Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy Birthday Blog

Happy Birthday to this blog!

One year ago on this day, I drafted the first post and published it on January 1st, 2007.

Since then, I have made 79 posts and this one is the 80th.

There have been 6,211 visitors (as of when I write this), from every single continent, this year -- that is an average of 518 visitors per month and 17 visitors per day roughly.

This year has been a learning experience for me and I hope that those who visit and read are also learning, especially from my mistakes.

This blog's New Year's Resolution is . . . complete the restoration of the SS180 and document the steps of reassembly.

It's funny, I looked hard and for a long time for a blog like mine that I could print out (and write notes on) in its entirety and read before beginning my restoration so that I had a detailed guide each and every step of the way. I have not found that blog yet, but I promise you I am creating it for you. And I hope that hours spent in your Haynes books, diagram print outs, Vespa service manuals, searching on BBS and other Vespa sites won't be as necessary for you because everything you need is here. I have used all these resources and encourage you to as well. They are helpful!

I realize that this site is somewhat specific to the VSC, but even if you're restoring a fender light or a P-Series I believe this site will still be useful to you if you are not an expert restorer.

Thank you for reading and contributing folks. I am glad you visit and read. This blog is for you.

An even BIGGER thank you to those specific individuals who dropped me notes offline and encouraged me and told me how much you appreciate this blog -- it kept me going and motivated.

Thank you all. Happy New Years and may your resolution be to start restoring that rust bucket in your garage or for you to start hunting old barns to find your gem.

All I ask is as you do restore it and reference this site along the way that you too comment (post) solutions to problems so that those who follow us can learn as well.

Let's get more vintage on the road and love to all 2-wheeled scoots!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Paint & Rust Revisited

This is a follow-up to my last paint blog entry . . .

I emailed my mentors (Christopher M. & Tom G.) the following question:


Do you think "undercover" (the rubber sealant sprayed beneath cars) would work well to seal the rust in the cavity beneath the gas tank / floor board -- basically the tubing that lies beneath the floor mat?

Or maybe a zinc product, which attacks and seals the rust?

I'd rather not pay the price of a can of Zero Rust in shipping alone ($8 for a can and $8 for shipping) and I am looking at the alternatives the auto stores have. Much of the area did receive over spray during paint and that went over the rust. PPG cleaner and conditioner reached the rust prior to paint as well.

This is an extra preventative measure I'd like to take. The bike will be stored in doors.


Here are the two separate answers I received (both saying the same thing!)

I think you should leave the tunnel alone.  Do not
"seal" the rust in. Moisture ALWAYS penetrates
sealants. If you have paint on one side of metal, and
sealant on the other, the moisture has nowhere to go
to get out, and will accelerate corrosion from the
inside out. Leave the tunnel side exposed to air, so
any moisture that gets in there can evaporate.
-- Tom

The undercoating product would likely get onto the painted exterior
surfaces, creating disaster. It's horrible gooey stuff. Like you say, some
protective coating already hit that semi-rusty steel, so it's probably OK.
Plus, the fact that you'll store it indoors is good news. I wouldn't worry
about it. Maybe if you like you could get a can of fogging oil at a
snowmobile dealer or dirt bike shop. It's a fine oil that comes in a spray
can and you use it to spray in the intake manifold when a 2 stroke engine is
being prepared for long-term storage -- it coats the cylinder/piston with a
fine oil to prevent corrosion. Good stuff. Another alternative would be the
nasty waxy stuff you can get at auto paint stores (like my beloved BAPS)
designed to be sprayed inside auto sheet metal panels to prevent rust --
exactly the situation you have. But again, this will be an indoor bike, so
even if you do nothing you should have nothing to worry about.
-- Christopher

Lesson learned:
Always double check with the painter and make sure to have the problem correctly resolved upfront or at least make sure over-spray coats the hidden areas. For this bike, we're leaving it as-is per the recommendations I received. Your situation may be different; therefore read Christopher's response closely for alternative solutions.

Eric's SS180 is complete

Eric beat me and finished up his restoration (minus the glove box) of his 1966 Vespa VSC. You can see photos and blog entries at Eric's website

Congratulations Eric!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Broken emblem

The good news is my fender crest and "Vespa Super Sport" emblem are fully reusable. I just need to clean them up.

The bad news is my "Vespa SS" emblem, which goes on the legshield, has broken pegs on the back that attach to locking squares that hold them in place. It's a shame because the reproduction ones suck, I've heard. In an effort to save that emblem and reuse it I emailed Christopher M. and Tom G. Welding new pegs wouldn't work I don't think. I needed a creative idea.

Christopher offered a possible and great solution. I just need to confirm that it will not hurt the paint job at all, but seeing as it the goo goes on car paint I should be fine.

Here is what Christopher M. suggested:
"For the SS badge, what about just using the adhesive that's used to mount car emblems? You can get it at BAPS. Look out, though. It's nasty and stringy. A LITTLE goes a LONG way."

GS/SS Parts For Sale

Found this on in the "parts for sale" section. I am only posting it because the photo may prove useful for you readers:

Description: Here is a lot of mostly GS 160 parts left over from my restoration a couple of years ago. The swingarm is highly polished and looks great. I had an aluminum spot weld done where the brake cam connects to the body of the arm and it is stronger than new and you would never know it was there. I have additional pics if needed. I rebuilt 3 shocks and this is one of them. The other is on my bike and has never had a problem for 2 years so hopefully this one will hold like new also. I want to sell this as a lot before I do single stuff on Ebay so ask questions and make me an offer for the whole thing. I also have a fork (Bead blasted) and other misc that I might add to the lot if I can locate it before shipping.
Location Ohio

Round headlight models

I have a round headlight on my SS and have been having problems with the scoot shops finding the lens that goes in the hole above the speedo.

Tom G. told me that an "eye" / "lens" is what goes there, but the shops didn't know what I meant and did not have the part number I provided them.

I emailed Palmog, who then email Collin (who Palmog labeled as the one with "the most knowledge about an SS in the USA" -- a hell of a nice compliment about Collin").

Here's what Collin told me:

Hi Jeremy,
Hiro in Japan forwarded an email you sent to him regarding US spec later SS headset parts. A round light 1967 SS180 headset is going to be identical parts-wise to a non-battery US style Rally 180 headset. The "eye" part you are looking for is a colored gem that the high beam supposedly shines through (though it hardly works anyways). Greg Clauss from Clauss studios remakes them, they are super cheap.
Ps...the gems come in Red and Orange. I've seen red on all Rally 180's and late Super Sports.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Floor rail kit -- salvagable?

If you have to replace your floor rail kit you have two choices:
1) Authentic will cost you $65 Euro ($130 USA) at
2) Rally kit will cost you $39-49, but does not have the correct width and length to manufacturer's spec.

I was really hoping that I could reuse my floor rail kit and my legshield trim. My legshield trim is shot to hell. It looks like the bike had been laid down on one side. I will not be able to reshape the legshield trim and I am nervous that I can not reuse my stock floor rail kit.
The metal is very pliable and can be worked with somewhat. My rails do have nicks and scratches in them as you can see when you click on the photos to enlarge.
I suspect Eric planned on replacing the kit when he cut the rivets, but the bottom of the kit is in bad shape at a couple spots.
I suspect that if I cleaned them up and they were all shiny and pretty the eye would not focus on the imperfections, but then again we have a good chunk of change put into body work and paint and I wouldn't want my floor rail kit to give the hooptie effect to the finished scoot.
I really hate to replace parts because (1) new parts are not part of the scooter's soul and (2) it lowers the value of the bike when items are not original or intended for the specific model (yes, I do know the non-stock color of paint on our SS also lowered its value).
To put on a Rally floor rail kit would not bother my wife, the owner/rider of the SS180; therefore that is always an option.
The other consideration is the rubber for this floor rail kit is not sold any longer. I spoke with Claus Studios and for $128 I could have new floor rail rubber. I would need a NOS sample rubber for Claus Studios to replicate as well.

Here's the break down:
$80 for set-up (I would email all GS/SS owner to see if anyone would go in with me on this)
$8 per strip

This bike is intended to be a beautiful rider and not a museum piece; therefore spending $130 on the rubber or even the entire floor kit may not be logical for this restoration.

There are probably ten scooterists in the USA that would know the difference between the SS and Rally kits.

At this point, readers please comment below and let me know if what I have is reusable in your opinion and how you'd recommend cleaning it up.

Thank you.

From Christopher Markley:
"You'd be surprised at the evil that you can eliminate with judicious
application of several grades of sand paper followed by steel wool. A little
ting ting ting with some little jeweler's hammers, some cleaning and
polishing and you might be ok."

You can purchase the rubber from Scooter Works (Part#56779) or from Mauro Pascoli.

Ted's shop

The SS180 has had four homes since it was rescued from a an old farm. It's lived with Eric Hughes, me, at Christopher Markley's shop, and now Ted's shop.

Ted is a KTM-man or shall I say freak! He and wife ride and own a lot of bikes. Thanx Ted for taking in the VSC and helping with the reassembly.

Parts Order No. 1

For Christmas my family gave the SS180:
1) Cable set
2) MeCur rear shock spring
3) Wiring harness
4) Steering column upper and lower bearings
5) Rear shock dampener block
6) Patches for my riding coat

Total damage = $132.00 (that saved us from buying)

These items should get the reassembly started.

Replace Rim Studs

Stop! Don't bang out your old studs. They are welded in place with a tack weld. You will damage them on the way out. Try and reuse what you have first. My shop guy Ted was tapping one out for me to bring with me to the hardware store to buy stainless steel split washers and nuts and low and behold we stopped tapping out the stud right away after we made a little mess of the powder coat. Crap!

There are two important characteristics in a restorer: experience and patience. For what I lack in experience I try to make up for with patience. When hammering out a stud or some metal on your bike (other than body) ALWAYS use a block of wood or copper hammer (use a hammer with metal softer than what you are hitting) and save yourself from stripping threads or causing permanent damage. Take your time! Sometimes commonsense goes by the wayside when we get excited. Patience is a virtue and pays itself back time and time again.

Front Shock Rebuild Complete

A big thank you to my motorcycle buddy Ted for rebuilding my front shock. Ted is a high school guidance counselor now, but in a previous life he was a shop guy and does stuff the ol'skool way -- similar to Christopher Markley. The shock looks beautiful!
Ted followed the instructions on the rebuild I gave him from the Jets Scooter Club web page on how to rebuild a GS/SS front shock. See my previous post on rebuilding the front shock for more information.
I have looked high and low for this little rubber piece and have not found it. I will need to make one out of a dense rubber. It does not need to keep oil from dripping -- it just acts as a dampener.

I did not need to replace the rubber seal inside that is near impossible to find, but the good news is I have the one I purchased as a spare for the future.

Note: if you are looking to rebuild your GS/SS front shock . . . go check out "parts for sale" as there is a guy selling the front and rear shock already rebuilt.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Rear shock update

Replaced the rusty stock spring (rear shock) with a MeCur spring. Dropping it off at Christopher Markley's today to be powder coated black. Need to rebuild the rear shock so we can install the engine in the frame.

Powder coat cost = $12.50

Photo of rear shock stock is on Technica page #51. Click the page to enlarge. It's a good idea to study these photos from time to time when restoring an SS180 so you can remember what the finished bike should look like . . . for example had I revisited the photos I would have known where the junction box goes and I would not have thought something was missing . . . see previous post: "Engine - Missing Fastener?".

Wiring (without battery)

Thanx to Palmog for both the instructions below and a spare junction box, which he shipped to me from Japan, as I believe my junction box is in bad shape as I remember it being taped up in painter's tape like my High Tension Coil (or there is a slim chance that is in good shape and just taped together for storage purposes -- not to loose screws. I can't remember). We did upgrade our stock HT Coil, which the case cracked and broke, to a PX125 HT Coil. The idea being better spark and brighter lights.

Emailed from Palmog:

Hi Jeremy,

ok, then you have an AC bike with original wiring harness. Assuming so, we can use the wiring diagram for GS160 non-battery model here as a basic,

We need four terminal on the junction box as the figure shows. (dots on the junction box in the figure show the terminals) What we need to care is one thing and it is the connection on the HT coil. The PX125 HT coil has only one terminal for the hot (not grounded) AC terminal and we need to connect the wires colored red both from the stator and the junction box to the only terminal (terminal #2 on the figure) on the HT coil. (the terminal at the end of the wire from the junction box would be grounded when you push the kill switch)

Then you would need to connect the ground wire (which colored as black) to the metal body of the HT coil or on the motor case. I'm using the fixing nut of the HT coil as a terminal and connect both black wire from the stator and the junction box to the nut. In other words, the terminal #1 on the figure (original HT coil) is not exist on the PX125 HT coil but the fixing nut can be recognized as the terminal.

To summarize this, first on the junction box,
connection #1: Yellow wires (for tail/speedo/head lighting system) from the stator and wiring harness
connection #2: Sky blue wires (for the stop lamp) form the stator and wiring harness
connection #3: Green wires (for the horn) from the stator and wiring harness
connection #4: Red wires (for the ignition) from the stator/HT coil and wiring harness.

Second on the PX125 HT coil,
connection #5: Red wires from the stator/junction box. (it's your choice that where you connect each two on the HT coil or the junction box but you need at least one connection on each terminal)

Third on the PX125 HT coil fixing nut or the motor case,
connection #6: black wires from the stator/junction box.

Special note: thanx to Palmog, Tom G., Christopher Markley, and all the others that consistently share information with me. Many of my blog readers benefit from your knowledge and expertise.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Purchasing retro tires

I just visited Clauss Studios to investigate if he may already have molds for the rubber for the floor rails on an SS. I understand that the width of replacement floor rail rubber is not wide enough for the original floor rails on the SS; therefore if my original rail can be reused I will not be able to replace the rubber.

While I visited Clauss Studios I found that he sells Shinko brand tires (formerly Yokohama) for cheap! We bought white wall'd Sava Kran Touring tires for $19.99 on clearance "as-is" from Motor Sport Scooter. A good deal on a mid-grade tire, but there are some small defects with the white walls.

It's a much better deal with Clauss.

Engine: Missing Fastener?

When Christopher Markley delivered our completely rebuilt SS engine he told me there were two items I'd need to look into. We'll talk about one now. There is a hole in the engine case that looks like a fastener should be used to seal it, but when Christopher investigated the parts diagram he saw nothing. Also, it did not appear to be threaded. Pictured above are my spare cases, with the same hole, but this hole is threaded very finely; therefore I am assuming something is screwed in there. I am pointing at the hole for your reference in the picture. Please post a comment and let me know what belongs in there.

Once I find out what screw goes in there, I can clean up the threads and put the correct fastener in place.

Thanks in advance for your help.

This is where the junction box goes. (Thanx Paul)
Here is a photo of the stock junction box for your reference.

Vespa Christmas

Just received in the mail my wife's and my Christmas gift in one Scooter Works box. I asked for items that I need first to get the reassembly started. See previous "Christmas Wish List 2007" post for items asked for. We'll know more on the morning of 12/25 what we have. No matter what . . . it's more than we have now and we should be able to move forward some what. It's certainly a welcomed package in our household. I predict some movement, in the restoration world, is right around the corner (note: it's not a big box though so it does not mean the completion of the bike) .

Floor rail installation guide

In the not too distant future I hope to be reassembling the Vespa and since I am so terrible at just sitting and twiddling my thumbs I have been researching on how to install the floor rail kits.

I posted my question on BBS and Self Preservation Society sent to me a "how to" post he had written with photos (copy and paste link into your browser):

I then wrote mentor Tom G. and asked if he approved of this method and this is what Tom G. said:
Yes.  Very easy, but you need to practice a bit to
make sure your tools and settings are correct. Also,
you need a quality air regulator to get the chisel to
slow down enough to control it - the cheapie
regulators don't work well.

I also wrote up a hand peening method on the BBS years
ago, and it has been posted on various restoration
sites. I recommend that you take a refrigerator
magnet and punch a hole in it. Place it around the
end of the rivet that sticks out of the body before
you start hammering. That way if your hammer slips
your paint is a little protected.

At this point I want to find out if my floor rails are reusable (I hope to just clean them up if they have tiny scratches and such) and if I can find replacement rubber for it. Maybe Claus Studio can produce the rubber?

Lesson Learned:
VSC owners -- the closest floor rail kit is for the Rally. Note: it is a bit short and maybe a dozen people tops in the USA will notice this so Rally is not a bad way to go. But make sure that you purchase the floor rail kit and shape it against your frame BEFORE it is painted or you run a high risk of messing your paint job up.

Again, sucks to me. Learn from my mistakes. I have to find a way to shape my floor rail (if I don't use originals) kit along my freshly painted bike. Not smart!

For more info search "floor rail" on the Vespa-Sport Yahoo Group. Good info in the archives.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Vespa Vagabond

I attempt to be meticulous in my restoration blogs (see Vespa and Lambretta), but the quality of the writing goes by the wayside for the content.

I have always wanted to tour coast-to-coast on a scoot. This woman did it solo and documented the trip with quality writing (which I appreciate as a English teacher) and photographs (which I also appreciate as a amateur photographer of film cameras).

I have chatted about scooter camping before, but this woman took the ride to a whole new level by traveling alone on her Vespa from SF to NYC over two months on back roads through no named towns. An amazing trip indeed.

Check her blog out at:

I recognize that this post if off-topic for the restoration of our SS180, but for the sake of documentation . . . her blog honors the craft with a great read and good information.

Thanx to my wife for showing me it.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Christmas Wish List 2007

It's a sad state at my house for scooters. The piggy bank remains dry and we have attempted to resolve that issue by putting all other desires on hold. Below is my wife's and my Christmas wish list, which was sent to my family.

Christmas Wish List 2007

Note: items in bold are the ones we need first. Please ship to my work at:
Susquehanna Township High School

Scooter Works – 1.888.96.VESPA
$19.00 -- Item #73538 -- Spring, Rear Shock
$10.20 -- #60536 – Rear suspension dampener block & hardware
$.75 – S.3109 – Spring Washer
$29.00 – CCS6 – Complete cable set
$49.00 – 92563 – Wire harness for non-battery
$4.8 – 77023 – Ball cage bearing for front fork
$3.6 – 77024 – Ball cage bearing for front fork
$15 – (QTY: 3) 3.5x10 inner tubes
$18 -- 13521 – (QTY: 2) Cowl packing strip (rubber trim) in Grey
$49 – FRKVNB – Floor rail kit (order Rally version)
$14 – 70577 – Twist grips in GREY
$12 – 85072 -- Center mat in BLACK
$16 – 85073 and 85074 -- Center mat retainers
$35 -- LTC6-C – Legshield chrome

MotorSport Scooters – 1.619.280.1718
$8.70 -- 060536 – Upper shock mount and hardware (also listed under Scooter Works)
$18.95 -- Part #: 097366 – GS/SS air bellow
$1.00 – Hose band clips

Scooter Richmond – 1.877.SCOOT.25
$9.99 – 90525 --Speedo Cable
$6.99 – 98655 -- Speedo Pinion

Our goal is to get the front end in cables run, and engine/rear tire, and kick stand installed within the next couple months and have the bike on its own two feet ASAP.

Final Quote Comparison

I typically request quotes from multiple shops to ensure that I can find all of the parts I need. Often I can find most of what I need and I always pursue NOS (new old stock) first. Below is my final quote comparison, which will show you how detailed I have become with my parts lists as well as give you an idea of how closely different shops charge for parts.

If you're interested I have this quote in an MS Excel file if you need it to create your parts list. I have already give away my Lambretta TV175 list to another restorer and I was happy to do so, because I know it saved the guy a few hours of work, which he can now use towards restoring his scoot now.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

How to polish chrome pieces

In speaking with mentors Christopher Markley and Tom G . . . I have learned how to preserve the beauty of my dinged-up kick start lever and more.

Tom G. says:
Try autosol for chrome.

For Aluminum, I do the sanding approach, using wet/dry
sandpaper (sometimes I use it wet, sometimes I use it
dry). 220 is a good starting point, but some bad
scratches require coarser grades first. then 320,
then 400, then 600, then 1000, then 1500, and THEN I
rub out with mothers aluminum polish (although I think
autosol is ok too).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Does your scooter drift around corners?

So I have been "stuck" on buying a Taffspeed P-Series rear spring to use with my original VSC rebuilt rear shock, because I want the scoot to ride stiffer and not drift around corners.

My daily rider is a Baja Chetak and I have the shock setting to this stiffest on my scoot, whereas my wife has her's set at less than the half point and I dislike riding her bike because it feels like you're riding on a cloud. It's too soft. I figured that because I tightened my suspension settings that it put more pressure on the spring therefore making the ride more responsive.

In speaking with Palmog, Tom G., and Christopher Markley I've learned that I was wrong -- it's not the spring that prevents the "drifting". All three of them told me to replace the spring with a stock spring.

Here's what Palmog said:

"As for the spring, Vespas are designed to carry two passenger and the spring rate is not so important as for the rear shock, IMHO, a standard/stock shock should work fine. Test it first and buy reinforced one if you really want it.

The drift of the rear tire would be improved by the absorber and the mounts. Is this what you want to improve, isn't it?"

In a follow-up email I told him that I replaced the engine mounts with Clauss Studio mounts and asked what he recommended for addressing the absorber issue. He responded . . .

"The dumping power of the absorber can be controlled by the oil rate/grade. The rear shock for Vespas are quite easy to take apart and the replacement of the grade of oils (you can use some fork oils) is relatively easy. The practice would be endless so I would like to suggest you don't be serious about that tuning. The feeling would be changed day by day. As for the stiffness of the rear shock, it tends to result with being uncomfortable during long rides. That is completely different with the choice for the front shock, in my opinion. Ride it first as it then you'll have an idea."

**** **** **** ****

I will buy a stock shock spring and set it up to be manufacture spec. My wife does not care as much about riding a bike as a race-scoot.

If you wish to learn more I recommend reading up suspension from the techy guys on BBS.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Disassembling? Things to think about!

We did NOT buy SS180 in one piece -- rather it was disassembled, but complete, and in boxes. We know Svend, who paid $25 for the complete assembled scoot along with the title (yah that's a find!). We know Eric, who bought it from Svend, and disassembled it. Eric planned to replace much of it, I believe. I know he aimed to buy a new 180cc engine.

Eric is methodical and careful and I am sure he took his time taking the bike apart, but what I don't know is if -- seeing as he aimed to replace parts -- if he removed the parts of the bike with same care he would have if he was REUSING everything. If memory serves me correct the badge scripts and fender crest may not be in the best shape.

The disassembling process that I recommend you consider is:
1) Remove everything like you aim to reuse it (badges, trim, everything!)
2) Inventory it immediately with official part #s and list the condition of each part on a "Keep, Replace, Maybe Salvage" scale. Use MS Excel as you can search parts easier that way.
3) Zip tie the part # on each part.
4) Have 3 rubbermaid containers: (a) polish me box, (b) parts cleaner box, (c) not to be reused parts -- save this box to compare your replacement parts to the original, for example if you order a new fender crest for the SS the size will be different than what is available. It is no longer made to spec. You wouldn't know that without the original! These details are important.

This work upfront will save you many hours later on, if you are a newbie restorer like me. Being methodical is the key. The inventory process is key!! Feel feel to request my final parts order XLS file and you can start from there and NOT recreate the wheel.

When rebuilding/restoring your rare bike, your goal should be (IN THIS ORDER):
1) Reuse everything I can (remember the reproductions of badges, trim, etc. are crap compared to the originals!). You can clean stuff up better than you expect.
2) If you can't reuse a part, be patient and hunt down NOS (new old stock) for the parts you need. This will aid with the value of your bike. Tom G. really urged me to use NOS every chance I get, even if I need to pay a little bit more.
3) Worst case scenario buy repro (reproduction).

If you are just building a common daily rider scratch the above. Buy the cheaper repro.

Below is an email conversation I had with Chelsea (Scomo) about new parts and her recommendations to reuse all I can in this restoration. Chelsea has some good suggestions that may benefit you.


1. Will try to reuse script badges. I bought the bike in pieces and am not sure how carefully that stuff was removed. Need to revisit it.
2. Legshield trim is in iffy condition. May have to replace sadly.
3. Only real mod to the bike is it is British Racing Green and we're good with what ever stock color rubber is, ie floor rail kit.
4. I need new grips . . . so the repros will have to do.
5. My gas tank is clean and is fully usable. I was thinking more of the fuel tap.
6. My fuel tap is good shape, I think, and just need to soak it in carb cleaner -- BUT what is the quality on your fuel tap.
7. 97493 is a gasket for the fuel tank -- I used the GS/SS parts catalog from
9. Rider is 200 lbs and I want an upgraded spring preferably -- recommendations? I have rebuilt the rear shock, just need the spring.
10. I think I only need the pivot bolts.

Eye in headset is #26157

Thank you,



Chelsea @ Scoot Richmond wrote:


Questions, issues, thoughts, etc.

1. The currently available reproduction script badges for your scoot (both front Vespa SS and rear Super Sport) are crap. I hate to be such the bearer of bad news, but not nearly as much as I hate selling crappy parts for loads of money. If your originals are even marginally savable, I recommend doing so. If not, I'll see if I have any good originals here.
2. Legshield trim. The currently available reproduction legshield trim is chrome, made by Cuppini, is a bit lacking in the quality department fitment and weather-proof wise, and a bit fatter profile wise than the original stuff. The original stuff, made by Ulma, thinner profile, stainless steel, and all around a much better piece. Of course, Ulma hasn't made the stuff for 30+ years, which makes the Cuppini stuff the only option. Do you want to get the Cuppini stuff or do you have an original set that you can save?
3. From the factory, some of your rubbers were grey, and some were black. Therefore, some of the stuff you have specified as wanting grey actually only comes in black. Included here: Rear brake pedal rubber, floor strip rubber. 4. The grips available for your scoot these days are not exactly like the original. They have the old style rectangular Piaggio badge instead of the hex piaggio badge that was originally stamped on the grips. I have looks absolutely everywhere to find some grips that are right, and they just don't exist. 5. Fuel tank assembly...that's not going to be an easy one. Is your original tank gone? Dirty? lost? nasty smelly? I don't have an original tank and it's NOT going to be easy to find one. 6. looks like you are going to attempt to rebuild your original fuel tap..? I don't recommend doing that. A new tap is $17.99, and it'll save you a lot of hassles. I've put one in your cart.
7. Air bellows jubilee clips are non-existent. Most folks sub in generic clips from autozone or the like.
8. Hmm...for some reason, I am not finding 97493 in my parts books. Can you describe it for me?
9. We do not carry the taffspeed rear spring, as I am in fact unsure that they are still making it. We have a stock spring, or you can get a upgraded entire rear shock assembly. thoughts?
10. Hardware for clutch and throttle in headset. Are you referring to the pivots that fit inside the throttle and shift tube that actually hold the barrels of the throttle and gear cables, or something else? Same with the 73556 and 73552...seems that my parts book is missing a page. harumph!

Monday, November 5, 2007

HELP ME READERS -- Steering Column Bearings

Howdy folks I need the numbers off of BOTH steering column bearings (they are the balls-in-ring types) that are labeled #34 and #35 on this page:

The part numbers are:
77024 (top bearing cage)
77025 (bottom bearing cage)

One of my bearings is beat bad and the other is MIA (might have been left with the guy we bought the bike from -- which was in pieces and in boxes when we got it). The only number my shop guy could give me was from the busted up bearing was "13515" -- does that jive with what you guys have?

Would you please help me and post a comment (click the comment button) with the SKF bearing numbers, engraved on on each bearing? I need that number to go to my local SKF dealer and buy them ASAP.

Lesson Learned:
SKF does not make the bearings. They cost about $15 or less for the two bearings. Purchase from your local scoot shop. The bearings are universal and are not unique to the SS180. Cost under $9 for both including tax.

How to clean your fuel tap

Your fuel tap is a bare aluminum/pot metal.
Soaking in carb cleaner is ideal, because it leaves no
Paint thinner is ok, though.
No need to coat in paint or rust protector it afterward.

The fuel sediment bowl is part of the fuel tap mechanism and I believe it can be handwashed.

You can buy a one gallon container of carb cleaner. It will last you for years!

**** Save the paint thinner for the super goopy stuff like outside of engine
cases. Carb cleaner, used just for carbs, stays relatively clean, and
doesn't re-deposit bad junk from prior cleanings. For your fuel tap and carb rebuilds this is your best solution. ****

To replace the fuel tap is less than $20, but I asked Tom G. what would be best and his response is:
If your original tap can be cleaned and re-used (with
a new gasket if needed), go with it. But make sure
the filters are not damaged, and both tubes are clear.

Don't run without a sediment bowl unless you have no


Friday, November 2, 2007

Recipe For Cleaning Parts

So the Vespa restoration piggy bank has run dry and I am diverting monies from my other hobbies to attempt to keep things moving forward, but often throughout this project I have had to ask myself, "isn't there something I can be doing for the bike that doesn't cost money?" The first time I asked myself this I cleaned parts to be powder coated. The second time I created my final parts list and questions for restoration. This time, I have a new solution.

Why don't I clean my parts so when I am ready to reassemble the bike I can, without slowing down for cleaning . . . all I need is an old 5-gallon bucket and a recipe of some dang strong cleaning solution.

There are a few recipes you can use according to my mentors:

1) Kerosene

2) Paint thinner (not lacquer thinner, which is just too damn toxic). Paint thinner is great stuff. But stinky. And dangerous.


3) Orange cleaner followed by Purple cleaner. Do NOT use Purple cleaner on aluminum as it will ATTACK it

I like to consider myself "green" and will try to use the environmentally-friendly approach first.

I will contact my buddy with the bike at his shop and work with him to get this bath started.

Another thing I can do is get the front fork / hub assembled and then install the fork into the frame. I have some cash and can afford the ball-in-ring bearings (qty: 2) that will be needed for this job. Everything else I should have, I hope. I aim to get the part number for the bearings and go to my local SKF dealer within the next couple weeks.

I have a feeling that my nitro rc airplane (which I haven't bought yet and am stealing from its piggy bank) in now ticked at me.

Follow-up chats with Tom G.:
For the parts washer, I use a proprietary solvent I
found on Who knows what is in it?

But it leaves a residue, so I always spray parts down
after cleaning with brake cleaner.

Sometimes I just use gasoline to clean bits. It is
cheap (but smelly). Again, spray down with brake
cleaner afterwards.

Sounds like you really need to start putting the bike
together, my friend!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

How to break-in the engine after rebuild

I asked Christopher Markley "how he recommends we break-in the SS engine he rebuilt for us" and he responded:

Non-synthetic two-stroke oil for first 500 miles.
No wide open throttle for extended periods.
No two-up riding.
No lugging engine in too-high gear.
No long distance faster than maybe 40mph, and if that, then vary it up and down.
When riding, roll on and roll off throttle now and then.
Don't stay in mid-range too long.
Don't go down long steep hill with throttle off using
engine as brake.
Just sensible riding.
No need to baby it too much.
Just don't hot-dog.

Also, let her warm up a bit before laying into
the throttle. Many seizures come from people starting the engine and
immediately flying balls-to-the-wall down the road. The aluminum piston
expands much faster than the cast iron cylinder, and bang -- she seizes.

Note: crap! We're still broke. No progress. Got one quote back asking for $511 for 90% of everything. Not bad.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Time Capsule

Some guys get all the luck! Check out this SS in "original" condition. Ain't she a beaut? Congrads to Gary. We're envious.

Here's the history according Gary:

I've always wanted an SS, and it was really just a fluke finding this one, I was looking once in awhile for one or a GS160. Going over the classifieds on Craigslist, an older woman was selling an original SS and had it listed as a 64 which seemed odd since there were so few made, and this one had the round headlight and that tractor taillight. Fearing that it was some type of clone I held off on contacting her. I then visited javaspeed in RI to see if they could help me find a larger frame Vespa (I'm 6'1 and 200lbs), they are about an hour or so from me, and when I mentioned that "64" was available and I was considering it, they knew the bike since it had been on display there for awhile and also serviced there, but at the time it wasn't for sale, as the woman whom owned it was planning to retire and move to Italy with it (at the time).

The guys there told me if I passed on it to let them know, I had no idea these were so desireable until rather recently, and reading around the net, somewhere I guess there is a top 10 list for Vespas and the SS is on that list. I just never knew it seems everyone is looking for one. When I called around various shops looking for price points I couldn't believe the prices these things were fetching. From what your blog seems to be indicating, you will probably end up being ahead given their appreciation, hard to imagine in the vintage vehicle business, but that seems to be going on now.

Anyways, the woman I bought it from owned it in dry climate controlled storage for 30 years. She admitted to only driving it once for about a minute as it was to be her retirement vehicle. Took her the last 2 years to realize the dream wasn't practical I guess as she is rather comfortable here. A bunch of folks have tried to get it from her before, lowballed her on the price and such, and she wanted it to go the right person. I'm a very low pressure guy, I know its hard to let go of things that we bond to, like the VWs, everyone I've sold was hard to part with, when a person is ready they look for the right person to sell it to. So with some of that and a ton of luck this one came my way.

After looking it over I found out it was indeed a 67, no rust anywhere, all original paint, a few minor cowl dents and some scratches but very few, its literally a mini time capsule. I'm only upgrading a few things on it, and I'm taking off the perfect seat since I want it to stay perfect, getting an aftermarket from the Richmond scooter shop, that way I won't feel guilty sitting on it. I've only had it a few weeks, got it started finally this weekend, not idling, will only run partially when the choke is out. Carb was rebuilt 2 years ago but I have to pull it and rebuild again no doubt and double check all the jet sizes, as the idle adjust and mix adjust had no effect at all on the engine. There are a few other oddball things to do, and I've got problems in the gearbox maybe, but luckily here come winter time its something I can take my time on and know by spring it will all be rideable. I just found a local place that does midweek rides and such, apparently there is a rather big scooter scene in Boston, this place is called, talked to him, so at least I've got someone that can help me dial it all in.

I love resto work too, so undoubtedly I will be looking for something rare to do myself someday, much like my early VWs, I can do just about all my own work, so something like a 160 project would be amazing to do at some point. I figure though I'm just lucky enough to have what I have now and probably spent my good luck points on finding this SS.

Anyways, heres some pics, if you want any closer up of something let me know, will try to help you with what I can. Its just incredible I thought that your SS was only the 48th after mine. Enjoy the pics!



Sunday, September 23, 2007

Restoration: Seat Foam

Many of you may need to restore/rebuild/re-foam or create from scratch an authentic SS180 seat. Note that this seat is unique and does not resemble other Vespa seats. Make sure to review previous posts on the subject on this blog since I BUTCHERED I original stock seat and I was so pist at myself for doing so.

The photos below were sent to me by Mark Lee and show you in detail the flip tail build up for the tail end of the seat. NOTE: my flip piece was actually black (very dense and stiff foam -- almost rubber like, but not quite) and looked like the skid plate used on skateboards in the late 1980s (remember those?). Mark believes he is missing that part and will therefore need to have one made.

What ever you do SAVE all of your original foam and try to re-use what you have and very CAREFULLY study what the stock seat looked like. See previous posts. Work from there when restoring your seat and be very specific with your reupholster. If you have the stock foam it will cost you about $150-$175 to have it recovered correctly.

Final Parts Request for Quote

Today, I sent out my parts list to be quoted by the shops I have had good experiences with and with any luck I should start getting quotes back within the next 30-60 days. At the moment, we don't have the necessary money, but hopefully we will soon.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Restoration: Engine Rebuild

Note: I do not know why I have two gray boxes in the background code of the template on my blog -- damn it! -- you can't see the cylinder head photos. So the best thing to do to read a post is to click on the Title of the post and view it on a separate page with just that post and grey boxes will disappear. Sorry for the inconvenience folks . . .
In May 2007, Christopher Markley delivered our 100% rebuilt VSC engine. Originally, I planned to do the rebuild myself, but I am glad this was not my first experience with an rebuild because there were a few bumps in the road that Christopher was able to navigate around effortlessly and efficiently. About a 1/4 the way through our restoration my wife and I agreed that working on a rarer Vespa as a first time restorer might not be the smartest approach for certain elements of the restoration, i.e. I have NO auto body experience, but I do have a dolly/hammer kit. We decided to leave that element to the pros . . . after all the SS is not a P200 and if I mess up parts are not as common.
The previous owner, Eric Hughes of Three Mile Island Scooter Club, purchased the bike completely assembled looking like the photos below. He removed the engine and said he priced out a 180cc replacement motor through Scooter Works at the time for about $800. I don't remember ever seeing that motor for sale myself. He was going to purchase the new engine and install it.
He removed the engine from the body and immediately looked to make sure the air box was there as the guys at Scooter Works warned him how difficult it will be to find a replacement if it is missing. Eric also found that piston was seized. He used a degreaser to free up the piston, but it did not work.

Once the engine was removed from the body Eric removed the hub/tire and rear shock and there that is how I received the engine when I purchased it from him.

I bought some copper brushes, Wal-Mart degreaser and PB Blaster (an excellent degreaser and my my favorite) and began to clean the engine up. The cylinder head was removed already so I soaked the piston head in PB Blaster for days and tried to loosen the seized piston. I then got frustrated and started emailing people for advice. I was told to hammer the piston free and to hang the engine by the cylinder head and spray with PB Blaster. I posted the advice I got on my local scooter club's email list a week or two later after trying everything with no luck and Christopher chimed in and told me what a bad idea it is to hit the piston because beneath it is the crank and other items that could be damaged too.

Lisa and I quickly learned that Christopher is not just a gorilla with a wrench that hammers his problems out. He is of the old school and has personally taught me that the "way of least resistance" is the best was because we can always escalate our approach more if the first approach does not work and we greatly degrease the chances of damaging something else in the process. The end result is with his 2-ton hydrolic press Christopher was able to press the piston down very slowly and just enough so he could see between the bottom and top ends of the engine to get a peak at the piston.

Then with a very steady hand and a hack-saw blade Christopher he gently sawed the around the piston and freed the top end from the bottom.

Pictured left -- looking through the bottom of the piston . When I hammered on the top of the piston I had cracked the head a little and therefore it broke more under the hydralic press.

Looking down at the piston you can see it was a rusted seized mess once removed from the cylinder head. Christopher charged us nothing for this service and expressed interest in rebuilding the engine and we were very impressed with him and decided to move forward with Christopher, the obsessive compulive "most be perfect to manufacturer spec" guy.

Christopher is the type of guy that brings solutions to you as opposed to just reporting the problem -- as we say in the advertising agency world that is good account management (my wife is in the ad industry and I was as well).

Christopher had disassembled the engine, bead blasted the casings, and cleaned it up when he found a chipped off piece of metal along the seal. This made him very nervous and Christopher always sides on the side of caution.

He did not report the problem to us; rather he researched best practices and options for us. Many people he spoke with sweared that JB Weld would work -- just neatly and cleanly glue the piece in place and rebuild the engine and it would be fine. He also spoke with Tom G. and other people he respects and was told the safest thing do for dependability and longevity of the engine is to replace the engine casings.

Christopher hunted down and found a guy selling two (mismatched) already bead blasted and cleaned cases for $113 and called us and ONLY then informed us of the problem and offered us both the JB Weld and new cases solutions. He recommended new engine cases to us. After research I expressed my concern using two mismatched cases, because the seals and alignment may not be perfect. Chistopher told me he had the same concern, but after researching he learned that as long as the two mismatched cases had been run together for a while and worked, which they had, we were safe. With our permission Christopher ordered them.
While all this was happening Christopher had a local dirt bike racing shop bore out cylinder to match our replacement piston, which was +1 size up.

He installed the piston onto our brand new MeCur crank that took me three months to track down because everybody was out and the only shop that had them wanted $260. Thanx to Garner who had one for $160.

The other problem we had was the clutch shift box had a crack coming off of the hole that pivot locks into. I am not sure I have a picture of it, but I will add it if I find it. The two options Christopher gave me was to TIG weld it or buy a new one. Due to the fact that smooth shifting is important Christopher, Lisa, and I decided to replace it and save the old one for future if we decide to TIG it.

Christopher completely rewired our stator and working with Chelsea at Scomo and Christopher we decided to upgrade the stock HT Coil to PX125 HT Coil for better dependability and performance.

Everything was coming together and the engine was looking great and so damn clean. While all this was happening Christopher was powder coating the external parts of the engine to look stock and pretty. There are nice small details that Christopher incorporated.

Another upgrade Lisa and I decided to make was to replace the engine mounts with Clauss Studio mounts, which Christopher said will really help stiffen the movement of the engine and improve the performance of handling while riding.

All parts that you can see on the bike were given a make over and stripped of paint and cleaned up.

And then were powder coated. If you click on the any of the photos you can see them larger and it is easier to note the detailed work that Christopher did -- good enough for a jeweler with an eye for all the littles.

It was time reassembly and Christopher shot a few photos of the engine's guts and sent them my way.

It was difference of night and day for me seeing how clean the engine looked. All the parts went through Christopher's parts washing machine/solutions. A lot of care went into this engine.

This engine is the last of the piston ported Vespa motors and Christopher said he really enjoyed working on it.

Christopher set the timing per spec.

Throughout this entire process Christopher used a Vespa worker's manual to ensure everything, except the minor upgrades we made, on this engine came out just like it did the day it left the factory.

If you click on the photo below and see it larger you will see the detail work Christopher did to the engine with powder coat. You will also see the PX125 HT coil. While rebuilding the engine Christopher also rebuilt the carb and installed it.


Upgrades: (1) Clauss Studio engine mounts (2) PX125 HT Coil
Replaced: (1) Cases (2) Piston & bore job (3) MeCur crank (4) Shift box (Italian made of good quality -- I can't remember the brand off the top of my head) (5) Bearings (6) Seals/gaskets/o-rings (7) Wiring/stator (8) Kickstart quadrant (9) etc.