Saturday, December 17, 2022

Frankenbike 4.0 revisited again...

Just when I thought we had a handle on the bike’s reliability, new problems surfaced. Jake reported that the bike died on him while driving back from a 20-mile ride. It blew the fuse and he attributed it to the 60/55-watt headlight that had been installed by the previous owner/builder. Fortunately, he had a spare fuse with him and was able to change it out and make it back home again. The battery kept going low and he had to take it to the local auto parts store to recharge it every few days while running with the lights OFF as much as possible.

I was back for my monthly chiro appointment, just down the street from where he’s been living; still in his dead Prius car next to the railroad tracks. I stopped by to check the bike out and we confirmed that the headlight H-4 bulb was too much for the charging system, then with the bike running, it was apparent that there was little or no output from the stator. In the back of my mind, I thought that I had a CB350 stator and a 35/35 H-4 bulb at home so developed a plan to come back and install them.

Honda’s later model stators run in oil and ones for 350-450 and even the 160s are similar in design, at least from a quick glance. They all have little pigtail wires for the nearby neutral switch and have a round plug that meets up with the wiring harness. It’s a 70-mile round trip from home, but the continuing problems with the bike spurred me to gather up my tools again and haul the critical parts back up to N. County to help keep this man on the road with something other than his beach bike.

I really don’t spend a lot of time with 350 twins, at least by choice, so wasn’t deeply familiar with the differences between the stators of that era. The one I had in the shop came to me years ago from an unknown source, but it tested out fine and I was confident that it would solve the problem. However, it wasn’t quite as easy as I had hoped…

I met Jake at his little camping spot where the bike had been used sparingly for the past few days. I leaned the bike over against my truck’s tailgate to keep the oil inside the engine once the stator and cover were removed. I had replaced the inner gasket previously and hoped that it was still intact when I removed the parts. Fortunately, it was still solid and was set aside while I removed the stator from the cover. I noticed that the stator had a burned spot at one of the coils and that was what was grounding the output. I pulled out the old one and went to install the replacement only to discover that while the OD and ID were correct and the wiring connectors were a match, the replacement stator was much thicker and all of the mounting holes were not threaded which was needed for the 350 covers. It looked like some longer bolts might secure it to the cover, so after a short walk to the local Auto-zone. That was a waste of effort as they didn’t carry any loose bolts of any kind in the store, so we moved the bike away from the truck with a rag in the engine case drain hole and drove to Home Depot for hardware.

I found some longer bolts and nuts/washers at the store and headed back to the bike, which was about 5 miles away. The bolts looked to work fine, but then when I tried to install the dyno cover, I discovered that the lack of threaded holes kept the cover from being installed! So, one more trip to Home Depot to get some oval screws for the cover and nuts lead me to assemble the whole cover together from the inside, so the next time there is a need for accessing the rotor for timing, etc. the whole assembly will have to be removed again. It’s a stop-gap repair for the moment and I still have no idea of what the stator actually came from originally, but in the end, we had a charging system that was building the 11 volt battery condition up past 12 volts with an increase in the RPMs.

We had changed out the headlight bulb already, but I went back into the headlight shell and jumpered the yellow and white/yellow wires from the headlight switch to kick in the extra AC lead power back to the rectifier/regulator unit and the test results were even better. What was envisioned as a 30-minute repair job ended about 3 hours later, but with a successful result. Checking eBay for stators, there were a number of correct ones available for less than $50, so we’ll grab a good one for the future and have it handy for any future repair moments.

The bike is now much happier to start up and run well now that there is a current of voltage feeding the battery. It’s hard to know what the next challenge will appear, but for the moment the bike resumes its transportation duties and gives Jake some new options for continuing his photography business. Hopefully, some new opportunities will arise to help him get back into stable housing and get his dead car repaired. He really has an amazingly positive outlook on life, despite all of his current woes.

I’ve certainly learned a lot more about the CB350 twins than I had imagined, but it all comes in handy at some time, especially in cases like this. Now, just what does that stator actually fit…..?

Bill Silver

aka MrHonda


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