When leaving the Muskokas last week to come home my brother noted that my front brake light wasn’t working. Since the rear brake light was still working fine I left it until I got home to check it out.
My suspicion was that it was the switch that had failed again. This would be the second one I’d replaced and working in and around all the wiring in the handlebar switch housing is a prime example of a pain in the ass, or PITA for short. I pulled it all apart and, sure enough, the switch housing had, for some reason, cracked.
So off to the H-D dealer for a new switch. This is a simple plastic momentary on-off switch, the kind a hobbyist would buy from China for $0.50 or 10 for $3.00. Which is probably where H-D gets them, and probably twice what they pay for them. But put it in a plastic bag with a couple of tie-straps and print the H-D logo on it and it is now an $84.00 part. (Yes, that’s 84 dollars! The tribe of ancient alchemists who failed to turn lead into gold in the middle ages has survived and are now all H-D product managers.)
At any rate I get this rare and extremely valuable artifact home and with much cursing and a few beers get it installed in its tiny little awkward spot in the switch housing. A quick test and it works, so I put it all back together again. I start the bike and … no brake light. In fact no front brake light, no rear brake light, no signal lights, and no horn. Crap, now it’s worse!
They are all on the same circuit so I figure I’ve just blown a fuse. I check the manual and the fuse box labels and pull the appropriate fuse. It looks okay. To be sure I replace it with a spare “just in case”. Still nothing. So now I think I screwed up the installation somehow, possibly broke a wire or something jamming everything back into the switch housing. So I pull it all apart again and double check my work. Nothing – everything looks fine.
Okay. Time to approach this logically before taking anything else apart. The obvious place for a break in the circuit is the fuse panel. That’s what it’s there for. So I started checking every fuse. And I found the 15th fuse I pulled (of 15 in the panel) had blown. This fuse was labeled “Spare” so I assumed someone had simply replaced a blown fuse and stuck the old one in the spare slot rather than toss it on the street. But just to be sure I put a brand new fuse in the “spare” slot and eureka! I now had brake lights, signal lights, and a horn. So once again everything gets bundled back up and tests out fine but I’ve wasted another riding day.
So to the person or persons unknown who either didn’t wire according to the wiring diagram, or who didn’t update the manuals to reflect a wiring change, there’s a special place reserved for you out behind my shed.