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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This has been a long time coming for this machine, this bike has stared at me for way too long and finally something showed up that gave me the direction that I need to get it completed and back on the road. Yes talking about the CB550 that has graced my garage since around 2009-10 and has never gone anywhere do to constraints of not owning it for most of that time. Little back story, friend of mine decided that he wanted a cafe racer and he and I both started looking for a project for him and I to work on. Along came a decent but neglected 75 CB550SS, mostly complete, title, not been run since the prior owner died several years prior. It was another one of those ran when parked bikes so I told him go look at it price was good. Next thing I knew it was siting in my garage minus gas tank as according to him it was rotted through so he tossed it wasn't planning on using it anyway. We pulled the carbs and found them to be ruined due to corrosion, none of the primary jets had any of the post left to sit in. SO another one of those, something we see here all the time. He managed to find a good set of carbs at a junk yard in the area which I went through and cleaned and rebuilt.

Few days later I hung the bank on the engine and tried to get it running with an auxiliary tank. Thing backfired out of the carbs like it was out of time so I checked a few things and found someone had wired the coils backwards. It fired right up and ran after fixing that. We played and messed around with it over the next year or so doing this and that but never really getting it past a mock up stage. His schedule ended up changing to where he was never around and the thing just sat. One day we caught up and he handed me the title and told me have fun, he doesn't have time for it and he knows I will get it where it needs to be.

I've stared at this poor thing for years, trying to direct were it should go and watched as it had the ass end hacked off and spent many hours trying to figure out what I should do with it. Recently, I know this is stupid but I finally researched the VIN on it and found it to be a reasonably early version of this model, they came out in 75 and this according to the VIN, is around the 8500 one made, born on FEB date. And for some ODD reason someone on eBay had parted one of these and had cut the back end off the frame with all the parts I need to put the titled frame back into stock condition.

SO after that long winded BLAAA, pictures. Yes we had planned on using a CB500T tank, and they do fit although they need the petcock moved. CB450 tank fits as well.

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AS for perspective, this is how the rear end is NOW

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And this is what I got of good old eBay that constitutes the $100.

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This is the first time I have attempted to replace a large part of the frame on a motorcycle, with as much grinding and cutting that has gone on to this the best option thus far is to cut most if not all of the back end off and replace it. Yes plugging tubes will be involved as well an hunting down all the other parts needed to put this bike back to stock. I figure its early enough in the production cycle that it is worth saving.

And this is going to take some time, I have to gather many more parts to finish out the rest of the bike but there will be several modern upgrades as well, it already has a K&N air filter adapter and modern reg/rec and it will be getting a blade type fuse box and better lighting. It may end up getting the hard sided saddle bag I bought years ago and haven't used on anything. I've been saying I want it out of my garage and the best way to make that happen is to finish it. I will say that up till now I have about 10 years storage time in this and about $250 bucks in parts as I got the title for free so we shall see what else comes along.
 

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Frog,
Looks like a great project. These are really nice riding bikes. A good friend bought a 550F new in 1977. My kid has a '75 550K that needs a total restoration. I may start on it next. What is the plan for the frame? I think it would be best just to replace the tail piece behind the shock mounts. The 500T tank looks best :)
 

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Nice write up. Thanks for sharing and good luck with the frame. The 500T tank looks really cool but I guess you’re aiming for a more stockish look.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I do like the 500T tank, but I also like the look of this. I believe this is 77 dress, may have to copy it somewhat, I have a hard time leaving things perfectly stock. :D

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Jim, we sorta kinda ground off all the brackets in the triangle and were the tail got chopped was right through the molded pieces which got mashed to hold that pipe we used for the hoop. My friend got a little heavy handed with the angle grinder and got through parts of the frame where he removed the tabs so I figure cut back to good metal, plug and weld as much of the newer part of the frame on as I can, and be on to the next part.
 

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Love that blue color. They make a really pretty bike with those two engines sitting side by side.
 

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I would cut the top tubes in front of the cross member and the angled down tubes above the passenger pegs, make up some slugs and weld it together.
TOOLS
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Ok so things have gone as most men that have families that have new houses for me however I have not forgotten about this thread or this bike.

I have spent a bit of time researching this bike and what I know even more it's that it was owned by a service member from Barksdale AFB that got some reason moved it to the Lawton/FT Sill area. There is no ABF at FT Sill least there was not one while I was there I have more thoughts but for now this is a restoration based off of that from one service member to another.

Last 2 weekends have met with the following. I peeled off all of the fun parts and did the standard lay the bike on its side to get the engine out.

Frame is bare now time to figure cut spots and get to doing. This is one of those I need to make it in my way so it gets done at this point, can't wait to get it back up and running will be a good time.
 

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I've seen those "half a frame" frames on eBay. I guess this is their purpose? Have fun with it, they're only original once. Love that 4 cylinder howl.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Little more work done so far this weekend. Frame is down to where I want it to be before I start cutting, it's been kind of interesting as things are coming apart like no one has been here.

I'm going to see about the cutting and welding tomorrow I dont think the neighbors would enjoy an angle grinder right now.

I'm thinking I'm going to do a decent resto-mod, mostly stock, cream and green is something I've wanted to do for a while, this one might be getting it. 400f bars tasteful mods and a lot of chrome/polished deletion which means lots of paint.


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Frog, have you decided where you are going to splice the frame? If possible, I suggest preserving the engine mount points.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Splice points are going to be behind the engine cradle, midway in the triangle behind where the frame straightens out. I'm not at all interested in messing with the cradle area. Too much work to keep things straight.
 

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I'd cut the tubular top rails just behind the "stamped" section of frame, but carefully hacksaw so the gussets and sidepanel mounts remain with the replacement section.....Gussets rewelded from inside the frame would be unobtrusive and easily blended in.......
The other cuts would be just an inch above the top of the passenger peg/muffler mount triangles..... Slugs and filled holes in the tubes of course.....The inch gives you room to smooth the new welds back to round/flush/hidden.....

Phone for specific reasons, better descriptions if need be......;);)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks Steve kind of followed but went a little lower on the rear as I wanted to get one of the side cover mounts without having to cut and weld back on. I cut the rear peg mounts right at the frame to get them to stay. Since this is an SS model it has only one muffler so I am not as worried about getting both foot pegs perfectly even. Eventhough I will spend too many hours obsessing over getting them level.

Front side panel mounts will have to be cut out of the replacement frame and welded back in as we cut those out years ago. One of the helmet hooks will need to as well. I tried to cut the frame where I would have as little welding back in of cut off mounts as possible. As it is I have 3 still.

So far all of this planning/measuring/cutting has only met with one oops. I cut on the wrong side of the tape on one down tube but turned out it helps tremendously at giving plenty of wiggle room.

Either way pictures. I used the old loop for the plugs as the black iron gas pipe we used to make it fit well so why not. I will have to pull things back apart and bevel edges for better weld penetration but it seems to have worked as I am currently within an 1/8" all around from where measurements were which gives me plenty of room to grind excess down.

It already looks better...


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If there was a medal for those who save vintage motorcycles, this one would get it for sure. Nice work!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks Jim, we do what we do, it needs a better life other than sitting here and its easier to make it nice than deal with the botched mess that it was.

Much grinding and welding ahead of me but the hard part is over for now. Its funny how hard it is to just draw a line and cut.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Well, its stuck back together about as good as I am going to do. I really need a mig welding refresher as I ended up piling up way to much metal but it will be fine. That's what they make angle grinders for right? I have to grind and sand it flat anyway. Plugs also got drilled and plug welded 4 times a joint.

I will have to wait to weld some of the brackets on as I am going to wait until I get new side covers. 4into1 has a new repop set for 80 bucks so I'm going that route. Now I'm at the fun part, trolling ebay and local yards for parts.

And yes sharp eyes, the 450 got out for a ride and came back not wanting to idle. Oddly enough a few taps with a screwdriver handle on the side of the right carb which was barely running and it nicked back up. Float was stuck I guess. Always something I swear.


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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
And of course I have to put the stock seat and the 500t tank on and I'm like damnit that looks cool.

It would sit perfectly fine once the rubber is under it and I DO have this tank, I don't have a 550 tank... decisions decisions.


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