Spring is in the Air…

January 18, 2011

As other Scoota users have already found to their dismay, the circuit-breaker that’s included with the scoota is not really up to the job of being – well – used with any frequency. I found this to my cost when I went on a fifteen mile return journey one freezing day in November, when the bike suddenly took to shutting down apparently at random. Opening the seat quickly revealed that the breaker switch had been tripped for some odd reason.

After a certain amount of roadside experimentation, it became clear that no scary electrical overload had caused this to happen, just that the balance of the switch had become so delicately poised that any random event (or even nothing at all, apparently) would just cause the switch to shut off. I improvised a quick ‘repair’ by wedging some folded napkins under the seat where it would continuously apply pressure to the switch, and then – later – used some insulation tape to bodge it open while I was using it. Eventually, of course, I would have to replace it, which is not great expense, but it would mean taking the whole bike apart to get at it, which I’m not yet ready to do.

Bodge No.1 – Good enough to get you home, but not really a long-term solution

The problem is that the isolator switch is exactly the same type as one you will find in your domestic ‘fuse-box’, and on the face of it this seems like a perfectly reasonable choice of component to do the job. However, while, the breaker-switches in your fuse-box often sit for years without ever being used, it is common for scoota riders to switch their bike ‘off at the mains’ when it’s standing idle for any length of time, or even – in my case – when I have it stored in my unit overnight.

Recently, though, the switch has deteriorated further, and the insulation tape workaround wasn’t cutting it anymore, as the switch was gradually plying the tape loose. So I’ve come up with a superior type of bodge consisting of two little screws set into the breaker switch and its body, which are then connected by a little spring I got from a hardware store. The screw on the switch is big enough to properly secure one end of the spring to the switch, while the other, smaller screw allows me to hook and unhook the spring whenever I need the switch to be firmly held in the ‘on’ position.

The deluxe breaker-bodge. A nice quick-fix for this problem until a quality replacement can be found

Eventually I’ll try and get hold of a ‘heavy-duty’ replacement that can be relied upon not to wear out within six months, but until more hospitable weather arrives, I’ll content myself with this.

“Are you sure that’s a wise thing to do?”

You might be wondering about the wisdom of wedging on a switch that is designed to cut-off to protect the system from excessive current load. After all, if my motor/controller system did try to draw more than 63 amps, then it would no longer enjoy the protection that the switch offers. However, the existing controller – which doesn’t have uprated FETs or anything like that (yet) – won’t draw more than the its rated 40 amps or so. If it tried to draw more than that, then in all likelihood something will already have gone spectacularly and fatally wrong the controller, frying it at its weakest point. In the mean time I’ll just keep it switched off when it’s not in use…

It should be stressed, then, that this is not a permanent solution. If you choose to do this, then I recommend that – as a precautionary measure – the breaker stay switched off while the bike is not in use!

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