This is the story of my '64 Vespa 150 - how it became mine and how it has given me a new vespatude.  I'll be recording the neat places I visit, the different things I do to make the Vespa my own, and - oh yeah - those reactions I get from both friends and strangers.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Sunday, December 25, 2005
Merry Christmas!
I won't be around to wish you all a Merry Christmas on Christmas Day, so here's Season's Greetings to you and yours during this holiday!

He's got lots of toys and goodies on his Vespa!
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Why have I not had an update?
If you are wondering why there have been no updates in a couple of days, here is why!

Greenville doesn't get snow. We get ICE. It freezes on the trees and the next thing you know you have limbs (and trees) falling all over the place and the power goes out. Our power went out Thursday morning. It came on late Friday evening.

I spent ALL day today cleaning up the all the debris. My back really hurts.

No work on the Vespa during that time. I was supposed to take the carb over to Mike the Vespa Yoda so he could rebuild it for me. Problem is, his home and shop are without power -- still. He is hoping to get it from a super secret location where I am leaving it before heading out of town. When I get back, he will be in Oregon. So, I'll retrieve the carb from the super secret location and put the scoot back together.

Oh, yeah, my rectifier also came in today. I have no idea what to do with it. It is a five point rectifier. I know I am only supposed to use three of the posts, but I'm not exactly sure which ones to use.

Regardless, it doesn't look like I will get to complete this project in 2005. I'll have to make the scoot a reality in 2006.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Got fuel, now what?
This morning I am trying to get this post up before I lose power. We are having that "wintery mix" that we get here. It coats the trees and everything with sheets of ice. Already my UPS has kicked in three or four times. Boy! Am I ever glad I got DSL and left cable. The cable is down... The DSL is up.

Anyway, I got my fuel tap and fuel tap wrench yesterday. You can see the new fuel tap beside the old one in the picture below. You can see the breather tube and filter are missing from the old one.

Getting the tap out was a breeze, but when I went to put the new one in I could not get the wrench to fit around the nut because the filter was in the way. I wrestled and wrestled with it. Finally, I took some of the bend out the the wrench shaft and viola! I had it done in no time.

The above picture shows what happens when you don't have a filter. The little arrow is pointing to some kludge that found its way into the tap bowl. What you can't see is that some of that stuff was also in the little ports you see there. Now it is clean and we have free flowing fuel.

This is the craziest thing I have done when working on my scooter. Earlier when trying to get this rubber connected from the frame to the carb, I nearly lost my sanctification! The rubber was sort of rigid and just did not want to stretch around the connection areas. Mike told me to boil it. Boil it? Yep. Boiling the rubber made it more pliable and while it was still no fun, it certainly was easier to get it connected.

So, what happened? Same things. Here is the process:

1. Pull out choke and hold it open
2. Kick start
3. Engine starts on first kick nearly every time
4. Let it idle with choke open
5. Push choke in
6. Engine idles for maybe five seconds with no change
7. RPMs begin to increase and then engine dies

Note: if you increase the throttle at any point in the above sequence, the engine dies with a sputter. You've got to think it is fuel flow or carb related.

I don't think I am going to get this thing running before I leave for Christmas. Oh, well, I can make getting it to run my New Year's resolution.
Monday, December 12, 2005
Maybe I'll change the scoot's name to Delay
The Vespa and I are having issues.

I can say I am quite proud of the job I did on the engine rebuild. Even the electrical stuff I can say I have done well. It is all looking and operating just fine.

The big problem is that I keep discovering new problems.

Saturday after much struggle, I had the engine back in the bike and all the electrical hooked up. I wheeled the bike out of my basement garage and up to the driveway. It was a beautiful day and I had the excitement building that maybe, just maybe, I would be able to ride.

The engine started on my fourth kick. Alright!

I even drove the bike out onto my neighborhood streets. I shifted through all the gears. The wind was blowing through what hair I have left. The acceleration was crisp and I felt that "scooter glide" that people talk about.

Then something happened. The bike began to bog. I had to limp it slowly back home. What could it be?

I went to and asked there. I talked with Mike, my Vespa Yoda. Everything seemed to point to the fuel line. This was one part of the bike I had not messed with up to this point. So, tonight, I dived in. What I found was another problem.

Here I am prepping to take the tank out. The seat and pad is removed. You can see the fuel line hanging out by the cylinder shroud with a bolt stuck in the end of it. That was the first sign that something was wrong. Even with the fuel tap turned off, I was still getting fuel.

In this picture, you see the fuel line that most of us thought might be the problem. Regardless, it was a problem because it was a tad too short and was made of a different kind of rubber than an American made fuel line. It needed to be replaced.

Here I am prepping to put the tank back in. The yellow cord is a piece of wire that I use to help guide the fuel valve switch through the hole in the frame. It can be a real pain! You can also see the nice new black fuel line in this picture. However, it was at this time I found the next problem.

As I moved the tank into position, I heard something rattling inside the tank. "What on earth," I thought. I opened the tank and took a look inside. Through the haze of the gasoline I saw what looked like a copper tube and a filter laying on the bottom of the tank. When I shook the tank, they both moved. That wasn't right.

So, I drained the tank and pulled the errant pieces out. I also looked at the top of the fuel tap and noticed that there were little paper thin pieces of something down in the hole where the filter and tube should have been. It appears they are pieces of paint that came from around the edge of the lid of the tank. My Indonesian friends must have put gas in the tank too soon after the paint job.

Now, I am doing what I have learned to do a lot with this bike. Wait. I have to call in to order a new fuel tap and ask them to ship it to me overnight. Then I will have to borrow a tool from Mike to get the fuel tap nut out of the tank. Once I've done that, the fuel tank issue will be done.

Only one last part of the entire bike I have not taken apart and gone into... the carburator. I hope it doesn't come to that. Maybe just one part of the bike will be problem free!
Friday, December 09, 2005
Here is another comment I received:
What about the South Carolina registration required for all motor vehicles with > 50 cc engines?
This is true. Any two wheeled vehicle with an engine over 50cc must be registered. I purchased the scooter knowing that it was going to mean treating it like a car... insurance, title, registration, TAXES...

I have all the paperwork necessary to go forward with the registration. However, I don't plan to do so until I get the thing running. No use paying the fees when I can't even enjoy it! My plan is to get the thing running before I leave to go on vacation. When I get back I will finalize the paperwork and get my plate.

The final stage at that point will be to get the "quick release" mechanism designed and built before spring. When spring gets here, I can then start really enjoying the little scoot!

Thanks to the annonymous commenter for attempting to be my conscience. Don't worry, I'm a step ahead of you.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
This thing has got me whipped!
I'm too tired to comment much tonight. All I can say is that I finally have the engine mounted back on the bike. Now for the hard part...

I have to get the wiring all squared away in the junction box. It is going to be hard because I chose to wire the bike with 16 gauge wire. That is pretty thick stuff and the junction box is pretty small. I also have to get the cables run correctly and adjusted. All of that kind of thing is stuff that drives me nuts!

The good news? It is mounted! It won't be long now. I think I will be able to start it up on Saturday!
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
A really close call!
I got the crank back from Ed yesterday. He machined the pin ring on the crank shaft. It fixed it and now the piston moves freely. However, he said that had I driven the scooter much longer it would have seized in a big way. Because the piston was not free to move, it was building a lot of friction in the cylinder head. You could see minors scars from the aluminum sticking to the cylinder walls. We took the engine apart none to soon!

Here I am putting the crank back in. I put the crank into the freezer for several hours. Then I took a heat gun and heated the metal around where the bearings would sit. Of course, the heat expanded the bearing seat and the cold constricted the crank. This allowed the crank to slide right in. Then as the warm metal cooled and the cold metal warmed, the crank became firmly seated.

Now, I just have some screws and bolts to replace -- the guys who rebuilt it messed some of the heads up. Once I can get those parts, it will just be a matter of getting the stator lined up correctly and buttoning up. We are getting very close folks!
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Do I regret it?
Here is a comment received here at
Have enjoyed following your saga and can't wait to spot you zipping around Greeville weaving between the Harleys and monster trucks.

Just curious-Do you regret your purchase since this has become a huge project? What do the wife, kids, family and co-workers say?
A good question.

I do not regret all aspects of the purchase. Part of owning a vintage vehicle of any kind is working on it. It is kind of like playing with Legos when you were a kid. You have the most fun building the project. Once it is all built it is only fun playing with it for a little while. Then you want to build something else. So, I do not regret the work I am doing - I have enjoyed it!

I do think I was kind of stupid to have purchased the bike from Indonesia. Really, when you make this kind of purchase, you should be able to inspect the bike. It turns out that with the work I am having to do, it did not save me that much money. Still, the body is in excellent condition and once the engine starts running a lot of that disappointment will disappear.

My coworkers think what they always think about me. They sit there and shake their heads. "What will he get himself into next?" Most folks think it is really neat - they just aren't that sure they would do the same thing. Overall I have been pleasantly surprised with the response I have gotten from both friends and family.

The kids just want to ride in that sidecar!
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Quick work
I got home from church tonight and after getting the kids in bed, I just couldn't stay away from the new parts that came in yesterday. It only took a couple of minutes, so I'll be able to get some other things done before I hit the sack. Here is what I accomplished:

This was the more important job. I took a heat gun and heated up the case around the rear axle area until it was hot to touch. Then I took the new rear seal (it is the one installed in the picture above) and gently tapped it into position. You can't tell from this picture but the old seal (the one to the left axle) is torn. When they put the rear wheel assembly on the axle they did not seat it correctly, so it kind of smashed the seal and allowed oil to come out on the brakes. Can you say, "Not good"?

Here is the new chrome leg shield trim I ordered. This is really scary stuff to work with because it is very stiff and you have to slowly force it onto the legshield. If it doesn't go on straight, oops! You just scraped your leg shield! Thankfully, I got it on without doing that (though it was already scratched from when the old ones had been put on). I really would prefer not to have the trim, but then the old scratches would be visible.

This is all I can do for now. I have to wait to get my crank back. Then I will assemble the engine and get the timing set. At that point, I will get it back in the bike and give the old kick start a try...
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Headlamps and needle bearings
No, I have not forgotten about The problem is that nothing has been happening...that is until today. First, the headlamp conversion and then the final report on what the engine needs before we can put it back together.

You can see the results of my conversion in the photos above. I tried all kinds of things to get a smaller bulb to work in the base of the original bulb. Then at, I read about a conversion that uses a typical car headlamp bulb. I was a little disappointed at first because the bulb ballast that I have was not the same he started with. So, I would not be able to follow his example exactly.

Turns out, it was even easier for my ballast. The base of the bulb fit perfectly into the ballast. I was then able to connect the wires for the ground, high-beam and low-beam and then secure the clip on the opposite side of the ballast than the original setup. Now all I need is a larger battery to test it.

The engine

Mike came by this morning and took a look at the disassembled engine. He pointed out to me the marks to show that the engine had actually blown up at some point. It wasn't a pretty job they did putting it back together, but it was good enough. The major problems were two:

1. the rear seal. I already have that on order and it should come next week. That should be pretty easy.

2. the crank. There is a pin that goes through the piston to hold it onto the crank shaft. This pin sits inside a ring of needle bearings. The needle bearing held the pin too snug, so the movement is not as good as free as it should be. Ed Johnson is going to machine the shaft hole so that it will release some of the pressure on the needle bearings.

I'm afraid the day will come when I will have to put a new engine in the bike. Maybe a year or so from now, I can upgrade to a 200cc engine. That would probably be the best way to go anyway because of the sidecar.

Getting ever closer... could this be the week?


August 2005  
September 2005  
October 2005  
November 2005  
December 2005  
January 2006  
February 2006  
March 2006  
April 2006  
May 2006  
June 2006  
July 2006  
August 2006  
September 2006  
October 2006