Monday, September 12, 2016

A cure for the hots!

A lot has happened in the past week. Let's see...

My sponsors stepped up and increased my total amount raised for the September 25th Distinguished Gentleman's Ride by over $600! You will recall that last week I reported on the minus side of the equation that my Vespa GTS, my steed for the Ride, had sprung a coolant leak. Here's where you find out how that tiresome distraction is working out.

On Saturday I tore into the bike, removing the glove box portion of the leg shield so that I could get at the main part of the cooling system which seemed likely to be the source of the leak.

I hate removing the glove box. Even with the seven screws removed, the glovebox remains securely mated to the metal leg shield. There is an inordinate amount of wiggling and cajoling that must be done to get that sucker off the bike.

Adding to that joy is that the lion's share of the electrical modifications I have done are tucked in behind the left knee pad cover. That white plastic bag on the left side of the bike holds all the added electrics. I wrapped the bundle of stuff up in a bag to keep it all out of the way (and out of harm's way) as I worked on the bike's cooling system.

Getting the legshield sufficiently disengaged means disconnecting the dual power outlets, removing the Heat Troller heated grip control, pulling the fuse block, and disconnecting the switch that releases the under seat storage compartment. The emergency manual saddle release cable remains attached (disconnecting that cable is a category-two pain in the butt) but there is enough play in the cable that you can get the glove box completely out of the way with unrestricted access to the main cooling components, including the coolant reservoir, the twin radiators, the fan, and the yards of cooling hoses and assorted clamps.

If you own a Vespa GTS and you need to get the glove box off for whatever reason, it will be much, much easier, and you will curse much, much less, if you first watch the following Mic Bergsma videos:

The source of the coolant leak became apparent once I fired up the bike, set the throttle lock to keep the RPM boosted, and let the temperature rise. Once the bike got hot, within a minute or so, I saw leaking, but it took a bit of hunting with a flashlight before I spotted the source. There it was: coolant spraying out from somewhere at the rear of the coolant reservoir. There seemed to be a pinhole at the lower back side of the tank.

Here's a pic. The rectangle shows a hairline crack, and the oval shows what I believe was the spot where the coolant was leaking. It was a fine pressurized stream, about what you would get from a fine-nozzled water pistol

What the Vespa needed was a brand new coolant reservoir. With less than two weeks to go before the 2016 Distinguished Gentleman's Ride, what were the odds that I could get a replacement reservoir in time?

Enter the amazing folks at Vespa Toronto West. I called and spoke to Lou Di Biase. I waited with bated breath while Lou checked his parts inventory.

He had one in stock!!!! I was blown away. So few motorcycle dealers keep well-stocked inventory, particularly for parts like a coolant reservoir that might never fail. Here's a photo of Lou beaming a huge smile with my new coolant reservoir still in its factory-sealed parts bag. Thanks Lou, you ROCK!

Obstacle overcome, and ready to ride for the cure on the 25th. I am pumped and psyched!

I installed my brand new reservoir and tested the cooling system. Dry as a bone!

Before wrapping up this post, here is a little MacGyver episode, for those of you, who, like me, love a little head scratcher from time to time. The lower back side of the Vespa's plastic glove box faces the radiators. There is one radiator on the left with a cooling fan, and one on the right. There are two heat shields mounted to the back of the glove box. What we're talking about are two palm-sized pads with reflective metal foil on the side facing the radiators, with a foam backing.

The foam backing is held to the glove box with some kind of adhesive. I have no clue what kind of adhesive they use, but I can tell you one thing, it dissolves nicely when you spray hot anti-freeze on it. Further evidence that there was only a right-side leak if ever it was needed.

I really wanted to wrap up the job that day. How to re-stick the right-side heat shield back on? I had rinsed out the shield to get rid of the coolant residue, and the pad was dry. What I decided I really needed was some duct tape. It turns out that duct tape has hundreds of uses where it does a really fine job, though it also turns out, most ironically, that fixing holes in air ducts isn't one of them.

Did I say that I was working on the Vespa in my son's garage? One thing that the townhouse condominium lifestyle doesn't lend itself to very well is extended wrenching. So yeah, I was at Jonathan's house. And Jonathan wasn't home. He must have duct tape, right? If he does (and I am sure he does), I sure couldn't find it. I didn't want to rummage through Jonathan and Vicky's things like an L.A. cop tossing a crime scene. I began to think outside the box, in my very best, most earnest MacGyver mode.

I shifted gears and set off to see if I could find their stash of first aid supplies. Some of those higher-end bandaids, turned backwards and stuck back to themselves would make dandy improvised two-sided tape, right?

That was another search that turned out to be fruitless. Note to Jonathan and Vicky: don't cut your fingers in the kitchen (or in the garden for that matter).

Finally, my MacGyver sense lit a neuron in my memory bank: I had an emergency first aid kit in the Vespa's under seat storage compartment.

There must be some suitably sticky stuff in there, right?

That's right all you MacGyver fans out there: DUCT TAPE!!!

It turns out that duct tape has emergency first aid applications. Who knew?? I didn't!

Another surprise in this excellent kit: a sterile syringe (though not listed in the inventory on the website, but included in the kit's inventory list), for irrigation. At first I was a little perplexed. Then I thought about it. You need to clean a wound. Let's say that you have isopropyl alcohol, or ethanol. I do, because I tour with an alcohol stove, among other things; or let's say you have some reasonably clean potable water. How do you irrigate a wound efficiently? If you're me, you pull out your Adventure Ultralight and Waterproof Medical Kit.7 and break out your sterile syringe.

So I cut a tiny bit to make some two-sided sticky tape to stick the heat shield back on. Not Matt Damon - the Martian worthy, but certainly MacGyver worthy, yes?

Long, long, long story short(er)... My Vespa is back in tip-top shape for the 2016 Distinguished Gentleman's Ride.


redlegsrides said...

Nice WWID moment with the duct tape. It truly holds the universe together....

redlegsrides said...

WWID: What Would Ivan Do?

David Masse said...

Dom, that's a new one for me.

Who is this Ivan guy?

Wait a minute... is that the guy who answers the Ural help line when you dial 0 after listening to all the other options ("... for nearest dealer in Murmansk, dial 4; for service in Vladivostok, dial 5...")?

redlegsrides said...

Oh you'd know Ivan, he rides a RPOC sidecar rig, slow and ornery but fixable with bailing wire and duct tape by an untrained private while under fire....the Russian version of McGyver!

Unknown said...

There's duct tape ... and then there's duck tape ...

The City Mouse in the Country said...

I had to laugh when I read this. My change oil light came on, and even though changing the oil out is easy enough, I decided to let my normal mechanic do it so they could give the bike the once over for the DGR here in Tampa. I'm also at $600 + dollars my friend. :)

David Masse said...

Hmmm... that's a slippery slope Ed. Just last night we were idly discussing the "Mandella Effect". Companies that choose to brand a product like duct tape as 'duck tape' eventually fuel one more imagined instance of the alternate reality stream theory. It's a fun topic best reserved for an idle chat over beer at the pub, along with perpetual motion, and whether Elon Musk is an alien.

David Masse said...

Robert I have an unfair advantage. I was a big city lawyer for a very long time and have a large network of people accustomed to giving to support these things. $600 is a very fine achievement. If all the currently registered riders poneyed up that level of support, the global campaign would currently stand closer to $20M rather than the $1.5M raised to date.

Well done my friend!

David Masse said...

You could only love a guy like that. A ton of heart, and a can-do attitude that never fails. Ivan should run for President: lower taxes AND everybody gets to hold their heads high.

SonjaM said...

You should start writing a column for a scooter magazine, David.

David Masse said...

Sonja I'm not sure that there still is such a thing. We work for the beast that is eating magazines to extinction, AND WE GIVE IT AWAY FREE!!!

Thanks for the great complement! I am on the cusp (I hope) of devoting my retirement to writing. For better, or for worse.

SonjaM said...

In Germany they still exist, David. At least two or three magazines that I know of. And I am looking forward to your writing (for free or not...), but English please, my french isn't up to snuff for that task.

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