Lucas H52 Headlamp Wiring System

I’ve written elsewhere on this site about re-making a spider for the Lucas H52 headlamp. Their pressed carboard construction, maintained under continuous spring pressure, gradually collapses, particularly if it has lived in damp conditions. I was amazed, then, to come across a seemingly original and undamaged headlamp on a 1930 Ariel and find that, not only did it have a spider in remarkable condition – but that the spider carried what I assume is an original paper label showing the wiring connections to the switch terminals. The vivid colours have survived remarkably well in the darkness of the headlamp shell, and look as fresh today as they must have done 90 years ago.

Lucas H52 Headlamp Spider Wiring Key
Lucas H52 Headlamp Wiring System

‘Lighting Sets’ would often have been fitted as an after-market accessory, perhaps by owners with limited electrical knowledge. Instructions like this label give a fascinating insight into motorcycle ownership, 90 years ago.

BSA Sloper Kickstart Pinion Repair

Sloper kickstart pinions have a hard life. If the kickstart is ‘jabbed’ rather than engaged and then swung, the first couple of teeth take the full load of a heavy crankshaft, the engine’s compression and, back in the day, winter engine oil with the viscosity of treacle. Not surprisingly, ninety years later, they are usually in a sorry state. Mine was no exception. An old dodge was to grind the damaged teeth away – but this reduces the effective swing of the kickstart lever, making starting harder still.

Specialist welding looked like a way forward and after a discussion with Richard Kimberley, I sent the pinion off to him to repair. The damaged teeth were built up with weld and a template for their form created from an undamaged area of the pinion. The restored area was then quench hardened to resist wear, and the result looks like this –

BSA Sloper kickstart pinion after repair
BSA Sloper kickstart pinion after repair

As I mentioned above, kickstart pinions are often damaged. I bought a complete Sloper gearbox in the hope that it would provide a decent spare – but while the rest of the gearbox was in excellent condition, the kickstart pinion had already been the subject of an interesting repair! Still, at least I’ve got a spare …

BSA Sloper kickstart pinion with unusual historical repair
BSA Sloper kickstart pinion with unusual historical repair!

Making a Stand

BSA Sloper Side Stand at 'Proof of Concept' Stage
BSA Sloper Side Stand at ‘Proof of Concept’ Stage

The rear stand lifts the Sloper very high off the ground and is awkward to use, so I have fabricated a side stand using an ‘off the shelf’ universal type. The original bracket clamps around the frame (in theory, at least), so this was discarded and a replacement was fabricated from 8mm and 12mm steel plate, welded to a 52° internal angle. Mounting is via the brake lever bracket ahead of the footrest, with a dowel to prevent rotation. A bit of tidying up and painting is required, but the machine is now easy to manage and sits at a secure angle.

BSA Sloper Side Stand
BSA Sloper Side Stand

Making Connections

New Lucas H52 headlamp spider - 1
New Lucas H52 headlamp spider

The early ’30s Lucas headlamp has no internal wires, but instead uses a ‘spider’ with brass fingers to connect the switch, ammeter and bulb terminals. The original is made from thick pressed card, and the brass fingers, with spring steel supports, are riveted to it. After 90 years, these items are usually in poor condition. I had two, both broken, so have fabricated a replacement using the brass fingers, cleaned and annealed, and a new base made from circuit board material. The reinforcing fingers are shaped from 12 thou shim steel, and the assembly is riveted together with hollow brass rivets.

Oiling the wheels …

Persuading semi-fluid grease, a teaspoon-full at a time, into the gearbox is slow work – but Sloper gearboxes are prone to shedding teeth if the correct lubricant and level is not maintained. This ‘box was missing a tooth when I started the restoration, but I have seen far worse!