I spent yesterday pondering the insanity of a butchered XV1000 ignition system. The previous ponderer had explained that he had fixed the ignition module but just in case he had produced a spare. Actually he broke the spare, for reasons that I cannot establish, but had repaired that also. My mate advised that the broken one was identifiable by the smell, he was right. What the previous ponderer had done was to re solder the legs of a burned out transistor. He hasn’t changed the defective part, just added some solder to the legs to compensate for the burnt pcb. It would seem that his verification of the replacement was limited to size and shape. The box was black, plastic and had the same connectors. Further investigation revealed it had entirely different innards and, here’s the give away, a different part number.
My mission for this week is to understand how we trick the electronics into thinking that the safety loop and all of the other prerequisite conditions are correct and that it can run the engine. Of course we could just connect all the bits but that would probably take longer given the skeleton electrics are installed on a custom machine. Said custom machine looks awesome and has some of the delightful design twists that my mate is known for. When the purchaser wanted the air intakes to come through the fuel tank like snorkels the answer was ‘no problem’. Having cut various parts of the fuel tank away the remainder would have provided a range of twenty miles but looked good getting there. Again no problem we just pipe the original tank to an old fire extinguisher tank under the rear seat. This of course turns gravity from friend to foe in terms of getting the fuel to the engine but beard scratching* recalls that for one year the XV had a fuel pump, hence the current struggle. For me this is a brilliant opportunity to have some fun, not just any fun but biker engineering fun.
You know the way your day is going when the call comes in from some people. When I waved off the proffered can of kronenbourg, from a case that had reached half way by 11:30, the response was “no coffee she has got the hump and I’m not setting foot in the house”. It’s amazing the great ideas a man gets when he is banished to his workshop with nothing but lager for company, in fairness the accidents are not so astounding. Throwing the still hot Mig torch on to the bench and missing, instead hitting the dustbin full of diesel soaking marine parts, always generates a chuckle. There is something about crawling around on the floor with grubby bits of wire and odd bolts that makes you feel part of something. When you see something that you have built or worked on out on the road it instills pride. I have concluded over the years that the pride is inversely proportional to the conditions. Sure I get a smile when I see trains that I have been involved in belting down the track but these were produced in factories. Cars and bikes that I have toiled over in a cold garage with minimal equipment, they generate a real sense of involvement.
I love the world of grubby jeans and gnarled hands, where anything can be rescued or made from seemingly nothing. This is a world where beds, food and money are actually the simplest gifts and given freely when needed. No scorecard is kept in this world for we all know that good luck is transient and bad luck is fixed by friends. Like some nefarious Peter Pan characters gnarled hands, scars and arthritis are not enough to overcome the youthful mind. We all grow old, but to do so gracefully is a waste of a life.
Bikes are no different to works of art, when you see spectacular customs you know there is one brilliant mind and some mates behind them. My mate has the eye of an artist and a vision that Dali would be proud of, his time management however needs some attention. When I asked how long this project had been there, I have seen it several times over the years, a beard scratch revealed 4-5 years. But then a root around found the design ‘brief’ which was a drunken sketch on a business card, how many people could work from that? To harness brilliance requires the patience to accommodate the character that it resides in, anyone ruled by kronenbourg is going to be fun after all. As I was leaving I was told of another sale a keen buyer but they wanted the headstock changing to lift the front end. Not a major job really, unless you have used one side of the frame as a fuel pipe and the other as a water pipe. I walked away as a beard scratch tried to recall which side the fuel was in, its not hard to work out but the image of man with a grinder scratching his beard and muttering “fuel or water” will stick as a reminder of real men.
*For those unfamiliar with biker beard/chin scratching please do not confuse it with builders actions which are accompanied by a sharp intake of breath. The bikers chin rub was an early predecessor to google and triggers a complex search algorithm within the mind. Never disturb a biker during this process as we have been known to weld unrequested adornments to machines when disturbed