Sort­ing the elec­tri­cal sys­tem

Mo­tor­cy­cle electrics are gen­er­ally bliss­fully re­li­able for which you, younger read­ers, should be suit­ably thank­ful.

Motorcycle Monthly - - The Inside Line To Classic Japanese Iron With Stev - Words: Steve Cooper

Us dod­dery old grey­beards can re­mem­ber the last rites of the Bri­tish mo­tor­cy­cle in­dus­try and the frankly far­ci­cal elec­tri­cal sys­tems foisted onto the cus­tomers of the 60s and 70s. Not for noth­ing was the sup­ply­ing com­pany’s found­ing fa­ther known as Joe Lu­cas the Prince of Dark­ness!

The ear­li­est Ja­panese bikes came with elec­tri­cal sys­tems that were sim­ply from an­other mind-set and were paragons of virtue yet not to­tally in­fal­li­ble. Just like any­thing which in­volves amps, volt­ages and the like En­emy Num­ber One is re­sis­tance. Some re­sis­tances are good and with­out them bulbs wouldn’t il­lu­mi­nate, yet other re­sis­tances can and will ham­per elec­tri­cal cir­cuitry which is why we’re look­ing at it here. Lit­tle is more irk­some than press­ing the starter but­ton then see­ing the wiring of your freshly sorted bike puff out clouds of bil­ious grey, PVC scented, smoke.

Al­most with­out ex­cep­tion ev­ery sin­gle elec­tri­cal item will need to be prop­erly earthed. Think of the earth as be­ing the re­turn side of any cir­cuit. If that side of the sys­tem isn’t fully func­tional then the cur­rent will take an al­ter­nate and least path of re­sis­tance – torch­ing stuff on its merry way. Start­ing at the very ba­sics, en­sure that the bat­tery earth lead that runs to the frame or chas­sis is both in good con­di­tion and se­cure at ei­ther end. On older bikes things such as in­di­ca­tors are earthed via their me­tal bod­ies and/or their mount­ing bolts.

The sub­assem­bly they are bolted to may be rub­ber mounted i.e. rear mud­guards and the like. And if that mud­guard isn’t prop­erly earthed the in­di­ca­tors, tail-light etc. won’t work prop­erly. Same up at the front end; head­lights of­ten rely on earth­ing out via the bear­ings in the head­stock that are swamped by grease which is gen­er­ally a good in­su­la­tor! A sep­a­rate earth wire here won’t ever go amiss.

So enough about earths, let’s look at re­sis­tances in a lit­tle more de­tail. Wiring con­nec­tions are nor­mally made via ei­ther bul­let con­nec­tors or ded­i­cated con­nec­tor blocks and both will suf­fer from mois­ture driven cor­ro­sion. If a brass con­nec­tor ap­pears green and/or crusty that’s cor­ro­sion you’re look­ing at. It’s the prod­uct of mois­ture, me­tal and cor­ro­sive salts and hap­pens nat­u­rally. The var­i­ous sheaths and fit­tings used by the man­u­fac­turer will keep the worst of these guys out but over time the in­evitable oc­curs. The good news is that you don’t au­to­mat­i­cally need a need new wiring loom as most can be saved with­out is­sue.

The dis­crete com­po­nents of bul­let con­nec­tors are known as male and fe­male; the analo­gies are hope­fully ob­vi­ous. Male bul­let con­nec­tors can be eas­ily cleaned up with a piece of Scotchbrite abra­sive pad and some elec­tri­cal clean­ing fluid; Servi­sol Su­per 10 is the one to go for. With fe­male sock­ets, a Dremel and a small brass brush can be used to evict any cor­ro­sion. A com­plete loom can nor­mally be sorted in half an hour.

Block con­nec­tors re­quire a lit­tle more thought and dex­ter­ity and here a set of small nee­dle files and some tiny me­tal brushes will be use­ful. With the cor­ro­sion re­moved an­other blast of Servi­sol Su­per 10 should be ap­plied to each and ev­ery con­nec­tor. Bro­ken or dam­aged wires are best sorted via a proper re­pair. Look on­line for a com­pany called Ve­hi­cle Wiring Prod­ucts who of­fer me­tre lengths of the ap­pro­pri­ate coloured cable along with con­nec­tors, crimp­ing pli­ers and every­thing else needed to re­pair a loom. Just one wiring lash-up can torch your bike so a few quid in­vested here seems like money well spent.

Heat shrink tub­ing can be use­ful for re­pair­ing or strength­en­ing ex­ist­ing wiring but never rely on in­su­lat­ing tape to do any­thing sub­stan­tial. It tends to let go over time and leaves a vile sticky residue. Looms may look as though they are wrapped in in­su­lat­ing tape but they aren’t. Only the start and end of any cov­er­ings are se­cured with self-ad­he­sive tape; every­thing else you see wrapped in tape is bound by non-ad­he­sive loom wrap­ping which al­lows the ca­bles be­neath it to flex and shift as the bike moves. Don’t trap those ca­bles with sticky tape.

The VJMC – run by mo­tor­cy­clists for mo­tor­cy­clists. For mem­ber­ship en­quiries only: Tel: 01454 501310 Email: mem­ber­ship_vjmc@ya­hoo.co.uk Ad­dress: PO Box 1949, Yate, Bris­tol, BS37 0BX Of­fice hours: Mon­day-Thurs­day,10am- 4pm (please leave a mes­sage)

“The home of the Ja­panese clas­sic”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.