2012-04-15

Oldbike: Things Come Up When You Ride an Oldbike


Since I registered Oldbike I have been trying to use it as much as possible in a sort of commissioning process just to see what issues come up.  Some of the things that have come up I have already talked about in other posts because they were big issues that required an entire post or two to cover what I did to rectify the issue.  With this post I just want to cover some of the other little things that have come up as I have been “commissioning” Oldbike.

I work rotating 12 hour shifts that start or end on the 7s this early in the year I have been commuting in the dark (yes those rides have been cold) one thing that became immediately evident the first morning that I rode the bike to work was that the backlight for the tachometer was burned out.  You would never notice it during the day so that was the first thing that I decided to fix.  Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of the tach in the dark with the light burned out but it was hard to see in the early morning with my tinted shield.
There is only one bulb in the back of the each dial gauge.  Getting them out is as simple as removing the two nuts on the back of each gauge and pulling out the rubber socket that holds the light bulb.


The bulbs in the my speedo and tach were the original Toshiba bulbs bearing the numbers A12V3.4W (basically calling out that they were for a 12 volt system and that the bulb rating was 3.4 watts) on it this bulb is not made any more so I took the bulb to Batteries (& Bulbs) Plus nearby and they found the most comparable replacement they could with a matching sized base and a slightly larger bulb but that would be the tiniest bit brighter (3.6 watts Vs. 3.4 watts) than the stock ones were but not tax the electrical system any more.   The replacements were EiKO brand Model #1893.


They did exactly what they were supposed to do, it will be nice to be able to tell what rpm’s the bike is running at on those dark rides.


The next fix I had to do was find a permanent mounting place for the license plate.  You can see my solution below.


The mount is made up from the remainder of the tail light/license plate stalk that I cut up to make the shorter tail light stalk earlier.  I cut a small section out of the remaining bottom portion and pounded it flat (see the detail picture below to get an idea of what I cut out).


Then I located the center line and drilled two mounting holes in the license plate bracket and then lined the bracket up below the tail light which is clear on the bottom to illuminate the license plate (a rule at least in Wisconsin that I know a few people have been pulled over for breaking).  I have to admit to using standard nuts and bolts washers and lock washers for this.  They are just so much cheaper than their metric counterparts.

The next issue came up on a ride back home from work after a night shift one morning but I want to start with the ride to work and work forward from there.  I had noticed that as I was riding the bike to different places that the bike seemed to be having a slightly harder time starting each subsequent time.  Undaunted I started on my way to work that afternoon.  Normally on days that I work nights I like to head into work much earlier to avoid the chance of traffic headaches and afford myself a more Zen state of mind when I have to start my workday.  I started the bike and the starter barely seemed to want to turn over but the bike roared to life and I rode the bike downtown.  I stopped over at Qdoba for some free chips and queso that I had received as gift for my Qdoba card registration anniversary (I used to eat a lot of Qdoba).   Back at the bike there was no joy when I thumbed the starter button the lights dimmed and all I got was a click the battery seemed to be dying.  Being that I was already closer to work than home I decided to try and kick start the bike.  That worked right away, and I was off to work but the ride was not going to be a good one.  Twice as the idle dipped, the bike stalled and this was in pretty steady traffic so both times I had to push the bike out of the way to kick start it again. At one point when I was new to Oldbike I told the guys on Caferacer.net that I wanted to get rid of the electric starter to “save weight” to which one of the members stated (I’m paraphrasing here) “…why would you do that? Do you want to be the jackass who is holding up traffic while you try to kick start your bike after you killed it? Or would you rather just thumb the button and go?”  I thought of that moment both times as I wheeled the bike to the side of the road realizing that all those people DID think that I was a JACKASS and that I would definitely have to figure out what was wrong with my starter.  I made one more stop at a Ground Zero a coffee shop near my work and had to kick start the bike when I left there and rode the two blocks to work where I had the next 12 hours to wonder whether or not I would make it home seeing as how the bike had already stalled twice in traffic.
The next morning it was COLD…




...and I was tired.  I had brought a pair of riding pants to go over my jeans and an extra layer to go underneath my jacket as well as some snowboarding gloves to wear rather than my regular riding gloves this combination had worked well in the high 40s but 3 degrees above freezing is a whole ‘nother story.  One thing that I hadn’t anticipated was how hard it would be to lift my leg high enough to kick start the bike with the two layers of pants on this was a chore.  Also I had left my gloves and helmet off for ease of starting, what I hadn’t planned on was that it was so cold that the bike wouldn’t idle high enough to run so every time I let off the throttle to put on my gloves and helmet the thing died and I had to kick start it again, I did that twice before I put on my gloves and helmet before kick starting the bike a fourth time, hopping on and speeding off towards home.  The cold on the ride home was tempered by the fear that at any moment the bike would quit on me and leave me stranded, and the half awake half asleep haze that you are in after a night shift.  To make sure that this didn’t happen I kept the throttle at 2,000 RPMs at all the stops as the bike seemed to die when the RPMs dropped too low.  Luckily I made it home though when I looked down I saw the top triple clamp bolt was gone.


I had never really checked the torque on it and it must have been working it’s way out for some time and worked it’s way out on the ride home helped along by all the high rpm stops to keep the bike running.  Not spending too much time thinking about it at that point I went inside to warm up and went to sleep.
Two days later I went and checked online and found that an OEM replacement head bolt and washer would be around $7, not too bad but as this is a budget project I felt obliged to see if I could find a generic replacement bolt that would fit locally for less.  I did some internal measurements of the threaded portion of the steering stem and my best guess was that it was a M12 fine threaded bolt and the thread depth seemed to be about 20mm so I had my target I just needed to find one.  Sadly my go-to place for fasteners Dorn True Value struck out on this one they only had an M12X20mm in coarse threading.  So I stopped by the Menards near my house and found a M12X25mm fine thread.  I thought that this would work if I took into consideration that I was measuring from the top of the steering stem which was recessed a bit in the top triple clamp and adding a flat washer to this and a lock washer I took a gamble and bought the only M12X25mm fine thread bolt that Menards had.  Fortunately I was right and the bolt worked perfectly.


I also took the opportunity to look up all the torque specs for the respective bolts in the steering system and to properly torque them down.  A cool thing was that the castle nut tool that a friend of mine made for me years ago for my 2002 SV650s fit perfectly onto it's 23 years older brother's castle nut too!  I wonder if they use the same machine to make those nuts?


Now the bigger issue was going to be what to do about the starting issue I was experiencing.  You can’t do any good electrical diagnostic testing without a good, fully charged battery.  I noticed that the acid level on my battery seemed a little low and since I had justrecently bought Oldbike’s battery and it was a Yuasa a “good brand” I called the place I bought it from the Engelhart Center and asked if the low acid might be causing what I was experiencing they weren’t sure but they offered to re-fill the battery, fully charge it and test it to make sure it was good free of charge (even though later we would find that it was 10 days outside of it’s year warranty). 


I thought that was really cool of them and in the end the battery came back to me testing good so that was not the issue but something was draining the battery.

After finding out that the battery was good I set about fixing a glaring issue that has bothered me from the first time I looked at the bikes battery closely for the first time.  The positive wire from the battery to the solenoid was very frayed and looked like it had been cut shorter and had new ends put on it at least once if not twice and due to the age and the angle that the wire had to bend the wires were brittle and breaking.


I also wanted to replace the old tube style main fuse with a blade style fuse.


The OEM replacement was listed as unavailable but Motorcycle Performance at least had a single wire replacement that I could modify to be like the OEM one.  You can see it in the picture below along with the in line blade style fuse replacement I used.


The only issue that I talked through with an EE friend of mine was the gauge difference between the connectors I wanted to splice at each end of the in-line fuse.  After some discussion we came to the conclusion that being that the only fuse in the system is that fuse that and all of the other wire is the same smaller gauge that it shouldn't hurt.  I am still open to comments on this as I don't want to be stepping backwards in reliability the blade style fuse is supposed to be an enhancement so if you have comments or suggestions on this front feel free to share them.


Of course I solderedall the connections.


I thought about doubling the connectors back but the with the extra length of wire I added I figured why add the extra stress to the wire so I covered them with shrink tubing as is.


The last thing I needed to do was to remove the factory applied shrink tubing from the replacement wire and trim back some of the shielding cable to attach the break-off for the bike power supply...


...solder the connection...


...and re shrink-tube the connector and wires.


Here is a shot of the "new" wiring.


And here it is back on the bike.


For fun I took a picture of my life's worth of odds and ends that I have collected throughout the years. This is all the stuff that as a man you keep because you "might need it" at some point. Am I ever going to need a steering wheel puller or a lock plate compressor? Probably not, but it's in there :-)


The next test I did was to see if the battery was being charged by testing the volts through the battery as the bike was running.

I used this helpful YouTube video as a guide on how to do the test.


Below you can see my test and results.


Right now I am poring over “The Stator Papers” on GS Resources.

Stay tuned for my next update where I will start working through the different array of tests to run down my charging system issues.

Thanks as always for reading!

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