Replacing Honda CB500 speedometer and tachometer face plates


| 10/14/2009 3:02:13 PM


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CB500 Speedo and tach, done
The finished gauges on the BikeBandit.com/Motorcycle Classics Project Cafe, complete with custom face plates. Pretty cool, eh? 

If you’re old Honda has spent any time in the sun, it’s a pretty good bet the speedometer and tachometer face plates are cracked and faded. Thirty-some odd years out in the elements will do that to a bike. The good news is, you can make those face plates look like new – or give them a personalized look – and it’s not as hard as you think.

CB500 gauges, before rebuild
Here's what we started with. Pretty typical, really, and pretty ugly, really. 

As part of our BikeBandit.com/Motorcycle Classics Project Café, the 1973 Honda CB500 Four we’ve slowly transformed from a tired dog, ready for the parts bin or the junk yard, into a gleaming, lovely little café for the street, we decided to freshen up the bike’s clocks. We’d never tried disassembling a set of Honda gauges, so we went into this as cold as the next guy. And while it definitely takes a little time and patience, we discovered it’s a project completely in reach of the average guy.

Unfortunately for us, the telling of this tale got let down by technology, or maybe just bad “best practices,” you decide. I documented the entire process, taking pictures of the speedo and tach from start to finish as we worked through, but an unexpected and pretty devastating system failure in my computer resulted in losing just about every pic I took. A few – the ones you see here –survived, but that’s all. Had I backed everything up to a disc, I’d still have all my pics. There’s the “best practices” element. Fortunately, someone else has already documented the job.

It was, in fact, because of Steve Swan’s excellent step-by-step instructions for disassembling/assembling CB750 gauges on the SOHC Honda CB Motorcycles website that we decided we were up to the task. The process is nicely documented on the SOHC tech pages, and we relied heavily on the SOHC article to get our gauges apart.

caffeineandpixels
6/8/2010 11:06:41 AM

If you go to flickr and search under caffeineandpixels you can see some gauges I designed for CB750's. You can also go to MilVinMoto and look at Godffery's Garage for some incredible restorations of CB's of all sorts.


suzsmokeyallan_2
3/21/2010 8:39:28 PM

Restoring gauges is an art form that covers all aspects of their inner workings, especially the proper way to open and reseal the bands so they do not leak. I do not use and dont subscribe to using pliers of any sort to reseal gauges opened for restoration. Doing this will not create a correct and even pressure onto the rubber seal thats sandwiched inside the ring/bezel joint, and you risk the possibility of marking the bands upper visible surface with impressions as well. While the factory did use a two stage roller principal to fold the band and correctly pressure crimp it, a similar process can be used without making such an elaborate tool as the factory one. I do restoration work on mostly GT750 gauges but HTMLs are not allowed to be posted here so do a google search for gaugerestore to see my site and restoration work.


pumps
10/15/2009 3:54:32 PM

Great how to. I have a 1977 Yamaha XS650 that I recently rode to a local rally. I had done a front end rebuild and only two problems on the trip. The cable came out of the back of the speedo( I must have forgotten to tighten the new one when I installed it) and on the way home the screws vibrated out of the already loose gauge face letting it spin about 90 degrees. I was able to uncrimp the bezel as you have described. Cleaned the gauge face and glass. put some loctite on the screws and re-assembled successfully. So you know where to get Honda replacements...how about replacements for faded XS650 clocks?


todd
10/15/2009 2:23:55 PM

So what's the trick for getting the needles back into the correct position? I did this on my R75/5 but I wasn't able to determine how much pre-load was on the speedometer needle's spring. First it would show an incorrect speed but now the needle has loosened up and rotated on the shaft so that 80 mph = 0 mph. When I'm on the highway I'm now running at around 160 mph. Pretty good for an old BMW. can't wait to see the final results of the Project Cafe. -todd


bill corbin_1
10/15/2009 10:58:10 AM

I really appreciate your uncovering this restoration secret. Honda gauges, as well as most others, were not built with any UV protection, so most vintage bikes, if out in the sun much at all, have faded gauge faces. I have a nearly pristine '76 Goldwing LTD, that I purchased with only 8,900 on the dial. It has absolutely no evidence of weathering, except of course faded gauges, especially the redline indicator. I found a NOS damaged tach, and have been wanting to open both tachs to switch face plates to return my LTD closer to concourse. I've thought about that crimped band for some time and have been very hesitant to tackle working at it, but your article has provided me confidence to "just do it." Your well documented procedure, back-up references, and great pictures, is exactly what I needed to move ahead. Thanks...keep on with your great work, supporting those of us who idolize the vintage bike. I have 2 early Goldwings and can't imagine buying a new, hughly expensive cruiser/tourer due to my bulletproof, smooth running, fast handling Wing. Feel free to research and write on one of the most amazing motorcycles ever designed...the Honda GL. I look forward to each issue and only wish you'd build up to publish monthly. I'd pay double + for this. Regards, Bill


cballweg
10/15/2009 10:12:23 AM

Just another example of how you seem to understand how to bring extra value to those of us who love the old bikes. Thanks.





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