By Jeremy Wilkers
Whoo boy, another column due date and it’s been super crazy lately. A common occurrence with some writers or publishers when a deadline is looming and they have little time is that they fall back on the old “retrospective” idea and regurgitate past columns. Well, I can’t do that as I don’t have enough of a back-catalog from which to harvest so I guess I’ll instead rely on the “pull a rabbit from a hat” trick and just make something happen. Come along with me and see what happens.
NASTY PISTON TRICKS One thing I experienced this summer was a piston failure. It probably goes without saying that when a piston fails your scooter doesn’t run terribly well. And when it really fails, well, then you’ve got an expensive problem to fix. The top piston ring somehow got turned and started catching on the exhaust port (it appeared that the locating pin broke off). The ring then broke into a bazillion metal fragments, which proceeded to embed themselves into the head of the piston and gouge the walls of the cylinder. Ouch. Fortunately (yes, there is a bit of a good point) the pieces of the ring fell into the exhaust and not the engine case. So I got to spend some money, and time, and rebuild my engine.
WHERE ARE THE NEW VESPAS? Visiting the U.S. Vespa site (http://www.piaggiousa.com) finds claim that people will be able to order the new Vespa ET2 or ET4 “in the fall” of 2000. Looks like fall outside to me, yet no news on an actual shipping date of the new scooters. Many people are (im)patiently waiting for these new models and as of this writing it looks like the waiting will continue to be necessary. Here’s hoping that anxious riders get some holiday cheer with a new scoot under that traditional decorated tree.
MISCELLANEOUS TECH TIPS We (members of the group) have come across a few little tips that might make your life easier if you are fixing up or restoring a scooter.
FUEL: If you get a new fuel tap assembly it might be worth your while to carefully disassemble the fuel valve on the bottom (the on-off switch) and examine the small hole from the fuel pipe. It is drilled through the spigot at an angle and it has become apparent that the quality control on this particular item isn’t terribly high. Sometimes there is still a small bit of metal in the opening that restricts the flow of fuel and causes fuel starvation of your running engine. If your scooter runs well at low speeds but cuts out at high speeds, this could be the culprit. Be careful poking it out — you don’t want to push it up into the hole.
Oh, and if possible, you should do all this BEFORE putting the fuel tap into the tank. It’s a million times easier (trust me on that).
TANK: If you have an old scoot and notice that your gas tank is a bit dirty inside (any residue or very slight surface rust) you’ll need to get it really clean before using your scooter. While taking it to a shop to be bead-blasted might be the quick and logical thing to do, if you are a cheap bastard you can do it yourself. Put a bit of gasoline in the tank along with a big handful of washers and nuts (not the kind you eat!) and then seal up the tank. Swish around the contents vigorously until your arms go numb or you go deaf from the rattling. Repeat. Repeat. And repeat again. Do this until your neighbors think you’ve gone mental. Eventually, after swishing and rolling and rattling the tank all around, your tank will be scraped clean. Give it a good rinsing, too.
WINTER: Change your oil (engine and transmission) before storing your scooter away for the long Minnesota winters. You probably haven’t changed it during the riding season anyway and this will make sure that any contaminants in your oils don’t get a chance to eat away at your internals during the cold weather. Fill up your tank with gasoline and if possible add a bit of fuel stabilizer to the gas. Cover your scooter and store it in a dry place. If you are able, start up your scooter every week or so to keep things right. If you are unable, then you should probably unhook your battery and take it inside, maybe even hook it up to a trickle charger. These steps will help you have a pleasant spring and minimal downtime during the warm riding weather.
UNTIL NEXT SEASON? I hate to even mention that upcoming period of time when Fenreya the Wolf devours the sun and the land is plunged into darkness and cold, but there’ll be no denying that the warm weather is gone and scooter riding will be seriously curtailed until spring has sprung.
While you bear out the cold basking in the warm glow of your computer monitor, be sure to check out the Minnescoota website (http://www.minnescoota.com) — we’ll continue to update with articles, features and pictures of this past season.
And maybe, if you’re brave enough (and we’re stupid enough), you’ll see a bunch of loonies out on the lakes this winter with something that doesn’t so much resemble a snowmobile as a scooter with spiky tires. We keep threatening to do such… will this be the year? Rest assured, video will be shot if such an event comes to pass.
See you under the sun, hopefully not under the snow.
Ride safe – Ride often – Stay warm.
Drop me a note sometime: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Twin Cities’ Vintage Scooter Club, The Regulars, meets on the first and third Sundays of each month at Bryant-Lake Bowl in Uptown Minneapolis (Lake St and Bryant Ave) at 2:00pm for socializing and riding — as long as weather permits. Their website is located at http://www.minnescoota.com