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Offline SohRon

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CB550 Assembly Manual
« on: September 18, 2015, 07:31:37 pm »
THE FOLLOWING is a compilation of my build thread of the same name, and it covers assembly of my 1974 CB550 K0, although a lot of it will apply to other models as well. There won't be many specific "How-To" instructions (like rebuilding the carbs) other than how to put the bike back together, starting from the frame up, with each step sorted into sections, each section completing a specific task. If you follow the steps in order you'll end up with a finished bike, but in no way are you required to do so. Most of the information here was obtained through research of the SOHC archives, forum members, other websites, magazines, books, shop manuals, owner's manuals and interviews with "those who were there".

This is only meant as a guide. You should have some kind of shop manual at hand for torque data and/or specific repair procedures. Clicking on any of the following links will open that topic in a seperate window.



Steering Bearings; Triple Tree

Steering Bearings; Triple Tree

So, we're assuming that one morning in a caffeine-induced frenzy you took it upon yourself to completely strip your bike down to the frame and now that you're starting to come down you have no idea what it was you just did. Even worse, you haven't a single clue as to how it all goes back together. I know just how you feel; been there and done that too many times to count... I mean, who hasn't?

The first thing to remember is rule Number One: DON'T PANIC! Lots of the world's problems could be solved if everyone followed this simple rule... but, I digress. No, the best thing you can do for yourself right now is to take some deep breaths, pour yourself a tall one, and (after grabbing your towel) follow along while we attempt to make sense of the mess.

What I'm going to do is reassemble my bike from the frame up and share the journey with you. We'll start out with the frame. I got this one from ebay after my original turned out to be tweaked. Here it is after powder coating

My first order of business will be reinstalling the headset, or steering bearings. These bikes (and most others of the era) were initially produced using ball bearings here; this was done in an effort to keep the price of the bike down ($1600 was the original price in 1974 - equivalant to $8000 - $9000 in today's money). These days, lots of folks are replacing them with tapered bearings. While there are both pros and cons to doing this, I want this particular bike to be closer to original, so ball bearings it is.

I bought a new ball bearing steering set from David Silver Spares (yes, they are still available), which actually turned out to be more expensive than the tapered bearing kit. The ball bearing "kit" consists of top and bottom inner and outer races, a new rubber dust seal and steel washer, and 37 steel balls; that is to say, thirty-seven individual 3X5 plastic baggies, each containing one small steel ball

I started out by inserting the top and bottom outer races into the steering head. I left the races in the freezer for a couple of days, so they were pretty frosty. I gently warmed the race seat with a torch, then used the old races to tap the new ones in place; just moving around and around the perimeter of the race was enough to drive the new part home

With both top and bottom outer races installed into the steering head, I supported the frame upside down so I could install the bottom bearing and steering stem

Here are the steering components: steering stem/lower fork yoke, top and bottom (already installed on steering stem) inner races, 37 steel balls (18 top, 19 bottom), the upper race cap (or thread), and the steering stem nut and washer

Coating the balls with grease, I installed all 19 in the bottom outer race...

...then inserted the stem down through the steering head and secured it in place with a couple of big rubber bands, giving it a couple of twists to lightly seat the balls (the rubber band trick works pretty well; not only does it keep the stem in place while adding the bearings to the top end, but it helps to keep the triple tree from flopping around after assembly)

Flipping the frame over, I added the balls for the top bearing;  18 all. While it might seem that there's enough space for another ball, the gap is necessary to keep the balls from rubbing against each other, which would cause scoring of the balls and failure of the bearing.

Inserting the top inner bearing race...

...then the upper bearing race cap (or thread)

Now, I did some research on this step because it seems that this is where many of the problems arise with this type of bearing. What can happen is that the thread gets overtightened and  the balls are pressed into the races so that they form seats, or dimples in the metal (and the balls themselves can be deformed), creating notchy steering as the balls pass over the dimple ridges, and a location "memory" that tends to want to keep the steering in one place.

Wanting to do things right, I turned to all four of the repair manuals I've been using (Clymer's; Hayne's; Chilton's and the official Honda Shop Manual) to get their spin on bearing adjustment. Here's what they have to say: Hayne's: "Using a c-spanner, tighten the adjuster nut beneath the top fork yoke until the bearings are free from play." Clymer's tells me how to prepare for adjustment, then gets relatively vague regarding proper adjustment procedures. The Chilton's book surprised me as it seemed to be the most comprehensive, saying: "Tighten the flat steering stem nut in small increments (italics theirs) until there is no fore-and-aft movement in the stem and it can move freely and smoothly throughout its range. Do not over tighten the flat stem nut" (again, italics theirs). The "Official" Honda shop manual throws a monkey wrench into the mix by advising me to "tighten the top head nut fully, then back it off to the point where the handlebar can be turned with reasonable ease". So, rather than tightening to a point as the others advise, the Honda manual says tighten the thread "Fully", then back it off to a certain point. This is where the problems arise, and the races get dimpled.

I talked to my motorcycle "Guru" friend, and he sided with the Honda manual, but with qualifications. "What this book doesn't show," he said, "is that you've got to keep the steering stem moving while you tighten down the nut. Folks (not his word, BTW, but I'm keeping it clean) just get in there holding the steering stem motionless or even with the wheel still on the ground and moose down on that nut like there's no tomorrow, and they're surprised when they end up with notchy steering."  He said that the way he'd always done it was to insert the stem and nut, then tighten down the nut as far as it could go by hand. "If you do it right," he said, "that'll almost get you there. Then you apply the spanner and the trick is to tighten the nut using the steering stem, not the wrench". And he pantomimed keeping the wrench stationary while turning the stem. "When you get to the end of the steering travel, just re position the wrench and stem and continue until you start to feel resistance, then back off the nut a touch and you're done. What you're doing here is seating the balls in the races, so the idea is to keep the bearings in motion while you're doing the tightening. That way you'll never get notchy steering".

I don't know if anyone else does it this way, but after he explained it to me like that, that's how I adjusted the headnut. The steering moves smoothly from stop to stop. Just like butta.

So, here the bike is complete with its new steering bearings. While the original ball bearing setup may not be for everybody, I expect with proper maintenance that it will last for another forty years, at least. Vive la difference, n'est-ce pas?

« Last Edit: July 10, 2020, 04:48:38 am by Glenn Stauffer »
"He slipped back down the alley with some roly-poly little bat-faced girl..."

Assembling my '74 CB550:
Assembly of the Right-hand Switch (a rebuilder's guide):
Installing stock 4X4 exhaust: CB500-CB550 K:
CB550 Assembly Manual:,151576.0.html

Offline SohRon

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Engine to Frame; Front Forks
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2015, 07:33:31 pm »
This session will cover mating the engine and frame and, if I'm lucky, installing the forks.

This is the engine, a major deviation from '74 in that it is a '77, but it will have to do until I can get a '74. Meanwhile, if you ignore the stator housing it looks just like the real thing... The paint is "Dupli-Color Cast Coat Aluminum", rated to 500 degrees and fortified with magical ceramic ingredients

First order of business was to remove the oil filter housing. Then the engine was balanced on its right side using a couple of boards. This is nice, soft yellow pine I'm using here, so I'm not concerned with marring the finish on the clutch cover, but if you use this method, you might want to cover the boards with some protective cloth, or whatever

With the engine ready, I turned my attention to the frame. I'm wrapping the engine cage with bubble wrap using two different sizes: 1/4 inch for the front frame rail because I wasn't sure that I could get the frame started with the 1 inch stuff; and, of course, 1 inch wrap for the remainder. It doesn't look very glamorous, but I'm more concerned with function here

Grasping the frame by the front and mid down tubes, I carefully lowered the frame over the engine. The trick is to keep the frame as level as possible while lowering it; then, when the bottom rail clears the oil pan, kind of "hook the pan with the lower frame rails and swing the upper part of the frame down onto the engine, resting it on the engine at the frame attachment points.

The bubble wrap is the way to go, IMHO, especially the one inch stuff. It works so well that, as I lowered the frame down, I had a hard time pushing it onto the engine. The wrap held the frame in such perfect suspension that, when it was half way down, I was able to walk away and set up the camera for the frame lowering shot. It was nearly impossible to touch the engine with the frame as the bubble wrap just didn't allow it. If I sound enthusiastic, I guess I am. I'll never use any other method. I was so pleased when it was done, that I nearly took it back off again just to experience the thrill one more time...

With the frame resting on the engine, I "pinned" them together using a couple of loose bolts on the lower front engine mounts. One on top

and one on the bottom. These pins help to hold the frame in position so that the real work can begin

Here is the engine mounting hardware: front mounting brackets, various spacers, and a whole lot of bolts, including the two big hanger bolts (BTW, I acquired these nearly pristine hanger bolts in one of those eBay "bucket o' bolts" auctions. I got easily $250 worth of usable materials from a $35 auction; well worth checking out). Not shown here is the rear engine mounting bracket, but it will be obvious when we come to it

With the pins holding the frame in place, I began the official assembly by inserting the lower rear engine hanger bolt. This will eventually support the driver's foot pegs as well as holding up the engine... requires this little doughnut shaped spacer puck on the bottom (right) side

Next comes the upper hanger bolt and it, too, has a little spool-shaped spacer that it fits through on the left side of the engine. Something I need to mention here is that I've scraped away the powder coat on both sides of the mounting lug (inset) for frame to engine and general chassis grounding. I've smeared some dielectric grease on the exposed metal to cut down on rust here. More on this later

These two big bolts really pull the frame and engine together. I replaced the top "pin" with the lower front hanger bolt. The nut fits into a little alcove cast into the crankcase. I'm keeping all of these bolts and nuts loosely attached so that there is some "wiggle" room left to finesse the frame into position on the engine

Next I installed the front hanger bracket. It's pretty straight forward in function. I loosely attached the outer bracket on the inside of the frame with two bolts...

...while the inner portion rests on the engine and is attached with a large bolt whose corresponding nut and washers... into another little "alcove" cast into the crankcase

With everything together, the frame and engine was flipped over on its other side so that the remaining nuts, bolts and brackets could be added. BTW, the strip of carpeting I got from a local installer really helps to cut down on the wear and tear on both the bike and the knees...

And, once again, let's hope that this is the only situation where I see this side of the engine...

With all of the hanger bolts in place, and with the assistance of three women and a 3-year old child, I lifted the frame/engine assembly onto a small rolling platform I have that used to carry a Xerox machine (so weight's not a problem), then added the rear engine mounting bracket. This is another deviation from '74 in that this bracket was painted black, originally, but was left bare in later years.

A couple of things to notice about the above pic are A: the upper bracket bolt and the upper hanger bolt nut are only temporarily added at this stage as I'll be needing them for other applications later. For now, they're just helping to hold everything together; and B: the mounting "lugs" on the down tube have been scraped free of powder coat on each side, and the engine mounts have been cleared of paint as well (inset), so that a good engine to frame ground exists through the upper hanger bolt. All of these ground exposures have been daubed liberally with dielectric grease to try and keep corrosion at bay.

Another step I've taken in this direction is that all of the bare metal brackets, nuts, bolts, screws and washers have been treated with either a coating of Rust-Oleum "Rust Inhibitor" or Boeing "Boeshield T-9"  in an attempt to keep corrosion down on these parts. I'm using the Boeshield in places like under the fenders and on the lower engine hangers as it's a bit heavier than the Rust Inhibitor and should help in these heavily exposed areas

Once the frame/engine assembly was complete it was time to turn to the forks. I want to install the front wheel and the center stand so that it will be a little easier to maneuver the bike around the garage. These are the forks: new seals, etc, filled with 5.6 oz of PJ1 20w fork oil and ready to go (NOTE: These fork tubes were badly rusted from mid-point up just where the headlight mounting "ears" fit, as you can see from the pic, but are otherwise in fine condition. They were sandblasted, then coated with Rust-Oleum Rust preventive paint. It doesn't really matter, after all; it will all be hidden behind the headlight mounting "ears" anyway

... which are mounted with the forks using rubber grommets, along with the fork "gaiters")...

The top fork yoke (or "Bridge", if you prefer) ties the forks to the head stem. Here it is with its chrome-plated nuts displayed (bolts, too!). Note the little "D"-shaped washer with the clamp bolt. This has special applications I'll cover when we get to it

I started mounting the forks by inserting the grommets into the headlight mounts (AKA "ears"). The bottom (largest) grommet is beveled on one side and flat on the other; I inserted the flat side against a little shelf on the inside of the "ear",  with the beveled side pointing down. The top grommets fit down into a little "well" on the top of each mount and don't require any special orientation, so I just popped them in

Next, I attached the mounts by inserting the bottom steering yoke clamp into the opening provided in the bottom of each "ear", making sure that the grommet wasn't pinched and that it was aligned correctly with the clamp. These hang out together, making rude and suggestive remarks, just waiting for a good, stiff fork tube to be shoved up their...

With the headlight mounts in place, I placed the top bridge over the steering stem and secured it loosely with the big stem nut and washer, then grabbed the right fork, dropping the gaiter down over the tube (wide end down), and proceeded to insert the tube up through the bottom triple-tree clamp, headlight mount (make sure it doesn't pinch the grommets), and up into the top yoke clamp. Haynes' book tells me that "the bottom edge of the chamfer on each fork leg must coincide with the top face of the upper fork yoke". Whew!  In this case, a picture really is worth a thousand words...

Both tubes inserted in the clamps; it's time for the clamp bolts.

When inserting the bolts, I made sure that I included this little "D"-shaped washer in the gap on the top tube clamps

It acts as a spacer for the clamp; leave it out and you'll likely crack the yoke. The flat spot fits up against the fork tube

Once all of the fork clamp bolts, nuts and washers were in place and tightened up, I torqued down the big headnut, then finished up by installing the rear yoke clamp bolt and nut. I'm leaving the bottom yoke clamps loose at this point for "wiggle" room, and I'll want to give the front end a couple of centering bounces once I get the bike on the ground before I torque them down

The next items to consider are the "Gaiters" (No, not "Gators". Frankly, I wouldn't want one of them climbing up my steering forks. Just a little quirk I have...). They bridge the fork bottoms and the headlight mounts. There are grooves inside each end that fit into corresponding slots in the headlight mount and the fork bottoms. One thing I feel deserves special mention is this: the gaiters have these little drain holes in them

Make sure these are oriented down and to the back of the fork before you attach the gaiters as the gaiters are a serious beeee-otch to move once they're in place. I speak from experience.

So, at last, here it is with an engine and forks. Next time I'll cover installing the center stand and front wheel

'til next time
« Last Edit: June 12, 2019, 01:13:40 pm by SohRon »
"He slipped back down the alley with some roly-poly little bat-faced girl..."

Assembling my '74 CB550:
Assembly of the Right-hand Switch (a rebuilder's guide):
Installing stock 4X4 exhaust: CB500-CB550 K:
CB550 Assembly Manual:,151576.0.html

Offline SohRon

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Front Wheel and Fender; Handlebars; Center Stand
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2015, 07:35:47 pm »
I'd like to get the center stand and the front wheel on and get the bike onto its own... well, maybe the centerstand would be closer to crutches than feet, but you get my drift. First order of business is to mount the fender. Here it is with all of its mounting hardware

The hardware consists of all of these little parts; 19 (or possibly 25), altogether. First off is the fender mounted speedo cable grommet; then six each of the rubber fender grommets; the small metal standoffs, or chain case collars; and the bolts & split washers. The split washers aren't required by Honda, but I recommend their use

Before assembly, I gave the whole inner fender a good shot of Boeshield, especially the inside of the stays, which are "always" rusty

I slipped the rubber grommets into the holes in the fender brace and stays...

...along with the case collars. The brace only gets grommets and collars on the right side as the caliper hanger is attached with the fender on the left

The grommet for the speedo cable just pops into a hole on the fender

Assembling the fender to the forks is pretty straight forward, actually. It's easy to slide it into the gap between the forks and align the bolt holes, after which it's a simple matter to install the fasteners. The ends of the fender stays fit into wells formed into the fork bottoms, and the fender brace attaches on the right side only for now

On the left side, I finished off the fender installation by adding the brake components. Notice that the caliper hanger is sandwiched between the fork leg and fender brace, and everything is attached with two 10mm bolts. The caliper adjusting "bolt" (screw, lower right) slides through a hole in the hanger...

...then screws into a threaded lug in the fork bottom, capturing the hanger arm return spring between the fork and caliper hanger. The bolt threads completely through the lug, where it is locked into place with a nut and washer

Next, the splash shield has a little box-like attachment point that fits down over the lower part of the hanger pin; I secured both shield and pin with a 12mm bolt

Here's the shield in place

And here, at last, is the fender installed.

Next, I moved on to the wheel: this is it. It's actually a '77 model as you can tell by the disc retainers. New bearings and rotor

In this case, due to the way I have the bike sitting on the dolly, mounting the wheel was just a matter of tipping the frame forward and the forks just kind of fell into position on the wheel

The axle nut is cut to accept the fork bottom

These are the axle clamps. They have an interesting profile in that one "leg" of the "U" is shorter than the other (you can view this by setting the clamp on a flat surface); this provides the clamping force that keeps the wheel on the bike. New nuts, washers and (especially) lock washers are an absolute must whenever you replace the wheel, at least in my opinion

I assembled the clamps to the fork with the long "leg" toward the front and the gap to the rear. The trick here is that you fully tighten the front nut before going to the rear nut. I started with the disc side...

...then did the same with the other side; gap to the rear, tightening the front nut first. The speedometer drive just kind of dangles there until the clamp is tightened. I'll set its position later; for now I'm just leaving it oriented in a roughly horizontal position

Adding the clamps completed the front wheel and fender installation.

Handlebars next. I have installed stock grips in place of the earlier foamy ones, and the right-hand switch has been rebuilt  ;)  . The left switch is a good stock unit I found on ebay

I've restored the bar clamp/dashboard. Chrome bolts are used for a stock installation

The bar simply sits in the cradle provided on the top steering yoke and the clamp fits down over it. The clamp/dash is similar in nature to the wheel clamps in that the front portion is longer than the rear, so installation procedure is the same: tighten the front bolts completely before doing the back ones, leaving the gap to the rear. The bars are positioned by two little punch marks on either side of the clamp that orient them; the marks should line up with the top of the cradle

Tightening the clamp bolts

I want to get this down off the dolly, so the next order of business is the center stand. I picked up this CS from the local boneyard and refinished it in POR-15 Base Coat with a topping of BlackCote (now POR-15 TOPCOAT "Gloss Black"). Here it is with all of its mounting hardware (note the lock washers)

This is a pretty simple installation, made even easier due to the fact that I don't have the swingarm to deal with. The CS just slides into place between the brackets on the frame, then the well-greased CS pivot pipe is inserted...

...and secured with a cotter pin

I then added the clamp bolts. No need to get too aggressive tightening these down, just get them tight enough to be secure. Once the bolts are in place, it's time to install the spring plate and spring; and here's where the beauty of installing these now comes into play. By rotating the CS legs up past horizontal (thanks to the missing swingarm), installing the plate and spring becomes child's play and they easily slide into position; the plate is oriented with the curve pointing down, large hole slipping over the bale on the frame, while the spring connects to the smaller hole on the plate, then to the notched tab on the CS. No money involved... just slide it on. Do it now or you'll regret it as that spring is a serious beeee-otch to assemble at any other point. Believe me. I know.

And, with that, I was able to pull the dolly out and set the bike down on the CS, just one more major step towards completion

Well, I've gone on for too long (as usual), and if you've managed to stay awake through all of this, I'm impressed. Next time I'll be doing the front brake, then tackle the swingarm and the rear wheel, and all of that should be loads of fun.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2019, 01:56:37 pm by SohRon »
"He slipped back down the alley with some roly-poly little bat-faced girl..."

Assembling my '74 CB550:
Assembly of the Right-hand Switch (a rebuilder's guide):
Installing stock 4X4 exhaust: CB500-CB550 K:
CB550 Assembly Manual:,151576.0.html

Offline SohRon

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Swingarm; Rear Shocks
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2015, 07:36:33 pm »
This session will cover installing the swingarm. I had it coated at Precision Powder Coating just outside of town, same folks who did the frame. Here it is with its privates splayed out for all to see; pivot bolt & nut, collar with end caps and phenolic bearings, swingarm bushings with felt seals

First order of business is installing the swingarm bushings, These need to be recessed a specific distance into the pivot tube, so I made some careful measurements of the old bushing installations before I removed them. I got pretty consistent readings of right around .235" - .240" on both sides, so I determined to set the new bushes in at .240" (a reading consistent with recommendations on this site, BTW). Normally, I'd just use the old bushings to help install the new set, like I did before on the headset, but as I was down at the shop taking measurements of the bushing depth one of the machinists asked me what I was doing. I explained how the bushings had to be recessed, etc, etc, and I guess it was a slow day because he took a couple of measurements, then went away and came back in a few minutes with this nifty little tool (thanks, Doug!). It fits perfectly inside the bushing and installs it to a depth of .240" with just a few hammer taps. Cool!  Almost makes me wish I had a few more swingarms to work on...

The reason the bushings are recessed is to accommodate this little stack-up of parts. At top we have the assembly as it fits into the swingarm pivot tube. From right to left we have the pivot nut and bolt, end cap (dust seal), and - it's kind of difficult to see this because, well, it's all together - the phenolic bearing, felt seal, inner bushing and, finally, the collar. I've kind of laid the parts out below.  The swingarm butts up against the phenolic bearing and everything else fits into the pivot tube

I greased the collar down well both inside and out, then slid it into the pivot tube. It has two grease channel holes, one on either end, and I tried to keep these oriented to the top of the collar as I inserted it through the bushings and into the pivot tube

the collar's a smidge longer than the swingarm as it is meant to butt up against the end caps

Next, I installed the felt seal. It becomes impregnated (no dinner, no show, no calls afterwards) with grease and acts both as a dust shield and water seal and helps to keep the collar, bushings and pivot tube nice and rust-free. It has a profile like a thick rubber band, and inserts around the collar. It actually fits farther down into the tube than is shown here, but that will be taken care of by the end cap/phenolic bearing...

...the phenolic bearing is essentially a large washer with a raised "lip" encircling the perimeter of the center opening. The bearing slides onto the collar and down over the pivot tube kind of like a cap, with the "lip" protruding into the tube, trapping the felt seal between the swingarm bushing and the bearing (note that these parts have been left ungreased for demonstration purposes; in actual application these should be gooey with grease...)

The end cap then fits over all of this, the phenolic bearing seating in a "dish" formed into the cap

With the end caps installed, I fitted the swingarm into position between the mounting lugs on the frame. The collar and end caps are locked into position by the pivot bolt, which kind of squeezes the frame tubes together to clamp them in place (it's a tight fit to begin with).  In operation, the collar, bolt and caps remain stationary while the swingarm pivots around the collar and rotates on the phenolic bearings.

Before installing the pivot bolt, I pre-charged it with grease on both sides, as the two grease channels are separate (inset), then smeared grease over the entire bolt and inserted it from the left side (orienting the grease channel holes towards the top)...

...locking it into place with the lock nut. This nut is still available, and replacing the old, fatigued nut on most of our bikes is certainly recommended. EDIT: Honda recommends this nut be torqued to somewhere between 40 - 60 ft lbs. Bwaller has an excellent procedural recommendation that I'd like to quote here:

Just a little quip I'll throw out there that I learned back in the day. Instead of torquing the swingarm bolt to Honda specs, just continue to tighten the nut until the arm just falls slowly through it's complete travel under it's own weight. I have found on reinstallation with new parts as you have that torquing to spec can be either too loose or too tight. It's a great place to start, but this other method "fine tunes" for each individual bike.

Thanks for the great tip, Bwaller!

Something to notice on the above pic is the grease zerk. This is some kind of Asian version that just doesn't quite fit our grease guns, and folks have a lot of fun bad-mouthing it and replacing it with a more familiar (modern) fitting. The trick with these, however, is that you have to use the right kind of nozzle on the grease gun; the hose type just  won't work. What's needed, and what I use, is a rigid pipe nozzle that can be pressed tight against the zerk. This is really a painless operation with the right tool (ain't it always the truth) and, unless you really, really want to, there's just no real reason to replace the fittings, IMHO.

With all of that said, I proceeded to grease the swingarm until grease started coming out around the end cap and from between the cap and the mount on the frame. A little clean-up, and I did the same on the other side. Later models have a different set-up where the swingarm is serviced via a grease zerk located in the middle of the pivot tube

So, here's the swingarm on the bike

To finish up, I'll install the shocks. It's a pretty straight-forward operation consisting of a couple of bolts, washers and acorn nuts. These are the shocks; they're a couple of inches shorter than stock, but still retain the stock appearance

This strange little Diplodocus head actually depicts the swingarm shock mount bushings; I removed them from the swingarm prior to powder coating, then replaced them with new afterwards. These are seriously difficult to remove and re-install. There are several threads on the site that address removing them utilizing various nuts, bolts, 13mm sockets and what-not; I used the 60lb press at work, and when they gave way it sounded like a gunshot

The top "eye" on the shocks slides onto the shock mount stud extending from each side of the frame and is secured with an acorn nut and washer. The bottom clevis fits over the swingarm mount, and a bolt and washer hold it in place.

And with the installation of the shocks, the swingarm assembly is complete.

Well, that's as far as it goes this session. Next I'll cover installing the rear wheel, chain and chain guard, and get this baby up on her own two.. er... feet, as it were.

'til next time
« Last Edit: June 12, 2019, 02:33:32 pm by SohRon »
"He slipped back down the alley with some roly-poly little bat-faced girl..."

Assembling my '74 CB550:
Assembly of the Right-hand Switch (a rebuilder's guide):
Installing stock 4X4 exhaust: CB500-CB550 K:
CB550 Assembly Manual:,151576.0.html

Offline SohRon

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Rear Wheel; Chain; Plastic Guards
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2015, 07:37:44 pm »
Now that the swingarm is in place, time to turn some attention to the rear wheel. Here it is, in all of its glory

The spokes were installed at Woody's Wheel Works in Denver. I got their "Superlace Supersize" package that utilizes a heavier-gauge spoke set at a slightly different angle than stock so as to locate the spoke geometry closer to 90 degrees to the hub plane. Here are a couple of pics shamelessly purloined from their website that demonstrates this concept

Woody's says that this will make the wheel stronger and less prone to broken spokes (as on the wheel at left in this pic), and gives a one-year guarantee against loosening or breakage of the spokes

Woody's definitely knows their business. While I was there, Andy Parks from the Vintage Aero museum came by and dropped off a spare wheel set for re-spoking and truing for this sweet little machine

The above plane lives about twenty minutes away from me at a small rural airport. It's a 7/8 scale replica of a Royal Aircraft SE5a, a British fighter ca. 1918. It and this full scale Fokker (pronounced "Fah-ker", not "Foe-ker"; and, definitely not "Fuh-..." well, you get the idea)  DR1 replica

plus a couple of others fly out of Fort Lupton for special events around the area. Besides the planes, they have an extensive collection of WW1 memorabilia and uniforms; and I've done volunteer duty there, so it was like old home week to see them at Woody's.

Unfortunately, due to the economic downturn the museum has lost some significant funding, so these birds have been mostly grounded and the museum has, for all intents and purposes, been closed. I can only hope things will get better soon; it would be a shame to see the collection broken up and these iconic warbirds sold off.

But, I digress.

Back to the wheel.  I installed new brake shoes, rubber dampers and wheel bearings. When time came to remove the bearing retainer, I did some searching on this site and got several good ideas as to how this could be accomplished. I tried them all, and none of them worked for me. I even had the guys down in  the machine shop come up with a tool to no avail (Thanks Guys!). The retainer stubbornly refused to budge (yes, I was turning it in the right direction) and all I ended up doing was boogering up the spanner holes in the retainer. I finally broke down and went to Honda, and the guy behind the service counter said, "Sure, we can get that retainer off for you. There could be some trouble, though..."

I said, "Trouble?"

He said; "Yeah, they weren't one of Honda's brightest inventions; these old things get stuck on there, and they can be a bear to get off. Depends on when it was last removed. I've seen 'em break the tool, or they can twist the hub, or I've heard of 'em shattering into a million pieces..."

By this time I was starting to get slightly alarmed; visions of the retainer exploding into shrapnel and taking out the entire shop almost brought me back to the War. But, of course, it had to be done, so I left the wheel and new bearings with him with his promise to call me if anything disastrous occurred. Fortunately, the procedure was accomplished without loss of life or limb, and I got the potential WMD back the next day replete with new bearings. However, you can see in this shot where they had to torch the retainer to get it to move

This is a shot of the rear axle and constituent parts; axle and nut, wheel spacer, wheel stoppers and chain adjusters, plus a bunch of bolts, nuts and washers

I pre-installed the spacer and chain adjuster, then inserted the axle from the brake side. There's not much reason to  grease the axle before installing it as the bearings are sealed, and the axle, once in place, doesn't move. At most, a little grease will help make installation through the bearing seats a little easier, and might help cut down on corrosion. I sprayed the axle down with a liberal coating of Boeshield, before installing it into the hub

Something to be aware of here, are the little punch marks on the wide end of the chain adjusters. Make sure that these are correctly oriented to the top prior to assembling the axle stack because if you don't, you won't be able to adjust the chain and you'll have to take everything back apart again. Like I did.

On the chain side, I slipped on the chain adjuster and axle nut/washer

With everything in place, I picked up the wheel and slid it into the axle slots on the swingarm, spreading the chain adjusters slightly to fit over the slot "legs". On the brake side, the spacer fits between the wheel and fork...

One thing to note about the spacer. There are two types for the CB550: the longer spacer is used on the earlier "smooth" brake plates, like mine, while the shorter one was installed with the "reinforced" plate (inset) that became standard for the "K" models in '77, IIRC. This brake plate has a longer "nose" due to an extended internal axle bearing, so it requires a shorter spacer. These plates are not interchangeable, so the right plate with the correct hub (and spacer) is required

I slid the wheel all the way to the front of the axle slot to more easily install the chain

With the wheel on the bike, I next installed the wheel stops. These fit in between the legs on the axle slot and are affixed with a bolt and washer; the bolt hole in the bottom leg is threaded, so the bolt just torques right in. Of course, anyone who knows me knows my penchant for overkill; I went one better (at least in my own mind) on Honda and used longer bolts here. After torquing them down to specs, I installed washers, split washers and nuts on the bottom just to add a little more assurance that the axle doesn't move (inset). It's not required; that's just the way I am.

On to the chain. I purchased it from David Silver Spares, and it seems like a good, quality chain. I soaked it in lacquer thinner overnight, then used a soft brass brush on it and sprayed it down with a good degreaser to get rid of the packing goop. I'm using Chain Wax for lube

and it requires the chain be warmed up before use; they recommend riding the bike around for a few minutes to get the chain prepared but, obviously, I can't do that. I toyed momentarily with tossing it into the oven in the house, but that wouldn't fly with SWMBO and, frankly, I just don't need that kind of grief; so what I did was stretch it out in the driveway and let the sun have at it.

Anyone who has worked on any kind of vehicle in Colorado knows how quickly steel hand tools can heat up in the sun here at 5,000+ feet. Lay your spark plug wrench aside for a couple of seconds, and the damned thing will nearly fry your hand off the next time you go to grab for it.

Within twenty minutes of laying out on the pavement in high altitude sun on a clear summer's day that chain was so hot I could barely handle it. I carried it into the garage tossing it from hand to hand, then hung it from a bolt on the garage door track and commenced to liberally soak it down from top to bottom with chain wax, paying particular attention to the inside of the rollers. I let it sit for a couple of minutes, then flipped it 180 degrees and hit it again. I left it hanging there while I went about mounting the wheel (about an hour), then wiped it off with a shop cloth to remove the excess wax before installation.

Installing the chain couldn't be easier. It's as simple as

Note that I installed the above master link clip with the closed end pointing in the direction of chain travel (to the right in this case; remember that the chain moves in a counter-clockwise direction during normal operation).

With the chain on, I added a little grease to the bearing surface on the wheel stops for the chain adjuster screws...

...then swung the chain adjusters up, pulled back on the wheel to tauten the chain and ran the bolts in, aligning the adjusters evenly using the alignment marks on the swingarm and the punched marks on the adjusters. This may or may not correctly align the front and rear wheels; there are those who have noted that the swingarm marks are not always accurate, so I'll be using the method outlined in the Chilton's book to check alignment. When I do that, I'll post it here

I adjusted the bolts evenly until I attained the required 3/4 inch chain deflection measured at the middle of the bottom run, then tightened down the lock nuts. This is a preliminary setting, and only because the bike is on the CS; it must be re-checked after the bike is back on the ground, so I'll get back to it later.

Here's the procedure as stated in the '74 CB550 Owner's Manual:

"Adjust to provide approximately 3/4 inch (20mm) of [minimum] chain slack at a point midway between the drive sprocket and the rear wheel sprocket. Rotate the wheel and recheck slack at other sections of the chain. Slack must not be less than 3/4 inch (20mm) at a point midway between the sprockets, regardless of the chain section at which measurement is taken"

So, rotate the wheel and check at several spots on the chain for minimum slack before locking in the setting.

Chain, installed

And, what the heck, since I'm here I might as well add the inner fender. Here it is. No mounting hardware; just a big 'ol hunk of ABS plastic

It slides down into the frame and connects to it by means of three-fingered clips welded to each of the rear down tubes

Left side...

...and right

These should be sufficient to hold the inner fender in place until I install the rear fender

Next, the chain case (chain guard). Here is is with its mounting hardware: three bolts, a nut and various washers; two case collars and an oval-shaped standoff; and a stamped metal brace

Something I might mention here that both of these ABS pieces, and others on the bike, have been restored using Mother's "Back to Black". It's like Flitz for plastic

The brace slides into the case; it's been formed to match the molding of the case...

...and it's attached using one of the case collars and a bolt that are inserted from the inboard (wheel) side...

...with a nut and lock washer on the inside of the case that locks the brace into place

The case fits down over the chain, and is connected on the inboard side by these three clips welded to the swingarm, similar to those on the frame for the inner fender (insets). The case just slips down between the clips, where the middle "prong" has a dimple that grabs the "lip" formed into the perimeter of the case

On the outboard side,  I installed the remaining two bolts, case collar, and fender washer. A small oval-shaped standoff fits into a similar shaped hole at the first (front) bolt location (inset); the bolt is then inserted using the fender washer for case support. The little standoff allows some wiggle room while installing the chain case, so I left the bolt loose until everything else was in place

The next (rear) bolt is attached utilizing the second case collar. This bolt runs through the chain case, then the chain case support bracket, and screws into the mounting lug on the swingarm, trapping the bracket between the case and mount (inset). With both of the bolts in place, I tightened everything down to final specs

To complete the chain install, I mounted the sprocket and starter motor covers. The starter motor cover has a little gasket that fits up inside it before assembly (inset)

One thing I'd like to point out in the above pic is that I'm replacing the engine bolts here and elsewhere with stainless allen screws. Stainless steel and aluminum don't really get along very well with each other, which can result in galling and/or galvanic corrosion of the bolt/case threads and of the bolt head itself, either of which will lock those bolts up tighter than a spinster's sphincter. In the case of the bolt heads galvanicaly welding themselves to the  cases, a simple washer under the bolt head alleviates the problem. For stainless steel bolts into aluminum threads, it has been recommended... nay, it is required that anti-seize be used on these bolts so that they may be removed again, if necessary. It's that important

And, for our purposes, Loctite recommends a zinc based anti-seize for use on the cover bolts, especially important with stainless steel.

For the final step, now that everything else is in place, I torqued the axle bolt to spec and added the cotter pin

So,  there it is: wheel, chain and guard. While I didn't get as far as I was hoping, I've gone on long enough. Next time I plan to install the rear fender and front brake, and from there, who knows?

'til next time
« Last Edit: April 12, 2017, 06:22:19 pm by SohRon »
"He slipped back down the alley with some roly-poly little bat-faced girl..."

Assembling my '74 CB550:
Assembly of the Right-hand Switch (a rebuilder's guide):
Installing stock 4X4 exhaust: CB500-CB550 K:
CB550 Assembly Manual:,151576.0.html

Offline SohRon

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Carbs; Air Box Assembly
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2015, 07:39:35 pm »
This pic shows the carb rack with its mounting paraphernalia; at top is the rack of carbs and on the right is the manifold for carbs 1&2 with everything assembled and ready to install. At left, we have the installation components spread out for clarity: the # 3&4 intake manifold (with O-rings) and carb insulator boots, along with the attachment clamps. At bottom are the overflow drain tubes, and the vent tubes draped over the rack should be noted as well

The carburetors have been thoroughly cleaned and rebuilt, then bench-synced, leak tested and had their float heights checked via the clear hose method. The rubber insulators are new from BikeBandit, and all the other hardware came from "Box-'O-Bolts" auctions on ebay.

To begin installation, I mounted the intake manifolds to the carbs. These have the vacuum ports for carb sync testing built into them; they're plugged with a screw and copper crush washer. Later manifolds don't have this feature as the port is on the carb, IIRC, so it's best to make sure you have the correct manifold for the right carbs. They come as a right or left set; the little port screws and the "bridge" connecting each manifold pair should be oriented downward when mounting the manifold to the carbs.

I installed the manifold o-rings (these are the same o-rings used in the valve adjustment covers, BTW) and smeared a little grease on them to help them seal...

...then inserted the whole assembly onto the head. I had to spread the manifolds apart slightly to get them to fit down over the studs, but the whole thing slid on easily enough

I then attached the manifold/carb assembly to the head using eight flange nuts (no washers of any type used with these)

Once the carbs were in place, I connected the overflow hoses to the outlets on the carb bowls and routed them down the back of the engine, along with the carb vent hoses, which are attached to vent outlets between carbs 2&3 (upper left). All of these hoses are gathered together using a little hard plastic band (lower right)...

...then route down between the engine and swingarm. The vent hoses terminate at the swingarm, while the overflow hoses are gathered by this little bale on the frame

Now that the carbs are in place, it's time to install the air induction unit (or airbox, if you prefer). Here is the infamous stock airbox assembly spread out for your perusal (and, if I may, a note to those who are thinking of putting pods on their bikes: you might want to keep a copy of this picture around for... you know... later ;) )

Moving boustrophedonically (... now, there's a $5 word for you! You can pronounce it by repeating this rather grisly little phrase very fast: "Boo Stro fed on Nick Lee", with the accent on Boo and on. It means "as the ox plows [or turns]" - in other words, moving from one side to the other and back again in a zigzag pattern, like oxen plowing a field. It's a Greek concoction and is interesting in that its definition is actually shorter than the word itself. I like it, though; it has great rhythm).

Anyway, major digression here. As I was saying, moving boustrophedonically, starting at the upper right we have the plenum drain hose, the filter/element case drain and the element box/breather cover coupling hose; all with attachment clips. Next comes the element cover, the foam element, a rubber element cover seal, the separator plate (AKA seal plate, punching metal, etc) and the filter/element case.

Continuing "as the ox plows", we find three tiny little metal bits (and we'll get a closer look at them later): two small tubular spacers and an old friend, a case washer identical to the one we used on the chain case. Next comes an oval case "nut" that fits down into the filter case, followed by two airbox support brackets with mounting bolts, the air filter clamp and the front air filter cover.

In the bottom row are the tool tray, the air filter element, the airbox plenum and, finally at the very bottom, the plenum to carb clamps.

Now, if you'll pardon me, I'd like to do a minor rant here for just a second. That's a whole passel of parts, no matter how you look at it; it's also a prefect example of why you shouldn't rely on just the Clymer book. Take a look at their section on the air filter and compare it with this picture, for one example among many.

I'm not saying don't get the Clymer book, just don't try to rely on it alone. Get the Honda manual as well - in fact, I'd get it first. You can download a version of it from this site, but don't get cheap on me; go out and actually buy a copy you can hold in your hands. The hard copies are different than the digital versions here on the site and, at least in the section I compared together, more comprehensive. Besides, it's difficult to study a digital version when you're asses-to-elbows in grease trying to set some critical gap .

And they come in a nifty spiral setup so they lay flat and help you keep your place, too!

'Nuff said. I thank you for your indulgence (but do get the Honda book, OK?)

I started out by installing the plenum to the carbs. Now, with nothing else on the bike, it's a little easier to do than it would be with all of those pesky electrical geegaws and cables and bothersome what-not that can just get in the way, but there's still a bit of a trick to it.

First, I made sure all of the intake boots (available new from David Silver Spares @ $36 a set) were secure and correctly oriented in the plenum. This doesn't matter as much with the center boots, as they are symmetrical, but the outer two boots for 1 & 4 carbs are angled and must be oriented correctly. Fortunately, Honda helps with this by molding small dimples into the plenum face with corresponding extrusions on the boot. Just line them up and you're good to go (note that Honda originally glued these to the plenum, but it was merely to accommodate assembly at the factory and glue is not necessary here. You can use it if it helps keep the intake boots in position)

Next, I removed the upper rear engine hanger bracket to make some room, then inserted the plenum from the left side of the frame kind of catawampus in through the electrical panel "bay", extending the "shoulder" of the plenum down and out through the space vacated by the engine bracket. A couple of things to note are that I've pre-installed the boot clamps onto the plenum, and though the intake boot kissing the carb bowl may look a bit distressed, it can handle it; after all, if done correctly this entire process takes approximately (as Spock would say) 7.33517 seconds to accomplish...


...bringing the rest of the plenum down 'til all boots are level with the carb bowls...

...then gently pushing the left "shoulder" past the down tube 'til the whole thing just "snaps" in to place (Note: The plastic on the plenum shoulder is pretty soft, but you might consider putting a sheet of paper [or whatever] in between the shoulder and downtube if you're concerned about your paint. I didn't use anything, and it didn't even smudge the powder coat)

With the plenum in position, it's a simple matter to slip the intake boots over the carb throats and tighten down the clamps

This interesting and vaguely pornographic shot reveals the installed plenum from the rear, with the two filter case connection points top and bottom, and a vagin oval shaped air corridor surrounded by a rubber grommet

There's a matching opening in the filter case, with a protruding lip surrounding its perimeter that slides into this grommet (this is a NOS plenum and, while the rubber itself is still nice and pliable, the 30+ year old glue on the grommet has dried a bit, as you can see)

Now, there is an air tight fit between the grommet and case lip, and you have to wiggle the filter case around and use a fair amount of force to get it to slide into that oval-shaped opening in the plenum. My NOS grommet, being a virgin, was just too tight, and no matter how I pushed or wiggled it, I just couldn't get the case  lip to penetrate the opening. I finally used a little P-80 lubrication, after which it gently and easily slid right in... all the way... and it was sooo... and... I...

OK, that's enough of that...

Now that I've, er, mated the filter case to the plenum it's time to consummate the deed. This is the airbox (and I'm using "airbox" to designate the combination of both the plenum and filter/element case) mounting hardware

At left are two little tubular spacers that fit into corresponding holes in both the plenum and filter case, while the oval-shaped "nut" secures the lower case mounting bolt. Next is the rear mounting bracket with bolts and washers, while at the bottom is a case washer similar to the one we installed in the chain guard. Last (but not least) is the front mount aith its associated bolts and washers.

I began by installing the spacers. These fit between the plenum and filter case, connecting them together; one on top (below left), the other on the bottom (right)

They're necessary because, without them, tightening the connecting bolts and nuts would compress the ABS plastic, causing it to flex and eventually tear.

Spacers in place, I installed the plenum/filter box connecting bolts and washers. The lower sections of the plenum and filter box are secured together by a 10mm 6x25 bolt, an 18 mm washer, split washer and this special oval "nutplate", which fits down inside the filter box (right)

The top 6x25 bolt not only completes pairing of the plenum and filter case together, it affixes the front airbox mounting bracket to the assembly. The bolt, with a split washer and 18mm washer, is inserted from the inside of the case through the case body and into a nut that's welded to the back of the mount

Next, the rear mounting bracket is attached to the rear "nose" of the filter/element case utilizing the case washer, another 10mm 6x25 bolt and split washer...

..the bolt screws into a nut on the back of the bracket, just like the front bracket had. Note the orientation of the bracket, with the longer "leg" extending away from the airbox

Here's an overall view of the airbox as it sits in the bike. The front bracket mounts to a plate welded across the frame with a 10mm 6x12 bolt (and the plate is slightly angled, so the bracket is "bent" to match it), while a 10mm 6x40 bolt attaches the rear bracket to the bike at one of the frame cross members. The inset gives a more detailed look at the orientation of the brackets...

The two final parts that finish up the installation are the drain hoses for the filter/element case and the plenum. They come in two sizes, and while they may look similar, they're actually quite different

The longer hose is the plenum drain hose. It is has an internal foam filter

Foam filter. Remove this when using hose for drain on the filter/element case

Its primary purpose is to drain any gas that might somehow escape the carbs and splash into the plenum. The foam acts as a kind of barrier that lets gas out but doesn't let in a lot of air or debris, so that the correct pressures are maintained inside the plenum during engine operation. It connects to the plenum via this outlet formed into the plenum body where it's secured by an omega clip

It then routes down and through this bale on the frame, which it will eventually share with the battery vent

The shorter hose attaches at the base of the filter case and is actually no longer available; however, the plenum hose can still be had and, with a couple of mods, will work fine. Just cut it to length and remove the internal foam filter mentioned previously. The hose differs from the plenum drain in that it uses no internal filter; it's (obviously) shorter (@11"), and it terminates in a special tip that looks and operates like this :

This hose and tip are necessary because one of the functions of the air filter element stack is to condense liquid vapors from the blow-by gasses as they're being cycled through the PCV system (more on this in Part 2). The condensate (mainly water) dribbles down here and collects at the little tip; just squeezing the bulb opens a slit in the side that lets it all drip out. Nifty, eh? Now, because this is part of the air intake system it needs to be air-tight, and that's another thing the little tip does; it closes off the drain tube and helps maintain a negative atmosphere within the filter/element box, a condition that is necessary for proper functioning of the air filtration and crankcase ventilation systems.

So, the obvious idea is that the hose needs to be kept plugged until it needs to be drained. The biggest problem with this is that the fancy schmancy little hose tip demonstrated above is made of unobtainium, and is dang nigh impossible to find.  I managed to snag one through the kind auspices of a fellow forum member (Thanks, G-man!!), but what I originally had to resort to was a small plastic plug that fit tightly into the end of the drain tube and could be removed for draining when necessary...

It's actually a weatherstrip grommet from an early Corvair and is still available - here's a link: They're around three bucks for a pack of 10 (so you've got a couple left over. Who knows what use you might find for them).

Whatever works to keep the hose plugged. Meanwhile, the hose routes down through the same wire bail as the carb overflow tubes, as shown in the above pic.

Now that the airbox is mounted in the bike, the next step is to install all of the anti-pollution goodies, and this is such an important subject that I'm going to take a closer look at it.

To clear the crankcase of noxious gasses and acid vapors, the CB550 (and all of Honda's SOHC bikes) utilizes a system known as crankcase "evacuation" as opposed to crankcase "ventilation". The crankcase isn't ventilated like a normal engine; there's no inlet for air to get into the case and as such it's known as a "closed" system. It's pretty simple: intake air drafts over the opening in the element cover, creating a negative atmosphere in the case and drawing blow-by gasses from the crankcase. The biggest problem with this type of set-up is that intake volume and blow-by production don't always match - something the PC valve compensates for, and we don't use - which effects efficiency and tends to make the fuel/air mixture run rich; a condition that Honda's engineers took into account and designed for. There's no PCV valve or flame arrestor because that big 'ol plenum sitting out there with all of that airspace acts to homogenize the vapors more evenly with the incoming air stream, and to dissipate back-fires or fuel vomiting from the carbs.

Now, in the past, these gasses were merely vented out into the atmosphere via a "Road Draft" tube.

The official Honda designation for this collection of parts is the "Blow-by Gas Scavenging Device", and this is a drawing of it purloined directly from the Honda shop manual (find this in your Chilton's).

The first thing we'll look at is actually no. 2 on the list; the Breather tube. In the CB500 and other bikes this was used as the road draft tube, and simply extended from the breather cover, down past the overflow tubes, terminating just below the bottom of the engine. Honda took it and attached it to an air filter case modified to contain a crude catch can (5), where a series of filters refines the blow-by gasses to a more combustible form

The hose connects at the breather, then extends down between carbs 3&4 to this little plastic "elbow" at the base of the air cleaner/element case

But all of the action actually starts with something they call the "Element Cover" (10). It comes in the form of an inverted funnel: a cone with a boxed lip surmounted by a short tube that extends into the center of the air filter element. A metal "cage" surrounding the funnel acts as a support for the air cleaner element. Underneath, there's a plate that fits over the cone that is perforated with a series of holes that let the gasses pass through from the rest of the system

Element Cover

The element cover is important because it supplies the motive power for blow-by scavenging, and it's been carefully calibrated for the purpose. Like the road draft tube of old, it's the venturi effect of the onrushing intake air over the top of the tube that pulls the bad stuff from the crankcase via the Breather tube (2 - which I've just installed). Those vapors, starting out hot and moist deep inside the crankcase, travel up through the cam chain "chimney" and are gathered in the breather cover, where a combination of baffles help remove any heavy oil contaminants from the gasses and return them to the engine. The vapors then move up through the breather cover and are compressed into this long, narrow tube until they reach the separation chamber at the base of the air cleaner/element case. Once there, rapid re-expansion of the gasses, the sudden slowing of the rate of vapor travel and the relative coolness of the chamber cause water and vaporized oil to condense out of the emissions. The gasses are then pulled upwards into the Seal Plate (7), which consists  of a small rectangular metal cup covered by a plate that has a series of holes punched into it similar to the element cover, but smaller and more numerous; and it's called the "Punching Metal" (8 - gotta love the Japanese) -  AKA separator plate, condensation plate, etc.. The gasses move up through two small openings in the bottom of the seal plate and more oil and water vapor condenses on the punching metal, where it drips down into the separation chamber and then on to the drain (6).

Seal Plate and Punching Metal 

Now, here is as good a time as any to focus on why that drain needs to be kept plugged. The element cover is essentially a vacuum collector, and it doesn't care where it gets its input. In order to positively clear the crankcase, all of the suction created in the element cover needs to be directed at the incoming gasses from the breather tube. With the drain open, some (or all) of that vacuum can be diverted to pull fresh air into the system through the drain hose, rather than working to clear the crankcase; and at the very least, the efficiency of the entire scavenging system is compromised. Two Tired put it (very well) this way:  "The breather system needs to evacuate the engine crankcase.  An open bottom hose will bypass/equalize any suction sourced in the air filter box that was intended for the crankcase.  Think of a "Y" shaped drinking straw, with only one end in the fountain drink.  Unless you suck REALLY hard, you'll stay thirsty." 

Bottom line: if you don't plug the hose, you really suck (air, that is). It should be cleared at every oil change.

The seal plate just fits down into the air cleaner case with the two holes oriented downward and the "Punching Metal" facing up

The next step in the process is the wet filter (9). A 3" X 4" X 1/4" sheet of medium-density open-cell Polyurethane foam called "Element B". It sits in the little box formed on the bottom of the element cover and is sandwiched between the punching metal and the element cover plate described above. The foam element further refines the blow-by by removing any remaining water or oil vapor that might have made it past the seal plate and punching metal; the wet process also helps neutralize any acidic vapors before they enter the carb intake. The Honda Shop Manual says this should be cleaned with solvent, then dipped in ATF and wrung out for use just like the foam filter on your lawn mower.

All of this is kept separate from the rest of the filter case by a rubber U-channel seal (present but not indicated on the drawing; even Honda leaves stuff out) that fits around the element cover "box" where the foam element lives. It slides onto the stamped metal lip of the funnel, encircling it and sealing off the air filter chamber. Just like the plug for the drain, it helps insure that all of the vacuum being generated by the element cover is directed towards evacuating the crankcase, not being used to pull in extraneous air from the filter box. In addition, the seal acts as a buffer between the punching metal and the base of the element cover "box" so that they don't slide against each other.

Here's the element cover with the filter and seal in place.

It's installed down over the seal plate

Now, the element cover seal is nearly as elusive as the aforementioned drain bulb. I managed to snag two from "Box-O-Parts" auctions on ebay, but I was considering using a dense foam weather-strip wrapped around the base of the element cover before I found them. The important thing is to keep the condensation chamber (catch can) in the bottom of the filter case isolated, so if you can't come up with the proper rubber part, you might give the foam a try...  EDIT: Due to the efforts of various members of this forum, this important little seal is now being reproduced and may be had at this link: . Clauss also has the elusive front air filter box cover (see below) as well as quite a few other hard to find rubber parts. Check him out.

At last, we come to the final step in the process. The blow-by gasses, now properly conditioned for use by the engine (like drinking water on the International space station; it comes from recycling... well.. never mind) flow up into the element cover, gathering speed as they move into the ever-narrowing space at the top of the cone.  Now, because of where it sits in the intake airflow, the element cover is considerably cooler than the rest of the scavenging system, so as the vapors enter the top of the cone they begin to swirl and make contact with the body of the element cover, creating yet another filtering step as any stray oil or water vapor is filtered from the gasses via centrifugal force and condensation. The gasses then move up through the calibrated funnel tube to erupt like Vesuvius into the airstream being pulled in through the air filter (Element A). Honda says that the gasses are further filtered at this point, but the truth is that once they get here they don't hang out to chat; they're drawn directly into the gaping maw of the plenum with the rest of the intake air.

Incidentally, part of this will become blow-by once more, thus completing the great karmic cycle of sunrise and sunset, birth and death, summer and winter, fuel and blow-by...


Here, the air filter is installed. There's a hole in the bottom of the filter frame that slides down over the element cover tube (don't get me started, now...), and the filter rests on a large foam washer that sits atop of the element cover, through which the tube protrudes. Once the filter is in position, it's locked there by this little metal spring clamp (11) that simply slides into a slot formed into the rear case "nose"

At the front of the filter case, this rubber cover keeps water from entering the system during wet conditions. It has a channel molded into it that fits down over the case "nose" and holds it in place. This elusive part is now being reproduced; see above for a link

With the air cleaner mounted, we finish the BGSD installation with the tool tray/air cleaner cover. It's important to have this installed because we want the incoming air to be concentrated around the a/c opening; like everything else, it has been calibrated to work with the rest of the system in specific ways, so leaving it out disrupts the over-all flow and lets too much air in from too many directions for the element cover siphon tube to work correctly; not to mention the fact that it will cause the engine to run on the lean side...

So, here's a shot of the completed carb installation

« Last Edit: April 12, 2017, 06:31:36 pm by SohRon »
"He slipped back down the alley with some roly-poly little bat-faced girl..."

Assembling my '74 CB550:
Assembly of the Right-hand Switch (a rebuilder's guide):
Installing stock 4X4 exhaust: CB500-CB550 K:
CB550 Assembly Manual:,151576.0.html

Offline SohRon

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Front Brake
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2015, 07:41:51 pm »
Here is a layout of the major components (excluding the rotor): moving from right to left (sorry... no especially fancy words for that that I know of) we have the Master Cylinder, complete with lever, hose "B" and boot; next is the three-way "joint" with pressure switch and hose "A"; below that are the caliper adjustment "bolt" and spring, the joint attachment bolt with clip, and a brake connection "Banjo" bolt with crush washers; next to that we have the front and rear caliper (calipers "A" and "B', respectively) with pads, the caliper hanger, and the two big caliper bolts; finishing up with the caliper hanger attachment bolts, the rigid brake pipe and the disc splash guard

Now, if you've been following along you'll notice that some of the above indicated parts (hanger and splash guard) have already been installed with the fender. That simply leaves us with just that much less to fiddle with during this session. And, are we happy about that? Yes, we are...

I began by installing the 3-way joint; it fits up against a stop on the bottom steering yoke and is connected with a single bolt. For what appears to be such a simple component, it's actually sort of complicated. Here it is with all of its parts:

At right is the brake light pressure switch with its associated crush washer and wiring harness; at bottom is a Banjo bolt and crush washers; to the left we have the mounting bolt and a clip that will help route the speedo cable when we get to that. Finally, we have a second banjo bolt with washers (note that the actual "Banjo" is the fitting at the end of the brake line...
Banjos the above bolt is the "internally relieved" bolt that connects it to the system; hence, the term "Banjo bolt")...

Whatever. As I mentioned, the 3-way joint fits on a bracket formed into the lower yoke

Next, I attached the lower brake hose (hose "A") to the bottom of the joint with a banjo bolt; note the crush washers on either side of the banjo "head". The "neck" fits into a little slot formed into the "skirt" surrounding the hose/joint interface; it routes the hose toward the rear (inset)...

...where it curves down and back again toward the front. A rubber grommet on the hose attaches it to the fender via this bale...

The bale is pretty stiff wire, so it can be difficult to push the hose connector and grommet down over it. The method that worked best for me was to slide the grommet down onto the hose, slip the hose and grommet into the bale, then push the hose connector into position in the grommet.

Once the hose is in position on the bale, the next step is installing the rigid brake pipe. It routes down between the fork and fender; there's a little valley formed into the fender brace for it. There should be plenty of room here; if you can't get the pipe through, you've got the fender on wrong (see the fender installation post). I left it loosely connected to the hose in order to have some wiggle room when inserting the pipe into the caliper

With the pads pre-installed, the two halves of the caliper are attached to the hanger with two big bolts. It helps to back off or, better yet, remove the caliper adjustment bolt and spring while installing the caliper to the hanger, and make sure that pad "A" (moving or active pad with piston) is pushed as far into the caliper as it can go

The brake pipe then routes onto the caliper, where it attaches at the pipe inlet. I tightened down the pipe connector here, then finished up the connection at the hose "A"/pipe joint. The pipe needs to be able to move with the caliper without binding, so when snugging down the connectors I was careful to avoid introducing any extraneous tension into the system, and made sure that the caliper moved freely after the pipe was installed

Gotta love that POR-15 Chassis Cote!

Back at the joint, the girls were feeling frisky, so I dropped my... oops! ...Sorry! Wrong forum!!!  ...where was I... oh, yes; back at the 3-way joint the upper brake hose (hose "B") connects in a similar fashion as hose "A", and is routed upward toward the master cylinder. This hose has an interesting configuration in that one of the banjo joints is slightly bent (inset): this attaches to the master cylinder while the straight end connects here at the 3-way joint, as depicted

This leaves the final major component to install: the Master Cylinder (or MC). This is another part from the original bike, and I've rebuilt it and installed a new kit.   

The MC fits onto the bars using a clamp and it, like all the other bar clamps we've used, has one "leg" longer than the other. In this case, the short leg is indicated by a little punch mark on the clamp (inset). I installed the clamp with the punch mark (short leg) oriented to the bottom, tightening the top bolt first and leaving the gap on the bottom of the bar. The MC will have to be re-adjusted on the bar once the bike is all together and in running trim in order to maintain the correct fluid level; for now I'm setting it roughly in a position that will be conducive to bleeding and adjusting the brake

With the MC in place, the upper brake hose (hose "B") is routed up from the 3-way joint and installed. There's a rubber boot that covers the connection at the MC; I slid it down over the  hose, then attached the hose to the MC using two crush washers and a banjo bolt. I'll leave the boot off until I've bled the brakes just to make sure there no leaks here

Now that everything is in place, I went through all of the connections and made sure they were tight. I adjusted the pad "B"/rotor clearance to .006" per the owner's manual, then added fluid and bled the brakes per Two Tired's excellent write-up in the FAQ section. If you haven't read it yet, you should as it is invaluable...

After bleeding the brakes, I installed the rubber cover over the hose "B"/MC connection to complete installation of the front brake

Upper brake hose (Hose "B")

Lower brake hose (Hose "A") and brake pipe connection

The main thing I was concerned with during the installation, particularly the rigid brake pipe, was that the system remain as neutral as possible. It's important for proper retraction of the caliper and pads that the caliper arm able to move freely and not be forced to one side or the other due to a twisted hose or connection. Bleeding and adjusting the brake is enough of a PITA without fretting over the mechanicals, so it's best not to hose up your connections! Har, har! Get it? "Hose up your"...

Fine. Be that way.   ::)

With that, I'll bring this session to a screeching halt    ;D ;D ;D
« Last Edit: September 18, 2015, 09:20:08 pm by SohRon »
"He slipped back down the alley with some roly-poly little bat-faced girl..."

Assembling my '74 CB550:
Assembly of the Right-hand Switch (a rebuilder's guide):
Installing stock 4X4 exhaust: CB500-CB550 K:
CB550 Assembly Manual:,151576.0.html

Offline SohRon

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Rear Brake; Kick Starter, etc.
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2015, 07:43:05 pm »
Here's the rear brake mechanism spread out for your perusal

Moving boustrophedonically (!) from the upper right, we start with the brake pedal itself. Next comes the pedal spring, then the actuator lever and shaft and the pedal height adjuster bolt, The brake switch and spring come next, with the brake panel/shoe assembly completing the row.

Dropping down, we have the brake rod adjuster nut, followed by the rod/arm "joint", then the brake rod itself along with the rod spring. Moving to the right along the rod we find the brake arm and the arm shaft seal and cover. At the far right is the "T" shaped brake rod connector pin with its associated cotter pin.

The bottom row begins with the brake stay swingarm bolt and its accoutrements of cotter pin, nut and washers. Next is the brake stay arm (in the flesh), followed by its brake plate mounting hardware consisting of a special "T' shaped bolt and "R" clip, a rubber washer, an 18mm plain washer and, last but not least, a nut to hold all of it together.

In addition, I'll be adding some accessory parts: the driver's footrests, the shift lever and the kickstart pedal

I began assembly by installing one end of the brake stay arm into its bracket on the swingarm. The bracket is a folded pocket attached to the swingarm with a gap just large enough for the tab on the end of the stay to fit into, then the shouldered bolt is run through

and secured with a nut, split washer and cotter pin, pinning the stay in place

The bolt attaches using the standard nut, washer and split washer. I chose to locate the 18mm washer on the outside of the bracket to try to save the powder coat from the ravages of a naked bolt head...

Next, I connected the stay to the brake panel using a special "T" shaped shouldered bolt that fits into a slot formed into the rear of the panel

There are a couple of styles of this bolt; later versions have a more standard hex head but still fit into the slot.

Once the bolt was in position, I installed the stay onto the brake panel in the following sequence:

At upper left is the panel with bolt installed. Next, the large rubber washer is inserted over the bolt. At lower left the brake stay has been installed, followed (in the last pic) by the mounting washer, nut and "R" clip. It's important that the stay arm connection be free to flex, so I used a washer with a small enough ID to fit over the threaded portion of the bolt but not so large that it slides onto the shoulder and locks the stay in place. Like so many of my ex-girlfriends, that stay rod just wants to be free...

Here's an overall pic of the assembled brake stay

Next: the brake pedal. I began this step by connecting the brake rod to the actuator lever with both parts off the bike. Trying to connect the two with the lever and pedal installed means crawling around under the bike and other undignified maneuvers, so it's best to get it all over with right at the outset. With the lever pointing to the left, I joined the two parts together using the little "T" pin (inset). Note that the curve of the rod connector is oriented upward. The pin is then locked into place via a cotter pin

Once this pre-assembly was done, I installed the lever onto the bike via a bracket on the frame. I copiously greased the inside bore of the bracket and the lever shaft, then inserted the shaft into the bore from the rear

Next, I fitted the brake arm to the brake cam pivot shaft. On a side note, it's interesting that this method of brake activation (a paddle-shaped cam forcing the ends of the shoes apart) is fairly unchanged from Renault's original patent of 1902, and is almost exactly the same (smaller but unchanged) as the brake mechanism in my 1926 Model T Ford...

Model T Ford Brake

The cam shaft extends from the brake panel; it's splined, but Honda left a raised "tab" as a locator for the arm and cover, both of which have corresponding notches that fit the tab

Before I actually fit the arm there are a couple of preliminary details to take care of. First, this felt dust seal is inserted over the shaft (below left) and into the little groove provided for it...

...then a special cover goes on over the seal (above right). This cover is marked with an arrow to help keep track of brake wear; as the brake shoes wear the arrow rotates closer to a punch mark on the brake panel boss, indicating maximum wear limits. Here's how it looks, shamelessly purloined from the Honda Shop Manual

The arrow and wear mark are circled

With the seal and cover in place I installed the brake arm

Two things to note about the above photo: first is that the right-hand chain adjustment bolt has been removed for clarity and, second, I fitted the brake arm by aligning the punch marks present on both the cam shaft and the arm (inset).

Now that the brake arm has been installed,  I rotated the lever until the punch mark on the end of the shaft was in the (roughly) 12:00 position...

...then slid the brake rod joint (the dowel-shaped widget inset below) into the hoops on the brake arm with the internal bore oriented horizontally; I dropped the rod spring down over the rod, then inserted the whole assembly through the bore in the joint, adding he adjuster nut to keep it all in place

Next in line is the kickstart pedal. I'll have to install this and the footrest before fitting the brake pedal; the height of the brake pedal is determined by the footrest, so that's gotta go in first, and it's just difficult to mess with the kickstart pedal after the brake pedal is installed, so I'm doing it like this. The kickstart is easy enough; I roughly aligned it in a vertical position, then slid it onto the kickstart gear shaft and bolted it down

The footrests come next. I restored these with new parts all the way 'round and a couple of coats of POR-15 Blackcote

My first step was to assure that the lower rear engine hanger bolt, which is where the footrests will be installed, was inserted evenly and that equal amounts of the bolt extended from either side of the frame

Now, this isn't just a rude gesture...

...the footrest mounts each have a little "finger" extending from its base. As the mount is fitted over the hanger bolt, this finger slides under a small post extending from the side of the frame, locking the footrest into position.

I slid each footrest into place on the hanger bolt, then secured each side with nuts, washers and lock washers, making sure that the nuts were tightened evenly so that equal portions of the bolt extended from either side:



While on left side of the bike, I added the gear selector lever. I installed it in a roughly horizontal position as there are no alignment marks; I'll adjust it if I have to once the bike is road ready...

Back to the brake pedal side, with the footrests and kickstarter installed, I reached for the brake pedal (finally!). First, I inserted the spring loosely over the lever shaft making sure that the long "leg" of the spring extended forward, with the shorter "leg" hooked into a notch formed by a frame gusset...

...then slid the pedal onto the lever shaft using the punch marks provided on each part (below, inset). Once the pedal is in place, the long leg of the spring snaps around the lower pedal arm and, voilĂ ! It's a brake pedal!

The final bit of assembly is the pedal height bolt. It screws into a small tab attached to the frame. I've seen it assembled officially by Honda two different ways: with the head pointing down and with the head pointing up, like it is here (and, I might add, the way it's shown in the Honda Shop Manual). The owner's manual has it with the head down. With the head on the bottom of the tab, the bolt is merely screwed completely into the tab, and the bolt head thickness is used to set pedal height. With the bolt pointed up there's a little more adjustment leeway, which is why I've oriented it this way

I adjusted it so that the pedal was 1/4" below the footrest, measured horizontally. Really, the determining factor is the lower hanger bolt nut; adjust the pedal height so that the pedal arm doesn't contact the bolt and you'll be solid...


And that completes assembly of the rear brake. If you're sharp you'll have noticed that I have not addressed the brake light switch. Never fear; I'll get to that when I install the wiring system and lights...

But wait! There's more!

Here's a little tip from MC Rider to help center the brake in the hub. It goes like this:

"[This is the] technique for centering the brake plate. You would have everything hooked up. The axle should be finger tight. Press the brake pedal, or run the adjuster up or whatever to activate the brake. That will center the plate. While holding the brake activated, tighten the axle. Now you'll have the best it can be."

That pretty well explains it. After completing this procedure I know that my brakes are the best they can be! Thanks, MC!

In conclusion, here's an overall view of the rear brake assembly, ready to do its thing. Just one more step towards completion

« Last Edit: September 18, 2015, 08:21:06 pm by SohRon »
"He slipped back down the alley with some roly-poly little bat-faced girl..."

Assembling my '74 CB550:
Assembly of the Right-hand Switch (a rebuilder's guide):
Installing stock 4X4 exhaust: CB500-CB550 K:
CB550 Assembly Manual:,151576.0.html

Offline SohRon

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Kick Stand; Exhaust
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2015, 07:48:16 pm »
The stock exhaust is fairly uncomplicated, but there are a couple of tricks that might help installation go a little easier, and I'll try to cover them in the post. While the following procedure may not be the only (or even best) way to do it, it gets the job done and, after all, that's what we're here for.

First step will be mounting the kick stand (or "side" stand, if you prefer). Here it is, all laid out with its associated spring, pivot bolt, nut and washer.

There's not much to it, so installation is pretty simple. First, the stand is located on its frame mount so that the hole in the stand "ear" lines up with that on the mount (below left)

I added a bit of grease inside the hole (above right), then inserted the bolt. The kick stand itself is threaded on the rear "ear", so the pivot bolt is inserted through the front "ear", then the frame mount, and is then torqued down tight, leaving part of the bolt exposed in the rear. The nut and washer are then added, locking the pivot bolt in place (below)

Note that Honda does not require the lock washer... I included it because, well, that's just how I am...   :D

Once the stand is mounted, the spring is installed. It has an interesting configuration in that the spring "hooks" are offset to the side of the spring coil, rather than extending from the center as in most springs, allowing it to sit fairly flat along the body of the stand (inset)

I've actually seen this spring in two configurations: one like that depicted in the inset, where both "hooks" are offset to the same side, and a slightly different approach where the longer "frame side" hook (or "eye") is centered on the coil, while the shorter "stand side" hook is offset, as can be seen in the above pic. I expect that this is simply a change between years, but either spring will do the job.

No matter how you approach it, installing this spring is, to put it in technical terms, an effing bear. There are substantiated reports of folks using coins between the coils to stretch the spring out to the proper length, but  I just hooked the upper "hook" to its mount on the frame (a short metal dowel - it has a groove near its end that the spring snaps into); then, using a good pair of vise-grips, I grabbed the lower "hook" and, with the application of some good old-fashioned elbow grease, moosed that sucker down over the stand mount -  a hook extending from the stand "arm"  about half way down its length. While it wasn't easy, it wasn't as hard as I expected it to be and, really, anyone with a couple of hairs on their chest should be able to accomplish the task without too much difficulty. I'm not knocking anyone else's technique; I'm just suggesting you try it this way before you go breaking into the piggy bank.

Some folks have reported successfully installing the stand spring by hooking it to its mounts on the lever and frame prior to installing the stand; the stand is then used to stretch the spring as it's (the stand) being positioned on the frame (pic #4, above). The bolt is then slid into position and Bob's your uncle. I tried it this way and nearly pulled the bike over onto myself; to be honest, I may not have given it the shot it deserved as there are those out there who swear by the method and find it difficult to conceive of doing it any other way... at any rate, it's something to consider.

A good side stand spring is extremely important. I was following a friend once whose spring was either stretched out or the wrong part, and somehow the stand managed to fall at some point during the ride (I had seen him raise it as we left the parking lot, so it wasn't a matter of him spacing it to begin with). As we went to make a left-hand turn onto the highway, that stand planted itself in the asphalt like a ski pole and the whole bike did a quick pivot around it before crashing to earth and skidding 20 or 30 feet down the pavement in a cloud of sparks and dirt. I was right behind him on the CL350 and had to do some fairly fancy maneuvering to avoid becoming part of the disaster. Needless to say (but I will anyway) the experience was not good for either the bike or the rider. It happened some forty years ago, now, but he still carries the scars to this day.

With the side stand installed, I turned my attention to the main course: the exhaust pipes. Here they are in nice, sparkly new condition with the mounting brackets and center stand cushion (inset) already installed

I got these from BikeBandit a couple of years ago and paid something like $700 - $800 for them; nowadays, since they're no longer being made, I've seen people wanting stupid crazy prices in the thousands of dollars for a set like this. At this point, they may be the most valuable part of the bike...

Here's a look at the hardware I'll be using to mount the pipes

From top to bottom are the exhaust mount "joints", below those are the joint spacers (or "collars"), then the four copper gaskets, the mounting nuts and split washers, the rear mount bolts, and the balancer tubes and clamps. Smack in the middle bottom, trying to remain inconspicuous but failing miserably, are the passenger foot rests, which I'll install along with the pipes.

I began by inserting the copper gaskets into the exhaust ports

These should fit snugly and hold themselves in place by frictional pressure; if they're loose and won't stay in place, check to see that you have the right gaskets or, more likely, the old mashed up gaskets are still in the port and need to be removed. Gaskets in the ports are a relatively common malady that can cause all kinds of mischief because it's not always obvious that they're still there; they kind of get squished flat and can appear to be part of the port.  The gasket area around the port should be flat with no ridges or steps. If you do find old gaskets in your ports, they're easy to remove using a flat-bladed screwdriver.

Now comes the fun part: installing the pipes themselves. I began by laying them out in order on each side of the bike. It's easy to tell which pipe goes where if you follow a couple of simple rules: first off, the mounting brackets are oriented inward toward the bike, so that'll let you know which pipe goes on which side of the bike; and, secondly, the balance tube flanges extending from each muffler should point toward each other, so that lets you know which pipe goes on the bottom (inside) and which on top (outside). The top pipes are installed on the outer cylinders (NOs 1 & 4); the bottom pipes on cyls 2 & 3.  Simple enough. The longer mounting brackets are installed on the bottom pipes, while the short ones go on the uppers...

Next, I "hooked" each header in the exhaust port openings so that the pipes were oriented roughly in the correct position. The flange on the end of the header is caught by the port opening and fins and will hold the pipe in place while it's being attached at the muffler

One thing to note about the above photo is that I've slid the joint for each pipe down onto the muffler so that it'll be ready for later. Once the rear mounts are attached, it's nearly impossible to get these things on, so now's the time to install them. They should be oriented so that the step in the joint "face" is pointing forward (inset). It seems like it would be a good idea to actually mount the joints onto the studs at the port, thereby aiding in holding the pipes in position, but doing so causes the pipes to bind and makes installation at the muffler difficult, so they're just sitting there for now, patiently awaiting their moment in the spotlight, all the while tossing out crude remarks about trains going through tunnels, ring toss, and other vaguely suggestive observations of a questionable moral character...

With everything in place, I inserted the rear mounting bolt (with washer) through the hole in the footrest bracket (below right, inset), then through the corresponding hole in the top (outer) muffler bracket (in this case, pipe #4).  Pivoting the pipe upward, I aligned the bolt with the hole in the frame mount "ear", then pressed it through, entrapping both the footrest and muffler brackets on the outside of the "ear". With the bolt holding everything in position, I prepared for the next step by installing the balancer tube and clamp onto the flange on the bottom (#3) muffler (inset)

This next bit is a real juggling act. As the bottom pipe is raised into position the header flange must stay in place in the port while the muffler bracket is inserted from behind onto the mounting bolt extending from the rear of the frame mount "ear". Simultaneously, the balancer tube is slipped onto the flange protruding down from the top muffler, entrapping the tube between the mufflers. It all happened so fast that I'm not really sure how I accomplished this feat, but I think I withdrew the mounting bolt until only a slight nub protruded from the rear of the "ear", inserted the balancer tube up onto the flange in the top muffler, and then pressed the bolt on through the hole in the muffler bracket. There's a bit of finagling to do in order to get everything into the proper position, but once it's there it's all held in place with a loosely installed nut and split washer (inset). I don't want to tighten anything down yet as I'll need some "wiggle" room for the next step

I began the final procedure by sliding the joints up the header to their position at the port. The collars are installed around the pipe with the flanged end toward the joint, where they slip into the "step" described earlier. The other end butts up against the flange on the header (inset). As far as orientation of the collars is concerned, Honda doesn't really specify how they should go, either vertically or horizontally; I've positioned them vertically after a forum member suggested they might drain water better that way... makes sense to me, so that's how I've done it

Now, the pipes will have some manufacturing tolerances to them and those big copper "O-rings" take up a lot of space, so when it comes time to slide the joint/collar/header assembly into place in the port not much of the stud is left exposed behind the joint for the nuts and split washers to fit onto. The trick here is to install the nuts, torque them down to specs, then remove them one at a time so that the washers can be added. You don't want to forget the split washers as they're a safety feature, and it's not a good thing to have your pipes coming loose in the middle of a run...

Right side complete; time for the other side, where it's "second verse same as the first" (and if you know what song that line came from and can even sing a couple of bars, you are old...)

The final step, with everything properly fitted, is to tighten up all of the nuts and bolts I've left loose, finishing up with the screws on the balancer tubes

And there we have it: shiny new pipes for the bike. Here's a shot of the completed installation

« Last Edit: October 01, 2015, 05:44:27 pm by SohRon »
"He slipped back down the alley with some roly-poly little bat-faced girl..."

Assembling my '74 CB550:
Assembly of the Right-hand Switch (a rebuilder's guide):
Installing stock 4X4 exhaust: CB500-CB550 K:
CB550 Assembly Manual:,151576.0.html

Offline SohRon

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Electrical Part 1; Rear Fender; Brake and Rear Signals
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2015, 08:13:27 pm »
So, in this installment I'll commence fitting the electrical system, starting with installation of the rear fender. I know this isn't necessarily an intuitive beginning, but bear with me and (hopefully) all will be made clear. Here it is with its associated mounting harware

At upper left is the inner fender (which I've already installed! Wahoo!). Next to that is the fender itself, rechromed by The Chrome Shop (and liberally doused with Boeshield, of course!). Moving down to the center bottom is the tail light / license plate bracket; then, to the left, the upper fender mounting bolts, spacers and washers. Last (but not least), on the right is the tail light mounting hardware.

So, before I install the fender, I'm going to do some preliminary work by fitting the tail light bracket. This would be bothersome to do with the fender already on the bike, so I believe it's best to get it out of the way right at the outset. Here's a shot of the bracket and its adjunct mounting hardware: four each rubber grommets, shoulder bolts and washers

I began by inserting the grommets into the holes provided in the bracket...

...the tail light wires are then threaded down through this rubber grommet previously installed

Underneath, the wires then run through this little tunnel welded to the bottom of the fender

The tail light bracket is then affixed to the fender using the shoulder bolts and washers, and the fender is now ready for installation

Oh, and one more thing: I'm going to do something I haven't done so far in the build - I'm installing the bike's first sticker. It's a warning decal covering tire specs, and installing it after the fender has been fitted would just be a pain, so I'm applying it now

Just the first of many more to come.

Now, the inner fender has already been installed as a preliminary step to adding the air intake system, but I wanted to include it here as it's a major part of the rear fender arrangement. With it in place, we can begin fitting the fender

Here's the fender mounting hardware: two 10mm bolts with washers (upper mounting bolts), two 10mm chrome bolts (lower fender/grab bar mounting bolts), and two special oval-shaped stand-offs

The little stand-off spacers are slotted, and they fit down into holes provided in the inner fender like this, with the slots oriented front-to-back

Like the spacers used in the airbox, these keep the ABS plastic inner fender from crushing and eventually splitting at the mounting holes.

Raising the fender into position, I then threaded the tail light wires up through another grommet installed in the inner fender...

...then positioned the fender in place between the two "ears" on the frame and installed the upper mounting bolts and washers. This turned out to be a major hassle in that it was difficult to insert the bolts through the mounting holes on the frame "hump", then through the standoffs and have the fender in the right place to accept the bolts. It was hard to hold everything "just right" so as to avoid cross-threading the blind nuts welded to the back side of the fender. What I ended up doing was to temporarily install the lower fender/grab bar mounting bolts just to hold the fender in place, after which all I had to do was pivot the fender into position and the top bolts inserted easily. I left them a little loose; they're just supporting the fender for now

With the upper mounting bolts supporting the fender, the next order of business is fitting the grab bar. Here it is, along with the rear turn signals and the signal mounting hardware

There are a couple of preliminary steps I undertook before mounting the bar. These two little grommets (inset below) are supports for the rear turn signals and, as they are a serious beee-otch to install into the brackets welded onto the grab bar, I took the opportunity to insert them now. They are two sided - one side has a smiley face, while the other wears a blank, befuddled expression; and there's a slot that goes around the perimeter of each grommet as well. The grommets are fitted onto the grab bar brackets with the blank side outward, while the smiley side faces inboard and chomps down onto the bottom rail of the bracket. The perimeter slot is pressed through the opening in the bracket and holds the grommet in place

Next, I removed the temporarily installed lower fender mounting bolts as well as the acorn nuts and washers on the upper shock mounts on each side of the bike. The grab bar then fits like a wishbone onto the shock mount studs; once it's in position, the shock mount nuts and washers are loosely re-installed, as well as the lower fender mounting bolts and washers

Once all of the nuts and bolts are in position, all are tightened to spec. The recommended sequence for tightening all of the bolts would be: upper fender mounting bolts first, then the lower fender/grab bar bolts and, finally, the shock mount nuts.

And, voila!... it's a rear fender!

The next order of business is to complete installation of the rear turn signals that began with mounting the grommets. Here's a closer look at the signal mounting hardware

At top are the signal mounting brackets; in addition to mounting the signal light stems, they provide grounding for the lights, and there's a ground wire soldered to a lug on the back of each bracket. These, like the grommets pictured just below them, come in pairs - though, unlike the grommets, there's a left and a right side. Also included in the above pic are two small tubular spacers, and two oval-headed screws that affix the signals to the mounts.

I started out by inserting the little spacers into the previously installed grommets. Each grommet has two holes molded into it, and the spacer is inserted into the front hole on the grommet (below left)

Once the spacer is in place, the mounting bracket slides up over it (above right). Things to note about the above pic are that the side of the bracket with the ground lug is facing inboard; the larger hole in the bracket is oriented to the rear; and the ground wire leads off toward the front of the bike. Orientation is the same on both sides of the bike

The wire for the signal light is then threaded through the rear hole in the bracket (below left)...

...then the signal light stem is inserted into the mounting bracket, and the whole she-bang is held in place with the oval-headed screw (above right)

Both the ground and signal wires are then gathered together and fed through this little loop welded to the back side of the grab bar (below left - shown here previous to installation for clarity)...

...then routed up inside the frame "ears" through this clip (above right) and through a gap that lies between the fender and inner fender. They are then routed through the inner fender wiring guides, along with the tail light bundle

...and, of course, all of this happens on the other side, too!

And, here we have it: rear fender, tail light and turn signals

« Last Edit: September 18, 2015, 08:25:18 pm by SohRon »
"He slipped back down the alley with some roly-poly little bat-faced girl..."

Assembling my '74 CB550:
Assembly of the Right-hand Switch (a rebuilder's guide):
Installing stock 4X4 exhaust: CB500-CB550 K:
CB550 Assembly Manual:,151576.0.html

Offline SohRon

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Electrical Part 2: Accessories - Coils, Battery Box, etc.
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2015, 08:16:05 pm »
 Here are some of the items I'll be including in the next couple of posts - I may or may not get to all of them now, but we can at least take a look...

At upper right we have the coils; to the left of that is the electrical panel assembly. Directly below that is the right rear upper engine hanger bracket (whew!) with its mounting bolt and washer. To the left of the hanger is the positive battery cable, followed by the battery box (with mounting bolts), the negative battery cable and, finally, the rear brake switch with spring.

In addition I'll be installing some of the following today

At top are the headlight bucket and the headlight itself, along with its wiring harness and mounting hardware. Below and left is the main (ignition) switch. then the turn signal buzzer. Moving right we find the horn with mounting bolts and tach cable guide and, finally, the front turn signal assemblies.

As I said, I'll probably not get to all of this in this post, but rest assured that I'll get around to everything eventually.

To begin today's build, I installed the battery box. I sandblasted the old one then painted it up with POR 15 Chassis Coat (now POR-15 TOPCOAT "Chassis Black") which matches the original semi-flat finish. Here it is after painting with all of its little parts displayed

The mounting rubber and "collars" (small metal tubes) are in good used condition from an ebay "Box-O-Bolts" auction. This next shot shows the assembled box with its mounting hardware and associated components. To the right of the box is the battery retaining band; directly below that is the negative battery lead. Then we have three mounting bolts: 1 8X100 bolt (with split washer, washer and nut); 1 8X65 bolt with washer; and 1 8X40 bolt with washer. To the left, completing the list, is our old friend the right rear upper engine hanger bracket. I've tossed that thing on and then ripped it off a couple of times before, but now is the real time to mount it. If I ever edit this build thread, I'll probably remove any mention of it 'til this step as it really isn't needed at any other time than now...

I started off by fitting the engine hanger bracket. It's installed from the rear of the downtube, the central hole fitting over the upper rear engine hanger bolt which extends from the engine; the bracket is loosely held in place with the 8X40 bolt which extends through the frame mounting lug into a nut that's been welded to the rear of the bracket

One thing to mention about the above pic is something we've discussed before, but bears repeating: All of the frame mounts here have been sanded down to bare metal front and back, and the engine has been relieved of paint as well, so that a good ground connection exists between the frame and engine. All of the exposed metal has been coated with dielectric grease in an effort to cut down on corrosion at these connections.

I then mounted the battery box into its spot in the frame. There are a pair of brackets welded onto the upper frame rail (below inset)...

...that the upper left "arm" of the battery box fits into. The 8X65 bolt (with washer) is inserted through the frame bracket, then through the "collar" that runs through the battery box mount, and into the rear bracket where it's attached via a nut welded onto the back of the bracket.

There's another mount on the lower right corner of the box, and it fits up against the hanger bracket, sandwiching the hanger between the battery box mount and the frame rail. The 8X100 bolt is used to attach the box; after running through the frame and box mounts it's affixed from the rear using a nut, split washer and an 18mm washer (inset below)

Installation of the battery box is completed by attaching the negative battery lead at the upper rear hanger bolt using a nut and split washer. Once the nut is torqued down, the cable is routed up into the box, ready for use.

Next peripheral to consider is the Electrical panel. I picked this up with a used wiring harness several years age on ebay. Don't know what caused the green corrosion you can see on the connectors - it's hard to say

I used good ol' fashioned brass cleaner and skinny files on them and they came out nicely with just some mild pitting. I stripped the panel completely down, sandblasted and repainted the carrier, then spent a relaxing afternoon refurbishing the wiring harness and all of the other little parts that make up one of these panels

Here's the finished panel. Front

and back

It fits into an opening provided on the left side of the frame using two each 10mm bolts and 18mm washers (inset below)

and, until I install the wiring harness, that's all she wrote on that...

Moving on, the next components to consider are the coils. Here they are with their mounting hardware: two 10mm bolts with nuts and washers, and two wiring clamps

As you can see, the coils are connected to each other by front and rear carriers that fit into the frame. The wiring clamps are attached at the breather cover and help route the wires for cylinders one and four; I'll get back to those in a bit. Installation of the coils is fairly straight forward. Both the wiring harness and coils are grounded to the frame via the front coil mounting bolt. Honda originally provided the ground path by leaving part of the frame bare at the coil mount; it looks to me like they just slapped some tape over the mounting lug before painting the frame. Here's a shot of the mount prior to refinishing the frame, showing the original ground relief (below left - this occurs only on the front left portion of the frame mount)

On the right, I've scraped away the powdercoat, emulating the original relief. The area of relief is slightly different on mine; in an effort to keep this bare patch as minimal as possible (Honda couldn't have cared less) I used the coil mount held up to the frame to delineate the actual mount contact area. I can always remove more powdercoat if it turns out to be necessary...

...and, of course, I'll smear some dielectric grease on this exposed metal before actually mounting the coils.

The coils are fitted to the left side of the frame utilizing the two 10mm bolts, nuts and washers, with coil 2&3 on the left and 1&4 on the right

The front bolt has been only temporarily fitted; I'll need to use it later to attach the main harness ground wire. I've fully installed the rear bolt, however; additionally, I've routed the HT wires to their respective cylinders, with the wires for #1 and #3 crisscrossing each other through the frame opening.

Now, here is where those little wiring support clamps come into use

The wires for #s 1 and 4 cylinders run back over the top of the engine before being directed toward each respective spark plug. I don't know why Honda did it this way... maybe to keep the wires away from the heat of the pipes... I just don't know - but this is how Honda's engineers decided it should go, so that's why we're doing it here. The little supports are attached via the two outermost bolts on either side of the breather cover and the wire is run through (below left)...

Click on pic to expand

...then the clamp is bent up over the mounting bolt, keeping the wire securely in place (above right). This acts to lift the HT wire so that it isn't lying directly on top of the engine. Here's a view from the top, showing how the wires are routed (#1 cylinder on the left)

With the coils in position, the next item on the agenda is the Main switch. Here it is with its related housing (aka "cover" or "Main Switch Bracket"): bolt, washer and mounting nut with washer

There's a little bracket welded to the left front down tube. The housing is positioned onto the rear side of this bracket via a "lip" formed on the backside of the housing (inset below) that fits into a slot on the bracket

The 10mm bolt and washer are then inserted from behind through a hole in the bracket into the housing where a nut has been welded into position to accept the bolt

The switch itself is then inserted into the cover from behind, and the big washer and nut are run up to hold it in place. There's a slot in the switch body that corresponds to a pin stamped into the housing face, orienting the switch into the proper position, so there's no chance of getting the it in wrong

I'd like to take a moment to give yet another thumbs up for POR-15 BlackCote (now POR-15 TOPCOAT "Gloss Black"). I painted these parts 3-4 years ago in a painting marathon one weekend at work, then transported them all back home in my old Summit wagon. Unbeknownst to me, this little cover slipped out out of sight and disappeared into the far recesses of the Summit's interior. I used the Summit as a work car and generally treated it like a pickup - we hauled sheetrock, paint supplies, trash and various other sundry items in the back of it. It was a nice little machine that came out about 20 years ahead of its time...

The upshot of the story is that when the tranny went on the Summit I decided it was time to part with it (one of the worst mistakes of my life... I loved that little PTV). While cleaning it out for the last time I came across the ignition switch housing packed down with all of the mud, crud and debris in the back of the car. It was covered in dirt, leaves, sand, fur and who knows what else; one look at it and I knew for sure it would have to be stripped and repainted. It looked like something that had dropped out of the south end of a northbound ungulate, then rolled in dirt and used as a kickball. I was sure it was a gonner.

I took it inside and ran some hot water over it and, lo and behold, to my amazement it came out looking much as it had the day I painted it. There were a few minor abrasions in the paint, but otherwise it was as good as new. It made me wish I had taken a before picture just to show the difference, but I had been absolutely certain that there was no way it could have survived its ordeal and I didn't bother. Wish I had, now. Turned out there was no need for repaint, and I'm using it just as I found it after cleaning.

POR-15 TOPCOAT... Tough stuff!

Moving on toward the front of the bike, the next order of business is this little item: The Dreaded Turn Signal Buzzer. Those who know how me will be surprised to see this here; it came with the bike when new, so it must be included in the build, whatever my personal feelings toward it may be...

It makes a racket that corresponds to the turn signals, reminding you and everyone else within three square miles that you have the turn signals on. For an idea as to how it sounds, picture the most annoying short-duration noise you can think of, then imagine it repeating itself over and over and over again as you sit in the middle of a sweltering traffic jam. Imagine drivers in neighboring cars starting to stare at you as you sit there with the sweat pouring down your back; and kids start crying and one little girl starts screaming "Momma, Momma! Make it stop!!!... and her mother, already driven half berserk by the din and the heat, turns around to shut the kid up and her foot slips off the brake onto the accelerator, sending her Hummer careening into a utility pole that collapses onto a gasoline truck refilling the tanks at a neighborhood Piggly-Wiggly; with the resulting fireball traveling three city blocks up the sewer system where it ignites and explodes a hidden pocket of natural gas that decimates an entire strip mall and sends a thirteen-story insurance building rocketing 1,473 feet into the sky before crashing back down to earth... in the middle of a poodle farm...

But, I digress... sorta

Seriously, though, I do have some objections to this buzzer. If you're driving defensively you won't need it; if you're paying attention to what you're doing while driving, then that light won't stay on for long. However, if you believe you have more important things to think about other than maintaining an awareness of your surroundings while riding a motorcycle then, yes... keep the buzzer.

It fits into this bracket attached to the inside of the left headlight "ear"

There's a square mount that fits into the hole in the bracket, and the "speaker" is oriented back toward the driver

The wire is then routed down through this wiring clip welded to the inside of the "ear"

For our final installation of the session (drum roll, please) we move to the front of the bike to the horn. I'll fit it using two bolts with washers, and I'll be installing the tach cable guide as well (the curvy wire thingie in the center bottom)

The horn mount sits out in front of the frame...

...and the horn is installed using the bolts and washers. The cable guide is entrapped behind the left bolt, fixing it in place

« Last Edit: April 12, 2017, 06:41:38 pm by SohRon »
"He slipped back down the alley with some roly-poly little bat-faced girl..."

Assembling my '74 CB550:
Assembly of the Right-hand Switch (a rebuilder's guide):
Installing stock 4X4 exhaust: CB500-CB550 K:
CB550 Assembly Manual:,151576.0.html

Offline SohRon

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Electrical Part 3: Wiring Harness; Clutch Cable
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2015, 08:33:29 pm »
In this update I'll be installing the wiring harness and clutch cable. They are mounted using the same wiring bands, so it's best to do them both at the same time. In addition, we'll fit the remainder of the peripheral parts

 Here are the wiring harness and clutch cable, along with the mounting bands, a "J" shaped wiring support and, to the right, the clutch switch with its mounting clip

To start the build, I'll mount the clutch switch into the left switch pod. This is a safety feature that allows the bike to be started only when the clutch is disengaged. After the clutch lever is removed, the switch wire threads through a hole in the lever mount...

...the switch being inserted fully into the housing where a small tab on the switch body (below inset) fits into a slot cut into the lever support

The clutch cable and lever are then installed, and the cable and switch wire are joined together with a plastic clip (inset) that keeps the two from flopping around in the wind

With this preliminary step completed, I turned my attention to the main wiring harness. It's a new OEM harness from David Silver Spares made by TEK, so I'm hoping everything fits and works as it should...

I started out by laying the harness roughly in position along the frame. Installation begins by removing the front coil mount bolt and inserting it through the large green ground wire lug, after which the bolt is re-installed (below left). Its important that this bolt is tight as this wire supplies grounding for the entire electrical system (all the green wires lead to here)

The coil and horn leads are then connected to the harness (above right). Note that the horn wire is routed behind the down tube rather than in front...

Once all of the connections have been made, they're held in position using this flat "J" shaped stamped aluminum hanger clip, shown here with a tank mount rubber

The hanger is concave at its mounting end, and is inserted down over the tank mount on the frame with the concave portion fitting over the base of the mount; this also orients the curve of the "J" inboard roughly toward the centerline of the frame. The coil and horn connections are then bundled together and collected inside the curved portion of the hanger (below left)...

...and the tank rubber is inserted down over its mount, holding everything in place (above right). On the "F" models, the wiring connections actually run under the frame and are collected inside a small box mounted beneath the coils. The "J" hanger is still used, but the curve is reversed and it acts to hold the wiring harness itself...

From here on out, the wiring harness and clutch cable will be mounted to the frame using stamped aluminum cable ties (Honda likes to call them "bands"). They're different sizes: the longer, wider tie, measuring 7X3/8", is referred to as "Band B1" (or simply, the "B" band); the shorter tie, measuring 5 1/8X5/16" is called "Band A2" (band "A") (below upper)

These OEM bands were originally coated with Rubber Dip (similar to Plasti-Dip). They're no longer available in this form from Honda, who has substituted a narrower band in place of band "B", and a black plastic band for the "A" band (above lower). Additionally, they've stopped actually dipping the bands in rubber dip and, instead, are now using wire sleeve in its place. I like this idea. The OEM bands are relatively easy to find in ebay auctions, but on most of them the rubber coating has deteriorated and is either pretty beat up or is missing altogether. Using Honda's lead, the original metal bands can be straightened and the rubber covering replaced with 7mm sleeving for the "A" bands, and 9mm for the "B" bands. Other clips and straps originally given a rubber coat can be resurrected using larger diameter sleeve, such as the wiring hanger and HT clips, which can be covered using 11mm sleeving (below)

At this point in time, this nice, shiny black wire sleeving can be found at "Vintage" for a reasonable price per foot.

To install the harness, I'll be following the wiring diagrams that are printed in the Honda Shop manual (find these in your Clymer's   ;)). Here are copies of the diagrams, once again shamelessly purloined from the manual (click on diagrams to expand to full size):

Again, it's stuff like this that compels me to urge you to pick up the official Honda Shop Manual. Clymer's is OK as far as it goes, but adding the Honda manual to your reference is like going up a click on a 3-way bulb: much more info is suddenly available. Download it or, better yet, get a hard copy you can actually fondle and smear grease all over!

The first tie we'll install is a "B" band, and it wraps around the front left downtube, capturing both the main harness and (behind the downtube) the horn sub-harness

Now, if you're following a parts fiche it might indicate an "A" band in this location. Fact is, one of them just isn't long enough to reach around the tube and wiring bundles, so I'm fitting a "B" band here. There are a couple of other places where I will deviate from the fiche - you can decide for yourself if I'm wrong or not.

The next tie is installed farther down the frame and wraps around the "backbone" behind the coils. It captures the main harness and ignition switch "dongle" as well as the clutch cable, so it really does triple duty. Unfortunately, neither of the bands is long enough to accomplish all of this on its own, so what Honda did was to take two "A" bands and splice them together (inset below) which creates a long enough band to do the job. Here it is on the wiring harness side, with the main switch already connected...

...and this is how it captures the clutch cable on the right side of the frame. The cable routes around the headstock in front of all of the other cables and wires (see above diagram), then down between the forks, under the tank mount and up to the top of the frame, where it's held in place by the wiring band assembly

Back on the left (harness) side, the harness tucks down under the frame "backbone" and continues on toward the back of the bike. When it reaches the electrical panel triangle several things happen at once: the harness kind of "dives" down under the cross brace and routes along the top of the electrical panel, where it's held in position using a couple of "A" bands: the first routes down through a hole stamped into the frame gusset...

...while the second band supports the harness farther down the frame tube, just before the frame brace.

At this point, all of the connections to the electrical panel are made. The connectors for the fuse box and SSM tuck away behind the panel, atop the inner fender. Something to note in the bottom left portion of the pic is the stator sub-harness and the starter motor lead, which come up off the engine. The stator harness routes in front of the downtube while the starter lead snakes around behind, and both are fixed in place with an "A" band.

Meanwhile, a wiring extension takes off at a tangent from the main harness and routs under the frame gusset to the right side of the bike. Here's a blow-up from the routing diagram that demonstrates this (dotted lines)

It carries wiring for the brake pedal switch and the ignition points. Once in position, it and the clutch cable are secured to the frame via a "B" band that wraps around the frame tube and through another hole in the frame gusset

Here's a shot from above, showing the bands and their locations; compare it to the diagrams above. At top is the "B" band holding the clutch cable and wiring harness extension, while at bottom we have the two "A" bands holding the main harness in position

Something else to notice in the above pic is the positive battery cable (on the right). It's connected to the solenoid, then extends across the bike between the air box and rear inner fender to the battery box.

Next, I installed the rear brake switch and spring. The switch fits down into a mount welded onto the downtube, and the spring connects to a tab on the brake pedal

The switch wiring is routed around in front of the downtube and, along with the points leads from the engine, are connected to the harness extension (below inset). The connections are then covered with a rubber shield, and the whole assembly is tucked away between the battery box and air box where it's held in position with an "A" band around the frame tube

Still on the right side of the bike, the clutch cable snakes down between the intakes for cyls 3 and 4 and connects with the rear engine mount at a curled section of the mount formed to accept it. The cable shield threads fit down into the mount, where it's held for adjustment by the lower adjuster nut, while the cable itself attaches to the clutch lever via a clevis on the end of the lever

Once the cable is attached, the clutch mechanism is given a "preload" by turning the clutch adjuster screw on the clutch cover in a counter-clockwise direction until the marks punched into the actuator lever and the clutch cover are in alignment (above inset). This forces a long lever inside the clutch cover to make contact with the clutch rod; final adjustment is then made using the adjusters on the cable and at the lever on the handlebar.

Here's a shot of the clutch cable installation. Notice the fairly exaggerated "hump" between the cable ties. It should reach to the center of the frame (and a bit beyond) when the cable is laid flat against the frame. It's covered by the tank and insures smooth operation of the clutch mechanism.

Returning to the left side of the bike and the wiring harness, the "tail" of the harness routes up between the rear frame brace and the inner fender. There's a rubber boot that fits over the connectors; you'll want to install it before routing the harness as it's a major PITA to try to install once everything is in place. Talking from experience, here...

Once the connectors are routed, the wiring harness installation is completed by making the tail light and rear turn signal connections

And here is a shot of the installed main harness

« Last Edit: September 18, 2015, 08:35:46 pm by SohRon »
"He slipped back down the alley with some roly-poly little bat-faced girl..."

Assembling my '74 CB550:
Assembly of the Right-hand Switch (a rebuilder's guide):
Installing stock 4X4 exhaust: CB500-CB550 K:
CB550 Assembly Manual:,151576.0.html

Offline SohRon

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Electrical Part 4: Throttle; Gauges; Headlight; Front Signals
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2015, 08:41:09 pm »
Here are the throttle components all laid out for your perusal

Shown above are the grip, throttle tube, the push and pull cables and, kind of in the middle right, a little assembly of parts known as the "Throttle Adjuster Screw" that appears only on the '74 model CB550.It's a real curiosity and, in fact, it's where I'll begin the install.

Here are the parts that make up the "Throttle Adjuster Screw": a screw, spring and a small half-moon shaped flat spring. It resides in the throttle section of the throttle/switch pod. After the switch pod is opened, the moon-shaped flat spring fits down into a recess in the bottom of the switch case with the curve oriented toward the throttle pipe (below, lower right), and the screw and coil spring are inserted from underneath, making adjustment of the flat spring possible (below, upper left). The moon-shaped spring should be covered with a film of grease, not shown here for clarity

There has been a lot of speculation in the forums as to exactly what this is, ranging all the way from a cruise control to a grip stabilizer. I've been told it's used to keep the engine at specific RPMs during tune-up procedures (which is entirely possible); others like to use it to keep a balky engine running during warm-up. Here's what HondaMan (a veteran Honda mechanic) has to say:

"Back in [the day], I heard lots of 'reasons' for it, the most common being that the bellcrank carbs have such a strong spring that it was (is) indeed difficult to hold 75 MPH for a long ride. Honda worried that it needed the strong spring in case the throttle slides get sticky, while the PR Department worried it was too much for the 'average' rider. It was too much for me: the whole first year I had my K1 I used the screw on "slow drag assist' all the time while my right arm grew enough to return tennis balls in matches against the school champs (without ever actually practicing...). When I got the K2 and found the spring to be even STRONGER, I immediately removed it, stretched it to 9" length, then put it back in. It's still that way. :D

Chopper riders of the era simply took the spring off and threw it as far as they could...then the DOT made Honda remove the Throttle Stop Screw altogether in late 1973. It was just another government buttinski move against Honda in those days.

It did spawn a whole industry of throttle assist devices, though."

Here are a couple of pages from the CB750 Shop Manual that explain its use a little more technically:

It's not really suggested for use as a cruise control and, in my humble opinion, you're "cruising" for a Darwin Award if you do; it's too fussy and awkward to fiddle with while in motion and just isn't practical. As HondaMan said, there's a "whole industry of throttle assist devices" out there to choose from specifically aimed at the task.

Back to business. With the Throttle Adjustment screw installed, I turned to the throttle pipe and cables. The grip is fitted onto the throttle pipe, which is then mounted to the handlebar. The bar should be lightly greased - especially at the open end that fits into a "pocket" in the OEM grips - to ensure smooth travel of the throttle pipe. With the pipe and grip in place, the cables can be added.

Here's a close-up of the cables (the ends, at least). Below left are the bar end connectors - the "pull" cable on the left and the "push" cable on the right. The "pull" cable is adjustable while the "push" cable is not

Above right, we have the carb end connections with, once again, the "pull" cable on the left and the "push" cable on the right. Again, the "pull" cable is fully adjustable while the "push" cable is mounted solidly in place...

I'll begin the installation with the "pull" cable. The cable shield fitting is threaded and screws into the front hole in the lower switch housing, where it's locked in place with a nut; I'm leaving it loose for now to aid with cable routing. I threaded the fitting in about a third of the way to set a preliminary adjustment; I can then move it in or out as needed as I progress with fitting the cable.

The "push" cable is positioned next; it's inserted into the switch body and is held in place via a threaded ferrule that's part of the cable fitting. Again, I'm leaving it loosely attached for now; once everything is in place and working correctly, I'll run up the ferrule until it's snug

Now that the cables are attached the ends are inserted into the throttle pipe

I've added a bit of grease to the cable ends to ensure smooth operation of the cable within the throttle pipe guides. With everything in place, I installed the switch cover and buttoned the switch pod up using two screws

So, here's where the real fun begins and, of course, I'm referring to cable routing. The first step, before doing anything else, is to make sure that the carbs are free and snap back from an open to closed position on their own. Just lift the bellcrank and let it snap shut. Reports of sluggish throttle response can sometimes be traced to sticking slides or a stretched return spring, so it's a good idea to test them out before getting the cables involved.

After verifying correct functioning of the carbs, the throttle cables are ready for routing. The main thing to remember is that they run pretty much behind everything. Once the cables are connected at the throttle, they're routed toward the left where they dive down between the gauge mounts on the upper steering yoke

Note that the cables run behind the brake hose and handlebar wiring and, at this point, I've oriented the "pull" cable to the top (outside). As the cables make their way around the headstock they cross and their positions are reversed so that the "push" cable is on top as they're routed under the tank mount, past the wiring harness and between the coils. The "pull" cable is actually a bit longer than the "push" cable in order to accomplish this routing...

...which is necessary to minimize the angle the "push" cable has to take as it plunges downward to the bellcrank stay. Having the "pull" cable on top at this point can force the cables to form a sharply angled "Y" at the bellcrank which has the potential for both interfering with cable movement and shortening the life of the cable

With the cables in position (the "push" cable is installed first) I adjusted the throttle according to the manual, then tightened all of the loose nuts down. I tested throttle movement by moving the handlebar from lock to lock, making sure the throttle snapped closed in all positions - especially in the full right hand position, as that puts the most strain on the throttle cables.

On to the next order of business, which is installation of the gauges. Here they are in an exploded view along with their mounting hardware. At left top are the gauges (or clocks, if you prefer), fully restored. Below them are the gauge cushions and the gauge mount "pans" (aka "cans")

On the right, at the top, is the gauge mounting bracket followed by the bracket mounting hardware: two each nuts, split washers and plain washers. Next, we find the hardware for mounting the gauge pans to the bracket: four each washers, split washers, nuts and mounting bolts. All of these nuts, washers and bolts (including the bracket mounting hardware) were originally anodized or Japanned black at the factory; I hit them with a shot of POR-15 Blackcote and they look good as new.

Below those is a grouping of several small rubber grommets. On the left is the grommet for the speedo trip-meter knob, then two lighting sub-harness grommets, followed by four mounts that fit between the gauges and gauge mount pans. At the bottom are four each chrome washers and acorn nuts that are used to mount the gauges to the pans. And, finally, to the right are the lighting wire sub-harnesses.

Assembling all of these parts into an operational gauge cluster is pretty straight forward, so I'm not really going to get into it here. I do have a couple of pointers I'd like to share, though...

When I dis-assembled these gauges initially, three out of the four gauge mount bolts were loose and fell out of the pans as I withdrew the gauges. They're meant to be captured by a couple of small tabs inside the pans; this makes removing and installing each gauge to the gauge bracket easier. My particular bolts either didn't get properly swaged in at the factory or loosened up with use over the years, so I refit them before re-installing the gauges. It's pretty simple: install each bolt into its hole from inside the pan, then, using a pair of pliers, vice-grips or what-have-you, bend the smaller tab down over the bolt head

They don't need to be moosed down tight and immovable - in fact leaving the bolts a bit loose makes installation onto the bracket a little easier. They just need to be securely held in place so that they don't turn or slip out of position while the nuts are being run up.

And although it's not apparent at first glance, the foam cushions do actually have a specific orientation. Flip them over take a look; there are two small square sided grooves opposite each other on the cushion "ring", one at the top, and one on the bottom. Since the cushions are symmetrical from top to bottom, by aligning either groove with the drain hole in the bottom of the pan you can be sure you've got the cushion installed correctly.

Finally, after assembly of all of the components is complete, the sub=harnesses from each gauge are criss-crossed across the back of the gauge mount bracket and held in position by a metal tang attached to the bottom of the bracket

So, here they are: the gauges in their mounting bracket. Below that the speedo cable on the outside with the tach cable on the inside and, in the center, two each nuts, washers and split washers for mounting the bracket to the upper steering yoke

Studs attached to the rear of the bracket slip into two mounts formed onto the yoke. All of the various wires and cables running between the mounts should be gathered together before installing the bracket so that nothing gets pinched between the two parts. Once the bracket and gauges are installed, the washers and nuts so helpfully indicated here by our little Seal-Point Tortie "Moosie"...

...are run up and torqued to spec (see the kind of stuff I have to deal with?)

Now that the gauges are in place on the bike, it's time to install the cables. I started with the speedometer by inserting the cable up into the speedo drive, then attached the cable fitting to the drive housing, coupling the cable to the gauge

The cable then routes down across the bike to the small clip installed onto the brake joint way back during the front brake procedure

This little "L" shaped clip is fitted with the leg of the "L" pointing toward the yoke with the cable running behind it, entrapping the cable between the clip and the yoke. (yeah, yeah; I know I installed it the other way 'round back at the brake procedure... I, um.., I just did it that way to... to keep it in the proper location with... an eye to reversing it when the time came... yeah, that's the ticket!).

Actually, that little clip is addressed nowhere in any of the Honda literature I have, the exception being the parts fiche for the bike. I became aware of it while searching the pictures in the owner's manual with an eye loupe, where I  saw it in the background with a cable running through it. Search as I could, I could find no other picture or mention of it anywhere. One more reason for the thread, I guess...

From the clip the cable routes down through the grommet installed onto the front fender (below left), then through this little wire guide mounted onto the fender stay (right), and finally it connects to the speedo drive at the wheel hub, where it's held in position with a screw (bottom)

Something to notice about the above pic is that I loosened up the axle clamp nuts and rotated the speedo gear so that it's perpendicular to the axis of the fork leg (in red). I then re-torqued the nuts, remembering to tighten the front nut first. This step completes installation of the speedo cable.

On to the tach cable, and it's fitted to the gauge just like the speedo cable was

After connecting to the gauge, the cable snakes under the bottom steering yoke and routes through the wire guide installed with the horn (inset below right), then on to the tach drive mounted to the head (below left)

Click to expand

And I like that base pic so much I'm posting an unadulterated copy of it here...

Click to expand

Sorry... just couldn't help myself...

Now that the gauges are sorted, the next items to consider are the front turn signals. Here they are with their mounting nuts and washers exposed

Installation is pretty simple; the wires and stems are threaded through the openings provided in the fork "ears", then the washers and nuts are run up to hold them in place (remember that it's orange on the left, light blue on the right)

Note that there are small dimples punched into each "ear" just behind the signal mount (above inset). Just align the "point" on the stem base "nut" with the dimple to orient the signals.

So, we'll need a ground for these signals, and that gives us a clean segue into fitting the headlight (smooth, right?). Here's the headlight support housing (AKA "shell" or "bucket"); it's one of the few parts off of the original bike that I'll be using on the build

I gave it a couple of shiny new coats of Rustoleum Painter's Touch 2X Gloss Black and it looks good as new. I'll be installing it using the hardware laid out below...

At top are the mounting nuts; these live inside the shell and are fitted with ground leads for the signals. Below them are chrome washers for the big mounting bolts, and two spacers. At bottom, on either side of the bolts, are two neoprene washers that aren't strictly standard, at least for this model. I picked them up at my local "ACE" in the "Large Neoprene Washer" section near the fender washers (below left)...

Using a dab of stick glue I stuck them to the inside of each of the headlight mounting "ears" (above right) in an effort to help keep the headlight shell in place and pointed properly down the road. They're not required; I just like to add this stuff because hey, that's just the kind of guy I am! Once the  headlight shell is in place they'll be invisible and, who knows? IIRC there's at least one model that uses something similar to this, so they may actually work!

As a preliminary step, I installed the spacers into holes provided in the shell (one on each side)

Installation is easy as pie: I gathered up all of the sundry wires and harnesses (don't forget the turn signal buzzer and front brake switch sub-harnesses!) hanging out at the front of the bike and threaded them through the opening in the rear of the shell while simultaneously raising it into position between the fork mount "ears" (opening oriented down). Next, I inserted the mounting bolts through the washers, the "ear" mounts and the spacers fitted into the shell, then secured everything using the special mounting nuts (below left inset)

These fit into a slot molded into the inner case wall so they can only be properly oriented one of two ways, either of which will suffice. Something to note is that each mounting "ear" has a small punch mark at its nose that indicates the centerline of the headlight shell (above right inset). There isn't a corresponding punch mark on the shell (at least the one I have), so it's simply a matter of aligning the punch mark with the centerline of the mounting "land" formed into the shell in order to get the headlight into the correct position

With the headlight bucket in place I got a stool, needle-nosed pliers, 000 steel wool and a pinch of Sour Diesel and, facing the bike straddling the front wheel, proceeded to make the final connections. I used the steel wool to go over all of the bullet connectors until they shined; then, using the needle nosed pliers, inserted each connector into its corresponding female counterpart until it clicked. There's a dimple in each of the female connectors that "clicks" into a gap at the end of the bullet "head"; you can have the connector partially inserted and not know it, so feel and listen for the "click" to make sure the connections are right.

« Last Edit: September 18, 2015, 10:08:35 pm by SohRon »
"He slipped back down the alley with some roly-poly little bat-faced girl..."

Assembling my '74 CB550:
Assembly of the Right-hand Switch (a rebuilder's guide):
Installing stock 4X4 exhaust: CB500-CB550 K:
CB550 Assembly Manual:,151576.0.html

Offline SohRon

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Re: CB550 Assembly Manual
« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2017, 06:45:42 pm »
So, I've updated the thread and am re-posting. All of the pics should be here; let me know if I've missed any. Also, I've unlocked the thread so that comments and suggestions can be added. Thanks for participating!
"He slipped back down the alley with some roly-poly little bat-faced girl..."

Assembling my '74 CB550:
Assembly of the Right-hand Switch (a rebuilder's guide):
Installing stock 4X4 exhaust: CB500-CB550 K:
CB550 Assembly Manual:,151576.0.html

Offline dukduk

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Re: CB550 Assembly Manual
« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2017, 06:36:22 am »
Pics not working anymore :(

Offline Stev-o

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Re: CB550 Assembly Manual
« Reply #15 on: July 05, 2017, 02:56:28 pm »
Pics not working anymore :(

Thanks to Photobucket. 
'74 "Big Bang" Honda 750K [836].....'71 Honda 750K project.....'76 Honda 550F.....K3 Park Racer!......and a Bomber! plus plus.........

Offline SohRon

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Re: CB550 Assembly Manual
« Reply #16 on: July 07, 2017, 09:22:01 am »
Looks like photobucket is no longer hosting free images and I'll be damned if I'm going to pay $400 a month for the privilege. I'm not sure what course I'll take with this thread as I feel it has been useful for many. It may be that I'll finally write the book I've been threatening to do, in which case the thread will disappear from the site, which will kind of defeat its purpose; that is to make the information free and easily accessible to all. I apologize for the inconvenience. Downloading the images to the site is an option I'll have to consider. Stay tuned for further developments.
"He slipped back down the alley with some roly-poly little bat-faced girl..."

Assembling my '74 CB550:
Assembly of the Right-hand Switch (a rebuilder's guide):
Installing stock 4X4 exhaust: CB500-CB550 K:
CB550 Assembly Manual:,151576.0.html

Offline dukduk

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Re: CB550 Assembly Manual
« Reply #17 on: July 08, 2017, 11:41:10 pm »
Don't they host?

Offline nergdnvlt

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Re: CB550 Assembly Manual
« Reply #18 on: July 23, 2017, 05:57:39 pm »
Hey SohRon, long time lurker... but the posts I continuously return to are yours. So in the midst of this photobucket debacle, I just wanted to say thanks for the resource while we had it. It was amazing. Wish I would've printed it to PDF. Anyway, thank you.
You don't always need a plan, sometimes you just need balls.

Offline dukduk

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Re: CB550 Assembly Manual
« Reply #19 on: July 25, 2017, 01:59:41 pm »
Frick I'm willing to chip in for his Photobucket, print to pdf damn never thought of that and I do it all the time at work :-[

Offline RAFster122s

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Re: CB550 Assembly Manual
« Reply #20 on: July 26, 2017, 12:20:42 am »
Check out this link...
Restoration Fan has saved our bacon by saving the thread as a PDF when the photos were live... It is on his Google Drive site and open to all to download.

A donation to the SOHC4 forum is always a nice way to give back and help fund this site. If Ron has a page where he could be compensated, that would be nice as well. I hope he does do the book as it would be a great resource...well worth the purchase price I am sure.  Color photos and Ron did a very nice job with the photos being very clear and good contrast.

It is post # 358
I think this link gets you there...,86697.msg1905666.html#msg1905666

So, do not lose hope, all is not lost.
David- back in the desert SW!

Offline dukduk

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Re: CB550 Assembly Manual
« Reply #21 on: July 26, 2017, 02:22:34 pm »
Sswwweet thanks, grateful for all

Offline rumpleblumpkinz

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Re: CB550 Assembly Manual
« Reply #22 on: January 08, 2018, 04:34:40 am »
Any chance of getting these photos updated?

Offline flatlander

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Re: CB550 Assembly Manual
« Reply #23 on: January 08, 2018, 05:24:18 am »
i made a PDF version of the manual, incl. all pictures, that scott s (moderator) placed somewhere on the site.
you can ask him for the link - and then please place it here for everyone else  ;)

Offline SohRon

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Re: CB550 Assembly Manual
« Reply #24 on: June 24, 2019, 03:18:08 pm »
Finally got around to updating this thread and now it's (mostly) back again. Hope you find it helpful. I'll see what I can do about the missing pics, but I think there's enough here to be of help.

'til next time.
"He slipped back down the alley with some roly-poly little bat-faced girl..."

Assembling my '74 CB550:
Assembly of the Right-hand Switch (a rebuilder's guide):
Installing stock 4X4 exhaust: CB500-CB550 K:
CB550 Assembly Manual:,151576.0.html