Blame it on the science

Blaise Pascal said “The eternal silence of these infinite spaces fills me with dread”.   Poor old Blaise didn’t last long but in his brief 39 years he contributed a heck of a lot to mathematics and managed to get a computer programming language named after him.  Curiously, the first language that I used commercially.

In the mid 17th century he was messing around with barometers and trying to disprove Aristotle’s ideas that everything, visible or invisible had substance.    Aristotle said “Everything that is in motion must be moved by something”.   Pascal wanted to prove the existence (or not, depending on how you look at it) of a vacuum.

The shed isn’t exactly an infinite space.    It also doesn’t have an eternal silence.   The silence that it occasionally experiences is frequently broken by the the cursing of a frustrated man.   Let me try to expand.

I put the engine back into the frame.   I fastened the available nuts and bolts that hold the engine in the frame (I’m missing a couple, they should have arrived earlier in the week but I reckoned I could get by without them).   I carefully studied the wiring diagram and connected the cables running from the points and from coil to where they belonged.   I cleaned up the earth cable and checked that the battery was giving a healthy six volts.

I thought I’d check that the clutch was doing what it should be doing so I connected the cable at the clutch lever and then tried to connect it to the clutch mechanism on the engine.   It didn’t look right.   It just didn’t work.

A search through the many photo’s I’ve taken over the last 16 months revealed a missing bit.   There’s a clutch cable holder that attaches at the base of the cylinder head.   Fiddlesticks, there’s no sign of mine but looking through the engine pile I found one on one of the HOAP engines.    It was a matter of minutes to remove it, a matter of an hour to clean it up to Little Project standards and a matter of minutes to fit it back on to Little Project engine.   Guess what?   The clutch does what a clutch should do.   I can go up and down through the gears just as one should expect.

The next big step was to put some oil in.   I was a bit concerned that the oil would go in and then come straight out again somewhere else but no, it has stayed inside the engine.

A friend of a friend said to turn the engine over slowly without the plug in.   This gets everything lubricated before the big moment.   I did this.   Very carefully.

Time to check for a spark.   Ignition on, hold the plug against the head and kick.

There’s a spark.


I thought I better fit the last bits before I start the engine.   On with the exhaust.   It’s a bit fiddly to fit the exhaust because there is a loose collar that holds everything together.   No problem after all these months though.   On with the exhaust and let’s turn our attention to the carb.

The carb doesn’t fit.    Well, it does.   It fits perfectly onto the engine but it won’t connect to the air filter, the connecting tube will either connect to the air box or to the carb but it won’t connect to both at the same time.  Worse, the fuel intake on my carb is on the right hand side and it needs to be on the left hand side.

So we shall have to wait.   I’m now in desperate need of a Keihin PC04B carburettor if anybody happens to have one lying around in their shed.   Other than that it will just be a case of keeping a watching eye on eBay for the next few weeks.

Hey ho, it was very exciting to get a spark though.




Be still my beating heart

Four weeks.  That’s how long it took.   When Jim, Selena and Mark were on the run in 28 Days Later, all they had to deal with was a few zombies.    Danny Boyle would have been far better served getting his film crew down to the shed and filming the many attempts of me trying to get the flywheel off the stator.    Whoever invented assembly oil and then made it get spilled onto bits of Little Project has a lot to answer for.

I whiled away the time between my frenzied pulling sessions (I mean that in the nicest possible way) by trying to clear up the rest of the oil slick.    As I may have mentioned, assembly oil is incredibly sticky and oily.   I tried spraying the workbench with gunk and leaving it to soak in for a day or two, it didn’t help much.   I ended up painting the bench (it is made of marine ply and before I started has about 100 coats of lacquer on it) with some of the sludge from the bottom of the rust removal bath.    This took off most of the oil and several coats of varnish as well.   If only I could remember the exact constitution of the rust removal bath it would be more popular than medicinal compound (if you aren’t the same age as me, or live outside the UK, you will have to google “Scaffold Lilly The Pink”,  My, you are in for a treat).

I am probably the only motorcycle restorer in the world to get splinters whilst building an engine.

I’ve built an engine!   Would you like to see it?   I shouldn’t ask rhetorical questions, if you are reading then you’re going to see it whether you like it or not.

I made this

I think it only right and proper to point out that this is pretty much the same engine on the outside as the grubby little thing in the first ever picture of Little Project.  The only part that you can see that has come from elsewhere is the barrel.    The old barrel is now (possibly) on its way to “Ripley’s believe it or not”  (tickets £14.00) in Leicester Square.   Following that it will be (probably) touring the mid West of the United States with Mr Dark  and his sinister carnival.

So I’ve assembled the engine.   I have set the timing and checked it twice, I’ve set the gap on the points.   I’ve checked the valve clearances and I’ve made sure that everything (very gently) turns just as it should do.   I’ve also put it back in the frame.

back in the frame

Which makes me very nervous because there isn’t a lot left to do now before I try to start it.

What is left to do is to make sure that the clutch is clutching before I put some oil in.   Work out where the little cable that comes from the coil goes to, work out where the little cable that comes from the points goes to.   Put the exhaust on, put some oil in, attach the kick starter and gear change and then hopefully the shed will be filled with the roaring noise of Little Project working.   I plan to jump on the kick start on Easter Sunday.   There’s a nice little feeling of resurrection about it.

The only thing that I can think of that will stop me is the electrics (of course).   I need to work out how I can be sure that the engine is switched on as there are no lights or anything connected to it yet.   Still, a quick read of the multimeter manual might shed some light on how I can test this.

Wish me luck.   The next post will either be of a grown man in tears or a small video of a smoky motor.