Unrestored SS180 - What to look for?
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Member
Joined: 07 Jun 2018
Posts: 20
Location: Maryland
Thu Jun 07, 2018 9:04 am quote
I've been after this bike for more than a year, and have finally convinced the guy to sell it to me (after making subsequently larger offers). '65 SS180, hasn't been run in who knows how long. The below pics are ones I took last year when I ran across it for the first time, apologize in advance for the quality but it's in an unlit barn and I had to stand on a trailer full of car parts to take these. We've agreed on a price, more than I meant to pay but I had to convince him to sell it. It will be my first Vespa, although I've owned quite a few vintage motorcycles. The cowls are present, and in good shape. They were just not on the bike when these photos were taken.

Before I close the deal I want to know if there's anything I should keep an eye out for on this bike, a deal breaker or a common spot for something to be missing/damaged/rusty? I don't plan on taking it apart much at the guy's place, just wondering what I should look at to make sure it's a good buy. How can I tell if it's the correct/original engine? Any areas prone to structural rust issues? Also, anyone want to hazard a guess on if it's a repaint or not?

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Ossessionato
1976 Super (x 2), 1974 Primavera (x 2), 2006 Fly 150
Joined: 26 Sep 2013
Posts: 4256
Location: So Cal
Thu Jun 07, 2018 9:49 am quote
That’s a beauty.

The stainless steel trim alone – if it’s original – is worth a pretty penny.

UPDATED: Definitive Legshield Trim Thread
Veni, Vidi, Posti
a herd of easy shifty rats
Joined: 22 Nov 2010
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Location: seattle/athens
Thu Jun 07, 2018 10:44 am quote
It's hard to tell from the pics, but you may have found an original low mile bike. If it is low mile and has been stored where it's dry, the paint may be original - I can't see any obvious signs of repainting.

Can you tell us the owner's back story and how many miles on the odometer? Does the owner have all the papers which would provide a clue?

First just pull off that rubber mat(NOT stock!) and see if there's any rot being concealed. If OK, you should be sure to check is the bottom of the floor from underneath. If the bike has any serious rust problems, this is where they typically start and you should be able to spot any repairs(red flag). Also check that the engine at least turns over. You didn't say what price you arrived at but I assume it's high enough that you should expect these two things to be OK or perhaps consider lowering your offer.

It is apparently the ideal barn find you lucky dog! I hope it works out as you expect and that you will keep us in the loop and post better pictures soon.

PS Is that being stored next to a fake Christmas tree? If that's a real tree, that's not so good.
Member
Joined: 07 Jun 2018
Posts: 20
Location: Maryland
Thu Jun 07, 2018 11:05 am quote
Lol, yes that's a fake tree Dry building, but a dirt floor and not climate controlled. Other vehicles in the building have weathered well, if the bike has any rust issues it'll either be from back when it was on the road or from mouse pee.

I didn't check the miles on it, and none of the photos I took are clear enough to read it. Unfortunately it's part of an estate sale. The owner is passed away, and the bike (currently) has no paperwork of any kind with it. I know it's been there a long time. The engine does turn over via the kicker. It seems a bit low on compression, but I don't really have any frame of reference so maybe that's normal.

I've checked the VIN number and it appears unaltered, and no signs it was ever painted over or stripped/repainted that I can tell. I understand they don't do well with repaints, being so shallow?
Veni, Vidi, Posti
a herd of easy shifty rats
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Thu Jun 07, 2018 12:26 pm quote
So...

You're going back there to close the deal if you hit no trip wires and need to know where to look. When are you going? And you do have more photos?

If you are dealing with one person, can you call them and politely ask them to get the mileage for you ? Not that it would be conclusive, just another clue and the bike doesn't look like it's been ridden much assuming original paint. It is possible that it was properly restored at some point. Or improperly restored w/ a pretty paint job - with no back story who knows?

If the cowls are loose & available, a close examination inside & out should help you confirm it hasn't been repainted. Lift the seat for close inspection around the gas tank and look inside the tank w/ a flashlight as well as pulling up the floormat. If not restored, I'll bet the owner put that on when the bike was new, but hope it didn't trap any water.
Ossessionato
I have a few scooters....
Joined: 08 Nov 2005
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Location: San Antonio, TX
Thu Jun 07, 2018 4:51 pm quote
Especially, look for anything missing. Carburetors and airboxes are rare and a bit pricey. The SS180 is a cool and unique scooter. Good luck.
Member
Joined: 07 Jun 2018
Posts: 20
Location: Maryland
Thu Jun 07, 2018 7:19 pm quote
V oodoo wrote:
So...

You're going back there to close the deal if you hit no trip wires and need to know where to look. When are you going? And you do have more photos?

If you are dealing with one person, can you call them and politely ask them to get the mileage for you ? Not that it would be conclusive, just another clue and the bike doesn't look like it's been ridden much assuming original paint. It is possible that it was properly restored at some point. Or improperly restored w/ a pretty paint job - with no back story who knows?

If the cowls are loose & available, a close examination inside & out should help you confirm it hasn't been repainted. Lift the seat for close inspection around the gas tank and look inside the tank w/ a flashlight as well as pulling up the floormat. If not restored, I'll bet the owner put that on when the bike was new, but hope it didn't trap any water.
The guy dealing with the estate won't be around this weekend. I'll probably get over there sometime next week or next weekend at the latest. I will for sure check under the rubber mat and the underside of the floor. The only other photo I have that's decent is a shot of the VIN area of the rear fender. It isn't by any means critical that it be original paint, I was just wondering. What's important is if it's got the right engine, and if I can make it mechanically/structurally sound to ride it.

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Veni, Vidi, Posti
a not so normal vbb2 '64, a weirdo vbx '86 and a not so normal pts100 '82
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Thu Jun 07, 2018 10:47 pm quote
is that a 65 ss180 euro style if u buy it under $500 ur a demon as i see the paint still looks good

hope u brought her home and cheer mate
Addicted
Vespas 1964 GS160, 1965 SS180, 1977 V9A1T, 1983 PX150E
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Fri Jun 08, 2018 1:25 am quote
koenig blues wrote:
is that a 65 ss180 euro style if u buy it under $500 ur a demon as i see the paint still looks good

hope u brought her home and cheer mate
$500.00? That's f$$$ing impossible. That bike over on this side of the world would go for about US$5,000-7,000. We haven't seen what engine is in it but the frame looks great.
Veni, Vidi, Posti
a not so normal vbb2 '64, a weirdo vbx '86 and a not so normal pts100 '82
Joined: 15 Jun 2009
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Location: Indo
Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:03 am quote
nomadinsiam wrote:
koenig blues wrote:
is that a 65 ss180 euro style if u buy it under $500 ur a demon as i see the paint still looks good

hope u brought her home and cheer mate
$500.00? That's f$$$ing impossible. That bike over on this side of the world would go for about US$5,000-7,000. We haven't seen what engine is in it but the frame looks great.
its a barnfind, and itd in USA even theres a gs160 for $200
Member
Joined: 07 Jun 2018
Posts: 20
Location: Maryland
Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:28 am quote
Lol, the seller knows what he's got and it is not a $500 bike. Several times that in fact, but still cheap enough that I suspect were it out there on Craigslist someone else would snap it up. Assuming all goes well I will definitely start a resto thread with additional pics.
Ossessionato
2 matching N.Z. '69 VBC Super, 177cc Racer, VespaCross Bodge, Puch SRA150, Piaggio Zip 100! & others
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Location: Millbin, Ostrayleea, mate
Fri Jun 08, 2018 6:36 am quote
Always remember:
You can restore something many times, but it’s only original once.

Wash it, get it running, replace the minimum amount of things., polish it, keep it, ride it, enjoy it.

Worth every cent
Veni, Vidi, Posti
a herd of easy shifty rats
Joined: 22 Nov 2010
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Location: seattle/athens
Fri Jun 08, 2018 12:15 pm quote
Yeah, don't even think about repainting that without our approval!
koenig blues wrote:
nomadinsiam wrote:
koenig blues wrote:
is that a 65 ss180 euro style if u buy it under $500 ur a demon as i see the paint still looks good

hope u brought her home and cheer mate
$500.00? That's f$$$ing impossible. That bike over on this side of the world would go for about US$5,000-7,000. We haven't seen what engine is in it but the frame looks great.
its a barnfind, and itd in USA even theres a gs160 for $200

I wish... that was a typo and the bike was relisted here for $4,000!
http://scoot.net/classifieds/forsale.html?id=61895
Addicted
Vespas 1964 GS160, 1965 SS180, 1977 V9A1T, 1983 PX150E
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Fri Jun 08, 2018 9:58 pm quote
koenig blues wrote:
its a barnfind, and itd in USA even theres a gs160 for $200 [/quote]

Just a fantasy my friend.
Member
Joined: 07 Jun 2018
Posts: 20
Location: Maryland
Sat Jun 09, 2018 3:14 pm quote
The guy dealing with the estate ended up being there this weekend after all, so I checked out the floor under the mat and closed the deal on the bike. Money has changed hands, bills of sale have been signed, and it's in my garage. I still have plenty of questions, though (and pictures!).

First some shots of it off the trailer, fully assembled...

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Last edited by JLeather on Sat Jun 09, 2018 3:40 pm; edited 1 time in total
Member
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Posts: 20
Location: Maryland
Sat Jun 09, 2018 3:19 pm quote
The insides of the cowls, a few (subpar) shots from underneath, and the engine. I couldn't find an engine number, where should I look for that? Did the engines have a portion of the number that should match the frame?

The surface rust on the l/s cowl fortunately is not all the way through yet. The r/s cowl seems very nice.

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Member
Joined: 07 Jun 2018
Posts: 20
Location: Maryland
Sat Jun 09, 2018 3:25 pm quote
Last few pics, mostly of some damage to the left floor edge and some bumps/scrapes. I see evidence of white paint under some of the scrapes. Did these bikes have a primer, or was this possibly originally white? If it's a repaint it was not only done a long time ago, but exceptionally well because there's no white anywhere (under the badges and floor strips, inside the glovebox, etc). It only shows up where it's been worn/scraped to some degree (headlight ring, cown latch tabs, etc)? It also looks like it might be or have been white on part of the underside?

A bit over 12k miles, is that considered 'low'?

Also, it even has the covers under the bars!

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Last edited by JLeather on Sat Jun 09, 2018 3:40 pm; edited 1 time in total
Veni, Vidi, Posti
a herd of easy shifty rats
Joined: 22 Nov 2010
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Location: seattle/athens
Sat Jun 09, 2018 3:40 pm quote
Looks like it's solid and all there - dunno what you finally had to pay, but I think I am jealous.
Now I'm on the fence regarding if that's original paint. I see some white maybe peeking through in a few places, i.e. your last pic, previous post. Bottom looks healthy, but also maybe white in places. Maybe the PO put that mat on after painting long ago, the floor looks pristine on top.

You'll find the motor model and serial number on the swingarm as described below. First the model # then the serial # which you can reference here https://scooterhelp.com/serial/ves.motor.serial.numbers.html . I'm 99.99% sure it's the correct motor from the looks of it and probably original to the bike.
ScooterHelp wrote:
Engine: Look on the engine swingarm to see the engine serial number. It is stamped on the cast aluminum swingarm right behind the exhaust stub on the barrel. The number will start with a prefix (ex. VSE1M) which denotes the model, then a star and a 4 to 6 digit number with a star at the end which denotes the year. A typical engine number may look like this: VSE1M*123456*
Veni, Vidi, Posti
a herd of easy shifty rats
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Sat Jun 09, 2018 3:45 pm quote


Busted. They don't paint the foot brake linkage at the factory.

Good news is the legshield trim is the real deal stainless #202 and not some chrome look alike Asian replacement. And I'd consider that low miles compared to most that age.
Member
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Location: Maryland
Sat Jun 09, 2018 3:51 pm quote
Lol, ok, so it's an older red repaint of what was likely a white bike. I'm still not planning to paint it. I have neither the money nor the patience for that level of restoration at the moment Mechanical resto only.
Veni, Vidi, Posti
a herd of easy shifty rats
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Sat Jun 09, 2018 3:52 pm quote
Hooked
Honda elite
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Sat Jun 09, 2018 4:37 pm quote
Looks great! If you replace anything don't throw the old/original away you never know when and why it's there for reference. You have found a gem and it sounds like it's found a good home. It's gonna look amazing when you clean it up.
Addicted
Vespas 1964 GS160, 1965 SS180, 1977 V9A1T, 1983 PX150E
Joined: 16 Apr 2011
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Location: Siam
Sat Jun 09, 2018 5:16 pm quote
That's a great looking bike which seems to be mostly complete with little rust. As noted, the rear brake linkage plate has been painted red, so most likely the white paint you see is the original color.

When you're cleaning things up, whatever you do, don't wire wheel any metal parts that have a cadmium coating. The coating is there from the factory to prevent corrosion. Just clean with a toothbrush and degreaser. The rubber bellows connecting the frame to the carburetor box should have some tin strips with a small buckle which fastens the rubber tight.

If you have the speedometer rebuilt, do not allow the face plate to be replaced with a new one. The old faded ones are much cooler looking and fit properly. If it seems to work with a cable end turning in it, then there's no sense in opening it up; just leave it alone.

What't great about your bike is that it has the small hard to find things. For example, those cadmium plated original bolts that hold the gas tank in are quite difficult to find. Most just have shitty looking modern hardware store bolts. Don't listen to some fuckwit who tells you to replace all the nuts and bolts with stainless steel hardware. If you do listen to a fuckwit who tells you this, allow me to buy all the old original nuts and bolts to have replaced with shitty stainless.

I know it's impolite to ask how much you paid for it but “Enquiring minds want to know”.
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Location: Maryland
Sun Jun 10, 2018 1:17 pm quote
Ok, I give. I paid $1200 for it. Towards the upper end of "rough but restorable" estimate on the ScooterLounge buying guide. I figure at that price if I find anything majorly wrong I can either have the budget to fix it without being in the hole, or worst case break even parting it out.

I have to finish up a BMW motorcycle I'm working on ('77 R100/7) before I can get serious on the Vespa, and I want to wait until the title is worked out before spending much time/money on it. MD is touchy about titles, and although I have done the Vermont thing 5 or 6 years ago I won't be comfortable until the paperwork is in my hands. In the mean time I'll be gathering a few small parts I know I need (like the intake boot clamps) and learning up on Vespas.

Should I plan on replacing the crank seals before even trying to run it, or is there a chance the engine will not need to be opened up after sitting this long? Is there a good manual that illustrates the mechanical repair/disassembly? All I found was the Haynes manual, but there were a lot of complaints that it didn't contain enough details/instructions.

At a minimum it needs the fuel system cleaned, all the control cables/linkages freed (the clutch stuck when I tried the lever), and tires.
Veni, Vidi, Posti
a herd of easy shifty rats
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Sun Jun 10, 2018 2:16 pm quote

1200?
You stole that thing!

It may run with the original seals for now, I have some old motors w/ original seals that run but would run better, start easier & make more power with new seals. I believe it has to do with number of heat cycles and highest temperatures, but it is also thought that they harden with time.

Clean it up, change the gear oil & check for spark. At this point if all looks good, I like to put a spoonful or two of premix down the carb throat to see if it'll fire up momentarily and give me incentive to do the carb, tank & fuel lines so I can see if it'll keep running.
Ossessionato
1976 Super (x 2), 1974 Primavera (x 2), 2006 Fly 150
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Sun Jun 10, 2018 2:31 pm quote
Yeah, you stole it. Bet it fires right up with fresh mix & a new plug.
Addicted
Vespas 1964 GS160, 1965 SS180, 1977 V9A1T, 1983 PX150E
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Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:40 pm quote
JLeather wrote:
Ok, I give. I paid $1200 for it.


Here in Thailand, that bike in that condition would sell for for six times that price if you could find one. I think even in the US market you got a great deal.
Ossessionato
I have a few scooters....
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Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:37 pm quote
That's an awesome deal. I paid 1800 for mine back in 1998 and it was in worse condition. Congrats!
Veni, Vidi, Posti
a herd of easy shifty rats
Joined: 22 Nov 2010
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Location: seattle/athens
Sun Jun 10, 2018 5:18 pm quote

I felt the need to repost this. Piston ported state of the art at the time and looks totally original, probably unmolested and maybe never split. Swoon!

Several years ago in the corner of my brother-in-law's chicken shed(barn find?) I found a Rally 180 gas tank, speedo and motor in this condition w/ 17,500 Km on it that runs and it is still unsplit. Your motor is much more special, so proceed carefully! It's a big reason the bike is so special & valuable but you knew that.
Member
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Location: Maryland
Sun Jun 10, 2018 7:04 pm quote
Don't worry, I'll treat it well. This BMW/VW conversion I pulled from a barn 8 or 10 years ago. This is an 'after' pic with a mechanical resto (including a trans rebuild where I had to make new bushings from scratch). I took it to a local European bike show and the comment from the judge was "you could have at least washed it..." Second pic is an unrestored CB750 I cleaned up and ran around for a couple years. Both bikes have moved on, and frankly I should have kept the CB750...

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Ossessionato
LX150, GTS300, BV350, EN650
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Sun Jun 10, 2018 7:46 pm quote
Looks like you got a great buy and a fun project on your hands JLeather. Great find.
Hooked
1964 GS160, 1974 Rally 200, 1966 90ss
Joined: 08 Sep 2011
Posts: 168

Mon Jun 11, 2018 9:48 am quote
Amazing score!

I would polish it up and ride as-is, but obviously it's your baby.

Treat those cowls like the unobtanium they are. It kind of looks like something caught the inside of one of the louvres on the engine side. Maybe it was one of the flywheel bolts. You can replace those hex bolts with rounded cap versions to avoid this. It was a big problem on the GS160; not sure about the SS180.
Ossessionato
LX150, GTS300, BV350, EN650
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Posts: 4407
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Mon Jun 11, 2018 6:24 pm quote
"Unobtainium."

Hilarious.
Addicted
Vespas 1964 GS160, 1965 SS180, 1977 V9A1T, 1983 PX150E
Joined: 16 Apr 2011
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Tue Jun 12, 2018 6:01 am quote
gmontag wrote:
It was a big problem on the GS160
I've never had this problem with the stock hex bolts. I think it's only a problem if you run the cowl into something when the engine is running.
Hooked
Too damn many
Joined: 05 Dec 2008
Posts: 293
Location: Seattle, WA
Tue Jun 12, 2018 10:41 am quote
Put it this way, I've never seen an unrestored SS180 without mangled cowl louvres.

Nice bike! Looks like it was treated to a light resto at some point based on the paint and a few small items (the headlight bezel, seat strap, and cowl rubber don't look original), but I agree with others who have said it'll probably run fine and just needs a good cleaning. Well bought, as they say.
Hooked
Too damn many
Joined: 05 Dec 2008
Posts: 293
Location: Seattle, WA
Tue Jun 12, 2018 10:52 am quote
BTW, if you want some inspiration for where you can take it, this album shows a GS160 I sold a while back. It was covered in green spray paint that was removed and there was pretty decent original paint underneath.

https://flic.kr/s/aHskEEWK8c
Hooked
'14 Vespa 946, '18 Yamaha Xmax
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Wed Jun 13, 2018 7:27 pm quote
Amazing find! We hope you share your restoration as you go along. Congrats!
Member
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Location: Maryland
Tue Jul 17, 2018 5:57 pm quote
Just a small update. I'm still here, and regularly lurking. I'm half way to getting the title straightened out (Vermont has cashed my check, and sent me the plate but not the sticker/reg yet). I also cleaned off and took a picture of the motor number. It comes back as a correct '65 180SS motor and it's less than 100 digits higher than the frame. I assume these did not 'match' from the factory? I also assume it's typical for these to look like they were done by a drunk temp employee on a Friday afternoon?

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Member
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Location: Maryland
Sat Nov 24, 2018 2:05 pm quote
I'm still here and still regularly lurking. I got my Vermont registration and turned it into a MD title/tags so that's all good. Been tinkering on the Vespa a bit this long holiday weekend (in spite of a bunch of other more important projects ahead of it). I have freed up the various controls. The throttle won't fully return by itself, but it does move fairly easily. I have also confirmed it has excellent spark and have reinstalled the old Champion plug which I found in the glovebox. I'm going to see if it wants to fire up, but I have a question. There seems to be a crack/split in what I assume is the vent tube inside the tank (see picture). It's way down near the bottom at the tap. Is that supposed to be there and/or ok to put fuel in or will I have a mess?

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Member
Joined: 07 Jun 2018
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Location: Maryland
Sat Nov 24, 2018 2:53 pm quote
On the plus side, she wants to run! This was actually the second start. I wasn't ready with my phone the first time because I didn't expect it to go so well. This is with a splash of 20:1 dumped down the carb. Lights work, engine idles (sort of). Just need to get the tank cleaned and filled and she might be good for a short lap around the driveway.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dmLS5zd4bk

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