Since beginning this season’s strange resurrection of a basket carrying Honda mini-bike, the first question to come forth when explaining our current task is normally ‘What the hell is a Chaly’? Well, everyone remembers the Top Gear Xmas special when three proper presenters decided on a two wheel crossing of Vietnam and as always, failure meant completing the journey aboard the worst kind of alternate transport, in this case it was a stars ‘n’ stripes painted Honda that blasted out ‘Born in the USA’ loud enough to bring deceased Viet Cong back to downtown Hanoi; that is a Chaly.
Let’s be honest, if it was that easy, everyone would want to play ‘resto the old bike’, wise words from the Silver Fox, me old mate Alan. She is a fighter and whilst some fastenings offer easy surrender, like the swing arm bolts (fortunately), others insist on suicide before releasing their grip. Whilst I am starting my excuses early, the biggest issue we have with this CF70C is its 12-volt capacity and the fact that virtually no supplier stocks parts for this model; I can buy a complete machine for a 6 volt but parts for this model are rarer than a hot British summer. Certainly, I didn’t expect to breeze through this rebuild, but my lack of knowledge has come back to bite me in the gonads yet again. At this stage all we can do is breakdown what we have, all the time trying to preserve everything, although we are finding she is a rough old girl. Saying all that, we do enjoy a grotty resto, makes us look so much cleverer when our efforts go on display at the end but that is still months away, so best crack-on.
The Full Strip
In the words of Ant and Dec ‘Let’s get ready to grumble’ and boy did I enjoy a moan getting the chain and sprockets off; having enjoyed grease applied with a shovel over the years this didn’t stop the front 15 teeth all leaning to the left. Once I found the split pin, it was onto the swing arm which looks rotten but is remarkably sound and will face the blaster prior to a splash of primer to protect. Once again, I have claimed squatter’s rights over the greenhouse and whilst ‘she that must be obeyed’ had a moan, after 20 years of putting up with my resto habits, concluded it was preferable to me paint spraying on the kitchen table. Meanwhile, my pal had unpicked the seat cover and peeled the foam from its rust covered base, in the game water, sponge, metal…H2O always wins but luckily we caught this one before the full time whistle and salvaged all but the vinyl. Alan knows a man with a sponge saw (yep there is such a thing), so I marked out the amount that required removing and that went away allowing time to de-grot the metal base and seal with lashings of primer. The rather unfortunate tail light bracket, seat lock combination will need some thought, it sticks out the rear like a large boil and that won’t do.
De Wiring – Lessons Learnt
I would consider our efforts over the past ten years of taking unwanted mechanical ‘tat’ and resurrecting it into shiny, mobile old ‘tat’ qualifies us as restoration ‘veterans’ or at least ‘regulars’. One mistake made previously will not be repeated; when stripping out the wiring, mark everything as this just gives one a chance of having some electrical capacity when your machine goes back together. Varios methods can be applied; we prefer the ‘number’ approach as we can both count to 100 without too many issues. It’s amazing how much of a ‘birds nest’ lives within this strange little bikes headlight bowl and we reached nearly forty in the masking tape numbering game. Colour coded wiring cannot be trusted as you always have some left over, so we marked each connector with a number and its corresponding wires accordingly. Rather than risk damaging the electrical cables in removal we secured everything back inside the frame and this then released the handlebars and front basket frame that we won’t be re-fitting.
There is no doubt, old Alan’s engineering brain does have its moments, like the frame he constructed to hold the Chaly on our moveable table. Not only can we work outside when that one summer day arrives but the frame can be lifted, tilted or even laid on its back, offering access all area’s for the sockets and spanners. Honda’s legendary four stroke single is secured by four bolts and luckily just one of ours was a non-factory bodge; featuring incorrect thread and bent like a banana it resisted everything except the mighty mole-grips. Once that gave in we just pulled the rear of the frame down (lifting the front) leaving the motor on the bench. Externally the condition can only be described as rancid, resembling something that endured a wet field at Glastonbury with several decades of caked on crud seemingly welded to the casing; ‘that’s your job’ my mate reminded me.
His contribution to the engine clean involved removing the world’s smallest carb and spending half a day painstakingly disassembling and cleaning before proving the value of his toil by removing a lump of crud the size of an iceberg from the main jet; no wonder she wasn’t inclined to start! With my attention span starting to wane, the engine scrub up took a back seat as we attacked the wheel hubs with a whirly wheel attached to the Black and Decker. In less than an hour decades of old grease, mud and corroded paint had departed, mainly on my tee shirt and we both resembled coal miners after an eight-hour shift.
Fork-off; What a Saga
With the easy stuff done we looked at the tiny workshop manual I was lucky enough to find on-line; our task, to remove whatever sits inside the sealed fork tubes. Yes, for these springs, circlips and nylon bushes there is only one exit and that is out the bottom. We assumed (wrongly) they could be attacked from both ends but the book explained that once the circlip was removed, tiny holes on the tubes allowed a mini screwdriver or hairpin access which could ease the sealing ring free, then the internals would just pull out. Sure, and I would take top prize in that week’s ‘Health Lottery’. No amount of pulling and bashing helped and by the time we were standing knee deep in WD40 the situation was looking desperate. Sure we re-read the manual but the words hadn’t changed, we did however find one of the nylon bushes had dropped a fraction allowing us to pick it out from either side.
Once released the problem was obvious, 30 odd years of neglect allowed the original grease to become super glue, sealing the nylon inside the fork tubes. It was certainly easier than prizing open Alan’s wallet, as the second fork finally gave in after an hour, and laid out on the garage floor the internals looked horrific, although they are complete. Another hour with the brake cleaner and we realised that the fork internals were all in fairly good condition, although it became easy to spot why we had excessive movement at the base. One pair of worn nylon bushes were going to be our biggest problem; they just don’t manufacture them for the 12v version anymore but we enjoy a cunning plan, well at least I thought we did!
As beer-o’clock came round again, it was time to make some decisions. The hubs would need priming as would the swing arm and seat base; this would all reflect on the top coat choice that we had yet to conclude. Alan wants yellow and for once he ain’t for turning but a light colour and home paint jobs don’t usually match. Yellow body and wheel rims to be contrasted by black hubs, graphics, 7-inch bowl headlight and handlebars; whilst I prefer the opposite with some wine red thrown in. Blimey, someone will spend some serious toilet time considering all the choices. I can’t even make my mind up what tyres to fit so I am in no position to argue and my main concern is not to burn my gob on the Pucker Pie that had recently been removed from the oven. I promise to grab some colour charts and consider his proposal during my morning ablutions but one thing is for sure, we are still a long way from applying a top coat whatever the colour.
- Bits return from blasting and I begin the priming
- The body needs attention removing the chips and scratches takes days
- A visit to my mates at Sussex Rolling Road where I buy a pair of rubbers
Grant Ford for www.classic-motorbikes.net