The ups and downs of owning a classic motorcycle
On September 30, 2011, I fell in love with a really rough 1965 Honda CA95 Benly Touring 150. It looked as if it had been abandoned outdoors, and the mouse nest protruding from the stamped frame caused the bike to smell like an outhouse. The vintage Honda hadn't run since 1983, but it was perfect. It's no fun restoring something that runs already.
Like other Honda bikes of the early-to-mid 1960s, the American export CA95 lacked the turn signals of its general export C95 sister. I set out to correct this omission, adding the C95 turn signals, wiring harness, and right-hand turn signal switch to the parts list. I disassembled the motorcycle in October 2011, realizing that mice had destroyed the original wiring harness and part of the air cleaner.
The rear sprocket was worn nearly toothless. Fortunately a replacement was readily available. The original rims and front fender were too damaged or rusted to re-use, so replacements were ordered. The speedometer was disassembled for cleaning and lubrication, a process that involves unbending the bezel crimp and stabbing yourself in the thumb repeatedly with whatever tool was improvised for the purpose. The hardened grease was cleaned from the speedometer and it was relubricated and reassembled.
The engine was actually in good shape, with no significant corrosion in the cylinders. Although the original pistons were within spec, micrometer readings confirmed that the cylinders had worn beyond spec, so I ordered .25 mm over-sized pistons and rings. A local machine shop bored and honed the cylinders to match the new pistons. Once the machine work was completed, the CA95's engine was reassembled in the kitchen sink, as appropriate when the spouse is out of town.
Naturally, every seal, cable and bearing was replaced. The engine went together in April, 2012 following a wrestling match to get the darned kick starter spring into place.
To ensure that the starter was up to the task of starting the engine for years to come, it was disassembled, cleaned, relubricated and reassembled.
The speedometer drive unit on the front wheel offered a few surprises, one of which was a former thrust washer that was ground into a dozen shards and distributed among the worm gear teeth.
Since the original paint was in such poor condition, and because I acquired a replacement front fender and chain guard pieces, I was free to sand blast all the painted parts. After being coated with an epoxy primer, a thick metallic black was applied, followed by a clear coat.
To free the wheel hubs for cleaning and polishing, the Benly's original spokes were cut away with a reciprocating saw and the rusty rims were set aside. Once polished, the aluminum hubs were laced to the new rims with chrome plated spokes for extra sparkle. Replacement wide whitewall tires were mounted on the new rims to match the original style.
The engine was tested in August 2012, starting after just a few seconds with the choke set. The engine idled nicely, and didn't burn or leak oil.
On September 16, 2012, the work was completed and the Honda Benly went on a 23 mile maiden voyage.
The original side covers were unadorned, and in the Sixties it was common for Honda dealers to affix their own store logos in the empty space. I decided to fill the void with an aftermarket Honda script logo from the 1965 Honda S500 roadster car, along with an aftermarket "150" badge.
The chilly Michigan weather has since limited the rides, but the 1965 Honda CA95 has accumulated 120 new miles on the clock. It's quite a conversation starter, with people taking pictures from their cars or asking "what year is it?" as I ride along. It was an 11-month investment that will provide returns for many years to come.