New rider: 1978 CB550 - Wrist Twisters
 
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post #1 of 18 Old 04-24-2010, 09:22 PM Thread Starter
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New rider: 1978 CB550

Hey. I'm a complete newb to motorcycles who scored a almost free 1978 Honda CB550 with 89xx miles. It belonged to a guy who is deceased, a buddy of mine was hired by the guys daughter to clean out the shed and this nice bike was sitting in the corner covered by junk. It rolled out of the shed and onto my truck somehow .
So far trying to find the title is the biggest hurdle, the house is a complete mess, I'm talking severe hording, but the daughter is trying. I at least will have a bill of sale if no title pops up.

Now here's the next dilemma, It's been sitting since 1983(date of inspection sticker). I pulled the carbs and cleaned them up and I'm getting fuel flow now, but I must not have cleaned them good enough. One carb is over flowing, I suspect a bad float or dirty valve. The past week I've been working into the night trying to get it to start, cleaned the points, checked the plugs, etc. I got it to start on ether, but she was only running on cylinders 1 and 4, 2 and 3 are dead, I suspect a bad coil. I haven't fully investigated it yet.
Now, I can't seem to find parts for these bikes, yet I see plenty of people restoring them and pictures of them are all over Google. I'm trying to find a carb rebuild kit, condenser and points kit, and possibly coils and a rectifier.



Most of if not all of the chrome is pitted and rusted, my plans were to sand and paint it all flat black, replace the muffler and paint the headers, have the seat fixed and try to find some 550 four emblems, have the side covers just missing the emblems on both...

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post #2 of 18 Old 04-24-2010, 10:01 PM
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yo chris,glad to see you made it on here.

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post #3 of 18 Old 04-24-2010, 10:15 PM
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Howdy Chris, nice little project you have there!

Well, fire the engines! Spur this iron space-pony on!

"The Shadow"
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post #4 of 18 Old 04-24-2010, 10:57 PM
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Sweet ride. Make sure you check the wiring leading to the coils. It might be a good idea to kill the lights and crank it over in the dark and see if there's any arcing between wires. My brother's CB550 did the same thing and that was the only way he found the issue. The carb does sound like a sticky float. Welcome to the forum!

"Reason is not automatic. Those who deny it cannot be conquered by it" ~ Ayn Rand
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post #5 of 18 Old 04-25-2010, 01:43 AM
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Hopefully MisterMike or Simpson will wander thru here. If not, send them a PM. They can help with the parts search.

Sounds like you're on the right track with the carb. The other thing you'll want to do is check the tank. You may have gotten the carb cleaned but junk coming from the tank can cause the needle valve to stick open. A good fuel filter will stop that, but the best was is to get the tank cleaned up.


BTW, welcome to the site.

"Towards the end of the vid, it looks like she may have had a bafflectomy." - MarylandMike
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post #6 of 18 Old 04-25-2010, 05:27 AM
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Chris: Being a newb. to motorcycles might be a problem. Do you have any automotive/mechanical background? Not trying to discourage you just want you to be aware that getting a bike to properly run after sitting 27 years is no easy task. Cleaning the carburetors is a major task to do properly, there a many tiny orifices, if one is partially clogged the bike will run like crap. This is only the beginning. HondaJim pointed out the gas tank. I'm betting it is rusty to some degree. There is a gas petcock assembly which needs to be removed and inspected. It also contains a fuel filter which should be replaced. I have only scratched the surface, it's best to get it running first before tackling the suspension, lighting, brakes, and so forth. What looks like a good deal initially could turn into a $$$$ pit!

Believe it or not eBay is a good source of parts, check it out.

Welcome aboard.

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post #7 of 18 Old 04-25-2010, 05:56 AM
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Welcome, good luck with the project, be patient, you'll get it goin' sooner or later.

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post #8 of 18 Old 04-25-2010, 06:57 AM Thread Starter
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Automotive and small engine experience, I've got plenty of that.

Thanks for the heads up though Mike. Tank does have rust at the filler, but it had quite a bit of old gas in it, so I'm hoping that prevented some deeper rusting. I'm gonna head out this morning and pull the carbs again and check them out. You are right though, it could easily turn into a money pit and exceed the cost of a similar bike in running condition.

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post #9 of 18 Old 04-25-2010, 08:23 AM
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post #10 of 18 Old 04-25-2010, 11:27 AM Thread Starter
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I just finished cleaning the carbs, everything down to the valve tips are still in great shape, all the rubber is still soft.

The bowls are still soaking in cleaner, I might have to have them soda blasted.

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post #11 of 18 Old 04-26-2010, 03:34 PM
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Welcome and do have fun with the 550, they were a real nice bike.

I'll pick up on Mr. Mike's comments.

1
I found a reference to what is supposed to be a potent spray on carb cleaner. Berryman's B-12 Chemtool Carburetor Choke Cleaner. I have never used it.

2
Go to the Single Over Head Cam 4 website. (It may have been MM that sent me there originally)
Go to Welcome to SOHC4.NET, the Home of the SOHC/4 Owners Club and the Premier Site for Honda Enthusiasts | SOHC/4
Awesome site, lots of experience and knowledge.
Look specifically for Tech Pages / Honda Publications / Honda Service Manuals.
There you will find a most definitive carb booklet called Honda Motorcycle Carburetion Manual. It dates to 1975. ( You should also be able to find factory shop manual for the bike and any TSBs)
Using the index from that manual, I would guide you to be particularly careful about checking the :
AIR-BLEEDS
IDLE AND LOW SPEED SYSTEM
Also be careful to check the emulsion tubes / perforated tubes / that are above the main jet and that the needles move up and down in below the actual needle jet.
On older bikes, the emulsion tubes were also Main Jet Holders. One threaded the Main into the Holder and that is what threaded up into the lower carb body below the Needle Jet. Your picture looks to me that you have old style classic Main Jet Holder that hold the Main Jet and do double duty as the Emulsion Tubes. This is good - easier to take apart and clean.

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post #12 of 18 Old 05-11-2010, 05:54 PM Thread Starter
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Well, I'd like to say I officially own this bike. Got the title yesterday....Now, how am I supposed to get a dead guys signature?

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post #13 of 18 Old 05-11-2010, 11:25 PM
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Take this advice with a grain of salt, judge it's validity for yourself:

Since you aquired the bike legitimately, and no one is going to be upset and come looking for it...Sign the previous owner's name and take it in to get it registered. The DMV/County Clerk doesn't know what the old owner's signature looks like, and furthermore they don't care.

...If you feel this is not the proper way to do things, be prepared to go through the trouble to get a bonded title.

Either way, good luck!




.

Well, fire the engines! Spur this iron space-pony on!

"The Shadow"
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post #14 of 18 Old 05-12-2010, 03:08 AM
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Chris,
Congrats on the CB550. One of my first bikes was a CB750. The SOHC Hondas were a great line of bikes.

Cylinders 2 and 3 share a coil and a set of points. Check for spark on either 2 or 3 by removing the plug and resting it on the motor while cranking. You should see a nice spark. I believe that you can swap coils to check and see if the coil is bad. I'm betting on the points being bad.

If you have spark, I would next suspect a fuel/carb issue. The carbs on the bike shouldn't be too hard to clean. Getting replacement parts may be. Try "David Silver Spares" in the UK. If anyone has the parts you need, he will. Be prepared for sticker shock... I was able to get new spokes for a 1975 CB400 supersport from him.

Just as a reference, you might want to do a compression test on all 4 cylinders. They should all be close to one another. Try to find a copy of the service manual too.

Good luck. This sounds like a fun project!
Mike M.

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post #15 of 18 Old 05-12-2010, 06:00 PM Thread Starter
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Whoa, man do these engines sound bad ass.

I got it running. It won't idle, the lowest it will go before stalling is 1500rpms. It also seems to be hit and miss on one cylinder, the header was cool and hot some times. Good thing is it will run without the choke being on.
The timing chains seems a bit sloppy, it's making a rattling noise.

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post #16 of 18 Old 05-17-2010, 06:23 PM Thread Starter
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Update, it idles, but very rough.
I figured I would polish her up a bit, the chrome isn't too bad. I also tried to de rust the tank using electrolysis, it worked ok, but couldn't prevent flash rusting, but atleast it's not flaking off.

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post #17 of 18 Old 09-29-2010, 08:09 PM
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That's a sweet piece! I suspect that you will have a bit of fettling, but should be worth it!

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post #18 of 18 Old 11-10-2010, 08:04 PM
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Ive been following your progress ,I have a thing for these 550's.so, she was starting to buff up nice in August,did you get it on the road? Are you thinking restoration this winter season or is it, all you want to ride the K the way it is?

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