Down and then up again

Just after pressing the “Publish” button on Wednesdays missive the postman arrived.    He brought with him a letter from the DVLA (That’s the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency – the organisation in the UK that is responsible for vehicle licensing).   In a nutshell the letter said

“Dear Robby, we can’t match the registration plates on Little Project with the registration number so you can’t have the V5 logbook so you won’t be able to tax the bike and so you can’t use the bike”.

I was down beyond belief.   It isn’t the absolute last straw, once I deem Little Project roadworthy I have the option of taking it to a vehicle testing station and getting it registered as if it was a kit bike but this means a special registration that immediately stands out from the crowd and pretty much doubles the insurance.

I thought “Sod it.  I’ll just put it all on eBay and flog it to anyone who wants to carry on”.   So I wandered down to the shed with the posh camera and took a bunch of photos.   I figured that with this blog documenting what’s been done and with so many shiny bits I may be able to find a buyer for what I had.

I turned on the computer to head to eBay and in my email there’s a comment against the glossary page.   It said…

I developed serious withdrawal symptoms when you were off line recently. Please don’t do it again!.

Then, within a blink there was another encouraging comment asking for “..more of the same please.”

So, you gentlemen (or ladies, or whoever you are).   Thank you.   You have encouraged me to carry on.   I have deleted those photographs that were for eBay and once again have oily fingers.

And a plan!

Meanwhile I have been doing some messing around with engines.    Now why isn’t that surprising.    I’ll just surmise where we are, viz-a-viz arranging some locomotion that doesn’t involve me scooting up and down the garden on Little Project shouting “Brmmm Brmmm” (I did, the neighbours thought I’d gone a bit bonkers.   I just wanted to see how comfortable Seat actually was).

We have…

  • A very nice 1978 CB125 engine that is clean and shiny and has good compression and a nice clutch and a good gearbox.
  • A not quite so nice 1978 CB125 engine that has a little broken bit on one of the casings where the tachometer cable goes (although Little Project doesn’t have a rev counter so it is possibly not a problem) and a slightly challenged gearbox.
  • A 1977 XL125 engine that has a missing cylinder head (but also has a good gearbox).
  • A 1983 Little Project original engine that has a piston welded into the barrel and the remains of a mouse sitting on top of the piston.  It also has a considerable amount of rust on it and some of the bolts holding it together are rusted, rounded and sheared.

So judging from the above list and allowing that I’m probably not going to make my completion date of July 22 (2013 of course) it is obvious that I should really use the original Little Project engine, or at least a proper CT125 engine.   Otherwise I am just going to be cheating and not doing the job properly.

Challenge number one is to get the piston that is welded into the barrel out.   This really needs to happen without having copious bits of piston and/or barrel falling into the engine so a devious plan was required (so devious in fact that I forgot to take photographs and it is now too dark to go to the shed to take them).

The devious plan involved Little Project engine (obviously), a cold chisel, some plastic safety spectacles, a black and decker workmate and the BFH.     The engine is clamped upside down in the workmate, gripped securely around the remains of the barrel.     There is a bit of old carpet laid beneath and if you should have chosen to venture into the shed at some stage this weekend, you would have found me lying on the carpet beneath the workmate.   My not so pristine overalls fastened up to my neck, safety goggles donned and wearing a blue woolly hat to keep the remains of my hair clean (people who know me will tell you that whatever hat I wear, I look like a grumpy gnome).

I am of the opinion that if I hit the piston hard enough and enough times with the cold chisel and the big hammer then the piston will eventually fall apart and I will then be able to remove the barrel and the remains of the welded piston at the same time.   This opinion is loosely based on what I think is holding the piston to the engine.

Obviously, it is going to take quite a lot of piston bashing to remove this.   However, I have patience.

Just one extra note.   There is a CT125 for sale on eBay, it finishes tomorrow.   The gentleman selling it says it needs some work (ha, as if) but the engine runs and all of the electrics are there.   It finishes in exactly 24 hours from now and I’m currently the highest bidder.   keep your fingers crossed for me, I’m on a very limited budget for it!

It’s like what John Lennon said

This is more of a Wednesday post than a Sunday post.   It will be apparent why later.


It’s a Buddhist thing. Very roughly we are talking about cause and effect.   You do this and that happens.  I think that the best way of describing it in modern language is to say “What goes around comes around”.


Back in the depths of time (well, January 2013) David said “It’s been there for years, you can have it if you want it” and I said “Cheers mate”  and eventually a rusty Little Project showed up in the shed.   A motor bike.  I’ve mentioned several times that I grew up with them.   I’m looking forward to taking Little Project on a trip to somewhere.   I don’t really care where, just riding a bike again (even if it is only at 50mph top speed) and getting to a destination. The destination isn’t really the point.   There is a Taoist saying that says something along the lines of “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step”.   I am looking forward to the single step that will start the journey.


A few weeks ago I did a blog about what I was up to in 1983.  Mostly the blog was an antidote to the previous one that included a pretentious attempt at replicating some Edgar Alan Poe poetry that went horribly wrong.   What really surprised me was a comment from a long lost friend that said hello.  I don’t think that I had heard from this long lost friend for 30 years and it made me realise that the story of Little Project wasn’t just the tale of a little Honda that has big ideas anymore.   People actually read my little blog.   Crikey!


Ah shut up with the existentialism Robby and get on with what you’ve been up to with on the bike for goodness sake.

You know what?  Karma!

I ordered a new gasket set.  Gaskets (for those that don’t know) make a seal between two bits of metal.   They’re like a little cushion that allows imperfections between the metal casings to glue together and keep oil inside the engine.   Many years ago my father used to make them out of cornflake packets.   Soaked in oil (and possibly boiled in oil as well), wintertime was invariably welcomed by intricate shapes cut out of cardboard and hanging from various bits of the kitchen.

I can’t make the gaskets, mostly because I don’t know what they should look like and I have no templates to follow.  I ordered a set from eBay.   I was convinced that upon their arrival I would be able to re-assemble a full engine made from several other engines and be off on my way before you could blink.   The gaskets arrived and were held at the local post office depot for me (too big to go through the letter box and too precious to bend).

A brief distraction – The postie has taken Little Project to heart.  He notices the items that are important and takes great care of them.   He too is restoring a little motor bike of his own and after a discussion with him about the challenges of finding parts I was touched beyond belief to find a little envelope pushed through the door with his list of contacts for making up hard to come by bits.

Back to the gaskets.  It’s my own fault, I ordered the wrong ones.   I was almost overcome with excitement as I unwrapped them on Saturday only to find that they just didn’t fit my bike.   There was a glum face in the shed all weekend as I looked at all of the bits ready to be assembled that just had to sit there for another week waiting for the correct parts to arrive.

On a positive note, somebody kindly explained to me what a rectifier was.   It turns AC electrics (from the generator) into DC electrics that go into the battery.   This is obviously important to the battery although I don’t really understand why.   There should be one somewhere on Little Project.   I can spend the week working out where it is and that will sort out one of the cables from the generator.   Only two more cables to work out!

Thank you for your time.  There will definitely be more gossip on Wednesday.

The turned head.

There is a colleague of mine at work.   He’ll know who he is (obviously, what a stupid thing to say!).   He is considering buying a motorcycle to commute to work on.   We both travel 20+ miles into the office every day and approximately half the travel time is spent on the 5 or so miles between motorway and offices.   There’s many a bike slips between the lanes of traffic and generates an envious glance so it makes perfect sense.

Colleague sort of asked – you will all be aware, as a middle aged bloke, it doesn’t take long for our interest to overflow into possibly unwanted enthusiasm for something mentioned in passing – So colleague sort of mentioned this and I was off on eBay like a ferret on the trail of a rabbit…

We need to take a break here.  Have you seen the Hitchcock film “Rear Window”?  It was remade in the ’90’s with Christopher Reeve playing the lead.  Anyway, I’m not hinting that I am in a wheelchair and I am certainly not suggesting that there’s a murder going on across the road but I have distracted by some rather unusual goings-on in the flat opposite.  There seems to be a table cloth waving competition going on.   Can’t explain it any better than that but there have been several different pieces of material appear at the window, shaken (but not stirred) and then removed to pastures new.  I shall report if anything further occurs.

Back to colleague.  In the search for something interesting for him to ride I came across the next project.   It’s not quite so little and it will have to still be on sale when Little Project is completed but it does look very interesting.   Described as “NC30 in need of TLC” this is a bike that already runs.  I do hope it stays unsold until I am ready for it.

I have been sitting in the sun (although not waiting for senorita to show) and working on Little Project this weekend.  It has involved the remarkably boring job of putting things together.   The bike is starting to look like, well, a bike!   I was a little disappointed that the front wheel did not show up on Friday as promised because it would have meant that Little Project could move around without the need for several muscle men from the local gym coming in to pick it up.  We are currently looking like this.

LP 1                  LP2

Frankly, it is amazing.   If you look closely at the second of the pictures above you will see that the Little Project engine bay has now become the repository for “Next bit to do”.   Next bit in this case features fitting everything to the handlebars and making it all work.   Trouble is, it has been so long since I actually rode a motor cycle that I can’t remember which bits go where.   I’ve been pretending to ride a bike as I go about my daily chores, I reckon that the twist grip is probably on the left hand side but haven’t quite worked out which side are brake and clutch.   I’m sure it will become apparent as time goes by.  If you look really closely at the above pictures you will also notice that shed floor has taken on an interesting hue.   I’m quite glad that I covered up the various odds and ends that make up my life in the shed because everything is red (RAL3020).  Once again I have underestimated the distance that overspray will travel in a calm and quiet area.   The lawn mower is red (it was red anyway, but it is now redder).   My wellingtons are red.  The little box that contains the seeds that I should have sown in May is red.  I bet that if I could find the 10mm spanner it would be red as well.

Plan for the week is to make anything that attaches to the handlebars look like new.  This is probably going to involve paint that isn’t red.    Plan for the weekend is to celebrate the coming of July with some old friends, so there may not be much to talk about next Sunday.   What would be good would be for lots of you to ask some questions about Little Project by using the “comments” box that exists somewhere towards the bottom of this page.  I shan’t hold my breath.

Thank you all for taking the time to visit.  I hope that for those in the northern hemisphere, the summer is exactly as you dream of it and for those in the southern half, your winter is mild but exhilarating.  If you are in Australia (I know that at least one of you are) then I’m really sorry about the Lion’s tour but we need to win on Saturday.

All that is left.

All that is left.

The midway point has definitely been reached in Little Project.    My very tentative finish date of 22nd July (2013 of course) is still looking vaguely achievable although it is going to be a close call.  I have been strangely reluctant to get on with the rebuild so as encouragement to myself, this is all that is left to do.

There’s a front wheel to be re-spoked.  The new hub arrives today (hopefully) and will be delivered to the wheel builder on Tuesday.  Wheel builder takes about a month so I can expect it back at the start of July.

There’s paintwork.   I’m expecting this to take around a month as well but I can’t start it until I get the tank stickers back from the sticker maker and I won’t get those until I tell the sticker maker what I want.  Job number one then is to get back in touch with the sticker people.

There is a front fork to build.  You may remember from the last post that there is an issue with a thing that won’t unscrew.  I’ve found a spare thing that will unscrew so if I can get the thing that wont unscrew unscrewed then I can attach the thing that will unscrew and screw it in.  Clear?

The yokes (or triple clamps if you are a colonial cousin) from HOAP are beautifully shiny from their own visit to the powder-coaters.  Unfortunately the inside parts that take the forks have also been powder coated so they will need to be polished out and tidied up before the forks can be fitted.

There are six holes to be drilled and re-tapped in the frame.   Four to hold the rear mudguard and another two at the back that might or might not be in the right place to hold the seat (sorry, Seat).

Then we can build up the rolling chassis.  So it will be suspension on, wheels on, airbox in, handlebars attached and electrics applied.  There is some doubt about the electrics as I have three bags full of cables and I’m not sure which ones go where.   Brakes will be fixed as well once the handlebars are on.   Anything else?   Hmm, side stands, footrests and other ancillary bits.

Hey presto,  there is a motorbike.   There’s one thing left to do.   Stick an engine in it.   Of the four engines in the engine room, I know that two of them need attention.  Of the other two I know nothing.   I have purposely ignored looking at engines until everything else is completed, partially because I’ve enough to think about and partially because I know that when I start taking the things apart I shall become engrossed and will not want to think of anything else.    In an ideal world, I shall stick a motor in, turn it over and it will start and then I shall take the motor out, polish it until it looks like a mirror and Little Project will be completed. Does anyone really thing this will happen?

There are some bits around the engine that I still need to consider.   Like the in bit and the out bit.   The exhaust system I have looks suspiciously incorrect for the bike and I have a bag of carburetors (honestly!  As well as the sad thing from Little Project featured earlier there are about seven others in a plastic bag).   I’m assuming that I will be able to make one good one from these but I suspect that getting the jetting and needle height correct will prove entertaining.

And that will be that!  Eight weeks roughly, or sixteen blog posts if you fancy and I’ll be taking Little Project down to the MOT station and wondering what to do next.

It will never happen.

The Seat of power

For those of you in the cheap seats I’d like ya to clap your hands to this one; the rest of you can just rattle your jewelry!

John Lennon.   He knew a thing or two about getting bums on seats.  I am having a different problem with seats.

Not with Seat, Seat is fine.   Having spent a few months as a carefree traveler it seems that Seat still has the wanderlust.  The last update regarding Seat was that it was hiding out in the boys bedroom.   It seems that every time I turn around Seat has moved to a new location.   I’m not quite sure how this is happening but it is weird.   Seat was sitting on the table, looking, erm, Seatish.  Seat was on the decking, catching some rays (or whatever the fashionable do in sunshine these days).    After a hard weekends graft in the shed I thought the clement weather merited a barbeque.  Blow me down if Seat wasn’t on the trampoline (not jumping up and down, but waiting expectantly).

I have spent some time reorganising the shed.  I threw out an old chest of drawers and replaced it with two racking stacks instead.  I now have a set of shiny racking just for “Things that I have finished with that cannot yet be fitted to Little Project”.   I may even label it as such.    There is also a shelf containing a box with the legend “CLEAN ME” scrawled upon it.  The box itself is clean so it is a bit of a misnomer as it is the many bits inside that are awaiting attention.

There are also two shelves put aside for engines.  Look!


The christmassy box contains a selection of cams and valves and things from the original Little Project engine.

Seat is now placed on the very top of the shiny shelving.   I think it is a safe place to stay for a while.

The problem I’m having with seats is on eBay.  I have no need for HOAP seats so thought that somebody else may benefit from them.   There are two of them.  One in very good condition and one that is rather less cared for.    As I would hate to mislead anyone on the condition of an item I am selling, the description of the lesser seat contains the following sentence.  “To be honest, it looks like a really fat bloke with a sharp backside went on a long trip on this seat.”.

The good seat seemed to be quite popular.  It attracted several watchers but no bids.   A message from Ron asking if I’d sell it for a specific price was responded to and a deal was struck.   I removed good seat from eBay and was flooded with messages asking where it had gone.   Not so good seat was still patiently waiting courtiers until good seat disappeared and I was then inundated with messages asking “how much for the lardy arse seat”.   Lesson has been learned and there will be no more early withdrawals.

There are a few more surplus HOAP bits on eBay (you can find them under user robby1864) and there will be a bunch more going on there over the next few weeks so if you do happen to be restoring an old XL and want to find out what I have to offer then please feel free to leave me a note on here.

Little Project frame is safely tucked away with a very nice powder coating man at Nationwide Coatings.  He seemed to have all of the colours in the world available, I’d mistakenly left the original fork legs from Little Project in the box of extras that I wanted coating and he offered to blast them clean and coat them silver as part of the price.  Pretty good as I think they were destined for the scrap heap.

Thank you for taken the time to read this blog, it is appreciated.

I have had this broom for 15 years.

This broom I’ve had for 15 years.  It has had 5 new handles and three new heads.  Is it still the same broom I bought back in 1998?

Some useful things to remember when restoring a motor cycle (or any vehicle, probably).

1.  Pay someone else to do it instead but pretend that you are doing all the work.

2.  Wear gloves.   All of the time.

3.  If something seems really easy then you are doing it wrong.

5.  Don’t miss anything out.

6.  Do not use cheap tools or spares.

7.  If you purchase something off eBay, it will not fit (unless you purchase it from me).

I have changed my mind about what to do at least a dozen times since last weekend.   I was of a mind to build HOAP but I think it would probably be better to use the bits off HOAP to make Little Project complete.  I am so decided on this that I’ve put a few bits of HOAP (mostly swaps) onto eBay.  Please feel free to bid stupid amounts for them all.

I spend the weekend fitting new, pattern parts.  Steering head bearings and fork seals.   Steering head bearings are easy peasy as long as you have a big enough hammer.   You could probably do them with your eyes closed.    I thought that the fork seals were going to be equally simple.   Let me tell you, if you remove the stanshion (shiny bit) from the fork and look inside the fork leg and it looks like this

Fork Seals

Then someone before you has had a really bad day.   The dark browny green bits are the remains of a fork seal from around the same time that Reginald Perrin walked out of Sunshine Desserts and left a pile of clothes on the beach (did you know that “Desserts” is “Stressed” backwards?).  They’re not coming out without a fight.

How many times have I said that!    This is on a set of forks from a different bike as well.  In fact, this is on the set of forks that the previous owner of HOAP purchased to replace the set of forks that he had that were rusting.   I wasn’t beaten.   Three hours with a stanley knife and a very small sharpened screwdriver left the fork ready to take the seal.  Sadly it was so dark by the time I had finished the cleaning out bit that the new seal shall have to wait until tomorrow.

In other news, the wheel that has been away for some TLC has returned.   The wheel went to Central Wheel in Coleshill, near Birmingham for a new set of spokes and a bit of a polish.   Here is a before and after picture.


If you are as impressed as I am then flood Central Wheel with requests for work, tell them that Rob sent you and I may be able to afford to have the front wheel done as well.

If I can work out a way to fit Little Project in my car (it goes in with the car roof down but it’s still a bit chilly for that) then Tuesday is the day to be shot blasted and powder coated.  It seems that it takes seven days for the complete process and the un-named (“No VAT if you pay cash”) business who are doing it want it very soon.

This means I shall spend the whole of next weekend polishing things.  Won’t that be fun!

I’m off to scrape the oil in my fingernails out.   I may just burn it off, it will be quicker and more painless in the long term.  Thank you for your time.