A lot has happened since the last update on the as-yet-unnamed Yellow Trike.
On the way home that afternoon, I picked up the control switch from Mid-Cities. It appeared very solid and had nice long leads.
That evening, I had enough of a break in the rain to allow me to rearrange the driveway so that I had the trike under the 10×20 garage tent that we use to expand the driveway. When the rain really came down, I still got soaked with a lot of mist, but at least I was out of the direct precipitation, so I could continue to work even in the weather. It was still pretty miserable. 🙂
Just about the first thing, I worked the throttle a couple of times, gauging how much work it was going to take to get throttle effort down to a more reasonable level. As I was doing that, smoke suddenly started emitting from all along the frame tube and another pocket of smoke came from the battery area. My first thought was to turn off the key. Um, I hadn’t turned on the key. So, the only other electrical control was the headlight switch, so I toggled it a time or two. The smoke stopped, but as I suspected, it had nothing to do with the light switch.
The previous owner had a cigarette lighter socket on the left side of the dashboard. It turns out that when I moved the handlebar, working the throttle, the wire feeding the lighter socket had gotten pinched between the triple tree and the dashboard, shorting to the dashboard. Whether the 18g speaker wire powering the socket burned in half somewhere along its length or if my panicky gyrations had relieved the short, I don’t know, but the wire was now good and melty.
I should probably mention at this point that, as some builders will do, EVERYTHING on the trike except for the starter is powered from the same power lead going through a 30A self-resetting circuit breaker. Even doubled up 18ga will yield before a 30A breaker does.
After that little adventure, I tested everything else… well, everything that had previously been working… and found that no other damage was done. I had a moment’s panic when steam formed off the exhaust. Looked a little too much like smoke 🙂
So, now began the task of wiring up some lights to the new switch. Of course, that meant decoding the existing wiring.
The wiring was essentially functional, and since people I know know the previous owner, I will say only that I don’t think automotive wiring was their first language. To their credit, the trike is several years old and they rode it all over the country for most of those years, so it couldn’t be TOO out of whack. There appears to have been a few repairs done over those years, wiring spliced and respliced, often with what was apparently the wire on hand. There was THHN insulated 12ga spliced to PVC insulated 14ga, using crimp connectors that had seen inside the jaws of a pair of vise-grips. Though I was under the gun to get the trike inspected the next day, I determined pretty early that I would be rewiring the whole thing.
The switch pod is pretty cool. It’s designed to help make a dirt bike street legal and most features are to that end. It has a parking light/headlight switch that actually has an off position. According to the installation sheet, this switch is intended to serve as the main switch in the absence of a keyswitch and pretty much everything depends on this switch being on. It also has a press-to-cancel turn signal switch, a horn button, a kill switch and a blue high-beam indicator LED.
It took till late in the evening, but I got it in place and as operational as I could. The front signal lights were pretty pitiful, so Saturday morning, we got some nice little lights from Mid-Cities and I returned and finished up the wiring and took it to be inspected.
Our usual inspector was out of motorcycle stickers, so we had to find an alternate. Now, inspections are a minimalist affair in Texas, pretty much verifying you have insurance and that you aren’t so stupid that you drop the bike. Consequently, it’s pretty standard faire for a motorcycle to be inspected on a trailer or in the back of a pickup. This guy refused to do so, insisting that I ride it into his shop. First time EVER that’s been an issue. When we told him that we’d never had to do that before, he said that the state requires it and those who don’t are not following the proper procedure.
So, I get out in the rain, unhook the trike from the trailer, uturn on the side street and pull it around into his garage. After this is done, he begins the proper procedure for inspecting a motorcycle in Texas. This procedure *apparently* consists of not testing the brake lights, turn signals, headlights, horn… He doesn’t test anything, but he fills in his paperwork and puts on a sticker.
I prefer to think that he just didn’t want to get out in the rain. In any case, the trike was now legal. Probably.
We took gathered some general working supplies and tools and such and arranged to meet a keyholder at the BTW clubhouse where we could work on the thing under a roof with lighting and powertools.
First order of business, get the wiring stable.
Very quickly, I decided that stabilizing the existing wiring would likely result in years of psychological therapy, so it needed to be scrapped. It took several evenings, but in short, there is now a fuse panel, relays and terminal strip in one of the storage boxes. I found a Honda keyswitch in the club junkpile that fit the forks and had keys, so I was able to eliminate the dashboard. This put more wiring to front, but I was still able change the ugly frayed bundle of wiring into a nearly undetectable sheath that has far more circuits in it. The only existing wire left are leads coming out of lights and the distributor.
I started the trike on the new wiring at 11:57 one weekday night, barely meeting the goal of “finishing the wiring tonight”.
Well, even so, it’s not *quite* finished. The oil and alternator lights do not yet have a place on the as yet unmade instrument panel. The speedometer is mounted on it’s original bracket, but the bracket has been flattened and cut to mount with the keyswitch. I will be making a replacement of this bracket with room for these and other indicator lights.
Some place in there, the newly covered seat came back. Almost immediately, we saw that it was not up to the usual standard of the shop doing the work. We took it back and had them tighten up the fit and generally just redo it. This time, it came back looking like it should.
The next big thing that needed attention was the engine. It was not obvious when we tested it out, but it would not idle when warm. In reading about idle problems with aircooled VW engines, it seemed like a vacuum leak. Long story short and $160 later, a new carburetor eliminated the leak around the old one’s throttle shaft. Oh, my, what a difference it made! It’s fun to drive now!
It’s too bad, we now have a very clean yet utterly useless used H30/31 PICT carburetor. Somebody makes a throttle shaft bushing kit and I may experiment with that, for my trike has similar problems that were undiagnosed when last I played with it.
We also got quite a few engine dress up items like pulleys, distributor cap, wires, coil cover. At this point, we’re going to wait to replace the tins, but they will one day be either replaced or painted.
Besides paint, the last *big* thing is the replacement of the pedals, which I’ll be working on today. We got pedals with a 3/4″ and a 7/8″ master cylinders, nylon lines and a new clutch slave cylinder. I’ve already made a bracket for the slave cylinder, to eliminate the side loading inherent in mounting a cylinder in place of the stock cable. Installing the new pedals will involve cutting out the old foot throttle and obviously the old brake and clutch pedals and their linkages. The biggest problem I see, short term, is that I must drill through the old weights welded to the bottom of the floorboard in order to mount the new pedals.