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454 LTD Build

17636 Views 57 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  MadKat
Hey guys,

Still working on my VN750.

Just got a bunch of supplies and parts in the mail. Hope to have an update on that one soon.

I recently picked up a 1989 Kawasaki 454. It's old and beat to hell and it's going to be a fun project. I would like to start a build log, and wanted to know if y'all would be okay with me posting in the builds section or if that would be considered in bad taste.

The 454 was produced for 5 years before being reintroduced to the market as the Vulcan 500. She's basically a baby 750 and I'm pretty stoked.

Anyways, let me know! Thanks.

Edit: Here she is! Lets get this party started.

She came with a pile of parts. She seen better days.
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Nice one Madkat ... pretty clean looking Donor bike, I'd be tempted to fix that one up too lol
Dont go giving me ideas...

I thought the engine on an 86 would be black. That is the first blue vn750 I have seen.
Hmm Im not sure regarding the color. She didnt have any papers, I got 1986 by running the VIN.
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Alright put in some work yesterday, here goes

Wanted to rig up a battery to see if the electrical system had any life

idiot lights came right on. Yea buddy!
As you can see, the ignition has been.. bypassed.
Im looking to use the gas cap and ignition from
the donor VN750 bike, but its missing keys too..
The darn garage find bikes are killing me haha.
Planning to take the locks to a local locksmith
and have them keyed.

Pulling the bars, got the cables and harnesses disconnected

Old bars off

The parts pile is growing..

Got the upper triple tree off

aaaand the forks

While the front end is off, I decided to get on
one last pass of cleaning and lay down some paint.
Shes pretty well pulled apart right now, except for
the motor. Shes looking a little rough.

Ive already made a few passes with the dremel and
wire brush to remove rust and gunk. I made another
pass going over the whole bike with wire scrub brushes
and wd40, then finally wiped the whole thing down with
acetone and rags. Then I got a little creative with tape
and cardboard and started spraying.

Radiator back on, gloss black over primer w/ satin clear frame
High temp engine enamel over high temp primer for the engine.
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Heres where she sits now. Long term, I want to do the crank case
covers and the wheels is copper. I found a nice High Temp deep copper
color at the hardware store and im super excited, but need to focus more
on functionality before I do more aesthetics. That being said, Im glad she
is all cleaned up and the rust /aluminum oxidation has been sealed good.
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Looking good buddy, looking good ;)
looking good

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Knifemaker says only the 85 had the black engine. He would know. You have it looking good. Keep the pictures and write ups coming.

if your 86 runs could always pick up a titled frame...

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Hey guys, Its been a while.

Moved to a new house, had to get all the bikes over into the new garage, get the benches and work stations set up, etc. Its been a little crazy.

I will be posting more updates on the 454 and my 750 build over the next few weeks =)

When we left off, I was in the middle of a front end swap. The 454 had a rusted up tore up front end, and I wanted to get the dual front calipers from the 750. I bought a 750 from my buddy with the intent of swapping the entire front end over to the 454, including the headlamp bucket, idiot lights, etc.

Ive got the donor 750 set up at the new house and my buddy and I ripped the front end off. I made a pile of all the parts (idiot lights, gauges, etc) in a box and we got the forks and triple trees off.

Next step was to put the front end from the 454 onto the donor 750, so we could wheel it out of the garage and put it into storage to free up more room to wrench on the other bikes.

Heres the 454 - I got her a nice shiny new stand and everything. I havent put the new front end on to her yet - I am waiting until I get the new neck bearings and some grease. The lower bearing is stuck good on the stem, and its going to be a nightmare to get it off, so Im not going to bother - its in good condition anyways. However the top bearing got pretty tossed when the forks were removed from the 750 and I want to replace it. Im going to clean the whole thing and pack new grease in there and then mount the front end. At some point, Ill need to replace the fork seals too.

Started taking apart the back end - Im going to keep the bobtail fender and stock rear light, but im going to chop the fender brackets as I am eliminating the sissy bar and mounting a solo seat. Im also planning to modify the existing turn signal mounts on the fender bracket for some aftermarket ones - Ill be sure to get pictures when I get around to that. In between other projects, Im going to clean, bondo, and paint the brackets, fender, etc.

Ive been working on replacing rotted hoses, missing parts, etc but I need to get the battery box back in and hook up the wiring once I get the front end mounted. I want to be able to click the starter so I can do a compression test on the motor. This battery box has seen better days - Im going to sand it down good, primer and paint it before I mount it back in the frame.

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I like where this is going. good work

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enjoying the progress report buddy
Sanded the battery box down and sprayed her with some primer and then black enamel

Got a can of electric parts cleaner and started going through the wires and connectors

Found a few spots that need some love

Uhhh.. the Starter Relay Ground is NOT supposed to look like that..

Battery box mounted with fresh hardware

Mudguard back in and harnesses routed
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looking sweet

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great work :)
Hey guys!

Ive put a lot of work into this one over the last few months.
Spent a lot of time replacing damaged wires and repairing sections of the harness.
Did a compression test and found really good compression in the cylinders and that
got us excited. I replaced the Spark Plugs, Caps, and Wires.

Symmetry is sexy.. Gotta replace that bent footpeg.. and remove the ghetto crash bars from previous owner.

The caps on the carbs are looking pretty ratty, but otherwise they seem to be in good condition.
I have another set of carbs from a 750, so I had planned to swap the caps and replace the fuel lines.

Unfortunately, I broke the plastic nozzle on the carb trying to remove the crusty old fuel line.
Instead of spending ~$50 on the part and rebuilding the carb, I spent $150 on a set of carbs
from a 2007 Ninja 500R and mounted those. I also pulled a set of block off plates from the 750
that I am using as a parts bike, and replaced the reed valves. I used form-a-gasket and new bolts.

Once we got the new carbs, plugs, etc all set up, I doublechecked all the wires. A lot of the wiring
was damaged, and the frame ground were all chewed up. I replaced a lot of the 12v system, and then
we used one 12v battery to power the bike, and used another to jump the solenoid directly.

We did this because we wanted to jump start the bike, but the front end was missing and the starter button
would not turn the bike over because of the safeties. We used an auxillary fuel tank hooked to the carbs, and
she fired right up!! Loud as hell and chugging strong. Very satisfying to hear her come to life over a year later.

Gratuitous glamour shot
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The previous owner found this thing in a barn, so he had been using this setup to hot wire it

Basically, you would jam the white wire into the connector and it would be similar to having the key in and switched to run. Oh my.

I de-pinned the terminal and took another terminal from the harness for the 750 parts bike.
I then soldered these together and reassembled the connector. Good as new! The other side,
with all the wires twisted together, will be replaced when I install the new ignition.

And here is a quick shot of how she sits currently.

Next on the to-do list:
1) I have completed the emissions delete, but I want to replace the stock airbox.
The pod filters have proven to be quite a headache in the past.. So I am slowly piecing
together the complete factory airbox. I still need the filter housings and the clips for the airbox.

2) After the airbox assembly is complete, I want to put on some mufflers to the pipes.

3) Once intake / Exhaust is complete, will use the auxiliary gas tank to fire it up and sync the carbs.

4) When we have reached the point that she is running well, move forward to the front end swap.
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looking good

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My dream bike in the 80's
Those bikes are actually pretty quick. Back in the day, I rode a Yamaha 750 Special (3cyl) and my friend had a 440 LTD. He'd always beat me on take-off but in high gear I'd reel him in and leave him behind. His was belt-drive.
Those bikes are actually pretty quick. Back in the day, I rode a Yamaha 750 Special (3cyl) and my friend had a 440 LTD. He'd always beat me on take-off but in high gear I'd reel him in and leave him behind. His was belt-drive.
I had one also, same thing. My buddy had a 750 and would leave me in the dust after the first few gears. I think it topped out around 90 or so but it was fast off the line.
Hey guys!

Im hoping this little bike is as zippy as you guys say it is!
I think it will be a lot of fun when its done. With the Ninja 500
carbs I tossed in and the dual calipers from the 750 fork swap,
this little thing you take off like a bat outta hell and stop on a dime.

Ive ordered a used airbox and filter housing assembly off ebay.
Will need to clean it and replace the filters when it arrives.

Im currently bouncing around between working on the front end
and getting her operational. I want to get the forks set up so that
I can throw on a set of bars and mount all the controls and stuff.

Ill be replacing most of the controls and gauges but I want to get
it all temporarily set up, airbox choke and throttle cables etc.
This way Ill have most of the guts of the bike in place, and I can
fire her up to do things like syncing the carbs and wiring stuff.

I need to order new steering stem bearings, then Ill take the forks
and triple tree to the shop to have them rebuilt before installing.
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