Saturday, April 5, 2008

Step by step: floor rail installation

Before you go further, I recommend seriously considering Pascoli's floor rail kit and not the standard Rally kit.

I recently was told by a reputable shop that Pascoli is now outsourcing his products and the quality of them is a lot different that it was four or five years ago. I do not have first hand knowledge of this, but it makes me slower to want to buy Pascoli immediately.

If I replaced my legshield trim with Pascoli's ($67) and my floor rail kit ($170) my bike would be more period correct -- totaling $237 plus shipping. I spent under $70 with shipping for my set up, which other SS180 owners have used. So for a grand total of $307 plus shipping we can have it correct (with our $70 already invested). The question is would we see a return on this investment if we sold the bike. Is it like a new kitchen or bathroom where your guaranteed a return? Is it important enough to the owner Lisa to have it period correct? This is a moot point considering we don't have $300 to spend right now. We have some huge expenses coming and it will be a long while before the toy penny bank starts filling up. We will roll with what we have and some time down the road I will fix the seat and replace these items.

This blog post will comprehensively cover one way to install floor rails. After five or more hours of phone calls, web searching, emails, and two web forums I decided to pop rivet everything, but the end caps on the floor rail kit. The end caps will be hand peened into a mushroom and then waffled to look manufacturer stock.

Day one:
After three hours work we had one outer rail pop riveted on and all three left side floor rails shaped and the holes cleaned out and lined up. We spent 45 minutes planning and discussing our plan of attack. We learned a lot and the rest should go much faster.

I will add to this entry until it is complete. Please re-visit as it is incomplete in this state.
In retrospect, I wish I bought the $170 Pascoli VSC floor rail kit instead of the $47 Rally kit. We'll get into that later. Pictured above is the Rally kit made by Olympia (Italian).

Here you can see the original rails beside my brand new ones. A rough measurement showed them to be very close in length and shape. The Olympia kit is probably over an inch shorter -- at least on the outer rails. I have heard that CIF brand is longer and would be better to use, but I do not have first hand knowledge of this.
The end caps of the Olympia kit are on the right and left is stock.
At a closer look you can see the mold the new end caps came from left a knob. I will use Wetodry sandpaper to sand that off. I bought a variety pack and will hit will 2000 grit wet paper. Then I will make sure those end caps face inward so no one sees that I sanded them.

Ted owned a pop rivet gun and last week we determined the pop rivet size required. I will post later. If you click to enlarge the photo you can read the sizes he bought. We used the larger.
We cleaned out the paint from the holes in the frame to make sure they would accept the rivets.
Run a small pilot through all holes and then a larger drill bit for all holes, but NOT the end caps, because the rivet is smaller.
Do not wipe the drill shavings off with a cloth. You'll kill your paint. Blow it off.

Next we installed a very thick fibered paper that my wife bought when we painted out house. This stuff is tough! You could drag a wrench across it and your paint would be safe. Heck you could spill water on it and your scoot would stay dry. With a nail punch we marked the holes.
Then we shaped all three of the floor rails for the left side starting with the inner ones and ending with the outer pictured above. The first two were very easy.
The outer rail was a little tricky. We wanted to make sure that the end cap holes lined up too. We used a camping propane bottle in a vice and put a sock over the rail and then gently rolled in a curved shape.
We then mounted a wall hook to a piece of wood for leverage and put the outer rail back on the frame and rocked the hook in the rail to snug it up perfectly. It worked well without creasing the rail.
After that we enlarged the rail holes to accept the pop rivets. Do not enlarge the end cap holes. That is not necessary.
File the holes clean. It is important that the base of the floor rail is clean and clear. The inside needs to be clean too so you minimize the size of knob on the pop rivet. The rubber still needs to fit over top of it.
We bolted the end caps on to hold the rail in place. We taped the washer to protect the paint.
With the drill again we made sure all the holes were aligned. We moved the rail as far forward as possible so the end cap would rest beside for the legshield trim.
Next we pop riveted the holes, but we did NOT tighten them all the way to cut free. We applied pressure to the floor rail as we pop riveted. Be very careful, because there is a danger you can crease and destroy your floor rails here. Do NOT over tighten. With the outer rail we were successful.  Also, make sure you tuck the rivet head into the beading along the outside of the frame underneath so it lays flush when you compress the rivet.
This is what the pop rivets look like before being cut. The flush side is underneath. I opted not to use washers for a cleaner look and it seems the install went well.
We checked everything and then tightened them all down one click and crack no more pop rivet, just a rivet.

The Rally kit is not a perfect match, but it's close. The body work was not flush and therefore we needed to move the rail a hair here and a hair there. We were very gently and the soft metal is very responsive.
This is how the outer rail looks installed.
My biggest disappointment is that the end cap is not further up. I honestly expected it to be further up -- not perfect but better. I was warned these rails were thinner and shorter, but I didn't expect it to look this bad. The weird thing is that the Rally rails line up with the holes in the frame and the end caps holes obviously line with the rails; therefore I wonder if the P Series legshield trim is why it is coming up short. I need to look into that.

I will go with the Pascoli kit in the future, but for now I want to find an NOS legshield trim. Once I have the right trim I'll redo the floor rails. Look at Hiro's pictures (scroll down) and you'll see what I mean about how terribly my rails look to stock ones. I am upset about this, but too tired to go BBS on myself at the moment. CRAP! My wife, the owner and rider of this SS, is even considering if going with the correct floor rail kit is best. I am with her, but don't want to throw one on if the legshield trim is too short anyways.

Of course, the good news is this is stuff that can be changed later if needed, but will function okay in the interim. I worry the bike is turning into an Ugly Betty with these two items being so visible and off. The bike is SO close to 100% original, but these items lower it for me. I guess it will be up to Lisa, my wife, to make the final call.

I don't know if I am going to invest $40+ in Pascoli VSC floor rail rubber if I may just replace the hole kit later on and if the Rally rails are shorter I will NOT be able to use the VSC rubber again, because it will be cut short.

Doesn't it suck that I had to have it fully installed to see how bad it looked. I can't return it now and I am unsure if I will just quit and order Pascoli or if I will install these and hunt for NOS and when I find hope to buy for under $300 for the legshield beading and the floor rail. We'll have to see. I am researching that right now.

The end caps will be hand peened. Lucky for me Ted has experience. His resume is pretty extensive for working on cars and motorcycles. His training came in the late 60s and 70s. If you ever research body work you'll most likely be steered to a 1970 vo-tech manual on "moving metal." During those times it was still an art, not just replace a fiberglass part like today. Pictured above is Ted and the aluminum bowl he hand peened from a plat piece of metal with a sand back for his mom in 1968.

--------- Day 2 ----------

This process is moving so much slower than I expected. The work can be pretty frustrating, because of the required angles for the floor rails.

We spent another solid 4 plus hours (with two people working) and all that was done was two more floor rails were added (inner ones) and I sanded and polished all of the end caps. So half of the job was complete.

For polishing, I used a file and file down the knob (poor casting quality) until it was almost flush. Then I used 2000 grit wetodry sand paper and ONLY sanded the area I filed so as not to screw the polish up on the rest of the end cap. Then I polished it with Mother's. It cleaned up nice. When I install I will hide the blemished sides facing the bike so people won't see it; though it's not noticable unless you look for it.

-------- Day 3 ---------

On the third day we repeated all of the steps described above on the right floor rails. The holes lined up a little better between the rails and frame.

We made sure line up all the end caps with the rails before laying them down.

Make sure when you drill out the frame holes that you drill from bottom up, because the drill bit will tear the paint and that can be hidden beneath a rail very easily, but not as easily beneath a rivet. Ted thought it wouldn't be an issue, but it was for the most visible holes (the front end caps) on this side and now we need to make sure that the mushroom rivet head will cover it -- it should.

Again we used the ultra thick paper to protect the paint from the rails.

It felt good to see both rails in place.
With a heavy anchor and a punch Ted and I flattened one of the pop rivet heads in the rail so we could run the rubber through smoothly. The aluminum pop rivets give way easily.
The hardest rail to line up is the outer. We had use a rubber mallet on the back of the outer rail on this side to get it to line up in the grove correctly; fortunately this metal is super soft and doesn't take much at all.

Make sure that the body is going to line up with the rail before paint. I'd give the body shop person the bike with the rails bolted on personally so he/she could see how it should line up. I have tiny gaps that I need to hide by moving the floor rail metal very slightly.

Here's what we have left:
1) Flatten the pop rivet heads so the rubber will fit properly
2) Install rubber
3) Install the end caps / rivets
4) Waffle the end cap rivets

We're hunting for the correct rivet punches and waffle.

For newbies, working in a pair slowly and cautiously give yourself 10 hours to do the entire job well.

-------- Day 4 ---------

I spent $1.69 at Harbor Freight Tools for these punches and decided to use these to create my rivet punches.

When all was said and done it looked like this.

First we cut the tip off the punch and then using a Dremel and a concave drill bit we shaped the tip.

We added oil as we drilled it out, which helped a lot.

Then we used a softer Dremel tip to "cone" it out.

Once done we used Emery paper to smooth it out. The finish product was pretty good considering we don't have shop lathe, which would have made this process a lot faster and easier.

We also used screws, washers (with painters tape), and nuts to bolt on the end caps so in the hopes that the floor rails would retain a memory of shape.

We very quickly learned that the majority of the holes of the end caps do not line up with the floor rails and frame holes, which means the rivets or screws are angled. This upset us. It was a major paint in the butt to bolt them down and most of the endcaps did not fit, they are cockeyed.

Before screwing the endcaps on I carefully selected each endcap for each specific rail and numbered them with a Sharpie on the rail and endcap so as not to mix them up. My goal was to hide the area where I filed and sanded the endcap mold down.

--------- Day 5 ---------

This day sucked. It was a 7 hour day and we have nothing to show for it other than a few tools. Hand peening the rivets went terrible.

We used a bolt to create the ancho that will rest on top of the rivet while it is hit from the bottom. We created 2-3 of these concave punches in all.

First we use a pointed punch to mark the center of it.

Then we used a drill to concave the tip.

Next we decided to make the waffle. Using another Harbor Freight punch from my packet we hack-sawed it so the diameter was as big as possible. We then hack-sawed three cuts in it in each direction being careful to also angle the saw so as to create the teeth of the waffle.

We cleaned the waffle up with the Dremel.

But we found that best thing to use was an angled file.
I recommend using the file to create the groove instead of the hack-saw or Dremel.
I am not happy with how sharp the teeth are on the waffle. I need to re-do it.

We then spent hours working on hand peening the rivets. We put the rivets through the end caps and then cut the excess at 1/4 inch. It leaves a little mohawk shape. Then we used the concave punch, but the rivet kept bending and folding over. It was terrible. We used a concave anchor on top of the rivet to protect the the rivet. We use a rubber with adhesive -- we cut a hole in it -- to protect the paint. It worked, but made it too hard to see so we used painter's tape. We tried a couple times and ended up with the punch eating into the paint. CRAP! We started to install the rear most inner end cap, so it is the least likely to be seen. We laid the bike at an angle -- resting the motor on a block of wood.

We drilled out the rivets after being so bummed with the outcome of the rivet. Check out the May 3rd post on how to properly ball peen rivets. I found it to be very helpful.

Feeling frustrated and defeated we quit. I called Mic at Scooter Shop for advice. He told me two bits of advice: (1) we have too much length on our rivets and need to cut them shorter and (2) use a ball peen hammer to steer the rivet as it is hammered down. The stock rivets from the manufacturer are not perfect looking either. They are bent angles to and somewhat folded over itself, like a compressed slinky that slowly folds into a mushroom. Then it is waffled flat.

We'll try again. We have at least 20 hours invested in the floor rail kit so far and it is a major pain in the butt, but we won't quit until we get it right.

The only problem is my painter wants the bike ASAP to do the touch up because I move back West with the bike on June 9th.

-------- More to follow ---------


Currently my wiring is not adding up. The wires from the stator don't match the wire harness in colors. The "Blue" from the coil is THICK and I suspect that it is the one that carries the heavy load.
The "Red" wire from the stator goes to the HT Coil, but that's the end of the red wires there. Christopher Markley wired my stator and PX HT Coil, when he rebuilt/restored the engine. I will contact him to find out what is what as I am near ready to wire the junction box.

I called Christopher last night and he told me each manufacturer wires these differently so I emailed Scomo (Scoot Richmond), because they were closed and posted this question on BBS.
Here's my problem:

My SS180 is a 1967 USA released model and the wiring does NOT match the GS/SS diagrams I have found.

My model is:
- 6V
- non-batt
- non-indicator

I am using a PX125 HT Coil.

Christopher M. rewired the stator and copied exactly what was in the bike. Same color wires and gauge, etc.

Note that I only have FOUR wires coming from the stator:
- Red (hooked into the HT Coil and NOT available for the junction box)
- Blue (thicker than all the wires)
- Green
- Black

The wire harness I bought has FIVE wires:
- Red
- Blue
- Green
- Yellow
- Black

I have heard that some production runs will differ from the standard electrical schematics and that will NOT be noted in any electrical diagram I find. I know that Christopher M. copied exactly what wires came from my stator when he rewired it -- using the same colors. There were no signs that farmer John rewired the stator before the bike had its stroke and was put in the barn.

I am hoping I don't need to rewire the stator at this point, but I only have four wires coming from the stator . . . Red, Blue, Green and of course Black. I am short a wire or one wire needs to double up and do double the work.

Therefore, I wonder if I wonder if I need to add jumpers or what have you in order to properly wire my bike.

Lesson Learned:

Hi Jeremy,
our stator has the one doubled current power source for lighting generated by two lighting coils. I guess it would improve the load balance for the lighting (+ horn) circuit.
Or, Piaggio just want to cut the cost by eliminating the (Sky) Blue wire from the stator!? ;-)

Connections would be as following.

From the stator:
Red -> HT coil terminal 2 -> Red(add new wire) -> Junction box terminal #1
Blue -> Junction box terminal #2
Green -> Junction box terminal #3
Black -> HT coil terminal 1 (or motor case) -> Black(add new wire) -> Junction box terminal #4

At the junction box:
Red(from HT coil) -> Terminal #1 -> Red(from wiring harness)
Blue(from Stator) -> Terminal #2 -> Bule and Yellow(both from wiring harness)
Green(from Stator) -> Terminal #3 -> Green(from wiring harness)
Black(from Stator) -> Terminal #4 ->Black(from wiring harness)

At the switch box on the handle bar:
Terminal 1: Black (from wiring harness via Head light socket)
Terminal 2: N/A
Terminal 3: 2 Yellows (from wiring harness and Head light socket)
Terminal 4: White (from horn)
Terminal 5: N/A
Terminal 6: Brown (from Head light socket)
Terminal 7: Violet (from Head light socket)
Terminal 8: 2 Greens (from Horn and wiring harness)

At the Brake switch:
(Sky) Blue and Black (both from wiring harness)

At the Head light socket(terminal number unknown):
#1: (Sky) Blue(from Speedo) and Yellow(switch box)
#2: 2 Blacks(from wiring harness and switch box)
#3: Violet(from switch box)
#4: Brown(from switch box)

Color codes:
Red(stator): Ignition power source
(Sky) Blue(stator): lighting power source
Green: lighting power source
Yello(inside the stator): connection doubling the current from lighting coils
Black: ground line
--Wiring harness--
Red: Ignition kill circuit
(Sky) Blue(wiring harness): Stop light circuit
Yello(wiring harness): Speedo, Pilot and Tail light circuit
Green: Horn and Head light circuits
Black: ground line

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.


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.