Project 1970 Honda CB350 — Part VI

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by Richard Backus
With the engine back in the frame our CB350’s starting to look like an actual motorcycle again.

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

Tear-down always feels like progress; one minute you have a complete motorcycle and the next, pieces. You haven’t actually gotten much done, but it sure feels like it, especially compared to the long stretch between tear down and build up, where it seems to take forever for anything to happen.

Our project 1970 Honda CB350 has been trapped in that middle ground for months, with lots of big pieces waiting to be cleaned, fixed or replaced before any major forward motion could take place. Yet suddenly, it seems like we’ve turned a major corner as things start coming together and we tick off one job after another.

Chief among those was cleaning and painting our CB’s engine before installing it back in our freshly powder-coated frame. Cleaning went stupid slow, maybe because we tried too hard to avoid caustic cleaners. In the end, spray degreaser and a trip to the car wash yielded huge results, with the engine finally clean enough to paint. That next step went smoothly, laying down several coats of Dupli-Color high-temp ceramic primer and paint. We’d planned on using VHT high-temp wheel paint, but abandoned it when we couldn’t spray a coat without it sagging or lifting. We know people who swear by VHT, so maybe we had a bad can? Whatever the case, Dupli-Color’s Cast Aluminum Coat looks amazingly close to the original Honda color and went on beautifully.

We also installed our new front forks from Forking by Frank, which, predictably, are perfect. The sad news, however, is that we got the last set Frank’s will ever make. According to Bill Judge at Frank’s, the CB350’s fork tubes, with a separately machined and welded top plug to fit the upper steering yoke, just takes too much time to make to be profitable, so they’ve phased them out.

Another satisfying conclusion was finishing up the seat, which ultimately absorbed a huge amount of time thanks to the rusted original pan and our difficulty finding a replacement. Proving good things come to those who wait, we located a pan, cleaned and painted it, and finally installed our new seat foam and cover from Sirius Consolidated.

We had a minor hiccup when our former powder coating shop shut down, but Will Swanson from Topeka Custom Coatings saved the day, transforming the tail light bracket, battery box, tool box, chain guard and air filter covers into gleaming, gloss-black hardware ready to hang back on the bike.

Moving forward

We’ve sent all the CB350’s chrome bits we won’t replace to Quality Plating in Sterling, Illinois, a plating shop with 40 years’ experience and a catalog of custom jobs under its belt. Pieces sent included the header pipes, brake lever and linkage, shift lever and linkage, headlamp ring, speedometer and tach mounting plates, alternator cover, kickstart lever, and camshaft side covers.

We’re getting new air filters and a host of other missing parts from CMS, and the painted gas tank and side covers should be back soon from Marbles Motors. We’ve cleaned up the wiring harness we originally thought was trashed, and along with the handlebars, switchgear and most of the bike’s other major parts, it will soon be in place. MC

Project Honda CB350 suppliers

Avon Tyres: Front and rear Avon Roadrider tires
Barnett Clutches & Cables
: New clutch, brake, speedometer, tachometer and throttle cables, new clutch discs and springs
: Drive chain, lithium battery, passenger pegs
Bore Tech
: Gasket and seal set, oil filter/clutch spanner tool
Buchanan’s Spoke & Rim
: Relaced wheels with new stainless steel spokes
Charlie’s Place
: Electronic ignition, ignition coils and mounts, voltage regulator/rectifier
: Reproduction and NOS Honda parts
Dennis Kirk
: Front and rear wheel bearing kits, reproduction fuel petcock
Dime City Cycles
: Fork seals, front and rear sprockets
Forking by Frank
: New fork tubes
Hagon Shocks USA
: Classic I chrome shocks
Marbles Motors
: Paint prep and painting
Quality Plating
: Custom chrome plating
Sirius Consolidated
: Master carb rebuild kit, seat foam and cover, chain adjusters, chrome fasteners
The Pit Stop: Aluminum engine welding — (785) 887-6626
Topeka Custom Coatings
: Custom powder coating
Vintage Motorcycle Rescue
: Used seat and headlight bucket, battery cover

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