Lucas Electric- the Prince of Darkness

Growing up (yikes, did I really say that? Makes me sound so OLD!!!) I spent some time on motorcycles. Reliable, boring, Hondas. I had friends with classic British motorcycles; you had to avoid using their parking spaces because the oil leaking from their gaskets softened the asphalt causing your kickstand to sink into the ground, so your motorcycle would fall to the ground. The worst of them had lighting systems that didn’t come close to what a modern tiny bicycle light, like the Bontrager Ion 700, can provide. These motorcycles typically had electrical systems by Lucas, a company so notorious for lack of reliability that the phrase “Lucas Electric- Prince of Darkness” became popular.

I don’t recall what I was searching for but somehow, on the ‘net, came a link to this piece about Lucas Electric. You have to be a bit of a mechanical or electrical geek to fully appreciate it.

Positive ground depends on proper circuit functioning, which is the transmission of negative ions by retention of the visible spectral manifestation known as “smoke”.
Smoke is the thing that makes electrical circuits work. We know this to be true because every time one lets the smoke out of an electrical circuit, it stops working. This can be verified repeatedly through empirical testing.
For example, if one places a copper bar across the terminals of a battery, prodigious quantities of smoke are liberated and the battery shortly ceases to function. In addition, if one observes smoke escaping from an electrical component such as a Lucas voltage regulator, it will also be observed that the component no longer functions. The logic is elementary and inescapable!

The function of the wiring harness is to conduct the smoke from one device to another. When the wiring springs a leak and lets all the smoke out of the system, nothing works afterward.

Starter motors were considered unsuitable for British motorcycles for some time largely because they consumed large quantities of smoke, requiring very unsightly large wires.

It has been reported that Lucas electrical components are possibly more prone to electrical leakage than their Bosch, Japanese or American counterparts. Experts point out that this is because Lucas is British, and all things British leak. British engines leak oil, British shock absorbers, hydraulic forks and disk brake systems leak fluid, British tires leak air and British Intelligence leaks national defense secrets. Therefore, it follows that British electrical systems must leak smoke. Once again, the logic is clear and inescapable. In conclusion, the basic concept of transmission of electrical energy in the form of smoke provides a logical explanation of the mysteries of electrical components especially British units manufactured by Joseph Lucas, Ltd.

And remember: “A gentleman does not motor about after dark!”

Joseph Lucas: The Prince of Darkness”  1842-1903

A few Lucas quips:
The Lucas motto: “Get home before dark”
Lucas is the patent holder for the short circuit.
Lucas – Inventor of the first intermittent wiper.
Lucas – Inventor of the self-dimming headlamp.
The three-position Lucas switch–DIM, FLICKER and OFF. The other three switch settings–SMOKE, SMOLDER and IGNITE.
The Original Anti-Theft Device – Lucas Electrics.
If Lucas made guns, wars would not start
Q: Why do the British drink warm beer?
A: Because Lucas makes their refrigerators.


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Friendly motorists do exist! But no cyclists on the road this morning to appreciate them. I mean ZERO.

Towards the top of Kings, this woman smiled, waved and gave us an “ok” sign as we rode up the hill.
OK people, it wasn’t THAT bad this morning. Where was everybody? I mean cyclists or joggers. Nobody. Kevin and I saw zero other cyclists, zero joggers on a morning that was wet, sure, but the nasty rain that had been forecast never hit with any real force. In theory, we should have been wakened by heavy rain at 4am, which should have continued until about 8am or so. In reality, Kevin and I woke up to a light drizzle, and there was only one point where the question… rain jacket or not… came up.

The answer was no. Sometimes that answer is later found to be wrong, but this morning it was right. We would have cooked to death heading up Kings, even at the ridiculously-slow speed we headed up the hill. What was it, something like 40 minutes? Seriously? But it was nice going up the hill so slowly that we could really pay attention to the damage brought on by past storms. So many trees that have fallen down, been cut down, or just pulled down. Lots of small rock & mud slides.

We eventually made it to the top and, predictably, I felt a whole lot better up there. Basically, I just need to warm up for an hour, in stark contrast to my son, who can ride like a bat out of whatever right from the start. What was sad was not having the time to do the West Old La Honda loop, which must have been gorgeous this morning, with the clouds just beginning to break up.

Good thing we didn’t chance riding the full route as we were delayed longer than normal by the road work on 84. We must have timed it exactly wrong; just one car in front of us. 8 minutes, so not really all that long, but sure felt like it! Even at 8 minutes, it’s still not worth descending Old LaHonda instead, and with our ‘cross/rain bikes, descending at speed on wet roads is pretty easy.

Definitely looking forward to the nicer weather forecast for the weekend!

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