Old Faithful Gets What She Deserves—Frame Up Restoration for the CB350
My apologies for not posting anything recently on the blog. I was all set to start a new set of posts when a crippled Shadow VLX found its way into my garage. The owner has cancer and could not afford to bring the bike in to a shop, but was anxious to ride. I offered to take a look. The carb came in first, and I cleaned it up and sent it back thinking she would be back on the road, but this failed to solve the problem. Soon the entire bike was in the drive and rolled into the garage. A diaphram-operated petcock mounted opposite the carb was pulled apart which revealed a torn diaphram. Parts were ordered and soon it was time for re-installation, and what I was sure would be success. I turned the key to “ON” and got nothing—no headlight, no turn signals, no horn, no starter. After a week of chasing wiring ghosts, I had the battery load tested. (Note to self: always, always, always check a battery under load before checking anything else, even if the meter says 12.65 volts!) A new battery went in, and the old girl fired right up; there never was a wiring problem. Now with that little preamble out of the way, I am resuming my posting and my next challenge.
Old Faithful, my 1968 Honda CB350, has carried me all over the eastern and southern parts of the US and has done it with virtually no serious issues, until now. At the end of the Second Motorcycle Kickstart Classic Ride in Denton, North Carolina, I discovered the frame had cracked clear though, near the lower front right-hand motor mount. That mount was all that held the frame together, bridging the crack. A quick weld job got me home, but the incident convinced me that after all the other trips we had taken together, it was time for another journey I had put off for too long already—a frame up restoration of Old Faithful. When I got her to fire up and run right for the first time in over twenty years the odometer had read 5,700 miles and now those miles have climbed to 27,368. Yep, about time Old Faithful got the tender loving care she deserves.
Still Looking Good after 27,000 Miles.
I hope to post along the way the progress and setbacks I may encounter in hopes some of you, having a similar task in front of you, might learn from my successes and from my mistakes. The journey will be long or short depending on those triumphs or defeats and the challenges of funding the operation. While the CB350 is in pretty good shape generally, there are quite a few details that need to be addressed if I am to do an honest, original restoration.
The Areas Needing Attention on Old Faithful.
I really prefer “unrestored” vintage bikes which are mechanically sound, but externally “as found”. However, my previous less that stellar attempt at lining the interior of the tank had resulted in heavy scratching of the paint and dents. Added to that are dents in the fork covers, one of which was with Old Faithful when I found her and one, on the right fork, that I added in a misadventure we had attempting to load the bike on a trailer, on the side of the road, next to a fire-ant filled ditch, in the dark…well, you can guess the outcome. The result of all those mishaps is a need for a new paint job.
On my first long trip on the CB I had a speedometer that bounced so wildly I had to velcro a GPS to the handlebars to know how fast I was going. Over time, that speedo's problems got worse until, finally, it gave out altogether. Another one from a later model took its place alongside the original, but also erratic, tachometer. The plan is to either find someone who can fix these old gauges or new old stock (NOS) ones to replace them both.
Back when I started work on this bike I was having a hell of a time trying to get it to run properly, especially having both sides run the same. After much work pursuing carburetion issues to no avail, I discovered I had two different carbs on the bike. There was a 350A (the correct one and the first to be used on the CB350s) on the left and a 3D (from later models which also had different cams) on the right. It was a wonder Old Faithful would run at all with two dissimilar carbs, each with different fuel and air jetting, feeding the two cylinders. My initial search for a 350A was to no avail (except for a NOS in the box 350A I found at a dealer for the overwhelming sum of $450!), but I found a pair of 3Ds in a junkyard in Saint Petersburg, Florida, so they went on while I did my best to re-jet them as close as possible to the original 350As. They worked pretty well, but in this restoration I want to reinstall a matched 350A set for originality and performance sake.
Here is the right-hand side 3D currently on the bike. If anyone has any leads for a genuine 350A right side car I would be extremely grateful if you would pass that along to me. 350As, by the way, have a rectangular float, unlike all the later models which have round. The carb number is usually very hard to see, but is stamped on the right side of the carb on the outside, just in front of the slide chamber (intake side).
One problem I have run into, also, is that the oil drain plug has been getting harder and harder to take in and out, in spite of me buying a brand new plug from Honda. The plug hasn't been cross-threaded and doesn't leak, and I can see no aluminum on the plug threads, but for some reason it resists my efforts to remove and reinstall it. I think the drain hole threads will have to be chased with the appropriate tap to get this working freely again.
One other thing this bike has always been missing is the proper shift lever linkage. There is supposed to be a secondary lever with a connecting rod to the foot lever on this bike, but all it has ever had is a single shifter mounted directly on the shift spindle. I would like to put this back to its original configuration.
It's hard to see in this picture, but under the swingarm grease zirk, there is a shaft with a threaded end to which the original shift lever would have been mounted, while a linking rod would connect it to a short lever on the shaft, where the foot shifter is now located.
The luggage rack is rusting and needs rechroming, along with perhaps the exhausts, and I am sure other bits that will make themselves known as the disassembly proceeds.
Finally, and the reason this all got started, I need to clean up this weld and fix the frame properly and then repaint or powdercoat it. The engine will have to come out for this work, so it just makes sense to go ahead with the other restoration chores while the bike is torn down, and I now have the new Bonneville to ride.
Stay tuned as I start this adventure and post along the way. The Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club is having their 35th anniversary meeting and bike show in Winter Haven, Florida, just tens miles away from here in November of 2012. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Old Faithful can take her place in that show.
"Ride Your Own Ride"