Just days before Bill goes under the knife/saw etc., the “Silver Special,” (as it is becoming known), burbled to life late Thursday evening. It was not without difficulties, to say the least, however.
With new coils installed, the 12N9-3A battery was dropped into the frame and secured. The original starter solenoid was pretty rusty and sad looking, so with the help of some other “parts” solenoids on hand; the original was refurbished to a point where it appeared to be working. Wired up into the chassis, the battery cable now had a connection point and things were looking good… until the ignition switch was turned to ON position. The starter solenoid energized immediately, signaling that the solenoid wire connection to the starter button was grounded somewhere. The throttle side handlebar switch was another rebuild item and the button return spring was a little weak allowing the button contact to stay ON all the time. New parts were secured and the switch pronounced functional again.
Then the dimmer switch shorted out and blew the fuse! Lacking a good OEM switch, I secured one of those “Superior” branded dimmer switches, which are copies of the CL72 Scrambler unit. Scramblers have “outside” wiring harnesses, but there was hope that it could be converted to “inside” wiring with a little rework. Unfortunately, one wire got pinched up against the handlebars in the process and needed to be repaired. In checking other electrical functions, the brake light wasn’t coming on when the switch was activated. The brake light switch was another used part being pressed into service and had been bead-blasted at some point and the glass debris had worked into the switch contacts, as well as jamming up the plunger shaft. Some brake spray and working the plunger around freed up the switch function, but then the light still failed to function despite power going into the tail light socket. Testing with a 12v test light revealed that the tail light base plate wasn’t grounding completely to the tail light bracket, because of powdercoating insulation. More grinding/filing of the bracket created the needed ground path and the light resumed normal function again. These all seem like minor issues, but by the time they are repaired, an hour or more has passed.
Another hour was spent on working the aftermarket CB77 mufflers into place. These were made recently in the UK, but the fitting of them has been a nightmare. The first set needed to be ground away to clear the clutch cover, then re-welded to close the seam hole. The new replacement set would only fit on two of the three mounting points and that after some enlargement of the lower mount hole. The bike came with cut-off header pipes and cheap mufflers which had disintegrated. Also missing were the two long 8mm bolts which secure the mufflers to the engine at the front mounting points. The bolts have been NLA for a long time, but a few 8mm cylinder studs were discovered in a parts box and they proved to be a proper replacement, once they were cut to length and threaded on the ends for a double-nut wrenching point.
The fuel tank had been coated two days before, so was ready for a petcock and some fuel lines. A quick trip to the local 7-11 yielded a couple of gallons of premium fuel and we were about ready for the big moment… start-up! After a few moments of cranking at full choke, the engine sputtered to life and sounded pretty smooth, until it was discovered that it was only running on one side. Shut down and check for fuel on the cold right side cylinder and the float bowl was found to be empty. The float had jammed up against the float bowl gasket edges and wasn’t letting anything into the bowl. A quick squeeze of the float lobes and the float freed up to normal motion once again.
With both sides running, the engine was allowed to warm up, while being monitored for leaks, odd noises and any other kinds of misbehaviors. The right side carburetor flange has a non-OEM o-ring which has a larger cross-section than necessary, so the flange was left a little loose until a proper replacement could be secured. That side seemed to be running a little lean as restricting the airflow into the carb inlet caused the engine to perk up noticeably at idle. Turning the mixture screw down to about a half turn improved it further.
There were some whispers of oil smoke being emitted from both mufflers at idle, probably due to a combination of oil burning out of the used header pipes and lack of ring sealing due to new pistons/rings which were used in the engine build. The engine sounded very quiet at idle and gently revving the engine as it warmed up. All that is left is to install the brake pedal, shift linkage, air filters/brackets and the seat to be able to take it out for its maiden voyage after more than 20 years of disuse and abuse.
Two days before the scheduled total knee surgery, the 1963 CB77 was brought to life and ridden out on a 6-mile test run. It returned with no apparent oil leaks to be seen and had good manners out on the local streets. What are the odds of finding 1963 CB77s needing restoration a month twice before a scheduled knee surgery and getting them both completed within 30 days? Life is full of odd surprises, isn’t it?