No major updates lately - been quite busy... I did manage, however, to get the new exhaust installed. It is a Mac 4 into 1 canister system. Sounds and looks darn good. I'm sure it will need to be stripped and a high-temp coating applied at some point. I may also pull the baffle out and see how that sounds in the near future. While I was in there, I also yanked the center stand. Between the new filters and exhaust, the bike will likely need to be re-jetted.

I've got a handful more parts on the way, including the bits and pieces I need to do the dual front disc conversion, new shocks and progressive springs, new halogen headlight, and more mirrors (I decided I didnt like the look of the bar end units).  More on all that stuff later.

I have also finally decided on my new tire size. 110/90-19 front, and 130/80-18 rear. Probably stick with a set of Metzeler's. Rims and spokes will be from Buchanan's.

Only a little bit more work to do before the first ride: Replacement swing arm install and front brakes.

The bike didnt have the entire front brake system when I got it. I have had an entire setup (via eBay) for a while. I finally got around to cleaning it up and getting it installed. The caliper and lines were full of nastiness. Got that crud all flushed out, got them installed, bled, and now life is good. I didnt rebuild the master cylinder, as I expect to replace it with a dual circuit unit for the conversion to dual discs up front.

Somewhere in the middle of all this, I did manage to do a bit more of a tune up. I checked the timing with my light, and it was dead on. Also checked the dwell - again dead on. Finally, I connected my synchronizer, and fine tuned the carbs. Runs real smooth and sounds great.

The next step was dealing with the bent swing arm. You can see how bad it is in the first "level" pic below. I pulled the entire rear suspension out and swapped in a good used swing-arm. It made a huge difference. While I was in there, I also inspected for other bent parts (to include the axle) - all else is good. 

Got it all back together, threw the old chain and sprocket on, and went for the first ride! It leaks oil, the tires are old, and the front end is a little loose, but otherwise the maiden voyage was perfect.

Got the electrical harness installed - its somewhat temporary, as it will all be coming off in the not too distant future, but I digress. I installed the carbs, and ran new fuel lines with a couple new filters. Also got the cables and ignition switch installed.

Got the battery charged up, added some fresh fuel to the tank, threw it in neutral and hit the go button... It fired right up - first try! Surprised the heck out of me.

It runs pretty darn good considering I havent yet put the timing light to it, and have not synchronized the carbs. I can hear a bit of a knock - timing might be off, but could also be some rod knock. I will be rebuilding the engine shortly, so its not a huge deal. so long as I dont blow it all up in the meantime (which I am really good at). It also seems to be running a bit rich, but again - more tuning is needed.

So the next step is some more tuning, install the front brake, get the new swing arm installed, throw the sprocket and chain back on and then go for a test ride.

Below are a couple videos. Quality is poor and the sound sucks, but you get the idea. The top video is the very first startup - I set the camera up just to capture whatever happened - didnt expect it to fire right up!
Got started on electrical. I focused on the core parts just to get the bike running. I had an extra complete wiring harness (via eBay), so I went through all the parts to select the "best" components between my two sets. Also checked for shorts in the main harness while I was at it.
The starter had a significant short - no wonder someone had to use a screwdriver bit as a fuse! After removing the damaged insulation, a little soldering with my torch, and then a few layers of heat shrink and it was all fixed.

From there it all just needed to be cleaned up. Many components just got dusted off. The harness itself I opted to soak in soapy water and brush thoroughly. I then yanked every single connector, cleaned, wire brushed, polished, and applied a light coat of dielectric grease. I also completely disassembled and rebuilt the controls. It was a pain, and I'm tired of all the miniature springs and e-clips :-)

Got it all back together and bench tested the electrical and it all works great, so I installed everything I could onto my new bars.

Also got a few more new parts: K&N filters, seat foam, and a seat cover - more on that stuff later... Also finished up the tune-up stuff: Oil and filter changed, and gapped/installed new plugs.

Spent some time de-greasing. Despite having a couple buckets under the bike, I still made a huge mess (go figure!). Good thing my garage floor is epoxy coated. I did a finish rinse in the driveway with dish soap - bike is pretty clean, driveway is dirty.

I didnt really find any more major surprises. After I got the sprocket off, I did find some wear - possibly from a loose/broken chain. No serious damage; I'll clean it up at engine rebuild.

In preparation to fire up the engine, I did all the normal tune-up stuff: Adjusted valves - most were out a bit, #1 intake was WAY out. Checked cam chain tensioner adjustment. Installed new points and condensors (havnt done that in a while), gapped, and static timed with an ohm meter. I think I will eventually swap it over to electronic ignition and ditch the points - I did this on my VW a long time ago, and never looked back.

Still need to gap and install the new plugs, and change the oil & filter; No big deal. Also need to re-install the rebuilt carbs.

Now I need to bench test the entire electrical system and get the bike temporarily wired. Will likely install the new bars and all the controls just to make it all easier to run. I hope to have it running by 10/7 if all goes well, so look for a video around that time-frame...

Pulled some more parts off the bike to facilitate ongoing work: Rear inner fender, various covers, starter, the fugly airbox setup, carbs (all of them), intake manifold, chain, drive sprocket, and a bunch of other crap.

Underneath, the engine was pretty nasty - years of crusty buildup. It all needs to be cleaned up a bit before I can dig in and get everything setup to fire this sucker up.

One thing I noticed when I got the bike was the un-even wear on the rear tire. I didnt think much of it. It actually looked 'crooked', but I attributed that to the bent rear fender. Once I got the rear inner fender off, I could easily see the tire was canted at an angle. After further investigation and a few measurements, I found the swing-arm was actually bent on rider left side. Soooo, I spent quite a bit of time inspecting/measuring the rest of the frame - and found no other issues. Everything else seems straight as an arrow. At any rate, $30 later via eBay and I have a good swing-arm on the way.

Spent the rest of the day rebuilding the carbs. All 4 of them. Good times! They were pretty nasty, mis-adjusted, and just plain sad looking. Nothing some good-ole chem-dip cant clean up after a few hour soak.

The rebuild kit parts all fit great, except for the darn float bowl o-ring. It was slightly undersized, and after struggling with it for a while, I tossed it and re-used the old ones. Also: the kits dont include the fuel "T" o-rings (also re-used), or the float bowl drain o-ring (my harbor freight metric o-ring kit had a size that fit). I'll order in some more o-rings later.

I set the carbs up mechanically to nominal settings, to include float level, which was way off. Should be good enough to start the engine with - will fine tune adjustments later.

While I was at it, I also cleaned & rebuilt the petcock.

I've been eBaying heavily for the past few weeks, and as a result parts have been steadily arriving.
Below are some of the parts I have received thus far. I know I'm leaving out a lot - cant remember everything. At any rate - this is enough to keep me busy for quite a while.

  • Renthal ultra-low bars (black)
  • Bar end mirrors (not sure I like the look yet - but I'll give them a try)
  • New (smaller than stock) rear tail light
  • New mini-oval turn signals to replace the crazy large OEM ones.
  • OEM ignition switch & bracket, seat lock & bracket, fork lock, and matching key (plus extra NOS matching keys I ordered via ebay) - My bike was missing all these.
  • NOS fuel cap gas latch. Mine was screw-drivered open. FYI these work with any OEM honda key.
  • 4X carb rebuild kits
  • 4X new mini K&N air filters
  • Tune up parts: 4X spark plugs, new condensers, new points, fuel line, fuel filters (will rip out nasty petcock screen), oil filter, oil, etc.
  • Seat cover (stock style)
  • Seat foam (mine is toast - this is actually for a CB750, but I should be able to make it work.)
  • Headlight brackets (stock bracket/reflectors will be yanked)
  • New push & pull throttle cables
  • New clutch cable
  • Kick stand rubber
  • Rear tank mount rubber
  • Master cylinder (X2), caliper (X2) junction block (X2) - will end up using some of the extra parts for a dual front disc brake conversion (I just need another rotor and dual circuit master cylinder). 
  • Wire harness (with everything - coils, rectifier, fuse box, voltage regulator, relays, etc). I figure between this harness and my harness, which is a bit of  a mess, I can make one good setup.
  • Grips
  • Seat latch
  • Speedo & Tach resto parts (face overlay & red/white fluorescent paint)
  • Clutch lever & left hand controls
  • Right hand control switch & throttle (the one that was on the bike was not correct)
  • Various new tools/manuals added to my collection
  • And a whole lot more cool junk on the way...

Had a successful trip to DMV. The bike title was transferred over to me - though I did have to register it for a year, as AZ DMV no longer does title transfers only. At least it only cost me $24 bucks (and an hour wait). I registered it with a notice of no insurance, as the bike will be under construction for a while. Now I've got a set of MC plates, which reminds me I need to figure out where that will go when I'm done...

The Near Term Plan:
I will completely rebuild this bike including engine and trans. What's the timeframe you ask? Well, it's done when it's done. I'm hoping a year, but who knows - I'm very busy these days. I want to be sure it all works mechanically before I tear into it. So I need to fire it up! The engine compression is decent - plenty good enough to run, therefore my task list is as follows:

- Test all electrical components (coils, regulator, rectifier, etc.) & re-wire ignition components. Bike will be permanently re-wired from scratch at final build.
- Oil & filter change
- Fresh gas
- New fuel lines & filters
- Adjust valve clearance
- Check cam chain adjustment
- Clean air filter
- Rebuild carbs & petcock
- Replace points/condensers/plugs & set gaps
- Install ignition switch
- Set up new bars, controls, cables & adjust
- Get it running (adjust timing, carbs, and synchronize)
- Rev engine and annoy neighbors


The Concept:
After spending countless hours browsing Honda CB pictures online, I think I've somewhat narrowed down the look I'm going for.  It's not completely cafe racer, but it's not stock either. I'm not a huge fan of the 'inverted' style clubman bars. I'm also not particularly thrilled with the minimalist seat cushion and seat "hump" on cafe's - I want this bike to be comfortable!

Long story short, I'm aiming for a clean look. New shorter bars, stock tank, trimmed down fenders, rear hoop, small indicators, bar end mirrors, pod filters (or maybe velocity stacks), 4 into 1 exhaust, and a cleaned up frame (if I can find room to hide the battery/electrical without the cafe seat hump). I have considered yanking the electric starter and going kick only.... But I'm not sure yet. I'm also undecided on what I'm going to do with wheels/tires.

As far as paint colors go, that's a long way off and I've changed my mind several times already. I think I would like to contrast the frame with the rest of the bike. I also like the blacked-out look. Perhaps a yellow, maroon, or gold frame, and black-out everything else? I just don't know yet.

I've added a few pictures below of various CB's (mostly 550's & 750's) with styles that I like (blacked-out, contrasting frame colors, etc.) to give you some idea. I borrowed from Google images, therefore public domain, but if you see your bike here and you don't want it shown, LMK and I will remove (if you ask nicely).
Now I've gone and done it. As if I needed more to do :-)

It’s a 1975 Honda CB550K. I'm thinking total rebuild - perhaps some cafe racer styling cues.

The first two pictures below were provided by the seller - I believe they were taken in Montana by the previous seller. Note the black paint on the tank. The next four pictures were taken in Phoenix, when I picked the bike up. The remaining pictures were all taken back in Tucson after bringing the bike home.

Knowing that I was going to rebuild the bike, I wasn’t particularly concerned with the few missing parts, or the fact that it is not in running condition. Overall it is a mostly complete vintage bike with 22k on the odometer and a clean title. The rear tail light had been broken but was included, as was the missing rear turn-signal. The side covers, chain guard, and mirrors were missing - but no big deal, as I do not plan to use them. Really the only thing missing I would have liked to have had is the front brake system (master cylinder and caliper), but I managed to find one on eBay.

Further inspection revealed some amateur electrical "fixes" (see the last two pictures for a chuckle). Someone used a screwdriver bit as a fuse. Obviously there were some issues with the ignition switch, as it was MIA and in its place was a plastic battery compartment from a child's toy attached to the frame with a RadioShack switch installed. It somewhat worked... I was able to get the horn to honk, and the turn signals to light up solid. What do you expect for a 37 year old bike!?

Mechanically almost everything appears to be in order (sans the missing front brakes). Only one of the push/pull throttle cables is in place, and the clutch lever and exhaust are not "correct." Someone installed some nice 7/8" ID rubber hose for grips. The bike has a few dings and scratches, but nothing indicating it has been dumped at speed - perhaps just knocked over. The seat and gauge faces are definitely sunbaked, but that is easily fixed. The rear tire is bald, and the front holds air for an hour - again, not a surprise, and it will all be replaced anyway. Somewhere along its life, a previous owner painted portions of it with some sort of rubbery latex paint... with a brush.... The seller I purchased from had cleaned some of it off, exposing some of the original "candy jade green" paint. The funny part is that the paint appears to have protected some of the parts from the elements.

I wasted no time draining the old fuel from the tank, pulling the seat and tank, and then yanking the entire wiring harness. If I had a nickel for every wire nut I removed I would be a rich man. Time to order some parts and figure out a plan.