Engine Swap for a 67 ish Vespa 180?
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Member
Vespa SS180 (or thereabout)
Joined: 06 Sep 2013
Posts: 8
Location: Edmonton Canada
Fri Sep 06, 2013 7:32 pm quote
Okay I am new....to this forum and scootering in general. I bought what is purported to be a 1967 Vespa SS180. I don't really care if it's real or bodge or not. I realize it's probably not real. I've gone over it and it's sound - all the welds etc.. I've checked the engine case stamps and it appears to be a 180 case. When I got it - it had the wrong spark plug - about 3/8 inch to 1/2 inch 'too long' in the threads. I could see fouling on the plug threads - hard to start etc.. Got that sorted - but makes me think the piston is wrong. I don't really have the power I would expect from a 180 cc (even a tired one). It'll do about 70 km/h (I'm Canadian - so around 42 - 45 mph). I got a bunch of questions but for now I'll stick to two important ones: 1) I keep blowing light bulbs - it's been converted to 12 volt (as I found out after ordering 6 volt bulbs and THEN tested voltage - this is a 'non battery' model. Any suggestions? I went to a LED Tail light rated for 14 volts and it's fine but the headlight is a problem. 2) Rather than doing a 'rebuild' on the ancient case - can I buy a new / modern engine and just swap it (then rebuild the old engine at my leisure while still enjoying my scooter)? I would want something 150cc - 200 cc. with thanks!!!

-- So I want to know what kind of engine will fit the frame with minmal alterations etc..

PPS: I am not yet a 'purist' - I have what I can afford and I like it. I just wish it was more reliable / less worry.
Moderibbit
1980 P200E - "Old Rusty", 1976 ET3 Primavera
Joined: 12 Jun 2008
Posts: 8129
Location: Atlanta, GA
Fri Sep 06, 2013 8:12 pm quote
Welcome!
Defensive about the bike, aren't you?
First of all, SS180 is a rarely bodged model. Wrong piston fouling plugs makes no sense. I would approach this in the following manner:
Post pics of your scooter and of its engine. What are the Vin and engine numbers?
If it isn't a bodge, I would not replace the engine. It is worth a ton and will perform very well if fixed up. Throwing it out for a p200 engine or some such will reduce the value significantly without improving performance significantly. My 2 cents.

Anyway, we can't help without knowing what type of frame and engine you have, so don't be shy.
Member
Vespa SS180 (or thereabout)
Joined: 06 Sep 2013
Posts: 8
Location: Edmonton Canada
Fri Sep 06, 2013 8:48 pm quote
Hi thanks for the nice welcome - appreciated! I am a bit defensive because after I picked up this bike in Vancouver I took it by the Vespa dealer and he was rude and laughed and told me I should throw the bike in his garbage bin etc (and he didn't even look at it closer than a dozen feet) and that I shouldn't drive it. Also it's a bit 70's boogie van Frazetta'-ish with airbrushed naked wasp girl and wasps on it - ghost honeycombs on top of the cowl's etc.. So I am sure there are a bunch of purists who feel this is everything that's wrong with the hobby etc.. Here are some photos. The VIN is 0028521 - I'll post the engine stamps later / tommorow. I had to rig up a bicycle computer for a speedo to get it past safety inspection. So this winter I'd like to rebuild everything without touching the paint / bodywork. Thanks for your kind help!

Vespa 1.jpg

Vespa 2.jpg

Member
Vespa SS180 (or thereabout)
Joined: 06 Sep 2013
Posts: 8
Location: Edmonton Canada
Fri Sep 06, 2013 9:13 pm quote
ohh...also .....so I am not going to throw out the engine of course - I have rebuilt British car engines etc. so have some experience but this is my first motorcycle. I am a bit of perfectionist and take a long time to rebuild an engine so I am looking for something to put in the scooter so I can drive it etc. while I work on / take my time on the original engine on the bench etc.. I know I'll have to collect a bunch of special tools and there's a learning curve etc..
Petty Tyrant
GTS250 GTS300 MP3 500
Joined: 11 Oct 2005
Posts: 29653
Location: Bay Area, California
Fri Sep 06, 2013 9:33 pm quote
I see why the dealer thought it was a bodge. I'd wager, though, that this is more a case of bad taste than bodgery.

Like xantufrog said, 180SS bikes are rarely bodged, so there's hope that there's a real bike under all that. Honestly, though, I'm having a hard time getting a sense for the shape of the cowls because of the air brushing.

Any chance you've got a pic of the bike with the engine-side cowl removed?
Mr. Clean
P,SUPER,V90, 50 Special
Joined: 27 Jul 2010
Posts: 10207
Location: This is't my locker!
Fri Sep 06, 2013 9:44 pm quote
jess wrote:
I see why the dealer thought it was a bodge. I'd wager, though, that this is more a case of bad taste than bodgery.
My thoughts as well.. but you Never know.. but I think Jess is on to it!
Molto Verboso
1963 VBB2T
Joined: 07 Nov 2012
Posts: 1384

Fri Sep 06, 2013 10:15 pm quote
Welcome to Modernvespa skellyman99.
Does have a wild paint job. Lay it all out and these guys will set you straight, they know there chit in here.
Style Maven
74 50s x3 78 P200 84 Cosa 58 AllState 68 Sprint 80 50special '66(?) Super125 + projects
Joined: 22 Nov 2010
Posts: 7615
Location: seattle/athens
Fri Sep 06, 2013 11:00 pm quote
I see many SS180 points in your pic and maybe just lots of dollars for a certain look, but we need the front half of the VIN , not just the serial number part. Your SS should be VSC1T *0028521* with a motor number starting with VSC1M.

Congrats on a nice? bike! Maybe the dealer was jelly... Was the helmet included?

Just for a while, try losing the front chrome combo guard rack and the passenger pegs/cowl guards to clean it up a bit and see how it looks. I'm kinda likin' the artwork

Then the mudflaps might work for me.

OH YES, PLEASE put an original style tail lite back on. THANKYOU!



PS Do NOT transport up on the center stand! You have been warned. Also NOT good to attach at end of handlebar, at the center if you must. Yeah, I know, that makes it hard
Style Maven
74 50s x3 78 P200 84 Cosa 58 AllState 68 Sprint 80 50special '66(?) Super125 + projects
Joined: 22 Nov 2010
Posts: 7615
Location: seattle/athens
Fri Sep 06, 2013 11:26 pm quote
Re: Engine Swap for a 67 ish Vespa 180?
skellyman99 wrote:
WHILE doing a 'rebuild' on the ancient case - can I buy a new / modern engine and just swap it (then rebuild the old engine at my leisure while still enjoying my scooter)? I would want something 150cc - 200 cc. with thanks!!!

-- So I want to know what kind of engine will fit the frame with minmal alterations etc..

PPS: I am not yet a 'purist' - I have what I can afford and I like it. I just wish it was more reliable / less worry.
FTFY. Assuming your engine is the real deal and it's all tired out... AND you can find a reasonable running motor cheap enough to work for you, then YES, most any NON widebody or smallframe motor will bolt in, even a new LML motor w/ electric start option. Decent plan if you need to track down a lot of new parts for a proper rebuild, some parts can be hard to find.

Meantime make SURE you're burning 5%, as these are piston ported. 2% could account for crap performance. Until you seize.


And as long as I'm trying to tailor your bike for you, change the red lever covers to yellow maybe? Like these on brit eBay.

Last edited by V oodoo on Fri Sep 06, 2013 11:44 pm; edited 1 time in total
Hooked
'79 P200E
Joined: 09 Sep 2012
Posts: 313
Location: Sausalito,CA
Fri Sep 06, 2013 11:40 pm quote
Welcome aboard!

(Oh, and please post a better picture of the wasp girl)
Veni, Vidi, Posti
'80 P200E, '76 Primavera 125 ET3. '59 Vespa 150
Joined: 30 Apr 2007
Posts: 6897
Location: GT, Texas
Sat Sep 07, 2013 3:11 am quote
Looks like about 50lbs of unnecessary steel accessories on there that might get you an added KPH or two if you took it off.

My guess is "not a bodge" too.

And I kinda like the custom tail light... The wasp theme? Not so much. Killer yellow though.
Hooked
1962 VBB1
Joined: 30 Aug 2011
Posts: 183
Location: vancouver
Sat Sep 07, 2013 6:40 am quote
It could be bodgey. This bike had been on craigslist for about a year. Apparently it came from Thailand.
Addicted
Rally 200, SS 180, ET3
Joined: 21 Feb 2010
Posts: 683
Location: UK
Sat Sep 07, 2013 7:35 am quote
Looking at how far the front wheel is off the ground
And also how low the engine sits behind the side panel, i would say something is amiss here.
Hopefully its just the rear shock thats too short?!
Addicted
Rally 200, SS 180, ET3
Joined: 21 Feb 2010
Posts: 683
Location: UK
Sat Sep 07, 2013 7:39 am quote
Or even too long!!! Oops!
Member
Vespa SS180 (or thereabout)
Joined: 06 Sep 2013
Posts: 8
Location: Edmonton Canada
Fri Sep 20, 2013 6:19 am quote
Thanks everyone!!! - Wasp Bike
Sorry for late response been outa commission for a while but I appreciate the warm welcome and the responses.

Yeah - that was my friend in Vancouver who had it on Craigslist for quite a while.... but he was asking 'real' ss 180 money. Then he had to go back to Thailand ina hurry so I got the bike for a VERY good deal - lets just say I paid 'less than bodge' for it - he is my close friend and his Thai wife said 'get back home immediately' etc.. so he phoned me and said I could have it for a song 'cause he had to leave within days.

Part of the problem with him selling in Vancouver (aside from the 'real ss money' he wanted) is that he had difficulty getting the bike recognized in Canada - he had to go through all the overseas import stuff - a huge amount of paperwork and beaurocracy..... but he finally managed to get it registered in Vancouver - so when I bought it and took it to Alberta all I had to do was get it safety inspected (it passed after I installed a bicycle speedometer / odometer / cycling computer - the front speedo cable was missing entirely and the speedo was completely frozen - it fell apart when I tried to fix it - and I think there is no pinion gear in the front hub for the speedo - there is block off).

The bike is from Thailand and so is the artwork all done by hand in many many coats of laquer. So I can't post a picture of the serial number right now but I'll try to do it later today or tommorow -anyway it says VLC or whatever it's suppossed to say for an ss180.

.. I am back in the saddle this weekend! I just passed my motorcycle license (using hand signals, shifting and clutching all with the left hand!!!) yesterday.

Cruising the forums I did figure out the 5% mixture before I was done the first tank (it came with new / vancouver gas in a jerry can) - so it runs pretty good and rev's quite high - there is a bit of a dead spot in power towards the high middle rpm but then she pulls strong to somewhat less than 'chain saw' red line.

So right now I have about 10 days left in the riding season here in Edmonton and am gonna use it. I'll post the wasp girl and the other artwork this weekend but there is some nudity - so I'm not sure if the moderator will approve? (there's boobs!).

Haha - I know - for many it's in bad taste in the extreme but I grew up in the 'boogie van with Frazetta Mural' days listening to Rush (and so did my friend) - and so he commissioned the paintwork (althought it is done by a Thai airbrush artist and he gave the artist free hand aside from telling him 'wasp theme with naked beautiful girl').

Besides if your gonna go bad taste may as well go all the way! It's interesting that the Thai artist rendered an obviously white blond girl for the beautiful girl part. I think my friend (who lived in Thailand for over 10 years and married a Thai girl) thought the girl would be asian looking!

So the story is my friend (who originally bought the bike for himself to use and enjoy) had the bike 'thoroughly gone over' by a 'reputable' scooter shop in Bankok - they were the ones that told him about the airbrush artist and they had the engine apart and I think they put in a new clutch and did the 12 volt convert on it. This was no back alley shop - it was a higher end shop with business clients etc..

The bike was already 'restored' when he bought it (no wasps - flat yellow - but no original aluminum) privately - then before he actually paid for the bike he paid this shop to fully inspect it - check it out and tell him if it was 'solid' and if there was anything wrong with it etc.. He did not ask them to tell him if it was 'real' just 'solid' welds and body - no filler - no crap throw together etc.. and mechanically sound etc..

My friend was a knowledgeable buyer and seller of scooters (over there) - so he generally tried to stay away from the ultra rare stuff....and he knew even if the engine and frame were real...alot of the parts etc. would not be original.

After he bought it he had them do additional work. The shop probably sold him all the chrome aftermarket gobs and the new two tone seat too. (the foam is crap but the cover is quality vinyl).

A proper rear tailight for that year / model will leave the rear facing wasp on the rear fender half obscured - anyway the traditional 12 v filament bulbs blow within 15 minutes.

I now have a round LED tail / brake light (Princess Auto) - good to 14 volts - that fits perfectly on the extension and 'works' in brake light mode OR tailight mode (but not both - it doesn't get 'brighter' - and I've tried all ways of wiring it up and yes the brake light switch works or at least the entire tailight comes on from completely off when I hit the brake switch).

I agree about the front rack - which is cheap and useless (doesn't fold down all the way and blocks the front swoop - leg shield of the bike) - but I like the crash bars.... just to protect the paint as I am a new and somewhat clumsy scooter rider..

Stay tuned - when the snow flies I'll start my first ever dismantle and look forward to getting help and sharing the process with y'all. Then we'll find out whats what.

PS: So given that it's a 12 volt conversion I'm hoping someone can walk me through how to do circuit tests on the electrical system and maybe tell me if I need a new 'voltage regulator' or whatever the equivalent is on this non battery bike etc. I'd like to understand the wiring system but electrics is hard for me. I do have a multi-meter.

Thx!

Lloyd
Member
Vespa SS180 (or thereabout)
Joined: 06 Sep 2013
Posts: 8
Location: Edmonton Canada
Fri Sep 20, 2013 6:42 am quote
Also - how do you transport a scooter if you don't put it up on the stand?
Hooked
A few
Joined: 03 Jul 2013
Posts: 131
Location: Far far away
Fri Sep 20, 2013 7:10 am quote
Just to help ease your mind a little I worked in Thailand for 5 years & there is a healthy scooter scene there - there are also 1,000s of totally original 60's Vespas still being used as everyday workhorses in Bangkok, because of the huge load they carry & can weave through the narrow alleyways. So "bodges" within the local market are a lot fewer as there is a good stock of original machines. I brought a restored one back with me, that is not the best mechanical restoration, but it looks nice & runs OK and I knew the scooter before it was restored.
Having said that, I am sure that there are always those dealers that are happy to export a cut & paste job to a distant "farang" (foreigner), just as there are scammers on the likes of Ebay in this part of the world.
But restorations in the Thai local market are rarely done for speed, so you probably have an inefficient exhaust, an old poorly performing carb and a well used cylinder/piston. Things like speedos are often seen as uneccessary (on mine too), but again there are many Vespas riding around Italy that never had a speedo since leaving the factory.
I think you are on the right track to take the engine out over the winter & give it a good going over. But personally I wouldn't bother with the time & expense of re-jigging your bike trying to fit another engine in, better off spending time and money on what you have - in my humble opinion.
I am no expert on the SS180, but 5% mixture sounds a bit strong to me, I would have thought, if using decent oils that 4% would be closer to the mark. Although I am sure others will correct me on that.

Also agree that you should not transport it with the stand down if you can avoid it, you will either buckle you floorboards or it will bounce off the stand. You need to have someone support it whilst you strap it down initially. Once the straps are tight enough it will support itself.
Good luck with it & keep the progress photos coming.
Member
Vespa SS180 (or thereabout)
Joined: 06 Sep 2013
Posts: 8
Location: Edmonton Canada
Sun Feb 23, 2020 11:41 am quote
Hey Everyone - The SS180 Wasp Girl s NOT a bodge after all!
Well it's been 6 years since my first post! Update and a couple questions: the 67 SS180 is genuine good through and though! Yes I was a little defensive back then as the Vespa dealer guy in Vancouver told me to throw it in his garbage bin because 'thats what it is worth'. Well it's been a while and I had an oilfield friend of mine x-ray the body.... A few small welded repair areas but not a bodge job. Also the spark plug stripped out of the head so took the head off and lo and behold...genuine SS 180 head etc.. So all seems legit (except of course the tasteful paint job and the aftermarket chrome etc.).

So I am just in the process of an engine rebuild (my first Vespa). Actually upon tear down everything turned out qute good shape ....obviously had been through a recent rebuild....but a few concern areas I need help on:

1st: Doing the rebuild absolutely right is going to take a while; So since I have replaced the cables, brakes, tires, shocks etc.. i'd like to run it this summer. So still looking for a 'drop in' engine (kick start, I can easily add a battery and 12 v bulbs). Will a P200 fit? Should I buy one from Scootersip or Scooterwest or....where? (I am in Edmonton Alberta Canada).

2nd: The main crank gear (? See photo) supporting area - part of the case - seems to have JB Weld holding the circlip in. Seems to me this could be built up via a tig welder but then a slot would have to be machined in to hold the circlip. Seems a bit sketchy. I also thought about getting high grade alum allow circle - ring with the circlip gap already machined in then TIG welf that on or use a post or stud method to secure it??? The JB Weld does not sit well with me when I am doing an engine rebuild!

3rd: the crappy aftermarket 'combo' switch gear is a piece of junk! Aside from making my own switch; are there options for a high quality reliable alternativr that will fit the headstock casting / mount area?

With much thanks! Photos [/img]

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Molto Verboso
08 GTS 250, 79 P200E, 62 Allstate
Joined: 11 Jan 2006
Posts: 1423
Location: Florence, OR
Sun Feb 23, 2020 12:07 pm quote
Hey Skelly - you might want to check ScooterMercato and see if David has a line on a drop in engine.

I'd be fun to see this on the road!
Ossessionato
Joined: 26 Oct 2015
Posts: 2094

Sun Feb 23, 2020 12:36 pm quote
That's definitely one incredible bodge! It is sure makes a great conversation piece too! With all of the SEA bodginess going on with the cases, i think you'd be time and money ahead fitting a P engine into it. It's not going to lower the value any since you scooter isn't "the real deal", but it will at least give you a reliable engine. A P200 will bolt right in. Another option that's less expensive is to swap in a Stella or a PX150 engine in. Those will cost much, much less than a P200 engine.

It also looks like the rear shock mounting area on the cases has been welded back on? If so, it's probably still safe-ish, but it's indicative of the way the whole scooter has been rebuild in Asia. I'd budget around $2000 USD to get it safely and reliably back on the road (or closer to $3k if you're wanting to install a 200 engine).

And i wouldn't blame the Vespa dealer for not wanting to have anything to do with your scooter. The Vespa mechanics down in Portland wouldn't have touched it either. No doubt they have experienced working on them before, and for liability reasons, won't touch them again. I still think that your scooter is an amazing conversation piece. I could actually see it being parked in a storefront boutique!
Member
Vespa SS180 (or thereabout)
Joined: 06 Sep 2013
Posts: 8
Location: Edmonton Canada
Sun Feb 23, 2020 3:25 pm quote
Yeah, but it's not a bodge. It just LOOKS like a bodge. I had the whole thing x_rayed. A number of people have looked at it.
Engine case and trim are pretty much the only problems. Head, crank, case halves, carb, headstock and forks all correct. If you disagree please feel free to enlighten and educate me why its a bodge?
Ossessionato
Joined: 26 Oct 2015
Posts: 2094

Sun Feb 23, 2020 4:49 pm quote
I probably would have performed an MRI instead of an X-ray, but no matter..From what I gather from your thread, itís unimportant to you if itís a brodge or not, so I donít see myself delving further into that topic.
What I understand is that youíre after is to get advise on an engine. You could fix the issues that you have with your existing engine that was rebuilt in SEA, but I think youíd be time, trouble, and money ahead if you bought a different one in Canada or the US. If your planning on commuting on the highways, then Iíd spend the money on a 200 engine. If youíre fine with a 50-55mph scooter, then Iíd think a Stella or a PX150 engine might be a better fit (and it would save you $$). Iíd also recommend to install a new wire harness and ignition system. Thereís no telling what sort of job that the previous renovators did to the whole system. Install new control cables, tubes/tires, brake shoes and bearings EVERWHERE (including steering column, fork, and wheel).
Sergeant at Arms
Weird 80's Vespas & Cool Vintage Lambrettas
Joined: 21 Oct 2005
Posts: 7411
Location: The state of insanity, SoCal
Mon Feb 24, 2020 4:46 am quote
Man Iíd drop a p motor in there (125, 150, 200) rewire it and roll.

Youíve done the cables and other shit so besides the harness there isnít much.

a 5 wire euro stator, harness, no battery, youíll need a reg/rec and some bulbs and swap out the switches- which if youíre doing a harness you should do anyway. Easy weekend project!

Personally Iíd lose the 58.7lbs of tat, bling and towel holders and then probably flat black it or... uhhh... anything but what itís currently wearing. Rebuild the OG motor (if itís salvageable) while you cruise around and then once thatís completed (winter) then blow the whole thing apart and ďrestoreĒ it.

Good luck!

-g
Member
Vespa SS180 (or thereabout)
Joined: 06 Sep 2013
Posts: 8
Location: Edmonton Canada
Mon Feb 24, 2020 4:30 pm quote
Thanks Greasy and others. Thats exactly my plan. Got a line on a p200 kick, rewire, new switch and off we go. Might loose the cheap bling (lol - towel bars - haha)....but I actually use the, to haul cases of beer and groceries. I'll post again when shes up and running. I think the original case and rebuild can be easily done....probably will do thr TIG filling myself and have an expert machine it. Thanks eveyone! You guys are the best!!!
Hooked
58 VB1T, 68 SS180, 81 100 Sport
Joined: 06 May 2019
Posts: 286
Location: Long Beach, CA
Mon Feb 24, 2020 6:48 pm quote
Sexy Wasp Woman is growing on me in a ďgives me the creeps but cant look awayĒ type way. Something terrifyingly beautiful. Once of a kind for sure. Hang those on the wall. Iíd hang that on the wall in the Vespa room 100%!
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