saruken New Reader
Aug. 30, 2014 10:29 a.m.

So I've been pestering my friend for a long time to take me up to his grandparents' old farm, where Grandma still lives with her quilts and her John Deere collectibles and at least 1000 owl figurines. I'd been there before and taken a gander at his late grandfather's sweet '72 Monte Carlo collecting dust in some kind of wall-less barn. Without a project of my own lately, I really wanted to get my hands dirty with something, so I kept bothering him until we took the hour drive back to a tiny town near Oak Ridge, TN, and laid eyes on this:

I was pumped. I had brought a shop vac and an inflator and extension cords, plus every tool I could think of and a ton of cleaning stuff. We had a good spare, plus the car was pretty solid. It's been sitting for at least a few years, no one is really sure how long exactly, but only one tire was rotten and there was very little rust. Just one nickel-sized spot on the driver's rear quarter panel.

Unfortunately, the interior was a different story.

The weatherstripping had gone bad on the driver's A-pillar ages ago, and the metal was pretty chewed up. Also water had gotten in from the leaky barn roof and the whole cabin was full of nasty, foul-smelling mold. And it caused other issues too-- namely, the ignition was seized, so the steering locked up, which prevented us from pushing the car into Grandpa's old shop. Not wanting to break the lock, I tried to take the steering wheel off to pull the ignition cylinder, but the wheel was corroded onto the hub too solidly to be budged. I didn't bring a wheel puller so it was a no-go. We found a homemade wheel puller I guess his grandfather had made long ago, but it was brass and just bent in half when we tried to use it. I'll bring the proper tool next time. The hood was also stuck shut, and none of the relatives were sure if the original engine was still in there. We do know it was rebuilt at least once.

In any case, with the stuck wheel and frozen cylinder, we weren't going anywhere with the Monte. So we took a look around the rest of the barn and found this:

Which is a Honda CT90, made sometime in the '70s, as best I can tell. I know nothing about motorcycles, but I went out there to get dirty, dammit, so I got busy taking it apart for cleaning. After some scrubbing and fiddling, we had some bits off (surprisingly no rusted-out bolts anywhere) and it was cleaning up nicely.

Yes that's a home-brew air filter made out of packing foam, cardboard, and a retaining spring. The exhaust is also held on with bailing wire. Anyway our plans for the bike are pretty simple-- clean it all up, replace the brake and throttle cables, throw a new battery and gas/oil in there and see what happens. It's a Honda so I wouldn't be surprised at all if it fired right up after years of neglect. Also, and maybe this is just a small bike thing, but parts are insanely cheap. Like, you can buy complete carbs for this thing for like $25 on eBay.

Anyway it'll be another week at least before I can get out to the farm again, but I miss working on stuff, so making this post helps a little. Any tips on removing steering wheels and/or shifting old Chevys out of park without an ignition would be appreciated.

Beagle New Reader
Aug. 31, 2014 7:25 a.m.

You probably know this, but it's worth a try. When you get the steering wheel loaded up with pressure from the puller, give the bolt that presses against the steering shaft a smack with a hammer.

There's another "solution" that is the reason why so many GM's were stolen in the 70's... take a slide hammer with you. Run a screw into the key hole, attach the slide hammer and about half a whack later, the cylinder will be in your lap.

That Trail 90 is awesome, looks like it has the two range gearbox. It has a hi - lo range in addition to the 4 speed. There should be a tag on the steering neck that will give you the year/model information. I'd pull the chain and submerge it in oil while I was doing other stuff. Does it have fire? IIRC, as long as the battery isn't dead shorted, it doesn't have to be "good"... they run off a magneto.

Aug. 31, 2014 9:07 a.m.

I had a 70 and a 72 Monte - they are great highway bombers once you get them on modern tires and change all the ball joints and pitman arm to cure the wobbles.That one looks like it got moist inside... I think I'd pull every single panel out of it and sun dry the cardboard backing.

fujioko Reader
Aug. 31, 2014 9:24 a.m.

That trail 90 looks like it will clean up nice!

My neighbor has an all original '69 trail 90 with only 1300 miles. The bike seems to need the battery to start as the Magneto doesn't provide enough power during kick-over. I'm not sure if the magneto is weak or this is how Honda designed them. Something to consider when you try starting the bike.

Rad_Capz HalfDork
Aug. 31, 2014 10:00 a.m.

You can disconnect the shift linkage from the arm on the trans and move the arm on the trans by hand to put it in neutral.

saruken New Reader
Sept. 1, 2014 12:33 p.m.
Rad_Capz wrote: You can disconnect the shift linkage from the arm on the trans and move the arm on the trans by hand to put it in neutral.

Can you explain this a little further? I've never worked on an automatic before, or even a cable-shifted stick. But what it sounds like you're saying is that there's a cable running down the steering column to a literal arm on the trans, and that I can just pull that off from its trans mounting and move the arm three(?) clicks until it's in neutral?

I know some cars have an "insert key here to shift out of park" feature for if the battery dies; I don't guess this one does then. But I hesitate to jack it up and get under it where it sits, because it's on uneven, loose dirt/grass/moss. Is that the only way without a working ignition cylinder?

Dusterbd13 Dork
Sept. 1, 2014 1:06 p.m.

Theres a metal rid coming from the steering column near the steering box that goes down to the trans. You can disconnect there by removing a spring clip

rebelgtp UberDork
Sept. 1, 2014 3:43 p.m.

I would LOVE to dig up an old Monte like that! Glad you are saving it I hope you have fun with it.

Gearheadotaku PowerDork
Sept. 1, 2014 9:52 p.m.

It the inside is beyand repair, just find a rusty one from up north. a decent interoir wouldn't be out of the question and cheap to get the whole car. There are places that make carpet for most cars that isn't to crazy expensive.

AngryCorvair UltimaDork
Sept. 4, 2014 1:53 p.m.

for the siezed ignition, try shooting a bunch of PB Blaster or other penetrant into the key slot. sometimes the tumblers get stuck in the cylinder and don't let it turn. spray full of PB, let it sit for a few, then shove the key in and out about a hundred times. this has worked for me more than once.

for the stuck hood, try pushing down on the hood as you pull the hood release. sometimes it's not the release mechanism but the actual hook /latch that gets stuck. again, PB blaster and a flashlight will be your friends.

the first car i ever owned was a '72 monte, red with white vinyl roof and black cloth interior, rally wheels, 350 4-barrel, TH350 trans, 12-bolt open rear, PS, PB, AC, AM/FM, and that's about it. loved that car, got it with 123k miles and ran it to 257k before robbing all the good parts off it to build a '66 cutlass ragtop.

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