Bought a 87 Honda Elite 50 (non running) - where to begin?

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nhill40
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Bought a 87 Honda Elite 50 (non running) - where to begin?

Post by nhill40 » Sat Aug 24, 2019 2:50 pm

Hi! So, I just took the plunge and bought a '87 Honda Elite 50 (non running) off CraigsList. I'm looking for some advice as to where to begin, and this looks like the spot to be! :)

For context, some brief background on myself. I don't believe myself to be completely helpless - as a home handyman/do-it-yourselfer, I have successfully tackled some projects that I think are a bit above average. I've accumulated quite an array of tools over the years and I'm dumb enough to buy more should the need arise. I have also spent the better part of my life fascinated with all kinds of machinery and have acquired what I believe to be a well above average "book understanding" of how many different mechanical devices (including internal combustion engines) work. What I severely lack is any kind of hands-on/practical experience actually turning a wrench inside an engine. But, like most guys, I am also possessed of a (probably mistaken) belief that I could if I wanted to...so here I am with a non running Honda scooter. :smile:

Right off the bat, I'll say any advice you have that starts with "before you buy..." is already too late - it's sitting in my garage! You are welcome to offer it, just know it'll do me no good!

The scooter itself looks worn, but in complete, reasonably maintained condition. I bought it from a college kid who bought it (non running) with similar motivations/intentions as I did. I know it needs a new battery, because none of the obvious electricals (lights, horn, etc) do anything. I also know the college kid replaced the spark plug (though I have no idea if it were done correctly). It's got a bit of oil in it and a bit of gas. If I kick the starter, it glug-glugs a couple time and stops (no evidence of any combustion happening).

I'm going to buy a battery for starters, but if anyone has any advice on the first couple steps/tests to try, they would be much appreciated! Thanks in advance!

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Re: Bought a 87 Honda Elite 50 (non running) - where to begin?

Post by nhill40 » Sat Aug 24, 2019 3:32 pm

Someone read my mind: http://hondaspree.net/wiki/index.php5/G ... n_the_Road

I'll start here!

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Re: Bought a 87 Honda Elite 50 (non running) - where to begin?

Post by Meatball » Sat Aug 24, 2019 5:37 pm

Thats a good right-up to read to get you started. Good basics there. It would be nice to know of any history of the scooter, if possible, before it was left for dead. Alot of times the previous owner(PO) claims it ran great, sat for some time, now wont start. This scenario is best since reviving it is typically very minor and cheap. Other times, the PO claims it died while riding one day, he attempted to fix, did not succeed and decided to sell. This case could prove to be a nightmare. Usually un-doing the PO’s un-handywork AND figuring out the actual issue proves to be a tall task.

Dont fret. Youve purchased a good scooter and made a sound choice. Plan to spend time reading, hunched over turning wrenches, getting greasy and spending money on parts. I suggest you post some pics of all angles to see if some obvious visual issues can be identified. There is a size limit to post pictures here so they typically need to be re-sized to post.

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Re: Bought a 87 Honda Elite 50 (non running) - where to begin?

Post by nhill40 » Sat Aug 24, 2019 7:16 pm

Thanks for the reply, reassuring to not feel quite so alone! :)

Yeah, wish I had more information - the kid I bought it from is an "intermediate owner", meaning he bought it non-running from the previous owners (who could not get it started). The (nervous) thought that someone else (or multiple someones) may have mucked around a bit with the scooter has definitely crossed my mind. There isn't anything that looks obviously jacked up, but there are definitely a couple places where I have found screws not quite fastened all the way down, etc. Could mean at one point someone had this pretty well stripped down, got frustrated, and slapped it back together before they lost anything.

I will definitely post some pics, but a couple questions I've run into:

1) When I manually move the engine ahead, it moves smoothly/freely and I definitely get a "compression bump"...but I also hear a slight hissing sound as the compression increases. Is that bad, or is that just the air being forced back up into the intake?

2) Should the starter motor make any noise? I've got a battery hooked up, lights work, etc, but when I hit the starter button, I can hear/feel the relay make a pretty good "click", but the starter itself is dead quiet. What, if anything, should I make of that?

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Re: Bought a 87 Honda Elite 50 (non running) - where to begin?

Post by Meatball » Sat Aug 24, 2019 9:06 pm

On the upstroke of the piston, the combustion chamber compresses the trapped air/fuel inside. The only place for it to escape (if there are no leaks) is sneaking down the cylinder walls around the piston rings. A hissing sound is completely normal and is actually a good sign! This indicates there is at least SOME compression. How much will only be known with a compression test.

A stuck starter can be multiple things. The “click” is a good sign you have some life! This means your wiring is good, start button good, start relay good, etc...which leaves your issue to be discovered under the belt cover. Take the belt cover off, wiggle the bendix out (its tricky but comes out) then see if you can freely spin the starter gear with your finger. Checking to see if its frozen. If it spins ok, tap the START button to see if it spins on its own power.
If its cooked, replace it. If it good, check the bendix.
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Re: Bought a 87 Honda Elite 50 (non running) - where to begin?

Post by nhill40 » Sat Aug 24, 2019 9:19 pm

Cool, thanks! I'll poke around a bit at the starter.

I had some help over the phone from a scooter-guru buddy and have been able to verify I am getting spark.

The kick start will kick a couple times, then seize up. If I wait a bit, I can kick it a time or two before it seizes up again. I suspect this is an issue with the kick starter mechanism itself, not something more serious with the engine.

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Re: Bought a 87 Honda Elite 50 (non running) - where to begin?

Post by Meatball » Sat Aug 24, 2019 9:22 pm

If the kick gears are binding up...waiting a bit wont free them up. Theres more going on.
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Re: Bought a 87 Honda Elite 50 (non running) - where to begin?

Post by nhill40 » Sat Aug 24, 2019 9:34 pm

Sorry, I was wrong - I have to manually advance the engine (i.e. turn the fan) and then the kick will work again.

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Re: Bought a 87 Honda Elite 50 (non running) - where to begin?

Post by Meatball » Sat Aug 24, 2019 10:27 pm

Then that sounds like kick gear binding...no question. Just gotta pull the cover and see wt.f is happening.
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Re: Bought a 87 Honda Elite 50 (non running) - where to begin?

Post by nhill40 » Sat Aug 24, 2019 11:52 pm

Thanks for the feedback - got the cover off pretty easily and poked around a bit to familiarize with how things work in there. That half-moon gear hooked up to the kick is weird, man! At first glance, it looks obviously like it's got some worn/broken teeth, but looking close at the service manual and some pics on the web, it's by design.

I didn't find anything obviously wrong, but it's clearly catching somehow. I've had enough fun for one day (and my wife is going to get * if I don't quit messing with it!) - I'll take it back apart tomorrow and see what I can see with fresh eyes.

Just thinking out loud, but it does beg the question - fix the stuck kick or fix the starter?

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Re: Bought a 87 Honda Elite 50 (non running) - where to begin?

Post by Meatball » Sun Aug 25, 2019 2:21 am

Fix both. One is bound to fail on you 20mi from home. Start posting pics of what youre working with. Sometimes you can spot an issue just by looking at it.
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Re: Bought a 87 Honda Elite 50 (non running) - where to begin?

Post by nhill40 » Sun Aug 25, 2019 11:12 am

I have the case back off an disassembled, everything seems to look good (trying to figure out how to post pics, I have a couple snaps of the components).

The main thing I'm running into is the spring seems to really want to "climb" as I try to reinstall it (i.e. it sits down in that channel around the center post...as I start to compress the spring, it seems to want to climb up the center post and gets in the way of the gear). I am wondering what would stop that from happening during normal operation, too? Might this be a part of the problem?

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Re: Bought a 87 Honda Elite 50 (non running) - where to begin?

Post by nhill40 » Sun Aug 25, 2019 11:43 am

One small bit of progress though - I have confirmed the starter as toast. All the parts seem to move freely, but when I hit the start button (with the bendix uninstalled) it doesn't do squat. Should be a relatively easy fix, I would think.

Case is all reassembled for the second time. Finally got the spring on. With everything properly in place, it didn't seem to "climb" so bad, but I'm not entirely convinced there isn't enough wiggle room in there to where it could still get in the way. Based on a little bit of testing before reinstalling, everything seems to move freely...but now that it is back on the bike, I'm getting the same jamming up behavior.

While I'm at it, what's your recommendation on where it's best to buy a replacement starter? They are everywhere, but I wasn't sure if there wasn't a go-to brand/site/supplier.


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Re: Bought a 87 Honda Elite 50 (non running) - where to begin?

Post by Meatball » Sun Aug 25, 2019 3:26 pm

What Im about to explain to you is vital information! Incorrect procedure when doing this will destroy your crankshaft beyond repair. Take these words as golden whenever you remove OR replace the drive face assembly.

As you may know, the REAR sheaves are spring loaded. They can be spread apart with a strong finger squeeze or the CAREFUL use of a pry tool like a screwdriver. Once you squeeze them open, you can shove the belt deep into the open sheaves to HOLD them open. The belt acts as a wedge when shoved deep. This action creates SLACK on the belt. Only THEN should you remove or replace the front drive face. The crankshaft splines are notorious for being rounded off by those that do not follow this procedure. When installing the drive face (with belt slacked) make 100% SURE the splines are correctly and fully seated, then sung the drive face bolt finger tight before final torque with a tool. As you will see, only the very tips of the crank splines actually get used in the drive face core. If you jack those splines up, you may as well toss the motor in the trash. Youd find Bigfoot riding a Unicorn before finding a new crank for this motor.
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