17 November, 2005 Temperature: 8 degrees F
I’ve got to take a moment here to tell you that I am really impressed with this Baron 150SX scooter. That little motor pushes us along at an honest 60 mph whenever asked, and it starts right up every time. Yesterday, when I went to leave work, I found that the battery had expired while sitting out in the cold all day. This was no surprise, because it wasn’t designed for these conditions. This also let me test the kickstart and magneto to see if they would get the job done in an emergency. Three kicks later, that little motor was purring like a kitten. I turned on the lights, and they worked at their usual intensity. Letting it run for a couple minutes while I put on the rest of my gear, I turned on the vest while watching the lights and there was no change in brightness. We had an uneventful ride home, on roads that were mostly clear of snow and ice.
Viewing the weather report on the news this morning, I thought, “Hah! Finally some weather I can sink my chattering teeth into.” It gets down into the single digits quite often during a Minnesota winter, so this is where the test truly begins.
I had plugged the Battery Tender into the Aerostich wiring harness, and it charged the battery overnight. The Baron started right up on electric, and this time settled into a steady idle. I added the white silk scarf to my wardrobe this morning, to seal my neck against the cold wind. Takeoff time: 0625 hrs
The roads this morning were clear and dry. The scoot was running flawlessly, my riding gear was keeping me warm, and I was really enjoying myself. On the 50 mph portion of Shephard Road, I tucked in behind a huge car-hauler semi truck, and settled into his draft up the long hill. Oh you silly, happy boy…
I was looking at a Mercury Marauder sitting on the back of the truck when, BANG!!! -we hit the Big Bump. I thought at first that we had blown a tire. But the scooter remained stable and smooth. Then I reached behind me and felt for the trunk. Nothing there. I looked in the rearview mirror and saw that somebody had set up a yard sale in the middle of Shephard Road. Oh no. That was my stuff scattering in the wind and traffic. Lots of loose papers, all of my notes and worksheets from a semester of school were rapidly dispersing into the chaotic darkness.
So I took the next turn-around and headed back to the scene. Parking the scooter on the median strip, I stopped to survey the damage. The plastic trunk had shattered from the impact of that harsh jolt over the bump. Cars were whizzing by just a few feet away on both sides. During a small gap in traffic, I ran out into the road and retrieved the bigger pieces of the shattered trunk, my school textbook, a few other pieces of paper, a quart of oil, some spare gloves, and a bungee cord. Then the next group of cars were upon us and I had to jump back up on the median. The remainder of my papers were quickly blowing out of reach, so I plugged the vest back in and continued my journey to work.
The rest of the ride went smoothly, but I kept thinking how stupid I had been to load so much stuff into that trunk. Part of my job at Banner Engineering is to know the properties of plastics. That trunk is rigidly mounted to the luggage rack on the scooter, and is made of a stiff, rather brittle plastic. The design looks plenty adequate for a lifetime of use in a moderate climate. But it wasn’t designed to take an impact under heavy load at single digit temperatures.
The other mistake I made was having too much fun. My concentration lapsed for a few moments as I looked at the back of that truck, instead of watching the road surface in front of me. I know that bump, I have steered around it many times. But this time I wasn’t paying attention.
I have spoken to Lev, and he says he can get me another trunk. Before he does, however, I am going to design and build a shock mount for it. This is NOT going to happen again.
So now I wonder what I am going to tell my instructor at school. Will he believe this improbable tale? It sure beats the old “dog ate my homework” story.