Tech

There are plenty of excellent sites that will tell you how to rebuild your carb… we hope to use this page as a forum for mod-specific technical help.

Photo by PJ Chimel

Photo by PJ Chimel

Lights are an important accessory for any mod bike. Some just bolt them on for aesthetics, but to my mind, it’s even better if they work. I have eight lights running on my Vespa P-series. READ ON: You can do this even if right now you have no idea how electricity works, but you have to be willing to learn a bit. Trust me, there’s enough info on the web to figure it out. I didn’t know anything when I started, but with google and advice from friends (which I’ll share here), you can get this project done.

I used these resources:
Lambretta Club of Great Britian – Wiring up extra lights – lots of pics, good job of explaining two types of wiring (series and parallel), plus check out a really nice scooter.
Relays – and there are loads more sites on relays, so do a search if you need more info.

And I would like to say thanks to my friends Jesse and George for answering a million emails, a soldering lesson, and sending me a diagram or two.

Here’s how I did it. I’ve included links to the products I bought to complete this job – many are from JP Cycles, a motorcycle catalog that came recommended.  They treated me quite well and gave me expert advice. Use whatever tools you have or can find.  Aside from the battery, these parts are available at a variety of shops, from a local hardware store to auto-parts shop to big-box retailer. Be smart and buy from someone who knows what they’re talking about – you probably will want to ask a few questions.

gloveboxPart 1: Battery
requirements: 12 volt battery: sealed gel-cell

My set-up has a battery placed in the glovebox.  I run all my auxilliary devices from this battery.  Get a sealed, gel-cell 12 volt battery.  A sealed battery offers the safest option for your glovebox – even if it you secure it, and you should, it will probably bounce around a bit (tho they are heavy), and you do not want anything you fill, like what you might have on your bike already (if you have a P-series or other later Vespa or any Stella, etc).  I got my battery at a local Batteries Plus store.  Get a battery with as many “amp hours” as you can fit in your glove box.  This point is pretty obvious: more amp hours = a longer running time for your lights (and the more lights you have on your bike = the more amps pulled from the battery.  You’re not going to have a very long life with this system, unfortunately.  I only get about half-an-hour of continuous run time).

Part 2: Wiring
requirements: 20 amp blade fuse and inline blade fuse holder
Toggle switch (you can get as fancy as you want here)
12 volt, 30 amp relay (or relays… I used three)
14 awg (American wire guage) wire – get at least two colors, black and red would be typical.
Wire cutter/stripper/crimper
14-16 awg female disconnects (blue-colored insulation)
14-16 awg male disconnects (if needed; blue-colored insulation)
wire connectors – I purchased yellow-colored wire nuts, which are a bit larger

Now we really get into it. Remember you are doing this work at your own risk. I am not an electrician, I don’t know any electricians… this is simply how I set up lights on my bike and it worked for me. Do not hurt yourself! And you can hurt yourself!!

My battery came with male spade connectors, so I placed a female connector on one end of the fuse holder. It’s quite easy: strip off a bit of wire sheathing by placing the wire in the correct guage guide on the stripper (14) and pulling, place the wire in the connect, put the top, crimper part of the tool over the plastic part nearest the spade, and squeeze hard. There you go!! I had a lot of trial and error, and found that the brand of connects from Home Depot work best at staying on the wire. The connects I bought from Auto Zone don’t crimp as well, and i had to tape them in place after crimping. I also bought some GB brand connects from a local Do-It-Best hardware store, and while they crimp on just as well as those from Home Depot, they are for some reason hard as hell to disconnect from the relay poles. Which isn’t a bad thing, unless you are just practicing and need to move wires around.

Next we power the relay. If you haven’t checked the resources links above, READ THIS PAGE ON RELAYS before you start wiring. If you don’t know anything about relays – don’t worry, I didn’t have a clue when I started – it will help make the following understandable.

OK, so the relay has four sides, labelled 30, 85, 86, 87. There is typically a pole in the middle, labelled 87a. For this application I did NOT use pole 87a. Pole 30 is perpendicular to the others. This is the pole that you power the relay with. Take a length of wire (not long, 6-12″ or so should do it, depending on how long your fuse holder wires are – you can go longer and trim later) and put a female connect on one end. Take this end and plug it into pole 30 on the relay. Next we will prepare to ground the relay, so – if pole 30, where the relay is powered, is the “bottom,” take one of the “side” poles – 85 or 86, it doesn’t seem to matter (I think the important thing is to be consistent as you add relays) – and add a length of wire connected with a female connect, like we did to power the relay. In a typical auto installation, ground will be BLACK. The ground wire on your Vespa battery should be BLACK. So I did mine in black as well.

relaysWhatever color you choose, it’s a good idea to choose separate colors for ground and everything else. This way, it’s easier to remember what wire is responsible for what and you won’t accidentally mix them up and create a huge problem for yourself (Red, btw, would be a popular color for the positive – my battery has a red block indicating the positive terminal. In my own installation I ran out of red wire and switched to blue to run the lights. But the relays are all powered with red-colored  wire). We’ll wire the other two poles in the same manner – the pole opposite the ground will be used to connect to the switch, and the pole opposite the power, or at the “top” of the relay, will be connected to the lights.

Next, by wiring the relay to the battery via a fuse holder you get what sites will call “fused power”. I chose to to protect my switch and relays from this same fuse, so this is how I did it: strip off some sheathing from on of the wires from the switch (if you have a three-way switch, as I do, use the middle wire), the wire from the relay, and one wire from the fuse holder. Twist these together, then put them in a wire nut and twist some more. I purchased wire nuts that are a step up in size from the wire that I was using so that I could put multiple wires in them. I taped the wires and nut to give me a bit more protection. Now connect one of the outside wires from the switch to whatever pole you’ve chosen on the relay. Finally, connect the wire from the relay to your light.

NOTE ON LIGHTS AND GROUND: lights have to be grounded to work! Many lights are sold as “self-grounding,” which means the ground wire from the light’s wiring harness is returned to the light’s body. If you have lights with only one wire coming from them, they are self grounding. Lights with two wires, then, obviously have a positive and ground (for many of the smaller lights of this sort, it does not matter which is which, as long as you wire it by choosing one for positive and one for negative). However, even a self-grounding light still has to come in contact with a grounded source in some way. I found that I had to wrap a bit of wire around the light’s assembly – a screw, a bolt, whatever – and run that wire to the battery negative.

Take the ground from your lights, the ground from your relay, and add a length of wire – you’ll use this to connect to the battery. Take the three wires and strip some sheathing off and twist them into a wire nut, as we did above.

batteryLast step: connecting to the battery. Get connectors that will work for the battery you bought! As I said, mine has male spade connectors, so I connect my wires to it with female connects. Put a connect on the open fuse wire and a connect on the open ground wire (from the wire nut group). Plug in! Flip the switch! If all goes well, you have lights!

NOTES:
1) depending on how long the wire is on your switch, you might be able to go directly from the switch to the relay, just put a female connect on the switch wire and plug in.
2) you may want to learn how to solder, if you don’t already. It’s not really something you can learn online, although there are sites that show you how to do it. They’re helpful to get the gist of it, but if you’re soldering for the first time I think it helps to have someone who knows how to do it show you how, or at least look at your soldered wiring and let you know you did it right [thanks again, Jesse].
3) I haven’t figured out a way to keep the battery charged, so I just disconnect the wires to the battery, pull the battery out of my glovebox, and use a trickle charger to re-charge my battery. A trickle charger is handy to have anyway, if you don’t already. You can use a trickle charger on your bike’s regular battery as well, particularly helpful through the winter when your bike might be sitting longer between rides.

Now experiment. If you have a three-way toggle switch you can use the other wire from the switch to power a separate set of lights, if you want. Mine are set up so that if I toggle in one direction I get four lights and if I toggle the other direction I get eight lights. I had to put a third relay between the two to get this application to work. Be creative. Write me at jasonparka(at)maydaysc(dot)com if you have any questions.

ADDITIONAL ILLUSTRATIONS:
I used a chromed plastic split loom to disguise most of the wires.  One of these days I’d like to run the wire through the racks, but that hasn’t happened yet.  All the wires for the lights collect to one side of the horncast, and then run underneath it and into the glovebox (the other set of wires in the third illustration are for the horns, which are electric on this bike, wired in place of the stock horn).

rack_with_loom wiring-lights wiring-horncast

I drilled a hole to run the wires into the gloveox (make sure this hole is drilled cleanly, plus bundle and protect wires with shrink tubing! A rubber grommet can be used to proect the wires as well).  The lights are powered on and off by a single toggle switch.

glovebox-wires toggle jj-scoot7

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