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?

Nothing.

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

Sound

Drums

Guitar

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.

 

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.

Aum Shanti

Many philosophies and religions originating in eastern parts incorporate  the concept of Chakra.   These are points of physical or psychic energy that together form the focal points where the spiritual and actual body merge and interact with each other (that’s a pretty poor description of 3000 years of meditation but it is close enough).   While there are many thousands of such points throughout the body, there are seven major locations, reaching from the base of the spine to the top of the head.   Each chakra is responsible for a different organ and emotion.

Little Project isn’t human and as such only has three chakras.  Abandha, Yantra and Vaidyuta.    These roughly translate to frame,  engine and electrics (Now you know that you are going to have to find a Sanskrit to English translation site to find out if I’ve made those up or not).

We have mastered Abandha.   I am very comfortable that everything to do with the Little Project rolling stock is spot on and as it should be (even though the chain isn’t very tight).

Yantra is proving a problem.   Whilst it should in theory be easy to get such a little engine to work it is proving far more challenging than anyone could possibly expect.   After several months of frustration I decide instead to focus on Vaidyuta.  Have I mentioned that I’m not a fan of electrical wiring?

I started by writing down in the Little Project notebook (yes, such a thing exists, it is bound in elephant hide and fastens with a golden clip) the colour of each cable in the wiring loom and both the start and end point of each cable. It went something like this;

Brown/White – B-loom to headlight dimmer

Pink – Indicator switch to indicator

And so on.   It filled several pages of the notebook but I was comfortable that it was correct.   I even asked several different people if the red/white and yellow wires that came out of the loom really should come halfway up the frame and then join and go back again.   “Oh yes” they all cried.

I then fetched all of the various electrical bits that had snipped cables on them, laid them neatly on the kitchen table and compared them to my marvelous electrical word diagram.   There was a slight flaw.   The wiring diagram in the manual seems to have forgotten about the right hand switch gear.   It just isn’t there.   A couple of days searching the internet and I was getting desperate until I realised that there was another wiring diagram on my very own useful  things page. Hey ho and off we go.

The plan is to put very tidy multi-plug adapters where each cable has been cut and then I can just join them all up together with one last (slightly complicated) connecting piece.

Note that you ever find yourself in need of working on Little Project electrics, I couldn’t find any light blue wire.  Purple is the new light blue.

So I’ve been doing this sort of thing.

IMAG0106

I’m not quite sure what the bit of newspaper that I was working on is about but it does look interesting.  The principle is, cut all of the wires so that they are the same length, clamp the connecting spade thingy on the end, a very tidy blob of solder to hold it in place and then shove it in the plastic casing.   Then curse because I forgot to put heat-wrap around it.

Rather excitingly, I have managed to get all of the cables from the handlebar switches and from the speedo (there’s so many bloody wires coming out of  the speedo and so little room as they were all snipped quite short) with nice tidy connectors on them.

Just briefly going back to eastern religions, Buddhists hang prayer flags out around their homes that blow in the wind and carry beneficial vibrations.    Little Project is now in a state where it is doing the three chakra equivalent.

wires

It should be a fairly easy (if labour intensive) task to join all of these together into one throbbing, heaving mass of electrical potency.   Then it will be a case of turning the ignition on and pressing the horn.  One beep for Vaidyuta.

Just as a brief, off the cuff mention.   Little Project is getting a big brother very soon.   We shall be joined by a Triumph Tiger 800 XC that looks remarkably like this.

IMAG0147

I’m hoping that the work ethics of a running motorcycle will rub off on Little Project.

Apologies for the several week delay in bringing this update to you.   Spirits have been low because the engine doesn’t work (yet).

 

Night’s Plutonian Shore

I was pondering (weak and weary).   If there was a knock on the door and somebody said “I’ve a really knackered bike, you can have it to restore if you want” and the bike was in the same shape as Little Project, what would I say?   Glancing out of the window there was a crow who with little imagination could be seen as a Raven.

Sitting on a concrete Buddha on the decking staring yonder
Eye a glinting peering, seeking solace from the oily floor
Tho’ the bike is rusty, bent and broken – not from me a word is spoken
melted wiring, seized up bolts to make my knuckles sore
Tell me Crow should I let it through the door?
Quoth the Crow – “Nevermore“.

With a thousand apologies to Edgar Allan Poe and all who love his work.   An unsullied version of The Raven can be found here and for those unfamiliar with it, take the time to read some dark but magnificent poetry.

I examined the bag of Carburettors.  There are four (the original Little Project one has long gone to some recycling bank to be turned into cans of coke or similar) and none of them are complete.    I’m obviously going to have to purchase a new one – there’s a chap in a shed in Taiwan who knocks them out for $22 each but I don’t know which one to get.   As the cylinder heads and barrels are all the same then you’d think that it wouldn’t matter but I am unsure whether I want a CB125S one, an XL125K2 one or a CT125 one.   If somebody can just tell me then I’d be really happy.

Want to see the bike?   With an engine and things?   Okay.   Here you go.

yolo 1    yolo 2

What you can learn from the above two images is that the position of the sun on a bright day is crucial when taking pictures using your mobile phone.   Into the sun and we get the dank view from behind and with the sun behind us we get a crisp clear image.   If I was really keen I would have turned the bike round so that both images were captured from the same angle but after rolling Little Project around for a while it has become clear that there is a major issue with the front wheel.   It is not keen on rotating.  In fact it grinds like a couple of newly weds on the dance floor.

Investigation has revealed the cause but I’m not sure of the cure.    The brake plate is from HOAP.   I still have the original one from Little Project so I compared the two.   They are exactly the same.   Exactly.  Identical.   Spitting images.

Except that there’s an integral spacer that comes from the centre of the brake plate and holds the speedo gear in place (that’s the gear that makes the speedometer work, not the gear that you find in your Speedo’s).   This spacer butts against the wheel bearing and the one on the HOAP plate is 1.2mm shorter than than the original.   This means that instead of butting up against the wheel bearing, it is allowing the brake plate to rub against the hub.  I suspect that I am going to have to find a friendly machinist to make me a little padding spacer to go on top of my original one as there is no way of swapping the two over (I did try whacking the Little Project one with a hammer to see if it would come out, it doesn’t.

I do know what I’m doing with the electrics though!   It was baffling me so I made a model with bits of string from the sewing basket.   Using one colour at a time it suddenly became very apparent how everything goes together.   The green bit of string coming from the main wiring loom is the busiest as it goes to five different places and there’s a couple of other bits of string that have four different connections.   Having done this it was also easy to see which bits of string didn’t go anywhere near the main wiring loom and so (for instance) go directly from the horn button to the horn.  All I need to do now is to work out what size of electrical wire I need (my micrometer seems to have decided that it is only going to measure in imperial units so I know that the cables are 0.081 of an inch but I’m not quite sure what the metric equivalent of that is.    I’ve 16 different colours in the bit of wiring loom that I need to build so I’ve invented a new holiday – “Little Project Day” and people have to spend £2.00 on something that I need for the bike.    I’m not 100% convinced that this idea will take off but one has to try!

One final word before I am off.   Could somebody in the Birmingham area nip round to my mum’s house and put a link to the blog on the desktop of her tablet please?   Apparently it takes her ages to find it on Facebook.   You can’t miss mum, she looks like this.

mum

She is generally sober until noon so you shouldn’t have any problems with her.

Thank you for taking the time to visit.

Foucault’s Pendulum

Both the actual item and the book.

A Foucault Pendulum demonstrates the rotation of the earth.   Dangle a decent weight on the end of a long piece of string and set it swinging and the plane it swings on will rotate 360 degrees over a period of roughly one day.   The exact time it takes to go through the rotation will depend on whereabouts on earth you are, the rotation will also change depending which side of the equator you are.   This is probably an experiment you can try at home if you are totally and utterly bored for 30 odd hours.

The book (by Umberto Eco) is pretty impenetrable. It took me several goes to get past page 200.  I would recommend that you read it in the original Italian, especially if you do not speak Italian, it will probably make more sense.    I think it is fair to say that it would make a far better beach side companion this summer than anything by E.L. James or Dan Brown.

I know, you’re thinking “what on earth has this to do with Little Project?”.    Well, the wiring loom is currently hanging in the shed (like the pendulum but with less swing and rotation and more malevolence).  Belbo (one of the main characters of the book) at one stage identifies some mystical dealings by linking text in the Kabbalah to a spark plug, so the link is blatantly obvious.   The book is big on mystical and secret societies although I do not recall a passage containing reference to a chase through the streets of Paris on a little Honda trail bike, so the CT125 owners and carers club were obviously overlooked.

Back to the wiring loom.   It looks at first glance like it is all there.  Bits of it have been cut in half but because of the ingenuity of wiring loom designers and the very sensible policy of using different coloured wires it is fairly obvious which bit’s join together.   It isn’t until you take a closer look that you get the urge to rub your chin and go “hmmmm”.

Where, for instance, are the bits that connect to the battery?   There must be a little wiring tributary that peels off and meanders down to the battery (possibly with the electrical equivalent of some rapids on the way) but if it is there somewhere then it is very well disguised (I tried looking for a wire with a false beard and spectacles with no lens but couldn’t spot it).

Likewise, the wiring loom ends very neatly (this assumes that I know which bits go at the front of the bike and which bits go at the back).   However, the neat and tidy ending seems to preclude the possibility of a rear light and indicators.  How can this be so?   There is definitely a rear light.   It is also hanging in the shed, having been de-rusted (although not by Hammerite rust remover because it is rubbish) and sprayed a fetching black colour.

Lastly (although definitely not leastly) whilst the entire loom is enchantingly embraced by a tight plastic bodysuit, parts of this bodysuit seem to have been coated in something sticky and lumpy.   Imagine (if you can) peanut butter made from marmite and the picture in your head will not be far from accurate.  I have some hopes that this will easily fetch off, possibly by using one of the many items purchased recently that do not do what they say on the tin.

I am baffled by electricity.   I can’t see it so I am just slightly unsure that it exists.  I have tried (unsuccessfully so far) to imagine each wire as a river.  Pour some electricity down one wire and it should only pour out of the other end of the same wire.   That makes perfect sense.   With the wire that makes the brake light come on there is a switch.  So the switch is a bit like a dam on the river and it can be open or closed.  When it is open the electricity/water goes through and makes the light come on.   Simple?

Following this theory I attached my multimeter to both ends of the cable and squeezed the brake.   You’d think that either squeezing or unsqueezing would make the multimeter display do something but nope.   It just gazes insolently back with nary a flicker.   This means one of three things.

  1. The brake light switch doesn’t work
  2. The multimeter doesn’t work
  3. The operator is incompetent

I’m going for option 3.   I was tempted to pay a visit to the local branch of that automotive repair store to buy a book but decided that if  the book said “How to sort out your electrics” it would probably contain a recipe for rhubarb crumble, judging by previous purchases.   I shall spend the next few nights deep in the realms of Google trying to educate myself.

On a positive side, the rebuilt front wheel should be arriving this week.   This does mean that whilst trying to decipher electrical systems on the internet I also need to get buffing on the front brake plate.  It also implies that the entire bike will roll on its own by Sunday morning.   I suspect that it hasn’t moved other than by sliding, scraping and dragging for a decade so it is sort of a momentous occasion.

There.  I’ve made it through the post without mentioning paint.  That’s worth a raised glass at least.

Thanks for popping by.   Let me know which way your pendulum swings.

Just out of interest, do you think that if I had included “Plastic Bodysuit” in my tags then I will reach an entirely different reader base?