OP
UTC

Hooked
'08 Vespa GTS250
Joined: UTC
Posts: 128
Location: Austin TX
 
Hooked
'08 Vespa GTS250
Joined: UTC
Posts: 128
Location: Austin TX
UTC quote
After getting very frustrated with my beloved Stellauto, I was offered a deal I should have refused on a recovery 2008 GTS250. A friend from another forum bought this at auction for way more than he should have, and then after getting it home, realized it was too much of a project so I drove a couple of hours with the trailer and brought home a $200 project.

What I knew going in:
- this was bought at auction, an abandoned vehicle. No key.
- the new owner noticed water in the oil, but never started it. He drilled out the lock, thinking it would be a simple lock cylinder replacement, then gave up.
- scooter had obvious signs of being wrecked

I got it home and started trying to get the bodywork straight enough for it to be assembled. I ordered a new lockset and then had the ECU reprogrammed to match. Also discovered the PO had broken the ignition switch part in the process so I ordered one of those, a couple of oil filters, then decided to just put in fresh gas, change the oil, and see what happened.

The scooter wouldn't start, then I went about checking and the spark plug came out in two pieces. New spark plug went in and then it fired right up. So I rode it around the block with fresh oil and gas and the new lock parts. I was about $500 into this by then.

First thing I noticed was a pretty serious wobble at any speed over about 5 mph from the front end. It was not rideable over 30. Got home and found probably 10mm runout at the rim on the front. I pulled the hub and verified the bearings were all in good shape, it was seated correctly, and put it all back, still runout. So I ordered a new front wheel.

Checking the oil, it was totally loaded with coolant, after just a 2 mile ride. So I also ordered a water pump rebuild kit, figuring the WP was the likely cause. When I pulled all that apart, the water pump seal was truly torched. Disaster. No wonder. So I replaced the seal without the correct seal seating tool, just did it by feel with sockets. Put in fresh oil and flushed/filled the coolant, chased a half dozen various coolant leaks and repaired them, and voila. Scooter back together. Right about then my new wheel had come in so I had the front tire swapped and mounted it back up. Still a couple of mm of runout, and I could hear the brake rotor dragging. So I bought a used front hub and replaced that yesterday, took it for a spin again. Now I am about $650 into this project including buying the scooter.

Test ride yesterday was a limited success. The front end wobble is gone. The scooter runs, drives and stops fine. Feels like the front suspension is not moving, or not moving much, so I need to sort that out. The front brake switch was stuck open, so I ordered a new one for now. After riding it about 5 miles, it came up to operating temp and didn't overheat, didn't lose any noticeable amount of coolant, and didn't misbehave. But there's a hint of coolant on the dipstick when I check it.

OK, so that's where I'm at. To get it registered in TX, I have to buy insurance first, then get it inspected, which is why I have a brake switch on order as a priority, then pay taxes as if it was not a basketcase and register. So I have a couple hundred dollars more before I can actually put this into use. I haven't really even started on the bodywork which really needs to be done.

My question now is: what are the chances the new WP seal is leaking? Or is it more likely there was just some residual coolant that I couldn't have drained completely and another oil change will clear this up? I don't want to throw a $15 oil filter and another $10 worth of oil at it if I'm going to just have to do the whole WP job all over. The other question is, should I avoid riding it to go get it inspected if there's a little tiny bit of coolant in the oil? How much damage will riding 10 miles like this potentially do?

By the time all is said and done, with any luck I'll have a 16k mile GTS250 with rough cosmetics at $1K total expense and probably 10 hrs of labor. Not too bad, I guess.

Thanks all, LMK if you have advice about the little bit of coolant in the oil.
UTC

Veni, Vidi, Posti
Joined: UTC
Posts: 7049
Location: Tega Cay, SC
 
Veni, Vidi, Posti
Joined: UTC
Posts: 7049
Location: Tega Cay, SC
UTC quote
I'm guessing you probably never got all the coolant out of the areas reserved for oil only. You probably should change the oil and coolant again anyway. But before you go any further, I would suggest that you take off the valve cover and look at the cam and the rocker pad contact areas. If they are torn up from the absence of oil, that will need immediate attention.
OP
UTC

Hooked
'08 Vespa GTS250
Joined: UTC
Posts: 128
Location: Austin TX
 
Hooked
'08 Vespa GTS250
Joined: UTC
Posts: 128
Location: Austin TX
UTC quote
Thanks for the tip on the valvetrain, I'll see about taking a look at that while I'm waiting on the brake light switch to arrive.
OP
UTC

Hooked
'08 Vespa GTS250
Joined: UTC
Posts: 128
Location: Austin TX
 
Hooked
'08 Vespa GTS250
Joined: UTC
Posts: 128
Location: Austin TX
UTC quote
FYI, the start of this saga can be see on my blog:
https://joshkarnes.blogspot.com/2024/02/now-real-vespa.html

It has some pictures, for whoever might want to see them.
@fledermaus avatar
UTC

Veni, Vidi, Posti
2007 LX150 2015 GTS (on the bench) 2017 BV 350
Joined: UTC
Posts: 12106
Location: Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
 
Veni, Vidi, Posti
@fledermaus avatar
2007 LX150 2015 GTS (on the bench) 2017 BV 350
Joined: UTC
Posts: 12106
Location: Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
UTC quote
Well, that's an interesting read... Popcorn emoticon

Good on you for giving the GTS a little (lot of?) love. Good luck and keep us posted!
OP
UTC

Hooked
'08 Vespa GTS250
Joined: UTC
Posts: 128
Location: Austin TX
 
Hooked
'08 Vespa GTS250
Joined: UTC
Posts: 128
Location: Austin TX
UTC quote
Hit the link in my signature for the blog, there are two more posts after the first one. I don't really want to waste everyone's time on this forum with such rambling posts, but you can follow along on the blog if you're that into it. Plus, if you dig, you can find lots of info about my two Stellauto projects.

Now I'm all pumped to go out and tinker with the GTS. It's funny how I get excited to go work on it, but then I can't get to it until after work when it's 95 degrees in the garage. That makes me less excited to work on it, for sure.
UTC

Veni, Vidi, Posti
Joined: UTC
Posts: 7049
Location: Tega Cay, SC
 
Veni, Vidi, Posti
Joined: UTC
Posts: 7049
Location: Tega Cay, SC
UTC quote
Yep, South Florida boy here. Worked on many scoots in a hot garage. Even after the sun went down, the heat radiated off the concrete block walls and even closed up to keep the mosquitos out, they still found a way in. Or were just laying in wait all day, hidden, for me to pounce on and get their fill for the evening. Wha? emoticon A fan made it bearable and kept some of those flying devils away.
OP
UTC

Hooked
'08 Vespa GTS250
Joined: UTC
Posts: 128
Location: Austin TX
 
Hooked
'08 Vespa GTS250
Joined: UTC
Posts: 128
Location: Austin TX
UTC quote
It's just not scooter weather here in summer. Last year we were in Ft. Lauderdale for a couple of days in the early summer and it was horrible. Scooters for transportation to the beach or the pool at low speeds in beach attire plus a helmet seems sensible, but for ordinary transportation or recreation, nope.

I did like how popular scooters are there vs. here. Trying to get some Cen-TX scooter culture going, not working well so far.

Anyway, supposed to rain all day tomorrow with a high of 80. That's a perfect time to work on a scooter in the garage Maybe I'll get a lot of motorbike work done.
OP
UTC

Hooked
'08 Vespa GTS250
Joined: UTC
Posts: 128
Location: Austin TX
 
Hooked
'08 Vespa GTS250
Joined: UTC
Posts: 128
Location: Austin TX
UTC quote
Changed the oil and there was surprisingly more coolant in it than I expected. I can't imagine the oil pump seal was shot and also it has a blown head gasket, but I suppose anything is possible. Or I screwed up the water pump job.
OP
UTC

Hooked
'08 Vespa GTS250
Joined: UTC
Posts: 128
Location: Austin TX
 
Hooked
'08 Vespa GTS250
Joined: UTC
Posts: 128
Location: Austin TX
UTC quote
Rode the scooter yesterday to get it inspected, ahead of getting it registered and a license plate on it. Runs just fine. It really does feel like it needs lighter sliders or rollers in the variator and it wouldn't hurt to have a higher RPM clutch spring. It is anemic from 0-5 mph but once it's rolling, it runs right up to >50mph with zero drama.

The speedo needle is bouncy and it has the dreaded wobble on decel between about 35 and 25 mph. I'll tear apart the headset and lube the speedo cable, set the bearing load a little tighter, and hope for the best. I fully plan to be riding this on the regular once I get a license plate, probably tomorrow.

When I put it all together the other day, I couldn't get the headset plastics to really go together properly. For the time being, I put big zip ties to hold them together, but I must be doing something wrong. The upper part just will not stay together. It requires a lot of tension to just get the gap to go away and it feels like there are not any tabs or anything engaging. There's no fasteners in the top to hold the upper edge together. Advice on getting this to work?

I think once it's 16 years old and has been sitting its whole life in the TX sun, these plastics are kinda deformed. The glove box lid sticks out on the upper edges about 3/4" because it's not the same shape as the rest of the glove box. I may take a heat gun to that part and see if I can reshape it.
@chachi13 avatar
UTC

Member
2022 Primavera 150
Joined: UTC
Posts: 44
 
Member
@chachi13 avatar
2022 Primavera 150
Joined: UTC
Posts: 44
UTC quote
Try getting rid of the wobble by increasing front tire pressure to 29psi. Rear between 30-34? Do you have a tailbox because that could be contributing to a wobble.
OP
UTC

Hooked
'08 Vespa GTS250
Joined: UTC
Posts: 128
Location: Austin TX
 
Hooked
'08 Vespa GTS250
Joined: UTC
Posts: 128
Location: Austin TX
UTC quote
No top box.

I've read all about the wobble, and it seems that this type of behavior is most likely headset. I do need to reset the tire pressure though, and there's no reason not to run it up to 29 in the front.
OP
UTC

Hooked
'08 Vespa GTS250
Joined: UTC
Posts: 128
Location: Austin TX
 
Hooked
'08 Vespa GTS250
Joined: UTC
Posts: 128
Location: Austin TX
UTC quote
Welp, I set the tire pressure to 29/33 and cracked open the headset, tightened the bearing about a quarter turn, it was obviously loose. I think the wobble is worse. It wobbles only at a specific speed, probably around 25-30 mph, while decelerating with no brake, and really only if I take my hand off of one of the handlebars. I'm thinking this is par for the course for this scooter's suspension design with Michelin tires, and until I get to the point that I'm ready to swap the front shock and tire, I'll just live with it.

I can also feel a steady wobble while it's rolling at up to 40 mph. That might be tire balance? Who knows. It's a new wheel and hub but the guy at the shop who swapped the tire on says he'll balance it if it's showing signs, and I guess it is, so I'll take it back.

Good news, I did fix the speedo needle bouncing by lubing the speedo cable. The LCD screen seems to have a weird spot in the middle, I guess from sitting in the sun. I parked it in the shade, let's see if it sorts itself out. It was not doing this yesterday, but I had parked it out in the sun yesterday afternoon and let it sit all night there and also all of this morning. It's mega hot around here these days.
OP
UTC

Hooked
'08 Vespa GTS250
Joined: UTC
Posts: 128
Location: Austin TX
 
Hooked
'08 Vespa GTS250
Joined: UTC
Posts: 128
Location: Austin TX
UTC quote
Since the mechanicals are mostly sorted, time to start on cosmetics.

This scooter has obvious signs of having been wrecked on the right side. I think they must have hit a curb pretty hard and bent the front wheel and hub, then the bike went down on the right and bent up the bodywork. Since access to the back side of these dents would require variably massive disassembly, I decided to attack it with a stud welder and slide hammer.

You know, if this forum would let me paste photos inline, I'd put pictures in here. But it's too much trouble. So, I'll just summarize. If you want to see more detail and pictures, you can follow along on my blog.

There was a pretty rough crease in the legshield. I straightened out the edge of it where the trim fits using clamps and blocks to kind of crimp it back into form. The dent was left, and I attempted using a hot-glue type dent puller, which totally didn't work. Being on the RH side, to get to it would have required more disassembly of the radiator and cooling stuff than I wanted, so I went after it with the stud welder, which worked great so far. It pulled out pretty straight and will be easily cleaned up with filler.

There was also a salad-bowl size dent on the RH cowl, just outside of the fuel tank. Again, it looked like a whole lot of disassembly to get to the inside, so the stud welder was used. It was the work of about 20 minutes to get it pulled out within range of filler.

This is a 16 year old, wrecked, abandoned, and resurrected scooter. I'm not trying to make it perfect, or even pretty. I just want to make it not obviously wrecked. I'll get the filler worked out in the next few days, and weather permitting, probably even get it painted by early next week. I'll just paint the entire RH legshield down to the weld, let the line be hidden by the horn cover. I'll probably also paint pretty much the entire cowl right up to the plastics. This will be a rattle can job with acrylic enamel.

Then the seat... Who knows what color this seat was originally. I am betting it was sort of a tan color and in the sun all of the red has faded out of it so it leaves it this kind of dingy gray. Today I'll refinish the whole seat with SEM Color Coat "camel" color.

Also today I'll put in an ounce of balance beads in the front tire, see if I can get rid of the little bit of wobble at speed.

It looks like the polarizer on the LCD screen is pretty well toast, so I guess I'll get to do that job so I can see the fuel level and coolant temp.
OP
UTC

Hooked
'08 Vespa GTS250
Joined: UTC
Posts: 128
Location: Austin TX
 
Hooked
'08 Vespa GTS250
Joined: UTC
Posts: 128
Location: Austin TX
UTC quote
I've been riding the scooter as much as possible, put about 40 miles on it since the last oil change. I checked the dipstick and there's very little coolant type discoloration. I am putting together a scooterwest order with a new oil filter and whatever other random parts I need, but I think my oil and coolant issue is solved. After riding it around this much, I've determined I really do like this scooter a lot.

Balance beads didn't change the wobble on the front end. So I'll just ignore it until the time comes for a new front tire, and in that case I might also upgrade the front shock at the same time.

I think I have all of the mechanical stuff sorted, so now just to finish up cosmetic stuff. I also redid the seat with SEM "camel" color finish and it looks fantastic for a 16 year old scooter. The polarizers and reflective film came in, so that job's coming up in the next few days. Also I got the dents pulled and filled, will start painting today.

One question: will generic rubber legshield edge trim work or do I have to buy the shaped part? I don't mind changing all of the legshield trim on both sides to something generic. New Piaggio proper legshield trim is like 3-4x the cost of the rubber stuff.
OP
UTC

Hooked
'08 Vespa GTS250
Joined: UTC
Posts: 128
Location: Austin TX
 
Hooked
'08 Vespa GTS250
Joined: UTC
Posts: 128
Location: Austin TX
UTC quote
Here it is after some bodywork and bad quality paint. Kind of beat-up chic. The seat re-dye was an insane success. It has been a lot of work so far to get this guy up and running, but I think I'd be hard pressed to find another one for the same I have invested in it that is in nearly as good condition. This is a fully usable scooter now.

External inline image provided by member with no explanatory text
@znomit avatar
UTC

Veni, Vidi, Posti
LX190 Friday afternoon special, [s]Primavera[/s], S50, too many pushbikes
Joined: UTC
Posts: 10343
Location: Hermit Kingdom
 
Veni, Vidi, Posti
@znomit avatar
LX190 Friday afternoon special, [s]Primavera[/s], S50, too many pushbikes
Joined: UTC
Posts: 10343
Location: Hermit Kingdom
UTC quote
Thats the original front tyre? Time for a new one!
OP
UTC

Hooked
'08 Vespa GTS250
Joined: UTC
Posts: 128
Location: Austin TX
 
Hooked
'08 Vespa GTS250
Joined: UTC
Posts: 128
Location: Austin TX
UTC quote
No, the date code on both tires is 2021. It has very little wear, shows no cracking etc. The scooter has nearly 17K miles on it. This is probably the 3rd or 4th front tire.

That's all part of the mystery of this scooter's story. It has decals reminding of service dates on it, had a business card in the glove box for the Vespa dealer's service dept where it was bought. Looks like during the first decade or so of this scooter's life, it was regularly and diligently cared for. It even had those expensive Rizoma bar end weights on it. Someone loved this thing.

Then, all of a sudden, there was a wreck, after 2021 when the tires were put on it. It bent stuff, made the scooter basically unrideable, and then the owner at that time parked it somewhere, locked the steering (!), and walked away. I can't imagine that was the same owner who coddled it for the first part of its life, so my guess is they sold it after 2021 and the new owner wrecked it soon after and then decided scooter ownership wasn't for them. A lot of folks buy a motorbike, crash it soon after, then never get back on.

It was towed, then in 2023 auctioned off from the salvage lot who had held it, likely for >1 year knowing TX law for when it becomes abandoned and can be re-titled.

The guy who bought it at auction paid way too much for it because he didn't know how to evaluate the condition, started tearing into it thinking it was going to be an easy fixer-upper, and got in over his head. He had a pressing need to clear space due to other issues, so just to get it out of his shop, he sold it to me in pieces for $200. Turns out I had a lot more willingness to fix it than he did, not to mention the luxury of time. This is my fourth basketcase scooter resurrection. I'm starting to get good at it.
@fledermaus avatar
UTC

Veni, Vidi, Posti
2007 LX150 2015 GTS (on the bench) 2017 BV 350
Joined: UTC
Posts: 12106
Location: Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
 
Veni, Vidi, Posti
@fledermaus avatar
2007 LX150 2015 GTS (on the bench) 2017 BV 350
Joined: UTC
Posts: 12106
Location: Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
UTC quote
Clap emoticon Clap emoticon

What a saga! Good work. Looks pretty presentable to me!

Curious on the time and $$ totals for the project....


Time to find another? Razz emoticon
OP
UTC

Hooked
'08 Vespa GTS250
Joined: UTC
Posts: 128
Location: Austin TX
 
Hooked
'08 Vespa GTS250
Joined: UTC
Posts: 128
Location: Austin TX
UTC quote
Pricing for the thing, first dollars:

Broken scooter - $200
ECU revirginizing + new lockset - $200
Misc parts - $200
New front wheel & hub - $100
Taxes & registration fees - $200
Paint & filler - $100
Total - $1000

I'm sure I'm leaving something out, and these are round numbers. But I think I really did pull this off for right at $1K, which was my goal.

I probably have about 20 hrs. of my own labor in this project. About 70% of that time is in the water pump rebuild, most of the rest is in bodywork & paint.

Still to do is about $200 worth of legshield beading and variator/belt maintenance, plus the hours to do that work. And I need to do the polarizers on the speedo, which I guess is another few hours work.

As far as moving on to the next project, well... it's the same old project. It's the dreaded Stellauto. IDK if you've looked at my blog, but basically this is a 2014 Stellauto that I got in 2022 after it'd been sitting for 8 years with only 38 miles on it. Once I was on the home stretch of getting it working correctly, a mighty wind blew over that one and my wife's Kymco, and the Stellauto actually went over a retaining wall and fell right on its head. So it's bent up, all the gas drained out of the tank, and I need to re-repair it, redo the tank cleaning, and then get rid of the Dellorto carb in order to make it usable. I love that scooter, but man, what a PITA it is.

I don't actually want any more scooter projects. I need to do some work on my Triumph Scrambler and I have a zillion other projects taking a back seat to the scooters. We have scooters for utility. It's a car alternative. We use them for grocery shopping and little errands close to home. I don't like working on them. Hopefully an EFI Piaggio with current parts availability will get me out of the scooter repair and restoration business.
@starreem avatar
UTC

Ossessionato
07 GTS250(RIP), 07 LX150, Several Lambrettas
Joined: UTC
Posts: 2817
Location: Raleigh, NC
 
Ossessionato
@starreem avatar
07 GTS250(RIP), 07 LX150, Several Lambrettas
Joined: UTC
Posts: 2817
Location: Raleigh, NC
UTC quote
You might already know this... 2008 model year marked the fuel pump recall. Typically hot re-start issues. Any authorised Vespa dealer should be able to pull up your VIN to confirm if the recall was performed. If not, you should be getting a new fuel pump installed for free.
@chachi13 avatar
UTC

Member
2022 Primavera 150
Joined: UTC
Posts: 44
 
Member
@chachi13 avatar
2022 Primavera 150
Joined: UTC
Posts: 44
UTC quote
starreem wrote:
You might already know this... 2008 model year marked the fuel pump recall. Typically hot re-start issues. Any authorised Vespa dealer should be able to pull up your VIN to confirm if the recall was performed. If not, you should be getting a new fuel pump installed for free.
New fuel pump installed for free is only for the first 10 years isn't?
OP
UTC

Hooked
'08 Vespa GTS250
Joined: UTC
Posts: 128
Location: Austin TX
 
Hooked
'08 Vespa GTS250
Joined: UTC
Posts: 128
Location: Austin TX
UTC quote
I did not know that about the fuel pump. You give me a lot more credit than I deserve.

IDK whether I am having any issues, but I can say this scooter does have to crank a little more than my wife's Kymco does to start. But it's not like it has to crank a lot, even on hot restarts. It just works like you'd expect it to. No different than my EFI Bonneville.

Anyway, I'll get AF1 Racing to run the VIN if I can't find an online VIN checker. My guess is any recall was probably done if it was before it was wrecked and parked.
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