Friday, December 31, 2010

Disassembly Tip (update)


When disassembling your bike print out an extra parts catalog with diagrams. You may need multiple copies of some pages. Use a ziplock to hold your parts and with highlighter mark the parts you have in the bag. Then put the diagram in the bag. Use zip ties to hold the "order" of the parts in place. Leave the zip tie loose enough so you can clean the parts.

Now inspect your parts and use a different color maker to label "replace" for parts that need replacing.

This will make reassembly easier.

Special thanks to Hiro who gave me a similar idea (and Hiro credited it to Tom G.).

Flywheel Removal

Paul S.'s advice worked like a charm:

"If you have an impact wrench, you can just hold the flywheel with your hand while you hit the nut with the impact power. If you don't have an impact wrench, you need to have some sort of flywheel holder. If nothing else, wedge a screwdriver in between the flywheel fins and the case. Make sure it is snug (i.e. no play), and then use your ratchet on the nut.

It pulls on the circlip which is in a notch in the flywheel. Make extra sure that the circlip is set perfectly in the flywheel before you start. Also, I like to hit the nut with the impact just a touch to loosen it up. Then, loosen the nut with your ratchet by hand until it snugs up against the circlip. Then finally give it another blast with the impact. I do this because it is easy to blast away with the impact and blow out the circip. The Vespa system is pretty hokey, and if the circlip isn't perfect, it pops right out of the flywheel. When it pops out, it can damage the notch in the flywheel that it rides in. If that gets worn out, and won't hold the circlip, it is a real beyotch to get the flywheel off. "

I wrenched by hand the the nut against the circlip between taps with my copper hammer.

Bearing update -- danger gray market

Since working on the TV175 I have learned a lot about bearings, because I am rebuilding the engine. This info is very important for all scooter owners.

Read about gray market bearings and what to avoid here.

Vapor Blasting

I have priced out soda blasting, walnut shell blasting, and the works and for my Lambretta I decided on vapor blasting. I won't go into a long explanation, but I will keep it simple. Vapor blasting is equal in price, is best on your metals, and looks better than anything else in my opinion.

Check out Peter at Mods & Rockers and you won't be sorry.

I will post pictures of my Lammy when Peter's done on the sister blog. I am having my cases, carb, etc. done.

Resource DVD

Folks I have used the following DVD to help me rebuild my Lambretta TV175 S3 engine and it was worth every cent. I felt like it was the second engine I was working on even though it was my first. I played the movie on my Mac because it is formatted for Europe. I highly recommend picking up the Vespa DVDs (especially the engine one) if you are a newbie/novice to wrenching on bikes.

Click on Scooter Techniques. It's totally worth it.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Preparing to remove the cush drive

I popped the clutch back in the bike yesterday and went for a ride just to test the grinding sound one last time. It was there. What a shame to split the cases on a bike that has less than 18 miles on a full engine rebuild. Feels like a sin. Or maybe the sin is the cush drive was not rebuilt prior to assembling the motor.

I wrote my mentor Tom G. about splitting the cases and asked what short cuts I could take safely and his response was:

"You can do this work with the engine in the bike. Technically, you don't even have to remove the stator entirely either (you do have to unbolt it, so you can get at the engine nuts behind it though -- you just don't have to disconnect the wires from the junction block, or pull them through the housing. Be sure to mark the position of the stator plate so you don't have to re-time the engine (and don't move the points either.

So -- pull the shrouds first. Then the flywheel. Then remove the exhaust, head and at least the two cylinder studs that screw into the flywheel side case half. Technically, you can then just slide the cylinder up a bit, and not remove it entirely, and not remove the piston either. Remove the gearshift box. Then you can remove the case nuts and bolts (remove the stator and use some wire to tie it up out of your way. The flywheel side case half should then slide right off. Be careful not to damage the cylinder base gasket. Replace the case gasket just in case. You will also have to remove the rear wheel, and hub, and when the case is open, drive out the rear axle and the gears. Only then can you remove the cush gear.

Good luck! - Tom

As you can see I have my work cut out for me.

Clean bill of health for the clutch

A while back Chris B. inspected the clutch. He:
1) first looked for any heavy wear -- there was none
2) then he inspected the clutch basket for shape and wear at the points the plates lock -- there was none
3) he plates the steel plates on a piece of glass to make sure there was no warping -- there was none
4) he stood all the springs up side by side to look at height equality and wear -- all was good
5) the cork plates are brand new

Overall the clutch looks in great condition and Chris B. believes the sound must be coming from the cush drive. So that is the next step.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

"I feel bad-ass," said Lisa.

I needed some good news, no matter how small after the clutch issue seems to be dragging out . . . so I had my wife, the owner of this VSC, ride it for the very first time -- now that I know everything is safe and tuned to operate correctly (minus clutch and lights). Her whole-hearted laugh and enjoyment of her bike has rejuvenated me and my desire to finish it (plus my Lambretta is waiting on me to restore him). I love that the Vespa is a first kick bike and is very strong! I also love that my wife, Lisa, loves her bike so much.

The clutch saga goes on

Today I brought in the big gun . . . Chris B. . . . a reputable Bay Area scooter mechanic, who work on several rare bikes. Chris B. came highly recommend from a few people for both his skills and being a good human being. He test rode the bike and was very happy with it overall, but he got really nit-picky and taught me a thing or two. I am grateful, because I will be better and faster at tuning-up my scooter because he mentored and trained me today.

The first thing he did was a nuts to bolts (exterior) check of the entire bike and told me to address the following items:

(1) Flip the fuel cock lever 180 degrees so it is installed correctly, which is 12 Pm is "on" and 9 PM is "reserve".
(2) The choke is sticking, which indicates the "R" clip on the inside of the frame is missing or is loose. Address that at the same time as the fuel cock lever.
(3) The air filter gasket is missing.
(4) The drain tube is missing from the air filter.
(5) Replace the air box lid seal.
(6) Add split washers to the gas tank and seat nuts.
(7) Oil dripping from rear hub area. Check the rear hub seal. Brake pads may be soaked in oil. Chris B. tested the brakes after adjusting cable and riding and the brake pads are not soaked in oil.
(8) Add a washer or two to seat pivot screw (which locks the seat) so it is tall enough to click and lock.
(9) Look for taller seat buffers so seat frame does not scratch paint on frame anymore.
(10) Too much free play for clutch lever. Should be approx. 10 mm. Chris B. and I fixed that today.
(11) Too much free play for rear brake and the adjustment cable extension is installed incorrectly. The loose nut needs to face outward for access. Chris B. and I fixed that today.
(12) Too much free play for front brake and the adjustment cable extension is installed incorrectly. The loose nut needs to face outward for access. Chris B. and I fixed that today.
(13) Tighten kick start lever bolt down hard to avoid any free play on shaft. Chris B. and I fixed today.
(14) The clutch cable is too loose so that even before the lever is released the gears are engaged and the bike moves forward. Chris B. and I fixed today.

Chris B. taught me a lot of tricks of the trade, such as using spark plug caps to provide enough space for the 3rd hand tool to work effectively along with his "narrow" Snap-on wrenches to tighten things up properly and with great ease and little effort. He also taught me how to use a tune the clutch so the shifter notches on the handle bars lined up 100% perfectly. Using painter's tape draw a straight line. Now put this tape on your the bottom of the clutch shifter so you can see it when you are on the ground -- tape with the line going across the handle bar and shifter. Now cut the tape. Put clutch in neutral. Use the two gear box cables to "re" align the lines on the tape so they are line up perfectly and viola!

I did not have Chris B. inspect the electrical issue today. His prognoses is that it is either the clutch or the cush drive that is making the grinding sound between neutral and first.

He believes that little to no harm is happening now while the bike is being ridden, but he also says it should not be making that sound.

His recommendation now is for me to remove the clutch and inspect the clutch in person. If anything is obviously wrong he will recommend I replace it. If not, then CRAP we're shooting in the dark and may just have to live with it or buy a new clutch and test it. If that's not it the engine cases will be split and the cush drive will be inspected and maybe replaced.

But again, overall Chris B. is happy with how the bike performs. She is peppy!

Back from the dead

Where have I been?
Short answer is . . . I was laid off, stressed, and looking for work all while focusing on my new born daughter, Piper, who will be 6-months-old this weekend. Two weeks ago I secured work and it is an improvement over my last high school (I'm a teacher).

Years before I met Paul S. he was giving me guidance and help with his scooter website, Scooter Lounge. I particularly liked his buyer's guide information. He is very knowledgeable and generous. I kid you not when I tell you he has given around 15 free hours of labor to this bike. This is the scooter community I have come to love and will continue to give to. Paul S. solved many problems, including:
(1) He resolved the grinding noise of the rear hub
(2) He discovered that the rear hub was not safely or correctly mounted on the axle
(3) He resolved the broken kill switch
(4) He resolved the steering column lock
(5) He removed and bench tested the clutch
. . . just to name a few.Above is a picture of Paul S. loading the scooter on to my friend's truck to come home. The electrical is in much better shape, but the rear brake light and headlight still do not work. I need to call fellow SS180 owner Krissy and have her to teach me how to resolve that issue. And finally, the clutch is still messed up. We could not resolve it.

* If you don't already either shop at or visit for information I can not recommend Scooter Lounge enough! My wife and I will forever be indebted to Paul S. for his generosity.

Next step is to have Chris B., a reputable mechanic who knows the VSC, test ride it and make recommendations.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Going no where and not in a rush

Waiting on some minor paint touch-up on a part at the moment. Clutch is still out and needs to be reinstalled and tested again. I am so hopeful that just soaking the clutch plates (remember the engine sat for over 1 year after rebuild and before running), but I also suspect that will not solve the problem. Paul is still storing the scoot and says that since he has never worked specifically on an SS180 motor he fears he is overlooking something on the clutch and therefore recommends I bring it in to First Kick Scooters and have them resolve the clutch issue. Paul suspects that I do not need to open the engine cases and go to the cush drive -- he believes the problem is the clutch and why open the cases until I confirm that. I agree.

Other news, I have a 9-week-old daughter now and received a pink slip for next year (I am a English teacher), which means I am focused as all hell to find work for next year.

Yesterday, I took my Bajaj Chetak to a local scoot rally:

I broke down. Fuel starvation. Thank God for a chase vehicle that day.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A thank you is due

Thursday night, the local SC, First & Last Chance Scooter Club, met for its monthly drink. Just like to scoots I am a relative newbie to the club as well. I struck up a conversation with two more experienced scooterists and restorers, Paul S & Dano. I started to go on about the great customer service I have received from some scooter shops. Paul, who has been in the scene for I'm guessing a couple decades, told me about the mod-revival days and the history of all the shops. In those days, you had a catalog and a phone number and called the shops for the parts and advice. Those shops were accustomed to holding their client's hands and walking them through the challenges the scooters offered the owners. That hit the nail on the head for me!

There are a few scooter shops who held my hand for hours via the phone and email and to be honest probably did not make enough money off of me for what they invested in me, but what I can tell you is their passion for vintage bikes lives through me and now the SS180 and at some point the TV175.

For the Vespa hand-holding I can not thank enough Alex, of Motorsport Scooters. He is a very knowledgeable resource and geniueningly cares about people. He is a lot of fun to speak with. David, of First Kick Scooters. David is the most calming person in the scooter culture I spoken with. He has researched on his own time to help me trouble shoot many issues and always came back to me with answers. He has taken great care of me. Mic, of ScooterShop, is another O'G, like Alex. He is a hoot to talk with and is also very knowledgeable. He moves at the speed of light in conversation. Danell, of Scooter Parts Direct also took very good care of me and even referred me to competitors when I was in a pinch for a part she did not have.

For the Lambretta hand-holding, a true O'G scooterist is Gene, of Scooters Originali. Overall I can only say great things about him. He continues to hold my hand which each and every step of my Lambretta restoration. He is also great with Vespas. Mark, of Jet200, is new to the shop scene, I believe, but other club members also love him. He is a very fair guy and works with you until you are happy.

There are other shops that I have had positive experiences with, but the ones listed above are the ones I frequented the most.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Attention diverted

My wife is due with our second child within the next 3-5 weeks and that's where my attention is. We have our hands full with Hudson Rogue, our 3-year-old boy, and soon I will need to be very available for him when my wife is caring for the infant. Gender unknown.

I am aware that the clutch video was too long for YouTube and Blogger, so I will look for alternative video sites at a later date. Paul will put the clutch back in the bike as soon as he can get to it. I also need to call a fellow SS180 owner to work out why my headlight is grounding out when in the socket. All the mean while, with every penny saved for projects, I am acquiring all the parts I need for my TV175 S3, but not really working on the bike.

I will be back!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Rebuild the clutch

The video below shows the final inspection/rebuild/bench test of the clutch. I will have it reinstalled in the SS180 and test ride the bike. If the issue is not resolved, then the bike will come home from Paul S's house and I will brainstorm from there . . . whether I buy a SIP VSC clutch or drop the motor, open the cases, and inspect the cush drive.