Project Dirtbike



Project Dirtbike, the engine rebuild of my 1971 Yamaha At1 125, was on hold for a bit while I waited on parts to be sent. specifically the piston circlips, which so far is the only part i managed to misplace in the entire project. pretty damn impressed with that. After a long 2 week wait for the $2 part to be sent from Canada, they finally arrived and we were able to schedule a garage night over at Motor Grrl to got the top end together, and the engine back in the frame. yahoo!


Everything’s looking pretty good so far, and though we broke at midnight to catch some zzz’s, we hope to fire up The Runt this weekend after just a few minor tweaks.

Corinna Mantlo

1971 Yamaha At1 125, 1968 BSA Lightning 650, 1962 Ford Ranchero



Project: BSA

photo 5We recently did a quick one nighter session over at member Valerie’s garage MotorGrrl, on my 1968 BSA Lightning. The fork seals were leaking badly and it should have been a quick swap, but as with many old bikes and mine in particular, nothing is ever what it seems.

1555526_682822451739323_1171141786_nI already knew that my ’68 Lightning has a ’70 Thunderbolt 650 engine in it, but i thought that was the only modification. Of course when we went to install stock, mail ordered ’68 A65 Lightning fork seals, we discovered that the Beezer has  earlier A10 forks fitted to an A65 wheel. So…another week’s wait to get the right seals and I was back up and running. I love my franken-bike. Viva la vintage iron!


1971 Yamaha At1 125, 1968 BSA Lightning 650, 1962 Ford Ranchero

Intruder Alert: Tune-Up Part 1

Last night, under Val’s tutelage, we pulled my ’87 Suzuki Intruder out of winter storage for a much needed spring cleaning tune-up. By the time I got to MotorGrrl at 7PM, Little Miss Suzi Ramjam (the Intruder’s new name for reasons I’ll explain later) was already up on the lift and ready for love with a bright red shop rag draped over the seat, handle bar straps holding her tight and tall, and Val next to the lift with a shiny ratchet wrench in-hand.

She had already lowered the battery from the box and informed me that it wasn’t holding a charge which kept the bike from starting.  Damn.  I wasn’t surprised though, I’ve had battery issues since I bought the bike almost two years ago so I can look forward to diagnosing the issue later.  Now, in order to take the battery completely out of its little house you have to raise the frame a bit for the door to swing far enough down so the battery can drop out which leads me to the whole Ramjam thing.  The Intruder is a lot of bike jammed into a relatively tiny frame.  Precision Japanese engineering does not a happy American wrencher make.  It takes a few simple tasks turning into many annoying projects to make this glaringly clear.  From the angle of screw casings to the varied position of the carbs it’s almost impossible to just do a little tinkering.  Time for us to tweak our approach and sprinkle on some patience and time with this baby.

{Cue Music}

First things first we determined the level of tuning that was needed.  For her 16,500 miles, the manual’s recommended list was pretay long so we just started right at the top: Drain the oil and yes, I got it all over.  Felt good.

Then we set in to inspect the spark plugs.


Look at that smile.  I was all, “Can’t wait to see these freakin’ spark plugs!” Let’s just reach in there and get ’em!”  But first we had to remove the cylinder covers to get close enough to unscrew ’em.  What we found were some FILTHY plugs and a beautifully preserved dead bumble bee!  RIP.


With fresh new plugs installed and a prayer offered for the dead it was back to the manual and the next step: air filters – one front, one rear.  The rear filter was relatively easy to find once we removed the seat – match this diagram to this thing here.  But since the front filter housing sat under the gas tank, it became time for that to come off.  Yes, I got gas everywhere.  And with that we learned that the tank end of my fuel line was pretty dry rotted and needed to be replaced.  But one thing at a time.

Both air filters were pretty dirty but not in desperate need of replacement so we just blew them. With compressed air. Then spent a decent amount of time trying to get the dang hose reattached.  Ramjam problem: due to its positioning, we couldn’t see or feel if the hose was attached in any way to the housing. We had to remove the ignition coils which flanked each side to get a better look. 45 minutes and just as many WTF’s later, we were finally able to move on to the fuel line.

With a flashlight we followed the current line starting from where we had detached it from the petcock down to where it connected to the fuel pump.  To be expected, it was quite a tight squeeze but since we were in there and Val had a replacement hose we decided just to replace it.  Right? JUST?  Just replace it? Tonight?

I guess what we lack in smarts we make up for in conviction because we got the new fuel line in, but not before midnight. And though we knew there was more work to do we figured, let’s just get the tank back on, hook up the line, and go on home.


At that time Corinna, the forgotten 8th Dwarf (let’s call her “Greasy”), was packing up after killin’ it all night at the work table putting the transmission back together on her Yamaha.  She provided some much needed muscle in our last stretch connecting the tight new line to the petcock.


I’m a lucky lady for having the following: a warm garage, tools, WOMAN-POWER (and Slade), great company from those who come to hang out, and a challenging bike that rewards me for the attention I pay to it (which it rightfully deserves).



Well this was fun!  Thanks for reading!  More to come!

Project CB350G


What an exciting week over at Project CB350G. The engine is completely buttoned up, points set, and into the frame she went!

As a few folks have mentioned, these engines are a tricky fit, but Stephanie and the team got it wrangled in perfectly, while preserving the freshly painted frame.


Such a sense of accomplishment to see the bike start to come together and to know the hardest part is done. Spring is near!


Project Dirtbike

photo(1)Moto Monday winter project nights are going strong over at the MotorGrrl garage. Here’s an update on the 1971 Yamaha At1 125 engine rebuild project.

photo 2-1This week we put the transmission together, installed the crank, tested the gears and shift pattern, applied Yama-bond to the case edges and pressed them closed. Be sure to thoroughly check your gears and shifting BEFORE you closed up the cases as it’s a pain in the butt to open them up again. Guess why I mention this…Go on, Guess? 🙂

photo 4-1A tip from a friend is to install the transmission, close up the cases (without the crank installed), put on the shifter and go through the gears until you are sure they’re right. Once checked, open cases (easy now, since the crank is not pressure fit in place), install crank and pressure fit cases closed.

photo 5-2We used a torch to heat the bearings (staying away from the bearing balls themselves), then tapped them closed carefully with a rubber mallet.

photo 2All photos by Miss-Fires member, Kristin.


1971 Yamaha At1 125, 1968 BSA Lightning 650, 1962 Ford Ranchero

Project CB350G

1234029_10152013274824608_1186951831_nSunday found us plugging away on the CB project. by the end of the day, cover pieces were shinier, and the top end is set, timed and ready to go!

1607013_10203002591802827_117769171_nCongrats to Suzanne and Tony (who stopped by with their pup) on their recent engagement. Glad we got to hang out and give you both a hug!

1796602_10152013298529608_1946351915_nAnd of course it’s not just us girls in the garage. The fellas were there for good company, moral support, ‘harley beer’ and custom patches. Thanks guys!


1971 Yamaha At1 125, 1968 BSA Lightning 650, 1962 Ford Ranchero

Project Dirtbike

image_1This Monday night’s addition of Project Dirtbike (the engine rebuild of my 1971 Yamaha At1 125), over at MotorGrrl, focused on Bearings. We determined they needed to be replaced as they felt ‘gritty’ when turned. Once extracted, we we pleased we decided to replace them as there was a good amount of dirt between the case and the bearings. no good.

photoThe basic procedure for installation is to freeze the bearings for a day or two, to shrink the metal. We pulled them out of the freezer a few minutes too early…so we kept them on ice, literally.imageMeanwhile, the cases were heated to expand the metal, so that the ‘shrunken’ bearings drop right in.

image_2Of course this doesn’t always work perfectly the first time, and Ross and Slade were kind enough to show us some tricks of the trade for perfect, flush installation. Thanks guys!

Corinna Mantlo

1971 Yamaha At1 125, 1968 BSA Lightning 650, 1962 Ford Ranchero