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.


I do hope that you all enjoy your week.

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!

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.