Electrickery is caused by Amps. These small tiny creatures live in batteries. If they can be sure of getting back home, they can be persuaded to run along burrows called wires, and the sometimes they have to squeeze through very tight holes such as the lights. Squeezing through tight holes is hard work, which makes the Amps very hot. That in turn makes the lights work because the burrow gets white hot.
They will do this trick on their own but get very tired of doing it and soon stop running through the wires. Which is a bad thing if you are out at night. This causes the old saying “Many Amps make light work”.
If they can be persuaded to run through a dynamo it acts as a sort of works canteen where the Amps can feed, but like any canteen there has to be some sort of control of the queues at the servery.
When the canteen is closed the Amps will try to crowd in and this will cause chaos when they discover that there is no food for them and they will set fire to the place.
The canteen door that stops this happening is called the cut-out. When the engine is stopped the canteen door is closed keeping the Amps out. Starting the engine opens the door allowing the Amps in for their dinners. You still have to control the hungry crowds of Amps and this is done by means of a sort of turn-stile called a “regulator.” The turnstile works at varying rates according to the capacity of the canteen and the number of Amps in the queues.
Now the Amps need water to live in when they are not working so you must always make sure that the battery is topped up otherwise they will die and you will have to buy a new battery full of healthy Amps.
“But I don’t have a battery on my bike,” I hear you cry, “so where do my Amps come form?” Well, it’s a little known fact that not all the Amps can get back to a battery when the engine stops and some of them get stranded in their burrows and there is always a number of wild Amps lurking in any piece of wire. As soon as these Amps can get to a canteen to feed they are just as lively as those that got back to the battery. So they can still work for you. A battery is just a sort of barrack block for off-duty Amps.
So what do Amps eat? They eat volts, which they get in the canteen. A canteen can be any size but on bikes it will be either six of twelve volts. Amps that eat in a 12 volt canteen are twice as strong as those that eat in a six volt canteen and therefore, do twice as much work. This means brighter lights for you, or more of them.
If there is only six volts, they can get a dietary supplement by having a 6 to 12 volt converter handy which acts like a sort of NAAFI wagon. The difference is that the converter makes the canteen staff work harder and if it’s not big enough the hungry Amps will smash the place up. They can be nasty little brutes if not kept under strict control. And that is what happens if you fit a 45 Watt dynamo run at 12 Volts and the try to run a 65 Watt headlamp, plus tail lamp, brake lamp and flashers and a big battery off it. Always believe the man who has tried.
Amps can bite. They have sharp little teeth but are usually not strong enough to hurt you. However, if you feed them enough volts they can get vicious. The Amps that come into your house are in large numbers and very well fed. They are dangerous – never attempt to make pets of them – they can kill you with but a single bite. Sparking plugs do not need many Amps to work but those must be fed lots and lots of volts; quite enough to bite you painfully in you try to touch them, but not enough to do any lasting harm.
And that’s all you need to know about electrickery. Leave the rest to the experts.