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Karma chameleon houndstooth

April 7, 2009
Letting the neighbors know

Orin O'Neill cell phone photos

Turns out the GTS’ emergency cutoff switch was in the “off” position. Guh!

Of course it won’t start that way. Flip it to the “on” position, hit the starter button, it starts.

Sunday was a really nice day, so I decided to take the GTS out and run laps around West Seattle. I had siphoned a gallon and change out of the GTS’ gas tank, and, still thinking the problem might be some bad gas, figured the easiest way to purge it is to burn it.

First lap, no problem. Second lap, it dies on Erskine Way, but fires right back up. Third lap, it dies about halfway up the Admiral Way hill. After letting it sit for about 10 minutes, I coax the engine to life and continue up the hill.

The side street shortcut to the swingin’ bachelor pad appears, so I decide to take it. The GTS’ engine dies again at 47th & Hanford. This time, it won’t start. At all. Well, I’m only a few blocks from home, and climbing the stairway (many streets in Seattle have gaps bridged with stairs) will be good exercise.

Later that evening, I walk back down and try to start the GTS. The starter cranks, but the engine won’t fire. Crap. It’s parked on a residential street, so it should be okay where it is until Monday, at least.

Monday morning, I go back and try to fire it up one more time. The starter cranks, but there’s an initial hesitation. Hoo-boy, the battery is getting drained. And it still won’t start.

I’m a bit relieved. It’s become apparent some component that was in the process of failing has now failed. It will be easier for Big People to figure out what’s wrong. It ain’t working at all, instead of not working under circumstances they might have trouble duplicating. In fact, there’s a diagnostic tool that plugs into the ECU, which will display fault codes that should pinpoint the problem. Like a new car. That’s what I like most about the GTS.

I wrote the note in the picture above to let the neighbors know the GTS was not abandoned. This morning I returned to find the note still there, and no orange Parking Enforcement sticker on it.

Another call to AAA had a different guy with a giant tilt-bed wrecker on the scene exactly five minutes later than the lady on the phone said he’d get there. Hey, the GTS was not parked in the easiest place to find.

The GTS, ready to roll

You’ll notice the front wheel is attached to a rather cool tow dolly. The tie-down straps attach to the dolly, which is hooked to a winch and pulled onto the tilt bed. I didn’t need to touch the scooter, unlike last time. Something like this would make hauling a scooter in a pickup truck a lot easier to do by yourself. And if you’re handy, you could fabricate something like this fairly easily.

In no time, we’re at Big People. Unloading the GTS is even easier than loading it, and we were able to take advantage of the handy loading zone across Vale Street from the shop. I wheeled the scooter onto the sidewalk behind a group already parked there.

Joe says it’ll be Thursday before they’ll be able to look at it. Whatever. I just hope the problem is minor. And inexpensive.

A 1.5 hour bus ride later, I’m home. Today is a great day for a ride. Good thing I have two scooters. Favicon

  1. Jack Monaghan permalink
    April 8, 2009 6:11 am

    I’ve been following this saga with interest since I also own an ’06 GTS. I really doubted the bad gas theory. Because it was intermittent I hesitated to tell you this, but now…

    My bike failed to restart after attending the 2% Inland Invasion rally last year. I ended up taking it to Spokane Vespa who found I had a failed fuel pump. Check some of the blogs and you will find that there have been a lot of these failures. Vespa even switched manufacturers for this part. The repair WAS NOT cheap $500 for parts and labor. OUCH. Hopefully you will fare better but be warned!

  2. April 8, 2009 7:53 am


    While it is more inconvenient this way . . . it may be the best solution to solving your problem. At least you weren’t in the boonies with NO cell phone service.

    hope the problem is minor.

    I know what you mean about having 2 (two) bikes. I used to have 2 scooters & a bike, but now down to one of each. My scooter is also at the dealer for a new ECU on recall to solve cold weather starting issues, so (like yourself) I am riding my “backup” vehicle and they are also installing “heated” hand gripes


  3. April 8, 2009 9:53 am

    Jack, I’ve not been totally convinced the problem was bad gas, either. I fill the GTS at the Shell station at Admiral & 41st, or the 76 at California & Andover. Both places are high-volume stations with fairly new tanks, so there’s little reason to believe their gas sits around long enough to absorb impurities.

    In fact, I will be surprised if the problem isn’t the fuel pump. The GTS would run fine, then drop to idle speed for 5-6 seconds before shutting off. Lack of fuel pressure would be a very reasonable explanation, especially since fuel injection operates at much higher fuel pressure than a carburetor.

    I’m hoping good karma will come into play here. The GTS could’ve croaked halfway home from Bellingham, but it died close to home. If the fuel pump is bad, it will (hopefully) be replaced with one of the better ones, even if it is going to be expen$ive…

  4. Jim permalink
    April 9, 2009 10:38 am

    I completely understand your frustration. I just installed a new LML 150 in my P125X. I was so excited to go for my first ride. I got two blocks from home and the bike died. I pushed it home. At first I thought it was a fuel problem, so I drained the gas tank, cleaned it and the fuel lines out, cleaned the jets on the brand new carburator. Next I thought it was a problem with how I had done the wiring to the stator. I redid all of the wire connections for a second time. The bike started but would die everytime I got on it. I thought it had a pinched fuel line (not the problem). The bike would start but as soon as I set down on it would die. Then I happened to notice that if I turned the front wheel to the right the vespa would die The wiring to the kill switch had shorted out and everytime I sat on the bike or turn the wheel to the right the short would occur and the bike would die. Motto to story, owning two bike are better than one, you need one to ride and one to repair. Especially on nice days!

  5. April 10, 2009 8:18 am

    People love to blame bad gas like food poisoning is the best excuse for not coming to work. The Vespa GTS has too many electronic boxes in my opinion. I took the wife’s ET4 to work again this week and it purrs along (with 6,000 miles on the clock) at an indicated 65mph and is a joy to ride. I am convinced had I bought a midnight blue GT200 I would still be riding it- 15 mpg less than the GTS, 5mph slower perhaps but…Luckily I got the GTS and have 24,000 trouble free miles on the Bonneville.

  6. Jack Monaghan permalink
    April 11, 2009 5:01 pm

    Pretty good suspense thriller. Sitting here wanting to know what the shop says about your GTS. Are you building the drama or do you know yet?

    By the by. Several of us from Spokane are traveling to Bellingham to pick up bikes from Chispa. Sad to see them go but can’t pass up the deals. We will be adding our 4TH scoot to the stable. Thanks for all your writing and keeping us informed!

  7. April 12, 2009 10:49 am

    I don’t know yet. I hope they figure it out soon, and I hope the solution will be cheap.

    Oh, and congrats to all the Spokane folks on their new rides. I confess, I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the inventory list and wishing I could pick up a scooter. Or two…

  8. Jaxk Monaghan permalink
    April 12, 2009 7:18 pm

    I hear you. A recession priced discount repair would be great. Be sure to let us know.

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