Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Resource: Floor rail & rivets

If I was a pro I could hand peen the rivets on my floor rail kit to look 100% in 20 hours. The question is, what other options/methods are out there that would be balanced for looking stock?

Some SS180 owners complain that the Rally kits, especially the outer rails, are too short and are not wide enough to look stock. I've learned that the Italian company CIF makes the Rally kits nearly 100% the same as the SS kits were minus the the floor rail rubber, which can easily be changed out. Something to think about.

I also bought an Italian brand -- Olympia. I am not sure if it is the same length as my beater stock ones are. I'll get back to you on that and I may opt to replace the rubber, dependent on my wife. I am also going to see if I can polish up and reuse my original end caps.

Another thing to think about . . . look at the Tecnica pictures on this blog. Note that the tips of the legshield chrome are cut perfectly for the floor rail end caps to fit into. I am using the P Series trim and will see if I can replicate that.

This blog post is a collection of everything I am learning . . . I will add more as I learn more.

---------- From Collin ---------

Hi Jeremy,
Call Mic and ask him for the "good" rubber for SS180/Rally kits. The Rubber included in the kit is pretty good, and definitely does the job fine, but over time is prone to shrinking and yes, is slightly less wide than original rubber. Scootershop sells the other kind of rubber seperately, if needed ( I forget where Mic gets it..it might be Mauro Pascoli).

For all Vespas, including my SS Hurricane, and other $10,000+ scooters, I don't follow factory original "to a T"..it's a waste of time. The originals were all peened on with a waffle-texture flat mallet, which I don't have...and it's a minute detail for anoraks and museum types (ie...it doesn't really matter).

Use a hand operated rivet gun (available for $20 at Home Depot), and use aircraft style pop-rivets for all holes except for the endcaps. Use the peen type "smash" rivets for the endcaps front and rear of each strip. That way, with the rubber on, all you see is peen type rivets from the top of the endcaps, and seen at the front of the scooter under the legshield, and it looks right.

Here's the rundown:
1) Lay LOTS of masking tape around the floorboard where the strips are going down. It's a lot easier to cut/remove tape afterwards than repair scratches.
2) prebend all strips to match the curve of the frame
3) use pop rivets and rivet gun to lay down all 6 strips using CENTER holes only ( no endcaps).
4). Do the 6 rear endcaps first- peen style rivets. Put a Rivet through the endcap and insert into the end of the strip and frame hole. Cut the extra part of the rivet away leaving about 1/8" sticking through the hole. Then, take a nice heavy punch (with a fine tip the size of the rivet head), and cover it in multiple layers of masking take, this will keep the rivet head looking good. Hold the punch against the top of the rivet head/endcap pushing it into the frame, with your left hand. Then, taking a light hammer, tap at the bit of rivet sticking out the other side of the frame with your other hand. Apply pressure with the left hand punch so that the endcap is close as possible to the frame. Tap lightly and frequently...the rivet is soft aluminum, and will begin to "flatten out" wider than the hole, which will hold the endcap in place.

Doing the 6 rear ones will give you practice for the more critical 6 front ones (that are visible).

5) Repeat procedure #4 to the front 6 rivets, but put masking tape down covering the holes in the frame, before you put the rivet through it. Keep the tape there while you hammer the rivet in place. This will protect the paint while you hammer, in case it cracks the paint, or you miss the rivet!

6) now that the rails and endcaps are all there and tight, start putting the rubber in. Start at one end, tuck a bit of it under one of the floor rails, and work the rubber in side-to-side (or with careful aid of a small flat screwdriver). when you get to the other endcap, leave about an extra 1/4" of rubber (for future shrinking protection), and cut it off from the bulk of rubber. Tuck the other end under endcap #2, and work it all in place. Repeat for all 6 rails.

Hope that helps!


--------- From Mic at Scooter Shop --------

I spent 20 minutes on the phone with Mic last night as he walked me through the process he uses. Bottom line is there are about four different ways to approach installing floor rail kits. We covered only three. The anoraks (purist) hire Mic to install their floor rails “correctly” by hand peening each rivet.

Mic has been doing this for 20 years now and is quite fast. It takes him about 20 hours and he charges about $500 for the installation of the floor rail.

A nice middle ground between the anorak approach and actually just bolting on the floor rails (as some do) is to hand peen just the end caps because those are the visible items (unless an anorak gets on his back and slides under your Vespa at a rally and chews you a new one for fully destroying your scooter and then goes online and flames you for life).

First off, it’s easiest if you drop the motor out.

1) The way to do is to first use a Dremel and with a small bit clean out the holes of paint and such. Dry install your floor rails and line up the holes in the frame to your floor rails. You may need to drill new holes in the floor rail. Do NOT drill them in your frame.

2) Then pop rivet, with a hand rivet tool, the centers of the floor rails (everything that goes under the rubber), but leave the end caps alone. Do not tighten the pop rivets all the way down yet. If you do you run the risk of over tightening one and denting/creasing the floor rail. Once they are all installed, tighten them all the way.

3) Now that pop rivets are in place you will run you rubber into place. The end caps are next and will take you about 5-8 hours to do. First, find an old busted up Vespa frame and practice practice practice hand peening rivets. Once you are a pro . . .

4) Time to cut the rivets to the correct length. Push the rivets down into place. Duck tape the tops of them to hold them in place. Using flat dikes pull down on the rivet from beneath the frame. Once it will not go any further cut the length to a ¼ visible beneath the frame using snips.

5) Lay the bike on its side. With a heavy weight hold the top of the rivet in place. Using duck tape or by drilling a hole in a thick refrigerator magnet protect the paint around the rivet. You will miss at some point. Protect your paint! Begin hand peening the bottom. Hit the rivet with a ball peen hammer so insanely soft that it takes what feels like eternity. Start with the end caps at the back of the bike. They are less visible, so if you mess up it’s not as bad.

6) The end cap rivets look like a “mushroom” now. Look for a file that has a waffle-like pattern on it. Mic had three special ones made of different sizes for his shop. With another person holding the file give a medium wack to the rivet mushrooms beneath the end caps and you will have a pretty stock looking floor rail job. Mic has seen the air chisel approach and it looks pretty good he said (not stock though), but he thinks the hand rivet tool does just as good as a job (if not better) and is NOT as risky for screwing up the paint job on a bike.

--------- From Tom G. --------

Not sure what you mean by a hand rivet tool. I sometimes use pop rivets for the non-end-cap parts
of floorrails, but only for non-"restorations." When I'm trying to be correct, I hand-peen the rivets, but
even then, my method is not 100% factory correct. (pretty good though).

The tiny flat-head rivets for attaching the middle part of the floor rails can be sourced from a variety
of places (but not any scooter shops as far as I know). Maryland Metrics is one option. I think the
correct reference is DIN standard 661 for these, but you need to confirm that (and the diameter). I
haven't ordered any in a while. You poke them through the rail and floor, hold them down from the top with a
heavy bucking bar, cut to length from under the scooter (leaving about 3/16" to 5/16" protruding
depending on the peening method you choose), and then peen the cut end to mushroom it. The peening is where
the art comes in though. If you just hit the cut end with a hammer, it will smash flat -- which works fine,
but does not look quite correct. If you use the air chisel technique WITH THE RIGHT FITTINGS, you can get
a look that is closer to original -- but it takes some trial and error to get the look and fit right, and
there are risks. It is harder to control an air chisel, and it may slip and damage your paint. Also,
if your floor has bondo or filler in it, you may loosen it up, or crack the paint, etc. OR if your air
setting is too high, the chisel gives a pretty good smack to the rivet, and the force can be transmitted
to the floor, actually dimpling it up under the end cap (and cracking your paint). So . . . you might
consider hand peening your rivets. If you take a brass drift at least 3 dimes the diameter of your
rivet end, and drill a 1/8" hole in one end (just slightly larger than the diameter of the rivet), you
can use that hole to keep the drift centered on the rivet while you tap the other end of the drift with a
hammer. Again, you risk slipping and damaging your paint, but the drift method does cause the rivet to
plump along its entire length instead of just flattening at the end. In order to get this to work,
of course you have to keep a lot of pressure on the bucking bar that holds the head of the rivet in place.

This is a two-person job. Anyway, I assume you've already read up on this subject, so I'll stop now.

In any case, you should use my patented refrigerator magnet technique to protect your paint when peening
rivet heads. You know it?

Tom G.

---------- From Hiro (Palmog) --------

Hello Jeremy,
everything is going well?

I only use the original rails and my rails are fixed with nuts and bolts so I've not experienced this. However, I did research during my restoration and here are some tips.

Bending rails: I guess vinyl tape would help to protect your paint from scratch but do not try to bend your rails on the paint surface. Only check if the curve will match together.

Reveting: you will need correct tools and some practice.
Please find attached photos of my reveting tools purchased from Italy years ago. To smash the head of the revets, I would say it is better to use revet gun (pneumatic riveter in English??), for example, old Avdel revet gun seems to work fine.

I didn't find the page described in English but here is a link originally written in Japanese and translated using Babelfish.
Use proper air tool to smash it!

Hope this helps,

-------- Steve from Motor Sport Scooter --------

Just got off the phone with Steve. He is a fan of hand peening the end cap rivets and using pop rivets beneath the floor rail rubber.

Two things I learned are: (1) Make sure to use Peen Over Rivets (have a nice little button top) for going through the floor rail end caps and (2) if you are not using your stock or NOS floor rail kit fill the holes on your bike. The Rally rails are two small; therefore I will have VISIBLE holes above the end caps on the underside of the frame. THIS SUCKS!!!! Learn from my mistakes. (3) Before you paint buy your floor rail kit and get molded correctly and define if you need to fill any holes in the frame. Measure where your legshield trim will end and work from there. Your end cap will fit in the cut sleeve on the chrome legshield trim tips. If it's short it will be noticeable.

-------- From Josh at BBS --------

Use the rivets supplied with the kit only in the end caps. You will most likely need to cut them down as well. I put them in thru the end cap and onto the floor board and then snip off usually about 1/2 of what is sticking thru..you only need about 1/3" or so protruding to work with. Place a dolly or block on top of the rivet, and gently peen the bottom of the rivet until it mushrooms out and tightens up.

I use the "Jim Williams" hatch marked punch to make it look right...take a punch, grind the tip flat to about 1/2" and then file in hatch marks on it to replicate the factory marks...then give that a little tap into your mushroomed bottom of rivet to make hatch marks in it.

Use pop rivets for the others. Once the others are pop riveted, gently smash the bottoms with a ball peen hammer while holding a dolly or other firm "block" on the top of the rivet... looks correct once peened and is far easier than blind rivets.

I generally do the pop rivets first, then the rear end cap, then insert the rubber, then the front end cap last for each rail. You can put a little duct tape over your tools if you are worried about slipping up and jacking your paint..You can also put a little masking tape around the area that you are peening as well to protect it.

good luck


--------Christopher from BBS --------


He said he didn't want to fuck up his paint.

I can picture this guy sitting next to his scooter with its fresh paint, a big hammer and a body dolly in each hand.

I'd give it a good whack with a hammer up front, that way after you hit it trying to smack those rivets you won't feel so bad.

San Francisco

-------- Jim Williams from BBS --------

For the top of the rivet in the end cap, you can make a simple "dimpled" punch. This allows the top to have the mushroom shape.

Find a bolt about the same diameter of the opening of the top of the end cap. Cut off the threads. Now you have a flat punch with a hex head. Go buy a cone-shaped grinding bit for your electric drill, the one that is about and inch at the greatest diameter. Lock the bolt-punch in your vice and carefully use the cone grinder to make a dimple in the end opposite the hex head. Grind the diameter of the bolt until it fits just into the opening of the end cap.

So whacha got is a dimple-ended punch with a big top to bang on.

Now you need another pair of hands, wife, girlfriend, kid, friend, etc. to hold a heavy thing against the top of the punch, while you carefully and with love, rap the bottom to mushroom the rivet. For the top heavy thing I use a 1lb. sledge hammer, but a fender dolly will work too. Don't go crazy, you are just trying to mushroom the bottom of the rivet.

After it is secure, and if you are really fanatic about original look, you can make another punch out of a bolt and just file a waffle pattern in the end. Have your helper hold the top assembly and you punch the pattern into the bottom of the rivet.

I recommend you cover everything with rags or cardboard so if your helper gets nervous and drops the punch or heavy thing that you don't have to shoot yourself over dings in the new paint.

Wow, to have someone name a technique after me...thanks, Josh.

Jim Williams
'60 Allstate, '64 GL, '74 Rally

---------- SmellYaLater from BBS -----------

Search the BBS.


Search www.mcmaster.com for "rivet nut"

I've been meaning to try some. You'd have to use screws, so wouldn't look stock, but much less risk of f-ing things up.

Anyone else done this?

---------- Bluecatl from BBS -----------

Im herein you brudda. I put low stick painters tape inbetween the rails to protect the paint as you work
Its best to use rivets under the rubber.DONT drill all the holes ahead. Drill one hole..insert the rivet....the rail will travel very slightly so if you drill ahead... by the time youve done the second hole the others wont match up. Other times Ive put one rivet in and then gone ahead and in stalled the front end cap (I prefer a nut and bolt...sounds like you will use the proper pins that came with the kit for the endcaps only...they are the only ones visible when you finish.Those very tiny clamps are great also
\Definately get some really small stainless steel washers...and use then under the frame. The rivets then pull aginst this washer rather than the softer metal of the frame (and your nice paint)...ie drill thru the rail and thru the frame in one go.....insert rivet....reach under frame and put the washer on the rivet. As the gun mushrooms the end it will act against the washer...Nice.
Slide the rubbers in from one end rather than poking them in with a screw driver.Heat them in hot water first
Before you start....put some paper over the whole area and sit your rails in position. Youll probably find the curve of the rails doesnt match the curve of the frame perfectly.
Sitting in a chair and using your knee, bend the rails very very carefully and slowly.You can even heat them up a bit with friction against your leg/jeans which helps bend them a tad.
The inside rail on the boot side can be a biarch at the back cos the pod gets in the way.
An anorak would remove the pod first..thats a mission in itself...rusty bolts in a difficult access area (pull the engine out)

Humpty was pushed

-------- from Vespa Super Sports Yahoo Group ----------

----- Original Message -----
From: SharonVespaGirl
To: vespa-sports@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Thursday, April 03, 2008 10:12 AM
Subject: [vespa-sports] Re: How to install Rally floor rails on an SS180?

I've already done two scooters of mine with pop rivets, and when I
eventually get my SS180 to this stage (I desperately need a suitable
frame, happy to freight from anywhere in the world, anyone got
one??) I will be pop rivetting again. The only place I'd use the
solid rivets is on a badge if necessary. Life's too short...!

--- In vespa-sports@yahoogroups.com, "David Dry"
> Pop rivets are far easier!
> I was told that the factory tool for doing this was actually a
large pair of pliers, so no riveting as such. Obviously, that is
not the best description of the tool, it resembled a pair of pliers,
I mean?
> Lambretta used something similar for their tool box locks, also.
Perhaps it was an Italian thing? One things for certain, it was
still a bit of a performance for a production line and pop rivets
were substituted as soon as they were available (but outside the era
covered by this group, of course).
> Keep whacking your newly painted scooters with hammers, then?
(But with extreme caution!)
> Dave

> From: paul casey
> To: vespa-sports@yahoogroups.com
> Sent: Wednesday, April 02, 2008 8:21 PM
> Subject: Re: [vespa-sports] How to install Rally floor rails on
an SS180?
> dont let these guys frighten you off, its a bit fiddly but easy
enough , find a pal with a gs not painted yet, get your runners to
fit that frame best as poss by bending, drilling the holes in the
correct places, twisting where necessary , when there the correct
shape cover yourfresh painted floor with gaffa tape. the type used
by roadies to tape down wires, its theck and realy saves the paint ,
use several 4mm screws and nuts to hold down the strips with the end
caps as well and leave them there for a few days they will take
shape to your frame. then make a tool , from a heavy punch or drift,
use a dremmel to hollow out the end to the shape of the rivit head,
polish it to a mirror finish so as not to mark the rivits on the end
caps , still with me, now remove a bolt at a time and replace with a
rivit, use the kit rivits there fine cut them with snips and file
the end flat THATS REALY INPORTANT, it stops the hammer sliping off,
they need to be 3-4 mm poking through start
> with one of the inner strips and one of the rivits in the middle
of the strip so if you mess up its not to visable now you may need a
buddy to help here [i do it on my own but done lots now]hold the
punch on the rivit head and using a small hammer gently TAP the
rivit end, just tap it, about 20-30 times, it will flatten , and if
you do it in even taps you will have a perfect flat formed rivit
head, now move on to the next rivit, remove the bolt one at atime
and rivit it, end caps are a bit more fun , start at the engine end,
if you mess up its not so visable, do the same here as before gently
tap the rivit, get a pal to hold the punch and push it down , the
front is even more fun i use gaffa tape, punch a hole in it with a
stationary hole punch to go over the rivit so as to protect the
paint and repeat the process easy peasy job done, it takes me an
afternoon to do, so a couple of days seems reasonable a strip at a
time , dont rush it , mine usualy look 100% but thats from
> practace, dont bolt them that looks shit, if your not up to it
give it to a resto shop

---------- Another from Hiro (Palmog) ----------

My friend, Jeremy,


I did consider to use pop rivet. (See the attached photo shows several rivets I have even now.)

But I didn't use them because I realized it is completely wrong method if I want to #maintain# the bike for lifetime. You couldn't pull the pin which accordions the pop rivets from the rail side. (Visit HomeDepot near you and ask someone how the pop rivet works.)

In other words, pop rivet can't be effective without twisting your rails. Factory rivets are smashed from the body side, you know.

You don't have time now. Then, just bolt on them for #now#. It's easy to change the bolts and nuts to whatever you want later, and in deed, doing so would memory the rails its shape. Do use pop rivet if you still want to use them after you ride the bike awhile.

From pop rivetting to bolting or factory rivetting is #noninvertible# without damaging your rails.

See the attached photos of mine which use bolts and nuts, showing how it looks.


-------- How to install with the air chisel ----------

Thank you VespaService on YouTube and from Vespa Super-Sports Yahoo Group.


Anonymous said...

The You Tube video is great, but what sort of end is he using on the airtool?

Jeremy J. said...

He takes a chisel and cuts it down flat near the base. I posted a link to the write up that Self Preservation Society did on this technique on BBS . . . the link is my post on how to install floor rails.


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