Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Repairs - Part one

A while back my Vespa GTS 300i.e. sprang a coolant leak.

You can read here about the discovery and diagnosis.

A coolant leak is no laughing matter.

If the leak causes you to lose enough coolant it won't take more than minutes to turn a perfectly fine high performance Italian engine into grist for a recycling mill.  The cure is to break out the tools and turn my half of the garage (the other half belongs to Susan) into a Vespa emergency repair bay.
Basically, the modern Vespa is a work of art.  Fortunately it's also very well engineered.  It's a finely sculpted sheet metal unibody design, closed by a shell of finely crafted ABS plastic panels.  The fit and finish is flawless.  Which is good, and bad.

The bad bit is that getting those curvy plastic panels off the bike requires patience, along with some coaxing, cajoling and some light doses of soft cursing.  The good bit is that the whole thing can be managed with a simple Phillips screwdriver and a pair of needle-nose pliers.   The large-frame Vespa GTS has a lot going on in its innards, and that means the job is about double the complexity of disassembling the air-cooled small-frame Vespa LX model.

This was the first time I needed to get under this Vespa's floorboards.  The job involves removing the following body parts and some other bits and pieces a stock Vespa won't have (hence the asterisks*):
  • The Piaggio badge.
  • The kneepad hatches covering the left recess with the alarm connector and the right engine coolant cover. 
  • The HeatTroller heated grips control.*
  • The horncover.
  • The glove box.
  • The floor rack.*
  • The battery cover.
  • The crashbars.*
  • The side fairings below the cowls.
  • The two small covers at the front end of the fairings. 
  • The floorboards.
I will spare you the details, but provide instead the phenomenal guidance I got from YouTube and ModernVespa:
Among the secrets you learn from Robot, is the elastic band trick that greatly simplifies re-installing the glovebox in a way that ensures that the glovebox locking mechanism actually works.

In short order, all those pretty bits litter the garage floor...
... and the Vespa reveals its secrets...
... including the source of the leak, and a missing screw clip for the left kneepad.  It was missing when I got the bike and I had replaced it shortly afterwards.  Now I have a spare.
The fix was super simple.  I tightened up the left-side hose clamp that was a little loose (and probably the source of the leak), and for good measure removed the single-use OEM hose clamp on the right of the joint, replacing it with a standard hose clamp.
A little more wiggling, cajoling and soft cursing later, and the bike was back in one piece.

The next day I returned to my bike in the garage at lunch time and was thoroughly pleased to find the garage floor nice and dry.
And that boys and girls, is how to unspring a leak, so to speak.  With a little helping hand from ModernVespa, as usual.

One more repair to come, stay tuned.

13 comments:

  1. Lots of plastic pieces to deal with. Nice to have access to the information on removal without breaking the clips. How old is the Vespa?

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    1. Thanks Richard. It's a 2010 model. Basically very little has chaged since the GTS line was introduced, other than the displacement. Next year ABS will add to the interesting aspects.

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  2. David, how long did it take to 'coax' all the pieces off the scoot? I think it was pretty close to an all day job just by the looks of it. Glad you fixed it 'so easily' and that it wasn't a major repair.

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    1. Actually Dar, it's about a one hour job to strip the bike down. The thing that makes it longer is not wanting to break anything, and so you're reluctant to apply force to anything. You end up Googling to find out if you're doing it right. It's like a large intricately made jigsaw puzzle where the pieces don't actually mate properly until they're 100% in exactly the right position. On the way out, or on the way in it's a real struggle coaxing them to fit.

      I was lucky with this one. For sure a really easy fix.

      Delete
  3. Nice job, I hated having to remove the fairings on my R1150RT, I like my Airhead and Ural's lack of plastic.....

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    Replies
    1. Dom there's always a price to pay for good looks.

      Delete
  4. Yay! Well-done. Where would we be without YouTube, MV and the rest of the online helpers?

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    Replies
    1. That's all too true Dave. I can't imagine having to get along without internet help.

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    2. You may have more free time?

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    3. Free time... that's what I long for, more free time.

      The fact is that I'd fill up the free time pretty quickly. The only difference is that I'd fill it up with better activities.

      Delete
  5. Mother of God what a business. A Bonneville is air cooled. No plastic panels. I am lazy.

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    Replies
    1. Michael treat that air-cooled Bonneville well my friend.

      Cause if you get a brand new one, it'll set you back $10K, plus it's fuel injected and oil-cooled.

      But the engine has fake-ish fins, and 100% fake carbs. Pity the poor fool who sets to work to re-jet the bike. The spokes, engine, gas tank etc. are real enough. Costs an extra $1.5K to lose the mags and get the spokes and you get a tach. It's a 900cc (actually 880-something-or-other).

      There's a very fetching two-tone off-white and ruby red model down at the local shop calling my name.

      Delete
    2. It's almost mandatory on all of my 'plastic' machines to use the manual or at least have the proper order of removal/assembly. Broken tabs are so frustrating and yet too easy to accomplish. As you say, the price of those good looks :)
      Nice job on the repair.

      Delete

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