Saturday, December 17, 2022

Tragedy.. Frankenbike gets run over

Maybe it needs an exorcism or some kind of spell breaker, but only days after I was able to get the Frankenbike Honda 350 back on its feet, I got a call from the owner who said, “ The bike got run over by a Toyota Tundra while it was parked at a cafe on Hwy 101.”

                                            Frankenbike revealed... on the way home again.

As if the owner hadn’t suffered enough trials and tribulations in the past few months, this happens! The only bright spot is that the perpetrator was kind enough to stay put, offer his insurance and driver’s license, and then paid $325 to have the bike hauled 30 miles down the coast to me on a Friday evening. If we can keep the costs down to around $1000, then the driver won’t put it on his insurance. So, we’ll see about that...

The bike arrived in the dark on a big roll-back tow truck. The tow truck driver had to back off the rear brake adjuster nut so he could roll the bike as the brake pedal was solidly jammed up against the footpeg bracket. I got up on the bed, holding the bike upright while the driver loosened the tie-down straps. He lowered the bed down to the driveway and I backward rolled the bike down to the ground safely.

I rolled it up next to my daily-driver CB77 and threw a cover over it for the night. On Saturday morning, the extent of the damage was revealed… The centerstand foot was twisted completely under the bike and the brake pedal smashed against the footpeg. The front wheel and headlight were all out of alignment. Sometimes you can loosen the forks and reset the wheel alignment, but in this case the fork bridge was broken at one side, so that put an end to any adjustment attempt. The bike is a 1972 CB350 and all of those twins have rubber-mounted handlebar mounts which are positioned into the fork bridge. This bike had none of that and it took about 15 minutes of research online to determine that the fork bridge and steering stem were from a CB400F! That model is in high demand for restorers, so spare parts are in short supply. After some digging, I found an eBay seller who had the bridge and stem for sale for $100, plus $20 shipping.

The next thing was to track down a brake pedal and centerstand for the bike, which were normal CB350 parts. There are a lot of these bikes being parted out, so I picked out the best-looking ones and bought the pair for a little over $100. Then you wait…

I couldn’t really tear down the front end, until the centerstand arrived, so all work ceased after I had removed the centerstand and brake pedal earlier in the morning.

When the parts started to roll in, I was able to install the replacement centerstand which has a powerful return spring. That allowed me to put a jack beneath the engine on a frame mount and push the front end up enough to remove the wheel assembly and eventually replace the frayed rubber boots with a new pair that came from an eBay seller. Finally, after using the front axle bolt as a guide to even up both fork assemblies in the triple clamps, I was able to get the front wheel pointed in the right direction again.

As a side task, I ordered a set of OEM Honda carb slide needles to replace the aftermarket kit parts which actually separated in the carburetor while running. I re-routed the cables and pinched the cable holder brackets together just enough to get the cable adjusters to stay put.

The brake pedal installation was the next to last task but took some time as the pedal that was purchased for the bike differed from the one that was removed. I wound up on the bench grinder whittling off some excess metal that was hitting the frame and engine cases. The part number changed from the original 286 to a 317 code part in the later years. Another case of assuming that most of those chassis parts were all the same through the years is when you find out the hard way that they are not!

Eventually, all the damaged parts were replaced, the carbs remounted with upgraded needles, and all the electrical systems working apart from the turn signals. The bike fired up on the second kick and made the usual racket from the poorly baffled mufflers, so I didn’t run it through the neighborhood at the 6pm finish time. The next day I was scheduled for a doctor's appointment about 2/3 the way back to Leucadia where the owner lives, so I loaded up the bike and hauled it back to it came from, prior to the accident.

In the end, it is still a Frankenbike with poorly designed modifications that will slowly fail in time. But for the owner, it is basic transportation that he sorely missed for the 10 days that it was with me being mended as good as possible, given the time constraints and the limited budget allowed.

I probably haven’t heard the end of this bike’s story, but for now it is functional and doing the best it can, all things considered.

Bill Silver aka MrHonda


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