Ian Fights A Ninja

A 1986 Kawasaki ZX-600 Ninja to be exact.  I picked up this bad boy last week for $1,100!  Its in decent shape, although I didn’t get the chance to look too carefully at it before deciding to purchase, I knew that dropping $1,100 on a running street bike was a good deal regardless of a few issues.  It was mostly stock when I picked it up, save for a few aftermarket parts and some very odd modifications:

From 1986 Kawasaki ZX-600

The fairings had been cut on either side of the bike. According to the previous owner – this was to reduce weight. Stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Turns out, they were cut to help the overheating problem this thing is suffering from. Unfortunately, said previous owner didn’t realize that a fairing is designed to funnel air directly on and through the radiator! Cutting the fairings just allows air to avoid the radiator, and maybe allows heat to dissipate slightly. This could work, if it weren’t for the fact that the FAN WAS REMOVED off the rear of the radiator. I don’t know what kind of idiot was troubleshooting cooling problems like this, but god damn, what an idiot!

Tonight I took off the gas tank and found why the temp gauge wasn’t working at all – the sensor cable was disconnected and hanging loose, and the top of the sensor was snapped off. I pulled the temp sensor out, soldered the fitting back on the end, and then hooked it back up to the gauge wire. Grounded it out and yep, the gauge shot up in the red! So I know the gauge is working fine, I think its just the sensor that is fried – so now to find one of those.

So now that I’m on the right track to having the gauge working, I’m still trying to figure out why this thing dumps coolant from the overflow after running for 5 minutes. I’m going to replace the thermostat and temp sensor and see if it cools. Just bought a used cooling fan so I’ll add that back on and wire it and see if she runs a little cooler. (http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=140397308758&viewitem=&sspagename=STRK%3AMEWNX%3AIT) I still think there is a worse problem than is obvious, so I’m going to throw a new thermostat on there, and then check the water pump while I have the coolant drained. After that – theres not a whole lot left to the cooling system, so one of these things has got to solve it.

Next – this last weekend I tore the thing apart and at least made it look a little cleaner.

From 1986 Kawasaki ZX-600

I painted the windshield black and threw a gloss coating over it. Turned out pretty clean. Then, since it had been stolen, or attempted to be stolen and the guy had just wired and zip-tied a new ignition cylinder and hung it inside the fairing, I built a mounting bracket and put it up in there so its clean and doesn’t bounce around everywhere while riding:

From 1986 Kawasaki ZX-600

Notice the gas gauge doesn’t work either – but thats last on my list. I got the rest of the electrical system working, found the rear (brake) running light was fried and dropped a new fuse in there and it works great. Swapped out the turn signals for some smoked flush mount ones that will didn’t want, and then soldered all of the connections instead of the twist-and-tape method that this idiot used. No more electrical problems at least.

Then it was time to check out the exhaust. There’s an aftermarket Kerker can on there (damn these small pipes on 80’s bikes – they look tiny!) but the faded black can didn’t match the rusted exhaust pipes, so I painted the exhaust system. Looks good with a coat of flat black on there:

From 1986 Kawasaki ZX-600

So lets hope I can figure out these cooling issues, and hopefully get the fairings I was promised by the guy I bought from (we’ll see). I’ll bolt the cut fairing parts on there and get it looking right. Overall, I think this will be a decent, reliable bike thats gonna look good when I’m done, for not much of an investment.

Stay tuned for updates!

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