Monday, March 20, 2023

Mechanic to the stars…. Sort of

Those of you who follow the comings and goings of bikes, in my care, may have seen the 1965 CP77, which I wrote about last year and could have owned (but didn’t), go through BAT auctions for $31k recently. Records were produced that showed the bike being given to Solar Productions from AHMC as a “promotion” gift and DMV paperwork also verified the ownership of Steve McQueen. How AHMC got their hands on a non-Police CP77, which is not a US model, and passed it along to Steve will always be a mystery. When I had the bike here, it required rebuilding the seized engine, full fuel system clean, adding new tires, cables, and a battery to make it run again, but no other restoration of any degree was performed.

See: for details on that one.

My friend Don, who is a wrangler of bikes and deals with the rich and famous
(and was the middleman for the CP77 repair work) then brought by a very innoculous-looking white 1964 Honda Cub 50, a few weeks ago. It had an oil leak, the ignition switch was damaged and when it did run, the rear tail light filament wouldn’t light up, even though we put in a new bulb and a 12v test light showed power getting to the bulb socket contacts.

                                                    Factory C100 photo, courtesy of AHMC.

Anyway, after receiving a defective 6-wire ignition switch from Thailand, the replacement arrived within 10 days and proved to be a better candidate for the bike’s ignition system issues. Several problems were resolved after removing an extra ground wire that had been installed which kept the neutral switch ON and the brake light circuit energized even with the ignition switch OFF. The wires were reconnected properly (these are unusual bikes in that they have a fuse on the ground wire of the battery, instead of the + positive side and the ignition switch opens the ground circuit instead of the normally hot side of the wiring) and the neutral light/brake light problems were eliminated.

The tail light function problem was resolved when I used my 12v test light to ground the tail light bracket to the engine and then the light powered up normally. Despite being bolted firmly to the rear fender, somehow the paint on the tail light bracket and the rear fender kept the bracket from grounding properly. Removal of the bracket and a bit of paint solved the grounding issue, which apparently must have been present since the bike was built.

There was another problem with the new headlight bulb only working on high beam. After disassembly of the dimmer switch, which takes watchmaker skills, nothing was seen to cause a problem with switching from LOW to HIGH beam, so a further check discovered that the tang on the headlight bulb was installed into the reflector in one of the three socket slots instead of the index slot. Turning the bulb a half inch solved that problem, as well.

The big oil leak proved to be due to the thick, but original shift shaft seal. For $8, an eBay seller provided just the right seal and the leaks underneath were reduced to nearly zero after it was replaced. The magneto and rear chain cover had to be removed to access the seal more easily, so I nudged the ignition timing a bit more advanced than it was before, through the access holes on the flywheel.

With the little bike up and running, charging and lighting up properly, Don came back to fetch it again. He said that the bike has been traced to the estate of Grace Kelly. Apparently, Honda shipped a white and red C100 Cub to their address in 1964. It is uncertain as to whether Grace Kelly actually rode the bike or not. There was no license plate on the bike and no indications of ownership. It just looks like a plain white 2,600-mile C100 Cub 50 with a nice fresh seat cover and new tires. You just never know what the story is behind some of these vintage Hondas.

Coming soon… Another Steve McQueen vintage Honda story…

Bill Silver

aka MrHonda

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