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1977 CB550 Project

This is a discussion on 1977 CB550 Project within the Project Builds forums, part of the Caferacer.net Forums category; Hey guys, So as previously mentioned in another thread I picked up a 1977 cb550F last week in reasonable condition. Plan for now is to ...

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Thread: 1977 CB550 Project

  1. #1
    Senior Member bfont52's Avatar
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    1977 CB550 Project

    Hey guys,

    So as previously mentioned in another thread I picked up a 1977 cb550F last week in reasonable condition. Plan for now is to just get it cleaned up and running well and rideable. I'm self employed and keep my own hours so not really as busy as someone working 5 days a wk w/ a 9-5. Hoping I can move relatively fast w/ the work..only hinderance will be waiting on money to come in to fund the next stage. We'll see though. I've gone ahead and downloaded a honda service manual, parts manual and Haynes' Motorcycle Basics Techbook.

    Known issues:
    Currently the engine starts and idles but 2 of the throttle slides are seized and the other two were stiff so the bike does not rev up when the throttle is turned. Front brake is not working, needs new battery, and possibly the oil pump is not working? The guy I bought it from suggested there might be an issue since there was a slight ticking when the bike was running.

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    Carbs:
    Pulled the carbs and have started to disassemble. They weren't gunky but more like dried up crud all over the inside. Right now only one is fully disassembled. The float pin is stuck on the 3 others so I've been dripping berrymans carb dip on the pin periodically over the past day and a half to loosen. Was able to get the 1st out this way. Would just soak em but didn't want to fuck up the floats. . Once i get the pins out I'll see about unsticking the two throttle slides that are stuck. there's a few marks from someone trying to pry them up w/ a screwdriver already. I've been dripping some berrymans on the slides as well to see if that helps unstick. will probably try messing w/ later today.

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    Should I be concerned w/ this mark on the throttle slide? Is it indicative of anything?

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    Gas Tank:
    Tank is rusty inside..PO had fresh gas when i went to pick up so i drained to see how much rust was in there....brown gas came out of course(see pic below). Thought I would just see rust and silver metal on the inner tank body after it was empty but there's also some type of black in there that is flaking. Am I right to assume it might have been lined in the past w/ Kreem or something similar? If so, I would like to get that shit out before I redo inside of tank but, I have researched what to use yet. However, I did do some research for rust removal and phosphoric acid seems most appealing method to me. also supposedly leaves a zinc coating???? but i haven't been able to confirm that anywhere.. thoughts????? I would prefer not to use a sealer if i can avoid it. Just don't like the idea of having something in there beyond what's needed that might fail.

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    Other Things:
    Have read through a few project threads on here and really like what Dean has been doing w/ the rust removal and zinc plating all the bolts/screws and metal. Wondering if instead of the plating kit i can accomplish the same by dipping in phosphoric acid since it supposedly leaves the zinc coating? If not then I'll just buy the kit. Regardless, I think I'd like to clean up as I go.

    Even though the engine runs I'm thinking I should open it up and check everything out/clean up in there as well. figure if i'm going to clean the carbs and all the other bs I should do the engine as well and i'd also like to know nothing major is wrong that's gonna kill me once it's rideable. Yay or Nay?

    That's about all I've got so far. Once I've got the carbs clean and the tank redone will move onto the next step.Thoughts on what it should be? Any other thoughts welcome as well.

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  3. #2
    Senior Member muskies666's Avatar
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    Get the bike running right (full tune up) before you take the engine apart. Much easier to diagnose potential problems, weird noises, smoke etc. No point in taking it apart if it doesn't need it.
    FallenSaint likes this.

  4. #3
    Senior Member hillsy's Avatar
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    Unlikely that the oil pump is not working - ticking sounds are probably tappets (it would sound REALLY bad if there's no oil getting to the top end).

    And as muskie says get the carbs cleaned up and the engine serviced before you go "pulling it apart" like an over-zealous newbie - or else you'll end up with half a garage full of parts that was once a motorcycle.

    For the tank, get a handful of nuts / washers and loop them all together on a piece of string. Then drop that into the tank with some kerosene and shake the shit out of it. Most of the black crap should come away with that - if there's heavy rust / pitting you can try electrolosis, but it's probably not necessary (just make sure you have a decent paper fuel filter to catch any crud before it gets to the carb bowls again).

  5. #4
    Senior Member OC Steve's Avatar
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    Phosphoric acid doesn't leave a zinc coating. It just dissolves rust.

    That photo you posted shows very little rust inside the tank. If the rest of the tank looks like that, you probably will not need to use with phosphoric acid. Do what Hillsy said, and then use a flashlight and a small mirror and look carefully all around inside. You want to keep doing the nuts-washers-kerosene treatment until the tank is totally clean.

    If you see severe rust patches even after you do the nuts-washers-kerosene treatment, let us know. Then we can discuss a three-step process including phosphoric acid, primer and epoxy coating, such as POR-15.

  6. #5
    Senior Member Dean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bfont52 View Post
    Have read through a few project threads on here and really like what Dean has been doing w/ the rust removal and zinc plating all the bolts/screws and metal. Wondering if instead of the plating kit i can accomplish the same by dipping in phosphoric acid since it supposedly leaves the zinc coating? .

    bfont52, Steve is right about phosphoric acid. What you are thinking of is the eastwood "after blast" solution I use to clean and protect freshly blasted or stripped metal prior to paint work or plating. It has phosphoric acid to clean and etch the metal and ALSO zinc phosphate to leave a coating to protect against flash rust. It is the non-visable flash rust that compromises plating results and primer adhesion so it's handy stuff as a prep, however it is not a long term protective coating.

  7. #6
    Senior Member o1marc's Avatar
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    A length of chain in the tank works great also and is easy to retrieve from the tank when done.
    I carry a gun because I'm too young to die, too old to take an ass whooping, and a cop is too heavy.

  8. #7
    Senior Member bfont52's Avatar
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    Have a few updates. nothing really exciting though.

    adjusted the tappets and points.

    rest of the gas tank was definitely rustier than that top portion. hit it w/ drywall screws, then some vinegar for a couple days to get the large stuff out. tried phosphoric acid after that to close it out but it kept flash rusting even after trying to give it a little coating w/ some 2 stroke premix. so i'm doing the vinegar again and gonna leave it after that. been cleaning up all my rusty bolts w/ the vinegar as well...working pretty good. not as pretty as dean's zinc plating though.

    cleaned up the carbs/cleared passages...o-rings all seem to be in good shape so keeping those. ran into an issue w/ carb #4, slide will just not come out so looking into replacement...think i found a guy on sohc4 forum w/ one.

    disassembled master cylinder, no brake fluid anywhere in the lines. plenty of rusty water though . piston completely corroded...found a replacement MC from David Silver for $50. anyone have experience w/ or other recommends? took off the caliper as well but haven't cracked it open yet to see how bad that is.


    Suspension:
    what do you recommend? i've seen a lot of bad mouthing of progressive shocks on here. what's a good mid-range shock? bike is intended for around town and highway. i'd like to put some decent money into suspension and tires.

    brakes:
    Do I need ss lines??? I see all this business about panic braking and higher potential of locking the front wheel w/ ss lines. should i be weary?

    my airbox is missing the top duct, any idea how much of an effect that's going to have? there's one on ebay right now for $25 so thinking i should just grab it but, i'm also missing the piece between the box and the duct.

    that's about it. what should i look at next engine wise once i get the carbs back on? planning to do ignition timing but, anything else?

  9. #8
    Senior Member muskies666's Avatar
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    I just paid $50 for a very good condition but used master cylinder from my local salvage yard. The CB550 uses the same front brake system as the CB450 & 500T, the CB500 four and I'm sure others so look around. Rebuild caliper and master, new pads, stainless lines and make sure the rotor isn't glazed. The old single piston caliper on these heavy ass bikes doesn't do much but these affordable upgrades will help a ton.

  10. #9
    Senior Member kenessex's Avatar
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    Contrary to the ignorant opinions bandied about on here, Progressive Suspension rear shocks work just fine. I have a set on my Seca 550 racebike. They will not be the weak link in the handling of a CB550F. The front forks will be. The noise is not the oil pump. It is either a valve or the timing chain, all of which can be adjusted unless the engine was run without oil in which case it could be the cam bearing surfaces are shot. That would be bad and also the least likely.
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  11. #10
    Senior Member mlinder's Avatar
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    Progressive shocks are fine. I do prefer the Hagons though, specifically the 2810's. Preload and 10 position damping adjustment, with spring setup from hagon for your bike/weight/use.
    Ken is 150% correct about the front end.
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