Confessions Of A Viet-Bodge Scooter Owner


This is a true story. I am telling this story to you so you can learn from my experience. I am a friend of Pauls and without his help I would have tossed this bike out the window.

So It Begins...

I had some extra cash and so I started looking for a 2nd scooter for myself. I wanted something that had a 200cc motor, electronic ignition, and would be fun to ride so I started looking around. I eventually bought a good looking Lambretta Ser III from the local paper. It had a lot of cool bells and whistles on it! It had a bigger 200cc motor, it had an electic starter, locks on the side-panels which is nice in the city, a locking glove box inside the leg-shields, and it looked good. I figured it would be fun to tinker with and it runs better than my current Lambretta so why not? I can fix a few issues with a scooter right?

After a few weeks of owning the bike I had a number of small issues. The electric starter only worked sometimes. I noticed that when paint would chip off and the surface below was somewhat rusty which told me the surface was not prepared correctly when it was painted. The bike did run strong and besides a few screws coming loose the bike was OK. A buddy of mine nicknamed the bike 'finger tight' since I always found nuts or screws that were loose. After a few months I decided to sell this bike in order to pay for my growing scooter collection. I sold the bike to a friend that wanted a good first scooter that would be easy for him and his girlfriend to ride around the city. This bike had a strong motor so I knew it would haul both of them around the city with confidence, an electric starter so she didn't have to kick start it, locking side-panels so they wouldn't get stolen, a locking glove box to store their stuff, full set of keys, it looked good and rode well so I figured it would be a good first bike for my buddy and his girlfriend. They test-rode the bike, loved it and cut me a check.

Phone Call #1

A few weeks later my buddy called me to tell me something was wrong with the bike, the clutch was very loose and it wouldn't shift. I stopped off at his place after work and we opened the case. I found that the cap on top of the clutch had snapped off. Hmm..weird I figured...but I can fix that. We also noticed the locator pin for the chain case was missing. No biggie but do you loose that? I borrowed some tools, my friend paid for some new clutch bits and we replaced the clutch and within a few hours he was up and running again.

Phone Call #2

It wasn't long before I got another call. The electric starter stopped working, the kickstarter didn't work and he constantly had to push start the bike. Ugh...ok...I dropped by and we opened the case again. We messed around with the kickstarter which was jammed. We put it back together and it started working again. The electrical starter was a mystery but he was OK with the kick starter. This time I noticed the shifting cables had no outer on them, just some electrical tape which is no good at all. Those needed to be replaced so we got a new set of those an installed them. Also, why does gas leak out of the bottom of the carb? It's really messy.

Phone Call #3

Ok..I get another phone call. This time the motor had compeletly stopped working while they were driving home. I asked what happened and he said "We pulled out from a stop sign and BANG, then nothing. Bike won't start no matter what. I pushed it home."

I borrowed a truck and brought the bike to my garage and I started taking it apart. This is where the story gets even worse. Aparently the starter gear that was added to the flywheel was too heavy and had sheared all 8 of the rivets that held it together. The shop that had attached the starter motor and flywheel didn't account for the added weight of the starter gear. It took about 2000 miles before it finally sheared off leaving me with a busted flywheel with no starter gear. This made the starter useless.

At this point we decided to yank out all the wiring and parts associated with the electric starter. We both knew that trying to get that custom wiring harness to work with a stock setup would be a nightmare so we figured that replacing it was a good decision. We put in a new wiring harness and patched up the hole in the case where the starter was mounted.

We bought a new flywheel and I started installing it when I noticed that the slot for the key on the crank was not in poor shape. I would put the flywheel on, give it a few kicks, the bike would start and it would immediately shear off the key that held the flywheel in place. Oh god..I have to replace the crank. At this point I realize I'm in over my head and called in a friend that has rebuilt a LOT of motors. He would be able to set me on the right path!

"Those Cases Are Shot"

I dropped the bike off at his garage and a few days later he called with the bad news. He said "these motor cases are shot. Whoever milled out the motor to add the 200cc piston took off too much material and the studs for the head have almost pulled out." He showed me the very visible cracks (see pics) in the cases and told me to toss them in the gabage. I had to break the news to my friend, find a new motor, install it and get the bike running again.

Luckily I was able to source an original SIL 200cc motor for about $800 from a friend and was able to build it up using new parts. I have never rebuilt a motor before but I had some help from Paul and from the Sticky's book. Paul was able to loan me the special Lambretta tools I needed to rebuild the motor which made the rebuild go a lot easier. I put the new motor in the bike, replaced the wiring harness, new flywheel and electronic ignition, and assorted bits that we needed. Eventually we got everything hooked up and the bike started in a few kicks. Paul spent quite a few hours at my place putting this bike back together and getting it running.

Needless to say it was months before I sorted out all the issues. Luckily my friend doesn't completely hate me at this point as I did all the work to make it right but both of us are out a lot of cash. He still doesn't ride the bike as it has lost a lot of its charm.

Here's an approximate list of what we spent in order to get the bike roadworthy:

  • New Motor: $800
  • Enging Rebuild Kit, new bearings, seals, etc: $100
  • New clutch plates and cage: $50
  • New flywheel and stator: $210
  • New CDI: $65
  • New Wiring Harness: $70
  • New Carb: $80
  • New Cables: $12
  • Countless hours spent working on this bike when I could have finished my own projects: PRICELESS!!!

You'll also need special Lambretta tools if you're going to rebuild the motor which I was able to borrow. You'll also need a truck to pick up the bike when it breaks down.

Link to thread on Lambretta Club website.

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