High level rear lights- Part 2- 9 Apr 2016.

Having finished the wiring on the bike for the lights on my top box, it was now time to work on the box itself. I offered up the light to the box to work out where to drill the hole for the wiring. I stuck on some masking tape, marked the spot and drilled the hole (4.5mm). I haven’t used a grommet and made sure the cable would be a snug but not tight fit.

The light unit has a self adhesive backing so I cleaned the area it was to go with methylated spirits and stuck it on. It is well and truly stuck even though the surface is not absolutely flat. I decided to put it on the lower section of the box so I didn’t have to mess about taking the wiring around the hinge.


A hole then had to be drilled to let the wire out again. I threaded the wiring through then marked where I was going to cut the cable to length.


Back on the bench I chopped off the excess cable and took a look at the individual wires. They are very thin with an overall diameter of 1mm. The yellow waterproofing plugs I have for the AMP connectors are for wires with an OD between 1.7 and 2.4mm. You can buy green ones covering 1.2 to 1.6mm but these still wouldn’t be right.

I used the off-cut of wire to experiment. My solution was to add a piece of heat-shrink sleeve to the wire to make it big enough to fit the plugs I’ve got. Then there’s the copper wire itself. I stripped the insulation so that I could fold back the cores to give me four times the thickness and crimped them using needle nose pliers rather than my ratchet crimpers. I wouldn’t usually recommend crimping folded conductors because you are more likely to be able to pull them out. Here I had no real choice as soldering them would most likely do more damage. My test item seemed to be tight but I decided to put a blob of “Wire Glue” into the crimp. The stuff was hanging about after I used some to repair the buttons on a TV remote control.



I gave it the morning to dry then tried pulling it apart. The wire broke but the connector didn’t pull off. Pleased with the result I used this method to fit the connectors to the five wires from the light. They were glued and left standing upright so that the glue stayed in the crimped section.


Once dry the rest of the AMP Superseal plug was assembled. It goes together in the same way as the socket. This time the red locking piece goes on the nose of the plug.


The box was fitted to the rack and the cables connected.



As you can see, I relocated the socket from underneath the rack to the indicator bracket.

Now it was time to test everything and something was wrong to start with. The left hand indicator flashed the tail light and the tail light put on the winker so these appeared to be transposed and there was no brake light at all. I checked the socket terminals on the bike with a test light and all worked as it should. I then used the bike’s battery to test the terminals in the plug and found all the lights on the box worked properly as well. I fitted everything back together and the fault repeated itself! I gave up in disgust and went and had my dinner.

I went out again later and dismantled the plug attached to the box and could see nothing wrong with it. I inserted the individual pins in the socket methodically testing each of the circuits.

-Earth pin and tail lamp – good.
-Earth pin and brake light – good.
-Earth pin and both these together – still all good.
-Earth pin and LH indicator – good.
-Earth pin and RH indicator – good.
-Earth pin and both indicators – both work.
-Earth pin, both indicators and tail lamp – all working.
-Earth pin, both indicators and brake lamp – yep, all good still.
-The whole lot – and it all flippin’ worked. What is going on?

So, I reassembled the plug and the fault had gone away! I wiggled wires, disconnected and rejoined the plug and socket a few times and it didn’t come back.

If you remember, I made a “dummy plug” to use when there’s no top box fitted. This had hardened off and fits like this.



I stuck the cable to the inside of the box using black “Duck” tape. Not my best work.



High level rear lights – Part 1 – 8 Apr 2016

As I said in my last post, The top box is now securely mounted on The Fire Bike using my belt-and-braces method. Now I want to make sure there are repeater lights mounted on the box as it overhangs the originals. I think that, in most circumstances, the lights are still visible to following traffic. However, a driver sat high up and close behind might not see them so easily.

I had hoped that there would be room behind the big red panels on the box to fit some LEDs and turn them into additional lights but, when I removed them, I found there was no clearance at all. Instead, I bought a stick-on LED light unit off eBay. It’s compact (would fit at the bottom of a number plate) and combines tail, brake and indicator light functions.


The 8 LEDs on each side are orange for the indicators and the central ones are dual intensity red ones.

The first thing to do was to add some wiring to the bike. I needed to fit a five-way socket to provide connections for tail and brake light, left and right indicator plus an earth return. I removed the number plate and mounting hardware to get at the connections behind it.


I have a mixture of connections here. Bullet type for the stop/tail lamp and blades for the indicators. Currently (convenient pun) everything is grounded through the frame.

I decided I could use some piggy back adapters for the blade connections and I would make up a 2-way adapter for each of the bullets. A cable with a ring connector is included to pick up an earth from a tail lamp mounting screw. So this is the bike end of my extension wiring.


The wires were fed through some sleeving and I fitted a 5-way AMP Superseal socket on the other end. They’re a bit fiddly but reliable. Each wire has a seal and pin crimped to it. These are fed into the housing then locked in place with the red piece.




These plugs and sockets are waterproof and a rubber boot isn’t really necessary but they make things nice and tidy.


Ready to be fitted to the bike.


The wiring for the socket was connected below the tail light and the ground (earth) to a tail lamp mounting stud.



Tape was wrapped around those exposed piggy-back connectors and everything tidied up. The socket was cable-tied to the underneath of the rack before the number plate mounting was put back.


I wish UK registration plates were smaller so I could use the original Italian mounting system. Sadly the number plate has to screw on over this.

At this stage I checked that all the bike’s original lights still worked. Thankfully they did.

Next I made up a blanked out plug to use when the box isn’t fitted. You can get these ready made but I just pushed some seals in the five holes then filled them to the top with “Stixall” silicone.


Now I need to move on to the top box itself.

Secure fitting for top box – 7 Apr 2016.

You may remember I bought a large, but cheap, top box for The Fire Bike. It’s not the most substantial piece of equipment and I’ve no idea what it’s maximum weight capacity is. Generally, it’s not very heavily laden but on odd occasions…

It rattles on its mounting plate a bit, especially when it’s empty. The plate is made of a tough plastic including the part the box locks to. The moulded locating hooks on the box are also plastic. There being no metal-to-metal contact concerned me.

My answer was to run a bolt through the base of the box and the mounting plate. I got hold of some plastic wing-nut type handles that fitted the 10mm heads of M6 nuts and bolts. I also found a piece of plastic that I could cut to fit one of the squares in the mounting plate. This is higher than the plate itself so that the box rests directly on it and is not pulled out of shape when the bolt is done up.


I drilled through the block, fitted the box to the rack and marked where to drill it from underneath. Having made my hole I used this arrangement to hold it down.


My wing-bolt and washer goes down through the box and mounting plate into the wing-nut and washer underneath (I’ll look for some even bigger washers or make some). The block in the photo is what goes in the mounting plate and will be glued in place. Inside looks like this.


Underneath it’s like this.


By pure fluke it turns out that the wing nut underneath can’t be removed because it’s obstructed by the hardware mounting the plate to the tubular rack. You have to go inside the box to undo it. This might make things awkward when the box is full and I need to take it off to open the panniers properly. It could also be awkward when I want to take the full box into my tent on camping trips although I’m sure I can live with it. The box feels much more secure now.

The next job was to fit a light unit to the box. It overhangs the tail light too much for my liking. I’ve bought a cheap stick-on LED strip light which combines tail, brake and indicator functions. I’ve got some AMP plugs and sockets so it can be disconnected and the box removed. I’ve already made a start.