74 Honda XL 350 - The Turd


Nick Ol' Eye
Yesterday I picked up this basket case of an XL 350 from the next town over. After watching Bruce Brown's On Any Sunday (the original) a few weeks ago, I started to really lean towards finding something to rip on in the woods. I was in no way shape or form looking for a project, but I saw an ad for parts bikes for $100 on craigslist and I couldn't help but check it out. The first bike was the XL, looking like it had been outside for 20+ years (so long that even the tarp that was covering had disintegrated, pieces hanging off all over the bike), no title, for sale as a parts bike. Shot the guy a text, set up a meeting for yesterday after work, and finished up a job a couple hours earlier than expected and headed over to check it out. Naturally, I brought the ramps "just in case."

The bike had been bought by the sellers' father off the lot as a leftover in '74. It was his older brother's bike, but him and his little brother used to 'steal' it and take it for joyrides when they were out. Years later, as they got older and moved away, the XL ended up hanging around, the seller stating that he was probably the last one to ride it, "sometime in the 80s." After checking it out pretty thoroughly and observing no major rot, I offered him $35, he countered at $50, and we loaded it into the back of the truck - which was a bitch since the rear wheel is completely seized. Considering that she's all there except for the seat which had rotted away over the years, I couldn't pass it up.






The initial assessment is as follows:

The Good

-Front/rear fenders are in good shape.
-Headlight bucket and gauges intact and useable
-Front and rear rims seem usable
-Front/rear drum brakes
-Tank is rusty as fk, but no majorly rotted areas. Condition TBD after rust removal.
-Frame is usable, surface rust only.
-Engine is all there. May not be seized after all, since the rear wheel was frozen. Also TBD engine condition.
-Keihin Carb included, along with stock airbox and left sidecover.



The Bad

-Seat pan had completely rotted away
-Forks are in rough shape, lowers seem decent but heavy pitting on uppers
-Rear suspension is trash
-Spokes and rubber is junk, as to be expected
-Muffler had rotted in half from water pooling. Can only hope it didn't reach the head

After a long night, I've gotten all the dangerous rusty bits removed, along with most everything else. Removed a massive rodent nest from the airbox, pulled the carburetor, removed the harness and just about everything else except for the suspension and motor. I'm traveling for the weekend so I've got an ATF/acetone cocktail chilling in the jug for the weekend. When I get back we'll see if she turns. Surprisingly, everything came off pretty easily, and the only screws that were a real pain were the small phillips for the controls on the handlebars.






Plan for this project is to restore her very close to stock, while giving it my own aesthetic touch. I will be reusing as many of the OEM parts as possible, media blasting and (hopefully) powdercoating. There is no title, so I will try to reg in VT when the time comes. Got my hands on a FSM (thanks deviant), and will be indulging in some light reading on the plane to familiarize myself with the world of the single cylinder 4 stroke. Stay tuned for updates.


Coast to Coast
might wanna try the VT thing before you start spending time and money

I also want to know if it works so I can start buying up all the cheap CL bikes! ;D


Nick Ol' Eye
Nj732port said:
might wanna try the VT thing before you start spending time and money

Yeah, I'm going to start looking into it when I get back next week. If not, it'll just be a trail bike until I can get my hands on a titled frame.

PS, its only nicknamed "The Turd" while it looks like a hunk o' shit ;D

irk miller

You've been mostly-dead all day.
It's gonna be a hell of a task, and worth every bit of it. I love these early XLs.


Nick Ol' Eye
Read through the FSM on the plane yesterday, see if the motor turns when I get back tomorrow. I noticed this hole on the engine and didn't see it/a bolt in the diagrams of the head or engine overall. Located to the right of the exhaust port, looking at the motor from front.


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irk miller

You've been mostly-dead all day.
The screenshot is a 250 head.

In this pic from Calferacer's thread it shows the hole, as well. I might have something to do with the casting.



Nick Ol' Eye
Back after traveling for the weekend. Finishing up disassembly. Kickstart lever was a sumbitch to get off the spine, ended up splitting it wider with a screwdriver and prying it off. I think I broke the piston free while I was trying to loosen the kicker, so there's that

Drained out some fairly decent looking oil (half of it went on the shop floor). Next time I get out there I'll dig into the top and end check the centrifugal filter.


Some straight up doo-do out the carbs


Throttle valve/slide is still stuck in there. Got the carb soaking overnight hopefully I can break it free tomorrow. Brass is in good shape, almost looks like it was never messed with.


Let's see if we can't eat some rust.

Sent from my iPhone using DO THE TON


Nick Ol' Eye
It's actually in decent shape overall. I want to powder but this is going to be a pretty low budget build and the list of parts I need to pick up is getting bigger and bigger.

I was thinking of picking up the HF PC gun and a toaster oven for small parts, since I'm keeping a lot of the stock setup.

Gonna have the frame blasted by the guy who did the 360 frame, see what he gives me for a quote to PC on the frame and swinger.

Sent from my iPhone using DO THE TON


Nick Ol' Eye
Started in on the engine. Exhaust valves have been stuck open for ?? years. Will definitely need to replace the exhaust valve springs, if not the valves. Exhaust ports are filthy and piston still seized. Cam sprocket is in such a position that I can only access 1 bolt. Tried a few custom 10mm wrenches to free the lower bolt but no luck. I'm thinking my best option is to break a link on the timing chain and let it drop so I can remove the head and access the cylinder.

Any pro tips for this situation?


Rockers, camshaft and upper journals look to be in good shape. No major damage or scoring. That's a win.


irk miller

You've been mostly-dead all day.
Grind off the end of one pin and push it out. You can get a master link later.

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