Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Adventures of Replacing a Moto Guzzi Oil Pressure Switch—Part 3

Passing my motorcycle test gave me a disproportionate feeling of greatness.   

Moto Guzzi is the oldest European motorcycle manufacturer in continuous production. The Harley Davidson Company had been making motorcycles for 18 years when Moto Guzzi was established in 1921. Like Harley, the Moto Guzzi has had its ups and downs and has changed ownership, most recently in 2004, now owned by Piaggio. A scooter manufacturer of no small fame—you’ve probably heard of Vespa, the scooter so popular with the Italians that they created a new word in their language “vespare” which means to go somewhere on a Vespa—Piaggio has a long history of building machines that move starting with locomotives in the late 1800s and aircraft in World War I and World War II. I’m a newcomer to Moto Guzzi never having owned one in its pre-Piaggio days. I’m aware many ole-time Guzzi riders bemoan Piaggio’s takeover, I think because of the real or perceived ills of “a large company” swallowing “a small company.” Some Guzzi owners attribute the story I’m about to tell to Piaggio’s takeover of Moto Guzzi. Me? I’m not so sure. 

Shortly after removing the oil pressure switch I began searching the Internet for a vendor who might have one. I came across what I later learned is one of the largest suppliers of Guzzi OEM parts online but noticed my particular pressure switch, part number 978854, was not among the several available for Guzzis. Curious.

I sent them an email asking them about my switch, providing them the year, make, model details of my bike, and a photo to make sure everyone was clear on the specific part I was looking for. A couple of days later I got a kind, but terse, return email saying my oil pressure switch “…was no longer available.” What? My bike is a 2012…3 years old…not 30 years old! Off to the (relatively) new Moto Guzzi dealership in town. With old, leaking, oil pressure switch in hand, I headed to the dealer on a blustery Saturday morning in early December. We found the switch in his parts catalog. He didn’t have it in stock but said it would arrive in about a week. Perfect.

While we were at it, I told him I needed the disconnect fitting that fit on the plate under the fuel tank as I had broken mine when removing it. We went back to the parts catalog and looked…and looked…and looked…and looked. There was no fitting to be found. I showed him where the part should be on his parts catalog drawing and he promised to look into it and get back to me. I left that morning a little uneasy.

When I got home, I “unwrapped” the fuel tank to look again at the broken fitting. (The tank was wrapped in a blanket, kept in a box, stored in a semi-protected area of the garage. Semi-protected because no spot in the garage is completely protected from the grandkids, but the self-delusion of semi-protection makes me feel better. Don’t criticize—self-delusion is a viable coping mechanism for getting through life!) I upended the tank and removed the panel that held the broken fuel disconnect fitting.

You're looking at the plate removed from the tank and pulled partly out. The black cylinder on the
left is the fuel pump and the silver cylinder on the right is the fuel filter--both located in the fuel tank
when in operation. Straight on is the set screw I was convinced held the plastic fuel fitting to the
metal plate. Even now, with the fitting removed, I can't ell you what role that set screw plays--it serves
no function that I can tell.
Behold! A set screw! What other purpose would it serve than to keep the remaining portion of the fitting in the metal plate? I removed the set screw and pulled on the fitting. Nope. I got a pair of pliers and pulled. Nope. I got a screw driver to wedge under it and pry while pulling. Nope. I turned it one way, then the other. Around and around. Pulling the whole time. Nope. What is going on? I don’t think Arnold could get it out.

That’s when my friend from the local Guzzi dealership called. He said he had “bad news.” I involuntarily sat down. The fuel fitting is not sold separately. It is available as a unit along with the fuel pump and metal plate. The cost is approximately $675. !! I let out a high-pitched laugh…well, I guess it could have been called a laugh. I thanked him for letting me know I was going to have to come up with a different solution for repairing the fuel fitting. He promised to let me know when the pressure switch arrived. We said our good-byes.

Fast forward a week. With the help of my father-in-law, we endeavored to remove that plastic fitting from the metal plate. Using a Dremel tool, we cut off the fitting flush with the lip on the metal plate. Then, using a 1/16th drill bit, I carefully drilled small holes through the wall of the fitting remaining in the hole—this to weaken the fitting. Then using a small screwdriver and hammer, I “chiseled away” bits of the fitting wall on one side. Then I collapsed the fitting using pliers and removed it. With the plastic fuel fitting finally removed, the most obvious choice for repair is to replace it with a proper brass fitting. That will be the topic for the next installment.

Back to the oil pressure switch and whether Piaggio is to blame for any of this. 
The local Guzzi dealer called to let me know my switch had arrived. I thought it prudent to take my old switch with me when I went to pick up the new one—I’m really glad I did. The new switch was not at all like my old one. The Parts Manager told me the switch that was sent was a different part number that superseded mine as my switch “…was no longer available.” I had heard those words before. The problem was, the new switch was nothing like mine. Not only was the electrical connector different—something I could remedy easily enough, but where it screwed into the engine was completely different. It was the wrong size and would not fit. Something I could not easily remedy. I didn’t know what to do. The Parts Manager didn’t know what to do. So I went home without a working oil pressure switch.

The next day, I decided to post a question on the Moto Guzzi National Owners Club Facebook page about my oil pressure switch. Within 30-minutes I received scores of replies with truly useful information. In addition to many who blamed Piaggio for my maladies, an owner from the Netherlands told me my pressure switch has been superseded. I knew that. But what I didn’t know was that oil pressure switch 978854 was now replaced by oil pressure switch 641541 AND adapter 887123 so that the new switch would fit in my engine. Mystery solved.

He went on to say that I shouldn’t bother trying to get these parts from Moto Guzzi because I would still have to make changes to my electrical connector as the new switch is wired differently than my old one. Instead, he suggested I go to a local auto parts store and try to find one. I immediately did a couple of Internet searches and discovered an exact replacement for my oil switch available from Autozone:  Duralast PS571. (Actually, it is not an exact replacement. My original switch required a 23-mm wrench, this Duralast switch uses a 24-mm wrench.) And guess what? It was $10.99 This appealed greatly to my skinflint tendencies. 

I started to feel optimistic.

To be continued… 

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