Honda 400 Four

Part 6

'Scottish' Bike nears completion

    Having recently sold a couple of bikes and made a little bit more space by rearranging things, I decided it was time that I assembled the red (Scottish) 400/4 which Iíve been working on for a good number of years between other jobs but mainly when the mood takes me or other projects have stalled. This bike was given to me in a very dismantled state when my Nephew was clearing out a shed in Fife, Scotland following the death of his Father in Law.

Collecting the remains of the 400/4 from Fife in Peter's P100 pickup


......and the seized engine

    Once I got my hands on it I cleaned and de-rusted everything so most of the dirty work had been done and it was then partly assembled into Ďlarge lumpsí or sub-assemblies - the frame and yokes were done, having been stripped, primed and painted many years ago. The wheels were rebuilt with the original rims re-chromed and spokes and nipples re-plated . The engine was stripped, rebuilt and the cam-chain replaced and adjuster made to work correctly, with all new gaskets and seals and a fresh coat of silver smooth Hammerite spray applied to the cases.I had left it all in large lumps because it would have meant that I would have had to find room for another complete bike, whereas it was easy to store the parts in different places in the workshop, many of which were put out of harmís way in the upstairs area. The original tank and side panels were re-finished years ago and I had bought many of the now unobtainable parts from David Silver over the years and just carefully stored them for later use - how about a genuine, totally complete, brand new exhaust system and silencer for £150, or a new Honda brake disc for £10? These were the prices back then before it all got out of hand.

    Once the hydraulic bike bench was free of other projects I set the main frame on it with yokes and main stand attached and secured it with ratchet straps. It was then a simple matter to fit the rebuilt fork legs, front mudguard and wheel as these sub-assemblies had been done a while back. Next came the bottom half of the engine - much easier than a complete motor, first protecting the frame rails with thick cloths. I usually fit the long top rear bolt and then support the front lower edge of the crankcase with a suitable adjustable block so that all other bolts can then be fitted.

    It becomes a more straightforward job from here to attach all of the other items, like internal gear change mechanism, clutch, pistons, barrels and head as the engine is now firmly held for tightening everything.  The swinging arm and rear spring/damper units were next, followed by the brake pedal pivot and rod, torque arm and finally the rear wheel. I removed and repainted the sprocket guard and made 4 new alloy rivets on the lathe, so thatís looking good with the excellent sprocket zinc plated - just needs the new chain threading on.  Starting to look like a bike again for the first time in nearly 30 years, itís amazing how much enthusiasm it creates - not just for me but it spurs on like minded visitors to tackle some of their own stalled projects too! 




    Another bargain item bought years ago was a genuine wiring loom, which went on next and a set of genuine indicators and brackets, together with the refurbished instruments. I made a few parts from stainless but all other fasteners and fittings have been stripped, checked and bright zinc plated in the workshop in between other jobs. It really is starting to come together well and has the makings of a rather nice bike. There are lots of small jobs to attend to and Iím undecided at the moment about the faded switchgear - should I replace with genuine new ones or refurbish the originals? I had cleaned the carburettors a while ago in the ultrasonic bath but they still need the new 'Cruzinimage' kits fitting and the whole bank reassembling. 


    I had a new rear number plate made up in black and polished alloy and although I know some purists say they are not right, even though they are legal now the bike has gained ĎHistoricí status itís my preference. On that theme, even though itís exempt from MOT testing (and VED!), Iíll still take it along for a fresh pair of eyes to check it over in case Iíve missed anything.


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