Thursday, December 28, 2006

Invitation to all readers

Calling all readers . . .

The overall goal for this blog is to create a comprehensive resource for SS180 owners. I can not do this without your help and therefore, I invite all of you to "comment" to postings and make recommendations where you see fit.

My knowledge, at this point, is limited. This blog documents my first restoration and I hope to point out all the mistakes I made and how to avoid these pitfalls in an effort to make the next VSC restoration easier on its owner.

The priority of this blog is to keep SS180s as original as possible during restoration, BUT I also want to help the "daily rider" restorations. It may benefit them to replace their HT coil with a newer PX125 HT coil for better spark, for example.

I recognize, many purists will say that you can't have it both ways Jeremy and my anwser is . . . you can if you have two bikes . . . meaning each owner may restore with a different goal in mind.

Please email me:
1) photos -- before and after -- of your SS180, serial number, year, and your name and I will create a "Registry" post to capture our SS community.
2) stories about your restoration process.
3) problem solving techniques you applied.

I will post your information on the blog.



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.

Reference: Original SS180 Renja Seat

(Due to a hard drive crash I lost all pictures of the original condition of the SS we had and therefore appreciate anyone who can send "original" photos of SS scoots and parts).

Seeing as I did not keep our seat original (but wish I did) I am posting pictures of the stock seat for your reference. A big thank you to Hiro (Palmog on BBS) for sending these photos!

As you can see I missed three parts of the restoration: (1) missing the "lift" foam at the butt of the seat, (2) the tubing around seat in gray, and (3) the seat strap.

If your foam is in good shape you can buy a brand new seat cover (looks semi-original) from Scooter Works for about $130.

I wish I had researched the seat restoration more prior to beginning it. I learned the hard way. *See previous post on the "seat" and photos.

Ah the sweet sound of the Vespa SS 180

While searching I found:

Ah the sweet sound of an SS:

Some close up an SS:

I can't wait for our SS to be complete.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Who's living in my Carburator

There was a hornet's nest inside the carb. We hired Christopher Markley to rebuild the carb, because he was doing the engine rebuild at the same time and we wanted to have him deliver us a completely functioning engine. We even had him clean the air filter in his parts cleaner. The carb sat in his parts cleaner machine for two weeks I believe before he could rebuild it. He said it was a mess.Look at how dirty the carb bowl was. A carb rebuild kit costs about $15 and labor with Christopher Markley was another $25. It helps when you have the right tools. We now have a rebuilt carb that is clean and to manufacturer spec.

Note: SS180s produced in 1966 and before used a 117 main jet in the carb and they had problems seizing. Piaggio then switched to a 120 main jet and recommended all earlier models do the same.