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.

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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.

The Seat of power

For those of you in the cheap seats I’d like ya to clap your hands to this one; the rest of you can just rattle your jewelry!

John Lennon.   He knew a thing or two about getting bums on seats.  I am having a different problem with seats.

Not with Seat, Seat is fine.   Having spent a few months as a carefree traveler it seems that Seat still has the wanderlust.  The last update regarding Seat was that it was hiding out in the boys bedroom.   It seems that every time I turn around Seat has moved to a new location.   I’m not quite sure how this is happening but it is weird.   Seat was sitting on the table, looking, erm, Seatish.  Seat was on the decking, catching some rays (or whatever the fashionable do in sunshine these days).    After a hard weekends graft in the shed I thought the clement weather merited a barbeque.  Blow me down if Seat wasn’t on the trampoline (not jumping up and down, but waiting expectantly).

I have spent some time reorganising the shed.  I threw out an old chest of drawers and replaced it with two racking stacks instead.  I now have a set of shiny racking just for “Things that I have finished with that cannot yet be fitted to Little Project”.   I may even label it as such.    There is also a shelf containing a box with the legend “CLEAN ME” scrawled upon it.  The box itself is clean so it is a bit of a misnomer as it is the many bits inside that are awaiting attention.

There are also two shelves put aside for engines.  Look!

IMG_1034

The christmassy box contains a selection of cams and valves and things from the original Little Project engine.

Seat is now placed on the very top of the shiny shelving.   I think it is a safe place to stay for a while.

The problem I’m having with seats is on eBay.  I have no need for HOAP seats so thought that somebody else may benefit from them.   There are two of them.  One in very good condition and one that is rather less cared for.    As I would hate to mislead anyone on the condition of an item I am selling, the description of the lesser seat contains the following sentence.  “To be honest, it looks like a really fat bloke with a sharp backside went on a long trip on this seat.”.

The good seat seemed to be quite popular.  It attracted several watchers but no bids.   A message from Ron asking if I’d sell it for a specific price was responded to and a deal was struck.   I removed good seat from eBay and was flooded with messages asking where it had gone.   Not so good seat was still patiently waiting courtiers until good seat disappeared and I was then inundated with messages asking “how much for the lardy arse seat”.   Lesson has been learned and there will be no more early withdrawals.

There are a few more surplus HOAP bits on eBay (you can find them under user robby1864) and there will be a bunch more going on there over the next few weeks so if you do happen to be restoring an old XL and want to find out what I have to offer then please feel free to leave me a note on here.

Little Project frame is safely tucked away with a very nice powder coating man at Nationwide Coatings.  He seemed to have all of the colours in the world available, I’d mistakenly left the original fork legs from Little Project in the box of extras that I wanted coating and he offered to blast them clean and coat them silver as part of the price.  Pretty good as I think they were destined for the scrap heap.

Thank you for taken the time to read this blog, it is appreciated.

HOAP springs eternal

There is a pub about ten minutes away from here called Pope’s Grotto.   Named after the slightly famous garden and tunnel built by Alexander Pope in the 1720’s.   I secretly harboured a wish that it referred to nefarious behaviour by a long gone Pontiff but you can’t have everything.    It was Alexander Pope who came up with “Hope springs eternal”, to quote him fully it is “Hope springs eternal in the human breast;Man never Is, but always To be blest:The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home,Rests and expatiates in a life to come“.

The observant amongst you will have noted the mis-spelling of HOAP in the title.   Even the unobservant can’t have missed that is all capitalised.   More on that later…

As Little Project is now stripped to the bare essentials, I should be considering the condition of the paint work on the frame and swing arm.  I did mess around with spraying an unseen bit of swing arm (I believe that Honda decided that the colour should be “Electric Orange” or some such similar), but it is still too cold in the shed to contemplate any serious paint work.   Also, I’m rubbish at spraying things so I need to read “A Dummy’s guide to painting your motorbike” before committing too much expense and time into this.  The colour match isn’t too bad though, the unseen bit of the swing arm looks like this…

IMG_0985

It may be a bit too electric orange.  Regardless, I shall wait for warmer weather before moving on with paint.  I decided instead to take a look at Little Project’s engine.

This is yet another “old lady who swallowed a spider” type problem.   To remove the barrel I have to remove the head and to remove the head I have to disconnect the cam chain and to disconnect the cam chain I have to remove the cam sprocket and to remove the cam sprocket I have to undo to the two screws and to undo the two screws I have to remove the base that holds the points on and to do this I have to remove the points and to remove the points I have to remove the points cover.

When it comes to the clutch I will hold a lottery on which bit is rusted, rounded or sheared.  At least then I may be able to claw some cash back to help pay for the repairs.   I got stuck at “Remove the base that holds the points on”.  The lower screw was seized solid.  After three months of thinking to myself “How the bloody hell will I get that out” I am now a bit blasé (off subject, I couldn’t find the bit of my keyboard that copes with accents so I had to cut and paste blasé from Wikipedia.  Twice) about these things so out came the ultrasonic plutonium tipped drills, in went the double-triple-quadruple hardened stud extractor and kaboom! The stud extractor snapped in half, inside the head, which I have to remove to remove the da de da de da de da.

“Oh flip” I cried (The neighbours children were in the garden).  Not even diamond tipped hacksaw could compete with the stud extractor.   The only solution was to saw through the casing and fetch the base off with a big hammer.   Add a “base that holds the points on” to the list of things that need to be purchased.

The head came off sweetly after this although I was confused briefly by some of the residue on the valves.  The confusion was quickly eradicated by a glance into the barrel.   I’ve mentioned before that these bits should be shiny and clean.  They should also possibly be coated by a fine layer of oil to keep things moving smoothly.  In the barrel of Little Project was the remains of a mouse  (the furry type, not the computer type).  Truly.   Very decomposed but definitely mus musculus or one of his very close relatives.    There was a lot of other stuff as well.   After removing Mickey the inside of the barrel look like this.

A Barrel of laughs

A Barrel of laughs

This barrel is not coming off.   There has been some chemical transition involving oil, petrol, water and mouse juice that means the piston is welded solidly to the barrel.   The barrel moves up and down as far as the con-rod will let it and that is it.  Buggeration, as we say where I come from.

This is where HOAP comes in.   I know I need a new engine.   Ebay has one for sale.  £200 for a seized one with no guarantee it will work.

There’s a question that I would like to ask of you.   How many pages forward do you go in a google search before giving up?  I was up to page 6 before I found HOAP.   Dave in Gateshead (5 hours from me) has a little project of his own that he has had enough of.  It’s not a 1983 Honda CT125, it is a 1975 Honda XL125 including just about every bit of the bike and three, yes! Three! Engines.   Dave didn’t want to sell off one of the engines, he wants “the whole bloody lot off my hands”, so after some careful negotiations and a bit of give and take I’ve bought the whole lot.

This means that Honda On A Pallet (HOAP, right?) is being delivered sometime next week.   It also means that I’ve two bikes to put together now.   From Dave’s (somewhat sketchy) description, HOAP “is all there, may need a couple of bits but most of it is good and it has been looked after” so in my slightly bemused state I expect to stick HOAP together in a morning and use the rest of the bits to make Little Project a road legal wonder. There is a small chance that the next post may bring news of another little project being undertaken by somebody else.  In the meantime, thank you for your attention.