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


  1. I too changed out the tires on my SH, from a 3.50 to a 3.00 on the rear. Big difference, old tire being larger than it should be needed to be wrestled out where as the 3.00 tire went in nice and easy. Last time over your house you pointed out the tires were 21 yrs old in the rear and 20 yrs old in the front from being in storage for 15+ years. Well she has new shoes on her now, even though they are as skinny as bicycle tires, they should work much better now.

  2. Hi Bill, will this one be moving on to a new caretaker? I'm interested. Thanks. Russ