Resurrection Road: 1973 Honda CL350 Scrambler

Five friends, with the determination to try, bring a beautiful Honda CL350 Scrambler back from the brink.

Flushing the engine with kerosene to remove leftover metal debris.

Maybe few people know that in 1966, the instrumental group The Sandals created The Endless Summer surf movie theme song and threw it into an album stuffed with more surf songs as well as several cool bike instrumentals entitled, TR-6, Out Front, Good Greeves, and best of all, Scrambler.

And so it was, while putting the finishing touches on the 1973 Honda CL350 Scrambler rebuild seen here, the album would spring into mind. As well it might have, because while living in New York City in 1981, I found the LP record in a thrift shop and bought it for something like $1.50 — a heavy hit at the time of 25-cent albums. I still have it somewhere, and it’s a perfect match for this Honda, scratched and weathered as it is.

Ah yes, scratched and weathered records — and scramblers. If you read the July-August 2020 issue of Motorcycle Classics, you might have seen an article entitled Big Bang Theory, in which this author adopted a CL350 with a seriously hurt engine for the mechanical challenge it presented, but also as a way to encourage readers to adopt and nurse back to health broken bikes. Doing so will “make us feel good,” I suggested. The process would create “rolling art,” I promised. It would build friendship and community. And it might even, eventually, turn a buck.

When we left off the previous article, friends Amanda and Napper and son Derek had helped pinpoint the engine troubles as a complete lack of compression in the right-hand cylinder. With one rocker arm loose, I hoped to find only a bent valve, or at worst a broken one. And so, I set out to find out, and to make it right.

Tearing into it

The first step was removing everything attached to the engine — or more completely everything attached to everything attached to the engine — including side covers, air cleaners and housings, carburetors, fuel lines, fuel tank and seat, exhaust system, footpeg assembly, and all wiring running from the under-seat area along the frame to the engine. That was a pretty enjoyable and straightforward hour, and I made sure to stash take-off parts and fasteners in separate boxes and Ziploc bags, labeled with a marker, to simplify and quicken reassembly. Parts lost in the garage is a bad thing!

12/26/2020 7:35:22 AM

The only thought I would share is that Japanese valves have a coating on the circumference that is hardened and "lapping" them as described in the article removes the hardening. The correct way is to replace the valves. This may have added $100 to the overall cost, but would be cheap insurance for the long run. I wonder if in the 4 months since published and taking the lead time from the job, to the writing to today, how many miles has been put onto the bike since and issue related to my comment showing up?

12/24/2020 8:41:21 PM

That was a great description of the trials and tribulations of a story of being a Stewart of a ERA motorcycle Loved the honest potrail of the rebuild.Thanks for the creativity of it all. It was like I was there living vicariously.

12/24/2020 7:21:53 PM

I love to see old vehicles saved from the scrap heap. Especially when they are an old classic or a rare find. Nice article. I had a '71 CB 350 bought new. (also a '74 XL350 as well) I didn't keep the CB more than a year before I moved up to a new 750K2 for cruising. Can't beat the CL for style though, I preferred the sound over the CB as well. I never removed the engine but I'm thinking a bit like Bill Meyer on that one. I had to pull the engine out of the 750K2 and put it back in on my own to change the head gasket. I only weighed 130 at the time ... 40lbs less than the engine but I remember using lots of blocks of wood and alot of youthful "can do" I guess. Thanks for the story.

The sound and the fury: celebrate the machines that changed the world!

Motorcycle Classics JulAug 16Motorcycle Classics is America's premier magazine for collectors and enthusiasts, dreamers and restorers, newcomers and life long motorheads who love the sound and the beauty of classic bikes. Every issue  delivers exciting and evocative articles and photographs of the most brilliant, unusual and popular motorcycles ever made!

Save Even More Money with our RALLY-RATE plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our RALLY-RATE automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5.00 and get 6 issues of Motorcycle Classics for only $29.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and I'll pay just $34.95 for a one year subscription!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter