Very interesting. While this is obviously an unintentional manufacturing defect and not a design flaw, and some swingarms were replaced IF the owner brought the bike in, this is another case more than serious enough to have issued a recall on. Yet Honda never admitted it happened. Nothing to do with old technology here, a craftmanship problem plain and simple.
As was stated, Honda is in the business to make money, but leaving an owner stuck with something like this is unconscionable.
And yes, there are a million good things about the Goldwing, even my 26 year old one is close to being the best large motorcycle I've ever owned, and definitely the best for touring by a long shot. I will almost certainly keep it for as long as I am able to keep it going. But just because it is a great bike overall does not excuse how Honda dealt with these issues. I still maintain there should have been a recall on both the wheel problem and the swingarm problem. It was the only right thing to do.
Was there any indication of a certain VIN number group? I have 2 1980s and neither has a repaired swing arm. Is there and easier way to see a problem if the swing arm is off? If my tire doesn't rub I must be OK, yes?
No. Just follow the instructions above and check to see if yours have the revised 81 flanged spacer instead of the old 80 flat washer ? Back then. One would drive in the axle, sucking in the left s.arm, compounding the problem from both sides.
The new spacer for 81-2-3 is HC 109276 PN 42312-MB9-000.
Neither of my 80's have it but my 81 does. The revised 81 spacer has a hollowed end that allows the axle to slide into it while the outer flange butts to the swing arm to space it properly. You can use the 80 flat washer if you pay attention after tightening the axle nut. The outer s.arm edge should be just past the hole.