1989 Yamaha XT350

Purchased Yamaha

3/30/17: Been having truck problems lately (adding to a lot of stresses), and with the weather outside warming up I decided to purchase a motorcycle.


It is a 1989 Yamaha XT350 with 2727 miles on it.  Bought it for $1450. Off the line it got 50 miles per gallon and has a tank of 3.17 gallons (2.5 regular and .5 reserved). The original owner was a truck driver who used it to get around town when stopping. The second owner bought it for his son but it was too big. I’m the third owner since 1989 (same age as my brother Sam).


3/31/17:  I went to the DOT Friday morning and passed my motorcycle knowledge test; getting my permit.  While at the DOT I also got my title transfered over to me, new license plate, and registration. Then I went over to AAA and got insured (doing this within an hour, as I used my lunch time hour. It was a pretty quick process unlike California DMV wait times).


4/1/17:  Saturday I went to 5 different motorcycle shops in Mandan on Memorial looking for a good helmet and riding jacket. I found my ideal helmet at the Indian Dealership. I really didn’t want one of those pop up jaws and wanted it to be fixed. This one also has the flip down shade and vents in jaw & dome.


The motorcycle jacket is a Victory brand with built in shoulder and elbow pads. It also had an inner liner that works as a regular jacket when taken out. I took mine out because it was already too warm outside.


I took it for a couple rides between General Conference sessions to get use to it. I’ve noticed if I open the throttle it seems to be losing power around 55-60 mph in 5 & 6th gear (5-7k rpms also in the lower gears). Not super familiar with bikes yet, so opinions are welcome.


I thought the sputtering was caused by lack of fuel and after setting it to reserve I rode home grabbed my wallet (was riding with just my permit, registration, and insurance) and went to the gas station. I had to replace the headlight bulb because only the highbeam was working. Pulled out the bulb and it was the original from 1989 and couldn’t find the same one anywhere. Finally ended up with a similar wattage bulb and modified it slightly with the metal tabs to work.


I’ve ridden about 70 miles since I bought it Thursday night. My goal is to ride it to work this week starting on Monday. I’ve registered for ABATE course the weekend of May 19th. I’ve been on the freeway twice now and as you can see from the picture rode up to Harmon Lake and back.


4/2/17: This thing is ancient (which would mean I am calling myself ancient as I was born in 87), have fun trying to find a replacement. Ended up with a similar wattage bulb and had to modify it with the tabs to keep it in the light.


4/6/17: Quite the morning ride to work, below freezing. Frost on everything.


4/15/17: Learning about my motorcycle by removing the seat to see where everything is.  Corroded battery terminals.  Cleaned them up and but protective red coating around the terminals to prevent future corrosion.

The Yamaha had its first bath.



4/22/17: The sun is coming up earlier.


5/20/17: ABATE Motorcycle training; May 19-21st.


This is the motorcycle (Suzuki 250) I rode for my ABATE course. After completing the course I went down to the DOT and got my motorcycle license.


5/22/17: Prepping the gas tank for paint, by covering the existing decals. Thought about new ones, but they were like $60 on eBay.


What the motorcycle looks like with out the seat or gas tank.

Painted black. I might get some black reflective tape to add to the motorcycle to be more visible at night. White is easier to see, but black looks cooler.


5/23/17: Got an oil filter today, now I can change the oil.


5/25/17: Got a new clutch lever from when I laid down the bike on Saturday. Forgot to take the key out of the gas tank cap after filling up and put in the ignition. Also didn’t pull in the clutch when kick starting it, so it lunged forward and I lost balance falling over with the bike. Only lost a little fuel from the carb overflow and the tip of my clutch lever.


Time to do an oil change.  Looks like it hadn’t been replaced since it came off the production line.  Doesn’t look like the oil filter has been changed since it came off the line in 1989.


Everything back together and oil filter installed. I also fixed the tension on my rear brake.


5/26/17: I was having a wiring problem the other day when my left turn signal stopped working. I stripped down the bike and found the switch had a bad connection and the next day my lights started having problems.


Light removed for better access to the wiring harness.  Pretty simple wiring, minus the fact there are like 6 brown wires that are exactly the same for different pieces.


Traced a lot of the wires back to find other problems and found out why my brake light didn’t come on when I used my front brake lever. The wire was cut clean in two, so I reconnected it and now my brake light works.


I found that when my wheel is turned right my left turn signal will work, so I’ll work with it again tomorrow, but now the lights work again with the new switch.

Painted, oil changed, lights fixed, decals on, and ready to enjoy the Memorial Day weekend.


5/27/17: Restoring a 1973 Honda CL350 with Jimmy Blackburn.


I have now driven my motorcycle exactly 1,000 miles since I bought it on 3/30/17.


6/5/17: Getting ready to remove carburetor for cleaning.  Carburetor (dual, but connected not separate).  Carburetor removed.

Carburetor cleaned and ready to go back in.

6/7/17: Old & New (orange) flasher/turn signal relay.

New standard 40w bulb to replace temporary 60w bulb.  I finally found one of these ‘ancient’ light bulbs.


Fiddling with the wiring and now my left turn signal works again. It would work when I turned my handlebars to the right, but not the left (very inconvenient I must say).


Also got a replacement air filter.


6/10/17: Old petcock ready for replacement.  Old and new. Old one wasn’t terrible and still worked, but was getting hard to shut on/off.  New petcock installed and now I can go fill my tank.


7/10/17: Did another oil change and filter replace.

9/30/17: Took it to the gas station and filled it up.  Came straight home and parked it.  Clutch cable snapped while I was running the fuel out of the carb with the petcock switched off.  I’ll have to get a new one in the spring next year.  Mileage on it is currently 5007 miles.  2,200 miles since I bought it and now under my belt for riding experience.


5/7/18: Sold it with half a quart of oil, a new battery, and a broken clutch cable (with possible other clutch problems) for a grand total of $1000.


It was sad to watch it leave, but now I have more of a down-payment for my house and one less motorcycle to move.  It also means more room in my house when it is built for a new dual sport. 🙂


1985 Honda ATC 200S

6/4/12:  I took a compact equipment course at BYU-Idaho for a fun elective credits and to learn more about motorcycles and other compact equipment.  I found this 1985 Honda ATC 200S on Craigslist for $90.


It was in pretty rough shape, but a good project for my class to work on.  The guy I bought it from was actually Eddy Ours (former co-worker from Parts Service and who also helped me work on a 1980s Nissan Forklift).


Probably the most expensive component to replace on this would be the missing pull start assembly.


6/6/12:  I bought a headlight ($9) and a tail-light ($5) from Wal-Mart.

Mounted the headlight to frame and duct taped the seat with yellow duct tape.


6/8/12:  I washed the air filter that was located under the seat in the air box.


After cleaning the air filter element, I proceeded to work on cleaning out the carburetor.


Carb clean

After cleaning both the carburetor and the air filter I was able to push start it.  It is Alive!  My brother and I had a lot of fun riding it around the yard we had out in Burton, Idaho.

It runs.

6/11/12:  I changed the oil today.  ATC takes 1 quart of 10W40. ($3)  The filter itself was cleaned with brake cleaner to remove any metal shavings or sludge build up.

6/13/12:  I removed the rear right wheel to replace the brake shoes in the drum brake.

6/15/12:  I heated up the brake drum with a torch and pounded it off with a hammer.  After knocking it loose I removed the brake shoes, which were worn down to the metal.  I also removed the brake cam and greased it up, before installing the new brake shoes.

The front wheel was also removed and the brakes checked/adjusted.  Surprisingly the front brakes were fine and only the back needed replacing.

Drum removal

6/16&18/12: I adjusted the brakes today and then rode the 3-wheeler around with my brother, Sam.

6/20/12:  I fixed the headlight and tail-light today after finding an open circuit on the wiring harness.  I also got a used pull-start assembly for ($80) off eBay and mounted that one the 3-wheeler.  Whole lot easier then push starting it every time.


6/22/12:  I got the seat upholstered and new foam ($30), a whole lot better than duct tape.  I also took pictures of the working headlight and tail-light.

New Seat


For some reason the funniest thing my brother and I liked doing with this 3-wheeler was pop wheelies.  When the engine was vertical it would not get fuel to the carburetor and would shut off most of the time.  Seen below is one of the times I flew off backwards into the grass (not a fun experience with a sunburned back).


7/2/12:  I got a new muffler ($40) for a 100cc-300cc engine and installed it to replace the straight-pipe.


7/6/12:  I had the muffler welded (Arc Welder) on a little bit better after it fell off from a broken weld on the 4th of July.  I don’t have pictures but I welded (MIG wire feed Welder) it on even better on the 13th of July.


Typical day in the shop (my classroom for the compact equipment course), with Mark and Christian working on their own projects.


I got a flat tire on the 4th of July and fixed it in class today, using the tool below after fix-a-flat.


7/13/12:  I sold the 3-wheeler and printed ATC200S 84-86 Manual for $300.  I put a total of $312 into it which includes the manual and the front brake shoes which I did not use.  It was a really fun project for the class and taught me a lot about motorcycles for my future.




2004 Chevrolet Cavalier

12/13/12:  My neighbor Spencer had a second car in addition to his 02 Chevy Malibu that he wanted an oil change on.  His 2004 Chevy Cavalier has an unique oil filter and location; different then the average car.


First thing we did was remove the air intake resonator to gain better access to the oil filter location.


You can see the oil filter location wedged between the intake manifold and one of the radiator hoses (as seen above) and a better picture seen below.


The oil was drained out and then the cap of this filter location was removed.  Inside was an oil element instead of the hard case oil filter seen on other cars.


Soaked the new filter in oil, removed the old oil filter, and replaced it with the new one.  This is the only vehicle I have seen with this filter location that I have worked on, so far.


2002 Chevrolet Malibu

One of the things I did in college was tell my neighbors I will do a free oil change for them if they provide the oil and the filter.  My neighbor Spencer took me up on it and I changed the oil on his 2002 Chevy Malibu.


The reason I did this, was more people need to learn how to change their own oil and it opens the opportunity to bigger repairs in which I could charge for.  My motto was for those bigger repairs, to pay me what they thought was worth it.  I have received everything from $3, to $60, to an Italian dinner for two for payment.  I didn’t charge however for those who wanted to learn and helped me fix their car.

“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

2001 Ford Escape

4/28/15:  My wife’s Suzuki Sidekick bit the dust and we upgraded her with a new to her yellow 2001 Ford Escape V6 3.0L AWD.  We bought it for higher than normal with North Dakota’s higher prices at $4500 from Nick’s Auto Sales outside of Fargo, North Dakota in Moorhead, Minnesota.

2001 Ford Escape Purchase 4.28.2015

This is the review I wrote on Nick’s Auto Sales:

“We purchased a used yellow 2001 Ford Escape V6 3.0L AWD at the end of April 2015. We were greeted by a salesman & shown where the vehicle was. My wife jumped in the front passenger seat while I turned the vehicle on and did a walk around. I got under the car and noticed immediately that some parts had been replaced. The most noticeable was a new cat; prior research indicated the cat (catalytic converter) almost always needed replacement after 100,000 miles (this one had 122,000 at the time). I also noticed the transmission was not seeping with oil/ATF like a lot of other Ford Escapes around the same year as this one we had seen previously. The interior was immaculate, minus a stain on the driver’s seat. Nick’s did a good job detailing the car. I also noticed a few scratches around the driver’s door handle was expected w/previous owner’s tending to miss the key hole. Small dent on the roof top, but not noticeable unless you are tall like me. The exhaust made a small whistling noise while idling, possibly a small leak post-cat/pre-muffler, not too bad. We took it for a test drive and the engine light came on shortly after pulling out on to 8th St. I pulled off to a side street and pulled out my OB2 reader and read the error code (coolant temp sensor). We then put it in the lowest gear ran up through the gears, pushing the overdrive button off & back on. The transmission shift smoothly. We then pulled into the nearby cemetery with a dirt/gravel roads and engaged the 4×4 switch. There was a noticeable difference from the AWD to 4WD as all wheels were engaged at the same time it worked correctly. We then took a spin back down 8th St to test out the cruise control.

The cruise control did not engage. We took it back to the lot and started negotiations. It was then we learned that Nick’s currently did not have the title in hand. While talking to the salesman about the problems we had found, the owner Nick came out, got the vehicle to make the repairs on the spot. The coolant sensor was replaced (the engine light has not come back on for that since). The cruise control had a broken switch and a non-broken one off another Ford Escape was promised to correct the broken one sent at the same time as the title. We bought the vehicle despite the problems, unfortunately at asking price.  Which could have been removed from the asking price if they weren’t going to send the switch (as it was stated in the list of features the vehicle included). Our new car runs great & we have racked up the miles to 128,500 since purchase including a trip down to Florida & back in June (which would have been more pleasant with Cruise Control!).

After some communication was exchanged, Nick was very good about it and sent us the cruise control switches to swap out with the faulty ones & gave us a $100 check to cover the repair (now if I could find the switch I’d replace it, we moved shortly after receiving it and I haven’t been able to find it since).

We had to fill the ATF up every fueling stop (which was about every 330 miles at the most 24 mpg) due to a slight leak. Further investigation to the leak pin-pointed it the passenger side CV axle shaft was not clipped in all the way (I still need to tear down & push it back in). Other than that few problems have occurred since purchase (really good considering it is a used vehicle). Oil changes every 3000 miles, (4500 miles with a change before and after Florida trip). Title was received in June before our trip to Florida. Engine light as come on sporadically for cat emission problems, which in North Dakota I’m not too worried about right now (California where I’m from on the other hand would need some work to get fixed). The other morning the rear defroster was not working, come to find out the tab connected to the window is not on (planned to fix this weekend).

9/8/15: A few months later the first of our problems came with a faulty #3 COP (coil on pack, basically individual ignition coils on each spark plug).  Error code: P0303


Had the manifold off, so I figured I’d at least replace the spark plugs as well.  I also swapped a front COP for the #3 COP to see if it was a faulty COP.


9/10/15: Replaced the upper intake manifold gaskets, IAC gasket, and throttle body gasket yesterday. Did some more research on code P0303 and it also mentioned it could be a faulty or bad fuel injector, so off comes the fuel rail.


While the fuel rail was off to replace #3 fuel injector I also replaced the lower intake manifold gaskets. I also cleaned all electrical connections with cleaner and put it all back together. The car is not missing anymore and runs great, no sure what fixed the problem.


Shortly after this though, the smell of gasoline could be smelled throughout the car and I took it in to a repair shop (stealership) because I didn’t have a garage and the temperatures had dropped below 0 degrees (North Dakota winters suck).  A bolt on the fuel rail had sheared off and the fuel rail was spewing fuel out instead of into the injector.  We were also moving at the time, but long story short I was extremely dissatisfied with their repair and headed up taking it back to fix the problem I took it in for.  Long talk with the service manager and they did the labor free of charge (which they should do, since they didn’t fix the original problem) and I just had to pay for parts.


4/2016: In April we had our transmission go out with a flashing red light on the dash.  Hooked up the code reader and call a few transmission places.  We ended up taking it to Leo’s Transmissions in Bismarck, North Dakota.  He replaced our transmission and CV axle that had been leaking fluid.  The only disadvantage was the mechanics smoked with the car windows down in their shop, so I think we still have dryer sheets in our car to this day to diffuse the smell.

9/10/16:  Almost a year later on a trip back from Yachats, Oregon the bracket for the ignition pack over cylinder 3 broke. Over time the spark plug rattled loose and shot out the plug pack into the intake cover.DSCN0930

Swapped out cylinder 2 spark plug and checked the gap on both. Then ziptied the coil pack in place and drove back to Mandan, ND.  I got a new one later that week to I’ll need to replace the broken one.


We just drove it down the Hurricane, Utah and back without any problems.  I have a check engine light that comes on every once in a while and more often when it is wet outside.  I clear the codes with my OB2 reader, so I can know when there is a bigger issue (North Dakota doesn’t require emission testing).