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.

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