Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Engine-side cowl restoration

As with many vintage Vespas, our SS180 had been layed down engine-side and the fly wheel ate up one louvre and a few other louvres were badly bent. In speaking with fellow club member and owner of a GS160, Roland Henry informed me that a good welder could fabricate a louvre and weld it into place and no one could tell the difference.

I emailed the Yahoo Super Sports group and learned that First Kick Scooters, in SF, sells reproduction louvres. I emailed First Kick and many more shops. I got two bites. Scooter Parts Direct sold reproductions for $6.00/each. And First Kick sold louvres for $13/each. I opted to replace all the louvres for uniformity and ordered them from Scooter Parts Direct.

Once I received them I noticed the reproduction louvres lacked the beauty and detail that the original ones did with a double lip. The reproduction louvres were thicker and wider -- with a bend in them creating one lip.

Today, I visited the body/paint shop to remove the seat lock bolt (I am an idiot and had the frame blasted with the seat lock bolt and steering column lock "cover" still attached and of course the chrome was stripped) and I got a sneak peak at the body work. The engine cowl looks good. Spoke with the guy who is working on it and he has seven hours invested so far. Though it's not original, I do think the shop does good work and once painted the scooter cowl will be uniformed.

Now I wonder if it would have been best to have the body shop repair the bent stock louvres and fabricate one to match? Would have looked more original? So much to learn . . . also so much can be spent on something like this. Budget and end goal must always be balanced in my mind.

Follow-up Lesson Learned:
After follow-up research I have come to this conclusion . . . buy the $13 louvres from First Kick. They are near perfect. With a good welder it can be done with little to no filler and the result is . . . a purist won't be able to tell the difference. Think about . . . had I done it this way I would have spent maybe $35 more than I already have, but to change it now I am looking at at least another $300 plus. Please don't make my mistake. I put this Blog together for this specific reason -- so you can avoid making mistakes and be knowlegable about options you have.
The proof is in the pudding, err I mean Collin's Grimstead. He used First Kick's louvres. His welder did this without any filler to boot! Compare to my louvres and the original ones pictured above.

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