I have spent the last two years shopping for bits for Little Project. I finally found one of the bits I need in Holland last week. There’s life in the old girl yet.
I’ll keep you updated (probably in 2018, judging by recent experience).
I have spent the last two years shopping for bits for Little Project. I finally found one of the bits I need in Holland last week. There’s life in the old girl yet.
I’ll keep you updated (probably in 2018, judging by recent experience).
Let us briefly discuss wiring.
I sort of understand it. The black wire goes from the battery, through the ignition switch and makes electricity go to places. The green wire comes from the generator/alternator, goes through the ignition and also makes electricity go to places. But only when the engine is running.
This makes it quite challenging to test the electrics as the engine hasn’t run since around the same time that Tony Blair was elected on a wave of “Things can only get better”. Little Project is not considering running for PM (or so it says) and as far as I know has never been mentioned in the same sentence as war crimes.
I tried kicking over the engine. We still have a nice fat spark and we still have no internal combustion. I formed a plan.
The neighbours were having a barbie. They watched, bemused as I ran up and down the garden trying to bump start the bike. The garden has probably about 20 yards of bumping space, mostly laid to lawn. Well, it was laid to lawn. Little Project proved that the new tyres have considerable bite by ripping up a trail of grass (and dirt). I now have to explain why there are several bald bits on the lawn. It looks a little bit like parts of Belgium during the battle of the Bulge.
Never daunted I thought I would try bumping it down the grassy little lane that runs alongside the house. There’s a clear path here, partly made by my other bike, partly by the many urban foxes who live on the vegetable patch and partly made by the man who comes and steals rhubarb from the vegetable patch (the foxes don’t like rhubarb).
This was no more successful. There is just a deeper rutted clear path down the little grassy lane. There is also a bit of apricot tree missing. It was hanging over the fence and I was to busy pushing and jumping to notice it.
This was when I had a better plan.
There’s a church next door to the little grassy lane. We aren’t really on speaking terms with the church since they tried to annexe the vegetable patch and turn it into additional car park. The church members accidentally knocked down the fence and then accidentally kept parking cars between (and sometimes over) the plum trees. The church has a nice tarmac covered lane that runs slightly downhill to their legitimate car park. Just the thing (I thought).
“Would anybody care to help me try to start Little Project?” I asked the house? The silence was deafening. I press ganged youngest because he was revising for exams by watching some women gyrate on youTube. Good revision I’m sure, but not for a public service exam.
“All you have to do is push me really fast through the church car park”.
“But, but, what about…”
“Never mind all that. You just push as fast as you can”.
I really should have listened.
Perhaps you can imagine the scene. There’s a plumpish old chap sitting on a tiny little motorbike. No footrests so legs are raised up and forwards. There’s a gangly 6’2″ teenager, in his slippers, pushing frantically behind.
“Faster!” I cried. “F%$k off” can the mumbled response but we gained speed. I crunched the bike into second gear and the engine started turning over, we had a few bangs and backfires, “Even Faster” I yelled, “It’s going to start!”.
It didn’t. We had some smoke, we had the smell of burning petrol and we had the sense of getting close to something monumental. We also had the church communion looking at us aghast. The boy said “I was trying to tell you that it’s Sunday and everyone will be in there but you just wouldn’t listen” and then he legged it. Leaving me to wave sheepishly at the pastor and his flock as I wheeled Little Project forlornly back to the shed.
Tell you what though. It’s looking pretty good.
I believe that in several previous posts I have mentioned that I’m not a fan of electrics. Faced with a dozen different coloured cables and several wiring diagrams, none of which actually match my bike is a little like being left alone with a big bottle of wine and no corkscrew. I’m eager to get going but I don’t know quite where to start.
I bit the bullet last week and just started cutting wires into lengths and attaching them to each other in what I hoped was not a haphazard fashion.
How is your Latin? The original title of this post was “Genesis 1:3 and Angus Young” but I changed my mind and went with a more classical choice instead. There are a few things that you need to know when you are working on the electrics of a Little Project and you don’t know what you are doing.
No. 1. Make sure that you have a charged battery. Martin Luther King said “Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic.” If he had been restoring an old Honda he may also have included “Testing circuitry without power is like trying to stop the wind from blowing”.
No. 2. Make sure that you know how to use a multimeter. My multimeter has a dial on it and you can turn the dial to about 20 different places. As I don’t have a clue what each of the different settings do it makes testing things quite entertaining.
No. 3. Make sure that your multimeter works consistently.
So there’s a bunch of wiring that needs to be fastened together. I joined it all up and then realised that some of the bits of wire actually go to more than one place. The orange one goes to about 5 places and the green one does similar. There’s also the mysterious earth. According to the wiring diagram the lead from the battery goes all over the place and then attaches to the frame. In my simple mind this means that every time I touch the bike I’m going to get an electric shock. We shall see.
I made a bit of the wiring loom. It looks like this.
Not much to look at I know but it is a step in the right direction.
I plugged it all in. Turned the ignition key and nothing.
I connected the battery. Turned the ignition key and nothing.
I took the battery off again and put it on charge. Then I checked the voltage in the battery (you have to have the multimeter at around 10 o’clock). Multimeter said no charge. Then it said 6.15 volts. Then it said no charge. I decided to go with it and connected it up again. Can you guess the result?
The lad showed up so we decided to have a serious play with the wires. The multimeter was giving random results, sometimes things were working and sometimes they were not. We eventually decided to just test it on a bare piece of wire and sometimes it was working and sometimes not.
I’ve mentioned Halford’s before. I reckoned that even Halford’s could not supply a meter worse than mine so off we went and purchased a new one. Yay! it works and there is consistent power in the battery.
The aim was just to get the neutral light to light up. This should be fairly easy except that we also have to take into account that the neutral switch is somewhere in the gearbox that I rebuilt back in the summer on 2013. Boy and I looked at one another uttered a shared “where do we start?”.
He reckoned that for the light to come on we had to have at least one wire that went from the neutral switch to the neutral light. Further deduction and we decided that there needed to be two. One to say the light needs to come on and one to feed the light with power. We started with the one that says the light needs to come on (it is green and red in case you are interested). From the gearbox to bulb there was no continuity but from the gearbox to the first of those plastic connectors that break when you look at them there was. We then found two green and red wires that were not plugged into one another. We plugged them in and hey presto. Halford’s multimeter said that there was an unbroken link all the way through.
Power was a black cable. I’ve tinkered a lot with the black cable but everything was connecting okay in my new bit of the wiring loom. I even discovered that coming from the battery to a random black wire that I found there was 6 volts with the ignition turned on and no volts with the ignition turned off. That had to mean something and it could only be a good thing.
There’s another of those plastic connectors. An 8 hole one that was part of the original loom. There was connectivity up to it but not beyond it so (in the true spirit of Little Project recklessness) I snipped the cables at either end and joined them up directly.
We then connected the battery and plugged everything back in again.
Once again. Can you guess what happened?
It is only a small thing. The light goes off when you put the bike into gear and comes on again when it is in neutral. It goes off when you turn the ignition off and comes on again when you turn the ignition on.
Let’s go with Angus rather than Genesis 1:3. In the bible, after God saw that the light was good he divided light form the darkness and created night and day. Even on my best day I can’t manage that. AC/DC said:
Let there be Light
Let there be Rock.
I reckon that there are still a few dozen wires to sort out regarding light, but after that we shall be aiming for sound and the shed shall throb to the pulsating beat of a 9hp engine.
Thank you all for bearing with me and for the encouragement you have offered.
You can listen to this whilst reading the post. It might build the tension.
In the film, Gary Coopers character, Will Kane gets married and hangs up his badge. On the day that he is leaving town he finds out that the dastardly Frank Miller is coming in on the noon train. Will locked Frank up several years earlier and Frank is looking for revenge. Will decides that he can’t leave the townsfolk in the hands of the Miller gang and so returns to face his destiny and asks the townfolk to help him. The people of Hadleyville shun him though and Will has to face Frank and his cronies alone. His new wife is a pacifist and vows to leave on the next train with or without Will.
The beauty of the film is that it is played back almost in real time (a bit like 24 but in black and white and with less torture) and you just can’t be sure that it is going to end happily. I shall leave you to find it and watch for yourself. It is 85 minutes of classic Western that you should make the most of.
Little Project faced its own High Noon. I have been searching the world for the bits that I need to finish it off with no luck. The time had come for me to either knuckle down and start making things or to put Little Project on the last train out of Shedville.
I wandered down to the shed to take stock. There’s (still) a lot of wiring to do. The brakes don’t brake. The chain is too long and the engine does not start. I’d made a complete mess of painting the tank and then in the process of pouring fuel into it last spring I had managed to take off half of the paint that I had put on.
I figured eBay was probably the best option. A nearly finished project that had received a lot of love and was (in its own way) quite famous might actually tempt somebody with time on their hands. I can even pass over the blog for the new owner to keep up the good work. I think it will be important that the people who have taken the time to read this get to know how it all ends.
I was looking at the droopy chain and remembered that when I had picked up some of my fathers old tools a few years ago there was a chain link remover somewhere. I thought I might as well take a link out because it’s not a well known skill. I took a link out and then another and the chain was nice and tight. One less job to do for somebody.
Then I looked at the front brake which has defeated me for 18 months and thought “If I take that nut off and move that bit over there then it would probably make it easier to explain why it doesn’t work”. So I took that nut off and thought about it a bit more and put the nut back on in a different place and then the brakes worked okay.
I thought I would take one last look at the wiring. I went through my notes (still in the elephant hide book with the gold clip) and figured that the notes would be really useful for the new buyer as they were very comprehensive and it would take somebody new to the electrics a while to work them out, and how would they remember that purple was the new light blue? Then I decided just to solder a few of the wires together so that it looked more tidy so I took the wiring loom up to the kitchen (nobody was in so it was safe), put David Bowie on the music machine and started soldering.
Then it was five hours later and I had remembered why I was restoring the bike. I enjoy it. I like the satisfaction of some little thing going right and I enjoy the interaction with the wonderful people on the internet who have encouraged me over the last 28 months (bloody hell! It was going to be ready by my birthday in 2013).
And so we’re back. From outer space.
It will be finished by my birthday.
Many philosophies and religions originating in eastern parts incorporate the concept of Chakra. These are points of physical or psychic energy that together form the focal points where the spiritual and actual body merge and interact with each other (that’s a pretty poor description of 3000 years of meditation but it is close enough). While there are many thousands of such points throughout the body, there are seven major locations, reaching from the base of the spine to the top of the head. Each chakra is responsible for a different organ and emotion.
Little Project isn’t human and as such only has three chakras. Abandha, Yantra and Vaidyuta. These roughly translate to frame, engine and electrics (Now you know that you are going to have to find a Sanskrit to English translation site to find out if I’ve made those up or not).
We have mastered Abandha. I am very comfortable that everything to do with the Little Project rolling stock is spot on and as it should be (even though the chain isn’t very tight).
Yantra is proving a problem. Whilst it should in theory be easy to get such a little engine to work it is proving far more challenging than anyone could possibly expect. After several months of frustration I decide instead to focus on Vaidyuta. Have I mentioned that I’m not a fan of electrical wiring?
I started by writing down in the Little Project notebook (yes, such a thing exists, it is bound in elephant hide and fastens with a golden clip) the colour of each cable in the wiring loom and both the start and end point of each cable. It went something like this;
Brown/White – B-loom to headlight dimmer
Pink – Indicator switch to indicator
And so on. It filled several pages of the notebook but I was comfortable that it was correct. I even asked several different people if the red/white and yellow wires that came out of the loom really should come halfway up the frame and then join and go back again. “Oh yes” they all cried.
I then fetched all of the various electrical bits that had snipped cables on them, laid them neatly on the kitchen table and compared them to my marvelous electrical word diagram. There was a slight flaw. The wiring diagram in the manual seems to have forgotten about the right hand switch gear. It just isn’t there. A couple of days searching the internet and I was getting desperate until I realised that there was another wiring diagram on my very own useful things page. Hey ho and off we go.
The plan is to put very tidy multi-plug adapters where each cable has been cut and then I can just join them all up together with one last (slightly complicated) connecting piece.
Note that you ever find yourself in need of working on Little Project electrics, I couldn’t find any light blue wire. Purple is the new light blue.
So I’ve been doing this sort of thing.
I’m not quite sure what the bit of newspaper that I was working on is about but it does look interesting. The principle is, cut all of the wires so that they are the same length, clamp the connecting spade thingy on the end, a very tidy blob of solder to hold it in place and then shove it in the plastic casing. Then curse because I forgot to put heat-wrap around it.
Rather excitingly, I have managed to get all of the cables from the handlebar switches and from the speedo (there’s so many bloody wires coming out of the speedo and so little room as they were all snipped quite short) with nice tidy connectors on them.
Just briefly going back to eastern religions, Buddhists hang prayer flags out around their homes that blow in the wind and carry beneficial vibrations. Little Project is now in a state where it is doing the three chakra equivalent.
It should be a fairly easy (if labour intensive) task to join all of these together into one throbbing, heaving mass of electrical potency. Then it will be a case of turning the ignition on and pressing the horn. One beep for Vaidyuta.
Just as a brief, off the cuff mention. Little Project is getting a big brother very soon. We shall be joined by a Triumph Tiger 800 XC that looks remarkably like this.
I’m hoping that the work ethics of a running motorcycle will rub off on Little Project.
Apologies for the several week delay in bringing this update to you. Spirits have been low because the engine doesn’t work (yet).
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.
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.
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 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.
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.