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The SS Minnow - Vespa PX200E

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My job can be a little all consuming at times. This weekend I was doing a network changeover for a criminal law firm in the city. I specialize in running networks for lawyers, and criminal lawyers are the most demanding of the lot when it comes to their IT, so the pressure was on. This job's been a year in the making, I had a test swing at it 6 months ago, and this weekend I had to get it done. I had a public holiday to help on Monday, so a 3 day weekend.

From Friday till Sunday, I pretty much worked, and napped in the office. Late Sunday night, I snuck home ripped out a few hours sleep in my own bed, changed my cothes and headed back to the city. I'd slept about 12 hours out of the last 72 by then, so I was a bit fried.

Coffee is your friend for these jobs, and I stopped in the city at one of the better coffee haunts, parked the scooter on the footpath and headed inside. Sadly the queue was about 12 deep, and I figured some free office coffee was a better/faster option.

I headed back out of the building, and as I walked I was juggling my helmet, gloves and keys. About 40 feet from the scooter, I distincltly remember having the keys held in my teeth as I started pulling my full face helmet on, and thinking "This wont work."

I know I must have done something with the keyring to get my helmet on, but when I got to the scoot, it was gone. As in G O N E.

Not on the floor between me and the door, not in a pocket, not trapped in my clothes, gloves or boots, not in my bag. Just bloody gone. (I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have swallowed keys and a keyring without noticing it...)

I searched (hard) for a while, then gave up, abandoned the scoot locked up on the footpath, and walked the 5 blocks to work.

An hour later, I returned, armed with a satchel full of screwdrivers and a hammer. In the middle of a busy city sidewalk, I carefully put my helmet down beside the bike, selected a screwdriver, placed it carefully, readied them hammer and prepared to bash the crap out of the lock.

Just before I started, I though the better of that method. Realisation hit - I have a battery drill in the office, and it would be a much better candidate for the job. So I packed away my tools, picked up my helmet and began the stroll back to work.

4 blocks later, 2 cops, one with hand on gun, one with pepper spray at the ready, stopped me in my tracks. An interesting discussion ensued -
"I reckon I know what you'd like to chat about"
"Yep, it's my scooter. Here's my licence"
"Yep, I've lost the key."
"Yep, I agree it's a bad look,"
"Yep, There _are_ a hammer and screwdrivers in my bag, but it's on the ground at my feet, and now you know why I have them, so perhaps we can all relax?"

Eventually, they lookup up the rego and my licence, and were convinced of the legitimacy of why I had been messing with the bike. But their posture remained pretty tense, and they asked me for a look at my helmet. There's nothing unusual about it other than a Bluetooth comms unit on the side, so I was puzzled what they were after, till the senior cop burst out laughing, and said

"That's a bluetooth, not a camera."

It seems someone had reported that not only had I been trying to steal a scooter, but that my helmet on the ground beside the front wheel had been placed there to upskirt the passing crowd. Just the sort of thing a degenerate scooter thief would try.

Realising the absurdity of the report, they postured down, we all had a smile, they thanked me for my co-operation, I thanked them for their professionalism, and they went on their way. I'm happy joe public was concerned enough about the possible theft to report it, but I'm not sure I'm as happy about being thought a deviant.

12 hours later, I took a set of drillbits, a battery drill, and a couple of screwdrivers, drilled out the lock, started her up, and stole my own bike off the footpath, all without a single person asking what I was doing, or any police wandering along.

New locks on the way, I still have no idea where the keys are!


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Still a while before sealant time, but I'm glad you reminded me.  The shiny new cases are lovely, but the milled flanges show no particular signs of having been deburred.  With no gasket, I want to fa

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Scooter thieving and simultaneously upskirting.... sounds a bit intense for your average crim....

Interesting experience..... and major irritation. At least the keys weren’t lifted by a real baddie and used to take it away while you were rounding up tools!

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  • 1 year later...

There's been a slowly growing collection of parts for the Minnow's next power plant.  his one will be built with modern go fast bits to give a little better performance.




Shiny ceramic coated piston


Unlike the traditional Vespa piston, this one has no exhaust window


Cylinder spacer/gasket married up to the crankcase and areas that need dremmeling marked out


Not too much needed



Spacer needs trimming


This lip is probably redundant - suspect it is a hangover from old case design flaws, it will probably meet the dremel.

Shiny new German crank


More work to come, luckily I can do most of it at my desk while waiting for servers to update.



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Hello All 

                I hate to say this but it still a scooter! a quicker one maybe while it lasts!

still boys and toys and who am I to judge?


ps  Velocette motorcycles was (is) my thing (still have 3!) still the value is going up and have sold a few parts for more than I paid for bikes!

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15 hours ago, rogerguzzi said:

  I hate to say this but it still a scooter!

:blink: That’s fighting talk that is :ohmy:

But I’m minded to misquote JFK...

”We choose to make these machines better/faster, not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard”

No doubt you will be invited to join them on one of their “little jaunts” to see if you can keep up :tongue:

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25 minutes ago, Nick Jones said:

No doubt you will be invited to join them on one of their “little jaunts” to see if you can keep up 

Hello Nick

                Its a bit to far to be beaten and the handling of them frightened me to death the once only I tried one!


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Ha ha ha.  Yep, no matter what I do, it'll still be a scooter.  And no matter how fast I make it go, the hard limits of 10" wheels kick in.  But they're fun to ride, especially right at the limit of control...  As much as I like motorbikes, I find it much more fun to be at 70-75mph on a scooter than 130-150 on a sportsbike.  It's considerably friendlier for your licence too.

More work today, beginning of the slow steady dremeling.  None of the parts were originally designed to specifically work together, so there's some hand porting to be done.

This protrusion is designed to clear a thin section in the original cased, but redundant now.


So off it comes


Still some polishing to be done, but it also needs further light trimming to match the case.

The case port has been roughed in,


still needs further matching and refinement, then a good finishing polish.

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Hello Craig

                   This is my type of 2 wheels.

The KSS (the one needing work) is a 350cc SOHC and would sit at 70 to 80 MPH all day which is not bad for a 1920's design and built in 1938!

The other one is an MSS 500cc  OHV more of a workhorse but still handles well as they both use the frame design which was developed for racing


ps now the racing Honda Twin 50cc DOHC and 4 valves per cylinder was taking 4 strokes extreme!

The Honda Works 50cc Racing Motorcycles RC115 and RC116 (classic50racingclub.co.uk)



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Gorgeous Roger!  I'd love to have something like that to tinker with and ride!

Continued roughing in the ports today.

With the piston in, I can see I need to take this lip out further.


And I'll probably blend the cylinder back to match the case here



Still tossing up haw hard to hit that, so I got on with the first blend of a fairly ugly sharp step


And my German and Italian parts for the gearbox had their first introduction



We're in a  day lockdown, so it's off to the work salt mines for the next week, might take the tools and bits in with me.



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More work on the left rear


Getting close to happy with the rough in


Might just smoote the inlet ram a  little more at the rear corners

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58 minutes ago, Nick Jones said:

Coming on.

Fiddly but satisfying. 2-strokes are witchcraft....  

nah !

no valves or timing 1/2 number of strokes. 
more technology in the the exhaust mind.

my first engine rebuild was a 1923 Royal Enfield 2 stroke bought as a non runner cylinder and head was one piece.

fuel mixture in via holes drilled in the piston skirt and in the piston was in the wrong way out by 180deg 

very chuffed to fix that one  in my early teens.

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Upside down 2 stroke pistons are a right of passage.

Working on the clutch side port today.

I couldn't figure out a way to line up the piston properly with the eccentric ports, to I bolted it all back in the flyside, then broke out the laser to let me mark the piston skirt where the casing join is.


Next I marked up the part where the metal was in the was of the air.


Rough cut


Getting close


Finished.  (Note the red mark on the piston skirt for alignment) 


Time for the top ports.

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It's tedious work.  Lots of time at this bench over the last few days.


Fit and finish of the fairly expensive cases is less than awesome out of the box


So lots of grinding and polishing occurred till I was happy enough


I could probably go further, but the law of diminishing returns kicks in, and they're a lot better than they were.


I'll have another look tomorrow, but it's time to start building.



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17 hours ago, Nick Jones said:

do you get to play the gasket game again?

Yep, it'll need to be airtight, or very close to it.  Could be fun, there's no actual gasket with these new cases.  Hopefully the nice new faces are good and flat.  Still leaves about 14 other faces to leak from between spacers and reeds etc.  

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Still a while before sealant time, but I'm glad you reminded me.  The shiny new cases are lovely, but the milled flanges show no particular signs of having been deburred.  With no gasket, I want to faces to be as flush as possible, so to mitigate the risk of of any burs causing interference I 45 degreed all the edges both inside and out with a file.


The filed finish (outside edge) isn't as pretty as the raw (inside), but "function over form", and you can see how much tiny swarf came off.


Next the bearings went in the freezer, and the case halves spent 30 minutes in the ez-bake at 135 Celcius.


The clutch side (as always it seems!) needed some assisting with a bearing drive, but the cases are nicely reinforced, so it was soon in snugly and given a wd40 bath to drive off any residual moisture,


then circliped in securely, with the clip in then turned 90 degrees to make sure its seating.



The fly side dropped in nicely with a light tap.



At that point I called it a day - gotta spread the work out over lockdown!

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