My RD 250 LC Restoration


#1

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The classic lines and the iconic sound. For me, Yamaha got the LC‘Just right’

Having sold my KTM990 during the summer of2011 and went down to one bike, my Aprilia RSV.

As much as a adore my RSV (I really do)it’s far from a friendly bike to ride through the winter with tyres whichrequire a bit of temperature in order to be effective and big Brembo stopperswhich work best when worked hard. Its not the bike to have a bimble about on ona winters day.

I couldn’t bear the thought of not spendingany bike related time during the winter so I started looking for a project.

To my delight up popped this 250LC, a UKbike with Matching numbers. A non running but with good compression. The ownerhad owned the bike for eight years, he was an RD fanatic with several bikes,one of which is an RD400 with 40 miles on the clock which is sitting in hisliving room!

He’d never tried to start the bike, the keywas missing to the filler cap and there were no HT caps. Satisfied that I coulddo something with it, I loaded ‘Elsie’ onto the trailer and headed for home!

Picture if you will, a man pushing his newrestoration project up his garden towards his workshop whilst practicallychanging into his work clothes at the same time! I was desperate to hear herrun! Firstly because I wanted to hear that unmistakable sound (Despite thelater YPVS pipes) and secondly because I wanted to hear if there was anythingterminal within before I started the big strip down!

Out came the drill and within 2 minutes Iwas looking into a pristine tank, this was a great start despite the tanksdreadful exterior! A cup full of fuel flowed free and clean from the petroltap. I’d picked up a pair of spark plug caps on the way home so I wound thoseon and checked the spark …… Big, blue and fat!

Plugs in, fuel on, choke out …… two kicksand away she went!!!

Two minutes later and unsurprisingly thehead gasket failed on the L/H Cylinder so I drained all the coolant out andwheeled her in for the strip down.


RIP Tunneruk
#2

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Everything came apart beautifully, nostripped threads or seized bolts. The engine was also in excellent mechanicalcondition. The bottom end was tight as a drum, the bores were perfect as werethe pistons. She was only on her 1st oversize. I decided early onthat I was going to leave the bottom end alone and just fit new rings, smallends and gaskets. My thought process being that once she was back on the road Icould do a much more thorough assessment of the engine under load. If necessaryI could whip the engine out carry out a full rebuild later on if required.

I was adamant that I would do all of thework myself, the mechanical, the electrical, the asthetic and the paintwork. Iwould only outsource jobs that I couldn’t do myself. I would only replace partsthat were absolutely beyond repair and would carefully repair everything else. I wanted to ‘restore’ it, not ‘replace’ it

The standard I was going for was “Lovelybut not concourse” I wanted to remain true to a factory bike without having tobe a slave to which style of bolt was originally here and there etc. I decidedto replace everything bolt with stainless with the exception of a few majorbolts (Wheel spindles, enfine / swingarm bolts etc) which I had re-plated (Oneof two jobs I outsourced)

And so began the long and arduous task ofstripping and cleaning. As I delved deeper it appeared to be getting better andbetter. My guess was that someone had spend a fair bit of money on this bikethen skimped on the paintwork which promptly fell off the primer. I can onlyassume that interest was soon lost and the bike became dormant.

The engine was my first task …


#3

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All bagged up, under the bench andforgotten, ready to come out when I start reassembly!

By this time I’d starting making a lovelylist of parts to buy, some replaced broken items, some replace those that hadbeen fitted to the bike over the years from either the wrong bike or bikes fromlater years. It was at this point that I realized just how much was required.The rear mudguard had been cut as had the rear number plate holder, the rearindicator stalks had been cut from the subframe, the front indicator stalkswere missing, the headlight was cut, the clock assembly was pretty much anempty shell with just the original speedo and rev counter present. The biggest of all items to sourse was alovely genuine and original set of pipes. As I started to research these partsI realized that all these items were modified during the glory days of the 80’swhen the boy racers cut everything down to make it look cooler. The consequenceof this is that finding intact originals isn’t easy and certainly isn’t cheap!Luckily I was able to find all the bits I needed one by one. It was a labour oflove finding it all but thankfully I got there! The pipes I found were so nicethat they were in their original paint which was in remarkable condition. Somuch so that I decided to leave them as they are!

I gathered up all the parts that neededpowder coating and took them into work. Fortunately we had a powder coatingdepartment and as luck would have it my good friend Mark runs that saiddepartment! So I handed over the rear subframe, swing arm, top + bottom yoke,radiator grill, handlebars, rear grabrail and a few misc items. Three dayslater …. Here they are! (The other job I didn’t do myself)

As mentioned earlier, the bike was prettygood under all the scabby asthetics. The frame was in superb condition so all Ihad to do was clean it ready for assembly!

The wheels …I’d kind of been putting off /saving the next bit of the resto as I knew it was going to be hours upon hoursof work. I wasn’t wrong either! They’d been hand painted with some kind ofnuclea proof white gloop which took literally hours and hours to get through. Acoat of powder coat strength paint stripper followed with a high pressure wash…… more stripper …. Another wash ….More stripper ……. In the end I had to strip the wheels 4 times and then finishthe paint removal by hand. I then began the process of polishing the rims andspoke edges. That’s ten spoke edges per side, 20 per wheel x two wheels. Itseemed never ending! I eventually got through it and so begun the process ofmasking up the spikes and rims, another arduous task! Finally the time came tostart painting, 2x coats of high build primer followed by 4x coats of black.It’s fair to say that I’d had a few dark moments while prepping the wheels, itseemed never ending, but, as the old saying goes, you get out what you put in.I cannot begin to tell you the feeling of satisfaction I got then I eventually peeledthe masking tape off, all those hours, those long long hours, they allevaporated as I pulled that first corner of masking tape, the black satinagainst the shiny alloy. The wheels were definitely the best part of doing thebike!


#4

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I peeled that masking tape off over a yearago but as I sit here and type this I can feel the satisfaction well throughme. It’s like a big sigh!

Anyway …… Time to start bolting up!

The day flew and the bike went from a pileof parts to a rolling chassis in no time at all!


#5

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It was now time to see what she soundedlike with those lovely original pipes ……

I popped the tank back on just to fire herup

Spark – Check

Fuel – Check

Wet Plugs – Check

Ignition on …… 4 kicks and away she went.There was smoke everywhere, I smothered the crank with lashings of two strokeoil when I put the engine together, lots more down the bores after. I’d put abit extra in the fuel and the oil injection soon came online. It was two strokecentral!!!

Enough of the two stroke shinanagins ………time to get stuck into the bodywork!

On closer inspection, the side panels, seatcowl and front mudguard were completely shot. I was lucky in that I found acomplete set from the same bike. They were painted in an awful green colour butthat was the least of my worries. They were clean and straight requiringminimal repairs ……


#6

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The tank required a little more …… whatshould I call it …… Work?

First, I did some stripping …

Then I followed that up with a little morestripping …

Once the stripping was done I did some morestripping

But that wasn’t enough … so I resortedto stripping …

The stripping was working but I needed adifferent approach, so I tried stripping …

The stripping was going well, but not wellenough. Time for some stripping!

This really started to work, if only I’djust started stripping in the first place!

Then came the rest of the prep work…

At last everything was ready for it’scolour coats!


#7

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The moral of the story is, buy right buyonce, buy cheap, buy twice!

I took the rest of the kit to my friendSteve at H+L Graphics in Queenborough who made me up a pukka set!

On they went followed by five coats oflacqueur!

And so to the end of my little story …. (Orso I thought)

I built the rest of the bike up in a coupleof hours and as quick as that, she was finished!

I was so so pleased with the end result!

Well that should be the end of the tale.The bike was finished, MOTd and an absolute hoot to ride!

Then, one day in June 2012 I took her for aspin, only locally, about 20 miles. I took her across the North Downs toChatham to buy a service kit for my Aprilia. On the way back she developed arattle, sounding a little like a Ducati. I immediately thought the worst butupon a nit more investigation I found a simple cracked flywheel……. Easy fix ……so I thought!

I sourced a replacement flywheel from Ebay,it’s only a 15 minute job to change. Unfortunately the vibration caused by theflywheel had ultrasonically welded the bossto the end of the crank

I tried in vein for several weeks to get theflywheel off with no success, and I mean really tried everything. Being anengineer, there’s very little that’ll defeat me but this was absolutely solid!

In the mean time I bought my KTM 950ADVwhich required a little attention (The subject of another thread maybe) so theLC made it’s way to the back of the garage where it stayed until November.

I spent another few hours with no successso decided to whip the engine out and remove the crank so I could really get towork on it!

The engine was sitting on the bench allcomplete and untouched. I intended to do the rebuild as and when the mood tookme.

Then, remarkably, the following day myphone rang “Chris, it’s Chris Newbigging from Practical Sports, we’d like tocome and photograph your LC for a feature in out February Issue”

I explained the situation and we agreedthat he and his photographer would come down in two weeks time for the shoot.

I had to get my bloody skates on!

The following day I stripped the enginedown, unfortunately the vibration had taken out the flywheel side main bearingand cracked a piston.

So I embarked on replacing the mainbearings, two new pistons, a full oil seal kit and naturally all new gaskets aswell as a new clutch push rod and new small ends just to be sure.

And that was that. I got the engine back in…….

Spark – Check

Fuel – Check

Wet Plugs – Check

No fourth time kick this time, she wentFIRST kick!

And so, on the 5th December, the guys from Practical Sportsbikesarrived and we did the shoot, the bike didn’t miss a beat and the article wenton the shelves a couple of days ago!


#8

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Cheers for taking the time to look!


#9

Wow, there’s a lot of love and care gone into that.


#10

Great post. :slight_smile:


#11

Wow. The rd250lc was the bike to have when I was a youngster. They were so much faster than everything else (and learner legal) that kids were wheeling them into the back of buses at an alarming rate. It is really nice to see the restored finished product and amazing to see the work that went into it. I would have to divorce the wife to have that much time to attempt a project like that, but considering I need advice about using t cut I I’m not sure I have the skills anyway.

Thanks for sharing the story. Loved it.

Simon


#12

That looks like a cracker of a job dude! Well done. Have u sent pics or shown the bike to the last owner? Bed he’d be beside himself :slight_smile:


#13

That’s absolutely lovely, great story and a beautiful bike :slight_smile:


#14

Absolutely amazing, loads of work gone into that and it definitely looks like its paid off. Congratulations on getting in the magazine!


#15

Wow, i just enjoyed every minute of this post - looks awaesome.:smiley:

Is it as good as you wanted it to be or remember?


#16

Wonderful!

I love these kind of threads, thank you!

J


#17

been there and done that:D


#18

you sir have made my day and helped killed some much needed time.

Lovely stuff :slight_smile:


#19

Loving your work, that looks brilliant!


#20

Very impressive, you must be over the moon.

When you painted it, what did you use, rattle cans or did you gun it on?