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Maintenance of a RD350

Provided here are a few maintenance tips for your RDs. All the tips have been categorized for your convenience and ease of navigation, however I recommend that you go through all the tips provided so as to have a general overview of maintenance of all areas of your RD.

Maintenance : Daily

Provided here are some maintenance tips which if implemented daily as suggested, should help extend your engine life and also improve your daily ride quality to a great extent.

1) Before Starting

Before starting your bike I suggest that you clean it first (if its not covered) !! This is not really a tip, but I suggest you do it…it helps the image of your bike!!
Now for more serious maintenance stuff, first and foremost check 2T oil level. The 2T oil level is very important, if the level is not up to the mark, there is a good chance that your pistons might not be getting lubed as required, which might not only scratch the pistons and damage the rings, but may cease your engine altogether if run for prolonged periods without enough oil.
Check your tire pressures, and see to it that they are not too low. Low air pressures will lead to a considerable hike in fuel consumption. Also they might give a “dragging” feeling since the bike doesn’t move very freely. The recommended pressures are:
Front : 28 psi Rear : 30 psi

2) Warm-Up

The RD has a big engine, not only that it is a 2-stroke motor. The lubrication in the cylinder is provided by means of a pump, which pumps the oil from the 2T oil tank into the carbs, from where it is delivered into the cylinder along with the air-fuel mixture. This means that on start-up, the pistons aren’t lubricated right away, since the oil takes some time to undergo this entire cycle to reach the cylinder. Hence harsh riding, right from start-up might lead to a considerable amount of damage to the piston rings and the piston. It is therefore recommended that when starting your bike in the morning, you spend at least 2 minutes to warm-up your bike. This can be done by starting the bike and holding the engine at about 2000 revs. Believe me, any patience that you invest in this will go a long way!!

There are many people who add oil in the petrol tank in addition to the pre-lube. Anyone who has made a habit out of this need not spend too much time at warm-up. However there is one drawback to this practice, excess plug-fouling. So keep that in mind !!


Maintenance : Monthly

Provided here are some maintenance guidelines which if followed on a monthly basis, should keep your engine in optimum running condition. In a way these maintenance guidelines are mandatory, since if not carried out may harm your engine in many ways.

1) Battery check-up

The battery maintenance is pretty much the heart of performance for RDs which run on CB points. Firstly without a battery the bike will not run, so it is very important to see to it that the battery is in good shape. The average life span of a 12V battery is anywhere from 2 years to 2 1/2 years, provided regular maintenance is carried out. It is very essential that you check the level of the battery water, this can be done once in a month, however you might have to check this more frequently with increasing age of the battery. Please remember to top the battery water levels in all the cells of the battery. A popular misconception is that all the cells are interconnected, hence topping one means topping all the cells, this is not true, the cells are not interconnected, hence each cell has to topped up with battery water individually. Also see to it that the battery terminals are covered with Vaseline at all times, this will prevent deposits on the terminals which lead to a deterioration in the battery power output. Also pay utmost attention to the position of the battery, see to it that it remains upright at all times, for this the battery should be placed snug in the battery compartment.

2) Brakes Maintenance

The RDs which were sold in India were notorious for poor braking. The brakes provided on the Indian Rds were quite insufficient for the weight and the speed of this bike. However I won’t say that these brakes are completely useless. The drums provided on the RD are the one of the biggest drums you will see on a bike, hence in city conditions they provide adequate braking. To keep your brakes in good shape, open the brake liners and have them sandpapered every month, but be careful not to sandpaper them too harshly. Also clean out the drums and sandpaper them too. Apply white grease to the springs and the positioners on the liner mount, this will ensure smooth movement of the liners, however refrain from applying too much grease as this may get on the liner surface during use. If these steps are carried out regularly on a monthly basis, your brakes should work very well, and should usually not give you any trouble.

3) Timing and Tuning

Ignition timing and carb tuning are two very important things for any engine as such.

Any engine that has wrong ignition timing will not make full power, added to that it will also be low on mileage. The ignition system on the RD is very dated (CB points), as a result of which it requires regular maintenance. Check the timing every month with a dial gauge, it is generally recommended at 2mm BTDC for the HTs and 2.4mm BTDC for the LTs. In case you don’t have a dial gauge there are other ways to check the timing, however these methods are not really fool-proof. Depending on the condition of the points, the bike may need to be timed more often.

Due to the low quality of fuel that is available to us (in terms of octane rating as well as clean fuel), it becomes essential for us to see to it that the carbs remain clean all the time, which is why I recommend the use of good petrol filters, and a regular tank clean-up. Choked up or dirty carbs may lead to several problems, such as sticky slides, incorrect mixing of air and fuel, hence preventing the bike from developing full power and also a drop in mileage. Hence it is very important to keep the carbs as clean as possible. Carry out a thorough clean-up at least once a month, pay particular attention to the air-jet and make sure its not clogged. Don’t fool around with the jetting unless you really need to, the stock jetting is the best setup for a stock RD and will also hold good for mild modifications.


Proper Engine Break-in/Run-in

The grain of truth here is that if the piston rings are never seated against the cylinder walls by proper break-in, they won’t seal and the engine will never develop full power. On the other hand, how fast should break-in be? Do you take out your new, zero-miles bike up the interstate? No, a normal break-in would be as described in the maker’s manual, and performed with understanding. This is all that is really needed.

No matter how fine the surfaces produced in manufacturing on cylinder walls and crankpins, they are like the Alps in comparison with the much finer profiles that proper break-in will create. Break-in is the final machining operation. The oil films that will support moving parts in operation may be as thin as 1.5 microns (.00006 inch), so to avoid piercing these’ films, the Alps of manufacturing must be scrubbed down to even lower height by the process we call break-in.<_o3a_p>

A normal break-in calls for a period (usually 500 to 1000 miles) of controlled operation in which the engine is never steadily, heavily loaded. You would not, for example, climb long hills on full throttle and low rpm. The idea of break-in is to impose short periods of various loads, separated by recovery periods. While the Alps are at work, knocking each other down, wear particles and heat are produced. The recovery periods allow the heat to dissipate, and allow the particles to flush out from between surfaces and be swept away to the bottom. Once break-in is complete, engine oil should be changed after a thorough flushing of the crank case with about half liter of new oil. Once this is done break-in is complete.

But remember, your bike isn’t immediately transformed into a racing machine after the break-in. Once the break-in is complete, start subjecting the engine to gradually increasing loads before you finally touch the peak.

One more important aspect to be considered here is, how much oil should you use during break-in? It would be a good idea to use a little more oils than you normally would on an engine which has been fully broken-in. However, maintenance or take care not to over add oil, appropriately about 5 ml extra per liter should be fine.