Monday, May 30, 2016

Cannonball Preparations: Small Parts

Getting ready requires spare parts.  Here are the little ones.  Some will be going onto Razzo now. Some will just come along in case something breaks.  I will be adding a headlight and spark plug too.

Drain plug O-rings, Variator and Clutch nuts.  Always better to start with new ones.

Vacuum fuel pump.  Russ had one go out so it goes into the spare parts bag.

When you run stock exhaust, you need these.  I had one go out during day one last time.

Bendix, part of the starter.  This was purchased because Vanessa's is going out.
I may hold off installing it on that one and carry it as a spare.

I lost one of these clear air filter box cups recently.
I got two, one to replace the missing piece, the other as a spare.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Cannonball Preparations: Carburetor

With the Scooter Cannonball Run getting closer, now 5 weeks and two days away, I thought it would be a good idea to change the tone of Rocket and Me to reflect on the big event.

Two weeks ago, I ordered parts from George at ScooterPartsCo.  They are parts that I know can go bad on a big ride, so I will be either installing them now, or carrying them or replacements, just in case the scooter breaks something, like the variator last time.

One part that can go in a big way on these Vespa GT's is the carburetor.  At around 25,000 miles, they can start dropping pieces into the engine.  When this happens, all hell breaks loose. One GT I sold a few years ago dropped a valve and destroyed the top end of the engine.  This could have been caused by a carburetor part.  Russ, our fearless club leader, had a piece break off during a ride.  His engine stopped running and when he pulled the spark plug, he found the electrode smashed.  That is usually a telltale sign of a ruined engine, but this time a piece came free from the carburetor, went in the intake valve, then out the exhaust valve doing only very minor damage.  I had the carburetor fail on Rocket at around 50,000 miles, but no engine damage.

Because Razzo will have 20,000 miles on it at the start, and a new carburetor is less than $200.00 (significantly with George's SCR discount) I thought it best to go ahead and get it done.

So here is part one of the scooter prep.

Trying to make the photo a bit more interesting.

Up close.

Monday, May 23, 2016

MP3 Spring Gathering

We had the MP3 Spring Gathering over the weekend.  I believe that there were 4 MP3's there, surprisingly outnumbering the Honda NCX bikes.

I rode my Honda NC700X, leaving Jacksonville at 5:00.  I was to meet Adrian in Huntersville, NC at a sub shop at 11:00, but ran into constant rain in Columbia, SC up into Charlotte.  But weather be damned, I rode into the parking lot at exactly 11:00.  Wet and cold but I made it.

I stripped off the wet outer wear and had a nice lunch with Adrian before riding the remaining 230 miles to Douthat State Park in Virginia.

The weather was variable on that ride with some sun, but lots of fog and mist entering Virginia, so I didn't turn off onto the Blue Ridge Parkway and we stayed on the highways.

Adrian on the Highway

We arrived at around 4:00 and I went to check in, then to Cabin 15 that I was sharing with Ken and Gary.  They had arrived in Gary's truck with their scooters in the trailer.  Wimps.  Gary offered a couple of ice cold beers out of his Yeti Cooler.  Perfect.

Ken's Big Red

Honda and Gary's new Vespa GTS.  I borrowed Adrian's Air Hawk for a few miles and had it on when arriving.

The dam that makes the lake that makes the park.....

We then found that we were all supposed to be at an Jack Mason's Tavern in Clifton Forge.  We drove because Ken thought he may want a drink or two.  It was a well attended dinner with most of the participants included.

Dinner at the Tavern

After dinner we drove a little further to the Dairy Queen for ice cream.  What a treat!

Ken at DQ

Friday morning we awoke and headed to Penny's Diner a little further down the highway in Low Moor, then for the meet up at the BP station for an incredible ride.

Bikes at Penny's

Some of the riders inside

Rick and Amy had prepared a route of just over 200 miles of fine, twisty roads.  Rick led and asked me to ride sweep, or the last rider.

We rode mostly narrow roads through the forest for starters.

Then some sunny curves in the mountains

Probably my signature photo of the group

We rode through much of the area, stopping for lunch at the Peaks of Otter Lodge.  They had those cool black on white oval stickers you see everywhere.  These said POO.  I bought two.

Bikes in the parking lot at POO

The afternoon ride continued the great roads and we got back to the park after 5:00.

A ride in the woods

Dinner was in the park restaurant where we had the strangest service and food ever seen.  But the views and friendships were there so it was all fine.

We had the entire porch, almost.  At least we had a nice view.

Gary and Ken

The gang of scooter riders.

After the ride I realized that the new seat on my Honda was not well suited to me.  I got the sore butt that I had heard so much about but never experienced on the scooters.  I spotted a big, thick towel in the cabin and thought I could fold it and use it as a substitute to the favored Air Hawk seats.  I called it the "Towel Hawk" and it worked great on Saturday.  Two hours of comfortable riding.  We rode over to 39 for a fine ride to lunch in Marlinton, WV.  We ate on a porch overlooking the Greenbrier River.  After lunch, I decided to ride solo back to the park and enjoyed the freedom to ride my speed and stop wherever.

Misty, but still fun

More beautiful roads

Afternoon riding

Honda with the "Towel Hawk"

After dinner, George had decided to prepare a steak dinner for everyone.  The place was Noreen and Kevin's cabin, where preparations were made by George, Adrian and Adrian's daughter Isabella. Steaks were cooked outside on makeshift grills.  Everything was great, the best meal of the event.

George working on the sauce

Adrian cutting fruit

Isabella helping

Preparing the fire.

Ken and Mark helping Philip load his scooter

With the success of the towel I decided to buy one at the local CVS.  I got a beach towel and used it for the long return home.  Unfortunately, it was not as plush as the cabin towel and began to cause discomfort after less than 100 miles.  It was a miserable ride home due to the seat, but I made it home before 6:00.  Much fun was had by all.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

MP3 Spring Gathering in Virginia

This weekend is the time for the Spring Gathering of the MP3 riders group.  They started several years ago, with the ride of choice being the strange Piaggio MP3.  This scooter is one with three wheels, two in the front and one in the rear.  The front wheels are close together and designed in a way to lean like a two wheeler.  Their appearance is ungainly at best.

Awkward but fun to ride, so I am told.

I attended the Fall Gathering in 2014 and the Spring Gathering in 2015.  It is a fine mix of riders with many friends, all made through scooting, attending.

The bike of choice has changed a bit over the years with several of the riders trading the three wheeler for Honda NC700X motorcycles.  I rode mine to the Fall Gathering.

So this month has been dedicated to getting my NC ready for the long ride to Virginia.  It had gotten to almost 14,000 miles and needed tires.  I had been told that the chain often starts to fall apart by that mileage, so chain and sprockets needed to be replaced too.  And the stock seat is the most painful place to sit I have ever encountered, so a new seat was in order.

My friend, Drew, asked recently if he could borrow the bike for his son Sean to use on a big Father Son ride from Denver to Banff and back in June.  I said yes and Drew wanted to pay for all the replacements for the ability to use the bike for the ride.  I said no, but he then moved to the seat.  Since he had a relationship with Sargent, a local seat manufacturer, he called them to place the order.  Last week it arrived, the most beautiful seat seen on a NC.  He even got the cover for the pillion seat.  It came loose and I called Sargent yesterday to have it installed on the seat pan.  They said, "Bring it over and we will install it."  No charge.  And, of course, Drew wouldn't let me pay for the front seat and seat cover either.  The Honda now has new Michelin Pilot Road 4 tires front and rear, a new chain and seat.  Ready to rock and roll.

What a good looking, and hopefully comfortable, new seat.

I am meeting my friend Adrian in Charlotte, midway to the gathering.  He and I will ride together into Virginia where we will finally get off the highway for the last 150 miles on the Blue Ridge Parkway and other small mountain roads to Douthat State Park.

The weather is questionable for the entire time of the ride, but I am going anyway.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Scooter Cannonball Run: Two months until the start.

I guess that says it all.  The big ride is looming.  And I can't wait.

The scooter of choice continues to be Razzo, but Vanessa has been very sweet lately.  She starts, idles and runs perfectly now.  Her brakes and suspension are better than the others too.
But she has a coolant leak that I haven't sourced yet and the bendix is not working every time.  Wouldn't want to be in the middle of a Cannonball day and have her not start.  Her fuel gauge is also broken, but the light comes on when it is 25 miles from running dry.

But Razzo is a 2005, so the handicap is one point better.  It is the fastest of the three, but does not idle well and there is a disturbing knock, that I am hoping is rollers.  It also races when starting, both cold and warm.  Something is up with the choke.  The idle and choke issues probably will have me replacing both the choke and carburetor before the start.

I have tires, belts and exhaust gaskets ready to go.