Wednesday, November 24, 2021

What? Not again… another CB77 rescue

The past few months, it seems that all the local lame and wounded vintage Hondas have found their way to my little messy shop for repair and rejuvenation. Having been embroiled in a pair of “beach bike” CB350s, suddenly a sad, but salvageable later-model CB77 pops on Facebook forums as a project bike with a seriously seized engine. Seller was taking offers and finally settled on mine. All I had to do is drive 150 miles up the road to fetch it and bring home the remains for revival. Very few CB77s have shown up in SoCal in the past year, so I guess you have to go out and haul them in if you want to own one again.

I already have my low-budget 1963 CB77, which was a bike I pieced together 6-7 years ago, then let it go to a woman who lost her garage space and sold it to her girlfriend. She rode it out to Joshua Tree from San Diego on a woman’s ride, making the journey safely, but the bike was seeping oil out of the tachometer cable seal and she parked it in 2016. I wound up buying it back and putting it back into regular service now and was happy to have it for my runs to the post office and local trips.

Over the past year or so, I have snagged bits and pieces of Super Hawks, either to keep for emergencies or to put a little stash together in case a bike like this new one shows up for repairs. I have collected a kickstarter cover, cylinders, cylinder heads, valves, wiring harness and NOS ignition switch along with a lot of other little tidbits. So, now it looks like they will be put into play for the latest project.

The pickup adventure…

Leaving at 8:30 AM gave me about 3 hours to cover 150 miles up to and beyond LA. Waze GPS app took me off the I-5 once, across the 91W to the 605N, then back to the I-5 again. I have learned to trust it and sure enough, the bulk of the journey north went smoothly and I was there in 3 hours flat.

I gave the bike a quick once-over, noting that the cylinders were full of rust and the tank had stalactites inside once the cap was removed. It would appear that the cap was left off and the bike left outside to collect rainwater, which flowed into the open petcock, filled the carburetor bowls, then traveled down the right side cylinder’s open intake valve.

The bike only had 12k miles showing and was a 18K series 1965 model with an array of little mods including chromed fenders (front one chopped off), chromed side covers, transmission cover, footpegs and horn cover. The bike did have OEM exhaust pipes, but one muffler looked rusted out on the inside, also on the right side.

We loaded it up, I left a copy of my Classic Honda Motorcycles for Dave and the shop guys and hit the highway once again. The return leg had me headed down the I-5, then east on the I-10, then down the 710, then back to the I-5 again. In the end, the Tacoma covered 340 miles in 6.15 hours getting 26.4 mpg on the way as we tooled down the highway at 80 mph for much of the return trip.

Once the bike was unloaded, I hauled the engine up on the workbench and filled the cylinders first with Metal Rescue and Kroil, but switched to straight Metal Prep (phosphoric acid) after trying to loosen the pistons with my little steering wheel puller (as a pusher) tool attempt.

                                                           How it started out...

The next day…

Popping the float bowls off the carburetors revealed massive amounts of water damage corrosion to both carbs and the petcock. Metal was etched away on one carb main jet holder area and the petcock had a pinhole at the top where the metal had been eaten away. Fortunately, I had a spare set of square bowl carburetor bodies that should be good enough to bring the bike back to life again, once everything is put back together.

I ordered $100 worth of bits from and a new AGM MotoBatt battery from an eBay supplier.

I filled the gas tank with ¾ gallon of Metal Prep, let it sit for awhile then added water to the top opening and will let it sit for a few days. Hopefully, the pistons will loosen up and I can continue with the engine rebuild without resorting to violence on the piston crowns.

The worst one ever…

Using my steering wheel puller tool as a piston pusher, the pistons refused to budge, especially the left side one which was near TDC. The right side finally moved slightly, which just raised the cylinders off the crankcases ever so slightly. More pressure on the left side resulted in a loud crack and the top of the cylinder liner snapped off. The liner/piston combo could only go down so far before hitting the crankshaft, so this strategy wasn’t really working out. All I could do was totally destroy the cylinder block in order to remove the pistons from the crankshaft.

First, I took a hacksaw and sawed the cylinder block in half through the camchain cavity. Then, I had to pull the whole bottom end off the bench and over to my air compressor where I used an air chisel to pound out the right side piston from the sleeve. Next, the left side sleeve was pushed off the cylinder casting, leaving it intact and hanging from the connecting rod. I gathered it back up and put it back on the workbench, then attacked the sleeve with a Dremel tool with a cutoff wheel(s). Cutting down both sides of the sleeve about halfway allowed me to split the sleeve with a chisel, revealing a fully rusted piston from top to bottom and rust below the piston in the sleeve as well. I have never seen so much corrosion buildup between the piston and sleeve on a water-seized engine before.

The piston was finally clear of the cylinder sleeve, but we weren’t done just yet! Using a very big piston pin pusher tool, the pin was stubbornly stuck in the piston pin bores. I had to break out the Dremel tool again and cut the piston apart through the pin bore which finally relaxed enough to release the pin and the rest of the piston. I figure that it took about 6 hours of labor just to remove the pistons and cylinders from the crankcase and crankshaft. Worst one ever….

The cylinder head combustion chamber on the right side was pitted from years of standing water on that side, so it went to the scrap heap, as well. I continued to dismantle the rest of the engine in order to clean out all the debris from the piston removal process and check over the transmission and kickstarter parts. Fortunately, the bottom end was pretty clean and just needed a lot of washing of parts in order to clear the leftovers from the piston destruction process.

The whole outside of the engine was covered in layers of grease, dirt, oil, corrosion that took plenty of time just to scrape off the worst of it. I discovered a local shop that had a vapor blaster machine and was willing to clean the parts properly. Everything came back looking like fresh alloy, but needed a second cleaning/rinsing to clear leftover glass bead debris from the cleaning process. Now I could start to rebuild the engine using nice clean parts.

The spare cylinder head had good seats for the valves, only needing a little pass with the valve seat cutters to make nice shiny little circles in the cast-iron skull that comprises the combustion chamber, valve seats and spark plug hole. I installed a new set of valves with the original valve springs which had blue paint on the ends, which I had never noticed before on CB engines.

The spare cylinders on hand were still at STD bore, but one side had a single scratch down the side, but below the top couple of inches of piston travel. I cleaned up a set of STD pistons and rings that were hiding in a box and set about putting the whole top end back together with replacement parts from stock. The bottom end really didn’t need much in the way of replacements, apart from the kickstarter pawl which was somewhat rounded off on the contact surface.

Reassembly of these engines takes more time than you would expect, especially when each part needs to be cleaned and evaluated for re-use. I spent a couple of afternoons cleaning and assembling all the bits and pieces until I had a gleaming shiny engine assembly sitting on the bench. Next step, the chassis..

I spent a good part of a day first removing the front wheel and forks in order to replace the left side upper fork ear, which was flattened out from some impact. I was able to get a NOS part from for $65, which came in factory primer, so needed a coat of black paint to match the rest of the bike. While apart, I cleaned the fork seal holders and the chromed trim rings which had some pitting, but were good enough for the moment.

Invariably, the brake cams on these bikes are all sticky from 50-year-old grease and the intrusion of moisture over the years, so they must be dismantled, cleaned and lubricated. Honda didn’t make it very easy to dismantle the brake plates, as the brake shoe pivot bolts are held into the plate with nuts on the outside which have little punch mark stakes in two places. There is no room to get a socket onto the nuts, so I went in from the backside and used an air tool to break the 19mm head bolts loose from the 17mm nuts on the outside. Once apart, I replaced the front shoes with new aftermarket Vesrah brand replacements, which are non-asbestos materials. The original 5mm shoe thickness was worn down to about 4.3mm on the front and 3.4mm on the rears. I wound up using the used front shoes on the rear brakes in the end.

Both brake drums were rusted, as expected, but a half hour of cleaning with a drill motor and small wire wheel eventually removes all the rust and scale from the drums. More time was spent cleaning the rims with 0000 steel wool, just to make them look a little more presentable. The whole bike was just dirty and corroded to a degree, but Honda’s chrome was of pretty good quality and a lot of the original finishes came back up pretty well.

The bobbed front fender, which had been chromed was a problem to solve. I discovered an eBay vendor who had some of the Japanese made replacement fenders which I have seen before on other bikes in the past. The front fenders on CBs come in two versions, depending upon how they mount to the forks. This early bike has the steel fork sliders, so needs the early hockey stick type of center mounting ears. I knew that it wasn’t really the best option but at $100 it seemed like a good temporary fix for the front fender situation. The fender arrived quickly, but the troubles were just beginning.

For all appearances, the fender should have bolted up to the forks, as planned, but when the locating pins were pushed into the fender stay pads, the bolt holes were off about half a hole diameter. Well, that was weird, but perhaps they just had a bad day at the factory back then, I thought. Unfortunately, the more I whittled on the fender mounting hardware, the more it seemed like this was really NOT designed for this bike! The fender sits up about 2” above the tire and neither of the fender stays come within 2” of connecting to the fork slider. The curvature seems a little off, as well, perhaps due to the possibility that the fender was designed for a 19” wheel not the 18” wheel of a CB77. So, I really don’t know what this fender was destined for but it doesn’t appear to be for a Super Hawk model. The only other fender of that type of mounting system is the early CB450K0 Black Bombers, but I was never aware that there were aftermarket fenders designed for that model. So, no I am stuck with an ugly $100 fender that doesn’t work at all on this bike and is so carved up that it can’t be returned now. Interesting lesson learned here…

Next up, the marriage…

The chassis needed a good scrubbing to clear off years of dirt, oil and corrosion, so it got a good bath before the engine was reinstalled into its original place. Once cleaned off, there are still many hours of work to do in order to make this machine come back to life again.

As in interesting sidelight, the guy who did my vapor blasting had a black CB77 rolling chassis with motor sitting on a second level floor, just kind of hanging out there. It had a seat and fuel tank, which I needed for the LA bike, so I asked about it. The owner said, “You sold me that bike for $100 years ago and you can have it back for $100.” So, I added $100 to the bill and brought back yet another CB77 to make it a trio at the house for now.

Fired up, but leaking oil…

The engine started up on the first few turns, coughing and smoking out the mufflers for a few minutes. A few oil drips showed up quickly on both cylinder head covers, probably due to my reuse of the parts that still had the original gaskets. They looked good enough to reuse, but they were hard and just didn’t seal well. I replaced both cover gaskets, which cured the oil leaks there, but a more serious one materialized at the middle of the brand new head gasket. The head gasket was from an aftermarket company with little dimples across the surfaces. I don’t know what happened there, but it was disappointing to see and required another engine removal to replace the gasket and check the o-rings for sealing. The o-rings are supposed to be 2mm thick, but some of the aftermarket versions seem to be closer to 1.75mm. Digging into a Harbor Freight box of Viton o-rings, I came up with some that were about 2.4mm thick, so I opted to use those instead. I also coated the inside of the o-ring holes in the head gasket with some liquid sealer to prevent oil migration laterally through the gasket material. I coated the gasket with Gasket-Cinch and let it set up before installing the gasket and cylinder head.

Using a hydraulic bike lift to help handle the engine assembly made it a bit easier on my aging spine, but I still have to lift it up/down about a foot from the bench to the lift. I always feel it the next day or two, though. It winds up being a good 3-4 hour job to manually dismantle the bike’s external parts and ease the motor down and out of the frame. A good hour or so was spent on the bench, dismantling the cylinder head from the engine and cleaning, inspecting, gasket scraping, and prepping the parts for reassembly. Then, it is back onto the lift and back over to the frame. Unlike the Scramblers, the Super Hawk engines go straight up into the frame from the bottom, so jockeying it around and into the mounting points is much less of a strain on the old bones.

Fired up 2.0...

Once the bike was nearly back together again, the engine was test-fired to verify that the head gasket leak was solved and everything was back to specs again. For almost all of the CB77s that have come my way, I have installed #140 main jets to compensate for the alcohol in today’s fuel supplies. This setup in my 1963 CB77 works flawlessly, with easy cold starts and smooth fuel delivery all the way to redline. This 1965 bike wasn’t having any of that...

First, the bike sounded like it was running very rich at mid-range and spitting back through the left carburetor off-idle, which is a confusing combination of symptoms. I discovered that once the fuel tank was cinched down onto the frame, apparently the throttle cable was getting pinched off somehow and the carb synch was WAY OFF. The left side was lifting 1/4” before the right side started up. It wasn’t making much sense as the new cable was used and the carb slides and adjusters were matching height at first. When the fuel tank was loosened up, the carb synch issues swapped sides! Pushing the parts around finally got the cables to match up normally and the carb synch was restored. I had installed a set of OEM carb needles and have moved the needle clips up and down, trying to find the happy place for the engine.

Finally, I swapped out the #140 mains for a set of stock #135s and the engine began to smooth out through the rev range. The ignition timing was rechecked using an automotive timing light and it was discovered that when both sides were setup at the F mark at idle, the wear inside of the camsprocket advancer weight pads have compressed somewhat which creates excessive spark timing at full advance. I have found that you MUST contain the spark advance to stay close to the II marks on the rotor at full advance. Setting the spark advance timing to that limit yielded idle spark timing at the T mark instead of the F mark.

My friend Tim Miller, down in TX, dismantles the camsprockets and modifies the spark advance curves so that they have about 10 degrees less total timing advance, but this allows the engines to run about 10 degrees BTDC at idle, which is where they really like to be. If the engine has to come down again in the future, I will ship the camsprocket out to Tim for rebuilding.

A few local test rides are showing promise as the engine beds in and the carbon and oil is all burned out of the exhaust system. The engine compression readings are right at 160 psi on both sides, which is about normal for the later lower compression piston setups that Honda used after 1965.

Some of the big-ticket items for this revival included nearly $400 just for vapor blasting the engine components, $65 for the AGM battery, then another $50 just for the battery hold-down plate and cushion, $60 for a new drive chain, $65 for a set of mirrors, $155 for a set of cables to replace the original tach, speedo, clutch, front brake, rear brake and throttle units. I used the gas tank from the newly acquired $100 parts bike, which needed a $160 clean and seal, then a $125 black paint job. I added one of my little Dream 50 tail light lenses, which are an inch and a half shorter than the regular long lens used on all of the 1963-66 models. The stock right-side muffler had a section that was rusted through in one spot which required a $50 welding job. The speedometer went haywire on the first drive, so $275 was spent on getting the meters rebuilt at Foreign Speedometer here in San Diego. I picked up an aftermarket blue seat from my friend in TN who brought it to the Barber Vintage Festival in Oct. $90 including shipping back to San Diego. The original seat pan was poorly repaired with someone with an arc welder, instead of a TIG welder. Aftermarket copy seat bolts set me back another $20.

The spare cylinder head got a new set of valves which run about $100, then gaskets and seals add another $80 to the mix. I already had a spare set of cylinders, STD pistons/rings that were used but good enough to put together with confidence. The head and cylinders/pistons would have run another $250 if I had to purchase them elsewhere. Tim McDowell supplied a set of aftermarket air filters, air tubes speedometer packing, and other bits that ran up another $200. The carburetors needed kit parts and floats, so $80 more to the total. The new CA title costs $55 plus 2 trips to DMV and one to CHP offices for inspection and VIN verification appointments. After awhile, you step back and gasp at all of the money spent just to get a bike like this from parts bike status to a full running motorcycle again. The parts bills can easily run to $2k especially if you have to buy new pistons/rings and then bore the cylinders for $90 to machine two cylinders. And don’t ask about the hours invested in all the steps to clean, repair and assemble the whole bike again…

In the process of rebuilding the bike, which still has the original paint and all of the extra chromed parts attached, the former owner of my 1963 bike (which I bought back from her a few months ago) fed me a referral to an interested buyer for the 1965 bike. He brought his 12-year-old son with him and even though the bike wasn’t quite finished, then had a flat tire, but he was enamored with it and wished to buy it when everything is complete.

So, in less than 2 months, the very dead CB77 is now back on its wheels, with a running, rebuilt engine and a promising future with a new family who plan to keep it as an heirloom to be passed down to the next generation in years to come. The end result makes all the labor and expenses worthwhile.

                                                                   THE END...

Bill “MrHonda” Silver


Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Pretty CL77 Scrambler with a dark secret…

A recent request from an LA-based owner of a CL77 lead to the next big adventure in vintage Honda repairs. The bike had been “restored” by an owner in WA state and posted on Craigslist for sale. The current owner, Mike, had picked it up while visiting his daughter not far away from where the bike was listed, so he went to see it. The bike was not running at the time and the apparently motivated seller sold it for a very cheap price. The bike had been restored with new chrome on the rims and exhaust, new paint on the bodywork and everything looked pretty tidy overall when it arrived on the back of a trailer to Casa de Honda for a “get running” request. I figured that I would just troubleshoot it, fix it and turn him back around to LA within an hour or two…

First step on an unknown bike is to check compression readings. The left side came up at 175 psi, but the right side died off at 60 psi. Not a good start for the day… Next step was to check for tight valves on that side, but when it was brought up to TDC compression, it was evident that there was normal valve clearances on both valves. My little portable bore-scope revealed a coating of carbon on the piston crown and signs of dished valve faces, which seems pretty prevalent these days.

The main issues that kept the bike from starting up were both idle/pilot jets were plugged up and the float levels were at 26mm not 22.5mm. Wrestling with carb jets on a Scrambler are always challenging, especially on the left side near the exhaust system and the oil filler tube. After contorting myself in various ways in order to access the idle jets and reset the floats, I finally got it to a point where it should fire up, all things considered. I checked the ignition timing statically and it was within a few degrees of normal and the points were opening and closing properly. Two kicks and the engine fired right up, filling the neighborhood with the distinctive sound of straight-pipe 305 Scrambler noises.

Unfortunately, the running engine was blowing out clouds of blue smoke out of the breather hose in vast volumes, indicating bad rings, scored cylinder walls or worse. It was time to tear it down and see what had happened to the engine. After unbolting the engine and wrestling it out of the chassis, the truth was about to be revealed on the workbench.

It appeared that the engine had been lightly sandblasted and painted with a light aluminum paint. When the kickstarter cover was removed all the sandy flakes were packed around the rotor and countershaft sprocket area. So, pretty on the outside, but not really cared for beneath the surface.

The engine top cover was removed and checked to see if the breather holes on the plate were oriented properly. If the breather plate holes are installed at the top of the head, then oil gets trapped and blown out of the breather tube. There are arrows on the plate to indicate that the holes should be positioned down/forward, but I suppose you could interpret it as the arrows indicating TOP/UP instead. Anyway, they had been installed correctly, so that was not a contributing factor.

Once the cylinder had nuts were removed beneath the spark plugs, the head slid right off the studs revealing a surprise. The right side piston had a small section melted away from detonation, which extended all the way through the ring pack. Further more, the head gasket fire ring was blown through towards the camchain cavity, so the reasons for all the smoke were quite evident now.

The cylinder bores showed signs of water/corrosion damage in the past, plus there was a chunk of melted aluminum clinging to the top edge of the right side cylinder bore. The pistons were still on STD bore size, but the condition of the bores required over-sized pistons and a rebore to fit them. That lead to the next challenge which was to find some correct pistons and rings at a reasonable price. Ebay sellers were asking anywhere from $50 a piston to $150, with a full set of pistons and rings running from $250 to $400 a pair. My friend Tim McDowell at is the distributor for WISECO forged pistons to fit the 305s, but was out of stock and the manufacturer was waiting for piston blanks that were probably on one of the thousands of container ships that were sitting offshore waiting for their turn at the end of the 2021 season. A somewhat reasonable option were IMD piston kits that were engineered in the UK but made in Taiwan. At $169 a set they seemed to be a good option including the 3 piece oil rings that come with modern designed parts. The puzzling part of these piston offerings were that they chose to use the lower compression Dream piston crown configurations rather than the standard higher compression CB series shapes.

I have built up CB engines with Dream pistons, due to lack of proper piston options and they still work fine, but have a bit lower compression readings in the end. This engine was not going to be raced in competition or ridden extensively on the highway according to the owner, so putting the engine together with IMD pistons was the wise option in the moment.

I noticed that when the pistons were removed from the rods, turning the engine over with the rotor left a feeling that something was causing excessive friction on the crankshaft. Rolling the engine over on the bench to remove the clutch cover revealed that the oil filter was stuck on the shaft and the outside cover had been hammered onto the shaft end with the locating pin out of position. This condition was holding the cover just back from fully sealing up the cover to prevent oil drips which were evident as the bike was initially parked.

The oil filter thrust washer had been placed on the inside of the shaft next to the crankcase, which pushes the oil filter chain off-center. This causes side wear on the little filter chain sprocket teeth. Once the filter shaft as extracted from the outer cover and the filter removed from the shaft, the filter was cleaned out of the 1/8” of accumulated grit and debris that the filter had accumulated over the last 50 years.

The cylinder head was dismantled, apart from the cams, so the valves could be removed and inspected. The exhaust seats had a lot of little depression marks and the intakes were quite wide and rounded. All the valves were replaced, with seats re-cut and narrowed to meet up with fresh 45 degree angled valve faces.

As always, considerable time is expended in removing the old, caked-on gaskets from the alloy surfaces without digging into the metal too often. I have found that it usually takes between 1 and 2 hours to successfully clean all the gasket surfaces, particularly on bikes with the original asbestos gasket material.

While awaiting the arrival of a set of pistons to send to the machine shop, any other loose ends must be addressed, which in this case was some kind of solid-state full-wave rectifier cube that had been loosely fitted to the chassis and found to be un-grounded when the engine was removed.

Taking a turn for the worse…

In setting the cylinder block down into a cardboard box for transport to the machine shop, I was shocked to see the right side liner just pop up all by itself. I lifted the cylinders up and grabbed the liner with my hand and it just moved up and down and turned either way easily. This is NOT a good sign. Normally, the liners need a little time in a low-temp oven in order to get them extracted from the cylinder casting. Chilling the liners and heating the cylinder block is the usual way to re-install the liners once again. I called the machine shop and told the owner what the situation was. He said to bring it all in and let him evaluate the situation. His call-back revealed an approximate clearance between the right sleeve and cylinder block at .004” which is not the desired interference fit expected. After washing the parts off in his steam cabinet the other sleeve came out with little effort. After careful measuring, he decided to swap sleeves in the block which ended up with about .002” clearance. He lathered up the sleeves with Red Loctite and let them sit overnight to let the adhesive setup and cure fully. Once he sets the cylinders up in the boring bar, the results will become evident; either the cylinders bore out normally, or the liners break loose and start spinning in the cylinder block which signals the end of the usefulness of this set of cylinders.


The machinist called to say the cylinders were ready and they turned out fine. I made the 25 mile round trip to pick them up and cart them home for installation. The top end was reassembled in an hour or so, then I dragged the big lump off the bench and onto a cart where it met up with the chassis. Some soft rags were taped to the frame to minimize paint damage as the engine was wedged back into the chassis. Scramblers continue to be the most challenging bikes to service and to do big jobs on as far as I am concerned. After another hour plus, it was time to light it off…

Good news, bad news…

The bike started on the 3rd kick, but sounded like a top fuel drag car; a combination of straight exhaust pipes and a bunch of other issues that arose. When the carbs were reinstalled the right side throttle cable adjuster was a 1/4” higher than the other side for reasons unknown. This caused the right side to be pulling the other side along under load, which adds to the stress and overheating of the cylinder. The carb float levels were re-checked before installation and the jetting was all stock. There was no immediately apparent reason for excess fueling of the engine, but the air screws didn’t have any affect on the idle richness.

The spark timing was set for the left side which ran up to the II advancer marks properly. The right side timing was way off at idle and when it was retarded back to the F mark, the engine died a few times, but was noted to exceed the advancer marks by a good 10 degrees, which would certainly cause overheating and seizures under load. After the spark plugs loaded up with black carbon it was time to call it a day and consider all of the possibilities for this suprising outcome. The good news is that the cylinder pressure with the new pistons was 175-180psi on both sides.

Back to basics…

With fresh eyes and better daylight, the re-check commenced. The point brand was verified as genuine ND (Nippon Denso), but someone had replaced the original screws and washers with mushroom head screws that tend to move the point base around as you tighten the screws. The point gap was opened up a little past the .016” to ensure that both sets were not closed momentarily causing a voltage drop to the coils. The ignition timing was set statically with a 12v test light and eventually verified with the engine running to ensure that there were no over-advancing problems with spark timing which causes piston seizures and detonation holes. One step done…

Next, the carburetors were removed again to check the air bleed passages going to the idle and main jet circuits. They were clear, but the emulsion tube holes for the main jet holder were contaminated with some leftover corrosion due to old gas left in the carbs. The float levels were double-checked, the floats tested for any pinholes which leads to sinking of the floats. All the jets were stock Honda, but the carb slide needles were not marked, which is usually due to the originals being replaced by aftermarket Keyster carb parts. I sifted through about 20 needles in a bin and found an actual OEM CL77 needle, plus a Keyster D13 replacement needle. The idle jets were cleaned previously which got the bike to start up, but eventually, the #38 idle jets were replaced with #35 spares to lessen the rich idle condition.

The new needles were attached to the carb slides and the two slides were inserted into the carb bodies.

The sooted-up spark plugs were replaced with a fresh set of D8HA NGK plugs and the bike seemed to finally get its feet again. The air filter and side cover were reattached to the bike chassis before the pipes were installed again.

The bike had been running on a temporary fuel source. Once the engine sounded healthy again, the fuel tank was reinstalled and refilled. I have learned to always check the air pressure before a test ride and sure enough, I was looking at tire pressures of 15 upfront and near zero for the rear. Finally, with everything attached, I ventured out for a quick run about a half-mile away on a road where there are few houses and listening ears to be offended/treated by the sound of a straight-pipe Honda 305 Scrambler.

The rear tail light wasn’t working which was traced down to lacking a good ground from the tail light to the bracket to the rear fender, which is a common problem when freshly painted or powdercoated body parts are reinstalled without consideration of the need for a solid ground path for the electricity. I failed to check the neutral switch condition when the engine was reinstalled and sure enough, it appears to be the source of the non-working neutral light circuit. Checking it requires removal of the footpeg assembly and removal of the kickstarter cover to access the switch and connections. Just when you think you have it done… there’s always something left to do.

I did manage to address the last electrical issues while I waited for the arrival of the owner, who made the trip back down from LA to retrieve his prize CL77. The neutral switch pigtail wire had become unsoldered and the incomplete ground path for the tail light was cleaned and reconnected so that all the lighting systems were once again functional.

The owner took the bike for a quick blast around the neighborhood and rolled it up into his bike trailer for the return trip back home again. It was a far cry from “I can’t get it started” to “Please fix it and let me know when it is done.” These old bikes are full of surprises and this one presented problems not previously seen before. In the end, it lives and breathes again to the delight of the happy owner.

Bill “MrHonda” Silver