1973 CB550 Restoration - Build Project

Discussion in 'Old's Cool' started by Dune, Mar 21, 2010.

  1. Dune

    Dune Been here awhile

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    As some of you might have followed I was looking for a vintage bike to re-finish / restore / build / mod slightly.

    WIth the help of everyones suggestions I came across a deal I just couldnt pass up!

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    - 2000 original miles!
    - amazing shape! stored indoors for 30 years... hasnt ran in 30 years...
    - came with everything included though I had a potential buyer for the panniers and windjammer and at the time didnt think of keeping them and they helped pat for the bike!
    - now Im kind of wondering if I should have kept them... hmmm
    #1
  2. shovelmike

    shovelmike Adventurer

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    Unbelievably low mileage, the previous owner set the bike up for some long distance riding and somehow didn't put it to use, his loss your gain.
    Due to motorcycle displacement wars those are looked upon as a small bike but are quite respectable in my book. I rode a 550 Yamaha Seca in '81 and although I ride Harleys today I don't need big displacement to have fun.
    I just spent the last 2 weeks getting my '72 Kawasaki 100 dirt bike running and had a lot of fun playing on it. Best of luck with the restoration, it should be a fairly easy one. Sincerely: Shovelmike.
    #2
  3. Dune

    Dune Been here awhile

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    seeing as the bike hadnt been started in 30 years I couldnt exactly turn the key and drive it home , I started by manually turning over the engine, which turned over no problem! and then with the help of a usable battery try the starter... and it turns! now just a quick prelim check before I take clean everything up.

    Now at the moment all I had was my golf or my wifes Jetta or on my KTM... all feasible choices to do the move of my new bike?
    Being only 20mins from our house I made the call to strip the bike where I was purchasing it from! Being very thankfull to the current owner I striped the bike and took her to her new home a few pieces at a time!

    SO here are a few more pics of the bike with everything together as she comes apart.

    My thoughts were I had two options :
    1)get it running and ride it as is seeing the low kms and the condition of the bike.

    2) Strip everything and do a proprer build up anyway to ensure everything was functional as should be expected... which also helped get the bike home and can deliver the frame for painting in the meantime.

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    2138 ORIGINAL MILES!!

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    *Remember* Preserve Nature - Always wear a helmet - :evil

    Im not entirely sure what preserving nature has to do with wearing helmet... though I never go riding without one! :D

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    Gas tank blues
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    a lil more neked

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    What ya think!?

    Next step??

    Now I have stripped the frame and dropped it off for powder coating at a local paint shop I have worked with before...

    So for the engine what do I do?? Do I take it apart?

    with so few miles on the original engine I am thinking I can polish it up and paint it.... proper oil change, gasket replacement etc??

    any thoughts??

    more later...
    #3
  4. Renegade6

    Renegade6 Been here awhile

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    Nice bike! My brother had a 76 (purple tank) and I used to ride it quite a bit. Make sure you have an impact driver to take off the engine screws; they strip pretty easily.

    The only thing I remember going wrong with it was the shifter shaft seal and the Honda dealer swore that the brand of chain lube made a difference...
    #4
  5. Renner

    Renner rockin' the toaster

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    good score Dune. I hope the resto works out well for you.

    I had a CB550F which served me very well... only regretting selling it and would happily find another some day.
    #5
  6. Hawk Medicine

    Hawk Medicine Coyote's Brother

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    Ya know what?

    I've been thinking... I had a BMW R-75 with a Windjammer and liked it a lot until the day that I took it off and realized how heavy and intrusive that dam fairing is.

    You'll probably like riding that little bike best without it!:norton
    #6
  7. Inane Cathode

    Inane Cathode Cheated Anion

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    What's wrong with the frame paint? I know it's the restore trick de-jour to powdercoat anything that wont melt in the oven, but if the frame paint isnt bad, it'll be alot easier, cheaper, faster, and more durable (paint you can repair, chipped powdercoat you can not) if you just touch up the bad spots and blend them in.
    #7
  8. markjenn

    markjenn Long timer

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    I think you're making a big mistake stripping the bike down to the frame when you have no idea if it will run. You're just asking for nightmare when you try and put it back together - it won't run and you'll have no idea whether it is one of a hundred things you might have screwed up when you took it apart or maybe it had something wrong with it to begin with - there may be a very good reason it was put away and sat for 30+ years.

    I'd back up. FIRST THINGS FIRST - GET IT RUNNING. Then get it mechanically sound. Then go ride for awhile. Then and only then start deciding if you want to restore it or worry about cosmetics.

    It's probable that you're an oil change, carb cleaning, fuel tank cleaning, ignition tune up, and brake rebuild away from having a nice motorcycle you can ride around. Or a holed piston. You won't know until you get it running.

    - Mark
    #8
  9. Jo-Nathan

    Jo-Nathan Been here awhile

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    Personally, I wouldn't have even stripped the bike, but you did. If I were you, I would just clean it up and get it running right. A 2000 mile bike (especially that one) just does not need a full restoration. Clean and maybe rebuild the carbs if they're real nasty. Check you valves and cam chain. Check your compression if you feel like it. Check to make sure your wiring isn't in terrible shape. Change your fork oil and replace the seals if needed. Lube the chain. You may want new tires if they're 30 years old. Change your engine oil and filter along with your air filter. Seriously, if you ask me, all that bike needs is a tune up and a rider. Oh, before you do anything, fill that tank with vinegar. When you finish everything else, empty the vinegar and take it to the carwash and pressure wash the insides. It'll be fine and the original paint will still be there.
    #9
  10. Quickv4

    Quickv4 Pro Turd Polisher

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2009
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    550
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    Dickinson, Nort' Dakohtah- Orig. from Wiscowsin

    :stupid
    You really didnt need to rip it apart, to repaint or powdercoat! Enjoy the patina it has....

    You can restore a bike 10,000 times, but it is only original ONCE!

    Clean it up, get it running, ride the tires off of it!!!:evil
    #10
  11. Dune

    Dune Been here awhile

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    All Valid points, and I agree. Though the bike was in good shape, there was still some things that needed to be addressed - the frame paint was in some need of repair and everything had just sat for years... Also needed a way to get her home....

    So shes apart now - frame is being painted, carbs being cleaned and rebuilt - which needed to be done, seals need to be replaced, even if I had left everything intact I think all this would have had to be done anyway... According to the original owner of the bike there was nothing wrong with it - I know its the age old story but I would be surprised to find a holed piston or something...

    that being said, rubber is original and needs to be replaced, brakes have all been sitting and I would like to atleast clean everything up...

    things need to be polished...

    At this point do I go in for closer inspection on the engine? - in the meantime of course I will be doing compression tests on each cylinder to confirm there are no signs of piston wear etc....

    Is there anything I should be doing to the gear box? via flushing the system? same with the cylinders?
    #11
  12. Jo-Nathan

    Jo-Nathan Been here awhile

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    Nah, check to make sure it still shifts through all the gears it's supposed to have (5 I believe) and that the clutch is adjusted right and doesn't slip and ride it. It shares oil with the engine so when you start the bike, keep and eye on the oil, change it after a couple of days and then just change it again when gets dirty like any other old bike. You might squirt a little bit of oil in the cylinders and turn the motor over a few times with the plugs out before firing it up, but that's it. As far as I can tell, there is absolutely no reason to tear that motor apart. I personally wouldn't even bother to replace the seals unless they leaked terribly.

    P.S. I'm gonna be disappointed if you paint anything else and if you paint the tank/sidecovers, my disappointment may turn to anger :thumb
    #12
  13. Dune

    Dune Been here awhile

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    some of the side plastics needed some repair - and the tank did need some work so I may have it repainted the original color.....
    #13
  14. Hondo

    Hondo What if it's a Samsquamch?

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    Wow, nice score!
    #14
  15. drhach

    drhach gorillamanufacturing.com

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    You could trash a bike in 2000 miles. Look at any newer sportbike owned by a teenager. But man, I really doubt that would be the case here. I guess first and foremost, I'd ask why did someone spend a boatload of money decking this out as a tourer and then put only 2000 miles on it? Did you buy it from the original owner? Second, the Honda four is a pretty bulletroof engine. I wouldn't disassemble it. The head gasket probably doesen't leak and probably won't for a good long time. Why tempt fate with replacing it with one that may leak (ask me how I know)? At worst, rubber connections will be the issue here. Carbs to head, Fork dust seals. Anythng that ozone and light can degrade. Maybe pull the forks and wheel bearings and give them a good greasing. I know today, OEM's can be notriously stingy with grease. At leasy check. Shine a light in to the cylinders, look for scoring. Adjust the valves. Spray a little oil in the cylinders, run the starter and do a compression check. It won't be 100% accurate with a cold engine, but it will at least tell you if all of the cylinders are similar.
    #15
  16. Dune

    Dune Been here awhile

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    Im sure this is just opening up a can of worms, but whats wrong with doing something like this?
    I mean dont get me wrong I have an appreciatiation for the 'vintage' of the bike and a large part of me wants to leave it 100% original...

    minus the likely uncomfortable seat for long touring condtions whats wrong with this picture?

    I have never seen a seat like the one that came with my new vintage bike and I doubt I have the heart to change it... and will more than likely keep the entire bike original - especially due to the condition of most of it.... 'just sayin' (J.L.) :D

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    #16
  17. Dune

    Dune Been here awhile

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    My thoughts are the same! it didnt look lik ethere was any reason to think there was anything wrong with the engine as is or any foul play i.e. oil leaks etc... the carbs were in bad need of a rebuild and will be doin that... however the engine I have cleaned up and will be coating and the frame painted to be original black...

    as far as the bike goes, one owner, I purchased it from a guy who had basically been given the bike form the original owner well past his riding years and he had the intention of turning into something of a chopped up sportster but luckily never got around to it...
    #17
  18. kz1

    kz1 Been here awhile

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    Why not only change things that can be put back to original if you or the next owner has that desire. If you like the look of the shorter fenders, pick up a set on Ebay and cut away. Keep the originals someplace dry and you can always change them back. Lower handle bars, and a pair of bar end mirrors will change the look improve the riding position. Etc...
    #18
  19. XS500RUS

    XS500RUS Been here awhile

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    I'm glad to see the OEM-appreciative folks crawling out of the woodwork when it comes to taking apart a classic Honda with only 2k on the clock. Like others have said, it's too late now, but you should have kept disassembly to a minimum until you got the bike running. Cafe-ready rats are readily available, supply of all-original 70s Hondas are beginning to dry up.
    #19
  20. Dune

    Dune Been here awhile

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    you guys sure do know how to crash a party....
    in retrospect maybe I should have attempted to get it going as is... however most of it would have had to be striped anyway electrical needs to be sorted out... 30 years of dust and mice nests... stored indoors but needed some attention... basically needed to be striped down to the frame and engine anyway and I hate having something done half fast...

    So despite everyones relatively negative outlook on things I am still extremely excited to put this back together and have it in mint shape!

    and by no means do I intend to chop it up and make it into something thats a disgrace to bikes.

    I cant wait to ride the bike and was really looking for advice not criticism.

    thx for the support...
    #20