Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Seat Restoration

The seat was a complete rust bucket, but complete nonetheless. In the fall of 2005 I began restoration on the seat. I researched online for the best way to remove the rust and preserve the integrity of the springs. Acid dipping would be a clear mistake. I consulted my mentor, Christopher Markley of Moto-Rapido, and we discussed the options. He suggested the “way of least resistance.”

Note: Though Christopher is young – he is of the old world. Body work and mechanical work are done the way our forefathers would have done it. This type of craftsmanship is very difficult to find these days. My wife and I have learned that Christopher is a anal retentive meticulous obsessive perfectionist that will not say a job is done until it is to the spec per the original manufacturer or his client’s request.

Christopher and I agreed upon electrolysis. In a dummy-downed definition, it is filling a bucket with water and connecting a car battery to a coat hanger and electrocuting the water and the rusted item inside the bucket. This is the gentlest approach and proved to be easiest on the seat springs.

Before I did anything, I brought the seat “as-is” to reupholster shop, named Dura-Fit Cover, Inc. located in Harrisburg, PA. I was quoted $150 for reupholstering the seat if I brought the seat frame in 100% restored. The price for a brand new seat was about $130. We opted to restore the seat.

Feeding his karma chain (which he does often), Christopher volunteered to de-rust the seat frame/springs with electrolysis after I sought his direction on “how-to” do it. Furthermore, he said because I was a poor college student again becoming a teacher, he would powder coat the seat frame/springs in black for free for us. He had recently purchased the tools to powder coat. He returned to us a slightly pitted, but perfectly sound and functional seat frame and springs that will weather well over time.

Next I brought the seat to Dura-Fit Cover, Inc. I was informed that the foam was in great shape and could be reused with a new thin layer on top to give perfect shape to it. Lisa and I wanted a British Racing Green paint job and a complimenting brown seat. I brought home a small handful of marine vinyl samples that were for boats and outdoor usage. Dura-Fit took a few months to complete the seat, but it looked great. I was able to reuse the strap-on hardware and the seat lock release. In an effort to preserve the SS’s soul I made sure to have the seat’s “Milano” branded tag in the back of the seat; although I did not preserve the stitching, vinyl color, and the black crusted and cracked seat strap. I will keep my eyes open for a matching seat strap and add it to the seat once I find it.

I recognize that this seat & bike is not restored to its original state, but this bike is being restored and customized for my wife, Lisa.

Note: Due to a hard drive crash two years ago I lost the photos of the seat & frame in its original state and after Christopher Markley prepped it. You can find pictures of the seat in the "History" post below. Click on photo to zoom in on it.


Anonymous said...

I am going to be honest. If you don't care to read this comment, STOP NOW!

The SS180 seat is one of, if not THE, coolest Vespa seat there is. Black, piped in grey, and thin at the front, wide in the middle and back with a little flip up at the back being the coolest bit. Your seat is hideous. Sorry. I'm not mean, really! But the seat has destroyed any identity as an SS seat! It looks like, sorry, a brown Rally seat. Sorry. Coarse grain MARINE vinyl? No piping? No flip? POP RIVETS? You got totally ripped off by the upholsterer. You did all the hard work yourself (the seat frame striping, the cleaning, the powder coating). You even used your correct, original padding. All the sewing guy did was knock out a brown turd of a cover in like 15 minutes. Sorry, really! Here is my opinion. Remove the badge pop rivets (pop rivtes on an SS??, it just isn't done!). Remove the cover....and burn it. Chaulk it up as a restoration learning curve mistake (everyone has one). Put the seat in a box and forget about it until the end of the restoration. It is the absolutely last thing you need to do. Now an original shape, but brown, fine pattern vinyl with a tan piping... there ya go. Sorry!
Paul B.
'66 SS

Scooter Couple said...

No worries. You are gentle compared to the BBS crowd. I didn't knowtice that the seat did not have in it any longer. I suspect the padding is there, but the vinyl is not pulled down tightly enough?

Anywho, I agree that the piping did look better and the unique stitching at the base of the frame as well did look great -- how much would you have expected a reuplholster shop to charge to do the job right?

Will leave seat "as-is" for now and seeing as it's my wife's, Lisa's, bike we'll see what she'd like done.

I, myself, may be getting a 1964 Lammy TV175 next weekend as a follow-up project to this bike. Not as rare as the SS, but still a nice scooter.

Anonymous said...

I HOPE the upholsterer (is that spelled right?) didn't destroy the original padding rear flip bit in an attempt to get the seat flat at the rear.
A TV 175! Wow! Man the SS and the TV sitting next to each other, all restored - THAT will look SO COOL!
Paul B.
'66 SS

Scooter Couple said...


I really pissed and upset with myself. I think the upholster (yes, spelled correctly - I'm an English teacher :) )screwed up the black foam "flip". I believe it was destroyed. I can not feel it under the vinyl. I did NOT do my research on this and am paying the price.

I only recently started to write BBS and Piston Ported Yahoo for guidance.

I looked at over a dozen photos of SS180s after reading your comment and the seat does not look anything near original. I honestly didn't know. I thought that since the original foam was in good shape that the upholster would be able to follow the lines - so to speak.

I know better now. Always give a photo from Technica or something similar and tell them I want it to look like this!

Live in learn I guess. I should just let go of this and move on.

I won't make this mistake again.

Yes, I love the Lammies! Prefer a SX200 besides the SS180. Wouldn't that be sweet! Those damn bikes costs though. But I would not lift my nose to a TV. They are nice bikes.

- Jeremy

Scooter Couple said...


Went to my upholsterer today. Seat was completed months ago. The
"lift" foam peice was thrown out. Asked him what the cost difference would be if I had gotten tubing as the original -- he said not much more at all. I accept full responsibility for this screw up. I did not tell the upholsterer any different upfront.