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Vespa RatRod

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I really don't need another project, but sometimes stuff pops up, and you have to grab em.

Back in October someone pointed out an add for another smallframe Vespa on the internet.  They were never sold in Aus, but the attraction is that they're super cheap to register (as a sub 50cc bike), and they're great for nipping/ripping around traffic.  The one advertised had two serious problems:

1:  It was disassembled and being sold as incomplete/parts

2: It was on another continent, 8182 miles away.

But it was super cheap, and while a little beaten up, it was crying out to become a ratrod.

So after lots of emails, a flurry of paperwork to get and import permit, and a whopping great big fedex bill, I've got another project to do.  Sometime down the track...

The seller and awesome bloke called Keith didn't blink about helping me export it to Aus, and agreed to "box it up for Fedex".

Which he did.

Bye Bye enjoy your new home in the sun.JPG

He also plowed his 1200yard driveway so Fedex could get in through this

What its leaving behind.JPG

Apparently it's colder in Buffalo Minnesota than here in Melbourne Australia.

Today it arrived.

Upside down.  Thanks Fedex.


Fortunately, Keith had packed it well, so out came my new toys.


The rust looks only surface, and the dents will punch out.


Pretty solid really.


It was a very full box.


Pretty much everything I need


Admitting you have a problem is the first step...


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Oh yes you have a problem! :yes:

Tinwork on that looks like it needs little more than a bare metal strip, an odd tap here or there, and a coat of paint. Guess we don't get a 101 photos of exquisite tin bashing, welding and the utilisation of the worlds largest collection of Mole grips that we did on the last one?


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  • 3 weeks later...
8 hours ago, GT6MK3 said:

Bake on low heat for an hour.

Fair to say that Juliette was out...

yes missed my slot on saturday had some vht painted items that needed baking at 100c for an hour, but wasn't quite ready in time and chickened out getting the smell out of the house afterwards in time!:yes:

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  • 1 year later...

Life (as it does) got in the way of this project, so it's been on the shelf for a while.


The bodywork was all a bit ugly


Between lockdowns I got back to it, and made up some bracing to help hold the rear end together


Then looked at packaging in the exhaust

IMG_0743 (1).jpeg

Which didn't fit. So I made a hole for it.


Then curved a plate to fit around it.




With all that welding and the various bracing welded in, the paintwork was shot.  So Mr Wirewheel came out, then there was lots of hammering and dollying.


Followed by lots of boggingIMG_1033.jpeg

And lots and lots of sanding.


And more bogging, and more sanding.

With the Lockdown MkII going on for the last few months all this has had to take place on the odd occasions when I'm legitimately at the factory, waiting for work stuff to finish, so it's been slow progress.  But today I was able to finally hang it up in the booth.


and try to remember which end of the spray gun paint comes out of.


Lesson of the day - Vespa's are curvy and hard to paint.


and I'm out of practice.


But she's finally in primer, (we'll ignore the couple of runs till later), and I can assess how much more work the body needs when I get to the workshop next.

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Good to see you are managing to get some "leisure" time :smile:

I thought the point about Rat Rods was that they were meant to be a bit...... errrr.... ratty?  All go and no show...... so what's with the beauty program? :tongue:

That exhaust, though disguised in it's bag, looks like an epic bit of work.... 2 stroke exhausts..... real witchcraft!

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  • 3 weeks later...

The plan was deffo to rat it, but then (a) the Voodoo bike bobbed up which is much rattier, and (b) when I started banging out the panels, I realised how much of the paint wasn't going to survive.  It's never going top be a show bike with me doing the work, but it should come up reasonable from a distance. The exhaust is a thing of beauty.  

As of tonight, the body has also been shot with filler primer in thick mode, then rubbed down, then hit again in thin mode, and rubbed back again with 600, and is one inspection and rectification session away from colour.


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Pretty chuffed with the initial look after colour.

Having started with this


and done all the panel beating myself, I was happy to accept a 6 foot paint job, but I think it's turned out as more like a 3 footer. 




Proof will be in the pudding when she get looked at in the light tomorrow

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So, I continue to paint and continue to learn lessons.

Paint.  What fun.  


17 parts.  2 hours later they're all in primer.


Lots of sanding coming.

Onto the lessons.

First lesson.  If, as you squeeze the trigger and start laying the first pass of colour onto a vehicle, you think "Hmm, not sure if I like this colour...", stop.  If you don't like it then, you won't come to like it later.  I was really happy with the paint job, but I just couldn't live with the colour.

So, after taking some advice from the paint shop, I waited till day 7 after clear, took a bucket of suds and a dozen sheet of 800, and scuffed back the clear.



I let it gas out overnight, then washed it 4 times, and dried it down.

Hung it up, started laying a the first coat of a new colour over the scuffed up clear.  Beautiful.  Except Lesson 2 kicked in.  Let it really gas out. In two places it hadn't gassed out fully, and it completely orange peeled and then bubbled.  I should have known, because when I was cleaning it with wax and grease remover, it looked different in both those spots.


New plan was needed, and fast. In the end, I ran almost 8 liters of thinners through the paint gun, and hosed all the silver, all the clear, and (almost) all the black onto the floor.

Sadly, I washed through the primer in a couple of spots, so I'll have to deal with that tomorrow.  More sanding, painting, and sanding coming before I can go again.



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Sanding.  Tick.

Priming.  Tick.

Sanding (again) Tick.

Priming rub thru's.  Tick

Sanding (gently). Tick

Washing.  Tick.

Degreasing. Tick.

Tack rag.  Tick.

That was this weeks spare time, and it was back to paintable condition.

Time for a nice new colour.  Something a little darker that Buffy's bright platinum, but not that 'orrible black.

So last night I hung it up, wax and grease removed it one more time, tack ragged it, and then laid on a first coat.  "Light", "delicate", "mist", and similar words were my mantra.  And it looked, well, not awesome.  There was a fisheye right on the side of a cowl, and a really weird curved pattern showing in the paint above the other one.  Cue my internal monologue.

"First coats often look ugly.  It'll be right, I'll go to the edge of heavy in those areas on the next pass, and it'll all work"(Denial)

I did just that with the second coat.  the fish eye started to wash out, but the curved wasn't better, if anything it was worse.

"Fark, fark, farkity FARK!  This things gonna kill me.  Why do I even bother?  If cross pattern the next coat it better come out, and it doesn't, I'm gonna cut it in half..." (Anger)

So I tried that.  Cross pattern, and way too much paint.  And the slightly noticeable pattern turned into a butt ugly, loaded with pigment and flake, never ever gonna go away sag.

"Stay calm.  Maybe it's fixable.  Maybe I can just rub that bit off, and if I get really lucky, I can run some extra coats an it'll be ok.  It wont be great, but if I'm happy to accept a lessor result, maybe I can save it." (Bargaining)

Out came the clean rags, some reducer, and a delicate touch.  And I completely ruined it, just like I knew it would.  Just like I knew sanding it would.  But I piled even more basecoat on, again and again, with each coat making the rest of the bike look great, and the eyesore look shatteringly bad.  

"Jeezus.  It's just getting worse.  Lets face it, the reasonable jobs I've done till now were flukes.  I may as well pay someone else to paint it." (Depression)

Out came the big tin of thinners, lots of rags, and a of gloves.  And off came the basecoat.  Again. 90 filthy, smelly minutes.

"Breathe deep.  It'll be ok.  It's still ready for colour and clear.  Fatigue is a factor here.  Leave it for the night, with some sleep, it will be better tomorrow." (Acceptance)


Having failed again, I went home, slept and headed back this morning before going to work.


I stayed calm, stayed clean, and stayed clinical.




The 'orrible black is gone, 4 coats of metallic tungsten gray on and covered in another 4 coats of clear, and I'm much happier.

I'm looking forward to cutting it down tomorrow and seeing it in the sunlight.

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You are a glutton for punishment :no:

First you try black, the least forgiving of the solid colours..... then you move on to metallic and the challenges of getting the flake to lie right on the fearsome knobbles and curves of a Vespa..... all while knowing your OCD will accept nothing less than perfection .......

It looks damn fine in the pics, and I agree that tungsten metallic is a big improvement on black, so I really hope it stands up to daylight scrutiny and you are able to stop flogging yourself with this thorny branch.

Me, I’d have painted it white or grey or some pale pastel just for the easy life..... so I salute your significant extra effort :goodjob:

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Looking good. Your problems here are exactly the reason I avoid anything bodywork related :confused:

I do like the alternate use of toner cartridges as stands however, although I do have to question how often you need to change a toner cartridge to justify carrying four!


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When panic buying of toilet paper set in prior to lockdown 1, I tried to apply the lessons to what would happen for our work needs

I cleaned out the eastern suburbs branches of Melbourne's major office supplier of a particular type of laptop, a specific Printer/Scanner MFC, and display port to HDMI cables.  I had 5 of us out hoovering up the available stock!

We sent about 75 staff home to continue working through lockdowns 1 & 2.  Before lockdown 1 I purchased laptops for all, and MFC's for about 1/2 of them.  I was nicely ahead of the curve till they all ran out of toner (Lawyers  l o v e  to kill trees.)  Before lockdown Two,  I stocked up on toners and drums.  I have about 12 toners left, and you cant buy them for love or money - they're on backorder till New Years everywhere. 

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Hello Phil

                On the contrary it would give him more time to do what he would really like to do(money is a problem but I am sure he could skim all the odd fractions of a penny off here and there from these companies and be rich?)



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Actually "Fountain Pen" lawyers (as I call them), were never a problem, as long as they had good P.A.'s to do all their digital work.

I feel sorry for the PA's for the few FP lawyers I currently support.  We put laptops and MFC's into the lawyers houses,.  The PA's remote into the laptops, print out the lawyers reading.  The lawyers read, and mark up the paperwork, then put the paperwork into the sheet feeders on the MFC's.  The PA then logs into the lawyers laptop, and instructs the MFC to read the paperwork, and email it to them.  Ugly and time consuming, but it's not my time...

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