Monday, February 27, 2017

Adding horses in the middle of the stream….

2017 began with just my 65 Mustang, 2002 Tacoma, 2001 W650 Kawasaki and a PCX150 Honda scooter in the fleet. In the past two months, the fleet multiplied greatly to include: 1963 CA77, 1962 CB77 Type 2 café racer, 1965 CB160 in CR93 replica form, 1980 GN400 Suzuki with 3400 miles, a 1981 Yamaha XS650 with 2890 miles and recently a SYM150 Wolf project bike. I did sell the Mustang, though…

All the non-Hondas brought new lessons to me in the way of trouble-shooting, tuning and working with Mikuni carburetors. You have to remember that basically all engines/bikes have to operate on the same principles, but the execution of those designs can vary widely.
The GN400 was obviously off the road for at least 10 years, judging from the gunk inside the carburetor. After what I thought was a good refresh of the carb’s innards, the bike was quite hard to start (kickstart only) and once running it wouldn’t rev over 5500 rpms. Thinking that the carb was “clean enough” I turned my attention to the ignition system, which according to GN400 forums, had issues with the CDI modules. The CDI system has an electronic advance curve and apparently sometimes the spark advance portion fails so you get a bike that starts but won’t pull good power in the upper revs. That is what it “seemed like” was happening, so I rounded up a used CDI from a local salvage yard and tried it out. Same result! Either I had two bad CDI units or the problem was still in the carburetor.

My friend, Scott, who just went through carb issues with his Yamaha SRX250, kept saying to check the emulsion tube, but initially I couldn’t figure out how to get it out of the carb body. Finally, a look at the parts books and studying the carb itself revealed that the emulsion tubes come out through the carburetor throat and not out the bottom like Keihin carburetors do! Aha! Gunk and corrosion were plainly present which would certainly point to performance issues with high rpm running. I put the carb back on and it ran WORSE! Reconsidering my reassembly of the carb slide diaphragm, I rechecked the carb and found the diaphragm was not seated fully in the top groove, causing a big air leak that prevented the slide from lifting all the way. With the carb remounted for the 4th time, success was achieved! The bike ran up to redline without hesitation.

The 1981 XS650 Yamaha also showed up with gunky carburetors, but now I knew how to handle the emulsion tubes and the cleaning went well, except the tip of the float valve needle broke off from old age and old gasoline deposits. I installed another needle that looked the same, but that carburetor continued to overflow when installed on the bike. There was also a fuel leak coming from the fuel T fitting that connects the two carbs together. When the carbs were split apart to remove the fitting, the expected o-rings were not there at all because the fitting was not designed to fit o-rings! The plastic coating on the metal T was apparently supposed to seal up the space in the carburetor fuel inlet passage, but it wasn’t doing it anymore. Checking on-line, there were some aftermarket carb T fittings with o-rings to replace the lame OEM version.

I decided to attempt a repair on the fitting, so ground off the ends, ever so slightly and fitted Viton o-rings into the carb body recesses. When the carbs were bolted back together, the fitting butted up against the o-rings and the fuel leak was solved, at least for now. The bike fired up on a fresh battery and sounds just like what it is… a super low-miles vintage Yamaha XS650, ready to ride once again.

Acts of kindness…
In the past month, I have needed a positive battery cable for a CB77 and a muffler bracket for a CB350F, but of which were not to be found in internet searches. Putting out a plea to the F-160 Yahoo group yielded a good used cable, which was sent for free to me from a fellow Honda connection. It turned out that the CB77 cable was superseded to the one for a CB160, which is what prompted me to turn to that F-160 forum for help.

The CB350F 4:4 muffler installation was stalled for lack of brackets. A new right side bracket turned up on eBay from a friend in FL for just $35. Again, I pleaded for help to find a decent left side bracket and once again one was offered to me for free from a Honda fan who I had helped with questions over the past year. It arrived sandblasted and primered, looking like a new part that just needed a quick coat of black paint to finish off. These kinds of generosity speak volumes for fellow Honda enthusiasts who share information and parts with each other in times of need.

The final big act of kindness came from a couple of gentlemen who offered to sell me back the 1962 CB77 café bike, which I had built in 1991 from a rolling skeleton of a domestic model CB77 chassis. They had picked up three CB77s from a neighbor whose husband had passed away a few months before. I learned about a stack of abandoned, neglected CB77s from a man who had bought a SAAB Sonnet from me a year before and had just purchased a 1967 Mustang from the widow. He saw the bikes, which had been standing outside near the ocean for some 20 years and took a photo, which he passed along to my friend Scott. Scott passed it to me and I went to look at the remains. When I arrived, one neighbor who had bought the three “good bikes” in partnership with his neighbor across the alley, popped in to see who was looking at the old bike collection. He introduced himself and asked if “I knew anyone who works on these old bikes.”

He showed me the beautiful black 1965 CB77 which he had claimed from the purchase and mentioned that there was another stock black bike like his, plus a “1962 Red café bike” that they were interested in selling! I got chills when I heard that mentioned, as I recalled selling such a bike to a collector in this area back in the early 1990s. The widow kept looking at me, while we were conversing and said “I remember you. My husband bought that bike from you back in the 1990s!” It WAS my old powdercoated Scarlet Red 1962 CB77 café project, hidden away for 25 years.

After consulting with his partner in the bike deal, they offered to sell me the bike for the same price they bought it for, which was more than reasonable.  As part of their kind offer, I returned the favor by bringing home the black bike for revival which took about 6 hours and a few hundred dollars worth of parts.  After a good tank cleaning, new battery and carb overhaul, the red café bike came alive once again and I was treated to the memories of building and riding it back in the last century!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Honda Dreams… Early vs. Late editions

Some years back I tried to catalog all the changes that occurred in the 1961 vs. 1962-later CB72-77s, which were many back then. If you are just getting into the world of 250-305s Honda twins from the 1960s, you might have run across Honda’s photos of CA77 (Early) and CA77 (late) editions. The same applies to the CA72s, as well, but they didn’t always have completely parallel changeover periods.
For the sake of the discussion, I am only referring to the wet-sump Dreams from 1960-67, not the dry-sump models from 1957-60. When viewing a Honda Dream, the main differences between early and late models is the shape of the fuel tank and side covers/knee pads, handlebar controls and the luggage carrier brackets by the rear shocks. Early CA72 models even had a different fuel tank design than the CA77s, which was a feature that was done away with when the later model bikes were released.
As an overview, I am including some preliminary information from my Honda CA72-77 Dream restoration guide download package available for sale from my website:
The first generation CA72-77s were brought over to the US in 1961. I have seen several engines stamped C77-A1XXX, instead of CA77, which agrees with the production number charts, posted in early parts manuals. The 1961 versions had the “rear breather” lump on the top rear of the upper crankcase half. The idea was that crankcase vapors would be separated, via the labyrinth, inside the round canister-shaped casting and then some of the solids would dribble out through a small one-way check valve to oil the drive chain. This feature was used until CA72-110101, CA77-110900), when it was deleted and the breather duties were taken over by the top cylinder head cover. Other changes, in the early years, included the inclusion of a spring-loaded primary chain tensioner in 1963.

Note that the Keihin carburetors changed from “round bowl” to “square bowl” designs, probably in 1964, so the float bowls and bowl gaskets will not interchange, but you can use square bowl floats in the round bowl carbs. Nearby, the first generation camchain tensioners had a left-side adjustment bolt feature which was changed to the right side after 1963. BTW there were Mikuni carbs fitted to some early CA72s.

Visually, the most striking differences between the 1960-62 and the 1963-later machines were in the shape and styling of the fuel tanks, knee pads and side panels. The changeover came at either CA77-20902 or CA77-20851 (CA72-20250 or CA72-311110), depending on which resource you read. However, in reality, the changeover took place somewhere in the middle of the 1963 production run. The early tanks swept more forward and the fuel crossover fittings were at the front edges of the tank, whereas the later tanks used a more central location for the crossover tubes, adjacent to the petcock location. It has been noted that during the 1963 production run (which is when the cross-over from “early” to “late” models were transformed) Honda added a 5 into the engine numbers to differentiate the two series of bikes, so the “late” 1963 engines appear to be exactly 5,000 numbers higher than the chassis, however the end 5 numbers continued to be within a few hundred of the frame’s last 5 digits.

1963 was the only year where they added a 1 into both the engine and frame numbers in the beginning sequence, so you will see them shown as CA77-31xxxx or CA77E-311xxx. You really DO have to check your 1963 serial numbers against the parts listings to see if certain parts qualify for installation, depending upon whether the bike is an early or late model.

The 250 tanks used different shaped tanks/side covers. The “frog eye” side covers brought the plastic tank emblems out to a more vertical positioning than the 305 emblems, which laid on the rounded surface of the tank panels. The 250 tanks also featured a chrome strip that covered the central tank seam. Early tanks had seamless fuel tanks with a central fuel location, whereas the later seamed tanks located the filler hole at the right side of the seam, which allowed for easier filling when the bike was on the side stand. Another small change was that the HONDA emblem was not used on the bottom of the headlight shells until the “Late” models were introduced. Also, the rubber front fender packing and chain guard inspection hole covers were gray material, changed to black for later versions.

The handlebars and controls were another visual change from the 1962 machines onwards. Pre-1963 bikes had twist throttles, where the throttle drums pulled directly on the throttle cable, which exited from the bottom of the throttle housing, like those of the CB/CL72/77s. The mirrors were mounted on a set of clamps, separate from the lever brackets.  The handlebars and mirror clamps were all 257 coded parts, carried over from the CE71 models.

After 1963, the throttles cables were routed inside the handlebars and the throttle drums had a large internal spiral, which acted upon a sliding piece inside the handlebar, which was slotted to suit. The throttle cable was anchored with a small holding piece and then a separate sliding piece engaged the tip of the inner throttle cable. The sliding piece engaged the internal spiral of the throttle drum and was pulled outwards as the throttle drum was rotated. This arrangement made for excessive amounts of play at the throttle and either disengaged or jammed in one position if the parts were not lubed and adjusted properly. It becomes difficult to “feel” the throttle settings with this system, especially when referenced to the original cable system.

The post-1963 clutch and front brake cables gained shiny, chromed elbows, which held the cables out and prevented kinking to a certain degree. The new mirrors were mounted into new lever perches, eliminating the crowded look at the handlebar ends. Honda was now able to use the same mirror set (derived from the CA95s) on all 250-305 model machines, including the CB/CL72-77s.

1963 also seems to have marked the passing of the tire pumps, which were bracketed on the left side of the frames, prior to that time. The same tire pumps were carried on CA95s, CB92s and all 250-305 Dreams up to 1963. Some controversy exists about the fuel tank badges, as the early ones were marked “Honda Dream 250” or “Honda Dream 300,” whereas the 1964-later bikes all had either “Honda 250” or “Honda 300” markings. The 1964 badges carried a -279 product code, which indicates a Honda CY78 parts source. In the US, that was the only part on the machine that carried a 279 code part, but all of the chassis began to carry a CA78 serial number thereafter, even though the engines were always marked as CA77!

Batteries are often a challenge to locate for the early bikes, as they were tall, thin and wider than the CB72 batteries that Honda decided to install in the 1966-later machines. The early dry-sump Dreams had 6v systems, but all of the wet-sump bikes have 12v electrics. The starter motor and related parts are all interchangeable with those of the CB72-77 machines.

The first wet-sump Dreams came equipped with tiny rectangular tail light assemblies, which featured a single, unique, double-ended bulb that resembles an automotive interior light bulb. The tail light brackets were welded onto the rear of the fender sections. The long, dual lamp filaments proved to be quite fragile (especially when subjected to the tingle of the engine at certain rpms) and the illumination was less than satisfactory, at least for US standards. While 1962 models were equipped with the tiny tail lights from the factory, AHMC wound up replacing them at the dealerships with a “short lens” version of the CB72-77 268-code tail light assembly. By 1963, new bolt-on tail light brackets carried a generic “long lens” version of the CB72-style tail light assembly. Many early taillights were replaced by dealers as part of a factory update/recall of sorts.

 Visually, the front and rear rims and hubs seem identical, but there were some subtle dimensional differences between the two, so there are separate part numbers for the two different rims. At the rear of the chassis, the “luggage carrier” components which fit around the upper rear shock ends were extended in the “late” versions to incorporate turn signal lights when used outside the US. Small flat plates were used to blank off the openings for the American market models.

Three different rear hubs were designed, incorporating two types of rear cush-drive dampers. The sprocket carrier is held into the swing arm by a long sleeve nut, allowing for removal of the rear wheel/hub assembly for tire maintenance without having to remove the chain guards, sprockets and drive chain. The sprocket carrier has provisions to incorporate four molded rubber dampers, which engage with four matching drive paddles cast into the hub assembly. The early style dampers clipped onto the edges of the carrier, while the updated ones had little extruded extension tips, which were
pulled through small holes in the sprocket carrier and snapped in place. The early style brake backing plates had grease-fittings installed to allow for lubrication of the brake cams.

Dream mufflers are now a very scarce commodity, plus there were several versions of Dream mufflers installed over the years. Originally, the Dream mufflers came with a sharp edge on the inlet side, onto which a “sleeve” gasket was placed. This gasket had a lip on one end to help seal and secure the “muffler packing,” as it is called by Honda. These early generation 1962-63 mufflers were made from stainless steel, instead of chromed steel used thereafter. Next, we find that the inlets were modified to house some small, circular O-rings, which had some chamfered lip sealing edges cast into the design. These early mufflers were all “two-piece” style, employing a separate header pipe to connect it all together.

In 1966-67, Honda tried to join the headers and mufflers together, using a crimped sleeve connection, which was spot-welded onto the header pipe. The flare on the header inlet necessitated a new design for the exhaust pipe joint (flange) and new split collars (from the CL72) to help join it all together. Additionally, a special engine bolt was created to help stabilize and locate the left side muffler onto the chassis, so there was quite a lot of work and expense to install the new, replacement “one-piece” muffler sets.

Two different types of standard low mufflers are seen for Dreams, including ones with deep recesses on the left side to give clearance for the end of the centerstand. The normal US-type don’t use this recessed area design and, of course, they both have different part numbers. Mufflers of all types are now extinct from the Honda factory, but a firm in Australia has taken the time and effort to make tooling for replacement mufflers, created in stainless steel. These new mufflers have a welded-in baffling system, but are still the two-piece design, which is generally found on most 250-305cc Dreams anyway.

The -259-code, two-piece Dream mufflers were given a -272 (CIIIA72) product code designation, as the one-piece part. EPA/DOT-stamped Dream and Benly SS (and other) two-piece mufflers usually carry a -017-suffix code, although the CB units carried a -325 number. Mysteriously, while the last replacement mufflers for Super Hawks were all one-piece versions, Honda discontinued the -272- Dream units and went back to supplying 2-piece mufflers (usually the -017 version), until they were discontinued altogether.
                Here are sequences of the part number changes for the 250-305 Dreams:
RT. 18310 (LT. 18330)-259-010/020/027/315/017(EPA)  2-piece Dream
RT. 18300 (LT. 18400)-271(272)-000  1-piece Dream

Most rare are the mufflers for the CS72-77 machines, which were only sold in the US for one year, it seems. While the dual upswept headers/muffler sets looked almost identical to those of the CS71-76 dry-sump machines, there were differences in the sweep and angle of the header pipes and some of the bracket locations on the mufflers were slightly altered. Many parts on the Dream Sports were re-engineered to complete the installation. Among those items were: footpegs, side covers (split- horizontally), center and side stands.

Wet-sump Dream speedometers were sourced from Yazaki and Nippon-Seiki, originally. A few individuals have tried to make silk-screen or computer-generated overlay faces for the meters, but only a few speedometer shops seem capable of repairing either style successfully. As with most other early model Hondas, the high beam indicators didn’t come standard on US spec bikes until 1964, so numerous
speedometer faces are necessary to cover all applications.

The ignition switches for Dreams can be found in either 5-position or 6-position types. US-spec bikes have the 5-position switch, whereas the Euro models, which had an extra running, light inside the headlamp, used the 6-position switch, so the running lights could be used as a separate function. All US machines came with sealed-beam bulbs, but the domestic/Euro models had separate, replaceable headlight bulbs, along with the previously mentioned running light. Turn signals (or “winkers”) were never a part of the US specifications for any Honda street bike until 1968, so finding parts for the signal system on bikes that found their way into this country has been quite a challenge.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Honda Homing Pigeons

Even though more than 300 cars and motorcycles have passed through my hands in the past 50+ years, there are always a few that you wonder about… “I wonder what happened to that ____?
At a recent motorcycle auction in Las Vegas, a bike showed up completely unannounced and unnoticed in the day’s auction lineup. As I was casually watching the parade of bikes head up the auction ramp, suddenly there was a “CR93 Replica” Honda being offered, based upon a CB160 with a LOT of modifications added on. As it was being announced, a haunting feeling came over me: That was MY bike back in the late 1990s! I got caught up in the auction fever and some part of me thought I should really own that bike again, so I bid and bid and eventually won the auction, but at a fairly high price.

After it was rolled back to the “sold” bike lanes, I went over to it to see just what I had just purchased and to verify that it was, in fact, my old bike. It was in far better condition than when I sold it off to a man from SFO, who asked if I knew where he could find a CL175 5-speed engine for it after the sale. I did have an engine, but it was all torn down for inspection. No matter, he had it shipped back up to him in the Bay Area and I didn’t hear about the machine for a good 15 years. It was sold off on eBay some years ago and I did receive a brief note from the buyer asking if I had owned it before. After that, nothing more came of the bike until its magical arrival in Las Vegas last month.

 I trucked the bike back home and went over the details more closely. The first area of concern was that I really couldn’t reach the rearset controls due to my knee replacements over the past 2 years. I wobbled around the block on a quick test drive and then resolved to move the pegs forward as much as I could. The footplate mounts were modified CB77 Super Hawk parts which bolt right onto a CB160 chassis. Even the most forward mounting points are clearly much more rearward than the stock peg setup, so moving them all the way up seemed the best plan. That did work for the shifter side, but the modified CB160 brake cable bracket would not allow the pegs to be moved more than one spot forward before it contacted the exhaust system.

The bike started up quickly, however an oil leak appeared at the tachometer drive unit seal. I happened to have a -425 code (CB750 DOHC) tach seal on hand, so that was repaired quickly. The engine sounded fluffy when started and the spark plugs came out black from excessive fuel. Dropping the float bowls revealed a heavily soldered right side float which still leaked internally causing it to sink and raise the fuel level up excessively.  New floats and float valves were ordered and that remedied the running problems.

I had barely returned home from Vegas auctions before I received an email from a car wrangler friend who sent photos of 5 CB72-77s rotting away in the coastal town of Coronado. He had bought a 1967 Mustang GTA from a widow, which was riddled with rust holes but was the real-deal S code car. Parked next to the car was a fleet of corroded, seized-up Super Hawks waiting for someone to rescue them which he photographed and sent to me.

I swung by to have a look a few days later, but was immediately corralled by the next door neighbor who had purchased three “nice Super Hawks” from the widow who was clearing out her deceased husband’s rolling stock. When I met her, she commented that she knew me and that her husband bought the “red” café style CB77 from me back in the early 1990s. It all came back to me in a rush of memories about what had happened to the bike since I had sold it so long ago.

As mentioned, her neighbors quickly grabbed up the “nice bikes” and split the cost of the trio; two stock black CB77s and the “Red café bike,” which they were willing to sell to me for what they paid for it. Once I recognized the description of the bike, I knew it was my old one-off 1962 CB77 with a Type 2 engine and a bunch of CYB72 “racing parts” attached. They asked if I knew anyone who could work on these models and I answered in the affirmative…

I arranged to come back the following week and pick up one of the black bikes for revival and to see the “Red bike” which hadn’t been available to be viewed on the first visit. It was like “old home week” when I looked inside the neighbor’s driveway and saw the still shiny (I had powdercoated the chassis) 1962 CB77 just as I had sold it, some 25 years before. We loaded up both bikes; I paid for the red one and brought it and one of the black ones home for some long overdue maintenance and revival.

Details on the Red bike: I vaguely remember buying a basically rolling chassis CB77, partially because it was cheap and that it had a Type 2 engine installed. The serial numbers for the 1962 Type 2 engine are CB77E-26xxxx, with the 6 denoting a Type 2 engine installation from the factory. The bike was torn down, powdercoated a matching Scarlet Red and the engine rebuilt with a 336cc big bore kit installed.

Back in the 1990s, you could still run across the various CYB72 “race kit” parts for sale and apparently I wound up with a racing fork bridge, clip-on handlebar set, steering damper kit and special bolt, steering stopper to prevent the handlebars from hitting the fuel tank, alloy rear fender, fork cover clamps, a racing seat and rearset shift linkage rod and shift lever. A fresh speedometer was installed in the loop-styled fork bridge and everything was pretty much rebuilt at the time. The electric starter was left off the motor for lightness and a better “racing look” effect.  The stock 1962 mufflers are stainless steel and the tail light was the correct (for 1962) short lens unit. I fashioned a little bracket to mount the tail light and license plate, but attached it to the base of the seat pan instead of drilling into the alloy fender.

Unfortunately, there was 25 year-old gas in the fuel tank, so extensive cleaning of the fuel system will be required. The carburetors did come apart without too much struggle and only the throttle cable was damaged from someone trying to open the throttle with stuck slides. The old tires were Avon branded, but in the correct sizes. The brake backing plates have the early style brake cams which use a self-locking nut to secure the brake arms. Apparently I was unable to find new nuts so drilled flat nuts for safety wire retention.

It’s going to take time and money to rehab the bike back to normal running condition, but I am looking forward to hearing it roar once again, after 25 years.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Dreaming in California; 1963 CA77 305 Dream (Pt. 4)

After wrapping up the engine work using some new copper sealing washers and nuts for the cylinder head, the starter motor and accessories were attached for final assembly. I eased the 110 lb motor down to an awaiting bike stand which I use for loading engines in and out of 250-305 chassis.  Dream engines go up and in with a vertical lift, a little at a time. Some powdercoating was ground away inside the engine mount points to ensure a good engine to chassis ground before engine loading.  Dream engine installations are a bit of a puzzle which needs to be done in pretty specific steps otherwise, you wind up having to unhook something to put in a part, once in awhile.  The bottom motor mount bolts have to be inserted through the holes in the footpeg mount bracket before they are tightened up. The smaller 8mm bolts must also be in place at the top of the footpeg bracket ends. With two bolts at the top cover and four at the back, the engine is pretty solidly mounted to the frame. The engine harmonics tend to send vibrations back to the end of the rear fender, often resulting in vibration cracks in and around the tail light bracket.

It is best to mount up the air filter/tube in the frame hole opening before engine installation, however wrestling the carb end of the air filter tube onto the carb inlet can be a bit of a chore. I had secured all the proper sized o-rings for the insulator and carb flange so the carb was about ready to be mounted up when problems arose. The carb had been apart in a plastic container for a few weeks and they hadn’t had close inspection until assembly time. While the carb body was undamaged, a previous attempt to remove the stuck slide caused damage to the front and rear edges of the slide and mangled the aluminum slide needle to a certain degree.  Searching for a new or good used slide and needle online came up empty-handed. Apparently there are some subtle changes between the 250 and 305cc applications as both the needle and slide for the 305s have 266 code part numbers, vs. the 259 coded parts for the 250cc edition. Considering that they both share the same carburetor body and slide bore size, one wonders just what Honda found to make them create different parts for each application
Digging through the dwindling box of carb parts, a 22mm slide appeared, but it had a 3.0mm cutaway, vs. the 2.0 cutaway for the Dream slide. Typically a 3.0mm slide is for the CB/CL72s. Still, it was better than the poor original slide, so it was put into play, along with a straightened out needle for temporary running purposes. Doing some research, the needles for the 250 Dreams had a part number revision from 259 to 268, which are for the CB/CL72 models. I found some cheap OEM 259 needles in Thailand from an eBay seller, so one will be arriving in the next couple of weeks. 

The bike came with its original stainless steel mufflers, although they were the early style with the sharp-edged openings which require the black sleeve gaskets. I only had one of the gaskets and no one had just one for less than $45 (ouch!) so I got a pair from my Thailand supplier on a deal for $55 including shipping. The header pipes had been rechromed back in the year 2000, according to the paper that they were wrapped up in. Dream pipes are side-specific and one side is longer than the other side. I had always been under the impression that the left side pipes were the long ones, but in the process of fitting up the headers and mufflers, the long side pipe would only work on the right side of the bike! Lesson learned/relearned, I guess.

Once all the wires were hooked up, carburetor installed and exhaust system in place, it was time to light this thing off and see what I wind up with after weeks of work and quite a lot of expense. The ignition switch was turned to ON and the neutral light immediately glowed on the headlight shell. Tapping the starter button for just a second confirmed that the electric starter was still functioning, as well.  So, with a temporary fuel supply bottle hooked up to the carburetor line, the choke was pulled fully closed and the starter button depressed in earnest.  The engine spun over about 5 turns, then the starter motor began to labor due to dwindling battery current.

I lowered the bike down to ground level, still on the repair stand and swung a leg over the chassis to kickstart the engine while there was still some juice for the ignition coil. It only took a couple of strong kicks to get the engine to begin sputtering back to life for the first time in many years.  The big carb slide cutaway caused it to run lean off-idle, so a combination of turning the mixture screw almost all the way in and raising the idle speed using the speed screw finally kept it going with the throttle released. 

The first few minutes of a new engine startup are critical, so everything needs to be spot-on for a successful run-up period. After warming the engine up for a few minutes, it was shut down to check for leaks and to recheck the ignition timing. The ignition timing was advanced by a good 5-10 degrees, which was reset by rotating the backing plate in the mounting plate and then reducing the point gap a few thousandths of an inch.  The engine sounded good, with no abnormal noises whatsoever. A quick look beneath the engine revealed an alarming amount of motor oil dripping off the bottom of the engine. Despite a careful disassembly, cleaning and use of all new gaskets for the oil pump, there were signs of leakage in the middle of the gasket/oil screen flange/gasket sandwich. I really haven’t had these kinds of problems before with oil pump installations, so it came as quite a surprise to see.

I really wanted to drain the oil anyway and check the filter for debris that was washed out of the various passages and any leftover media from the vapor blasting process. The clutch lever was a VERY HARD pull for some reason. Thinking back, I vaguely suspected that the clutch springs were somewhat heavier than normal for a Dream engine. That, plus the clutch cable being used was about 4” longer than the original combined to cause a lot of friction through the clutch release parts. I had already installed a new clutch thread in the kickstarter case and the clutch lifter seemed to be in good shape. Early Dreams use a clutch cable that is over 4 feet long, plus it is routed through the frame where it makes several tight turns and twists before entering the kickstarter cover at a 45 degree angle at the rear.  Later models used a much shorter cable which goes straight down the top of the kickstarter cover and that improves the whole clutch feel/pull effort a lot.

Pulling the left side muffler, shift lever and footpeg off gives enough room to pull the clutch cover off the engine easily. This early clutch cover has the “small hole” opening for the oil filter, which prevents simple filter cleaning as there is no way to open the filter with it still in place. Later bikes have a “large hole” opening which allows the removal of the filter through the hole and enough room to hook the filter chain back on the filter body for re-installation.

With the clutch cover removed, the clutch springs were removed and found to be probable CB72 parts. The correct Dream clutch springs have been superseded to 425 code parts from the DOHC CB750. I happened to have a set of new ones on hand, so that problem was easily corrected. The filter was disassembled and cleaned with minimal amounts of debris found inside. With clutch service work done, the cover was reinstalled after the filter was mounted and the rest of the chassis parts re-attached for another engine run. The oil pump was removed and checked for obvious sealing issues which were not readily apparent. The pump was re-installed and new oil added.

The engine started happily with fresh oil in the crankcase, but the oil pump leak was worse than before! The engine was run for another 10 minutes on the stand, then shut down to cool.  A correct clutch cable came in the mail on the following day, so the right side of the engine was stripped off to install the new cable, add the lower chain guard half and recheck everything on that side of the engine. The oil was drained again and the pump inspected. An additional bottom gasket was placed on the pump body in holes that it might help smother some of the invisible irregularities which were causing problems previously.

One week later…
Time out on the Dream project, while I drove to Las Vegas and back for the Mecum auctions. I hadn’t planned on buying anything and was hoping that the 1974 BMW R90S project bike would find a home while I was visiting, but no such luck, so far. I did buy a 1980 Suzuki GN400X which had 3300 original miles on it for $500, plus fees. After that; out of nowhere came a CR93 Replica bike that looked eerily familiar. The bike was not on the floor when I checked that morning and wasn’t in the auction program whatsoever, but THERE IT WAS! The bike had an alloy CR93 style tank and racing seat. It started out as a CB160, but acquired a CL175 5-speed engine/trans combo. AKRONT rims were laced up into polished hubs. Rearset pegs were installed on modified CB72 footplate mounts. The bike had a CB77 speed-tach combo installed in a CB160 headlight shell and it even had “winkers” installed! The bike was all polished, painted and chromed to a nice finish and overall workmanship was well above average for a one-off machine like this. I wound up paying a pretty high price for the bike, but I couldn’t have built one for that figure.

After the auction was over, I walked back to see just exactly what I had won and that familiar feeling returned to me… I owned the bike back in the late 1990s, but not in such nicely-finished condition!
When I returned home, I had a few boxes of parts waiting for me, including a set of carb covers and an upper chain guard, both of which came from a friend in Canada. The parts needed freshening up, but were in good useable condition, once some new paint was applied. The chain guard seemed to be different than the original lower half and it took quite a bit of fiddling round, bending things here and there  and generally spending way too much time on a chain guard installation. Eventually, I won out and the bike now has a fully enclosed drive chain; but not until after I removed the whole rear wheel unit, in order to see/feel and adjust the two halves to blend into a single assembly.

The petcock was cleaned and refreshed with all new sealing parts inside, then the tank was hoisted up onto the chassis for bolting down into place. The seat is original and has a very crispy cover with a hole in the center. The foam is all brittle underneath the cover, so either it will get a patch of super duct tape or I will have to succumb to buying a cover and foam package for redo. More and more it seems like every step you take in rebuilding these bikes is a $100 or more step.