Gambling is for fools

Lemmy said “If you like to gamble I tell you I’m your man.   Win some, lose some it’s all the same to me”.

I am hoping that you’ve a wide and varied taste in music and you are now searching for a download of “Ace of Spades” to have a quick head bang to and maybe a little air guitar whilst nobody but the cat is watching.    Whilst you are enjoying doing this you are going to not notice that I’m just a little bit late (or a little bit early) with this.    I have two good reasons though.

Reason number one is I have been awaiting delivery of special Honda tool part number  07716-0020100.  I have sourced one from a (possibly) dusty and forgotten warehouse in Torquay (home of Fawlty Towers if you are a fan of 1970’s BBC comedy – If you aren’t then you should buy the box set and spend a night watching it) .   I suspect that the little old man I have previously mentioned that is kept locked away in some shops and only wheeled out for obscure or obtuse requests had a field day finding my part (don’t be smutty, you know what I mean).   The postman (a great believer in the Little Project) actually knocked on the door wanting to know what part 07716-0020100 looked like and where was I with the bike.    I must take him down to the shed one day.

Anyway, the special tool has arrived and it looks like a rook.  A chess piece rook rather than the black birds that help guard the tower of London.   In fact it looks like a double ended rook.   It can only be operated with a half inch socket drive and only then if you have an extension to your socket drive so I will be paying a visit to the incredibly tawdry car boot sale that is held locally to try to pick up a cheap extension.  Then we (or at least I) can get back to work.

Reason number two is that I spent the weekend away.   Amongst the shenanigans I had my first ever trip to a horse racing event.

I don’t understand betting.  After asking for a £5 each way bet on a nag I was asked for £10.   That’s not £5!  There was another type of wager called the tote placepot (I’m certain that I was told to ask for the tote pisspot which did make the lady behind the counter look at me strangely).    You have to guess a horse that will finish in the top three in the first six races (different horse in each race, obviously the same horse isn’t going to finish in the top three in all of the races, he’d be worn out).  The prize for guessing correctly seems to be quite substantial.

There’s a horse called Sugar Boy.   If he had stuck his tongue out then I would now be writing this from a luxury yacht in the Bahama’s (probably).    He finished fourth by a nostril (or whatever the horsy term is).   Gambling’s for fools.

The quest to get Little Project up and running has gained new momentum by finding half a dozen people who are also rebuilding CT125’s at the same time.   I’m a bit envious of the chap with three CT125 engines in his garage (I briefly debated burglary until I found out he’s in Queensland) but it is great to be able to say “Do you know what this is” and get a reply.    The bit that I said “Do you know what this is” turns out to be a ballast resistor.   It, erm, resists ballast or something like that and also makes the light bulbs not blow when you rev the engine up, (not that revving the engine up is on the cards for any time soon I fear) but at least now I know what it is I can find out how to see if it works and then if it doesn’t work I can see if I can find another one from somewhere else that does work.

This weekend the target it to have the crank completely out of the engine and packed up ready to be posted to a man who can put a new conrod in it and replace the big end bearing whilst he is at it.    There are a couple of assumptions here.   I am assuming that such a man exists and I am assuming that when I turn over the next page of the manual it doesn’t say “To remove the alternator case from the crank you need special Honda tool 1234-543231 and they are only available in leap years when there is a full moon on the spring solstice”.    You’d think this not a likely scenario but by now I know better than to rule anything out.

Assuming that this weekend goes to plan, the following weekend can be spent with the electrics (again), with applying the stickers to the tank (because I still haven’t had the courage to do so) or with tidying up the shed ready for the arrival of the newly pressed crank.   What do you think?

Albert Camus got it right

Our Albert (say it the way the French would) was a philosopher who was a key contributor to rise of the Absurdism movement during the first half of the 20th Century.    He produced an essay called “The Myth of Sisyphus” discussing man’s endless and ultimately futile search for meaning in a godless world.   The last part of the essay relates the story of Sisyphus, a mythological Greek chappy condemned to endlessly push a stone up a hill and then watch it roll down again.

Can you see where we are going with this?

Camus was also quoted as saying “The only real progress lies in learning to be wrong all alone” which sort of negates the title of this post.  I’ve spent a long time alone in the shed quite happily learning to be wrong and this weekend the personal stone that I have been metaphorically pushing up the Little Project hill is not quite rolling back down.   You might imagine it as resting against my foot and as long as I don’t move everything is just going fine.

I’ve been getting jiggy with the engine again.   You may remember that I was slowly drilling holes into the piston so that I could free it from the conrod so that I could remove the barrel so that I could make the engine work again…

I got a bit fed up with drilling holes.   There’s only so much drilling that you can do before tedium hits and so I  cast around for a plan B (once again, not the singer/director but an alternative way to approach things).    I thought perhaps it might be amusing to see if the 400 or so bolts that hold the crank cases together would come out (that’s a slight exaggeration, there’s not really 400, there just seems like there are).

They laughed at my screwdriver.  You would expect them to really, they’ve been resting under three decades of mud, sheep poo and roadkill and have no desire to budge.    I may have mentioned before that I have an impact screwdriver.   This is a great tool because although it is a proper screwdriver you can whack it with a hammer and it makes things come loose.     I cleaned away a fair bit of the mud and carefully chose the correct bit for the impact driver and then started whacking it with a mallet (I’m better off using the mallet, it has a bigger contact surface than the hammer and so I am less likely to hit my thumb or any other appendage that does not need whacking).

Well, knock me down with a feather.   They all came loose.   There was one that was defiant for a while but I poured a little bit of the contents of the rust removal bath on it and left it to ponder for a while.   It came round to my way of thinking.

With all of these removed, in theory I could split the cranks.   This means that I can replace the crankshaft if I want to rather than rub some vaselene into the existing one and hope that it works.   This also meant I could get radical with the removal of the cylinder head.   This is what I did.

Off with his head

It may not be clear at first glance but that is Little Project engine, laying on its side with a hacksaw sawing through the conrod.   Flipping ‘eck, those conrods take some sawing!    Back at school we had a big machine that you could put a piece of metal an it and go away for several hours whilst the big machine sawed the piece of metal in half.     I don’t have one of those in the shed.    I do (once again) have blooded knuckles as (being left handed) every time I moved the saw forwards i punched the engine.   I really need to learn to control my hack sawing techniques.   Eventually, this happened.

Vanquished head

What you can see is the Little Project barrel, not attached to the engine and being pinned down so that it can’t escape by the mallet.

We are moving onwards and very slightly upwards.   I’d like to say the crank is parted.   There is a sneaky little Honda trick (you tinker Soichiro) that means that 399 of the screws holding the crank together are on the left side of the engine and then there is one other one on the right hand side.    Once I’d worked this out I have made a little gap all the way around the engine.

We’ve come to a premature halt though.   Just here….


Ignore the gunk and rubbish all over the clutch.  That will all clear up.   The bit in the top right corner is the oil pump.  There are three screws holding the cover on and when you take these off there is a curious lock nut (all covered in oil if you’re working on this engine that repeatedly refuses to relinquish all of the lubrication contained within).    Should you happen across this curious lock nut then take a glance at the manual (either the correct one or one that you’ve got for later engines) and you will find that you need special Honda tool part number  07716-0020100.

Should you then go to the CMS website to see if this is really true you find this (cut and pasted – all credits to CMS)

“This is how it goes, if you have this tool then removing the rotor lock nut is simple. If you do not have this tool, then removing it will be almost impossible, and can lead to damage that goes way beyond the price of this vital Honda tool!”

So we are at a bit of an impasse.   The special tool has been ordered and hopefully will arrive shortly.  Then the crusade to get this engine can continue.

Today’s post has been encouraged by a young but energetic Glenfiddich and an absolutely stunning Malbec called Lirico from Maurico Lorca.

Before I go, you may remember me mentioning Led Zeppelin about a dozen times in recent posts.   A couple of the members of “Heart” did a version of “Stairway to Heaven” recently that made Robert Plant cry (in a good way).    There is a link to it on this blog.   I’m hoping that the Vancouver Sun blog that hosts the link will allow it through.   It is really worth a listen.

Thank you for taking the time to visit.

West London rain

West London rain

“Seven lonely days
And a dozen towns ago
I reached out one night
And you were gone”

That’s Elvis (Presley, not Costello) singing “Kentucky Rain”.    In the song he’s looking for somebody who walked out on him a week or so ago.  He is hitching through Kentucky and showing a photograph to everyone he meets in the hope of finding his lost love.   Although the song is obviously about a missing lover I think it could have been improved by hinting that he was actually looking for Old Shep.  That would be a great mash-up.

I woke up this morning (don’t worry, this isn’t another blues parody about handlebars) to the sound of torrential rain.   Actually, “This morning” is stretching it a bit.    I’ve woken for the last two mornings almost before yesterday has wrapped up and gone to bed.   The benefit of this has meant I’ve been able to watch the GP qualifying and race.   The downsides are that I knew who would win and I’m tired and grumpy for the rest of the day.

So after watching Herr Vettel romp to his fifth victory in a row I glanced outside to see what the world was looking like.   It looked a lot like this.


At least the bit from the upstairs window did.   Your bit of the world may have looked slightly different – If your bit of the world looks exactly like this then I’m going to phone the police.

In the background behind the trampoline you can see Shed, home of Little Project.    If you look very closely you will see draped across the roof of Shed a bough from the pear tree (should that really be capitalised?  I just don’t know).   Pear tree, in a disgruntled moment obviously brought about by me harvesting some of its potentially tasty but still quite hard fruit has decided to exact revenge by lacerating the roof of Shed during the rainiest night in West London for many months.   Stupid pear tree.

The consequences of said desecration are many-fold.   In fact, they are many-fold in the manifold!    The rain (I’m toying with getting biblical about this rain, it could have been a tropical storm, maybe even a typhoon) has streamed, poured, maybe even gushed through the roof and all over the engine that I have been diligently whacking with a hammer all week.    The post diluvian results meaning that everything is as wet as an otters pocket and there is a slick on the floor comprising of:

  • A spillage of oil from the Little Project engine (even though it assured me it was empty)
  • About 100 million tiny bits of Al You Min Ee Um from the piston that I am (still) trying to remove
  • Roughly 40 gallons of rainwater kindly delivered via pear tree
  • Some smashed up baby pears that I stomped on in a furious revenge driven attack after discovering what the pear tree had done to Shed roof (I am regretting this addition to the slick, it didn’t really help at all).

So for the rest of today (it is roughly 13:00 in Twickenham) I am either going to:

  • Mend the roof of the shed
  • Go back to bed (although then I won’t be tired tonight and thus will have to sit up at three am watching repeats of CSI:Luton or something similar)
  • Go to the pub and hope that by the time I’ve come home everything will have miraculously fixed itself

In other words, there has been very little forward movement in the removal of the packed-up piston from the rusted barrel.      I did spend some time yesterday drilling more holes in the piston in an effort to make a gap big enough to get a hacksaw in.   Then I spend some more time hitting the barrel with a big hammer in the hope that it would just somehow fly off.    Some of the cooling fins did fly off so I suppose that a last course of action could be to just keep hitting the barrel with the hammer until it has completely disappeared.     That’s an option!   I do have one final alternative of sawing through  the conrod.    This will definitely allow the cylinder head to come off but it will also mean splitting the crank so that I can put a new conrod in and I’ve looked at the screws that are holding the crank together and they don’t look like an easy option either!

Thanks for taking the time to visit.  Please come back soon!

NB: I can’t decide if “post diluvian” should be “post diluvial” – Anyone with a decent grasp of the language, please feel free to put me right,

Way down inside (the engine)

I’m gonna send me back to schooling.

Yah, yah yah.  Does anybody want to hear about the ten zillion daffodil and tulip bulbs that I’ve planted today?

How about the acres of vegetable patch that have been re-dug and planted with all things garlicy and oniony?

Thought as much.  I’ll get on with what is way down inside the barrel of Little Project in a moment.   First though (for anybody interested), there is a lady called Emma who has a fondness for Honda CT125’s and she has set up a facebook page to cover both the restoration of her own bike and as a place to go when lonely Honda CT125 owners need a pick-me-up after a hard day in the shed.     I’m sure that Emma won’t mind if you pop along and say hello and give her some encouragement.   The site is here

Back to business.  You’ll remember that I’d taken the momentous decision to forge ahead and get Little Project engine up and running.

You’ll all remember having a chuckle about that one I’m sure!

It appears that you can bash the top of a Honda piston with a hammer and chisel all day and not get anywhere.   I suppose they are designed to withstand (very small) explosions so maybe it is to be expected.    I can’t remember if I mentioned that I’d managed to get both sides of the engine covers off, but I have.   It’s fairly easy to see where the oil stopped and the exposed bits started when you look at it.

High Tide

When I’ve five minutes that should all come off without to many problems.   Now then,  This seized up solid piston.   I’ve bashed it and it doesn’t move.   At the start of the day it looked like this….

Start of barrel

You can see.  There’s a bit of a rust theme going on in there.  You can also see the small craters where I’ve been trying to bash it out.   I decided instead to attack it with my drill.     Sort of like a horror movie for mechanics set in a shed in the wilderness of Twickenham.   So I did this.

A little bit of drilling

There’s some little holes.  Can you see?   What doesn’t show up so well is the snapped off drill bit (it’s the hole shaped mark at 12 ‘o’ clock).   Rather surprisingly the only snapped drill of the day.

Then I drilled some more holes.    The holes went all around the piston so it looked a lot like this.

Can you see the plan

And then I drilled some bigger holes using the little holes as guidance!    I bet you’re admiring my logic there.  What could be easier than that.      It didn’t quite go to plan.    I forgot one crucial element.

There’s a hardened steel bin that holds the piston on to the conrod.   When I say hardened, I mean blimey!  It could well be made of krypronite as far as my drill is concerned.   So we now have a piston stuck in a barrel that looks a lot like this.

A conrod

You’ll notice that the conrod (the brown bit in the middle) is also looking a bit worse for wear.   It should be glistening and shiny (and ideally with a faint residue of oil on it rather than a rather overwhelming residue of rust and maybe a bit of dead mouse).

On a positive side (there’s always a positive side), this is the first sighting of the interior of Little Project engine in a decade.  Very probably that particular bit of engine hasn’t seen daylight this century and there’s a distinct possibility that the last time it was blinking at the unaccustomed light on it I was still at school.

All I need to do now is to work out how to remove the excess aluminum (don’t forget folks, it is pronounced All-you-mini-mum, not Alloom-ee-num) from around the outside and then the barrel is going to slide up and off the rest of the engine and I’m going to think “Oh crumbs, I didn’t realise there was that much swarf dropping into the engine”.

There’s just one last thing to mention.   I have a ninja finger, sort of.    If you cast your mind back to the tail end of August.   It was hot in the city.   The weather was steamy and it led to carelessness and sloppy work.   I decided to spend the day clearing the shed out and things didn’t go to plan.  Well, the fingernail that I shut in the cupboard door is developing nicely.   When I say it is a ninja, you need to give it a glancing look, with your eyes half shut.   If you can do that, there’s definitely the image of a ninja head growing on it.   I think it might be collectable in some dark world that is interested in shapes you get on your fingernail just after you’ve given it a bash.


I do hope that you all enjoy your week.

Way down inside

Wanna whole lotta love.

Readers in the United Kingdom of a certain age will associate the intro to Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” with Top of the Pops.    The program was presented by an eclectic selection of Radio 1 DJ’s (some of whom have recently fallen from grace in a spectacular and shocking way) and played the top hits of the week.    It always ended with a countdown of the top 30 and then the current number one song.

“What the heck has that got to do with Little Project?” I hear some of the more attentive amongst you mutter rebelliously.

Well this Wednesday post (I know, you think it is Friday lunchtime, you’re just late getting the post, nothing to do with me having to work for a living, no no no) features the top ten disasters of the Little Project story so far.    I’ve a feeling we may be having a “straight in at number one” on Sunday because I took another look at the engine I have promised to make work again.  However, in traditional reverse order countdown (and if you could jut be humming that “De dah de dah dum, chi chum chi chum” bit from the song as you read this please, or you can put this on in the background).

At number 10 we have the day I sprayed my bum black whilst trying to take a photograph of the newly installed wheel.

At 9 is the moment when, after a frustrating day of hitting things with a hammer I took a relaxing stroll around the vegetable patch.  Whilst removing a few weeds I cast the key to the shed into the West London equivalent of a bayou and it has never been seen again.

In at number 8 is the moment that I vowed not to mention when I was trying to remove the fork seals from one of the many sets of forks that have passed through the shed.   Using a long screwdriver I was trying to lever out the seal very gently (by hitting the screwdriver with the BFH) and in a moment of excessive hammering the screwdriver snapped in half, propelling the broken end of the screwdriver through shed window and embedding it in the pear tree outside.  The handle of the screwdriver bounced off my foot and cannoned into a milk bottle containing the sludgy oil extracted from the forks, spilling it all over the lawnmower that it was resting on.

Number 7 is from the classic “My goodness, how rusty is that?” band.    Removing the spindle from the back wheel also involved FBH, a broken 17mm spanner and several hacksaw blades.

Number 6 may just be being followed by an inquisitive crowd of chip crazed hairy men whilst wondering around a motorcycle jumble sale with springs that had been soaked in vinegar, making me the most odourous man in Kempton.

I think number 5, and a personal favourite (although I can’t remember mentioning it in the blog) was when I left the shed door open overnight.   The shed was invaded by the local fox who chose to poo on several bits of Little Project and some of my tools.   Of course I didn’t notice until I had liberally spread fox faeces all over the garden.   And the kitchen.    And the stairs.   Fortunately it was all cleaned up before anyone who may have been concerned found out.

Number 4 must be breaking the hairdryer (again) whilst trying to remove old and mangled stickers from various bits of Little Project that needed painting.

Number 3 has to be electrics.   I am still working my way through connecting things up.   My mum used to spend the evening knitting things whilst watching the TV.   I spend my evenings in a similar fashion except I have a string of electrical cables on my lap.

Number 2.   Although not exactly my fault, the fact that the serial number for the frame got sandblasted off during the powder coating incident has caused no end of grief.

No 1 is of course the brake thingy that took four weeks to remove.  I still look at the removed bits occasionally and chunter under my breath at how close I came to giving up on them.

I should just take a moment to thank whoever it was who read all of the posts on both Little Project and Verbal Hedge on Wednesday.  Gosh you made the stats look good!   For those of you who may be interested in such things, there is an average of 57.5 reads of each post.  This doesn’t include those who get the blog emailed directly to their inbox.  I have no idea who you all are but I do thank you for your continued patience.

Sunday’s blog will also be called “Way down inside” (or something very close) and sometime today there will be a blog on the Verbal Hedge.   Bet you can’t guess what it is called!