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Discussion Starter #1
I have to come clean and admit that I'm not a rider.

Not yet anyway.

Posting on the forum is a little intimidating actually.

I had a motorcycle endorsement when I was younger, and I occasionally rode motorcycles borrowed from friends (I once drove a CB750 from LA to Santa Barbara and back - a great memory).

But, I haven't been on a motorcycle in a long time.

I've never owned a motorcycle myself but the Honda CX500 is the bike I've always favored. They're just... cool. So when an unexpected opportunity presented itself totally out of the blue to buy a 1981 Custom for a really good price I pulled the trigger.

So... now I own a my first motorcycle.

Which makes me a noobie. More like a super noobie.

I'm competent with mechanical things but I'm no mechanic. I am careful, patient, and I strive to be methodical when it comes to projects. I take pride in my work. I know my limitations but I'm willing to listen and learn.

Here are some details on my '81 CX500 Custom:

The tab on the license plate is from '86. It doesn't appear to have run since then.
10k miles.
Pretty sure the bike was stored inside away from the elements.
Shows oil on the dipstick.
I can see coolant in the bottom of the recovery tank.

Some general observations:

Needs new tires of course.
No keys - needs new ignition module I assume.
Petcock is seized up.
Gas tank is extremely rusty.
Front brake inoperable and master cylinder is bone dry.
No handle grips.
I think the front alignment is messed up.
Battery is shot but electrical wiring looks pretty good.

Clues indicate the bike was put down on the left side:

Left headlight bracket bent.
Left front turn signal bracket is busted off, turn signal lamp missing.
Rear grab bar busted, left rear signal lamp busted off (but I have it).
Left air box scratched up.
Motor protection bar (after market I think) on the left side bent in (but not touching cylinder).

Here is the general plan:

1. Get it running.
2. Make it safe.
3. Take a motorcycle safety/certification course.
4. Become a rider (taking it slow). Enjoy the CX500.

Here is what I've done:

1. Bought the Clymer manual.
2. Downloaded the FSM (might print it off and put in 3 ring notebook)
3. Wiped the bike clean using a rag while admiring its beauty.
4. Hand turned the motor. It rotates smoothly.

Next steps:

Change the oil
New spark plugs
Change the coolant
New ignition module
New battery
Get the rust out of the tank (apple cider vinegar?)
Fix the petcock (can these be rebuilt)

Will I be ready to see if the bike will fire up at this point?

bike right side.JPG
bent right headlight bracket.JPG front view.JPG oil still on dipstick.JPG
bike left side.JPG instruments.JPG right carburetor.JPG
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you for the petcock advice. I have noticed a few members are here in MN and that makes me feel good. I'm in a first ring suburb of Mpls so hopefully Randall is close by!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you. Would I take that number to a Honda dealer to get a new key made? I assume the same key also works for the tank and the helmet lock?
 

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That's the same model bike, even to the year, color, and mileage, I got when I also got back into it years ago.
Except I bought it from a dealer in Madison in good running condition.
Although you have a long to-do list, all your answers are in the forum archives.
I expect it will take all summer for you to get it all done.
You are also going to be buying a lot of basic tools.
Best advice is to follow the factory shop manual to the letter.
Second best advice is to take lots of pictures before and during disassembly, bag grouped parts so they don't get lost, and ask dumb questions here.
Third best advice is take your time and back away when you get frustrated instead of going for a bigger hammer.
 

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It appears that the front wheel is OK and just the mud guard is bent which makes it look as if the wheel is out of kilter to the forks.
Nice score otherwise.
 

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Welcome aboard, put your intimidations aside. Many with less than you have have had great success with the help within. Oh, and they are NOT Philips head screws. They are JIS. Search forum on them. I had a bike just like that given to me, the gent even drove it an hour to deliver! Nelly was a great ride, and I subsequently let another member here take her home. I'm sure that story is around here somewhere......
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thank you! I think I have just learned a lesson about JIS screws. I tried to remove the two screws on top of the radiator shroud, on the left side, I realized something was wrong... but not before I ended up marring BOTH of them... grrr!!! I'm like two inches into the project and I've already made a stupid bonehead noobie mistake... Uff Da!
 

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Get used to that. By the way, on carb screws and other small screws, I typically switch to stainless allen heads, but nothing wrong with JIS as long as you are willing to get the screwdrivers. Also, I'm in Eden Prairie, but if I am free, I can maybe help some, but won't do your work for you, of course.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Just for fun I stopped off at Sears, Home Depot, and Jerry's hardware store on the way home from work. Not only do they not have JIS screwdrivers - the staff hadn't even heard of them (not surprising). I just ordered a set on-line. (Man, Sears is like ghost town these days.)

Thumper I would love to meet you. (I live over by Southdale.) I wouldn't expect you to do any work, of course, but your assessment of my CX, and your advice, would be pretty dang invaluable. When you have some time PM me for my address. Thank you so much!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
So... the short-term plan is:

Get keys made now that I have the code (Thank you Keith)
Need to de-rust the tank (it's really bad)
New petcock (probably go with a non-vacuum new one)
New battery
Change the coolant
Change the oil
New spark plugs

Can I try to fire her up at this point?
 

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Is the rust simply brown surface rust/discoloration, or worse ?
Is it big rust flakes that rattle around when you remove the tank and shake it ?
Or is it even worse than that, with holes eaten thru the tank ?
 

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If you bring the tank over I will look at it, I have a couple gallons of Evaporust that work, you can Google it and check it out.
 
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