Author Topic: Suzuki XR440 SM40L Restoration  (Read 11371 times)

Offline zuknomad

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Suzuki XR440 SM40L Restoration
« on: March 14, 2013, 07:43:15 AM »
The back story...

After owning  two single cylinder Nomads, I became interested in finding the rarest from the Japanese production of the Suzuki snowmobile breed, a twin cylinder 1974 XR440 sliderail model SM40L. The 'L' suffix was placed on all '74's that had already seen production for '73, but received upgrades for what would be the final year of the Suzuki's built in Japan.

Magazine ad for the '74 Suzuki snowmobile line-up...



The '73 XR440 introduced a piston port 432cc engine with dual Mikunis and Suzuki's first capacitive discharge ignition, which they would call PEI (pointless electronic ignition). 1974 models would see the advent of a newly redesigned tunnel/bellypan in silver, new skis with shocks, new front suspension springs, a much-welcomed cold-crack resistant black vinyl seat with an unmotorcycle-like taillight, and a red hood with new graphics and twin integrated rearview mirrors. There was also a windshield mount trim band, handlebar pad, faster-acting clutch ramp plate, new rear bumper and a sliderail rear suspension with dual drivers and cleated track, the XR440 being the only model to receive it.

Dealer handout with specifications and features for the SM40L...



Through the quick eyes of friends here on VintageSledders.com, an example located in SE lower Michigan on Craigslist was brought to my attention. I purchased the sled with a non-matching '74 XR400 parts machine from the owner of a marina in LaSalle over the phone in late December of 2010.

Both sleds, from the CL ad of 2010, and the XR440 by itself...

 

Parts lot, mostly things stripped from the seized XR400...



Less than an hour before the machines were to be picked up for me by pgn, one of the owner's employees slipped on some ice that had formed on the floor, sending the heavy object he was carrying up into the air and then down squarely into the top front of the nearly mint hood, busting a nasty gash into it!



When I finally was able see the sled on Marion Race Weekend of 2011, I found my friends had had the hole repaired and the hood freshly painted! WOW! The look on my face as 70 MF opened up the race trailer to reveal the XR with an undamaged hood on it was one of incredulity and shock. I can never thank them enough. The first ride was on Long Lake at pgn's North Shore Lodge...



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Offline 70 MF

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Re: Suzuki XR440 SM40L Restoration
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2013, 06:09:33 PM »
Incredulity and shock 8)

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Offline zuknomad

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Re: Suzuki XR440 SM40L Restoration
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2013, 06:26:03 PM »
But the sled had some problems. Apparently in a wreck at one time that damaged the skis and steering support, a support from an earlier year had been installed and it didn't have the correct mount on it to secure the exhaust. The exhaust thumped around every time I hit a bump. It also sported a pair of junk aftermarket skis. The tunnel/bellypan was rusty, and gashed and bent in several places. All three front bumper sections were bent or damaged beyond reasonable repair in one way or another, although I did put a decent one together later from parts. It was missing the carb cover, too, specific to this low production sled and hard to find in any condition.

The saving graces to the sled were that it had a newer track and drivers, decent seat (although the top portion was not original and ill-fitting), and that beautiful new hood. I also had the pair of mirrors that came from that parts sled. Some parts like that from the XR400 were interchangeable, but not a lot of them. Although the chassis of the 400 looked the same, it would need parts from the old chassis welded to it to work with the sliderail suspension and exhaust system of the 440. The SM40L sat and waited as I finished the restoration of my second Nomad.

Then, in the winter of 2012, I noticed that a fellow VintageSledder in Wisconsin, ScorpDude, started asking questions about a shed find...

http://www.vintagesledders.com/forums/index.php?topic=12040.msg113314#msg113314

In spring, it was revealed that indeed he had found a '74 XR440, and a pretty nice one at that...

http://www.vintagesledders.com/forums/index.php?topic=11525.msg124527#msg124527
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Offline zuknomad

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Re: Suzuki XR440 SM40L Restoration
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2013, 07:12:58 PM »
I tried to stop thinking about acquiring another sled, but ScorpDude's clean and complete looking Suzuki was always in the back of my mind. One summer morning in August, as I checked my messages on the site, I saw one from him. Keith was asking if I might be interested in purchasing the Suzuki? I couldn't react quick enough; within minutes we had a phone conversation, and within a few days he had the money.

ScorpDude included what turned out to be a Nomad cover, threw in a 340 CCW I needed for another project, and we were both happy with the deal. Keith was also gracious enough to store the sled for me inside the barn with his Scorpion collection, until I could come off-island in the fall to pick the sled up and bring it back to Michigan.

Here is the link to a recounting from the time of the pick up of the sled, and the new friend I had made...

http://www.vintagesledders.com/forums/index.php?topic=13333.msg132340#msg132340

Now I had two of what is the rarest of all Suzuki models, and some work could start using an excellent, largely rust free chassis on an almost totally complete original XR440!

The pair of SM40L's, poised for entrance into the basement shop, December 13th, 2012...



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Offline zuknomad

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Re: Suzuki XR440 SM40L Restoration
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2013, 08:04:58 PM »
The winter of 2012-2013 being what it has been, with adequate snow and ice for riding, lots of trail work and a trip off in February to the U.P. of Michigan, work on the XR's has just been picked at a little at a time.

The first step was to remove the skis of the nicer machine and get it up onto the lift for an overall inspection. A compression test was done on the 2800 mile engine and it passed...



The primary clutch was pulled for a rebuild and also so that the PTO crankcase seal could be replaced; known needs at those kinds of miles and after 39 years of life, at least on these sleds...


 
The next step was to remove the skidframe for inspection and repair, if necessary. It came out easily; love those shed-kept sleds for the lack of fasteners that won't budge.

The Suzuki sliderail skid appears for all the world to have been copied without shame from the Arctic Cat models of the early '70's...





After the skid was out, it was apparent that the the axle would need to be removed, as well. Suzuki didn't have any better luck with their track drivers lasting on this sliderail model than they did on the bogie sleds.

These hubs were clad completely with red urethane, so that no aluminum showed at the circumference, at one time long ago...



Enough disassembly had been done to the point where now those units removed would be addressed for repair.





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Offline zuknomad

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Re: Suzuki XR440 SM40L Restoration
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2013, 09:13:23 PM »
As a search was started for track drivers that would satisfy the application (NOS Suzuki does not exist, as far as I can tell), the skid was disassembled and evaluated. This machine had taken a hard hit to the track on the left side at some point long ago. The front arm, cross shaft and LH suspension spring were bent, rear idler bearing was shot, and half the frame shock pads blown out.

The LH idler being pulled for bearing replacement. Unfortunately, and through my ignorance, the top of the plastic axle spacer was broken off by trying to remove it the wrong manner. This is the right way, and would have pulled the wheel with spacer intact, had I done it this way in the first place...



Shock pads would be a normal wear item at those miles and years, anyway...



It was found that the two longer pads that are part of a kit sold by Arctic Restorations for the early '70's Lynx and Panther could be cut to use 2 of the 3 rivet holes, that would line up perfectly with the existing shock pad rivet holes in the frame. They put a custom order together for me, including only this style from the kit...



Work commenced to straighten the bent arm tube by cutting a pipe in half and using it as a bearing surface to press against, so as not to crush the tube. The shaft and spring were straightened similarly...





The idler with new bearing and straightened front arm...



A crack in the arm brace where it met the tube was welded for me by Crash soon after. Note: tube is straight, curve seen is parallax from the camera lens w1nc ...



The rear arm shock was found to be tired, as expected. A reproduction of an Arctic Cat tube shock for the early '70's had the same open and closed lengths. With the modification of pushing out the SAE-sized bushings from the eyes and replacing them with the same rubber part, but the metric metal part from the old bushings, it will work just fine.



During this time, the old hyfax was also removed for replacement, it was down to the rivets. Once again, an Arctic Cat part was found to be adaptable to the Suzuki skid. The profile 1 slides were ordered and await installation, after the skid frame paint is cured.

The old hyfax, before removal...



All skid parts got thoroughly cleaned of grime and rust, then primed and painted in original colors...

Skidframe in primer, before scuffing for topcoats...



Topcoat in Suzuki Silver/Gray Metallic...



Skidframe parts, plus front axle, primed and painted...

'anyone can drive a new sled, it takes some dedication to run crap'

Offline zuknomad

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Re: Suzuki XR440 SM40L Restoration
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2013, 10:02:50 PM »
Also during the time the above work was commencing, contacts were made through the site with resident Raider restorer and friend Raiderfan, whose information was instrumental in confirming that the 6-tooth track drivers used on the '71-'74 Raider snowmobiles were the same pitch and very close in diameter to the original Suzuki SM40L sprockets. I had these two choices; the white UHMW plastic one shown is what I ordered a pair of...

 



Other bits and pieces have also been located. A missing 45 degree metric zert for the rear arm was found at my buddy Crash's garage. The nylon inserts that the rear arm spring ends ride in were disintegrated. By searching the I.D. and O.D of them on eBay, suitable replacements were found. They are actually hand cart wheel spacers. Cost: $1 each. Also found a pair of NOS front ski shocks cheap...



While waiting for my paint coats to dry, further work was started on the chassis. It looks like maybe during the track hit, a cleat let go and did some damage. Or maybe one of the sliderail guides. The track is missing a few..., and unfortunately, the track is junk.  :'(  At any rate, there is some minor damage in the form of of holes both front and rear, and a few dents in the pod that the fuel tank sits in. There is also the usual rust, but it isn't too bad...





It was decided to best get the dents out and repair the holes, the muffler would need to be removed from the bellypan, and the seat and fuel tank from the tunnel. Fuel system's getting cleaned and all new lines anyway, so might just as well...


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Offline CARS

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Re: Suzuki XR440 SM40L Restoration
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2013, 10:40:45 PM »
Becky wants to know if you need her to put on her suit and sandblast that tunnel for ya  L*L

Subscribed!  Keep it coming!!!

Offline zuknomad

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Re: Suzuki XR440 SM40L Restoration
« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2013, 11:08:24 PM »
Becky wants to know if you need her to put on her suit and sandblast that tunnel for ya  L*L

Subscribed!  Keep it coming!!!

Tell Becky thanks, it definitely could use it on the underside. How does she feel about flying over water in the wintertime?

Glad you're both enjoying the thread!
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Offline zuknomad

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Re: Suzuki XR440 SM40L Restoration
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2013, 08:00:56 PM »
I'm actually trying not to get slowed down on this sled by waiting 'till I can do things like sandblast, CARS. I know it's the best way to get rid of the existing rust, and it's a much better prep for the primer, but I have to do that outside, as I have no booth or cabinet.

So, everything has been done inside by hand with stationary and drill-mounted wire wheels, Dremel brushes for the tight spots, and emery cloth. Then parts get prep to remove any traces of rust dust and/or oils that may have been on the wheels, get one brushed coat of rust reformer, one brushed coat of primer, and two topcoats in color. The small parts have all been hand painted with a very good oil brush, and when the finish lays down, it is very hard to tell that they were brush-painted. It will be the best this sled will get, this time around. When I do the second XR440, using the XR400 chassis modified for the 440 parts, I will blast everything. At some point I also hope to acquire a cabinet for small parts.

I brought the skidframe home from the space loaned to me for spraying it, where the temp could be at 70F. I would have basically had to clear my basement shop out to do down there, plus there is no ventilation to the outside to keep the fumes from permeating the rest of the house. Nice to have a friend with a heated polebarn I could use for a couple days. I shot the second coat of Suzuki Silver/Gray Metallic there yesterday afternoon, and it was plenty dry enough to move home today.

This afternoon I cut the front and rear arm lower skidframe shock pads to size (I think of them more as rebound buffers, myself...). I did it by sandwiching the stock rubber buffers from Arctic Restorations in between two of the metal plates from the old buffers in the vice. Then I used a coping saw to cut off the excess rubber, using the curve of the plates on either side as a guide to rough cut against. Next, the plates and part were removed from the vice and any excess in the curve cut was ground off with the Dremel. A small butane torch is passed over the cut portion to melt the surface slightly and bring the shine back. You don't want to heat the rubber too much, or it will turn it hard when it cools, plus the fumes aren't good! Finally, the previously prepped plates were sprayed with some color. That painting could be done in a far corner of the shop with very little overspray or fog, for the little that needed to be applied. The plates were very rusty and pitted, but only a fraction of them shows with the buffers on top of them.

From earlier in this thread, a stock shock pad I started with...



1 of the 4 buffers needed, as modified to fit the SM40L...



The skidframe with all of it's parts is ready to be assembled.
'anyone can drive a new sled, it takes some dedication to run crap'