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!

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Ships and tar

We are such stuff as dreams are made on and our little life is rounded with a sleep.

So spake Prospero in The Tempest.  He’s rattling on about a performance that he’s arranged for his daughters wedding that he’s decided to abandon part way through because he’s better things to do.    Of course, I have nothing better to do than fiddle around with Little Project but sometimes the demands of life do cause a halt in proceedings.

A bit like Prospero and the wedding, I was considering the joining together of two halves to make one.   The left side (which contains the gearbox) and the right side (containing the kick start).    They just wouldn’t go together properly so I needed a plan…

I had a plan.  When you come to build your own Little Project engine, you may borrow this plan.   You need some bits of wood.

I made an open ended frame.   Deep enough that any spindles, kick starts, gear changes etc that hang out of the engine will fix together.   Like this.

Make a frame

I know that it looks suspiciously like the remains of a dining table screwed together with a piece of 2×1, trust me, it’s a frame.

Then I placed  left side of the engine onto the frame so that it was waving all of its coggy bits in the air and carefully lowered right side on top of it.   Then I turned it all over and this happened. (note the not-pristine overall legs that have strayed into the picture).

Left Side

Everything sort of fell into place.  Oh gosh.   Who’d have thought it.   I moved the kick starter mechanism into it’s rightful place (it’s the round bit with a lump on it in the bottom of the picture) and put the left hand side back on.   Look!   This happened!

Together

So the crankcases are wed together.   Finally.   I know it’s hard to believe but there you go.      I didn’t take it any further because there are a couple of spaces or similar that slide down those long poles that you can see and hold the barrel in position.   Mine were a bit battered so I’ve ordered some new ones for the princely sum of £1.95 each, it seems pointless to spoil the whole thing for something so tiny and cheap.   They should be here for next weekend.

I did start putting the clutch back together.    I vaguely remembered how it all went but there was one part that I knew was clutch related and I couldn’t work out where it fitted.   It looks like this.

The thing

It’s around four inches long.   I remembered it as pushing in something to make the clutch work but I just couldn’t see how it attached.   Several hours of head scratching (with horribly oily fingers, my hair is such a mess) and I still couldn’t work it out so I retired for the weekend.

Four am in the morning I awoke with a ridiculous thought.   I think that this part is from one of the CB125 engines that I tinkered with.   That means that a) I don’t need to find a place for it to go and b) One of the CB engines has a bit missing from it.

Do I care?   Do I fret and fuss?    No, I shall get on next weekend and (allowing for the inevitability of the shed being blown away by a storm) should have a complete engine by Sunday night.

If you believe that then you’ll believe anything.

Thanks for taking the time to pop by.  Come back soon.

The anniversary blog

Well, who would have thought it.   here we are, a year on and there is still no sign of internal combustion.

I must apologise to those who have been waiting with bated breath for a Little Project update.  I am very aware that posts have been thin and far between for the last month or so.    Shall I tell you why?

You will remember.  I have pretty much all that I need to get things running.  I am waiting for some news on bits of wiring loom and the like form up north (mentioning no names Emma) but I have all these shiny bits of engine itching to go together.   The problem is that they don’t fit together.

There’s obviously a discrepancy there.   I know that they all fit together somehow.   They just don’t seem to fit together in the way they came apart.   A very nice man called Brett provided me with a pdf of the workshop manual for a CT125 and I have the Clymer manual as well.  Between them you’d think a capable chap like me would be able to figure out how to get a few bits of metal back into a crank case and then fasten it all together.   Not a bit of it.

Clymer says assemble everything in the left hand crankcase.   The workshop manual says assemble everything in the right hand crankcase.   What’s a boy to do?     I went with Clymer (mostly because the gearbox is already assembled in the left hand side.  Everything fits peachily until we get to put the kickstart mechanism in (you may have heard this before).   In it goes and then one needs several pairs of hands to try and hold it in place whilst the cranks go together.

After around a dozen times (at least I’m not getting bloody knuckles doing this) I finally managed to get everything together and put in some of the bolts that keep everything snug.    I can go up and down through the gear changes with no problem but when I turn the crank there’s a metallic clunking noise and I’m pretty sure that there should be no such noise.   It is incredibly frustrating because I think that I’m really close to having everything reassembled but until I can crack this bit, I’m going nowhere.

Regardless.   Everybody sing Happy Birthday to Little Project.   It was 12 months ago to the day that I knocked on the door of David and he said “Take the bloody thing away”.   Things have moved on considerably since then and I am determined that one day we shall be back on the road.   I probably just need a bigger hammer.

Thank you for taking the time to visit.   All being well, the next post is going to be the Honda CT125 equivalent of the Michelin calendar.   I bet you can’t wait!

The little part with no home

I bet you all think that I’ve been sitting back kicking my shoes off and relaxing over the Christmas period.

Not a bit of it.   I’ve been scratching my head, baffled over a couple of things that I do not know how they go back together.

I have a little tin.   In the tin are things that can loosely be described as “things that came out of the crankcase”.   I label them thus because as I was taking things out of the crankcases I was putting them into the little tin.

I ended up with these two chappies.

IMG_1664

both have a threaded bolt that fits perfectly into the drum with the wiggly lines in it that changes the gear.  Trouble is, there is only one hole and two bolts.

Endless fiddling and trying things in different places and looking at pictures on the internet and I now know what they are.  The bit shaped like a star is called “Cam. gear shift” and the other bit is called “Stopper.Drum”.    The reason that I couldn’t work out where they go is because they are on the outside of the crankcase rather than on the inside. The star shaped bit screws into the wiggly lined drum and the stopper then nestles it’s pretty little head into the star shaped thing.   When you change gear, by some miracle yet to be discovered, the stopper makes the star turn round and thus the gears change.  Simple when you know how!

I’m still very stuck though.   I have the kick start assembly all ready to go in.  I see where it goes and I see that it has some cogs that mesh into the gearbox.  What I don’t see is why bits of the kick start seem to rub against bits of the gearbox and I also can’t see what stops the kick start bits flying randomly around the engine as soon as everything is running.  I am totally baffled by it.   I think perhaps my only hope is to take apart another engine to see exactly how things go back together again.   I fear that this will lead to another bunch of cogs on the floor and another scratching of my head.  If there is anybody out there who has any knowledge of these at all then please drop me a line and give me some advice.

Other than that, once I’ve worked out how these bits go back together it is just a case of reassembling the engine.   It should be fairly easy to do!

Happy new year everyone.  We should be back to normal service now I no longer have to spend every weekend shopping for Christmas presents.

The glistening gearbox

Other than the obvious religious festival and the giving and receiving of gifts, Christmas is traditionally a time of feasting and as we all know, a good feast relies on lots of cooking.

After leaving the bearings in the fridge overnight to marinade in coldness I waited patiently until the coast was clear and whacked up the heat on the oven.   5 minutes later and with barely a sniff of Castrol permeating the kitchen and the old bearings were out and replaced by new ones.   As it is panto season I had a bit of an Aladdin moment thinking about new bits for old and then another more scary moment as I heard footsteps coming down the stairs.   “She’s behind you!” I thought but oh no she wasn’t.   It was the cat coming to see if there was any potential protein coming her way as the oven was being used at an unusual time.

I had very carefully dissembled the gearbox prior to the oven adventure.    Everything was lined up in the correct sequence, cleaned, placed in the correct place on the clean side of the sink (obviously I mean workbench there, sink is just what I call it sometimes) ready for being rebuilt.

IMG_1623

The way the gearbox works is there’s a big barrel with wiggly grooves in it (you may note that I am being very technical here).   There are three forks, the handles of which nestle in the wiggly grooves and the prongs nestle between the cogs of the gearbox.   When you change gear, the big barrel rotates slightly and the wiggly grooves make the forks lift or drop (depending on whether we are on an up wiggle or a down wiggle) and so the forks make different gears engage together.

I made two mistakes.

As I was carefully laying out the cleaned parts I was not quite so careful about which way round they went.   This wasn’t so bad with the cogs because it was sort of obvious (and I had a picture) but the forks are asymmetrical and I had no idea what way round they went.    I spent a jolly three hours trying them in all combinations possible until I was happy that they were correct and then carefully put everything back in the crankcase – Fellow rebuilders, do not do what the maual says and try to put it all in as a job lot.  It is impossible.   Start with the shafts and then build them up slowly from there.   It’s a bit like tetris but backwards.

This was my second mistake.   After reassembling it all and standing back to admire my clean, mouse-free, working gearbox I noticed the little white bag that contains the new oil seal for it so everything had to come out again to replace it.

In an ideal world we should be joining the cranks together this weekend.   If that happens it means that I actually managed to get my Christmas shopping completed.   Yeah, right.

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.