Pepe Gets Stripped and Needs Head

Well I’m sure you’re all aware by now that owning a Chinese scooter is not always fun and games. To be honest most of the time it isn’t that bad but when you have issues with the engine it can be a royal pain in the rear. I’ve had a reoccurring problem over the past few months of my exhaust being louder than it should be. At first I thought this was only being caused by the some of the welds on my performance muffler coming loose between the header pipe and the muffler its self which had been getting worse over the past month or so. That is when I decided to switch back to my stock exhaust along with getting a new exhaust gasket since I was pretty sure mine was toast.

This is truly where the new repair adventure started. I went ahead and ordered the parts since between holidays and work I wasn’t going to be able to make it to Wild Hogs Scooters during that time. So I ordered a new variator fan since mine got shredded when my last belt broke and the exhaust gasket. They arrived just before weekend so I was planning on getting that taken care of it then but then I couldn’t sleep so I decided to go out and work on it at about midnight. I removed the old exhaust which ended up being a bit easier than it should have been since I removed the bolts that hold the side pipe to the bike and touched one of the bolts that bolts into the head and it fell right out and the exhaust was free… needless to say this was a problem. With a bit of work I was able to get my stock exhaust to bolt back on and cinched up tight. I started the bike and it sounded super quiet once again.

This I thought was the end of my exhaust woes or at least the end until I got either a new free flow exhaust or got my old one re-welded… I was wrong. About 2 days after I was riding along and the bike went from super quiet to sounding like a possessed lawn mower. I tried to tighten the bolts once I got to where I was going but one of them snapped off leaving a good chunk of its self lodge in the head and not being able to tighten the other tight enough to without stripping it further than it already was. So I was left with a possessed lawn mower as a scooter which is not fun. Now don’t get me wrong I don’t mind having a bit more noise than stock coming out of the tail pipe. This is because of a couple reasons, if I make a bit of noise it’s easier to be noticed and generally less noise means less restriction which helps Pepe breath a bit and increases the power by a bit. All I knew was I didn’t want to go around sounding like a possessed lawn mower for long especially with the backfiring.

So it was time for a plan. Obviously the head of my scooter was stripped at the exhaust studs and I could only think of 2 ways to fix that. Either take it to a machine shop and have the holes re-threaded or get a new head. I did some research trying to find a place that would rethread the holes and came up empty or at least couldn’t find anywhere that worked around my schedule. So it sounded like a new head was in the plans so I headed to Wild Hogs to see if I could find a used head that was in good enough condition to do what I needed it to do. After a bit of time I had 2 heads in hand that I thought would work and was again planning to do some work over the weekend to exercise the demon possessed lawn mower.

The next day I was on my way home and the red and blue flashers of death pulled me over. The police officer decided that my little scoot was too loud and I was breaking some sort of law. Luckily he decided to let me off with a warning but I did find it a bit rich that I was being pulled over for the amount of noise my broken bike makes when I hear stock Harley Davidson motorcycles that are louder than I am when I’m not going through any exhaust. So the plans got moved up early. I needed to try and get the head replaced that night instead of waiting for the weekend and being able to take my time and have some daylight to work by.

Everything started off fine. I’m no stranger to pulling the body panels and pulling apart the engine or at least down to the valve cover since I have done quite a few valve adjustments. Getting past the valve to pull off the head is somewhat new territory for me since I have only done that once. Once I got the head off the first thing I noticed was that the head that I got from the scooter shop was a version that had the EGR valve on it. What is an EGR valve? EGR stands for Exhaust Gas Re-circulator and basically allows the exhaust gasses to re-circulate to burn off all of the fuel so that it will burn more efficiently. That sounds all fine and dandy but I don’t have the tubing on my bike to do so and well from what I’ve heard it doesn’t work on scooters anyway. So I decided to go with the performance head that I also picked up from Wild Hogs a try since it did not have the hole for the EGR and let’s be honest I don’t mind having performance parts on my scooter. So I started piecing Pepe back together… this is where the first of the roadblocks got in my way. After putting the head in place I put the valve lifters into place and noticed that there was way too much play in the lifters. This is basically when I noticed that the performance head was thinner than the stock head and would not work but I didn’t really know why at the time. So on to the other head and more pulling things apart and putting things back together. By this time the sun was down and it was very dark. I don’t recommend working on a scooter’s engine in the dark. Luckily my trusty iPhone was there to help out with the flashlight app. Finally I got it all back together and was ready to try and start the bike… it didn’t start. By this time it was going on midnight and I didn’t have a vehicle unless I got it running so I had 2 choices. I could quit and call it a night or put everything back together the way I found it and hope I could get it started.

At this point I was frustrated to say the least. I had spent the better part of 5 hours wrenching on my bike with hand tools and low light just to have my bike be worse off than when I started the process. I’m not generally one to quit working on something just because the clock says it is time to go to bed. This is a trait that has been with me since I was very young. I remember after I broke my dad’s computer while he was on a business trip (I broke it trying to fix something else on but that’s another story and some would probably say that is still a trait that I display now). I remember sitting there trying to reinstall Windows 3.1 until about 5 am but that is another story completely and all of his spreadsheets were safe after I was done. So back to the bike I did go ahead and put everything back together the way it started… well kind of since there was no way any sort of tightening was going to happen with the exhaust bolts and tried to start it again. Now once again everything was back together and was ready to start it up… nada, zilch, zero, nothing… well nothing isn’t actually fair there was a tear of frustration and the starter was spinning it just wasn’t firing. Now I must be getting old because it was 2:30 am and I had had it. I went to bed defeated and sad.

To be continued

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