Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Maybe Italian motorcycle electrics ARE shit..










My friend Adam came over last Friday to stay over for a few beers as my family have been in Italy and it's a rare occassion for us to both be able to meet with no commitmenets for a few hours. He turned up moaning about how he'd broken down again on his crappy Guzzi Le Mans, and this time it had been serious, with smoke and small flames consuming some of his wiring. Of course I just laughed (well, you do at your fellow bike-riding mates don't you?), though having been in the same situation myself (flaming wiring loom), knew that it's a bit worrying especially with a big fuel tank waiting to blow.

The beers (Vale Wychert - a fine ale) were consumed in the evening, but next morning we had to sort out his bike so he could get home again. The wiring from the start switch (which also includes a kill switch) had completely welded themselves together. Why? Isn't it odd that after more than 30 years of existence, this wiring just said 'fuck it, I'm going to burn', and it did. Adam had a spare at home, but he had to get home first, so we cleaned, bodged and did a neat little wiring job to plug the switchgear in. Sadly, at he last moment, the two wires going into the switch block decided they too wanted to self-destruct, and they just came out. And could we find how they went back in? No. We tried for an hour, the two of us, with all the tools necessary available to us, but we failed. Gave up. The little, stupid, simple, Italian lego-bright switch defeated us. It sat there laughing at us in all its colour and glory.
So he couldn't start the bike from the switch. Instead we rigged up an insulated wire, cable tied it to his mirror, and off he went. Our plans to go out for a ride together were spoiled as we'd spent all morning trying to fix his bike instead. 

Come to think of it, every time I see him we end up fixing (or not as it seems) HIS bike...

Whenever non-Italian bike owning people, and people who haven't owned older Guzzis in particular, have wheeled out the old cliche' "yeah, Italian electrics are crap", I've always been a little defensive and and counter-replied, "no, the components are good, it's just the wiring between them that doesn't work". But after seeing this type of meltdown like this more than a few times now, maybe I'm more of an opinion that Italian electrics really are shit. Or maybe it's just us that we're shit mechanics?

10 comments:

adam said...

I know , I know, Thanks for your help and patience, you are truly a great friend. Man that was a good pint.

Soeren Klausen said...

Hi Adam
5 yeats ago i sold my 1950 Airone to my friend. 2 years later his garage court fire and it blow up together with a 750 SP, 2 x Stornello 125, 1 Nuovo Falcone, 1 254, 1 Lodola 235, 1 Benelli Sei, 1 Mercedes Pagoda 280 Sl and a Renault Megane, everything in perfekt condition a+
Lucky for him, his wife and 2 girls the flames 06 in the morning didnt took his house only 5 meters away....
Maybe it was a wiring loom.
He was in shock and he now take every battery out.
So after 35 years in love from a MV 350, several Guzzi's and a Sport Classic 1000s i say: Dont fuck with a Italian Donna - the will burn your house down!

George said...

I found on old Tontis that installing relays activated by the handlebar or ignition switches helps. The old switches get dirty and drop an amazing amount of voltage before the load.

Anonymous said...

Yea, older Guzzis had big currents through their switches. I also installed relays and solved my apprehension of staying out after dark... will the headlight work?
Miky

ITALIAN MOTOR magazine said...

There you go Adam my friend, sounds like the way to go is install a relay, like Soeren says, don't mess with the Italian lady..

George said...

Here's a picture of the set-up I used in an 850T to get a brighter headlight. The handlebar switch just controls the relays and with the power rerouted from the handlebar switch to relay power in terminals.

http://web.archive.org/web/20070107063926/http://www.guzzitech.com/photos/Relay_dockray.jpg

George said...

Here's a diagram for an ignition switch relay for a Tonti:

http://tuggboatsport4.site.nfoservers.com/images/swrelay.gif

pushrodmofo said...

I'll jump in on the relay love-fest. I put 2 on my 850-T: one for the horn and one for the lights. Both improved considerably. I was lazy and used those posilock so I didn't have to solder, etc. with the full intention of "cleaning up the wiring" over the winter. That was two winters ago :)

ITALIAN MOTOR magazine said...

Thanks for the very useful links George.

UPDATE: Adam broke down again, guess what, this time he had the time to take the tank off, and lo and behold, live wires from the coils were rubbing on the underside of the tank, intermittently - could have been a KABOOM situation. Anyway, hopefully now he'll sort it with all the handy advice above..

adam said...

Yes, know what i am entirely fed up with my awful lack of decent maintainence but on the flip side a bit of insulation tape, coupled with a small piece of the bicycle inner tube that supplements the tank rubbers and i am going again! So on the plus side, guzzi's are so so easy to work on!
Thankfully due to the price of fuel , there wasnt much in there so the fire would not have lasted long!!!!!!! you have to smile eh. Adam