How to repair your scooter in 40 easy steps.

1: Be in a hurry but forget that your gas light had come on the night before. Because of this fail to notice that the corner store gas pump, a gas pump you have used a hundred times, has defaulted to diesel and not gasoline for some reason.

2: Fail to notice this long enough to fill your tank and ride a mile where your motor will die a coughing and gasping death while spewing thick exhaust that smells suspiciously unlike gasoline. This step is very important because without actually riding the scooter you could easily fix the problem and skip almost all of the rest of these steps.

3: Since you will now be approximately equidistant between the corner store and home, push your scooter to your garage where you at least have a few tools. Make sure that there are between three and five hills between you and home for maximum sweat stench. For bonus points make sure you do this while kids are getting off school for maximum humiliation.

4: Giving the service manual a quick one over, begin taking off everything that is in between you, the gas tank, and the carburetor. This is about 1/3 of the scooter.

5: Pull out the gas tank and drain the contaminated diesel mixture into a container almost rated for the job. This is a wonderful moment to explore the incredibly slippery nature of diesel. It is also when you can remove the fuel filter and blow air through it to clear out the oily mix. Note at this time the remarkable similarities between diesel and olive oil, none of which include the concepts of “pleasant” or “maybe destroying my life” which each keeps firmly to itself.

6: With the gas tank slowly drooling its poison mostly into the pan but a fair amount all over your new tarp, it is a good time to attempt to remove the carb. It is an even better time to discover that all the screws are locked tightly in place and seem to be made of lead since any attempt to budge them just strips the head.

7: Panic. This is an incredibly important step. Consider exactly what it means if your only mode of transportation is destroyed at a time when you desperately need to get working and you live about 13 miles from the nearest bus stop.

8: Panic. This may seem very similar to step 7, but this step goes much deeper. Really get into how badly everything could go from here on out. Don’t hold back, let this develop into some grade A existential terror.

9: As the sun sets realize there is nothing useful you can do in the dark with a headlamp and a flashlight. Let the panic burn low into a deep and penetrating depression. This is absolutely the most productive thing you can do.

10: Power up your solar array. Watch British quiz shows you have watched a handful of dozen times already. This will keep you from having to think actual thoughts and let the deep funk draped over your soul simmer in the background until you are exhausted enough to sleep.

11: Sleep. Do this fitfully and wake up often enough so the constantly evolving terror dreams never have to give up their hold on your mind.

12: Wake up with a sort of manic enthusiasm and optimism that today you can fix everything. Put the fuel tank back, fill it with a mix of gasoline and carb cleaner and utterly fail to start the engine. The battery you have been abusing now for hours should at this time go dead.

13: Pull the battery out of your scooter and locate the battery charger you haven’t used in two years. It is best if the charger was the cheapest you could get at the time and entirely unsuited to charge a scooter battery. It is even better if it has been destroyed by humidity. If this is the case, rip the cables out of it and make them into a jury rigged set of jumper cables so you can hook the battery into your solar array. Since the charge controller is not intended to deal with a scooter battery, obsessively check it with a multimeter every 15 minutes until it is obvious that the battery is just as in need of replacement as you have been fearing for months.

14: Consider the problem of the carburetor. Decide that your best chance is to force gasoline into it to displace the diesel. Dismantle more of the rear end of the scooter so you can get to the drain screw. Drain the carb in place. It is important at this point to drench your entire engine block in fuel. Now, with the drain left open wrap your lips around the open gas cap and blow as hard as you can for some time. This will force gasoline to flood the carburetor and dribble all over the engine block as well.

15: Remove the battery from your solar array before you destroy it completely. Install the battery in your scooter and attempt to start the motor. This will immediately drain the battery and will not work at all.

16: Just stand there staring at the scooter for a moment. Really look at all the parts and components that you know nothing about and are utterly unqualified to mess with. Really come to grips with how little you know about the things you are trying to accomplish.

17: Panic. Try to revisit steps 7 and 8. This is a good time to swear at the top of your lungs and maybe throw a tool or two around the garage. Spend 15 minutes trying to find your screwdriver.

18: Do a little more reading and order a new fuel filter, spark plug, and battery. Ideally be at a really tenuous place financially and have this use up almost all of your money so that if this doesn’t work you will just have to embrace really long hikes or maybe just wander off into the woods and survive off of hunting wild turkeys with a pointed stick.

19: At this time remember a trick to break stuck screws that you had told someone about only a week or so before. Find your vice grips and break loose some of the mildly ruined screws.

20: Since your optimism has now had a boost, this is a very good time to discover that at least two critical screws are still locked up tight and you still cannot get the carb out for a thorough cleaning. Walk away from the scooter pretending that you will never have to deal with this problem ever.

21: Watch every video you can find online about repairing your scooter. Really delve into forum posts where people address every problem except the one you are having. Give your optimism a really good kick by finding a thread about someone who has done exactly what you have done. Read response after response of people who, instead of addressing the problem and offering solutions, tell the poster what an idiot he was for not noticing it was diesel and question how anyone with the brain power to stand upright could make such an amazingly stupid mistake.

22: Since you need some sort of win. Take side off of the engine to fix the kickstarter which has been really sticky and hard to use for a year or so. This will be much easier than you thought and will go quite well. The renewed ease of kickstarting will not be enough to get the fuel pump working with a dead battery however and the engine will not turn over.

23: Watch more videos and read more forum posts. Become very informed on procedures you cannot perform because you don’t have the right tools, materials, or parts and because the carb is still stuck on.

24: Because you have not bothered to actually do so yet, check the spark plug. Be pleased it is working perfectly and be a little annoyed that you have already ordered one, but realize that it is nearing time to replace it anyway and move on.

25: Following the advice of several contradictory posts, sacrifice your ear syringe by filling it with gasoline and squirting fuel into the carb and cylinder.

26: try to kickstart the motor over and over. Each time it fails to work, take she spark plug out and the air hose off and squirt a little more gasoline in. This will not work at all.

27: Panic. You should be very good at this by now and it will come quite naturally.

28: On a whim, research how to jump start a scooter without destroying its electrical system. Be surprised at the amount of positive information there is on this subject and how little it contradicts itself.

29: Try to charge the battery again just in case. This is a very good time for your multimeter to break so you have to just guess at timing. This will not work at all.

30: Since the sun is now gone, scrub the worst of the grease off of your hands and give up for the night. Watch Dr Who so you don’t have to think about things until you can sleep. Have the episodes you watch be particularly emotional, let this trigger a bit of a cry, feel silly about crying over Dr fucking Who, feel silly about feeling silly. Eventually fall asleep.

31: Jump up in the morning with a strange amount of energy, Pull a battery from your solar array and heft it into the garage.  Repurpose the makeshift jumper cables you had made from the dead charger to hook the battery up to the scooters battery.

32: Holy fucking mother of fucking fuck… Start the engine.

33:Disconnect the battery and run the engine for an hour or so, periodically at full throttle to attempt to build up charge. Eat three packets of instant ramen and drink half a gallon of water.

34:  Kill the motor. Try to start it again which will not work. Panic for a few seconds then kickstart the motor which will work.

35: While the engine is running, begin re-assembling everything you have taken apart.

36: realize you have done so in the wrong order. Revisit the versatility of the word Fuck. Take everything apart again.

37: Realize, preferably at the very last steps, that something is not fitting right. Fiddle with an odd bracket that seems made mostly just to vex you. This will take an hour.

38: Realize that you are going to have to take everything apart again in a few days when parts arrive and just set the bracket aside. Promise yourself you will look it up later.

39: Take the mostly assembled scooter for a very rural ride. Run it full throttle for an hour or so to burn off diesel and build up as much of a charge in the battery as you can.

40: Return home. Drink an ice cold soda very slowly. At this time you may wish to collapse on to your sofa. Feel like a total badass conqueror of motors. Feel like you have not let your ancestor monkeys down by both making and using tools. Feel physically and emotionally drained, but with a pleasant edge. You may at this time wish to… Breathe.

6 comments

  1. Koji Goto says:

    Fuck. Yes. You rock. In precise measurements, 3.98742 gigarocks.

  2. Brother says:

    The error you made here is not your process of repair, but in assuming that repairing a motor could be any other way. And I saw no mention of the following which are crucial step:
    Foreign bodies in eye(s)
    Blackend fingernails
    Foreign bodies beneath fingernails
    Blood
    Attempted syphoning resulting in flavor(s)
    Standing up and hitting your head on the moto resulting in it
    Falling over or
    Blood
    And the classic “kicking over the milk bucket”
    The fact that you did throw a tool and search it out shows you are nearing pro status.
    Amber lamps only cry.
    Thanks autocorrect.

    • willrobot says:

      Since I never had to get under the scooter (a challenging concept) I avoided having anything fall in my eye. my fingernails were absolutely a blasphemy of fuel and grease and still have not entirely recovered. Somehow I managed to avoid drawing blood on this whole project… which is a tiny miracle! The flavor was from blowing out the fuel filter, I didn’t even try siphoning, the gas tank is small enough that it’s easier to just pull it out and drain it.

  3. Mom says:

    Why do you have an ear syringe?

  4. UrDad says:

    Like you, I have often turned gratefully to vice grips. I also covet ear syringes for applications such as yours, though I keep one separate for aural use. Glad you’ve got the situation under control.

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