Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Project report: Installing an Admore Lighting auxiliary brake and turn indicator unit

Riding a motor scooter or motorcycle is always more risky than driving a car.  It's important to take reasonable steps to be seen by the other riders and drivers.

Vespas are not especially visible.  For that matter, neither are most motorcycles, when they roll off the dealer's lot.

Fortunately there are steps you can take to make yourself more visible.

For people approaching your bike from the rear, one solution is to install auxiliary brake and turn signals.

The additional lights can double the odds that motorists will see you and be informed of your braking and turning intentions.

There is an excellent product on the market made by Calgary's aptly named Admore Lighting.  When I found the company and their products I knew instantly that I needed one of their all-in-one LED auxiliary brake and turn indicator units.

I originally installed it on my Vespa LX 150.  Over a weekend not long ago I removed it from the LX 150 and installed it on my GTS 300.

Here's how it's done.

First I have to thank Jim Crowther for the excellent instructions he posted on the Modern Vespa forum.  Jim installed a different Admore solution but the key for me was the way Jim tapped into the GTS wiring loom.  The approach he took was much easier than what I put myself through when I installed it on my LX.

Without further digresssion or avoidance, here are the steps from start to finish.  Some of the steps are identical to those I took for the LX: wiring the lightbar to a set of 5-pin Reese trailer plugs.  The trailer plugs make it possible to remove your top case in a jiffy should the need arise.

This project report shows all the steps I took to install the AdmoreLighting Mini Light Bar LED auxiliary modulating brake light and sequential turn indicator unit on the Vespa OEM topcase on my GTS 300 ie motor scooter.

You'll see that I'm documenting mistakes I made and clearly identifying them, so that others doing this project may not make the same mistakes. Not to worry though, there's always a way to get back on track.

  • A set of metric Allen keys
  • Electrician’s wire stripper, cutter and crimper
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Phillips screw driver
  • Soldering gun
  • Heat gun
  • Electric drill
  • 1/15 Drill bit
  • 9/32 Drill bit
  • Sharp craft knife, box cutter or scalpel
  • Voltage multi-meter
1.  I planned to mount the Admore unit to my topcase in the same way as I did on the LX.
 I wanted to be able to remove the topcase without having to cut wiring connections.  The Reese trailer harness provides a good weather proof connector for that purpose.

2.  All the wire you’ll need for the installation comes with the Admore unit.  What you need to do is separate the wire in two parts, use electrician’s pliers or a wire cutter to cut the wire about 6 or 7 inches from the Admore unit.  On my unit there was a label on the wire.  Assuming that the labels are in the same place on all units, cut the wire just on the far side of the label, as you see in the photo below.
 3.  Cut the insulation sheath back a few inches, then strip each of the six wires about 1/4”.

4.  Cut the wires leading from each of the Reese trailer plugs about 1 1/2” or 2” from each plug and strip each of the five wires about 1/4”.
5.  Take the long section of wire you removed from the Admore Unit and, beginning at the end where you cut the wire, cut the insulation sheath back a few inches, then strip each of the six wires about 1/4”.

6.  As instructed in the Admore installation instructions that come from the unit, twist the blue wire and the red wire together.

7.  Cut five 1 1/2" lengths of 1/8 inch black heat shrink wrap and fit one on each of the wires you stripped in the preceding step.  Since the red and blue wires are twisted together, you only need five pieces for the six wires. 

This is where I made the first mistake. I forgot to slip heat shrink wrap onto the yellow wire before soldering it.  I unsoldered it, but the solder on the two ends of the wire prevented me from making a new solder joint.  So I shifted gears and used a solderless butt joint crimp connecter on the yellow wire.  Problem solved.   Hopefully by putting the heat shrink on all the wires before you start soldering, you’ll avoid my mistake.

8.  Notice that the two trailer plugs are not identical.  They are mirror images of one another.  One has five female connectors and one male connector, and other has the reverse.  On the assumption that one day you’ll want to travel without the topcase, select the plug that has the five female connectors as the one to solder to the long wire.

9.  Solder the wires to the trailer plug, matching the colors shown in the following diagram.
Click on the diagram to get a full size view.  You should probably also print the diagram out now, because you’ll be needing it later at the Vespa end of things.  When I installed the Admore unit on my GTS I found that I somehow reversed the left and right turn indicator leads.  It's not a big deal.  I just ignore the "top" etched into the Admore unit and install it upside down.  There's no difference since it's symmetrical.  I'm also colour-blind, and the Vespa wires are dirty, so I must confess that it took two tries to get the right wires tapped into the Vespa wire loom.

Take care not heat the shrink wrap when you're soldering the wires.  In my case, I did cause a small bit of the shrink wrap to contract.  I used the box cutter (in my case, my scalpel [don’t ask, I’m a lawyer, not a doctor]) to cut away that small bit to allow the tubing to slide over the joint.
10.  Slide the heat shrink tubing over each solder joint so that each joint is insulated.

11.  Use the heat gun to shrink the tubing.

12. Starting from the other end of the long wire, slide an 8” or 9” piece of 3/8” heat shrink onto the wire and run it all the way to where the trailer plug is soldered on.  Bend the wires at the plug to bring them as close as possible to the plug, and slide the tubing as close as possible to the plug.  In my case, my new GTS scooter is black, whereas the LX 150 was Dragon Red, so I used red shrink tubing originally.  For the GTS I put a new piece of black shrink wrap over the red to match the colour of the new bike.  Since this piece of the wire will run from the scooter body to the topcase in plain sight, matching the body colour helps it look less obvious.  Just esthetics.

13.  Use the heat gun to shrink the tubing.

14.  Now carefully remove a few inches of the black sheath off the other end of the wire wire and carefully separate the six colored strands.  Use your knife to cut away the fabric strands.

15.  Time to test your electrical skills.  Connect the two trailer plugs, the one you just soldered to the long wire, and the one you’re about to solder to the Admore unit.  Using a volt meter, check each wire for continuity between the very end of the long admore unit wire, to the stripped wires of the second trailer plug, the male one, making sure that all the connections work.  Congratulations, you passed your amateur electrician’s test.

16.  Now that you’ve soldered five joints successfully, you can tackle soldering the other trailer plug.

17.  Select the remaining trailer plug that has the five male connectors as the one to solder to the short wire coming from the Admore unit.

18.  Slide a piece of 3/8” heat shrink onto the wire from the Admore unit and run it all the way to the unit.  Make sure that the tubing is about 2” shorter than the sheath on the Admore unit wire.

19.  As instructed in the Admore installation instructions that come from the unit, twist the blue wire and the red wire from the unit together.

20.  Cut five 1 1/2" lengths of 1/8 inch black heat shrink wrap and fit one on each of the wires that come from the unit.  Since the red and blue wires are twisted together, you only need five pieces for the six wires.

21.  Solder the wires to the trailer plug, matching the colors shown in the diagram above.  Take care not heat the shrink wrap.  In my case, unbelievably, I made exactly the same mistake with the yellow wire.  There must be something in my brain with yellow.

22.  Slide the heat shrink tubing over each solder joint so that each joint is insulated.

23.  Use the heat gun to shrink the five pieces of tubing.

24.  Bend the wires at the plug to bring them as close as possible to the plug, and slide the black tubing down from the Admore unit as close as possible to the plug.

25.  Use the heat gun to shrink the tubing.

26.  Finally, all the lab tinkering is done.  What you now have is the Admore unit, terminating at the five-pin male trailer plug, and the other half of the wiring harness, terminating at the five-pin female trailer plug.  In the following photo, you'll see that the way I was tapping into the Vespa wiring loom on the LX 150 required that I take the entire sheath off the long wire.  For the GTS you'll see that I used a much simpler way to tap into the loom.  I therefore added black shrink wrap to the entire length of the long wire.
Now it’s time to head out to the scooter.

27.  Park the scooter in the center of your work space.  Set up some good task lighting.  If, like me, you’re working in a cold garage, lay an old blanket down at the back of the scooter.

28.  Open the topcase, and remove the four screws that hold the top case to the rear rack.  Make sure that you have a container to hold the screws you remove.

29.  Open the seat and remove the pet carrier bucket. 

30.  Using an Allen key, remove the screws that secure the plastic cover that surrounds the gasoline (petrol, for my UK readers) filler tube.   You'll also need to remove the rubber gasket that surrounds the tube.  It's a little fiddly, but not that difficult.  You can make easier by just pulling off the plastic cover-shield thing because it will take the gasket with it.
31.  Remove the gas (petrol) cap and gently lift off the plastic cover.  Once removed, replace the cap on the filler tube so that you don’t have to breathe in the high octane as you work, unless you like that smell and grew up sniffing gas for kicks.  No, seriously, put the cap back on.

32.  Next, still using the Phillips screw driver, remove the single screw holding the right-hand turn indicator light, pull the housing out, and let the housing dangle from its wires.

33.  If, like me, you have OEM crash bars installed, by removing the screws retaining the shield around the fuel filler, you will have also released the top crash bar anchors.  Next, remove the screw and bolt securing the right hand crash bar to the bottom of the Vespa body.

34.  Next, remove the plastic body part at the bottom edge of the right-hand cowl.  The way to do this is to remove the single Phillips screw at the front end of the fairing.  Next you'll find a 10mm nut just inside the cowl right next to the right-hand turn signal housing.  Once you remove that nut, the fairing can be pried off the bike, starting at the rear and working to the front.  The fairing is retained by clips in rubber bushings and will snap off with little force.  Be gentle.  With a little wiggling and finagling, gently moving the crash bar aside, you can get the fairing off.
35.  With the right-hand cowl exposed in this way, feel just inside the lip of the metal edge of the cowl.  That's where you'll find the wire loom that goes to the rear tail, brake and turn indicator lights.  Gently pull it free.

36. Take the long set of wires for the Admore unit that terminates in the female plug and thread the wire through the leftmost grill opening of the plastic housing that surround the gas tank filler tube.  The leftmost grill opening allows the wire the easiest route to the inside of the engine compartment.  From there, run the wire to the right side of the engine compartment and down and out by the edge of the right hand cowl.   You will see in the second photo below that I neatly tucked the wire behind the top of the right hand shock absorber mount.  It turned out that there wasn't enough wire to allow for that so the wire ended up following the same route, minus the tuck behind the absorber.
37.  Get the five Posi-Tap wire tapping gizmos out of the Admore unit parts bag, and install them onto the wires leading from the Vespa light housings following the wiring diagram above.
But before buttoning the scooter back up it’s best to run a test.  Take the Admore unit and plug it in.  Make sure the kill switch is in the run position. Turn on the ignition.  The Admore unit should light up as a running light.  Now turn on the left, then right turn indicators.  The Admore sequential turn indicators should work.  Make sure the unit is right-side up so that the left indicator is on the left side.  Now apply one of the brakes.  The brake light should modulate, then stay on.  Release the brake and then re-apply it.  The brake light should come back on, but without modulating.

Assuming it passes the test, wrap up the electrical connections in electrician's tape and tuck the wiring loom back into position.

38.  In the comfort of your kitchen or workshop, turn the topcase upside down.  Take the Admore unit mounting bracket and figure out where you want to place it. The underside of the GTS OEM topcase is a kind of honeycomb.  Place the Admore bracket against the bottom of the topcase and note the location for the screws.

39.  Using your electric drill and a 9/32 bit, and drill out the two holes.  The topcase material drills nicely, I found that a low speed worked best.

40.  Using the screws provided with the Admore unit, mount the bracket to the topcase, and then mount the Admore unit to the bracket. Here's a photo that shows how I mounted the bracket and Admore unit on the bottom of my GTS topcase.
 41.  Now re-attach the topcase to the Vespa, and plug the male plug from the Admore unit into the female plug from the wiring harness you installed earlier.

42.  Push any excess wiring harness wire into the opening at the top of the scooter.

43.  Re-attach the crashbars, drop the pet carrier bucket back into place, close the seat, and, finally, this project is done.
44.  Take a moment to congratulate yourself, admire the wonderful light show at the back end of your Vespa, show off your handiwork to your significant other, and then go for a ride.

Pheww... that was more work than actually doing the project.  I hope you will find the project report useful.


Unknown said...


I had to smile when you said "drop the Pet carrier bucket back into place, close the seat . . . "

are you finished with all your farkles yet ? You should retire and become an Admore Lighting installer. You could fly over to Germany and install one on a certain orange GTS super.

Unfortunately I can't put one on my "R", because of the Canbus system. On late model BMWs there is no wiring harness, it is all "drive by wire" and amp loads of each circuit are monitored by the computer.

Since you have the Admore installed this means that you will be in the sweep position on all night rides. If you ride in this position then it won't matter to the rest of us whether you have the Admore installed or not !

Anyway nice detailed write up. Have you ever considered a position as technical documentation writer ?

Riding the Wet Coast

Dar said...

Anything you can do to be more visible is a good thing in my book! I have been thinking of adding some auxillary lighting to Scarlet, but my hubby is unsure if the old technology will support too much of a load on the system. Looks awesome on your scoot!

David Masse said...

Dar the Admore stuff is all LED and sips electricity. It should work just ducky!

David Masse said...

Bob, not quite done with the farkles, or the project reports.

The Stebel horn is installed but the project report is not done.

I really want to have four way hazard flashers. I think I have a recipe, but so far, no joy. Back to the drawing board on that one.

Sounds like the engineers in Bavaria have focused some of their design on ensuring that the well-heeled owners buy their farkles from Bavaria.

I like the idea of sweeping on night rides. That gives me a bunch of outriding deer-catchers :)

Technical documentation writer... there's a thought for retirement part-time income... indeed.

The Admore unit would look nice on an orange GTS. So would black powder-coated crashbars. Wheeeeee! Spending Sonja's and Roland's hard-earned Euros!

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Thanks for dropping by.

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