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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all. I just purchased my first motorcycle thtis past Saturday and although the bike has seen better days, I feel confident that I'll be able to restore it to it's origional glory. The motorcycle is a 1976 CB550. It will take a lot of time to fix since I don't know much about motorcycles but I think it will be worth the challenge.
Anyway, I got the motorcycle from a neighbor who has had it for a few years. He rode it last fall but let it sit outside all winter and now it won't start. (We live in Atlanta, so the winters aren't that cold) It gets power from the battery and acts like it wants to start but it just won't get there. I added fuel additive and some fresh gas, so I hope that will help. I checked the plugs and they look pretty good. Also, I'm getting a new battery today.
If anyone has experience with a CB550 and you wish to share any tips for getting this bad-boy into shape, please feel free. Thanks!

http://home.comcast.net/~mwierm1/index.html

There is one thing I found odd about this bike. The engine ID is CB550E. I haven't been able to find any information on this model number. Is this the same as a CB550F or CB550K? If anyone can help with this, it would be greatly appreciated.

Edited by - mwierm on May 21 2007 12:27:05 PM

Edited by - mwierm on May 21 2007 1:04:14 PM
 

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Must be that time of year. If you are getting into motorcycling with a 30 year old bike then you need to plan on a few things. Get a newer bike to ride while you work on the old one. Get at least one spare parts bike. Get on e-bay and check all of the parts for your bike on a regular basis and pick up lots of spares cheap. Any time you have the chance to get a spare parts bike, do it. I have 4 cb350's and only my racebike is a runner.
As far as your particular bike goes, drain the carbs and spray some starting fluid at it and see what happens. If it sarts and won't idle then your pilot jets are clogged. If it starts and won't run at all after the starting fluid burns off then your main jets are probably clogged, too. If it won't start at all, then are you getting spark? Check the points.

Here are some other things you need to plan on with an old bike:
tires
fork seals
brake pads
rebuild front caliper
front master cylinder
steering head bearings
plug caps
tune up
swing arm bearings
chain and sprockets
rear shocks
battery
rear brakes

That does not include cosmetics or internal engine stuff.

Get some parts bikes and spares.

Ken

AHRMA 412
Vintage racing - old guys on old bikes
 

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it most likely needs the carbs gone through. the jets are probably all clogged to crap. order up some new ones. try the starting fluid trick. you can tell if its a k or f model by the vin plpate on the steering head. i think if it was an f model, the engine would say f. so its probably a k model. if the chain guard is chrome, it could be an f model.

blah blah....good luck. its not a bad starting place. clean those carbs. pull the float bowls and see whats in there. if they had gas in them and look like crap, pull the jets and just order some new ones online or from your local dealer.

jc

"tex, if your bikes a cheater, its not a very good one"
 

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Discussion Starter #4
thanks for the pointers guys. I'll check out the carbs this week and see if I can get it running.

The guys who sold it to me gave me a new front tire and the back tire is in pretty good shape. I don't thin it was such a bad deal for only $300.
 

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the "E" at the end of the engine serial # stands for "E"ngine. all models will carry an "E" on the engine serial #.

if at first you don't succeed, use a bigger hammer
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Just so folks don't get the wrong idea; I didn't just wake up last week and decide I wanted to start riding motorcycles. I've been riding dirt bikes since I was a kid and always wanted to ride street bikes. I wasn't until a couple years ago that I had the disposable income to support such a hobby. Now, I'm not rich by any means (otherwise I wouldn't have a $300 bike made in 1976) but I can now afford to spend a 'few bucks' here and there on a bike I consider a project. I could have saved myself the hassle of fixing an old bike by purchasing something new but I wanted the satisfaction of riding something I put together myself and with the help of a few friends. I realize this isn't going to be a cake walk but I don't think it's going to be too difficult to get this bike in respectable shape. I don't have a lot of experience working on motorcycles; in fact I have almost none. However I do have experience doing minor to medium work on cars. Rebuilding this bike is going to be a challenge but I with forums such as this one and folks as nice as yourselves, I feel confident that I'll get through it.
Once again, I appreciate any tips you all have to offer and wish you all the best.

I've updated the link with a couple more pictures of the bike.

http://home.comcast.net/~mwierm1/index.html
 

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CB550's are plentiful. Parts shouldn't be too hard to find. Ebay is your friend.

Things I know that are annoying on 550's:

1. Charging system (usually dirty wires and/or connections, worst case: stator)

2. Front brake caliper (squeeky and sticky)


Other than that, they are robust, durable bikes. Good luck.

Got a manual? Good reading while on the can.



Honda go sideways!
 

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ill second the squeeky. mine is the worst i have ever heard. ive given up on it.

probably the best bang for you buck at this point. tons of them out there, lots of parts. and pretty cheap for the sportiness.

jc

"tex, if your bikes a cheater, its not a very good one"
 

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This style Honda front brake can be fixed very easily. The squeaking comes from he caliper mount not being able to pivot freely on the pin that mounts to the fork slider. It is also caused by a sticky caliper piston and sometimes it is not helped by a partially clogged master cylinder bleed back orifice. If you are careful, this will require no new parts, just brake fluid.

1. Remove all of the parts, including the pivot pin from the aluminum bracket that bolts to the slider. Clean polish and lube the pin and hole in the bracket. On reassembly I leave out the felt washer. The bracket should just flop around freely if it is done right.
2. Pump the piston out of the caliper. Carefully remove the square piston seal from its groove and clean all the gunk out from behind it and all the crusty stuff off of it. If it still has square sharp edges, you can just reinstall it. If it is worn, replace it. Polish up the piston and the bore. If there are big pits on the piston, you should replace it. Polish the edges of the brake pad wear it rubs against the caliper.Sand the glaze off of the pad. If it is worn at too much of an angle, you will need to replace them.
3. Sand the disk to break the glaze on it. You can chuck it up in a big lathe and hit it with a body grinder while it is spinning if you have access to that kind of equipment. Otherwise an orbital sander will be ok.
4. Disassemble the master cylinder and check for crystalized brake fluid in any orifices and for worn rubber seals on the piston. If the edges look good you can reuse them.
5. Reassemble the whole mess. I usually leave the screw with the spring that goes between the caliper bracket and the slider off too. A properly set up and lubed system doesn't need it.

Now you can feel free to replace all of the seals and o-rings with new ones if it makes you feel better. Most people don't advise reusing these parts and I wouldn't do it on customer bikes but on my own stuff I do it all the time if the edges of the seals look good.

The key to this system is to keep it lubed and clean. That is why I don't keep the felt washers and dust seals in place. I believe they trap water and dirt causing problems. There are only a few bolts holding this together, so take it apart periodically and lube it up and clean it up.

At its best, this brake system is marginal so it needs to be maintained. On the 550, I would double disk it and it will look cooler too.

There you go, It won't squeak or drag any more.

Ken

AHRMA 412
Vintage racing - old guys on old bikes
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks again for all of the tips. Any help I can get is greatly appreciated.

I finally got the bike running yesterday. All it took was some fresh gas and a little patience. Now I've got to replace the front tire, fix the front break and adjust the clutch. After that the bike should be ready to ride. Of course I'm going to do much more maintenance on it but it's nice to know that the bike actually runs.

I'm making progress and it feels good.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks again for all of the tips. Any help I can get is greatly appreciated.

I finally got the bike running yesterday. All it took was some fresh gas and a little patience. Now I've got to replace the front tire, fix the front break and adjust the clutch. After that the bike should be ready to ride. Of course I'm going to do much more maintenance on it but it's nice to know that the bike actually runs.

I'm making progress and it feels good.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Ok, yesterday I took off the front wheel so I could have a new tire and tube installed. When I took the wheel off I couldn't get the speedometer cable off of the wheel itself. I had to unhook the speedometer cable from the gauge and now I have a wheel with a cable still attached. I'd like to remove the cable so the guys at the shop can easily replace the tire but I wasn't sure what to expect here. There is a screw (rusted of course) that holds the cable in place on the wheel. If I remove that screw, will I need to watch out for anything like springs, pins, goblins, etc? In other words, if I take out that screw will the cable just pull out easily and will I be able to get it back in without any trouble?

Also, I was going to bleed the front break when I get the front wheel back on but I noticed that the screws holding the reservoir plate in place are striped out and also rusted. I tried dremmeling the screw heads and removing them with a flat head screw driver but the metal didn't hold up and broke the screw heads off. Can I replace just the reservoir or do I need to replace the reservoir, brake handle, and throttle as one piece?
 

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Ok, yesterday I took off the front wheel so I could have a new tire and tube installed. When I took the wheel off I couldn't get the speedometer cable off of the wheel itself. I had to unhook the speedometer cable from the gauge and now I have a wheel with a cable still attached. I'd like to remove the cable so the guys at the shop can easily replace the tire but I wasn't sure what to expect here. There is a screw (rusted of course) that holds the cable in place on the wheel. If I remove that screw, will I need to watch out for anything like springs, pins, goblins, etc? In other words, if I take out that screw will the cable just pull out easily and will I be able to get it back in without any trouble?

Also, I was going to bleed the front break when I get the front wheel back on but I noticed that the screws holding the reservoir plate in place are striped out and also rusted. I tried dremmeling the screw heads and removing them with a flat head screw driver but the metal didn't hold up and broke the screw heads off. Can I replace just the reservoir or do I need to replace the reservoir, brake handle, and throttle as one piece?
 

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before you screw up any screw heads, go buy five things:

1) an impact driver
2) a full bike kit of stainless allen head screws
3) can of anti seize
4) a fuckin manual
5) A can of liquid wrench


That way as you work on stuff you can relace the dodgy, old, unreliable philips heads with allens, and coat everything with anitseize.

depending on your speedo drive you should be able to remove the scre and the cable should just slide out, or it might be one of the ones with a cap that unscrews also.

***Photo Please***Sounds like your bike has an aftermarket master cylinder or one from another bike, since 550s should have a barrel style resivoir with a cap that just unscrews. Unless your brakes are sticking I wouldn't be too concerned with the fluid right now. Rather chek your rubber lines and make sure they are not cracked or checking. Also look for leaks. If it all checks out why not just replace the master with a cbr600 master. Banjo bolt should be the same.

I am going to be a nice, here is where you can download the shop manual. READ IT before you pick up another wrench:

http://www.sohc4.us/forums/index.php?topic=17788.0
 

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before you screw up any screw heads, go buy five things:

1) an impact driver
2) a full bike kit of stainless allen head screws
3) can of anti seize
4) a fuckin manual
5) A can of liquid wrench


That way as you work on stuff you can relace the dodgy, old, unreliable philips heads with allens, and coat everything with anitseize.

depending on your speedo drive you should be able to remove the scre and the cable should just slide out, or it might be one of the ones with a cap that unscrews also.

***Photo Please***Sounds like your bike has an aftermarket master cylinder or one from another bike, since 550s should have a barrel style resivoir with a cap that just unscrews. Unless your brakes are sticking I wouldn't be too concerned with the fluid right now. Rather chek your rubber lines and make sure they are not cracked or checking. Also look for leaks. If it all checks out why not just replace the master with a cbr600 master. Banjo bolt should be the same.

I am going to be a nice, here is where you can download the shop manual. READ IT before you pick up another wrench:

http://www.sohc4.us/forums/index.php?topic=17788.0
 

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I was hoping for an upclose pic so we could get a real good look at condition but from what you are showing me junk it. The M/C is one of those early 80's types with a plastic resivoir that if you get brake fluid on it and leave it in the sun it cracks and begins to weep - which from your pics looks like it is doing. If you have the dosh junk it and go find a cbr600 f3 or cbr929 m/c as it should have a metal resivoir and the correct banjo bolt. you could also get a stock M/c as they are aluminum but the cbr is really an upgrade, espically if you want to go dual disc later on and if you can find with with a stock roll a click lever. I think some FZR 600s also have the correct banjo bolt. Take it to your local shp and see if you can match up the bolt.


the m/c unit is basically the metal lever, the housing, and the resivior. the throttle is seperate and you should be able to remove the M/C as a whole unit.


Edited by - geeto67 on May 24 2007 12:00:06 PM
 

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I was hoping for an upclose pic so we could get a real good look at condition but from what you are showing me junk it. The M/C is one of those early 80's types with a plastic resivoir that if you get brake fluid on it and leave it in the sun it cracks and begins to weep - which from your pics looks like it is doing. If you have the dosh junk it and go find a cbr600 f3 or cbr929 m/c as it should have a metal resivoir and the correct banjo bolt. you could also get a stock M/c as they are aluminum but the cbr is really an upgrade, espically if you want to go dual disc later on and if you can find with with a stock roll a click lever. I think some FZR 600s also have the correct banjo bolt. Take it to your local shp and see if you can match up the bolt.


the m/c unit is basically the metal lever, the housing, and the resivior. the throttle is seperate and you should be able to remove the M/C as a whole unit.


Edited by - geeto67 on May 24 2007 12:00:06 PM
 

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im going to chime in here since this the 2nd or 3rd time ive seen this. i am now a fully converted screw guy. none of the hardware on any of my bikes now has allen case bolts. nothing that is original bits. all of my engine cases now have the correct #3 screw heads. why, well, allen bolts are known to have stripped out many case holes. the reason they used screws was because you can only exert a given amount of pressure on the screw head. before it strips the head off or wont tighten anymore. if you strip it tightening it, you are over torquing. there is no reason you should strip the head of one of those screws. yes, they do occasionally get real stuck, but i have never had one that wouldnt come out with an impact driver if needed. the important thing is to use a #3 driver. too many of those screws get destroyed using the incorrect tools. a stainless screw in an aluminum case. if you mix up the screw lenghts, will damage the case. (ie short screw in longer hole. if it was good enough for pops, its gotta be good enough for me! the second reason, its correct for the bike. they may look cool, but for a guy who is against clubman bars on cb550's for the reason they are not period, you sure do get hopped about allen bolts! now i look at bikes and think allen bolts just dont look right. i for one will never use them again on an engine case. just my opinion.

jc

"tex, if your bikes a cheater, its not a very good one"
 
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