Thursday, August 19, 2010

"I feel bad-ass," said Lisa.

I needed some good news, no matter how small after the clutch issue seems to be dragging out . . . so I had my wife, the owner of this VSC, ride it for the very first time -- now that I know everything is safe and tuned to operate correctly (minus clutch and lights). Her whole-hearted laugh and enjoyment of her bike has rejuvenated me and my desire to finish it (plus my Lambretta is waiting on me to restore him). I love that the Vespa is a first kick bike and is very strong! I also love that my wife, Lisa, loves her bike so much.

The clutch saga goes on

Today I brought in the big gun . . . Chris B. . . . a reputable Bay Area scooter mechanic, who work on several rare bikes. Chris B. came highly recommend from a few people for both his skills and being a good human being. He test rode the bike and was very happy with it overall, but he got really nit-picky and taught me a thing or two. I am grateful, because I will be better and faster at tuning-up my scooter because he mentored and trained me today.

The first thing he did was a nuts to bolts (exterior) check of the entire bike and told me to address the following items:

(1) Flip the fuel cock lever 180 degrees so it is installed correctly, which is 12 Pm is "on" and 9 PM is "reserve".
(2) The choke is sticking, which indicates the "R" clip on the inside of the frame is missing or is loose. Address that at the same time as the fuel cock lever.
(3) The air filter gasket is missing.
(4) The drain tube is missing from the air filter.
(5) Replace the air box lid seal.
(6) Add split washers to the gas tank and seat nuts.
(7) Oil dripping from rear hub area. Check the rear hub seal. Brake pads may be soaked in oil. Chris B. tested the brakes after adjusting cable and riding and the brake pads are not soaked in oil.
(8) Add a washer or two to seat pivot screw (which locks the seat) so it is tall enough to click and lock.
(9) Look for taller seat buffers so seat frame does not scratch paint on frame anymore.
(10) Too much free play for clutch lever. Should be approx. 10 mm. Chris B. and I fixed that today.
(11) Too much free play for rear brake and the adjustment cable extension is installed incorrectly. The loose nut needs to face outward for access. Chris B. and I fixed that today.
(12) Too much free play for front brake and the adjustment cable extension is installed incorrectly. The loose nut needs to face outward for access. Chris B. and I fixed that today.
(13) Tighten kick start lever bolt down hard to avoid any free play on shaft. Chris B. and I fixed today.
(14) The clutch cable is too loose so that even before the lever is released the gears are engaged and the bike moves forward. Chris B. and I fixed today.

Chris B. taught me a lot of tricks of the trade, such as using spark plug caps to provide enough space for the 3rd hand tool to work effectively along with his "narrow" Snap-on wrenches to tighten things up properly and with great ease and little effort. He also taught me how to use a tune the clutch so the shifter notches on the handle bars lined up 100% perfectly. Using painter's tape draw a straight line. Now put this tape on your the bottom of the clutch shifter so you can see it when you are on the ground -- tape with the line going across the handle bar and shifter. Now cut the tape. Put clutch in neutral. Use the two gear box cables to "re" align the lines on the tape so they are line up perfectly and viola!

I did not have Chris B. inspect the electrical issue today. His prognoses is that it is either the clutch or the cush drive that is making the grinding sound between neutral and first.

He believes that little to no harm is happening now while the bike is being ridden, but he also says it should not be making that sound.

His recommendation now is for me to remove the clutch and inspect the clutch in person. If anything is obviously wrong he will recommend I replace it. If not, then CRAP we're shooting in the dark and may just have to live with it or buy a new clutch and test it. If that's not it the engine cases will be split and the cush drive will be inspected and maybe replaced.

But again, overall Chris B. is happy with how the bike performs. She is peppy!

Back from the dead

Where have I been?
Short answer is . . . I was laid off, stressed, and looking for work all while focusing on my new born daughter, Piper, who will be 6-months-old this weekend. Two weeks ago I secured work and it is an improvement over my last high school (I'm a teacher).

Years before I met Paul S. he was giving me guidance and help with his scooter website, Scooter Lounge. I particularly liked his buyer's guide information. He is very knowledgeable and generous. I kid you not when I tell you he has given around 15 free hours of labor to this bike. This is the scooter community I have come to love and will continue to give to. Paul S. solved many problems, including:
(1) He resolved the grinding noise of the rear hub
(2) He discovered that the rear hub was not safely or correctly mounted on the axle
(3) He resolved the broken kill switch
(4) He resolved the steering column lock
(5) He removed and bench tested the clutch
. . . just to name a few.Above is a picture of Paul S. loading the scooter on to my friend's truck to come home. The electrical is in much better shape, but the rear brake light and headlight still do not work. I need to call fellow SS180 owner Krissy and have her to teach me how to resolve that issue. And finally, the clutch is still messed up. We could not resolve it.

* If you don't already either shop at or visit for information I can not recommend Scooter Lounge enough! My wife and I will forever be indebted to Paul S. for his generosity.

Next step is to have Chris B., a reputable mechanic who knows the VSC, test ride it and make recommendations.