Thursday, April 15, 2010

A troublesome failure

The owner of the building where I work lets me park in a corner of the underground garage. It's a really nice aspect of owning a Vespa. It's so nice and compact that you can tuck into the smallest spots that don't bother anyone. It's the benefit of reducing your footprint, finding value where most people aren't even looking. Check out my sweet spot.

At the end of my commute on day two, I needed to honk my horn to get the attention of the parking attendant for him to roll up the door. Unfortunately the magnificent Stebel Nautilus air horn I had installed last week only emitted what seemed to me like a faint whirring sound.

In the past things would have been dramatically different. While I might have owned a Vespa scooter, it is very unlikely it would have had an aftermartket air horn. The reason the bike has an air horn is that the internet allows a lonely scooter owner to benefit from the experience and advice of thousands of scooterists literally worldwide.

As soon as I got into the office I posted the Stebel Nautilus horn failure on the Modern Vespa forum. Within minutes expert advice poured in from all over. At lunch time I went for a ride and the horn worked well and continued to work today. Thanks to my Modern Vespa support group, I'll revisit the wiring and replace the ground line from the battery with a heavier gauge wire and tighten all the spade connectors on the relay and horn terminals.

The pictures from yesterday's trip into the city were taken just east of the Pointe Claire village. I took two because the early morning sun made the exposure difficult. I used an old Olympus camera because I don't want to take my new Olympus SLR along until the weather and my confidence with the sooot commute improve.

For lunch, I rode to the eastern lookout on the Mountain and took this picture looking towards the east. The Olympic Stadium figures prominently with the St-Lawrence river in the background.

Mount Royal is a kind of two-hump mountain with what can only be described as a wide mountain pass running northwest. Chemin de la Cote des Neiges (literally "Snow Hill Road"), one of Montreal's major north-south thoroughfares runs along the pass, linking north and south over the mountain. I crossed from the eastern summit to the soutwestern summit.

The city of Westmount (appropriately named) straddles the western portion of the mountain. Most of the city's priciest real estate nestles there. I rode to the Westmount lookout and took this shot of downtown and the view to the south.I had sought out the mountainous route to find steep pitches on which to test the Stebel horn. The manufacturer warns sternly that the horn must be mounted within 5 degrees of vertical and I thought there was a chance that the horn failure could be chalked up to the steep-ish pitch of the garage entrance.

That now appears to be an unlikely cause of the failure and the culprit is almost certainly the wiring. If so it will be good news because the Stebel Nautilus air horn should be mandatory standard equipment on all motorcycles and all but the puniest scooters.

For Canadians reading this, the Stebel air horn can be found at Canadian Tire, not under the manufacturer's name but under the scary name "Ultimate Blast Horn", product #20-2076.

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The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.