I’ve had the R12 out a couple of times now and so it’s time to think of the sidecar. As I’ve said before this is a composite of a Steib S350 body on a Steib LS200 chassis
Steib S350 Sidecar
First thing is lights!.
I can’t just swap the mudguard from the Panther’s chassis over, although this would be the simplest way, because the guard mounting systems are totally different, and anyway the LS 200 chassis is a Steib and so has the “art deco” flared guard rather than the old style half-circle guard.
The guard I have for it is a fibre-glass reproduction so the lamps on it need to be independently eatrthed, and then I’ve to fit indicators as well.
On a Steib the sidecar lights are built into the grab handle on the mudguard.
Steib Grab Handle
There is a tunnel cast into this handle that normally only carries a single wire forward to connect between the front and rear lights, power being fed into the handle by a hole through the guard at the rear mount.
This tunnel now carries the power leads for both the front light and the indicator as well as an earth lead, the leads to the indicator carrying on through the guard at the front mount of the grab handle.
For the indicators I’ve used a smaller version of the mounts I made for the Panther chassis, 2 inch diameter tube rather than 2½ inch and fitted with amber LED units sourced from the Internet.
New Indicator Units
I’ve changed to using LED bulbs in the grab handle as well and I’m using a stop/tail in the rear light.
Also, since the standard Steib rear light is rather small I’ve fitted an LED light into the rear reflector unit, so converting it into another rear light.
Steib Rear Reflector
This all means that now there is now a 4 wire loom leaving the mudguard to connect to the bike rather than the original single wire.
I’m also fitting a spotlight onto the chassis in front of the mudguard. This is also fitted with an LED bulb and is meant to act as both a DRL and as a running light.
Spotlight cum DRL
I’ve had to be a bit crafty here.
My R12 was built back in 1940 and her generator is of rather limited output, nominally of 6 Volts and all of 36 Watts!.
As standard on 6 volt electrics it would balance the lighting load of a solo machine and still have a little in hand to keep up the battery, but with a sidecar fitted there’s no leeway at all.
While I have converted the dynamo to give 12 volts output using a modern electronic regulator, which does help a lot, full lights on all the time are not really feasible, although the use of LED lights does help a bit.
So what I’ve done is to wire the spotlamp and the pilot bulb to work separately from the main lights, worked with a separate switch on the ‘bars, and I’ve fitted a 10 watt Halogen bulb in the pilot position as well.
The crafty is that there is also a feed from the sidecar running lights to the spotlight so that it will come on with the normal lights as well, I’m running with a right-hand sidecar in UK where the Rule of the Road is to drive on the left so I want a large front light on the sidecar side.
Problem is that doing this has power back-feeding both ways so with the lights switched off but the DRLs on the other lights come on as well so to counter this both feeds to the spotlight now go through diodes, as does the feed to the pilot light.
This means that I can now have two bright white lights showing to the front in daylight hours with only a small load on the generator but this extra load is not there when the main lights are on – so now, with the spotlight, there are 5 wires to connect between the bike and sidecar.
Traditionally this would be done using a nest of bullet connectors but I’ve opted for the neater way of using a 6-way “mini-connector”, as is used in a modern bike’s cable loom, with a feed for the other indicator in the 6th position.
This is because the R12 will comfortably be able to tow my lightweight box trailer and of course that means I need to feed all the trailers lights and indicators.
The trailer will make life easier when going on a camping event, my two dogs travelling in the sidecar and the gear in the trailer.
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For any of you who want to tell me that LED lights are not legal to use on the roads I’ll point out that this bike was built in 1940 and so comes under the old regs.
These only ask for “A white light to the front and a red light to the rear” and do not ask for a kitemark or “E” numbers on the lights. After all people were still using acetylene gas lights on vehicles back then :^)}.