Thursday, May 9, 2019

How to find stuff…. Vintage Honda parts and others


Like many of my peers (Baby Boomer-era motorcyclists) who happen to have the vintage Honda acquisition affliction, the key to completing projects is finding sources of vintage parts. I am subscribed to numerous forums on Facebook and with the VJMC group, which are full of banter back and forth on where to find parts, how to make repairs and whether to restore or go “resto-mod” with their latest barn finds.

Thirty years ago, the communications options were few: US mail and a few clubs like the VJMC newsletters, plus magazine and weekly publications. Hopefully, an ad for a wanted part would include a phone number which was probably going to tap into your “long distance” portion of your phone bill. With no phone number offered, you would have to write a letter to the seller and hope it arrived quickly, before other suitors barged in and snapped your wanted item up, leaving you with the “It just sold” PTSD syndrome.

In recent years, with the advent of the Internet and so MANY sales options for bikes and parts, speed is still a key factor, but finding the part in the first place can be the most daunting part of the process. For a simple look around, any of the internet search engines like Google, Yahoo, Firefox, Internet  Explorer, etc. will often bring a few parts sources into focus. It is VERY helpful to use several search words in your quest for the right part. Just putting in “Honda CB77” will garner you about 1 or 2 million page results. Using “Honda CB77 ignition switch” narrows it down drastically.  If you want really specific results, then use the OEM part number in the search window. In the case where CMSNL.COM site comes up with SWITCH,COMB, product number: 35100-268-030  supersession: 35100-273-000, it appears that two options are available. However if you are aware that the 273 switch snout is an extra inch longer than the correct 268 code part, you might want to think twice about the purchase. 

Modern internet sites which host OEM microfiche-type illustrations and drawings of the parts, along with part numbers often only show the last generation part numbers and don’t include a full history of how the part got from 268-000 to 268-030 through the years. Look for other websites which highlight US Honda models, which often use American Honda Motor Corporation microfiche feeds from the manufacturer.  In some cases, you might have to access a Japanese website, which might have a more concise parts book listing containing the older part numbers. An important part of the whole hobby is the excitement of the “search and find” cycles, which are a small part of the whole restoration process.

To ascertain the most correct part number for your machine, it is best to have a period copy of the OEM parts books that does show the part number succession history.  I have a copy of Honda’s 1980 parts history book, which is often a handy resource to find part numbers which have slipped into oblivion through the passage of time. Many years ago I was able to obtain a rough photocopy of a 400 page NPS conversion booklet, which listed just about all of Honda’s old part numbers (pre-NPS in 1965) and includes many of the superseded part numbers and/or ones which were utilized, but perhaps never assigned to production machines. The list started with the 001 code C100 and ran up into the 1965 CB450K0 era, including some of the Police bike part numbers.

I do receive more than a few requests for parts or part numbers for any size or pre-1980 (1960s mostly) vintage Honda and sometimes the results are just a few keystrokes away. It’s easy to assume, sometimes, that people are either lazy or perhaps don’t have the resources to access a lot of the vintage parts resources. You never know a person’s ability to use technology or their own thought processes during a parts search, even when a request seems extremely simple to perform. On top of that, you can’t assume that the request comes from someone who is well-versed in the particular model’s history. I have stored up over 50 years of experience working with Honda motorcycle products of all sizes and vintages, so it seems perfectly simple to track down a part or part number, if it is remotely available in an online search. 

In the past 10 years, many of the “old reliable” vintage parts sources have all dried up and owners retired. Currently, the remaining sources for vintage Honda parts are: www.davidsilverspares.com, www.classichondarestoration.com, www.ohiocycle.com, www.4into1.com and www.cmsnl.com . If course www.ebay.com can often offer up various parts sources that are regular online businesses or the one-off odd part that someone found at a swap meet or have dug it out of the back of their garage. The most successful parts finders take advantage of all available resources, including extensive networking with owner’s groups, Facebook forums, Yahoo groups and vintage motorcycle clubs like the www.vjmc.org .

For internet-savvy people, valuable resources are available, through the previously mentioned various forums, which can cover vintage motorcycles in general or a specific model/series like Honda pushrod Cub 50 (vs. the OHC version). Internet forums can join people from across the globe that care about a specific make/model and might have that rare part that is being sought to complete a project.  Often, some very esoteric parts or whole bikes can turn up when you connect with the international community of like-minded enthusiasts.  Novices can sometimes get scolded for not specifying a year/model and part number for the wanted item, but that is part of the learning cycle. No one woke up one morning with the full history of a specific make/model in their brain, much less the ability to repair or restore that machine. 

In writing stories like this, I hope to enlighten and encourage even the most novice owners to jump in, speak up, ask for help and listen thoughtfully to advice from the learned ones who do specialize in that same machine type. In my 50+ years of Honda experience, I have found that you do usually “Meet the nicest people on a Honda” and the vast majority of owners and parts sources are helpful, friendly and ready to do their part to help you finalize that vision of the fully-functional and/or fully restored vintage Honda motorcycle.

And if you really get stuck trying to find a source of parts or just an accurate part number, ask MrHonda! I’m here to help…

Bill “MrHonda” Silver

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