Red Dog and Me

This is an on-going dialog between me and a certain motor scooter, namely a 2009 Piaggio MP3 500 that came to live with me in October of 2009. I've named the scooter Red Dog and as yet have not determined its gender. In the past when I've named boats, bikes, and other like characters I've thought of them as feminine due to their behavior characteristics. Red Dog I'm not so sure about...we'll see. Update: OK, Red Dog's a girl...with an attitude

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dec 31, 2009 Plodding along with the Uni-Go hitch project

Oh, and of course it’s New Years Eve day today so I should at least extend my best wishes to everyone, I hope 2010 finds all of you well and having fun with your scooters! It’s early afternoon and I’ve just put the Eggplant Parmesan into the oven for the second bake segment, one to go after that and it’s done. Guess what we’re having for our New Years Eve repast?

Meanwhile I’ll see about catching up on the latest on the Uni-Go trailer project. The hitch took the better part of two days to design and fabricate as we went slowly and given the weather was cold as the dickens we limited our time correspondingly. When I say we what I mean is Ron did the designing and fabrication while I stood around shooting pictures and generally getting in the way a lot.

I took this shot of Bandon Fabrication during a lull in the high winds and driving rain. It reminds me of the Fairbanks Yamaha dealer’s place, nearly as cold and wet. Of course yesterday it had been sunny and mild out but not  this day. Brrr…….

Red Dog didn’t seem to mind the cold but I didn’t like it and I doubt Ron liked it either. Part of the deal if you’re going to work the metal trades I guess.

Before proceeding it was necessary to remove all of Red Dog’s rear fairings. This is the stuff owners refer to as “Tupperware” and it’s nasty to get off and put back on without breaking things.

Once Ron started the design process it was interesting to watch his progress. Since this was a total custom order nothing had been put down on paper, I just showed up with the scooter and a bunch of photos of other hitches I’d downloaded from the Internet plus a few emails from the west coast Uni-Go distributor.
I'd explained to Ron what I wanted to do and he took it from there using only the most basic information about the hitch itself and how it was to function. Dimensions provided by the trailer people were pretty rudimentary; we only knew what the weight factors would be and the optimum height of the hitch receiver.


We’d decided a 5-point support system would be sufficient so Ron welded two heavy steel tabs onto the forward upper frame member and two onto the rear frame member. A fifth tab was welded onto the lowest point of the center of the rear member for additional vertical support. Corresponding hitch frame members are bolted to the tabs using case hardened bolts. It's looking very strong for both weight support and lateral twisting.

Ron positioned the heavy steel tabs, and then using a high-speed deburring tool removed the paint from the area to be welded.
Welds were accomplished with a wire-feed high-amperage electric welding outfit. Penetration was good but it was a difficult job to reach the areas in back. Nimble-fingers Ron managed though and they turned out great.

Eventually all five steel tabs were on and Ron was ready for a well deserved break so we called it a day.

 When I arrived on Wednesday Ron had nearly finished the hitch. His work is so nice I hated to have to cover it up with primer but our salt air would nail it in less than a week if left bare.
This is the completed hitch with its first coat of primer. Ron’s part of the project is finished so now it’s time to head home where the rest is up to me.
 I’d recently picked up a folding aluminum ramp to replace the 2 x 8 planks I’d used for loading in the past. Riding Red Dog up the ramp felt a bit hairy the first time but I’d seen the dealer do it so I figured I could too. Like most things if you take your time and pay attention it’s no big deal. At home unloading was simple, I left the front end locked, released the park brake and standing on the left side walked her down the ramp. It was so easy I could have set the brake and taken a picture of her on the ramp. I only had to think about how bloody stupid I’d feel if the follow-up photo showed her lying on her side on the ramp so I passed.
So that’s it, I’m all up to date with the latest news of the hitch project. The paint’s in the house where it will remain warm and if tomorrow isn’t freezing I’ll have a go at painting the hitch. After that it’s on to the wiring part which may be awhile as I haven’t received the isolation relay yet. Right now it’s time to be thinking about New Years Eve! The Eggplant Parmesan’s finished and out of the oven, the Pinot Grigio is cold, the wind and rain outside are howling and it couldn’t be much better than this.

Happy New Year everybody!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Dec 25, 2009 Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! From Bandon, OR

My very best wishes go out to all of you who have visited my blogs and been my friends. These are just a few pics I took on Christmas day of our little town and I wanted to share them with you.
If ever you have the chance to visit Bandon I hope you will do so, it’s one of the few remaining places on the Oregon coast that still retains the flavor of its origins.

How lucky it is for me to live in Bandon-By-The-Sea!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dec 22, 2009 Rain, Rain, go away…

Not much doing with Christmas just around the corner, things are kinda slow. The weather hasn't been co-operating so I've decided not to put up lights this year. Bah Humbug...! Was it only five years ago I put up 20,000 lights? At least this afternoon I was able to enjoy a short ride into Bandon with my friend Chuck Bruce. Typical of our rides we stopped at one of the local coffee shops where we consumed enough caffeine to hold us for a week. It was dark and foggy when we left and the town's Christmas lights shone through the mist. Nice.

Ron from Bandon Fabrication called today and we've set a tentative date of December 29th to install the hitch for the Uni-Go trailer. I'm really looking forward to that as it's a positive step towards next year's ride.

Next year's ride? Well initially I'm thinking about several possiblities with a run down the southern route for openers. I've got an old friend I'd like to visit who lives east of Tucson, AZ and after that I'll have to figure out whether to continue east or head back north.

This past summer's ride to Nova Scotia on El Nino has whetted my appetite to see more of America. Still I'm yearning to see Inuvik in Canada's Northwest Territories so I guess I won't know until it's time to turn east or north.

Decisions, decisions...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dec 13, 2009 Uni-Go Hitch Update

Not much to report on the trailer, everything remains status-quo for delivery. I went ahead and ordered a spare hitch receiver so the fabrication guys could start building the hitch. It arrived a couple of days ago and I’ll take it to the fabrication shop as soon as they’re ready, maybe this coming week.

I’m thinking I may have a hitch made for El Nino while I’m at it as I’m not 100% certain I’ll take Red Dog on my summer tour. A lot depends on how comfortable she is to ride long distances plus I want to be certain of her reliability. There’s a lot of talk on the MV Forum (Modern Vespa) regarding maintenance issues, many of which seem to affect nearly all of the MP3 models. I’ll know more as I go along but right now the jury’s still out on which bike I’ll take. For anyone who’s interested here’s the link to the MV Forum, you don’t have to be a member to read the posts:

As a note of interest to those considering this trailer: The Uni-Go is a nice unit and you won’t find anyone who’s towed one who doesn’t love it. At least I haven’t and that’s one of the main reasons for my decision to buy one. Dealing with the west coast distributor has been easy and I have no complaints; my phone call messages and emails have been responded to in a timely manner. Of course they’ve been keen on making another sale and you always get prompt responses during that time.

I did register a bit of dissatisfaction about their shipping fees for the hitch receiver as charging $33.14 to ship a 2 lb item is way over the top. The distributor commented that the factory customarily charges high prices for small items which was obvious considering the receiver itself is $56.10. We talked for a bit about the extraordinary shipping charges and he offered to bill what the factory charged him, $21.81. That still seemed astronomical but I figured it was better than before.

The receiver arrived in a USPS box and the shipping on the label is $6.55… Considering the folks at the post office give you the box free it’s obvious the Uni-Go people are gouging.

Certainly something for all of us to think about isn’t it?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Dec 07, 2009 Uni-Go order update

The following is just FYI to keep everyone updated on what's happening with the Uni-Go. It looks like it may take awhile longer to get than I'd hoped; several weeks in fact. I think I'll order a second hitch receiver so the fab shop can get that out of the way before the trailer arrives. Here's the latest email on it:

Monday, December 07 2009 7:44AM

Hi Larry,

You placed your order correctly! Black Touring model, black combo lock, black handle, black drawbar, black wheel and isolation relay. Thank you very much!

Your order has been placed with the factory. The last few orders have taken between 6-8 weeks to receive but I'm hoping they have fully "caught up" from their busy season and will be closer to their "normal" times of 4-6 weeks. I'll will keep you posted on the order progress and once shipped will forward carrier and tracking information so that you can follow it right to your door.

My curiosity is piqued about your Arctic Ocean adventure...can't wait to hear what you've got up your sleeves and how the Uni-Go performs with your Piaggio and custom hitch!

Thanks again!


----- Original Message -----

From: Larry Parmenter


Sent: Saturday, December 05, 2009 6:59 PM

Subject: Order XXXXX

Hi Marty,

I've reviewed my order and thought I'd specified a black wheel but it looks like maybe it's silver? Would you please verify and if it's not black please change it to that. If it's impossible to do don't worry about it, I can live with silver but I'd prefer black.

Will my Uni-Go be the first one to travel to the Arctic Ocean? Stay're gonna love this tale.

Thanks a bunch,

Larry Parmenter

Bandon, OR

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Dec 06, 2009 Cover Up!

I needed a cover for Red Dog and since I've got several for other bikes I borrowed one of those. I don't think you could ask for a better fit, at least if you have a top box. There are two heavy straps on the bottom so you can secure it against wind. Another feature I like is they sewed a huge flap underneath the front that says "FRONT" so no more fumbling around trying to see which way it goes on.

I've read a few comments regarding concern about scratching the windshield but that's never happened with this one. Actually I've never had that happen with any cover come to think of it. Maybe it's a result of the fit being too tight? This cover is a size large Black Sable from Beverly Bay, cost was under $50.00 and the quality is really nice. Made in China.

Here's the link to Beverly Bay: They were easy to deal with, have a nice web site and gave prompt service.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Dec 05, 2009 Uni-Go or not to go?

After much deliberation and listening to countless opinions and advice I’ve decided to buy a Uni-Go trailer for Red Dog. For those of you who are unfamiliar with that particular beast here’s a link to their web site:

If you go there be sure to watch the video; that and testimonials are what convinced me to take the plunge.

Some of you who have followed my previous blogs know that I like to haul way too much stuff along on my meanderings. This, much to my chagrin has on occasion resulted in overloading my bikes causing subsequent handling problems. My goal with the Uni-Go is to enable me to take along a reasonable amount of camping gear without affecting the ride characteristics of the bike, in this case, Red Dog.

To date I’ve had two meetings with Ron, the owner of Bandon Fabrication regarding building a custom hitch for towing the Uni-Go and we’re comfortable that it can be done. To date it seems no one else has done so and this will be a first. I’m confident in Ron and his crew as well as the folks at Uni-Go and I’m anxiously looking forward to the next phase in this venture. Delivery should be in the next few weeks but with the holiday season in full swing it will likely take awhile to complete.

Next year’s ride is going to be a blast!