'71 Honda CB350t cafe-inspired build


Dyslexics of the World - Untie!
Now that this bike is officially mine (long story, but let's just say that it's no longer super-easy to get a title for a motorcycle in Michigan when the previous owner lost it and doesn't want the hassle of finding it) it is time to start a build thread. Sorry in advance for the length of this first post.

I have been looking into motorcycles for a while now - probably the past 10 years or so - on an infrequent basis. When a co-worker rescued an '83 750 from a relative and started working on it I finally decided to bite the bullet and look for something myself. I have plenty of experience with vintage British cars (MG, Jaguar, Triumph, TVR, Healey, etc.) but most of the cool British stuff was out of my price range, at least around here. After spending some time reading I settled on wanting a Honda twin from the late '60s through the '70s, with leanings towards the 350 or 400. I've always wanted a vehicle as old as I am and came close with my '73 MGB/GT.

This bike had been popping up on the mid-Michigan CL off-and-on for a while now, so on a whim I drove the 2hrs on a Saturday morning last month and ended up bringing it home. It's a '71 Honda CB350 with (for whatever reason) a '71 CL350 engine installed. It wouldn't start but spun over and had great compression and was fairly complete. It's got some goofy home-made ape-hangars on it and is missing a side cover and the speedo cable, but otherwise it is complete.

I plan on building a cafe' bike of sorts, while retaining the fenders in some form. The gold paint will be going away (just the sight of it makes me a little queasy, to be honest) and it's likely going to be mostly black with some antique white and orange accents. I'm going to have the frame powder-coated after tweaking it a bit, although I don't plan on any huge frame modifications at this time. My initial thoughts were to keep the seat pan and make a new seat using it, but as you'll see, that's really not an option at this point.

Arrival at our shop (where it will be worked on during Thursday-night shop nights and over the weekends)





Beginning the teardown and discovering all the rusty bits



These carbs look a lot like the Zenith-Strombergs I deal with on later MGBs and Triumphs

No, these handlebars will NOT be re-used. Yuck.

Working on British cars has made me collect a ton of SAE and Whitworth tools, but it looks like I'm going to be buying some metric stuff pretty soon...

Ape-hangars gone... much better



As I mentioned, the seat pan can't be re-used. I was hopeful when I first pulled the seat off that it would somehow survive, but the seat foam had collected too much moisture (and mouse pee) and by the time I sand-blasted it the whole thing turned into Swiss cheese.



No wonder this thing turned so hard... there were only 4 intact bearing balls on the lower steering bearing. The rest were rust/dust.

Someone had tried removing the battery box with a prybar before realizing it was screwed in. After sandblasting it I used a piece of 1/8" steel as a dolly and quickly repaired the bent areas. (You can see the right side has already been fixed, getting ready to work on the left side)

I also cut off the air tube from the bottom of the box. Eventually I'll remove the regulator bracket as well, but at this point I wasn't sure what I was doing with the wiring, so I left it intact. Because of all the rust in the battery box I ended up with 1 pinhole (where one of the spot welds was, go figure) which will need to be repaired yet before powdercoating.
Re: '71 Honda CB350 cafe' build (my first motorcycle)

Great quality pictures, what camera are you using? That tank looks pretty mint right? I would almost hate to paint over it. Maybe find a beater tank?
Re: '71 Honda CB350 cafe build (my first motorcycle)

Thanks! It's a Canon PowerShot G15

We got it last year on the recommendation of a friend who photographs and edits for Classic Motorsports and Grassroots Motorsports magazines. It takes great pictures, especially in low-light conditions. You can see some higher-resolution pics here:

And this is a full-resolution shot for comparison:

The tank actually has a dent on the left side that will need fixing, so it's not as mint as it looks. The nice part is the inside is almost pristine, so no flushing/sealing necessary.

You can see the dent here:
http://i.imgur.com/42jr8D0.jpg or here http://i.imgur.com/N9aNbsH.jpg (both full res)
Re: '71 Honda CB350t cafe build

I sandblasted the headlight brackets, straightened one that was bent, and welded the reflector holes shut. I'm going to skim these with a bit of bondo to smooth them out (I hammered out most of the dents, but with the captive nut still back there it's hard to get everything nice and smooth).



I also started playing with the front end. I disassembled everything and have started to clean. The pitting in the tubes isn't bad and it isn't near where the seals slide, so they're good. A bit ugly, but I have plans for that.




As I mentioned, I needed a new steering shaft. I found one in great shape on EvilBay for a reasonable sum (which also happened to have both steering stops, mine had one broken off). Not wanting to run the lock anymore I decided to cut it off.




I painted the lower triple with DP90LF epoxy primer and some DuPont Centari 99A Pitch Black. I have a feeling most of the bike will be done in that color.

Oh, and I secured myself a license plate.

Re: '71 Honda CB350t cafe build

Looks like you have your work cut out with this one. Fortunatly it lookslike you have the shop facilities to deal with nearly anything.
Re: '71 Honda CB350t cafe build

I've spent some time working on some detail items (cleaning and polishing the front brake assembly, fitting the seat, etc.) and have made enough progress that it was time to take the bike apart.




There's still lots of cleaning left to do, but the front forks are almost back together. I have a couple of items to paint (saving them all up for a big batch of primer and paint maybe this week) and will be ordering up the primer and paint on Monday.


I ran the frame to our sandblaster yesterday morning and while I was out running errands they de-gunked it and stripped all the paint off with aluminum oxide. There are couple of small holes which I was expecting, but nothing earth-shaking.





The biggest problem I may have created for myself is that I may have inadvertently bent the shifter shaft. I was cleaning the engine outside and it slipped off the cart I was using to roll it around on. HOPEFULLY it is still OK, but I may be searching for another one if it is bent and I can't get it back into shape.
Re: '71 Honda CB350t cafe build

Good stuff. If you haven't scrapped them, I'd take those old bars off your hands.
'71 Honda CB350t cafe build

Nice tear down progress. I'm in for watching how this comes out. Great photos so far. I like to see these old bikes brought back from the dead.

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Re: '71 Honda CB350t cafe build

Oh, and the most important piece of all finally arrived today - the title! I think there were about 18 individual hoops I had to jump through (some were flaming!) but in the end I did it the right way and the fair way. Not the cheapest way, but I feel good about it.
Re: '71 Honda CB350t cafe build

Looks like you're making good progress. I am working on a 350T at the moment so will be watching this thread, oh and totally jealous of your shop space.

Re: '71 Honda CB350t cafe build

A few minor updates... I haven't had a whole lot of time to work on the bike as my normal Thursday night routine was interrupted by a lack of transportation after my wife's car got totaled in an accident right after Christmas. I'll be back on it tonight a bit now that we're back to 2 vehicles (yay!)

The engine is slowly being cleaned up, about 10 minutes at a time, with brillo pads and some other abrasives. I'll eventually be wet-sanding and polishing certain parts, but for now it's just something to do in short bursts while I'm waiting for other stuff.


I pretty much finished cleaning up my wheels (except for the spokes which need a bit more attention) and had my new Kenda tires mounted.


I received my new LED bulbs for the gauge cluster as well.


Most of the progress has been in prepping for paint. I did beadblast a bunch of hardware that is going out for plating, but we've been having fun with bondo over the past few days. A friend of mine is helping me along as he's much more skilled at it than I am.








The dark green filler is the first coat on the tank, filling in a decent-sized crease on the left side and the 2 badge areas. This filler is great for the deeper spots because it is filled with fiberglass for added strength. Once we had a base of that in and sanded we started filling with the more traditional lightweight plastic bodyfiller (Bondo). The last 2 pics show a test-coat of high-build primer which help with identification of high/low spots (not visually, you find them with your fingers, but the primer makes your fingers glide over the surface better!)
Re: '71 Honda CB350t cafe build

Dealing with the snow and cold has been taking most of my spare time. I've had a bit of time to work on a few things, so just a brief update.

Because the bottom of the battery box was pretty severely pitted I ended up tearing a large hole in it while trying to remove the old voltage regulator bracket. Combine that hole with the pinholes from the rust after sandblasting and I opted to cut out a portion of the bottom. It ends up looking pretty good (and yes, I measured to make sure the battery wouldn't fall through!) I also fabbed a small bracket to hold my Sparck Moto Reg/Rect combo unit on the same 2 bolts as the starter solenoid.




The gas tank is now primed and ready for scuffing and painting. The paint for the tank/seat and other components just arrived and I'm waiting on my frame paint which should be here in a week or so. The frame will be a flattened reddish-orange.


Re: '71 Honda CB350t cafe build

Nice detailed build. You work in auto body repair or mechanic?
Re: '71 Honda CB350t cafe build

Yeah, I manage a shop that specializes in maintaining and restoring classic cars mostly... generally British stuff (MG, Jaguar, Triumph, etc.) along with some German and Italian stuff along with some really cool old pre-war Fords and things. Currently I'm working on engines for a couple of MGAs, a collision repair on an MGA VSCDA racer and rust repair on a Super Beetle. Sadly, because of the cars I usually work on this bike has cost me as much in metric tools as it has part so far. :) I have tons of SAE and Whitworth stuff, but not a lot of metric.
Re: '71 Honda CB350t cafe build

The frame has been primed and is now ready for scuffing and paint. Hopefully it'll be in color before I leave for California next week, but we'll see...



Also, the engine is still cleaning up slowly but nicely. I think I have this side cover just about the right level of shiny for my taste. Not too dull, not to reflective.

Re: '71 Honda CB350t cafe build

Frame paint!





This was originally going to be a mostly-black bike, but the more I thought about it the more having some color on it made sense, especially from a safety standpoint. I'd rather stick out like a sore thumb than blend into the background. This paint was left over from a race car paint job done by a friend of a friend. It sprayed on satin with just a slight amount of gloss, and I love how the sheen turned out. Touch-up guns FTW.
Re: '71 Honda CB350t cafe build

I finally got the universal coils mounted. I ended up making a new bracket for the condenser as well (which you can't really see, but it's tucked in there).

I also mounted the reg/rec combo permanently behind the battery box.

Mocking up the rearsets (from Slipstream). This also shows the driver foot pegs cut off but the kickstand and cross-bracket still in place. I'm also experimenting with some black POR-15 on the bottom of both the kickstand and the center stand. We'll see how durable it really is.

Handlebars are on so I can maneuver the bike around the shop.

Rear brake on and linked (although nothing's been adjusted yet. Kudos to Slipstream for the cool bracket allowing me to use the stock brake light switch.

Last Thursday we re-installed the engine.

eBay LED turn signals for the front and back (back ones aren't mounted yet). These seem to be pretty nice, they're actually metal and are pretty bright.

Front fender chopped, installed and front brake hooked up. I wish I could figure out where I put the speedo cable...

Rear fender chopped (using the front half only) and the tail light / license plate bracket temporarily installed. I need to tweak the bracket a bit, then reinforce and paint it. I'll be modifying the original turn signal brackets to hold the new ones and they'll mount in the stock locations.

Re: '71 Honda CB350t cafe build

I got my gas tank and seat back from my buddy Nick this morning and they're mocked up on the bike. Awesome. The throttle cable should get finished today and then I can actually start to button this bike up and get it running!

I put a new condenser in yesterday along with new points and now I have spark (imagine that). Gimme some fuel in that freshly-painted tank and it should run.

The rear brake still needs some adjustment as well as the clutch, but we're getting down to it.

Also note the fun I had with a hole saw. :)
It's Alive!!! Re: '71 Honda CB350t cafe build

Fired it up for the first time this morning! We spent some time adjusting the clutch and fiddling around with the shifter shaft, after which I took it for its first (albeit brief) ride. There are some things to adjust, tighten, loosen, reposition, and the carbs definitely need to be balanced, but a good day indeed.

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