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Old 06-30-2012, 03:48 PM
crazy steve crazy steve is offline
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Fork Rebuild Pictorial

I know some members have expressed reluctance to tackle a fork rebuild, and there's really no reason for that. They're not hard to rebuild, the biggest hassle is getting them off and on the bike, and sometimes getting the damper screw out. Follow along while I rebuild my XJ forks. These are a bit different from XS forks (and I'll note the differences) but otherwise the procedure is the same....

Do read through the service manual for things to look for, spring specs, etc. If you have standard forks, some parts will be slightly different.

The first thing to do is remove the outer dust seal. Use a small screwdriver to work it off then set it aside. Sorry, no pic but this is easy



The next thing I'll do is remove the damper screw at the bottom of the fork with a 6mm allen. If you're working on 'standard' forks, you'll need a long 8mm allen socket. With the fork assembled, sometimes the spring pressure with prevent the damper from spinning. But this doesn't always work, if it doesn't go ahead to the next step... On XJ forks, the damper is internally held from rotating so this will work every time. Once this bolt is out, all the internals will come out of the fork lower, so pay attention... You will also start leaking oil out this hole, so you may want to drain it for a bit to cut down on the mess...



Remove the fork cap. I have a damaged lower tree that I use as a 'fixture' to hold the forks for some things like this, if you don't loosen (not remove) the cap before you pull the forks off the bike. A large adjustable wrench with very good jaws is what I use for these. If you couldn't get the damper bolt out, look down below for more info then remove it.



The XJ cap has a long rod attached so it will stay in place; the XS forks don't, so don't drop them as that can damage the threads. There's sometimes some force behind these, so have a good grip. Remove the main spring.



Remove the clip retainer (c-clip) for the seal and remove the old fork seal by prying it out... You'll need a pair of snap-ring pliers if you have a Special or XJ, the standard forks use a wire-type clip.




... and note which side of the seal and spacer goes 'up/out'. Only the Specials and XJ have that spacer, not the standards. The '78-79 standards have a thin washer between the seal and the retaining clip, missing on the later models.

At this point, clean/check all your parts, repolish the lowers if you feel ambitious Make sure your fork tubes aren't bent; rolling the two against each other will quickly show if they are. Spend some time getting the inside of the slider clean, you'll probably find a bunch of crud in the bottom. Also check for free movement of the tube inside the lower; if the lower has any dents and the tube is 'sticky', you should replace the lower.



Ok, here's all the bits for one fork. Starting at the bottom and left to right, you have: the fork tube, the main spring, damper bolt, lower stop, damper (with rebound spring installed), fork cap, seal spacer, seal, seal retainer, and outer dust boot. Let's put 'er together...



Slide the damper with the rebound spring into the fork tube. Use some fork oil (or even some light oil) to lube the seal.



Move the tube around until the damper comes out the lower end of the tube...



Slip the main spring into the tube and use it to hold the damper in place, then install the lower stop onto the damper. Note that this is a XS, not XJ stop; I forgot to take this pic....



This is to clarify the difference, and to make a special note if you are working on XJ forks. The XJ stop is on the left; note the collar and the notch cut into it. That notch indexes on the drain screw in the fork lower. You're now ready to install the inner tube in the fork lower, do so. Again, if you're working on a set of XJ forks make sure the the stop is fully onto the damper and while sliding the tube/lower together that the screw goes into the notch. Once it's in as far as it goes, reinstall the damper bolt. If the bolt head goes into the recess in the lower before tightening, you don't have the screw/notch aligned; try again. Once it's good, tighten the bolt.

Ok, right here a bunch of you are going 'WTF? You haven't installed the fork seal!! How do you expect to get that in???' No problem....



Here's my install tool; a 2' piece of 1.5" schedule 40 PVC. As you can see it's just slightly smaller than the OD of the seal. You need one end cut square.




Slip the spacer and seal down the fork tube. I'll put a light coating of Yamabond on the seal...



Let the inner tube collapse into the lower, slide the PVC over the tube and give it about three medium whacks with a rubber hammer...



... and the seal is in. No fuss, no muss. Install the retaining clip and outer dust seal and you're nearly done. Reinstall the main spring, fill with fork oil of your choice, put on the fork cap and it's ready to go on the bike...



If you're rebuilding XJ forks, there's one thing specific to these you need to check; location of the damper detent. When installing the forks in the triple tree, note there's an arrow at the top tree where the fork clamps. That arrow needs to be pointing at a number, which one it doesn't matter. The detent in the cap is shown by the notch (as seen in the pic) and that needs to line up with a number also; again, which number doesn't matter. You can set the notch pointing at the arrow, or rotate the fork tube by 90 degree increments if you're trying to hide some rust. If you get the 'register' of the detent 'off', the damper won't be set right and you may have handling issues.

A few things I'll note....



Here's the three damper types. XJ on the left, standard in the middle, and Special. If you couldn't get the damper bolt out of the standard or Special, note the difference. The standard damper can be held by making a 'tool' out of some threaded rod with a 19mm or 3/4" nut on the end, that will fit into the top of the damper. Got a Special, or don't want to bother? Use a wooden broom handle and pushing hard against the damper, remove the bolt.



There's been a number of notes about cutting the new seals on Special forks when using the factory procedure. I'll bet this is the problem; they left a sharp edge here (really sharp, like a razor). File this off and I'll bet the problem will go away...

A few more, no pics. If you want/need to lower the bike in the front and don't want to/can't raise the forks in the trees, you can lower the bike by increasing the length of the rebound spring. However much longer the spring is, that's how much you'll lower the bike. You can double-up on stock springs, or substitute another; old valve springs of the same diameter work well. This will increase preload on the main spring or if you have a preload spacer installed, shorten it by the same amount you add.

Aligning the forks. There's been discussion about how to do this; start at the top or bottom when tightening the pinch bolts? The XS manual is silent on this, but I've always started at the bottom tree. The XJ manual agrees with me; with the top tree loose (pinch bolts and stem bolt), set your height out of the top tree, then tighten the lower bolts, then the upper.

One last thing; after comparing Special/XJ forks, you could swap most parts back and forth. The basic machining is the same, so you could use XJ lowers (with their more-conventional brakes) on a Special or install the adjustable dampers into Special forks. The latter mod will raise ride height slightly (3/4"?) but is something to think about...

Any questions and comments welcome!
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'78E original owner - resto project
'78E ???? owner - Modder project FJ forks, 4-piston calipers F/R, 160/80-16 rear tire
'82 XJ rebuild project
'80SG restified, red SOLD
'79F parts...
'81H more parts...

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Last edited by crazy steve; 07-06-2012 at 03:36 PM.
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  #2  
Old 06-30-2012, 05:46 PM
crazy steve crazy steve is offline
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What? No comments?....
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Fast, Cheap, Reliable... Pick any two

'78E original owner - resto project
'78E ???? owner - Modder project FJ forks, 4-piston calipers F/R, 160/80-16 rear tire
'82 XJ rebuild project
'80SG restified, red SOLD
'79F parts...
'81H more parts...

Other current bikes:
'93 XL1200 Anniversary Sportster 85RWHP
'86 XL883/1200 Chopper
'82 XL1000 w/1450cc Buell, Baker 6-speed, in-progress project
Cage: '13 Mustang GT/CS with a few 'custom' touches
Yep, can't leave nuthin' alone...
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  #3  
Old 06-30-2012, 06:05 PM
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bikerphil bikerphil is offline
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Good tech tip Steve, I think you got it all covered, and then some...
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Old 06-30-2012, 09:56 PM
Toolmaker Tim Toolmaker Tim is offline
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Fork Seal Tech Tip

Thank You Steve. I wish it had been here a couple weeks ago. The only thing I might mention is there is a difference between the standard and Special seals. You may have mentioned it, but with my reading skills I may have missed it.
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Old 07-01-2012, 09:21 AM
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Looks vauguly familiar to me for some reason, like I've seen a similar write up before.
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  #6  
Old 07-01-2012, 06:21 PM
Cuda 69 Cuda 69 is offline
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thanks for the tech class,very informative. I swear,I learn something on here every day. Not sure how much my brain will retain though.
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Old 07-01-2012, 06:40 PM
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Good tech tip Steve.
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Old 07-01-2012, 07:23 PM
mikubuilder mikubuilder is offline
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reading my mind Steve...I'm about to tackle that issue
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  #9  
Old 07-06-2012, 02:29 PM
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GLoweVA GLoweVA is offline
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I'm going to try to tackle my seals this weekend and I've been searching all day for this, when are you going to move it to the tech section?

So, the allen damper bolt screws into the damper and if it's stuck, then the damper spins? (hence the need for the broom handle or 19mm 'tool' to hold the damper) ( I think you mentioned that )
Can't you loosen/break free the damper bolt before you take off the cap bolt and release the spring tension? Wouldn't the spring tension help hold the damper from spinning?( I think you mentioned that too. )

How about warming up the lower tube to ease with the old seal removal and chilling down the new seal in the freezer to ease with installing it?

Oh and I guess the very first step (for those that have air forks) is to release the air pressure, otherwise there's gonna be a mess of oil when that damper bolt (or oil drain plug) comes out.

Thanks Steve, this is exactly the type of tech tip that surpasses anything one can find in the manual!

PS. I read in the owners manual about air pressure specs. (Wasn't in the service manual)
With no weight on the front tire, use a manual air pump, Standard air pressure 5.7psi, Max pressure 36psi. "Never exceed max or oil seal damage may occur." Difference between left and right should <1.4psi.

Of course each rider may adjust as needed for load and such.
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Old 07-06-2012, 03:28 PM
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ViperRon ViperRon is offline
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Good tech tip Steve now all I need to do is buy the parts to rebuild mine and they will never go bad. Heaven knows if you know how to do it and have parts it won't break. Only things you have no knowledge or parts break.


Just in case though thanks
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Old 07-06-2012, 04:10 PM
crazy steve crazy steve is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GLoweVA View Post
I'm going to try to tackle my seals this weekend and I've been searching all day for this, when are you going to move it to the tech section?..
Done!
__________________
Fast, Cheap, Reliable... Pick any two

'78E original owner - resto project
'78E ???? owner - Modder project FJ forks, 4-piston calipers F/R, 160/80-16 rear tire
'82 XJ rebuild project
'80SG restified, red SOLD
'79F parts...
'81H more parts...

Other current bikes:
'93 XL1200 Anniversary Sportster 85RWHP
'86 XL883/1200 Chopper
'82 XL1000 w/1450cc Buell, Baker 6-speed, in-progress project
Cage: '13 Mustang GT/CS with a few 'custom' touches
Yep, can't leave nuthin' alone...
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Old 08-09-2012, 02:57 PM
KA1J KA1J is offline
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If you only want to replace a fork seal, do you need to do the entire disassembly as shown? If not, what's the easiest way to just replace that seal?

And thanks for the pictorial!
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Old 08-09-2012, 03:23 PM
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natemoen natemoen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KA1J View Post
If you only want to replace a fork seal, do you need to do the entire disassembly as shown? If not, what's the easiest way to just replace that seal?

And thanks for the pictorial!
You need to pull the fork tube out so that you can get the seal out.

Might as well clean everything out when you go in there.
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Old 08-11-2012, 07:32 PM
KA1J KA1J is offline
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I ordered fork seals from Len Chacal, he's selling "Red Oil Seals" which are touted to have three lips. I put them in my 650 3 years ago, my first bike repair in a long time. They were a bit of a bugger to install as I recall, they fit the inner tube tightly.

With the XJ11, do I need to make another tool where I had a 19mm bolt welded at the end of a long piece of pipe? hate to admit I can't recall exactly why I needed it but I did. Darned if I can find that tool, gotta be somewhere but its not where I've looked. Might be where I had worked on the 650 but I don't get back there anymore.

Also, I don't have a large vise, only a very small one. Do I need a large vise to accomplish this?

Heh, I was so hoping I didn't have to wrench on this XJ11 till winter but I can't ride around with one fork seal blown.
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Old 08-11-2012, 08:40 PM
CaptonZap CaptonZap is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KA1J View Post
With the XJ11, do I need to make another tool where I had a 19mm bolt welded at the end of a long piece of pipe? hate to admit I can't recall exactly why I needed it but I did. Darned if I can find that tool, gotta be somewhere but its not where I've looked. Might be where I had worked on the 650 but I don't get back there anymore.

.
Yep, or you can take a piece of 1/2 inch all thread, lock two nuts on one end, and put it down in the slider to hold the innards while you use an allen wrench on the bottom of the slider. A pair of vise grips on the all thread will hold it, and hope the last guy in there didn't use high strength lock tite.
If you're lucky, a butterfy impact wrench will do it without the all thread tool, just a broom stick handle shoved down against the valve body. CZ
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