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.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006
I now have cables
After much delay, I now have the cable sets that I need. Now I just need time to replace them. Of course, that means I am going to have to pull the tank and headset. It is going to be a pain, but it is also going to be worth it.

I hope I can get to it Saturday. Life is pretty hectic right now. There isn't a lot of leisure time at the moment. However, the weather is wonderful and the scooter calls!
Friday, September 22, 2006
Clutching at cables
Time to order some cables. My engine issues seem to be working themselves out. I've been able to drive the Vespa to work without too many issues for the last several days. However, yesterday I ran into a problem.

I was going to kick start and noticed that when I put the lever down it just kind of "mushed." The gears weren't meshing. I then tried to move the clutch arm it wouldn't move.

I then checked the clutch lever on the headset. I noticed that it gave a little more than it should have. So, I depressed it and looked to see the status of the cable within the channel running through the headset. Sure enough the cable was fraying. This caused the cable to get stuck and it was holding the clutch engaged. Which, as you know, would not allow the engine to turn over -- thus the mush.

Chelsea at SCOMO had told me earlier she would credit me for the stator plate that I had to replace. I asked her if I would just get the credit towards some misc. parts that I need. I'm waiting to hear back, but I think I will go ahead and do a complete cable replacement -- cable housings and all -- for the entire cable set.

The thing I dread most about that is having to take the fuel tank out. The two things I hate about it are 1) fitting the fuel valve rod through the hole in the frame, and 2) running the fuel line between the frame and the carb box into the little grommet. Oh well, a small price to pay for better cable operation.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Answering a couple of Vespa questions
There have been a couple of comments posted for which I haven't given a response. I'll take a minute here to answer them. Thanks for the comments, by the way, and I am always open to suggestions and scooter stories.

DigitalDion asked about the sidecar. Yes, you will notice in the pictures that I don't have the sidecar on right now. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, I am still making adjustments to the engine. When the sidecar is attached, it doesn't leave much room to get down and work on the engine. Until the adjustments are down to a minimum, I don't think I will be pulling the "pod" around.

That leads right to the second point about the sidecar which also leads to the second question I need to answer. Shok asks, "This is a new engine, are you watching the jetting and breaking it in properly? They may have ran it in some at Scomo but they are probably ata dif altitude." Yes, they did run it as SCOMO and I am trying to break it in -- that is the other reason why the sidecar isn't attached. I don't want to add that weight until I have run the engine in.

I have taken the bike and run it a low revs while it was parked and gradually increased the throttle to about 70%. I have also taken it on multiple short rides where I don't get out of third gear. HOWEVER, the statement about altitude and jetting is new to me. Can someone expound on that?

By the way, I think I have a theory about the reason that Heebie stalled while I was out driving to Sky Top but why he didn't give me any trouble coming back. When we started out on the trip, we went through a section of the city with lots of stop lights and hilly streets. I stalled the bike multiple times during this time. My guess is that I had way to much fuel build up in the bike and it just choked it and fouled the plug.

On the way back, the ride started without any stop and go. It was able to burn out all of the excess fuel and burn clean. I also took another route to my home that meant I didn't stop nearly as much. Not only did I make it home okay, but I haven't had any trouble since that time.

Thanks again for the comments, and again, I would appreciate some insight on the altitude/jetting issue. I'm not a professional Vespa mechanic and I have lots to learn!
Monday, September 18, 2006
An uneventful day
This morning, I dropped off the kids at school (which is about two blocks from our house) and then drove to home and traded my car for the Vespa. I switched on the gas, pulled the choke, and then attempted to kick start it. On the second kick, I got some life. On the third kick, Heebie started right up.

I drove him to work and then had to leave in a car pool to Atlanta for a crisis preparedness seminar. It was held at the Georgia Aquarium. As we walked through the parking garage, I saw a Vespa-like scooter parked against a wall. Sure enough, it was a Stella. I knew somewhere in the building was a kindred spirit.

On the way back to Greenville on I-85 I saw a scooter ahead of us. Something about it made me think it might be one of the new 200 retro Vespas. Then again, it didn't seem exactly right. I knew it wasn't a motorcycle. Then we pulled up beside it and I saw the Piaggio emblems. It was a Piaggio X9 Evolution 500. Having been tested at 110 mph, I don't think the driver was going to have much trouble staying with traffic.

Sure, it wasn't retro, but it was still pretty cool.

We arrived back with enough time for me to get some work done at the office and then it was time to go home. I went out to the parking lot and in two kicks I had the scooter running and ready to take me home. He did that just wonderfully.

Sometimes it is nice to have an uneventful day...
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Back in the stable
After lunch, I drove over to my friend Dan's house to pick him up. He was going to help me out by driving the car back after I got the Vespa started. Hey, might as well be confident about it!

The drive out was fun in and of itself. We drove over Paris Mountain to get to Buncombe. It was a beautifully clear day and you could see for miles from the top of Altamont. The drive through the rural areas of northern Greenville County was nice as well. It was awesome weather for having the top down.

After arriving at the house where the Vespa was being kept, we pulled it around to the driveway where I had my tools in the trunk. The first thing I did was pull the spark plug. This time when I looked at it, it wasn't white like before. It actually looked quite normal.

I went ahead and put in a new plug just to give try it. I starting and nothing happened. Dan and I then tried push starting it. Nothing doing. It sounded like there was no spark. Holding the plug up to a grounded screw, we tried to determine if there was a spark. It was hard to tell with the bike shaking every time we tried to crank it and with the bright light of the day masking any spark that might have been there.

I discovered we were getting spark when I grabbed the plug the wrong way. Man, I hate it when the happens! However, there was some spark. So, I thought it might be the timing. I traced the wires back to the CDI. The only odd thing there was that the red wire coming out of the stator appeared to be pulled from the connector. Not completely, it was still being held in there, but some of the naked wire could be seen. I adjusted that and we tried again.

Still, we could not get it to fire when I tried to crank it. Once again, Dan pushed me down the driveway and, yes, it fired and kept running! We buttoned everything back up and I tried to start it... failure. We pushed again. It fired and I started down the road.

I didn't open the bike up. I kept it at no more than 80% throttle. The scooter glided right along down those beautiful country roads. This is what I had imagined for yesterday. Better late than never. We had no problems at all.

The test was coming when we stopped at a station to put gas in the bimmer. It is a station that I had seen yesterday with fuel at $2.06. Today it was $2.09, but that was still cheaper than anywhere in town. The bigger question was, would the Vespa start up or would we have to push it again?

The answer was a satisfying pop of the exhaust as the engine roared to life on the first kick. We were off once again with the next stop being home. No stalls later, we arrived and I parked and didn't mess with the bike again until after the family finished dinner following evening church services.

I went outside to put a cover on the car and to straighten up some things before going inside for the night. I just had to try and see if the scooter would start. No go on the first kick, but a couple more later and the engine roared to life.

I'll sleep a lot better tonight.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
I don't need to worry
I was just thinking the other day, "I don't know if people will even want my blog if the scooter starts working right." Well, I needn't have worried. Heebie is giving me plenty to write about.

Things had been going so well, I thought I would take a longer ride today. It would be about 45 miles up to an apple orchard. My family was coming along so they followed me in the Suburban.

Right off the bat, things did not go well. I couldn't kick start the bike. I had to roll start. Getting out of town I had to restart the bike numerous times as it stalled at intersections. I didn't worry about it too much because I knew I would get out of town and then things would be less stop and go.

I was right. However, that is when the worst thing happened. I was having a blast riding along and then all of a sudden the engine started sputtering. I was able to get it going again several times, but then it just would not start.

I pulled it over and tried to do something to make it work. It simply would not fire. I could tell that fuel was getting into the carb, but nothing would burn. Was it flooded? Typically when it is flooded, I can roll start it. No way this time.

My wife then convinced me to ask the folks whose house we had stopped at, if I could leave the scooter there to come back for it. So, I pulled it behind the house and got in the truck to go have some fun with my family at the orchard. We did have fun, by the way. I didn't let the scooter problems keep us from enjoying it.

On the way back, we stopped by to see if after cooling down, the scooter would start up and get home. It didn't work. I pulled the plug and took at look at it. The plug was white. Now, doesn't that mean that the plug is burning too hot? Is the engine running too lean? Help!

I'm going back tomorrow with some new spark plugs. I'm hoping that the plug is just burned out and I can at least get the scoot home so I can try to nail down the problem. I don't have a truck or trailer to haul it in. So, if I can't get it to roll home, I'll have to borrow one from somebody.

May, it felt sooooo good to be floating down the road in northern Greenville County. It is some beautiful country. Hope I'll be able to enjoy some more of it on my way home tomorrow.
Friday, September 15, 2006
Vespa at work
Things are pretty crowded on campus. One of the central parking lots is closed as a new parking garage is being built in that space. Like most college campuses traffic and parking was already quite interesting. Now it is a mess.

Enter the Vespa. I don't ever have to worry about a parking spot. There are numerous designated motorcycle parking spots on campus. Plus, because there are not many scooters on campus, they have been given a little more leeway on parking. In the picture you below, you can see Heebie joining a number of the bicycles parked near my office.

When it comes to parking in town, I'm not sure what the options are. I'll have to experiment. There are no designated parking areas for scooters or motorcycles. I have seen motorcycles parked in regular car spots. I have seen some scooters (very few of them, because there aren't that many around) parked in interesting places -- edges of sidewalks and it the left over spaces at the end of angled parking spaces.


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