Thursday, April 3, 2008

How to install cowl trim

Chrome trim is installed our my SS180. I surely hope that your chrome trim us reusable. Be very careful when removing it. It is much higher quality than any of the aftermarket stuff available.

Unfortunately, my trim was beat to hell, as if it got in a fight with pliers and lost. Honestly, the bike has been laid down on one side more than once.

If you must buy new trim, you have only two options:
1. Plastic (faux chrome) for the P200 -- the color of the plastic is much truer to the original color. It is easy to install. And passes the test of time better than the chrome one from Cuppino (sp?). It's also half the price. It is one piece.
2. Cuppino is available for the SS180 and is metal. It the diameter is much wider/rounder/bulkier than the original. The color of chrome does not look so stock and I hear it dents easy and rusts even easier. It's a pain in the butt to install. It is two pieces like the original is.

Steve from Motor Sport talked me out ordering the Cuppino and into buying the P200 trim for two key reasons (1) the diameter of the trim is smaller and looks more stock and (2) the color looks more stock and will stay true for much longer.

If you have two people you can install this in less than ten minutes. Put on a pair of white gloves. Keep the plastic sleeve on it to protect it. Each person needs to hold one corner and the top of each side of the legshield and simultaneously slide your slides down at the same speed. Apply pressure with each gentle pull down on it and it will snap into place. When you get it almost all the way down slow up and make sure to tuck the top of the trim back so you can pop it on beneath the headset. Use a tiny flat head screw driver and a stiff piece of cardboard from the back of a notebook/pad. Working together pry the trim open and pop it on / shape it into place. Afterwards, using a tape measure measure the distance from the tip of trim to the outer floor rail end cap hole to make sure the trim is centered. If you need to center it have one person slide up slack on side and you pull down. Easy as 1-2-3.

Before you install the trim compare the length and the tips of your original trim to your new trim. On Vespa VSC's the tips of the trim are cut to fit the floor rail end cap. I recommend you mimic that using a Dremel and dry erase marker. Take your time grinding the correct shape. Trace the shape in using your end cap or put masking tape on the original and trace and cut out the shape and the use it as a stencil.

The length is also important because if the original is longer or shorter the new will need to match that or it will not align with your floor rail kit end caps. End caps should barely overlap the trim. The P200 trim I used is not 100 circular and has a tiny flat lip around it and my end caps will lay just inside the lip and look sort of stock -- at least to the non-anoraks. I think it will look better than the Cuppino without the tips carved out.

Here's what you'll need to install:
1) Cuppino chrome trim
2) Heat gun ($10 at Harbor Freight Tools)
3) Dremel tool
4) Thick workman gloves and rag towels
5) Screw driver
6) Painter's tape

Do NOT use pliers! Let me repeat that, under no circumstance are you to use pliers. Pliers will create small "dents" in your legshield trim. The guy who helped me install mine on my Bajaj Chetak used pliers and I saw the dents in the making and told him to stop. Too late!

Prepare the chrome to fit over the black trim around your Bajaj's legshield. Especially around the curves, you may find that the split in the chrome legshield may not be wide enough to fit over your legshield. What you need to do is to use your Dremel tool to sand/grind this split so that it is wide enough. Here's how . . . with a Dry Erase marker mark the areas on your legshield that are too narrow. Now, with your Dremel tool ONLY grind the INNER SIDE of the split (this side is the side that goes inside the scoot and will NOT been seen by anyone). Do NOT grind the outer side (this side is visible from the front of your scooter) as you need as much of a lip as possible so it lies flush with the front of your leghield. My Chetak's trim is not 100% flush on the outside visible lip. This sucks.

Using painter's tape protect the paint around your scooter's legshield. Wait until the hottest day of the year at the hour when the sun is at its hottest point and cover your scooter or put it in a metal shed along with the chrome legshield. The goal is to get your scoot and chrome legshield trim piping HOT so that the trim is pliable. After your scooter and trim has sat under the hot sun for a few hours ask a friend to come over and help you. Wearing thick gloves and using a rag towel to hold the left piece of chrome trim (note: the right side needs to go on second because it goes on top of the other piece where they meet) heat it with a heat gun until its near to hot to hold. This will take a while. Now align the trim with your legshield and ask yourself which direction (from top to bottom or vice versa) will require the least bending to the most. Work in that direction. You want to start with the least bending possible and you will find that the bigger curves will be less because you have straightened out the smaller ones first (for the most part). Have your friend hold the end of the legshield trim in place as you slowly shape the chrome to fit the curves on your bike. Take your time. As you move up have your friend follow closely behind with pressure.

Now repeat that step with the other piece of chrome. Remember to get it piping hot first. After you have it installed apply more heat to both sides. Working with your friend start from bottom to top on the first piece of chrome installed. Have your friend apply pressure and you are to secure a screw in place. Now your friend will apply pressure and the next screw hole making sure to keep the chrome pushed tight against the bike. Add the second screw. Repeat until done. Repeat on the final piece of legshield.

1) I do NOT like the pointed screws as they will damage your paint. The vintage bikes used a flat tipped screw to not damage the paint. You might consider investing in these or better yet reuse them.
2) This process is a big paint in the butt. Please take your time and don't rush it. It is not easy nor fast, but it looks great when done right.

Here's what the bike looks like again with the non "original" trim, but I believe this trim to look more stock than the alternative; therefore it is "truer" in my opinion.

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