Monday, June 1, 2020

No, no… a thousand times NO! Aftermarket parts...

There is odd synchronicity that occurs in my life, at times. I acquired a mostly original 1966 CA77 305cc Dream recently. I discovered that the ignition point set was not the original, but one of the various aftermarket copies, which are nearly impossible to adjust to OEM specs.

Then, yesterday, I wound up in a 30-message email exchange from a customer who was rebuilding a CA77 engine and experiencing great difficulties with the ignition timing. He sent photos of the engine’s cam timing setup, which all looked normal. It’s kind of hard to get Dream cam timing off a lot or even the point cam. The point cam is double-ended for the 360-degree crankshaft Dream engines, so you can put it in either way and it still works. If you do that with a 180 degree CB/CL engine, you will wind up having to install the points plate upside down in order to make the engine run.

My distant friend (in Canada) was tearing his hair out because when the points were set to normal gap, the ignition timing was about 30 degrees advanced. He was concerned that something was wrong with the cam timing setup or somehow installed the point cam in incorrectly. The point cam only goes in one of two ways, so you can’t install it 30 degrees off, no matter how hard you try.

My suspicions zeroed-in to the ignition points, which I have observed repeatedly as being out of specifications in all cases if they are not OEM parts. I asked if the points were ND stamped (Nippon Denso). I could see in the slightly blurry photo that it was a ND point setup vs. the optional Kokusan designed parts. He replied that the point plate said DENSO on it next to the contact set, which didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear. I could see, even in the photos, that the insulators for the point wire were a bright red plastic, which is almost always a sign of aftermarket point installations. ND uses a Bakelite-type of insulator which is a dull red.

I sent him photos of close-up images of new ND points and asked if they matched up with what he had on the points plate. Another out-of-focus photo came back, taken about 3 feet away. Again, I asked: “Does it have the ND stamp on the point contact set?” Finally, he replied that it didn’t have ND on the points and he noticed a <F.E.W> mark where the ND was supposed to be. I tracked down a couple of sources of genuine ND points and sent links for him to purchase the correct parts.

                                <F.E.W.> aftermarket points. Note backing plate position

Somehow, he still wondered if installing an electronic ignition would solve the problem. Well, the answer is YES because the trigger wheel is held onto the point cam with a set screw, so it has virtually infinite adjust-ability. Eventually, he resigned himself to ordering a set of ND points and will report back to me about the results.

Concurrently, I received prompt 4-day delivery of some Dream parts from DSS (, including a set of ND points and condenser and set about to install them in the 3600-mile Dream engine. As I extracted the old points, I looked at the contact base with a magnifying glass and discovered <F.E.W> stamped on the point set. The bike had been running with the points, but the point backing plate was turned all the way to the right end of the adjustment slot. The point gap looked to be about. .008”; just enough to break the circuit but not what Honda specified normally, which is .012-.016.”

Note that the rubbing block contact point is different between the two examples. ND at the bottom of the images.

With the new ND point set installed, the end result was the backing plate set more towards the center of the slot and the point gap around the.016” range. The bike fired up normally and settled down after a brief warm-up. What I did notice when checking the static ignition timing is that if the timing was just to the right of the F mark on one side, a full revolution put the point opening just between the T and F marks! With a dynamic timing light, you will see the idle timing marks shifting back and forth depending upon which end of the point cam is being used. You can either leave it as-is and live with the inaccuracy OR you can use a wet-stone to carefully work down the point cam lobe that is more advanced, so that eventually both ends are going to open the points right at the F mark alignment.

                                 Nippon-Denso original points. Note backing plate position

In any case, DO NOT ORDER/INSTALL any points that have <F.E.W> or a little three-blade propeller stamp which is from the Daiichi company. Both aftermarket point sets will give you the same headache, without a doubt. So, again, I say “No, no… a thousand times NO” to the installation of any aftermarket ignition points that don’t have ND stamped on them. The part number for the ND points is 259-004 vs. 259-003 for the Kokusan point sets, which will not install on a ND point plate at all. There are aftermarket copies of the Kokusan points as well, so BEWARE of fake copies. Unfortunately, for vendors of those products, they are stuck with an inferior product that should never be marketed in the first place.

And now you know....

Bill “MrHonda” Silver

Thursday, May 28, 2020

MrHonda is bitten by a small white shark…

So, I saw this bike listed on Facebook Marketplace for sale, right before the owners were moving to TN. I had seen the bike for sale on Craigslist and eBay auctions in the past year, then it disappeared for a while. Now it was back...

Ad text:
This is a very clean bike. You could ride it down Ortega or park it in your man cave. Over $5,000 went into making this bike so pristine. It has been garaged, It has CA plates but currently in Non Op status. I have pink slip.

Well, with the Coronavirus thing happening, all there is to do is work on motorcycles and/or buy/sell some. I had worked the herd down from 5 to 2, but that situation doesn’t last for long around here. My brother, Jim, had a 1984 VF500F Interceptor for a number of years and I wound up working on it a few times. Honda changed the carburetor calibrations several times, plus put out a TSB on “drive-ability” for the 1984 models, which carried 102-105 main jets and even different needles between front and rear carburetors. In 1985, the main jet sizes dropped to 90 front and rear with all the same needles. I tried to get the update kit for my brother’s bike, but Honda wanted to know if the bike had excessive leak-down, which this one did, probably due to lean jetting affecting the valves. I wound up buying one of the takeout engines (Honda had some bearing problems with early models and replaced whole engines under warranty) and replaced the heads with fresh parts and put a DynaJet carb kit in it at the same time. Wow, that bike was fun to drive after those upgrades!

So, back to the little white shark 1985 VF500F Interceptor for sale…. They dropped the price down a few hundred dollars on the ad, but when I spoke to the owner, he offered it for an additional $300 off, considering I was making a 180 mile round trip from San Diego to Mission Viejo, CA in Orange County. I was lead to believe that the bike had been running a few months back and that he put stabilizer in the gas tank. He offered a OEM shop manual and tons of receipts for work done in the past, including new head gaskets from Cometic being installed.

Dazzled by the amount of work done to the bike and the overall look, I over-rode my internal guidance about not buying dead bikes for too much money and drove up and bought the thing. You could see that massive amounts of work had gone into the bike over the years. The whole chassis was powder-coated as were the engine covers and even the water tubes that transfer coolant across the engine. The wheels were powder-coated and the bodywork was all refinished in “Shark white” paint. Well, what the heck.. how bad could it be, given the story behind the build from the owner who had had the bike for 5 years. Well, it was worse than I thought, but somehow expected.

The battery was stone-dead, due to a lack of battery acid/fluid which had never been maintained. I bought a battery from the local auto parts store and had to service it before use, so it sat overnight on the charger. The next day, with a fresh battery installed, I checked the gas tank and found it empty! I went to the 7-11 and bought a couple of gallons of premium fuel and filled the tank. I turned the ignition switch on and moved the petcock knob from OFF to Reserve and hit the starter button. It burbled to life after a few moments, but then I noticed a pool of gasoline beneath the bike! I turned everything off and looked carefully at the carburetors for signs of an overflowing float valve, but nothing was noticed there. Looking further back, I saw fuel drooling down the rear cylinder, right below where the petcock would be located on the tank. Off comes the seat and the two bolts holding the tank on and with the fuel line disconnected, it was obvious that the fuel leak was coming from the petcock seals.
I had to drain out the gasoline and then turn the tank up to access the petcock body. It is held on with 2 bolts and comes right off once the fuel knob is removed. I first thought that the little sediment bowl was leaking, but with the petcock on the bench I could see that the normally riveted petcock plate was held on with a couple of screws. The internal gaskets on these petcocks are the same 4 hole gaskets as were used on the 1960’s Honda Super Hawks and Scramblers. Fortunately, I had an aftermarket kit in stock and borrowed the 4 hole gasket to use on the Interceptor petcock. It didn’t fit quite right, at first, but with a little bit of pushing, it finally seated down in place and the outer plate was reattached. I put gas back into the tank, while it was sitting on the ground and there were no leaks, so I put the tank back on the bike.

It fired up again, with no leaks, this time. I put the seat back on and decided to try the bike on a test ride around the block. While it sounded throaty with the little cone mufflers attached, it seemed to be running on all four cylinders until the throttle was cracked open. It stumbled and bucked and felt like it was running out of gas, so I pulled some choke on and it improved slightly. A few more blocks down the road and the bike continued to run rough and irregular. Even with full choke, it wouldn’t take full-throttle, so I marched it back to the garage, knowing I was about to face what I feared the most; carburetor cleaning!

I have had horrible experiences with a 1988 VF400 NC30 JDM bike a few years back and it never really ran well, even after several dis-assemblies and parts replacements. Those carburetors have a pivot bolt that holds the bodies together, but allows the V to be flexed a little bit in order to fit them back into the manifolds. The VF500 does not have that feature and once the mounting plate is removed, the whole rack of carbs kind of falls apart, losing the connection tabs that synchronize the carburetor shafts. I threw the whole pile into a drain pan and pulled each float bowl, cleaning the jets and checking float levels. I noticed that the main jets were #94 from a Dyno-Jet kit, designed for the 1985 model carburetors. The needles had no marks and the clips were at the #2 notch from the top. There were notes in the shop manual about the jetting and needle clip settings, which verified that this was a kitted carb set.

I really didn’t find a “smoking gun” problem with the carbs, although you could see that old fuel had been left in the bowls for an extended period of time. The bike’s registration ran out in 2018, so that was probably the last time it ran, anyway. I moved the clips down a couple of clicks and reassembled everything again. Getting the linkages back together was a challenge and I finally put the mounting plate back on the carbs, to help hold everything together. Unfortunately, the throttle cables are difficult to install with everything connected, so I eased the mounting plate back off to allow the carbs to reconnect to the manifolds, but then the linkages came adrift and the whole event just got very ugly. It probably took an hour to get the carbs into the manifolds and get the linkage tabs reconnected with the little springs set just right. Finally, at 7:30 PM I got the bike to fire back up again, but I left it set with the air filter housing removed and gave it all a rest until the next morning.

The next day…

After reassembly, the bike fired up on choke, sounded “okay” and it ran for about 10 minutes, but then suddenly lost power and stalled. I checked the gas cap for signs of a vacuum blockage, leaned the bike over to the left side for a moment and then it started back up, limping back home slowly, stalling twice more before finally returning home. I had only put 2 and a half gallons of fuel in it and had run it around on several trips, but when the fuel tap was opened to ON or RESERVE, I could see some fuel flowing through the inline gas filter. Still, something was seriously wrong. Was it dying electrics or some kind of fuel flow issue?
As I pondered the possibilities, I noticed a couple of harness wiring connectors that weren’t connected to anything. Finally, it dawned on me that these bikes came with an electric fuel pump one of which was sitting in the parts box that came with the bike. Despite what appears to be a gravity-fed fuel delivery possibility when you look at the relationship of the tank to carburetors, Honda thought differently and put a pump in the system. I fetched the pump, read the book about how to jumper the fuel cut relay connector (fuel cut relay was missing, unfortunately) and the pump rattled to life. The next task was to re-plumb the fuel lines from the petcock, back to the pump which is located a couple of feet away, then return the fuel lines back to the carburetor fittings. Honda has an elaborate system of pre-curved fuel lines, fuel line connectors, an in-line filter and other fittings, all of which were missing.

I tried to work out a deal with an eBay seller who had the whole used fuel line system, but he wanted $35 for shipping the fuel lines and a tool box. We wound up in a stalemate, so other options were needed. Some 1/4” hose from the auto parts store started the process and I discovered that some 10-12 gauge electrical butt connectors could make fuel line connectors to use in the interim. Perhaps, that the whole issue, all along, was just a lack of fuel feed to all the carburetors. I had used an infrared temp gauge to check the header pipe temperatures and both right side cylinders were colder than left side cylinders. Being that the coils fire front and rear cylinder pairs, that eliminates a lack of spark to the ignition system.

In an effort to eliminate other possibilities, I removed the radiator to access the spark plugs and allow the use of a compression gauge to check engine health. The speedometer was also not working and when the fairing cowl was removed, the speedometer showed signs of being broken and 1984 VF500F was written on the back of the meter unit, consistent with coming from a salvage yard. Instead of a nicely-built custom bike, it was looking more like a bitsa-bike instead. More eBay shopping turned up a good used speedometer and a few other necessary items.

The newer 1986 Speedometer came in and installed fairly easily, but the first test ride yielded the same outcome; no speedometer function. Pulling the lower fairing allowed for use of a small floor jack to fit underneath the oil filter and provide a lift point to pivot the bike on the centerstand. Removing the front wheel hardware just enough to remove the speedometer drive brought clarity to the problem. The plastic/nylon speedometer gear teeth were stripped along the edge where the spiral gear contacts the drive sprocket teeth. It’s not a commonly found part, but Partzilla had one that arrived with a $30 price in a few days. Meanwhile I decided to order a new set of tires and a pair of good used OEM mufflers to take some of the roar out of the exhaust note.

In a now-normal bit of confusion, I wound up with a pair of right side mufflers and nothing for the left. The eBay seller who had mislabeled the muffler, took it back for refund and another left side was tracked down and purchased. New muffler packings were also ordered as they seldom survive muffler refitting.

The good news is that the bike fired up and loves having a fuel pump in the system. It pulled to redline in lower gears, pulled well at mid-range, shifts well and rides with authority. This was the bike I remembered from back in the 1980s!

Really “tired” of this…

The May 5th tire order, from Chaparral Motors in San Bernadino, via eBay, seemed to go well at first, with promised delivery in a couple of days. What showed up was ONE rear tire with labels attached, and some Fed-Ex messages about a damaged bar code, which was apparently reconstructed. There were no notes about the second tire. I tried to contact Fed-Ex via phone but was put on endless wait times. I tried to contact Chaparral Motors to find out what had happened to the order. Three times, I was on hold for 30 minutes, then gave up using the “call-back” option with a selected time for the return call. Well, that didn’t happen for over a day. I tried to use an old CS email message to hit them directly, but that didn’t have any response. I was assuming that Fed-Ex had somehow lost the other tire, but usually, when a pair of tires are shipped to me, they are banded together, which these were not. Finally, Chaparral called back from the automated system. The woman didn’t know who I was or what the issue was as there is no tracking of the calls in as to what the issues are. She said that there were only three people available to return calls and they were backed up for over a day, so far. She pulled up my order account information and noted that “We didn’t have the 16” tire in stock, so I’ll have to order it now.”

So, now I have lost 2 days waiting with the bike off its wheels waiting for fresh rubber. A couple of hours later, another woman called from Chaparral off of the second “call-back” message I had left and I asked her to verify that a tire was ordered for me. She said that it was coming from another vendor warehouse in California, but the invoice had been sent for the purchase. From that point, things spiraled downwards for several more days. You can see that the tire was ordered and shipped, via UPS this time. It had to come from Visalia, CA which is a good 300 miles from San Diego. Tracking showed it coming down to LA overnight, then stalled out due to unexpected delays.

Out for Delivery
05/12/2020 11:32 AM.
Chula Vista, CA, United States
Out For Delivery Today

05/12/2020 2:14 AM.
Chula Vista, CA, United States
Destination Scan

05/11/2020 1:30 PM.
Chula Vista, CA, United States
Delivery will be delayed by one business day.

05/10/2020 10:34 AM.
Chula Vista, CA, United States
Arrival Scan

05/09/2020 9:53 AM.
Vernon, CA, United States
Your package has been delayed due to events beyond our control. We're adjusting delivery plans as quickly as possible.

05/09/2020 8:07 AM.
Vernon, CA, United States
Departure Scan

05/09/2020 12:53 AM.
Vernon, CA, United States
Arrival Scan

05/08/2020 9:16 PM.
Visalia, CA, United States
Departure Scan

Past Event

05/08/2020 7:22 PM.
Visalia, CA, United States
Origin Scan

 The tire shipped on Friday, stalled in LA, then arrived in Chula Vista (12 miles away from me) on Sunday morning. I had gotten delivery messages from UPS, first for a Saturday delivery before 9PM. They don’t work on Sundays, so I expected the delivery on Monday, which was indicated in the next UPS message. That didn’t happen either, even though the tire was sitting in the depot. Every time I checked the delivery information, there was only an arrival scan, not a destination scan or out for delivery message. Later on Monday, the “delivery delayed by one business day” message showed up on the tracking log.

Tuesday morning showed no changes. I called UPS to try and get a live person, which wasn’t available on Monday, and finally got connected to an off-shore call center, probably in the Philippines, that said that it was scheduled for delivery on Tuesday. Later on, a UPS notice popped up showing that the tire was out for delivery between 12:45 and 4:45. I needed to coordinate the tire arrival with a trip to a shop to get it changed and balanced, so I can get the bike back up on its wheels again. When I rechecked the tracking status in the afternoon, the message reverted to “delivery by 9PM” again. It’s a 50-50 deal if the tire actually makes it here on Tuesday after all, as far as I can tell. I wouldn’t be surprised to get another “delayed one business day” message later on. To be fair, we are in the middle of the Corona-virus pandemic and businesses are impacted greatly in many cases. However, if the original order had been tracked properly, the second tire would have been shipped at least a day earlier and perhaps gotten here on time.

Part of the worry was that I had my 1967 CB125SS up on my repair rack, with the Interceptor parked behind it with the wheels off. The little 125 had been sold on BAT auctions and the shippers were set to pick up the bike on Tuesday. My options were either to put the old wheel back on the bike and gently roll it out of the shop to clear room to remove the 125 or pull the front stop off of the repair rack and go forward with it into the shop, then drag it around to fit out the side door to the garage, then out past the Ford Focus parked inside. The car was parked to far to the left, so I had to get the keys and move the car out of the way, roll the bike out, put the car back and wait for the shippers to arrive. So, at least that worry was handled by 10:30 AM. The bike shipping people showed up around 11AM and the bike was gone within 20 minutes.

All the while I am waiting for signs of the UPS truck and arrival of the tire. While writing this, it is 4:40PM and no tire has arrived so far, so now we go into Wednesday for arrival and tire mounting. Also coming this week is a new speedometer cable, which was supposed to arrive here on the 12th, but tracking shows it headed towards New Orleans! So more messages out eBay sellers to find out if they misrouted the cable or if USPS has lost it in the system. It’s not been a good week for bike parts and repair schedules.

In the meantime, I installed some new OEM-looking front turn signals to replace the fragile little LED units that had been mounted previously. The wires must have been about 22-24 gauge, as they were easily dislodged from the printed circuit board when the wiring routing was changed. I had to re-solder the wires twice in order to get them to work for my initial ride a week before.

The new units were less than $40 for a set of four, including proper dual filament fronts so that the running lights could be used properly. They are still made in China, of course, but were a good deal more sturdy than the installed LED lights. There are aftermarket OEM-type turn signal mounts and light assemblies still available for these bikes, but each part was about $25-30, so about $50-55 per corner.

UPS was supposed to deliver a customer’s CT90 big-bore kit from DrATV in Nebraska today, the 12th, according to messages on Saturday, but at 4PM today a message came through that the delivery is now on Wednesday the 13th from 10:45 to 2:45. As Shakespeare once wrote, “When sorrows come, they come not as single spies, but in battalions.”

I called UPS at 8:30PM, knowing that the tire was not going to be delivered in the darkness. Fortunately, I got an honest man on the customer service line who told me that the tire never was loaded onto the truck that day, for reasons unknown. He offered to have the local office call me with an explanation and to see if they will just hold the tire at the depot so I can go and pick it up instead of waiting fruitlessly for another “delivery” on Wednesday. I have no idea what is going on with this office, but it is not in the best interest of the customers at this time.

At 10PM, an hour after the “cutoff-time” for the Tuesday tire delivery, I received a new message from UPS:

Hi William, your scheduled delivery date has changed.

Rescheduled Delivery Date:
Wednesday, 05/13/2020
Estimated Delivery Time:
by 9:00 P.M.

 So, again, despite assurances that I would get a call with update information, neither event came to pass. On Wednesday afternoon, I drove 8 miles over to the UPS depot, stood in line for 30 minutes in the sun and then was told that the tire might be on the truck for Thursday, or I could ask for it to go into Will-Call status and I could pick it up on Wednesday evening from 7:30-8:00PM. Finally, at 8PM on Wednesday night, I was able to receive the long-awaited 16” front tire for the bike. On Thursday morning I received a message from UPS stating that my tire had been “delivered” at 8PM, the night before.

I hauled the wheel and tire down to my friend’s shop in National City, CA. He was able to change it out and install a new valve stem in less than twenty minutes. Then, off I went to go home and reassemble the bike. With correct-sized tires, the bike sits noticeably lower than before and seems much more responsive to changing directions and the ride-quality has improved, as well.

During all of this waiting and uncertainty, I received the $30 plastic gear for the speedometer drive unit, as well as a new replacement speedometer cable for the bike. Also received was a new set of brake pads for the triple-disc brakes. Everything went back together fairly smoothly and the bike received a favorable test ride experience, including a working speedometer.

On Friday, the left side OEM used muffler showed up, so the little custom stainless cones were removed and replaced with twenty pounds of OEM stock mufflers, which were substantially quieter than the slip-on units. I used the bike to make a trip to the Post Office for mailing of some motorcycle parts and was able to really fully experience the solid feel of this little Interceptor for the first time. It has been a love-hate experience for the past few weeks, but the bike’s potential has finally been fully realized. Now it is time to enjoy the fruits of my labor, perhaps for the next few months or longer. I am really beginning to like this bike a lot now!

Bill “MrHonda” Silver

Several friends, who rode behind me, noticed some “smoke” coming from the exhaust system on hard acceleration and coming off of stoplights where it idles for a few minutes. This kind of behavior points to worn valve stem seals in most cases. Apparently, when the head gaskets were replaced, the valve stem seals were ignored. On a 140 mile run, the oil level dropped down to the add mark, requiring most of a quart of oil to refill to the top fill line. Subsequently, on a 80-mile trip, the oil level dropped again about halfway down the stick. I have ordered a set of engine gaskets, which are in short supply now. These are coming from the UK. I am not looking forward to tearing the top end off of this bike for stem repairs. I attempted to buy a whole parts bike locally, but after driving 50 miles to see it, the seller promptly left to go on errands when I was 5 minutes away. The white shark is nibbling away at me again.


Label Created
05/08/2020 9:59 PM.
United States
Order Processed: Ready for UPS

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

CB125SS tear-down…

You really never know what you are getting at motorcycle auctions unless there are details specific to the history and current running state in the auction highlights. Usually, there is nothing like that available to prospective buyers/bidders. You get a couple of photos and a couple of lines about what it is and from what “collection” that it came from and that’s about all.

Case in point: I bid and won a 1967 CB125SS bike at a recent Mecum auction, which carried scant information about what it was and where it came from. These bikes appeared to be solely Japanese Domestic Models and few have survived after 53 years, much less having been lovingly restored in the Mid-West a few years back. These bikes originally came in various metallic Candy colors, rather than Honda’s usual black/white/red/blue options, that were the mainstay of the color palette of the early 1960s. This one was painted a traditional Scarlet Red, the color that you would have seen on a CB77 Super Hawk or S90 or CB160 back then. So, “points off” for non-original paint color. That said, it looks wonderful in this color, mimicking a CB160 in size and overall configuration. 1967 was a cut-off period for the 160s and newly designed CB175K0 and this CB125SS were transition models between the old “toaster tank” models and the chrome-fendered two-tone paint schemes commonly seen on 1968-on CB175 and CB350 twins. Despite numerous visual similarities to the earlier CB125-160 models, the only parts in common were the knee pads and rear mudflap/bracket.

I brought the bike back to San Diego in my Tacoma truck after the auction and set about to see what it would take to get it running, as obviously, it hadn’t run for a while. The battery was flat and wouldn’t take a charge and the fuel system needed some freshening up as well. This is a rare electric-start model, a feature which isn’t even shown in the period parts manuals. With fresh fuel and a new battery, the bike did fire up, sounding a bit loud, as the muffler system consisted of cut-off stock header pipes and a set of aftermarket Thailand-made slip-on mufflers. Initial test runs seemed to indicate a lot more power than recent SS125A and CL125A machines which had come my way in the past few years.

The shifting, however, was erratic and it seemed to skip gears and couldn’t find neutral easily. Off came the clutch cover to see what was going on and it was discovered that the shift drum detent arm was off to the side of the shift drum stopper plate instead of riding up on top of the notched plate. This is a very rare occurrence in my experience, but I bent the roller arm just a bit in order to help it maintain its correct location. The clutch outer plate, which has 4 pockets for the clutch springs had a big crack at the bottom of one pocket and a large chunk missing from one of the other ones. This, too, is something that is nearly unexplained and never seen previously in my 50 years of wrangling vintage Hondas. A quick trip to eBay yielded a used clutch assembly with a good pressure plate. I buttoned the whole thing up and tried it again. Low-speed trips around the neighborhood seemed to indicate that the problems had been solved successfully.

Performance-wise, the engine sounded quiet and didn’t seem to smoke out of the tailpipes, but when the compression was checked, the left side was 115 and the right side was 155! I found a somewhat tight intake valve on the left side, so loosened it up to the .002” spec and tried it again. Compression went up to about 130 and that’s all it would do. Slightly low compression is often an indication of a broken ring, scored cylinder walls, unseated rings or a mildly leaking valve.

Somehow, the bottom engine case boss, which anchors the stock mufflers, had a big chunk missing from the engine casting. When I finally tracked down OEM mufflers, the middle brackets, which are supposed to anchor to the engine case really didn’t line up to allow bolts to secure the muffler to the engine. There is a rear muffler bracket, which attaches to the frame and it holds the mufflers securely without the middle one being present. But, the combination of that fault, low compression readings and still erratic shifting when the engine was hot lead me to decide to just remove the engine and remedy everything that was going on with it. There are only 4 bolts holding the engine into the chassis, so after the mufflers are removed and a few wires and hoses disconnected, it drops down onto a small hydraulic jack and off it goes to the workbench.

The cylinder head was removed and valves tested for leakage by shooting some spray brake cleaner down the ports when the valves were closed. Nothing leaked there, so the next stop was the cylinder block. Once the cylinders removed from the engine crankcase, the cylinder bores had notable pockmarks along portions of the cylinder walls like tiny termites had been gnawing at the top of the bores. The pistons and rings were determined to be on standard bore and use of a hone revealed some light ridging at the top of the bores. Ring gaps were off at the wide end of the scale, as well. So, despite fairly tight piston and ring sets, the left side was losing compression when the rings skated over the dimples in the cylinder bore. Time for new oversized pistons and a rebore!

The engine had been assembled with a LOT of 3-Bond or similar liquid sealer, so every gasket surface was coated with the sealant and stuck together far more than usually found. With the clutch and oil pump removed and the stator/ignition components pulled off the left side, the engine cases could be split for inspection and replacement of the lower case. In removing the top shift drum anchor bolt, it was noted that the shift drum collar/roller was NOT present. I have run into this situation with a CB92 engine and the whole shift drum assembly was floating back and forth, selecting (or not) gears at random. One tiny roller makes all the difference in the performance of the transmission and that is what caused the detent roller to move over and drop down!

When I was studying the shift drum detent roller problem, I searched for what would normally be a related part on the later SS125A and CL125A models, which were sold in the US. The detent roller for those models was easily twice the diameter of the one in my engine. There really isn’t room inside the engine case to fit a large detent roller, unless other parts were also changed. Checking the two different parts and part numbers, I discovered that the shift drum detent roller was engaging a smaller and reconfigured shift drum stopper plate. Back to the same eBay seller for a whole used shift drum and detent roller in order to see if the later parts could be retrofitted into the 1967 engine case.

The parts arrived quickly from Oregon and I set about to see if the next generation parts would indeed fit into the earlier engine cases, which seemed virtually identical. The used eBay parts included the entire shift selection components, including shift drum, detent roller, guide pin with a spring and detent plunger and both shift forks. Everything was different than what was in my bike and fortunately, all the used upgrade parts fit into the CB engine cases perfectly. I reassembled the bottom end and sent the cylinders out to be rebored to .50 oversize. I found a whole piston, pin, ring, clips setup on eBay for $95, so with another $80 to be spent on cylinder boring, the engine will be nice and tight and ready for service.

                                               Old vs. new detent rollers

In keeping with rebuilding any old Honda engine, I spent more than one-hour scraping old gaskets and sealer material from the top-end components. Plan on some similar time to be spent on whatever engine you might be working on in the future. The OEM gaskets were made of asbestos and bond to aluminum in an unimaginable way over a 20-50 year period. This engine has been refreshed previously, but the builder appears to have used some aftermarket gasket kits. He also had used a liquid sealer on the head gasket, which adhered to the outer surfaces. When the head was removed the head gasket delaminated and there were signs of rust or corrosion that was embedded into the head gasket layers. Honda always cautioned about using non-OEM gaskets in their engines, even back in the 1960s, so this was proof-positive of their warnings.

The last remaining “issue” for the bike is that the front brake is really “grabby” when applied, especially at low speeds. I had the front wheel off previously looking for signs of rust or other corrosion that might make the brakes extra touchy, but not much was evident. It is a good-sized twin-leading shoe brake, used on the CB175s, which have 50% more power than the 125 and are capable of nearly 80 mph. I scrubbed the drum with a Scotchbrite pad and took a file to the brake shoe material, smoothing the high spots and roughing up the glazed lining faces. The DLS brakes have a connecting rod that runs between the primary and secondary shoes. I loosened the locking nut and set the shoes so they would both be contacting the drum at the same time. It appeared that the secondary shoe was hitting early from the way it was adjusted.

Once the cylinders were ready, I was able to finish up the reassembly of the engine and bolt it back up into the chassis. It fired up quickly but still seems a bit fussy at part throttle, just off idle. Compression readings are now 150-155psi now and there are no leaks at gaskets or seals, despite no using any liquid sealer, other than for the engine case halves. Honda didn’t build engines with sealers on the gasket surfaces and neither should you…

Bill “MrHonda” Silver

                                                 1967 Honda CB125SS

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Rescue and Resuscitation: 1981 CB650 Custom

I have worked on a couple of CB650s, over the past few years, but can’t say that I have ever owned one until this February! I was watching a poor bike languishing in the Craigslist postings for about 10 days feeling sorry for its lack of care. The seller only posted one photo from about 30 feet away, so you really can’t see how good/bad it really is. The meager text in the posting mentions that the bike only had 4,000 original miles on the clocks and needed “carb cleaning” and some general TLC. This bike comes under the definition of “barn find,” which can lead to a “learning experience” or send you to a financial “black hole” of unexpected work and parts purchases.

The CB650s were the last of the generation of mid-sized Honda Fours, which began as the CB500 Four, then got a big bore increase to 550cc. Honda stroked the engine out to about 627cc, which Honda rounded off to 650cc, as a model descriptor. By 1981, the engine was rated at 63 horsepower (up from the original 59 horsepower in 1979), not too much shy of the original CB750s 67 horsepower rating, however in a much lighter chassis, weighing in at around 480 lbs. Honda made numerous changes to the machine through the years of 1979-82. The stock slide-type carburetors were replaced with larger 31mm CV carburetors in 1981. The CB650 Custom had new forks, double-disc brakes up front, Comstar wheels, 4 into 4 mufflers and pull-back handlebars. Quarter mile times were 13.6 seconds at 95 mph.

After a 1-hour drive to North San Diego County, I was able to have a close-up look at the poor, neglected Honda 650 Custom. The last registration tags were from 1988 and supposedly the carburetors had been cleaned at some unspecified point in time. The first thing I noticed that the coil wires had been replaced with some very LONG wires and that the 1-4 coil leads were connected to 1-3 cylinders, while the 2-3 cylinder coils were connected to 2-4 cylinders. The battery had been charged up enough to hear the engine crank over, but it gave no signs of trying to start up on its own.

The front brake master cylinder plunger was stuck all the way IN, so there was no way to pump up any pressure to the front brakes. Removing the gas cap revealed that someone had sloshed some KREEM tank sealer inside and some of it had anchored the internal fuel filter in place. The gas cap latching function was sluggish and appeared to be both corroded and perhaps plugged up with some tank sealer residues.

The tires were the original Dunlop Qualifiers, with expected weather checking and dry rot on the sidewalls. Tire tread did help to verify that the bike only had the 4k miles showing on the odometer. The right side mirror and some scuff marks and the fuel tank had a dent along the top right edge. With more than a little reluctance, I decided to adopt the poor machine and do what I could to bring it back to life without breaking the bank account. The sale price was $700, which gave me some breathing room as far as procuring necessary parts, but was probably a more than generous offer.

As expected, the carburetors were filled with a jelly-like substance and all of the float valve needles were stuck in the seats. All four slides were stuck in the bores and the accelerator pump plunger was stiff and non-pliable. Carbs were disassembled and bathed in an ultrasonic cleaner for several rounds. My friends at provided me with new tires, carb kits, cables, a master cylinder kit, spark plugs and oil filter bolt/filter/oil for an oil change. Ebay sellers came up with specific O-rings for the oil galley plugs and a good used speedometer/tachometer mount plate to replace the one which had a sheared-off mounting stud.

I found some Metal Rescue gel products at the local auto parts stores, which can be applied with a brush. Let it stand for a few hours and then rinse off and you have much better-looking chrome parts!

The drawback on the 1980s CV carburetors is that the idle jets are pressed-in and not replaceable. This makes a thorough cleaning just about impossible. I know that those who do carburetor overhauls professionally have a method of extracting the jets using a tap to catch some threads on the outside edge of the jets, then somehow being able to pull them out from the carburetor body intact. If you break off the tap or the end of the jet, then it’s “game over” for that carburetor.

After rebuilding the master cylinder, I discovered that the fluid lines were clogged with ancient brake fluid residues. So far, I have been able to push a piece of stainless steel safety wire down the banjo fitting for a few inches, which seems to be where the clogs reside. A combination of the wire and some brake cleaner shot down the fitting managed to open the passageway and allow fluid pressure to flush the lines out down to the calipers. The caliper seals were replaced, after the pistons were finally pumped out with the master cylinder pressure. Bleeding the dual brake lines can be challenging, but eventually the air was expelled and a firm brake lever returned to restore normal brake function.

Initially, once the carbs were back on the engine, the #4 carburetor didn’t seem to be flowing fuel at idle. The exhaust pipe was cold after the engine had run for a few minutes at idle. Raising the engine speed up towards 3-4k allowed the cylinder to begin firing again, causing the engine performance to become uneven as the cylinder cut in and out on the first test drive. A follow-up check of the #4 carburetor’s float bowl and carb top allowed me to poke a slender, tapered jet reamer up inside the idle jet orifice to perhaps clear a blockage in the jet hole. I’m not sure if the carburetor slide spring might not have been tangled up in the return spring, but after everything was reassembled, the engine smoothed out and the engine performance began to sound more normal once again.

The engine sounded a bit noisy in the top end, so all the valve clearances were checked and found to be at specifications. The camchain tensioner needed adjusting, which is accomplished by loosening the lower tensioner cap nut while the engine is idling. A few turns out on the nut and the noise disappeared much to my surprise.

The original drive chain was rusty and corroded, so a replacement chain is one of the last items on the replacement list. Speaking of parts involved, as mentioned above, the list came out something like this:
Spark plugs, oil/filter and new oil filter bolt, master cylinder kit, caliper seals, top end gasket kit, carburetor repair kits, plus #125 main jets (replacing the stock #120s). New throttle cables and a new choke cable, plus a new $30 petcock screen set. The knob for the Hi-Low beam switch had been knocked off, so a good used eBay switch assembly was obtained for $20. New tires were mounted and balanced by my friends at National City Motorcycles. So, you can see that even if you get a bike like this for free, the parts required, plus a LOT of labor, makes reviving a “barn-find” bike into a bit of an ordeal, requiring a substantial investment in time and parts.

You never know what someone else has done to a bike in the past and a mysterious lack of turn signal function was traced down to someone putting all the front signal/running light wires into switched hot wire connectors, so the filaments were always on, no matter what the turn signal switch tried to control. A simple rewiring of the front signal wires, put the turn signal function back to normal again.

There is still plenty of de-rusting to do on the chrome parts that have sat collecting dust and rust for most of the past 32 years or so. From its sale in Denver, CO to time in Arkansas, before coming to CA in 1986, the bike has covered more miles in transport than on it’s wheels being driven normally. The factory o-ring drive chain was replaced with a solid-roller DID chain. Despite it’s rather dreary cosmetics, the bike is mechanically pretty sound now. The initial investment cost has doubled since purchase, but it is now fully street-legal in California now and ready for service and new adventures in SoCal.

Bill “MrHonda” Silver

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Honda CL90-Learner bike

Ironically, my very first motorcycles was a 1967 CL90 Honda Scrambler and that was what was dropped off at the shop just before Christmas for “get running” repairs.
My customer is in his late teens and brought a scruffy CL77 last year for “get running” repairs that got much more complicated than expected. The CL90 project had been powdercoated, chromed up and cleaned up overall, but he never could get it running.

On the bench, I checked the basics and during a timing check could feel roughness in the engine as it was turned over towards TDC. I noticed that none of the four cylinderhead nuts had washers beneath them, including the copper washer used to keep the head from leaking oil. Rookies!

Tearing the top end off of a Honda 90 is about a 5-minute task, so I thought I would take a peek inside. Yikes! The camchain guide pin had been replaced with an 8mm bolt that pinched the roller at the edge, preventing it from rolling at all. The cylinder bore showed old water stains and pitting, plus the piston was showing being seized in about 3 places. Making this one run is going to be expensive and take more than a little time. I noticed that the spark advancer had 918 stamped on the edge, instead of 028. 918 is for an ATC 90 which only has about 25 degrees of spark advance vs. 45 for the CL90 engine. I had to round up a good used one from eBay sellers and that fixed that.

I dropped the engine out of the frame and saw an aftermarket coil and wiring mounted to the top of the engine. The coil wasn’t anchored on both ends because it was a generic part of the wrong dimensions. Plus he had left out the condenser! The wiring connection from the stator to the harness was connected in the wrong location which pulled the whole aftermarket harness downwards. This created a short connection to the headlight shell, which pulled on the wiring when the steering was turned to the left.

There were incorrect fasteners, loose wire connector crimps which came apart when pulled gently. Lots of rookie mistakes all around on the restoration effort. The rear wheel axle nut was just holding the axle in place, but the whole stub shaft for the rear hub was missing!

Quite a bit of time was expended in scraping off old gasket material from the head and cylinder. Whoever had been in there previously had used a cheap gasket kit that used thin green paper material which seems like a single-use material.

There was a lot of carbon build up in the combustion chamber, but the valve seats were not badly damaged from whatever water had gone through the motor in the past. I re-cut new seats and lapped the new valves in place. The cylinder was bored to 1mm over to clean up the bore and eventually it all came back together again.

Somehow the aftermarket ignition had been damaged and was non-functional. My friends at came up with a replacement switch for less than $10, plus gaskets and one of the valves.
The rest of the parts came from eBay sellers. I had guesstimated the whole bill at $500 before I got deeply into the project and with a discounted labor rate it still pushed close to $600. Funny how such a small bike, that sold for about $400 new, costs so much to repair now. Here’s what the total looked like:

$31.71 piston/rings
$12.97 tappet covers
$20.46 spark advancer
$18.94 sealing washers
$10.76 seal kit
$6.53 guide roller pin
$6 8mm guide pin washer
$21.54 cam chain roller
$6.47 8mm washer
$14.00 exhaust valve
$3 Float Bowl Gasket
$15 Intake Valve
$20 Engine Gasket Set
$8 Ignition Switch
$5.95 1qt oil
$5 gasoline
$5 valve stem seal
$40 cylinder boring
$30 Coil and condenser
$5 engine mount bolt/misc hardware
$286.33 parts

Teardown top end for evaluation
Remove engine for rebuild
Order parts (gasket, seals, spark advancer, camchain roller/pin, piston/rings, valves, ignition switch
Remove clutch cover for clutch inspection
Remove original gasket material from head, cylinder, and crankcase
Cut new valve seats/install new valves
Replace ignition components with the correct type
Reinstall wiring harness/repair wire connections/install new ignition switch
Inspect/adjust carburetor components
2 trips to the machine shop for cylinder boring 48 miles
Install new camchain roller/pin
Install new piston/rings
Assemble top end components
Install engine and adjust timing
Inspect and reassemble petcock components
Replace fuel lines
Check compression (150 psi)
Start engine and adjust carburetor
Total labor: 8 hrs. $320 discount rate

The bike fired up quickly and showed plenty of oil circulating in the top end. The compression check showed 150 psi. There’s lots more to do in finishing the rest of the bike, but I did “make it run” in the end.

Bill Silver “aka MrHonda”

Monday, December 9, 2019

My Bonnie lies over the driveway...

In that this story has nothing to do with vintage Hondas, distribution of it will be somewhat limited this time. With apologies to the original song, which I have parodied here for my title:

Speaking of parodies, read down to the first one on the page that echoes my reference to motorcycles! 

My Bonnie leaned over the gas tank,
The height of its contents to see,
I lit a small match to assist her,
O Bring back my Bonnie to me.

     I love my Sunday rides with my Jamuligan friends, switching back and forth between my various small-bore machines of late. I have kind of been missing the torque and heft of my last W650 Kawasaki, but they rarely come up for sale and there isn’t much else that seems to work for me in that category… until this CL posting showed up:

2008 Triumph Bonneville, Black with only 4646 miles.
Does not start and could use some TLC. Registered through SEP 2020.
Looking for $1200 OBO.

Frame: Tubular Steel Cradle
Suspension: Front: 41 Mm Forks Rear: Chromed Spring Twin Shocks With Adjustable Pre-load Rake: 28°Trail: 4.33 In. (110 Mm)
Engine: DOHC, Parallel-twin, 360° Firing Interval Horsepower: 66 Bhp (67 Ps) @ 7,200 Rpm Displacement: 865 Cc Bore x Stroke: 90 X 68 Mm Torque: 52 Ft. Lbs. (71 Nm) @ 6,000 Rpm Compression Ratio: 9.2:1 Fuel System: 2 Carburetors With Throttle Position Sensor And Electric Carburetor Heaters Fuel
Tank Capacity: 4.4 Gal. (16.6 L)
Clutch: Wet, Multi-plate
Cooling: Air/Oil
Transmission: 5-speed Final Drive: X-ring Chain
Body Colors: Claret, Aluminum Silver, Fusion White, Black
Brakes: Front: Single 310 Mm Disc, 2-piston Caliper Rear: Single 255 Mm Disc, 2-piston Caliper
Tires: Front: 100/90 19 Rear: 130/80 17

Manufacturer Description:
A pedigree that few models can match. A true roadster, the Bonneville matches classic British style to 21st century technology. This pairing of authenticity with modernity has led the Bonneville to become an icon in its own right with several famous designers creating their own signature tank designs. A cool way to cover the urban landscape; the Bonneville is agile in jammed streets and at home, blatting down a leafy country lane. It has a pedigree few models can match plus a tangible credibility within today’s motorcycling world. Available is the subtle Bonneville Black – a Jet Black Bonneville complemented by a black engine finish.

I saw this posting on a Saturday night, just before Halloween and thought, “How can I go wrong with a deal like this?” So, I sent an email which was answered quickly. I had leftover cash from the sale of my 1991 Honda Accord, so I was all set to load up the ramp and tie-downs for a quick trip across town to go have a look.

I really don’t advise bike shopping at night, but sometimes time is of the essence, so off I went to investigate this offering. After finding the correct alley address, I was able to see the bike located in a side yard with one floodlight illuminating the poor Triumph. There was no battery in the bike, so I had to assume that the engine still turned over, but given the many experiences I have had with long-term storage of 250-305 Honda engines, that is a questionable assumption.

My current lightweight bikes (1988 CBR250R-45 HP/350lbs and EX500 Kawasaki -50HP/425 lbs) are great fun and easy to handle on my Sunday rides with my Jamuligan friends, but I have been missing that nice fat, torquey feel of my last Kawasaki W650 parallel twin. I have owned three W650s in the past ten years and they were solid, reliable classic-looking machines.

Kawasaki only sold 1500 W650s in the US during 2000-2001 and they are rare to find these days. When the W650s were put on the market, here in the US, the “new Triumph 650” models were hitting the dealerships at the same time. Comparisons were inevitable and the Kawasaki had many strong points, but the Triumphs won out in the end. I’ve never had a chance to ride any of the new Triumph models, but the opportunity arose recently to own one at a bargain price.

The seller was a current military man and had owned the bike since new, however, he had been stationed in Monterey, Virginia, Washington and elsewhere in the past 11 years and the bike had not been ridden since 2011. He had recently moved back to San Diego and made efforts to revive the bike after it had been poorly stored causing rust in the fuel tank and corrosion all over, everywhere else. The bike deal included a couple of leather Triumph-branded leather jackets and the registration tags were good until Sept.. 2020, which is a $129 consideration. I offered $1,000 and he accepted. We loaded the big machine into the Tacoma and off I went, back into the black Saturday night, with my new project.

I really like bikes that have centerstands, which this one did not possess. However, looking underneath the chassis, a pair of mounts for a centerstand were noted. Sure enough, our eBay friends in China were offering a whole centerstand kit for $119 with free shipping for the big Bonneville models.

Surprisingly, the carb rack is pretty much identical to that of the W650 Kawasaki, so I was pretty familiar with the setup. In typical British fashion, there were unexpected challenges as the analysis of the bike’s faults continued. For one thing, the PAIR air system for the emissions control runs big fittings down next to the spark plugs in very close proximity to the plug itself. Most spark plug sockets, which normally have ample room on a Honda ran afoul of the adjacent air fittings.

The TPS switch on the carburetors must be unplugged from a harness connector which is buried just inside the frame tube, making re-connection quite a chore. One of the throttle cable adjusters is right up against the sliding choke connector, as well. The carburetors had not seen fresh fuel through them since 2011, so both were totally gummed up inside. Both float valve needles were completely stuck in the float valve seats due to varnish deposits. One of the idle jets was stuck hard in the carburetor body, requiring lots of carb cleaner, a precision screwdriver tip and a bit of hammering in order dislodge it for cleaning. Several rounds of cleaning in my little ultrasonic cleaner finally dissolved the varnish deposits, allowing all of the parts to be reused during assembly.

The rear chain, spokes, and brake rotor were rusted and corroded, requiring a lot of hand cleaning. The chain was doused in PB Blaster, then some synthetic chain lube. The rear brake rotor cleaned off with steel wool and brake cleaner. The brake pedal is located above the level of the foot-peg, which is an odd angle for your ankle, especially my fused one. The adjustment nut for the brake linkage rod is inaccessible beneath the footpeg bracket.

During pre-purchase inspection, the front fork seals were noted as showing definite signs of leaking. The fork oil then drooled down the left fork leg and onto the brake caliper and rotor.

The fuel tank was drained then filled with a gallon of phosphoric acid and 3 gallons of water, then left to sit for 3 days. Eventually, what appeared to be rust inside the fuel tank was apparently just leftover fuel solids, which dissolved and filled a plastic container full of brownish gunk. Subsequent flushing with water revealed a white coating inside the fuel tank which was apparently unfazed by years of gasoline acids and other byproducts. A good used petcock was purchased from an eBay seller, which had intact fuel screens for the inlet fittings. After a good air dry with compressed air and some time with a heat gun the tank was deemed safe to use, without further treatment.

After carburetor installation, along with a fresh battery, the bike engine spun over eagerly and fired up after a few moments of cranking. The engine sounded a little uneven at idle, which finally was found to be caused by a disconnected vacuum line to the carb manifold fittings.

The Haynes shop manual, which came with the bike, showed a float level setting of what I thought was listed as 13 to 16mm! That seemed to be a rather broad range, given that Honda often specifies float levels in .5mm increments. I used the higher figure to help offset the usual factory leanness in today’s emission controlled carburetors. What appears to be the end result is that the bike, which can only rest on the side stand, allows the carburetors to partially flood the engine if the fuel petcock is left in the ON position. If the petcock is left in ON or RESERVE, the engine becomes very hard to start, often running the battery low until it finally clears its throat and starts up. When the petcock is shut off after each ride, the bike fires up in a few revolutions. I started the bike with the petcock in OFF until it catches and starts running for a minute, then switch the fuel to ON position.

An Internet search seemed to indicate that the float level is really supposed to be 17mm! I contacted a Triumph site that deals in various modifications and hoped to receive some concrete information about what the setting is supposed to be from the factory. I never heard back from them, but verified the setting at the local Triumph dealership.

I realized that I completely mis-read the float level specs in the book. A first casual glance that I thought was 13 to 16mm turned out to be 16 to 18mm, with 17mm given as the popular average to achieve success in proper carburetor calibration. I attempted an on-bike readjustment of the float levels, but apparently the left side didn’t go as planned and the bike suddenly was giving off a backfire through the carburetors, exiting the rubber manifold connectors despite a tight hose clamp at the connection.

That set off a search for new manifolds, which lead to finding one on eBay for $15 delivered. Ultimately, a second one was in stock at the local Triumph motorcycle dealers for about $.25 less money. I bought a new oil filter and a gallon of recommended semi-synthetic oil which ran the bill to past $50, just for the oil and filter.

The Chinese centerstand assembly arrived a few weeks after ordering and failed to impress me with poorly-fitting components and improperly-designed hardware. After spending over an hour in modifying the various parts, the fitted stand would not allow the bike to come up successfully. Messages to the seller proved somewhat fruitless at first, then finally they admitted that the stand really didn’t fit this model machine. While at the Triumph dealer, my friend Issac checked the computers and discovered that there close-out factory stand kits for $120! I laid down my plastic across the counter and put one on order ASAP.

After waiting a few days to receive my centerstand kit, I called the shop only to have them tell me that Triumph had listed the part as centerstand ONLY, not as a kit! All the rest of the hardware bits will probably cost another $100 and some of them might have to come from England, which might take a few weeks! Grrr….. Honda wouldn’t do that to me! Eventually, all the centerstand parts did come in, sooner than expected and the installation went smoothly, so now the bike has a proper centerstand function which makes chain maintenance much easier. After some delays, I was able to receive a full refund for the non-fitting Chinese stand, which they didn’t want to be returned.

I decided to remove the carburetors once more and reset the float levels more precisely and check them for any signs of leftover fuel contamination from the previously contaminated fuel supply. That left side level was off a few millimeters, which was corrected to match the other carburetor. The new manifolds were installed and everything buttoned back up correctly. This time the bike fired up quickly, ran evenly on both sides and didn’t show signs of over-lean or over-rich mixtures. Subsequent test runs bore out the final success of reviving the fuel system from top to bottom.

The fork seals needed attention next, as the fork oil had run down the left side fork and into the brake caliper and brake rotor, leaving a distinct lack of braking feel when the lever was pulled. I carefully read the Hayne’s book and hoisted the bike on my seldom-used bike lift. Extracting the front wheel and fender, the fork tubes slid out of the triple clamps with relative ease. The forks are held together with the inner damper rod, which is retained by an 8mm Allen socket head bolt through the bottom of the fork case. Fortunately, I happened to have a small 3/8ths drive special socket with 8mm bit, which worked perfectly for bolt extraction.

The 41mm forks hold nearly 500cc of oil, once you reassemble them with new seals and dust covers! I used some auto store synthetic transmission fluid for the refill and they seem a little more compliant than before. Once the forks were rebuilt, the brake rotor was cleaned carefully and a new set of pads installed. NOW I have a decent front brake!

Despite its rather tatty appearance, the bike is mechanically very sound and has been taken on a couple of Sunday rides of 60-70 miles each with complete success and enjoyment. I never really expected to be a Triumph owner, but circumstances worked towards reviving this previously neglected machine to fulfill my cosmic request for another big-bore parallel twin for my Sunday entertainment.