I had a pair of .05 shim/spacers made out of aluminum, yesterday and they look like will do the job. If they work out then I may make some out of steel but I do not think that will be necessary. Side loads should be minimum. I will inspect at each chain lube. Will install tomorrow and post results.
It is my assumption the both of the sprockets are symmetrical but they might not be. I will get a distance from the case to they outside of the sprocket teeth, which should be the easiest. and then match the new sprocket to that number. Either one shim goes on each side or they both go on one side. As you can tell from the photo, if it made it, that the 17th sprocket has a recesses in the outside for the sprocket in the rubber part. I do not know why. Oh well.
Thanks for all of the info. It is always nice to have an extra set of, knowledgeable, eyes and minds helping.
Aluminum will do nicely, as long as the temper is T4 to T6.
From the picture, I would say both shims on the outside is probably what it needs. The easiest test is to lay both sprockets trans side down on a flat surface that doesn't normally have food on it (don't ask) and compare the tooth height -- I'm willing to bet the teeth will be very close to the same, in which case both shims go on the outside. If the new sprocket teeth are higher, it will have to be flipped over and shimmed on the trans side.
As to it's being left to float -- often in racing it will be left to float, sometimes a considerable amount. In the old flexi flyer days, frame flex when pushed hard would misalign the sprockets, so some float is left in to partially compensate. On the street, however, excessive float is not desirable: when racing, you are either speeding up or slowing down, varying the load and the load geometry. On the street, droning down the superslab at 76 MPH with Strunz and Farah cranked in the earbuds, the load has been constant for hours and therefore stuck in a particular orientation, which will not necessarily be in optimal alignment. A small amount of float is desirable: in the .010 to .018 range, just don't overdo it.
So mount it up, being sure to use a fair amount of high pressure grease on everything but the bolt, and let us know how it goes -- I briefly toyed with the idea of putting a 17t on, but realized it would not suit my commute: at my normal 82 to 87 MPH computed speed, it's in an absolute sweet spot as regards vibration (practically none) in the 5100 - 5500 range. Plus, this is in the meat of the torque curve -- it takes a quick twist to get from 80 to 100 in just over 2 seconds, decreasing "hang time" when passing. In a word: WAAAHOOOO! A 17 would make these speeds miserable, right in the 4300 to 4900 range (ugh!). For me, and for now, Honda hit the nail squarely on the head.
Good luck with this.
I've come to the conclusion that I'm having way too much fun on my bone stock '02 screaming yellow 919, which I've named Falcon. It makes me look forward to a 30 mile drone on the 405 to Long Beach. Amazing.