Front wheel bearings and other horror stories

Let me tell you a story that I think you will find hard to believe. I find it hard to believe. In fact, if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t believe it. I wouldn’t want to believe it anyway. It’s basically a story about low IQ, and motorcycle ownership with a bit thrown in at the end on how to replace front wheel bearings on your AG200!

A few years ago before the end of the naughties, I was helping out at a small, country Yamaha dealership. The owner was between mechanics and I thought I would help out with the spanners for a few months while he managed to track down another victim, errr employee! For the six months or so I was there, I saw mechanical horrors that no technical person should ever have to see. I still have nightmares to this day…

Things that make you incredulous that we are the dominant species on this planet! Things that make you shudder and doubt that humanity even has the right to go on! There will always be one encounter though, one special “Bobby Dazzler” example of how far someone can push the boundaries of neglect and stand out from the crowd, and man is it a special crowd! It’s one of those things that you wont forget until your final days. Unfortunately this experience for me involved an AG200.

The experience in question started as I was labouring away, minding my own business in the workshop when a guy shows up in his 4WD with trailer in tow. Alarm bells went off before I even got a look at the bike because the poor thing was chucked in the back of the trailer with no restraints. Yep, just tossed in on its side! My idiot detector went off instantly and thought he can unload it himself if he is too pathetic to even load a bike up properly (I never was a good long term employee!). A few minutes later he pushes this poor thing into the shop,  leaves his name, address etc. and off he went on his merry way mumbling something about “they don’t make ’em like they used too.”

After he drove off I thought I’d have a look at the treasure he left us to repair. I wish I had taken photographs, I really do wish I did. The guy was complaining about front end problems and boy did he have that! The front wheel bearings had collapsed completely to the point where the ball bearings were gone…completely! Now you can forgive someone for  a bit of play in their front end but can you imagine the play this thing had? let me tell you how much movement was in the front wheel; it was hitting the forks!

But wait, it doesn’t stop there dear reader. When the bearings collapse in the front wheel of your motorcycle, you’re going to notice it right? You’re going to think; “Oh, better get that looked at, this thing is getting a bit wonky to ride.” But noooo, not this clown! I don’t know how long he rode it like that but it was long enough for the tyre to wear through the fork legs. Yep, through the fork legs! The Aluminium just under the oil and dust seal was removed right back to the slider on both forks, where it had rubbed the chrome off them as well.

Believe me? I wouldn’t. Unless I had seen it myself with my own eyes, I would find it hard to swallow this story  if someone had just told me. I should of taken photos but at the time I think my brain was in some sort of paralysis because of what I was actually seeing. I actually took it for a ride and concluded that it could only be worse if the front wheel had actually fallen off. Diabolical was the only word that I think comes close to how that bike rode with the front end like that.

The whole front end was scrap in my books but the owner insisted that he didn’t need brakes (the hub was all mashed up), or the pesky oil in the forks, slap some new bearings in it and he was good to go! The axle, spacers and inner bearing races were a big, corroded blob of destruction and he screamed at the cost of new, genuine replacements, which I thought were a waste on this moron’s bike anyway. Surprisingly, some new bearings actually fitted and stayed put in the hub, we nicked the other bits off a wrecker and off he went, still bitching at the cost of it all!

I always wanted to “out” this guy as the mechanical terrorist that he is, but what would it achieve? He is still destroying farm equipment to this day and will until he’s in a grave. I always thought, and was taught, that farming was a business. So why don’t farmers treat their equipment as part of their bottom line? It has always baffled me but the answer is probably that a lot of farmers, particularly in the past, never had much concept of  business anyway. Time has caught up with a lot of them. But I digress…

What’s with the story AGman? I thought this post was about front wheel bearings? Well it is but there’s not a lot involved with front wheel bearing replacement so I thought I’d put that entertaining little ditty in there so you will know how to avoid rubbing holes in your fork legs!

Off you go to the Front wheel removal section of my fork repair tutorial. This will give you an idea on how to get the front wheel off and what you have to do to achieve it. Once you have your wheel off and your stolen milk crate ready, place the wheel on it with the brake side facing down. This bearing is easier to knock out because it doesn’t have to pass as far in a press fit as the non-brake, seal side.

Get yourself a long drift or punch and slide it down the centre of the bearing until it reaches the opposite bearing’s inner race. You need a punch in pretty good condition with a good edge so it will hang up on the bearing. A few good whacks with a hammer and it should come out fine along with the centre spacer. Turn your wheel over and you will have much easier access to the opposite bearing which is a bit harder to move because, as mentioned, it has to pass through about double the material before it will drop out of the hub. You can remove the seal before you knock the bearing out but it doesn’t matter, it will come out with the bearing either way.

This is the rough method of removing the bearings. You can get special tools that expand in the inner race of the bearing and then with a slide hammer, you can remove it. Not everyone has easy access to these tools and they can be expensive. I have heard of people using DynaBolts (concrete or sleeve  anchor bolts) to use in bearing removal which is a good idea but may still need a slide hammer if you can’t bash the bolt from the opposite side, which you should be able to do. I will do some experimenting and check it out in an up coming post.

P1020583Back to the job…get yourself a couple of rubber sealed, 6301 bearings. I like SKF and NSK but any of the good bearing brands will do. I also pop the covers off the bearings, flush out the “grease” and replace it with a quality, waterproof substitute. I don’t expect you to do that but if you’re doing big miles on your bike I would defiantly recommend it. While you are at the bearing shop, get yourself a 18x37x7mm seal, they are cheap (as are the 6301 bearings I might add) and you might as well replace it with the bearings.

Installation is pretty simple. Find yourself a useless SAE socketP1020577 (American readers are gnashing teeth!) that matches up to the outer race of the bearing but doesn’t hang up on the hub. You can use this to gently tap the bearings into their P1020580new home. Don’t forget the inner spacer! You should also be able to install the new seal nearly by hand, if you do use persuasion, be gentle. Have a look at the photo of the seal below at right. Make sure it’s not flush with the hub. There is a plastic collar that fits on the axle spacer that slightly overlaps the hub a few mm. This helps to keep rubbish out of the seal and therefore the bearing. The link above showing the wheel removal procedure has some good pics if you need them. If this collar is damaged, it should be replaced for the long term health of everything discussed here.

There we have it, use grease on the seal lips, spacers and axle on P1020587reassembly. Make sure the speedo drive lines up correctly or there will be carnage. Another tip is to get someone to hold the front brake lever firmly to centre the hub while you are tightening the axle nut. We are done! Cheap, easy and no excuses for damaging those fork legs!

Cheers

AGman

AG200 YouTube vids

Because the AG200 is a bit of a…ahem…lowly steed, when you do a YouTube vid search all you will ever find is poor old AGs towards the end of their lives getting abused. Monster burnouts, monster boghole attempts and all sorts of other antics by mostly bored kids. This seems to be the order of the day for AG200s on YouTube. Not that I don’t enjoy a good monster burnout mind you, but the AG200? Pft! Isn’t there anything more interesting that someone is doing on them?

Imagine my surprise when this bobby dazzler popped up! This is what I’m talking about. If this guy ever comes across this blog, drop us a line!

Until some of you other guys get your trips done, documented and up on the ‘Tube, then this guy is the current World AG200 Touring Ninja!

Cheers

AGman

O’ring chains on the AG200. Really?

Some people that have recent history with the AG200 might be surprised to learn that the first model released way back in ’83 – ’84 was supplied with an o’ring chain for the final drive. What?! Why go to all the trouble of designing a fully enclosed final drive system and then add an o’ring chain? Yamaha must of asked themselves the same question because they stopped doing it not long after the original release. What about now? Is it worth the expense to prolong the life of a component that, if maintained correctly, will last for ages? My thoughts on the matter follow…

Chain gaurdI have some dealer friends who swear by putting o’ring chains inside the chain enclosure of any AG200 that passes through their workshop. If you are a belt and suspenders type of person then I guess you would consider this a good idea. On farms that get chopped up by cattle (deep, sloppy mud) during the winter (Dude…get an ATV!), this is probably a good idea. The factory chain enclosure is great when set up right but it’s not perfect. The lower guard has a drain hole at the lower section and if this part fills with mud and the drain hole blocks then you have a factory chain and sprocket destruction device!

An o’ring chain will not enjoy being operated in a bath of corrosive, abrasive slime but it will last way longer than a conventional chain. So in this sort of environment where people tend to not give the bike even a fleeting glance between times when the bike stops running (known by a lot of farmers as the “service interval”), then I would suggest an o’ring chain a wise investment.

Now for the rest of us…I have never bothered with an o’ring chain on my AG200s because I know how much power conventional o’rings can suck out of a small engine. I don’t know about you, but if I have a bike with less (waaaaaaaay less!) than 20 HP out the back wheel then I don’t want to let any of that go! The AG doesn’t have much horsepower to start with so sucking a little bit out with an o’ring chain wont do it any favours. I also believe if you look after the chain guard properly then it will do nearly as much to protect the chain as any o’ring will.

Some of these new, low friction X ring chains might work better for the AG but once again, vigilance and preventive maintenance, in my opinion, will prevent the need. There is no horsepower to stretch the chain, so if you keep it adjusted, lubed and relatively clean, which the factory enclosure will do, then you are safe with a conventional chain. Spend the money you saved on chain lube and live happily ever after!

Cheers

AGman

ADV rider forum thread…

Have been getting a few hints from visitors to expand my horizons and make it easier for people to add to the discussion on the AG200. A forum may be coming in the future and not everyone is a fan of the current social media options so I’m thinking a thread on ADV forums is probably a good compromise for now…it was suggested by one of the guys who has left a comment here; Richard who is planning an epic African trip on his AG200.

I don’t know why I didn’t think of this, bit of a seniors moment I suppose! I would guess that most readers here would probably be members on the forum, or would at least know of it’s existence. Maybe I was a bit intimidated by the hardware on this thing but hey, if the DR200 can be represented then I’m sure we can!

So lets see what the AG200 can really do out there in the real world.

Check it out here.

Cheers

AGman

Oil change tips #2 Changing the oil.

OK…we haven’t got our hands dirty for a while so lets get something techy done –  the humble yet often overlooked oil change. Pretty simple really but there are a few little tips here that might work good for you and your AG. As Jamie Oliver says; lets tuck in!

First things first, take your bike out for a good thrash! That’s right, give it the berries! The oil is (or should be!) thick in the AG200 so make sure the oil is nice and hot. I use a procedure here that leans the bike over on both stands for a period of time so the hotter the oil is the longer it will flow well and therefore drain well.

Remve drain capAfter you have set a new land speed record, get the AG into your shed and get it over on the right hand stand. This gives you easy access to the drain plug. Get yourself a 19mm single hex (go and see my discussion on the drain cap here) socket to release the drain cap and place something under the AG to catch the oil. You might have to juggle the gear lever to remove the cap and actually, you can remove the lever if you want because it does make things a lot easier and it’s only one 10mm bolt. If the cap feels like its going to give you pain removing it, give the end of your 19mm socket a firm tap with a hammer while on the cap to help loosen it.

When you get the cap loose and you feel it’s about to pop off, Drain oillean the bike over to the left side stand. Make sure you move the oil drop container to suit. Now you can totally remove the cap, spring and filter gauze and drain out that old Middle Eastern Gold. As the oil is draining on the left hand side, take the opportunity to remove the oil filter cover and the oil filter on the opposite side of the bike.

Filter housing screwsOn later bikes (’98 onwards) you will need to remove theFilter housing2 two top 8mm hex bolts and the lower 5mm Allen bolt. Older bikes use Philips (see at left) on the top two bolts. Remove the cover carefully and pay careful attention to the rubber o’rings under the cap. If they look daggy, replace them. Pull out the filter and have a good look at it, I have discussed in other posts about the filter specifics so if you think it looks dodgy, replace it. If it looks OK give it a wash, remove the metal from it and it’s ready for another service interval.

While the oil is draining and the bike is on the left side stand you might asFilter cove2 well have a good look in the filter housing and give it a bit of a clean out with a rag. Oil would of dribbled down the casing after removing the filter cover anyway so while you have the rag handy you might as well clean out the cavity or filter housing.

Drain capWhen the old oil slows to a drip out of the left side oil drain, lean the bike over to the right hand stand. Make sure you shift the drain container to suit the oil drain. A bit of oil drain might pick up but probably not. The oil is draining internally as you will see later. Take this opportunity to have a good look at the drain cap. Is the o’ring OK? If not replace it. Now give the cap a good clean, remove the o’ring and have a really good look at it. Most people do it up too tight, even Yamaha do it up too tight! It can easily crack around the edges near the o’ring grove. Yamaha specifies 43Nm for it and that, in my humble opinion, is crazy talk! It’s at least 10Nm too tight.

OK, the bike has been over on the right side stand for ten minute or so right? Time to lean it over on the opposite stand. Get ready to move the catch tray, more oil will start to drain. I like to combine the oil drain with a few other maintenance jobs (valve clearances?) so you have the time to go left and right on the two stands for an extended period. If you don’t have the time then fine, a couple of times back and forward will do the trick.

We have all the oil out, now it’s time to reassemble. Your oil filter is new or freshly cleaned so its time to get it back into the filter housing. It can only go in one way so don’t stress. Install the filter cover and tighten up the bolts. Make sure that bottom Allen bolt does not hang up on that small o’ring and damage it. Put a bit of fresh oil on the bolt and the o’ring. The two top bolts are set to 7Nm while the lower Allen bolt is set to 10Nm. Not very tight so those used to hanging off a wrench with a piece of gal. pipe will learn all about Easy Outs and HeliCoils pretty quick!

Drain filter+springLets turn our attention back to the drain cap and its’ related parts. Is the spring and wire filter OK? Not much to go wrong with the spring but make sure there is no rubbish in the filter. Lean the bike back over to the right side and slap them back in the way they came out. I like to put a bit of grease on the alloy mating surfaces of the cap – i.e. the lip outside of the o’ring. You can now screw the drain cap back in and as stated, it doesn’t have to be too tight.

So here comes the biggy – what sort of oil? I have two modes of thought on this issue. If it’s an old bike that’s a bit of a basher and a bit worn and daggy – mineral oil and change often. Newer bike that you want to keep for a long time, do trips on and want it to last and give years of reliable service? Full synthetic. The common ground between them is go heavy. 10W40 minimum, preferably 10W50. You will find the gearbox works much better with a heavier oil. Remember, the AG200 was designed back when consumer synthetic oil was expensive and/or hard to get and the clearances and design has not changed since that time. Also remember, bike oils only, wet clutches dislike car oils and their friction reducing additives.

Oil fillerThe spec from Yamaha is 1.1 Litres with a filter clean/change. Oil fill3Remove the filler plug and use a funnel or a pourer with a tube that fits into the filler hole. Pour your oil in and use the sight glass to get the level right if needed. Screw your filler cap back (clean around the cases and check the o’ring on the cap) and you’re good to go. The paranoid among us can undo the 10mm oil pressure check bolt (circled at right) in the head to make sure there is pressure up there. You don’t have to totally remove it – just loosen it to the last few threads and if there is pressure it will find its way out. Be real gentle doing this check bolt up…5Nm and no more or it will snap off.

So there you go, wasn’t too hard was it? Now get back out there and improve on that land speed record.

Cheers

AGman

AG200 Japanese site.

The Japanese made the AG200 so you would expect them to have a little bit of a fan base right? Well they do. Go and check it out here. You will have to use Google translate to glean anything from the writing, but if you persist you will find a few nuggets, like the 6 speed gearbox on the early Japanese version, and the brochure is cool, wonder if they did an English version…

Cheers

AGman

Parts listings…more AG200 gold!

Welcome to the new year of 2015, hope ’14 was a good one for you. I thought I would start the new year with a bang by posting up the AG200 parts lists. I have most of them but thought I would link to an older model (1988), and a newer model (2003). This will help you bypass the incompetent Yamaha spare parts guy if you are unfortunate enough to have one in your area! Select your part number and supply him/her with it so they cant stuff it up!

Its also interesting sometimes to enter the number in Boats.net’s excellent Yamaha parts listings to see what, if any, other Yamaha models use the same part.

Apart from a few new bits on the current AG (2013 onwards), these two parts lists will cover most parts and their numbers. The ’88 manual has the listings for the earlier yellow bikes and the later beige ones, which is handy if you’re after a specific colour part like side covers, guards or a tank.

Enjoy!

2003 AG200

1988 AG200

Cheers

AGman

To forum or not to forum, that is the question…

I love doing my blog…don’t get me wrong. But it’s all a bit one sided don’t you think? I’m getting a lot of good feedback from people here and it’s much appreciated but I’m not naive enough to believe I’m a world authority on the AG200, and in particular the 3GX engine. Is it time to bring other views and ideas to the AG200 platform with a forum? There are issues with forums though, lets discuss.

There are some things I really dislike about forums and the people that run some of them. They always start off saying no advertising will ever be seen on this site…bla…bla…bla! And within a year or two there are adds all over the place! Or the one I despise much more is where people start a forum and wait for a couple of years for members to build up a body of knowledge and then they lock it up behind a pay wall.

From my perspective, there could not be a bigger insult to someone sharing their hard won knowledge to the world, particularly a forum where you are attracted to the site to share with brothers and sisters in a common area of interest. This “crowd sourcing” is a scourge in my opinion, especially when the “crowd” don’t know their making (sometime in the future!) a living for some other slacker!

So I’m not saying that if I start a forum that I wont explore ways to cover the upkeep and maintenance costs, I will. I spend enough time deleting the spam and trolls off this blog, I can only imagine the time needed to maintain a forum! I may look into advertising but it will be targeted and specific to the AG200 and the owners – no Viagra or Xbox adds! If I can’t target, I wont run adds, period. I wont lock up info behind pay walls, even if it’s posted on my forum, I don’t believe I own that info, the members do.

So, what do you all think? Comments? Suggestions? Let me know if you think this is worthwhile pursuing or not. I will of course continue writing up my blog entries, nothing will change on that front. I just think that we may be able to add more to the body of knowledge if others can contribute and have an easier way for people to ask questions and get answers.

And before I sign off for 2014, I’d like to wish all readers a safe and happy festive break. Take it easy, make sure you get through it so you can come back to read more enthralling content on the AG200!  🙂

Cheers

AGman

 

Oil change tips #1.5, aaahh, spare parts guys…

This entry is a bit of an addition to my old Oil Change Tips post I did quite a while ago. Just a bit of updated filter info that I thought I would drop in here to give you guys and girls a heads up. After all these years, I thought mechanics and spare parts guys would have sorted this out but we still have an issue of imparting info from one person to another so we still make catastrophic mistakes like the one I’m about to show you.

TTR250 filterI also own a TTR250, a great bike which has a a long model run with few alterations, like the AG200. Another thing it shares with the AG200 is a nearly identical oil filter, the only difference is four little holes in the relief valve end of the housing. Take a look at the photo at left. Have a reeeeeal good look! You will see what the AG200 would see as our equivalent to methamphetamine; something that will trash your head (see what I did there?). If you put this filter in your AG, you will starve the head of oil and the first thing to grenade is usually the cam will seize in the cam gear side bearing. Not good.

Now, have a look at right. This is what the proper AG200 filter looks like.AG K&N These four little holes are the life-line for oil passing through the filter to get up to the head. If someone has given you a filter that looks like the one above for your AG, TW, XT, TTR230 or old ATV, then slap them! The AG has been around for 30+ years and the TTR250 for 20+ but I still hear stories and read on forums that parts guys and mechanics still mess it up and trash perfectly good engines.

K&N AG Vs TTR250Here is a pic of the other side of the filters and I guess you can understand how people could make the mistake, but I reckon the rubber is blue on the TTR filter for a reason! Yamaha had heaps of issues with this a few years ago, probably when the TTR250 first came out I’d say. So stay vigilant people, especially if you are buying cheap filters off Ebay from people who couldn’t really give a hoot about your bike. But also if you are buying genuine parts from a Yamaha dealer because, to be honest, that where I have heard of most of the stuff-ups happening.

Cheers

AGman

Why the AG200? No really…why?

I have a bit of blog-burnout after the carb clean series, so if you’re looking for info and tips for the AG200 then you should move on to the next post! This one has little to do with Yamaha’s AG bike, it’s more about me and the answer to why? Why do I bother with the AG200?

A friend of mine (old time biker) told me once if you really love bikes you will love them all, and that if I really wanted to restore classics, then start with an AG bike because if you can get an old AG bike back on the road then you can get anything back on the road! He was right. I started working on AG bikes years ago and bringing them back from the brink always seems more fulfilling than other bikes.

The only way I can describe it is what I call mechanical sympathy or mechanical empathy if you like. It has effected me since childhood; I hate it when people abuse and neglect machinery. Silly huh? I understand that these things are just tools to get a job done but I have got to the point in my life where I stop trying to suppress things that people tell me are weird or stupid…when something is in your blood let it go!

I have empathy for living things too like most people, but unlike most people if I see a machine suffering it eats at my engineering soul! No one abuses machinery like farmers, and I pity any poor machine that falls into their hands! I get a pile of rubble off a farmer and re-task it to other areas, to other people who, even though they don’t treat them like I do, still give them a much easier time than their original owners.

Back from the deadTake the two AGs in my workshop at the moment…it’s like bringing back the dead! The later ’03 blue one on the right in particular is in diabolical condition to the point where I have put the engine aside for another day! I have another engine for it and I am slowly bringing it back to a point where I would be happy to ride it myself one day out into the bush.

I already have a friend interested in the machine and he takes notice of the project to the point where I hope he will take it on when I’m done. Life is slowly being injected into this bike part by part as I restore or replace them. It’s a cool experience that I find relaxing and fulfilling while not very profitable! But I don’t do it for profit, I do it for fun and strangely, I am slowly starting to build a small community of mates who sometimes enjoy the slow, two wheeled world out in the boonies.

I think a lot of us who are technically minded (three quarters of the world population can stop reading right here!) like to master something in their lifetime. I would like to master the AG200. I am a long way from it at the moment but it is something I enjoy working towards. Whether its the model history and the part changes between those models, the maintenance tips to prolong the service life, cheaper and/or stronger parts options than the Yamaha stuff or just the small mods to make it better at a particular task, I would like to be an AG200 Ninja!

Now, time to check back into rehab…

Cheers

AGman