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Technical


Techniques: Wiring

You don't need to be frightened of electrickery. Faced with the need to indicate, the RealClassic Club member known as Not Very Near Launceston got (not very) technical...

Messing about with vehicular and domestic wiring is in my blood. My grandfather worked most of his life for the GPO Telephones, and my father worked on developing Radar in WW2. Over the last four decades I've wired plenty of dwellings and outhouses, cars, vans, bikes, trailers and now thanks to the other Message Boarders and Old Gits, a caravan.

However, despair is always close at hand when I start anything electrical which involves understanding how electricity is made or how it makes things move. So don't expect a Humbernut master class, I don't understand this stuff -- I just like doing it, mostly.

Reader Sheds, No.43

Anyway this spring the time had come to replace the diode pack on Rufus the Co-op Bonnie, and to put some winkers back on it so Mrs NVNL could ride it with confidence. As for myself I'm notoriously lax about signalling my intentions to other road users so I removed the ugly old Lucas indicators a decade ago. Now I neglect to give hand signals instead of electrical ones. I do try, but it's a little like my attempts at observing the Notional Speed Limit, not quite 100% successful.

Sean Hawker (www.cmes.uk.com [This URL isn't working at the moment: RealMart]) was full of helpfulness and sent me some modern Gizmo and wire and gave me a morale boosting talk over the phone, Vehicle Wiring Products (www.vehicle-wiring-products.co.uk), and the local Yammy dealer (www.theydontneedaplug.co.whitemoor) came up with the lamps I wanted. So that's two hundred quid I'll never see again. The moment of truth had arrived. The donkeys turned up from the Donkey Sanctuary (www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk) which delayed the start of my little wiring fest for an hour but the moment of truth waited patiently in the stables and at last I settled to the task.

And then the CX500 owners club showed up...

Sean's Gizmo was the priority as my diode pack looked disturbingly overcooked. This single item fulfils the functions of the rectifier and the diode pack and does it better, and least so Sean had told me, I'm rather blonde at the Old Physics and the only thing I like about the New Physics is that it seems to dispute the scientific provability of everything: now you're talking my language. All I had to do was fit the Gizmo (a three phase regulator/rectifier) and join up all the wires. One of the Message Boarders, possibly one of the Daves (sorry fella, C.R.A.F.T.), had told me he fitted his Gizmo in the tool tray on his TR7, but I didn't want to lose the only lockable storage space on the bike so I removed various easy items of body work and had a jolly good inspect of the entire machine. This benefited me greatly and gave me a firm grasp of where all the wires were. However there were only two places the Gizmo would fit, on the front face of the rear mudguard where the existing rectifier sits, and in the tool tray.

This was a three pipe problem. I am a very efficient person by nature and my definition of efficiency is 'intelligent laziness'. To fit the new rectifier in place of the old one I would have to dismantle the airbox assembly and drill holes in awkward places, or maybe even remove the rear mudguard.

Two places where the Gizmo won't fit.

In a flash I was free! Rather than dismantle the entire universe I decided that the tool tray was my best bet for the day. After all the grand plan is to dismantle Rufus in due course and get some paint on the frame - yes, it is a 1981 model. By this point I was a little peckish.

The reason my bike's such a slob cosmetically is that I haven't cleaned it since 1997 because I've been doing up an old farmstead. During the process I've built my own shed in which are many mansions, one of which is a kitchen -- we like to eat out, Mrs NVNL and I. So I went to the kitchen for a biscuit and found a spice cake. First rate! Now we're in business. Lungs full of tobacco smoke, belly full of cake and coffee, this is soooo much better than the kerbside auto jobs of my metropolitan youth.

Mmmm. Cake.

Firstly I selected some appropriately coloured lengths of wire and threaded them down through some very blotchy cycle parts so they were well placed for the alternator output wires, the standard rectifier, and the new regulator/rectifier.

Secondly I drilled two holes for the new regulator/rectifier. If at all possible I avoid metal work, but this time the holes just went where I put them without the drill slipping a sly breather into my knee.

Thereafter the job just went to plan, the new hexagonal crimping tool was easy to use and produced an excellent connection, even that weird looking closing tool for pushing the bullets into the snap connectors earned its money; never used one before, had loads of them over the years but chucked 'em out because I didn't know what they were for. One bodge to own up to; the output wiring on the old rectifier used a large female spade type connector and I couldn't find a corresponding male so I took the wire cutters to a ring connector, heigh ho.

Into the toolbox it goes...

After a long walk to free up my aching joints I started on the indicators. Even they weren't too recalcitrant. The most pleasing thing about this whole job is that my hands remember which tool to pick up for which nut and which of the many wires in the headlamp or under the seat serves which purpose. My brain can't remember who rode the winner in the 3:30 at Chepstow last week, but my hands know the drill, God bless them.

Eventually I put the bike back together and approached the final moment of truth.

Will it go?

It should go, I haven't touched any of the go systems after all, but, well, you know…. I thumbed the little green button and... toc toc toc. Huge relief.

Then I took the bike to the MoT man who said he'd give it a ticket next time without me having to remove the new winkers which surprised me, I thought there rules about lens size and position relative to the extremities of the vehicle. Look how wrong you can be.

As to spending money on tools, until I started despatching for a living I was mean on this subject, and then I learned better. Having just spent over a ton on tools for a ten bob job I'm not inclined to return to my former tightwad ways, just looking at those same-every-time hexagonally crimped bullets was worth every penny.

Sean's magic Gizmo may or may not be working, but the signs in use are that it does. I do have a digital multimeter. It's yellow, that's all I know about it.

One day I'll dismantle the bike and paint its cycle parts, while I'm at it I'll rewire it, especially if Sean Hawker has posted the 'So You Think You Can't Do Electrics' piece he's working on for RC. (Don't hold your breath, people. Sean's also being tapped up for a 'How to Convert A Bantam to 12-Volts' story after he read Wilson's Down The Road in RC03 and went off into a bit of a rant, and at some time he has to run a business too! TP).

Thanks to all the Boarders and Old Gits for tips and encouragement. I'm very happy to get in touch with my bike again, I may even clean it but, like St Augustine, not yet Lord, not yet.

Snap. Crackle. Fzzsprrp?

It's working. No it isn't. Yes it it. No it isn't. Etc.

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