Aesthetically the seat and the tank were fugly. The tank was missing half its paint, and the seat was as crunchy as a taco. Long term the tank will be painted professionally, and I may end up with a more of a cafe-style seat... In the meantime however, I thought I'd spend some time making what I have look better.

I started with the tank. I yanked the Honda emblems off, and stripped the tank with a flap wheel on my angle grinder. I would've put it through my bead blasting cabinet, but I figured I would never get all the glass beads out of the tank. The tank had a few dings in it, and this being a temporary paint job I opted to keep it simple and throw a little bondo at it. A coat of self-etching primer and another coat of rustoluem gloss black, and it looks MUCH better than it did. While I was there, I also installed a new tank cap seal, and cleaned the vent. It took me a minute to figure out how to remove the "guts" of the cap - turns out it just has 4 "prongs" that grip the inside of the cap (see pics below).

Next I addressed the seat. I had already purchased a seat cover, and new foam via eBay. The cover was similar to OEM, but was fully stitched and does not have the heat-seam (no big deal to me). I believe the foam was actually for a CB750, but I figured I could make it work (it was the only new foam I could find). 

I removed the hinge, rubber bumpers, etc. on the seat, and then pried the clips open to pull the cover off. Obviously the bike sat outside for a while, as the seat pan was quite rusty. At some point someone attempted to repair the seat with staples and vinyl repair paste. I used a wire wheel on my angle grinder to get the big rust flakes off the pan, and then used my bead blaster to finish the job. The pan itself has a fair bit of pitting but it didn't rust through, and still seems to be solid, so I will re-use it. I primed and painted the pan with rustoleum gloss black.

The foam required some shaping to fit the pan. I used my die grinder with a 40 grit disc for this job. I recommend a full face shield and dust mask for this because it makes a HUGE mess!  I basically just did my best to make it look similar to the OEM foam. Eventually it fit the pan pretty good, so I glued it to the pan with some 3M spray adhesive. The topside of the foam could use some shaping to match the OEM foam (CB550 foam is lower profile and a little more round than the CB750 foam I got). I actually opted not to shape the topside of the foam, and I'm happy with the way it looks.

I glued a trash-bag to the top side of the foam to make the seat cover easier to stretch over the foam, and then started installing the seat cover. I recommend leaving the cover out in the sun for a bit to make it easier to stretch. This is about where you will realize that the "trim" that holds the OEM seat to the pan is a part of the OEM seat cover. Many folks simply just cut it off of the original seat, and re-use it. I opted to try some edge trim I got from McMaster (#8451A47). This trim is easy to cut with a PVC cutter - you just need to place the blade in-between the metal bands in the trim to cut it without crushing it.

I opted to cut about dozen 1"-2" long pieces of the edge trim to temporarily install the seat cover and get it straight. Once I had it where I wanted it, I replaced each piece with one long strip of the trim. It worked rather well. I glued the ends of the trim in place with a little RTV. I opted not to install the passenger strap, as I prefer the way it looks without it. After all this, I re-installed the hinge and rubber bumpers, and put it back on the bike. Looks good!

I'm still undecided as to whether I will replace the seat with something that has more cafe-styling. I actually like the look of the seat as-is, so for now it will stay.

8/26/2013 05:27:34 am

I have been following your build. Any updates?

8/26/2013 11:45:21 am

Thanks for following the build! I got crazy busy, and just haven't had a chance to work on the bike. I did start to rebuild the gauges, and was considering starting on the engine rebuild. Lately, however, I have decided that I want to change the overall look of the bike. I'm not quite where I want to be in terms of a "café racer" look. I think the bars need to be lower, the tank needs to be slightly different, and the seat needs to be more of a café style with a cowl. Long story short, I will be addressing those items next. I should be able to spend a LOT more time on the project in late September or early October, so look for a significant update around then. Sorry for the wait - but it will be worth it.


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