Rebuilding a small engine

I am considering pulling the engine out of my 650 nighthawk and replacing seals, camshaft, etc, since it’s taken a huge beating over the years (not by me) and I hate to run things into the ground.

Now, the last engine work I did was on my 77 Comet back when I was a young(er) man, and I replaced the engine and tranny completely.

Now, since the engine is a lot smaller in a motorcycle, I expect that I will be able to do this a lot easier than I was able to with my car. No cherry picker required. However, I do think I might require some other stuff… Is there some kind of engine stand that is used for motorcycles?

I know it’s odd to ask here, but we’re some of the most diverse mofos around. Someone here’s rebuilt a motorcycle engine. :)

I will of course talk to my mechanic about it as well.

As for the reason I’m not getting my mechanic to do it, well, that’s what I would normally do… But it’d probably be a couple grand to rebuild it, and the bike is worth probably a bit less than that, in peak condition (which it isn’t right now.) But it’s served me so well, it feels like a bad thing to let it just hit the junkyard after I buy a new VTX1300 next year.

I’m not an expert by any means, but I don’t think you’d ever have to replace the camshaft. Cam chain and seals yes, and a close check of valve clearances. Most older bikes do need clutch work since they share oil with the engine and the clutch plates tend to wear quite a bit. I think the only really specialized part you may need is a tool to remove the clutch basket. Everything else is pretty standard (with metric tools, of course). I had a CB 900 that I stripped down to nothing and built back up again as a winter project. I didn’t need anything more than the centrestand on the bike itself.

Pick up the shop manual for your bike. Clymer manuals are good but the shop manual will have more accurate information. Sign up to the Nighthawk owner’s club listserv (I’m sure there’s one out there somewhere) for any specific advice.


Thanks, I ordered the Clymer manual… Haven’t seen a shop manual online yet, I’ll look harder.

You’re right about the camshaft, apparently it’s actually the cam tensioner that has issues. Plus I need to replace just about every gasket as it’s weeping oil everywhere. While I have that off, I’m going to repaint the frame, tank and body components. Basically I’m going to restore the thing. :)

I guess I’ll just have to get a big work table and chair to go down in the garage.

I found the listserv and the big Nighthawk site as well in my research. I’m actually kind of looking forward to this, although not to not having the bike. I might just wait til after I buy my new one to do it.

I never rebuilt a bike engine, but when I was a young(er) man, both my dad and uncle did. They had Kawasaki 440LTD’s. I think 1980 models (new at the time).

They just tossed eveything on the floor of the garage and did not have an engine stand like they did for the cars they rebuilt. If it helps.