Friday, November 08, 2013

Help When You Break Down


What began as a short ride to take care of a few errands and then head to our local polling place to vote for township supervisor ended with the Vespa GTS rattling around in the back of a big blue truck.  Reflecting on the events of that evening I can say two things for sure -- one, it's nice to have friends with a truck, and two, ModernVespa.com is the best resource for all things related to modern Vespa scooters anywhere in the solar system.




The ride started innocently enough with a simple plan to ride across the valley to the asian market to stock up on ginger tea.  The evening sky glowed as I rode across the Penn State campus where I stopped to make a few pictures of Beaver Stadium, home of the Nittany Lions football team.

When I was an undergraduate student in the early 1970s the stadium was much smaller and was a multiple use facility.  Commencement took place in the stadium along with track and field meets and other events.  Today it's all football, all the time.



The Canon G15 does a good job in low light. Reasonable image quality and noise control in the chip coupled with a fast, F1.8 lens gets the job done.


I do love riding at night.



One last stop at the pharmacy to pick up a prescription turned into the last stop of the night for the Vespa.  The engine turned over once and that was it.  Pulled the pet carrier to do a quick check of the sparkplug wire and immediately saw the problem.




A connector melted and shorted out the engine's electrical system.  I'd seen pictures of this problem again on ModernVespa.com so I pulled out my iPhone, posted to the forum, and a few minutes later I had the information I needed.  It was not a roadside repair.  Called my friend Paul Ruby and he stopped by to pick up the dead Vespa.



The next day Paul cut out the connector and soldered the wires together -- the fix recommended on ModernVespa.com.  The Vespa is running smoothly and I can ride another day.

Just another day in the life of a Vespa rider...

18 comments:

Orin said...

This is not the sort of problem one should be having with a late-model motor vehicle in the year 2013. Shame on Piaggio for expecting their customers to be product engineers...

__Orin
Scootin' Old Skool

Steve Williams said...

Orin: While it's a known issue on the GTS it is kind of a severe use item I think -- moisture, lots of vibration, etc and allowing the connector contacts to get dirty and wet all lead to that heat build up. I've read that I should periodically check the connector, apply dielectric grease, and make sure it is in good shape.

On the other hand maybe they could build a connector than doesn't suffer this way.

I'm getting pretty forgiving of stuff in my old age...

Dave (MV fledermaus) said...

Steve,

I noticed your MV post and watched things evolve with interest and some amazement...in years past you would be stuck in the dark without even a phone, walking to the nearest house. Instead, everyone on MV knows about your problem, and even though no one could get you rolling, you can at least get things sorted. Nothing to add from me but sympathy, but still.....

I have to say that night time is magic for me too....the feeling of solitude, with only the hum of the motor and lights from the instrument cluster (and reflection off the screen) and the odd headlights. I know it has it's own risks, especially during deer rut now, but it's a short distance for me and a calculated risk.

Love your photos as usual...especially liked the lighting, and especially on the one with the pet carrier out...assuming you were under a streetlight?

Hope you can get some good riding in before the snows come...

len@RE-GLAZE-IT said...

Hi Steve ,
Hope alls well with you and the wasp .... Just out of interest what mileage are you on now .... Just wondered what she's covered versus any issues .
Kindest regards
Len ( vespa gts owner)

Paul said...

That panel truck has come in handy. I've hauled many a scooter and motorcycle in it. I used to drive my motorcycle up the ramp and store it in the truck. One day the engine stalled at the top of the (steep) ramp, I slid backward down the ramp and fell. THAT was fun! Ugh.

Steve Williams said...

Dave (Fledermaus): It is a different world on the road now and stranded has a much different meaning. I still ride in places where there would be no cell coverage and little traffic but even in those places, when I have the scooter parked along the road with the seat up and getting ready to shoot some pictures, people stood to check if I'm ok and need help.

If feel good on the road in the sticks...

Deer are always an issue for me and I adjust my speed and awareness accordingly but the risk remains. The calculations are fuzzy at best.

I was under a streetlight and made that picture with my iPhone. Even with the failure I consider the Vespa to be an outstanding performer. I have 24K on the odometer right now.

Steve Williams said...

len: The wasp and I are fine. On my walk with the dog this morning I was thinking about mounting the snow tires. Not so much for the weather but more because my tires are getting worn -- the back one showing a couple to those rubber cracks one might associate with old rubber. Odd since the tires were manufactured in 2012.

Walked out to the garage to get the exact mileage off the odometer: 23988 miles.

Steve Williams said...

Paul: Thanks again for the support, expertise and scooter hauling service. I owe you breakfast at least!

Richard M said...

Seems ironic that a post with the scooter in the van follows right after one on corrosion. Does the failed connector see a lot of moisture?

David Masse said...

Steve, I think we have a similar approach to our bikes. I love my Vespa, love the style, but it is far from a showroom fussed over bike. It looks like it's got 34,000 km on it (21,000 miles). Right now it needs a bath, it's got mud splatter on the mudguard, dust and watermarks on the body, the windscreen looks like it's been cross-country.

The one big difference is that it hasn't and won't see snow and road salt.

I think I'll take a look at that connector and slather some di-electric grease on it.

ModernVespa is truly an incredible resource.

Here's hoping that you'll have some smooth sailing for the next long while.

VStar Lady said...

Always good to have friends with trucks!

bob skoot said...

steve:

I love that truck and it appears to be filled with lots of electronic stuff

I like your night shots too

bob
Riding the Wet Coast

Charlie6 said...

Always good to have a friend that has the vehicle to rescue your scoot. Will you be soldering a new quick disconnect on or worry about that when and if the engine has to come out for whatever reason?

dom

Steve Williams said...

RichardM: The stand and connector failures are similar only in the fact that they could have been prevented by some diligent inspection and maintenance on my part. The connector doesn't see much moisture and considering how hot it gets in the engine compartment I would think that would drive any moisture away. But corrosion does develop on the blades inside the connector and needs to be attended to.

Steve Williams said...

David Masse: I just don't think I could stand not riding for several months so I will venture out during the salt times. It would be good for me to wash the thing off though....

ModernVespa.com is amazing!

Steve Williams said...

VStar Lady: Ditto. Always keep truck owning friends close!

Steve Williams said...

bob skoot: Paul always has a ton of electronic equipment that he's buying and selling -- everything from gas chromatographs to autoclaves to digital cameras.

Thanks for the words on the night shots. Now that I have that spiffy tripod and wireless remote I should make more!

Steve Williams said...

Charlie6 (Dom): The connector is gone and everything is now soldered together directly. If I ever need to pull the engine I'll cut the splice.