Saturday, June 09, 2012

When You Find You've Meandered from the Riding Life...

The rusted, hulking Vespa exhaust sits on the driveway like an overturned tortoise, sad and useless.  A more direct examination reveals the toll of salt and winter sludge on metal.  When questioned by other riders about the challenge of being on the road in cold weather this is the picture I describe.

Routine means a wire brush and bottle of Naval Jelly to prepare for a new coat of high temperature enamel.  Working away at the rust had me wishing I would have taken the air compressor and sandblaster my father offered me.  Working on machines has a way of triggering memories and regrets.

Jack Riepe advised I send the thing to Jet-Hot for a new ceramic coating.  I'm stubborn though and it would require a change in plans.  I did send an email and received a prompt reply -- $80 plus shipping.  A good price.  An excellent price in fact.  My auto mechanic told me yesterday he uses them to coat the exhaust system of his Lotus race car.  Plenty of evidence was available to support the Jet-Hot course.  But in the end I picked up a can of Rustoleum.

My father would have fixed the Vespa in a day.  Less actually.  And here I am stuck in a mental traffic jam making the simplest things seem impossible.  Add to that a lot of tasks, projects and activities that divert time and energy.  I was sitting in a U-Haul Cargo Van on the approach to the George Washington Bridge in New York when I made this picture.  Traffic moved at a glacial pace as I pondered the wisdom of lane-splitting for motorcycles and scooters.  Aleta and I were making a one day trip to Astoria to pack some things and return home.

If you ever want to test your age make a long drive, spend seven hours packing and carrying boxes from a third floor walk-up, and then drive home again.

The weather today was perfect for spray painting. A patina of rust gave way to a hiding coat of flat black enamel.  Not as nice as the Jet-Hot coating would be but good enough to keep me on the road another year.

The instructions on the can say I need to bake the muffler.  Won't fit in the oven so I'll have to do it tomorrow on the vehicle.  Awaiting the arrival of a new stainless steel exhaust clamp from Kissell Motorsports so I'll have to use a conventional steel auto clamp temporarily.  Makes me a bit nervous.  I know what "temporarily" can mean.

Driving around Queens, New York in a downpour looking for a parking space is an adventure.  Along Ditmars Boulevard I saw a Vespa LX150 parked in the middle of the street.  Damn scooter riders do whatever they want.  Didn't think I could park the U-Haul in the middle of the street.

Wasn't sure I was up to a long ride home after all the packing and moving but the road can be mesmerizing.  By the time we crossed through the Delaware River Gap I found a second level of energy.  A stop at a rest area later that night for 30 minutes sleep recharged my old batteries and I surprised myself when I pulled into our driveway at 2:30am.

I started wondering if I could do an Iron Butt Saddlesore 1000 ride on the Vespa.  But only for a minute.  Good sense won out as I floated into bed.

I dreamed of riding...


Martha said...

That's sure a long day you just went through though I am pretty sure it would have been better doing an IBA event than what you actually did.

We, the family and I just spent a marathon day in rental car driving from Crystal City in Arlington, VA to near Marshall, VA to see college friends and comrades.....then driving back at retrospect, should have planned better and not limited myself to a one day rental....I'll know better next time!

That muffler looks fine....let's see some riding!


Rogier said...

Take it to a place where they can sand blast it! Then have it powder coated.

Or buy a new exhaust and have it powdercoated before bolting it onto your scooter.

Marilyn Elmore said...

I "get it". I think. It's not so much about the money (this time around), as it is the task. The "I can do this" and "I need the personal time with myself and my scooter" is the drive to do as much of the maintenance yourself. Another clue is your reluctance to use machines, when a metal brush and some navel jelly not only COULD do the trick but DID. It's what some of us call tenacity, we will start the project and FINISH it even though we've discovered it's a job we'd have rather given to another with a wad of greenbacks to convince him it's worth the effort. You started and you conquered. No one but you will have the glow in your eye as you see and reflect on the work you completed with this effort. It's a good thing a man or a woman does for themselves when we choose a menial project for ourselves and see it through to the end! And I don't think it looks half bad.

Steve Williams said...

Martha (Dom): What are you doing using your wife's account? You must be unplugged while traveling.

I'll doing some riding before I forget how!

Steve Williams said...

Rogier: I did inquire about powdercoating the exhaust from a local company but they said their process would not be good for an exhaust system.

When I do buy a new exhaust I will look into it though. Thanks for the reminder.

Steve Williams said...

M Elmore: Thanks for sharing your comments here.

There is a satisfaction from doing something yourself as you indicate in your comment. Easy to forget that though in the rush of living.

Conchscooter said...

I get deja vu from this essay. Didn't you do this a few years ago...and promise yourself a ride the same way on your scooter, one day? You aren't getting any younger and an iron butt isn't that tough. I will ride with you if you need the encouragment.

Phil said...

I sort of recall that Sears once sold a heat resistant epoxy paint, in a spray can, I think. I guess I should have done some research before posting this, but...

bobskoot said...


Your muffler looks good as new. Hopefully this is the only thing that needs servicing. Doing things for yourself are satisfying if they are done in a competant manner. I find that I am good at taking things apart. I worry more about putting things back together. Often I wonder why they use "extra", un-nessary parts.

Riding the Wet Coast
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Sean Lynch said...

A SS1000 is do-able on a GTS; I have a local friend who pulled it off with a Genuine Buddy 150. Admittedly, it took him 23.75 hours of riding to get it done.

I've considered trying one on my trusty '81 Vespa P200E, but I don't know if I could complete in time when it needs fuel every 73 miles. Perhaps I'll try it with my new Yager GT200i.