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The Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Owners Group: Discussion Forums

Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Owners Group :: View topic - Suzuki T20 restoration thread


Suzuki T20 restoration thread
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fodder
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Joined: Aug 28, 2017
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Location: Near Harlow, England

PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 11:22 am    Post subject: Suzuki T20 restoration thread Reply with quote

I know how much I like to see photos and histories of other peoples projects so thought I would share some of my T20 restoration project. I have posted bits and pieces in other threads so apologies for any repetition!

The reason for going for a T20 was that I had one when I was a student, back in 1979. It was good transport although a bit unreliable as I couldn't afford to maintain it properly. When I finished university I tried to sell the bike, to raise funds to go travelling. I had a couple of guys come round to view it, who said they'd like to buy it but didn't have cash with them so would come back.
They did come back, but without any cash and they visited sometime during the night and stole it!
The police weren't able to find/prove anything so insurance paid out.

Fast forward a few (!) years and on a whim I decided to buy and restore one. Quite a few get imported to the UK from the States and I saw this one on eBay, bid on it and got it for what seemed a good price.
It was advertised as having a few bits missing but looked reasonable.
It came from Colorado so was remarkably rust free.
Photos from advert and when I first got it home:








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Nick
Suzuki T20 1965
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fodder
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 11:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was last on the road in 1972 and had been laid up since. Speedo was broken but showed 13,000 miles. Judging by the lack of wear on components this seems to be an accurate figure.

The "few bits missing" turned out to be quite a few, e.g. handlebar switches, part of fuel tap, keys, steering lock and other stuff but finding all those was part of the fun.

I stripped the bike down to its component parts. Most of it came apart fairly easily due to the lack of rust. In fact, once I had initially loosened nuts I could often turn them off by hand. A couple of exceptions were one of the front forks, which was well corroded into the yoke, and getting the chrome fork stanchion collars off. To get the corroded fork out of the yoke involved heat from a blowlamp, a three legged puller and the trusty old big hammer.

One thing that was apparent when I stripped it was that it seems to have been caught in a flood or something - there was mud in a lot of places. In fact, there was a mud wasp nest in the headlamp shell.

The front mudguard had been cut down in the past and was broken. I sourced a replacement that was a bit rusty but salvageable.

The handlebar clamp screws had had problems and two of the threaded holes you can see had been drilled out to take nuts and bolts. I helicoiled those and sourced new bolts.




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Nick
Suzuki T20 1965


Last edited by fodder on Sun Dec 10, 2017 4:11 am; edited 2 times in total
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fodder
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was doing a car restoration course at the time so had a go at repairing the mudguards and tank, which was very dented and a bit rusty.

I welded the broken rear guard, and filled/primed the guards and tank as best I could. In the end, though, my efforts weren't great and I took the tank, oil tank, mudguards, fork lower legs and battery cover to a local car body repair shop. It turned out that the owner was a classic bike enthusiast and was keen to work on the Suzuki bits. He cleared out the filler I had used and beat out the dents with dollies and hammers, before painting.He did a great job.







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Suzuki T20 1965


Last edited by fodder on Sat Dec 09, 2017 4:01 pm; edited 1 time in total
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fodder
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The frame was pretty sound but the paint was chipped and needed some attention so that went off to be shot blasted and powder coated, along with the swinging arm and stands.

It came out very well. The company I used was very careful to mask off the threads for the foot pegs etc.


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fodder
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The seat was totally shot, with no cover and crumbly foam. I stripped that back, cleaned the frame up, rust proofed it and used Hammerite paint to give it some protection. I then bought pre-formed foam and a seat cover and, with the help of my wife (definitely a two person job as the foam is held in place with contact adhesive and you don't want to put it on wrong) and the kitchen table, glued the foam on.
Putting the cover on was quite straightforward although the little screws/bolts holding the chrome trim on are a bit fiddly to put back. I was pretty happy with the results.




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Suzuki T20 1965
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fodder
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The front forks, apart from where they were held by the clamps and had got some surface rust, were in pretty good condition but I replaced the seals.



Brake shoes were replaced.

wheel bearings were replaced.

Brake cables were replaced.

Steering bearings and races were replaced


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Suzuki T20 1965


Last edited by fodder on Sun Dec 10, 2017 6:57 am; edited 1 time in total
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fodder
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I cleaned up and painted the battery box, tail light bracket and horn with Hammerite.


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Suzuki T20 1965


Last edited by fodder on Sat Dec 09, 2017 4:02 pm; edited 1 time in total
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fodder
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The chrome work was generally really good so I haven't done anything with that. The alloy lacquer was a bit peeled, though, so I polished that up on the brake hubs and the engine covers. Not too polished, just enough to clean it up a bit. This is before polishing.

New tyres and tubes were fitted, naturally. 52 year old rubber probably wasn't going to give great grip on the road!


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Suzuki T20 1965


Last edited by fodder on Sun Dec 10, 2017 6:58 am; edited 1 time in total
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fodder
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:24 pm    Post subject: photos, photos, photos Reply with quote

As I went through it I took lots of photos, like this one of the bottom end of the steering damper, so I would know how parts went back together. I also pinched a load of my wife's freezer bags and labels to store and mark up all the nuts, bolts and other bits.


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Suzuki T20 1965


Last edited by fodder on Sun Dec 10, 2017 5:12 am; edited 1 time in total
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fodder
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:30 pm    Post subject: Electrics Reply with quote

The electrics weren't in bad shape but I figured 52 year old wires wouldn't be too reliable so I fitted a new loom.

Old stuff:


The bike didn't have indicators but they were an option at the time so I fitted a set as a safety upgrade. I was lucky to find a handlebar switch with indicators and, also, a new old stock speedometer with the repeater light for the indicators.

New stuff. Note that I had at this point fitted the coils the wrong way round, the hi tension leads should be facing to the rear. A T20 owner I had been exchanging emails with spotted that. The engine wouldn't have started if they had stayed like that as they would have feeding the spark plugs at completely the wrong part of the cycle. I did put some brand new coils on later, when the bike wasn't running too well, but they made no difference - the engine needed a rebuild, see later posts. :



The indicators have a nice little buzzer to remind me to turn them off, the little box zip tied to the frame:



I checked out the rectifier diodes with a multimeter and that all seemed good.

All the bullet connectors were replaced and ground points cleaned up so everything works properly.

It has new spark plugs and caps, new points and one new condenser. I had been able to borrow a capacitor tester from a friend and discovered one of the original condensers was no good.

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Suzuki T20 1965


Last edited by fodder on Sun Dec 10, 2017 5:28 am; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:40 pm    Post subject: fuel system Reply with quote

The tank had some light rust inside and the carbs were pretty silted up. The fuel tap was also unserviceable as it was missing the main parts. I fitted a replacement tap. The first one I bought was poor quality and the lever snapped so I had to buy another which was better, and works fine.

I cleaned out the tank with a POR 15 treatment. Acid rinse to clear the surface rust, followed by a neutraliser for the acid, followed by a coating that is impervious to petrol and ethanol. It took a few hours but was worth it.

I spent a lot of time cleaning the carbs with carb cleaner, air jets, some fine wire and, eventually, a small ultrasonic cleaner I bought. I also fitted new main, idle, and needle jets. The floats were tested by dunking in boiling water. Bubbles from one meant it was leaking so that side got a new float.
Luckily the air filter rubber boot was in very good shape as these are hard to find and the repro ones are poor quality. I did soak the boot in spray cleaner designed for car rubbers, for a few days, which helped give it back some more flexibility.

I couldn't get a Suzuki air filter so found one from a small Fiat car that is the right size. Seems to work OK.




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Suzuki T20 1965


Last edited by fodder on Sun Dec 10, 2017 7:04 am; edited 4 times in total
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:42 pm    Post subject: Bits and pieces Reply with quote

There were some trim items missing, such as the tank badges.



A bit of searching turned up repro items. Not cheap, but worth getting.

I also found a repro air pump, and tool kit. You can see the pump in this pic. I found the luggage rack via eBay, a guy had been making some repros and had one left. He has stopped making them now which is a shame.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:48 pm    Post subject: Getting it together Reply with quote

It was great building it all back up again. I hadn't touched the engine but thought I would see how it ran before considering any work on that.

It took a lot of kicking over but eventually fired up. Not bad after lying idle for those 50 years!

It ran, but not too well, and there was a lot of white smoke from the right side so it was obviously sucking in transmission oil. It also didn't pull well at lower revs and struggled to get over 60 mph. But it was running Shocked

First start since 1972 Very Happy



Taking it for its first outing, to the MOT (test) station. It passed, despite the smog Laughing The skip on my drive is for a building project, rather than the bike Wink


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Suzuki T20 1965


Last edited by fodder on Sun Dec 10, 2017 2:30 am; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I ran it for a little while like that but eventually decided it needed an engine overhaul. It was quite tough collecting all the parts - the oil seals for the crank are rare, as are crank bearings but a lot of internet work eventually got them all together.

Adrian Baker, who runs this site Adrians T20 site, helped me a lot with the physical side of the engine rebuild. The good folks on this forum helped a great deal with advice and support, thanks again guys! See the thread on " cold compression values, T20 " cold compression values

I have also had a lot of advice during the whole project from a T20 owner in Kent, England, who I "met" via Adrian's website. We haven't met face to face but have exchanged a lot of emails. The internet can be a wonderful thing!

One of the cylinder heads was REALLY stuck on and Adrian had to drill out studs and use a lot of brute force to get it off. We broke a few fins in the process, which were welded back later.

All the gear shaft bearings, ball and needle, were replaced, as were oil seals and gaskets. A new kick start shaft and gear selector shaft were fitted as the originals were bent (the bike had had at least one spill, evidenced by dented mufflers and bent foot pegs). A new second gear was fitted, to go with the upgraded first already fitted. Adrian spotted a few things incorrectly fitted during the last engine rebuild when , presumably, the previous owner had it apart for the first gear problem.

Nice load of bits!



The crank was rebuilt, with new bearings and seals. That first rebuild failed shortly after I fitted it, with a dodgy big end, and had to be stripped out and redone. It now seems good.

Rebuilt crank that then failed:



Initially the pistons and bores weren't re-done but that proved to be a mistake as compression was too low so I had a rebore to +0.5mm and fitted new pistons and rings. That made a massive difference and the bike now runs really well.

I got the heads blasted and coated while they were off so they look better too.

Finished (well, maybe....)






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Suzuki T20 1965


Last edited by fodder on Sun Dec 10, 2017 12:54 pm; edited 4 times in total
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dgjessing
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Beautiful! You did it in the opposite order that I would have (cosmetics/mechanicals), but the result is stunning Smile
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