bought a '76 CB550 in hopes of a cafe build
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bought a '76 CB550 in hopes of a cafe build

This is a discussion on bought a '76 CB550 in hopes of a cafe build within the General forums, part of the Caferacer.net Forums category; hey everyone.. recently bought a project bike, its a '76 CB550 that i bought for $300 with a title, but not running, also came with ...

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  1. #1
    Member jason41987's Avatar
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    bought a '76 CB550 in hopes of a cafe build

    hey everyone.. recently bought a project bike, its a '76 CB550 that i bought for $300 with a title, but not running, also came with a couple extra set of wheels, box of misc parts, and an extra engine for parts

    anyway.. apparently the engine didnt have spark before... previous owner bought new coils, replaced the points and condensers (im probably going to have to re-time them) and he still didnt get any spark... did a little poking around with a multimeter and found all four spark plug caps were bad... so there you go, problem solved with that

    there was also a fuel problem, so i pulled the carbs off, tore them apart, and well, a couple carbs had a white crud crusted to the inside.. possibly water got inside... im currently in the process of restoring the inside surfaces of these carbs using brass brushes on a dremel and well, end result is carburetors that look brand new on the inside.. only a little erosion on one carb, and only at the very top of the post that holds the jet, and not enough to risk the jet falling out.. so these can all be restored to functioning like new

    turns out the leaf springs were taken from the carburetor bowls, so following a guide i found online for bending these out of a flat piece fo metal, usually from an old hacksaw blade, im going to fabricate the springs and rebuild the carbs like new... at this point, it should start right up via the kickstarter

    ---

    other problems this bike has is it doesnt have a seat, or tank.. which is fine, ill fabricate a cafe seat, get a used tank to pound knee dents into as well.. need to get a set of turn signals as well for it, and most the wiring is simply gone... so if anyone has any advice on fabricating a newer, simpler electrical system for this.. by all means id love to hear it.. i have some bulk black electrical wire im using for now to get the ignition system wired up to hopefully get it running

    so... any advice, questions, or comments anyone wants to make?... im also willing to take suggestions and inspiration on the final design of the bike when its done... i think ill go with a two-tone finish, powder coating the frame an accent color to go with the body components, but havent decided on a color scheme yet

  2. #2
    Senior Member hillsy's Avatar
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    I had my thumbs up until you mentioned the knee dents. Seriously, they are the gayest thing you can do to a bike. Even gayer than checkers and 59 stickers IMO.

    Good on you for getting a bike with a title - even if it's not running. It sounds like you might have that sorted out pretty soon though.

  3. #3
    Member jason41987's Avatar
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    well.. i wasnt sure about the knee dents.. i mean.. just putting them in there to be in there is a bit lame.. but if you can do it in a way where itll flow with the lines and the style of the seat it looks really nice

    but aside from that.. the hard work begins after i get this thing running.. because after i get it running ill be stripping the bike down to the frame, cleaning off the few bits of surface rust on it, and having a relative with the proper oven powder coat the frame.. and using an oven of my own i will powder coat a lot of smaller parts as well as opposed to regular paint

    also... i think if im going through all this work to make sure i have no treads on the tires, new brake shoes/pads, all new wiring, i might as well do a top-end rebuild on the engine as well with new rings, new gaskets, probably new springs on the valves and a new timing chain couldnt hurt given the age of the bike

    the only issue i have with this bike.. is its a CB550F (super sport) as opposed to a regular CB550K, and to be completely honest i actually like the 550K exhaust system more... but hey.. atleast it still has its original exaust system... so i'll keep it

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  5. #4
    Senior Member Teazer's Avatar
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    Ask yourself what the purpose of knee dents is and why they are there on some older bikes and not on most others. There is no real reason to bash dents into a tank. None on 99% of tanks.

    The team here are only interested in modifications that improve the performance in some way. That can come from reduced weight, better ergonomics, or more power or upgraded suspension. Bashing dents into a tank does not fit any of those categories, so expec an ear bashing.

  6. #5
    Senior Member OC Steve's Avatar
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    quote:Originally posted by jason41987
    i think if im going through all this work to make sure i have no treads on the tires, new brake shoes/pads, all new wiring, i might as well do a top-end rebuild on the engine as well with new rings, new gaskets, probably new springs on the valves and a new timing chain couldnt hurt given the age of the bike.
    The usual advice around here is that there is no such thing as a "might as well" rebuild. The motor either needs a rebuild or it doesn't. Only misguided and ignorant souls do a rebuild when its not needed.

    You can almost always tell if a bike needs a rebuild by careful observation (and sometimes by careful measurement) of its running condition. In other words, checking the compression, trying to tune it, looking at the condition of the valvetrain parts (and any other parts that can be seen without a complete teardown), and by listening for unwelcome engine noises.


  7. #6
    Member jason41987's Avatar
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    changing the timing chain may not be necessary, but anyone whos seen what happens to an engine when one fails knows that if youre working on an engine thats a bit old, its a good idea to put a new one in

  8. #7
    Senior Member OC Steve's Avatar
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    quote:Originally posted by jason41987

    changing the timing chain may not be necessary, but anyone whos seen what happens to an engine when one fails knows that if youre working on an engine thats a bit old, its a good idea to put a new one in
    Outright camchain failure (i.e. camchain breakage during use) is extremely rare on CB550s. CB550 camchains are not replaced regularly as preventive maintenance.

    That camchain is made to run tens of thousands of miles without replacement. The motors are known to go 100k without a rebuild. As I understand it, the camchain typically does not wear out (or fail) before the rings and valves are worn out. You don't replace the camchain just because the bike is a "bit old"; you replace it when it is too worn to be reliable.

    The only time I would consider replacing a camchain on a CB550 is:

    1) when I was rebuilding the top end (due to worn cylinder bores, pistons and rings, etc).

    2) when I bought a neglected 550 that made a lot of camchain noise (even after the tensioner was properly adjusted), i.e. the camchain tensioner was probably left out of adjustment by the previous owner, and the chain was ruined.

    3) I had an extra few hundred dollars and an extra few days of my life to spare, and was suffering from hyperactivity disorder and just couldn't stop myself from tearing my engine apart.

  9. #8
    Member jason41987's Avatar
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    this bike hasnt been run in a rather long period of time... i probably dont have to do much work on the engine, but im still going to replace the chain, valve springs, and probably piston rings while the engine is off the bike so i wont have to deal with this later on, the actual mileage of the bike is unknown, since i cant verify how many miles are on the engine, its better to be safe than sorry

  10. #9
    Senior Member Geeto67's Avatar
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    Honda timing chains are endless link, you want to replace the chain you have to split the cases and take the crank out to do it. So while you are in there might as well replace all the bearings while you are in there, and the trans shift forks as well, and while you are at t the tranny bearing.

    Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.
    - Samuel Beckett
    A tool is just an opportunity with a handle
    - Kevin Kelly

  11. #10
    Senior Member OC Steve's Avatar
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    Since you would have to split the cases to replace the chain, you're looking at a total rebuild. You'ld be doing a total rebuild just to "be safe"? Doesn't make any sense. But have at it, tiger.

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