Long before I bought my first new Yamaha in 1988 I had admired the lines of the Mighty V-max but, I settled for a 88 Exciter since no left over V-max 540s were to be found around Western Pa. I never, regretted buying the Exciter because it fit my riding style and provided arm-stretching torque on the trails for over 5000 Trouble free miles! While over the years I continued to watch for a 540 but, I never found one that met my picky approval.
One day I saw an 1986 540 setting outside of a local dealers repair garage, it had the snot beat out of it just like all the other 540s I find here in Pa. I've come to the conclusion that being the top of the line sled in the 80's, along with our, virtually, no snow winters they were subject to a lot of abuse!?! I asked the dealer what the story was and he told me they tore it down (not) and it needed the carbs. cleaned and a ignition coil (not) and that the guy was thinking about trading it in and the dealer said he'd then want around $1,250 -$1,500 for it with all their time and parts. I found the guys name on his registration in the seat storage and gave him a call and proceeded to offer him $900.00 cash, he didn't think one second before he said, when do you want to meet (something told me I had (Sucker) written on my forehead)! But, I didn't care I was tired of looking for a clean 540 and knew I would have to do a frame up restoration to have one that met my specifications.
After removing every bolted piece on the tunnel/frame assembly and even some riveted parts I proceeded to take the cylinder head off yep, (Sucker) there were ¼''deep score marks on the cylinder walls! After a few calls I found and bought 2 brand new cylinders and a new head from a friend of Gary's at Reichards Performance. The engine rebuild was completed with new pistons and a gasket kit with the help of Bob Snyder from Marienville, Pa. a former Yamaha Dealer and friend. The rear suspension got a complete rebuild with all new nylon bushings, shocks, hyfax, idler wheels w/bearings, track, studs and paint. The seats stitched top cover was flawless but, the sides were ripped and therefore recovered. I removed the belly pan to work the dents out and, while I had it off I added a hinged access cover to freely work on the steering, underside of engine or just to remove dropped tools or bolts (not that I ever have) that end up under the engine! I have added wide kits to Phazers, Exciters, and V-maxs and firmly believe this is the single biggest improvement to stability, ride, and handling with reduced ski lift, not to mention they look awesome! I have always used Reichards wide kits but, since I was already ordering various parts from Bender I decided to order a Bender full length cross member type.
After cutting off the strut holders, you have to drive the pipe through the frame which I personally found impossible to do with the engine mounts and welds protruding through the frame so, I ended up cutting the cross member to length for each side . After the wide kit was welded, I pressure washed, sandblasted, sanded, and cleaned the tunnel before it was painted. Next, I started the reassembly and inspected each and every part and either cleaned, polished, greased, painted or replaced anything that wasn't up to par! I've added a Comet 108c clutch, U.S.I. Performer skis, and a 1 gal. Reserve tank (behind radiator) w/shut offs from a 83 V-max and Digitron dual E.G.T./Tach. digital display everything else is stock! I took the hood and side panels to a vinyl graphics shop for the decals to be duplicated then to a paint shop and had the original paint scanned to match as close as possible.
Next, came the start of construction of my new garage and house so, that's where my restoration is after $3842.14 Yes, that's a lot to put into a old sled and Yes, I'm crazy but, all I have to do is assemble the hood w/light assembly and add the new sound insulation replace the body panels with decals and pinstripes and finally I have a New 540 that I·ve wanted since 1983! What's next? Well, Ive already accumulated most of the parts to completely rebuild another 540 and this one will have a 133" track!