My Honda CB550 Bike Restoration Project

hansvonaxion

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I had a CB350/4 as my first bike. I loved it.
Still want a 750/4, 550/4 or 500/4.
Are you sure its only 4,000 miles?
Have fun.
 

British_Rover

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Man this brings back some memories. About 10 years ago, right around my senior year of HS, I bought a non-running 1978 CB750. It had 9,700 miles on it and the engine was seized. I managed to get it running sort of but it never really ran right. I put it away when I went to college and tried to get it running again when I got back for summer break.

It never would run right so I put it up on ebay. It was too big and heavy to ship so I said you had to come get it. No one bought the whole bike on ebay but I had lots of requests for parts. I ended up parting the car out for much, much more then I paid for it. I sold everything but the frame, forks and wheels/tires. I took those to the recycler yard and got 50 bucks for it.

I still remember dead lifting that heavy as engine and tranny into the back of my jeep. I don't know how much it weighed but it must have been around 250 lbs or so. It is a long way to lift a cumbersome bit of aluminum and steel into the back of a lifted jeep Cherokee.
 

topgear

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I had a CB350/4 as my first bike. I loved it.
Still want a 750/4, 550/4 or 500/4.
Are you sure its only 4,000 miles?
Have fun.
Not a teeny tiny chance. That speedo is from some other Honda product that was later. CB550 speedometers should look like the tach, with a green background. Also, the fact that 55mph has a red bar marking it shows that it's post 1981-2 at least.

Does it have the normal 400/500/550 four head gasket weep? They all do it eventually, and it's no big deal to fix. Just that they, like so many other bike manufacturers of the day, run pressurized oil through the head gasket, and those rubber o-rings have had 30 years to dry out and crack.

Good job taking on this project, it's a great way to learn! :thumbsup:

-Anton
 

napoleondyna

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I'm following this thread as well :) It'll help me some on my Suzuki dirt bike project. Maybe ill start a thread...
 

BlaRo

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Not a teeny tiny chance. That speedo is from some other Honda product that was later. CB550 speedometers should look like the tach, with a green background. Also, the fact that 55mph has a red bar marking it shows that it's post 1981-2 at least.

Does it have the normal 400/500/550 four head gasket weep? They all do it eventually, and it's no big deal to fix. Just that they, like so many other bike manufacturers of the day, run pressurized oil through the head gasket, and those rubber o-rings have had 30 years to dry out and crack.

Good job taking on this project, it's a great way to learn! :thumbsup:

-Anton
Thanks for that. I never knew the thing with the gauges, now I'll never know how many actual miles it's been through. :cry: I like the black look though, I'm going to keep it like that (and not shell out money for NOS replacements).

I'm going to get the engine professionally rebuilt, and the gaskets will presumably be changed then.

And I know, long time no update, I'm having a major issue getting the carburetors off. I stripped 3 screws on the metal insulating band connecting the engine and I'll have to cut those off with a grinder. :censored: It's a huge pain in the ass, and when that's finished I'll be sure to update.
 

The_Finn

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From the pictures the rust doesn't seem all that bad mostly surface stuff you should be able to sand off and then paint with rust converter then paint over again. Except maybe the exhaust rings. Btw if you need any helping hands i am pretty damn local and usually free in the evenings after 6pm and most weekends.
 

KaJuN

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Just a little update on my tank sealing experiment. The stuff worked beautifully! Its been about two weeks and I haven't had to clean the carbs to get the bike started. It was real easy to do, just rinse the tank with a prep solution then let it dry. Then pour in the sealer and slosh it around inside and presto! The hardest part was not being able to ride the bike for three days while the sealer dried. :cry:

Keep up the good work! There's plenty of good riding weather left this year.
 

BlaRo

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about damn time you lazy @#$%&

about damn time you lazy @#$%&

Ladies and gentlemen, the update you've been waiting for...I've been too lazy to post pictures, opting to work on the bike instead. Fair enough, I suppose. :D

Since then I've taken off the entire handlebar assembly, all the wires, the clutch, brake, and throttle cables, the shocks, the rear fenders, and the carbs. That last part was a PITA, I'll explain later.



First, a dumb question...what is this? :blush:



The wires were a huge mess behind the now removed headlight, but I managed to get everything loose and disconnected. Here's the plate of electronics, I forgot what it was called, any ideas?



I have slain Medusa!
:twisted:




The ignition lights. The lightbulbs are all in good condition.




Now the carbs (shown here disconnected from the airbox). First I had to take the battery box off, then get to the element seal case, then the airbox (I have no idea what their specific names are), which are affixed to the carbs with some easily removed metal bands. Unfortunately, the metal bands connecting the carbs to the engine via the rock-solid rubber insulators (shown below) all had stripped screws. I had nothing to remove them with, so I wanted to cut them off, but it was tough seeing as I had no tools to do so with. I tried some screw extractors that my friend lent me, but I should have known those weren't going to work as the band kept on twisting around the insulator. Note to self: invest in a Dremel, maybe? :wall:




These damn screws were the bane of my existence.
Eventually I borrowed some metal cutting shears from work, thinking they wouldn't be able to reach that cramped spot. Lo and behold, they worked beautifully like a knife through hot butter (yeah, it's a cliche, I know).




Finally! Fenders removed as well, see below.




While banging my head in frustration at how to remove the stripped bands, I decided to remove the rear fenders. The metal fender will be repainted gloss black along with the rest of the bodywork (front fenders, side covers, tank, fairing), and the plastic fairing has a rather sizeable crack in it and I'll be replacing it.





Carbs in a box. Kinda looks like the Flying Spaghetti Monster.




Tomorrow I'll be removing the rear shocks, wheel, and brake. Stay tuned to This Old Bike*, same old time, same old place! 8)

* I'm telling you, this needs to be a TV show, pronto. Pull Tim The Toolman Taylor out of retirement, it'll be brilliant.
 

KaJuN

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Your mystery part looks like the control unit for all the electric ignition stuff. Ignition control module maybe? I also see the starter solenoid in there (the round thing). It looks like you've mad some good progress. I feel your pain with the carbs. Just wait til you're trying to adjust them properly. Hopefully it won't be as much of a nightmare as it was for me.
 

hansvonaxion

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Mystery part; 2 coils. Theres no distributor, rather the coils run straight into the spark plug leads. Its a pain trying to reconnect the carbs to the air box. Stripped knuckles galore.
 

British_Rover

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Do you have the shop manual for the bike yet? If not you should be able to buy it from any Honda motorcycle dealer. If you can't find it let me know I think I still have my copy around some where.

Just shoot me a PM if the manual is out of print or if they want a stupid amount of money for it and I will try to find my copy.
 

kenezzite

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WoW that's some project, my hat off to you man. I can't wait to see when you'll finish it. I might buy it. <_<
 

bone

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First, a dumb question...what is this? :blush:
like said before, that's the coil

it changes the 12v coming from the ignition to the 1000s of volts needed by the spark plugs.
and there is indeed no distributor, it'll just send a spark through all of them, and only the piston in the right situation will fire. (they -probably- aren't numbered either, you can choose what cable to connect on which spark plug)
 

jakifirbec

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Yeah, what is going on? I love the bike and want to se more of it.
 

KaJuN

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Like they said keep the updates coming. I struggled enough getting my bike going and now I want to watch someone else suffer. :lol:
 

BlaRo

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Ok! Haven't managed to update this in about a month, I've been busy with work and actually disassembling the bike. :blush: I've done a lot since the last update as well, so here's a quick rundown...


...pretty much took apart the entire bike. Sent the frame, swingarm, and both stands in for sandblasting and powdercoating. Nearly died trying to take the oil filter housing off.


Pictures!





The oil filter bolt was stuck on tighter than a pair of nun's knickers. Apparently this is a common problem with these old bikes, and there was only one way to get it out, since I had already stupidly stripped it.

So I went to work, borrowed a grinder, and got busy.



Possibly the most annoying thing I've had to do on this bike so far: I was sweating in the not-very-protective protective clothing I had donned, and the sparks were shooting out like sparklers (which was unnerving at first). It also didn't help that I eventually destroyed the precious aluminum housing and needed a new one. Took me 3 days to get the damn thing off. :wall:




Luckily (and I was damn lucky too!) I found a replacement on eBay for $10. Lucky wasn't enough to describe it; if I were to order a NOS replacement it would have been $50.


(I wear my Casio with pride, you bitches better represent. 8))

Also found a bigger 17mm bolt to replace the 11mm original bolt from hell that tortured me so much.





Victory!
 
Last edited:

BlaRo

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Astute readers will notice that I've already removed the rear wheel in that previous post. Here's how I did that:



First, I had to remove the rear shocks.



Then, the chainguard and rear sissy bar (if that counts as a sissy bar, which it shouldn't).



Brake assembly. Mmm, simple mechanical brakes. No messy paint-stripping brake fluid to worry about.



The left axle was just a matter of reading the Clymer manual and pulling the axle out. Then unscrewing the tensioners and pulling the wheel out.



Like that.



Moody shot of the disassembled drum brake.



Awesome.
 
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