Our SS50 has become a collection of small bits, packed in boxes that are scattered around the house, shed and workshop. Breaking the Honda down to its component parts has confirmed two important factors; firstly, getting all the parts required was going to be a mission on its own and secondly this project will be rather expensive.
Seat & Frame
The seat base was in a bad way, it was touch and go whether any repair was viable but the fact another (original) example was almost impossible to source made the decision for us; Alan cut away the corroded sides and replaced with solid steel, then lavished several healthy coats of gloss black to protect. Next stage will require additional foam then finally a seat cover, made to order and on route from Wemoto. The frame has presented few problems so far, it’s solid with very few places affected by corrosion, the odd surface scar where the paint has been lost, all easily fixed with a light skim prior to primer. As a creature of habit, flatting between coats is my preferred method and a smooth pre-paint surface was achieved after four applications of grey primer; the correct Honda ‘Rat Grey’ has been mixed by our friends at Mountspace Paints in Chichester and that job is next on the ‘to do’ list.
Wheels & Tank
These went away to Neil at Walton Works and he made short work of replacing the rims and spokes which were supplied via Mopedland. Having rebuilt several sets of wheels for us in the past, the image he sent of our pristine replacements came as no surprise, but the tank was always going to offer problems of its own. The large dent on the left-hand side was measured at 20mm at its deepest but after many hours of gentle pulling Neil somehow managed to remove all but the smallest indentations and completed the task with some fine filler work.
Candy Ruby Red followed several primer coats before his clever graphics machine produced the side stripes; once in position a deep lacquer finish would seal the deal. Neil admitted this little Honda tank has been one of the most challenging he has ever undertaken. The difference between a good resto and a great one usually comes back to the paint and the fuel tank is a centre-point of any project; it needs to be perfect and that’s why we sent ours to Walton Works rather than attempting in house.
It was a little embarrassing arriving at Cranbourne Chrome in Gosport with a box of rotten brightwork. How much they could salvage had been a worry since it became apparent chrome items such as mudguards were few and far between; stainless steel options fill the inter-web pages but with originality a priority this visit became a make or break moment. The car boot contained 15 rusted items of which 14 could be saved, the front mudguard failed the test and had no future in this resto. A tour of their works explained the process and went a long way to justifying why chrome plating is a costly affair.
Dipping old bits into huge caldrons of bubbling green liquids is just a small part of the procedure with the post stripping polish taking the majority of time when chasing that perfect surface. Like paint, unfortunately chrome doesn’t fill in any defects, eliminating those with belt sanders and polishers comes prior to the ‘bling’ moment. Two weeks later and I returned to collect and this time instead of just tossing everything into one large box, each item is carefully wrapped; preserving the deep lustre that took both time and funds to achieve.
Exhaust & Front Mudguard
With our original front mudguard proclaimed as a write off, a frantic search followed; poor copies from the Far East or stainless examples can be found but a NOS or quality chrome versions are not readily available. Nick Warner from Tewkesbury has a small Ebay shop which contained what I hoped would be a close replica and a deal was struck that left a noticeable dent in my budget and him minus one mudguard. It proved worth the expense, as compared to our original this bright new item proved to be a very close copy; the exhaust would prove much more of a saga. With a hole large enough to put your foot in, rotting from the inside out meant the original part was considered bin fodder. Its heat shield was salvageable and went away for chroming, but all on-line and well-known suppliers have long since sold their last copy versions.
Wemoto couldn’t source and David Silver let his last replica go many moons ago, I considered alternate pipes and even contemplated chopping up a Monkey Bike copy to reconstruct with what we had. Contact with old friends at Moto-Classic.com in Hampshire sent me on a 90-minute drive to collect an amazing original Honda exhaust still in its manufacturer packaging where it had remained untouched for decades. Sure, it wasn’t cheap but as always Moto-classic were more than fair considering they only had this one which came via a collector’s stash of motorcycle rarities and as things stand now in mid-July, we have virtually everything required to rebuild the SS50.
It took a day to remove the worst of any corrosion, old oil and grease from the motor and it was an obvious decision to replace any seals that would no doubt leak like a sieve once up and running. With that in mind, a couple of hours on Wemoto’s website not only sourced kickstart, gearchange, output and cam seals but also another 25 items as my clicking finger got carried away.
Thus, by the time I had completed my one-stop shop much of the essentials were in a large box that arrived from Wemoto’s Shoreham warehouse within the week. Whilst the engine is apart surely the time is right to replace the clutch and at under a tenner why wouldn’t you. This 30-minute job took several hours when two of the clutch housing screws refused to budge resulting in some ultra-careful drilling to release the pressure. We made our own clutch removal tool and once apart a gentle ‘nip’ with the vice allowed the large circlip to release and access to the clutch plates. Our carb had been left with fuel inside some 30 years ago, so a complete rebuild kit at just over twenty quid is a ‘no brainer’. Alan enjoys this type of job but in the quiet of his own workspace, so he took everything carb related plus the rebuild kit off to his own shed
Plan of Action
A steady stream of parts continues to return from blasting, all of which require colour, but our main priorities are to complete the engine rebuild plus spray the frame. Smaller items such as rear light bracket and centre stand are almost complete but the shed still holds dozens of items requiring completion. As with any resto the reassembly is time consuming to get 100% right but is also the most satisfying, so our schedule hasn’t altered with our first test ride planned for the autumn.
Until then every nut, bolt and washer enjoys a once-over whilst the parts washer has been utilised so much it now refuses to switch off until the plug is pulled from the socket. The workshop resembles a scrapyard whilst one room in our house plays host to boxes of new and restored parts; this obviously goes down well with ‘her indoors’. Luckily several hundred photos fill my mobile and computer, they will be essential as all these items come back together but right now, we have reached that point best described as the ‘end of the beginning’.
Walton Works: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005067645665
Cranbourne Chrome: http://cranbourne-chrome.com/