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Sunday, 29 January 2012

CL350 update

Now I'm home I can give a bit of an update on my Honda CL350.
I got up bright and early for the journey down to DK Motorcycles in Newcastle-under-Lyme. I'd picked up the hire van the day before, and Terry came over in his company van with a loading ramp.
I got up at 06:00 to a VERY icy morning. I managed to get most of the windscreen scraped, and was going to run the engine to warm the van up a bit, but the engine was a bit clattery and loud and I was afraid that I'm wake my neighbours.
Terry came over about 07:00 and we headed off or the 260 mile (420 km) journey to collect the bike. Not much to report about the journey as it was fairly uneventful, with only the first quarter mile or so not on dual carriageway or motoway, and my Sat Nav taking me straight to the shop.
Went into the HUGE shop where I quickly found My bike. It looked exactly as the photos suggested, so it was find the salesman and deal with the paperwork. The shop has a very large stock of new and used bikes, with about 100? or so US import bikes. Some are in very good condition, but others could only be described as 'projects'. Lots of bikes that we haven't seen for years like Kawasaki 2 stroke triples, plus early Hondas like my CL. They had 2 other CLs in stock, but both were much poorer condition than mine. Most of the bikes come from Colorado (warm and dry, so the bikes don't rust much), but a few, like mine, come from Ohio. (There's an Ohio dealer sticker on the rear mudguard).
Paperwork completed and we wheeled the bike out to the van.
A happy man in an anorak with his new bike - those bars HAVE to go!

Do you think we used enough straps?

The drive back was as uneventful as the drive down, other than a few patches of freezing fog. Once back at my house, we unloaded the bike and wheeled it into the garage. It was a bit late and very cold, so I didn't do anything to it.
I'd already downloaded an original Honda manual and wiring diagram, and thanks to Ebay had bought a 'still sealed in plastic' Clymer manual. The bike didn't come with any keys, but it's from an era when Honda stamped the key number on the face of the lock. A quick search on Ebay found a seller in the US, and I bought 2 keys for £11 including postage. I also ordered some more original looking braced handlebars, the 'Easy Rider' look isn't really me!
This morning I got up and had a good look at the bike. It's pretty well all there, and there is only a few bits of rust, tarnish and pitted chrome. I gave everything a good spray with WD-40 to loosen off the nuts and bolts, and decided before starting any work on it to change the oil. First problem - the drain plug was rounded! Got it off with a pair of Stilsons (pipe wrench in the US?), and the oil that came out was suitable black and thin. 2 litres of nice new oil went in, and I gave the bike a good check over. I found that the kickstart won't turn over the engine, just making a clicking sound. Suspect the ratchet is worn, but the parts are readily available. I found a new drain plug (good old Ebay again), and had a look at a couple of websites for parts. About 90% of the bike is the same as the CB 250/350 K models sold in the UK, and spares are available from David Silver in the UK, and CMSNL in the Netherlands.
Before buying the bike I had expected to replace the tyres, tubes, battery, chain, and cables; so I'll start looking for these. Until I get the keys I can't lift the saddle, which means I can't remove the tank to remove the carbs to clean them out (look what I found on the Web), but I can see the battery has been removed (probably for shipping regulations); the cables are sticky, so I'll replace them as a matter of course (would you trust a 40 year old front brake cable?). The tyres are a mixture of a half inch too big Continental rear, and a period REAR Bridgestone on the front! The chain is very rusty, so I oiled it to make the bike easier to wheel about.
I'm really happy with the bike, and am looking forward to restoring it. I'm not going to do a 'concours' type rebuild and worry about finding the correct footrest rubbers, etc. This will be a bike for riding, so I'll make a few mods to make it more reliable and practical. For example, bikes of this era were fitted with selenium rectifiers that are not particularly reliable nor efficient. I'll replace mine with a more modern silicon rectifier from an electrical supplier. It's under the seat, so can't be seen anyway, and I'd rather spend £5 on a more reliable modern part than use an unreliable but original part.
My first plan of action is to clean out the carbs and find out what's wrong with the kickstart. Once I get than done, I'll get the engine started and see how well it runs. After that will be sorting out tyres, cables etc., and getting it registered. Then it will be time to worry about the cosmetics.
I've got a receipt from the shop and the all important certificate to say that all taxes have been paid on it. To get it registered, I first have to get an MOT (annual safety check in the UK). As it won't have a numberplate, I'll have to take it for its test in a van. The only thing I'll need to buy for this will be a 'left dipping' headlight. It's a fairly common size, so that shold be no problem.
I then have to get a 'dating certificate' from an approved club or dealer which verifies what the model is and what year it is, then get it insured on its frame number. I then have to fill in another form (V55/5) and go to the local vehicle registration office, where they will check the documents and ask for £55. Some time later I will (hopefully) get a logbook for the bike with an age related number.
As the bike was built in 1972, this should have a 'K' or 'L' suffix. As it was built before 1973 (just) this means I can have a 'white digits on a black background' plate rather than a 'black digits on a yellow background', which will give it a more 'classic' look. Also, as it's built before 1973, the tax disc is free.
Now, that's the theory - whether it goes as smoothly as that I'm going to find out!


  1. Except for the kicker, sounds and looks pretty good from here. Just curious about the indicated mileage on it? Wonder if it spent winters un-ridden being from Ohio. Just figured out what you meant by 'left-dipping' headlight, since we drive on the right side of the road over here...looks like a fun project.Congratulations.

  2. Indicated mileage is about 16,500. No way of telling if it's genuine, but the outer casing screws look as if they've never been out (heads remarkably unchewed), so the engine has probably never been apart. Since I changed the oil 5 hours ago, I can sometimes get the kickstarter to 'catch'. I wonder if the ratchet is OK, but the spring that pushes the ratchet together has got sticky, and the change of oil is freeing it? When I can kick it, the engine feels as if has got plenty of compression, always a good sign. Once I get the keys I can connect a spare battery and spin it over on the starter. Hopefully, once I get it to run and it gets warmed up and oil through the engine, the kickstarter might start working normally. Even if the ratchet's worn, it doesn't look like a difficult job to replace. Fun days ahead!

  3. You know that might be the real mileage. Hmmm, like you say...maybe a little corrosion or gunk on the kicker mechanism.
    Until you get the keys, you could unplug your switch and jump connections to start the motor. That would be sweet if that kicker fixes itself. One thing I used to see a lot, is that many times the centrifugal oil filter would have been neglected (they are kind of a bother).Takes a 'special' wrench. It's easy enough to modify an old socket and make one.
    Interesting 350 site, but looks like it's been awhile since he's posted? Years ago a friend and I were in the Bay area seeing how many motorcycle shops we could visit in a day. One of the shops we found was 'Charlie's'. I think he'd just started the shop up. Plan on going back and checking his place out again. Compression, gas, spark...go!

  4. Nice bike. Family friend had one just like that when I was in grade school. I really like the old scrambler look.
    Will be a nice project to get it running again.