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Honda CB77 bike du jour, an unexpected Part 3

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This could have been subtitled: The CB77 rebels… (or when bikes won’t leave).

Looking back through the years of buying and selling several hundred cars and motorcycles, it seemed like more than a coincidence that on the day, hour or moment of sale, some kind of unexpected “problem” arises to cause anxiety or some kind of upset in the situation. And so it was with the 1966 CB77 on the day of the eBay sale last weekend.

After riding the bike down to the local DMV on Thursday for a redundant additional “vehicle inspection” due to their own screw-ups on the title (somehow someone added an additional digit to the seven digit serial number), the bike suddenly had some issues crop up. The trip down to the office was uneventful and the bike showed no signs of any oil leaks. The return trip was a different experience with the transmission getting caught between gears a couple of times and then leaving oil drips on the driveway as soon as we returned home.

The kickstarter cover was quickly removed and some oil seemed to be drooling out of the countershaft and the crankshaft areas. Replacement seals were rounded up and installed, but I ran out of daylight, so left the bike sitting in its newly-repaired state. I then became immersed in the CB650 project for several days and kept thinking about taking the CB77 out for a check ride before the eBay auction closed on Saturday morning. The CB650 work didn’t stop until about 4PM Saturday, so there was little time to fire the bike up for a test run before it became dinnertime and dark outside. The bike fired up okay, but when it went a half block away, suddenly the gear shift function became stiff and frozen. There only seemed to be two gears to select and neutral wasn’t one of them. I quickly returned back to the house and drained the oil, pulled the clutch cover and primary drive parts off the motor to access the shift drum. It seemed impossible to move, for reasons unknown, so the only option was to pull the motor and see what was going wrong inside the transmission.

The engine was on the bench in less than an hour and it appeared that the cases had never been split before they were put together at the factory. Honda uses a green-ish colored sealer that is distinctive when you see it. The findings were pretty much the usual; low gear bushing ridge worn off and the gear was sliding back and forth, plus having a little wobble at the same time. The kickstarter pawl had a worn flat spot where it engages the low gear bushing and the gear dog engagement was only about 35-40% on one of the gearsets. While the transmission shafts were out, the gear ratios were juggled by doing the “X” treatment, where the center two gears on each shaft are criss-crossed between each other, resulting in a closer ratio gear step between 1st and 2nd and 2nd and 3rd gears. With all the juggling done and new parts installed, the cases were bolted back together at 9PM that night.

Starting in about 10AM on Sunday, the work continued as the primary side components were checked and reassembled, then the engine was stuffed back into the frame and final assembly continued. By 1PM the bike was up and running with a newly rejuvenated transmission. Test rides went well as gears were selected, so it seemed that things were finally heading in a positive direction. The new owner lived about an hour’s drive away in N. San Diego County, so I gave him the green light to come on down and pick up the bike. He was waiting as I returned with a second test run and he just loaded it up and hauled it back North again.

He understood that the bike’s paperwork was all pending, so when the license plate arrived two days later, I called to see if he wanted to have me send it up immediately. He had a temporary permit which was issued by DMV which went with the bike, but he chose to wait until the title was sent back to me, then I could just send all the paperwork and plate together at once. He had taken the bike out for a local ride the day before and had a few questions about various functions. I gifted him a copy of my Honda Restoration Guide CD, so hopefully he will have all the information he needs for any future repairs or maintenance work ahead.

I am glad that the bike had its little “fit” while it was still in my custody, but I swear that this was another example of a bike that “won’t leave” without a fuss and some final unexpected repairs. Hopefully, there will be no fourth installment of this story!

Bill “MrHonda” Silver

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