76 500/550 Project

Discussion in 'Old's Cool' started by riverfever, Dec 31, 2013.

  1. riverfever

    riverfever Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2007
    Oddometer:
    81
    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.

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    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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    #1
  2. riverfever

    riverfever Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2007
    Oddometer:
    81
    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.

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    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.

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    Finally...I pulled the carbs.

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    #2
  3. riverfever

    riverfever Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2007
    Oddometer:
    81
    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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

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    #3
  4. riverfever

    riverfever Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2007
    Oddometer:
    81
    I drank a beer, grabbed a small ball peen hammer and a 2 sided rubber/nylon hammer and took some swings.

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    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.

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    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.

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

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    I relocated the ignition under the upper tree.

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

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    #4
  5. riverfever

    riverfever Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2007
    Oddometer:
    81
    I spent weeks doing body work.

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    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.

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

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    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.

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

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    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.

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

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    #5
  6. riverfever

    riverfever Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2007
    Oddometer:
    81
    Most recently, I removed the upper tree, ignition mount, and headlight bucket so I could paint them black.
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    That's where things are at right now.
    #6
  7. RickS

    RickS Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2006
    Oddometer:
    622
    Location:
    Altus, OK
    Very nice.
    #7
  8. jbcaddy

    jbcaddy Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,228
    Location:
    Oroville & Placerville, California U.S.of A.
    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.
    #8
  9. riverfever

    riverfever Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2007
    Oddometer:
    81
    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.
    #9
  10. Horizontal

    Horizontal Goatin' Around

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2013
    Oddometer:
    272
    Location:
    Santa Cruz, CA
    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.
    #10
  11. riverfever

    riverfever Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2007
    Oddometer:
    81
    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.
    #11
  12. Vince

    Vince Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2006
    Oddometer:
    338
    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.
    #12
  13. riverfever

    riverfever Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2007
    Oddometer:
    81
    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.

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    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?
    #13
  14. riverfever

    riverfever Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2007
    Oddometer:
    81
    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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    #14
  15. Kurt V

    Kurt V Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2008
    Oddometer:
    233
    Location:
    Jefferson City, MO
    Light colors hide imperfections, dark colors accentuate them. Just sayin.
    #15
  16. Onederer

    Onederer Crunch Nugget

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2008
    Oddometer:
    889
    Location:
    At the bottom of your glass, staring back
    My opinion is that you have done a tasteful job on the bike thus far. Flat black often says the builder gave up, don't. Even (quality) rattle can paint can look very nice on such a small area if the proper prep is done.

    Just a heads-up, the primary drive is a chain type with rubber dampers. If you experience a jerking feeling during power in gear, it's the likely culprit. I have no idea of a new parts source, but if you plan to keep the bike you may want to look into it. The horizontially split cases may allow you to repair any of it without a complete engine tear down.
    #16
  17. riverfever

    riverfever Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2007
    Oddometer:
    81
    Thank you and, I agree. Flat black would be a waste. The bike came with a 500 side cover and a 550 side cover (that was cracked badly). So I've been trying to locate another 500 cover which I found last night. I was down in the garage verifying it before I bought it on ebay and I couldn't help but look at the tank some. I'm unhappy with it. There's just too many inconsistencies in the knee dents. I think they would look horribly when painted. This was a hard first project for body work. I'd still like to make it work but I think I'm gonna step away for a bit. I had been using a smaller sanding block to work on the convex portions of the tank but I have been using my hands on the knee dents and I think that's why there's so many issues there. I couldn't sleep last night so I started trying to figure out what else I could use in that area to help (maybe PVC with sand paper around it just to be more uniform?). For now I'm going to work on the side covers (sanding them out, filling in the holes where the badges mount, etc.) and then when it's a bit warmer go back to the tank. It might just need a bit more filler in the knee dents but I see no point putting more in unless I have a different/better way to work it down so it's even. Open to suggestions.
    #17
  18. TSSRA

    TSSRA DR650 Rider

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2014
    Oddometer:
    36
    Location:
    Middle Tennessee
    like your Honda... i have a '78 Suzuki GS750 awaiting the same redemption. I used to build GS750/1000s from wrecks back in the eighties. It's been awhile. Your update has inspired me to get started on the GS. Thanks.
    #18
  19. Flipczak

    Flipczak Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2010
    Oddometer:
    27
    Location:
    Harrison Twp., Michigan
    Well done on your build. I love the look of the original four into four cocktail shaker exhaust pipes. The big speedo and tach fit with overall look of the bike. Maybe rebuild them with some darker face plates and some LED backlight's. Where did you find the braided brake line to fit your master cylinder?
    #19
  20. riverfever

    riverfever Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2007
    Oddometer:
    81
    Thanks guys. I'm flattered to have inspired anyone to get a build going. This has been really fun. Wish I had started this sooner in life but it's a great new hobby.

    As much as I'd like to run a more simplified 4-1 exhaust (purely for looks), I do kinda like the way the stock pipes look and they are in remarkably good shape. I have plans to replace the gauges with some smaller 2.5" ones in black. I went back and forth on the hose for a while between Slingshot Cycles and Carpy (cb750cafe). Carpy does a lot of stuff with the 750 and the piece where the front brake switch mounts is vertically mounted on the lower tree where it's horizontally mounted on my bike. I was worried that his line would be too short but took the chance. It's close but it works. I've thought about grinding the tabs down and mounting it the other way and freeing up some slack in the line but haven't gotten around to it yet.
    #20