For a certain kind of moto enthusiast, there’s a special thrill that comes from rescuing the seemingly unsalvageable. Not everyone is into basket cases—and some people (probably the smarter people) have certain lines they won’t cross, in terms of how rough a given bike’s condition might be. Still, if you’re the kind of person whose heart beats a little faster when you see the words “barn find,” then you’ll want to see the latest YouTube series from Autumn Car Playing.
At the beginning of the series, she’s located her newest project bike: A 1994 Honda CB400 Super Four. It’s a liquid-cooled, 399cc inline four-cylinder bike, complete with a bank of four carburetors. When it was new, this 1994 machine existed in the middle of the first generation of CB400 Super Fours. That means it was before Honda introduced its variable valve timing and lift electronic control system (VTEC) to the series, in case you were wondering.
Saying it’s a barn find can mean a whole lot of things, depending on whose bike (and barn) it was, and how it was kept. Unfortunately, in this case, this CB400 is in extremely sad shape. Still, back in the first video (which you can see if you visit ACP’s playlist on this project), she says that the seller only wanted a mere 998 yuan (about $139 as of July 18, 2023) for it. Heck, if you had the tools, skills, and patience, you might consider buying it at that price, too.
In the first video, she tries cleaning the carbs to see if she can get it running, thinking that maybe with a thorough carb cleaning and some serious cosmetic work, she can get it back on the road. Unfortunately, it soon becomes clear that the engine needs a complete teardown and rebuild. Problems identified early on include three out of four cylinders having low compression, as well as a misfire.
In the second video and this video (which is the third in the series), she gets deep into the depths of pulling the engine apart and cleaning it up. Even before taking it apart, there were telltale signs that someone had already been inside these cases. Red sealant oozing out of the engine cases was a clear indicator of at least one non-Honda repair attempt.
Another is the state of the clutch cover, where it’s clear that some previous person did the kind of messy repair job that makes you wonder if they were even trying. As ACP says, it triggered her OCD, and she felt that it was outside her area of expertise—so she wasn’t afraid to call in an expert she knew to do the job right.
Once he repaired the case correctly, ACP took to carefully etching the lines to cut out and make the new repair in the case match the existing metal. With the help of a rotary tool, she was able to carefully and accurately etch the repair in the case so it flowed perfectly into the original groove.
In the next video, you get to see ACP put the engine back together and start the bike up for real—but this chapter in the CB400 Super Four’s rescue story is extra nice. Why? There’s something especially soothing about the music bed, and the way it flows with the work that she’s doing on this engine. If you’ve ever experienced that awesome flow state when you’re working on a project (even outside the garage), the sound and feel of this video is probably very familiar to you. Here’s to chilling out and getting stuff done at the same time.