Friday night I spun at Kincora until the wee hours. It was lots of fun, as Susie was there for most of the night, and I was wasted. I was surprised by money twice in the evening. First, a friend paid me the $240 he owed me for the balance on a bike I sold him a while back. Second, instead of paying us $100, the bar paid us $165, so my share was $55 instead of $33. Sweet. I bought everyone breakfast at Denny's to celebrate. We got to bed at around 4.
Saturday I got up around 11 to help Otis with what I thought would be a reasonably simple scooter fix. A couple weeks ago, he'd accidentally doused the bike with gasoline (Zoolander style) and shortly thereafter, it started blowing fuses every time he turned it on, so he had no lights. I'd checked it out soon after, but couldn't find anything obvious, so we figured that gas had spilled down in to the frame and corroded wires under the tank. Not a wonderful thing to deal with, but could certainly be worse.
Otis brought the bike over and we unloaded it and tore in to it. I'll say this now - if you ever have the choice between pulling the tank and air box out of a late model Bajaj scooter or say, shoving an angry porcupine up your ass, you should look in to that second activity. I can't get over what a pain in the ass this operation is. For the technically minded, it goes like this:
1. Remove the seat. Bonus points if you're Otis and you've got to seats instead of a bench, plus a rear rack. All of it has to come off.
2. Disconnect the fuel gauge sender and the vapor return hose that comes off the tank.
3. Undo all the bolts (there shouldn't be a lot left after removing the seats)
4. Remove the cap from the selector and pull it off.
5. Lift the tank out.
6. Put the tank back in, put the cap back on the selector, and use it to turn the gas off. (Optional - Only necessary if you're us.)
7. Repeat steps 4-5.
8. Make a drawing of all the hoses you're now looking at, because you're going to mess them up
9. Remove the hoses from the airbox.
10. Remove the two bolts that hold the airbox in. Can't get to them can you? No. They're behind the motor.
11. Remove the bolt holding the rear shock to the motor. Lift the back of the scooter so the motor drops a bit.
12. Try step 10 again. You still can't do it.
13. Remove the weirdly shaped cowling that covers the back part of the cylinder.
14. Try step 10 again. Still no walk in the park, but doable.
15. Solve the bizarre square peg through round hole puzzle and pull the airbox out of the cavity.
So yeah... that took a while. At this point, we're looking at a bunch of wires that all look fine. No corrosion or tears or anything. We start to suspect the regulator/rectifier, but vespaden talks us down from that, as the bike blows fuses when not running. Makes sense. So, we start the process of putting in a new fuse, wiggling wires around and waiting for it to blow, and then trying to figure out what we wiggled. This goes on for a long time, until we narrow it down to a bundle of wires that runs through the frame to the front. Fucker. We realize that we're probably going to have to pull the harness and inspect it.
So now, we have to pull the horncast/turn signal assembly off. This requires the glovebox to be pulled off and the crash bars in the front to be removed. We do all that and disconnect all the plugs up front in preparation for pulling them. We stop, however, thinking that maybe something up front is loose and causing the problem. So, we hook it all back up and wiggle it all around. No go. It's definitely somewhere in the frame. We disconnect everything again and set the horncast aside. There is a ton of wiring running to the front of this bike, and it all terminates in big lego looking plugs. We tape all this up in a line and make them as skinny as possible so they can slide through the tiny channel in the frame. I weave an old clutch cable with it's barrel nut end in to the longest bunch and tape it in so we can use it to pull the wires back through the frame later. It's now time to begin the frightening operation of pulling the harness through the frame. On slip mean disaster and many hours of trying to run the harness back through, or even buying a new harness and running it.
We start pulling the harness back in to the cavity and get it about 2/3 of the way there before it catches on something and we decide to stop. At this point, the end of the harness is way down in the frame and not going further, but it can still be pulled forward, so that's good. We inspect the wires and it all looks good. Not even a little bit of corrosion.
At this point we're pretty frustrated because we can't figure out where this short can be. Nothing looks corroded or rotted at all. In fact, this wiring all looks brand new. This is a four year old bike with like 16000 miles on it. I'm not believing how good it still looks.
We decide to take a step back and assess what we've got so far. The whole time we've been taking care to mentally inventory everything we disconnect and try to remember where it all goes. Otis picks up a pair of wires and says "Where do these go?"
"They're uh... no... wait. They go to... no... those are over there... Dude. I don't know what the fuck those are."
We notice that they're split off the front part of the harness - a part that was well within the frame. I note their color and look them up in the wiring diagram. Turns out they go to the rear brake light switch. Otis had told me earlier that stepping on the rear brake didn't make the light come on. The way he'd explained it was as if he'd known this to be normal and that his bike had always done it. What he really meant was that he was checking all his lights a couple days ago when it wasn't blowing fuses, and he noticed that the pedal didn't make the light come on. I don't think he actually knew whether or not that was normal. Turns out it's not normal... There's a switch attached to the rear brake pedal that activates the light. It's very similar to the one on a Vespa. So here were two loose wires that we hadn't made any effort to disconnect from a component we knew to be failing. This was looking like our guilty party.
We were out of fuses, so we went (hey... pardon my bad tense changing grammar in this story) to the auto parts store to get some more. While there, I bought a motorcycle jack. It kicks ass. I can't wait to jack something up.
We got back to the bike and put in a new fuse and turned it on. All looked well. We touched the hot lead for the brake light switch to the frame and blew the fuse. Yep... this was it.
Otis had his brakes worked on a few months ago by Maharaja Motors, the awful awful Bajaj dealer here in Seattle. They'd changed his brake cable and neglected to hook up the light switch. Amazingly, this problem didn't surface between then and the day Otis doused his bike. Even though the gas didn't cause the short, the short happened 30 minutes after the gas. How's that for bizarre?
It was getting dark and we'd been working on the bike for four and half hours. There was a ton of work to do to put it back together. Had we magically known what the problem was before we started, it would have taken about 15 minutes to fix, but now we had the bike half taken apart. We might as well have painted it at this point. We called it a day.
After working on the bike, Susie and I got some food and then went to Best Buy and Target. I got a DDR dance mat and we got a shelfy thing that goes over our toilet. I call it upper-deck protection, but Susie refers to it as "storage". I spent an hour or so putting it together and downloaded DDR Ultramix 2 or some shit from the internet. I started transferring it to the xbox at about 12, but it looked like it was going to be a while, so we went to bed.
Sunday, I got up and played a little DDR, which is cool, but I suck at it. Also, it's not like the arcade. Our pad is pretty good, but not perfect. DDR also seems to hurt the shit out of my feet, the same way snowboarding does. Sweet. I'm getting better at it though, and maybe if I keep doing it, my feet will get stronger and that will make snowboarding better.
After DDR, I spent a few hours with Otis putting his scooter back together. Then we went to see the other Otis about some gooooooood ass southern barbecue. vespaden will be pleased to know that the most awesome gumbo the world has ever witnessed once again made an appearance, and was promptly eaten. Oh so good. Sooooo good.
Last night, we watched an old episode of Scrubs that the internet gave us, as well as a screener copy of Ladder 49 (also given to us by the internet). The movie was uh... alright. It didn't make me mad or anything, so I guess it was ok.
Then we went to bed and I woke up this morning and played DDR some more and said goodbye to the dog and came to work.