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LBS-Sidecars USA | Doing It Right the 2nd Time! (renamed)

Discussion in 'Hack Vendors' started by LBS-USA, Apr 1, 2021.

  1. LBS-USA

    LBS-USA Been here awhile Super Supporter

    Jun 21, 2020
    Seattle, WA
    A local rider and ADV inmate contacted me about problems with his rig. He's the 2nd owner, had recently purchased the rig, and had wisely signed up for a STEP training class. Problem was, good looking rig, but it wouldn't pass the school's safety inspection as the sidecar had deficiencies: turn signals, brake and running lights were non-operational. And though not related to safety per se, the tub's auxiliary driving lights were dead, and the rig's tilt-adjuster was also non-op:


    Though I don't know the reason(s) why, the cause(s) were obvious. The rig showed up here as the builder wasn't enthusiastic about a repair, and if I heard correctly, a BMW dealership was unable to effect a repair. Here's what we found under the seat. Apparently, the dealership simply disconnected the builder's power and ground connectors to "safe" the wiring, as there were no visible fuses in any of the sidecar circuits. However, they either couldn't or didn't want to repair the rig. To be clear, the builder DID NOT deliver the rig like this, but this is how it was delivered to me:


    You've heard me rant about the damage and guaranteed electrical problems caused by builders, dealers and aftermarket accessory manufacturers that use or supply those effing, dreaded Scotchlock insulation displacement connectors (other brands are T-Tap, P-Tap, etc.). These may be acceptable on a car or truck, as they are not subject to the shock, vibration, and weather exposure a sidecar sees, especially one marketed as an "adventure sidecar".

    And here ladies and gentlemen, are the root cause of the dead electricals in the sidecar, Scotchlock "connectors". Installed by the builder, they're quick and cheap. The problem was, the size chosen was for the wire gauge the builder was using, which was way oversize for the gauge of the BMW wiring they were tapping into. Thus, there was no insulation support for the factory harness wiring, and this allowed those thin wire strands to move, which cut strands, caused micro-arcing, which eventually cut through the factory wire itself. Here they are (note, we cut the brown wire as we started repairs, not the builder or dealer's doing). Note the relay was not secured, also true for all of the sidecar wiring:



    To do the repairs correctly, we had to start at the front of the bike. The builder had T-tapped into the factory low beam headlight wire to pick up an ignition-on trigger, and we wanted to fix that, and run the wiring along the same routing as the factory harness. All body panels, the fuel tank, and airbox had to be removed to do the wire routing correctly:


    As is almost always the case, to pick up both power and ground points for the sidecar wiring, there were multiple terminals stacked on the battery binding posts. All were removed and re-routed to dedicated +12VDC and ground busses we installed in the tail section. As there were NO FUSES for the sidecar circuits, we installed a 30A fuse in the +12VDC power feed to the buss to protect the bike in the event of a short in any of the sidecar circuits.

    We mounted the flasher relay, then labelled everything. All were bundled and secured with milspec, UV-resistant, Thomas & Betts cable ties that have a stainless steel tang to secure the cable tie tail. Connectors were installed where needed to insure any circuit or component could be disconnected for service or replacement without cutting any wire. All connectors are double-crimp, marine-grade, with adhesive-lined heatshrink sleeving.:


    Here's the completed repair, front-to-back. Note the Deutsch connectors (grey) installed to allow the sidecar wiring to be disconnected rather than cut, for service. In our builds, field service and repairability are as important and robustness and reliability:


    Bird's eye view of the repair:


    You've seen previous posts of our sidecar wiring, weather-protected fuse and relay blocks, installed in the trunk to protect everything from the elements. Here is this builder's "home run" wiring. Terminals are single-crimp, plated steel, already showing signs of oxidation. Terminals blocks are not stainless steel. No wire insulation support on the wire termination at the connectors. Terminal block isn't even installed "level" (every rig I've worked on is the same, slanted to the right). Wire is not tinned. Relays are not secure. And no fuses . . . :


    In this close-up, you can see oxidation forming on all the terminations:


    When we do a full build, 25% of the time is assembling and aligning the "mechanicals" on the rig, 75% of the time is the design of a robust, reliable, field-repairable, CANbus-friendly electrical system. It's time and money well-spent. The clean inflow of air, fuel, and low-resistance flow of electrons are all an outfit needs for decades of reliable service. It pays to do it right the first time!

    Attached Files:

  2. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad Former World's Foremost Authority Supporter

    Oct 29, 2007
    Omicron Persei 8
    :raabia sweet work.

    "Good enough" vs. "the right way".

    Evidence that the builder either never learned the proper way to do wiring, or just doesn't care and is OK with "good enough". My tub's builder and installer also used those trailer wiring crimp splices. That was a big surprise as I though I was getting top quality.
    All I can say to the builder now is: :finger:fitz and :ken.
    triumphsidehack, Bobmws and LBS-USA like this.