Out Of Print Vespa Repair Guides

There have not been very many Vespa repair guides which have been published. Most of the books on the subject were printed in the 50's and 60's in the UK. Naturally these books are pretty hard to find in the US. Below are the ones that I have been able to find. Feel free to email me if you know of any other guides that were produced. At some point I'd like to scan these manuals and make them available. Until I can figure out a way to easily post them here, scans of the covers will have to do!

(Published 1960) This book covers most of the scooters which were available in the U.K. at the time the book was published. Naturally, a book which covers so many different models and designs can't get into specifics much, and this book does not. However, it does have quite a bit more information than one might expect. It goes over the basics of the design of various components, and then has a short section detailing how that component works on each of the different scooter brands. Since most scooter motors are fairly simple, this arrangement works fine. Of course, much detail is left out in the process. One of the best parts of the book are the superb cut-away illustrations of the different motors and motor components. The book was published by "Motorcycling" magazine, which is famous for these wonderful illustrations. There is some useful information on the 50's Vespas, which can sometimes be hard to find. I'm sure some of the information in this book would be even more useful for someone with a rare scooter brand for which there isn't much information available.

(Published 1965) This was the "official" Vespa repair handbook of the U.K. Vespa importers, Douglas. It was first published in 1957, but it was revised several times, and I have the 1965 version. This is a pretty good manual, it is well written and concise. There are quite a few useful illustrations which accompany the text. Some of them are obviously lifted from the Piaggio service manuals, but others are not. What is different about this book is that it covers not just the rotary valve models, but also the 50's piston ported bikes, as well as the smallframes. There really isn't much available technical information on the piston ported bikes outside of the factory service manuals, so this book is quite helpful in that regard.

(Published ?) This is the "Clymer" manual for the Vespa. Clymer published all kinds of books relating to cars and motorcycles, and still is in business today. This book does not have a copyright, but judging from the other manuals advertised in it, it appears to have been published in the late 1960's. Anyone buying this book to service their Vespa in the late 60's would be sorely dissapointed. It appears to simply be a re-print of the British book, "The Book of the Vespa." I discuss the third version of that book below. This book covers the very early Douglas "rod model" Vespa which was sold in the U.K. only. Not only was that Douglas Vespa based on outdated Italian models when it was sold new, but the Douglas company sourced many parts in Britain for the scooter which were unique to the U.K. market. Douglas scooters were not sold in the U.S. So, someone buying this book in the late 60's would be gettin information on a scooter which was not sold in Italy since the late 40's or early 50's, and was not even for sale in Britain since the mid-50's. Of course, nowdays there is very little technical information available regarding these early scooters, so this book could be quite helpful if you had one. Naturally the Douglas-specific information for the Amal carburator and the electrical system will probably be useless to anyone without a Douglas made Vespa. However, the other information on dismantling the engine and on general maintenence would be useful to anyone with a handlebar Vespa.

(Published 1972) The "Third Book of the Vespa" is a small book which aims to cover a lot of ground. It is not simply a repair manual, but it also informs you how two stroke motors work generally, and how ignition systems and transmissions work too. Finally, it has a chapter on the proper way to ride your Vespa! That is a lot for a pocket-sized hard cover of only 73 pages. Needless to say, this book does not go in depth on any subject. Probably the best parts of the book are the general overview of how motors work. The chapters on servicing the scooters themselves are pretty bad and do not have a whole lot of useful information. Finally, the illustrations are not even much help as they appear to be copied from the Piaggio parts manuals. With so many other sources of good repair information, this book is more of a collectors item than a useful tool for the mechanic.

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