Last week, there was but one motorcycle left on the premises; the 2001 Kawasaki W650 which is a long-time favorite regular ride for your author. Then, the 1962 CL72 arrived at the end of the week and the details of that machine have been chronicled in previous (and future) stories. Now, on “hump-day” Wednesday, a Craigslist posting appeared early in the day. “1964 CB77 Super Hawk” with an asking price of $1700 with notes that the bike wasn’t running, needed a battery, mufflers, tires, chain, air filters and lots of cleaning to be functional. The bike’s title status was only verified by a Delaware registration card from 1971! A morning exchange of emails and phone calls lead to a drive out to the city of Alpine, CA, where the bike was resting quietly.
The seller was a very nice and honest man in his 50s who happened upon the bike while hunting for vintage Schwinn bicycles. During his bike purchase the next door neighbor was wrestling the CB77 out of a back yard where it had been sitting for a number of years and had recently “tipped over” in the soft ground. The otherwise stock Super Hawk had been outfitted with some aftermarket turn signals, a rear passenger back rest and some high and wide handlebars. The right side handlebar had taken the brunt of the fall, bending that end out of normal alignment. The bike’s condition barely allowed for rolling across the yard due to sticking brakes and a rusty chain. It was a three-man job to get it loaded up and sent on its way back to San Diego. The new owner had lusted for a classic Honda 305 for years, but conversation during the return trip was mostly negative about the future fate of being a functional part of their garage stable, which included a classic 1970s Chevelle and a 1935 Ford 5 window coupe.
Considering the cost of the bike so far was zero (given to them), any sale or trade was a win, no matter what happened to it. After more marital discussions, the decision was made to list it on CL and see what the response would be. Apparently, being #2 on the list was favorable, as the seller had called to say that there was a first responder, but they were calling from No. Cal and would be driving about 800+ miles in a round trip for a non-functioning machine. After a wait of a couple of hours the seller chose to call back and offer a meeting/showing of the bike, locally. It was uncertain, in the beginning, as to where the bike was actually located as the contact phone number was a Tacoma, WA location. It turned out that the number hadn’t been changed after the move to San Diego, over a year ago, so the bike was indeed in the immediate vicinity after all.
The red machine looked somewhat promising in the photos, apart from the missing exhaust system and added accessory items, but once the actual machine was viewed, the opinion changed drastically. As the inspection proceeded, it became more of an autopsy than anything. There was obvious rust inside the otherwise straight looking fuel tank. The engine had been reported to have turned slightly then stopped its rotation altogether. The kickstarter arm was welded to the shaft and the lever end had been extended with what appeared to be a section of handlebar tubing, also welded to the original part. With the seat removed, the battery tray area showed a complete severing of the small tab bracket which locates the front of the rear fender to the frame section. The rims were rusty, as were the spokes. The speedometer was only showing about 6800 miles, but the meter rim was pitted from exposure to the elements. All in all, it was basically a parts bike waiting for restoration or at least a very extensive rejuvenation. A few of the tool kit tools were present and most of a 1961 owner’s manual was offered up in the deal.
After a fair amount of inspection, consideration and negotiation, the final price had plummeted over $1,000, but did include an autographed copy of Classic Honda Motorcycles…
The bike and parts were loaded up in the newly acquired 2002 Toyota Tacoma and returned to Spring Valley late in the day. The sticking brakes and rusty chain made the dismount and subsequent pushing the bike up the driveway a chore and right at the end the previously bent right handlebar section snapped off and the bike tipped over in the driveway on the left side. Again, the wide handlebars took the force of the fall and prevented any major damage from occurring. With help from a neighbor, the bike was repositioned and placed on the centerstand to face a certain teardown and rehabilitation process which will take several months to complete, based upon the current influx of bikes and work which have been generated in early 2016.
Despite a registered year of 1964 on the Delaware registration, the bike’s serial numbers are all 1963 production indicators. Hallmarks of that year model usually include a speedometer without a high beam indicator, mufflers with the sleeve-style gasket and the brake arms secured to the brake cams with a single large nut. The frame number is CB77-314913 with engine CB77E-314961. This bike had the later-style pinch-bolt brake arms instead of the single nut versions. The parts books were consulted and they revealed that the change-over to the late style brake arms happened at CB77-312673, so obviously not all 1963 series machines had the early single-nut brake hardware installed. Again, this confirms that Honda continued to make running changes during a model year, rather than wait until the next year’s production to update certain components. Making assumptions about “This year always had this part” again prove to be false, as demonstrated here.
Time opened up in the work schedule and the bike was disassembled over about a four hour period, leaving the engine on the bench and a lot of spray-painted over parts in boxes and buckets. The frame and rear fender will go to a welding shop to make the two pieces into one again. The engine was seriously “stuck” unfortunately, taking over an hour to dislodge the left piston from a very rusty cylinder bore. While the top end components were clean, showing little wear, the rust termites had many years to deposit their droppings on the edge of the crankshaft weight, the shift drum/forks and all over the transmission and lower end components. It is time to break out the phosphoric acid once again and see what parts can still be saved. Fortunately, there are a lot of good used spares in boxes which can be brought into play to bring this bike’s engine back to life, once again. Stay tuned for Part 2.