Thursday, November 26, 2009

Clutch needle bearings "okay"

Got some garage time this morning and checked the needle bearings in my clutch. Yesterday, I bought a 1" pipe to hacksaw and Dremel into a tool to open the reverse thread nut to expose the needle bearings. After a few minutes with the saw and seeing that I had only scratched the surface I thought of a creative way to loosen the nut without a punch.
And the best part is the needle nose pliers worked. My only concern is I wonder if the nut should have been on tight enough so that I could not loosen it this way? Could this of caused the "grabbing" I experienced?
All forty needle bearings were there and appear to be in great condition. I need to oil them back up as I wiped them down with a micro fiber cloth to avoid any dust particles getting on them.
There is a small amount of space between the needle bearings, but it's fairly tight overall as you can see.

I need to continue down the trouble shooting list I compiled.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 16, 2009

The clutch saga

Tonight, I am re-soaking the clutch plates in SAE30 non-detergent oil. After the engine was rebuilt it sat for nearly two years before being run so I was encouraged to soak the plates again over night. I will soak for a couple days for good measure.

This evening I searched to see if I had the original gear oil we filled the engine with and guess what I found? Yamalube Utility Performance four stroke SAE 5W-30!

I know, "what the what!" as Liz Lemon says on 30 Rock. I know for sure I asked my very experienced motorcycle buddy to buy SAE30 non-detergent oil from his motorcycle store of choice and I see that the red bottle cap and the top of the Yamalube Utility Performance four stroke SAE 5W-30 was pictured in the time we filled the gear box.

Next step is to immediately drain the gear box and refill it. The engine has gone no more than 10 miles since the rebuild.

I asked Paul S. & Tom G. if the wrong oil could be an issue and the answer was it's not my issue.

Paul S. said, "having modern detergent oil would not be the cause of your problem. The reason why non-detergent oil is recommended for scooters is that they don't have oil filters. Detergent oils will tend to push particulates to the top of the oil, but on scooters, we want the junk to fall to the bottom of the oil - so it will drop out of the drain plug. Anything on top of the oil will get flung from the gears onto the clutch.

So basically, it is better to have straight up SAE 30 in there, but it isn't really going to hurt to have 5W-30. It certainly isn't going to have any effect on your clutch action at this point."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Next steps with my clutch

Here's my plan for next steps in trouble shooting the clutch problem, which I compiled from speaking from a few different people:

1. Disassemble the brass retaining ring, and inspect and count the needler rollers. I suspect the problem is here, but even if it is not, you need to eliminate the possibility.

2. Test assemble the corks and circlip, to confirm that with the eared cork plate in place, the other corks slide freely in the basket slots.

3. Reassemble the clutch fully, after oiling the corks. Before installing, use your clutch compressor tool to compress the clutch slightly, and confirm that the plates are slipping smoothly as they should.

4. Reassemble the clutch on the bike.

5. If the lurching symptom is not solved, (only after the above tests) consider using "clip the ears" theory. I'm only suggesting this as a diagnostic, not as a permanent fix. I think you want to avoid riding long and hard on clipped ears, but for test purposes, I don't think you'll get into trouble. If the clipping solves the problem when nothing else did, well then I'd suggest we brainstorm some more to figure out how to keep the ears intact (substituting a new back plate of course), and still solving the problem. But at least if the clipping works, you can rule out some of the possible causes, and try to zero in on the real culprit.

Also, it occurs to me that it is just possible that your problem could be caused by insufficent oil on the clutch corks. Didn't you let the motor sit for quite a time before getting the bike on the road? If so, it is just possible that the corks are not saturated enough with oil, and thus don't disengage correctly at first. I'm not putting alot of stock in this theory, but do me a favor, and make sure you soak your corks in SAE30 overnight, just to make sure.

And while you have the clutch open, check to confirm that there is no play in the rivets that secure the large gear (which engages the inner diameter of the internediate steel clutch places) to the back steel plate.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Continuation of clutch trouble shooting update

At this point, the next step is to open up the needle bearings and examine and replace them.

Here is where we started from . . . an email from Paul S.:


I fear that the problem lies with the cush drive. The clutch does not engage smoothly, but snatches and grabs. The clutch basket is perfect, and the plates and corks are new. I have not taken apart an SS clutch, so perhaps there is something I'm missing. I have three areas of concern.

1) no matter how I line up the base plate with the basket, the springs are not 100% lined up with the base plate. I'm not sure if this is how the SS clutch is supposed to work, as opposed to the later style clutches where the springs are in perfect alignment.

2) inspecting the needle bearings on the backplate/gear plate, it appears that there may be some bearings missing. I'm not sure how these are supposed to look. However, my experience with needle bearings in general tells me that there should be no gaps between the needles, and they should cover the whole circumference of the bearing area. This is not the case here. I have not taken off the brass cover to look inside. It appears that there is a special tool required to remove the brass nut. I don't want to whack on it with a punch.

3) if none of the above, then the problem is must be in the cush drive. That would be unfortunate.

Here is what I have learned from Tom G.:

Check that the gear ring is firmly riveted to the back plate of the clutch. Also check the sides of the slots in the clutch basket. In order to properly disengage, the tabs of the plates have to slide freely in the basket slots.

Also, make sure the spring washer that goes on the crank before the clutch is properly installed. The small end of the cone goes towards the crank.

The basket and back plate are not supposed to line up perfectly. The spring depressions in the back plate and the spring cups in the basket are supposed to be slightly offset. If I recall correctly, there is a small hole in both. Align the small holes. Send me pics so I can be sure I'm remembering this correctly.

The needle rollers should take up almost all of the space. Make sure you have the right amount. There is a total of 40 needle rollers.

The brass ring collar, I believe, is reverse thread. There is a special tool that allows you to remove it, but in practice, most people use a small punch (carefully). But you can also find a pipe or socket the right diameter, and grind away enough of the perimeter to just leave two protrusions to fit into the slots on the ring collar. That would be the best way to open the clutch, if you have the time and the patience.

If the clutch is out, you can see some of the cush gear. Rotate it in place, inspecting the rivets for any movement. Push and pull, tap, whatever. If you see any movement of the rivets, or the plates that the rivets hold together, it is safe to say that your cush gear is the problem. If not, continue to focus on the clutch.

I'm slightly concerned about the rust pits in that surface (the rust is gone, but the pits remain) on the plate. They could be creating too much friction against the bottom cork. However, I've run similar plates without problem, so that "probably" is not your problem. Still, if you could find a better plate you might want to use it.

Gene M. posted on the "Vespa Super-Sports Yahoo Group":

Did you install p200 corks with the external tabs on the outer plate? That lurching is common on scooters where the clutch basket is warped and not allowing the corks to slide freely in the cutouts. You can test this by cutting the tabs off the outer plate so they look more like original plates than P2 type.

We've had many many Vespas with "jumpy" clutch. Normally a new basket fixes the problem - but GS/SS baskets are not available new, so the next best thing is to take the pressure off the basket by removing the tabs. the tabs should have no pressure on them to install - they should slide into the basket freely.

**** BUT I have also learned ****

There is a reason that Piaggio started to use back plates with ears. With 125 and 150cc motors, plates without ears was fine, but with the advent of the GS150, the standard baskets could not take the stress, and started to "flower" out under high rpms. The initial cure for this was to put a steel band around the clutch. However,this intervention did not last long. I suspect it cut down on oil flow to the clutch plates, and possibly the bands started to fail anyway. (This is just my speculation). And so, the Piaggio engineers decided to put the ears on the clutch plates to keep the clutch basket from expanding. And it worked. The SS180 has plenty of power -- enough to cause the clutch basket to expand -- which you want to avoid. Keep the ears.

By the way, it is possible that it is correct that cutting off the ears might help solve the clutch grab -- even though it might not be the BEST way. Think about this -- On a lot of after market clutch plates, the ears are not perfectly stamped, and they do bind up when you try to install the plate in the basket. If there is a really bad fit, the force of installing the last plate can make the clutch basket flex slighly. It is possible that this flexing can cause the slots that the other clutch plate tabs slide into become too narrow, possibly causing the tabs to bind up. (Or the problem could be caused by aftermarket clutch plates with tabs too big on the first two plates -- or even that on an aftermarket basket, the slots for the tabs are too narrow). Frankly, there isn't much chance that this is the problem, but it is still worth checking on. One way to check is to fit all of the clutch plates, in order, into the basket (no need to assembel the basket onto the rest of the clutch assembly). Install the back clutch cork, with the ears, and then fit the circlip. Make sure the back plate is pressed up against the circlip. The two intermediate cork plates should be free to slide back and forth, and their tabs should not bind up on the basket slot anywhere along the route of travel. If they do bind up, that's a no-no, and could be your problem.

**** I just got off the phone with Steve B. from MotorSport Scooters and he said ****

#1 - Bench test the clutch with the compression tool. Tighten it till you feel the compression. Give one full rotation by grabbing/spinning the drive gear. It should spin freely.

#2 - Look for wear of the brass bushing in the clutch cover. If the bushing is loose it will cause "jumping".

#3 -- Make sure that the tension washer is facing the correct direction. The "cone" needs to be facing out.

Steve is against cutting the ears off the cork plate, because of the power of centrifical force. It could be very dangerous. He went into a long and detailed reason why it is dangerous and I could not remember all the details when I got off the phone.

He also said, I may be missing some needle bearings, but that would not be the cause of the problem.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Why won't my clutch work?

My clutch is the last big snag in my restoration. One a limited inspection, the cush gear appears to be okay. When in neutral going to first gear the clutch both grinds a terrible sound and grabs pulling the bike into a wheelie. I need help.

Here is a photo of my entire clutch:

And the hardware:

The cork plates are brand new:

The video below gives you the low-down to the two potential problems that have been identified:

This video shows a glimpse of the needle bearing, which appears to be missing needles:

As stated in the video, as you spin the gear you can see it rolls around a needle bearing, but there are some spaces that appear as if they should not be there -- maybe this bearing needs to be replaced -- and the needles should be complete around the 360 degree bearing. Also, when you spin the plate there is some friction/snags at points. But if you spin the gear it turns freely, easily, and quickly.

The small holes in the basket and the plate should line up and the basket should fit the plate correctly. There are two possible settings and neither lines up for me. Note where my fingers are pointing:

When you line up the holes on both plates (in either of the two settings) you can see that clutch springs do not line up and furthermore neither does the basket. See the video with both possible settings and you will see how "off" it is.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Clutch Still Broken


Spoke with Paul S. this evening and the thrust washer was added. It appears that the clutch plates are brand new - no scribe marks. It did not work. I am frustrated. Will take pictures and video of it this week and ask others to look at it and help me determine what the issue is.

Please comment with ideas and what needs to be seen in pictures and video to help trouble shoot. My plan is to see it on Wednesday.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Vespa Tricycle

My wife and I bought my son the Radio Flyer Vespa Tricycle. He likes to have his own "scooter".

No update on the SS180 at this time. Paul S. received the clutch tension/thrust washer and the clutch will need to be removed a second time to install it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Clutch Issue Follow-Up

Had a beer with my mechanic Paul S. last night and the rest of the local scoot club and Paul told me that I am missing the Clutch Spacer Washer (aka thrust washer) -- part #59133. This washer goes on the crank shaft before the clutch goes on. This could affect the the engaging/disengaging of my clutch. I ordered the part for $10 and am having it sent directly to Paul. I really hope this solves the clutch issues for good so we can move on to the electrical in the headset and then finally be done.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Reference: Stock Wire Harness

For Krissy . . .

Here's a look with the shrink tubing removed:

Click to enlarge photos and see colors more clearly.
Stock wire harness.
Headlight/indicator bulb wires (Note: there is also a BLUE wire here that was cut too short to be seen in the picture below, but it is part of the headlight):

Kill switch wires:
Horn wires:
Rear brake light switch wires:

Tail light wires:
HT Coil wires:

My stator was rewired exactly to match stock and photos are posted on this blog.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Clutch Issue Continues

Updates below as of 10/7/2009

Here's the work that has been done on the scooter thus far as posted on Paul's Blog. Click me!

After the clutch was put back together and rear wheel put on Paul tested the scoot and the clutch issue is NOT resolved. I need help and that is what I am asking for . . .

Email sent to my SS180 mentors & Super-Sports Yahoo Group:

"Tom, Christopher, & Hiro -

I have a problem with the clutch on the Vespa SS180. The clutch was
just examined by an experienced mechanic friend and the cork plates,
basket, etc. all look good. From what I understand there were a few
ways it could be assembled in the basket and lock into place. Two
ways had a lot of free movement and one way was sorta snug, but not
locked perfect. The snug way is not enough top get the clutch to
operate correctly.

Here's the issue:

In 1st gear at a stop the clutch grabs and pops a wheelie and makes a
terrible sound. You can see it here in the video and hear the sound

It seems to shift through the other gears okay, but I would not
describe it as "butter."

Help trouble shooting?"

**** RESPONSES ****

""Hi Jeremy,
I would recommend to test with another clutch unit/assembly which works good. Do
you have a friend who ride an SS there?

I would suspect the worn springs inside the Christmas tree gears if it works.
Good luck,
-Palmog" (posted on Super Sports Yahoo Group)

"Hi again, Jeremy,

I've just found this mail now. In addition to what I've posted on the Vespa Sports group, you would want to check the needle roller bearing inside the helical gear of the clutch unit. It is very easy to check only turn the reverse threaded brass washer off.

I happen to have my SS motor completely been disassembled in my room now. I can take photos of any of parts as a reference if you need. Just let me know what you need.

Good luck,

Other possibilities my research turned up:

(1) The plain clutch plates are dished slightly (0.012 in) and bear a scribed
line on the concave surface. These marks must be facing outwards and assembled
above each other towards the retaining circlip.

(2) Check that the gear ring is firmly riveted to the back plate of the clutch.

(3) Check the sides of the slots in the clutch basket. In order to properly disengage, the tabs of the plates have to slide freely in the basket slots.

(4) Make sure the spring washer that goes on the crank before the clutch is properly installed. The small end of the cone goes towards the crank.

Any of my readers have suggestions? Please comment.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Resolving the rear hub grinding

I was missing one critical part -- the internal cone for rear hub. See the internal and external cones pictured below. These parts are NOS and the shops that I work with in California all had them in stock. These parts sell for between $6.50 and $12.50 each depending on where you buy them. Also pictured is the replacement headlight bulb socket I needed.

Paul S. posted a blog entry on the work he did on the rear hub. You can read about that here, but you will find more information is this post.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

SS180 nears completion

Email in from Paul S.:

"I forgot to email you about it, but I got some time to work on your scooter last weekend. The clutch is back in, and the rear hub is on. Success! No rubbing on the rear hub, so I think the cone fixed it. I didn't have more time to run the scooter to check on the brakes and clutch action. Hopefully I can get to it this week.

I have started to post some blog entries on the work I did on your scooter. The first one is up today. I'll probably post one a day for the next week about the SS."

Thx Paul S.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Almost there

Just dropped off parts at Paul's house this afternoon and it is possible that the SS180 will be done within 1-2 weeks. I had the external rear hub cone, just needed the internal one. All that will be left is touch-up paint (yes again) and photos. Clutch was inspected and put back together yesterday. Hurray!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Clutch update

Being ordered:

- Clutch puller tool (aka clutch nut tool)
- Brass bits/fittings for clutch rebuild (may not exist in the GS/SS clutches, but do in Rallys and Ps)
- Rear hub spacer

* Note: If you are in a hurry and don't have a local scoot shop where you live and don't want to wait for a clutch compressor tool via mail from a shop or you want to save 80% and make your own . . . a trip to your local hardware store with the following notes and picture will give you a clutch puller for under $5.

As Christopher Markley told me long ago, he suspected a spacer was missing in the engine rebuild because the back plate was rubbing. It rubbed paint onto the brake shoes, which may now be contaminated and may not work. That's to be determined. Luckily, Paul looked at the motor and noticed that there was some play in the rear hub and that the nut was not locked into the cotter pin at the end of the axle. The only thing holding that nut in place was the cotter pin, which would have given soon. The rear wheel would have fallen off while the bike was being ridden -- catastrophic! The job of the spacer is to push the nut up into the cotter pin and have them lock in place. The wheel and the nut spin in the same direction; therefore the cotter pin is the only thing that holds the nut and wheel on. In our case, the nut was tightened down to far to be locked into the cotter pin and spun out as the scoot was ridden.

It is Paul's hope that the spacer will free the wheel up from hitting the back plate. He was surprised to see where the plate was being hit. It is possible, we hope, that the spacer and clutch rebuild will resolve all issues.

I am in the process of ordering the parts above.

My Aunt Madeline

Here's a picture of my Grandma's sister, Madeline, when she was a kid growing up in France.

Love to have pictures like this in the family.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Update for August

I was unable to exchange the head light socket via ScooterWorks, who I purchased it from. I was told the part has been discontinued or they discontinued carrying them. Fortunately, David at First Kick almost always has my back. He had one more "used" one in stock. I paid $3.50.

I emailed Paul about a concern I have with the slipping kickstart:

"Wanted to let you know that I will have a new light socket for the head light mailed directly to you. Also, probably not worth digging into at this time, but if I didn't mention this before, sometimes when kick starting beyond mild and gently the kick start slips. If it's kick started gently there is no problem. If it's kick started with average force it can slip."

Paul's response was relieving:

"Yeah, the kickstart problem is probably also a clutch issue. I'm hoping to get it up on the lift, and get the clutch off in the next week or so." - Paul.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Faulty headlight socket

Update from Paul S.:
"I have checked out your headlight situation, and it appears that your headlight socket is faulty. It is grounding out somehow. I'm not really sure how it is possible, but it is doing it. The light works when I just put the wires to the bulb, but everything grounds when I put the bulb in the socket. I guess you need a new socket. I'm hoping to tear into the clutch this weekend."

I have emailed ScooterWorks to see if they will honor a warranty on that part. Waiting to hear back from them.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Electrics Update

Email from Paul:

"I'm actually suspecting the brake backing plate (as the scraping sound problem). It is possible it is powdercoat (being thick and scraping), but more likely it is because it is slightly bent somehow. Once I get the rear hub off, I can inspect the back plate for any rubbing.

In the mean time, I spent several hours on the electrics yesterday. I've traced the power to the tail light and switch, and to the wires to the headlight. The light should work, but it doesn't. After a bunch of checking, it is starting to look like your (brand new) headlight assembly is faulty. I'm going to have to do some more checking to confirm this, but I ran out of time.

Once I get the lights sorted, I'll start on the scraping noise and the clutch."-- Paul

So I was correct that I wired the tail light incorrectly. Not sure what I was thinking back then, because when I studied the diagram earlier this month I knew immediately that my wiring job was wrong. I did not know that the switch being cracked would result in grounding. So I learned something new. I am not sure if ScooterWorks will exchange my headlight.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Red, white, blue

At AmeriVespa 2009 Lisa and I were lucky enough to see all three colors (I believe there were only three, but then again I did not verify via literature). All three bikes were restored.
The white one won and the blue one was runner-up. Both those bikes are owned by husband and wife.
I did not see any round headlight VSCs at the rally.
The restorations were beautiful. An anorak would find minor things to change, but I was impressed with how well the bikes were restored.
I love that they all have classic California license plates. I do wish Lisa's SS180 could have been there, because the British Racing Green would have made it stand out.It's so funny now that I am starting my second restoration and working out the minor kinks in this SS180 restore I am not pro-restoration. I say, keep it stock. Soak your rust bucket in a bath of EvapoRust (cheaper than paint and body), which will remove the rust, brighten your original paint, and then seal the metal so no rust will come in again. While the frame is being treated do a mechanical rebuild on the bike and put it back together. Make it road worthy. Seriously, an original bike is beautiful and it has earned its war scars. Most people don't go to plastic surgeons for scars when we get hurt, so why should our scoots? The only reason I am restored the VSC and am restoring the TV is because I bought both bikes in pieces and my TV is slightly mismatched. Other than that there's just no reason in my opinion.

Running poorly & electrical

The current problems are:
1) Electrical (switch is broken and tail light is wired wrong)
2) Bike is running poorly (kill switch was likely causing this)
3) Clutch not operating correctly
4) Scraping sound made when you walk or ride bike

The brand new switch should resolve issues 1 and 2.

I emailed Paul S. and asked him why a cracked/grounded horn switch would affect the bike and cause it to run poorly. I understand why is screwed up the electrical, which was one of the four problems with the scoot. Paul knew when I pulled up something was wrong with the way the bike was running and I wanted to know *exactly* why.

Response from Paul S.:

Well, I've ridden/worked on hundreds of Vespas at this point. It is pretty easy for me to hear when they are not running right. You should also be able to notice the difference with the new switch. It will be very obvious. When they are running well, they have a nice smooth idle. Yours was misfiring, and acting like it was dying. This can happen with poor igition or with poor carbueration. When you first rolled up, I thought you had an ignition problem. In a way you did. The kill switch was essentially "almost" on all the time. The broken switch made it so that the kill switch was just about engaged. That caused the igitition system to be working poorly. Once I pulled the switch off, the motor idled like a champ.

I should not have to pull the motor all the way apart to get at the clutch. I'll just have to pull off the rear hub and the clutch cover. Depending on the source of the scraping noise (when the scooter is rolling around), I may have to delve further inside the motor. I doubt it however. I suspect the scraping noise is coming from the rear brake backplate. The only way to be sure is to get it up on the lift. Luckily both of your issues are in the same area, so hopefully I can fix them both at the same time. Unfortunately I've been so busy with the family that I have had virtually no garage time in the past few weeks.

A special thanx to Paul for his expertise. He diagnosed the problems very quickly and was correct. If you remember in previous posts (years ago now) Christopher Markley said that the backplate scraped at the rear hub because it is either thicker with powder coat or it is missing a spacer, though when he looked in the parts diagram there was not an additional spacer.

Request from readers/SS180 owners: Besides the parts book diagram, does any one have pictures of their assembly of the rear hub / backplate showing all spacers and hardware for me to reference against? If so, please comment.

I have asked Paul to contact me when he knows he will be working on the bike so I can meet with him and learn from him. He is far more experienced than I am. He has a toddler, so his schedule is just like mine . . . around our toddlers.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Repro kill/horn switch

The reproduction kill/horn switch arrived yesterday. I ordered it from Danell at SPD. She told me that it is a quality reproduction piece in comparison to a lot of the not-so-good stuff available.
She also said that the back plate was thick and solid. This plate is split on half on my original, hence why I need this one.
I purchased this for $34 with a 10% discount. Most shops had it listed at $39, but I saw ScooterWorks had it at $25 and when I check again it was $35 or something.

It is my intention to re-use my original chrome cover for the switch if at all possible. Trying to preserve the soul of the bike as much as possible.

This is the first step in getting this bike diagnosed for (1) electrical issues and (2) not running correctly, Paul S. says. Since my original switch back plate is broken in half it is grounding it out.

It is super challenging to find NOS for this piece since all 1960s Vespas used it.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

amerivespa 2009

Note: the red, white, & blue SS180s. I will post pictures of them solo later. So sad the VSC was not with us.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Thank you readers

Thx to the near 40,000 visitors (see your country's flags to the right) who have visited this site starting January 1, 2007 (the day it went truly live). I am starting to come across more scooter restorer bloggers and it's an awesome and powerful resource when we share with one another.

I look forward to the unveiling of the VSC with you!

Vespa bearings

The bearing market in the United States is shifting and I am hearing about some SKF bearings going bad, especially in Vespas. I posted what I have learned here.

If you are in a restore project or an engine rebuild. Educate yourself and ask your bearing supplier some pointed questions.

On a side note . . . the Lambretta TV175 restoration has begun. I have 95% of the engine broken down and ready for either bead or soda blast and parts to a part washer.

Electrical issues

Tomorrow I load up the Bajaj Chetaks to take AmeriVespa. Lisa (my wife) and I are sad not to be unveiling the SS180 there. What a finale that would have been.

But as you know there a few problems with the VSC left: electrical, clutch, and grinding sound.

The bike is over at Paul S.'s house. He just wrote me this email the other day:

"I did some work on your SS last night. I think I solved the poor running problem, and perhaps some of the lighting issues.

You need to buy a new switch. The switch that was on there is cracked in half. It was grounding out the kill switch, and likely the lighting circuit. I can do some more work on it with a new switch." -- Paul.

I just ordered the switch today from Dañell of Scooter Parts Direct. Part #92041 is the listed part number for the Rally 180 (headset) and costs $34 for the repro. Hard to find NOS on this since the majority of the 60s Vespas all used this specific switch. On a side note, I recommend working with Dañell, because she take her time to work through problems with you. Once she didn't have the part I needed and she even helped me find it elsewhere. She's got integrity and knows a bit about the SS180 as well.

Dañell tells me this specific reproduction switch is of good quality in comparison to what is out there. I hope to use the original cover on it.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Install the brake light switch

Before I delivered the bike to Paul S. to check the electrical I installed the rear brake switch. Remember I have a non-batt Rally 180 style brake switch, which is stock for my wife's bike.

I am not sure why, but it was a major pain the butt to find this exact switch with a grey gasket. Thx to Max at ScooterWest I have it.

The first thing you want to do is cut off the soldered tips of the wires. Those are there to preserve and protect the wires. If the wires can be crimped into place or if they connectors do not bend to pliers you can solder like I did.

Soldering in and of itself is an art. I am not great, but decent. Another hobby of mine is electric remote control airplanes so I have gotten to fluent when it comes to soldering. Before you tackle it yourself for the first time Google how to. It's a quick and easy read.

A few hints:
- you want the solder to look like a Hershey Kiss in shape.
- the less you can use the better.
- after you are done always cover the entire tip of the solder gun in solder and use a wet rag to wipe excess. Then put away.

Note: after I dropped the bike off at Paul S.'s I realized that I wired the tail light electrical wrong. I put the blue/black together and left the yellow alone. See past post. The black should have been left solo and the blue/yellow belong together. Furthermore I need to tighten the rear brake cable so the brake applies pressure to the brake switch.

P.S. - Sad news . . . Lisa and I are disappointed that the Vespa most likely will not be unveiled at AmeriVespa next weekend. We'll be on our Bajaj Chetaks, which bothers Lisa a bit. I should have started working on it sooner, I just did not have time.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How ride when breaking-in your new engine

I asked Tom G. some questions about breaking-in the new engine and this is what I learned (answers in all caps):

1) Do I also need to rev through the ranges of 1,2,3,4 gears while riding?

2) Do I need to avoid hills?

3) How many miles should I ride until it is broken in?

4) Do I need to shift through all the gears, ie 3 and 4 (if so I need to ride some where I can pick up speed)?


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Another ride and what's left

Rode the scoot over to Paul Sachelari's house this evening to figure the electrical and misc. stuff out.

May I say . . . "watch out wheelie!!"

Paul suspects that the clutch needs to be rebuilt (not uncommon I just learned for even brand new repro clutches; though we have stock). It shifts ugly in 1st. Terrible sound. There is also a grinding sound that needs to be determined. When the bike is pushed, not running, you can hear it. The electrical needs to be looked at. The horn worked before, but now nothing seems to be working. Paul also says it does not sound good when its running and needs to be tuned accordingly.

Bottom line is it may not be ready in time for AmeriVespa, which is a BIG bummer for Lisa and me. Most importantly, we are grateful to Paul for helping us out on the last steps of the Vespa and for diagnosing the problems for us.

More to follow . . .

Sunday, June 14, 2009


The handle on my 2nd all metal fuel lever spun off the rod. I lightly sanded and JB Weld it. Should know in 24 hours if it took. Very disappointed and I don't think I can trust JB Weld to last a long long time. The JB Weld worked on the 1st metal lever, but I accidently broke one of the two prongs that connect to the fuel cock.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ride #2

Quick update . . .

I trimmed 2 inches of my fuel line so the line is exactly 60cm at 5/16ths in diameter(manufacturer's spec) and I took a few mini rides for over 20+ minutes this evening. It's a peppy bike!

First I ran it with no airbox/bellow and it was powerful. Then I ran it with everything on and it idled a bit softer. A tune-up may be required.

Now, I need to figure out what's going on with the electrical. I need to install the tail light switch and put bulbs in the speedo, high beam, and headlight. And seal it all back up.

It's a great day!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Why does she stall?

Before I can determine if the lights and electrical are working correctly I need the bike to be running. Today is the second time I have ever run it and both times it has stalled as if it lost fuel or something. I need to determine what the problem is soon so I can complete the bike. I did have the choke on in this video and had held the throttle a hair back to keep it from stalling, which only bought me some time.


Possible reasons:

"Sounds like it's a fuel starving issue. Make sure that the fuel line is down and under to the carb. I had a similar problem once because my fule line was going strait into the carb w/out a j-bend going under then into the carb. Also check to make sure the air hole in the gas cap is not clogged and that the gas tank filter is not clogged. May also be your carb jets are clogged." -Scott

"Air leak. Explains the high rev as well. Carb basket base gaskets and crank seals are the places to look. Start it again and spray some carb cleaner at the base of the carb (inside the air cleaner), then at the bottom of the basket and if the idle drops at all, then you have an air leak there." - Derek

5/27/2009 Update

It is possible that my fuel line is too long. The correct length (stock) is 25 inches and the fuel line is clear on stock bikes. The other to make sure is that there is a "J" bend in the line going up to the carb. It should not feed straight to the carb.

I will measure the length of my fuel line. I suspect that it is too long for the gravity feed fuel system to work properly, hence the stalls from fuel starvation.

I also need to confirm the correct diameter of the fuel line. The black one I am currently using is 5/16". I was under the impression that black was the stock color, but clearly clear would be easier to use since you can determine that the fuel is actually flowing correctly.

Other possibilities to trouble shoot:
1) Air leak. Explains the high rev as well. Carb basket base gaskets and crank seals are the places to look. Start it again and spray some carb cleaner at the base of the carb (inside the air cleaner), then at the bottom of the basket and if the idle drops at all, then you have an air leak there. -- Derek G.

2) You said you have the choke on? I only use choke for the very initial start up, then I turn it off right away and use the throttle to warm up a bike.

The length of your fuel line from the tank to the carb is very important. I usually measure the length like this:

Lift the gas tank out of the bike. The fuel tap should not be allowed to come above the plane of the frame. The fuel line should pull tight not allowing the tap to come up above the frame. Basically you want the fuel line to be as short as possible without making it too hard to reach the bottom of the fuel tap.

I've had this same symptom when my fuel line was too long. This is a gravity feed system. You don't want to have the fuel travel too far "up hill". -- Michael C.

3) Make sure "clear" tubing you use is fuel-compatible. If you're not interested in a 100-point restoration you may want to use the transparent fuel tubing available via mail-order from Aircraft Spruce and Specialty. We've been using it on our race bikes and it works great. Let me know if you want specific part #s. -- Dave S.

4) As everyone said before, the gas line needs to be the correct length. Clear fuel line is not a problem, as long as you get fuel line, and not some other type of clear tubing. First Kick has the stuff you need.

As for the clogged breather hole, it is unlikely that is your problem. However, it is easy enough to check. Simply try to run the scooter with the gas cap open. If it still dies, then the breather hols is not the source of your woes. -- Paul S.

5) Here’s a quick way to check if your fuel line is too long:

Get a second person to help. Have that person lift the gas tank up as high as it will go. Now you kick over the bike. If the bike keeps idling while the gas tank is held up that high, then your fuel line may be too long.

What you are doing here is increasing the potential energy of the system buy making the petcock that much higher than the carb. Increasing the potential energy will help the fuel flow. -- Michael C.

6) Make sure to have a "J" bend in the fuel line going to the carb. The line should not go directly to the carb. -- Scott

Sunday, May 24, 2009

JB Weld seat frame nut

The nut, which is welded inside the frame to lock the seat to was free when I received the bike. In hindsight having is welded into place before paint would have been preferred. After paint I had two options and of course welding was not one of them. I could buy a lock washer and a new nut or salvage one more piece of the soul of this scoot using JB Weld to lock the nut into place.
As you can see it worked just fine. I let the glue cure for 24 hours and tested the screw in it and it was just fine.

The secret to a beautiful and easy reassembly is in the prep work before paint. Dry fit your bike. Screw (not rivet) and shape your floor rails on to the bike. Every piece you can fit it to the bike. I bought this bike and my TV175 in pieces so I did not know exactly what was not in place, such as this nut when I started off. More prep work was necessary and more research as well.

Lesson learned: juts buy a new nut, split washer, and screw for this. The JB Weld broke.

Glove box door on frame

Today I installed the glove box to the frame. I used stainless 4mm hardware. I did not take the time to find out what stock hardware size would be. I also used lock washers and washers with this. With I Dremel I removed the hardware stamp on the visible screws.
Note: this picture needs to be rotated. The fender is on the bottom of the picture and the frame is on the top. The reason for this is because, I didn't look at that parts manual to see that I needed double the amount of nuts. You need two nuts per screw. The angle of the screw is not flush. The first nut locks the screw flush with the frame and the second screw (which I believe is similar to a lock nut) locks the glove box to the frame. I worried about the clearance of the fender to this screw, but after looking it over quite a bit I believe I should be good.

I need to buy four new nuts and washers and then redo this job. Should be easier without the screws spinning.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Glove Box Door Seal Install

If I were to do this all over again I would:
1) Put the glove box door to the side.
2) Apply Super WeatherStrip to both the metal glove box door and the strip -- running my finger along it to make it smooth.
3) Let them both dry.
4) Cut several pieces of painters tape and put aside.
5) Apply a new coat of WeatherStrip to only the rubber gasket. Avoid using too much. This stuff goes a long long way.
6) Carefully and quickly put the gasket on the glove box frame.
7) Tape it down with fierce pressure.
8) Put the glove box door on.
9) Close and lock the door so as to ensure the gasket has pressure on it and that the gasket fits properly.
10) Peel the tape back and quickly wipe up any excess. This stuff will eat your paint. You need to clean it up immediately and while it is still wet and wipes up like rubber cement. If it even thinks about drying you are too late.

My advice is, prep and practice a dry run so you do not have any excess to wipe up and use a black Super Weathership to match the gasket. It's tricky business because if you skimp on the sealant it will not hold your gasket in place. But if you use too much you will make a terrible mess that can't be 100% cleaned up.
I am not happy with the outcome of mine. My error was in the lack of prep. It could have been a cleaner job. I had to go back a second time and reapply sealant to a couple spots.

I usually use 3m Super WeatherStrip and I have a bias for that brand.

Note: I suspect that the absolute best way to do this is to purchase Super Weatherstrip Tape (made by 3M). It's double stick tape. Tape it to the gasket and cut the excess off. It will provide a cleaner and more consistent seal. This tape cost a lot more than the actual glue I used, but my glue job is just okay. The tape job would be perfect! There is also a 3m spray mount style adhesive that may also work extremely well. My mentor, Tom G., uses contact cement.

Broken fuel rod lever

It is rare that the metal fuel rod levers spin or come off the fuel rod. It is much more likely to happen to a plastic one.

I was so surprised when my brand new fuel rod lever came off the rod when I turned it. I wrote my mentor Tom G. about how to handle it. I suggested JB Weld.

Tom said:

Hi Jeremy. I've seen that happen with the new plastic fuel rods, but not (until now) with the all metal ones). I don't think JB is going to do the trick for this -- but I guess it is worth a try. If you do, you might want to slight rough up both surfaces to be joined with a dremel, to promote adhesion.

Another method, and a surer one I think would be drilling straight through the handle and rod to the other side, then tapping the hole, and screwing a small diameter machine screw right through. You might use an aluminum machine screw, and then cut off and peen the ends, and polish. Will probably look good, but quite a bit of work to salvage a not too expensive part.

At this point, I believe a replacement part is what is called for. I emailed the dealer, Gene M. of Scooters O (he's a really good guy), and he asked me to try JB Weld first. If not, he'd exchange it. He is also looking at his batch of fuel rods to ensure the rest are okay.

Note: Just graze it if you use a Dremel as I did loose the tight tight fit it had.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Fuel rod install

Before I could install the new fuel rod I needed to pinch the connection tabs.

You can see the gap here.  There is plenty of metal, and Gene M of Scooters O believed it would be safe enough to bend the metal.
I put the pin in place and cushioned the metal tabs with an old sock.
And pinched away.  I was able to fairly easily and with good control.
Unfortunately, both tabs did not bend.  Only one did.  I decided not to fuss with it, because the gap is closed and now locked around the clip and it will function correctly.
Since the bike has been stored I had a bit of oil in there to protect the tank from rust.  I used a little gasoline and flushed it all out.  When I turned the fuel rod lever nothing happened.  I removed the switch on the fuel valve and all look good.  I put it back together and turned it with a screw driver an off an on the fuel work.  The problem was the lever on the fuel rod.  It is held on by tension and spins around the rod.  I will use blue Locktite or JB Weld or Epoxy to lock it in place.  I just need to determine what product is best.

Fill the tank up with a little gas and tighten/loosen the two small screws on the petcock until the on/off lever can turn easily and gas does not leak.  You will need to find this perfect balance before putting the gas tank back in your bike.
The hardware for the gas tank and seat were pretty rusty.  I could easily replace it, but I like the idea of a few hidden parts to show the past and soul of the bike.  So I used some WD-40 and a wire brush and cleaned up the threads.  I used gasoline on the tougher spots.

Note the black tape holding that screw in place.  The nut on the underside came loose.  It's hard to work in there.  I may Locktite the nut in place or replace it.
To guide the fuel rod I use a long strand of black tape since the lever was off.  Easy install.  I still need to glue the lever on to the rod in the OFF POSITION and I will be good.

Paul B. left a great note in the comment field.  It is a good idea to install the fuel rod to frame cover (grommet) before sealing up the gas tank area as having access to both inside and outside the frame makes the job much much easier.  I had to cut my circle back to get it to fit and at the last pinch to install the grommet cover it fell inside my frame.  Of course!  Murphy's Law.  So I had to remove the seat and the gas tank to access it.  Every time I move a painted item,  no matter how careful I am, I run a high chance of a chip or a scratch.  I believe that is also Murphy's Law.

Once I have the lever glued on I can fire her up.

Progress is being made.  

Glove Box Door Install

Note the correct rivets for the hinges for the glove box door. I spoke with Mic at Scooter Shop an he often makes rivet hinges out of nails. I have been told that the P200 also uses rivets and the ends were bent so they don't slide out. I do not know this for fact, but decided to bend my rivet ends as opposed to cutting and rounding off. After all, unless you stick your head inside the glove box you won't see it ever.
I used a thick headed chisel to bend the softer rivets, but please note that needle nose pliers would have been a smarter and safer option if you choose this method. The reason is the hinge frames that is welded to the glove box inner is a solid surface and when I hammered down on the tip of the rivet it caused HARD vibrations to travel through the hinge frames. The metal of the glove box is thin and it caused "star" cracks in the paint. Which pissed me off, because I know how delicate paint is and had just completed installing the gas tank and tightened everything by hand and finished off with a screwdriver with ratchet attachment to protect the paint and not over correct. In the end, I was very careful beneath the seat (gas tank) and not careful enough on the visible glove box.

Pictured above is the completed glove box with the rubber trim to silence the glove box door from vibrating. I still need to glue that trim in place with a 3M adhesive. The secret is to use a lot less than you think you need.

Thanx to Max at ScooterWest for the $.90 cent rivets, the correct rear brake switch, and the glove box door trim.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Correct brake switch

Finally figured out the brake switch fiasco. I needed a grey gasket and switch for a non-batt bike. Note the one on the far left is correct. Size and plumbing is different on each of these. Even the part numbers are the same on two.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Parts in the mail & new scooter clothing business

In the usual part order fashion crap happens and hoops appear from no where for you jump through. I received the fuel rod from Scooters Origanli late last week. My brake switch, rivets for glove box door, and the foam trim for the glove box door should go out in Monday's mail. I want the bike running by June 1st and ready for AmeriVespa the July 4th weekend. We have our tickets.

Living in PA afforded us more disposable income than CA does and restoring my Lambretta TV175 S.3 so I have had to get clever with fundraising for my hobby:
I have started a micro business that sells shirts for infants through toddlers with applique scooter patches. I will be making some SS180 patches and other various Vespa models. If you're interested you can me out at GoGo510. Vespa shirts and patches will be available soon!

Pictured above is my son wearing a Lambretta Series 2 shirt I made for him.