Saturday, April 30, 2022

The speedometer wouldn’t lie, would it? Part 2

 With the engine installed, it was rolled back into the shop and onto the bike lift for the next phase. The rear tire was a 3.50x18” that was rubbing up against the forward edge of the rear fender, due to it being oversized and the fender had an odd dent in the edge that closed the gap even further. I had to park the bike on a 3/4” steel plate to get some wheel clearance on the rear wheel, so I could remove it and change the tire back to the normal 3.00x18” size. I had a spare spoke kit handy, so decided to dive in and clean up the rear wheel rim and hub enough to warrant a fresh set of spokes.

The task was complicated by the rear brake backing plate which had nearly new VESRAH rear brake shoes, but the brake cams and pivots for the shoes were mostly glued in place due to ancient grease used in the installation some 30 years ago. You see a lot of mistakes from people who try to do work on these bikes and don’t get it quite right. Small things like over-lubing the brake pivots and cams, and then the brake arm pinch bolt was installed backward for some reason. The over-sized tire was the other mistake which probably was a surprise when the owner tried to put it on the centerstand and found that the bike was sitting on all fours.. both tires and both legs of the stand. The bike becomes pretty unstable on anything except dead flat ground.

The swing arm had to be removed and taken to my friend Rob North for a 5 -minute welding job to reattach the front chain guard tab which are commonly broken off in higher miles bikes. The swing arm pivot bushings were rusted and pitted so were replaced along with new rubber seals on the inside of the swing arm pivots. Every part removed had to be cleaned either in solvent and/or on my grinding wheel’s wire brush side. A fresh DID drive chain was installed onto a somewhat odd set of sprockets. The front 15t sprocket was worn quite a bit, but I had a spare 16t front in my spares boxes. The rear sprocket wasn’t a stock 30, but it was an aftermarket 34t unit. Stock ratios would be 2:1 (15/30), so the 16/34 combo yielded 2.125, just a bit lower that normal. Larger diameter sprockets are easier on drive chains anyway, but I have never built up a bike with this combo before.

Considering that there was mud and gunk all the way up to the ignition coils, it appears that the bike was in some kind of flood or high water event. Much of the bike was covered in thick silt-like mud that needed to be scraped off with a screwdriver or gasket scraper. There are parts of the lower case that are still embedded with the muddy colors.

With the engine bolted up, I had the option of installing a low-cost Pro-Trigger reg/rectifier in place of the stock rectifier. The ignition system also came from Pro-Trigger, which eliminates the points, and condenser ignition system parts. Once dialed in the system kicks out strong sparks from the coils. The battery of choice for these old bikes is the Motobatt AGM battery which has clever post adapters to work on many types of electrical hookups. They provide strong amperage and steady voltage to the electrical system, for complete reliability.

All of the cables were replaced, mostly from Tim McDowell’s site. Tim supplied new air filters, tubes, rubber bumpers for the side covers, and other small parts that you need when you are refitting a vintage Honda.

The gas tank didn’t look too bad initially, but when I filled it up with Metal Rescue, little pinholes made themselves known all along the bottom seam of the gas tank. I temporarily patched the little leaks with dabs of GOOP and once the tank rust was mostly gone, I rinsed it out and used up the last half of my Caswell tank sealer kit. Once this stuff sets up, it is very hard and fills in small holes and adheres to any remaining clean rust areas, sealing them permanently. Good stuff!

The carburetors were not as bad as I expected, but did spend some time in the ultrasonic cleaner and got fresh gaskets and O-rings for the flanges and insulators. The chromed brass slides were worn along the top edges, but I only had a decent used one for the right side.

I had taken the rear fender off to straighten out the big dent at the bottom front edge, and poked out a few more dents in the mid-section. It’s a daily driver kind of bike with lots of patina, so I didn’t go overboard with dent removal and make it look new. I shot some Honda Cloud Silver on it before reinstalling it, taking care to clean contact areas where grounds were needed for the tail light bracket and to the frame mounts.

The front end showed signs of leaking fork seals, so they were the next to get a look and freshening up. Type 2 forks are easier to replace seals on than the Type 1 forks with chrome seal holders that are often damaged and difficult to remove and replace the seals inside. The difference on Type 2 alloy forks is that the springs are on the outside of the fork tubes, so you have to use a long bolt to thread down into the top of the fork tubes and draw the forks up into the top fork crown.

The fork seal on one side came out, after snap ring removal, with the usual slide-hammer action of drawing the fork tube up and down against the bottom of the seal until it pops out. The seal on the opposite side was having none of this kind of action. Repeated hammering on the fork case with a plastic hammer and even using the axle for a point of contact failed to release the fork seal. I tried a heat gun but had no luck either. Finally, I broke out the Mapp-Gas torch and gave it a minute of direct flame heat. It finally let go, splattering fork oil all over the floor when the fork case dropped off the end of the tube.

I cleaned the parts, reinstalled the seals, loaded them up with synthetic ATF oil from the auto parts store, and guided them back up inside the fork covers and steering stem. The last big task was the front wheel and brake panel.

Like most of the other parts on the chassis, the front brake drum was rusted in numerous places and the brake shoes were glazed and coated with dirt. De-rusting the brake drum requires a first scraping of the high rust spots with the edge of a flat-bladed screwdriver, then follows with a small stainless wire wheel chucked up in a cordless drill. A final pass with some sandpaper and brake cleaner usually results in a surface that the brake shoes can grip once again.

The brake backing plates are difficult to disassemble as the brake shoe pivot bolts are screwed into the panel then thin nuts tightened up on the outer surface, with little staked points to prevent them from loosening up on their own. A combination of 17 and 19mm sockets broke the nuts loose, allowing for the pivot bolts to be unscrewed from the brake plate. The staked edges of the bolts can damage the threaded holes on the way out if you don’t trim the edges of the bolt threads. It is a good idea to run a tap back through the holes before reinserting the bolts again. All the brake cams were gummed up and the holes in the backing plates were similarly contaminated with ancient grease installed at the factory some 60 years ago.

With the front wheel all bolted back up, it was time to fuel up the newly sealed fuel tank, install the seat, and take it for a ride. The bike started up quickly and the clutch was buttery smooth when 1st gear was selected. A first ride around the block went well, but the front end of the bike seemed to hop up and down as it gained speed. I checked the forks to see if they were working smoothly and then discovered that the ancient front CS brand tire seemed to have not been seated on the rim all the way around. I deflated it, sprayed some silicone spray around the bead and reinflated it, but the tire had some distortion beyond the bead area, so it needed to be replaced. According to the date code of 500, I assume that the tire was produced in May of 2000, some 22 years ago. Too bad because it looked like it had little wear and wasn’t cracked on the sidewalls, but there was no fixing the big hop on the tire as the wheel turned round and round.

Cosmetically, the right side muffler, which looked correct at first, turned out to be a lightweight Dixie International copy, made many years ago. There were several surface rust areas, probably due to battery acid stains on the outside. The left side muffler was an OEM original, but it had suffered some big blows to the bottom sides from some kind of impact; perhaps a rock. I searched for a cheap replacement and found that had some “dented” left side mufflers for sale at a reduced price. 

These were units that were being made in the UK as replacements for the non-existent originals, but for some reason the tooling for the left sides was not correctly formed and the bump on the forward section, just behind the forward bolt mounting hole, comes in contact with the back of the clutch cover. I had seen this problem previously on the mufflers that are on my Black CB77 bike and we had to have the weld line ground down and re-welded flat to make clearance for the muffler’s contact point.

Rob North was again my go-to for welding, but he had difficulties in filling in the hole as the material was ground very thin and it was difficult to get welding rod to stick to the metal without melting it away. He spent about 15 minutes slowly closing up the hole until he succeeded in sealing it up.

So, just after a month of the purchase of a very sad, very dirty and very seized up CB77, it lives again and is ready for service once the title work gets done. For the moment, I have three CB77s in service; in Black, Blue and White.

Next step was to haul the bike and paperwork over to the DMV office for verification and getting a fresh title created. The bike was in “no record” status due to the last tags shown as 1989, so you have to start from scratch and do the steps to get it legal again with a fresh CA title. I was able to get the DMV steps started but getting a CHP inspection is currently backed up for more than a month, so the bike is in limbo now. 

Contact me at for details or to talk about a purchase of this or one of my other CB77s for sale. 


Bill "MrHonda" Silver

Thursday, April 21, 2022

The speedometer wouldn’t lie, would it? Part 1

Well, another ailing CB77 has found its way to my door/shop; this time a fairly rare blue 1966 edition. The lead came from the site, when I was assisting a different person about a 305 question. This one popped up showing a speedometer reading of 2340 miles. The brief description was that it was stored in someone’s collection for over 15 years (CA license plate shows 1992 tag) and came without a title or other paperwork.

I was able to have a conversation with the current owner who had picked it up recently from a chance encounter with a man at a cars and coffee Saturday morning event. The bike has a seized engine, but initially the seller was describing a ribbed front tire that appeared to be in excellent condition, perhaps indicating that it was an original item. While the conversation continued more details came up that cast a shadow on the “originality” of the bike and the tires. The tires were from Cheng Shen, out of Taiwan, a common replacement back in the 1980-90s. The front tire size was not correct at 3.00x18 (date code 500). The rear was a 3.50x18 which causes the bike to be unsteady on the centerstand due to the increased overall circumference of the tires.

The chain guard's forward tab on the swingarm
was broken free and the chain guard was chromed at sometime in its life. The bike is a 24xxx model, so was originally equipped with the low, flat-bar handlebar setup. The bike had 1975 Oklahoma inspection stickers on the front fork, but the CA license plate was the blue version dating back into the 1970-80s era. The fork cover has some dents and there is a dent on the top of the fuel tank, plus lots of scratches all over and the usual rust buildup in the nooks and crannies of the frame. The mufflers are OEM, but the right side has some rust patches on the outside and some battery acid damage and the left side has major dents from some kind of impact.

After some negotiations, we came to an agreement, which included meeting me about half-way down from its location in Santa Clarita, which is where the last CB77 came from. It is a 340 mile round trip from San Diego, so a meetup in Anaheim was a big help even at additional cost to offset his costs and time to drag it halfway down the road.

Initial impressions were that the bike had had it’s share of use, beyond 2300 miles, given the changed tires, broken chain guard tab and after a closer inspection one of the cylinder head nuts had been replaced with a plain hex nut, so it was looking less and less like the speedometer was the original unit that came with the bike from the factory. Still, I am a sucker for a Super Hawk, so we concluded the deal and I brought it back the last 100 miles to home again.

First order of business is to remove the engine and get it on the bench for a top end teardown and inspection to see just what has happened to it in the past 20-30 years. In the meantime, I ordered another AGM Motobatt battery and a rear tire for the bike, which will be followed by a complete set of new cables, fuel tank cleanout, petcock overhaul, carb overhaul, gasket kit and seal kit and whatever else it will need to get operational again.

Day 2

The engine was lowered down on my portable bike lift and then given a wash down to get the worst of the dirt and grease off of the outside of the engine casings. After a little scrub-up, the engine was hoisted up on the workbench. I always loosen the outside case screws on the cylinder head and clutch cover before I go to far into a teardown. Using the mass of the engine to hold things steady, my impact driver got a good workout loosening the screws, especially in the head where they appeared to be unmolested since the bike was assembled in 1966, which was noted on the factory wiring harness tag.

Based upon the wear on the sprockets and other chassis parts, it is doubtful that the bike only has the original miles that are showing on the speedometer. All the cables are beyond shot, the drive chain is worn out. The broken chain guard tab doesn’t usually happen at that low of mileage. As parts were removed, the crankshaft was checked for any signs of turning and to my surprise it did turn about one-quarter of a turn and then stopped dead. It would turn backwards for the quarter of a turn, but no more in either direction.

As luck would have it (for a change), the master link was almost right at the top of the cylinder head, giving me easy access to the clip. I string a piece of 22 gauge wire through the ends of the camchain to keep them from falling all the way down the engine cases. The top cover came away and revealed a nicely clean set of cams and rockers. Flipping the head over showed some normal carbon and a bit of corrosion on the valve heads, but nothing was bent, burned or broken. With the head removed, I tried the crankshaft again, but nothing had changed. The pistons looked okay on the crowns, but they would only move up and down a bit then tighten up solidly.

At first I thought that perhaps something was tying up the crankshaft sprocket and primary chain, but a look under the clutch cover didn’t reveal anything out of the ordinary except that the outer surface of the oil filter was showing signs of some kind of unusual rubbing marks. I setup my steering wheel puller which is generally used to push down a stuck piston with success in many cases. Despite the lack of obvious rust or seizure damage the right side piston refused to push down easily, fighting me every mm of the way. After an hour of wrestling with it, I was able to almost see the edge of the wrist pin bore at the bottom of the cylinder block sleeve, but it wasn’t giving up without a big fight. I left it for the night and plotted a new course of action for the next day.

Day 3

Well, it took another hour of pounding and twisting the steering wheel puller in order to extract the stuck piston from the cylinders. I actually wound up getting the cylinders blocked up with a 2x4” piece of wood, then working the piston down far enough to get to the wrist pin/clip. I reached into the center of the crankcase and removed the two bolts holding the camchain guide roller/bracket which left me a clear shot at pushing the pin out using a very long screwdriver. As the cylinders were pulled up, the left side piston released lots of broken bits of piston rings.

The right side piston was still stuck in the bottom of the cylinder sleeve, but it finally popped out with a few more whacks with a hammer and a big drift punch. That piston had all of the rings solidly glued into the piston ring lands. The cylinder walls were actually fairly clean, as far as rust/corrosion goes, but there were some deep grooves in one side and some other irregularities on both sides, especially at the top of the bores.

I finished tearing the rest of the engine apart, noting a burned shift fork and second gear slot. The gear dog engagement was about 10% and the gear dogs were rounded off from repeated jumping in and out of gear.

The clutch pack was a solid mass of plates and friction discs. I pried them apart but the steel plates are all very corroded from sitting pinched together for 30+ years. The clutch pushrod end was holding the steel ball in its grip as the end was an open piece of tubing instead of the normal hardened steel tip. Later comparison with a stock part, revealed that it may have been from a 160 instead of a 250-305 with the extension added to take up the shortfall.

Day 4

The engine cases were covered with a clay, dirt, grease mix that would only release when scrapped off with a screwdriver or other scraping tool. I spent more than 2 hours cleaning, rinsing, cleaning, rinsing and finally getting them reasonably dirt-free. With clean cases, the reassembly can proceed.

The crankshaft locating pins were all installed and the crankshaft assembly reinstalled with all the bearing races engaged with the pins. The main shaft got a good used 2nd gear, offset gear cotters and a new seal. The countershaft was treated to a new low gear bushing, new kickstarter pawl, spring, cap to freshen things up. Obviously, this bike and engine had been driven way more than the indicated miles on the speedometer.

The oil filter was a shocker when I removed the through shaft, instead of old oil drooling out there was a pile of dry dusty, dirty particles that had filled up the filter. I have never seen anything like it, as if there was water filtering through it for awhile. There was no other signs of water contamination inside the engine, but this filter was totally unexpected to find this kind of debris trapped inside.

Day 5

With the lower end buttoned up with a scarce NOS primary chain, I experimented with trying out a set of Barnett clutch plates that were in a pile of spares I went to work on the cylinder head. All the cam lobes and rocker arms seemed to be in great condition. The valves showed typical rounding on the intakes and intake seats, while the exhaust valves looked fine, but the seats seemed to be a bit uneven. Having some issues lately with oil leaks around the head gaskets, I have taken to using some GasketCinch to coat the gaskets and mating surfaces to prevent any more unnecessary engine pulls for unexpected oil leaks.

Day 6

With help from my neighbor, Thomas, the engine was lifted off of the bench and onto my little bike lift, used to raise up bikes without a centerstand. I have found it useful to push CB/CA engines back into their frames, plus it makes it easier to roll the engine around from the shop to the driveway where engines wind up being installed.

With a little jiggling back and forth, the engine was reunited with the chassis and the reassembly continued. I had purchased a set of “CB77” chrome header pipes from an eBay seller in Thailand, but when they arrived I had a bad feeling that they were not made properly. A test fit confirmed that the pipes may have been made for a Dream, as they were 3” longer than the CB header pipes and the bend was so tight that the outlet end was hitting the bottom of the engine cases. The seller refunded the purchase price and said to just keep the pipes.