Friday, May 1, 2015

GY6 - Buy or Rebuild

It is decision time - Do I buy another engine or rebuild the one I have? I am not sure there is an easy (no-brainer) answer to that. But ultimately, I did make a choice. Here is the though process I followed.

Looking at the prices of parts, they all seem pretty reasonably priced. But I quickly discovered that buying a lot of $30-$50 parts would add up to a pretty high bottom line. On the other hand, I could easily find whole motors for $300 to $400 dollars.

The reviews of the lower end ones I found were not so encouraging - many complaints of leaks. That would mean essentially rebuilding portions of the motor anyway. But I did find one for $374 plus some shipping. I wasn't finding negative feedback on them so it was very tempting. After all, from an ease standpoint - buy and install seems pretty easy.

Building on the other hand is certainly going to provide the ability to really take ownership of the scooter. Remember - "If you didn't build it, you can never own it." And I do want to "own" the scooter from bottom to top.

I researched the cost of parts, pieces, kits - just about every configuration of part gathering I could find. There were numerous places that offered top end kits, individual cylinders, pistons, rings, cams, heads, etc. Not as many placed offered all the parts and pieces I thought I might need.

Here is a quick tip that I have followed over the past 60+ years (yes - I really am that old!).
The fewer sources you use for any project, the better chance you have of receiving good service after the sale.
Lets face it, if you buy parts from 8 vendors, that means for any one part that is not up to your quality, there are 7 other vendors for that one to blame for incompatibilities and for damaging the parts they did sell you. So I like to get as much as I can from any one vendor. Especially parts that directly interact.

There are a few places that offer relatively complete packages. I ultimately but a kit from one. The complete package contains:

Cylinder Kit
  • Cylinder
  • Rings
  • Wrist Pin
  • Cir Clips
  • Head (with valves installed)
  • A9 Performance Cam
  • Valve Cover
  • Gasket set
Additional Parts
  • Roller Weights
  • Oil Pump
  • Oil Pump Gear
  • High Performance Coil
  • High Performance Racing CID
  • Chrome Exhaust
  • Chrome Muffler
These are all parts I was planning on getting anyway, so one-sourcing it for $200 made sense to me.

I doubt that the gasket kit will be everything that I need, but once I start tearing down the old motor, I can identify what else I will need (lower end gasket kit, for example) and get those ordered.

From the same company, I also bought a complete new carburetor. I seriously considered rebuilding the one I have, but for the $15 difference in price, I decided to reduce the headaches and go with the fully assembled one. I can always rebuild the old one for $15 to get the inner knowledge later.

I also bought their carburetor intake manifold. They are rubber and the old one is badly weather checked and cracked and probably leaks like crazy.

I also bought from the same vendor a set of seals for the bottom end of the motor. Way easier to replace them now while the engine is torn down instead of waiting till it is mounted back in the scooter and I find out the old ones were leaking.

From a separate vendor, I bought the center stand and spring for the scooter. Both are missing from my scooter and I know having it will make life a lot easier.

So, obviously, I choose to mostly rebuild. The dollars will be close to break even, but the experience is pretty valuable to me.

When everything arrives and I have a chance to evaluate the parts and service, I will let you know (good or bad) about the vendors I choose.

While I am waiting for the packages to arrive, I will have to be off line for a few days. The day job is turning into a night & day job for the next week. We are going live with a new software version and I will be onsite pretty much around the clock till things settle down.

Hope to see you all when I return and we can start tearing down the engine. I am planning lots of photos and possibly a video or two.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

You Start with What You Have

Like I said yesterday, I did not initially know this was going to be a project. I thought I was just going to get a new battery, drain and refill the oil and the gas tank, and be ready to ride. Well.... I quickly learned it was not going to be quite that easy.

As I started tearing into it, I found some of the wiring was damaged from the lay down; mirrors with embedded turn signals were missing; other wires were broken or disconnected. Wanting to see more and more, I kept removing more and more body panels. And not understanding any of the electrical system on scooters, I ended up removing the entire body so I could see exactly what I had to work with.

This, of course, means that, now that I am making it an official project (with blog), I don't have any "Before" pictures of the entire scooter. I did, however, start taking a few shots of the frame and engine and some of the scraped up and broken individual body parts. That's what today's article is about - showing what I have to start with.

[Remember to click on any of the images to get a closeup look.]

Bare Frame (with wiring harness)
The frame is better than I thought it was before removing the fairings. It is dirty, but not bent or rusted.

One front shock is leaking.

I'll be deciding whether it is better to try to rebuild it or to simply buy a replacement. I hope to rebuild whatever I can on the scooter for two reasons:

    Front Fork (with leaking shock)
  1. I want to keep the cost to a point where I can eventually sell the scooter and at least get out of it what I will have invested.
  2. I want to develop a deep level of understanding that you can only get from actually building (or rebuilding) something. 
I have a friend, Bart Dring, in Chicago who is a very talented engineer. I have openly stolen lots of ideas from him. The idea I most cherish is his favorite saying and now it is mine as well:
"If you did not build it, you can never own it."
 The point is that, even though you may possess something, unless you were intimately involved with it construction, you can never true "own" it - you cannot own the deepest knowledge of it. With that knowledge, you will always be able to maintain it and assess and fix whatever may go wrong with it in the future. And that's where I am headed with this project.

The front lower fairing is a good example of the damage the body has sustained. No major pieces missing, but certainly will need some attention to repair the cracks, breaks, and scrapes. My intent is to repair all the fairing myself. New pieces are expensive and I want to learn the process of ABS plastic repair.

The rear wheel and brake drum are dirty, but should clean up pretty well.

Most of the rubber on the scooter (front brake line, vacuum and gas lines, etc) is badly weather checked/cracked. I will definitely be replacing all the rubber parts.

And finally, there is the Gy6 150cc Long Case engine. I don't know what shape it is in on the inside, but our first major task is going to be getting it into near-new shape. We'll start down that path in the next article.


So, there you have it - the pieces I have to start with.

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Next time, I'll dive into the engine and determine what needs to be done to get it up and running.

Hope to see you then.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The GY6 Scooter Project Origins

I am always looking for a project to keep me busy, both mentally and physically. It can be anything from designing and building CNC routers and laser engravers/cutters to yard work. This year, I am going to rebuild a 150cc GY6 engine and the scooter it came out of.

I didn't know I was going to make scooter mechanics a project. It just sort of happened. Last summer (2014), I happened onto an electric scooter at a garage scale. It was in good shape physically, but the previous owner had ruined the batteries by letting them freeze in a storage shed. Normally, that is not an issue, but she also stored them fully discharged. Then when she tried to use in the the spring, she overcharged the sealed lead acid (SLA) batteries. They swelled up like pumpkins and were toast electrically.

The electric scooter ready for sale.
So I bought the scooter for a very low figure, purchased new batteries, and it ran like a champ.

Unfortunately, it was pretty underpowered for me, at 220 lbs. It just wasn't going to be the utility vehicle I had hoped. (Technically, that scooter was legally classified as an electric bicycle - limited to 25 mph.) But it was fun to putter around on.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to get it out of winter storage, reinstall the batteries (that I had charged and stored in my heated workshop) and list it on Craig's List for sale. That happened on Saturday.

On Sunday, I noticed there was a garage sale just a couple of blocks away and decided to go browse around. The first thing I saw as a 150cc TN'G (Twist N' Go) scooter. It was dirty and kind of scraped up from having been laid down on the road at some point. The owner said she thought it would run, but the battery was bad (sounded like a good omen to me), and had been sitting in the garage for a few years. Before that, she had driven it to work everyday. It has a total of 2856 miles on it.

I asked what she wanted for it and she simply said "Make me an offer." At the risk of insulting her, I really low-balled it (limited by the amount of cash I had in my wallet, and I rarely carry cash). And she said "Yes!" I gave her the cash I had, loaded it in my pickup, and brought it home.

Later that day, I got a call on the electric scooter I had listed. We haggled a bit, but within a couple of hours, the caller was on my doorstep, cash in hand, and ready to take the scooter away.

The best part is that he paid me enough that I was able to recover my original purchase, pay for the new batteries, AND pay for the 150cc scooter I has just bought.

So, I now have a non-running 150cc scooter with a zero $ investment. Sounds like project time to me!

I spent the last couple of weeks tearing down the scooter (removing all the body and the tires and engine) and discovering what I could find online about this scooter. I found very little about this particular brand. BUT, I did find that nearly every gas-powered scooter produced in China and Taiwan in the last 20 years or so has an engine manufactured by the same company in China - Twist And Go. They also make most of the frames and many of the body parts. Each retailing company puts on their own paint jobs and maybe a few custom body parts and the like, and gives them different names.

That means, if you find information about the engine and electronics for one scooter, you really have it for all of them.

And that is what this blog is about - my adventures of learning, and putting into practice, everything I can about these scooters.

The engines are just size-variations of the Twist And Go GY6. The GY6 originated with Honda, but has been copied and is now the basis for nearly every scooter on the road today.

With this project, I will be documenting my experiences - both good and bad. I hope you will join me. Be sure to comment as often as you wish. I welcome your thoughts as well as any advice and experience you care to share with me and my readers.