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Does this mean 7 years of bad luck?

March 16, 2007

Everywhere, it seems, construction projects are wrappling up. My condo building, for instance. The Fremont Bridge. And the Allentown Trolley.

Okay, Seattle Streetcar. Whatever you want to call it, the tracks at Fred Hutch going toward the south end of Lake Union have been laid, and appear almost ready to go.

I’m headed south on Fairview, really liking the absence of barricades and the smooth transitions between tracks and pavement. Unfortunately, the latter come to an end as you make the curve to Valley Street. Westbound, you get a big ka-whoomph; the old railroad tracks were pretty mild in comparison.

Post ka-whoomph, I glance toward my right-hand mirror and see it laying on my arm!! What?

This used to happen pretty regularly to the ET. The mirrors were the worst part about that bike; the plastic sheaths over the mirror shafts were ill-fitting, and the attachments to the headset were prone to work loose. Even more infuriating, the right mirror screwed into a threaded fitting, held by a lock nut, while the left one was held in by a nut on a threaded shaft that you accessed from the bottom of the headset. You needed three different tools to deal with all this. Arrgh!

Okay, so the retaining nut worked loose. No big. Just about every fastener on a PX is accompanied by a lock washer (unlike a regular washer, these have a split on one side, and are slightly spring-shaped) because the thing vibrates, especially at idle. There’s a spot next to the pedestrian triangle at the intersection with Westlake… I’ll just pull in there and assess the situation.

Headset owie, complete with bandage

I grab the mirror by the shaft. It’s loose, all right… so loose, it comes right out of the hole! Upon closer inspection, I see a nice, clean break at the bottom of the shaft. Looking down the hole in the headset, I could see the top of the threaded extension, all snug in its fitting. Victor said this would happen.

That’d be the owner of Vespa Seattle, who told me that the headset mirrors on PXs are prone to break off like this. And no, the warranty doesn’t cover the repair job, which can cost upwards of $300 because the threaded part has to be removed from the fitting in the headset, a very tedious process.

However, this is not cause for alarm. The mirrors on early P- and PX-series Vespas attached to a bracket that bolted to the underside of the headset. New PXs still have the threaded bosses where said bracket attached. In fact, Stellas’ mirrors attach in this fashion. Victor said I should think about making that change sooner or later.

Well, the issue has been forced. A bit of online shopping reveals left and right mirrors, complete with brackets and mounting hardware for $33.00 each at Scooterpartsdirect.com. If the right one has broken, the left one probably isn’t long for this world, either. Subtract 10% for an online order, add about 12 bucks for shipping, it comes to about $72.00. Not a sum of money I wanted to spend at the moment, but safety first, right?

An added bonus to this upgrade is the 13-inch shafts on the new mirrors. New PXs come with mirrors on 10-inch stalks. These afforded a better view of my shoulders and upper arms than of traffic behind and to the sides. Better than nothing, but the new ones should be far enough apart to keep my body out of the field of view. Again, safety first.

Luckily, parking the bike won’t be necessary. The left mirror is still attached, so all it means is a slight adjustment in riding habits. I will just have to make sure I look over my right shoulder before making right turns or changing lanes. I’ve always tried to put a lot of body english into head-checks, in hopes that synapses in the brains of at least a few following motorists might fire, sending the message, “this guy’s getting ready to change lanes.” Of course I use the turn signals, too!

Still, I plan to stick as much as possible to lightly-traveled streets until the new mirrors arrive. The search for a rubber plug to fill the hole in the plastic top half of the headset has so far proven fruitless, so there’s a piece of black duct tape there to keep water out. Since the same piece on a Stella lacks the holes, and according to Scooterworks is identical (and pretty cheap at $25.00), replacing it might be a good idea. Painting would be the big question.

But a bigger question will be, what if the new mirrors don’t arrive in time for Spring Scoot? Favicon

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