Saturday, 10 December 2011

Hi-Yo Silver! Metallic oil....

Last night was my staff party. I decided to get a ride because the temperature was -3°C. at 5 o'clock and I was worried that when I came home it would be even colder. As it turned out, it was a wise choice as it was quite frosty and icy. Unfortunately, I ended up having a few too many tequila shots (I consider one tequila shot too many) so it was a good thing to get a ride home.

The reason I mention this is because I had an appointment at Urban Wasp (Vespa Vancouver) to give my new (to me) scoot a once over and a major servicing. It's over an hour there and I had some unpleasant reminders of the previous night in the form of a sore head. The temperature in Maple Ridge was at freezing but it warmed up the closer to Vancouver you went, so I decided to carefully set out at 8:30 this morning.

Once I got out of our parking lot, it was actually pretty good. I did slow down on the curves and made sure to be extra careful on the road. As for warmth, for once I was fine! My father-in-law bought me hand muffs when he went to China a couple of weeks ago and those, combined with my thin cycling gloves, kept my hands toasty warm. My core was kept warm with a long sleeve shirt, fleece, down vest, ski jacket and rain over jacket. The GTS 250 performed very well at many different speeds, not showing any problems with loss of power that helped precipitate my servicing request.

I actually arrived a bit early but Urban Wasp was open. I went in and  talked to the mechanic who is a very nice guy who enjoys talking about Vespa engines and seems extremely knowledgeable. We decided to go ahead with the 20,000 km servicing but he would give me a call if anything came up. I had a brief chat with Bob, the owner, commenting what a great deal I got, and then I left to explore Kitsilano.

A couple hours later, just as I was finishing my latté, I got a call - come down to the shop, please....

I have never seen a mechanic that seemed so genuinely apologetic. He had only changed the oil but had come across a problem. I guess he didn't want to spoil my day and I do appreciate the sentiment.

He had saved the oil in a clean container. There was a layer of silver fluid on the top of the oil, from metal inside the engine. At that point he gave me a couple options - do an oil change and see if it was any better in a couple thousand km or have him try to find out what the problem was. While I was thinking about it, he showed me lots of parts and described what it might be. I had a hard time following him but that's fine, I really just want the scoot fixed and ready to go so it doesn't have a problem down the road. Keeping that in mind, I opted for the second option.

He (sorry I don't know his name!) said that because the scoot was running well, it might be something that only grinds during start up or maybe it was a problem that was at the beginning. He said that once he figured out the problem, he would fix it and also perform the maintenance which would save me a little bit if a particular part was already accessible due to the repair. He also said that because the GTS has two oil filters (!) the metal might have collected in them rather than wrecking parts of the engine.

My feeling is that just hoping in a couple of thousand kilometres that it would all go away is not the best solution - and the mechanic also felt this way. I have really enjoyed trouble-free driving with LX50 so I want the same kind of start with the GTS. I know that buying a Vespa - or any other vehicle, for that matter - without an inspection is a bit of a crap shoot but with such a good price, and the fact that there wasn't any Vespa store in Kelowna, I took a chance. Now I have to live with my decision and make sure that the scoot is reliable.

I haven't tried anywhere else but I really do think that Urban Wasp does a good job. The mechanic really seemed to know his stuff and that is always a good thing.

Now I have to wait for the call back to tell me exactly what's wrong... fingers crossed. At least my head isn't sore anymore....


Dar said...


I will keep my fingers crossed that it is only a minor problem. I went through the same angst when buying my scoot, but luckily there were no issues. Love te and muffs, need some of those. Good luck.

Dave Dixon said...

Hi Dar,

I guess I got such a good deal that I sort of half expected that there might be a bit of work that would be needed. I just hope it's not something overly expensive. Thanks for the luck!

David Masse said...

Dave, here's hoping it's a wuick and easy fix. Make sure your mechanic checks the fuel pump to make sure the recall was done.

Circle Blue said...

Good luck. It certainly seems you made the correct choice in getting it taken care of sooner rather than later. Where there is smoke there is fire is certainly a true old saying. May it be relatively painless.

Glad you're figuring out how to stay warm. It is all about the gear.

SonjaM said...

The mechanic from Urban Wasp is a real gem. I believe his name is Will, and he is a very thorough and knowledgable guy. Your Wasp will be in good hands. I am curious to find out what the silvery stuff is.

bobskoot said...


I'm hoping that the prev owner didn't do the first 600 km oil change, and that was the metal particles that got trapped in the 2nd oil filter. I think that I would have gone for the oil change and then ride your GTS for another 500 kms and inspect the oil again, rather than spending the funds to take it apart. I am from the school of "if it's not broke, don't fix". If the damage has already been done, and no metal appears in the next 500 km then perhaps there is no problem.

Riding the Wet Coast

ps: Sonja's right, WILL is the mechanic

metalsmithseamus said...

hey im moving to maple ridge from edmonton very soon.. i have a vespa lx150. is urban wasp the only place in vancouver you can take a cooter for servicing? and how is the ride from maple to the wasp... is it a long ride?

Dave Dixon said...

There's also Vespa Metro on Vancouver that Is on Commercial Drive but not sure how the mechanic is. There used to be a Vespa store on Surrey but it's disappeared. Not sure if I'd take mine to a non Vespa shop. Vancouver is an hour by car but you'd probably want to avoid the freeway so count on around 80 or 90 minutes (non rush hour).