Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Quell's Maiden Voyage: Day 2

or, Fun with Fuel Systems.

Day 2 of the journey began with attacking the flooding problem which sidetracked me the day before. This involved much more trouble-shooting than I'd anticipated. The night before I'd had the suspicion that the steady oil leak on Quell was limiting the oil that actually got mixed with the gas. If this was the case, maybe I was close to a soft-seize.
Though this assessment was off-base, I did realize that I should start fueling Quell like a pre-mix until I could replace the gasket in the oil reservoir. Some folks actually recommend this for the first hundred or so miles on a new or freshly rebuilt engine. Since Quell's engine was still not fully broken in and had sat, drained of fluids, for at least a year, I figured it couldn't hurt.
So I topped off the tank and added a few ounces of dino oil. I also checked the plug. Still wet, still flooding. Still not shifting into gear without dieing.
The last recommendation in the Vespa service manual for hard starts was check the carb, possibly clean and rebuild. I'd been dreading the prospect of doing my first carburettor rebuild in the parking lot of a gas station. Nevertheless, it was obvious that I had to start poking around in there. I was hoping it would as simple as cleaning the air filter.

Well, the air filter was pretty beat-up looking, and there were some small leaves or dried petals stuck to parts of it. I took it and some spray carb-cleaner down to the air/water machine, and alternated spraying it with carb-cleaner and air, until my time ran out.
Otherwise, the rest of the carb was clean... aside from the pool of flooded fuel mixture, really clean, sparkling clean. I'm not sure if this is because of the low mileage of the scoot, or if the second owner rebuilt it as part of his restoration endeavors.
Reinstalling the air filter, I noticed another significant thing in the carburettor. The metal pipe that connects the carb to the rubber tube that connects to the engine wasn't connected. There was a thin wire circular clip on the rubber tube, which was obviously intended to clamp this connection. The rubber tube was wedged under the pipe ... I guess it had been catching most of the flow, or perhaps it had just been shaken loose?
I connected all of this up, and tightened the circular wire clamp with 2 pliers.
Quell started right up.

Though it took way too long to come to the solution, I felt pretty good about my growth as a Vespa mechanic at this point. Somehow I feel more comfortable wrenching on Quell in public, than any other bike I've had. He just sorta looks like he's meant to be worked on wherever, whenever. Other bikes I've had, when they broke down, I felt kinda helpless and disheartened. I felt like everyone was looking at me like a clueless loser. With Quell I feel like some mad mechanic who's just making some adjustments.

Anyway, at this point I called Mage and let him know when to expect me, as I should be getting just as he's getting out of work, and he works downtown. I then strapped into my gear, and was off to Bremerton.

Belfair to Bremerton was even windier than the ride to Belfair the previous day. The winds on this leg were intense and hair-raising. I was never really tossed around on the lane or anything, but it felt like I could have been at any moment. There was also more traffic than on the previous legs of the trip. I was going just under the posted speed limit, still being gentle on that engine and cautious on new routes with a new bike. There were a lot of cars behind me, most of the road was no passing, and there were few places for me to pull over and let folks pass me. So that was a stressful ride.
Regardless, I was joyous to reach to the Bremerton Ferry Terminal with an hour to spare. I made a few calls to let folks know how things are going, and worked on this report.

Quell, queued at the Bremerton Ferry Terminal.

On the ride to Seattle, I was parked next to a pretty black Triumph Bonneville, and near some bicyclists, one of whom was on a really cool recumbent. I chatted with those nice folks for a while about bikes. The Triumph owner said he once had a Bajaj that he loved.

Quell on the ferry.

Ferry pulling into Seattle.

When the time came to disembark, I flooded the Vespa. I had to walk him off the ramp. I turned the fuel off, pulled the throttle all the way open, and he kicked right to life, and engulfed us in a white cloud of 2-stroke smoke.
We puttered out of the Seattle Ferry Terminal, ecstatic to have made it to Seattle. I puttered right into the nearest parking space. On the ride over, I'd noticed my center stand wasn't square. When Quell is up on the stand he leans to one side or the other, and because of this and the wicked wind whipping through the auto part of the ferry, I spent the whole ferry-ride sitting on top of him. After all that I wanted a cigarette, and to call someone and let them know I'd semi-triumphantly arrived in Seattle.
After this little rest stop, I made it about two blocks before I hit one of those massive downtown Seattle hills. Worse yet, I had a red light at the base of the hill. I tried to charge up it once the light changed, but I missed second and popped it into neutral. Wildly trying to get the bike in gear, I killed the bike. Suddenly I was stuck halfway up a 40 degree one-way street, with a 200+ lb. bike.
I managed to wrestle Quell to the sidewalk where I was able to put him up on his center stand on a conveniently level step. We rested here for a minute, and I took off my heavy Corazzo jacket for the umpteenth time of the trip, to cool down and think for a minute. Eventually, I decided to coast him down the sidewalk to the other street ( a 2-way, whew!) and uh, try to circumnavigate that blasted hill.
Once we were there, I nosed Quell towards traffic, and kicked him alive...
He insisted on dieing when I popped him into first. I pulled him up off of the street onto the sidewalk, and took a look into the carb. Of course, it was full of fuel, and the fuel tube had once again come lose of the pipe.
About this time a beat cop asked me if I was out of fuel. I, of course, told him no, and proceeded to tell him the story of the bike in general, and this particular carb problem. All while I was fixing said problem. Once I'd gotten it fixed, I had a smoke and chatted with the cop about AmeriVespa and a Honda Spree he'd had as a teenager. I finished my smoke, and took Quell out to the street, where he kicked to life...
And you guessed it, sputtered to death, when I tried to pop him into first.
I rolled him back to the sidewalk, and asked the cop, who was still perched over a short brick wall, where I could find good cheap overnight parking nearby.
Fortunately, there was a lot less than block away (down hill all the way!)
At this point it was about 4:30 pm, I was overheated, supposed to meet Mage at his house in less than an hour. I just wanted to get there. I figured again, it would be better to get the bike secured, and come deal with it from a fresher perspective. Besides doing so would eliminate 2 trips over the Fremont bridge, whose steel grating surface, I was not looking forward to crossing.
Gretchen met me at the lot, took a long gander at the paint job, and then we hopped a bus to Ballard. She had to get off before I did, too go do some work at the theater she volunteers at, as opposed to the theatre she'd been at earlier in the day, where she is employed.
When I arrived at their house, Mage greeted me with a shot of Jameson's and a beer. After two days, I'd touched ground in Seattle.

Later, over beers, whilst pub-crawling Ballard, Gretchen suggests I get a tiny hose-clamp to secure the fuel tube to the metal pipe. The simple brilliance of this idea convinced me once and for all, that the Good Lord brought scooters into my life to teach me humility.

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