At approximately 4:30 PM PST on 11/10/2019, my 1982 Kawasaki KZ1300 six-cylinder roared (or perhaps "stumbled" would be more truthful) back to life!
It hasn't been ridden in something over 12 years, and had been sitting mostly uncovered in the back yard of a computer client's house for all that time. It only has 5600 miles on it, and it has proven to be in excellent condition where it really counts.
I've been working pretty intensely on the bike since I finally got my hands on it this Fall. Most recently, I pulled the three 2-barrel carbs and cleaned them out. As with the rest of the bike, they were in remarkably good condition, with all passages unclogged, and very little crud in the float bowls.
After stumbling over several quirks along the way (controls that work backwards, unexpected security and safety interlocks, etc.) I finally lined up all the ducks that afternoon. I disassembled, cleaned, and lubricated all of the control switches on both sides of the handlebar, which were jammed or sticky from being outside in the weather for so long.
With the help of fresh fuel in a yellow mustard squeeze-bottle, and a few small squirts of starting fluid (ether, basically) the engine fired up and almost immediately ran smoothly, firing on all six cylinders with no scary noises that would suggest engine damage.
One of the little things that made this experience even more remarkable was seeing one circuit after another come to life with the warmth and vibration of the engine running. By the time we (me and my buddy Randal) were finished, all of the background and signal lights on the instrument panel had come to life, with the possible exception of the temperature gauge.
The rest of the work to get the bike road-worthy will go quickly. I already have a set of new tires that I bought for my Gold Wing. I've already purchased a new headlight assembly off of eBay, as well as a new front brake master cylinder and brake lines. I need a driveshaft universal joint cover ASAP, but not before I move the bike into a place where I can work on it during the winter.
It's hard to express exactly how much this project means to me, but let's just say that Richard is a Happy Boy!
The progress for 11/11/2019 consisted of replacing the factory front brake master cylinder with a $15 one from eBay, and the front brake lines with steel braided ones, likewise. I mis-measured the top line by several inches, so I'll be ordering another one.
Bleeding the slave cylinders seemed to go well, but there is still no "pedal" at the brake lever, so I may need to bleed the master separately.
Today was another day of incremental, but important progress.
Interestingly enough, the bike came with a spare set of front and rear wheels and tires. As far as my immediate need, the cool thing is that while the front tire mounted on the bike is massively deteriorated and unusable, the tire on the spare front wheel (complete with white walls) while still far too old to use for any length of time, does hold air. Today I swapped front wheels, so I now have tires on both ends suitable for getting the bike out my buddy's back yard, and hopefully into a dry, maybe even heatable, place to work over the winter.
In the process of mounting and bleeding the el-cheapo front master cylinder, I learned something. The reservoir apparently had a single hole in the bottom to allow fluid into the cylinder bore. Yesterday, when I took off the cap of the reservoir, I saw a small black object floating in the fluid. On closer inspection, it turned out to be the world's smallest rubber cork, which had been blocking off a second hole, this one with a tiny orifice to limit the rate at which fluid could be ejected. This was the hole where fluid squirts out, back into the reservoir, when the brake lever is released.
I now seem to be able to bleed the front brake system, but it doesn't stay bled. More on that later.