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Author Topic: Laminar's CB550 Cafe Build  (Read 37315 times)

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Offline Laminar

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Laminar's CB550 Cafe Build
« on: March 07, 2009, 04:53:18 pm »
I figured I might as well start a thread for my CB550. I bought it and an '83 Nighthawk 550 for $600 total. I was originally going to keep the Nighthawk and flip the CB550, but I'm starting to love it...it just has character.

Progress will come as time and funds allow - I'm working on the Nighthawk, completing a couple projects on my car, working full time, and trying to maintain something that resembles a healthy dating relationship, so progress doesn't always come quickly.

Picture!

First day:


I pulled the fairing and sissy bar off right away. The carbs are in pretty rough shape, but thanks to a member here I have a few spare components on the way!



The body was pretty dirty, but about 3/4 of a bottle of Simple Green got it fixed up after I spent a good amount of time vacuuming about 15 spider's nests out of the bike's nooks..









After (not 100% perfect, but at least 100% better):


 The exhaust is pretty strange - it appears to be straight-piped with some weird baffles bolted onto the tailpipes




After some time with a wire brush:


Both the front and rear brakes are frozen:


Two of the rubber intake boots are cracked:


I was pleasantly surprised to find the stock toolkit:


The stable:

« Last Edit: January 31, 2010, 06:06:58 am by Laminar »

Offline scunny

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Re: CB550 Rebuild
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2009, 05:27:50 pm »
looks like you are in for some fun there. keep an eye on your spark plug tool, they are the bees knees.
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Offline Ecosse

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Re: CB550 Rebuild
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2009, 11:05:35 am »
Major kudos for having the good judgment to keep the SOHC!

I could be biased though. ::) Points too for bringing one back to life.
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Offline DarkRider

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Re: CB550 Rebuild
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2009, 02:09:51 pm »
If im not mistaken the Nighthawk would be an SOHC as well.
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Offline Hush

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Re: CB550 Rebuild
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2009, 02:44:21 pm »
Quote: "I was pleasantly surprised to find the stock toolkit":
Mate under all that crud I would be pleasantly suprised to find the Titanic! ;D

D.R. is right, Nighthawkes come in SOHC and DOHC, they even come in 250cc models!! :o
I think the thing I most like about motorcycling is the speed at which my brain must process information at to avoid the numb skulls who are eating pies, playing the ukulele, applying make-up etc in the comfort of their airconditioned armchairs as they make random attempts to kill me!!!!!!!

Offline Laminar

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Re: CB550 Rebuild
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2009, 04:07:06 pm »
If im not mistaken the Nighthawk would be an SOHC as well.

True, but it's an '83, so it is a DOHC.

I'm replacing the alternator in my car tonight, getting my motorcycle license tomorrow, hopefully getting the Nighthawk running, then, funds allowing, it will be time for the CB.

Offline Laminar

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Re: CB550 Rebuild
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2009, 09:46:46 pm »
Well, quick update. I have the Nighthawk 95% done, I just need to pop in a new alternator and it should be good to go, which meant I had a little time for the '76. I got the carbs completely cleaned up and rebuilt, threw them on the bike, changed the oil, and put the tank back on, only to watch fuel run out of the vacuum vents and carb intake sides. I pulled every single float valve apart and personally scrubbed them out, so I'm not sure why everything's overflowing so badly. I did neglect to check float height, so that might be biting me in the ass.

On the plus side, after turning the petcock off and cleaning up the spilled fuel, the bike cranked a couple times and fired right up, it revved nicely, and felt and sounded like all cylinders were firing.

Offline Laminar

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Re: CB550 Rebuild
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2009, 04:26:59 pm »
The Nighthawk is 100%, but I'm putting a new clutch in my car, so I've had to put the '76 off for a while, but I got some time this afternoon to re-rebuild the carbs. I replaced all of the o-rings in the jets and float valves and replaced the float bowl screws. I also soda-blasted everything.

One of the float bowl screws managed to strip the threads on carb #3, so that one seeps a little fuel. I'll have to drill out and tap that, but otherwise the carbs are all holding fuel great, and it starts right up:


It's LOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUUUD. I was only revving it up to 5-6000rpm, I can't imagine what 9000 sounds like. The video would have been longer, but I felt sorry for my neighbors. This bike is definitely getting mufflers, I have a plan in mind for a totally sweet four-into-four similar to an XR1200. We'll see if that comes to fruition.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2009, 04:28:35 pm by Laminar »

Offline Laminar

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Re: CB550 Rebuild
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2009, 07:11:41 am »
Well, I did another oil change and unfroze the rear brake tonight, so I decided to take it for a little ride. Keep in mind that it has straight pipes, no intake filter, and stock jets, so I had to keep the choke on. I made it to the gas station, put in a couple of gallons, then came home, about two miles total.

I can't wait to get this bike going for real, I love it already.

Carbs 3 and 4 started pouring gas out of the overflow tube as soon as I filled up the tank. This tells me that either my float valves are leaky or my floats aren't floating well enough to resist the pressure of a full tank. I have new jets on the way, and tomorrow I'll be ordering a bunch of stuff - exhaust parts, filters, grips, etc. 

The rear shocks are pretty much worthless at this point. Is there any sense in rebuilding them or should I just replace?

The tricky part is that I only have one throttle tube between my two bikes, and I ride the Nighthawk to work every day, so any time I want to do something to the '76, I have to pull off the throttle tube. I ordered a new tube yesterday, though, so that will be less of a hassle.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2009, 07:13:44 am by Laminar »

Offline Laminar

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Re: CB550 Rebuild
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2009, 08:11:31 am »
Alright, I installed my new 110 main jets this weekend and it's running a lot smoother and a lot cooler. It did like to cut out if I gave it too much throttle below 4000rpm, but came back on like a switch was flipped, which means it's a lean condition. I adjust the air screws to 1 full turn out and it's much better. I'm still running filter-less until my pods get here from Switzerland, so I'm sure adding those will make at least a little bit of a difference.

The petcock is still leaking some, which I'm not sure I can fix because it's the plastic cone design. I might just have to get a replacement.

The carbs seem to be seeping a little bit of fuel, too. I'd guess it's a combination of bowl gaskets, fuel line tee o-rings, and leaky needle valves. I might be picking up some rebuild kits, but we'll see.

Offline Laminar

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Re: CB550 Rebuild
« Reply #10 on: June 01, 2009, 07:39:32 am »
Progress for the weekend:
- Installed clubmans
- Checked/adjusted timing
- Set valve clearances

Except now there's something weird going on with the wiring - pushing the starter button doesn't always engage the starter, sometimes I have to let off and push again. The problem isn't 100% repeatable and it didn't happen at all before pulling all of the wiring out to install the clubmans, but re-checking and cleaning every electrical connection didn't solve anything.

Offline Laminar

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Re: CB550 Rebuild
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2009, 06:10:57 pm »
My pods came today!



« Last Edit: January 31, 2010, 06:07:30 am by Laminar »

Offline Laminar

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Re: CB550 Rebuild
« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2009, 09:33:45 pm »
After receiving my care package from JC Whitney this week, my exhaust dreams were realized tonight.









I have some black exhaust wrap that will cover up everything until the tips, I think it will look pretty good.

All I need now to have a solid runner is a petcock that doesn't leak all over (any suggestions on other years/models I could steal a petcock from?) and a master cylinder that doesn't leak all over, even after a rebuild.

After that, I'll need a headlight bucket and headlight, some sort of side covers (I'm considered black diamond plate), and then it's on to fiberglassing a seat, then wrapping the tank in fiberglass. That's all I can think of at this point, minus a little bit of tuning to get the idle perfect.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2010, 06:08:12 am by Laminar »

Offline Laminar

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Re: CB550 Rebuild
« Reply #13 on: July 13, 2009, 08:51:23 pm »
Today was a really good day. I'd been experiencing some popping at idle that was reduced by properly adjusting the valves (and putting the exhaust valves at .10mm), but it was still present. Also, cylinder one was running very lean and four was running pig rich. Lastly, the carb bowls often had a film of fuel on them after a while.

I pulled the carbs off, pulled the bowls off, and disassembled everything inside. I managed to find one slow jet that was completely clogged and the other three had some buildup inside. I had soaked them all in carb cleaner but hadn't pushed anything through them until tonight. I took a B guitar string, sharpened the end with a Dremel and managed to push it through all four of them. I replaced one float bowl drain plug, and put new o-rings in the fuel tees. I re-bench synced the carbs (two and three were close, one and four were open too much).

After putting it all back together, the idle is now super smooth, no popping from any cylinders, it revs very very well, pulls in every RPM, there's no fuel leaking onto the bowls, and all four of the plugs are a beautiful tan color.

I also got my new rectifier and regulator in today from Oregon Motorcycle Parts. I installed those along with a new 6-pin connector for my fuse box connection. I cleaned every spade terminal and packed all of the connectors new and old with dielectric grease. I adjusted the regulator to read 14.5 volts at 2000 rpm like I was instructed, and my neutral light is almost blinding now that I've cleaned up the electrical system.

It was a good day.

Offline Laminar

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Re: Laminar's CB550 Cafe Build
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2009, 09:17:59 pm »
Well my entire place reeks of fiberglass resin. My first attempt at wrapping the aluminum frame I built was poor at best, I'm going to give it another shot tomorrow, hopefully stuff will turn out better. Pictures to come.

Offline captaincrash80

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Re: Laminar's CB550 Cafe Build
« Reply #15 on: July 26, 2009, 09:27:20 pm »
Progress looks good so far, really like what you did with the exhaust. Interested to see how the sidecovers come out. Any chances of another vid with that new exhaust and the tuning?

Offline Laminar

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Re: Laminar's CB550 Cafe Build
« Reply #16 on: July 27, 2009, 06:29:29 am »
The next video will have to wait until I get a seat made, I don't want to ride around seatless...
I kept meaning to get another video going up and down the street, but it was just so much fun actually riding that I never managed to do it. I might put some seat progress pics up over lunch.

Offline Laminar

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Re: Laminar's CB550 Cafe Build
« Reply #17 on: July 27, 2009, 07:36:55 pm »
Seat progress pics:

My goal was to make a cafe seat that utilized the stock hinges and latch. I started by building an aluminum frame:


My, how a welder and nice saw would be nice. Unfortunately, I have a jigsaw, dremel, and drill.


Making sure the taillight fits:


Mock-up with styrofoam and tape:


First layer of fiberglass:


Second layer on the seat:


Third layer on the seat, bondo on the cowl to make a smoother surface for the glass:


I'll be putting a few more layers on before cutting a hole for the light and mounting that. Then I'll have to do some glass and bondo work on the tank to make it pretty enough to match.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2010, 06:09:02 am by Laminar »

Offline Laminar

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Re: Laminar's CB550 Cafe Build
« Reply #18 on: July 30, 2009, 07:01:30 pm »
Good progress today. I cracked open the giant can of Bondo and went to town. Here's the results:

Last layer of fiberglass:




A couple layers of Bondo:




Hole cut for the taillight:


New wiring installed:


Looks good so far:




The only problem is that the round taillight makes it apparent that the seat isn't perfectly round...oops. I'll have to do a little more work on that.

Here's your exhaust vid:


A few things to note:

1. The tires are pretty old and not in the best shape. A quick downshift causes quite the squeal.
2. The new clutch cable is fantastic, I can shift faster than heck now.
3. The difference between partial throttle and WOT is very apparent in the exhaust volume. When cruising, it's content to burble along, but when I get on it, it roars.
4. My attempts to show off for the camera when re-entering my driveway made me forget about the dry pond and drive right into it. I'm cool.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2010, 06:09:46 am by Laminar »

Offline Laminar

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Re: Laminar's CB550 Cafe Build
« Reply #19 on: July 30, 2009, 07:14:32 pm »
And just to give you a rough idea of the light's relative brightness, here it is with my Nighthawk in the foreground and the CB550 in front of the Nighthawk.

Normal:



Brake light:


Now I need some LED turn signals and a license plate mount and I'm legal again.

Then it's time to paint the seat and tank and add some padding. I'm considering moving the battery to the seat pan and swinging the electronics panel up and mounting it to the bottom of the seat.

I can see the light at the end of this tunnel...
« Last Edit: January 31, 2010, 06:10:15 am by Laminar »

Offline Laminar

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Re: Laminar's CB550 Cafe Build
« Reply #20 on: August 01, 2009, 03:37:21 pm »
I went ahead and put the first coat of primer on the seat. I also started working on moving the battery to the seat pan and mounting the electronics directly under the seat so that it looks a bit more "stripped down." I still need to get a new fuse block. I ordered turn signals today, they should be here early next week.



Battery box and plastic inner fender removed:


Battery inside of seat pan:
« Last Edit: January 31, 2010, 06:10:42 am by Laminar »

Offline Laminar

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Re: Laminar's CB550 Cafe Build
« Reply #21 on: August 01, 2009, 03:42:36 pm »
I also started on the tank last night.

Adding the styrofoam:


Trimming it down:


Testing the tank-to-seat transition:


I can almost see it...


First layer of Bondo (gross):


Two more coats of Bondo, some (actually a ton of) sanding, and the first layer of fiberglass:


Really starting to take shape:
« Last Edit: January 31, 2010, 06:11:37 am by Laminar »

Offline Laminar

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Re: Laminar's CB550 Cafe Build
« Reply #22 on: August 03, 2009, 09:43:55 pm »
And today's progress:

Cleaned up the fiberglass edges:


Test fit:




Relocated electronics (I'm considering removing the chain guard to clean up the area even more):


A nice coat of Bondo over the fiberglass. I swear I'm going to add 20 lbs to this bike in Bondo alone:


Battery mounting bracket:




« Last Edit: January 31, 2010, 06:12:29 am by Laminar »

Offline Dave-and-his-550

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Re: Laminar's CB550 Cafe Build
« Reply #23 on: August 03, 2009, 11:35:18 pm »
Well it would be cool to see more progress on this bike, but I guess you're banned now? Or is that just a custom title ???

Offline Laminar

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Re: Laminar's CB550 Cafe Build
« Reply #24 on: August 04, 2009, 05:40:48 am »
Well it would be cool to see more progress on this bike, but I guess you're banned now? Or is that just a custom title ???

Custom title. Don't worry. There will be plenty more progress.

 

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