Tag Archives: repair

Best to Listen

Zero hour inches ever closer. Soon it shall come and soon it shall pass.

I’ve moved out of my apartment and have been living with my parents for the past week. As wonderful as that is, I am now ripe for departure. Many loose ends have been tied up and yet still many remain left untied, dangling and loose, a testament to my legacy. No worries really, for they’ll be here when I return.

Or will they?

Time will tell.

Or won’t it?

Bah, enough of that; on to more pressing concerns.

My cracked muffler collar has been welded up, thanks to nycvinmoto connections and one Seth Rosko, who welded me up at this little shop in Bushwick and also hooked me up with a set of cb450 headers. Dude did a really good job. Weld was perfect. Mr. Rosko makes custom bicycle and moto parts for a living and races old motos in his spare time. He’s good at it. We talked bikes for a while and discussed the influx of technology and social media into the pantheon of man, for it is ubiquitous and all encompassing. I left inspired to create a flickr account, and then was reminded once more why it is so important that I leave this place as I plodded through NYC traffic in the steamy marroon cauldron that is my Buick Park Avenue for an hour and a half on the way home, the incessant beeping of the parking brake warning chime that has been stuck on for the past four months driving me to the brink of madness.

And alas, I’m sorry Seth, for I will not be using the headers. They require too much manipulation to fit and won’t seal up well enough to the exhaust port, with little puffs of exhaust belying leakage. It’s all well and good though as it will give me a chance to stop worrying and love the CB500T crossover box, which I have thus far so thoroughly maligned. I could try to fit them once more, but I won’t. It is too hot and I am not in the mood. I have come to realize that this is never a good state to work on your moto. Best to be cool and in the mood. Regardless, the CB has received enough attention and I’m already developing an unhealthy co-dependent relationship with it.  Look, this is just the way I am and I obsess over my machines. In the past week, I’ve spooned on a new rear tire, replaced all the wheel bearings, rebuilt the carbs, put in a new heavy duty front tube, and trued that front wheel. It’s as ready as it will ever be. I bought new coils for it, but I’m not going to put them in. I’ll throw them in the saddlebag in the event of failure and replace them on the road if need be. Fuck it, we’ll do it live. The CB will either make it or it won’t.  If you listen closely enough, the motorcycle Gods will whisper in your ear that if it isn’t broke, then don’t fix it.

Best to listen.


Present State

The CB500T presently sits, in all its glory , right outside my apartment window. I can just see the brown of its tank from where I sit typing this blog. Look, it just plain looks great sitting there reflecting the light from inside and I’m falling in love with this little beast all over again. I’ve been breaking her in again gently and my confidence in the vibrous monster grows with each passing day. She’s smoothing out and we’re gonna treat her to some more new parts. But first, lets do a bit of a rundown of what’s been done thus far:

  • new fuel filter
  • fork gaitors
  • starter clutch relegated to the dustbin of history
  • new sparky plugs
  • front break system flushed and gone through
  • wheels trued
  • new fork seals (well, 2009 new enough)
  • new (to me), more functional rear rack
  • LED voltmeter installed
  • new sprockets all around and chain
  • complete tune-up: valves, timing, points
  • carbs taken apart, cleaned, and gone through
  • new gel battery/bettery
  • all electric connections gone through and greased
  • modern rectifier
  • headlight kill switch
Yea, I think thats it. God will forgive me if I forgot anything. Moving on, we’ll need a few more things to shore the bitch up and take care of everything that needs to be taken care of before our rideabout. 
First and foremost, we’ll need to take care of that little muffler crack and get it all welded up. We don’t want that falling off between Yellowknife and Fort Simpson or wherever the hell I’m going. Ditch that crossover box, toss on a pair of CB450 headers and you’re golden.
Figure out that luggage boyo and figure it out soon. Keep that dorky rubbermaid plastic box that saw James Bay, or ditch it for something else? Stay with the army surplus green softbags, or figure something else out? And where to store the soccer ball and surplus gas tank? Decisions decisions.
Will time allow for the drilling of the front rotor? Only time will tell, and the clock ticks on. It waits for no man, nor manboy. There is only so much time left.
Regardless, time must allow for the ordering of some new parts, if only to please the machine Gods and give the CB its due diligence and every chance to make it to ends of the earth. We’ll need to secure:
  • carb rebuild kit(s)
  • new wheel bearings 
  • new tires and HD tubes
  • front break pads
Eh, I think that’s it really. I can figure the rest out on the road right?
I’ll do a little camping/personal gear rundown in due time, but as for tools/spares my basic kit will look a little something like this:
  • vice grips
  • tire irons, tube patches, etc.
  •  needle nose pliers
  • stock tool kit (will handle 99% of fix-its)
  • chain breaker/press
  • volt/ammeter 
  • extra bulbs
  • extra clutch ball bearings (real easy to lose)
  • assorted screws/nuts
  • fuses
  • spare cables
  • extra points/condenser
  • wire
  • duct/electrical tape
  • JB Weld/Epoxy
That’s pretty much it, I’m sure I’m forgetting something. But we will check and double check and rack our brains for anything that might be forgotten so that it will not be forgot before departure, such as extra valve caps.

DIY: The Lost Art of Gasket Making

Join legendary Honda twin mechanic Pipe Adams as he demonstrates how to construct a crankcase side cover gasket through ordinary means.

While you can see that in the video I am using store bought gasket paper, any similar type of paper will do the trick. A commonly available and excellent source of gasket material is the common cereal or tissue box. Scavenge it at will in a pinch to suit your needs.

70’s tech

In this week’s installment, we continue to follow the progress of the CB500t’s refurbishment from sitting in the corner of my parent’s garage into a road ready cross-country tourer.

The CB500T represents the evolution of Honda’s famed CB450 “black-bomber” motorcycle and, as such, is the largest displacement Honda twin of its era. Many motorcycling aficionados affectionately lay waste to the CB500T and consider the CB450 to be the true darling of the lot. If we’re talking evolution and looking at it from this standpoint, then the CB450 can be considered the Homo sapiens of Honda twin primates and the CB500T the Neanderthalensis.  Like Neanderthal man, the CB500T flickered briefly and died out, having a production run of only two years. It’s younger, fitter counterpart, the CB450, was sold from 1965 to 1974.

However, we all know that the candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long. And, as such, there is no shame to be seen riding a CB500T. Plus, Neanderthals had bigger brains and were stronger than CB450’s.

At any rate, I would like to examine the vestigial appendages of Honda’s legendary primate.

Firstly, know that the CB500T’s exhaust crossover box is a terrible thing. From a design standpoint, it is clearly an afterthought. It is garish and ugly and I hate it. I don’t know what it does. Balance the exhaust gasses? Maybe.

Fine, whatever, but the box makes it extremely difficult to put the exhaust back together after taking it apart. Sometimes, you just need to take the pipes off to access things, such as engine side covers. It shouldn’t take you more than 5 minutes to put them back on. Neither should this involve lots of cursing and anger. Soichiro, you are smarter than this, man! To the rubbish bin of history with your exhaust crossover box!

Stress-cracked muffler flange. Likely due to constant muscling of the exhaust header as a result of cumbersome crossover box. F*&^ you crossover box!

In addition, know that the CB500T has no oil filter. It has a sludge trap, which collects sludgy oil. This is easily accessed via the right side engine case cover. Basically, this thing spins around, trapping all the sludge via centrifugal force. You take off the cover, pull it out, and clean it. That is all. Of course, in terms of practicality, this is great because it takes 2 minutes to do and you don’t have to buy anything other than oil when you do an oil change. However, oil filters are really nice because they extend the life of your engine by filtering out all the bad parts, such as metal shavings. We all know that pieces of metal floating around in your engine are bad and I will say no more. The CB500t also has an oil screen. This is located inside of the crankcase and is placed horribly for routine maintenance. An oil screen is just that, a metal screen that filters the oil for nasty bits. To get to it you have to remove the right side engine cover and, usually, make a new gasket by hand when you put it back on. This is awful. My 71 VW beetle engine had an oil screen also, but this was placed in an easily accessible spot. Why not just place the oil screen in a more accessible spot? Why, Soichiro, why? It should be noted that my old 1975 Goldwing had the oil screen in an even more horrible spot, which required bending the frame back with a crowbar so that you would then have to wedge in a screwdriver to take off the cover.

A two-man job.

Oil-screen inside!

Remove circlip


Ninja Killer

This is supposed to look like a shiny cylindrical tube.

Pobody's Nerfect!

This tiny piece of metal is what destroyed the Ninja, as chronicled here.

That’s what happens when you are not careful, you destroy ninjas. Please be careful with your valve adjustments people. The fate of your machine is at stake!

Resurrection of the CB500T

Remember the zip ties?

They in fact did read well on camera.

Well, they are gone, replaced with a home built fix.

A work of quality.

Phaedrus would be proud.