bump bump bump

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.

lpThank you for taking the time to come and read.

Fiat Lux

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.

Wiring loom

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?

Nothing.

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?

fiat luxIt 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

Sound

Drums

Guitar

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.

 

Aum Shanti

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.

IMAG0106

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.

wires

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.

IMAG0147

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).

 

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.

What is going on?

It has been a while.  I hang my head in shame.   I’ve had a trio of little incidents regarding the engine of Little Project, or the assembly thereof.

Incident 1 was the spilling of copious amounts of assembly oil all over everywhere.   I’m not sure if you are familiar with assembly oil.   It’s the stuff to use when you are assembling an engine.  I suspect that is where it got it’s name from.    It (at least mine) is green.   It is possibly the most sticky and lubricating oil in the world.   A spillage of the tiniest bit causes a mess and I (rather unwisely) left my bottle on its side with the top not fastened properly.  The consistency (and probably the viscosity) is similar to treacle.   It’s not as sweet as treacle though.   The flipping stuff poured over the workbench and dribbled into every nook and cranny possible.   Passing sea birds were called to the slick and became entangled.    It is only a tiny bit of an exaggeration to compare the scenes in the shed to that following the sinking of the Torrey Canyon.

Incident 2 involves the mysterious disappearance of part number  95015-11100.  Also known as “bolt, a1, rotor” and it’s associated washer.   Not only is the bolt missing but there are no other bolts in the humongous bolt box that are the same, so I have had to order one in at the ridiculous price of £8.35 (including post and packaging of course).   Bolt, a1, rotor was carefully stored with the flywheel.  As the flywheel is very magnetic there should be no way at all that the bolt could have escaped.   This brings us nicely to incident 3.

Incident 3 was definitely down to Little Project engine building incompetence and (as you can probably guess, electrics related).  The aforementioned bolt holds the flywheel to the crank.   The flywheel then (if the engine ever works) rotates at engine speed around a stator (a bunch of tightly wound wires) and generates an electric current that makes everything work.  The stator is secured into the left hand crankcase cover and is staying there as I don’t fancy replacing it unless I have to.

Because I am foolish I thought to myself “I’ll just drop the flywheel into the crankcase cover and make sure it all fits sweetly”.

Did I mention that the flywheel is extraordinarily magnetic?

Did I mention that I’d had a leak of the most sticky and lubricating oil in the world?

The flywheel had (and still has) a slight coating of assembly oil around the outside of it.   Obviously I’d wiped most of it off but I was just dropping it in to see if it fitted.   It fits perfectly.   It’s definitely the ultimate fit when it comes to Little Project flywheels into crank case covers.   The trouble is, because it is magnetic it doesn’t want to come out again.   I can’t lever it out because it’s a lovely snug fit and I can’t get a grip on it to pull it out because it has a lovely oily sheen on it.   Oi vey! (I’ve used up my entire knowledge of Yiddish there).

There’s a hole down the middle of the flywheel (through which the rotor nut would go if it existed) so I am fashioning a hook from an old centrepunch that in theory will hook around the inside of the stator.  I can then clamp the other end of the hook in the vice and pull off the crank case cover and associated stator etc.   I know full well that what will happen is it will come off suddenly and I shall be propelled backwards across the shed and into the lawnmower.  That’s the lawnmower that seems to have turned red (RAL3020) at some stage over the last 12 months.

Wish me luck!

Everything but the kitchen sink

There is a Japanese concept (or maybe a philosophy, or maybe just an interesting take on life) called Wabi-sabi.

It’s a bit difficult to describe and it doesn’t translate too well but it can very roughly be imagined as seeing (or maybe feeling) the beauty of imperfection.  The concept comes originally from the Bhudist teachings of the three marks of existence and is most closely associated with Anicca – everything is in a state of impermanence – The other two marks of existence are Dukkha (Nothing physical can bring lasting satisfaction) and Anatta (The illusion of self).

Curiously, the word “sabi” (to quote from Wikipedia) implies “beauty or serenity that comes with age, when the life of the object and its impermanence are evidenced in its patina and wear, or in any visible repairs“.   In spoken Japanese it also means rust (the kanji characters are different but the sound is the same) so in many and different (but satisfyingly pleasing) ways I think we can say that Little Project fits perfectly in with the concept of Wabi-sabi.

Don’ t tell anybody, keep it under your hat.   I had access to the (warm) kitchen again this weekend rather than the (cold) shed.   I thought I would continue cleaning up the scuzzy bits of engine that haven’t seen daylight for many a year.    Here are (obviously darling if YOU are reading this, photo-shopped) a couple of pictures of what might have happened if I had been brave enough to try and remove 30 years of grime in what should be the cleanest and most sterile room in the house…

sink Dirty

I did a really good job of clearing up and putting everything back where it should be, I even remembered to wipe the spots of oil and roadkill off the back of the sink.   The only flaw in my plan was forgetting to put the bottle of Gunk away and so was questioned “Why is this bottle of Gunk next to the sink?”.     Failed.

It is apparent that the bearings in the crank case that hold the gearbox in place need replacing so I’ve ordered some replacements that may or may not arrive any day now.   Reading the manual on how to replace these bearings it suggests the easiest way to do it is to put the new bearings in the freezer for a few hours (to make them shrink) and to put the crankcase in the oven for 5 minutes at gas mark 7 (to make it expand).   Then the old bearings fall out and the new bearings slot in nicely.  I’m not quite sure how I’m going to explain that one.

The gearbox is covered in lumps of things.  Some of it is undoubtedly ex-conrod but I fear that other bits may have had a more organic origin.   I suspect that bits of dead mouse may have leaked into it at some stage.   The gears did look like this

 gearbox

But I’ve taken them all out now so they look like a metal version of a children’s puzzle.   Little Project lego, if you will.

On the positive side I took the advice of Seat and carefully prepared my workspace so that everything will be to hand when I come to rebuild the engine.    The rather untidy bench of last week has now been transformed into a pristine example of a motorcycle workshop with everything ready for re-assembly.

Bench

The piston is my favourite bit.   I can’t remember seeing such a diminutive piston before.   It’s all shiny and completely unsullied by small explosions.

Piston 2

One day I hope it will actually go up and down in a true piston fashion, rather than with me just waving it about and going “brmmm, brmmm” to let it know how it should be working.

I am fortunate enough to be able to spend the week trying to work out how all of the gears go back into the correct position.   I’ve got them all labelled with the exception of a couple of washers that just appeared from nowhere.   I wouldn’t normally worry about a couple of washers but the manual keeps reiterating “Don’t lose the thrust washers”.  It doesn’t add “that are going to fall from somewhere whilst you are not paying attention you idiot” but I think I might write to Mr Clymer to get this added in for the next edition.

There’s a man on Facebook that has a wiring loom for sale.    In an ideal world, it will be mine before the next full moon.   Wish me luck!   In the meantime, have an enjoyable week and try to think of ways that I can cook the engine without anybody noticing.   I’ve considered suggesting that it is an avant-garde baking tray but I’m not sure that will swing.

Thanks for taking the time to visit.

Seat speaks

G’day.

The bloke who writes this has spent the weekend doing other stuff so he’s asked me to do a quick update on his behalf.

You might remember me.    I spent four months traveling from my home in Tiaro, Queensland to some bloody cold place with a pom who’s restoring an old bike.     I had many great adventures on my way including spending some time in a Russian prison and trying to find buried spitfires in Malaysia.    Now I’m here and I’ve been sitting on a shelf in a shed for ages.  Strewth but it’s cold.    I did think about trying to get a job in a bar somewhere whilst I’m waiting to be used but frankly the place is full of rugger fans and it can be a bit scary when you’re only 60cm long.   Oh, I’ve been ordered not to mention the cricket.  I’ll just say, Ha.

Before I go on, I need to tell you to go and read Tom’s blog.   Tom is based back home down under, believe it or not he’s just round the corner from where I came from (I think) and he’s also restoring a CT125 (along with about a million other bikes).   You can find his blog by clicking here.  Tom has a whole bunch of bits in his shed that the bloke here would love to get his hands on given half the chance.

I’ve been telling Robby that he needs to tidy up the shed.  Honestly it is such a mess.  There’s oil all over the floor and there’s not room to swing a cat, not even that mangy three legged  thing that creeps in every now and  then.  I “borrowed” his phone to take a snap of his “nice and tidy” workbench.   I ask you.

Shed

Does that look like any sort of place to rebuild an engine?    I think he’s a bit worried that he won’t be able to tell the bits of XL engine from the bits of CT engine that he’s got lying around the place in little plastic bags.   That will teach him to label things properly.

He’s been trying to clean up the engine casings before  rebuilding them.   I keep saying “Mate, you want to strip that gearbox down and get all those bits of metal out of it before you try cleaning the outside” but he’s more keen on making the bloody thing shiny than he is on making sure that the inside is sound.     There’s a couple of bearings in there that he should be changing as well but I don’t think he’s going to bother.    Remember it was me who told you about them when it all goes wrong in a few months time.

Speaking of going wrong.   He’s been driving around with some of the electrics for the bike in his car for the last week.    Lord knows why.    I reckon he thinks that new bloody car is going to fix them for him.    I know that car is a bit fancy but I don’t reckon it can handle a soldering iron.   I tell you, he thinks that the bike is going to be up and running and on the road in time for spring.    Ask him which year though.    That’s a different story.

I better go.  It”s getting dark and it’s a tricky trip back to the shed for me.   I did have a nice cozy spot in a bedroom but for some reason I wasn’t allowed to stay there.   The hospitality here isn’t really what I expected it to be at all.   Not like that nice yurt I stayed at in Tibet.

Take care folks.   I’ll make sure that normal service is resumed soon.