Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Saga of the Horn

This is the saga of the horn.

But first, a little background.
In Indiana, that bastion of republicanism, no damn goverment can tell you what sort of motor vehicle you can and can't operate on the (*cough) communally funded roadway infastructure. If it has wheels - well, it ain't GOT to have wheels, cause nobody is checking - you can ride or drive it to your heart's content.

These liberals in Texas have inspections. Some private business-person acting as a stooge for the state has to give all your vehicles the once-over to make sure they are safe. And they do it every year. And for a motorcycle, "safe" means it has a horn. Turn signals: Nope. Head light cut-out switch: ok on an old bike. Dry rotted tires: ok in the tread, but not on the side-wall.

I ride a 45-year old triumph. It is safe. Old enough for the cut-out switch, fresh rubber and everything, but the horn don't work. Never did.

So I have 30 days from the day we moved here to get inspected and plated, and the first step is to install a horn. I found one on ebay. Vintage triumph horn; but the reserve was too high. I'm not paying through the nose just to be what the ninnies in state government call "Legal." So I found another one on ebay and bid on it, but the auction doesn't end for-EVER. I'm not patient enough for ebay, so I buy a POS horn off amazon. It works for one-wire or two-wire systems! I have a two-wire system! OK!

Enter the second big player in the story: the repop Tricon switch. This switch controls the headlight. It has a slider; one end is low-beam and the other end is high-beams. Remember about the head light cut-out switch? On such a high quality item as this, head light off is anywhere in between low-beam and high-beam. It's convenient, but not the mark of a well manufactured product.

So I wire the horn up to the switch. Cake. I go for a ride. I should mention that the Triumph is not a huge fan of the 110 degree stop and go traffic. It doesnt idle real smoothly. I have to keep manipulating the throttle to keep it from dying at particularly long lights, or at lights where it takes me three phases to get through them. So I go out riding and the horn – which works – begins to work a little too well. Like it beeps a little bit at stops. At first. Then it beeps a little bit when riding. Then it starts beeping all to hell, and rattling around in the tunnel under the tank. Then the bike dies at a stop.

I'm the guy sweating his ass off in 110 degree heat trying to kick over a stalled Triumph with a horn blaring at like 4 in the afternoon in north Austin the other day – just in case you noticed me.

So I limp home horn still beeping intermittently. I take the thing back apart and begin to investigate. Here is how that Tricon switch's horn button works. You feed it a live wire, and it will ground it out for you everytime you press the button. And all the time that the convenient attach-it-to-the-handlebar screw is used. So to get the horn in the circuit, I feed it switched power, and then return the other switched-power-plus-horn line to the Tricon to ground when I press the button, thus completing the horn circuit and delivering a beep. Great. Except that the body of the horn (also for use with a one-wire system!) is ground. So the bracket for the horn is ground. So the beep is on.

I break out my exacto knife and some cork and set about isolating the horn from ground. I also have to re-attach the horn a little better to its bracket becaue some of the intermittent beeping was caused by it grounding out against the inside of the gas tank tunnel while it was bouncing around all loose. All fixed, and I go for a ride. I get about 6 miles in and the intermittent bad-ingnition system returns fouling out the right side plug. I turn around at mile 7, and go home at top speed ~45 mph on the 65 mph interstate. This is a full-on limp home.

Conveniently, I have a full set of replacement ingnition parts. Out with the old, in with the new, and I am finally up and running again. So I go get the inspection at this awesome bike shop (plug: flashmotorbikes.com) and I am finally OFFICIALLY SAFE and ready to get legal.

Coda: It'll cost me about $600 to get all the vehicles plated. So I'll get legal later.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Be safe out there, the highways like 290 and I35 are crazy.