1974 CB 550 - First build (Pic Heavy)


New Member
Thought I'd start a build thread, I've been a member on here for a couple of months and can't believe the wealth of knowledge on here and wanted to share my penny's worth and will always be open to ideas and tips and tricks

As with many of my ideas, this one came to me after a few beers and increased amounts of boredom during my rest days off shift. After a couple of weeks of collecting inspirations and ideas from social media and the inter webs I had a general idea of what I wanted to achieve.

Here is just a few inspirations of what I want to achieve.

Cue the popular auction site search. Weeks went by and nothing in my price range or scope for a project came around. I was looking at CBs and CX's thinking I should be able to work out how it works and learn the Engineering behind them. Then Finally, (using my work time efficiently) I found the one, a CB 550 freshly imported from New York (I'm From England if this hasn't become clear). Immediately I impulsively bid and won. What had I just let myself into!?

As you can see its a bit of a shed and had been raped for parts by PO.

Let the Tear down begin,

I started removing the nonessentials, stuff I know I wouldn't be keeping and plan on selling in the future. Head light bowls, Cabling and such. This is where I started to unearth some absolute horrors and levels of bodgery that I can't begin to comprehend. Such as the Exhaust welding that looks as if its the pigeons had got hold of it.

Out of the four exhausts, 2 of them are U/S, the others are probably salvageable.

Anyway back to the strip down.

I removed the gaiters to find some nasty corrosion, I'm unsure if this can be removed and treated or just get some new stanchions?

Of course, all seals and bearing will be changed. Probably well over due anyway.

Turned my attention to see how the steering head bearing were and as can be seen, not looking very tasty.

Stem and triple clamps removed! Time to move on.

I removed the carbs to give them a good once over and check if I could clean them myself or would need a good sonic bath

Turns out these Carbs are pretty gammed up to the point where one of the slides are stuck inside the chamber. All the floats are completely seized and no matter how much soaking and fettling I give they will not budge. So off they go to a cleaning service south of the country.

Whilst they are being taken care of, I moved on the the engine to check on the condition. The guy I bought the bike from made no attempt to start it, just said the compression seemed okay and selects gears well. A bit vague for a description but enough of an excuse to rip into the motor.

Heads off

Pulled the Cam shaft out to give it a good look see and found some nasty pitting, I/s this to be expected on a 30,000 miles 44 year old bike CB550?

Irregardless I ordered a secondhand cam shaft with followers from the popular auction site and continued my investigations.

Theres a lot of carbon build up, Is this a normal amount of carbon to see? or is there something not quite right?

Pulled the cylinders off and set them aside

Clutch basket and selector system off next

Pulled the sump off to check for nasties

Oil pump filter seems surprisingly clean, but the sump told other stories, Lots of nice sludge and a big lump of metal, I didn't take any photos at this point, I was too involved in finding where this mystery metal came from.

I split the case after a good few hours of attempting to hunt every single bolt down.

Any ideas on where this mystery metal came from?

How about now?

Turns out the selector fork isn't happy. My question is this, How does this happen? and from the pictures is there anything I should be looking out for or should consider changing while I'm this far inside the engine?

Back to the popular auction site for some selector fork hunting

Can anyone tell me if the journals for all the bearings are removable? Or do they require machining?

Will update when i'm back in the shed


What about What?
So I dont know if they would fit or what shipping would be to your side of the world but I am scrapping my rebuilt forks and triples if you are interested in maybe buying them. ;)



New Member
The Limey said:
That's a beautiful Labrador. From sporting/gundog stock?
She's actually a cross between a golden retriever and a Labrador and I believe she's a working class as she's a lot smaller than the show type.


New Member
jrknecht said:
So I dont know if they would fit or what shipping would be to your side of the world but I am scrapping my rebuilt forks and triples if you are interested in maybe buying them. ;)

Thanks for the offer, but I've found some new stanchions for a half decent price, I'm fitting some Cognito Moto triples so will be removing the original triples but, again, thanks for the support!


New Member
Right, sorry for the long delay, life seems to have got in the way slightly.

After finding the selector fork broken, I thought it best to carry on stripping the rest of the engine and remove the transmission gears for a professional to cast his eye over them just incase anything wasn't fit for service.

I saw someone on a thread somewhere mention how to remove the primary shaft using a cruse slide hammer technique, so thought I would give it a go.

I used the swing arm shaft (I think), the shaft nut, a washer and a 32mm impact socket. It worked a treat.

The crank shaft can be removed, but I made the mistake of not loosening the flywheel and points nuts, so will have to somehow sort that before removing the points plate to fit electronic ignition and fitting new seals.

Next was the selector drum to be removed

Pulled the oil pump off and fit a screw to pull the shaft out.

I needed the gears out of the way to remove the drums and noticed the seals are perished.

Gears off then the shaft could be removed leaving the forks behind.

The drum can finally come out and remove the offending centre gear fork

Cases are now pretty much stripped and all the internals boxed up for the professional to look through and point out the good bits and bad bits for me.

The casing came as well for him to measure the bearing journals and check for wear.

So, good news from the professional. He was surprised with how good the bearings and gears looked considering the age and damage of the centre fork. He did say that the starter clutch is showing signs of wear and could use some new bearings, the cylinders are worn and need reboring to the next oversize. so, not a bad engine just a little bit of money to spend at David Silvers.

After I got the cases back, I removed the last few seals and bearings so I could get them off for blasting and painting.

So, at the minute i'm waiting for my cases to return and my seals and gaskets to turn up. I've just ordered some all balls bearings for the front and rear wheels.
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