Fiat Lux

I believe that in several previous posts I have mentioned that I’m not a fan of electrics.   Faced with a dozen different coloured cables and several wiring diagrams, none of which actually match my bike is a little like being left alone with a big bottle of wine and no corkscrew.  I’m eager to get going but I don’t know quite where to start.

I bit the bullet last week and just started cutting wires into lengths and attaching them to each other in what I hoped was not a haphazard fashion.

How is your Latin?   The original title of this post was “Genesis 1:3 and Angus Young” but I changed my mind and went with a more classical choice instead.   There are a few things that you need to know when you are working on the electrics of a Little Project and you don’t know what you are doing.

No. 1.    Make sure that you have a charged battery.   Martin Luther King said “Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic.”  If he had been restoring an old Honda he may also have included “Testing circuitry without power is like trying to stop the wind from blowing”.

No. 2.  Make sure that you know how to use a multimeter.    My multimeter has a dial on it and you can turn the dial to about 20 different places.   As I don’t have a clue what each of the different settings do it makes testing things quite entertaining.

No. 3. Make sure that your multimeter works consistently.

So there’s a bunch of wiring that needs to be fastened together.   I joined it all up and then realised that some of the bits of wire actually go to more than one place.   The orange one goes to about 5 places and the green one does similar.  There’s also the mysterious earth.   According to the wiring diagram the lead from the battery goes all over the place and then attaches to the frame.   In my simple mind this means that every time I touch the bike I’m going to get an electric shock.   We shall see.

I made a bit of the wiring loom.  It looks like this.

Wiring loom

Not much to look at I know but it is a step in the right direction.

I plugged it all in.  Turned the ignition key and nothing.

I connected the battery.   Turned the ignition key and nothing.

I took the battery off again and put it on charge.   Then I checked the voltage in the battery (you have to have the multimeter at around 10 o’clock).    Multimeter said no charge.    Then it said 6.15 volts.   Then it said no charge.  I decided to go with it and connected it up again.   Can you guess the result?


The lad showed up so we decided to have a serious play with the wires.   The multimeter was giving random results, sometimes things were working and sometimes they were not.    We eventually decided to just test it on a bare piece of wire and sometimes it was working and sometimes not.

I’ve mentioned Halford’s before.   I reckoned that even Halford’s could not supply a meter worse than mine so off we went and purchased a new one.  Yay! it works and there is consistent power in the battery.

The aim was just to get the neutral light to light up.  This should be fairly easy except that we also have to take into account that the neutral switch is somewhere in the gearbox that I rebuilt back in the summer on 2013.   Boy and I looked at one another uttered a shared “where do we start?”.

He reckoned that for the light to come on we had to have at least one wire that went from the neutral switch to the neutral light.  Further deduction and we decided that there needed to be two.   One to say the light needs to come on and one to feed the light with power.   We started with the one that says the light needs to come on (it is green and red in case you are interested).   From the gearbox to bulb there was no continuity but from the gearbox to the first of those plastic connectors that break when you look at them there was.    We then found two green and red wires that were not plugged into one another.   We plugged them in and hey presto.   Halford’s multimeter said that there was an unbroken link all the way through.

Power was a black cable.   I’ve tinkered a lot with the black cable but everything was connecting okay in my new bit of the wiring loom.   I even discovered that coming from the battery to a random black wire that I found there was 6 volts with the ignition turned on and no volts with the ignition turned off.   That had to mean something and it could only be a good thing.

There’s another of those plastic connectors.  An 8 hole one that was part of the original loom.    There was connectivity up to it but not beyond it so (in the true spirit of Little Project recklessness) I snipped the cables at either end and joined them up directly.

We then connected the battery and plugged everything back in again.

Once again.  Can you guess what happened?

fiat luxIt is only a small thing.   The light goes off when you put the bike into gear and comes on again when it is in neutral.  It goes off when you turn the ignition off and comes on again when you turn the ignition on.

Let’s go with Angus rather than Genesis 1:3.   In the bible, after God saw that the light was good he divided light form the darkness and created night and day. Even on my best day I can’t manage that.   AC/DC said:

Let there be Light




Let there be Rock.

I reckon that there are still a few dozen wires to sort out regarding light, but after that we shall be aiming for sound and the shed shall throb to the pulsating beat of a 9hp engine.

Thank you all for bearing with me and for the encouragement you have offered.


A reluctant screw in the shed

A reluctant screw in the shed

Although it is not well known, Albert Einstein was big fan of Honda CT125’s.   He may even at one stage swung a leg over Little Project or at least looked at it and thought “That’s pretty knackered”.   I can only think that this is why he said

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.

In my opinion, the only thing that really lies in the middle of difficulty is “iffi”, (alright, it’s not slap bang in the middle and it should be spelt iffy, but you know what I mean).

I had a cunning plan – I’m pretty certain I may have said that before, but this plan was as cunning as a fox who has just been appointed head of cunning at Oxford university (I should nod to Captain Edmund Blackadder for that).

The bits of wire coming out of Little Project alternator are black, white and yellow.  The bits of wire coming out of the HOAP engine of choice are yellow, pink and white.   Now, I don’t know anything about alternators except that they probably alternate something.   The wiring diagrams, all 14 of them, have different wires going everywhere and to be frank, they could be written in Cyrillic.  Actually, there are random little diagrams that make no sense scattered through the wiring diagrams.  I think I might instead have photographs of the inside of a pyramid.

Back to the cunning plan.   I thought that I’d take the alternator thingy out of Little Project and use that one instead of the CB125 one that was not unreasonably sitting in the CB125 engine.   This of course meant whipping Little Project engine out and flopping it onto the secondary workbench (also known as a Black and Decker workmate, I didn’t have the courage to use the kitchen table).   There are four screws holding on the cover that protects the alternator.   You don’t really need me to tell you what state they are in do you?   You’ve been reading this long enough to know.  They were the exact opposite of pristine.  I’m not sure what the word is.  Antipristine?  Unpristine?  Whatever, not healthy.  Screws 1, 2 and 3 took about two hours and screw 4 took about two hours.   Screw 4 was in a challenging place.  Screws 1 – 3 just needed a new slot hacksawing in to them.   With screw 4 I drilled a hole through it and then realised that the screw extractor snapped off somewhere in the frame back in the early days of Little Project.   I happened to have a torx bit (they have a star shape on the end of them) that mostly fitted the hole so I hammered it in and hey presto!

Hey presto!  Ask me – “Did you empty the oil out of the Little Project engine before you took the cover off?”, go on, ask me.  You know the answer.

So, the shed floor has quite a lot of oil on it.  I managed to get something to catch the bulk of it and as a hobby carpenter I know that oil is good for wood.   It tends to be vegetable oils like linseed that are really good for wood, but I’m sure that my Castrol R was a vegetable oil at one stage.

Still, I had access to the Little Project alternator.   Three cheers!    It is slightly different to the one on the CB125 engine.   The two photo’s below represent Little Project first and then the CB one.  Can you see the difference?

CT125 bits    XL125 bits

How on earth can they be so bloody different?   Both engines come from the same era and power the same size bike and are made by the same bloke somewhere in Tokyo.

I went back to the drawing board.   I’ve photocopies of the different wiring diagrams and I’ve a manual and I’ve two wiring looms and I’ve a table in the sunshine (I should have put it away some time ago) and I’ve a large bottle of cider.

Work table

It didn’t get any easier as the glass of cider emptied.   I had to fill the glass several times and gradually nothing at all became clearer.

I’ve retreated.   I cast a guilty glance at the front gate that I have yet to hang and had a bad moment when the CD player insisted on making me listen to Mumford and Sons.  I think I need a large gin.

Thanks for taking the time to visit.   I think that there may be news of another blog coming along in the next week or so.