The Mother Ship is Down but Episode 82 is Up


I got the blue screen of death last week when I went to power up my main computer. I was trying to think green and powered it down for the first time in months. It is still down, so I turned to my laptop to produce this week’s podcast (sorry about the audio quality). I have gotten a few comments and emails about using the scooter forums and on the show talked about my point of view.

In the spirit of open communication most of the forums are very lightly moderated. This means you get all kinds of information and feedback, sometime very critical feedback. Don’t you love the ones that end with “you suck, die you idiot”. So who do I believe? I always suggest that you first develop friendships in your local scooter community. This is a significant for me to say, because I tend to be a real loner. But you need these contacts with people you can trust. I like the web and count on my internet friends, but it doesn’t take the place of sitting down with someone while you are stripping an engine.

As for the other big question, “do buy local or buy on the web?” I say, it depends. Since I have a local scooter shop I know from experience that I can trust their recommendations. I also know what they can’t do for me. Around here, it can take forever to get some things done or to get parts, so I have gotten comfortable in going to the web for things I know I can’t get locally. The trick is you must know your own scoot, do your research before you buy and never spend more on an internet purchase than you can afford to loose.

Scooter Web Picks

Music for this show is from the Pod safe music network. Featured are Kick and Holler by Dare Dukes and Keep Movin Jaik Miller Band

Uship Feedback and Buying off the Web – Episode 81


I always appreciate the feedback that listeners give me regarding the show. Shortly after posting the last show I got a email from a listener saying that he didn’t like Uship. I went back to the Internet and began to search for Uship complaints. but the comments are mostly about the shippers. The rub seems to be that some don’t have the proper license to haul state to state. The implication is that if you have a license you are more legitimate and trustworthy. At a minimum, it means that you are probably running a real business. It seems to me that this is like most web deals and you should follow the age old caveat, “buyer beware.” Ask the shipper for their DOT number, then check on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website. Like other web transactions, never deal in cash or money transfers, especially before your property has delivered. You are always better off working through Paypal or using your credit card. And last, if you run into problems, meaning something fraudulent is done, report the shipper to the Uship and to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

I picked up on another posting that came through the forums talking about a Vespa restorer in Spain. The shop is called Harry’s Scooters. The shop is in Barcelona and it made me think about how we don’t get much negative feedback about resorted Vespas coming from Europe. I wonder if this reflects the fact that old school scooting in Europe is more of a passion than a business. Just look at the racing heritage and the kind of rallies and their club activities. It seems to me that our European friends are less concerned about making a buck and more interested in continuing the tradition.

Music for this show is from the Podsafe Music Network and features I Love You Honey But I Hate Your Band and Im Invisible by The New Duncan Imperials

Ducati Moped Restoration Update

Yes it looks pretty good, but it won’t start. You might remember that I began this restoration over a year ago. Tonight I went back and looked at the pictures I took before starting and I wondered how I ever thought it would be possible to bring this thing back to life. I am a persistent twit and haven’t given up and I won’t. The spark is weak, so my next move will be trying to locate a new stator. My repair of the old one was a little dodgy, as it looked salvageable, but may not have been. Enjoy the all the before and after pictures here and in the photo album. I will let you know more about bring it alive as soon as I track down some new electrics.

Uship and a New Resoration Project – Episode 80


Fall has finally made it south of the Mason-Dixon Line and I have said goodbye to 70 degree afternoon scoots . It has been raining, but this past week it turned cold. One of our club members, Dave, suggested a First Gear riding suit. It is perfect for the sub-50 degree weather we have been having.

My new project bike was dropped off in the middle of the night last weekend. It is a well used 1966 Harley Davison Sprint 250cc. The old girl is a twin to the one my dad gave me when I started high school. I won it on eBay using auto-bidding software. I was tired of being out bid at the last moment. The one I like is called eSnipe. It places a bid with as little as six seconds left in the auction and by-passes the competitive bidding that takes place in the last 5 minutes of an auction.

I am in Richmond, Virginia and the bike was in Maryland. At first I thought about driving up to get it, but remembered an email that came a few months earlier from Uship asking to advertise on my website. I declined their offer. In the past I have shipped via Forward Air. It is dependable and safe, but expensive, so I have been looking for an alternative. Uship is an online service where shippers compete for your business. There is a sign-up process, and it cost a couple of bucks for each shipment, but the whole thing is very easy. After you register, just provide a few details regarding the scoot or bike. As soon as you post the shipment on their website the bids start rolling in.

On the site, every shipper is rated by customers who have used them. My bike was handled by Will from New Jersey. He brokers shipments up and down the east coast. All I had to do was give him the contact information of the seller and he arranged for pickup, stored the bike in a locked building and made delivery to me within two weeks, all for only $150. All payments were handled securely through pay pal.

Even Marcel’s was excited to see new two-wheeled purchase. Her only comment was, “well it’s not as rusted as the last one.” The last one she is talking about is my 1965 Ducati moped. I have been putting the finishing touches on it by mounting the tires, adjusting the shift cables and waiting for a few last minute parts to come. Before and after pictures will be posted soon.

For those of you who have been wondering, just because I bought another motorcycle, I have not given up on scooting. I am still a big Vespa fan-boy. Besides, it is part of my Italian heritage, si?

Music for this podcast features Want Nobody Tell Me How To Live My Life by Boo Boo Davis from the Podsafe music network.

The Wigan Casino and Scooter Info – Episode 79


SHOW NOTES: I don’t know how you organize yourself, but for years I have relied making lists. Right now I am walking around with a pocket full of paper, mostly illegible chicken scratch. I started using my iPhone to keep track of my thoughts and the combined list of my electronic and paper resources has grown so much I thought I had better bring some of them to you before I get lost in all my ramblings.

My first note is almost three months old. It is a follow-up to an email from a listener in England who asked about the Wigan Casino in the midlands. Looking at the club’s history is like jumping into a time-warp. The Wigan was the place to go for a dance club in the 70s. The doors first opened at 2am on September 23, 1973. While we in the U.S. were wasting time on disco, the DJs at the Wigan pulled vinyl soul from the 50 and 60s, without being particularly about where it came from as long as they had the ‘Wigan sound’. It had to fill the huge 1940s ballroom which could hold over 1200 smart dressed members. An ante room known as Mr. M’s was another dance area that brought the total capacity of the venue to well over 2,000.

People came from all over England and at the height of its popularity in 1975 the Wigan had over 100,000 members. The final night came in late 1981, after many of the best-known DJs had jumped ship and the manger Mike Walker committed suicide. The club lives on in the minds of people who were there and many who were not, kept alive through a strong northern soul music movement in England. Numerous fan groups flourish on the internet, especially in MySpace and Facebook. If you want to know more about the Wigan look for a copy of For Dancers Only: the Story of the Wigan Casino by Chris Hunt or check the following websites for more on the club and the music.

Other Links of Interest to Scooterists

  • Blue Smoke Studio, is scooter blog, a mash-up of humor, art and scooter musings by Kevin Montanaro. He is in Vermont, originally from New York and has some gorgeous pen and ink drawings of classic scooters.
  • Sweet Honey, Bitter Lemons; travels through Sicily is a book about Matthew Fort’s odyssey and his passion for the food, scenery, and Sicilians. It was a nice follow-up to our trip to Sicily.
  • Last week was the Indian Summer Rally here in Richmond and my P200 sidecar rig drew some serious scooter envy. There were meet-ups, rides in the rain, a gymkhana, duck-pin bowling and a bunch of door prizes mostly donated by Scoot Richmond, Check out the pictures in the gallery section of the website or at the 7hills scooter club site.

Music for this show is from the Podsafe Music Network and features Hey Hey Sister and Not Responsible by Laura Clapp

Restoration Tips for Joe Sixpack – Episode 78


SHOW NOTES: Have you noticed that scooting makes for a nice diversion from everyday life? I have been riding as often as possible and with every other spare moment running out to the garage or down to the paint booth I built in the basement to work on my Ducati moped. Marcel has made several comments about the amazing transformation of the little bike, from rust bucket to a shiny ride.

I can’t tell you how many times I have gone back to the digital pictures I took before dissembly. This was especially true in reassembling the gear-box, putting the carburetor together and even setting up the frame. Before you start make a note to yourself “bag all the parts and label them.” As you can see by the pictures, this allows you to systematically lay all the parts out and decide what to keep and what to replace. I  replace all the ball bearings in the headset and in the wheels. Another suggestion, get an original parts manual. My conclusion is that it would be a nightmare without one since I am working on a moped that is over 40 years old.
Last, know your limits. I had fancied the idea of a few pin stripes on the tank. I went were we all go for expert instruction, Youtube. It didn’t take long for my masterpiece to turn into an ugly swirl of black lines and mismatched brush strokes.  As you can see from the picture I did recover from this monumental blunder, but skipped the pin striping the second time around. I may develop pin striping skills in the future, just not anytime in the next few years.

Music for this show is from the Podsafe music network and features Ikea by Jonathan Coulton and  The Complainer’s Boogie Woogie by William Clarke

7Hills Scooter Rally, more of Ed and the St Louis Scooter Club – Episode 77


SHOW NOTES: If you are even remotely in the vicinity next week I am hoping you will consider coming to the Indian Summer Rally in Richmond. This is the premier rally of the 7Hills Scooter Club and I am sure it will include a killer city ride along the river, one like those I am always talking about on the show. Be assured, there will be plenty of over indulging activities of the oral kind. It’s easy to register, just go to the website. The rally starts Friday October 24 and runs through Sunday 26th. For those of you feeling the chill of season, it is still beautiful here in the south. Today I rode home from work in 82 degree weather.

I picked up another Accident Hash podcast from CC Chapman. If you haven’t heard of it, it is a music podcast from Boston, very eclectic with lots of bands that are connected in one way or another to the internet community. He played two artists I have played earlier this year, so I thought I would revist some of their music on this podcast. The first is Geoff Smith, who has a talent for catch tunes. He also was playing Mathew Ebel, a musician I met at Podcamp NYC. Like any good geek musician Matthew has a flashy website which offers premium content along with free music.

On last week’s podcast I cut off the conversation with Ed just as he was talking about producing fringe festivals. On this segment, he talks more about that, about scooting and the development of the St Louis Scooter Club. Click the player to listen to what he has to say.

Ed Reggi and the St Louis Scooter Club – Episode 76


SHOW NOTES: Sorry for the delay in getting this podcast out. Once again, I have been consumed by work and all my scooting activities have taken a back seat to attending  meetings and writing reports. But this past weekend I had a well deserved reprieve. If you have been reading the blog, you know that I finally made it to another Sunday ride with the 7hills Scooter Club. In addition to that, I was able to spend most of Saturday working on the freshly powder coated frame of my project moped,
I have often thought that the scooter scene has a lot of big talkers. I don’t mean that as an insult, but more of an observation. My real point is that when I meet someone who is multi-dimensional, into scooters, art, music, reading, history, politics and more, I find that the conversation becomes more interesting and personally challenging. I like that.

I first started following Ed Reggi on twitter after he emailed me about the show and to say that he and his friends were starting up a new club in St Louis. This is nothing new, clubs start-up all the time and I get lots of emails from around the country talking about events and rallies. But Ed’s emails and his tweets are different. He post at all hours of the day and night usually saying he is starting a new project. For those of you who haven’t met Ed check out his website. Last week, during a trip to western Virginia, I took time to talk with Ed who was up in Wisconsin. The conversation lasted over an hour, so I have done some editing and split the conversation up into two parts. On this show, Ed talks about his interest in scooters, the St Louis Scooter Club and his acting career. Go ahead, take a chance, LISTEN TO THE PODCAST! It’s good.

Music for this show is from the Podsafe Music Network and is by The Sojourners, The Clintons and The Fump.

7hills Scooter Club Ride-out

Weekends are for scooting. Well, at least that’s what I say during the week, when I rarely get to scoot enough to quench my thirst for the sweet smell of oil and gas. Yesterday was one of those sweet days when I hooked up with the peeps from the local scooter club and went on a beautiful city ride.

One of the best things about these “first Sunday of the month” rides is that all kinds of people show up. This time there was a rider on an unusual vintage Lambretta painted two-tone blue and white with two spot lights and a first time female owner riding a one day old SYM Fiddle 125. Riding with the 7hills club is an eclectic experience. This time it included Vespas, Stellas, Buddy 50s, a Piaggio MP3, vintage Hondas and an odd moped.

Any ride around Richmond means riding “south of the rivah”, a small lane that runs next to the James River along the upper rapids and flat water. Sunday’s ride ended on Church Hill at the Italian Festival. I strolled briefly along the three block food stalls, but skipped out quickly heading for home where I spent the rest of the afternoon working on my project bike, dreaming about another Sunday ride, someday.

A Scooter Week with Clinics and a Motor Rebuild – Episode 75


SHOW NOTES: This has been a busy scooter week. In the past week we have had an automatic scooter workshop at Scootrichmond, I spent time rebuilding the 50cc motor for my 1965 Ducati and on top of all that, I was trying to keep up with the Cannonball scooter run, which wrapped up this past Saturday.
The workshop was an all day affair last weekend, with the two scooter techs from Scootrichmond. The content was similar to last year’s Modern Vespa workshop done by the west coast gang, but with more explanation about how automatic scooters work.

This past weekend I spent whole day on Saturday reassembling an engine I took apart over a year ago. You have probably heard the recommendation, document everything as you take it apart. For once I had followed the recommendation. I found a parts catalogue on eBay and along with digital pictures of the disassembly and the carefully labeled bags of parts it went smoothly. Next comes the start test, which I will get to that in the next few weeks. I need to build an engine stand, so that will put me a little behind in getting on to the next task which is reassembling the frame and suspension.

We have the big Indian Summer Rally coming up here in Richmond on October 24 – 26. Our friend Dave Munn has a video up condensing last year’s activities into a four minute scootergasm. Hope this will convince you to make your way to Richmond. You can register online at the Seven Hills Scooter Club site.

Blog Posts

Music for this show is from the Podsafe music network featuring Pawnshop Bound by William Clarke and Just Kissed My Baby by Chris Daniels & the Kings

Scooter Cannonball Update – Episode 74


Show Notes: Last night Rob Taylor gave me an update on the Cannonball ride from somewhere in eastern Kansas. There have been some beautiful rides, but also several crashes and a few tickets. The riders are midway through the ride and have experienced a few break-downs and one serious injury. JimT is out with a broken collar bone along with several broken ribs and Bobo has headed home to take care of some family business. Listen to the podcast for all the details.

I have included several pictures posted by Dave, you can find them here. You can also follow his progress on the SPOT here.