Friends and the Art of Vintage Motorcycle Restoration (version 8, 10-22-10)

Do keep in mind at all times that this is an ongoing, continually refined document. Any suggestions you have, please send them to me. I know it is in need of a major house cleaning. Some day when I get the time, I will do just that. In the meantime, there are little tidbits of information that I do not want to get lost by major chunk editing, so please bare with me.

Before using this as a guide, in your shop, with tools all around, read it in its entirety to be aware of all the steps and concepts before you proceed.

Morning Practice Session I: Getting the lay of the Land

It’s been more than three years since my return to vintage racing and it has only gotten better with every race. The mere concept of being able to have a blast at the average cost of $200 per race weekend seems almost impossible. But, after acquiring the motorcycle for $585, my race leathers for $357 (delivered) the Ed Bargy race school for $350 and the transponder for $375, I got into racing for less than $2K.

A Brief 350 Honda History

The CB350 and CL350 Honda manufactured from 1968 thru 1973 are virtually the same bike. The CL350 was an early attempt to create what is now called a dual sport class of motorcycle. Basically it’s a CB350 with a 19” front wheel instead of an 18”. It also sports a high pipe exhaust system rather than the street configured low to the road exhaust of the CB350. Other minor differences include a different tank and seat combination as well as a cross member in the handlebars on the CL.

Most importantly is what the two bikes have in common. Together the CB350 and CL350 represent the most successful motorcycle ever produced for the highway. Almost half a million bikes created.  In our lifetime, you would be hard pressed to find a motorcyclist in his 40s or older that didn’t either learn on a CB/CL350 or ride one at some point in his motorcycling days.

Racing the 1970s CB350 has many advantages. First, the concept of racing a 35 to 40 year old motorcycle that wants to live forever, works for me.  As a result of racing the bike in the stock motor and carburetion mode, tires can last a whole season. That’s 10 – 20 race weekends, depending on the rider and riding style. This means that, so long as you keep crashes and motor grenades out of the equation, you can actually budget for a whole season with relative accuracy.

But alas, this was not written for the vintage racer, nor for the vintage motorcycle race fan. This compilation was written to inform anyone willing to take on the challenge of resurrecting a long dead motorcycle. This is written in a fashion to encourage and support your efforts. The compilation is meant to guide in the philosophy of the restoration of old technology in a modern age.

The reason I mention vintage motorcycle racing in this document is that I have spent a bit of time restoring old motorcycles to pay for my motorcycle racing habit.  I buy old bikes that have been neglected by previous owners and still have the potential to be sought after piece of machinery.  Once I have brought a bike back to life and can evaluate its mechanical potential, it’s easy to determine if what’s there can support a vintage motorcycle purpose best as a whole or as parts.

You must keep in mind that this old antiquated technology once worked and with your perseverance yours will work again!

I am going to include tips on troubleshooting, renovating, protecting, optimizing and resurrecting your old project.  Some of the tips will be very specific. Some will be very generic. Either way, it is up to you to realize that the information can be applied in your specific situation, if you are truly motivated to “see the light”.

In so doing, I ask that you begin to treat your “project bike” as the restored beauty it will soon become. I have named most of my bikes, even those that were never meant to stay with me. I recommend that you consider naming your project and referring to it by name. One tip I can provide in this regard is to find something applicable to the bike as it relates to you.  I know that this is a non-runner. Therefore it will not take you to situations that a runner will. But you can at least give it a personality.  Changing the name, especially after making it a runner is always an option.

One of the nicest bikes I ever brought back to life was named by my daughter. It has high bars. It is the bike then known as “Chopper”. The name stuck as a result of having no doubt which bike was Chopper.  Make it personal for you and you will get more out of the project. I had the bike for sale for months. Many people mentioned that they were not interested in the high bar configuration. So, when I get around to changing the bars, it will be known as “the bike formerly known as Chopper”.

I once named a CL350 Macho. It was black and basic, nothing beautiful about it, just a rugged bike that would climb the side of a barn. Its now being raced by one of my race buddies and been given a glorious life as a result.

Technical Inspection

The way this compilation came into being is kind of interesting.  After learning the Keihin CV carbs used on the CB/CL350s I modestly named myself as the Carb Master, I began to receive emails for tech support on this antiquated technology. Then the requests came in for other vintage bike questions, most of which I had encountered at least once. After a while, I sat and read one of the emails that I blasted out that reached about a page full of text. I noticed that it seemed similar to one that I had sent out a couple weeks earlier. Then I found myself saving the sent emails so that I could reuse the information where applicable. Some modifications would be necessary, but either way it was a time saver.

Then one day, a man I was corresponding with in New Jersey mentioned saving my emails and compiling them into a booklet. I thought Tim had a good idea and I went through my sent items and gathered all that where still available.

Before proceeding, I must add this piece of advice.  If you have not already taken an AMA approved motorcycle safety course, sign up now! The courses are always booked up in advance, for a really good reason. The sooner you get the process started the sooner you receive the benefits. I took my first safety course in 1979. Then I took one a few years after that. I have since taken the Ed Bargy School twice (1996 and 2004) and learned new stuff each time. I can’t tell you enough, just how much motorcycle safety education can save your life and the lives and limbs of your passengers. Enough said for now. But until you have completed the course, it’s not enough done.

And for those willing to consider wisdom I have another piece of advice.

For any “hands on” motorcycle enthusiast, I highly recommend a book called “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”.  There’s so much information on life, personal relationships, motorcycle repair and general philosophy that I can’t go wrong by recommending it.  It has had a profound effect on my life including the approach I have taken on this writing.  The book was written back in the day when most of the vintage bikes I work on were still on the show room floor.

Knowing What the Flags Mean

This next piece of advice I have is a disclaimer. Although I will elaborate on the theme of my disclaimer, the three word disclaimer is all inclusive.

All Disclaimers Apply!

All past, present, and future disclaimers apply. Consider this as “for entertainment purposes only”. Read all labels. Think for yourself. You take any risks, you receive the benefits, and you pay the price. Etc…

Gasoline is flammable. Gas water heaters and most furnaces have flames involved.

Use your thinker!

All Disclaimers Apply!

Morning Practice Session II: Parts and Information

As the title implies, friends are inevitable in the process of restoring old motorcycles. Whether its friends you make that have a part you need or the information your desire, you will probably make some friends along the way.  The numbers of sources of these future friends are limitless. Some may be as casual as the guy on eBay who was nice enough to answer your question about something he was selling. Other, more significant friends may take months or years for you to meet. But each email or phone call confirms the fact that you have made yet another friend. Either way, if you remember that each of the people you interact with is a potential friend, you will surely get more out of each interaction.

One of the most profound reinforcements that I have experienced in the world of the “Golden Rule” has been with the competitive friends at WERA vintage racing events.

Do keep in mind that WERA vintage riders, as a rule, have a survival instinct deep inside them. Not only are they concentrating on making it to the last turn of the race. They are also uniquely tuned into the last turn of the next race. This is to say that vintage racers are usually married with kids (if not grand children). They realize that there is no AMA scout in the grand stands waiting to take them to the “Big Leagues”. They race for the fun and there is more fun with more racers on the track.

So, with each and every one of these racers wanting that first place trophy, it’s amazing to me that each time I need a part, just how hard my competitors will hunt for it and hand it to me.  Since the very first time I experienced that, I have become the most avid parts donor in my class.  CB/CL350 parts, if you need them, I probably have them. Look me up at the Team Old & Oily pit.  If not, we have connections.

The good news for non racers is that I have found the same experiences in the vintage motorcycle restoration world. I have yet to find a situation where information has been withheld or misrepresented.  So, research the particular internet forums for your bike. Consider racing forums when you run into difficulties.  Many models of motorcycles are being run as vintage bikes. What better way to find out what modern stuff is available for your consideration?

Other sources of information for vintage restorers are in your vendor list. Each and every parts vendor keeps his reputation going by supplying his customers with the parts and know how required.

Long before Sirius Consolidated decided to take me on as my sponsor, they were sending me to other vendors for parts that they did not carry. If you haven’t found what you are looking for, it’s probably because you have yet to start looking yet.

If you still haven’t found what you are looking for, try a search engine. If you are not very good using a search engine and narrowing down your searches, get some help. You will benefit from good search skills for the rest of your life.

Finding Your Grid Position (Laying Hands on the Bike)

This document is not designed to take the place of a good, specific to your machine, shop manual. I recommend that you have, at a minimum a Hayne’s or Clymer’s manual for your project.  Chilton’s manuals are also an acceptable minimum reference material. How far you go into the project will determine what manual you may require. I have been satisfied with Clymer’s and Hayne’s even for dismantling engines.  Once you have your reference material, a decent set of tools, and a good attitude, you are ready to proceed.

I will be describing how I go about restoring old motorcycles. As I mentioned, I do so, in most cases to pay for my racing habit. As such, I usually am working on more than one bike at a time. – I take advantage of time. –  If I am not going to get to a particular bike for a week or two months, I use that time to my advantage.

Begin with Motion (Tanks a lot)

Now it’s time to think about the inside of the motorcycle…

With your eyes closed, imagine the path that the fuel takes. From the gas station pump, to your tank, down the fuel lines, into the carbs, mixed with fresh clean unrestricted air, then sent into the manifold, past the intake valve and into the combustion chamber, ignited by the spark plug, exhausted past the exhaust valve, out the header, through the muffler, and hopefully an efficiently burned and minimally polluting clear mass of fumes being left behind.

This should include a clean environment where the gasohol (10 percent now, but discussions of 15% in the future) will not be gathering rust, old caramelized gasoline, or inferior tank lining material within the tank to send into your freshly rebuilt carbs. (I use only POR-15 Cycle and ATV Tank Kits.)

In the interest of time critical operations, I recommend that the longest portion of the project be started first.

It also is the most beneficial and therefore worthy of doing right. You may also find that if done efficiently, it can be completed to time out perfectly with the rest of the restoration. This will depend on the amount of time you have to dedicate to the project and the intensity of the resurrection. Based on this process, I consider an efficient resurrection to occur within 21 days. Your results may vary. Consult your doctor if he is interested.

Get your tank in motion! Start by inspecting what you have in the tank. Some barn finds are amazingly nice and some are not worth repairing. If by chance you have a tank that can hold fuel without leaking, it can be lined and used. Most that have minor leaks can still be lined and used. If you are able to put your finger into a hole in the tank, you may want to look for another tank.

I found POR-15 when I was researching ways to stop the leak in my father’s 1975 Norton Mark IIA 850 Interstate tank that developed a crack/leak at the mounting stud. This was about 10 years ago. I plan to ride that same bike to the 2011 Norton Rally in upstate New York, there and back, with that same tank lining and repair from a decade ago.

The kit is complete and will do the job for any tank that is worthy of treating. However, if you want to go above and beyond the call of duty, you can put a little bit of effort in preparation and get some great results. Other restorers I spoke to had similar ideas, but most liked the idea that I had to minimize the amount of time to remove the “tank cleaners”. I recommend dog choker collar sized chain. Sometimes, for the rougher projects I will toss in some heavier chains. But usually all you need is something to rub across the loose scale inside the tank.

The Marine Clean water soluble soap works great with a nice chrome chain. The chain acts as your scrubbing sponge while Marine Clean breaks down all you scrub away from the walls of your tank. Follow the directions and you can’t go wrong. The cleaning process may take a whole weekend, depending on how bad the grunge in your tank is. This is a warm weather recommended process as solubility increases with temperature. Dry time decreases with warm dry days as well.

A simple hint for drying the tank after the Metal Ready step… Using a fresh clean role of kitchen paper towels (not the blue shop towels that may be treated), you can roll up a few paper towels into a corn cob shaped bundle and insert about 70% into one side of the tank and press against the top of the tank. Then, flip the tank over and rock the tank in a manner that causes any remaining rinse water to be absorbed by the paper towels. Repeat once to verify that you removed the remainder of the “Flowing Water” from the tank. Then proceed with the remainder of the drying process as in the instructions. Follow the instructions to ensure that the tank interior is dry or all your work will be wasted!

You may take advantage of the waiting periods of the tank process to move forward on the rest of your restoration, like those times that your tank is resting on each side with the Metal Ready prep soaking in.


While the tank is in motion, keep your project rolling

One way to take advantage of time in vintage restoration is soaking. But, I am getting ahead of myself…

Let’s start with the typical restoration cycle. After acquiring the project, I spend an hour or two making it ready for the coral. (I presently have more than 30 motorcycles on my property. A few are heirlooms that will remain in the family forever. A few are active or future race bikes. That leaves about 24 restoration project.) Since the projects will be waiting for me to get back to each of them, I keep them working until I get to them by soaking.

If there is any sign of off road use on the project bike, I usually leave the bike in the truck and drive directly to the high pressure car wash. Taking all necessary precautions, I remove all dirt from the bike. If necessary, I will add miles to my return home trip to insure the bike is dry upon arrival. While it’s dry, inspect it!

Check for any obvious issues. Use a flashlight (or glasses) where necessary.

Brake inspection: check for proper operation, front and rear.

Cable and Hose inspection: Look for breaks, cracks, rust, kinks, etc…

Electrical wiring inspection: Look for dirty connections, breaks in wires, etc…

Tire Inspection: Check tire pressure, tread depth, side wall weather cracking, etc…

Look at “bike’s name here” and give it your assessment, plan, and prognosis.

Document your inspection for future use.

Start a check list of items to accomplish.


I save steps in the process leaving the dry bike in the back of the truck and I “fog it” in place. My truck has a plastic liner in the bed. It cleans out quite easily. As such, I have no problems leaving the bike in the bed of the truck to Fog it.  Fogging can be done with almost any spray can lubricant that comes out in a mist.

To prep the exterior of the bike for fogging, remove the fuel, side covers, and seat, if not hinged. This should give you access to coat the frame, engine, wheels, forks and basically everything that could use a good rub down cleaning.  Remember to soak the bottom of the seat and the tank.

I seem to have the best luck with this process when I rub the oil with a shop towel into the bike’s parts immediately after spraying. This gives an even soaking and applies the first wave of rubbing (cleaning) in the cleaning process.

If you are going to change the tires before your ride this bike, you may not worry about oil on the rubber. But, I recommend either covering the tires before spraying or doing a good job of wiping the oil off the tires after soaking is complete. Cleaning the tires with a citrus based hand cleaner should do the job.

In order to maximize the effects of this fogging, let it sit at least overnight. The soaking process has many benefits. Softening the remaining dirt and grease, soaking any rusted spots can stop the rusting process, and the oil also gets a chance to penetrate for all its benefits.

For restoration purposes, this process can be done with oil that has a penetrant included. But this same process, using oil without a penetrant can be a great way to preserve a bike that may spend time being neglected. A simple wipe down of exposed areas and the bike is ready to ride again.

Do not coat to the point of causing the oil to run. You will only have to chase it down and wipe it up sooner or later.

Finding the Grid Marshall (Test Your Symptoms)

So far, all we have covered is loose dirt removal and oil saturation. I covered this process early under the premise that I may not get to a bike for months at a time.  I recommend others get to this point first, so that it actually happens to their bike sooner rather than later or not at all.  With only a couple hours of work invested and virtually no money spent so far, it’s time to take the next step.

(Note: I will be continually making all my specific references about the 1968 to 1973 CB350 and CL350 Honda two cylinder motorcycles, since that’s what I race and restore, mostly.  It should not be difficult to translate any differences to your actual project bike.)

Based on the philosophy I use, it’s time to ensure that all the basic requirements are met to make the bike run.  So, I start with the basics necessary for any internal combustion engine.

Know Your ABCs

Premise: The following procedures should be performed with a freshly charged and fully functional battery, new clean spark plugs, and a tank full of new fresh gasoline.

A: Compression:  Turn off the gas at the petcock and drain the carburetors!

Compression testers are available on eBay for less than $30 delivered to your door!

Take compression readings on each and every cylinder. First take readings on every cylinder with all plugs removed and the throttle twisted open. Then add 1 tablespoon of clean engine oil to each cylinder by squirting it into the spark plug hole. Take readings for each cylinder again.

Ideally, you will get 90 PSI (I have had very acceptable results with 65 PSI, but that usually rises after the rings break free and settle in) or more on each cylinder with all cylinders being of similar readings. Also, you should not see much difference between the dry and the oil added readings. If such is the case, count your blessings and move on to step B:

(If the compression reading is not up to specification, then engine overhaul may be necessary. Consult you manual for more information. You may continue, but remember that any issues you have may be related to this compression issue. This may mean anything from correctly adjusting the valve clearance, if a monkey was wrenching on the bike before you to major internal parts replacement.)

B: Ignition: Turn off the gas at the petcock and drain the carburetors!

While the spark plugs are still out of their plug holes, snap them into the plug caps at the end of the spark plug wires. Rest them on the cylinder head so that you could see a spark at the spark plug, if present. Good electrical contact is required between the metal ground (threads or nut section of the plug) Ensure the engine kill switch is on “in the run mode”. Then, either using the kick starter or electric starter, turn the motor over and watch for spark at the plugs.

Ideally, you will get a bright blue sparks at each spark plug.  We are not going to worry about the timing of the sparks just yet. We just want to know that we have a system that can make sparks.  If such is the case, count your blessings and move on to step C:

(If no sparks are present or the sparks are weak and intermittent, you must resolve the ignition problem. This may be as simple as cleaning or replacing the points to serious trouble shooting of the ignition system.)

Disconnecting and reconnecting all the electrical connectors can clean up electrical contacts. Consider replacing any bad electrical wiring or connections.

C: Fuel Mixture: Turn off the gas at the petcock and drain the carburetors!

Safety glasses make sense any time you are splashing or spraying chemicals

Before proceeding, let’s take stock in what we have so far. You have compression without issues. You have spark that appears to be ready for action. These two indications mean you are on your way with very little major mechanical issues (or you have already resolved them).

In this step, we are going to take a different approach.

Working or not, we are going to assume that you have a problem in your carburetors…

As such, we are going to make them new again.

Dismount the carb cables, choke cables, fuel lines, drain lines, air filters, and any other connections to the carburetors.  Remove the carburetors from the engine. (Using a bread box sized plastic tub can help keep things together.)

Disassemble the carburetors and keep each of the carburetors and their parts separate from each other. Remove all jets, needles, screws, floats, caps, bowls, etc…

Inspect the parts for wear, rubber compression, cracks, breaks and any obvious problems.

Using a one gallon carb cleaner from your local auto parts store, soak the carb bodies and all parts as directed by the instructions. (Do not exceed duration in instructions as you can soften the metal. Read all directions.) Remove from soaking and remove the remains of the 1 gallon can of carb soaking cleaner as directed. Inspect all parts again. Be sure to remove all remnants of cleaner product.

Q-tips are a great way to dry and clean the inside of carburetors.

Do not leave any of the Q-tip behind.

After soaking up most of the excess carb cleaner, use the straw included with your can of carb spray to test for passage at all ports in the carburetor.

The benefit of having a twin with twin carbs is the ability to spray “red straw” carb cleaning spray through each and every one of the ports in all directions. This phase of the carb cleaning process may be best using the Sesame Street  song “One of These Things Is NOT Like the other”…

This stage is best if you spray a port on one carb making note of the amount of spray that comes out and what port it came out of, then do the same to the other carb. The brass jets in the vacuum dome area, fuel mixture screw ports, float needle port (for supply of gasoline), jet ports, vents, ALL PORTS where gasses or liquids flow through. IF you should a port on one carb that passes carb cleaner better or different from the other carb, you have identified a problem to address.  Using the K&L carburetor cleaning tool, send the larges wire tool into clogged ports that will fit inside. You’re trying to break free any debris that is preventing carb cleaner spray from passing through the port.

Safety glasses make sense any time you are splashing or spraying chemicals

The main goal here is to spray in one port and make sure that the carb spray comes out the other end, no matter where that may be. Compare carburetors to each other and make sure that both carburetors give the same results. Even the tiny holes in the carb throat on either side of the throttle butterfly. Find them and make them pass cleanly.

Thin wires may be required (or more soaking) to break loose the caramel dried gasoline deposits. Sirius sells a great little carb cleaner wire set 35-3498 with the different sized wires necessary to clean carburetor air and fuel ports. Do not break off a wire in one of these tiny ports. You won’t like the results.

Once you have proved all the passages are clear, dry the carbs again.

On the CB350 stock carburetors, key areas of interest are the main and mid jet o-rings and the tubes that they seat into. Consider using a large Philips head screw driver and rotating it in the two ports where the jets slide into. They are some what tapered. This will remove any burs that might catch the rubber o-rings.

CV diaphragms should be inspected for cuts, holes, slices or irregularities that would prevent the vacuum slides from being operated correctly.  Proper installation of the float bowl gasket is important.

I had been rebuilding vintage bikes both out of necessity for my own bikes for decades and later for the resale bikes that support my racing habit since 2003. Very early on, I found Sirius Consolidated Incorporated was the consistent leader in availability and price performance of all the reseller of carb kits. Only as their sponsored racer did I find that in fact, SCI is the Keyster Carb Kit Capital of the World!

(For the CB/CL350 K2-K5 stock carburetors, the Keyster KH-1200 kits are the best kit for your restoration project. All new jets, nozzles, o-rings, needles, idle screw etc…) amongst the many options SCI offers, the KH1200 carb kits is the best and worth every penny. Even though there are two major models of carburetors made for the CL350/CB350 the KH1200 carb kit is the way to go.

***  The KH-1200 kit comes with a 72 mid and 105 main jet. These are the stock original which originally tended to run a little lean. Good for gas mileage and EPA ratings, there could be a risk of burning a hole in a piston at long highway or racing speeds. I recommend considering the CB350JK jet kit. For $35 you can have an assortment of the main jets to test the ideal jets for your riding situation. Another nice thing about the kit is you have spare o-rings, should you have issues with one.


Using the carburetor rebuild kits that you acquired from Sirius, compare all the old, removed parts to the new replacement parts.  If all seem the same, open the kit and replace all the old parts with new parts.

When the CB/CL350 carbs are fully assembled, perform the following:

Back off the idle adjustment screw until it is not touching the stop. Then screw it in until it is just barely touching the stop. Now rotate the screw in one complete turn, 360 degrees. Doing this to both carbs, should give you around a 1,300 RPM idle, when cold.

Also, screw the fuel mixture screw in or out to make the face of it flush with the cavity it is screwed into. This is a great starting point for fuel mixture. And will need little adjustment from that point.

Carbs: Once the tank is worthy of sending fresh, clean fuel to the carbs, then and only then would I recommend connecting to the freshly rebuilt carburetors. Only when you can be sure that you will not be sending any impurities into the recently cleaned and rebuilt carbs should you consider connecting fuel lines from the tank.

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines! (Make Vroom Vroom)

With a fresh battery, fuel, and ignition switch working properly start your engine. Be ready to shut it off ASAP should the engine take off and rev out of control. Common causes for this would include: a throttle cable popped of the 2 into 1 splitter under the tank, throttle cable hooked onto something preventing a relaxed cable operation, idle screws too far from the “not touching” point.

After getting the two carburetors to behave close to their expected performance and idling around 1,200 RPM, and when the engine is up to normal operating temperature, do the following.

A) With the motor off, turn in each of the idle screws ½ turn (180 degrees).

Disconnect the left side spark plug cap.

Start the motor and adjust the idle screw to the lowest idle setting that will allow the engine to continue to run for at least ten seconds.

(It’s a CV carb and needs to be calibrated to the new adjustment, give it a few revs.)

Turn off the motor.

Connect the left plug cap and disconnect the right spark plug cap.

Start the motor and adjust the idle screw to the lowest idle setting that will continue to run for at least ten seconds.

(It’s a CV carb and needs to be re-calibrated to the new adjustment, give it a few revs.)

Turn off the motor.

Connect the right plug cap.

If the idle speed is within tolerances, do not move the idle adjustment screws any further!

If not, you may need to lower the idle adjustment screws EQUALLY to within specifications. Rev between each adjustment to see

B) Start the motor and adjust the fuel mixtures screws to bring the idle up as high as the fuel mixtures will allow.  Rev the motor between each adjustment.

(It’s a CV carb and needs to be re-calibrated to the new adjustment.)

When you have adjusted both carbs to optimize the fuel mixtures, for maximum idle speed, repeat step A). No need to repeat step B).

(Keyster KH-1200 carb kit from Sirius Consolidated Incorporated)

For non-CB350 carburetors, I recommend that you disassemble at least one of your carburetors and lay the parts out on the table. You might even want to snap a picture at this time and keep it in your motorcycle folder on your computer.

Have these parts or the picture available when you go to Sirius because they have made pictures available of almost all the parts that they sell.

Take care to relocate all the parts in a manner that you do not damage any of the o-rings. The seals that these o-rings make are crucial to the carburetion and the fuel mixture.

Be sure to verify the float needle adjustments. With the float bowls remover, stand the carb up right and look at the float needle. You will notice it has a spring loaded pin in the bottom. As the float rises, it presses against this pin to push the needle up into the seat. This shuts off the flow of gasoline. Adjust the tab on the float so that it begins to depress the pin about 2/3 the way up and has fully depressed the pin before reaching the top it travel.

When you have confidently completed the installation of the carb kit contents, replace all other original parts necessary to operate properly and complete the assembly of the carburetors.

Install the spark plugs and connect the plug wires.  Install the carburetors and reconnect all lines and cables removed earlier. Inspect your work. Make sure that the project is ready for the gasoline to be turned on safely. If you are sure that everything is safely connected, turn on the petcock fuel supply.

Immediately check for gasoline overflow. Within one minute of turning on the petcock, gas will fill the float bowls if all other parts of the fuel system are working correctly.

If you have gasoline overflowing out the carburetors, shut off the petcock. Then, tap the float bowls with the wooden or plastic handle of a screw driver. This should allow the float needle to settle in to the seat and stop the flow of gas once the bowl is full.

Turn the petcock back on and verify the gas overflow issue is resolved. If not, go back to step C: Fuel Mixture.

Now that you have compression, ignition, and a newly rebuilt set of carburetors, it’s time to see if the bike will start up.

At the Starting Line

It has been my experience that if all the steps above are done properly and the motor is in decent condition, only two of the following will be required.  But…

In preparation for the first startup in decades, you may want to have the following:

Sets of new spark plugs,

Starting spray (ether from the auto parts store)

Totally fresh gas in the tank and carbs

A fully charged battery

And, some nice weather, if available

I recommend using the manual kick starter.


With any issues at all, you could wear down the battery and be chasing your tale for the rest of the day. Besides, if you get tired, you may be forced to think a little harder.


Running a motor that has been drained of oil can be costly.

1) CHECK THE OIL NOW! Fill as needed.

With a tank of new fresh gasoline, 2) turn on the petcock and allow fuel to pass to the carbs. Ensure that the float valves do not allow gas to overflow. (If so, tap the sides of the bowls with the handle of a screwdriver till fuel stops overflowing.)

3) Put the transmission in neutral and coast the bike forward and back to verify that the bike rolls freely.

4) Place the bike on the center stand on level concrete for the most stable platform to support the bike.

5) Turn the headlights off completely to save battery charge.

Remove the HEADLIGHT fuse if necessary. Not the main fuse.

Flip the chokes on (fully shut including flaps)

6) Turn on the ignition.

7) Press down on the kick starter until you get some compression resistance.

Release the kick starter and re-engage to the point of pressure/resistance again.

Hold the kicker at that point and then kick through.

If you have a runner, proceed to the next chapter, Turn One

From this point, if the bike is not running, you will need to vary techniques.

Partial choke, partial throttle, idle only or throttle wide open.

Either way you should hear forms of exhaust pops from ignition/compression/fuel combinations if you are close. I think I hear it running now…

If so, continue to the next chapter Turn One.

Off of the Track

If not, either troubleshooting or tune up procedures are next.

If you decided to short cut any of the steps above, now might be a good time to start over and do it right.

Determine the presence and amplitude of spark.

Components include points, condenser, coils, coil wires, spark plug and spark plug cap.

(Older plug wires with screw-on caps sometimes require ¼” trim after the cap is unscrewed. Try to leave any center conductor that you can when trimming. You can flair this center wire and place the screw of the cap in the center as you replace the cap.)

Timing of the spark

Is fuel getting into the combustion chamber? (Check plugs for wetness)

Recheck compression test.


Use the trouble shooting guide in your manuals. Don’t skip steps.

Tune up procedures

Remember, the main gist of these procedures is to get the bike up and running. Once you have done so, you will know whether or not it is worth putting time, energy, or money into the bike. If not, consider parting it out.  If so, do what is right for the bike.

Turn One

Beware, you’ve got a runner!

For those who have a decent bike that simply needed a little cleaning and effort to make it run, you are on your way to enjoying a vintage motorcycle. In order to keep it running with as little future effort as possible, stay in the mechanic mode for a short time still.

In order to avoid unnecessary damage, the first few minutes of running should be for the purpose of identifying trouble before it turns to damage. Listen to the motor cases. Listen down low, near the engine to hear if the cam chain tensioner has any issues.

Before putting the bike into gear, TEST THE BRAKES AND CHAIN SLACK AND TIRE PRESSURE, ETC…!

Test front and back brakes.

Check the chain slack and anything else you have not yet verified as being properly tightened, inflated, adjusted, etc…

When you have examined the motor and find no obvious issues, test the transmission.

Place the bike on the center stand.

Verify that the rear wheel rests in the air and not on the ground.

Start the bike.

Pull in the clutch.

Place the bike in first gear and let the clutch out slowly while giving a little gas.

Now put the bike back in neutral.

So long as the bike went into neutral, you should now be able to test all gears.

Don’t run it out to top speed with no resistance, but don’t try to test the transmission at idle either.  Give a little gas (1,500 RPM) and run it through all the gears.

Take it back to neutral

Take a driveway trip.

CAUTION! A motorcycle that has not run for some time may “JUMP” into gear or stall.

Beware of a clutch that may be gummed up, a cable that is not fully depressing the clutch or anything that may cause the bike to lurch forward.

With your foot on the brake, put the bike in gear.

Ride around and feel for issues. Check the clutch lever action, shifter response, suspension system, tire feel, etc…

When you feel comfortable, take it through all gears while riding.

You are looking for trouble before you take it out on the road.

If trouble is there find it now and fix it before you get on the road.

Final Lap

Change the oil. Maybe even twice within the first week (100 miles) of resurrecting it.

You have 5 to 25 years of motor acid in there. Flushing the oil is a good thing.

Do a complete tune up. Timing, valve adjustment, idle adjustment, cam chain tensioner adjustment, and any other resetting of the bikes aged wear and tear. Do what ever your manual recommends.

Inspections:  Inspect the ancient artifact:

Bearing inspection: Wheel, steering, swing arm, etc…

Brake inspection: Shoes/pads, pivots, springs, etc…

Cable and Hose inspection:

Electrical wiring inspection

Tire Inspection: If you did not mount and balance the tires, put your face in them. Check tire pressure; tread depth, side wall weather cracking, etc…

Detailed Procedures:  Fog and Wipe

Chain Scrub

Aluminum Grit

Spoke Shine

Tank Scrub

Finish Line

Your sources of information include the following and much more. You may have to use a search engine to find out information on your particular motorcycle.

Links:              Vintage Motorcycle parts and supplies http://www.siriusconinc.com/

CB350 and CL350 reference information http://www.honda350k.com/

Vintage Road Racing at its finest   http://www.wera.com/

WERA Road Racer’s BBS     http://forums.13x.com/


Work Sheet (for your shop)

Manuals: Haynes or Clymer

Approach:       1) To Clean and Protect.

Consider “Jack’s Black Magic” in your total vintage motorcycle dry cleaning process. Taking a quart of the old black oil out of a vintage motorcycle and transferring it to a one quart resealable oil container, while leaving room for about 3 – 5 ounces of liquid, spray a well shaken can PB Blaster into the container and top it off. Seal the 1 quart container and shake well. You’ve just made a quart of “Jack’s Black Magic”.

This liquid can do amazing things for a vintage motorcycle.

Using a toothbrush, spread it on an old brittle vinyl seat cover and leave exposed to direct sunlight. Continue to brush in more JBM in the warmth of the sun wherever it tends to soak in and “dry up”. Done over the course of a warm weekend, wipe off excess JBM and set aside for a week. Check back for some magic results later.

For any cables you plan to keep, brush on JBM and allow to soak in. To clean the frame, JBM and the toothbrush. For any difficult areas, feel free to repeat the JBM treatment. If truly stubborn areas resist, shake the can and spray PB Blaster followed by toothbrush scrubbing.

Electrical cables: Toothbrush in some JBM. Coils, gauge housings, painted upper and lower triple trees, swingarm, chain guard, forks, fenders, underside of the saddle/seat, foot pegs and kicker & shifter rubbers hand grips, (be sure to wipe off excess before riding), as well as any metal that looks “dry and corroded”.

Got paint that could use a sheen? Got chrome that could use some protection from the weather? JBM works great on almost everything vintage motorcycle EXCEPT TIRES.


2) To Revive and Keep Alive

3) To Restore and Do More

Products to have on hand:

Carb Cleaner (one gallon soaking can)

Carb spray with red straw


Brake parts cleaner with red straw

The Cool-down/Victory Lap

I hope this has been a positive reading experience for you. For the sake of keeping this timeless, I can be reached though the WERA BBS (http://forums.13x.com/), under the name of videojack.

If you decide to become a vintage racer, there’s no better or less expensive way to find out if it’s for you than on a CB350 of CL350 in the GP350 and GP500 classes of WERA vintage racing. There are other race organizations if you are not in range to race with WERA racers. Look for local or regional possibilities. Visit their races before joining. Get a feel for how important safety is with each organization.

So far, I have crashed three times in this millennium.

The first time I became aware of my surroundings to a familiar voice speaking to a paramedic. Being raised to be polite, I let him finish speaking before I said “I don’t know what he was telling you, but I’m back”. The paramedic then asked me a few more questions and told me that those answers were much more coherent than what she was getting from me before.

The second time, I was only out for a few seconds. But, I did decide to stand up before I had all my faculties and I crashed back to the ground. Good thing I was still wearing a helmet.  I landed right on my forehead.

The third time I crashed was at Nashville Super Speedway. I had just jumped back into the second infield section when I low sided. While sliding and spinning around and keeping track of where the bike was sliding, I was already figuring out my way back on the track.  I finished second place in the class that my bike was underpowered for. That’s not too difficult to do when you are one of the only two racers that showed for that class on that day. But, you do have to cross the finish line. And, after Tony the tech guy told me I could not return to the track with the foot peg pointing up in the air, I just slammed it down with one kick. He checked it and slapped me on the back. My cue to go!

I state this not only for humor in the reading, but to make a point. Wear a helmet.

Even in states where helmets are not required, I wear a helmet. When you go to Bike Week in Daytona, I’m the guy with the helmet on.  I’m here to write this stuff because in the past I have been in situations where being without a helmet could have cost me my life or permanent consciousness.  Wear a helmet.

I sure would hate to hear about a motorcycle story that I missed because of someone that read this article, resurrected a long dead bike, got it running, and didn’t live to tell about it.

Besides the sponsorships I receive, I pay for my motorcycle racing habit by taking the old ones and bringing them back to life. If you are interested in a nicely restored CB350 or CL350 check out the Atlanta section of craigslist http://atlanta.craigslist.org/ and see what I have for sale.  I usually have some way of letting people know it’s me like including something to the effect of my identifier.  Traffic trooper videojack

I have also worked on many other Honda single and twins as well as having a little experience in the four cylinder field.

Jack Houman

Dacula Georgia

Team Old & Oily

WERA Vintage # 796




3 Responses to FatAoVMR8x

  1. Pingback: Why Own a 350 Honda Twin for Your Vintage Motorcycle Collection? | videojack's Vintage Racer Space

  2. lwcriddle says:

    I saw a few of your craigslist posts and was eventually directed here. I sent you an email through one of the posts, but I’m not sure if it went through or not. I think what you’re doing is amazing!

    I am looking to buy my first motorcycle, and haven’t been able to find one with better reviews and ravings than the old honda CB350s.

    I am pretty sure that all of the bikes currently listed are already sold. However, this is fine. I live in Statesboro, Ga. So coming up to see you would take some planning.

    What bikes do you have that are coming up on the list in a couple or few weeks?

    Looking forward to hearing back from you,

    Luke Criddle

  3. Pingback: Safety on Vintage Motorcycles | videojack's Vintage Racer Space

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