You are here

2012-06-05 Broken SubFrame


Finally happened to me...

Crap. So close to leaving for NAFO, Castlegar, BC, CA!

One side only, other OK.

Creston RedNeckHondaRosa Fix!

Now then, OK to weld up in place? Disconnect ECU? Battery leads?

A better fix!~.

At least until FjRay can weld her back up proper!

Thanks to Matt Watkins and!

Posted 08 February 2010 - 09:53 AM

One of my Iron Butt Rally 2007 checklists was to remount my Pelican case on a plate I had made.

I was pretty tickled with myself for the mounting plate, finding the recessed fasteners, and even powdercoated the plate for the original Pelican case farkle.

However, I spotted a problem. My rear subframe was cracked! So much for my fabrication skills.

So, I've been glumly thinking about the rear sub frame, priced a new one out as around $500, had a little trouble finding a welder, and generally bummed. The moment arm of the case caused too much flex for the cast aluminum to take and I had only put about 2000 miles on the rack.

I ran across Tobie Stevens that now has the FJR that is actually the 2003 bike pictured in the original article and told him about my dilemma. I made a bet that he had the same problem even though he has over 100,000 miles on the bike and pushed on the frame a bit and it seemed intact. He had an extra clamp installed and may have helped.

I also worried about Lisa's '06 as it has a Pelican installed too. We couldn't see them at the scene because they had fuel cells install, but Tobie e-mailed confirmation a couple of days later 2003 had some cracks, but happily Lisa's '06 seemed intact.

Tobie's cracks were pretty similar to mine.

But the extra clamp he had run down ran through the two round holes to reduce moment-arm flex had actually broken a chunk completely off the bike and another hairline crack.

Tobie calle a few days later and said not only did he find a welder to repair things and he had him weld in some reinforcements.

I'd have used the same welder, but he's increasingly booked up over the Spring and couldn't leave my bike for two days when I live 100 miles from home. So, I took my bike to a local guy and he was all gung-ho about fixing it and even gusseting it, but when I asked where I should park my bike he gave me a very blank look.

"……Park? I guess you could do that. You brought all your tools?"

"Yeah, the plastic pops off relatively easily and figure a wet towel under the tail will keep slag from burning things."

…another blank look. "You're not thinking of leaving the subframe on the bike are you? The high-frequency from the TIG welding could kill your electronics."

…now I have a blank look. "But, my buddy Tobie did it."

Suffice it to say that I rode the bike home and am rethinking my plan. With various ABS sensors and being in the IBR I just don't want to risk it. It's going to be a bunch of extra work, but there will be another article and pictures about about taking off my subframe.

I'm planning on starting this weekend after a RTE Saturday.

Meanwhile, I'll rethink my bracket design and have some pretty good ideas using the existing rack as a mounting point. It holds on at 5 points instead of 3. New and improved design to follow.

Part 2

Talking with a TIG welding expert on the huge amount of electromagnetic interference generated while welding I became convinced it was a more prudent choice to remove the subframe before welding. This was new ground for me on the bike and there wasn't the handy-dandy write-up like so many other parts on In fact, I'll probably submit this for inclusion.

I guestimated it to take 3 or 4 hours and would require removing the airbox, ABS unit, and who knows what. In hindsight it probably took 2 hours of work including the photo documentation. Hopefully reassembly will go more quickly.

Remove seats, sidebags, and rear rack.

Remove front plastic including black pieces under tank and side gray panels.

Remove rear plastic (two bolts and six plastic screwserts underneath). Picture shows plastic slid backwards about 4 inches.

A view of the cracked subframe and the single 6mm hex bolt that holds on the tail light assembly. It's a 5mm hex. Undo the plug, two zip ties holding the wiring harness, and snake the connector from the left side of the frame.

Taillights removed. Notice rubber grommets left and right. This is where the pins from the tail light assembly sit. Also viewable is the electrical connector to the cluster on the left side. Also, my first view of the crack from the back side.

Now the serious work starts. Unscrewing and unbolting bolts I've never done before. What I wondered is how much of the parts inside the subframe would have to be removed? Did the airbox have to be removed, the ABS unit, the tool tray, the computer, the seat release cable, etc.?

In hindsight I would have done things roughly in this order:

Remove the rear tank bracket from the frame. 4 bolts into the frame. I don't believe you need to disconnect the two over the air box. The tank doesn't move a significant amount with these bolts removed. There's also a single retainer with little tangs on the starboard side of the bike and it's easy to lose. If you lose it...and find it...don't think you've lost a second one. wink.gif

Remove the two 6mm hex on each side holding the exhaust bracket to the subframe. In my case I have a Wilbers preload adjuster in between. I just let it hang.

I removed the tool tray with two bolts into the subframe and then three Phillips screws that attach the tray to airbox. I think you need to remove the tool tray and attached computer because you'll not want to leave it attached to the subframe for welding. Also I removed the two nuts holding on the seat lock bracket in the left of the screen.

Picture of the removed tool tray and computer showing the three screws holding it to the airbox.

The underside of the wheel well plastic (the large chunk of plastic that runs from above the rear tire to points inside the guts of the bike) is held on by 2 bolts in the rear and 4 to 6 screwserts on the bottom tube of the subframe.

Also held on by screwserts is the outer cover of the airbox. It might be possible to leave it on and remove just some of the screserts, but I removed it entirely.

I also removed the crosspiece that houses the shock absorber hardness settings. Again, I have a Wilbers so I don't have the adjuster, but suffice will need to unbolt the bracket. It's held on by 4 hex heads….3 mm I think. If you have ABS…it's worthy to note that the ABS unit is attached to this bracket.

Final piece to remove is the rear brake fluid reservoir. It's held in with a single Phillips screw and then let it hang freely by the ABS unit.

You're now read to actually remove the subframe. It's only held on by six fasteners. Two 8mm hex heads (one on each side) with a nut on the backside as I show here with an allen wrench and end wrench. I don't believe these were loctited:

And the four 6mm hex heads (two each side) on the upper part of the subframe near the tank. They were Loctited with green and came loose with a loud "Pop" and flex of the allen wrench. These willl be critical to retorque when reassembling.

At this point the subframe should be free and will probably pull itself away from the bike a bit. Try moving it backwards a few inches and see if you've missed anything. Again, I believe you shouldn't have to remove the airbox (except for maybe the cover), you shouldn't have to remove the ABS unit. I purposely left on the reinforced plastic for the sidebags. Nothing electronic in there to worry about frying with TIG welding.

Here's a funny sight. Rear subframe dettached and hugger plastic resting on the tire.

An angle of the subframe free of the bike. The blue wire is a special ground I run for my aux. fuel cell.

A close-up of one of the cracks.

And a shot of the subframe I'm taking to the welder. I put back on the taillights so they'd know about critical tolerances when they repair and strenghten the frame.

Finally a couple bonus shots of things one doesn't usually see because this area of the bike isn't torn apart often.

Shot of seat release cable:

ABS unit and free-hanging rear brake reservoir. In need of some wipe-down before reassembly.

The wiring harness for the computer….after I had wiped some of the greasy crud off of it. Still needs more wiping.

Ever wonder the handhold is like? It's an add-on piece of reinforced plastic….the kind they make Rollerblades out of. It has a distinctive almost metallic "tink…tink….tink" sound when you tap it. Solid stuff. Same material for the bag slots just viewable on the right edge.

Part 3

The final installment is that I had my subframe repaired and it didn't even cost $6,000,000. It cost 80 bucks via welder Greg Brott of Kennewick and is signicantly improved!

Greg basically added a 1/4 plate on the back, cut some windows out to make sure the wires from the tail lights wouldn't rub against the metal as well as gusseting it.

A back view shows the plate and at the bottom there are additional "tabs" that roll over and span a 1/4″ gap that also adds more structural integrity.

Greg said, "I had to weld it three times. Each time I'd heat it up……the metal impurities would sweat out of it. The cast piece is not the best metal."

So, perhaps in hindsight I could have Yamaha give me a new subframe, but I wouldn't be assured it wouldn't be another subframe from the same production run. For $80 this was the best option for my piece of mind.

Next issues was the way I had my plate mounted. In the past I removed the rear rack, tied an aluminum plate straight to 3 points on subframe, and called it good. This time I took a longer, closer look at the existing rack and since it's tied into 5 different points I decided Yamaha engineers had already done a good bit of the design for me and attach my plate to the rack. It's not much to look at and has seen some hard life with bungees on my previous rear storage bag….so I drilled some holes in the beefy plastic.

Then I redrilled some holes in the alumnium plate after moving the affair as far forward as I could and still have the Pelican not interfere with the auxilliary fuel tank. It's about an inch farther forward than it was before…and a tiny bit crooked. Fasteners at bottom are the pigtail for a CB anteannae I'm adding in a near-term project.

Most of my effort was driving around my hometown trying to find some very specific fasteners. 6mm x 50mm, stainless steel, recessed head screws are hard to find! While I was there I found some nylon washers that should help putting the metal through the plastic of the rack.

Mounted all up the bike is taking on it's heavy-weight rally shape for the 2007 season. The case will hold my camera, a set of maps, laptop, various cables, and extra storage for my GPS when not mounted on the bike. I also got a padlock and cable to secure my helmet.

ADMIN NOTE: The thread author reserves the option of merging contributory posts that help update or modify the procedure and purging off-topic posts.

Courtesy of JWhite and fjrforum!

Posted 24 May 2009 - 08:30 PM

Updating first post - see below:

On my way to the Superior RTE (ride report linky) my rear subframe broke. I was using a Garauld rack and a Pelican case. This setup has been fine for 10K street miles. What killed it was 12 miles of rocky washboard up and back (24 total) to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine forest. Once we got back to pavement, my riding partner noticed my topcase bouncing way too much.

Made it home with some good straps, took it apart, and here's the carnage. The entire piece broke off completely, as well as the two mini gussets.

I vent my frustration.

To reattach the tail lights, I tied a knot in the end of a rope, ran it through the bolt hole, and tied it to the part of the frame that didn't break. Bodywork is back on, and now I can ride to the welder in safety.

Update as of March 29

I spoke with Garauld. He says he doesn't sell a 5 point mount unit. He also reminds me that the rated weight for the rear rack is 7 lbs, per the sticker underneath the passenger seat. Gary offered to buy back my unit, which I thought was great. However I opted to keep it and reinforce the subframe instead. I weighed my Pelican case - the base weight with Star Traxx unit mounted is 17.2 lbs. I might have had 2 or 3 lbs of contents at the time of the incident.

I have a subframe from a salvage yard on its way to the fabricator in Sacramento. Today I removed my existing subframe and put it back on again, just to get familiar with the procedure. Next Saturday I'll ride up to Sac. While he works on the new subframe, I'll take off my old one. When he's done, I'll install the new one. I bet the whole deal won't take more than half a day.

Update as of June 7

It's fixed!

Yesterday was welder day. Though actually, John Van Dyke is more than a welder, he is an artist with metal. He's also a cool guy who tells great stories. He's just the kind of gearhead you want to hang out with for a day. His shop is really cool, filled with all kinds of big metalworking machines that I cannot name today. He started with the concept used by Ignacio's repair, but made it his own. He fit and refit the subframe reinforcement plate until it was perfect - punching, grinding, smoothing. Most of his time was spent forming a piece of 3/8" plate, but he did grind the Yamaha frame as well.

Here he is grinding a bit of the frame to get the plate to set down closer to the joint with the main frame.

Here's the finished plate. Check out all the angles and notches. It fits perfectly.

This plate fits the subframe in front, rather than from behind.

Before he could tack it into place he had to remove any paint from the welding area. Here he is at work in the bead blasting machine.

This is what the bead blasting operator sees - the view through a hazy window. The bead gun shoots invisible glass pellets at the work object.

Here he is tacking the plate into place.

Next he made some gussetting arms to lay alongside the central rib of the luggage mount, which is also the passenger seat support tab. These are shaped like a triangular L.

Here they are in place on the unit, prior to being attached.

Everything now fits and is ready to weld. While John is busy at the welding table, I wander around the shop and take some photos. Mixed in with the fabrication stuff is some bike stuff. John told me about his barn at home with 32 bikes in it. The upstairs is like a Guys Den, with couches and big screen TV. His buddies come over and watch MotoGP at 4 AM.

John's shop is a regular Saturday hangout for the neighborhood gearheads. Here's one of the kibitzers getting a closer view of the master at work.

And now we have the finished product.

Rear view.

Top view. Notice the difference in thickness between the frame and the reinforcing plate.

One final shot.









Final reenforcement and weld job by Jim Cullins! Nicely done, Jim!

1/4" 6061 Aluminum


Where do all these go?

Incredibly frustrating trying to put this subframe back in tonight, had to give up. Too hot, too tired and it's a bitch of a job.

Ordered from San Luis Motorsports

4XV-83513-00-00 grommet tail light
5JW-15451-11-00 stator gasket

Posted 10 August 2012 - 09:35 PM

Well, just CACK.

If ever a job could be done worse for all the right reasons this one is it..

Here is what NOT to phooking do.

Box in the U shape subframe to add stiffness as shown here..

Posted Image

Why not you ask, seems like a good idea?

Posted Image

Here's one reason - the inner fender will no longer fit nicely.

Posted Image

Neither will the rear tail light assembly.

Posted Image

So material has to be relieved to allow fit.. All using custom, proper tools, of course! :fuck:

Posted Image

Even after hours of messing with it, the fit is still for shit.

Posted Image

Posted Image

I am ASSuming in stock configuration the rear inner fender mated nicely with the subframe with no gap as shown in the last two pix.

Will look at tomorrow when with (hopefully) a better 'tude but right now I'm ready to buy a Triumph.

Walked away :) Posted ImageIs it really crashing if you don't fall down?--

I wouldn't change a fucking thing; I've lived hard, played hard, and I ain't done yet. I've paid some severe penalties along the way, but the rewards have been so much greater; even if for just have participating in the game of life with utmost abandon. It's not who rides the furthest in a day, but rather in a lifetime. CBA member #1, IBA #31845 and very proud of both.

Posted Image


Had to do some serious grinding on the welded plate to get the tailsection, inner fender, to mate up with the inner rear fender.

See the problem yet?  I drilled holes into the plate, hoping to use plastic pop rivets, but no  happiness.

These are the two contact points hitting the plate, causing every hole to be out of alignment.

Not very good tool set.. Initial holes cut using peanut grinder, hand held.

Close up shot.

CACK. Look at the gap still. More grinding.

Ended up going this deep - wish I had an end mill to use.. Oh well, no one will see it...

Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer