July 14, 2004

Out With the Old

RIP my LaserWriter 4/600. You served me well. Many papers were printed on you. And some speeches. And posters, the posters I printed on you, to be copied on the Minolta copier in the "office" at Nutglade! Tax forms, annual reports to give to the CPA, cd covers for compilation cds. I knew you had paid for yourself when I lost track of the number of toner cartridges I installed in you. Come to think of it that last one is pretty fresh. Darn that hurts.

When I bought you, I had just replaced my 286 machine with a Power Computing 132MHz Mac clone. At the time, we had just opened Nutglade Station and we needed a computer with which we could make our own posters. Eventually, we added a scanner to the mix and our lives really changed.

You were always a dependable if unexciting printer. I would not buy your cheaper cousin, the Personal Laserwriter, because it lacked Postscript. I loaded many fonts into you over the years. Many of those fonts are gone. Your fellow peripherals are scattered to the wind: a brother in San Francisco uses or used the CPU to which you were attached, the 33.6k bps modem (upgraded from 28.8!) is long obsolete.

You cost 900 dollars new. In honor of your memory, I will spend the same sum (not adjusted for inflation, however) on a new printer. It will print in color, and it will hopefully print my dissertation, several times in all likelihood. And I will get some change back from that 900.

Posted by webs0080 at 7:52 AM

July 13, 2004

Up and Down and Up Again

The busier you are with life itself, the less you can blog about it. As is the case with me and the Letta 275 in general. I swapped her old black box in for Sil's, and touched up the points inside the black box with a points file. I then touched up the points on the ignition. Only German engineering could design a bike with four sets of points, one set a "double" (it has a set of points mounted between two other points)! I can't imagine that one can be too fussy about the settings on the last one, since when you tighten one set, you loosen the other! To make a long story short, she fired right up and she ran well. I had to push start a couple of times, but the electric foot works well. How many consecutive e-starts do I need to claim the problem solved?

I rode her to school for the first time today. She fired up right away this morning, and once again when I left. She did cut out on the bike path at the top of the hill, but to my great relief, the ignition light came on. She bump-started right up. When I got home, I reset the idle and turned the air screw to its proper one turn out position. She runs much more nicely now.

Tomorrow, I ride her to Motoprimo to get a mirror. Then she will be all set, but for the Classic Motorcycle Plate I shall apply for this winter. Unless, of course, I am able to find a 1957 Minnesota motorcycle plate before then. . .

Posted by webs0080 at 8:30 PM

July 6, 2004

Disappointment is Best Served Cold

Alas, the perfectly running 275 was too good to be true for long. A week ago Friday, Mrs. Blog and I took her to the Thai place around the corner, where she dripped fuel and refused to start. And refused to start. I pushed and pushed. We walked home to get the car. Armed with the BMW toolkit, I could check for spark and clean the plug and so forth. Really, one can do just about anything with one of those. I ended up pushing the Letta home a mile or so. The incident got Mrs. Blog and I really talking about the utility of a pickup truck.

I popped off the bodywork and got the battery on the charger, while I checked the float, which given the fuel drip seemed the most likely culprit. Scooters are brilliantly engineered to hide all the workings underneath bodywork, but they can place things in bloody unituitive places. At any rate, cleaning the carb out did not do the trick.

garage - 20sOver the next week, I checked the timing, which on Maicolettas is a rather arcane ritual, full of marks on the fanwheel cowl and multiple sets of points. The gaps were large, but not so large that the bike would not run. Evidently, close is good enough on these machines. And so I turned to the carburettor. (Spark properly timed, fuel properly mixed, and compression sufficient to make an explosion of the other two are the three elements of an internal combustion engine). After getting no love from rebuilding the carb (how nice to have compressed air around -- finally!), I swapped in Sil's carb body, the jets being easy enough to visually inspect.

Along the way, I had the presence of mind to check the fuel tap. It was totally blocked in all positions. I put the Lambretta tap (a new one) on, it too was blocked. What the? I dismantled the Lambretta tap and put its rubber seal in the right place and put it back together. Finally, the carb would get some fuel. This may have been the problem all along. However, the best I can manage is an initial "pop" and then nothing.

At the advice of the Maicoletta Board, I swap out the "black box" with the black box on Sil. For the uninitiated, many motorcycles have black boxes that control ignition and timing. I notice that the connections are kind of cruddy and that several of the wires appear to be losing their insulation. But lo and behold with the "new" black box the Letta fires up! I shut it down, put the bodywork on and it starts again! It is back. I decide to ride over the bridge to Minneapolis to show it off to S., who had so much trouble with the new old Lambretta Ld she bought on eBay.

I never made it. Approaching the bridge from the Mississippi River Road, the Letta lost power and died. It was a pleasant enough push home, as far as pushes home go (and I have had a few). A burnt-electrical smell emerged from underneath the bodywork. The battery was dead. Both the battery and the black box were hot to the touch. With the body work removed, it became apparent that the smell was coming from the black box.

There are now two possibilities:

  1. Sil's black box is faulty: An inability to recharge may be why the machine was parked after only a few miles, before I even took possession of her.
  2. SG has a short which kills black boxes: This is a scary proposition indeed, since it means that I risk smoking another black box by putting SG's original box back in her.

On the bright side, I was finally able to remove the last piece of Sil's disintegrated clutch basket by using two C-clamps and sawed-up length of square channel. To think it only took me several years to figure it out! Still, it is nice to have a shop where one can make the necessary tools. This means that if I can figure out how it all goes back together, Sil may be running again by the end of summer. . .

Posted by webs0080 at 6:26 AM