Monday, April 30, 2018


The Lambretta died while riding a couple of weeks ago.

I was arranging to have it serviced by Chris and Alex at ACE, but decided to see if it would start this past Saturday.

I kicked it three times and it fired right up.

I couldn't let that happen without a big ride so I geared up and headed out.

With it's reliability suspect, I chose to ride within a few miles of home, but got in at least 25 miles of riding.  And as the miles add up, it keeps getting better.

The stiff throttle is getting lighter.  The clutch lever the same.

It still wants to jump out of second and third gear, and the front brake is worthless, but it is a hoot to ride.

Sunday was beautiful, so I rode it again, this time a little further from home.  I stopped to talk to my friend Drew for a few minutes.  It started on the first kick after we ended the discussion.

Then I rode around looking for a photo op and decided to go by the River House that I designed and was completed a couple of years ago.  It continues to be my favorite project ever, and that is getting reinforced as Southern Living magazine is coming by this month to photograph it for an article in an upcoming issue.

I was so confident that it would restart that I turned it off.  After the minute or so to shoot the photograph, it wouldn't start.  I gave it a break of a few minutes and it still didn't start.  After another break I kicked several times in succession and it finally fired up.  But in doing this, my bad knee got tweaked and started hurting.  I could barely walk for a while.

I rode it home and put it up for the rest of the day.  It is truly a cool machine.  I enjoy riding it a lot.  It is painfully slow, going through the four gears.....10 mph in first, 15 in second, maybe 20 in third to finally get into fourth.  From there it is good for maybe 45 mph, but it probably takes 20 seconds to get there.  It challenges my need for speed, but I have come to the realization that it is a lot more fun to ride it like it prefers.  So we go slow and easy and enjoy the ride.

Today I took Rocket to work.  When I arrived I had a message that clients on the other side of town wanted to meet to talk about an addition to their house.  I rode Rocket, briefly on I-95, then down Hendricks Avenue and San Jose Boulevard.  It felt like a rocket ship compared to the old Lambretta.  I would tear away from traffic at lights and pass anyone I wanted, whenever I felt like passing.  It is such a cool machine.

But I truly like both.

At the park on Saturday

At the River House on Sunday

Waiting for it to be able to start.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Look at Your Engine

Last weekend I was doing some work on Rocket.  I had worn the back tire to the wear bars in 6000 miles and chose to replace it with one in the garage that had a few thousand left on it. 

Because the exhaust comes off to take the rear wheel off, I decided to take advantage of the accessibility of the oil filter to change the oil after 4500 miles.

While doing this I bumped the string trimmer that I hang from the rafters and it came crashing down, ripping a hole in my right arm.  It happens too often.  Been wearing long sleeve shirts all week to keep it covered.

But the look at your engine comes from the next part.

The idle was low so I opened the engine compartment to adjust the idle screw.  What I found was a coating of oil in some areas.  This had collected sand at the rear fender, making an oily mess.  After searching for the source I noticed a loose hose from the air filter to the engine head.  It was loose at the air filter with no clamp.

So I cleaned it up, then found a clamp in my spare parts box and tightened it up.

It had been a while since looking, so it could have been that way for a while.

I hope that sand didn't get sucked into the engine head.


Friday, April 20, 2018

Lostboater Heads West

April 19 marked the unofficial beginning of the 2018 Scooter Cannonball Run for my team, Squadra Lumaca.

It began when Ken, Lostboater, left his home in St. Petersburg, Florida, heading to California.

I couldn't let him leave without some support, so I rode to Perry to meet up with him, then ride to Port St. Joe for his first overnight.

I started by leaving my new camera at my office.  I realized it ten miles into the ride but couldn't turn back as I had timed it close to meet Ken.

So I used my five year old iPhone for the few photos.

He wasn't at McDonalds, the meeting place when I arrived.  It turned out he had arrived quite a bit early and  used the time to go shopping.  He made it back a few minutes after I got there.

We decided to wait until Eastpoint to eat Lynn's, our favorite.  But as we passed Posey's in Panacea, Ken circled back for us to dine there.  I had the fried shrimp lunch special, Ken had a grouper salad.  Both were very good.

We then continued to Port St. Joe, where we booked a room at the Port Inn, an old but remodeled place downtown.  We had drinks in their bar, then walked downtown for dinner, where we selected the Indian Pass Raw Bar for oysters and wings.

We walked around the town in the morning, had breakfast in the hotel, then off he went heading 3000 miles west as I turned east for the 270 mile ride home.

I will see him again on May 24th in Morro Bay.

It begins.

Refueling in Apalachicola

Sun setting on our after dinner walk around Port St. Joe.

Getting ready for the ride out.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Life is Good!

Two weeks ago I finally bought a truck.  Not a new one, it is a 2004 Toyota Tacoma, but one in good condition and in a configuration I had been seeking.

It is an XtraCab with the four cylinder engine and a five speed manual transmission.

The windows go up and down by turning the crank by hand.

The interior was well cared for, looking almost new.

And the owner kept all of her service records in the 13 years of ownership.

So far I have driven it over 700 miles and like it a lot.

Last Saturday, I used it for what I bought it for, transporting a scooter.  This was to retrieve my 1965 Lambretta Li125 from my friend Boris in Sanford, Florida.

His house is 120 miles south so I took I-95 down but after seeing a crawling northbound traffic, came home on US17.

He had repaired the scooter, so I tested it on the road for a few miles.  The clutch finally works properly, fully releasing tension when pulled.  I can now get it into first gear while stopped.

But it wants to jump out of second and third gear.

I will take it to ACE for fine tuning in the coming months.

We loaded it into the truck and I headed home.

Once back in Jacksonville, I offloaded in the driveway.  Almost a disaster.  Boris gave me two wooden ramps that he had as replacement for two I gave him years ago.  These are shorter and the caps do not hold onto the tailgate very well.  I began pushing it off, intending to use the front brake to slow the movement.  I sat on it to get better balanced, then placed the rear wheel on the ramp.  Gravity took it from there and the front brake did nothing to control the descent.  We came very close to crashing onto the driveway.  When down, I looked at the ramp and only maybe a half inch was still on the tailgate, so it could have collapsed while on it too.  But we made it and I rode around the neighborhood in a light rain.

At one intersection, where I had the right of way, a truck pulled to his stop sign, missed seeing me, and decided to head into my path.  I hit the brakes and found that the rear brake works well, locking the rear wheel.  But I controlled it well and he stopped before causing a mess.

I now have a truck and the Lambretta back.  Life is indeed good again!

Boris, truck and Lambretta at his compound in Sanford.

Back in the garage with it's cousin Rocket.

Also, after getting a new top on the Miata last year, I finally got all of the mechanical demons repaired in the last couple of months.  It had been leaking loads of oil onto the office garage floor, and smelling of oil after every ride.  I took it to my friend Pablo's garage.  He diagnosed that it needed oil seals replaced, but also a new water pump and timing belt.

The shifter in the formerly slick six speed manual transmission had become a loose device, moving more than an inch in any of the gears.  I had him look at this too and it needed new bushings and boots.  So Pablo installed all of this, along with new spark plugs, oil, etc.

It is now running better than ever.  I can't wait to run an autocross in it, seeing if I still can keep up with the youngsters running now.  And Fast Phil too.

Time for an edit with so many things finally going well.  For the past several weeks, I have been looking for my Spot, a device for locating me while out on a cross country scooter trip.  It is very handy in using Dave Bednarski's Followride, a program that keeps track of all the participants in the Scooter Cannonball Run.  Friends back home followed me and others last time, making it fun for them.  I found it earlier this week!

I have also been looking for the master keys for Rocket and Razzo.  They were nowhere to be found.  I looked in the house, office and garage.  Nowhere.  But today I was thinking, the last place I remember seeing them was in the bedside table that was next to the bed when we lived in the duplex.  so I was about to ask for the key to the duplex when I spotted the table in the middle bedroom in the new house.  I pulled open the drawer and there they were!

The last worry that was resolved last week was permitting for a riverfront house I designed since the owner's old house flooded in Hurricane Irma.  I finished the plans a several weeks ago.  The contractor was finalizing pricing and got the plans into the building department a week ago.  He got them back with comments that must be resolved before the permit is issued.  I feared that I may have gotten the required setbacks wrong, or that the very complicated flood resistant foundation system may have been designed incorrectly.  But the only questions were administrative and a demand that we add an electrical receptacle near the mechanical equipment outside.  Now I can sleep better.