Silver Pigeon gets a transplant

Over the weekend Chad and Jeff were nice enough to lend a hand at giving my tired old C-73 Silver Pigeon a new lease on life. There was a massive close out sale at Harbor Freight on the “Gray Hound” engine they carry, which is really just a Lifan with stickers and blue paint. The little Liffan 6.5 motor is in turn just a clone of a Honda gx200. So I picked up two for $60 bucks a pop.

Two years ago my little Honda z50 got a Lifan 75cc Honda clone in it and it has been holding up like a champ. That poor motor has had the crap beat out of it and still doesn’t complain. Lifan just makes good engines, in some cases better then the Honda they are shadowing. So this little guy is going to be great in the Pigeon, can’t wait to add some performance parts to the little engine to give it some extra kick. The Karting scene makes everything for these engines, cams, roller rockers, you name it they have it. The GX200 and clones can be built up to 20hp in extreme cases.

Fun fact, Mitsubishi made the engines in the Pigeons run backwards. Did not know this until we started mocking up the Lifan. Check out that awesome sleeve that you cant see that’s holding the clutch on the motor, and the amazing custom live swing arm pivot shaft / drive shaft that Chad created. This thing is going to be sweet! Huge thanks again to Jeff and Chad.

And just to show you what she looks like with her cloths on;

14 thoughts on “Silver Pigeon gets a transplant

  1. hello Chris,
    Great work on the Pigeon! hows it coming along? i have one and am looking for different engine options! please let me know what you think..
    thanks a lot

  2. Hey Anthony, thanks for stopping by. I haven’t made much progress from what you see above since my buddy Chad has been really busy with work stuff at his shop. But this fall I hope to get back at it and wrap some things up. The biggest issue your going to run into in swapping a motor in is getting the chain angles to work. Since the pigeon engines run backwards of normal engines it makes a big pain trying to get everything to clear/lineup. Before I picked up that Lifan 6.5hp I was going to grab a 140cc Lifan pit bike motor and try to shoe horn that in there. But really anything should work if it fits, and you have the time to make it work. But again because the way the original drive train works most any motor swap is not going to be easy. I’ll keep updating this as progress is made, and best of luck on with your bike.

  3. Hello again Chris.
    Thanks for the reply. You and your buddies are very talented guys! I like reading you blog so please keep posting! As for my pigeon, the original valves and valve seats seem too far gone for repair so I’m definetly gonna fit some type of motor in there. I might have to wait for a good deal. I collect too much stuff!!
    Good luck on the projects,

  4. I’m not sure how bad off the valve seats are on your motor, but the ones in my C-90’s engine where pretty nasty looking. I took the block into a local engine shop that mostly does race engines for sprint cars and they found a close set of Briggs and Stratton valves that they could cut down and make fit. If you go the route of trying to get your original engine back together be very, very careful about the timing and how the points are set. Pigeon engines have a tendancy to backfire causing clutch to spin on the crankshaft, which will cause it to get expand, locking the entire clutch assembly firmly to the crank and causing you to let out a stream of expletives. Trying to retro fit a set of tractor points I destroyed one clutch, and almost another but was able to put it in a press and get it round again after much welding/grinding. I gave up on that motor and thats why the bike above is getting a Lifan 😛

  5. Howdy! I’m starting the mechanical resto on my ’57 C-80 Silver Pigeon that I’ve had for a few years now. Engine was seized due to a broken exhaust valve tappet that ate into its cam lobe on the timing gear. ewww!
    I might have to do a transplant on mine if I can’t find a replacement tappet & camshaft.

    Please post more pictures on your process.

  6. Hey Chris,

    Just picked up 3 of these bikes and was curious if you ever got yours going? Two of mine allegedly run but have not tried them out. If you did get them going did you have to modify them to keep them cool?


  7. Hi Pete,

    I was actually able to get both of them running, but the C75 ended up severely damaging its already fragile clutch when it backfired. It was never 100% ridable I guess, but it did move under its own power once, for 30 feet or so. I’ve not given up on it.

    The C80 I have is pretty much 100% original, minus the ignition coil which failed on it. I do ride it around every once in a while and it is quite fun. Does about 40MPH or so on a paved flat, much happier around 20-30mph though. Both of them with their stock engines did not seem to have any cooling issues (seat would get a bit hot if you stood still for to long in the summer), I would expect that any motor that had a flywheel fan on it would be fine under the seat. The only real weakness I noticed on them were:

    Clutch- be very easy with it, kicking it over, making sure it doesn’t backfire/kickback on a start. If it does it can spin on the shaft making it go out of round and lock the clutch/kickstarter all up in a big misshapen mess. At least that’s what killed my C75.

    Coil- Nether of my motors had working ignition coils on them. I tried using them and they just shorted out and melted spitting melted lacquer all over the flywheels. Ended up strapping a motorcycle battery on and wired it directly to a small 12v car coil that I hooked to the points. It works, but you cant get to far from home without worrying about the battery running out of juiced and the motor quitting. It seems to be good for about 25 miles or so.

    I hope you can get yours going, they are a hoot to ride. They handle like a water buffalo and ride like a sofa. I’m no expert on the things, but if you get stuck or have a question about them let me know and I’ll be more than happy to help if I can. Good luck!

  8. Hey Chris,

    Would you show or share some more photos/details how your new jackshaft works? I think that is the route we are going to take on at least one of these bikes.



  9. Hi Pete,

    My buddy lost his machine shop before I had a chance to get that finished up so its going a different route now. What was originally planed though was to make a custom swing arm pivot bolt that was longer than the original and machine a shoulder on it. This was then going to hold the secondary clutch. The pivot bolt/swing arm bolt was then going to have some bearings placed on both sides. This would have made the swing arm pivot also a jack shaft, so that the clutch would be spinning on it, but it would also still be the pivot point of the swing arm. It was kind of complicated, but I think it would have worked. Sometime this summer I’ll pick the project back up, and this time I think it will get a Comet torq-a-verter setup and a normal motorcycle style chain straight back to the rear wheel. Should be a lot simpler.

  10. Hey Chris,

    I designed a bracket that you can weld directly to the frame and the swing arm pivot that will then support a torque converter. I think its going to work great. If you want the CAD file of the part let me know and I will send it to you. Also, picked up an electric start Lifan for the project. Hope to have the Pigeon done in the next couple of months.


  11. Hey Chris,

    I was able to drive my Pigeon with its new drivetrain. If you want to see how I did it let me know I am happy to share.


  12. I am doing this with my Silver Pigeon. I tried to use a #41 chain on the rear sproket but does not fit. I want to order the #40 but was wanting to know if you knew what size chain works with the Silver Pigeon wheel. Thank you.

  13. Howdy Chris, sorry about the delayed reply, I really need to set up notifications or something on this site. I actually got my pigeon up and going on the clone, will be posting more on it soon.

    That dumb rear sprocket on that thing… holy cow. I found that not all #40 or #41 chain fits. It is #40, but again not all #40 chain will work. The only chain that I found that fit was from “Family Farm and Home” and was called “Tru-Pitch 40 Roller Chain” made by DAIDO corporation out of Portland Tennessee. I hope that helps, good luck!

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