Thursday, June 28, 2007

Motofino Electrical Maintenance and Troubleshooting

Motofino scooters have troubles with electrical systems, just like any motor scooter vehicle made, although they rarely show up until after they've been driven and owned for awhile.

Problems with scooter electrical systems seem to fall in Three categories

1. The weather exposure moisture generated difficulties.
Exposure moisture problems are caused by leaving the scooter outside in the rain.
What happens is water gets into connectors and sometimes the starter solenoid internals, which causes rust and failure. Moisture ingestion over time affects and rusts control cables if not lubricated annually too. Water problems hurt every manufacturer's scooter, not just Motofino. We highly recommend buying a Motofino Scooter cover which is easily slipped over the bike and folds and stores in your underseat box. Using a scooter cover will pay you back electrically and keep the scooter a lot cleaner too.

2. Component Failure.
Parts like switches and blinker units can fail. Fortunately, Motofino stocks all parts so it is not hard to get a replacement for your particular Motofino scooter from ECOBIKEUSA. Again, keeping moisture and dirt out of control switches is a big protection. It doesn't hurt to spray your control switches liberally occasionally with a healthy dose of WD-40 to help them reject dirt and moisture too. Just saturate the switch area on the handlebar, and operate the switch a few times. Enough soaks in to help it a lot. A Silicon spray is also good, but WD-40 often also clears a sticky switch better because it is a solvent petroleum based oil too.
The ignition switch rarely gives any trouble especially if the key slot is injected with some spray grease every year. You do this by using a pin to push away the key cover and injecting spray grease lubricant down in the key slot. You'll find the ignition key switch operates much easier and smoothly when you do this too.

Control Switch failure of any kind is the most aggravating for any Scooter owner, and of these failures two are a classic pain! The first that really puzzles most of us is the failure of the Run-Kill" switch. If this switch fails, you can crank the starter all day, but the bike will not start, because the ignition circuit is disabled to the CDI unit. The idea behind a "Run-Kill" switch is of course safety, so there is a quick way to shut off the engine. Sometimes the switch fails and won't activate the ignition when placed in the "Run" position. (Circle Symbol) Other times the snap in lead connectors to this switch are corroded or loose, and just aren't making contact, so you think it is the switch when it isn't! This is where an Ohmmeter, or continuity tester is a must to see if the switch actually makes contact and goes open when you operate it before you spend money to buy a new one!
While we're on this "Run-Kill" switch thing (You'd be surprised the number of guys who say there scooter won't start, when in fact they forgot to be sure the switch in in the "Run" position!)
The second major control switch failure is that of the turn signal switch. Oddly enough if your turn signal switch is of the type that is circularly mounted on the left handle bar, it probably hasn't failed, its just out of adjustment! This is a spring loaded push-button release switch and the problem will show up as the push-button cancel switch will not release, or won't turn on either a right or left turn when you push it in that direction.
To fix it, and the reason we call it a pain, is because you have to remove the switch unit from the handlebar. To do that remove the upper and lower Phillips head screws from the back of the handlebar mount, so you can access the actual switch rear plate cover. When you look at the inside of the switch back cover plate you'll see two little screws holding the metal tension plate in place. Back these tiny screws out until they are a little loose, and then test the turn signal function and cancel.
Back the screws out until these functions work again and then re-assemble the two long handlebar mounting screws to put the switch back on the scooter handlebar.

3. Connector Plug or Wire Connector Failure.
Generally speaking, compared to other motorscooters, the Motofino is excellent in the connector plug area, but still it is good to know these wire connectors do sometimes develop connection problems, so you need to know what to expect. In a Motofino, the plugs and snap-together barrel wire connectors are high quality and brass plated. Even through plug connectors have a postive snap together tab on the molded nylon plug, and its snapped, doesn't always mean connection is made. It should be, except sometimes a plug wire pin will back out a bit from the plug body so it doesn't make contact! Be sure and examine where each wire connects to a plug pin to be sure that pin hasn't backed out of its slot on the plug. Check the female and male side of the connector. If one is backed out, simply push it back in so it snaps in place.
Scooters, more perhaps any other vehicle, have a tendency to wreak havoc on electrical plugs and connectors because of moisture pin corrosion, and the vibrations caused by our relatively high RPM engines.
One particular check you should make once in a while is the connector plug connections to your CDI unit. Any loose connection their can promote failure of the CDI unit, and cause you scooter to hesitate a speeds, or start unreliably. If the pins on your CDI unit are badly corroded, and you can't clean them up, get a new one from us. A Blue unit is for a 50cc Motofino, and a Black
one is for a 125 or 15occ.
CDI units are made to advance spark as dictated by the output curve of the engine alternator.
It isn't a good idea to use a generic CDI for best performance. Get a genuine Motofino unit.

All Motofino, like other Scooters use a "plug together" system of connecting electrical components and switches. It's always a great idea to examine all of the connections before you invest in a new part. Here is a generic diagram showing how everything is wired. It is generally correct except some of the color coding of wires may not be the same in your unit.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Mechanical Tips for Maintaining Motofino and other Motor Scooters

Putting the wrench to your scooter can be intimidating if you are completely unfamiliar with them and how they are made. One of the things to know is how to remove and replace various bolts. On a Motofino and other Asian manufactured scooters, the bolts, nuts and threaded receptacles are all metric sized using Asian metric pitched threads. Most of the bolts by size are 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14 MM, with some fittings like oil drain plugs at 17mm. Fortunately you can usually always buy a couple bolts or nuts at your local auto parts store.

Probably the biggest "gotcha" serious mistake new scooter owners make is not bagging the parts removed in plastic sandwich bags and labelling them as to where they came from! Often when it comes time to re-assemble they forget where they came from. For bolts and screws of various sizes it really makes a difference if they are bagged and labelled for source placement.
You can put a stop to wrong assembly if you do this.

Another difficulty for the new is not realizing bolts and threaded screws need to be lubricated before they are put back in! Yes, use a little oil or spray grease on the threads before you attempt to put them back. Greasing, or oiling them first makes a world of difference in how easy it is to start the bolt back into the scooter frame hole. This, along with starting the bolt, or nut by hand, and turning it in a few threads goes a long way to prevent getting cross-threaded with various threaded fasteners.
Always start by hand before you ever use a wrench on it. Be sure the fastener is not cross-threaded, by feeling the force you have to exert to start the bolt on, starting threaded fasteners squarely to prevent cross-threading.

On older scooters or one that has been stored mostly outside you can run into a nut or bolt you simply can't remove. Some steel bolts and nuts may have rusted, and seem impossible to remove. Rather than applying great force with your wrench and risking damaging that fastener, get a spray can of penetrating magnetic catalyst. This stuff is available at auto parts stores. The one I like is called "Blaster," the original bolt buster. It is a penetrating lubricant, and when sprayed on a rusty bolt or nut a couple times and allowed to work a few minutes, you can remove that frozen nut or bolt. PB Blaster is manufactured by B'LASTER/B.C.C.I. in Cleveland, Ohio 800-858-6605. It will allow you to wrench remove a frozen rusty fastener, so you can replace that part you're trying to remove.

You need to realize when tightening things back together you don't need to be overly aggressive with torquing things in. Put the bolt or nut on, and tighten down snugly, but not extremely tight to the point of stripping threads from overtightening. Bolts don't require much torque in body areas where it is usually 15 to 25 inch pounds max. Wheel nuts and engine head nuts can be much higher, from 8 to 16 ft./lbs. maximum, depending on its location. A cardinal rule for tightening fasteners on a scooter is tighten firmly using a hand wrench, and always error on the low side. You can always check it later to see if it is too loose, and re-tighten it. Otherwise consult a shop manual specifying the bolt torque for that particular item if you do have a torque wrench to set it. Shop manuals on scooters are often incorrect, but getting better.

Wondering how to deal with the self-tapping steel screws that hold body panels and scooter ABS cast structures in place? Easy, Go get a $1.99 magnetic pick-up wand tool. Usually you need to use a Phillips head screwdriver with a #2 tip. Back out the body screws you want to remove and actually pull them out by using the magnetic wand on the screw, to make the last couple twists to remove the screw. Saves worlds of time, helps you not drop that screw somewhere, and prevents loss. Another tip is to get a little magnetic parts dish, to put the screws in temporarily, until you have enough to bag and label from a particular area. Note that often body screws are of different lengths and thicknesses. Put them back where they came from, and don't mix them up.

So how are plastic, or ABS panels on the scooter held in place? First, with the self-tapping screws of course, which often screw into a cast screw receptacle on the scooter body structure made of a molded thermoplastic. That's the same stuff that holds your dashboard parts in your automobile! Other times, a panel is secured by the screws going through a metal clip, which is sandwiched on an adjacent body panel tab, and are sometimes tricky to remove.

You can expect scooter side ABS panels to mate with each other using metal clips and slide-in tabs in the adjacent panel. Removing any panel is a matter of removing the obvious screws, then prying up gently to see which side of the panel pops out. Whichever side pops out means you have to remove that panel by pulling the panel to the left or right, or maybe up or down, to remove the panel. Forcing the panel usually results in you breaking the tab locking slot piece of the panel, the part that tabs into the adjacent panel! Experiment with it, and you'll discover the trick.

Handlebar covers on Motofinos don't have tabs that can break. Just remove the screws in the face of them, the ones underneath, below, and in front, depending on the model and gently pry it
off. They fit tightly, with little plastic extrusions that snap in to each other, but they don't usually break.

Another thing I like a lot about the Motofino scooter line is you can actually order a complete hardware and bolt kit for a Motofino scooter. Body screws and clips are often misplaced when people work on their scooters and are lost. If you find yourself in that predicament call EcobikeUSA. We mail out an envelope of 6 ea. body screws and clips for just a couple bucks, so you don't have to buy a whole $49.00 hardware kit just to get your scooter back together!

What about a way to secure plastic body screws that screw into other thermoplastic parts and not a steel clip? I like to use a bottle of Clear fingernail polish and its brush applicator. I simply paint the screw threads with a coat of fingernail polish and screw it in immediately. When the polish sets up it will hold that body screw from loosening from road vibrations and use.
I also use it on the screws that are held in with a clip, and it works great. I suppose you could use a locktite, but this is much cheaper, holds just fine, and you can easily remove the screw later if you want to.

In our next blog we can cover electrical wiring, plugs, and wire pins, etc.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Chinese made Scooters are Good!

As more people in the United States migrate to owning a motor scooter to offset the cost of automobile operation, some strange things are happening in the marketplace. Owning and operating a motor scooter has not been historically common here, although ownership is escalating incredibly because they offer basic simple transportation while saving enormously on gasoline costs for people.The Chinese manufactured Motor Scooter has really come into focus as more people buy them, because they are so efficient and cost less. At least so far...

Some of the strange things happening include the belief that a Chinese mainland manufactured scooter is somehow inferior. That simply isn't true, since most are manufactured in factories with international ISO standards. More, many are partially owned by U.S. business interests, and other major international scooter giants whose brands are well known worldwide.
Another thing happening is some dealers in well known scooter branded companies are working hard to discredit the genius of the Chinese motor scooter, trying to protect their product from a price-value erosion from the competitive Chinese made scooter. A situation has developed wherein some scooter maintenance facilities, dealerships in some towns for Honda, Kawasaki, and others, simply refuse to service or repair a Chinese made scooter. Frankly this laughable, since there own products contain parts manufactured in China!

There is nothing really different about a Chinese motor scooter. Even a very basic motorcycle, or scooter mechanic can work on one successfully. That likely extends to any small engine mechanic who understands small 4-cycle engines and procedures in a rudimentary manner.

So the whole reason why people with Chinese machines are discouraged in finding someone to work on them is really rooted in the fact that people in the traditional product lines are protecting their profits! A Chinese made scooter costs way less sometimes. They have investments in product that they want to sell and service at much higher prices, so where is their incentive? Obviously the winds of change are blowing fiercely.

Some people think if it is made in China, we in the U.S. have somehow been short-changed and are losing money. Nothing could be more off-target and wrong to believe. Multi-million dollar U.S. companies have been built on the supply and factories in China, who serve our needs very well as our scooter market grows. These are companies like Motofino, T'nG, and others.

Sure, there have been start-up companies that failed miserably because they brought in inferior scooter products which did not perform. These Chinese manufactured machines were ordered to be made for the U.S. Market by U.S. interests and entrepreneurs who had no scruples about the quality of the product. They paid to have them made and branded according to their own wishes on an OEM basis. One can still buy these gray-market machines on Ebay. Fortunately, problem machines aren't quite the problem now with all our Government control on EPA, Safety, and imported vehicle requirement's, so it's tougher to bring in the bad stuff.

Motofino, which has a full line of very competitively priced Motor Scooters for example recently discovered their pre-mature engine failure rate was about one in eight thousand machines. Wonder what it was for GM in their Hay day of U.S. production?
Life happens. Maybe one day we'll all get fully aboard?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Unloading a Crated New Scooter

If you have a new scooter truck delivered to your home you still have the chore of unloading it, since the driver doesn't have to do that for you. This is not a tough job if you've got a couple guys, or one other guy to help you tilt and slide the scooter down off the tailgate, but it does take some effort. Pay attention to your footing.
Everything done at an angle, never lifting the full weight of the crate makes it easier and safer for you. All you do is guide and restrain, to allow the crate to settle to the ground slowly. The scooter is well packaged in a banded crate so that helps much.
Once you have the crated scooter on the ground you can move it by hand truck or other means.
Some people slide a common kitchen broom head under one end of the crate and pull the handle, making it slide. That's an old trick used a lot to load airplanes.
Otherwise, if you have no help to unload, you may elect to pay for a lift-gate truck delivery. Sure, it is expensive to pay for but far better than a medical bill for straining your back if you try to unload alone.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

New Chinese Motor Scooter Lock Lubrication

A lot of people who buy a new Chinese motor scooters fail to realize that the key operated locks on the scooter need immediate initial lubrication! Better dealers will do this for you as part of their customer scooter set-up routine. If you bought a scooter or cycle online and have uncrated and setup the bike yourself you need to do it.
Choices of a lubrication type are many. If you plan to garage your scooter it is easy to just squirt the inlet of each key lock, ignition or seat, generously with a squeeze plastic bottle of dry powder graphite key lubricant. Push away the key shield so you can direct the powder well down into the mechanism. Plan to follow up again with an application in a few weeks. Graphite is a mimimal lubricant and will not last a long time.
Perhaps you are one in a damp climate and have to leave the scooter outside. A better choice in that circumstance is to inject key locks with sprayable white lithium grease from a spray can with a plastic tip nozzle inserted to direct and inject grease down into the lock. Don't forget to catch the spring release mechanism of the seat too!
If you do not lubricate the locks the keys will be difficult to turn. After a few months in certain situations maybe impossible without damaging the key.
A little attention now can save you from being stranded somewhere because you can't switch on the ignition or unlock the seat to get to a gas filler port.
Amazing how easy key mechanisms work once lubricated. It certainly doesn't hurt to lubricate the key itself.