Zoeken in deze blog

maandag 30 december 2019

Laying out the plan

Now this is going to  be a very long plan influenced by many factors, of which some are not even Vespa related.

So step one: buy the Vespa.
Checked, bought a Vespa, now that was easy.

Step two: decide on the desired project outcome.
This was also clear from the beginning, we want to end up with an original looking Vespa Faro Basso with an original running engine, mechanically sound and if possible with as much of the original paint that is still there underneath the white.
However next to that I want a fully tricked out engine that gives the old lady the much needed power to be able to handle modern day traffic.

Step three: collect all the parts.
We have all the revision parts for the original engine which we will try to get running and will then safely put away.
We have a donor engine (of which we will only use the casings and the gears).

We have all the steroid parts from Pinasco, cylinder, exhaust, gear, clutch, carburettor and ignition.
We have all the parts to compete the Vespa body, saddle, new handlebar, new logo, all the rubbers etc.
Step four: create a work space.
This one will take a bit longer, I need to finish the renovation of my house, so I can empty out the garage and the shed (filled with stuff for the house right now), then we can redo the shed to become a work place.
But, we will need a proper motorcycle lift to place the Vespa on, this is still pending. I might consider making one myself actually (to be continued).

Step four: take the Vespa apart and start doing the body work.

Step five: get the original engine running and for this I would like to have an engine mount, again a DIY project.

Step six: make the souped up steroid engine.
Step seven: assembly!

Sounds so easy, right!?


vrijdag 20 december 2019

Convention time

Last weekend was the Central Classics Motorcycle convention in Houten. A great opportunity to see some great vehicles, scourge for unique parts and get some deals on tools. So my mate, my father and myself set of on windy Saturday morning to Houten (near Utrecht).

You always go to the conventions in the hope to find something unique and boy, did we! I know of the existence of this scooter and it had always intrigued me, but it was great to see on in real life: a Vyatka Vespa Copy! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vyatka_(motor_scooter)

I was very much tempted to buy this scooter and we were offered a great price, but… I still have the old lady waiting for some TLC, a house to renovate and some sculpts to produce, so I can’t really take on another project. The Vespa wannabe had great patina, and the engine was alive, it would have been a great quick and dirty get it back on the road ASAP kind of resto project. Some pics:

We also saw some great cafe racers (also on my to do list) and other vehicles like this calssic Guzzi scooter.

Another little gem we found was a Peugeot S57B scooter. A really lovely chain driven 125cc low rider. Still looks like a really nice base for a scooter hot-rod, but unfortunately prices are already very steep. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peugeot_Motocycles 

And in the tradition of the Vespa, the Mini, the VW Beetle and the Fiat500, also Peugeot has issued a retro look version of this scooter, the Django! Nice for the Tupperware lovers.

We also managed to pick up some crucial tank repair and treatment materials, but we didn’t find any interesting parts there. The stuff we bought will first get rid of the rust in the tank and then cover it in a good layer of fuel proof epoxy.

woensdag 18 december 2019

Partly there

So, now that the plan of approach has been made it’s time to collect all the required parts. We basically have three categories:

·      -   Replacement parts (broken or missing parts)
·      -  Upgrade parts (better than the old)
·      -  Running parts (gaskets, seals etc.)

First trip me and my mate made was to Maskes (www.maskes.nl), a big oldtimer Vespa restoration and parts company. My purpose was to source most of the running parts and get some first hand tuning advice. Running parts aren’t the most interesting to buy, they will be placed mostly out of sight and just serve a single purpose: keep the Vespa running.

Maskes is located in an old leather tannery, a beautiful old industrial building. Inside they have a huge workshop, a full floor designated for displaying Vespa gems and a floor with old parts which they collected over the years.

The owner always lets us wander about a bit, so we just took everything in. First time I came to Maskes must more than 10 years ago, but I still manage to find things that I haven’t seen in previous vists. He has a couple beautiful Faro Basso’s standing around including a Sei Giorni replica (more info on Sei Giorni her: https://www.piaggiogroup.com/en/archive/press/vespa-sei-giorni-origins-legend), and I believe at least three SS90 Vespa’s (more info here: https://silodrome.com/vespa-ss90/), or maybe even one or two of them are original…

(most of the above pictures courtesy of my friends girlfriend)

Now for the parts, we bought oil seals, gaskets gaskets and more gaskets, oil, teflon cabels and more assorted stuff. The one replacement part we bought was a legshield Vespa logo that was missing, not the original, not the best possible replica, but the cheapest one, because I still have hope I will find an original one day!
I also already bought some replacement parts. I did some more sourcing on the German Ebay and picked up a true gem there, a replacement complete ‘lenker’, otherwise known as a handle bar or a steer. This is from an original Vespa VM1T Faro Basso and was re-chromed to look absolutely new.

On the Italian Ebay I managed to find a good quality Vespa VM1T rear light, for about half of what the major shops are asking for it. The old lady has a non-standard rear light currently, which incorporates the Italian number plate, it looks nice enough but I want it back to original.

I am waiting for a huge list of upgrades parts from Maskes, basically all I need to start giving the old lady that souped up pacemaker to make that old heart pump like the heart of teenager who sees their crush walking by in the school hallway.

And I ordered a whole lot of additional running parts from an Italian web shop to have everything at the ready when we start the surgery, you don’t want to be without needle and thread when you have to start stitching things up. So more gaskets, rubber parts, springs, bolts, clamps etc.

The bill is already running up, lets just say that we are close to investing around 7000€ in this project... Oh and I have some old parts coming from Germany, suspension, cooling cowl fly wheel protector etc. Good thing I don't have a wife at the moment or I'd be dead (and the fiancĂ© is out of the country)!

dinsdag 17 december 2019

Splitting hairs

So we now have the old lady safely stowed away. And an ACMA Vespa engine ready for surgery. But why did you buy that second engine, I  hear you ask? Well that is because we are not only going to breath back life into this old lady, we are doing something else. A facelift is not the right metaphor here, it’s more like we are going to give her a souped up pacemaker, load her up on doping and get her ready to run the quarter mile at the next Olympics.

What’s that, you say, yes in short we are using the donor ACMA Vespa engine to tune it up to more than twice (close to thrice (is that even a word?)) the HP! The original VESPA engine we will keep nice and standard and tuck away somewhere dry and dark.

Now back to the surgery, long story short, so... I live with my parents... No I am not otherwise homeless, it's just that after I returned from Abu Dhabi (see post 1) I bought a house that I am still renovating. Now why is this relevant you ask, well since space is sparse in my parents house I'm performing this surgery on an area the size of an A4 sheet of paper. And yes I would like some brownie points for that.

The area I have available is a small cluttered table in the attic. Below picture shows basically what we will need to do to Vespa engine block:

First step, take off the cylinder head. This engine has it cylinder attached with three bolts opposed to all newer Vespa's that have four bolts. Unscrewing these bolts went smooth enough, quick inspection shows the head and the cylinder itself are in decent nick, no scratches, no strange discoloration, so prospects are good!

Next we take off the entire cylinder so we can inspect the piston proberly. This requires a little bit of wiggeling because you have to slide the cylinder sleeve out of the casing, but again smooth sailing. Even the piston was in great nick, no cracks or scratches (too bad it's not going te be used anymore).

On the above picture we can clearly see the two channels. I'm no expert by any means but the channels make it possible to tune this engine as opposed to one transfer port version. I believe this engine block has two channels for better release of, and intake of air. This gif shows the process.


Now we started taking off the flywheel. This was little bit more cumbersome without the right tools but we managed. Actually one fin of the flywheel was already broken off probably from past attempts to remove the flywheel while blocking it with a screwdriver against the engine casing. Bloody babarians...

Now underneath the flywheel we will find the ignition plate that holds the coils, condensator and the contact points, basically everything we need to create a spark to ignite the fuel mixture in the cylinder (and generate power for the lights and horn). But, we don't or we didn't.

Two coils are missing on the statorplate which I believe are the coils that provide the power to the lights etc. But this makes the decision to upgrade from a 6v magnetic to a 12volt electrical system easy. 12 volts it will be.

Next splitting the casings (we had to remove some other bits and bobs, clutch cover, flywheel cover etc.). I wasn't expecting this to be easy since the casings had been stuck together for quite a many year. But with some gentle wiggling and some subtle nudges with a huge hammer, it began to move.

Victory! The insides look quite ok, the gears are in good nick, no cracks in the casing and there were no pieces of metal lying around nromally indicating breakage and wear and tear. The bearings sound a bit crunchy so they will need replacement. Then the last issue arose, I couldn't get the axle out from the case. Some googeling and some advice from vespaforum.be eventually, basically led to me banging on it till it released. Voila, full split!

I then proceeded taking out all the inner parts, the gears and cogs used for drive train. Also i removed the gear selector and the clutch. The clutch plates were really cooked together with old oil and bad repairs (it looks like someone put some dots of silicon on the plates or something). But that will need a full replacement anyways.

Now the plan:
-Replace the standard 125 cylinder and piston with a Pinasco 160cc set (bigger combustion chamber)
-Replace the standard 19mm carburettor with a 22mm Pinasco (more fuel and air)
-Replace the 45mm cranckshaft with a 47mm (longer stroke for the longer cylinder)
-Replace the 6v ignition with a more stable 12v Flytech (more stable spark)
-Replace the clutch and a primary wheel with a Pinasco set (better traction to deal with the power increase)
-Replace the exhaust (better release of increased fumes).

I have worked on Vespa engines before, I did oils seal replacements, replaced some bearings, changed gaskets and fiddled about with cylinders and pistons, but a complete rebuild like this is new to me, but I am looking forward to it!

In the beginning...

So another Blog and a first post.

Next to my hobby of collecting, painting and sculpting miniatures (https://evillittlebuggers.blogspot.com/) I also am a huge Vespa enthusiast. Recently I embarked on a quest for my personal Vespa Holy Grail. This blog is dedicated to that quest.

Ever since I was infected with the Vespa Virus back in October 2007, while on my honeymoon in Rome, I have been buying, restoring and driving old Vespa's. I started with a 1971 50cc Vespa 50n (which I still own), then a 125cc Vespa VNB from I believe 1961 (which I sold), then a 1981 55cc Vespa special (which I sold), then a 1991 150cc Bajaj (which I sold), then another 1983 Vespa special (which I sold) and then a 1958 125cc Motovespa (which I still own).

So that's a nice selection of small, large and wideframe Vespa's I have had to pleasure to play around with (this site answers all your frame size questions: https://www.scooterhelp.com/).

Starting from the first restoration project I have always done these project with a long time personal friend and many of the projects listed above we embarked on together. He is also part of this saga for the holy grail.

My Vespa addiction was on a hold for 7 years while  I was away for work living in Abu Dhabi, so when I returned this October I had to get my fix, and why not do it properly.

The mother of all Vespa's is the 1946 98cc Faro Basso (Low Lamp), this was the first production Vespa ever made (started with the Paperino prototype). But (yes there is a but) the first properly updated and road worthy Vespa came out in 1952, this was the VM1T. This model was almost identical to the 98 (different side engine cowl, no ridge in the frame and some other optical differences) but with one huge difference, a 2 channel engine block, significantly improving the performance of the machine!

This is my holy grail!

I came close with my 125cc Motovespa which has all the same features, except the lamp is attached to the steer instead of the front fender, and some other small details.

Now living in the Netherlands this Vespa is elusive. Here we drive 50cc scooters, because back in the day for anything above 50cc you needed an expensive driving licence while 50cc you could drive without. Hence, almost all old Vespa's here are 50cc. However for some reason Germany is a different story.

By chance I stumbled upon the German ebay site and there I found a treasure-trove of available Faro Basso's as opposed to the zero you will find in the Netherlands. Many of these were fully restored but that is not what i wanted, I wanted a doable resto project, which I found (for a decent price) in Schollbrunn. So of we went (me and my long time Vespa buddy).  Well, went... not quite yet...

It was a Scheisse long drive from the Netherlands, 5 to 6 hours. So we needed to make preparations, find transportation, accommodation, financing (the 'decent price' part is relative), etc. And then, off we went!

We departed on a cold Saturday morning in an emptied out VW Passat station wagon (confident it would fit a scooter, since we managed to transport a Vespa special in a Focus hatchback once!) and headed for a hotel in the German Mountains!

This is me, on the way, freezing my balls off during a smoking brake.
I had a little surprise for my mate, an unannounced stopover in another small village in Germany, just over the border. So after about three hours of driving we arrived at a location, in the middle of an Industrial area, where I had arranged to pick up a spare engine block. Now driving there, in that deserted industrial area, I was having doubts; are we even going to get out alive or will we be killed, mugged and our bodies dumped, in any order of preference with absolutely no witnesses...

Luckily it all turned out alright. We found the fellow selling a 1954 ACMA engine (ACMA was a licensed France Vespa producer: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ACMA), comparable to the original VM1T engine (2 ports!). But we found a lot more, this guy had a whole warehouse dedicated to anything motorized, it was amazing, this wasn't a man-cave it was a man-mountain! Unfortunately he wouldn't let me take any pictures, which I understand seeing the value of the things there. We had a great (much longer than anticipated) time there chatting with this amazing fellow about oilcans, motorized tandems, scooters, cars and for some reasons also shoes...

We packed up the engine block and went our way to the hotel, or better yet: Gasthoff. We arrived much later than planned but were welcomed at the Gasthoff Zum Ross. We were glad to see the room indeed had two separate beds. We had a quick dinner and a pint and went of to bed, ready for an early morning the next day.

After a pleasant night of us keeping each other awake with our snoring, we had breakfast and went the last yard! But this last yard was an uphill battle, but then literally, the location we needed to be was on top of a freaking mountain.

But we (the Passat actually) made it up the mountain and we started looking for the address, which turned out to be a really nice, cosy Gasthoff. So we could have basically slept at the place that had the Vespa for sale!

We met the seller, again another great and interesting guy (but aren't all Vespa enthusiasts like that). Had a look around his shed, which housed some other nice Vespa gems, and sealed the deal (he even threw in a free swing arm!). I parted with a significant wad of cash (ouch) and we started to load up the old Granny (the Italians call the wideframe Vespa's 'Nonna's', because... old, big butt and slow, subtle amiright)...

As expected she fit perfectly!
And off we went, back to the Dutch mountains! The view driving down the mountain was amazing, one moment you're in a forest the next you're driving past a huge industrial site. And the Germans have great number plates!

So that's the end of part one, me and my mate brought the old lady home and she is now patiently waiting in a shed to be stripped!

Hmmm, if someone reads that last line without context.....