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.



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!


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.

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.

Among the garbage and the flowers

Leonard Cohen.  Perhaps not the most obvious of choices to be playing on the shed Juke Box but it works really well for assisting in the removal of grime.  The above comes from Suzanne and it occurred as I heard it that Little Project had sort of been found between the garbage and the flowers and the song is set on a river and, well, I’m not too far from a big river.   Suzanne is my favourite.  It started off as a poem and didn’t grow into a song until some time later.

I’d forgotten.   Maybe it had just been blanked from my memory.  Before you can fit a new gasket you have to remove the old ones.   I spent the morning dithering because there was something nagging at the back of my mind and I couldn’t work out what it was.  Sure that it would come back to me later I pressed on with doing the right thing.

Pressed on also describes  what happens to old gaskets and brought forward the nagging memory from the back of my brain.   Gasket Goo.   As a very young man when taking engines apart was just something we all did every day, we’d apply some potion to gaskets to make sure that they didn’t leak.   We always referred to it as Gasket Goo but that wasn’t it’s real name.   Gasket Goo does however make a formidable bond between the gasket and the bit of metal it is mated with.

You know that bit in Mary Poppins?   Just as she’s singing “a spoon full of sugar” and the Robin and she have done a duet and then she just clicks her fingers and things start to tidy up all by themselves?  Well it’s not like that getting the bits of gasket off an engine that hasn’t been opened for a while.  I tried whistling, that didn’t help.   I looked around for any passing birds in the hope that they would just come and peck off the bits of weird gaskety material glued to the metal.   No chance, so I spent what can only be described as a very relaxing couple of hours with Mr Cohen and a Stanley knife.   I’ll wager that’s not the first time the two have been mentioned in the same sentence.

Gaskets duly removed and a tin of baked beans consumed to gird my loins I set off to Halfords (again) to amuse the staff by asking if they had any gasket goo.   The old and wizened man that every shop keeps locked up just in case they have a weird question was released and he worked out that I actually needed some flange sealant.   I don’t know about you but I prefer my name for the stuff.

I thought it made sense to check that everything else was working whilst there’s no oil about.   Want to see what a Little Project clutch looks like?   I don’t care, you are going to see it anyway.


I think I might change the clutch plates whilst everything is naked.   It’s no big task (famous last words – I will probably need Honda tool X123DSS or something and they are only made by hand to order in Damascus) so for the sake of another few days I shall hold off on applying the gasket goo, sorry, flange sealant.

Other than that, don’t forget that tomorrow, the last Monday in August is officially Little Project day.  Everybody please take the day off and do something that you have never done before.  Then please tell me about it in the comments section and I will have something to write about on Wednesday.   I would also like to say hello and a very big welcome to any new and recently signed up readers of the Little Project saga.   It means a lot to me that you’ve chosen to be bored by me instead of (or as well as) Piers Morgan, One Direction and Prince George.

Thanks for visiting.