I had a very pleasurable ride to Bellingham for a cup of tea and a piece of lemon cake on Monday…the first of August in 2022 in case you’re reading this at some future time.
My ‘Bellingham‘ is in England’s most beautiful county – Northumberland. There’s a most pleasant road running from Acomb up through Wark and on to Bellingham; the B6320 if you wish to seek it out. You can head west from there to Kielder reservoir, or continue north to Otterburn, Rothbury, Jedburgh or wherever takes your fancy. Mine took me to the Fountain Cottage Cafe which used to be the town library. It’s a popular meeting place for motorcyclists and there were others there when I arrived. I can recommend the tea and cake. My other pit stops in Bellingham are Rocky Road Cafe and Tea on the Train, originally called Carriages, a collection of old railway coaches converted into a cafe and tea room. There’s a small museum there and the main Heritage Centre…well worth a look.
The bike performed flawlessly. It isn’t fast, but then I don’t want it to be. It’s happy at around 45, maybe 50 mph and so am I…although I did get the opportunity to overtake an old guy and his wife in their little white car on the way back; they were evidently more comfortable holding back the traffic at 35 mph on a national speed limit road.
When I came to start the bike and head home, it was having none of it…not even a mild cough. The usual checks were made…fuel on, oil on, air lever and ignition levers in the right place…nothing…nada…nout. The plug came out, but there was a good spark…I cleaned the points just in case. The plug was bone dry, although there had been a drop of petrol from the bell mouth when I’d tickled the carburretor.
I remembered I’d decided to use the other side of the tank for fuel that day. Upon swapping back, the bike started on the second kick. There was no restriction to petrol flow so I’m guessing there must have been some form of vapour lock in the heat. I headed home but after a few miles, noticed the ammeter swinging about wildly. The bike doesn’t depend on the battery to run as it has a magneto, but I do run with the headlight on to rouse car drivers if they have zoned out.
With the lights off, there was no swing…but then no current was being drawn. I continued home as nothing onerous seemed amiss. When I got home, after another cup of tea but no cake, I decided to investigate. I undid the top screw to release the headlamp bowl. Once it was lowered I switched on the headlight and touched the internal wiring…it may come as a shock (no pun intended) when I tell you that the light flickered, and the ammeter swung around.
It turned out that one of the grubscrews holding the wires in to the back of the switch, had come loose and fallen out. This meant that the wire wasn’t making proper contact, the intermittent nature of which caused the original symptom. I fished the grubscrew out of the pilot light housing and reintalled it…problem solved.
I think the switch I have is an original but replica switches will cost you £25 upwards…unless you get a cheap one and they start at a tenner plus postage. Think for a moment…they are cheaper for a reason!