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Project 1970 Honda CB350 — Part IV

Winter slowed us down, but we finally found a new seat for our 1970 Honda CB350.

| March/April 2016

  • Rust, anyone? The original seat pan on our CB350.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Our used seat pan as delivered.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Our used seat pan ready for foam.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • We had to weld some tears in the metal (pictured), but it came out just fine.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • We had to weld some tears in the metal (pictured), but it came out just fine.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • We had to weld some tears in the metal, but it came out just fine.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • The frame is just starting to go together.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Front brake plate and wheel hub before cleaning and polishing.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Front brake plate and wheel hub with rear hub and rims after polishing. Much nicer.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • It doesn’t look that bad, but our CB350 engine has resisted our best attempts to really clean it.
    Photo by Richard Backus

The is the fourth in a series on our 1970 Honda CB350 build project. Read Part I, Part II and Part III for earlier stages of the project, and Part V, Part VI, Part VII and Part VIII for the later installments. You can also watch video of our Honda running for the first time.

Last issue, we told you about a broken mounting lug on the lower left of our 1970 Honda CB350’s engine. That broken lug was something of a mystery, as there wasn’t any indication how it might have happened. Thanks to a reader with experience in the matter, we’re pretty sure we now know what caused the break.

Former Honda CB350 owner Bob Sheehan wrote in to tell of us of his identical experience with his 1972 CB350, on which he’d mounted a set of crash bars. Bob told us that the left side crash bar mounted to the frame up top and the lower left engine mounting lug at the bottom. Following a left side crash, he discovered his engine mount was broken, even though at first it didn’t appear his bike had suffered any damage. “It looked exactly like the photograph of yours,” Bob wrote.

Looking through the pile of parts that came with our Honda (which, you might recall, was partially disassembled when we bought it), we found a set of crash bars, with evidence of road rash on the left crash bar. Mystery solved. Clearly, our Honda suffered the exact same fate as Bob’s. Who knows what kind of damage the Honda would have received in the absence of the crash bars in whatever fall it suffered, but it’s somehow ironic to think they played a role in its damage.

Moving forward

We were feeling pretty good about our progress up to last issue, but then I got laid out with a torn Achilles tendon. That slowed things down more than a little, and we’re still in a bit of a struggle to catch up thanks to the onset of winter and the craziness of the winter holidaze. It was something of a perfect storm, and all of those elements kept us out of the garage more than we’d expected, but we did make some important progress in some key areas.

A surprising issue — at least to us — was the difficulty in finding a new seat, something I touched on last issue. As the lead photo in this installment shows, our original seat was shot. We knew the cover and foam were shot, but apart from that it appeared reasonably sound on first look. Unfortunately, stripping it down revealed a mess, the seat pan terminally rusted and beyond repair. Well, beyond our capacity to repair, anyway. Someone more skilled could likely reconstruct the pan, either welding in new metal as needed or by using the pan as a form to make a replica out of fiberglass. I’ve seen plenty of people do both, but lacking those skills we were left to trolling the Internet and old bike junkyards in what was looking like a hopeless search for a reasonably priced replacement in good condition.

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