These aren’t the forks you are looking for

Wintery blasts sweeping in from the Russian steppes couldn’t stop me from attending the Kempton auto jumble.   My goodness it was cold.  It was wet as well.   The weather couldn’t decide between freezing rain and frozen rain but there was an icy wind blowing straight up the trouser leg.

Considering the weather there was a good turnout, it seems that people travel from all over Europe to these events, I chatted to a Dutch couple and spent a while discussing the merits of 1960’s BMW’s with a chap from Germany.  I can’t say that I was surprised when there wasn’t a stall dedicated to selling parts for obscure 1980’s Honda agricultural motor cycles imported from distant lands, but there were enough pattern bits available to merit a trip to the next one, when of course Little Project will be in build mode rather than rusting mode.

Speaking of rusting, I thought I would tackle the forks this weekend.   My entirely logical thinking being that I drain a bit of oil out them and whip them into the kitchen to work on in the warm.  Ha.   I think that the sunny optimism with which I started Little Project made a brief and untimely return.  From behind the bike, right fork contained no oil.   A dribble of water (actually, the tube was almost full) and the spring does not come out.   left fork contained oil.  I’m not overly familiar with the oil that goes into fork legs but this seemed similar in constitution to the stuff that BP carelessly poured into the Gulf of Mexico a few years back.   At least the spring came out though.    The fork stanchions (the shiny bits, except on Little Project of course) are held into the lower legs (the bits that get dirty) by a small allen bolt at the bottom of the lower leg.  Now you’d think I’d have learned to think about these things by now but they don’t come out easily.  Right one doesn’ t come out at all!   everything needed to be held solidly in place whilst undoing these little rascals and the obvious thing was to put the forks back in the frame.  I know that modern bikes have upside-down forks, so it seemed practical to introduce the same policy on my bike.


Sadly there is still one bolt that will not come out.   I’ve WD40’d it and left it to ponder its existence.  As an insurance policy, I also found a set off an old XL125 on eBay, so they will be delivered some time during the week.  The positive news is that the parts from the USA have arrived and they are all the correct parts and they are clean and useable.   Eventually I am going to start building this bike rather than taking rusty bits off it.

Madam Tinkertoys House of Blue Lights

I haven’t heard from Seat for a while.  By my reckoning it has now been traveling for 32 days on a boat.  I wonder if it gets sea sick?   In the virtual adventures of Seat it has another 24 days before it gets here.   I suspect that virtual Seat is holed up in Eastern Europe sheltering from a storm.

There are other parts however for whom tracking their location is a doddle.  Craig at Generation Cycle kindly sent me the UPS tracking details for the parts that he has provided.   Craig has been a perfect supplier apart from the fact that he mentioned that it was 95 degrees where he was and he refused to put some sunshine in the parcel he was sending.

The UPS thing is brilliant.   My parts left Generation Cycle and went to Riverside CA, then to Ontario CA.  On to Philadelphia where they were checked to ensure they were not drugs or explosive (as if Little Project would ever have an explosive event!) and then on to Newark.  From Newark they went to Stansted and it seems they are now at Castle Donnington (perhaps taking a look around the fine motor museum there).

I’m fairly sure that they would have done a better job by skipping the Castle Donnington bit and coming straight to me, but it is still good to know where everything is.   They should be arriving on my doorstep tomorrow.  There’s also a case of wine due to arrive tomorrow so I’ll do well not to get them confused.

Seeing the journey across the States that the bits had made, if they’d headed South East instead of North East they could have followed the path of Wyatt and Billy in Easy Rider and that made me think that it might be another trip to tackle, along with Seat’s journey back to Australia.   It also made me wonder what sort of distance the parts being shipped to me are covering.   With the power of the internet I can get a close approximation.   The grand total so far is 16,715 miles.   I have deemed these to be Little Project miles and you can, if you are really interested (I wouldn’t bother, it’s not that exciting)  find a breakdown here.

I think that Little Project’s song for the US trip would probably be “Born to be mild” and I bet that Seat will be far more comfortable than the one on Peter Fonda’s bike.   I would of course stay well away from any establishments resembling the one in the title of this post.

The big Little Project news for this weekend is that I have found a Motor Cycle Auto Jumble (capitals, I am just SO excited) to visit.   Even better news is that the MCAJ (sure as heck not typing all that in again) is a monthly event and the top news is that it is held at Kempton racecourse, all of 5 miles away from home.   I hope that the remains of all of the rest of the CT125’s in the country are going to be bundled into a corner somewhere for me to load in the car and take home.

One small step for bike…

Four weeks.   Four bloody weeks of drilling, sawing and hammering and today I finally removed the part that other tools could not reach.   The moment when I realised it was finally shifting was just a touch exciting.  I had thought at one stage that it would never come out so now that it is finally shifted I can get on and do the rest of work.   The old part and the new part look like this.  Can you guess which is which?


So that’s it.   All I have to do now is drill out a few bolts that are rusted into the frame, remove the steering head and replace the bearings and we shift from strip mode to build mode.   When I say “All”, the steering head assembly has seen better days.


but that’s okay. I have no fear that it will not come off.   Because the weather is rather inclement, I have no power at all in the shed so here’s a few pictures of what goes on in there.  This could be a bottle of port or it could be the box containing all of the rusty nuts and bolts.


The tools line themselves up like little soldiers, waiting to do battle with whatever obstacles Little Project can through at it.


This bit will be the last bit to go on.   There’s a bit of work to get it back to a decent state but fortunately there is no rust.


Thank you for taking the time to visit this page.  You can go to the start of Little Project by clicking on this link

Lies, damned lies and statistics

Mark Twain attributed “Lies, damned lies and statistics” to Benjamin Disraeli.  There is no record of Disraeli having said (or written) such a thing and the phrase didn’t start appearing until years after Disraeli died, so it was probably a bit of a fib from Mr Twain.

Before I chunter on, anyone who hasn’t been following this from the start can click here (or touch, or whatever the phrase is for tablet users) and go back to the very first post.   Those were the days when I was optimistic.

Continuing the virtual game of “Where’s Seat” (wouldn’t it be a joy if it is wrapped in red and white stripes amongst a myriad other seats not similarly wrapped), I received a voicemail late last night.  It was simply a recording of The Beatles “Back in the USSR” so I think it safe to say that the hiking Seat has covered 50% of its travels and is now trudging dolefully through a European winter.

Now here is a thing.   As parts for Little Project are quite hard to come by in the UK (Rocking horse poo is more common) I decided to see if I could find out how many have been sold across the country.   I thought this would take about as long as it is taking Seat to complete its journey, but the internet is full of statistics and so such information is readily at hand. I would like to thank Olly Smith (@olly_smith) for the data provided at and for the hours he must spend collating such figures – Any mistakes in interpreting these numbers are mine and not his.

It seems that during peak time, there was a grand total of 47 CT125’s being taxed.   First one sold in 1982 and the last one a forlorn and lonely sight, dusty and forgotten in the corner of a dealers showroom, sold in 2002.

By the end of 2012 there were only 14 bikes still registered (9 on the road and 5 with SORN), Little Project is obviously not one of these so that makes 15 CT125’s somewhere around the country.

I can’t decide if this is good or bad.  On the one hand, I have something that is rarer on the British roads than a Lamborghini Diablo VT (26 in total) and that is quite exciting.  On the other hand it does explain why spares are difficult to locate.   I can take the positive view that somewhere out there are the remains of another 30 or so broken bikes that might (if I can locate them) provide me with enough spares to be up and going again.

I have been looking for a picture of a complete and running bike so that I know what I am aiming for.   I think that copyright law means that I can’t publish it directly on the blog, but I’ve found a couple of examples; Here is a UK model and here is a US model.   Not far to go for me then!

I have located a few more parts, kindly being shipped at a greatly reduced cost from Generation Cycle in Perris, California.  If you’re ever in the desert in search of bike bits, pop in and see them, they’re nice chaps.

Thank you for your time

A sad tale of death and destruction. My colonial friend paints and takes a good picture. Enjoy her talents.



Sylvania Longlife 3157…2011-2013. He’s had a good life.

His journey across the California flatlands, coastal roads, high Sierra, and countless trips to the rugby served him well.

He was my champion of “brake checks” when the enemy headlights came too close at 70 mph. 3157 was a keeper and will be missed. His colleague, 3157a, jumped from his socket in an act of desperation and mourning.

3157’s replacement stoically stood in respect when fitted in the socket and shined brightly in the memory of 3157.

Graveside services are to be held at the bin outside the garage.

He leaves behind his colleague, 3157a, who is too distraught to attend the graveside service.

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Breathing easily

Onwards and upwards with a joyous jig and a merry tune to lighten the day.  It is another rugby day in Twickenham.  The Italian visitors are looking dejected before the game has even started but they do all look rather elegant.  Gucci shoes to match their Azzurri shirts.  I am not convinced that Pizza Hut Twickenham will be seeing many of their euro’s after the match.

Where was I?  Ahh, singing and dancing.   The rear brake spline thingy is slowly working its way towards the ever-increasing pile of unwanted/broken Little Project parts.  So confident am I that this problem is solved that I have ordered a new one to replace it (mostly so that I know what bits I need to hack out of the frame and what bits need to stay where they are and remain unsullied by my drill).

The successful removal is obviously down to a very technical and planned procedure revolving around a shipment of 20 drill bits and 10 junior hacksaw blades.  It seems that the secret of drilling through steel is slowly with much pressure and not at great speed with a light wrist.  Who’d have thought it?  A pilot hole went through with about 15 minutes drilling and was enlarged in no time at all.   A hacksaw blade into the hole and a bit (well, quite a lot actually) of sawing later the first part of the obsticle is gone.  A bonus, I only managed to break 5 drills and lose skin from one knuckle.   As a reward I thought I’d treat myself to some slightly more mechanical messing and take a look at the carburettor instead.

The carb is a simple item, it takes a feed of fuel, mixes it with air and passes it into the cylinder.   There is a slide attached to the throttle that regulates the amount of air (and thus the amount of fuel) and there’s a little chamber that fuel sits in ready to be processed.  The chamber has a float in it to stop it filling up too much, just like the one in your toilet.

That is of course very simplified, but you get the idea.  The carb is one of those spotless places where nothing gets sullied and the slightest spec of dirt can cause no end of problems.   This was what the carburettor on Little Project looks like…


I think the white stuff is either the remains of some fuel or cocaine (sort of the same thing then!).  The floats don’t float.  The slide isn’t shown in the picture because it doesn’t slide and is stuck in the chamber of the carberettor.  There should be a needle in there as well.  Lord only knows where that has gone.   Needless to say that there is some pretty serious work to be done on this to get it back up to scratch.   Either that or it will be another month long ebay search to find a half decent one.

All in all though it has been a good weekend and progress has been made.   Envigorated, I shall renew my attempts to find out more about the bike and how it ended up in the (still bloody cold) shed.

Shiny Shiny Shiny

“Fortune brings in some boats that are not steer’d”.  Or so Pisanio reckoned in Shakespeare’s Cymbaline.

I awoke at the weekend with the thought that I have a lot of bits of Little Project that were once chrome plated and now resemble a dalmatian dog in their spottiness (albeit a silver and rust dalmatian rather than the sort that Cruella wishes to turn into a fine and warm smock).

I pondered over this whilst cutting and drilling and drilling and cutting (I will be trying plan C(iii) this weekend) and came up with the thought that doing my own plating can’t be that much of a challenge.   After all, I probably only need a plastic bucket, a bit of solution with the correct chemicals in it, some electrodes and some electricity.   How difficult can it be?

A bit more difficult than I thought, but not impossible.  Rather than run the risk of exploding the shed and maybe forever corrupting the local water table with chemicals I decided to post on a local forum.    Quite simply: “Does anybody know if it is possible to do home chrome plating and if so, how do you do it?”.

This local forum is frequented with all sorts of requests, common ones are “Does anyone have a thing I can borrow to fix my whatsit” and “Can you recommend a local plumber to fix my pipes”, so my post was more in hope than expectation.

I wasn’t expecting the reply “Do you know how to put up a fence?”.

It would appear that a friendly chemistry teacher has all of the talent and facilities to handle my chrome plating.  I just need to purchase some chromium, they probably sell it in Lidl, between the beans and the hairdriers.  Those of you who have shopped in Lidl will know what I mean.    Said chemistry teacher has a downed fence that needs replacing so for the effort of erecting a fence I will get my plating done.  Fortune indeed, even though Little Project is not a boat!

Seat is continuing its valiant imaginary journey.   It will have hiked along the Nepalese/Tibetan border before swinging a hard right to pass through Western China and avoid the troubled provinces of Kashmir and North-eastern Afghanistan.   If it keeps up a goodly pace then by next week it will be skipping across Northern Russia into Ukraine.  I am expecting a telex from Chernobyl.

Saw – A horror story

I have a tiny radio in the shed.  It keeps me amused whilst scratching my head.

I was tempted to stay with my first instinct and relate all of this post in rhyming couplets.  On second thoughts though it will end up with me struggling to find a suitable rhyme for some obscure part of Little Project that is not quite rusted.

The young man choosing the music on the radio obviously had a webcam feed directly into the shed.  This can be the only explanation for him playing “bleed it out” by Linkin Park, followed by “motorcycle emptiness” by Manic Street Preachers,  and ending up with “the first cut is the deepest” (Cheryl Crow version, not Cat Stevens).

Plan A did not work.  This may in part be down to impatience but I was mortified by the smoke coming off Little Project and so abandoned after a few minutes.  Likewise with Plan B (still not the actor/singer director), the frame and spline laughed at my attempts to get them to chill out.   I was offered a Plan C by a clever chap (you’ll find him in Heroes and Villains on the top right, it seems that if you are a smartphone user you have to scroll all the way back to January to find them).    This involves a tap and die set and also isn’t going to work (yet) but I have formulated Plan C(ii).

There is a picture of the offending part here.  It doesn’t look too much of a problem item.  Plan C(ii) is to cut it into tiny little bits.   The spline is roughly an inch in diameter and an inch and a quarter in length through the frame.   Sawing off the zigzaggy (technical term, it seems even the mechanics at the Mclaren F1 garages call them that) side was done in a matter of minutes.    The other side (fatter and not zigzaggy) required more thought as there is no place for a hacksaw to get to it.   Never to be daunted I came up with a splendidly designed proto-handle for the hacksaw blade.


Known locally as “a bit of old school jumper”, there are some advantages to using it as a saw handle.

  1. I don’t hacksaw my hand into little pieces.
  2. My knuckles are protected from bashing into the frame.
  3. Some of my hand stays warm.

This of course took much less than, erm, three hours to complete.

I now have a frame with a mucher smaller thing to remove.   It still won’t budge but the task of drilling it out seems slightly less intimidating.  I’ve so far worked my way through four 3mm drill bits and reached the depth of around 5mm.  Allowing for a drill bit every 1.1mm I reckon it will take around 20 drill bits and 12 hours to break on through to the other side.  Still, being positive  I still think that Little Project can one day be on the road again, with most of the orignal engine and all of the original frame.

Thank you for your time.

Blame the frame for the pain

If Seat was sending me regular post cards letting me know how it is getting on (It can’t text me, it doesn’t have fingers.  It writes post cards by means of bouncing a pen on its fine plastic coating) it would probably have sent the following this week.

Having a great time, went to Bangkok. it’s so cool but really hot. Thought I was in Burma but have just been told I am in Myanmar. Met nice girl called Aung San Suu Kyi.  She said she used to live in London, do you know her?   Also met a bloke digging holes in the road and looking for a Spitfire. Totally bonkers.  Off to China next I think. See you in April.”

So Seat is obviously having a good time. I just hope that it isn’t getting involved in anything it shouldn’t be.

There’s a tiny little problem with Little Project.   That’s tiny little as in “How the bloody hell do I get around this?”.   I have been working on the principle that as long as the frame is straight (it is) and as long as everything broken can be replaced then there will eventually be a satisfying moment when I stand back and think “That’s it”.   To go back to the 1940’s and to quote Rick Blaine, “Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday”.

Here is the problem – The rear brake is activated by a little pedal on a spline that passes through the frame and pulls a long connecting rod that pulls a lever on the brake plate that opens up the brake shoes so that they rub against the brake drum and slow down the wheel.   All of this is fine (or replaceable) except that the spline that passes through the frame has become one with the frame.  Their union is such that even copious amounts of WD40 and the application of my biggest hammer will not persuade them to separate.

This leaves the rather serious matter of Little Project not being able to stop in a timely manner.   In itself this isn’t a problem.  I suspect that even at top speed, dragging my flip-flopped feet on the floor would bring the bike to a halt within the required stopping distance and there is always the front brake, but I don’t think that the most friendly MOT (if you’re not in the UK, google it) inspector is going to pass it.

There is no way that I can hacksaw the bits off, and I don’t think it will be possible to drill it out (it is 3/4 inch in diameter).   The best idea I have at the moment is to take a blowtorch to the frame and see if I can heat it enough that it expands and breaks the rusted seal.  Second best idea is to do the same to the spline with the freeze spray I use when fixing broken water pipes.    There is currently no plan C.

That is what I aim to be doing on Sunday.   Any other (sensible) suggestions would be welcomed, cherished and merit a mention on the Heroes and Villains page (top right of your screen unless you are on a smart phone, could be anywhere in that case).

So until Sunday afternoon, I’ll finish off with another bit of bastardised Casablanca..

“I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of Little Project don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.  Someday you’ll understand that. Now, now…  Here’s looking at you kid.”