Monday, October 31, 2016

Clutch Issue *FINALLY* Resolved

Well I bought a og repop Surflex basket long ago.  At first I bought a banded one, but the guts wouldn't fit in so I exchanged it for a stock one purchased at Hot Rod Scooter Parts, who bought out Scooter Parts Direct when they closed.  Cleaned it up with a wire brush.  Had my buddy Derek G. bring it to his machinist friend who trimmed metal at thousandths of an inch to spec with a high-end commercial digital machine so the plates and the corks could move freely.

 As you can see the fit is perfect.

The holes between the stock backplate and repop Surflex basket line up way better than the original basket.

Remember this problem?  Yah, the grooves in the brass ring that concerned Tom G. a few years ago?

Joe Deason, of, explained the clutch grinding sound like this,  "Lots of tiny imperfections really!, I installed and pulled off that clutch and test ride it about a dozen times literally! 

But the right tolerances of the needle bearings and lapping the heavy grooves out of the brass locking ring really made the difference!, plus soaking the clutch plates in ATF and hand filing the "dog ears" on the upper clutch plate made this ss180 pull away from the dock like a Cruz ship! 

After all these years I am just so dang excited to have the grinding sound of the clutch resolved.  It looks like it was many little things combined together.

I haven't seen nor ridden the bike yet as Joe is still tackling an electrical issue on the front headlight for me.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Off to the mechanic

Tired of saying I am going to get to this bike.  It's time to bite the bullet and hire someone to complete it.

I received a couple referrals to Joe Deason of Bella Moto to complete the work.  He was trained at First Kick (SF) back in the day.  He has worked on GS's and SS's and owns his own SS180.  The work will be done in SF so it's convenient.

The bike will be picked up on Monday and work will begin next week I hope.

Here is the note that went to Joe along with a small box of parts and the bike:


If anything comes up outside this scope please let me know before proceeding; however I do want the final product to be a 100% correctly assembled bike and a dependable / reliable rider.  And a looker of course.

I know there are some “smalls” that need to be addressed, such as the headlight bezel.


This bike is a ground up restoration.  All seals and bearings are brand new as is much of the bike.

Paul S. worked at length on the clutch issue, including multiple clutch rebuilds.  I have rebuilt clutch twice with all brand new parts.  The only difference today is I now have a Surflex repop clutch basket.  Derek G. had his machinist trim off hundredths of a inch to ensure no binding.  He did NOT line it up correctly with the two holes to match the basket to the clutch, but it appears to move freely.

Derek G. worked with Paul S. on trying to get the headlight to work, but to no avail.

  • All work on the bike is meticulously logged here so if you wonder about if anything was done then Google the part and “VespaRestortation” and it will appear at the very top of the list.

  • Clutch & all parts & tools sealed in a Rubbermaid.  Parts removed for work to be begin.  Saves time.  Also, spare brand new parts are included too.
  • New Surflex clutch basket provided.  Machinist trimmed hundreths of inch for free movement of plates.

Biggest issues:
  • Grinding sound happens only between “neutral” & “first”
    • Clutch has been rebuilt with both new needle roller bearings and all new everything, including NOS springs for SS180.
    • Layshaft has been rebuilt twice with P200 kits
  • Timesert (not helicoil) needs to be inserted into oil plug threads
  • Electrical issue: headlight does  not run (Paul S. thinks it may be grounding off)

Possible Clutch Issues Per Tom Giordino:
  1. Crank taper may need to be filed at woodruff key score marks.
  2. Use very fine lapping compound to smooth out with clutch and crank.
  3. Selector need to be replaced? (Though there is a new Italian repop)
  4. Possible bur on crank?
  5. Measure between wings/? (can’t make out my notes) of cracks in case of bind.  Time off due to assembly.
  6. Crank off at pin.
  7. Repop crux off and hitting
  8. Search for issues at 1st gear only as that is where the problem is.

Recent History:
Please complete and or/verify the following.  Chris did a nuts to bolts (exterior) check of the entire bike and told me to address the following items:
(1) Flip the fuel cock lever 180 degrees so it is installed correctly, which is 12 Pm is "on" and 9 PM is "reserve".
(2) The choke is sticking, which indicates the "R" clip on the inside of the frame is missing or is loose. Address that at the same time as the fuel cock lever.
(3) The air filter gasket is missing.  Fixed.
(4) The drain tube is missing from the air filter.
(5) Replace the air box lid seal (seal will NOT fit.  Run without). Done by Jeremy.
(6) Add split washers to the gas tank and seat nuts.
(7) Oil dripping from rear hub area. Check the rear hub seal. Brake pads may be soaked in oil. Chris B. tested the brakes after adjusting cable and riding and the brake pads are not soaked in oil.
(8) Add a washer or two to seat pivot screw (which locks the seat) so it is tall enough to click and lock.
(9) Install taller seat buffers so seat frame does not scratch paint on frame anymore.  P200 ones too short.  I provided new taller ones.
(10) Too much free play for clutch lever. Should be approx. 10 mm.Chris B. and I fixed that already.
(11) Too much free play for rear brake and the adjustment cable extension is installed incorrectly. The loose nut needs to face outward for access. Chris B. and I fixed that already.
(12) Too much free play for front brake and the adjustment cable extension is installed incorrectly. The loose nut needs to face outward for access. Chris B. and I fixed that already.
(13) Tighten kick start lever bolt down hard to avoid any free play on shaft. Chris B. and I fixed already.
(14) The clutch cable is too loose so that even before the lever is released the gears are engaged and the bike moves forward. Chris B. and I fixed already.
(15) Check the nut/bolt on seat bracket that is not tight.
(16) Forgo adding the airbox seal as it made the hole too large for the bellow and ripped it and hence I had to replace it with a 2nd one.  Is there another way?
(17) Drill small holes in gear selector box top to allow cables to not be cut too short to work on.  Or is there a better way.
(18) Locate a seat tail and add to seat to make seat look proper like a SS180 and not a P200.

* Please look over entire for any issues at all.  My goal is to have everything caught and fixed. I always hoped this bike might win a ribbon.  I want the parts you add on the bike all period correct. *

Monday, October 10, 2016

New Surflex Clutch Basket

I hit the NOS Surflex clutch basket with a wire brush and my Dremel to remove the light surface rust of age. It cleaned up really nicely.

However, there was some small binding when the clutch backplate did not come up 100% perfectly even.

So the basket will require a little work.  I bought this basket in 2014.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Clutch update

In June 2013 I ordered the Surflex VSC clutch from SIP.  It is still out of stock.  I am tired of waiting and therefore I have begun to look for replacement parts and build up a new clutch.  I already have brand new needle roller bearings, NOS springs, corks, and plates.  I will try to replace the basket first.  If that doesn't work then the backplate and cog.

I reached out to folks to see if anyone in the SF Bay Area would allow me to bring my bike over to them and install and test their clutch in their drive way.  I don't need to get out of first gear to test it.  But understandably, no one said yes.

I will keep you updated.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Vespa SS180 Engine Re-rebuild

After a full restoration to my wife's SS180 we heard a weird grinding sound between neutral and 1st gear.  So we rebuilt the clutch - twice.  That didn't solve it.  So I opened the engine cases and rebuilt the layshaft.  I sealed the cases back up, but still the grinding sound exists.  Bummer.  Maybe we need a new clutch from SIP.  If I give throttle when the clutch is almost all there way out there is no grinding sound.  At this point, I will continue to trouble shoot, but I am prepared to live with the odd sound if necessary now.

Last summer I put the engine back together.  It was a learning curve.  I hit some rough spots, but figured it all out.

Yesterday, I spent the entire day with the bike and now she is back one the road.

Just a few odds and ends left.