CB550 to the Loire (paging SWK electrics)

Discussion in 'Classic Motorbikes' started by The Older Gentleman, Jul 8, 2003.

  1. Well, I counted it out and I counted it back.

    First big shock was haviung to *hammer* it to the hotel after getting
    off the boat, because the boat was half an hour late and I knew what
    time the hotel's restaurant shut.

    Nothing goes as fast as TOG who's afraid he might miss his dinner.

    Anyway, I wound it up to an indicated 90 and headed down the autoroute
    for Abbeville 80 miles away, covering the distance in one hour. The
    shock was running onto reserve at 73 miles.

    That was about 30mpg, max. It *is* a thirsty bike. It doesn't seem to be
    running rich, it just drinks fuel. Cruising it at 70-75 gave 43mpg later
    in the weekend, but the moment you start using the revs above 6000rpm it
    dives to below 40mpg. My four-piper K3 was never this bad. I *think*
    they changed the carbs for the K3, because of economy issues with the F.
    I'll check the Haynes BoL.

    And it has a titchy tank - 2.5 gallons to reserve, or 100 miles. This
    was a pain.

    On the plus side, comfy, handles surprisingly well for a 25 year-old
    Honda, and got me to ChateauRenault on the Loire in good time. Weather
    was warm, and with a lot of luggage, it used a bit of oil, consuming a
    litre over the whole weekend's 900-odd miles. Nothing untoward there.

    It attracted some attention from the French Japanese SOB fiends (there
    were a couple of CB750K7s there, an XS1100, a nice little GT125 twin,
    and one or two other Japs) and some pitying glances from people who'd
    ridden down on modern machinery. Generally, though, anyone who sees it
    says: "Blimey, that's nice!" or "Blimey, I haven't seen one of those in
    ages." Or, in one case, "My Dad had one of them." which really made me
    feel ancient.

    Tiniest of weeps from the r/h fork seal - just enough to stain the fork
    stanchion, and not enough to dribble.

    Only prob was switching on the ignition on Sunday morning - on came the
    oil light but not the neutral light. I thought I'd knocked it out of
    gear, but I hadn't. And the electric starter button wouldn't work. Eek.

    It started on the kick, though, and the neutral light reappeared. This
    intermittent fault persisted and now neutral light and electric foot are
    utterly absent. No probs with the kick. All other electrics present and

    It's not the bulb and I swapped the ignition switch over with the 400
    Four and checked it's not that. Not the fuses either.

    The CB550 *only* starts in neutral as a safety thang, and my guess now
    is that the neutral light switch is the villain. The safety interlock
    has to take its command from that, so I'll check the switch and the
    wiring through the loom to the ignition switch.

    Anyone else got any brighter ideas?
    The Older Gentleman, Jul 8, 2003
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  2. The Older Gentleman

    deadmail Guest

    (The Older Gentleman)

    Is there a clutch sensor as well so you can start it with
    the clutch in, in gear?
    deadmail, Jul 8, 2003
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  3. The Older Gentleman

    Ace Guest


    Or at least, I'm 99.9% sure it's the same as the 400/4, which doesn't.
    Ace, Jul 8, 2003
  4. The Older Gentleman

    Klaatu Guest

    Did they have sidestand switches ? ( showing lack of knowledge) Does
    it have a sidestand ?
    Klaatu, Jul 8, 2003
  5. The Older Gentleman

    Champ Guest

    No, those were the glorious days when you could ride off with your
    sidestand down.
    Champ, Jul 8, 2003
  6. The Older Gentleman

    Klaatu Guest

    Ahh happy days...
    Klaatu, Jul 8, 2003
  7. You're right!

    I zoomed in on the neutral switch earlier this evening. It works via a
    cam on the end of (I think) the selector shaft, which, when the selector
    shaft turns, operates the switch. It just wasn't making contact. Remove
    switch, and see it's just a copper tang which bends under the cam and
    makes contact. It was evident a piece had broken off.

    I thought about it, and used one of those spade connectors (female
    half), which I crimped onto the remaining tang, and then bent it until
    contact was perfect.

    Result: working neutral light and electric start. Cost: 40 minutes' time
    and zero pence. I feel rather chuffed at a correct diagnosis and a neat
    repair :))))
    The Older Gentleman, Jul 8, 2003
  8. The Older Gentleman said:

    Oil change to remove (hopefully) the broken off bit? IIRC there's no
    oil filter on those (apart from the centrifuge on the end of the crank).
    Simon Atkinson, Jul 8, 2003
  9. No, the switch and cam are outside the crankcases, behind the sprocket
    cover. Very handy. I was surprised they don't give more trouble (chain
    goo and stuff flying around) until I saw that the cover has a casting
    that actually separates the unit from the sprocket and associated gunge.
    A remarkably simple and neat form of engineering. I mean, it's lasted 25
    years before failing.

    And yes, it has a proper oil filter, on the front of the block. Even got
    the (near-essential) 17mm-headed aftermarket oil filter bolt, too.
    The Older Gentleman, Jul 9, 2003
  10. Some of us love old Brit iron, but not that many people actually own
    them. Most of those who do are aware of their virtues and failings.
    MOT - old Ministry Of Transport acronym. Means the annual roadworthiness
    check and accompanying certificate. Applies to all bikes and cars and
    vans over three years old. The nice thing is that it considers
    "roadworthiness" in the light of when the thing was made, so if it
    didn't have indicators and decent functioning brakes when it was
    made[1], then it doesn't have to have them now.

    [1] That covers most British iron pre-1974, really. And decent brakes
    only appeared on most Jap bikes in the 1980s.
    The Older Gentleman, Jul 9, 2003
  11. The Older Gentleman

    Champ Guest

    Oh christ, I remember those - famous for rounding of the original 14mm
    item, weren't they.
    Champ, Jul 9, 2003
  12. Yep, sounds exactly like the switches on my first bikes.

    Ivan Reid, Electronic & Computer Engineering, ___ CMS Collaboration,
    Brunel University. Room 40-1-B12, CERN
    GSX600F, RG250WD. "You Porsche. Me pass!" DoD #484 JKLO# 003, 005
    WP7# 3000 LC Unit #2368 (tinlc) UKMC#00009 BOTAFOT#16 UKRMMA#7 (Hon)
    KotPT -- "for stupidity above and beyond the call of duty".
    Dr Ivan D. Reid, Jul 9, 2003
  13. The Older Gentleman

    Klaatu Guest

    Or straight through pipes !
    I think there is a perception held by a lot of British, that "Brit
    Iron" as you call it, is unreliable, overpriced, leaky and difficult
    to live with.

    Also there seams to be so much Jap stuff about that is Cheap and
    reliable, comes guaranteed with a left hand gear change and can take,
    post 1980 ish Unleaded Petrol ( Gas) (1)

    I would Love a Bonnie, but in the back of my mind is a tiny voice that
    says " It'll let you down when it's dark, raining and miles from
    anywhere. It will get stolen ! Parts are Soooo expensive ! etc

    I bought my 1982 Jap (Import) for £1300 - 3 years ago. It has taken
    me across London almost 320 times a year.
    Has never stalled, always starts either hot or covered in Snow.
    Costs about £100 to service. Crashed twice and still got me home.

    Spare parts are cheap and plentiful, too.

    Oh and it will do 70mph all day and commuting gives me 70 mpg.

    Perception. and possibly my lack of brit bike experience (2) - most

    1. Correct me if I am wrong on this.
    2. Must rectify this.
    Klaatu, Jul 9, 2003
  14. Yup, and they weren't even 14mm. They were 12mm. I once had to remove
    one with a set of plumber's grips and a hacksaw.
    The Older Gentleman, Jul 9, 2003
  15. The Older Gentleman said:
    Fair enough - I never had to bother with the one on mine as the starter
    was shagged and to puny to start the engine anyway. Kick starts were OK
    for the young Simes.
    Of course - I'd completely forgotten that... Not sure I want to remember
    it really. It was the G5 (and maybe CJ360T et al) that had no filter
    apart from the centrifuge that only got cleaned when the engine was in
    Simon Atkinson, Jul 9, 2003
  16. The Older Gentleman said:
    Usually - although it was not unknown for the cam-chain tensioner to
    take an early bath.

    I remember rebuilding a GF's G5 - started off just fitting a new
    cam-chain and tensioner and got carried away. When it was back together
    it ran absolutely silently (for a few hundred miles then started usual
    non-threatening rattles). I even nut blasted the outsides of the barrels
    and crankcases until they shone.
    Simon Atkinson, Jul 9, 2003
  17. The Older Gentleman

    Lozzo Guest

    Simon Atkinson fascinated us all by saying...
    My CB250RS doesn't have an oil filter as such, just a poxy little filter
    screen arrangement. It lasted 166,000 miles before going bang.
    Lozzo, Jul 10, 2003
  18. Lozzo said:
    IIRC that wasn't entirely down to a filtration problem...
    Simon Atkinson, Jul 10, 2003
  19. ROFL. I can see that you could derive a lot of amusement from that.
    The Older Gentleman, Jul 10, 2003
  20. The Older Gentleman

    Lozzo Guest

    Simon Atkinson fascinated us all by saying...
    It wasn't due to that at all, it was due to me not checkig the oil
    regularly enough on a bike known to use quite a bit. I drained out less
    than half a litre when I stripped the top end of the motor. I think some
    RDs take more than that in their gearboxes.
    Lozzo, Jul 10, 2003
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