Saturday, December 23, 2006

Stuck: clutch lever screw

Our minds are more powerful than our hands or arms. Thinking is a better option than hammering. Remember this mantra and you will not destroy parts unnecessarily.

The screw that holds the clutch lever would not come out for me. The nut came off very easily. I used PB Blaster several times a flat head screw driver twice, before beginning to strip the chrome threads. First, I contacted scooter shops and verified I could replace the part. I can. I then used two nuts on the screw to back in out. No go. I emailed for help on Scooter BBS forum and was told to gently tap it out with a hammer. I used my copperhead hammer (copper is softer than a lot of metal to the hammer gets dinged up, but the part doesn't) and freed the screw. But before I did this, I made sure to ask if there were any threads in the clutch housing to avoid stripping them. Two people wrote me and said "no, you're fine." When I got the screw out and looked inside, I saw threads. The next moring I checked the forum again and two people wrote me franticially and said "DON'T TAP! THERE ARE THREADS!!" I owned a drill bit set that is designed to remove stripped screws and did not even think to use it. Damn myself. Using pliers on the treaded to part of the screw to back it out would also be a bad idea as the stripped threads would move through the threaded clutch housing and destroy those threads to. The way of least resistance, not a hammer, is always the best. Stop. Ask a few different sources. Take your time. Relax about your problem and THINK it through. Now I have two damaged parts instead of one. I hope a metric tap and dye set will be able to save what little threads I have or I will need to heli-coil in some new threads or use a lock nut. What a drag. This mistake was easy to avoid and would have only cost me $2 (for the replacement screw) if I had done it correctly.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Gas tank restoration

My mentor, Christopher Markley, helped me address the issue of severe rust inside the original SS180 gas tank. The previous owner had his brother sand blast the exterior. Christopher told me the best way to restore my gas tank is to have a local radiator shop "hot tank" the gas tank. This is NOT an acid dip, but rather a much less abrasive chemical process. I called Smitty's Radiator shop in Harrisburg, PA and was quoted $40-$60 for the job.

First Christopher had me remove the fuel tap so it would not be destroyed in the "hot tank." Thanks to Roland Henry, one of the founder's of Three Mile Island Scooter Club, who loaned me his GS fuel tap wrench that fits the SS perfectly.

Christopher stressed to me the importance of coating the gas tank with 2-stroke oil immediately after the "hot tank" inside the tank and then to use PPG Metal Cleaner and Conditioner (see the paint stipping post). I went to Advance Auto and picked up some "2-stroke Pennzoil for air-cooled engines."

Ernie, at Smitty's Radiator, charged me $45 total for the "hot tank" and then he bead blasted the tank to clean out all rust debris and he dried it as he bead blasted. He quickly coated the inside with oil generously. The tank was slightly pitted, but the structural integrity of the tank was solid. I picked up the gas tank and then PPG prep'd it for the painter. It is highly recommended, by Tom Giordano (a highly respected restoration expert), that I do not coat the inside of the gas tank and I trust Tom. If the tank had "thin" spots I may have considered coating the inards of the tank, but as many restorers say all coats eventually fail and fall apart and then are a major pain in the butt to clean out.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Stripping paint yourself

Learned Lessons:(1) Take the time to make sure that every part that needs to be prepped for paint is put aside for medium blasting or dipping or what ever your choice, (2) avoid your run of the mill paint strippers, such as Bix, they don't work. Get "Aircraft Stripper"! (3) It's not always easy to find INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH paint stripper that is labeled "aircraft stipper." I contacted and visited over six stores before I found an aircraft stripper. Finally, by dumb luck and after a phone call which resulted in "no we don't carry it", I found the stripper at Advance Auto for $30.00.

Make sure you prep everything carefully to protect this extremely harsh chemical stripper (it burns you skin painfully or eats through plastic cups and send fumes of melting plastic towards your nose) and for paint prep. Here I covered the reflector inside my tail lens.

Follow the aircraft stripper's instructions very carefully. You must apply it in one direction - only! You MUST apply on a thick coat. My first coat was not thick and did not produce results and I ended up wasteing the expensive stripper. If you paint is a nightmare, you can paint it on thick with a "stripper paint brush" (this is what I used) and tightly wrap it in a garbage bag and let it sit over night. After my first application I decided to skip the garbage bag and not let it sit over night. Within 20 minutes this is what I got (see picture to the left).

Using a plastic puddy knife and a paper towel the paint falls off without effort. To prevent rust I used PPG Metal Cleaner PPG Metal Conditioner. This way I can store my metal for up to one year before needing to either paint or reapply. Rust sets in very quickly. You can buy PPG products at an auto paint supply store.

Thanks to Christopher Markley, of Moto-Rapido, for schooling me so well.