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Old 12-31-2013, 08:23 AM   #1
riverfever OP
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Oddometer: 41
76 500/550 Project

I've had this bike for several months now and figured I'd start a thread for it to keep track of what's going on. Little background...I have had one motorcycle (XR400 with a motard setup). I only had that bike for a few months. I did not have a license and really didn't know what I was doing on it. As a result, I laid it down and got hurt and scared. I sold it. I have always ridden mountain bikes but a pinched nerve in my neck forced me to stop riding them a year ago. I kept looking at motorcycles but could not bring myself to buy something expensive because I did not know if I'd still be scared to ride it. I also have always wanted a project. I am a teacher so I have summers off and wanted something to occupy my time. So...I started looking at older CB's and found this one and decided to bring it home. This is how the bike was when I brought it home.



I paid 1200 for it. It was advertised as a 76 550 and because I didn't know anything, I didn't question it. Not long after getting it home, I realized it was a 500 motor. I wasn't upset because I had no idea what I was going to do with this thing. I live in a small town up in the mountains and I figured it would be a cool bike to cruise around town on or go grab coffee with.

The first thing I did was start going through the entire bike. I cleaned it and put a wrench on every fastener to make sure it was tight as the PO said he bought it in boxes and put it together to flip.

There was no air box on it and no filter system. It ran horribly. PO said the carbs looked great and didn't need any cleaning and that I should put pods on it. Here's a pic from cleaning the front end. The drag bars were comfy but the master cylinder hit the fork and was at an awkward angle.

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Old 12-31-2013, 08:30 AM   #2
riverfever OP
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I found a stock air box and bought that, put it on and hoped it would help the running issues. It did not. I then did the 3,000 mile tune up. No change to the poor idle and crappy running issues. I figured the carbs needed to be rebuilt but was very concerned about whether or not I could do the job. While waiting, I installed clubman bars that I got cheap. I hated the way these looked but was curious.



I love the way they feel but have not ridden the bike yet.

The front brake was next. The piston was not retracting. With only one caliper, I figured it would be smart to go through the whole system. So I rebuilt the master cylinder and caliper and installed new braided hoses. Works perfectly now. I also took the primer off the fork legs, sanded them out and buffed them.



Finally...I pulled the carbs.

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Old 12-31-2013, 08:39 AM   #3
riverfever OP
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They were filthy. I cleaned all the brass and used Chem Dip on the bodies. Because I did not know what I was doing, I took everything completely apart. I broke these dust shields. A local guy told me that I was now done and would need to find new carbs because these were no longer available. I have more time than money so I started looking at what I could do to replace them. This is what I came up with. Bicycle inner tubes.



I also found that some funky washers were broken. Again, I was told that I would need to find new carbs but this is what I came up with to replace them.



I took several of the carbs apart multiple times because I had forgotten to remove and clean the emulsifier tubes. They were almost completely clogged. I was actually amazed the thing ran at all. Finally, I got them back together. New fuel lines and inline filters. Butterfly valves synced and slides bench synced. This was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be.



Carbs back on and I started looking at possibly doing knee dents.

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Old 12-31-2013, 08:49 AM   #4
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I drank a beer, grabbed a small ball peen hammer and a 2 sided rubber/nylon hammer and took some swings.



The right side of the tank was in great shape but the left side had some filler in it. I got too excited and was using a small screwdriver to try to chip away the filler and put 2 small holes in the tank. I was upset. I decided to get the tank media blasted so I could see how much filler I was looking at. It wasn't as bad as I thought.



I flushed the tank really well for days and then took it to school with me and used one of the MIG welders in the metals class to weld up the holes. I then took a piece of 1/2" solid rod, ground down the tip to look like a small ball peen and started to slowly push out the dent on the left side.



I kept coming back to where the ignition was mounted (right on top of the handlebars). I made this bracket.



I relocated the ignition under the upper tree.



I then started on body work. I had never done anything like this before.

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Old 12-31-2013, 08:57 AM   #5
riverfever OP
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I spent weeks doing body work.



I was close but, no matter how much time I put in, I could always find flaws. I started thinking that because this was a first project and I was not a professional, that there would probably always be flaws and that I was probably going to have to find a stopping point.



I started looking at the rear fender. I hated how big and cluttered it was. I bobbed it 4".



I made a simple bracket to relocate the plate. This pic does not show it but I have gone back and welded two small tabs to keep this bracket from going into the spokes in the event that the bolt comes loose. I'm still working on the light for the plate.



I wanted the plate to appear like it was just floating.



I filed down the master cylinder cap until it was smooth and buffed it out. I sanded and buffed the lever and painted the lever body and master cylinder. Also newer grips to replace the hard stock ones and bar end mirrors.



Next I reupholstered the seat with a cover from David Silver Spares.

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Old 12-31-2013, 08:58 AM   #6
riverfever OP
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Most recently, I removed the upper tree, ignition mount, and headlight bucket so I could paint them black.


That's where things are at right now.
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Old 01-01-2014, 04:35 PM   #7
RickS
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Very nice.
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Old 01-02-2014, 12:55 AM   #8
jbcaddy
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good for you to do it yourself. if you have thoughts about cutting up the exhaust, you should check to see what stock pipes are worth before you do anything to them.
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Old 01-02-2014, 08:21 AM   #9
riverfever OP
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Thank you both. This exhaust is in excellent shape other than a small scratch/dent on the end of one of the right side pipes. Looks like the PO dropped it. There's also a small dent in one of the headers. I know this exhaust is hard to find so I wouldn't ever cut it up. I have a few people interested in it over on sohc but I'm not sure what I'll do with it yet. Even if I do a 4-1 I'll likely hang onto it.
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Old 01-03-2014, 06:48 PM   #10
Horizontal
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Really nice project. I'm jealous of those beautiful green gauges. My PO must have knocked into something because there's a good ding on one side of the speedo. Problem is, it must have knocked the light holder out of the back of the speedo enough to let large amounts of brown dirt cloud the inside of the glass. Damage is one thing, but something so preventable just makes me mad.

So how much of a difference did removing the clear coat from the fork bottoms make, and what did you use? I'm thinking of trying that on my XL250, because yours sure turned out nice.
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Old 01-03-2014, 07:05 PM   #11
riverfever OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Horizontal View Post
Really nice project. I'm jealous of those beautiful green gauges. My PO must have knocked into something because there's a good ding on one side of the speedo. Problem is, it must have knocked the light holder out of the back of the speedo enough to let large amounts of brown dirt cloud the inside of the glass. Damage is one thing, but something so preventable just makes me mad.

So how much of a difference did removing the clear coat from the fork bottoms make, and what did you use? I'm thinking of trying that on my XL250, because yours sure turned out nice.
Haha...I actually do not like the stock gauges. They're just bigger than what I'd like to see on the bike now that it's become more minimalistic. I considered taking them apart to rebuild them but that's a lot of work. I've been looking at replacing them with some 2.5" gauges in black.

The PO had done some weird things with this bike. He clear coated over a lot of chrome stuff (like the gas cap and other things) and he primed other things (like the fork legs. I didn't like the nasty scratches that were in the fork legs so my original plan was to sand out the rough spots and repaint the legs black. While I'm sure he didn't remove the clear coat before using primer, I didn't really ever see it. I used coarse steel wool and a lot of elbow grease. Then I started sanding. Then used Mothers aluminum polish. It's pretty nice but it could be better. I'll probably get a buffing wheel and work on them more this summer if I rebuild the forks and swap to more progressive springs.

I worked a lot on the tank today. Sanding. Primer. More sanding. I worked up to 600. It looks pretty good but I hadn't heard the motor run in a while so I couldn't help myself. I put the tank on, connected the fuel lines and reinstalled the cap. Damn battery was dead. I gave up on it but just went down there to kick start it. Fired right up. Too cold/late now and snow is coming for the next several days. I'd really like to ride this thing.
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Old 01-03-2014, 07:16 PM   #12
Vince
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Definatly take it for a ride.Thats the creme when your doing a rolling resto.Be intersting to see how the carb work worked,so to speak.
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Old 01-03-2014, 07:24 PM   #13
riverfever OP
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Just realized I haven't talked about paint schemes in this thread. I'm all over the radar with choices. I already mentioned that I used to race mountain bikes. I was hoping to race the Tour Divide next and have a custom frame made for the trip. I recently spoke with the builder that I was interested in and he is willing to paint the tank and side covers for me if I decide to go that route. He does a lot of crazy metal flake in his builds. Here is an example.



This particular bike had a lot of metal flake in it. I thought this color/concept would be cool because it's kind of a modern spin on the retro color. I'd probably do flat black on the knee dents to try and hide the imperfections from a first time body project. I plan on using the older style Honda stickers for the tank that have the white lettering and gold wings. This guy also dose some really nice pin striping. Because the frame is a 550 and the motor is a 500 I was going to have him do something that said 525 on the side covers.

Part of me wanted to try and paint it myself. If I try it then I won't be doing metal flake. I also really like the creamy colors that seem to be on more and more modern cars (Jeep Rubicon has a really nice creamy gray color). I thought of a gray and black scheme too. Thoughts?
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Old 01-03-2014, 07:28 PM   #14
riverfever OP
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This is a really horrible video I shot of it starting up after the carb rebuild. Although I used the electric start in the video it kick starts with my hand.

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Old 01-06-2014, 01:56 PM   #15
Kurt V
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Quote:
Originally Posted by riverfever View Post
I'd probably do flat black on the knee dents to try and hide the imperfections from a first time body project.
Light colors hide imperfections, dark colors accentuate them. Just sayin.
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