The Triumph Project Begins… For real this time…
The other day, after spending many hours at the Motor Palace working on my Triumph project (more on that in a minute), I was driving Miss Bondorella home, and nearly got rear-ended, not once, but twice, so I reckoned something had gone a-foul, and sure enough, when I got home and checked my brake lights, they were in fact dead.
Since I’m still learning to troubleshoot, my feller suggested I crawl under the truck, disconnect the wires to the brake light switch and touch them together, and if the lights worked, I’d have found my problem. Guess what? With the switch bypassed, the lights worked. Dang. How could that be? I put in a new switch last year when I did my brakes so why would it fail so soon? When I asked some of my car pals, they said the switches commonly fail in a year, and to always carry a spare. I don’t know whether they’re poorly made parts, or if that’s simply the nature of the beast, but considering how important brake lights are, I bought not one, but two new switches.
In other news, I finally got back to my TR25W project!
If you’ll recall, I traded my ’77 Bonnville for this project bike, partly because I had issues kicking the 750 to life, and partly because I loved the idea of trying to assemble a bike on my own. Over the last couple of years, I’ve been obsessed with growing my mechanical skills. I’ve made progress, yes, but still need a ton of guidance from my feller. Considering I’m as stubborn as a two-year-old and want to do it myself, I’m lucky to have the world’s most patient man, who will talk me through something but let me do the work even when he could do it ten-times faster. He is THE BEST! Hopefully I won’t drive him too crazy with all of my questions during this project.
The bike is a ’69 Triumph TR25W, and when we got it, the single cylinder engine was already rebuilt and in the frame–as were the wheels and suspension–but everything else was in bins. It’s kind of overwhelming (okay… very overwhelming at times) BUT… I hope by getting the rest of the components on and getting it tuned and road worthy, I’ll gain a better overall understanding of how everything works on a bike, like…
Going into this, I knew zip about wiring. At first, I couldn’t wrap my head around it and wanted to walk away. Why so many wires? What went where? Why weren’t the ends just labeled? You know, plug brown/blue wire into taillights… and then… I made a grand discovery. The wiring diagram! Don’t laugh. What seemed like a jumble of lines started to make sense once I really studied it. Things began to click, and I’m baffled what had me so stumped in the first place–not saying I’ve mastered it by any means. I haven’t even connected anything yet, simply tested continuity and identified things. Since much of the existing wiring had been cut, like the wiring from the in-case-alternator and the taillight and headlights, I’ll need to make jumpers, adding the right connectors, using the correct colors… a great lesson in wiring, right? Hopefully it won’t burst into flames the second I connect the battery.
But before doing all that, Brian suggested I do a rough assembly with the stuff from the bins, one, to get more familiar with it, and two, to make it easier to identify what was missing. I kept staring at all those parts thinking, what the heck is all of this stuff? Solution? A parts catalogue! (And while I was at it, I got a workshop manual too, since the one I have is for the BSA version of this bike.)
The books helped tremendously. Already, I’ve figured out I don’t have some of the tank mounting rubber, and the throttle cable screw, and I’m sure I will discover much more as I go along. At least I now have a way to identify the missing elements.
I also figured out, while mounting the taillight, that I have the wrong rear fender brace. It seems the fenders Brian picked up after we had the bike, are the wider British fenders, not the American ones, which I’m totally cool with. I like fenders. And I think I found the right one on eBay! I’ll know in a couple days. If not, maybe I could make a nice coat rack for my Schott.
Since I had to wait on parts, I used the time to do a little work on the tank. I have two: one will be given the Bondorella treatment, the other (the one pictured here) will remain in its fabulous patina’d state. One side still has the old tank pad (which I love and will keep!)…
The other side, however, had layers of nasty old adhesive, which had to come off before putting on a replacement tank pad.
Goof-Off didn’t even begin to cut it, and since I didn’t want to risk damaging the surrounding paint by using copious amounts of aircraft stripper, I went for the grinder. That did it! Now it’s all smooth and ready for the new tank pad!
Slowly but surely, it’s coming together. I have most of the major bin pieces put on the bike, and am figuring out what I still need. Then I’ll go through the carburetor, route oil lines, finish connecting the throttle, clutch, and brake cables I put on last weekend, and so on, and so on… And even though I sometimes feel I’m spinning my wheels, each day working on the bike has value–something becomes a bit more clear, Brian teaches me something completely new, I figure a problem out on my own and do a little happy dance–and that’s the whole point of the project, right? (Learning… not dancing. Although dancing is kind of fun…)
Until next time…