High Noon

You can listen to this whilst reading the post.   It might build the tension.

In the film, Gary Coopers character, Will Kane gets married and hangs up his badge.   On the day that he is leaving town he finds out that the dastardly Frank Miller is coming in on the noon train.    Will locked Frank up several years earlier and Frank is looking for revenge.    Will decides that he can’t leave the townsfolk in the hands of the Miller gang and so returns to face his destiny and asks the townfolk to help him.   The people of Hadleyville shun him though and Will has to face Frank and his cronies alone.  His new wife is a pacifist and vows to leave on the next train with or without Will.

The beauty of the film is that it is played back almost in real time (a bit like 24 but in black and white and with less torture) and you just can’t be sure that it is going to end happily.   I shall leave you to find it and watch for yourself.  It is 85 minutes of classic Western that you should make the most of.

Little Project faced its own High Noon.   I have been searching the world for the bits that I need to finish it off with no luck.   The time had come for me to either knuckle down and start making things or to put Little Project on the last train out of Shedville.

I wandered down to the shed to take stock.    There’s (still) a lot of wiring to do.    The brakes don’t brake.    The chain is too long and the engine does not start.   I’d made a complete mess of painting the tank and then in the process of pouring fuel into it last spring I had managed to take off half of the paint that I had put on.

I figured eBay was probably the best option.  A nearly finished project that had received a lot of love and was (in its own way) quite famous might actually tempt somebody with time on their hands.   I can even pass over the blog for the new owner to keep up the good work.   I think it will be important that the people who have taken the time to read this get to know how it all ends.

I was looking at the droopy chain and remembered that when I had picked up some of my fathers old tools a few years ago there was a chain link remover somewhere.   I thought I  might as well take a link out because it’s not a well known skill.    I took a link out and then another and the chain was nice and tight.   One less job to do for somebody.

Then I looked at the front brake which has defeated me for 18 months and thought “If I take that nut off and move that bit over there then it would probably make it easier to explain why it doesn’t work”.   So I took that nut off and thought about it a bit more and put the nut back on in a different place and then the brakes worked okay.

I thought I would take one last look at the wiring.   I went through my notes (still in the elephant hide book with the gold clip) and figured that the notes would be really useful for the new buyer as they were very comprehensive and it would take somebody new to the electrics a while to work them out, and how would they remember that purple was the new light blue?  Then I decided just to solder a few of the wires together so that it looked more tidy so I took the wiring loom up to the kitchen (nobody was in so it was safe), put David Bowie on the music machine and started soldering.

Then it was five hours later and I had remembered why I was restoring the bike.   I enjoy it.   I like the satisfaction of some little thing going right and I enjoy the interaction with the wonderful people on the internet who have encouraged me over the last 28 months (bloody hell!   It was going to be ready by my birthday in 2013).

And so we’re back.  From outer space.

It will be finished by my birthday.

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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.

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.

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.

On the pull

You’d never have thought it.     I need a new tub of Swarfega.   I was under the impression (I don’t know why, I just assumed) that Swarfega lasted forever.   I just imagined that the tub would magically fill up again once empty but that does not appear to have happened.   This meant that after a most satisfying tinkering session I had no official method of cleaning my hands.     I’ve scooped up  some of the sludge from the bottom of the rust removal bath and used that instead.   It has remarkable cleansing properties but I don’t think it will be winning any awards as a moisturiser.   My hands are more Stirling Moss than Kate Moss as I type today.    It may be that my fingernails will also glow in the dark but hey! I’m clean!

This doesn’t happen very often, but in my last post I said exactly what I planned to do this weekend and that is exactly what I have done.   Right down to needing a tool that is only available in leap years when there is a full moon on the spring solstice.  I shall tell you about it…

Because I’m a bit flash with my cash I purchased not one but three 1/2 inch extensions (mostly because they were sold in sets of three, but keep that to yourself) and scurried to the shed to remove the rotor lock nut and thus (I would imagine) have an unlocked rotor and removable oil pump.

Of course the rotor turns in tune with the rest of the engine so there was no way to get any purchase on it, everything turned in time with my tugging.    I worked out that by sticking the handle of the hammer (it is rubber coated) down into the crank it locked up the engine and with a fair bit of moaning and groaning (from me, not the rotor lock nut or the hammer handle) the lock nut came loose, I stumbled backwards and planted the seat of my (not even slightly pristine) overalls in the grass collector of the (red, REL3020, mostly) lawnmower and with a somewhat surprised look the oil pump was captured and secured in a plastic bag (along with the new tool,  I’ve a feeling the 10mm fairy might have her eyes on it).

Ha.   I thought as I flipped over to the next page of the manual.   “Attempting to remove the alternator casing without using a puller will result in irrevocable engine damage” it said.

I didn’t want to point out to the manual that sawing through the conrod may also constitute irrevocable engine damage so I rummaged through the toolbox for my puller.   A puller is like a three legged spider with a threaded piece of metal in the middle.   You wrap the legs of the puller around the item that you need to pull and place the end of the threaded bit against a bit that is not going to be pulled.  Then you tighten up the threaded bit and the thing that you want to get pulled off gets pulled off.

Hells teeth.  My puller has legs too fat to fit in the gap between the alternator.

I decided to hit the crank cases with a hammer.  Just a rubber one, it’s not like it is a big and destructive hammer, I’ve just found that hitting things with a hammer occasionally makes me feel better.

The cranks started to separate.   This probably isn’t the professional way to do these things but I stuck some bits of wood in the gaps between the cranks and applied some heave-ho.  There was a clank (or two, or several) and the crank cases came apart.

The clank was bits of the gearbox falling to the shed floor.

I’ve gathered up all of the bits of gearbox and have (probably) put them back together in the correct fashion.  Whatever, there is one crankcase that now looks like this.

Gear box

The other side still had the crankshaft with the alternator attached to it.

Because I am aware that sometimes things are beyond me.   I put the crank case with the alternator jammed on to it into a plastic bag and wandered down to the local motorbike shop.   “Can you get that off there?  My puller is too fat” I said and a man whisked it away and brought it back in two pieces.   “No charge” said he, “just come back when you need to buy something”.

So CBS Whitton shall be going into the “Heroes and Villains” section of the blog (as heroes, obviously).   They don’t have a website but they are in Kneller Road, Whitton, TW2 7DX and if you need to buy anything scooter or bike related then you should visit them, even if you are in California.

So we’ve two crank cases and a crank.

 Left crank case Crank

Admittedly the crank is looking sad, but I’ve heard rumours of a man called Mike.  He mends Honda crankshafts.  I will be tracking him down and making eyes at him.  Until then I’m going to be cleaning crank cases until they are more buffed than the fireman’s calendar.

Have a good week everyone.   Next weekend in the UK is Remembrance Sunday.   Come and join my entire extended family and me at Horseguards Parade (where the beach volleyball was during the Olympics last year) at 11am (or so).  You can’t miss us, there will be about 20 of us, there won’t be a Honda CT125 in sight but one of us will have glowing fingernails, wrinkly hands and a determined look in his eyes.