Monday, May 18, 2009

It's A Wonderful Life

This has been an eventful day.

I'll not cover the part prior to noon, where I had a good job interview (yay!), and got to walk a lot and take buses, etc.

Instead, let's go straight to the scooter stuff, since this is, after all, the scooter blog!

Okay, let's catch everyone up (if you're caught up, click here): On Friday, Chris at ESS fixed a very troublesome and nefarious issue on the People 250 -- the completely busted head gasket. I am happy to report there is no more leakage, and when the scooter is running, it runs like a scalded opossum. Head gasket repair = AWESOME.

As I was riding back to the homestead with the newly-fixed head gasket, I ran into traffic for the TSU graduation ceremony. Crawling traffic. As soon as I let off the throttle, the engine died. "Okay," thinks I, "Chris may not have gotten the air intake tightened up, etc., when he was quickly re-assembling the bike so's I could ride my sole transportation home that day, which was very thoughtful -- shit happens." :) I figured I could resolve that in fairly short order on Saturday.

Saturday morning, the bike starts up, no problem. I still have to keep some throttle applied to keep it going, but I haven't even looked at that, yet. I run a short errand, and back to the homestead before the storms rolled in. After the storms, I went to run another short errand, and the bike won't start. The idiot lights on the "dash" come on, as does the headlight. Hmmm. Okay, I reckon I need a jump, but no one's around to offer one.

Sunday morning: Now, the bike won't start (surprise!), and no idiot lights or headlight. Uh-oh. Battery must be daid. Really, really DEAD as a doornail. That ain't right.

Today, James calls to suggest that his brother-in-law (who lives around the corner from me) stop by to jump the bike, and that I ride it straight into the shop (which is closed, but James, being the great scooter dealer that he is, offers to come in on his day off to help me figure out the issue). His BiL comes by, and we jump the bike. It starts, and he notices some white smoke, and we both smell that sickening burnt insulation smell which indicates a much scarier problem. Needless to say, as soon as we disconnect the jumpers, the bike dies again. Uh-oh.

I decide that it might be a good idea to disconnect the battery, on the theory that if it isn't totally wasted now, it sure will be if I leave it in-circuit. While I'm doing that, I also reckon I might as well undo the four bolts that hold in the seat bucket, and pull it out, so I can inspect for electrical fire damage. :)

The first thing I noticed was this: There was a vacuum hose disconnected from the intake manifold (at least I think that's what that is!). Aha... that would probably explain the whole "dies-without-throttle" thang.

The vacuum line (highlighted) was misrouted so that it was pinched between the bottom of the seat bucket, and the plate at the top of this photo. This caused the connection indicated by the circular portion of the highlight, above, to pull free. I reconnected the line, and re-routed the line under the plate (as shown in the photo).

Now, onto something that was clearly my fault.  :)  

This is the connection to the cigarette lighter adaptor socket. on 5/8, when new-guy Josh and I were trying to get the seat bucket out at the shop, we could NOT get the connector to let loose. So, Josh helpfully suggested that we unscrew the li'l brass nut on the back of the socket, which freed up the whole thang (and caused us to have the socket in a half-dozen little pieces). Anyway, we taped up the loose connectors, and when Josh was re-assembling it later that afternoon, I specifically recall telling him not to worry with putting that back together, since we'd have to dick with it again when the head gasket came in.

So, off I rode, with these connectors taped up... but they, too, were trapped between the bottom of the seat bucket and the frame. D'oh!  You guessed it -- my fat ass sitting on the scooter eventually wore some of the electrical tape through so that there was an intermittant near-dead short to the frame. Well, now we know what happened to the battery.  :)

I went inside to call James and share the good news -- I think if we get the battery to hold a charge, we're golden!  Yay!  Another local scooter guy, Oliver, was enlisted to bring me a jump and a battery charger, and/or a haul into the shop in the back of his truck, if all else fails.

Oliver arrives, we jump the bike, and eureka!  Life seems good!  Bike runs like a top, doesn't die when we disconnect the jumpers, and is idling normally. Oliver goes on his way, and I go for what I thought was a long enough ride to charge the battery.

That's what I get for thinkin'.

I wound up my ride ~2.5 miles from home when I went into a store, and shut off the engine. When I came out, nada. I was close to a Pep Boys, though. They helpfully jumped the bike for me, but as soon as we disconnected the jumpers, the bike died.  :(

So, I pushed that 367lb. mofo all the way home, uphill, both ways.  :)  Actually, I did "coast" it on the few stretches of slight-downhill slope... which leads to the funny. A cop got behind me on one of those short coasting jaunts, and pulled beside me (rolling at 2mph), berating me for not having my helmet on...

"[huff-puff] I'm not [huff-puff] riding [huff-puff]... I'm [huff-puff] PUSHING!"

"Well, get your helmet on!"

He drives off, and I decide I don't need heat stroke on such a nice day, and ignore the cop's well-intentioned but bad, bad advice.  :)

The battery is on the slow-charger, as I type. We'll see where we are tomorrow morning.


  1. Is that the same old battery from the begining of the story. It might be dead...completely dead now. Let me know if I can help.

  2. (plucks on banjo)

    "If it weren't for baaaaad luck, ah'd have no luck at all...."

    (whacks banjo over battery, on grounds that it probably can't do any further harm and might do some good, jostling wires back to where they belong or something. And also because, well, I hate banjos.)

    :) Glad to hear progress is being made. And about the interview.

  3. Oh hells. scooters are complicated.


    So it's going to be ok now? Better post an update tomorrow.

  4. reticulum -- Yes; the ORIGINAL battery, in fact!

    Xan, Ali -- Thanks. Yes. While this is an inconvenience, that's really all it is. Batteries die! Worst case: A new battery will get me back on the road.