This particular scooter, however was sold at Christmas time by a particularly shady online vendor and arrived in a mangled carton, the contents of which did not closely resemble the promised merchandise. Since we were talked out of using a credit card, there was very little recourse. We made the best of it.
Lydia’s first ride took her joyfully down to the crossroads, where the fuel tank detached and began merrily skipping along at her heels. She was oblivious and I could not run fast enough or yell loud enough, and waited for the small mushroom cloud that would follow.
There were a few other rides. I used it a few times. Mostly it sat. Briefly inspired a couple of years later, Lydia and I fueled it up only to watch gas leaking out of the tank almost as fast as we poured it in. I think I painted the hole or did some other band-aid repair.
That was years ago. Today, Fiona wheeled old Smokey out of the barn. I first barked at her to put it back in its dusty corner. I then agreed to try to start it, confident that it would go no further. I pulled the starter cord to no avail, but then was gradually overtaken by the challenge and found myself unscrewing the spark plug, checking fuel and fuel lines, looking for a choke, pouring some gas into the spark plug hole and finding the fuel bulb underneath. I am no one’s idea of mechanically inclined, but that damn thing fired up. Cough.
At that point, the Matinicus magic kicked in. I’m sure these things happen in other places, but they only happen to me here. What ensued was a daylong series of triumphs followed by some other part falling off or breaking. It was a challenge and adventure and a great way to blow a day with your 13 year old learning and sharing the joys of internal combustion.
The next thing to be fixed were two totally flat tires. The front one was inflated in about 20 seconds. The rear tire, through some truly inventive engineering was set up such that the air stem was located deep in the wheel rim and separated from the rest of the world by the brake disc. Noway nohow was a pump going in there. After undoing the chain, tensioners on both sides, rusty wheel nuts and trying to keep mental track of everything that came off, we got the wheel separated from the frame and the disc off of the wheel. The tire inflated in 20 seconds- just like that!
Having the wheel fiddled and worried back into place, we fired her up and Fiona took a series of rides starting on the lawn, where an engine cover fell off, and then down the main road with joy rolling off her in waves.
She was ready for a road trip, so I followed her all the way to the south end to check on Morgan’s chickens. When we finished there, I pulled the starter cord which only flopped out loose. The curse appeared not to have forgotten us or our scooter.
I took off the pull starter and found what I had hoped not to: that one of the tabs that turned over the engine had broken off. Then I idly jabbed my pointer finger at the metal part the tab would contact to turn over the engine and out popped the broken plastic. We reassembled that part and it seemed like the starter turned properly with only one tab.
Putting the whole works back together I pulled and again the cord stuck and then flopped loose. Off it came again and this time I saw that the whole plastic wheel was split and non functional.
I felt it would be tragic if a little plastic wheel crippled Smokey Bessey as she is now known. I also knew that there was no identification of any brand on the scooter, so I ruled out the possibility of finding a replacement for the plastic wheel. Adhesive would have to do.
As I was thinking about the plastic part, approximately 4 and one-half feet of steel ribbon erupted from the starter casing. This springing spring was the message from above to give it up. I made a couple of attempts to reseat it. Then I again fell prey to the challenge and the Matinicus magic, and using Kreskin-like spoon bending powers of mind, stubborn fingers and streams of profanity, managed to get the spring re-packed.
That victory gave me the courage to try to glue the wheel. After a recess, the wheel seemed sturdy enough. As I was putting this collection back together, the jackass in the box sprung back out and it took another 20 minutes to wind it in there. If you have not attempted this before, here is my advice: Don’t. If you do, wear eye protection and yell at your boisterous children to give you some peace for a little minute. You then must wind the thing very tightly and not let it move in any direction whatsoever, because it desperately wants to go every which way. After that, you must slow time and molecular motion down to near absolute zero so you can get the end hooked in where it goes before the coil expands just enough to be too big for the housing. Then you must do this several more times.
After bolting the works back together for the fourth time, the starter pulled normally, but before the motor caught, the plastic wheel had again given up. I apologized to Fiona and visualized dumping the scooter under the No Dumping! sign behind the recycle shed.
One stupid plastic part. Too bad there’s no information about this machine anywhere. Before we went in the house, I looked at the starter housing cover, which actually had a small sticker bearing the “Zhijiang SunScooter Limited” name.
A quick internet search revealed that Zhijiang Sunscooter Limited was a “modernized enterprise,” but little of use, especially no parts places. A less quick search for more information on the model and the company and replacement parts vendors gave up nothing. Amazon, however, after the first search said “no products matching your search” (when does that ever happen?) showed an ad for the identical item for $8.00 and change plus shipping.
Now we wait. happily and fondly hoping.