Sunday, February 3, 2019

Rocket is Back on the Road

Rocket had been noisier than the other scooters since installing a new-to-Rocket engine in a couple of years ago.

The rough sounding mechanical noise got worse as time and miles wore on.  The last big ride was a few months ago to the White Springs area for a scooter club lunch.  It ran well but the noise continued.  I determined that it was the water pump.

I mentioned it to Chris, my mechanic, and he said that the engine sitting with no coolant for more than a year before putting it into Rocket probably caused damage to the water pump bearing.

I waited a few months for him to have time in the shop to work on it.  It went to him a couple of weeks ago with a water pump rebuild kit, coolant tank (there was coolant on the foot well twice even without running the scooter) and a new rear brake caliper (the old one was clanking on first application.

He called to let me know that I had purchased the wrong water pump rebuild kit (even though it was the 2005 and earlier kit for a 2005 engine)

I picked it up last week and have ridden around town but no long rides yet.  But I can tell that it is back to normal.  Maybe even better.

Watch out Ken, as Rocket will be the scooter of choice for the next few Oyster Tours.


Rocket in front of my office.  Back home!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Fernandina Beach Autocross

It had been two and a half years since I last ran an Autocross.

That experience was shared here and it wasn't good.

I was away from home for over 12 hours, almost died in the heat of September and only got in 4 not-so-good runs.  It was enough that I called it my last autocross.

But one reason I laid off was that the trusty Miata wasn't running well and the tires were in need of replacement with the latest rubber.

So, in the meantime I took the car to Pablo Zapata to have it repaired.  It now runs so much better and doesn't leak oil.  One of the repairs was new bushings in the shifter, making it much easier to find third gear in the heat of a run.

I headed out into the cold of a January morning at 7:00.  Stopped for some lunch food and drinks along the way, arriving at the Fernandina Beach Airport at 8:00.

The course was set up and I headed that way to check it out when I saw Adam, a fine young driver who has become a good friend over the years.  He was doing the tech inspections so I pointed him to my car and he checked it out.  It passed.

The drivers meeting was a little long but informative.  The guys running the show these days gave me my favorite work assignment, starter, so I enjoyed the work time as I could talk to the drivers for a few seconds before sending them off.

My run group came up next and I had a clean, relatively fast run on the first try.  I checked the results and found that I had the fastest raw time of that group so far.  On the second run I was a second faster at 38.6 seconds.  I was pleased.

Then we ran 5 more and none were as fast as the second.  The faster drivers caught and passed me as I was stuck.

The new Bridgestone RE71 tires were fantastic.  The shifter fix made the two shifts from second to third each run a piece of cake.  The Miata ran great!

It was fun.  I ended up third of seven in my class, E Street.  24th out of 52 in raw time and 15th in the handicapped PAX results.

A little disappointing after the good start but I was pleased to not embarrass myself.

I think I might try again next month.

Miata ready to go.

Fast Phil greeted me when I arrived.  He is a good friend and a fast driver.

Kyle Younger was there with his LS-1 Kart.  This is a stripped Corvette.

At speed on an early run.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Old Vespas

My three Vespa GTs are now 11, 12 and 13 years old.

Their mileages are 16,500, 88,200 and 28,300.

Max, the new Yamaha Xmax is three months old with 5300 miles already.

The difference is great.

Rocket, the 2006 GT has been making funny noises that I determined to be a water pump bearing.  I bought a rebuild kit months ago but haven't needed it so taken time to find a slot in the ACE Vintage Motorcycle Specialist's schedule.  I am taking it in tomorrow.

But in getting it loaded onto the truck to carry it over there, I found the battery nearly dead, so I went home to get jumper cables and a jump start battery.  Neither could I get onto the little battery and when I finally did, it didn't work.  Then, I disconnected everything and tried one more time.  It started.  I also noticed some coolant on the floorboard a few weeks ago.  I wiped it off.  Today there was more.  So the coolant issues now probably include a need to replace the coolant tank behind the legshield.  The rear brake caliper has been making funny noises, so I am replacing that too.  It is old and feels it, but I took it out for a ride to charge the battery and the ride was still sweet.

Vanessa, the blue 2007 GT has always given me trouble.  It's current problems have been discussed here, mostly running with very low oil, probably burning out a crankshaft bearing.  It runs but knocks badly and would probably destroy itself if ridden very far.  It has broken and damaged parts everywhere but still has value to me.  I will probably be taking it in to ACE soon to get the engine repaired.

Razzo, the 2005 GT is beautiful but has a nasty steering wobble.  It also smells of gasoline often and makes terrible noises when starting, even after installing a new bendix.

I love all three but they are old.

Max is new and so easy to hop on and ride.  No problems.  No tools or spare parts needed to be carried on the rides.  Twice the storage and other advantages.  Not much personality and much bigger, but a fine scooter.

I am not sure what to do at the moment.  Probably fix all of them and keep them.  Maybe sell Razzo if the other two are good after the repairs.  We'll see.


Rocket loaded and ready to head to ACE for repairs.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Old Race Car Oyster Tour

A couple of months ago, Ken suggested we attend the vintage auto races and air gathering in Sebring.

It happened this past weekend.

I rode down on Max, the name I have given to the new Yamaha Xmax.

It is a fine scooter, fast, practical and reliable.  I bought a new windshield recently that has made it almost perfect for long rides.

Because we were staying at the Jacaranda, I headed down my usual way with a new twist of going onto 17, the Scenic Highway into Avon Park instead of the awful 27.  US17 to 15 to 33 to 17 into Avon Park.  It avoids highways and has some scenic areas.

I got there first, checked in, walked onto the balcony across from my room, looked down and saw the ugly blue MP3 parked next to Max.  Ken arrived.

He immediately said we should ride to Sebring to see what was going on, so we headed down to the race track.  We were not all that interested to see much on this day, so when it cost $20.00 to get onto the grounds, we decided to ride around the outside of the track to a place where we have watched the action previously.  It turned out to be perfect for what we were looking to see.

We then rode back to Avon Park for happy hour at 18 East, our favorite local restaurant, fortunately across the street from the Jacaranda.  Dave, the owner, Pam and Drew took care of us like they usually do.  The Tuna tacos were perfect.

On Saturday, our friend Shane said he would meet us at the track at 11:30.  We arrived earlier, watched some racing, walked around the paddock to see the cars and mechanics, then met him near the bridge to the grandstands.

Shane is an interesting person.  He ran his Vespa Sei Giorni in this year's Cannonball.  Apparently, he made a fortune starting and running several businesses when young.  Now he plays jazz trumpet with his trio in local clubs and rides his Vespa around Sarasota in the winters, Western North Carolina in the summers.  Not a bad life.

We walked around the paddock again so Shane could see the show, watched a little racing, then left for lunch and for him to head back to Sarasota for his gig that night.  Ken and I followed to Arcadia, where we found ice cream and brownies at the Oak Street Deli.

We sent Shane off and Ken and I had a beautiful ride back to Avon Park.  The sun was getting lower so the light was great for a few riding photographs.

We liked the tacos so much that we headed back to 18 East to dine and watch the Georgia vs Alabama SEC Championship game on the bar TV.  As we predicted, Georgia found a way to lose after leading most of the game. 

We stuck around on Sunday to have an early lunch at the Jacaranda before heading out.  The brunch is famous around the area.  I am not sure why.  It was ok, but next time we will head to one of the local taquerias for fresh Mexican food.

I took the same route home.  Encountered some rain in the Ocala National Forest, then as I got near home some more.  Luckily I had my rain gear, but Max is a fine rain machine with the new windshield.  I can tuck behind it and barely get wet in the light rain I encountered.

As usual, I had a very nice time riding around and dining with my great friend Ken.

We are doing it again in another weeks, this time with our friend Warren, who is coming with his wife from Kentucky.

If I can get Rocket's water pump fixed before then, I will be riding it down.

No Vespas this time.  Just Max and Ken's ugly, blue, unloved MP3

Headed to the Sebring Raceway on Friday

Parked outside the grounds, but we could watch the race.  For free.

Racing action from outside

The winner

 Indy Car and IMSA car in the same race

Saturday from the grandstands

It is very informal.  We could walk through the pits to Victory Lane.

A beautiful Austin Healy.
The dog was only for show, but the car was racing well until it threw a rod.

Ford GT40

P-51 Mustang

Shane and Ken before heading to Arcadia

Downtown Arcadia.  We got desserts in the Oak Street Deli. 

The ride back to Avon Park.

Ken threw in a few miles of dirt roads, just to get me back in the saddle.  These were easy.

Cows and orange groves are pretty much all you see in this part of Florida.

The sun kept getting lower, and the light better, as we rode. 

Another ride on Sunday morning.  Always nice to hop on the scooters.

The Grand Buffet


Art is a strange thing.

Especially modern art.

But we went to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art a couple of days ago.

We started on the fourth floor, and headed to the most basic of modern art.

The first paintings were blocks of color that, while cool on some level, look like something I could create in half a day in my garage.  But I didn't come up with the idea and convince critics that is is indeed art.

From there we continued to move around and the art became much more to my liking.

Andy Warhol, Roy Liechtenstein, Henri Matisse, Alexander Calder, Paul Klee, Jackson Pollack and my new favorite, Wayne Thiebaud.

I decided to try to photograph the simple works in a simple form, straight ahead with lines as square as possible with a touch of floor on each.

I learned a bit while there and enjoyed everything I saw.

Sara and Sam in front of a rainy window.

Sam contemplating the art.

Sam again.