching wood and fingers crossed I hit the starter button and bugger me with a barbed wire covered larry the lamb...the starter turned the crank! Jeezus was I ecstatic! Right then, lob on a layer of silicon sealant and stitch her back up...refilled it with oil. Hit the button....and guess what! It didn't work. There's a pattern emerging here. Well at least I've narrowed it down to the replacing of the cover.

Back to draining the oil again (for the fifth time I believe) remove cover, hit the starter, success. Checked the inside of the cover and it looked like the pin holding the starter gear in place, has been rubbing against the cover. I kept pressing the starter button gently to make sure things turned, and slowly replaced the cover and all went well until the bolts were being tightened up and everything stopped again. Staring at it a bit gobsmacked, I couldn't believe the matter of a 1/4mm spacing provided by using a gasket could be what was causing the grief!

Next day I took a trip to Redline Honda to enquire if this was possible and they concurred, so armed with a new alternator cover gasket (and one for the gearbox, just in case!) I headed home. Once home I cleaned up both casings of sealant, fitted the gaskets, replaced the covers, tightened things to be tightened, added the oil, refitted the petrol tank, held my breath, pressed the starter button and WAHEY!!! Some fiddling about with the choke to get some fuel flowing through, a few back-fires later, she roared into life!
Halle-bloody-lulya!! :)

This forced me to double check the gears worked as well. So on I hops, wires an'all dangling from the fairing free front end and ran her up and down the cul de sac. Aaah, first time being on a running bike since that fateful day in October....and summer is just round the corner! :)

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20/04/04 - Leaking fork seal and caliper

With the bike running as it should finally, all that is left to do is stick on the fairing panels bought by auction on eBay mentioned earlier. The front fairing bracket had originally been quite bent out of shape when I got the bike and was now totally scrap, so with a new one fitted the fairing panels fitted snugger than they ever had. The panels in the pics below are the originals as I wait for the lower panels to arrive.

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rebuilt right hand side

29k large image
right crash protection

34k large image
looks straight enough

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left crash protection

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left hand lash-up

The middle panels are only of use for future track days, but they'll have to do until I get replacement pattern parts. I've bodged the fairing bung holes by drilling two big holes in the side panels for them to fit through for now. When I get the correct panels, I'll use a hole saw to make a neater job of it. The bungs came from a sound bloke on ebay called Grippa, for a decent price compared to other makes and do the same job. So if you're after some for yourself, email him here.

All this sounds too good to be true I hear you say. Nothing broken or fallen off yet?! Read on...

Once it was all together I took it for a quick test ride up the road to start bedding in the new brake discs and pads gently at first of course. When I got the bike back I checked the pads were ok and noticed a nice oiley layer above the fork seal on the left hand side, leaking seal on newly friggin' replaced forks! So this weekend, I will mostly be having to sort that out, when I planned to add several hundred miles to the clock. Also, some leaked brake fluid coming from above the right hand stainless banjo on top of the caliper. All I can think of for that one, is the hose itself wasn't in tight enough when it was sent to me, so I'll be checking up with Earls about that tomorrow. While I STILL wait patiently for the front panels, which are allegedly 'on their way mate' after two months of useless communication with Allbike Spares in Greenwich, which included them sending me the wrong coloured panels for the wrong bike, muppets.

Oh, and to cap it all off... I made my way down to the Post Office to Tax the bike using my newly arrived cover-note, to have it pointed out to me the date printed on the NEW cover note expired on 23rd March 2003! Nearly split my head open banging it against the brick wall...

One day this will all turn out to be a bad dream, but in the meantime I'm off to drink myself into a stupur. Hope this has been of help to someone else. I'm sure updated pics will be added once the new panels arrive if anyone has made it down this far?! :)

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24/04/04 - Mission Accomplished & it's sunny! :)

It dawned on me that I'd spent the last umpteenth weeks putting this bike back together only to have to wait another week, just for Redline Honda to fit a new fork seal...I think not. I remembered someone on the Yahoo mailing list post a query, about how to do this without the recommended Honda tools, so I trawled back through the archives to January 2004 and printed off all the relevant info. I went to Redline and picked up a new seal and a litre of HPX fork oil, got back to the garage and armed with the printed recommendations of several riders and Mr Haynes manual I set about the forks. I'll be setting up a seperate web page with this info shortly.

I also phoned up Earls about the leaking braided hose. They apolosgised and said it might simply be that someone there hadn't fastened the clamping bolt tight enough, allowing the fluid to seep out the top. I tightened that up a bit on the Friady night and there was no leaks on Saturday morning when I went out to tackle the forks thankfully.

The lower fairing panels had arrived finally, so I bunged them on the bike to make it start looking more like a patchwork quilt than a sexy speed demon. I'd also taxed the bike on Friday knowing I was going to attempt the forks myself, so now I was all fully legal armed with a working bike! :) It was late-ish on Saturday afternoon now and I'd downed a few beers while working away on the bike, so thought it best if I left the speed test until the morning.

Sure enough, 8am Sunday off I went for a razz round the Essex countryside....along with several hundred other bikers it seemed! Until it dawned on me they were off up to the BSB round at Snetterton, doh.
Still, 200 miles of sun-kissed-numb-arsed-slider-scratching-warp-speed-entertainment later I returned home with the bike in one piece, a grin to put the Cheshire Cat to shame, just in time to watch Snetterton on the box with a beer. Aah, don'tcha just love this time of year!? :)

The End.

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