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1983 Kawasaki KZ1100 LTD Restoration

6663 Views 24 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Bwild

It's been almost a year since I have been on the forum. Amber has been sitting in the garage but now I could use her services. She needs some top end work as she is burning oil, leaking oil at the head, leaking oil at the base cover and now starter won't work. It spins free and I believe the starter clutch is at fault.

I have began the tear down in the frame and already messed up as I forgot to label the valve buckets and was surprised to find no shims under the buckets. I will post pics and update progress soon.
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Many years later, through unemployment and a divorce, now I am getting back to Amber. I have moved to Dallas, TX and will begin to rebuild this bike this week.
Welcome Back! Keep us updated on your progress!

Thank you and I will. I am sure I will need help along the way.:grin:
Today I started to inventory the parts I pulled off the top end. I will begin the rebuild tomorrow and do a video diary via YouTube. I just did one for my 1982 Suzuki GS1100G.

Here is where I am at:


I need recommendations for a complete engine gasket set. I bought one years ago but I only just noticed that the head gaskets are a paper/metal combination where as the original one was all metal. What I have is called NE Brand Super Gasket.

video update -
Update - 10/17/2020

Started work today.

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Something I noticed that I hadn't paid attention to 5 years ago when I pulled the topend off of the engine. In the picture attached I am pointing to the engine crankcase where I assume an O-ring shaped like an ice cream cone should go and which is below the cylinder base gasket. I don't recall if there was an O-ring there and there aren't any such O-rings in the complete gasket set that I purchased.

This has me stomped because on my 1982 Suzuki GS1100G there is such an O-ring in that very spot below the base gasket. Can anyone shed light on this for me?


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Partzilla diagram does not show an o ring on the crankcase.
Kawasaki Motorcycle 1983 OEM Parts Diagram for CRANKCASE | Partzilla.com.
but it does show 4 of them on the top of the cylinder block. At least it appears to be at the top. Hard to say for sure. Have a look and see if this helps.

Any idea what that hole is for? If base gasket covers it, what is its purpose? If this is oil supply to the cylinder head you gotta get it right obviously. I hope someone who has recently torn down their engine can definitively answer your question.
It can't be for the cylinder head oil supply as the hole isn't present on the block itself as it just stops right where it is. My concern is whether the base gasket alone can be effective in preventing a leak at the location. If I hadn't just done the GS1100 then I would not have even noticed this but on that engine that O-ring is needed.

I will review the link you posted for guidance.


I disassembled the instrument cluster as the speedo does not work.


I have to confess to never having torn down a 4 cylinder Kawasaki to the crankcase level. The engines were so reliable we never had the occasion to need to strip one down, so I don't know where the oil feeds are for the valve train. But one speculation is that it could use the very hole your finger is pointing to. Note that the hole is surrounded by a groove that joins the hole to the cylinder head stud. The hole in the cylinder block is larger than the stud, thus providing a passageway directly to the cylinder itself.

If you study the cylinder head itself you may be able to locate oil feed holes. Try following the oil feed holes that are in the camshaft bearings to see where they go. If you plug or seal off the hole on the crankcase, you may starve your cylinder head of oil. Be careful.
I won't plug any of the holes. I was noting that the base gasket alone is what will cover the hole and prevent leaks out of the edges and prevent oil from spilling onto the engine. I suspect the oil will hit the base gasket and splash onto the stud and from there it will go up to the cylinder head. These engines use a copper washer at the cylinder head studs on the four outer corners of the cylinder head to prevent leaks, therefore this must be another path for the oiling of the cylinder head. I will use copper washers at all 12 studs not just the outer four.

I had torn this engine down 5 years ago because it was burning oil and back firing from the cylinder head. Life got in the way and its only now that I am resuming the restoration I wanted to do back then. The bike ran back then but after one ride I saw oil running down the block. Since it also burned oil out of the exhaust I knew that the valve seals were shot as well. As I disassembled the cylinder head two days ago, all my suspicions were confirmed so I am glad I stopped riding her when I noticed the leak. The exhaust valve on cylinder #1 was in the process of becoming burn. It required a small tap with a rubber mallet to free it once I removed the keepers and the springs. I then had to use a 7mm valve driver to reseat the valve guide which did move about 1/4 inch when I tapped on that valve to free it.
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Today's Update:

Looks like a very thorough job. I also soaked my carb boots with wintergreen and it worked great at making them as pliable as new. The problem with mine however was that they had shrunk in length and that made it impossible to make them fit properly. Hopefully yours are ok.
We will see at assembly time how they fit. They were easy to remove back in 2015 so I am guessing it will work out.
I am hoping I can restore all of these boots. In the meantime I will troll Ebay for good used ones.
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