Friday, June 21, 2024

MrHonda’s revolving door…

Well, the first few months of the year featured a CL77 that stayed too long for cosmetic reasons, followed by the owner’s CL160 which only had a short stay. After that, there was a C105T which needed a kickstarter shaft replacement and top end rebuild. Then the SL90 hybrid from Hell that taxed my brain and resources in order to get it up and running and out the door. In the meantime, a CL175 engine came in for reassembly, but only after the kickstarter shaft was replaced on that one, too. It’s waiting for the chassis to be completed so it can be installed here and made to run. Then a CL77 snuck back in, belonging to the CB77 owner who just “needed some tires and cables” but that, of course, wasn’t the whole picture. It needed a centerstand, new tires, a chain guard, swing arm bushing bolt, carb overhaul and electrical work.

Recently the Pink Panther CB77 came through the rehab process. It is now running and ready for a new home. Then, my old black 1963 CB77 came back for a look, after going through two more owners and some neglect. The owner had problems right from the start when the speedometer cable snapped on Day 3. There were running problems that were not resolved after paying a lot of labor time for no good results. Then, the clutch cable broke while riding. The bike was towed to a local Biker shop in N. County where it stayed until I dropped off a replacement cable. The shop proceeded to remove the kickstarter cover, installed the new cable and then installed the cable joint backwards, cracking the cover in two places. Lesson: Don’t take your vintage Honda to a Harley shop!

The running complaint had continued, also
with the loss of the electric starter function and when it was running, the lights were all pulsing to the tune of the AC generator. Two different shops looked at the bike, charged him for shop time and pronounced the battery to be okay. Well, it was a 4-year old Motobatt battery, which I have been using successfully for the last few years. These sealed AGM batteries have universal electrical mounts, so they can be fitted to different types of bikes.


                                                    When it was fresh back in 2016... 

Like any battery, they have an active life of just a few years. The bike had been sitting for about six months after the guy I sold it to decided that he was too tall for it (6’2”) I think. It floated around on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist for quite awhile, then finally disappeared. When the new owner posted a comment about needing help for his CB77, I recognized the bike and got in touch with him.

I scooped up the bike when I was up in N. County for my chiropractor’s appointment and brought it back to its former abode with me. The bike would kickstart, but the lights were pulsing and the voltage on the battery was in the 11v range when first checked. I put it on the charger overnight and it jumped up to 13.25v off the charger. In the meantime I had to dissect the starter button/throttle cable unit and repair the sheared off starter button wire. This is a tricky repair job and it took me two times to get it right adding some shrink tubing over the end of the wire where it attaches to the starter button board.

Once that was accomplished, I hit the starter button while monitoring the battery voltage and it went from 13.25v to 5v for a moment, then bounced back to 13v+ and then ran up to 16v at medium revs! Okay, too much of a good thing is not a good thing. When batteries are failing, the AC charging system will go to max output. The battery can no longer store the power as designed, so the system voltage just skyrockets. The bike has a Pro-Trigger ignition and LED headlight bulbs, which mercifully didn’t blow out. The bike was equipped with the last generation solid-state rectifier from Honda and has worked well until now.

I swapped out the nearly-new Motobatt battery from the Pink Panther bike and everything settled right down into the 12v range, with no wild run up to the 14-15+v readings. I think that the old battery was getting overheated at the 16v range (with the lights ON) and shutting down until it cooled off. This is in line with the reported troubles of running for a half hour then stalling and not restarting until it cooled off. Despite being a 1963 bike, it has a later (L) low output rotor, but was still cranking out volts like crazy.

While I removed the kickstarter cover to reverse the clutch cable joint installation, I had to go back into the crankshaft seal for replacement. This had been a problem previously and I changed the seal a couple of years ago. Everything looks fine, but it was leaking around the starter clutch hub face on the crankshaft side.

The cylinder head skull leaks a bit on the left side and I found a tapered washer from the kickstarter spring retainer that helps to hold the skull up in place and lessens the tendency to leak oil around the spark plug threads. Sadly, the last mechanic who changed the plugs, failed to reinstall the washer.

The new owner was thrilled that I was able to get my hands back on the bike and solve all the outstanding issues in just a couple of hours. It’s a 61-year-old bike and it has had an interesting history and string of owners, who have now twice brought it back to me for needed attention. With continued maintenance care, it should be good for another few more years by this caring owner.

Next up:

A red 1966 Dream has arrived. Another one of Don’s little beauties which belies the demons within. Looking pretty good externally with a fresh set of BW tires, the battery cover was missing, the ignition switch was missing and the headlight shell was torn and twisted. An aftermarket wiring harness was installed along with a bunch of LED lights and a lot of black electrical tape over everything. Plus, the added bonus of some kind of Mikuni copy Chinese carburetor with an enrichener lever that is covered up by the carb covers, when installed. Waiting for parts on this one… in the meantime:

Saturday morning will see the arrival of a CL72 which the owner requests that the engine be completely overhauled. The Summer Solstice has just occurred, so the summertime looks like it will be a busy time for the weeks to come and beyond. There are more customers in the queue.... I need an apprentice! 

Bill Silver aka MrHonda


Sunday, June 16, 2024

How I wound up working for Shelby American…

It all started with a girl named Patsy. She was a sweet, sunny, petite blonde from FLA two years behnd me at high school. She had this seductive smile that would melt the heart of any teenage boy and for some reason, she flashed it at me, one day. She was being claimed by a guy named Gary, but the relationship appeared to be a bit rocky. I left a little message for her, telling her that I was enjoying her smile and laugh, which she replied to quickly, giving me hope for something special to happen.

I had bought a little Honda CL90 motorcycle from a local used car dealer, who had gotten it from a sailor who had brought it in from his overseas tour and traded it in for a car. It was like new and being from overseas, it might have been one of the first ones on the country, as the Honda dealers had yet to receive them. I puttered around on it in town and rode it over to Patsy’s house a few times to visit. Apparently, Gary had seen it parked outside and confronted me, when I went to the store to buy a Coke or something. He wanted to start a fight, but the store manager headed it off and sent him on his way. This was the push-pull relationship that left Patsy in the middle of a messy situation.

I got a call from her, soon after, saying that she had was now pregnant by Gary. I took her to my family doctor and he confirmed it. I was shattered by the news and had no idea what was to come. I needed some time to gather my thoughts together, so for some reason concocted a plan to take a break on the little Honda CL90 and head towards the mountains for a long ride.

I left with a few belongings in a little briefcase, strapped to the back of the bike. I had layered up with a few shirts and my lightweight vinyl jacket. Suddenly, off I went, not giving anyone a clue as to what I was doing. I just jumped on the bike and headed up Highway 395, stopping every 100 miles for one gallon of gas. I had left in the afternoon and by the time it got dark, I was in the Sierras and it was getting cold. 

All this was happening in April and the "flat-lander" me hadn’t considered that there was snow in the mountains at 6k feet. Hypothermia started to set in and I decided to stop at the first lit building where I could take shelter. Fortunately, the only such building was a sheriff’s substation in Mono Lake. It was almost midnight and the outside temperature was about 20 degrees. I hobbled into the lobby of the building and was met by a lone sheriff who was quite surprised to see me walk in the door, obviously riding a motorcycle.

I asked if it was okay to stay inside for a while to thaw out and he offered an open jail cell with an army cot and blanket to warm up with. I gladly accepted the offer and then crawled under the blanket and fell fast asleep. I awoke the next morning to a bright sunny day and left the office with gratitude. The water in the CL90’s battery was frozen and I had to push start the bike to get it to fire up. Off I went, having spent my only night in jail, voluntarily.

The low-beam in the headlight had burned out, so I sought a replacement part in Reno. I found a motorcycle shop in town and they happened to have a bulb in stock. With the light repaired, I headed back down towards Sacramento, stopping to rest at the border check station at the CA/NV state line. Then, I headed out and down the I-80 highway on the little bike, which had a top speed of about 55 mph, which is the minimum speed to be driving on the highway system in CA. I stayed in the right lane and was passed by many large trucks along the way.

I stopped once at a pay phone to call my family. I didn’t have enough change to make the long-distance call, so I used the special code of calling collect to myself. When Mom answered, she said that Bill was not home, but asked about where the call was coming from. The operator told her that it was coming from Sacramento, so that was all she really needed to know. She knew that I was alive and about 500 miles away from home, but she didn’t know why. All I had left behind was a slip of paper saying “I am taking a sabbatical.” She didn’t know about Patsy and how affected I had been with the sudden ending of our relationship.

I continued to drive across the Bay Bridge in SFO and found my way towards Haight-Ashbury where all the “Happenings” were occurring during the "Swinging 60s". I got soaked driving over the bridge when a sudden rainstorm hit me. I stopped at a 24-hour laundry and dried out most of the outer layers, then laid down next to a tree, near the parked bike and fell asleep. No one bothered me for some reason and I slept long enough to get my body recharged for the next leg of the trip. Riding about 1,100 miles kept my mind focused on riding the bike, not my heartbreak, but it was taking a toll on my body and spirit.

The last leg was to head back to LA and stop to see my father, Kendall, who was living with his mother in Playa Del Rey. I had spent the previous summer up there, working at a gas station across the street as a post-graduation adventure. 

There were about 400 miles left to go… 

 I headed down the famous, scenic Highway 1, with the little Honda just putting along happily. It was getting about 100 mpg and gasoline was about $.25 a gallon, so the trip wasn’t costing me a lot. I had stopped for food a few times, but mostly I just drove the bike forward in search of something that I could not foresee.

I made it safely to PDR and my Dad’s place. They were not totally surprised to see me as my Mother had called them to say that I might be headed in that direction. I hadn’t shaved in a couple of days and my eyes looked like burning coals from 1,500 miles of riding through many temperature changes with only an open-face helmet with a flat face shield as protection for my face.

I called my Mom and told her that I was safe and might be staying up in LA for a while. My father, Kendall, had found work at Shelby American earlier, and was working in the mail room. When they offered to let me stay awhile, he asked around at Shelby’s to see if there was any work available. He told them that I had been in auto shop classes in high school and was good working on bikes and cars, so they said, “Have him come in on Monday.” There was no interview, no application, just “Show up and we’ll put you to work.”

I had swapped the little Honda for a 1956 Ford Station Wagon, which had a burned valve but was otherwise in good shape, except once when the brakes failed on the way to work. The brake pedal went straight to the floor, as I was approaching the S-A building. I used the emergency brake to stop the car, lifted the brake pedal back up and then it began to work again. I replaced the master cylinder that night and it was fine afterward.

I was tasked to assemble the headlight assemblies for the Shelby Mustang production in the east building along W. Imperial Highway. Shelby had leased two large buildings, with the race shop in the West and the production line in the East. They had dug 4-foot deep trenches in the floor of the building so the technicians could work underneath the cars, as they progressed down the assembly line. Cars would come in from the East end of the building, some getting new oil pans or traction bars for the rear suspension. Down near my station, they were attaching the fiberglass hoods, truck lids, tail lights, and the front nose pieces. These were fitted with long studs, which attached to the car with speed nuts once the piece was properly positioned.

Apparently, the molds for the nose and tail pieces were being made in Long Beach, where it is moist most of the time and the molds would lose their correct shape during the lay-up process. Once the parts were painted and attached, the outer edges of the panels wouldn’t align properly, so the mechanics called me over to grab the inside of the engine bay and put my knee down on the outside edge of the nose piece until it matched the fender lines. They had been coated with some clear RTV sealant, so it squeezed out when the nose piece was attached. Once the nose was installed, the mechanics wiped off the excess RTV and the car went down the line to the next station.

I worked there from my arrival in April, until about July, when they announced that they were moving the production facilities to Michigan. If we wanted to keep working for the company, we would have to move with them. Sorry, that wasn’t a good option for me, a SoCal native. I had been in college on a student deferment to prevent being drafted during the Vietnam War, and I hadn’t been in school for 3 months.

My father told me to sign up for the US Air Force. I drove into LA and signed up for a 90-day delayed enlistment program. I packed up and headed back home to San Diego, where I found out that Patsy had gotten married to Gary. I wound up buying a 1934 Ford 2-door sedan rolling chassis and put a 312 Ford engine and auto transmission in it, got it running just before I had to leave for my USAF enlistment inside the 90-day window of opportunity.

In summation: If I hadn’t gotten my heart broken by the Patsy disaster, I probably wouldn’t have taken off to parts unknown to clear my head, winding up in LA and getting my job at Shelby American. Life is not a linear event and your choices can have unexpected consequences and outcomes. Patsy got divorced and I went to visit her in FLA, but it wasn’t a great experience. She took off with her child to NY with some other jealous guy who heard that I had come to see her. We never spoke again. Years later, I heard that Gary had died in a motorcycle crash.

Life goes on, with memories and a feeling of gratitude for the challenges and blessings that come to you in your lifetime. I have survived 3 motorcycle crashes, two divorces and various ups and downs that we all face in some form or other. I have been blessed by a wonderful family and friends who have supported me along life’s path. I am very thankful for the journey.

It’s hard to see how people and circumstances might play out in your future life. As much as you would like to say that you have control over your life and your choices, sometimes there are a series of events that overshadow your life and your plans if you had any. Some people have the ability and wisdom (and luck) to plot out a course of action, follow their passion and experience a fulfilling and successful life. For others, life is like living a ping-pong game where the ball takes unexpected bounces and leads to surprise results and outcomes.

Despite all the ups and downs that have occurred in my life, I feel much gratitude to my family, friends and those who have supported my efforts to live my best life, even when I am not fully aware of what it might be in the moment. Looking back at all of the major life events, I can see how they all evolved and created the life experience that is mine now. There was a lot of discomfort, danger, distress and heartbreak in those peak moments in your life, but it all plays out in the end, mostly to your advantage if you can surmount those challenging moments and just keep moving forward. 

Each of us has their own heartbreak stories from the past or maybe are living them right now. Keep strong, ask for help, and just move forward, knowing that there is a bigger plan in place, that you probably have no idea is coming your way.

Blessings on your own journey..

Bill Silver


Monday, June 10, 2024

Mutant 1969 SL90 Honda…

My friend Don brought me another one-off bike to bring back to life last week. When he sent a photo of the engine, I knew that I was in trouble. The bike was clearly a one-year-only 1969 Honda SL90 MotoSport machine but had oversized tires, a wide alloy rear rim and the swing arm had been extended a couple of inches with some awful slugs and scabby welds. The extension work was probably to clear the over-sized rear tire.

It was the engine photos that caused me concern. The stock SL90 engine has a 4-speed transmission and manual clutch, pretty much borrowed from the S90/CL90 models, but in a new heavy-duty tube frame. The engine shot showed the SL90 engine serial numbers, but the left side cover had a Hi-Low transmission grafted onto the otherwise stock-looking engine! Very puzzling…

I did check the compression first and the readings were in the 125 psi range, which should have been closer to 150 normally. The engine is bolted down with 9 bolts. Two long ones at the rear, which are normally used, then three more on the top case where the frame side plates bolt in, plus four that came up through the solid frame pan and into the bottom of the engine case.

I nudged it out of the chassis and rolled it over to the workbench. It was a nice change from the 100+ lb 250-305 engines to be able to lift the little 90 engine up and into a snug place for screw extraction. Obviously, the whole engine had been apart and a CT90 Trail 90 transmission was installed which includes a long output shaft. All the screws were very tight and it took a lot of whacking with the 3lb hammer on the impact driver to loosen them all up.

Next, the top end was removed and more surprises were discovered. The piston was 51mm vs about 49 for a stock engine. The valves looked stock and there were no signs of engine porting. Even the stock carburetor was still in place. With the cylinder removed there were signs of water down in the cylinders for a while, etching the cylinder walls, especially near the top. As I removed the piston from the rod, I noticed a bump in the connecting rod that was not normal. My best guess is that it was treated to a Powroll stroker kit and the process to keep the top end height correct was to heat up the connecting rod in the middle section and put it in a press, shortening the rod a few millimeters.

The camshaft was an odd piece, as well. One end looked as if it had been hard-chromed, the lobes looked bigger than stock and the flange for the camsprocket was a full circle instead of just a couple of ends big enough to bolt the sprocket to normally.

So, the little engine turned out to be a big-bore, stroker, cammed-up, 8-speed, manual-clutch dirt machine, but still sporting the original carburetor and exhaust system. It’s not anything that you would normally find out in the wild these days.


Don hauled the chassis home and dismantled it for a silver powdercoat finish. He tracked down a replacement stock swing arm and rear wheel assembly. The plan was to make it as stock as possible, which included a $800 paint job for all the bodywork. The hybrid motor will be the only big departure from stock, overall.

I shipped the cylinder to DrATV in Nebraska, who has pistons in an oversize to clean up the cylinder and give it new life. Along with that, I ordered new gaskets, seals, screw kits, and a new dipstick. The carb will get a good ultrasonic bath, but it wasn’t in terrible condition, surprisingly.

The engine was covered in clay dirt, which was resistant to paint thinner, so it required an hour of scraping and scrubbing with wire brushes and screwdrivers to get all the grit out of the myriad of little casting corners.

The cylinder head was similarly gummed up, but the valves may be reusable. The previous mechanic put the exhaust valve stem seal holder on the valve guide first, then jammed the inner valve spring seat over the top of it. Both parts were damaged in the removal process, so more bits were added to the parts list. I seem to find the oddest situations of previous repair attempts on just about everything I have seen lately.

I did pull the clutch cover off and everything inside looked nice and well-oiled. The little wedge-shaped oil screen was clean, as well. The cover was sealed with Gasgacinch sealer without a gasket! The cylinder camchain tunnel seal was loaded with red RTV and the formed seal was damaged somehow during installation. At least the left side of the engine cover area was sealed with a proper gasket. Instead of an SL90 gasket kit, the CT90 Trail 90 kit will be the one of choice to reassemble this hybrid engine.

Next up will be fork seals/boots, drive chain, new cables and switches.

Digging deeper:

After a lot of cleaning of the outside dirt and grime, the assembly process began, but not without more problems. I received a box of parts from DrATV including the rebored cylinder. I had set aside the old piston and began to assemble the new one only to discover that I had overlooked the fact that the piston skirt on the old piston was about an 1” shorter because of the combination of the stroker crank and shrunken connecting rod. So, I disassembled the top end again and whittled down the piston using a combination of hacksaw and a little belt sander I have in the corner of the shop.

The head went together with the old valves and new valve stem seal and holder. The new piston crown was somewhat different than the old one, but the combusion chamber had been scooped out somewhat to lower the compression generated by the increased bore and stroke.

The carburetor was the early version with a horizontal float valve setup which doesn’t seem to be available in a carb kit that I could find. It cleaned up pretty well in the ultrasonic cleaner, so I left the original parts inside. I am concerned that it had been running a stock #85 main jet despite all the other mods including the lumpy Harmon Collins camshaft. We’ll see how it turns out in a few weeks.

Chassis build

Don brought back the frame and suspension bits to start the reassembly. I had to extract the old swing arm bushings and spacer from the extended one to the powdercoated stock one. Using a slide-hammer setup I was able to coax the old bushings out and reinstall them into the good swing arm. There were new aftermarket shocks but the eye ends were the same on both ends and the bottom one fits the swing arm mount fine, but the top mount is an 8mm bolt, so requires a bushing. I had one lying around, but will need to get another one before I am finished.

The steering stem was the next part to install, but the races were somewhat pitted and the package of balls that was delivered had 18 in it and the installation calls for 42! I tried Home Depot and called ACE Hardware, but no luck. I told Don that I needed more 3/16” balls and he came up with a package of them by the next morning! I had used a small Dremel grinding wheel to work down the pits in the races in hopes of them being good enough to use and they were. I had already replaced the fork seals on the fork set, so they were slipped into the stem, after some excess powdercoat was removed. With the fork bridge in place the forks rotated side to side very smoothly.

The rectifier bolts to the side of the battery box which had also been powdercoated. I had to grind off some of the coating to get a nice solid electrical ground for the box to the frame and the rectifier to the batttery box.

More cleaning time was spent on the front brake backing plate and shoes. The worst problem was that someone had torqued down the axle when the speedometer drive gear wasn’t registered into the two little slots on the hub. The tabs were flattened out and it took some time to coax it out of the drive cavity and then put it in a vise to bend the tabs back to ninety degrees so they fit the hub once again. It’s amazing how much time is spent on doing little steps to move forward in the assembly process. I turned the frame upside down in order to feed the front wheel and brake assembly into the ends of the forks, then flipped it back over again.

I tracked down new cables including one of the rare front brake cables, which have a brake switch burid in the middle of the cable. This was a 1969-only feature on most of the street bikes in that year and the correct cables are very hard to find and can cost $100+ from some sellers.

The side stand was assembled and the spring installed with my brake spring tool. Unfortunately, the SL90 only has a side stand, so the frame was sitting wobbly on the work table until the rear hub and sprocket holder were cleaned and installed with the new wheel and tire. With new shocks and oversized tires, I hope that the bike will sit on the sidestand correctly. I have to put a rear wheel stand under the swing arm and feed the rear wheel into the back end of the chassis. Once both wheels are in place, the engine can be installed once again.

The engine is certainly bolted firmly into the chassis. Normally, a S/CL90 engine bolts in two places at the back of the engine case. On the SL90, the rear bolts still are installed once the frame side plates are assembled, but then 4 more long 8mm bolts come up from the bottom of the frame’s skidplate and into the engine case. So, the engine is secured with 8 bolts. It’s probably a good thing, as the big bore, stroker engine isn’t balanced for those mods, so the bike might be more than a little buzzy.

The wiring harness was all crispy with heat/age damaged push connectors, plus, like everything else, was coated in the fine dust seen on the whole bike. I ordered some silver electrical tape to tape up the forward section of the harness where it enters the back of the headlight case. Reviewing the condition of the connectors and wiring leads, I wound up buying a better quality used harness from eBay.

The original handlebar was refitted with a new left side headlight control/dimmer switch. The right side throttle housing has one two-wire electrical lead that connects to the kill switch. Again the wire sheath was crispy and flaked off with little effort. I snaked a few pieces of heat shrink tubing together to clean up the appearance of the bike. This is not designed to be a 100 point show bike, so some corners can be cut in order to get the bike completed under a reasonable budget.

The rear fender is rubber-mounted and the rear mount wraps around the back of the frame tube. A curved mount plate and insulating rubber are unique pieces and NLA out in the world, for the most part. I ran the part number and it came up in an old list for OhioCycle’s inventory online. I sent a message to Nick and he posted it on eBay where he is doing all of his sales now. Not cheap, but it is new and will be just what we needed to mount the back of the fender. The forward section of the rear fender mounts with a little set of rubbers, spacers, bolts and washers for two spots. In the end, the tab for rear fender rubbers came to nearly $100. You have to do what you have to do when repairing a 56-year old, one-of- a-kind Honda MotoSport 90.

The speedometer packing had all flaked off, but fortunately it is a low cost item that has been reproduced and fits a number of smaller Honda models. As with all the other steps, you have to take time out to research the part number of some small bit and then find one for sale, ordering it up and adding it to the growing list. In projects like this, several hours are spent in cleaning parts, evaluating the project, researching the correct replacement parts, finding them and ordering them, hopefully on a decent time frame.

The SL90 was about to start up some 10 weeks after arrival. It had a fresh battery, 150 psi compression, new coil and condenser and rebuilt carburetor. Kick, kick, kick.. check for spark and there wasn't one. I jumped the points with a screwdriver and it was pretty much non-existent. I cleaned the points carefully and the spark improved slightly. The bike actually did start up and run for a minute or so. I shut it down and it wouldn't start again. Same minuscule spark issue. I removed the $15 eBay coil that was listed for all 6v Honda singles and the primary side read 4.5 ohms. That's great if you have a 12v system, but not for a 6v bike. I checked the old original coil and it read 1.6 ohms. When I plugged the oil coil back in, the spark at the plug was nice and crisp. 

The bike fired up on 2 kicks. This bike was powdercoated, so the frame needed some places scraped off for engine grounding. What I discovered, was that the coil, on most 90s, bolts to the engine crankcase and the condenser rides on one end, so both are grounded, even though the coil doesn't need to be grounded. On the SL90, the coil is mounted on the backbone of the frame beneath the fuel tank on a split bracket that clamps to the frame tube. It finally dawned on me that the new condenser, mounted on the end of the coil wasn't getting grounded due to the powdercoating on the frame tube. I ground of some of the coating and made a secure ground for the coil bracket, thus also for the condenser. Interestingly, the engine did run briefly without the condenser functioning due to a lack of proper ground.

A whole new disaster was discovered after the engine was fired up, when a huge oil leak developed beneath the left side dyno cover and Hi-Lo transmission unit. Once the cover was removed, the gasket was checked as well as the oil seals. All were as expected, however there is a cavity below the Hi-Lo transmission area that had a curious drilled and threaded hole. Oil was gushing out from that spot and drooling down into a partially blocked drain path. I initially used some red Lock-Tite thread locker on a small 6mm screw, then covered it with some GOOP to help seal the area. I didn’t give it all enough time to set up and when it was restarted again, the leak returned. Apparently, there is something in the transmission area just behind the hole and the screw was dislodged and the leak continued.

Round two was to cut down a shorter screw, use thread locker again and only thread it in about a 1/8th of an inch. Then I mixed up a batch of epoxy and filled the cavity, surrounding the screw. I made a little dam to close off the cavity from leaking further and let it all set up overnight. That should fix the problem, permanently. This was another example of spending extra hours discovering one-off customer mods that were not expected or functional and having to find solutions for effective repairs.

This bike has been a nightmare since it arrived, packed with silt and dirt in every square inch of the machine. I had to replace the wiring harness as all of the connection insulators were fried to a crisp. I could only find a better-used harness from eBay and piece it all back together again. After the battery was installed, the ignition switch failed to make the simple 2-wire connection internally. I removed the switch and pried the back off only to find more of that silt and dirt inside the contacts of the switch plate! I’m convinced that the bike was submerged in a river of some kind, which can only explain how much dirt got into so many places.

The switch repair was successful and finally power was being distributed out to all the lights and ignition system. Even the horn works!

Getting close to the finish line…

Well, the first test ride was around the block and down the street for an initial checkover. The next one was further down my test ride course and ended abruptly when the main jet fell out of the main jet holder. Mechanic error! After a ¾ uphill hike back to the house and my truck, I recovered the bike and reinstalled the main jet. I have been very puzzled that this engine, with all of the modifications done to the engine is running a stock exhaust and a stock carburetor with a stock #85 main jet. I decided to play it safe and put in a little bigger jet, but when I tried a #90 jet on my tapered jet reamers for comparison, then I discovered that someone had drilled/reamed out the stock #85 jet to just about #90 size. Well, that mystery was finally solved.

The next run, closer to home, was more at a fuller power setting and when I returned, oil was puddling beneath the bike! First it was oil coming from behind the right side cylinder head cover. I pulled the cover, checked the surface of the head and cover and found a little gouge in the head, near the screw hole. I added a bit of RTV to fill in the gap and put a double gasket on, which fixed that leak.

Another test ride and another leak from a different place. This time, oil was seeping at the base gasket area where the camchain comes through. The gasket set was not OEM and sometimes the replacement parts are not at full specifications. I had to unhook the exhaust, pry up the intake manifold and gently tease the cylinder head off just enough to access the moulded camchain packing piece. It look absolutely fine, so I gooped it up with some MotoSeal and reassembled it without disturbing the cam timing, which was a small miracle. I had removed the camchain tensioner spring to take the load off the tensioner so it wouldn’t push on the camchain and disturb the timing.

Given that the engine is springing oil leaks on new gaskets and seals leads me to consider that perhaps the increase in displacement is overwhelming the simple breather system and the excess pressure is forcing oil past anywhere there is a weakness. Or, the gasket material and seals are not of OEM quality.

The last gasp repair attempt was a glob of RTV spooned up into the gasket seam area. After hardening overnight, the initial test run looked promising.

I needed more time to finish this bike in time for it to appear at the upcoming Steve McQueen car and bike show. This was already Wednesday before the event, so it had to be right, right now. Don called me on Monday... the bike didn't leak a drop and it went on the transport truck, headed for S. America. 


Bill Silver

aka MrHonda