Honda CB 550 fork rebuild: Part 1

With my imminent departure for Barber Vintage Days in Alabama, I figured it was about time to get down to business with my Honda CB 550 fork rebuild.  I had gathered all the parts for this procedure long ago, buying new fork seals, Progressive Springs, and some fresh oil.  I was lucky enough to have found this VIDEO: watched it several times and took notes.  The hurdles seemed minor, compared to some procedures on this bike, so I launched into it with gusto.

Strange looking without the forks…

First step was to remove the front wheel, and I would highly recommend removing the fender as well.  I instantly scratched the paint job I did on my chopped fender – causing no lack of frustration.  Moving on, I got the wheel off, used an oil jug to prop up the front brake caliper, and loosened the bolts that hold the forks in the triple trees.  I had been warned repeatedly to loosen (not remove) the 6mm bolt in the very bottom of the forks, before fork removal.  Everything I read insisted that these would be tight, and that use of an impact wrench would make things much smoother.  I tried my cheap one from Harbor Freight with no luck, and finally had to use one of the other members better Craftsman to get them going.  Unfortunately, I stripped the one bolt, and thought I was doomed.

I removed both forks from the bike, brought the one with stripped bolt to the vice, and got the stripped bolt out, after pounding a larger sized bit in the hex.  Ugh!  Time for a replacement bolt.  Moving on…

This pic doesn’t capture the nastiness…

The rest of the forks came apart easily, other than having to look at the sad “oil” that drained from the fork bodies.  I’m sure that once this was oil, but now had turned to a strange mix of water and muck.  So glad I was doing this before the trip! Also, the uppers were completely rusted.  Sad, since I had hoped to expose them with aftermarket fork ears/headlight mount.  That will have to wait for a later fix…  I quickly slathered some Evaporust onto them, cleaned them, and then went at them with some wet/dry sandpaper.  The photo below shows a slightly better looking fork upper.

Rust has set in behind the gators…

I planned on getting the forks apart, and buffing the lowers before reinstalling them.  A little shine would go a long way, so I quickly went over them with 600 grit wet/dry paper, and then a short time on the buffing wheel with black and white rouge compounds.

Before and after the polishing…

That’s where it stands today.  I plan on doing the rest of the cleaning and polishing, and then getting them back on the bike, with a fresh set of non-stripped bolts.  Final pics to come…

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