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The first bottle of 2-stroke oil

October 16, 2006

Motul 710 2-stroke oil

I did go for a ride yesterday, though the blue sky and fluffy white clouds gave way very quickly to gray skies and sprinkles. Can’t put it off too long, the riding in the rain…

This would be a good opportunity to pre-run a route I have been thinking of for a group ride. My route would take in all the great vistas from the top of Queen Anne Hill, including the world-famous picture postcard view from Kerry Park.

Just before going to bed, I had one of those nagging “did you turn the fuel off?” feelings, so I went down to the garage to check the fuel petcock. It was off, but I also saw a white bubble in the oil-level viewer.

There is no dipstick in the PX’s oil tank, just a clear plastic cylinder enclosing a white cone-shaped probe. When I picked the bike up, the cylinder was entirely submerged, but now, at 209 miles, a bubble exposed the top fifth or so of the probe. Luckily, the oil Vespa Seattle used is a dark teal color, making this easy to spot. I have heard of clear 2-stroke oil, which would make this check very difficult!

Remember, a 2-stroke engine is supposed to burn oil; that’s how the engine gets lubricated. In this case, the oil is injected into the carburator. Vintage Vespas had no such modern convenience, requiring the owner to carry a bottle of 2-stroke oil and a measuring cup so as to mix the fuel and oil when refueling. Unless you lived in Italy, where gas stations once sold something called “scooter mix,” a properly-mixed combination of gas and oil straight from a pump.

Remember, too, the PX requires 2-stroke oil, specifically one meeting the TC standard set by the American Petroleum Institute. The 5W-30 you might use in your car will gum up the works in no time, so save that stuff for your car.

Luckily, there’s a place nearby that has many different kinds of 2-stroke oil. Prices range from $2.99 for a quart to $3.79 for a liter (which is 1.05 quarts). I go for the $2.99 stuff. Remember, it’s going to be burned.

While the fractured English of the PX’s owner’s manual is amusing, there unfortunately is no specific language saying just where the minimum mark of the plastic cylinder is… just a big black arrow pointing to a picture of the cylinder. Upon closer examination, there’s an engraved circle surrounding a bit of flash that is probably where the piece was attached to a “tree” during the molding process. I guess that’s it. I’ll add oil when it gets close to that mark. Favicon

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