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1974 CZ Model 477 - Part 2
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Jeff Nordstrom bought his dream classic bike and then had to get it going. But, as he explains, this CZ is not a restoration project...

From the time I first took possession of my 1974 CZ Model 477 I have been getting pressure to restore it to original. It is true that when I bought it, it only had 82 original miles, and it had been stored indoors, basically unused for the last 30-plus years; the original tyres were in fantastic shape, and the paint was excellent, and there was no significant rust damage. But I bought it to use it.

Being stored indoors does not mean that I received it in immaculate condition. At some point the mirror ceased to be, as did the rear indicators. The indoor storage area must have had some dampness issues, or communist chrome is not very good, because all of the chrome was badly pitted, and rusted off completely in some places. These minor things taken into consideration, a decision had to be made early off whether to restore to stock, or repair for function. I am cheap, so I chose the latter.

Brown and beige. The entire seventies in one colour scheme. 1974 CZ model 477

Based on gleanings from RealClassic articles, I have surmised that it is much more difficult to get a motorcycle licensed in GB than it is over here in the colonies. I left my non-running CZ with no mirrors, no rear indicators, no horn, and non-functioning brake lights in my garage while I went down to the Department of Motor Vehicles. I showed them the title and the bill of sale, they charged me an out-of-state sales tax and the basic licensing fee, and gave me my license plate with tabs good for one year.

Now licensed, I set out to make it drivable. First thing was the mirror. I went down to the vintage motocross fanatic's shop to see what he had. He had several new mirrors on display, and five or six used mirrors in the basement that would fit. I selected the cheapest. Then he said a strange thing.

'Now you know that mirror is not accurate.'

I did not understand how a mirror can be inaccurate. It even said OBJECTS MAY BE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR right on the bottom, so how inaccurate can it be?

'Does it show things that aren't there?' I asked out of ignorance.

He replied that it would not be accurate for my restoration project. He could order an 'accurate' mirror for $35. I let him know that I would be fine with the $7 mirror I just bought.

I then showed him the rubber air intake boot that I had fabricated. He told me he could get a stock boot for $45. I let him know that the one I made was working very well, and it was free. But I did buy a new bulb for my tail light, and a new headlamp as well because my high-beam element was gone.

I determined rear indicators were unnecessary, and use hand signals instead to save the strain on my 6 Volt system. Besides, the spring is missing from the indicator switch, so it is balanced rather precariously in the center position. I haven't hooked up the horn either.

CZ(s) on

I suppose that it is understandable that people would assume I would want to restore this bike. It is very unique, and the paint and metalwork are in great shape. The paint is yellow on brown with white hand-painted coach lines, and a dazzling red CZ emblem on each side of the tank. And the metalwork is of a very stout gauge with no dents or any indications of rust. I also suppose the unattractive appearance of the bike as a whole would lead people to assume that nobody would want to be seen using such a thing as daily transportation. But it is cheap to operate, and cheap and easy to make most repairs, provided you don't require period, original, or accurate parts. Metric bolts are easy enough to find, but not in my garage, so a couple have been replaced with USS in order to get going again quickly.

Original inner-tubes not shown... 1974 CZ model 477

It did not take long for the original inner-tubes to go bad. I removed the wheels and took them down to the vintage motocross fanatic and asked him to replace the tubes. Upon my return he let me know that he had some 'period' tubes that he used, because he figured I would want to keep it stock. They were already on, and they were cheap, so I let it go. A couple of months later the front tube split while I was on my way home from work. I got it replaced, and a month after that the rear tube split about ten miles from my house, at 8:30 on a cold November night. It was at that point I decided to put the CZ away for the winter.

As the tubes did need replaced again, I decided to remove the worst of the chrome bits and work on them. Not for restoration purposes, but so the rust would not spread and cause irreparable damage. I pulled the wheels, gas cap, and headlight ring. I know a guy that works at an agricultural equipment manufacturer that can do powder coating. He offered to powder coat my stuff for free, so I took him up on it. I assumed I would get a gloss black, but they came in a colour called Near-Chrome, which really looked good. I had the spokes zinc plated because I'm too cheap for actual chrome plating, and went to re-assembling.

The vintage motocross fanatic trued the wheels for me, as by this time he had accurately surmised that I could not do it, not only because of my lack of proper equipment, but because by this time he realised that I am an impatient slob. I also had him install new tubes, and not those 'accurate' or 'period' tubes, but something heavy duty because I'm tired of blow-outs.

You can insert your own Freddie Mercury gag here...

When I went to pick them up he did comment on the fantastic engineering the Czechs had used on this bike. Not only was there the cool shifter/kick-starter, and the clutch that is actuated by the shift lever, but the front and rear wheel and hub are exactly the same size, so they can technically be interchangeable. The examples on my bike are not round, and required liberal application of wheel and spoke weights in order to balance them but engineering was excellent.

Now the CZ is back together, running as strong as ever. And I am able to park my truck and go back to two-wheeled commuting to work. It's only been slightly below freezing the last few times I have left my house, and the evening rides home are downright enjoyable.


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