Saturday, January 5, 2008

Disassembly: Part 3

Come back tomorrow and I will have another slide-show for you. I hope to have two more slide-shows for you.
In this slide-show:
(1) Further body disassembly
(2) Removal of rear brake
(3) Removal of the junction box and a look at the electric system
(4) Labeling of the cables in the steering column

You can also play the slide show at Google Video as a larger image.

Note to readers:If you want/need to see a specific photo or two in this slide-show post a comment and I will upload the photos requested to this blog entry.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Disassembly: Part 2

Come back tomorrow and I will have another slide-show for you. I expect to have two or three more after this one.
In this slide-show Eric continues to:
(1) review the bike
(2) remove the speedo
(3) remove the headset

I will post the next slide-show of disassembly this weekend -- maybe tomorrow. I expect I have one to two more slide-shows to make.

You can also play the slide show at Google Video as a larger image.

Note to readers:If you want/need to see a specific photo or two in this slide-show post a comment and I will upload the photos requested to this blog entry.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Disassembly: Part 1

I am constantly thinking of ways to improve this blog and make it even more meaningful and useful for you folks. I recognize that this blog is weak in two specific areas: (1) it does not include disassembly photos of the scoot and (2) the order in which I cover things is hard to follow and not sequential.

In an effort to strengthen this blog I went through my archive of material that came with the bike and found the photos that Eric Hughes, who we bought the bike from, took as he disassembled the bike. I need to look at these photos as I am now putting the bike back together. I can not write about what Eric did during the disassembly or what problems he experienced and solved, but what I can give you is what I have -- photos. Therefore, I made this slide-show for you:
This slide-show documents the first day Eric took the VSC home and examined it closely before he disassembled it.

I will be adding two to three more slide-shows on the disassembly over the next week. This is just the beginning.

Please keep in mind that I am looking at this slide-show on a 17" monitor and it is SUPER crisp. I can see the edges of flakes of rust. Very very detailed -- high res photos. This slide-show is 158 megs in size and the photos are huge (iPhoto compresses everything when I export the slide-show).

You can also play the slide show at Google Video as a larger image.

Note to readers:If you want/need to see a specific photo or two in this slide-show post a comment and I will upload the photos requested to this blog entry.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

SS180 anime

To honor the SS180 . . .

Vespa. Wake up and drive.

Described as the "Best FLCL clips of Haruko rocking her Vespa SS180 set to music."

Rusted and stuck?

Since I am seem to be on the theme for product placement today I figure I better introduce another great product . . .
PB Blaster is some good good stuff! I can attest to that. If you have a part, maybe a piston or an old shock, that is seized in rust-n-muck PB Blaster is one of the best choices. It sizzles things free. It's an industry-favorite as well. You can buy it at your auto parts stores or even Walmart.

Carb cleaner

Before you jump into your restoration, bodywork, painting, or even parts cleaning (basically the whole enchilada) it would be very wise to contact the experts on auto restoration. Christopher M. turned me on to these guys. I asked them about "moving metal" and body work and I have determined that these restorers are artists of the ol'skool. Don't get me wrong, BBS is helpful, but I'd check with the guys at the forum at and then follow-up with BBS for confirmation.

My research shows the best way to go with a carb cleaner is to purchase Berryman's Chem B-9 Carb and Parts Cleaner.

You can purchase a 1-gallon container with a strainer inside from your local auto parts store for about $18.00. This will last you many many years. Only clean your carb and fuel filter in it. Do NOT gunk it up with other parts.

For the SS180 I will buy a 14 oz container for $4.00, because I have no need for 1-gallon since my Lambretta did not include a carb with it. I only have a fuel filter, so this amount will be enough to clean both filters.

Here's how to use it:
1) remove all o-rings and gaskets or watch them blow-up like a twinkie in micro wave (and worse contaminate your cleaner)
2) soak you item for a few hours or over night in the bucket with the strainer
3) remove it
4) wash it off thoroughly with fresh water
5) use brake cleaner spray can to clean it off and get the water off. The brake cleaner will evaporate.

These steps are thorough and you will be able to relax afterwards without a concern in the world.

Viola you're done!


Pictured above are my new stainless steel / zinc plated lug nuts and split washers. Besides the new are the old. You will notice two things: first the newer nut is smaller than the original and secondly on the newer hardware they are stamped with an ID (not in picture. It's on the opposite side of the nut). The hardcore restorers GRIND this stamp off each piece of hardware, but Lisa, my wife and owner of this SS180 is not THAT concerned and is fine with them being installed as-is.

I chose stainless steel because it is so much easier to keep it looking clean and rust free, but keep in mind many will disagree with me.

You do have another option of course, collect all your externally showing nuts, bolts, washers and clean them up. Then fill them into small coffee tin and send them off to the chrome plater's shop and pay approximately $80-$100 to have your original ones restored to original condition. This is what a true purist would do.

The final option you have is buy a engine and chassis hardware package, if available for your specific scoot, from American Scooter Center in Austin, Texas for $79. I do not know the quality or composition of the metal. What I do know, is most restorers will not need at all of this hardware, but I admit it is a convenient way to go.

I will likely spend $50 and under for all my stainless steel hardware I expect. The lug nuts & washers cost me about $6.00.

If you need zinc plating, black oxide finishing, or metal polishing, I recommend Moto Rapido. I know Tom G. has used Moto Rapido for plating and I am quick to use any shop that Tom or Stuart Werner use -- plus I already know Christopher Markley rocks!

Junction Box

Shipped from Japan from Palmog. A gift to the SS180. This is the junction box that is mounted to the engine case.Isn't it crazy how a bike (especially the rare ones) comes together -- with parts from Japan and Palmog or any other place. The web has made us a tighter community -- scooter culture.

Tom G. once told me an even crazier story -- he flew to Europe to take a mold of a part that was not available any place in the world so he could take it home with him and make it/have it made. That's dedication!

Christopher M. has fabricated engine parts and even cooler he has made copies of original Vespa factory service tools that I can pretty much guarantee that most of us have never and will never see. Very rare tools.

Thank you Palmog!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Evaporust, Lloyd's Polish, & Restoration blogs

I came across a new restoration blog. It's a P-Series 150 resto. Bike looks in good shape. I would not touch with paint -- won't recoup that money in value; therefore bad investment. It can be a mechanically sound bike fairly easily I expect. There is some body rust, but I read on a Lambretta USA forum there is some great solution that removes rust and leaves the paint and metal alone on body parts. It is called Evaporust. That's what I'd recommend and then sealing up the rust to prevent spread. For cleaning up the paint and making it all pretty again I recommend looking into Lloyds WolfsHead Polish Detailer & Waterless Wash -- I read about this product and saw photos at Scooter Scoop posted on Dec. 10th, 2007. This way the paint looks at its absolute best. Before and after photos are posted for you to compare the differences.

Hell, I admitted that if I bought my SS180 in one piece, we'd leave the dents and dings and clean up the rust and give it a good wash and let it be.

Does anyone know of detailed blogs that are out there? If so, please post a comment and I will link them to this blog.

I am really interested in blogs that go into great detail on the resto and don't just have a paragraph and ten photos for every major step in the process. I want a blog I can really learn from. I want to become good at restorations and I aim to do all work myself on my Lambretta TV175, including paint with my uncle (who restores vintage cars).

I want to be like this guy.

Vespa folks talk with Lammy folks. They are SUPER nice and many know their #$%t. I find them to be very helpful -- weird coming from a Vespa restorer?

Damn, I am fired up to get this SS180 done so I can start saving money to begin my TV175. I daydream about how great it will be to hear the VSC fired up for the first time.

I just want to learn!

Rear shock spring

It is time to rebuild the rear shock so we can install the engine in the chassis. Just back from Christopher Markley today is our stock MeCur spring powder coated black to match the color the factory would have produced for this bike originally. It cost $12.50 for the paint and it looks great (there is some dust on it in this photo, but the paint is perfect)!

We will use the same motorcycle shock oil in the rear shock as we did in the front. It may help stiffen the ride a small amount and help cut down on drifting.

I was so dead-set on using a performance spring, like TaffSpeed, and I am glad I learned that drifting is not entirely due to the shock.

Lesson learned:One side on the shock was NOT powder coated and I asked Christopher why that was the case. Here is the answer I got:

"You beat me to the e-mail. Put those ends facing down. When powder coating,
you can suspend the part on wires or let it stand on its own if it has a
flat surface. Regardless, wherever it touches, no powder. Seems on the
springs that shortly after installation, the powder or paint if you use
paint will quickly wear away as the spring seat grinds around against the
shock spring support. So I opted to not suspend the parts on wires, since
the suspension points would have been on a visible surface of the spring.
This way, they look pretty and the part without powder would have lost its
coating anyway in use. If you're worried about it, a smear of thick axle
grease where the springs meet the shock could postpone corrosion, but it is
inevitable at those mating points eventually."

Need a title?

We were lucky. Our VSC came with a clean title when we bought it, but many barn yard finds don't or maybe you lost your title. That's an easy fix at $80.

Look into International Title Service. They're the most frequently used service for old motorcycles and cars.

In a nutshell what you do is sell your bike to them and they resell it back to you with a clean title.

Easy as 1-2-3.

Alternative ways can be found on's Wiki.

Of course these approaches are for the USA.

Maisto Vespa SS180

From time to time, when my wife or I see a good deal on models of scoots we buy them for decoration purposes -- plus for our next child we'd time to do a scooter theme for the nursery. This VSC is made by Maisto and I'm gonna keep my eye peeled for it -- sentimental reasons of course.

Walmart (evil corporation) is selling a 4 pack of Vespas for $9.00 currently. Two vintage and two modern.

Rally floor rail kit install instructions

If you already have paint on your scoot and you're installing a new floor rail kit . . . Paul C. emailed me a great suggestion for not screwing up your paint and retrofitting the SS 180 with Rally 200 floor rails.

From Paul C. . . .
pascoli kit are the correct width ,the rally ones are a bit narrower and the rubber has less ribs in them,if youre carefull the rally kit can be fitted without paint damage (if youre carefull, ) cover the paint in gaffa tape and bolt them down to take shape leave them for a while , then use the kit rivits one at a time to replace the bolts, make a tool fron a punch and use a die grinder to make a small circular bowl in end then spend some time polishing the bowl to avoid leaving marks in the end cap rivits .hit the rivits gently 20-30 times to spread the heads, they will go eventuly,but dont wack them , two people make the job much easier, dont bolt them down as a final fit, it looks like you dont have the guts to hit youre new paint with a hammer, you could use skate board sex bolts at a push. good luck


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!