Stu Thom­son plainly en­joys a chal­lenge. Not con­tent with restor­ing a Gil­era Gi­u­bileo to the road, he’s now tack­led some­thing even less usual – at least in the UK. And here’s how…

Real Classic - - What Lies Within -

Stu Thom­son plainly en­joys a chal­lenge. Not con­tent with restor­ing a Gil­era Gi­u­bileo to the road, he’s now tack­led some­thing even less usual – at least in the UK. And here’s how…

Stage 5. Elec­tri­cal wiring, Com­po­nents

The elec­tri­cal sys­tem on this ma­chine is pow­ered by a fly­wheel mag­neto with one coil for light­ing and bat­tery re­quire­ments and one coil for the ig­ni­tion, with a bat­tery fit­ted to give con­sis­tent volt­age to horn, lights and brake light on some mod­els. Pretty sim­ple stuff. I de­cided to re­wire the bike with more mod­ern wiring and con­nec­tors, af­ter all, the ex­ist­ing wires are get­ting on for 62 years old and even I man­aged to find a wiring diagram to work to in the MI-VAL man­ual.

The wiring diagram how­ever did not quite fit the wires and switches that were in the head­lamp, and there was no bat­tery shown in the diagram as it was de­signed for di­rect light­ing. One of the dif­fer­ences I think be­tween the dif­fer­ent mod­els in the MI-VAL range, the bat­tery light­ing be­ing for the more ex­pen­sive up-mar­ket mod­els. So even more con­fu­sion as to what my model ac­tu­ally is: frame from a GS and some cy­cle / elec­tri­cal parts from a GL.

There is an ig­ni­tion switch which is a sim­ple push and turn af­fair and a 3 po­si­tion light switch, and then of course there’s the stan­dard de­sign CEV type han­dle­bar / horn push switch. These came in round and oval de­signs. As I have re­built a few Ital­ian bikes I seem to have ac­cu­mu­lated a few bits and bobs of switches which are quite in­ter­change­able, hence from three bro­ken ones I made one half-de­cent one.

I looked around at other bikes of the pe­riod and man­aged to find a wiring diagram that ex­actly matched what I had on the bike and was much clearer – this was for an MV Agusta 175 so that was the ba­sis for my de­sign.

On this par­tic­u­lar bike, to con­tinue the un­usual… The ig­ni­tion coil is a very large unit sim­i­lar in size to that found on Laverda twins and mounted in the petrol tank, via a large wavy cir­clip and a spring. This seems a bit strange, but then Morini and other man­u­fac­tur­ers did the same with some of their mod­els. It does some­what com­pli­cate the tank re­moval, but the bonus is that the electrics can be ac­cessed quickly.

The orig­i­nal coil had some small dam­age to one of the con­nec­tions, so I re­placed it with a same size Bosch coil (ac­tu­ally from a Laverda and in my stock).

I brazed a cou­ple of wash­ers to the ends of the cir­clip to en­able in­stal­la­tion / re­moval with cir­clip pli­ers. With­out this, one has to poke about with a screw­driver which can dam­age the coil con­nec­tions and paint­work – hence I think the dam­age to the con­nec­tion.

Stage 6: Dat­ing, NOVA, V5 reg­is­tra­tion and num­ber plate

One of the more com­plex op­er­a­tions in re­build­ing an old bike these days can be the pa­per­work, and it is not get­ting any sim­pler.

To prove that no VAT is due on a ma­chine, a NOVA form (No­ti­fi­ca­tion Of Ve­hi­cle Ar­rival in the UK) has to be filled in, stat­ing the year of man­u­fac­ture. Some­times even for a ve­hi­cle that has never even left the coun­try the DVLA are re­quest­ing a NOVA reg­is­tra­tion be­fore they will is­sue an age-re­lated plate or rereg­is­tra­tion.

My brother had re­cently reg­is­tered his Lam­bretta and the data sub­mit­ted to DVLA from HMRC with the NOVA did not agree with the dat­ing let­ter he re­ceived from the Lam­bretta club. The up­shot of this was that the DVLA sent his ap­pli­ca­tion back to him and said they could not reg­is­ter it! I told him that he should con­tact HMRC, which he did, and they sorted it out but would not change the date on the NOVA doc­u­men­ta­tion as it was too com­plex to do ret­ro­spec­tively. So in one depart­ment it is a 1962 ma­chine and in the other a 1964. He even­tu­ally was able to get an age re­lated plate. So I thought that I would get a dat­ing let­ter first so I would not have the same prob­lems with the MI-VAL. My first big mis­take I think…

When I brought the MI-VAL into the UK I re­alised I had no proof of the date of man­u­fac­ture. The guy I bought it from said 1954 but could not back it up with any pa­per­work and in the back of my mind were the prob­lems my brother had so I con­tacted the VMCC, filled in the search forms and sent off the info and a cheque. As soon as I re­ceived the dat­ing cert I filled in the NOVA forms and sent the data off to HMRC.

A few weeks later I re­ceived a let­ter from HMRC stat­ing that no VAT was out­stand­ing due to the age of the ve­hi­cle but… be­cause I sent in the NOVA form out­side the two weeks limit af­ter im­port­ing the ma­chine they would pe­nalise me at £5 for ev­ery day I was late – this amounted to a large amount of money as the dat­ing had taken over a month due to the searches that were re­quired and at the time a lit­tle tur­moil in the VMCC li­brary. Also the time for the post to be recorded at HMRC was de­layed, so that was quite a few days.

Af­ter my first shock and when I picked my­self up I thought the only thing to do was to ap­peal the fine. So I wrote a let­ter to the per­sonal trans­port unit of HMRC ex­plain­ing the cir­cum­stances in de­tail re­gard­ing DVLA regis­ter­ing and hav­ing the age of the ve­hi­cle proven and the rea­sons for ob­tain­ing a dat­ing cert and the rea­sons for the de­lay.

I was pleas­antly sur­prised that a cou­ple of weeks later I re­ceived a nice let­ter from HMRC say­ing that in this case they had re­viewed the de­tails and cir­cum­stances and de­cided to can­cel the fine – phew! But that I must (if I im­port an­other ve­hi­cle, which I prob­a­bly will) send the NOVA forms to them as soon as the ve­hi­cle is brought into the coun­try.

So It is worth (some­times) ap­peal­ing against fines, and it proves there are still real peo­ple look­ing at the sub­mis­sions.

Stage 7: Fin­ished bike. Does it run@?

As the bike was wired and ready to go, I checked the spark with the short reach plug that came with the bike (a Mag­neti Marelli; mod­ern equiv­a­lent is a B6HS, S for short reach) and it seemed to be nice and healthy. I put some fuel / oil into the por­ta­ble 2 litre tank, con­nected it up and primed the carb. Sur­pris­ingly af­ter a few kicks the bike burst into life and sounded pretty good. The ex­haust note was louder and deeper than an­tic­i­pated. This was the pe­riod I think be­fore two-stroke tun­ing and ex­pan­sion cham­bers, so the si­lencer is vir­tu­ally straight through with no re­stric­tions and re­tains the ex­haust boom.

Af­ter warm­ing up the en­gine it set­tled into a slightly off beat tick­over, a bit like the old 1965 Lam­bretta I used to have. So the carb must still be in ser­vice­able con­di­tion. Nor­mally when I start up one of these small Ital­ian bikes they run well but the slow run­ning is re­ally dif­fi­cult to set. I have con­sid­ered get­ting a small Mikuni to try to see if it im­proves the slow run­ning. A friend has put a Mikuni on his Ve­lo­cette and it ticks over like a diesel (but with­out the noise), some­thing that is dif­fi­cult to ob­tain with the old Amals or Del­lor­tos.

Beauty, as usual, is in the eye of the be­holder, but for the year it looks quite ad­vanced. The dou­ble level seat with the match­ing pad on the tank looks quite stylish. The pad was in­ter­est­ing to man­u­fac­ture. I made an alu­minium tem­plate, did a sketch along with a photo of one I found on an orig­i­nal bike and sent it off to Leightons. I think they made a great job and it fit­ted per­fectly.

I opted for black han­dle­bars as I think they suit the bike bet­ter and of course fit­ted the oblig­a­tory bi­cy­cle speedo in ad­di­tion to the CEV NOS item. I found a new MI-VAL speedo on Ital­ian eBay but it only went up to 80kph and was a small di­am­e­ter so must have been for a smaller model. This one should have 120kph speedo.

Well here she is. Just about ready to go, com­plete with boy racer tank pad and orig­i­nal (if a lit­tle stiff) han­dle­bar grips and none too bouncy fork springs

MI-VAL wiring diagram. With no bat­tery or brake light switch they don’t come much sim­pler than this, with sep­a­rate ig­ni­tion and light switches

This is an MV Agusta 175 wiring diagram. It seems to per­fectly fit the equip­ment found on the MI-VAL, even down to the shape of the key. Again there’s no brake light switch, but that’s very easy to fit into the cir­cuit

The in­ter­nals of the head­lamp, show­ing the ig­ni­tion switch, light switch and con­nec­tor block, plus the ex­tra wires to the side driv­ing lights. Oh, and a speedome­ter – very ad­vanced for 1954. Ac­tu­ally, it’s not in bad con­di­tion and not messed with too much. Just a few dead flies and sweet­corn to vac­uum out…

Af­ter the re­wire. Very sim­i­lar, but with nice re­li­able con­nec­tors and ex­tra earths

Above: And here is the other side. Sus­pen­sion units are a prob­lem as they are only 240mm be­tween cen­tres, dif­fi­cult to source, and the ex­ist­ing ones were shot

Left: My slightly re­vised 6V wiring diagram with all com­po­nents in­cluded. The bat­tery charg­ing is through an im­ped­ance coil and rec­ti­fier block. A switch can be added to change the bat­tery light­ing to di­rect light­ing if de­sired

Front view with the head­light, GL side­lights, ca­bles, etc. These bikes are nar­row! If you see me out and about on it give me a wave there can’t be many of these in the UK

The rider’s view, com­plete with the tank pad

The lo­ca­tion of the ig­ni­tion coil in the petrol tank – re­duc­ing the ca­pac­ity by about 0.3 of a litre. It’s a nice short HT lead though

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