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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm an avid motorcyclist and currently have 7 bikes on hand. I've been doing all my own maintenance since 1973 and feel confident with routine matters like shimming a valve train. The '07 650R has me defeated right now. Disassembly was uneventful and measurements indicated several shims were at the low end of clearance. Between swapping shims and spares on hand there was no need to order replacements. Reassembly of cams and tensioner was routine. I began to rotate the engine clockwise and got about 10 cam sprocket teeth before I hit a hard lock. Hmmm, maybe the chain tensioner. Removed chain tensioner and rotated again. If I recall, a cam sprocket(s) jumped a tooth because of slack with no tensioner so the intake cam was loosened, chain adjusted on the sprocket and the intake cam retorqued. Same problem - hard lock rotating forward 10 teeth or so. Next, removed both cams and all buckets. Inspected shims for proper seating in their cavities. Buckets and cams reinstalled. Checked alignment at 2T through view port and doublechecked that cam marks aligned with the deck top and 180 degrees apart. Check. Same problem rotating forward. Rotate engine backwards and eventually hit hard lock roughly 350 degrees backwards. New theory - something has fallen though spark plug hole or something is impeding the lower cam chain gear. Need borescope or maybe take right side cover off. Problem with theory - I did not drop anything into the engine. Also, cylinder #2 is falling as I rotate forward and cylinder 1 is still low so pistons probably not hitting anything. Has to be something impeding the lower gear. Need to figure out how to view that area. Nagging thought that Kawasaki's weird neutral finder might be involved. Anyone have ideas?

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Have you done a thorough search for a loose shim in the head? Around the valve spring areas and under where a cam lobe might be stopped by a stray shim?
After the problem appeared I proceeded to pull the cams, buckets and shims (twice) and reassemble. I can do it blindfolded now. Today I pulled the clutch cover to make sure nothing is jamming the lower gear. Nothing found. I'm looking for a bore scope product to better view the combustion chambers and camchain area.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
How about the cam blocks? Are they different and could possibly be swapped between intake and exhaust cams?
I've done quite a bit more investigating on this. With the clutch cover off and camchain tensioner remove it's easy to eliminate an obstruction to the camchain or problem with the tensioner. That leaves the combustion chamber as a likely cause. All buckets fully rise when the cam lobe is not applying pressure push in as the lobe applies pressure. No binding there. I've rotated both pistons into various positions and used a wire probe to detect anything that may have fallen in. Nothing found. I measured where the lock occurs in relation to piston position. The lock occurs when #2 is dropping past TDC and also when #1 is approaching TDC. I'm thinking the problem is somehow a valve that's not retracting. I do recall that after shimming and when first rotating the engine there was a slight catch then pop upwards of the bucket on #2 exhaust valve on the right. If there is a problem there what would the remedy be?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I've done quite a bit more investigating on this. With the clutch cover off and camchain tensioner remove it's easy to eliminate an obstruction to the camchain or problem with the tensioner. That leaves the combustion chamber as a likely cause. All buckets fully rise when the cam lobe is not applying pressure push in as the lobe applies pressure. No binding there. I've rotated both pistons into various positions and used a wire probe to detect anything that may have fallen in. Nothing found. I measured where the lock occurs in relation to piston position. The lock occurs when #2 is dropping past TDC and also when #1 is approaching TDC. I'm thinking the problem is somehow a valve that's not retracting. I do recall that after shimming and when first rotating the engine there was a slight catch then pop upwards of the bucket on #2 exhaust valve on the right. If there is a problem there what would the remedy be?
PS Good thought on cam blocks but they are marked IN and EX with the top of the lettering towards the front of the bike.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
You definitely working through this and addressed a thought I had about the cam chain and guides. Look at the top of the right, #2 exhaust valve. Verify you have two valve spring keepers still in position and an equal small gap between the two keepers. Also, have you noticed the suspect exhaust valve spring retainer having a slightly different position as it sits in the head? Maybe not if a typical shim size still produces the correct clearance. Any other debris in the valve spring areas?

The other though is that as easy as the cams can be removed, you aren't that far from being able to remove the cylinder head. That would definitely reveal or clear the problem. Just need some coolant and a head gasket.

Before you started the valve clearance check and adjustment, did the engine sound ok? Or, is the check due by mileage?
Thanks much for the reply. Someone cares! I'm going to pull the buckets again tonight and look for the keepers as you suggest. Not sure what can be seen from the top but will investigate.

The engine ran perfectly from startup with cold and hot idle spot on and revved to redline with absolutely perfect and linear throttle response. That makes it all the more depressing. Redline is 11 and because of the power curves the motor should never be run past 9 or so and so I was looking forward to a reliable, long lived engine. I've gone all these years without having to pull a head. I over maintain and am careful about warmup, etc. and consequently don't wear out engines. I'll have to look into whether this 650 motor needs to be removed from the frame to pull the head. I suspect it does.

My latest thought is that cams were pulled when the piston was at BDC instead of TDC so I'm going to check that tonight upon reassembly. Maybe cams just out of phase? Also, a scope with several nice attachments is incoming and might reveal the issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Tonight's testing of the hard lock problem had interesting and inconclusive results. Clockwise roation "Test 1" reveals the hard lock occurs while piston 1 is near BDC and rising and piston 2 is just after TDC and is falling. That would seem to indicated there's no piston to valve contact happening. Next, I removed the cams and buckets and did a recount on bolts and dowels. All are accounted for. All springs and top keepers are at an identical height. I can run a plastic ziptie around the perimeter of each spring with no obstruction. "Test 2" is rotating the engine through several full revolutions while pulling the cam chain upwards with my other hand. This second test leads me to believe that piston to valve contact just has to be the culprit BUT that seems to have been ruled out by Test 1. Next step is waiting for and using the bore scope.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Some good information there. Have you been able to inspect the entire cam chain? Like mark one link and pull, or rotate all the way around? The cams would have to be out to do this. Also by doing this, you could confirm the crank is capable of rotating 360 degrees.

Sounds like you have access to a borescope. Pretty cool. I haven't seen on since my Army Aviation days. Our engine mechanics had them for inspections of compressor blades--or, as they needed for troubleshooting.
The cams are out. I stretch the chain above the deck with my free hand, rotate the engine a few inches and readjust my grip on the chain. In short order I've rotated the engine 360, then 720 or more. The engine is turning freely when you take the cams, chain and tensioner out of the equasion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Conclusion to how this shim job went bad; blame to myself and Kawasaki's service manual: Today I'm looking at the lower camchain gear. That gear has duplicate 1T and 2T markings. 2T markings are found 90 degrees apart from each other. This is fully visible only with the clutch cover off and is not mentioned in the service manual. If you follow the Kawasaki procedure, you set the 2T marker position then install the cams with the appropriate markings on the upper cam gears even with the deck. If you pick the wrong 2T marker, the #2 piston will not be at TDC when you install the cams. After shimming and as you rotate the engine, #2 piston is going to impact an exhaust valve. The lesson is to use a screwdriver or something similar to make sure the piston is at TDC before installing the cams. This snafu is going to require an engine removal, head pull and fix to the affected valves. I'll verify the valve damage when my endoscope arrives.

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
There are two removable access ports on the clutch cover. One is large enough for a ratchet to turn the engine and the other is a penny sized view port for the timing marks. After obsessively rerunning the repair in my mind it's all come back. To begin the job, I rotated to the 1T mark to make measurements thinking what's the difference. Between my eyesight, the lighting, recently lost flashlights loaned out during a power outage and the small view port plus having forgotten to pull the plugs, I was OK with 1T (instead of 2T). I made the measurements, removed the cams and installed the shims. Upon reassembly and after rereading the procedure, I rotated to the wrong 2T mark (the one 90 degrees out) and installed the cams. In my mind there's nothing possibly incorrect about the reassembly so I compounded the problem by rotating through the interference causing damage that created the hard lock. I probably knocked keepers off a valve that's now hanging too low. That just a guess. I'd be delighted to hear a fix that doesn't require pulling the head.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Got it. It's an experience. Be glad it's not a four cylinder engine. Those timing reference marks are ridiculous really. Why have two of the same? Maybe, that target is used on more than one bike engine.

So you have a valve stem lower than others and suspecting it's a bent valve? Does the engine really have to be removed in order to remove the cylinder head? Maybe the front of the engine could be lowered enough to remove the head?

If you have to replace a valve and don't have a spring compressor, maybe an auto parts store has one to loan. A c-clamp version would be easiest. I used to have one, but when I left the tech industry that was one tool I let go. Haven't had a need for it since either.
After some consideration I started looking around at parts. I found an immaculate head with only 3K miles. The price was $233 delivered so I went ahead with the order even though repairs on the old head might be easy. I can always repair and sell the old one. It does appear the front motor mount can be removed to drop the engine forward enough to replace the head. That's my plan right now. I'm a bit further along than the pictures show and will proceed as parts arrive.
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Definitely a lot going on there, huh? It's been a awhile since I had to remove an engine--the GPz750turbo I got back in '00. The frame was bent at the steering head. The price for that head seems good.

Can't help but notice you have a several irons in the fire around your shop. And with style given the rugs. (y)
I was in the middle of reassembling a '75 Goldwing when the 650R was acquired. Thought I'd switch gears and get the Kawi fully sorted out. Fortunately I have enough room to accommodate both. A few feet away but not pictured are my '96 Triumph Trident and '07 Honda Transalp. You can see a little of the '00 TT600, the '03 SV1000S and the '92 ST1100. All bikes except the Wing and 650R in perfect running condition.
 

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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
Has the replacement head been delivered? Hopefully it is as expected for you. Also, if upon removal of the head and you see the valves are seated as they should, would you correct what you saw from the top side and reinstall it?
The head is on the way and currently in Troutdale, OR. ETA is the 27th. Judging from the pictures the incoming EBay head might be preferable with only 3k miles although the old one was probably sealing perfectly. I'm inclined to install the replacement (as it was prepped by Kawasaki and not me) and fix/sell the old one. Below are pics of the incoming head.
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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Does it come with the cam blocks too? They are supposed to be a match set due to the line-boring.
I'm so glad you raised that point. Pictures show a head, valves and even shims on the valves. No buckets. The piece that bolts down over the two cam gears is there. Is that what you mean by cam blocks?
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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
The heads are sold with the blocks and there is no part number for the blocks.

There's a possibility that your head and the one being shipped were bored with the same boring bar; so, maybe the bore diameters are the same. Next would be to ensure the alignment of your cam blocks to the new head and how to do that would take a few minutes of thought. Then, to ensure enough clearance for oil, Plastigauge should be used. That will tell you the clearance. You could even check what your current head has for clearance and compare to the head enroute. Would have to reference a manual for a clearance range.

Or, you could get a valve spring compressor and simply use the parts from the arriving head and repair what your current head needs.
I like the idea of using parts from the new head to fix the old and am leaning towards that. I had looked at the cost of valves and associated parts before ordering the head and factored that in. I'll have all the spares I need without any worry about alignment, clearances, etc. Thanks again for the input. You may have saved me a lot of additional grief.
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
The heads are sold with the blocks and there is no part number for the blocks.

There's a possibility that your head and the one being shipped were bored with the same boring bar; so, maybe the bore diameters are the same. Next would be to ensure the alignment of your cam blocks to the new head and how to do that would take a few minutes of thought. Then, to ensure enough clearance for oil, Plastigauge should be used. That will tell you the clearance. You could even check what your current head has for clearance and compare to the head enroute. Would have to reference a manual for a clearance range.

Or, you could get a valve spring compressor and simply use the parts from the arriving head and repair what your current head needs.
Page 250, section 5-26 of the Kawasaki service manual, "The camshaft cap is machined with the cylinder head, so if a new cylinder head is installed, use the cap that is supplied with the new head." I am asking my EBay supplier about that. Worst case scenario is I fix the old head and possibly buy some tools to do it. One way or another I dodged a bullet thanks to you for pointing out the necessity of matchings caps to the head.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
Followup: I received a clean 3k mile head yesterday via Fedex The engine was on the bench waiting so I pulled the old head and took a look. The delay was due to a mickey mouse set of ratchet adapters and reducers that absorbed the torque from my air ratchet. As soon as I changed to half inch parts the final toughest head bolt spun out. Back to the old head - I can't find anything wrong! All valves are fully seated and can be pushed down from the top side with normal resistance. I'm going to reassemble with the new used head and a fresh head gasket. The replacement head came with the necessary caps to function as a unit. The parts being reused are cams, cam chain and guides. I expect to be able to rotate the engine normally after reassembly. Whatever was causing the lock seems destined to remain a mystery.

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
Problem now resolved. I bolted the new head onto the block. At this point of testing cams are not installed. Next, I took up all the camchain slack with my free hand and rotated forward a full revolution. All good. What the hell, I wanted to try and replicate the problem so I rotated backwards while maintaining tension on the camchain. Rotated forward and encountered the hard lock. At that point I knew the transmission (or my idiocy) was at fault. I installed the shift lever, played around with it and got a nice big click. The engine now rotates freely in both directions. Conclusion: I have more to learn about the neutral finding mechanism. I hope fresher valves, decarboned head, clean connections, new gaskets, etc are worth the effort.
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
Also curious to see how this goes / went ?
It's all resolved now. Most of the blame is on me for skimming Kawasaki and Haynes documentation. There are duplicate marks on the lowest camchain gear for positioning the engine. There's 1T and 1T, 2T and 2T where the second of each mark is sideways indicating 90 degrees past BTDC for #1 or #2. The view port is tiny enough that you can be unaware of the duplication. Documentation is unable to print the sideways mark and refers to either mark as simply 1T or 2T where the number is always vertical. Bottom line is it's possible to postion the engine 90 degrees off TDC when you mount the cams. A sharp eye reader on this forum pointed that out and cams were installed properly. I'm waiting for a missing fuel line clip to arrive but otherwise am ready for the first startup. This bike was stripped to the frame and I've got a real appreciation for it's design and build quality. Every molecule of dirt or corrosion has been cleaned, bolts refinished, brakes rebuilt, wheels painted, parts lubed, adjusted and torqued, touchup applied. Last night I sanded and painted a bracket supporting the instruments which would never have happened otherwise. Right now the only task undone is repainting the footpeg support pieces to hide minor heel scratches.
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
Sorry to hear of the troubles TMF, but thank you for sharing and documenting here. I've done one valve adjustment in my life, on my last bike (Ninja 500R). This thread has encouraged me to be extra attentive whenever I do my next one, on the 650R or whatever bike it ends up being.

I'll need to read through the full procedure - but man, two identical marks on the gear sounds like asking for trouble.
I do admit screwing this one up with an explanation. Maybe I'm the only one to make the mistake but it's good to have the warning out there. Don't fear the valve adjustment. Watch a lot of videos and review the procedure 3 or 4 times in print. Cross reference the OEM service manual with Haynes or Clymer. Overall, I'm almost glad it happened. I had the bike stripped to the frame and know every nut and bolt on it now. Most every service and adjustment has been done so I can be confident going forward. I had it out today and it's my favorite bike and that's over my '03 SV1000S, Triumph TT600, Honda ST1100, Honda Transalp and Triumph Trident! Love that light feel, easy steering, riding position, smooth motor, easy shifting, torque with some fun when you rev it out.

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