Hand signals tend to confuse modern motorists, but some old bikes were never intended to have indicators. Mike Estall adapts a modern LED kit to suit a Triumph tiddler
Hand signals tend to confuse modern motorists, but some old bikes were never intended to have indicators. Marque expert Mike Estall adapts a modern LED kit to suit a Triumph Terrier
Alot of people don’t know about the Triumph T15 149cc Terrier, which arrived on the scene a year before its much better known ‘sports’ version, the 199cc T20 Tiger Cub. In its rather short day the Terrier had very good performance, much better than the available two-strokes of similar capacity. The Gaffers’ Gallop of 1953 proved this when three senior factory men did an End-to-End ride (plus a bit more at either end), to record 1008 miles over five days, at an average speed of just under 37mph and an average fuel consumption of just over 108mpg… and all without the benefit of motorways – which had not been invented.
As I have got older (but not necessarily wiser) and increasingly weaker, I have found the light weight, good acceleration and general ‘character’ of this little bike very much to my liking. As I’ve approached 80, it is all that I am able to ride and retain the ability to pick it up if it falls over.
I usually ride on quiet country lanes, bumbling along and admiring the scenery, but every now and then I encounter a main road. Here in the Midlands we have plenty of these with lots of heavy traffic and I have sometimes found that I don’t have enough hands and feet to operate all the normal controls and give hand signals as well. (Most drivers don’t know what these are anyway and may think that I am hanging a hand out to see if it is raining, or something.) So I decided to fit some indicators, or ‘flashers’ as they are more usually called.
At the last October Stafford Show I bought all the necessary bits from Paul Goff, but did not get around to doing anything with them until mid-winter. My experiences may prove useful for any other reader considering bringing his trusty mount up to date by fitting flashers. I have created a wiring diagram too, which shows what to connect to what using the items as supplied by Goffy – which were two pairs of indicators (he only had 12V), a switching relay and a handlebar switch. One thing to note is that the connectors on the end of the LED flashers are a bit too small to fit inside a ‘Lucar’ bullet sleeve so they should be replaced with standard brass bullets.
The first thing to work out was where and how to mount the flashers. The front fork pinch bolts were the obvious choice at the
front. At the rear there was a carrier upon which sits a small metal box used to store tools, inflator, sandwiches, etc, which would make an ideal indicator mount. First of all cardboard patterns were made for the front and rear, left and right side brackets and then when the shape was finalised the real thing was made from scrap brass sheet.
I thought it best to mount the rear flashers as wide as possible on the rear box but soon found that, in the tight confines of my garage, I nearly wiped one off completely! So they were remounted with just the barest bit sticking out sideways. I also found some rubber ‘boots’ to cover up some of the wiring and the brass brackets, just to make things look and neat and tidy.
Being a fully qualified electrical duffer I searched the interweb for wiring diagrams and found hundreds of them, all written by experts for other experts to read. Not much use to me who didn’t even know what the lettering meant on the flasher relay. There were B, M, and E markings on the relay but I didn’t what these meant, and Goffy was away and could not provide the answer or a wiring diagram. I could not find one featuring exactly the stuff I had bought, so I adapted wiring diagrams I had found to look like the layout of my bike and after many attempts produced the one seen here.
Flasher relay terminals: B goes to battery E goes to battery: Earth L goes to handlebar switch red wire: Live
The bike was already running a 6V uprated alternator system with battery and rectifier which balanced out the headlight load at about 35mph so I didn’t want to disturb something already working well by converting the whole bike just for the 12V flashers. So I decided to make an entirely independent 12V system for them.
I already had a couple of old 6V booklighters, each of which took four AA alkaline batteries, and two of these nailed together in series would make a nice compact 12V supply. There was much dismantling and fiddling around but in the end it all worked out neatly. ( You can buy boxes that will fit any number of batteries together, but that would mean spending money. I preferred to use and convert stuff I already had!)
The small metal box at the rear of the bike was the ideal home for the 12V battery pack and flasher relay, and much of the wiring could be stored inside it too. No earth needed (it’s just like a handheld torch) but a fuse was fitted to serve as an isolating switch for the battery pack. With the fuse removed when the bike is not in use, the 12V charge in the pack cannot leak away to leave flat batteries for my next ride.
After several weeks of experimentation and fiddling around, you can imagine my excitement when I connected the first flasher to the system, put the fuse in and turned the handlebar switch – and it worked! Each flasher was then connected one at a time and tested until all four were working. The wiring was wrapped with loom tape and strapped to the frame tubes, ensuring that full handlebar lock was available in both directions without pulling out any wires. The final test was to put all the components and wiring into the carrier box put my tools and waterproof trousers in place, close the lid and make sure that everything still worked.
And they did! So now this is the flashest Terrier in town.
The flasher box as fitted to Mike’s bike. It’s still perfectly useable for carrying over-trousers and tools, too
The wiring in the box. The battery box, wires and other useful components live in here
The Book Lite. Two bodies were used for the 12V battery pack
The wiring diagram Mike used
Paul Goff’s kit of parts required to fit indicators to an ancient Brit (and indeed many other machines)
The flasher relay. It will all make sense once combined with wires and a diagram to show where they need to go
The Terrier’s cockpit, showing the flasher switch, ammeter, gear indicator, watch and dipswitch Seen from the front, the indicators hardly detract from the charm and style of the Terrier The indicators are unobtrusive when not in use, and when they are...