Thursday, January 24, 2008

Reference: Paint Considerations

There are a few ways to go with paint . . . but the most common two are (1) one-stage and (2) two-stage.

I have heard that one-stage is tougher for the daily rider and two-stage is higher quality for custom work or museum restoration.

We have a two-stage paint job on the SS.

I called my paint shop today, because I never asked for "touch-up paint." He explained to me that because each stage of paint is "activated" that any traditional touch-up would prove less than satisfactory. He told me of a local paint supplier shop near my house and told me to bring in a painted piece, which they will scan on their computer to make a color match. I am to ask them to match that color as an "acrylic enamel" and for small stone chips from the road and such I may be okay, but for larger scratches and dents it won't help.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

How to clean your engine cases

I recently read that some folks like to use "oven cleaner" to clean up their engine cases. Warning! It's a bad idea!!

Also, don't polish your engine cases. Hard to keep clean. Not original either. Just clean them up or bead blast them, which is what I did.

I have had this discussion before with my mentors and just emailed them to confirm that I was right.

Here's what Tom G. said:

Bad idea.

Cases are aluminum, and most oven cleaners are
lye-based (caustic soda). Lye reacts with aluminum.
Frankly, I don't know if it weakens it or not
(probably not upon temporary surface contact), but it
does leave dark stains on it. Ugly.

Scrape as much as you can with a plastic, wood, or
even metal scraper, and then wash the residue off with
solvents. Not necessarily paint thinner either, but
ok to use it if you like. Gasoline is cheap (but
explosive!), and there are proprietary parts washing
solvents out there which are less combustible, and
have additives to deter evaporation.

Here's what Christopher M. said:

I agree with Tom. If you buy parts washer fluid at an auto parts store,
avoid the Purple Power stuff. It creates some sort of effluoresence on
aluminum. Not sure if it eats metal, but it gets ugly. Easy to brush off,
though. I like the paint thinner that is listed as reduced odor. It still
stinks, but not as much as the regular stuff.

Birth of another scooter restore blog

Keep your eyes on Eric's VBB. He's moving forward. Watch his restoration progress! Cheer him on. Bloggers need compliments and support. It feels like working in a vacuum at times and appreciative readers go a long long way.

Reassembly Update #2

Front shock is installed on the fork. It's ready for the front fender. Need to find hardware (go through my boxes) and take it to a hardware store and replace it with stainless steel hardware and install the front fender. I also need to polish the exposed bearing race so it glitters in the sun once more.After that the steering column can be installed.

I did not tape up bearing races on the top of the steering column and the bottom of the steering column before paint and THEREFORE had to remove the paint. Make sure to tape that up before you paint. If not, use a razor blade to cut around the paint and then chip away or sand away to avoid chipping any paint that will be exposed. Don't ruin your new paint job!

Ted used his Dremel tool, on a low setting, with light emery paper and ground off the paint of the bearing race without damaging the race or the paint.

Rear shock is almost rebuilt and ready to attach to the rear hub.

Inner tubes are purchased and tires will be mounted on the rim and then on the hubs. It's time to get the bike down on its own two feet.

The lower bearing cover appears to have been damaged while being removed. It is soaking in solvent and if the bend is minor it will be straightened again -- if not it will be replaced.

Monday, January 21, 2008

VBB Restoration Advice

I received an email asking for potential websites and resources for restoring a VBB -- Vespa Super. Below is the email transaction of what I recommend. Please note that I am far from an expert, but I am always happy to share anything and everything that I have learned in this process.


Congrats. Note: Be very careful with all eBay purchases. 90% are crap! It sounds like you may have found yourself a 10%'r. First off, please read my post (I think there may be two) on Things to think about during "Disassembly." If you are new to this process as I am, you will want to get all of your ducks in a row before moving forward at all. Also, this may feel like a big pain in the butt, but consider reading my blog from day one to present, because I too had a SERIOUSLY seized piston and show what it took to get it free (more than PB Blaster) and I also had many other issues, which I am sure you will experience as most restorers do. I promise it's worth the read. Before I restore my 1963 TV175 I am going to reread my entire VSC blog.

Now to answer you questions:
Great overview of restoration --
Restoration of a Vespa Super --
Maintenance of VBB --

Use to download info on your model, specifically the "parts" and "maintenance" manuals. Study those like there will be no tomorrow!

Eric, if you can salvage the original paint by treating rust and bringing back a little of the original luster of paint I suspect that would be a smarter move than repainting. If it's an option. The blog recommends products for this. It will cost at least $1000 to have it professionally painted and the value of the bike will not increase that much, if it were a MKII, VSB or an SS90, it would be a wise investment.

If you plan to do any bodywork or paint yourself, jump onto the forum at, and ask many questions. This will prove better advice than you get on BBS, etc. These guys are hardcore and really know there stuff more than most.

Search the web relentlessly and study every square inch of your bike -- how it the day it left the warehouse.

Email people that post videos and such on your specific bike and ask away as well.

Be relentless in your documentation of the entire restoration. Blogging forces me to record everything immediately and in great detail. It's a wonderful tool for me and the readers as well. I recommend starting a blog on the process. Walk your readers through your experience, writing it down forces you to process it.

Anything else you need at this time Eric?

Good luck and PLEASE keep me posted.


Eric W. wrote:
I got a 1963 VBB 150 off of eBay (no, not a vietnamese one, one that needs A LOT of work). Within an hour of owning it, I had completely taken it apart and moved all the pieces to the basement to prep it for paint. I have the Haynes manual, but it walks through disassembling the engine in the craziest, vaguest manner possible, at least to me. You seem to find some great material, would you happen to know where I could find a nice walk-through for this engine?

Also, I think that the only thing actually wrong with my engine is that the piston is seized, I'll definitely take up your recommendation with the PB Blaster and give that a shot to get that sucker loose. But I would still like to figure out how to get the engine completely apart because I'm sure it could use a good cleaning behind the ears.

Thank you much!
-Eric W.