kicker life.

My experience with a converted engine of a Kawasaki Z 440 into a kicker engine.


Those Kawasaki Z riders know of the worst problem of the Z 440 models: in most cases it’s a bad starting engine – and because of the increased use of the electric starter motor the battery is oftenly drained.

My calculation was to get rid of all these battery drainers, remove both, the magnetic switch and the more or less broken electrical starter engine.

Since my calculation of a well working kickstarter and well tuned-up carbs worked out very well, my dream of a reduced kickstarter bike became reality.

After a night outside a closed space (as always – the motorcycle is street parked) I need two solid kicks to get the engine running, one with ignition turned off plus fully engaged choke, the other one for firing the gas-air-mixture.

Nothing better than having a reliably starting motorcycle – that’s exactly, what I wanted!

Stay tuned for new episodes of wrenching and converting my motorcycle, the Zilver Four4T.DSC_0220[1]

finish lane.

Shortly: I closed the crankshaft case including the kicker mechanics by using fluid gasket and rolled the chassis of my Zilver4FourT into the workshop again. Felt so good, touching the handles again. Now, the engine requires and reinstallation into the frame, put on the honed cylinders, the freshly ringed pistons and the cleaned head & valves.  

Kickstart lever is on its way to its new assignment. 

And then: carefully re-engage the powerplant to a new era.. 

Hold on, I’ll be back! 

Big moments. 

Okay, almost everything is done for bringing the kickstarter project on the finish lane. Only one thing needs to be done: drilling the kicker shaft whole in the right crankshaft case lid. This is the only work, that’ll be done by a pro wrencher.

He’ll fix the crankshaft case without the lid and figures out the right position of the drill by centering it to the related drillholes in the crankshaft case. Once the position is fixed, the lid is mounted fairly and the the drill is driven towards the mounted lid. This is supposed to be the most precise way of defining the right place for the hole. The Zilver4FourT team is very excited about the final result.

Hereafter, we’ll disassemble all, reassemble the kicker shaft, assemble the crankshaft case using fluid gasket, Mount oil seals, and the lid with fresh paper gaskets.

Here we go. After that you can either hear me crying (didn’t work, oil leaking) or being happy!

Hang on for a sec, I’ll let you know.

Kickstarter project & other reassembly

The kicker shaft is mounted and reassembly is to begin.

Last week we wanted to focus onto the actual reason why we disassembled the engine of my Z440LTD. As you can remember, the Z440 was never built with a kickstarter. And as its older ancestor Z400 used most of the same engine parts and came with a kicker, my idea was born.

All the drillholes in the crankshaft case are in place, the complete kickstart shaft including all parts, springs, lockrings are mounted and the simple and clever mechanism is understood now (my co-wrencher and I had no idea what the trick in it was).  Only the necessary drillhole for the starter shaft to pass the crankshaft case lid needs to be made including a seat for the oilseal. We’ll work on that.

Meanwhile, reassembly began with polishing the valve seats, remounting the valves including new valve shaft oil seals. Assembly is much easier with a special valve spring tensioner — and helping hands of my co-wrencher.

Hang on for a sec. I’ll be back.

Complete opening of Zilver4FourT’s powerplant

Today, the crew and I reached the most important and exciting part of the trip to “how to install a kickstart at a non kickstart model” – we took the baby out of the frame and opened it. There was still plenty of blackish oil despite the crankshaftcase was drained before.

Fascinating to look deep into the heart of what powers you to where you want while riding your motorcycle: all that fragile machinery, a clockwork with many dependencies, precise dimensions – and still simple though.

Enjoy the pictures – I let them talk instead of using many words.

This blog should have appeared much earlier – and will be belatedly published today.

Hang on for a sec. I’ll be back.

Valves – breathing flaps under hot conditions 

How to remove the valves from the cylinderhead without special, mid costy tools. want to remove the valves from the cylinderhead, you need to have pressure from both sides. My brother and I tried it with a regular large enough c-clamp. Together with a self-made cage on the clamping side, more than 2×2 hands it works pretty quickly.

The result: more cleaning work from oil coal at intake and outlet valve and the big question of what went wrong in those combustion chambers of little Zilver4FourT.
Merry Christmas to all wrenchers and readers.

Hang on for a sec. 

I’ll be back. 

Carburettor. Motorcycle’s clockwork.

Disassembling and cleaning a carb is basic for the understanding, how a classic motorcyle’s engine works.

Have you ever opened a carburettor? If no, you should do. Its heart is cast in one piece and it is full of surprise: canals, openings, drillholes. Moving parts and those, being fixed. I was ever curious, how the main housing of a carb is being built. And after my work on the carbs, I still am.

After loosening the first screws I knew where most of my Z440’s starting problems came from: 30+ years old mud, damaged diaphragm in the carb’s top dome,… How the frack did this lovely two wheeler take me this far?  Beg your pardon, Zilver4FourT. I’ll do better in future.

I took the whole thing into parts and cleaned, scrubbed it and bathed it in hot a household acid, as I read on a recommendable website. I love alternatives to pure chemical products.

A few parts of the twin-carb need to be replaced. I’ll go out for a little research.
Hold on for a sec.

I’ll be back.

New insights.

Today, I ripped of the rest of the Zilver4FourT engine’s bodywork – side covers at the right and left side, engine still mounted to the frame. And I removed the pistons. I also measured the cylinder bore. I can finally say that 30k k is nothing a rider has to worry about – the bore is less than 0,1 mm wider than 33 years ago. Only the cross grinding at the interior cylinder wall went off. This is important for lubrifying the cylinder bearing surface.

The Most Important Insight

Pretty cool, my kickstarter project seems to work, everything at the interior crankshaftcase is perfectly arranged for my conversion, thank you, Kawasaki! Also the clutch is in good condition which is good news.

Some of you might have sen my two-wheeler live, it used to look a little shabby and rusty from the outside. The surprising fact about an engines interior is that it looks actually quite well, even though the exterior sucks. Great! 🙂

Today was a short wrenching sunday, cold as well.

Hang on for a sec. I’ll be back.

Hands on: my ’83 Z 440 ltd belt drive on the operating table

A first glance into my ZilverFour4T’s powercell.

Cold Sundays and stormy skies are always good for start working on something. So did I. This days’ scope was to demount the cylinderhead, the cylinder and the pistons for having a first glance on — probably the first one since the original assembly at the the Kawasaki factory in 1983.

Also I wanted to find out about how close my project is to the kickstart scope I am dreaming of. To anticipate it:  it’s pretty close!

After the fuel tank was taken off and the ignition coil was swung out my work range, I started demountig the carburetor line. (Blog about cleaning the carbs follows up).

For demountig the cylinder head by losing the bolts, I urgently recommend a diagonal losening plan (if you have four bolts at four rectangularly positioned corners ABCD, follow the row AC-BD or equivalent) for the Z 440’s head is well known for being vulnerable to twisting.

To make a long story short:

  • the status quo underneath the cylinder head lid looked pretty well, almost no wear at cams, bearing surface of the rocker arms and camshaft.
  • the status underneath the cylinder head looked like a horror story, a strong layer of oil carbon covered the surfaces of the combustion chamber!
  • the cylinder bearing surface looked well with only few wear at front and rear surface.
  • the pistons looked also well besides the piston crown (heavy oil carbon), visible wear at front and rear face.
  • the piston rings at top and mid looked okay BUT the oil seal ring.. did it have any minor job to do? It seemed to be almost completely broken down. This could be an explanation for the strong oil carbon layer in the combustion chamber.

All in all, my brother and me have spent a joking and successful afternoon in the workshop. Lots of news. Tons of fresh assignments to our to-do list.

Hang on for a sec. I’ll be back.

The post “Hands on: my ’83 Z 440 ltd belt drive on the operating table” appeared first on live.invent. do. now.

Parts I need.

Receiving first major important parts. The project can’t be stopped anymore. Unless it will be “trumped”.

Finding matching parts for an mid old motorcycle can be hard.

There’s an original Kawasaki website, where you can find all partnumbers and referring exploded technical drawings. If you have got a basic technical understanding, it will be enormously helpful answering the question of e.g. how disassembly works or how this powerplant works in general. 

A few months ago, i got into contact with a guy, who had a couple of spare parts that I needed. He sent it over to my place with the message: keep what you need and pay later. Great!

I received a perfectly packed parcel with a more than basic content. I’ll keep it all, man! It’s a perfect beginning of converting a nearly 40 y.o. MC. But where to take all the other parts from? Which other model of Kawasaki Motorcycles uses the same kickstart spring e.g.?

It’s a detective’s works to find out about and the blogs are full of almost no help, because people are asking more than they could contribute. But anyway, I’ll go ahead.

Hang on for a sec. I’ll be back.