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!

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.

Way down inside (the engine)

I’m gonna send me back to schooling.

Yah, yah yah.  Does anybody want to hear about the ten zillion daffodil and tulip bulbs that I’ve planted today?

How about the acres of vegetable patch that have been re-dug and planted with all things garlicy and oniony?

Thought as much.  I’ll get on with what is way down inside the barrel of Little Project in a moment.   First though (for anybody interested), there is a lady called Emma who has a fondness for Honda CT125’s and she has set up a facebook page to cover both the restoration of her own bike and as a place to go when lonely Honda CT125 owners need a pick-me-up after a hard day in the shed.     I’m sure that Emma won’t mind if you pop along and say hello and give her some encouragement.   The site is here https://www.facebook.com/groups/HondaCT125/

Back to business.  You’ll remember that I’d taken the momentous decision to forge ahead and get Little Project engine up and running.

You’ll all remember having a chuckle about that one I’m sure!

It appears that you can bash the top of a Honda piston with a hammer and chisel all day and not get anywhere.   I suppose they are designed to withstand (very small) explosions so maybe it is to be expected.    I can’t remember if I mentioned that I’d managed to get both sides of the engine covers off, but I have.   It’s fairly easy to see where the oil stopped and the exposed bits started when you look at it.

High Tide

When I’ve five minutes that should all come off without to many problems.   Now then,  This seized up solid piston.   I’ve bashed it and it doesn’t move.   At the start of the day it looked like this….

Start of barrel

You can see.  There’s a bit of a rust theme going on in there.  You can also see the small craters where I’ve been trying to bash it out.   I decided instead to attack it with my drill.     Sort of like a horror movie for mechanics set in a shed in the wilderness of Twickenham.   So I did this.

A little bit of drilling

There’s some little holes.  Can you see?   What doesn’t show up so well is the snapped off drill bit (it’s the hole shaped mark at 12 ‘o’ clock).   Rather surprisingly the only snapped drill of the day.

Then I drilled some more holes.    The holes went all around the piston so it looked a lot like this.

Can you see the plan

And then I drilled some bigger holes using the little holes as guidance!    I bet you’re admiring my logic there.  What could be easier than that.      It didn’t quite go to plan.    I forgot one crucial element.

There’s a hardened steel bin that holds the piston on to the conrod.   When I say hardened, I mean blimey!  It could well be made of krypronite as far as my drill is concerned.   So we now have a piston stuck in a barrel that looks a lot like this.

A conrod

You’ll notice that the conrod (the brown bit in the middle) is also looking a bit worse for wear.   It should be glistening and shiny (and ideally with a faint residue of oil on it rather than a rather overwhelming residue of rust and maybe a bit of dead mouse).

On a positive side (there’s always a positive side), this is the first sighting of the interior of Little Project engine in a decade.  Very probably that particular bit of engine hasn’t seen daylight this century and there’s a distinct possibility that the last time it was blinking at the unaccustomed light on it I was still at school.

All I need to do now is to work out how to remove the excess aluminum (don’t forget folks, it is pronounced All-you-mini-mum, not Alloom-ee-num) from around the outside and then the barrel is going to slide up and off the rest of the engine and I’m going to think “Oh crumbs, I didn’t realise there was that much swarf dropping into the engine”.

There’s just one last thing to mention.   I have a ninja finger, sort of.    If you cast your mind back to the tail end of August.   It was hot in the city.   The weather was steamy and it led to carelessness and sloppy work.   I decided to spend the day clearing the shed out and things didn’t go to plan.  Well, the fingernail that I shut in the cupboard door is developing nicely.   When I say it is a ninja, you need to give it a glancing look, with your eyes half shut.   If you can do that, there’s definitely the image of a ninja head growing on it.   I think it might be collectable in some dark world that is interested in shapes you get on your fingernail just after you’ve given it a bash.

IMG_1523

I do hope that you all enjoy your week.

It’s all in the head

“The goal towards which the pleasure principle impels us – of becoming happy – is not attainable: yet we may not – nay, cannot – give up the efforts to come nearer to realization of it by some means or other.”

So said Sigmund Freud.   I think that what he was saying was that we don’t have any choice but to keep on trying and reach that point whereby satisfaction is reached even though it isn’t likely to happen.    Ether that or he was really keen on electronic rock music and had heard that Gary Numan was about to bring out a solo album.

Freud spent his life working out what was going on inside the head of people and is considered the founding father of psychoanalysis.   It would have been far more convenient for the Little Project story if he’d spent a lot of time working out what went on in the cylinder head and had been the founding father of cycleanalysis.  Still, at least he’s helped me invent a new word!

“Why haven’t you update the blog for two weeks?” a number of people have said to me.   I’ve been doing my proper job during the week and last weekend I was having a marvelous time helping out at a (not quite summer) fete.   You’ll find details of what I got up to on The Verbal Hedge if it is of any interest.  You’ll have to dig through to find “The old lady smell” page.

This weekend I have been a little like Dr Frankenstein in that I’ve taken off one head and put on another.    I thought to myself “This will be a doddle, I’ve done this loads of times”.   As I was thinking this I should have nudged myself and said “Yeah, but only on two stroke engines and not on four stroke engines that haven’t been taken apart for three decades”.

Just a little bit of background on two stroke/four stroke engines.    They both work very roughly by making an explosion in a chamber.  The explosion forces a piston down onto a crankshaft which in turn spins and pushes the piston back up.  The spinning crank is connected to the gearbox and this in turn is connected to the wheel and so everything spins and goes forward merrily.

With a two stroke engine, the fuel comes in, the piston goes up and explodes the fuel against a spark and then the gases are expelled on the way down (remember, this is a very rough description!).   With a four stroke engine. a valve opens to let the fuel in, the piston pops up and explodes it, then it pops down again and another valve opens and on the pistons next visit up the chamber a different valve opens and the exhaust gases are pushed out.   Then the cycle repeats itself.

So the obvious difference to me between two stroke and four stroke are these valve thingies.  They have to open and close in the correct sequence and at the correct times to allow stuff to come in and get burned and then go out again.   This is managed (on Little Project at least, things have moved on since the late 70’s) by something called a camshaft.    It’s a bit like a stick with lumps on it.   When the stick turns, the lumps press on the valves and pop them open, so you can imagine that on Little Project, the two lumps on the stick are in different places, one to open the innie valve and one to open the outie valve.

When you think about this a bit more, with two stroke engines, the spark that makes the fuel go boom has to happen when the piston gets to the top of the chamber.   Every time.   Simple.   With the four stroke engine, the spark happens every other time the piston gets to the top of the chamber, and it has to happen when the valves are closed or the energy goes wherever the valve leads to rather than in pushing the piston back down the chamber.

I hope that you are still with me and you haven’t died of boredom during that.   It is only a very rough description, so any mechanics who are shaking their heads with dismay should just remember that I’m a computer programmer and I can easily bugger up your payroll if you make harsh comments.

So, changing heads.   Simple.   Nope.

The camshafts (on Little Project they are “Overhead Cams” which mean they are at the top of the engine) are driven by a camchain which connects to a cam sprocket (I may have made that word up, it’s a cog that has a relationship with the camshafts).  So to take the cyinder head off you have to disconnect the cam chain and all sort of things.  None of this is difficult if you are in possession of lots of spanners and sockets and a sense of adventure.

So I took the cylinder head off the engine that has a defunct gearbox and I took the cylinder head off the engine that has a good gearbox but some broken bits on the cylinder head and put the cylinder head off the duff gearbox engine onto the engine that previously had the broken bits on the cylinder head.   Still with me?

Then I thought “I’ll just take a quick look at the manual now I’m feeling all smug”.

Oh my word (as the young people say a lot around here these days).

It said (I’m paraphrasing a bit here), “Make sure that the “o” mark on the cam sprocket is lined up with the engraved V on the casing and at the same time the “T” mark on the alternator is at TDC and ONLY TURN THE CRANK IN AN ANTI CLOCKWISE DIRECTION or serious engine damage may occur”.

Blimey, I hadn’t done any of these things!   I went back to look.  There’s an “o” on the cam sprocket…

IMG_1473[1]

Can you see it?   I think that it is definitely lined up with the (impossible to see) v that is engraved on the casing.  However…

IMG_1474[1]

If you look closely, the “T” is definitely not at the top (TDC stands for Top Dead Centre I think).  It’s sort of at just before 6 o clock.  What’s worrying me though is that there’s a little mark on the alternator (the yellow plastic looking bits) that almost lines up with the “T”.   So I’m thinking that this might need to be at the top and then everything will line up and then when the piston gets to the top and the spark goes off and there will be a massive explosion and I’ll find bits of my leg splattered all over the A316.

My simple solution was to take the cam sprocket off, turn the crank (in an anticlockwise direction of course) until the “T” was at the top and then put the cam sprocket back on again.   I can’t for the life of me see how this makes any difference but at least it is all how the manual says.

If you find a bit of leg in a few weeks time, it is possible that it is mine.   Can you return it to somewhere near Twickenham Stadium please.

Thanks for taking the time to visit.

The engine of my dreams

Who would like to hear about my summer holiday?

What? Nobody?

There is a cry from the back of the internet –  “Get back to work you lazy so and so” and I suppose that sooner or later I must.  In the meantime though I’ve been playing with Little Project.   Just like in the Bobby Ewing post, as I lazed around the pool (did I mention I’ve been on holiday?) I decided that my last couple of days before going back to work would involve dropping an engine into the frame and riding off into the wide blue yonder.

You will remember that I have approximately four engines.  We need to generalise slightly here because there are four lumps of Tokyo’s finest bits of metal all with components missing.   A cylinder head here, an engine cover there, so the first challenge was to decide which of the four was to become the beating heart of Little Project.    Ideally it should be the original Little Project engine but rather surprisingly all of the nuts and bolts that hold the engine casings in place are rusted, rounded and/or sheared.   A couple of hours on the workbench with the impact driver did nothing to improve this so I’ve moved it to one side for one day when I am really bored.     The numerically astute amongst us will quickly have gathered that this brings us down to three engines.   Two with engine numbers starting CB125 and one starting XL125.

You’d think that when old Soichiro Honda issued his instructions to build a range of single cylinder 125 motorcycles he would have said something along the lines of “Okay chaps, we will build a trail bike, a trial bike, a sporty number, a commuter and then if we’ve any time left over we can knock up something for rounding up sheep, let’s use all the same bits and just stick different bits of plastic on them, oh, and just glue a bit extra on the forks of the off road ones so they’ve a bit more movement”.

Pah.

The manual lists twelve different carburetor types for the 125 engines alone.   The wiring system is different on the XL to that of the CT and the CB is different to them both.

Still, nothing ventured…   The XL125 engine does not have a cylinder head on it.  This isn’t necessarily a point to rule it out but when I have two engines that do then they are going to be favourites.   I checked the compression on the two CB125 engines (I did this really technically by putting a kick start onto each of them and turning them over whilst holding my finger over the spark plug hole) and they both seem to have at least some compression so it was a case of using one of these.   But which one?

After much debate with myself about the various benefits of this engine over that engine that included things like “This one has a wire coming out of the points and the other one doesn’t” and “this one seems to have some oil in it” I chose the cleanest one.  This was roughly based on the principle that somebody in the past may have loved it more.   Based on these principles, you probably wouldn’t want me to adopt you but we all have to start somewhere.

So I put on my (not even slightly) pristine overalls and extracted my polishing cloth from where I had left it (fortunately I sniffed it first, I’d previously used it to wipe up some battery acid so it probably would not have been ideal for cleaning the new Little Project motor) and got to work on cleaning up an engine.

Then I put it in the bike.   It looks like this.

IMG_1309

from one side and it looks like this from the other.

IMG_1310

Now I’m not saying for one minute that we’re finished.  But.  There’s an engine.  In Little Project.

Buoyed by this I decided to look more closely at the electrics.   If you ignore the fact that everything above a certain point has been sheared off then then the wiring loom is (sort of) complete.  All I have to do is work out where all of the bits from a CB125 engine plug into their respective CT125 slots and Bob’s your uncle (I’m not sure how well known that saying is, it may just have been used by my Father, but it means that everything should be plain sailing).   Oh, and of course I need some points, and an ignition coil.   These are minor points in the grand scheme of things though.  After all, there’s an engine in Little Project!

For the rest of the week I plan to scratch my head over the carb collection (sadly this doesn’t involve choosing pasta, rice or potatoes) and just possibly put attach the CT125 stickers that I have been putting off doing for several weeks.

Thanks for popping by.  I do hope you come back again.

I don’t want a pickle

I don’t want a pickle

I just want to ride on my motor sickle,
and I don’t want a tickle
I just want to ride on my motor sickle.

Arlo Guthrie, The Motorcycle Song.  You’ll find it here (and probably a dozen other places)if you like your Country and Western and enjoy a chuckle.

Sadly, I have a pickle.  I took a look at the engine shelf.   Oh lordy.  Little Project engine hasn’t miraculously unseized itself during the stay with better prepared engines.    The XL125 engine is missing a piston and a cylinder head.  Of the two CB125 engines, both are complete apart from the sprocket cover,  they’re obviously much sort after bits.    One has a carb fitted to it as well.   I’m going to go with this one being the best one and when the time comes I shall just drop it into the frame and turn it over to see what happens.   The challenge with all three of the HOAP engines is that they all belong to a bike with a rev counter.   Little Project has no concept of such an extravagance and the hole in the engine where the tachometer cable should go is blanked off.    I think that I actually want as much of Little Project engine in the bike as possible (it has all of the engine covers for a start), so my plan is to drain it of oil, turn it upside down, drill around the molten mass that used to be a piston and then remove the head and the attached piston in one go.   This should in theory leave me with a bottom end that is complete and free from nasty bits.   If the big end bearing looks okay then I shall stick a CB125 head and piston on it and try to work out just what the timing should be and how the carb should be set up.   If the insides of Little Project engine are in a shocking way then I shall split the crank and wrap the cases around a CB125 engine.   I’m sure that it can’t be that difficult!

The front wheel arrived!  The people at Central Wheel also sent me back a couple of the old spokes so that I could see just how bad it was and what a fine job they had done.   To be fair, they have done a very good job indeed.

Front wheel

See the rusty spoke sitting in the middle?   (You’ve no idea how challenging it was to get this picture without a reflection of me in the hub).   Wheel also has an inner tube and tyre attached to it.   Unfortunately the inner tube was somewhat compromised during fitting and so another must be found from somewhere.   We do like a challenge at Little Project HQ though.

Whilst I was talking to a man about an inner tube, we also discussed the MOT problem that I have.    For the bike to pass through its MOT the frame number much match the frame number on the V5 registration document.   The people who powder coated my frame masked off the little tin panel that holds the frame number but a bit of the masking peeled off during the sand blasting procedure and so this happened…

Frame number

That’s not really very clever.    It looks for all the world like I have tried to eradicate the identity of the bike by sanding off the frame number.    Mr MOT gave me several very good options.   If I can take the Little Project equivalent of a brass rubbing and the number is readable then that is just dandy.  Failing that, I can purchase a replacement VIN plate and stamp the numbers on myself.   That should prove to be an interesting little task as the VIN plates that are available do not match this one in any way shape or form and the VIN plate manufacturer tells me that an exact copy will be £125!

I did say in the last post that this week would all be about getting the handlebar equipment up to scratch.   Sadly I need some satin black paint to do so and I haven’t been able to find any so I fear a trip around a dozen different retailers is going to occur. On a positive note, I put some more bits of HOAP on eBay and 50% of them actually sold.   There are some bits there this week if anyone is looking for XL125k2 parts.   I’m sure they must be worth a fortune to somebody.

You know that moment when you press the wrong button on your keyboard?   Well I’ve just done that and published this post.  I’m not keen on editing after publishing (apart from this paragraph) so that is all for today.

Thank you for visiting.