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Metripack/Weather Pack–Improving electrical connections on the Aprilia Caponord

November 4, 2015

Ahhhhhhhhh, Italian motorcycles and Italian electronics.  Most Aprilia motorcycles in the double ought’s (2000’s) had electrical issues.  The most infamous is the “brown connector”.  This connector was famous for melting, shorting out, having crappy crimping, oxidized wires, bad connections, and catastrophic failures. 

Needless to say this a nasty problem.

Let’s take a look (sample images from around the internet):

Toasty!

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MELTED!

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Oxidized!

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How to fix it once and for all:

At Singlesided Swingarm, we like repairs that you do once, vastly improve the reliability of the motorcycle, and are maintenance and access friendly. 

Both of my Aprilia’s suffered from the “brown connector” problem.  When I made the repair a few years ago, I soldered the connections and shrink wrapped them.  While that’s a good solution to removing the bad connectors, you end up with a connection that is virtually impossible to service in the field. 

Recently the Caponord developed another charging problem.  Having had a similar problem before I immediately bought a new Regulator/Rectifier from Rick’s Motorsport Electrics.  Quick side note about Rick’s – they are an absolutely FANTASTIC bunch of people.  Excellent customer service and even better technical support. 

When I ordered the rectifier/regulator, I knew that I’d have to get into the wiring and chop out the old soldered connections (photo below).  There was no way that I was going to cut the existing wiring shorter, solder the connections and perhaps have to deal with this again in a few years. 

The solution I picked was to make the connections with Weather Pack connectors.  They are bulletproof, obviously  weatherproof, disconnect easily and are fully serviceable in the field.  However – you need to make sure there is room for connectors to FIT.  They are a bit bulky and you definitely need to mock up the connector placement.  The last thing you want is to end up with a perfect wiring job and the bodywork won’t fit back on the bike. 

PHOTO: Hardwired connections on my Aprilia Caponord

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Making the connection:

Weather Pack and Metri-Pack products are made by White Products, in Westlake Ohio.  Here’s a link to their product catalog.  I bought mine on e-bay and paid about $20.00 for everything.  You need to know the gauges of your wire.  As you can see there is some room for different diameters (18-16 ga).  The photos below show a typical Weather Pack kit. 

Weather pack 280 – 14 ga – 3 connector

Weather pack 280 – 18-16 ga – 2 connector

If you really want to do this job perfectly you will need to buy a crimping tool.  They run around $100.00. 

Assembly:

If you can assemble LEGO I’m fairly sure you can put these connectors together.  If you don’t have a soldering gun or soldering skills – just buy the professional crimping tool.

Strip the wires, insert the weather seal “gasket” plugs on each wire.  I used a set of electrical crimpers and small pliers to crimp the connection.  Its important to make sure the last bit of the connector crimps the INSULATED (yellow) part of the wire.  After crimping, I soldered each connection.

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The lead ends snap into the black housing (below).  You will know it’s right when you hear a “click” and the wire can’t be pulled back out.  After you have all the leads inserted into the plug push the blue sealing gaskets down into the connector.  It helps to use a small blunt screwdriver or a ballpoint pen to push the gaskets into the body.

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After the gaskets are flush, attach the sealing connector (white in the photo below).  This takes a bit of pressure to get it to lock onto the housing.  You’ll know when you hear a click on both sides of the connector.  Talk about a solid connection!  And the entire system can be disassembled in the field. 

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The next series of photos focuses on the two wire connector assembly. 

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PHOTO: Crimping the connection

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PHOTO: Soldering the connections

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PHOTO: Inserting the pins and sealing gaskets

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PHOTO: Detail shot.  The blue connector drives the gaskets into the Weather pack body and ensures they stay that way.

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PHOTO: Finished connector

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Photo: Testing the connections

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SUMMARY:

Just take your time and pay attention to the details. Once you do the first plug the rest are easy.  I had a few issues getting the plugs to fit where I wanted them inside the frame.  A few zip ties helped keep everything in place.   Lastly, make sure you connect the right plugs!  I managed to mix up the two plug connectors and drive my self virtually insane trying to figure out why the bike would not start.  Red to red, black to black, duhhhhh. 

Questions?  Post them here and I’ll respond.

 

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