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?

Monday, May 29, 2006
The trials of Heebie the Vespa
Well, it will be a while before I will be posting about my latest ride on Heebie. Something drastic has happened to the scooter and I'm afraid to find out what it is. To compound the problem, this week doesn't give me much time to dig into the issue.

I think my problems are on two fronts that I believe go back to a common event. Last post I talked about the throttle issue I had. That is now corrected, but while working stalled on the side of the road, I pushed the bike up on the curb. When I got it running (temporarily) I dropped off the curb rather abruptly. At that point, I started having new problems pop up.

First, the timing seemed to have gotten knocked off. The couple of times I did get the bike to start, I got some major backfiring. Yesterday, I took the flywheel off and took a look at the stator. It appears that one of screws got jarred loose and the stator doesn't sit exactly right. That could be part of the cause for the backfiring.

Second, and more of a worry, the bike has some mechanical popping sounds that show up when I push the bike (in neutral). At first it only happened when I was sitting on the bike. Now it happens at anytime I push the bike forward (it doesn't seem to happen when I push it backward).

I can't help but think that when I came off that curb, it broke something. At first I thought it was the frame because the popping only came when sat on the bike. It also caused a vibration that I could feel.

What to do? I just can't afford a new engine right now - though ultimately, that is what it is going to take.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Oh, am I ever sore!
Yesterday I removed the side car from the Vespa. The 150 just can't pull the thing up and down the hills here in Greenville. After getting it off, I decided to go for a ride to my church.

It is located in the nearby town of Greer. I get there by driving down Wade Hampton Blvd. to South Suber Road. On the way back, I typically try a different route that takes me down Brushy Creek and East North Street.

The blue line shows the route of my trip over Paris Mountain. Click here to expand the map. The bubbles are different locations that figure into my Vespa chronicles.

Leaving the church and riding down Suber Road (check out the bubble closest to Greer), I noticed I just was putting along with hardly any speed at all. Then on Brushy Creek it started to get down right dangerous. I was going to get run over if I didn't get more speed.

I pulled over to see what was up. I found that the throttle cable was loose in the carb box. I tightened it up some and YES there was the power I was missing. Maybe the bike could pull that side car after all. I made it to the YMCA on Brushy Creek before the bike just quit on me.

It appears that I must have over tightened the cable and it broke up in the headset. You guessed it. I had forgotten to put my extra cables in the glove box. Now I had to figure out a way to get it going again.

I thought I had something worked out. I took the cable fastener out of the carb box and used it to hold the cable in place in the head set. I then "tied" the cable to the throttle arm in the carb box. This did give me a small amount of throttle control, but I couldn't seem to get the bike to run very long. It would run a couple of feet and then stall out - I would get multiple backfires and then it stopped. Finally, I couldn't get it to run at all!

Add to this that I had pulled the bike up on the curb to do some of this work. When I got it running and came off the curb, I must have messed something up (I am hoping I did not crack the frame!) and when I sat on the bike it made very odd sounds. Almost like it was dragging the kick stand under the scooter. I even checked that.

The bottom line is that I had to push the bike from Howell Road to my house. If you have ever gone down East North Street you would understand that is not very fun. This morning I am VERY sore. Not to mention that I am concerned about what might have happened to Heebie.

The was a silver lining. As I was walking the bike along, I came to an intersection and I heard from one of the stopped cars, "Nice, 'scoo tah'!" It was that accent that you hear from Britishers who have lived in the States long enough to pervert there Queen's English. They asked me what was wrong and then told me that they had scooters as well. I can't remember what the one was, but I do remember they said they had a 63' GS. I gave them my name and they said they would look me up in the phone book. Maybe we could get together for a ride.

That is if I can get Heebie running again...
Saturday, May 27, 2006
Hail stones and Vespa
The other day I decided to go around Greenville and take some pictures of the city for a new employee orientation session that I am in charge of at the University. I thought it would be nice to use the Vespa as my mode of transportation.

While in Cleveland Park, the wind started to pick up. You can't see it too well in the above photo, but to the left there is a front moving in with some pretty dark clouds. I knew we would be in for a big one.

By the time I made it back to the scooter from taking pictures of the Zoo, the wind was kicking up so much dust that it was going around my glasses and getting into my eyes. It made it pretty hard to see. As got out on the road heading for home, I had to dodge a branch that fell.

Here is where I wished I had not put the sidecar back on. With my 150 cc engine, you have a really hard time getting up hills - it isn't exactly great on flat ground either! It was pretty slow going as I watched the storm get closer and closer.

Just as I got near my home, huge rain drops began to fall. I could hear them splattering on my helmet. I pulled in, jumped off and went inside and the bottom let out! Not only did rain start pouring down, but hail stones started bouncing all around. One minute more and I would have had more than rain drops bouncing off my head!
Friday, May 26, 2006
A Vespa gets some TLC
Here are some pictures from Trace in New York. These are neat because they show a good example of "before and after." The first picture is of a 1966 VBB that Trace's dad bought new while in the Congo. It sat on a porch for fifteen years before Trace got a hold of it.

When he did rescue it from the porch, this is what he did with it...


I'll put up a couple more pics from Trace a little later. Remember, if you have some pictures of your favorite scooter - and better yet, a story about your experiences with that bike - I'd love to feature them here. Just email me.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Can't cover up this problem
How do I deal with the selector box cover? I have tried in the past cutting the cables so that no cables are visible. Of course, that makes the cables end up wanting to fray and makes it hard to adjust later on - plus I never could seem to get them cut short enough. Then I tried drilling small holes in the cover to allow the cables to maintain their length while still covering the selector mechanism.

The problem I am facing is that it seems like no matter what I do, putting the cover on the selector box binds the mechanism so that it makes it hard to shift. As soon as I remove the cover, the pressure goes away. I have greased down the selector and things are as they should be the best I can tell.

What do you all do about this? Do you have some trick that helps this? Am I the only one who has this problem?
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
There's another Vespatude - of sorts...
I got an email from Ron over at Memphis Scooters, LLC. letting me know they have their own vespatude section of their site. I had seen the Memphis Scooter site before but never noticed the Vespatudes and MP3 links.

Now, those crazy scooter folks in Memphis might not share my political views but they sure have an interesting web site. I guess just about anybody can have a vespatude.

Thankfully the email wasn't some sort of trademark infringement communication!
Monday, May 22, 2006
A week without Vespa
I'm back. Last week I was on vacation to Fripp Island off the coast of South Carolina. The family had a lot of fun. Heebie stayed here in Greenville. The first chance I got, I hopped on the bike and started it up. After sitting for a week, it started up on the third kick. I'm going to drive it to work this morning.

There were a number of scooters on the Island - only they were all these little Elite moped type scooters. You could rent them during your stay. Most people on the Island preferred golf carts to scooters. My family used bicycles.

But that's not all...

Saturday, after driving up from Fripp, I hopped in a car with a friend and headed up to Charlotte to attend the NASCAR All Star race. It was loads of fun. I kept my eyes open and even found some scooters there as well. This is a picture of a YAMAHA scooter - looks like it is probably a 50 cc type. There were two of them with the NASCAR logo on them. I also saw them during the race along the pits.

Now that I'm back I'll get to my email and stuff. Vespatude should begin to get some updates now.
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Why the Vespa didn't run
I forgot to say why the clutch wasn't working. The actuator pad was the wrong one. It would not go flush with the hole. It was sticking out and would not recess. It clearly was not a VBB actuator.

So, I took it and machined it down until it fit correctly. Now it does recess and with a few adjustments to the cable, I am able to use my clutch just fine. Sure beats running to get the thing started without jerking into first gear!
Friday, May 12, 2006
The Vespa is running!
YES! YES! YES! Heebie is running and while I still have to play around with the gears a bit, the only thing that doesn't seem to be working right now is the speedo. I'm not worried about breaking the speed limit right now, so that isn't that big of a deal.

Once I got the bike running okay, I headed out on the road. I went through Cleveland Park, by County Square and then around to the West End Field. What a night! As I neared the field, the game was just getting underway. It is a beautiful stadium! I drove around the stadium and then turned onto Main Street. As I did so, I saw a HUGE full moon above the stadium. Man, I wish I had thought to bring my camera!

I then drove down Main Street into the heart of the city. If I got a few looks with my Vespa on a normal ride, I got loads of them tonight because I have the side car reattached. Almost everyone I rode by took a look. Some faces seemed to say, "What is that?" Some indicated, "That is cool!" I didn't see a single look that told me, "What a joke!"

The blue line shows the route. Click here to expand the map. The bubbles are different locations that figure into my Vespa chronicles.

I thought I would show my Wayfaring map again. With it you can see some of the places that I am writing about in the blog. Click on the West End Field bubble (9) to find a link.
The strangest things
I've been having some fun over at with a thread I started earlier this week. I asked the question, "What's the strangest things you've done with old scooter parts?" I specfically meant crafty type things such as my headlight assembly picture frame.

There have been some interesting replies! There is a rolling scooter seat, a couple of half frame scooters hanging from walls (as though they had been bagged on some big game hunt), and a bunch of other uses. This one was on of my favorites:

How many Vespa parts can you find in this picture? You can read about the other ones in the forum. Though, I have to post one here that is sooooo very true...
I used all the parts from my disassembled Bajaj to make a fun little obstacle course between the door and my tool box.

When I kick the plastic bin full of small parts, I get to play "crawl around on the floor looking for nuts, bolts, springs and bearings!"
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Caught in the Vespa's clutches
My parts came today! I had been looking for them to be delivered by UPS. However, the parts were small enough to be shipped by regular mail. They came by USPS. That is why it took so long.

I had the Vespa up on jacks by 8:30 p.m. and by 10:00 p.m. I had the cables adjusted, the plunger and pressure plate replaced and things buttoned up. I was real excited about getting the scooter preped to ride to work in the morning.

Not so fast, scooter boy!

I pushed the bike through the gears using the clutch to help move it along. One, neutral, two, three and four - a couple of adjustments and there I was shifting right along. Now, time to start it up and test it under power.


I pushed down on the kick start again, WHHIIIIZZZZZZZZ

What on earth?!

Okay, so I'll just push start it. Push, push, push, let the clutch out... nothing... no sound of compression. Kick start again, WHHIIIIZZZZZZZZZ...

It would appear that the plunger is somehow continuing to put pressure on the pressure pad even when the clutch is disengaged. It is just enough to keep the kick start gears from engaging. At least that is my theory. I'll have to wait to find out... I don't want to go digging back under that thing again tonight!
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Maybe you have a Lambrettatude
No parts yet... I was told they were shipped on May 2. They must have sent it at the slowest rate possible. The package had better arrive soon seeing how I am about to go out of town in a few days.

No matter, until then, here is another reader photo. Andy G reminded me not to forget Lambrettas. Now granted this is Vespa-tude and not Lambretta-tude - even so, it is a scooter. So, we'll let the cousins in to the play area.

He has some pretty nice pictures of various scooters. You can see them all at his blog Classic Italian Scooters. I like this one for the same reason he does. It is original. No restoration. It is an early Series 1 Lambretta.

Have you got a Vespa (or Lambretta - I won't go so far as a Honda, etc.)? I'd love to include some pics. Just contact me.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
I've been framed
I took the old headlight assembly off my Vespa in order to replace it. I didn't have the heart to throw it away. I mean this was the one that I first began to do battle with -- I couldn't just discard it. Then it hit me to make it into a picture frame!

I took the reflector out along with the sink. I then cut a piece of cardboard that I could press into the metal ring. The lens itself is exactly the diameter of a CD. So, I used that as the backing to fit behind the photo (that I cut into a circle). I then completed my parts search by getting a nice wooden frame easel from Hobby Lobby.

To make it, I first used an old data CD as a pattern to cut the picture the correct dimensions. I just laid the assembly down on its face, lined up the picture with the lens and the placed the CD on top of it. The card board followed to wedge in behind all of this to hold it in place. I then set the "frame" into the easel.

There you go. I didn't have to use glue, tape or anything else. It was easier than I thought it would be. Granted, the lens kind of distorts the picture (especially this one because it is plastic and I melted it a little using a halogen bulb), but that just draws attention to it and starts a conversation -- about the Vespa, of course!

Now, all of you can go dig around in your old parts bin and find new life for your headlamp assemblies!
Monday, May 08, 2006
These scoots don't come up short
Still waiting for the new parts to arrive. I hope they will come today. While I'm waiting, I'll share these pictures from reader Denny.

Here is how many scooters begin their new lives. Denny brings his 66 Super home for restoration in the back of his truck.

It can fly!

Here is another of his scoots - a 79 P125x with a Stella engine that has been kitted out to 177cc. If you think these pictures look professional, you should. Denny is a photographer.

Here's the last bike Denny is sending along. Notice the DPS on the cowling. I wonder if he writes the scooter off as advertising on his taxes! I also notice that this picture of his P200e was taken within 50 yards of my downtown office. I walk by this spot on my way to lunch.

Hey, Denny, I agree - "Awesome!"
Friday, May 05, 2006
Can of worms!
I went to because I knew that if I wanted to find a place where there are a bunch of scooterists hanging out, that was the place to go. I wanted to see if I might be able to get some folks to send along to me their photos and stories about their Vespas.

Follow the discussion by clicking here.

It seems like I can't go to that board without it turning into a SE Asia scooter bashing session. Of course, as a purchaser of one of said bikes, it is somewhat annoying. Not that what they say isn't true - it pretty much is. The issue is that I have already heard it - and probably will again next time I post a thread at the board.

Even so, I ran across some pretty nice people. I also will in the next couple of days lay out clearly my thoughts on buying Vespas from Indonesia and Vietnam. I'd do it now, but I'm about to head out the door for a concert. Tomorrow is graduation in the morning, I take my son up to Caesar's Head to celebrate his birthday, and then tomorrow evening is the race in Richmond on TV. Won't be doing much scooter work or scooter posting until Sunday!
Do you have a vespatude?
Calling all Vespa owners! Calling all Vespa owners!

If you own a Vespa, I'd like to feature your scooter here on the site. Just contact me at with how your Vespa gives you a vespatude. Attach a photo to the message and I'll add it here.

If you restored your Vespa, it would be cool to have two pictures - a before and after. Going through the experience, it would be encouraging to see that some people are actually successful!
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Patiently waiting...
I haven't riden in several days. The last time I moved the Vespa, I noticed the gear shifter went really loose and I guessed that the cable snapped. Sure enough, the cable was sheered near the shifter.

Vintage Vespa lesson #321: When you order cables, be sure to order extras even if you don't think you'll need them.

Now I am waiting on the following items: cables, plunger or actuating pad, pressure plate and pressure plate spring, a new cruciform (just in case), and a woodruff key for the flywheel. They shipped out late yesterday, so it might even be the weekend before the stuff gets here.

Good news, my new headlight assembly arrived! I may have been disappointed with somethings I have experienced with Heebie, but the assembly fit perfectly! All the things that drove me crazy about the old one are gone. How nice to no longer have electrical tape holding the assembly to the scooter! By the way, I hope to soon show a picture of something pretty cool I am doing with the old assembly.

Stay tuned!
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
To buy or not to buy, that is the question
This bike picture came from Chris. Now, Chris doesn't own this bike, but he is wondering if he should buy it. Guess what? It is in Indonesia. I got this email asking for advice on purchasing this scooter. I will admit it is unique...

Here is what Chris had to say about it:
I wonder if this bike is a good deal? This guy says he's from california but he now lives in Indonesia and he restores bikes for a living. he says he will give it to me "as is" for $2500 free shipping, and will supply me some extra parts so i can finish restoring it myself.

Is this is a good idea or not, this would be my first bike and i want a cool vintage vespa to work on as a summer project (w/out much engine work).
Well, at least the fellow isn't saying that it is fully restored with all new parts, yada, yada, yada. I'm not so sure I would buy the bike. My rule of thumb for buying from Asia is... I know what you are thinking, "Don't"... but seriously, I'm not all down on purchasing from Asia... the rule is, buy as though you are just buying a frame with plans to do a full restore yourself. Here is what the seller says:
Body has been stretched 15cm from front to back and the width stretched 8cm across from right to left. To add to this monster of a vespa are modified/enlarged side pods giving the rear end of this vespa a big beefy look, custom chrome sports handlebars, custom chrome exhaust pipe (gives the vespa a nice deep sound), 10 inch rims an tires, headlight lowered to the leg sheilds, custom chrome rear tail light & a left side Kick stand (added for easy on an off action). Also has a rear mud flap. The engine is a 1974 Super 150 Piaggio Vespa 4 speed and has been fully restored, runs excelent and has great get up. All big parts in the engine have been re-surfaced & re-machined by a Piaggio mechanic w/ NEW coils, platina, points, starter, all new seals, spark plug, clutch & brake cables, body cable, front & rear brakes, shocks & tires. I use this bike everyday and she is great, the true German tank of all vespas, a definate 1 of a kind.
Now, if you are looking to get a vintage Vespa, I don't know if you want to go the modified route. Of course, that would depend on whether you like your vintage cars stock or hotrod. Personally, the bike doesn't interest me and I would be scared that a scooter with so many modifications would have issues. It's Chris' call. $2500 might not be too much if you really knew the condition of the bike... I would look for a summer project that you could look at first.

Anybody else have any input for Chris? I do think the handlebars are cool.
Monday, May 01, 2006
Reader Photos
It is neat to see some of the scooters that readers of Vespatude have sent along to me. Here is one from Dion in Tshwane, Gauteng. It is a 1980 Vespa PX200E. Dion tells me it doesn't have a name.

It appears that Dion is having the same problem I am having with fourth gear. He wanted me to explain more about the shifting cross. Could he do it himself? I let him know that unless he felt comfortable cracking open his engine, he had better take it to a Vespa mechanic. He chose the later -- SMART MAN!


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