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Author Topic: 1976 CB550F "Barn Find"  (Read 19288 times)

Offline snmavridis

  • Posts: 407
  • Gettin my life together. One bolt. At a time.
1976 CB550F "Barn Find"
« on: Aug 13, 2012, 02:29:02 »
I've been browsing CL for the past 4 months looking for the perfect bike. My budget was $1200, with one CB400F recently in my sights for $1500. The past 2 weeks I've been on CL every 3 hours looking for the right bike. I checked it out today and bam, I found the bike... for $500 WITH A TITLE.

History: one owner for 40 years. Sat in a garage for ten, then his son ran it last summer. 86 year old man only maintained it. Did nothing else to it. Completely stock. Paint is in great condition. Seat is in GREAT condition. Little rust on the chrome. Fairing is broken, not that it's going to stay on the bike anyway. Rusted up baggage rails. New spark plugs. original tool kit came with it and a cover.

The bad: engine didnt start up. the starter starts turning the engine but it doesnt completely catch. It sounds like its trying, but not completely catching. And after you stop trying, fuel starts to leak. Friend said it's probably gunked up carbs. Wonder what you guys think. The front brake cable is busted. The clutch cable is a little loose.

The plan: get it running! Take off the fairing. take off the sissy bars. change air filter. fix front brake. adjust clutch cable. clean the terminals. polish polish polish. and then go from there! It's gunna be cafe'd one day like this but in British Racing Green http://imgur.com/u6uva

Tell me what you think!!! I'm super proud of this bike already!

Offline hillsy

  • Posts: 4116
Re: 1976 CB550F "Barn Find"
« Reply #1 on: Aug 13, 2012, 06:29:10 »
Your plan is good (IE: get it running). Too many people find these sort of bikes and strip them down to a pile of parts immediately, then never get around to actually finishing them off.


First of all, get a workshop manual. Then clean the carbs, change the fluids, etc and if it is a true barn find that has just been parked through lack of use then by all rights it should fire into life.


Oh - BTW, I'm pretty sure that fairing would fetch a few $$$ as a collectable nowadays.
« Last Edit: Aug 13, 2012, 06:31:04 by hillsy »

Offline swan

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Re: 1976 CB550F "Barn Find"
« Reply #2 on: Aug 13, 2012, 08:54:05 »
Nice bike bike at a great price! I cleaned up and rode the wheels off a blue 1975 CB550F and it was one of the best bikes I have ever owned. Lighter than a CB750, easy handling, fast, a blast to ride and it never let me down. 

Hillsy is right, just get it running. PM me with your e-mail address and I will send you PDF's of the factory service manual and parts list. Clean the carbs, buy a new battery and front brake caliper seal and you have a bike for life. I would NOT hack it up or make it a cafe racer based on my experience. Keep it stock except for lower bars, shorter cables and change the billboard sized tail light to something smaller like a Lucas. CB550F's are rare-ish bikes and original stock ones, less so. The side covers are very rare, are always cracked and broken and nobody makes replicas. Be very careful when removing them. Treat the rubber grommets with wintergreen oil or Armour All  to soften them and be careful when removing your covers. They sell for $100 and more on e-bay. Ditch the Vetter fairing and you will find a great bike underneath it. If you want to run pods I can check my notes to tell you which main jets to buy, I think they were 115's but it has been a few years.... Also hit me up if you need sources for OEM parts, paint, etc. as well as breakdown and rebuild  photos.

Be the way, I built the CB400F you want your bike to look like. I am building another at the moment (see my signature) and here is my old CB550F before and after. I paid $150, put $700 into her, rode 5000 miles then sold her for $2000. I miss that bike... My friend just dragged the carcass of one into our shop for his winter project so it is fresh in my mind.





It is your bike and do what you like, but I highly recommend keeping it stock at first for a baseline. The Sapphire Blue is a great color scheme, clean and and wax your tins and see what you think. Get her running well first then worry about the cosmetics. Congratulations, you are going to love your new bike.
« Last Edit: Aug 13, 2012, 10:08:18 by swan »
1966 Triton cafe, 1962 BSA Gold Star DBD34, and 1966 T120 Triumph Bonneville.
BSA Gold Star barn find restoration
1975 CB400F Cafe Racer build
1966 Triumph Bonnevile restoration

Offline snmavridis

  • Posts: 407
  • Gettin my life together. One bolt. At a time.
Re: 1976 CB550F "Barn Find"
« Reply #3 on: Sep 18, 2012, 17:18:53 »
So here's a little update and a questions. Carbs were FUBAR. took them to a mechanic and he bent me over. He basically just did a rebuild and clean for $500. Never again to that mechanic will i go. I'll discuss the carbs in more detail when i get a chance. the bike started up and was running fine. You could definitely tell it hadnt been ridden in at least 10 years.

Heres the new problem. Tried the electric start, and it seems like it either burnt out or it got stuck. Estart doesnt work at all now and when you turn the key to ignition, i hear a high pitch bzzzzzzzz. i tried using the kick and it fired up but died soon after. my dad explained it something like this, that the electric start is stuck on the flywheel or clutch or whatever it connects to that makes it turn. now if i take off the estart, would that free the bike up and allow me to kick start it and keep it running?

I'll post a bigger update when i get back from class.

Offline AdrianVall

  • Posts: 99
Re: 1976 CB550F "Barn Find"
« Reply #4 on: Sep 18, 2012, 23:34:47 »
Damn! I wish I could find a great deal like that.. very nice! Keep us updated!

Offline snmavridis

  • Posts: 407
  • Gettin my life together. One bolt. At a time.
Re: 1976 CB550F "Barn Find"
« Reply #5 on: Sep 19, 2012, 00:36:51 »
Ok so a better description of what happened to my bike.

off the bat i knew the carbs needed to built cleaned. so i opened them up, and they were terrible. Gunky as all hell. it was like someone poured thick mud into the carbs. Disgusting to say the least. Then i noticed one of the pieces (the smoothbore slide apparently) looked different than the rest. it was all chewed up. then i noticed the piece that holds the float was a NAIL. i dont know what that old man knew about the bike, but whoever was using it when he didnt ride it around screwed the carbs. It was a little overwhelming, so i took it to a mechanic. now this POS didnt give me any straight forward answers. I asked him if he could get the bike running, clean the carbs and rebuild them. he just sounded fishy as hell when i was talking to him, but the honda dealer didnt want to play with my bike and he was my only option. 4 weeks and $500 later, he got it running and the carbs rebuilt. but he didnt synch them, and it doesnt idle properly. it has no rhythm to the idle. it idles high then starts to putter. so i need to get that taken care of. im assuming its just a synchronization issue.

on to the starter issue. after toying with it a little i came upon a couple things.

1) I put the key in the ignition, turn the bike on. bzzzzzzzzz. turn it off. turn it on again. bzzzzzzzzz. i ignore it and use the kick start. it putters up and starts to run. but every so often i hear a couple squeaks. my assumption: the starter is engaged on the flywheel constantly.

2) i tried it 3 hours later. key in the ignition, turn it on. now it tries starting on its own. im not pushing the button at all, and it keeps trying to turn over. but it never takes off. the button isnt stuck. but its acting like the button is being pressed in constantly. so my assumptions now: theres an electrical fault and it's constantly trying to start. the bike isnt turning over because the battery is dying. again.

and thats whats up with this bike. until i get some help from you guys or my other motorcycle buddies, im just going to get started by taking off the fairing, bags and sissy bar tomorrow morning.

Offline NvgtrWiggles

  • Posts: 172
Re: 1976 CB550F "Barn Find"
« Reply #6 on: Sep 19, 2012, 02:18:22 »
Sounds like there's a funky connection somewhere in there...

Offline swan

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Re: 1976 CB550F "Barn Find"
« Reply #7 on: Sep 19, 2012, 12:24:41 »
Unplug the starter motor for now and use the kick start to get running and ride her. Nearly every old Honda I have worked on has a bad starter button. The OEM design had the button and spring in a small plastic holder which often cracks and breaks. They do not hold up well with age and that is probably what happened with yours and is shorting, causing the starter motor to spin. I ALWAYS buy a whole new starter switch from Honda (approximately $90).
1966 Triton cafe, 1962 BSA Gold Star DBD34, and 1966 T120 Triumph Bonneville.
BSA Gold Star barn find restoration
1975 CB400F Cafe Racer build
1966 Triumph Bonnevile restoration

Offline snmavridis

  • Posts: 407
  • Gettin my life together. One bolt. At a time.
Re: 1976 CB550F "Barn Find"
« Reply #8 on: Sep 19, 2012, 12:45:30 »
So just disconnect the starter motor and only the starter motor until i can get a new switch. I'll get on that later tonight. before class today im going to take off the bags and fairings. i live in a house with 10 other rugby teammates and everyone of them came up to me and said "youre either moving that bike or taking off the crap. that thing is embarassing." all in different situations haha apparently a windjammer doesnt give you much street cred  :P

Offline swan

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  • Kickstart, shift on right, drum brakes and spokes
    • 1962 BSA Gold Star barn find restoration
Re: 1976 CB550F "Barn Find"
« Reply #9 on: Sep 19, 2012, 13:08:15 »
Yes, unplug one of or both of the wires leading to the starter motor and just use the kick starter.

I have thrown away several ugly Vetter windjammers, including one with an 8 track player.
1966 Triton cafe, 1962 BSA Gold Star DBD34, and 1966 T120 Triumph Bonneville.
BSA Gold Star barn find restoration
1975 CB400F Cafe Racer build
1966 Triumph Bonnevile restoration