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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I bought a 1981 CM400E in the middle of last year. I rode it daily and put 2k on it before this whole thing began.

I tried to start it and heard what sounded like a loose chain or something just spinning freely in the starter. This happened each time I tried to start it until something in that area began making what I can only describe as a "zipping" noise. Like a drill or an RC car. I researched a bit on here a bit and thought it could be the starter clutch. I also read that the case must be split to access it on the 400... BUMMER.

So, having that knowledge but no tools or viable workspace to perform such a task, I resigned to bring it to a shop. During its time in the shop, they discussed the labor costs and I decided it cheaper to buy another engine and swap them.

Now it gets funky.

This was all going on during thw holidays. I dont know how, but they bought me a Hondamatic by some error. I laughed. They laughed. I cried.

Once the holidays passed, they swapped out the engine and I picked it up. Loved the Hondamatic by the way! They modded the gear lights so 2nd lit up neutral. I asked them specifically about the battery and the starter and they said they were both fine. It ran great until we had this cold snap and I had to bust out the trickle charger the other night.

...but now here we are, 7 days after I picked it up from the shop and I once again find it unable to start. After a few attempts, it begins making that SAME NOISE.

WHAT DO I DO?

The case on the Automatic has to be split the same as the manual, right?

Can I just kick start it instead?

Is there something the shop didn't address that may be causing this to happen again on a completely separate engine? This is my daily rider. Help me please, oh wise ones!
 

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The case should NOT need to be split to work on the starter on either bike. The springs and caps are what goes bad on the starter clutch. They can be bought in a repair kit for around $40.00 and only take about an hour to change. However you can kick start the bike.
TOOLS
 

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To answer your question yes you have to split the case to get to the starter parts if its not the starter thats bad. It would be interesting to see how they wired the CDI box on the E frame to work with the 400a electronics. Everything being the same it should start and run with the kick starter just be sure its in neutral for it will start in gear. If ran all right before the noise it should run all right if you kick start it. If the starter clutch is bad it may cause problems with the crank down the road but maybe not. Id start saving my change for another E motor and swap it back out as soon as I could. Change your oil and look for iron bits to see if the starter bits are not chipping off.

Just my thoughts.

Bill
 

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Tools knows a lot more about working on these bikes than I do so he is probably right but I pulled the drawing and it looks to me like you have to split the case on the 400 to get to the starter clutch. What the heck Ive been wrong before.

Bill
 

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It has been a few years since I worked on one of these, but I cannot remember having to split the cases to get to the starter, or starter clutch.
TOOLS
 

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I just dug out a manual for that bike, and to my surprise the starter clutch is inside the case. However it looks like if you just turned the engine upside down, you could pull the bottom case and get to it. No need to disassemble the engine. The repair should still have been cheaper then buying and replacing the engine.
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I am now getting really interested in this. From what you are describing about the sound, I wonder if the starter drive gear, or the idler gear has went bad. I would pull the starter off and look at the gears. You should be able to see the idler gear in the case with the starter removed. If the idler gear is bad, it looks like if the engine was removed and the bottom case half removed, the idler gear can be removed from the shaft and replaced very easily.
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I just dug out a manual for that bike, and to my surprise the starter clutch is inside the case. However it looks like if you just turned the engine upside down, you could pull the bottom case and get to it. No need to disassemble the engine. The repair should still have been cheaper then buying and replacing the engine.
TOOLS
Wow, thanks for all the feedback. If I can flip the engine over and access the pieces I need to replace, I may fix BOTH and sell the automatic.

I will be in contact with the shop first thing tomorrow. I feel more like I got cheated now, but honestly, just knowing I can kick the thing over and get to work takes a load off my shoulders.

I'll update as things move forward, but I just found a 79 CB750A for 1200 on craigslist I may scoop up. For now I'll rip the shop a new one and snag a kick start lever off EBay.

Thanks again, the both of you.

Sent from my LGL163BL using Tapatalk
 

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I'm also curious about the swap. Is your clutch lever now a parking brake or just flopping in the breeze?
 

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I pulled out my 400 manual and it looks like the starter gear and clutch are mounted to the crank shaft and the motor will have to be completely torn down and the crank shaft removed to repair it if thats the problem. Bummer but I think thats what your looking at.

Thought about the CDI box between the two different motors and if they changed the alt and fly wheel between the two it would work. The alt and fly wheel from the cm would bolt on the 400a motor and would be plug and go.

If you are not getting any noise and no junk in the oil I would run the bike using the kick start . If you have the skills I would find a way to rebuild the cm motor and put back on. Before I had a shop I did a complete frame off rebuild in a room off my basement. If there is a will there is a way.

Good luck, Bill
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A little late to the party, but to access the starter clutch or the starter idler gear, the case must be split. To repair the starter clutch, the crankshaft indeed must come out of the case. To accomplish raising the crankshaft from the inverted, open case, the cam chain must be undone, requiring the cam shaft to be removed, which requires the head bolts to be removed, etc, etc.
 
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