Friday, April 4, 2008

Another SS180 in my backyard

Recently I received a comment to a previous post from Mark. Mark is from Lilitz, PA and I live in Harrisburg, PA. I asked Mark what the scoots story is and for photos of the bike, especially the floor rails since that is what I am working on.

Hi Jeremy -

We replaced the rubber, but re-plated the chrome and the bullet ends and re-installed it so as far as I know it should be a stock install.
The new rubber is from one of the Indian bikes however, and is not holding up well at all. Most of the major work was actually done by MotorStrada down in Baltimore and they did an excellent, if extremely slow job We finally got tired of waiting, and brought it back in pieces and finished the assembly ourselves. He did have the waffle hammer for the rivets, but could never get it running right.

We ended up taking it to an 75 year old family friend who is a German immigrant and used to run a Mercedes repair shop. Turned out he was Vespa factory trained, and we never knew it even though we'd been friends for 30 some years. The replacement coil was bad, and we ended up putting the original back in. It runs great now, except that he says has it 'de-tuned' a bit until its got 500 miles on it for a break in. It used to have a top end around 65, but now tops out about 50. He says I'll get that back when he re-tunes it.

The paint is "Porsche Alpine White." No one kept records of the paint mix at the factory, and white was one of two colors the SS came in. We had a different friend who owns an auto body shop computer match the paint for us, and this was the closest.

Attached is a picture of it when we brought it home and two I shot tonight of the floor rails. If there's something specific you're looking for, I'll be happy to shoot that. The only modification we made since then was adding an after market crash bar kit. My grandfather always had one on it, and this was as close to that kit as we could find.

I run it about twice a week to work - which is almost within sight of B&B. That's why she's a little dirty. I've also taken it on one or two 50 mile charity rides. My father has a 2005 Vespa "Twist and go" which easily hits 70, but for me this bike has more history. I used to ride it as a kid in the 70's with my grandfather, my wife and I did all our house shopping on it nearly 20 years ago, and now my kids ride it with me.

Three tips from my experience - be careful with the gas cap. If it doesn't fit right, the 2 cycle oil eats the clear coat off the paint. Use gloves when you ride it, even in summer. The oil in your hands will discolor the grips. Register it as an antique. If you do a standard registration, you have to put battery in it because PA inspection requires the lights be on all the time.

Let me know if you need anything else. As you can tell, I'm happy to show it off.



Hi Jeremy -

The scoot was purchased second hand in the early 70's from a Cushman dealer in Hanover, so it's entirely possible they came from the same place. I will have to look and see if I can find any information. I believe there is a sticker on the owner's manual.

The SS180 was my grandfather's 2nd Vespa. He started taking me for rides around East Berlin from the early 70's until the late 80's. When he passed away in 1987, I only wanted one thing from the estate - the Vespa - which was still in original condition. In 1992, it moved to Lititz with me - and my wife and I put several hundred miles on it that summer, going from open house to open house looking for a house to buy.

About 2002, my dad found me trying to solve a chronic vapor lock problem that the scoot had had for about 10 years, and buffing out the paint. He offered to have the engine rebuilt because he was getting concerned about the reliability. An engine rebuild turned into a complete restoration. Mark at Motostrada in Baltimore did most of the work, and he did an excellent job, but it took at llloooonnnngggg time. We finally got it back from him in pieces and did a lot of the final assembly ourselves. Mark wasn't able to get the engine to run correctly - and in telling the store to an old German family friend - we found out he was factory Vespa trained! He was a Mercedes mechanic and learned to fix Vespas in the late 40's. He had the motor purring in an evening. Turned out we had a bad coil from the engine rebuild.

Since it was 100% original when Mark got it, he was able to take pictures and put it back together exactly as it came apart - with of course, stainless rivets, and powder coating instead of cheap rivets and silver paint.

Now I take it back and forth to work in good weather, and take my kids - 12 and 8 - out on it like my grandfather took me. We've put a couple of hundred miles on it since the restoration including two charity rides.

I don't have any "before" pictures readily available, but i can look for some. They're likely on film and not digital so it may take me a while to find any. You won't see any major difference except for a couple of more dings and dents.

Right now I'm trying to find some nice way to add a little luggage carrying capacity to it, so I can pack an extra jacket, or my camera.

Let me know if you need pictures of anything specific, I'll be happy to help you out.


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