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Six862m6

85 TRX250 Fourtrax Restoration

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Hi all. Thought I might make a post on the mild restoration I just completed on my '85 TRX250A. I say mild because I did not take it down to a bare frame and powder coat the frame nor all of the parts that I normally would if I tore it down that far. While I cleaned the engine cases up a bit, they're still in need of a repaint themselves if I were going to that level and I kept a previous battery modification that had been done (even though I did put the original battery box and hardware back like it was supposed to be.  Mostly, I just wanted the old bike to be a nice, clean example of one of these but that I won't mind taking out trail riding with my friends every now and then either; I wasn't after a museum piece that I would be afraid to get dirty and or scratched/dinged. I have the "before" pictures of what I started with as well as some "highlights" to some of the major things I corrected and then the "after" pics now that I am finished.

 

So with that being said, a little history on this bike itself. Part of the reason I decided to take this project on is that my dad bought this bike brand new in '85, so I have been around it since I was 4 years old (born in '81).  It has always been in our family (most of it's time my dad's and then about the last 5 years mine). My dad now lives on my property with me in an apartment in our pole barn during the warmer months (he is a snowbird and heads to FL for the other half of the year) after my mom died back in '16. This was a mutual decision as even though he is in great shape for his age, we just celebrated his 80th birthday last month!  When my dad was having the auction company pick up everything from the old homestead, he was just going to throw this bike out and let it go..... Not that he wanted or needed the money for it (he wouldn't have gotten hardly anything for it in the condition it was in by then anyway as you'll see soon) but just didn't want to bother with it or have a need for it anymore. Understandable but I nostalgia is a b!$&# as they say and I just couldn't stand to see it go after almost 35 years! I have so many memories of growing up with this bike and it has always been a great machine. We use to use it every year to help cut up and split wood for the winter (our house was still wood stove heated back then). We'd haul the saws on the racks and the splitter behind it and sometime even pull some of the smaller trees out of the woods with it. Lots of trail riding on the property back when I was young as well (although I had my own, smaller quad, dad was always riding this one).

This bike was abused and abused, and abused some more through the years and yet it always ran and worked and never gave out. When it was only about 3 years old, it was involved in a fairly major high speed (for a quad) wreck in the woods due to my dad's poor judgement of letting one of his drunken employees (he owned a motorcycle shop in Indianapolis at the time) go riding on it with some other folks who had brought their dirtbikes and quads down during one of the many Memorial Day/Indy 500 parties he had back in the days. I just happened to be on the back of it when this happened. The employee didn't turn quick enough/brake (again, drunk....) and smashed the right front wheel/front rack mounting bars into a tree..... I went flying off the back out into the woods somehow managing to miss hitting a tree or anything and avoided being seriously hurt. I believe he ended up breaking his arm if I remember correctly.... anyway, it was bad enough that it bent the right front J arm back, the right front shock, smashed in the front rack mounts and skewed the front rack slightly, snapped the right tie rod, and bent the wheel up something awful.  Like I said, bad deal.  My dad being who he is, decided he'd fix it as well as he could without buying new parts and let it fly..... it was the beginning of the downfall for the bike! HA He welded the tie rod back, bent the J arm as well as he could (or had it cut/welded somewhere, I can't quite remember now), ignored the bent shock, placed the bent wheel on the other side and ignored the damage to the bars/rack. At some point it lost it's rear brake pedal cable and so the pedal was just bailing wired into place and then further along the rear brakes were just gone period and never corrected. Towards the end of it's life the old front master cylinder started giving up, seeping brake fluid everywhere so it essentially had no brakes at all by the time I took it in. One memorable moment I remember my mom telling on my dad (I believe I was in college at the time, I wasn't around at home anymore for sure anyway so was not there to witness this) that he had been using it to carry the saw with as usual and had left it parked on a slight incline without setting the brakes... after taking the saw off and cutting whatever he was cleaning up he looked back and got to watch it just as it went rolling into their pond..... went all the way out to the middle (about 15' deep) and the only thing keeping it from having completely sunk to the bottom were the giant balloon rear tires! 😆 Needless to say, he had some work to do after that one to get all the water out of the engine, carb, etc. But he did and the old bike came right back to life. So yea, it's had a "colorful" and not too sheltered life.....

Here are the pics of what I started with:

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Posted (edited)

First thing I really did was set about to try to start correcting as much of the damage as possible to the right front from the wreck that had happened early on in its life.  During this I learned the hard way that there are many differences from an 85 vs the 86-87s, including the wheels. I knew the 86-87 wheels were slight different looking but I didn't realize until I purchased a good used front pair that they would not, in fact, mount on an 85. The bolt pattern is different! The 85's is slightly larger than the 86-87s.....  also the 85-87s use tapered lug nuts (similar to most cars) vs flat nuts used on the 85s.

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Edited by Six862m6

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Needless to say, I did end up finding a good used 85 wheel to replace the massively bent one. Next I decided to tackle the steering/J arm/shock issue. Pictured the original snapped and welded tie rod and tweeked J arm/shock. These were all simple replacements. Or so I thought. However, upon assembly, I found that not only were these parts bent, so was the frame!  Now if this would have been an 86-87 bike then I would have been able to simply unbolt the part of the frame that was bent on mine and replace it.  Not so on 85s though.... oh no. The front J arm mount/tubes are welded to and part of the actual frame on 85s... so out came the heating torch and 5lb sledge. As for the smashed rack mount (front bumper?) and tweeked front rack (shown in the other pic), those I just removed and picked up replacements for as well.

 

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In the end, I was able to get the front end (mostly) straight and put back together properly. The frame is still slightly off but everything (J arm, shock, etc) was able to bolt together and the suspension moves properly as well as the alignment is correct now.

Next was on to the brakes.... found out why there were no rear brakes anymore when I popped the drum off!  Absolutely NO material left on the shoes.... So I set about rebuilding that, had to replace the rear "arm" that the cables attach to as the bike's had become severely bent/deformed of the years and then I replaced the missing pedal cable and got everything working again. I then purchased a good used OEM front master cylinder as the one on the bike could have been rebuilt but because of having seeped brake fluid for so long, had lost a lot of it's paint and looked horrible.... so replaced that, bled the brakes and checked out the slave cylinder and shoes (those looked amazingly well.... ) and all was right with the brakes again.  

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Good job !!!

 

Looks like the splines were the hub rides is extremely worn , they will get loose fit and eventually strip  out over time , if it does strip out on you , a good trick is to tack weld the hub to the axle , many folk don't lie that trick , but in your case it might be the only option , cause I know the hub on the brake side of a 1985 TRX250A Fourtrax , only fits that atv and no other atv that Honda made , I have been bitten with that before 

 

That bearing on the brake side looks mighty rusty in there 

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The last thing I needed to tackle before putting the body back together was the cold start issue that this bike has had since brand new.  After doing some research, I learned this was a known issue on all '85s, including the ATC250s!  Back in the day they actually sold a rebuild kit to correct the issue and I manage to find one, score!  Last one in the country, I swear.... because upon opening the package up, I found that the MAIN key part to fixing the issue (the brass starter jet (not to be confused with the screw in pilot or main jets)) was missing from the kit!  Needless to say I was not happy and was able to negotiate a refund but when I went to try to find another kit..... nothing. Nowhere. I spent a good 2 or 3 hours searching the internet for one but to no avail. So I decided to do the only other thing I could do for this carb to fix this cold start issue (and to say it was an issue is an understatement..... this bike would really only start and run with a shot of starting fluid even on warm summer days when the engine was cold, much less when it was cold outside.... ran great and would start right up after the engine warmed up but cold starts sucked). I decided I would try to drill out the start jet to the size that the replacement jet would have been.  Oh yea, no, you can't buy just this jet for the 85s from the parts houses online..... it was never meant to be replaced. As mentioned, it does not screw into place but is lightly pressed in to the carb body. The only way to remove it is to destroy the old one with a 1/4" wood screw by screwing it into the jet and then removing it by twisting and pulling.... per the OEM kit's instructions mind you. Well... I must have read the wrong drill size because of course I ended up drilling the jet too large. The good news? The bike started right up now, no starting fluid required! Bad news, it ran like crap when given throttle. 

So I did the only thing I could think of at this point; I purchased a used 86-87 carb to rebuild and use.  I cleaned out the inside really well and installed all new jets, float needle, etc.... I didn't bother to clean the outside too much as again.... this thing will just be getting dirty again anyway. I also purchased all of the original air filter parts to replace the "UNI" universal filter that had been used in this bike forever.  

I also did a compression check at this stage.  For as old as this bike is and all of the things it's been put through (including having been put under water), it still shows 150+psi and according to the factory service manual, the low side of new would be about 164 psi..... so I'll take it! I didn't feel this warranted a top end rebuild.  Also replaced the original battery box and hardware, putting everything back to how it should have been as this was all missing and the starter solenoid was mounted to the left side of the rear plastic due to my dad modding the bike to use a garden tractor battery at some point. Honestly, as hard as this thing used to be to start, I completely understand why he did that.

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So, end of the day.... after wrestling with trying to get an OEM metal tank (with proper cap and fuel gauge that I wanted to retain) and managing to figure it out, I got all of the missing body pieces (front plastics, rear cubby door, rear rack door for cubby, proper OEM hardware for everything, etc) and then I had all of the metal racks/bumpers powder coated gloss black, the wheels powder coated a silver as close to original as I could tell, and put some new tires on it. Replaced the front and rear light bulbs with LEDs as well. I think it turned out pretty nice looking and will be looking forward to seeing my dad's expression when he pulls the cover off it when he gets back for the summer (he has no idea I took this project on. As far as he knows, it looks still looks like the pictures at the beginning).

 

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15 minutes ago, Fishfiles said:

Good job !!!

 

Looks like the splines were the hub rides is extremely worn , they will get loose fit and eventually strip  out over time , if it does strip out on you , a good trick is to tack weld the hub to the axle , many folk don't lie that trick , but in your case it might be the only option , cause I know the hub on the brake side of a 1985 TRX250A Fourtrax , only fits that atv and no other atv that Honda made , I have been bitten with that before 

 

That bearing on the brake side looks mighty rusty in there 

Yea, we'll see how it goes (the splines that is). There are still a lot of "hard" parts like this available out there for these things so I might be able to find a good used 85 if needed to.... Honestly this old bike will be on "light" duty for the rest of it's life (with me anyway) as is.... We don't have a need for it as a work horse and while I do want to trail ride with it some still, it won't be that often as where I live there aren't any trails (mostly flat farmland) and I have to trailer it to get to any.

I did clean and grease up the bearings as well as grease all the joints where zirc fittings are present.... just didn't mention it or take any pictures of it.

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One last thing.... I know it's a LONG shot but if any one out there has a really nice OEM 85 seat (black) and would be interested in making a deal for the 86-87 (grey) seat shown on my bike, I'd certainly appreciate it. My dad replaced the original seat somewhere along the timeline with that one and I'd love to see it black again like original. Would need to be in at least the same condition as mine though. However, if interested, I'd be willing to pay for the shipping of both seats as well as maybe a little $$$ your way.  Thanks!

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Looks great!  Glad you brought it back to life!

 

I've bought and sold a couple of 85's.  One I used for parts, and sold the carcass.  The other I bought slightly broken, and fixed it up and bit and sold it. 

 

Were it mine I'd keep an eye out for a cheap parts bike.  People usually rob the rear ends out of them to use on a 300, and the rest just rots. 

 

Great work!

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very nice job !, coming from someone who does this on a regular basis ?, i think you did an outstanding job. if you plan on keeping this ?, if i were you ( and i know i am not ) i would be looking for a better rear axle, and brake drum if that drum is bad ?. keep the pic's coming, we love old gal's breathing life again !.

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58 minutes ago, jeepwm69 said:

Looks great!  Glad you brought it back to life!

 

I've bought and sold a couple of 85's.  One I used for parts, and sold the carcass.  The other I bought slightly broken, and fixed it up and bit and sold it. 

 

Were it mine I'd keep an eye out for a cheap parts bike.  People usually rob the rear ends out of them to use on a 300, and the rest just rots. 

 

Great work!


Thank you!

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29 minutes ago, shadetree said:

very nice job !, coming from someone who does this on a regular basis ?, i think you did an outstanding job. if you plan on keeping this ?, if i were you ( and i know i am not ) i would be looking for a better rear axle, and brake drum if that drum is bad ?. keep the pic's coming, we love old gal's breathing life again !.


Thank you! And yea, you're not the first person to mention the rear axle/hub looking kind of rough.... I may keep an eye out for a spare. The drum was actually fine however. No metal/metal contact had happened and the rear brake now works pretty much perfectly.

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10 hours ago, _Wilson_™ said:

Nice job! Love seeing those jewels kept alive! 

 

Thank you!

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Six ' , it looks really good !   Your the 250Fourtrax Guru , when someone comes along asking 'bout the old school 250s  , I am sending them to @Six862m6

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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, Fishfiles said:

Six ' , it looks really good !   Your the 250Fourtrax Guru , when someone comes along asking 'bout the old school 250s  , I am sending them to @Six862m6


😆😆 Right on, I'll be happy to help them out if I can. Credit where credit due, there are some guys on here that know quite a bit more about them than I do (such as yourself) but I definitely learned quite a bit during this project. And thanks!

Edited by Six862m6
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28 minutes ago, Six862m6 said:


😆😆 Right on, I'll be happy to help them out if I can. Credit where credit due, there are some guys on here that know quite a bit more about them than I do (such as yourself) but I definitely learned quite a bit during this project. And thanks!

Old mechanic once told me , " Boy , I forgot more than you will ever know "  >>>>>   Keep the info alive and pass it on , before it is forgotten 

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