We reached the halfway point with our Honda PC50 restoration and apart from a lack of rear wheel, we were racing towards our time on tarmac; well actually nothing is fast on a PC50! The frame is in colour and this was followed by forks and rear carrier which was the only frame item that required time in the blasters cabinet. Removing the number plate holder and rear light from the plastic mudguard was a ten-minute job that took 3 hours, sacrificing the lives of several Dremmel discs. Alan (my co-peddar) took the front suspension units to face a gentle sand-blast and once return these responded well to a few coats of silver with lacquer topping but they’re of little use without new bushes.
The front suspension depends on plastic inserts and ours were virtually non-existent, worn through to nothing and whilst brass versions are available we know a man that can make them…. modern technology is a wonderful thing; sometimes. That same technology also produced a new knob for selecting engine mode, either free wheel or drive and all I had to do was insert the correct thread and secure with Gorilla glue.
It’s the Attention to Detail.
Some may consider it ‘anal’ but to us it makes sense; whilst everything is apart the chance is there to replace or restore, so best take it. Every nut, bolt and washer is checked, cleaned (often painted) or replaced and maybe it’s a therapeutic thing but to me this is the best bit of the resto. Boxes of prepared parts, making up a giant jigsaw that will slowly go back together … well that’s the plan. With the front wheel returned, at least the one half can be assembled and after cleaning the shoes a repaint of the brake mechanism produces a very close match to the fresh drum. Before any of these parts can ‘get together’ the head race bearings warrant replacing, they weren’t desperate, just a slight feeling in the straight-ahead position. Two packs of 3/16 ball bearings containing 30 each should be enough and once top and bottom races are cleaned, repacked and tightened down it’s all very smooth in the steering department. Now we are ‘on a roll’ and in goes the front suspension whilst the rear rack, light and number plate holder dries after enjoying the last of the light blue colour.
The seat, like many of this vintage has a tear in the cover. The replacements available are not to the same standard as the original part so I decided to attempt a repair that involved unpicking the cover, a repair to the original foam and finally securing the ripped section with a new piece of matching vinyl. This process took all day, involved plenty of bad language, strong adhesive and was followed by much self-congratulations and an early ‘beer oclock’.
Tank and Those ‘White Bits’
Residing under the seat on the left is the fuel tank, whilst on the right a matching plastic panel and along with the chain guard plus the headlight rim these are our ‘white bits’. The trouble is the original colour offers more of a satin white, with little gloss and a bugger to match; which became a problem as the tank enjoyed several chips which were destined to become scabs.
Originally, the headlight rim was chrome but unfortunately most of its finish has long since fled, so after another trip to the blasters any defects were filled, and this part would be painted. On the tank and corresponding panel, the Honda decals are actually made of thin tin plate and sourcing new blue versions proved to be impossible thus some diligent masking was required. We found a colour match by accident, several coats of a soft satin proved far too dull but the addition of a light lacquer finish got a near match. The front light originally resembled something that had spent the last few years in a garden pond but came apart readily enough. Once reassemble the wiring loom (which consists of a couple of dozen strands) was reconnected, helped no end by the fact we labelled each one when removing.
Just four bolts secure our OHV motor of 1.8hp back into the frame; now shiny with fresh paint, it’s a ten-minute job and with the return of the rear rim from East Anglia prior to Xmas, I became full of the seasons cheer. Now I could avoid all that festive waffle on TV and lock myself in the shed. Neil & Mark at Mopedland had pulled out all the stops and done a fantastic job into the bargain and a celebration Greggs sausage roll followed as the little Honda once again stood on its own rubber; the first time in three months. A new chain was chopped to fit with a replacement front sprocket (the old one had teeth but all pointing east) whilst the brake adjustment proved a challenge but an hour later we had stopping power; not brilliant but then it doesn’t have to be.
With no ignition fitted it’s easy for any unscrupulous ‘ped-fiddler’ to ride away with our little Honda and with the original steering lock minus a key; a new unit supplied by Mopedland at just £7, bolts straight in. Everyone enjoys the ‘glory jobs’ and my favourite would be attaching the new exhaust, it completes the motor and adds plenty of chrome bling with just three bolts and twenty minutes; as long as you don’t forget to fit the new copper gasket first. When I purchased this PC, it was immediately obvious either the right-hand pedal or its accompanying crank was bent, no doubt having been flung into the tarmac during the past; I found a NOS example on line and with a new set of Roadster pedals to match, starting this ‘ped’ no longer requires one leg shorter than the other. A final carb clean before the first test start… fresh juice, fuel on and disaster, as the rubber hose decided to split just before its connection to the carb. Ok, it was obviously old and brittle and a cheap fix, but this hose runs inside the frame which would entail taking the engine back out! Not accepting that, two hours of frustration followed with the assistance of a wire coat hanger, several rolls of string and duct tape before we were poised for a second test start … two spins with my size tens and we had a running motor.
Having spent the last 3 months taking this machine down to its last nut and bolt I felt pretty confident the test drive would go well; persuading Alan (crash test dummy) it was an honour to be first on the road, we ensured his safety with a fake German bash hat from China and lots of encouragement. Sure, its mid-winter but we were only going a mile or two. Initially, he was happy enough before the streaming eyes began to affect any vision but just as the first signs of hypothermia set in through chattering teeth he was happy to conclude; ‘rides and stops really well …. Bit flat at low revs but offer some pedals assistance and she pulled up to thirty!’ Taking pictures of this momentous occasion from the ‘chase car’ complete with heater, we captured the moment just as darkness set in.
This slice of seventies transport will now hopefully be around for many years to come but for now she remains dormant waiting for next summer. In the meantime, the next rusty ‘wannabe’ sits on the ramp but that’s for another day; right now its ‘beer oclock’ and all’s quiet down the ‘ped-shed’.
Grant Ford for www.classic-motorbikes.net
Honda PC50 K1 Specification
- Engine: Air Cooled 4 Stroke OHV Straight Single 49cc
- Fuel delivery: Single 14mm Keihin carb / Sips juice
- Power: 1.8hp@5700rpm / Hold on to your hats
- Torque: 0.29 kg-m @ 3,500 rpm / On hills needs pedals
- Performance: Zero-30mph to Zero / Just under the hour
- Top Speed: 35mph / Not carrying my bulk
- Brakes: Drum front & Rear / It’s the thought that counts
- Ground clearance: 5.5 inches / Knee sliders not required
- Fuel Consumption: 200+mpg / Never fill up, goes off
- Weight: 50kg / Throw it in your estate car
- Voltage: 6 volts / No battery 23W generator
- Smiles per mile: 10/10