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Old 4th May 2016, 12:06   #1
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Default Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog

My earlier thread had started with the replacement of this old KB-RTZ in favor of a Hero Impulse...http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/motorb...o-impulse.html (Replacing the KB-RTZ offroad specials - My Hero Impulse)
...and ended with some ponderings re: what exactly to do, in light of improving roads and a new dual-sport in the stable, with this superceded, redundant, half-abandoned - but still serviceable - unit...

After sitting many months unused over this previous winter, it had started right up on the second or third half-hearted kick... It was obviously not ready to retire.

In its former incarnation, the bike had been all over, as far as Western Nepal, Ladakh, Spiti, Kangra...

Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog-dscf3487.jpg


But times / needs have changed, and the bike has (once again) adapted:

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...A long way to go, perhaps, but for now perfect for "short blasts around town" or down to the local village provision shop. I don't take it more than about 8km from home, and that's where it's most happy.

A young (20-ish) friend took it on an errand the other day and came back raving: "That is an absolutely amazing bike... the most amazing I've ridden". "Well" I answered "I really haven't ridden a Duke or Pulsar 220 to know how they compare"; to which he asserted, having been astride a fair amount of modern sporting machinery: "Believe me, there is no comparison... this is just so much better."

For a ragged-out 19-year-old machine that would appear well past its prime, not to mention its being extremely crude in technological terms (a 40+year old Kawasaki engine design) vs. the new machinery, I guess that's really saying something.

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The rider-bike connection is strong here simply because the bike is so RESPONSIVE in every way - you don't have to wait (as I hear is true of the Dukes) for 8,000rpm to come along and kick you in the backside. It's just THERE whenever you want it. The steering is so light, the braking instantaneous and powerful, the gear ratios (all five of 'em) close, the stance (and center of gravity) low, and the whole thing just so nimble and toss-able that it really is difficult to avoid hooliganistic acts for long... or to smile wide while committing them...

Yet it's still "practical"... the progressive suspension setup gives it a plusher ride than my Impulse, the seat is still long/comfy enough, and my lengthy arms are a great match for the low handle - I'm in no way stretched out over the bike, and can easily manage riding with both of our young boys in front of me (they like this bike a LOT, and when given the choice, take it over the Impulse any day, shouting for joy when the accelerator is rolled wide open).

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I was never much of a stickler for originality, except maybe in cases of truly vintage stuff. All factory-made bikes were produced with developmental / pricing / market constraints in mind, and enhancements / improvements are always possible that make the machine more suited to its rider's preferences and current uses:

As it stands, the mods include:

REMOVALS:
-most extraneous components/weight: (battery/battery compartment, front/rear (steel) mudguards, OE instrument cluster, (steel) taillight mounting, (steel) chain/saree guards, (steel) airbox, (steel) headlight mountings etc.

ADDITIONS/REPLACEMENTS:
-imported 5-speed gearset (KS125, I think)
-imported, very beefy triple clamps (Suzuki TL185 enduro?)
-disc brake setup (1st gen. Pulsar)
-front forks: progressive rate springs and pumps (misc. junkyard stuff)
-rear shockers: mix/match progressive-rate Discover/XCD, adjustable mounts
- 2" extended swingarm
- flat"clubman" style handlebar
- "naked" mounted tach/speed meters (in Enfield-sourced housings)
- Two-piece, thin-cusioned, bi-level seat
- collapsible, slightly repositioned footpegs
- 2.5(R)/1.8(F) x 18" rims, bit wider than stock
- all plastic headlight (Enticer) on tiny custom aluminum mount
- plastic front mudguard (minus steel brace!)
- Etc

As should be evident, the bike will be following a "form follows function" type mindset and aesthetic. Extra weight/components removed, and some mass added only where it added strength / performance. Looks are secondary, though I want the basic proportions right. The slightly higher, extra-capacity fuel tank, left over from the bike's touring days, is of course unnecessary, but will remain as it looks all right to me (and as I don't have another good stock tank).

Future plans:

Next year I'll have to take it for re-inspection ("passing") and a fresh RC, so in the works:

- paint (obviously)
- turn indicators / tail light (both will be minimalistic/LED)
- alloy rims and other bits to further lighten the bike
- a midrange-oriented expansion chamber (anyone out there have a pipe or a good lead?)

The one downside of the bike (a serious one for me) is the amount of noise / vibes from the engine itself (not the silencer). I'm thinking of picking up a set of old Japanese-manufactured cases, as I know these Indian ones to be extremely loose in terms of machining tolerances (cylinder-block deck heights varying between cases by huge margins), and weak in terms of materials (stripping threads all the time). Maybe a crank, too. Neither very expensive on the U.S. second-hand market. I've already got a cylinder block waiting abroad, which will need to be modded to accept a center-mounted silencer headpipe, but otherwise should be a worthwhile upgrade and with the (re-bore-able) cast-iron liner, a bit quieter, plus a long-term solution to the unavailability of OE cylinder blocks here in India.

In some of the other KB threads it's been mentioned that other Asian-market versions (GTO, in particular) had these engines tuned in the range of 17bhp - which, if the midrange torque is at all maintaned, would make an almost terrifying ride out of this sub-100kg machine. Think I'll aim for something like that here. Saw a fly-by video on U-tube of one of these (probably additionally modified) at 170kmph... amazing... and foolhardy, I suppose...

Lots of other (more important) stuff on my plate right now, so expecting this to progress only slowly / incrementally.

At any rate, it has come a long, circuitous way from the original KB form:

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...which I'm sure many viewing this would prefer (my KB100 here, as delivered to me in 2005). That was a fun bike then... but this is oh, so much better.

Stay tuned.

Regards,
-Eric
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Old 4th May 2016, 12:27   #2
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Re: my weight-savings plan... Er, that grab handle at the back (indeed also steel) was deliberately retained, being deemed - considering the nature of the beast - fully indispensable...

The detailed closeups of some of the mods:

1. The very beefy triple-clamps, salvaged from a mid-1970's Suzuki enduro. Whereas stock pieces were very flimsy (I tweaked some badly in an accident once), these are definitely NOT going to bend/break/flex...

Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog-img_20160620_191524.jpg


2. Mounting for the Enticer headlamp housing: Again, minimalist and extremely lightweight, just two little pieces of extruded aluminum angle. Original headlight mountings (steel pieces which fit over the fork legs - rattley and ugly things) have been sent to the scrapyard where they belong.

Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog-img_20160620_185532916.jpg


3. One thing about the non-OE triple clamps is that the fork leg spacing is greater than the KB or even the Pulsar pieces - an extra steel spacer and some flat washers got the wheel nicely centered-up. The rim here is a 1.85 width (same as what was on the rear originally) that I re-laced myself (stock front was a 1.60). Probably no performance advantage in it and actually a little extra unsprung weight, but I just wanted to have the mudguard better filled out and see how it would look (and I think it looks good). If I can find a cheap alloy piece later, will swap this one out:

Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog-img_20160620_191615.jpg


4. The whole 1st-gen Pulsar disc brake setup is a direct fit, assuming you can take everything from the triple-clamps to the fork legs (wheel might not fit between the shockers if the narrower stock clamps were retained); Wonder whether the spacing on the Caliber or Aspire setups would allow them to bolt right into the original KB clamps:

Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog-img_20160620_185527226.jpg

Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog-img_20160620_191443.jpg


5. Enticer mudguard is a very simply sculpted piece that was easy to fit. Will probably trim off the extended trailing side lip later for a cleaner look:

Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog-img_20160620_185549888.jpg


6. When we say "flat" we mean FLAT. I guess this is something like a "clubman" style handle. Note the nicely cast aluminum top clamp, too. I am considering replacing the handle with clip-ons, if I can find something suitably minimalist / lightweight (Karizmas and some other recent bikes are using them, but beefy enough that I'm not sure they're any lighter than this steel bar):

Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog-img_20160620_191500.jpg


7. Going to have to get the tach/speedo meter guts re-fitted at some point (child vandals had broken the glasses and broken off the needles earlier and everything got badly weathered). Probably will do some custom (and again, clean/minimalist) markings / needles. Housings are RE pieces, attached with 3" hose clamps on small pieces of angle bolted to the handlebar mount (KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid!):

Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog-img_20160620_185315212.jpg


8. The tanks were obviously made of better steel back in '92: The KB100 tank, modified for an extra 2L capacity back in the days when I was running to Ladakh/Spiti/Nepal on this thing... This was done maybe seven years ago, and despite never having been painted and never being parked indoors, still no deep rust or pitting. Odd....

Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog-img_20160620_185834626.jpg


9. OE airbox was ungainly, heavy, and potentially leaky, so was removed in favor of a piece of 2-1/2" PVC pipe. Filtration is handled by an oil-soaked plastic pot scrubber, which in effect is pretty similar to what the old Rajdoots used (wire mesh). Very free-flowing, effective filtering, and so easy to clean (remove pipe, dip whole thing a few times in a cut-open liter water bottle filled with kerosene, lightly re-oil, and refit!). One of the reasons I'd sought out the 125 version of the KB (vs. the 100 I already had) was the OE trick aluminum cylinder block, which in favor of a cast-iron sleeve uses a chromed (Nikasil?) bore. A whole lot lighter than the 100cc's iron block, and that 25cc's makes a world of difference power-wise:

Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog-img_20160620_192441197.jpg


10. Rear wheel now a 2.5 width a'la 1st-gen Pulsar. Again, width overkill and a bit of extra weight, but it does fit with sufficient clearance and there shouldn't be any sidewall flex here on a 100-section tyre; also (again) was curious re: the aesthetic, so this was experimental:

Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog-img_20160620_185648024.jpg

Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog-img_20160620_191402.jpg


11. Rather ugly (but effective) work here on the 2" swingarm extension. I was headed to Ladakh at the time and wanted it to be strong more than anything. Will do a cleaner job of it on a fresh swingarm when I find one:

Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog-img_20160620_191419.jpg


12. Shockers were hung on custom top mounts. I've got them at the bottom, too, in the event I want to adjust the height higher. Something like twenty possible positions these can now be mounted in. And there's still the preload. Springs themselves were taken from two different sets of Bajaj shockers (Disco and XCD, I think), and have ended up with a very nice, plush, progressive setup. Note the "missing" rear mudguard and chainguard (not to mention saree-guard!). I'm going to have to weigh this thing one day and see what we're down to:

Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog-img_20160620_191633.jpg


13: For comparison's sake, vs. the Impulse the thing is just so low-down and mean. Probably at least 40kgs lighter; I suppose the seat is a good 5-6" lower but the wheelbase is about as long. I really like this bike, the basic form and stance - it is practically the complete antithesis of the Hero, which suits me as I've always liked variety:

Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog-img_20160620_185923596.jpg


Besides the look (yes, it's ragged - but rightly-proportioned - and I think that's kind of the point - a sort of rat-bike cafe racer), the brakes are extremely light and powerful, the headlight bright, the tyres more than grippy enough for such a lightweight, the handling nimble and quick without sacrificing higher-speed stability, and the torquey midrange power-band - with the low gearing and close-ratio 5-speed - is just right for local acts of hooliganism.

Now I've just got to teach my wife to ride it, as that was - eh - the whole idea originally (she's starting to have some doubts...).

More later,
Eric

Last edited by GTO : 21st June 2016 at 09:30. Reason: Moving your build posts up
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Old 4th May 2016, 15:19   #3
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Default re: Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog

Im happy to see another Bajaj Kawasaki on Team BHP. Im hoping you will restore to its full glory.
Here is my KB 100 which I restored few months back..
Attached Thumbnails
Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog-dsc_0293.jpg  

Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog-dsc_0294.jpg  

Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog-dsc_0295.jpg  

Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog-dsc_0296.jpg  

Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog-dsc_0297.jpg  

Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog-dsc_0298.jpg  

Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog-dsc_0299.jpg  

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Old 4th May 2016, 18:08   #4
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Default re: Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog

Quote:
Originally Posted by hillram View Post
Here is my KB 100 which I restored few months back..
Hi Hillram,
Can you please have the center stand pin & stays corrected? With that stand, your back will take a hit as it is not done appropriately.
The rear tire must be free spinning when you put it on stand.
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Old 4th May 2016, 18:23   #5
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Default re: Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog

Quote:
Originally Posted by hillram View Post
Im happy to see another Bajaj Kawasaki on Team BHP. Im hoping you will restore to its full glory.
Here is my KB 100 which I restored few months back..
Mr. Hillram Sir, you have so many great possessions. I am so much envious of your garage !!
What more gems do you have other than this, fiats, and piaggio's ?

Last edited by The Great : 4th May 2016 at 18:24.
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Old 20th June 2016, 22:28   #6
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Default re: Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog

Quote:
Originally Posted by hillram View Post
Im happy to see another Bajaj Kawasaki on Team BHP. Im hoping you will restore to its full glory.
Here is my KB 100 which I restored few months back..
Ahhh... yours is a very pretty resto indeed... but as indicated in my text, that was/is not quite my intention. I suppose I will be forced to paint it up in advance of next year's required passing (for a fresh RC), but it will never be stock again, of that I can assure you. And I know for sure which bike I'd rather be riding... but "Different strokes for different folks".

Last edited by ringoism : 20th June 2016 at 22:30.
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Old 21st June 2016, 09:32   #7
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Default Re: Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Motorcycle Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 22nd June 2016, 09:15   #8
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Default Re: Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog

Quote:
Originally Posted by hillram View Post
Here is my KB 100 which I restored few months back..
Nicely restored. Suggest getting the original tank monogram. The current one looks a bit out of place. Also, is the original indicator housing black? I thought it came chrome plated. Nevertheless, good job done.
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Old 22nd June 2016, 12:27   #9
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Default Re: Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog

Quote:
Originally Posted by hillram View Post
Im happy to see another Bajaj Kawasaki on Team BHP. Im hoping you will restore to its full glory.
Here is my KB 100 which I restored few months back..

Beautifully restored bike. I had one of these from '90 to '95. It had the 'Delta-tuned' engine. The longer wheelbase gave it great stability.

Would love to take a ride on your bike for old times sake!
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Old 23rd June 2016, 13:26   #10
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Default Re: Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog

Quote:
Originally Posted by ringoism View Post
OE airbox was ungainly, heavy, and potentially leaky, so was removed in favor of a piece of 2-1/2" PVC pipe.

One of the reasons I'd sought out the 125 version of the KB (vs. the 100 I already had) was the OE trick aluminum cylinder block, which in favor of a cast-iron sleeve uses a chromed (Nikasil?) bore. A whole lot lighter than the 100cc's iron block, and that 25cc's makes a world of difference power-wise:
The air filter jugaad is really great!!

I see that you have made away with the resonator ("delta box" in bajaj lingo). Yes, the 125 was a bit more responsive to its sibling.

I also see that the oil tank is still doing its duty. Keeping an eye on the oil level (no low oil warning lamp which the Suzuki AX100 had) and getting the rotary disc timing right were critical if you owned a KB!

BTW, the original rectangular headlight was the best in business those days, if it was not aesthetic.


Quote:
Originally Posted by hillram View Post
Here is my KB 100 which I restored few months back..
That brings back fond memories!!

If I am not mistaken, there used to a sticker on the front forks - "X Stroke"; the turn signal indicators used to be chrome plated and "Kawasaki" monogram was metallic. But, forgive me for nitpicking - what you have done is a great job and deserves kudos!! I am sure you get a kick to see the tacho climb whenever you twist the throttle
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Old 26th June 2016, 17:59   #11
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Default Re: Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog

Quote:
Originally Posted by vrprabhu View Post
I see that you have made away with the resonator ("delta box" in bajaj lingo). Yes, the 125 was a bit more responsive to its sibling....BTW, the original rectangular headlight was the best in business those days, if it was not aesthetic.
The "delta box" was only used on the 100cc (the tank is off that bike, hence the surviving mounting tabs), in a bid to improve low-end power. The 125 was deemed already powerful enough in that range, so it was omitted.

I had no arguments with the original headlight - very good lighting indeed and to me the rectangular shape was appealingly unique - but my two-year-old picked up the unit one day whilst it was removed for some wiring work, and promptly dropped it on a stone, breaking the glass. Earlier I'd found replacement glass in Karol Bagh, but couldn't find them later on (think it's shared with early Hero CD100, etc, but probably no modern bikes). The RX unit I replaced it with temporarily was inferior lighting-wise and looked a bit small, but the Enticer piece seems about right in both respects. Thanks for your comments and interest!

-Eric

Last edited by ringoism : 26th June 2016 at 18:02.
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Old 28th June 2016, 10:20   #12
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Default Re: Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog

I used the KB100's mid-crankcase to use a delta-box/ resonator on my 125. I also had to grind off the bottom fins on the right of the alu-block of the 125. Later on upgraded to a Shogun power-box unit which I tucked away under the fuel tank
I had also modified my clutch case/ housing to accommodate more plates as the 125 had a more powerful engine but sadly the clutch ( at least the 1'st lot 125s) was the same as that on the 100cc bike.
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Old 3rd July 2016, 11:28   #13
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@Ringoism- your bike looks like a complete hooligan...made for the off roads- Have recently revived my own delta a couple of months back and inspite of it being stock, the streak to open up the accelerator is always there. The reflector of my headlight has degraded after nearly 25 years+ and i too was looking for an original replacement. I believe the 4S also came with the same headlight. Have asked somebody to pick up a piece from karol bagh. Lets see if it is worth it because if-not i will retain the derated but original reflector.
The rickety old clamps on the forks for the headlight unit which are so prone to vibration is something i agree, but have retained the same ones in view of keeping the bike stock
The bike has loads of potential but its not everybody's cup of tea to get it out in the open

atul
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Old 4th July 2016, 10:55   #14
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Originally Posted by ATUL SINGH View Post
The reflector of my headlight has degraded after nearly 25 years+ and i too was looking for an original replacement. I believe the 4S also came with the same headlight.
KB had the best headlights in business those days - especially compared with the puny 6v electricals which in the first gen RX100.

Yes, 4S had the same style - but the reflectors were not that great.

You can try out this jugaad - old trucks had similar rectangular headlight units, which you can fabricate to fit in the headlight housing. TATA trucks came with the assembly on a metallic frame whereas Leyland trucks had a better overall frame. One from (Eicher?) was almost a perfect fit - the spring inside the headlight assembly of the KB100 (the chrome part which holds the reflector in place) had to be slightly bent / twisted to hold the trucks' reflector in place. I think these old type reflectors are available even now...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ATUL SINGH View Post
The bike has loads of potential but its not everybody's cup of tea to get it out in the open
Yes. And unfortunately, as the RX100 & (TVS) Supra (followed by Shogun) were more faster off the block, KB didn't have many takers to really exploit its potential.
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Old 5th July 2016, 23:49   #15
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Default Re: Revived, rough & ready: Kawasaki KB125 RTZ Junkyard Dog

Quote:
Originally Posted by vrprabhu View Post
KB had the best headlights in business those days - especially compared with the puny 6v electricals which in the first gen RX100.

Yes, 4S had the same style - but the reflectors were not that great.

You can try out this jugaad - old trucks had similar rectangular headlight units, which you can fabricate to fit in the headlight housing. TATA trucks came with the assembly on a metallic frame whereas Leyland trucks had a better overall frame. One from (Eicher?) was almost a perfect fit - the spring inside the headlight assembly of the KB100 (the chrome part which holds the reflector in place) had to be slightly bent / twisted to hold the trucks' reflector in place. I think these old type reflectors are available even now...
.
Vrprabhu, does'nt the tata rectangular headlights have asymmetrically placed bulbs? I mean they are not in the centre but slightly offset.
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