So very close…

First all the good…

I got everything (and I mean everything) except the TACH input wired today. There is some question as to exactly what exactly constitutes the negative side of the coil. I will just have to try to crank it and see what I can see and hopefully find a suitable place to connect. Otherwise, I may have to hack out some other place to pick up a tach signal.

I did not plan on replacing the stock fuse panel, but when I was attaching the main relay to the ignition fuse, the fuse clip broke. I started to fix that one, but another broke. Due to an ordering snafu when I was gathering parts for this project, I happened to already have a 2nd fuse block, so it was just a quick decision to replace it and an extra 30 minutes or so of crimping.

I mounted an LED to the fast idle output. Without realizing it, I bought a blinking LED, which is probably better anyway. As long as it’s blinking, run the bike at fast idle. When the light goes out, take fast idle off.

The big thing that was waiting was all the fuel system plumbing. 10 hose clamps, 2 tees, 1 adapter and 1 pressure gauge later, it was ready to pressure test. I connected a fuel supply and powered up the fuel pump. It took a little bit to prime the pump, but suddenly, it zipped up to 42 PSI. A bit of fuel leaked from the gauge fitting, but I forgot to tape the fitting first. I pulled it, taped it and fit it back. No leak.

Well, not from there. Turns out, it was leaking from another spot that I didn’t see in the first run up. Leaking profusely from the plastic fitting around the power leads. It didn’t leak when I bench tested it a few months ago. I presume the pump was damaged in the intervening time, probably from bouncing around in the tool box. :/

Without the fuel pump leak, I would have been attempting to start the engine tonight. Bummer. Between that and the squadron of mosquitos, I called it for the night.

Tomorrow, I will pull the fuel pump and see if anything can be done with it. If not, I will have to find another before I can continue.

Slow but steady progress…


Today, I got a longer throttle cable. It was originally for a Suzuki somethin’ or another, but most important, it’s enough longer to work!

From the same picture, you can see where I drilled a hole to mount the IAT sensor on the throttle bodies and secured it with JB Weld. It will be sensing temperature of the airstream between the filter and the butterfly on cylinder two. :)

The CLT sensor is trickier. I have it jammed between fins in the top of the cylinder head, between the plug on cylinder two and the timing chain and secured with ubiquitous JB Weld.

I made the brace for the throttle bodies and routed some wiring and the MAP sensor hose. I am having trouble arranging the pressure side of the fuel system. I think I can fix the routing problem with a 90 degree fitting, and I need some kind of fitting for a pressure gauge I want to include. To the hardware store!

This evening, I upgraded the embedded code in my MS-II to 2.886 and started filling out the parameters. We’ll see if it will start on it….

A pretty good day’s work…


I had a fairly productive day after killing a lot of the morning looking for suitable wire. I could find red and black everywhere, but you need more colors to help keep things straight when you’re hooking up a dozen different things. I ended up with black, red, green, yellow, blue and white.

The throttle bodies are mounted again, though they will need to come back off for a bit tomorrow. The wiring harness for the throttle body and the temperature sensors have connectors. The fuel pump is mounted and has a connector. The connector for the controller is wired, though I need to mark the function of some of the wires that use the same colors.

I go shopping in the morning and assuming tomorrow afternoon progresses as well as today, I may be trying to start Buzz by Wednesday or so, though with no oxygen sensor and using the stock ignition.

Tomorrow’s to-do list includes a little shopping, most importantly for a longer throttle cable. I only need about 4 inches more. The stock cable works as long as you don’t have to steer, especially to the right. Actually, it would work quite well for lefthand doughnuts.

I have decided to use the stock choke lever to operate the fast idle cam. I will hook the fast idle solenoid output to a light on the dash. When the light is on, work the lever. When the light goes out, return it.

More as it develops!

Time to Play!!

I have a week off work so I should have a week of quality wrench time with minimal interruption!

There has been little active progress with Buzz since my last update. I have also acquired a VW trike which has taken a good bit of my tinkering time. Of course, I am always looking at the trike and making plans to MegaSquirt it, too. LOTS of potential there. In fact, if I were so determined, I’m certain I could have it running well before Buzz, with only one semi-major purchase.

In any case, my plan is to see how close I can get to having Buzz running by the end of the week.

There is a long list of things to do. Some of it is parts fab and I imagine those things will take the biggest part of the time.

I need to get together a mounting plate for all the electrics. There will be relays, fuses, connectors, the controller itself and the EDIS module. I have ideas in my head; I’ll have to see if they will translate to reality.

Since I’m putting all this in the space where the airbox was, I also need a fender to keep dirt and perhaps more critically, water, out of the area. I would like to keep it as light as possible. Maybe I can use aluminum flashing. I once made a replacement fender for an RV using flashing and pop rivets, sealed with silicone.

Another kinda major fab I must do is the return line to the fuel tank. I think I will try to leave the stock petcock as is and add a fitting, perhaps sealed with epoxy. If I can satisfactorily make it safe to do so, I will braze the fitting in place instead. It will be much more secure.

I need to put an oxygen sensor in the exhaust. For the short term, I will use a narrow band sensor for cost reasons, but I hope to upgrade it. You can do so much more tuning if you know the exact O2 reading, as opposed to the go/no-go reading from the narrow band device. The wideband sensor could open the possibilities for running Buzz on alternate fuels, even propane. :)

The final big fab isn’t so much a big fab as a complex one. I can even skip it for a while if needed, but I need an ignition trigger wheel. I have in mind a pretty simple way to make one using my drill press and hand tools. It needs to be precise but not so precise that I can’t pull it off manually.

All I need after that is a longer throttle cable and to put all the stuff on the bike.

Well, for good results, the bike needs valves adjusted and oil changed and I’m sure the battery has gone bad in all these months of sitting idle.

For today, it looks like I might need to have plenty of MAPP for my torch.

Fuel pump mocked up and working

I won’t continue to bore you with the mundane delays in this project. I’m sure they do not make me unique! :)

In any case, I had a few minutes yesterday to connect the fuel pump on the bench, or the top of the trashcan, if the truth be known. I had a plastic can of what is technically old gas, but it was fine for this mockup. I had to prime the line by forcing some fuel into the intake, but once it was there, it worked great.

A long time burning question was how much current the pump would pull with the system under pressure. Looks like 3.46 amps, about 1/3 of what I feared, so I can go on with my electrical life.

Fuel pump work


As expected, using an internal fuel pump externally presented a little issue.

As can be seen (blurrily, sorry) here, there is an inlet at that would be the bottom of the pump. This inlet was originally connected to a screen and surrounded by what was basically steel wool, forming a simple fuel cell. I connected and clamped a length of 3/8″ fuel line with an inline filter to this inlet. It’s not a very long nipple, so I expected to need some way to stabilize the connection for installation, but for bench testing, this was ok. I connected the outlet to the regulator with 5/16″ fuel injection line and the relief port of the regulator to a length of 1/4″ line. The free ends of the 3/8″ and 1/4″ were plunked in a gas can. The plan was, apply power and if it works, it will build pressure, trip the regulator and all the relief will flow back into the can in a closed circuit. It took a bit of priming to get it lifting fuel out of the can, which won’t be an issue on the bike, and looking only at the two ends, the fuel flowed as expected!

All was not rosy, however… in this view, you can see a smaller hole, in the upper righthand area of the endpiece. This hole spews gasoline under pressure when the pump is running. In the in-tank installation, this would have simply flowed back into the sump in the tank where the pump was suspended. I suspect that it’s part of the cooling scheme for the pump motor.

I analyzed the circuit and I have decided that there is probably adequate flow through the pump and regulator and back to the tank to cool the pump internally, or at least I’m willing to try it. With the pump not submerged in fuel as well, it may well run warm. Gotta get it hooked up first to see….

I elected to raid the plumbing shelves again. I found a 1-1/2″ to 3/4″ copper reducer that fit nicely to the end of the pump. I drilled a hole in the side of the 3/4″ end and fitted a couple inches of 3/8″ tubing there and brazed it in place. To keep the overall length down, I avoided using a short length of pipe and a cap to plug the end and instead cut a flat disk of copper from another fitting and brazed it to the 3/4″ end. I also cut the larger diameter end shorter. The adapter fits pretty close to the pump intake. The assembly is attached to the pump with a neoprene sleeve and hose clamps, originally intended to joining cast iron sewer pipe :)

Tonight, I hope to connect the whole thing and let it circulate for a while, checking the temperature of the pump and perhaps of the fuel as well. I want to pick up a fuel pressure gauge, but they tend to be either too large, too low pressure range or both. Guess I’ll have to order one…

Throttle bodies mounted, albeit temporarily…

I didn’t have much time to work on Buzz over the weekend, but the time I had was at least visually exciting.

I hand fitted the intake flanges I made, which basically means that I made the mounting holes more like mounting ovals. It didn’t take much metal removal for them to fit. I don’t know if it will matter long term, but I stamped each one to match the cylinder I fitted it to. Likewise with the gaskets I cut for each, although the gaskets are much more forgiving. After cutting the gaskets, I applied a bit of high temp black silicone gasket compound (some Permatex product, forget the exact one. In reading the label, it looked like the right thing to use) and bolted them on. The stock bolts were too long since my intake flanges are markedly thinner than the stock part. I got new M6x16 socket head bolts with washers. I did not have the torque specs at hand, nor do I currently have the appropriate range torque wrench (assuming the torque spec is not in the tens of foot pounds) so I made them snug, but not tight, pending the application of the proper tool. Actually, now that I think about it, the factory torque spec is for a plastic and rubber part and is not really likely to apply to my metal part. Best guess, then. Tight enough to seal and tolerate vibration, but not enough to distort all the parts and strip the heads :)

With the intake flanges in place, I HAD to put the throttle bodies on, if only to photograph them. Sorry for the shaky cellphone picture. I took it at lunchtime today after wrestling with the good (perhaps only formerly good) camera for long enough to be late back to work.

I took pictures from both sides and from above.

You can see here that my fears about the throttle body assembly being too wide for the bike may not be unfounded. On the left, there is more room, but the stuff sticking out is moving stuff, namely the throttle pulley. Maybe worse is that the throttle cable will need to take a sharp 90 to tuck back under the tank.

I did not have time to put the seat on and sit to see exactly where these parts land, but I’m betting they are right next to the knees because that would be the least desirable place for them to happen to land. :D

On the right, it’s at least a stationary part. The larger piece more visible here is the stepper motor and position sensor for the subthrottles. I really wanted to leave them in place in the hopes that someone more brilliant than I is working on MegaSquirt code to support them. Afterall, Keihin and Kawasaki thought they would be handy. In any case, shoehorning the throttle body into my bike is arguably more important than keeping a feature I can’t support, so they may go.

While I’m removing the subthrottles, I’m going to see if I can move the pulley to the center of the assembly. This could possibly let me keep the existing throttle cable as well as clearing the moving parts off the lefthand side. The tricky bit of that process is that the left and right halves of the throttle body have an adjustable synchronizing link in the center. Not only is this link located where I would need to put the pulley, but the stock synchronizing procedure involves adjusting this link. Theoretically, I should be able to solidly connect the two and synchronize all four TBs with only pilot air screws. It may actually be simpler that way. The synch adjuster between the two halves may actually add a step to the synch process. Shrug. I’ll just have to look at it and see what I can do.

Pesky Plumbing; Awesome Opportunity


Finding the broken pipe under the house was not fun, but went pretty well, considering. Due to the age and extreme rustiness of the pipes back there, I elected to bypass the whole affair and repipe from the bathroom to the kitchen. Long story short, I (mostly) finished pretty late Sunday night. While it was cheapER to do the work myself, materials were not free. It was about a $400 weekend and all I have to show for it is hot showers. :)

Perhaps needless to say, there was no progress on Buzz.

Well, that’s really not true. A gentleman emailed me asking if I wanted sell my MS-II, which would help finance a MicroSquirt (which is perhaps obviously much better for a motorcycle) and the correspondence has revealed that he has a well equipped machine shop and it looks like he is going to make a nice 36-1 trigger wheel to my specs. How cool is that?!?

Other progress is more cerebral. Lots of discussion on the XJ-Owners list about alcohol as a fuel and it’s deleterious effects on many standard materials used in modern vehicles. I am still interested in at least *trying* Buzz on alcohol once he’s up and running on MS, but now it will be extremely experimental and I will not be leaving my tank full of alcohol for more than a day or two, tops. Seems that it promotes rust in steel, corrosion in aluminum and eats neoprene, all of which are along the fuel path on a modern bike. There is also reasonable evidence that it is not very successful in air cooled engines, and it seems to get much decent power out of it, I would need to raise the compression ratio of the engine. All in all, probably not worth it. Makes me appreciate what is required in a FlexFuel vehicle like my Dodge Ram.

I needed a door lock motor for the trunk on Toni’s trike and in acquiring same, I have now perused one of two wrecking yards that are literally on the road between work and home. I found a couple of 4 cylinder Fords with the coil packs I will need for the ignition system, $25 each. That’s a far cry from $60-80 for new, but then that’s for Accel or MSD coils, arguably better that stock coils. I will go down there at lunch one day soon and browse more slowly for a few specific things I need, such as the coil pack, a PWM idle solenoid and (if I get the Microsquirt) an external MAP sensor.

Beyond that, lots of rerereading the MegaManual, which comes highly recommended…

This Saturday is again spoken for, but I will see what the rest of the weekend brings…

Slow going; life intrudes


I finished and painted the intakes. I took pictures, but have not had a chance to post them yet.

My wife had been ill, then hospitalized with pneumonia. While she has been in there, I’ve spent a little garage time starting the installation of the alarm system for her trike. It was a slow starter, but a good half day and I’ll be done, other than finding a solenoid for the trunk latch.

Anyway, she’s coming home tonight and I’m leaving in a few minutes to go pick her up.

Unfortunately, I have also been Joe Plumber today, with no resolution in sight. A hot water pipe is burst somewhere, presumably under the house, but in a brief crawl under there, I found that the puddling I saw from the access hatch is from a *different* problem, a broken bathtub drain.

Saturday is well spoken for and even without the plumbing issues, the weather between now and Saturday would probably keep me out of the garage. See ya Sunday!

Sick Day Two


Even though I’m still pretty much in recovery from this cold thing, I went to work today. When I got in, I still felt good enough to work on intakes that never end. Except they did, they are finished. I filled in the gap on the flat sides with brazing rod then ground on one till it was too hot to comfortably hold, set it on the anvil to cool and ground on another. Cycling through them all in this manner, I got them flat within my desired specs then polished with emery cloth and a coat of paint on the surface that will be visible when they are installed. I still need gasket material and since my flange is quite a bit thinner than stock, I’ll end up needing shorter bolts than the stock 20mm long ones. Might was well make them stainless steel while I’m at it. :)

The EMachineShop software let me print out the wheel to scale. I cut it out and made sure it would fit. I also verified, very non-scientifically, that the existing sensors are indeed variable reluctance sensors, which greatly increases the chances that I should be able to use them with the EDIS module.

I think I may make at least one attempt to make a 36-1 trigger wheel before I order one. The signal is primarily used for clocking, firing a spark once every 17 or 18 pulses, accounting for the missing tooth, so I think that so long as the teeth are reasonably well spaced, the performance will not suffer. I’m more concerned with making it dynamically balanced for the 9000+ RPM redline.

What I have in mind is cutting a 3.2″ disk, rounded up in the drill press. Then glue the printout to the surface to use as a drilling and cutting guide, drilling the base of the teeth and using a jewelers saw and files to profile the them. Can’t hurt, right?

Otherwise, I don’t have an official checklist of things left to do, so I think I’d better start one…

Test fuel pump and regulator wet, note current draw.
Install fuel return in fuel tank.
Cut and install plate for mounting hardware.
Install the throttle body and fabricate mounting bracket.
Extend/replace throttle cable.
Weatherproof *or* repackage MegaSquirt.
Find suitable mounting locations for CLT and IAT sensor.
Devise suitable crankcase ventilation with airbox gone.
Find and acquire Ford coilpack and plug wires
Find and acquire a IAC solenoid. It could possibly operate the idle cam on the TB
O2 sensor (I’ve pretty much decided to forego it until I can get a wideband)

I’m sure there are plenty other bullet items and none of these include all the little stuff required for each item :)

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