Kawasaki KZ650 cafe-racer. Cylinder head. Part 3: unexpected things again.

One might remember my posts about cylinder heads for Kawasaki KZ650 project.  In short: my intention was to use KZ750 cylinder head of early production years, so it’d be compatible with early KZ650 timing chain tension system. In result I became owner of quite a collection of KZ750 cylinder heads, none of which I could use in project:  valve seats of two of them were destroyed by two  different specialized workshops (it’s still mystery to me how such things might of happen) and one head was sold to me with valve seat already cracked (this fact wasn’t indicated on ebay listing or shown on photos).

After so many unsuccessful attempts most of people, I assume, would give up. But not me. For me story just began, as I found that I could buy new KZ750 cylinder head. Even more, there were two of them, and both were in Germany. The first one was advertised on  www.ebay-kleinanzeigen.de  (German classified ads board) with price EUR 480, with notice that negotiation is acceptable and set of photos of brand new  11002-1069 cylinder head (fits late KZ650 and early KZ750) in original packaging.

Second cylinder head was for sale at Motorrad Spängler GmbH (motorcycle parts shop located at: Am Richterfeld 1, 91781 Weißenburg in Bayern) with notice “new” and price EUR 499, and also set of photos of brand new 11002-1069 cylinder head in original packaging.

My intention was to buy cylinder head on ebay-kleinanzeigen, however 480 EUR is quite a lot of money even for the brand new part, and this price would not be final. We here in Ukraine must pay around 30%  (20% VAT and 10% of customs fee) on top of difference between goods price and basic non-taxable minimum of UER 100 for all goods priced  over EUR 100. This means more than 100 EUR of payment to state budget. Delivery fee and PayPal fee (around 2-6% of price of goods + shipping) have to be taken in account also. As my partner knows trick or two about laws, custom base excl. cost of shipment. Thus estimated price of imported cylinder head might be around EUR 650.

I couldn’t throw such money on one part that freely, not without potential strain on other aspects of project and orders’ fulfilment. We were working on this issue, however when I was ready for purchase, it turned out that cylinder head on ebay-kleinanzeigen was not on sale anymore.

This left me with no options, but to contact Motorrad Spängler GmbH with question about cylinder head availability. I was answered by Siegfried Spängler himself and to my joy part was still in stock. There was statement on website that price already included VAT. When part leaves European Union VAT have to be excluded from part price. This works well with large companies like Wemoto, Louis or Polo, but not with smaller players. With them it’s pain in ass. So instead of talking about VAT I just offered to  lower price on VAT value Euro 100, but seller did not agree, reasoning that the part is “new and oldtimer”. We agreed on the price EUR 450 for part (in fact the seller raised the prise for me as for me as foreigner by Euro 50) and it took him few days to figure shipping fee (35 EUR) and that I have to pay 6% of PayPal fee. I paid immediately as he informed me his PayPal address and it cost me 514 EUR. I agreed on this conditions only on the grounds of brand new part, with all benefits it brings: spare my time and money at least with this cylinder head.

It took slightly more than four weeks after I made complete payment to Herr. Spangler for cylinder head to be delivered to me (incl. 10 days spent in customs). I paid 105 EUR of Ukrainan import fees and VAT.

When the parcel has finally arrived, and I opened box (which was not original cylinder head box) the only thought in my mind was “Houston, we have a problem here”.  When I put cylinder head out from plastic bag it became obvious that cylinder head wasn’t stored properly. Preservation oil dried out and humidity harvested on camshaft cap bolts. However, real problem was that something leaked into plastic bag and ate both: aluminium and steel. My first thought it was acid, but finally I concluded that it most probably was alkali. Alkali eats aluminium and it removes zinc plating pretty well. Here is how KZ750 cylinder head looked when it arrived to me:

Sure, it’s not what one may expect when he bought part that was advertised as new, so I informed Siegfried Spängler about cylinder head condition (rusty steel parts, oxidized aluminium) and sent him photos.  His answer was as un expectable as part condition:

” what is brown there. is oil and not rust! because aluminum does not rust! the parts are about 40 years old! Small rust spots on the screw heads are normal but not important. just take some petrol and wipe it off ”

I was sure that I could tell oil depositions from rust and aluminium oxidation and  wrote that to Mr Spängler and expressed my bewilderment over the fact that actual part is so far from photos and advertisement placed on his website. I also offered him to make partial refund of money (100 EUR and I was opened for counteroffer). The answer was:

“please send the cylinder head back. we have several of them there. was not recognizable for the packer, because for him new is new and cleaning is always necessary for parts that are 40 years old. The replacement also has brane deposits of oil. so no rust again.”

However, Herr Spängler refused to cover expenses  caused  solely by him (in fact by his deliberate deception). And with 105 EUR of import fees and 35 EUR for sending it back it is not only 140 EUR and month of time lost:  my money would be frozen till he receives the part back which might take yet one month, provided he would accept his fault. Therefore, this offer was quite safe for him and had no sense for me.

I am great believer in common sense, so I made yet another attempt to bring the man to his senses. I just did as he wished: washed cylinder with clean petrol. No wonder, aluminium oxidations and rust didn’t disappear. Moreover, they became even more visible.

I sent new pictures of flaws to Siegfried Spängler and this time I wasn’t at all surprised by his answer:

“technically and optically there is no disadvantage after installation. little rust on the screws after 40 years should not be a problem!. the sealing surfaces are covered by the seals. We are used to a lot from our customers, but what they are claiming, with a 40 year old part, is a long way off. if it is too expensive for you, why do you order it? if you have been in the closet for 40 years, you are no longer as before. so please remain factual.

And I about to stick to his advice and to “remain factual”. And facts are simple: Siegfried Spängler from Motorrad Spängler GmbH knows perfectly how to turn blind eye to facts and looks like he doesn’t give a dime for his own reputation.  So, if for some occasion you have to do business with him, beware and check twice what you will get for your money before you pay him.

As for me and this very cylinder head I am about to continue with it as damages are not beyond repair.  I cleaned oxidation further to be sure that head could be surfaced.

Removing of camshaft caps gave me headache. Not only bolt cups were rusty, rust was on bolt bodies and dowel pins as well:

So three camshaft caps stuck as well as number of dowel pins.

I soaked them in penetrating oil  and removed one by one without any damage to parts.

Cam cap bolts and dowel pins:

I made additional cleaning to the cylinder head and continue work on it, but I assume it enough for one article: so, to be continued.

 

 

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4 Comments

  1. cactusjohnson

    Damn ! This is a nightmare !! Much respect on not loosing your temper on this man … and on this part !
    Been reading your blog for a while, you deserve quite a few medals, your work is fantastic !!

    Reply
    1. gazzz (Post author)

      Thank you!

      As I already wrote somewhere: patience seems to be the only way in such situations, even as one wish to make a holy war on crook.

      And definitely the cylinder head itself only deserve better treatment. And it had it: cylinder head is already cleaned, glass beads blasted and painted. I’ll post some updates soon.

      Reply
  2. Jacob Brownell

    Ugh, setbacks like that are the worst. Keep up the fantastic work though! I’m resto-modding a KZ650 right now too, so keep it up! Your details and craftsmanship are amazing, and it’s definitely helping me on my build. I look forward to the next update!

    Reply
    1. gazzz (Post author)

      Thank you!

      I am glad that info I posted is useful for other people. And I appreciate your encouraging comment.

      Such things couldn’t stop me, only slow down. And next update is already published.

      Reply

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