All that is left.

All that is left.

The midway point has definitely been reached in Little Project.    My very tentative finish date of 22nd July (2013 of course) is still looking vaguely achievable although it is going to be a close call.  I have been strangely reluctant to get on with the rebuild so as encouragement to myself, this is all that is left to do.

There’s a front wheel to be re-spoked.  The new hub arrives today (hopefully) and will be delivered to the wheel builder on Tuesday.  Wheel builder takes about a month so I can expect it back at the start of July.

There’s paintwork.   I’m expecting this to take around a month as well but I can’t start it until I get the tank stickers back from the sticker maker and I won’t get those until I tell the sticker maker what I want.  Job number one then is to get back in touch with the sticker people.

There is a front fork to build.  You may remember from the last post that there is an issue with a thing that won’t unscrew.  I’ve found a spare thing that will unscrew so if I can get the thing that wont unscrew unscrewed then I can attach the thing that will unscrew and screw it in.  Clear?

The yokes (or triple clamps if you are a colonial cousin) from HOAP are beautifully shiny from their own visit to the powder-coaters.  Unfortunately the inside parts that take the forks have also been powder coated so they will need to be polished out and tidied up before the forks can be fitted.

There are six holes to be drilled and re-tapped in the frame.   Four to hold the rear mudguard and another two at the back that might or might not be in the right place to hold the seat (sorry, Seat).

Then we can build up the rolling chassis.  So it will be suspension on, wheels on, airbox in, handlebars attached and electrics applied.  There is some doubt about the electrics as I have three bags full of cables and I’m not sure which ones go where.   Brakes will be fixed as well once the handlebars are on.   Anything else?   Hmm, side stands, footrests and other ancillary bits.

Hey presto,  there is a motorbike.   There’s one thing left to do.   Stick an engine in it.   Of the four engines in the engine room, I know that two of them need attention.  Of the other two I know nothing.   I have purposely ignored looking at engines until everything else is completed, partially because I’ve enough to think about and partially because I know that when I start taking the things apart I shall become engrossed and will not want to think of anything else.    In an ideal world, I shall stick a motor in, turn it over and it will start and then I shall take the motor out, polish it until it looks like a mirror and Little Project will be completed. Does anyone really thing this will happen?

There are some bits around the engine that I still need to consider.   Like the in bit and the out bit.   The exhaust system I have looks suspiciously incorrect for the bike and I have a bag of carburetors (honestly!  As well as the sad thing from Little Project featured earlier there are about seven others in a plastic bag).   I’m assuming that I will be able to make one good one from these but I suspect that getting the jetting and needle height correct will prove entertaining.

And that will be that!  Eight weeks roughly, or sixteen blog posts if you fancy and I’ll be taking Little Project down to the MOT station and wondering what to do next.

It will never happen.

Spring – When a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love

Or in my case, …turn to thoughts of rebuilding Little Project

I studied 1st world war poetry at school and was especially taken by the works of Wilfred Owen.   I have been trying to persuade my darling son that “Anthem for doomed youth” is just the best name for the first album from his death metal rock band.   I’m not convinced that he thinks it is a good idea to take any notice of his doddering father.   I didn’t really get it that Locksley Hall (the poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson from which the title of this post is bastardised) was a war poem but reading it again it certainly is, although from a far earlier war.  It’s curious, I wanted a quote with “spring” in the title and this was an obvious one.  Who’d have thought it would take me back to the classroom.

Enough of the formal education.   I know what everyone is waiting to find out.  Does soaking things in vinegar for a week really make the rust come off them?

We have here before and after pictures of a chain tensioner.  Technically I have no idea why one is portrait and one is landscape, let us not worry though.   The second picture is after a good vinegar bath and a tickle with a wire brush.

Dirty chain tensioner        Clean chain tensioner

I am impressed.    The springs that I dropped in came out rather less brilliantly so I thought I would to take them to the autojumble to see if I could get suitable replacements (the bike show was most entertaining.  There’s a hand full of images on flikr if you want to click here to take a look at other people’s Little Projects).   Let me tell you.  If ever you decide to go to a motorcycle autojumble seeking springs to replace your rusty ones, and your rusty springs have been soaking in vinegar for a week then it is HIGHLY advisable to rinse the springs before setting off. Whilst I was not directly confronted, I left a trail of people saying “I’ve a sudden urge for a bag of chips”.

Having spread confusion I chose to retreat.  As I fled I passed a gypsy lady who offered to sell me some spray that would make rusty springs glitter as if new.  This was obviously too good an opportunity to turn up so I purchased some spray (and some pegs and  a sprig of lucky heather) and quickly rushed home to test out the spray.   I needed to determine the optimum method of presenting the springs to the spray and using the screwdriver that snapped in half during the unfortunate episode removing the fork seals (I didn’t mention this unfortunate episode, I’m too embarrassed, I’m keeping it for my memoirs) I fashioned “The ACME spring holder for being sprayed with lucky gypsy glittering spray stuff”.  Catchy name don’t you think?    It worked reasonably well.   Here is the outcome.

Shiny springs

I thought the re-assembly of Little Project was going to be plain sailing compared to the dismantling.

Have you picked yourself up off the floor yet?  I had a whole day today to re-assemble two forks.  There’s probably only 10 components in each fork (not counting blood from my knuckles).   To be fair, there have been some issues that couldn’t be accounted for beforehand.   A computer that won’t connect to the internet? Understandable in this day and age but I have also had…

  • A small altercation with three men who had stolen the gate from a building down the road.  Oaf no. 1 was carrying said gate in the direction of Heathrow whilst oafs 2 and 3 were denying all knowledge of oaf 1 whilst joining in with his rugby songs and calling him “Dave”.
  • An exploding box of crockery left outside the house.  There was bits of plate all over the place.  I think the neighbourhood is going downhill.

So, step one today was to put fork seals in (I know, it’s been weeks since I took them out).  Handy hint for anyone doing this at home.   Forget what it says on the internet.  All of it.   Get a rubber mallet and tap them into place and then use the old wheel bearings that you replaced last week as a blind to whack them properly.   If you haven’t recently replaced the wheel bearings then just use a bit of timber in a suitable shape (one can make said timber into a suitable shape by whacking a 1/4 inch bit of wood around your forks with a hammer).

Please refer to some posts 6 weeks from now to see if that has actually worked.

Step 2 was to fit the stanchions into the forks.


There’s a bit, on the end of a long spring.  Not sure what it is called but it takes a bolt from the bottom of the forks and basically holds the fork together.   Now, if the thread in the bit that I don’t know the name for is buggered, and you screw a little way into it and everything starts turning round then you’ve a problem.  The best part of the problem is that you won’t be ab;e to unscrew from the thing that I don’t know the name for and so you will have a fork with loose stanchions that can neither be tightened or removed.

After (or rather during) step 2 I gave up and chose to write this instead.  It is a bank holiday in the UK tomorrow so there is still hope that I may actually move forward.

Today’s post has been aided and abetted by Gilpin’s Westmorland extra dry Gin.  If anyone feels the need to send me a second bottle just to make sure that the first bottle was not a one-off, please feel free.

Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.

Confucius said that.  I think what he was trying to say was that if you are going to do it, really go for it and don’t just mess around the edges.  Mind you, he said so many things that relate to Little Project he could almost be living in the shed.  For instance, “It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop“.  He obviously had a problem getting the brake thingy out of his frame too, or maybe he had heard that the top speed of a Honda CT125 was akin to that of a milk float.

Those of you paying attention will have noticed that I generally do two posts a week (that is why there’s a little symbol saying “I’m a bi weekly poster” on the right side of the page).    The posts are roughly on Wednesday and Sunday but there is occasionally some slippage.

The Sunday post tends to relate to what bits of Little Project I have managed to break over the weekend and usually leaves me with oily fingerprints on the keyboard.   The Wednesday post is a little less focused but I do try to stay on topic where possible.   A blog about an abandoned Honda doesn’t really work if we are discussing the political situation on the Korean peninsular or natural childbirth in the Outer Hebrides (unless the midwife had a CT125.  That might work, I’ll check up).

Old Mr Confucius also said something about if you are not willing to economise then you are going to have to agonise (I can’t remember the quote exactly, feel free to look it up and set me straight on what it is) so this week I am agonizing over whether to save on the cost of Little Project by using some less than perfect bits from HOAP or whether to purchase shiny new replacements.   None of the replacements are stupidly expensive but together they all add up.   Total cost of Little Project so far has just broken the £1000 mark (and 17700 Little Project delivery miles) so it isn’t exactly cheap.   There is a full breakdown elsewhere on the blog if you want to take a look. So do I spend another £20 on a headlight that is brand new and shiny when I have one that is a bit scratched but serviceable?

I may have mentioned that it is the next auto jumble on Saturday.   Actually, it is far more than that, it is the Southern Classic Bike Show & AutoJumble.    A remarkably cheap £6.00 gets you in and amongst the attractions is the Ace Cafe “Cafe Racer Corner”.  I think that the frame from HOAP may well end up being in the cafe racer style although it probably isn’t wise to mention that out loud just yet as it is currently languishing unsold on eBay (but with three watchers).  I have my little bag filled and ready with rusty nuts, springs and the headlight  in the vague expectation that somewhere on site there will be a wizened and bespectacled gentleman offering new lamps for old.   I suspect I am more likely to end up with a cup of watery tea from Widow Twanky (Pantomime fans, when you read the story of Aladdin in The Book Of One Thousand And One Nights it is a lot more scary than the adaptation you see at Christmas).

Still, I will amble around with all my heart and imagine that one day Little Project will be part of the Southern Classic Bike Show.

Thank you for your time.

The older I get…

I have been contemplating tradition.  More specifically I have been wondering where tradition stops and superstition starts.  When I’m working on Little Project in the shed I have been wearing the same cargo trousers and tee-shirt for almost every oily session.   This makes sense because both items get covered in oil and grease and dead things that have at some stage tried to live in Little Project but the tee-shirt in particular had a hold on me, (“had” being the operative word).  It was a grey No Fear shirt with the legend “The older I get the better I was” writ large across the shoulders.

It wasn’t a purchased shirt, I think it came to me via my father who had in turn received it from my sister-in-law so there was some sentiment attached to it.   Barry Sheene had a lucky pair of blue pants (you can probably find a picture of them if you search the internet long enough) that he used to wear.   He made a point of wearing them for every race.  He won a lot of races but also had more metal bits in him than Metal Mickey.  Tradition or superstition?

Back to the No Fear tee.   It is fair to say that other adults I share a house with have not been keen on my tee-shirt.  I’m not exactly sure why but when I finally decided last week that it was due for the rags pile instead of the ironing pile there was a small celebration and the dusty champagne bottle in the wine rack nearly lost its cork.

The shirt took the path that all old things must take.   In this case it was down to the shed to be used as a duster.  I vowed only to use it for the final polishing of bits.   A suitable end for a long-standing companion I thought.

That sort of brings us down to the shed and what has been happening there this weekend, but not quite…

I was cleaning up the yokes (sometimes known as the triple clamp) and wanted to just buff them up (I do a lot of buffing).   “No Fear Shirt!” I thought.   I pulled the shirt from the rags drawer (the shed is still organised) and started cutting it into rag size pieces but I was struck by tradition/superstition/sentimentality and couldn’t quite bring myself to totally desecrate it so shed now has a pseudo flag hanging from one of the rafters.


I feel better about it now.  I used some small bits of the shirt to buff whilst the important bit watched over me and approved.

Onwards towards Little Project shortly but I read a quote from Mark Twain that is just wonderful.   Take it with you and benefit from it in ways that I cannot contemplate.

“A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something that he can learn in no other way”. 

You will remember the Little Project had a brief hiatus whilst some important bits were being powder coated.  They’re back! (If you are old enough, you may catch “poltergeist” connotations there).  Oh how good they look.   If you are in the Middlesex/Surrey area of the UK and you want something powder coated, I thoroughly recommend Nationwide Powder Coatings.  The people there are just lovely, they fit the “little” jobs between the corporate stuff but my goodness they do a good job.  They also do wet paint so the tank, side panels and mudguard will be visiting them at some time to come back in glorious (RAS 3020) technicolour.   The only slight issue that I have found is that the fork legs (admittedly I wasn’t expecting them to be powder coated) are now internally lined with the grit used to blast them clean.   I welcome any suggestions on how to get grit out of a 33mm wide and 320cm long tube.  I am contemplating squirting them internally with a power washer but I’m not sure it is a good idea.

The frame looks delicious.  Truly.   You could not imagine the effect that sending a rusty thing away and having it come back spotless has on the psyche.   I am now officially in rebuild mode rather than strip down mode and to be frank, I am surprised.  When I embarked on Little Project it was more of a giggle than anything else.  I really didn’t expect to be taken over by it quite so much.

I do know that a couple of the readers of this blog are restoring bikes like mine.   I also know that they are missing some little bits that – whilst not crucial to getting the bike on the road – are quite important to them.    You may not want to look at the photograph below.   Seat makes a showing, as does the delightfully restored rack (even regular readers will not know that the rack is an integral part of a CT125 and the availability of them is akin to Rocking Horse poo).


Next weekend is going to be just a little bit frantic.  It is the Aviva Premiership final so the folk of the East Midlands are descending en masse (if you’re reading this and I’ve promised you parking tickets, let me know when you will be here).  It is also the next auto-jumble and my nuts and bolts shopping list is prepared and ready.  If you should happen to be one of my work customers who has also chosen to make this weekend  major upgrade weekend, give me a break! Please!

Briefly back to tradition – It is a tradition of mine to take a strong drink during my Sunday afternoon post.   Today’s post has been aided and abetted by a 15-year-old Glendronach revival.  Thoroughly recommended.

Thankyou for coming to visit the Little Project story.   I do appreciate that the internet has far more gripping things than a 30-year-old Honda to grab your time.  If you want to go back to the start of the story, please click here.

Fort of the men of Surrey

An entire weekend passed without a single visit to the shed. I feel that I have slightly neglected Little Project in favour of other pastimes. When South Carolina Governor Mark Sandford had an illicit few days with his mistress he claimed he had been “Hiking the Appalachian Trail”. My excuse is that I have been on a brief tour of some of the sights of London, culminating in a trip to the top of The Shard. For those that don’t know of it, The Shard is the tallest building in the European Union and is just to the left (depending on where you are standing) of Tower Bridge.

Because I am always focused and very aware of what I am doing, I realised within 10 minutes of leaving home that the battery for my camera was still in the charger and not in the camera. A quick about turn at the railway station and camera and battery were reunited and off we set again. It wasn’t until I had taken around 30 pictures of various interesting objects that I noticed the big red flashing message on the camera display saying “NO SD CARD”. I didn’t mind at all that I was lumping around 4cwt of camera that would only be good as an anchor if we went on a paddle boat.

Fortunately we all carry cameras on our phones these days so a record of the visit was kept, if in a somewhat blurry fashion.


An hour or so at 300+ metres is probably enough gazing time to suit anyone so a visit to the surrounding area of Southwark followed. Goodness there is some history in this little borough (also known as Borough, if you’re getting the tube). Lunch was in The George, London’s oldest coaching inn and dating back to the 17th Century. There has been an Inn at the same location since medieval times, Shakespeare had a pint or two in there and Charles Dickens was known to stop by for a dram – it even gets a mention in Little Dorrit (unfortunately, Little Project does not).

A quick browse around Borough Market evolved into an orgy of consumption. There is food to cater for every palate in the covered market. I also found the Whisky Exchange. Despite a considerable amount of begging I was told that I couldn’t have this…


There’s a wealth of pubs and bars in the area too. Many of them originally catering to the market porters so they open at 6am and close around 8pm, when that overwhelming urge to have a pint of Old Horse Fart arises at the crack of dawn, you now know where to go.

Perhaps the most colourful sight was the little restaurant with an extrnal eating area. London isn’t famous for dry and balmy evenings and eating alfresco is always liable to end with water in your pasta so I thought this an innovative solution.


I am expecting all of the parts of Little Project back from the powder coaters on Friday, so normal service should be resumed.

The Seat of power

For those of you in the cheap seats I’d like ya to clap your hands to this one; the rest of you can just rattle your jewelry!

John Lennon.   He knew a thing or two about getting bums on seats.  I am having a different problem with seats.

Not with Seat, Seat is fine.   Having spent a few months as a carefree traveler it seems that Seat still has the wanderlust.  The last update regarding Seat was that it was hiding out in the boys bedroom.   It seems that every time I turn around Seat has moved to a new location.   I’m not quite sure how this is happening but it is weird.   Seat was sitting on the table, looking, erm, Seatish.  Seat was on the decking, catching some rays (or whatever the fashionable do in sunshine these days).    After a hard weekends graft in the shed I thought the clement weather merited a barbeque.  Blow me down if Seat wasn’t on the trampoline (not jumping up and down, but waiting expectantly).

I have spent some time reorganising the shed.  I threw out an old chest of drawers and replaced it with two racking stacks instead.  I now have a set of shiny racking just for “Things that I have finished with that cannot yet be fitted to Little Project”.   I may even label it as such.    There is also a shelf containing a box with the legend “CLEAN ME” scrawled upon it.  The box itself is clean so it is a bit of a misnomer as it is the many bits inside that are awaiting attention.

There are also two shelves put aside for engines.  Look!


The christmassy box contains a selection of cams and valves and things from the original Little Project engine.

Seat is now placed on the very top of the shiny shelving.   I think it is a safe place to stay for a while.

The problem I’m having with seats is on eBay.  I have no need for HOAP seats so thought that somebody else may benefit from them.   There are two of them.  One in very good condition and one that is rather less cared for.    As I would hate to mislead anyone on the condition of an item I am selling, the description of the lesser seat contains the following sentence.  “To be honest, it looks like a really fat bloke with a sharp backside went on a long trip on this seat.”.

The good seat seemed to be quite popular.  It attracted several watchers but no bids.   A message from Ron asking if I’d sell it for a specific price was responded to and a deal was struck.   I removed good seat from eBay and was flooded with messages asking where it had gone.   Not so good seat was still patiently waiting courtiers until good seat disappeared and I was then inundated with messages asking “how much for the lardy arse seat”.   Lesson has been learned and there will be no more early withdrawals.

There are a few more surplus HOAP bits on eBay (you can find them under user robby1864) and there will be a bunch more going on there over the next few weeks so if you do happen to be restoring an old XL and want to find out what I have to offer then please feel free to leave me a note on here.

Little Project frame is safely tucked away with a very nice powder coating man at Nationwide Coatings.  He seemed to have all of the colours in the world available, I’d mistakenly left the original fork legs from Little Project in the box of extras that I wanted coating and he offered to blast them clean and coat them silver as part of the price.  Pretty good as I think they were destined for the scrap heap.

Thank you for taken the time to read this blog, it is appreciated.

I have had this broom for 15 years.

This broom I’ve had for 15 years.  It has had 5 new handles and three new heads.  Is it still the same broom I bought back in 1998?

Some useful things to remember when restoring a motor cycle (or any vehicle, probably).

1.  Pay someone else to do it instead but pretend that you are doing all the work.

2.  Wear gloves.   All of the time.

3.  If something seems really easy then you are doing it wrong.

5.  Don’t miss anything out.

6.  Do not use cheap tools or spares.

7.  If you purchase something off eBay, it will not fit (unless you purchase it from me).

I have changed my mind about what to do at least a dozen times since last weekend.   I was of a mind to build HOAP but I think it would probably be better to use the bits off HOAP to make Little Project complete.  I am so decided on this that I’ve put a few bits of HOAP (mostly swaps) onto eBay.  Please feel free to bid stupid amounts for them all.

I spend the weekend fitting new, pattern parts.  Steering head bearings and fork seals.   Steering head bearings are easy peasy as long as you have a big enough hammer.   You could probably do them with your eyes closed.    I thought that the fork seals were going to be equally simple.   Let me tell you, if you remove the stanshion (shiny bit) from the fork and look inside the fork leg and it looks like this

Fork Seals

Then someone before you has had a really bad day.   The dark browny green bits are the remains of a fork seal from around the same time that Reginald Perrin walked out of Sunshine Desserts and left a pile of clothes on the beach (did you know that “Desserts” is “Stressed” backwards?).  They’re not coming out without a fight.

How many times have I said that!    This is on a set of forks from a different bike as well.  In fact, this is on the set of forks that the previous owner of HOAP purchased to replace the set of forks that he had that were rusting.   I wasn’t beaten.   Three hours with a stanley knife and a very small sharpened screwdriver left the fork ready to take the seal.  Sadly it was so dark by the time I had finished the cleaning out bit that the new seal shall have to wait until tomorrow.

In other news, the wheel that has been away for some TLC has returned.   The wheel went to Central Wheel in Coleshill, near Birmingham for a new set of spokes and a bit of a polish.   Here is a before and after picture.


If you are as impressed as I am then flood Central Wheel with requests for work, tell them that Rob sent you and I may be able to afford to have the front wheel done as well.

If I can work out a way to fit Little Project in my car (it goes in with the car roof down but it’s still a bit chilly for that) then Tuesday is the day to be shot blasted and powder coated.  It seems that it takes seven days for the complete process and the un-named (“No VAT if you pay cash”) business who are doing it want it very soon.

This means I shall spend the whole of next weekend polishing things.  Won’t that be fun!

I’m off to scrape the oil in my fingernails out.   I may just burn it off, it will be quicker and more painless in the long term.  Thank you for your time.