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Well, I did it. My bike just hit 6000 miles (in just 4 months!) and it was time to do the valve clearance check. Thank God for this site. I had never done anything like this before and I have to admit, I was a little scared. After reading Bob Scott's article and Martin's additional tips, I was confident that I could do it.

First I did all the prep work (making a template for the bolts, making a tool for the cam chain tensioner, etc). Then I started to take the bike apart. When I first checked the clearances, only two were out of spec, both on the exhaust side. One was so tight that I could not get my smallest guage (.03 mm) in it. The other was about .05 mm. I did all this work on Monday. When the shop opened on Tuesday, I bought the necessary shims and went home to put them in and everything would be OK, or so I thought. I put in the new shims re-installed the cam, tensioner and guide, rechecked the clearances, and now one of them was still tight and a different one was now out of spec. DAMN! So now I had to take the cam, tensioner and guide out again. Back to the shop and wouldn't you know it they didn't have the new shims I needed. So now it was off to Simi Valley (a 30 minuite drive) to buy two more shims. Back to the house, re-install everything, re-check, and now one more was out of spec. AGHHH! Luckily this time I had a shim that I needed for this one, a 2.25 mm. Put it in re-checked and it read .18 mm, Just in spec. Now I had to make a decision, live with that one valve borderline loose or go thru the process one more time and use the 2.30 shim I had left over to bring it in the middle range. I said "what the hell" I was getting so fast at taking it apart and putting it back together that I did it one more time. And finally everything was OK. All clearances between .09 and .12 mm. I put everything back together and so far everything seems to be running great. Not a lot of difference though, maybe a little smoother .

If I had any advice it would be two things. Like Martin said, get a micrometer or callipers to read the shims with. Two of mine had no numbers left on them so the guys at the shop read them for me. Second, I found it usefull when taking out and installing the cam chain tensioner to use a 1/4" drive screwdriver handle with a long extension and a swivel head to tighten and loosen the two 8mm bolts. Not for the initial loosening or final tightening, but for all the times in between if you have to keep taking the cam out and putting it back in. This saved me a lot of time and aggravation. I just hand tightened them until the final time when I was done, then of course I used the torque wrench.

Overall even though it took me about a day in a half including the trips to the shop I must say that it wasn't that bad. Next time I'm sure that I can do it in about 4-5 hours max, plus the time it takes to go to the shop. There is a great deal of satisfaction when you do a job like this yourself. Thanks Bob for your article and thanks Martin for your e-mails when you did yours. It inspired me to do it myself!

Mike
 

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West Coast Moderator
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12,996 Posts
Yeah, the first time is the learning process. You can probably see why I want to build my own inventory, too. It would be alot handier than driving all over the country.
 

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Dirty Harry.... Moderator
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New stars for members?

Hey George, you may want to consider an additional "star" for bravery for these guys having the courage to do the above work themselves. The thought of doing this myself makes me shudder. Tom :(
 

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West Coast Moderator
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If I can do it, anyone can do it. It's just having the courage to take off the valve cover. Once you get it in there and see how it all looks, you'd be amazed at how simple it all is. But, if wrenching is not on your, "Top 10 Things I Like To Do" list, then pass it off to a mechanic.
 

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The question I ask myself after reading Canyondog's post and the valve guide on ZR-7.com, is how many mechanics would be this concientious? Time pressures in most workshops would make it almost impossible to do the job properly.
My own trial by valves is approaching slowly but surely. :(
 

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West Coast Moderator
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One thing to consider is that the shop mechanics are all set up to do it. They don't have to move the lawn mower, ice chests and bicycles when they go to work. They just clock in and tell the parts dept. what they need. They don't have to worry about going all over town to get the gasket, the thread lock and keep going from home to the shop to keep exchanging shims. It's all right there for them.

They don't want to have your bike come back to them because they screwed up the job. They want you out riding and coming back for other jobs and accessories.

Also, that's what they do for a living. I wouldn't expect a Kawasaki tech to go home for the week-end and be a banker or computer tech or what ever it is we all do for a living and be as good as we are at it. But he will go home and balance his own check book, do some on-line trading and feel good because he did it himself and saved a few bucks doing it. It just took him a little longer to do.:)
 

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Dirty Harry.... Moderator
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Well said Martin. Just the motivation I needed to try some work on my bike in my garage (after I get it organized). Thanks, buddy. Tom :)
 

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Now I know why the shop quoted so much to get the valve clearances checked ! :)

Don't mind paying if that's what they have to go through.
 
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