July 9, 2010

7000nt later…

Let me start by saying, I am not upset, this is not a bitch, a gripe, a complaint…

But 7000nt!!

When I came to Tainan, my friend, Ian, had graciously allowed me to use his scooter to get around town. I was using a bicycle, but the the travel time between some of my schools was insane. Had I continued to use the bike, a) I’d probably be a 90-pound weakling, looking sickly, rather than my ‘robust’ looking self now, and b) there is no way that I could work for the number of places I presently work for.

Ian also was MY teacher, teaching me how to ride a scooter. He also introduced me to the mechanic that he used to have his scooter serviced. Since that time, over 7 years ago, I’ve been going to the same place whenever there is a problem, oil changes, anything that needs to be done on the scooter.

There are two guys that work there. They are both really nice guys. They know the scooter inside out and backwards. Almost everything on the scooter has been fixed or repaired at one time in these past 7 years. When I started using the scooter, there was something like 32,000 km clocked on it. Now, it’s over the 100,000 km mark. Yes folks, that’s about 10,000 km per year! 90% of this is driving around Tainan!

Anyhow, yesterday I went in to have the oil changed. This is usually about 200nt. Fair enough. However, the younger of the two guys at the shop suggested that at some time I should have the back tire changed. With all the traveling I do, the tires wear down quickly. I’ve been making it a habit that once a year I have both tires changed anyway, whether they need it or not. Well, the back tire was, to say the least, bald. No tread left at all. The front tire was well on it’s way, but not quite as bad.

He was going to change them for me, but I opted to have better tires put on. The present ones cost 750nt each, but I decided that, for an extra 200nt, have some better tires put on. Once these tires start loosing their treads, slipping and sliding, especially in rainy weather, becomes more apparent. Okay, so off come the old tires, and on go the new.

The other thing that I’ve experienced over the past couple of weeks is a ‘ticking’ sound when I start driving. I’ll be stopped, say, at a red light. Just as I’m about ready to move, I can hear this sound from the back of the scooter. Remember as kids riding bicycles, putting a piece of cardboard in your wheel, so as you rode along, the cardboard hit the spokes and made that ‘ticking’ sound? That’s the sound.

Well, he starts pulling apart the scooter. He showed me what was making the ticking sound. Some little plastic pieces that hold some metal piece into another metal piece. Uh-huh… my expert knowledge of the parts of scooter. He put in some new plastic pieces, and showed me that the ticking sound was gone. Okay, fair enough. That solved that problem.

Then, some sort of belt that moves the wheel or something, was worn out. Even I could see that this thing needed changing. I think the last time it was replaced was about 2 years ago. Rubber, spinning around on some metal parts, doesn’t last forever, I understand. Replace that.

Then, the brake shoes (as I call them). I remember when had my Chrysler Caravelle several years back in Ottawa, I had to replace these. It was actually quite easy, just took a bit of ‘elbow grease’ as they say. However, I wouldn’t even attempt it on the scooter. And why bother.

The one thing I’ve noticed living in Taiwan, is that when the scooter needs any type of repair work done, they only charge for the actual stuff… no labour charges.

So, the brake shoes on the front and back needed changing. Well, they didn’t really NEED changing, but they were getting worn down, so why not. If I’m going to have one done, may as well do both. Okay, so now all this has been changed. He’s adjusting the brakes. I told him that the one hand brake, was really loose. Usually this just requires a twist of a bolt, and voila, tightened. He turned the bolt ONE HALF NOTCH, and sproing, the brake cable is gone.

I know that it wasn’t his fault. Usually it takes a few turns to tighten the brakes. When he only turned it one half turn, and it broke, I knew that it was on it’s way to being ready to be replaced anyway. Okay, so another charge. Then he looked at the other cable while he was at it.

These cables are sheathed in rubber. The wire inside the rubber is a multitude of smaller strands twisted together, I guess to give it strength. Something like the cables you can see holding up an elevator, but of course, much smaller!!

While he was looking at it, he showed me. About half of these smaller strands, were already snapped. So, another cable to be replaced. What was only supposed to be a routine, 10 minute oil change, turned into a 3 hour tune up! I must admit, that driving the scooter home was a pleasure. I could actually feel the scooter running smoother. The brakes worked great, and there was no slipping or ticking. Total charges: 7150nt… he only charged me 7000nt. I look at it as getting the oil change done free. Also, no labour charges, so, in a way, about C$225 spent on getting the scooter all fixed up for at least another year. Oh yeah, then I had to fill the gas!

The hard thing that I have to accept, is that the scooter was just in there at the beginning of June, shortly after my scooter mishap. The mirror and a few other parts had to be replaced for a charge of almost 10,000nt. As well, while I’m waiting for him to replace the tires, etc., I’m looking at the other scooters, new ones, that they are selling. There are a couple that I think are cool. Price tag? Between 45,000-90,000nt, depending on size and look I suppose.

I sometimes wonder, if it isn’t just easier to buy a new one!


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