Posted on 21/09/2005 at 10:50

Original condition

Original condition
Here is how I finally bought this wreck :
everything started on Wednesday February 2nd 2000, when a friend of mine, Laurent (my official mechanics reference! Thanks Die Capricieuse...), gives me a ring. We discuss about different things (well, mainly VW stuff, actually!), then he tells me about a friend of him who sells a Lambretta LD around Antibes (where I live), if I know someone interested by it...

And you guessed it, I am interested, as I just love those vintage bubble shaped scooters, nothing to do with the aggressive design of nowadays cheap plastic ones...

Plus, this one is a Grand Luxe model, not a lot of them were built around 1956 (in France, but 8.694 were built from February to December 1954 in Italy). They were designed for womens : this is why it's equipped with an electric starter and a battery...

So! Saturday, February 5th, I meet the beast owner (Olivier, thanks for your kindness), and we make a deal for 600 Francs (more or less 90 euros). Here are the very first pictures of the scooter, which is not in such a bad condition as a first glance would let you think!
The monster is back into my garage! First short list of missing parts :
  • the two rear body panels.
  • cooling housing around the cylinder.
  • speedometer and clock on the dashboard.
  • fuel tap and its command extension
  • the second, rear saddle (and the leather on the first!)
  • the electric starter, replaced by a kick.

Anyway, this electric starter wasn't a real success, the battery kept discharging, and it obliged to remove the kick... So pushing the scooter was the only solution left to start the engine! icone smiley laugh

Interestingly, in the middle of the dashboard, there's an amp-meter... And in the gloves box : a little beveled mirror! Yes, this definitely was a scooter for girls!icone smiley wink

The fuel tank does not appear but I got it!
Apart from that, and in opposition with what you would have thought watching at those pictures, it's still in a pretty good condition, the metal being very thick, with only some superficial rust... And a lot of period pine needles! (the air filter was full of it!)
Let's have a closer look at the mechanics : a good surprise actually!

The engine is seized. I was affraid to find all the lower-end rusted... But no! The piston was only seized into the cylinder...

The combustion chamber looks clean, absolutely no rust there! Actually, the while engine was in a grease cocoon, a real mess to clean, but it protected it from time and rust!
I've started cleaning the carburetor, it's like new under the dust... Plus, I learned that all the parts are available as replicas, for very affordable prices. And you know what, the Lambretta Club de France's guy who is in charge of the spare parts live only 5 minutes driving from my place!
Here it is! Just to tell you a bit more about this model, it's a 125cc two-strokes engine, Dell'Orto carbie, with a 3 gears gearbox. Rear brake on the right foot, there was a smaller pedal on the left to activate the electric starter. Gear selection with the left handle, clutch on the left, front brake on the right, just like today's two wheelers.

The Lambretta engine are said to be very resistant, though it's Italian... Well, wait and see!
More to come real soon!
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Posted on 21/09/2005 at 10:51

Restoring the frame and the body...

Restoring the frame and the body...
Starting the disassembly... Be very careful at this stage, putting a tag on each single part, avoiding later surprises... A small notebook can be useful!
WARNING hen disassembling the fork : there's a ball bearing at the bottom (23 big balls), and a smaller one at the top (31 smaller balls). But all those balls are free, so be careful when opening not to throw them everywhere!

Interesting, the front end is suspended but without any shock absorber (click here to see schema). The rear end has a shock absorber, but this is a feature available only on GL models. On the others, you just keep bouncing... icone smiley wink

Actually, the rear suspension works on a torsion bar. An arm comes onto it, and an articulation links it to the engine case. Here it is one of those two axis that I've removed...
AND THEN! Surprise! As I remove the axis, a bunch of small rolls jump around! Look at the picture (yeah, yeah, behind the greasy stuff, dust and pine needles...) : yes, a cage-less roll bearing! Same joke as with the 2 fork bearings... I manage to find back all of the rolls, but if you have to do this operation, be more careful than I was! icone smiley smile
Let's go to the sandblasting... Body front part, glove box, 3 wheels, spare wheel support, 2 foot rest extensions, rear shock absorber, stand, protection box of the current redresser, fork, front mud guard, and, obviously, the frame, will be blasted clean.

The sandblaster uses tungsten shots, as you can guess, the rust doesn't resist a long time to such a treatment...

Back from sandblasting, all the parts go to the body shop. It's very important not to wait between sandblasting and painting (or at least primering), as the bare metal gets rusty within two/three days (depending on air humidity levels).
You can see on the pictures the two fenders I bought. They are beige-orange, as they were primered to prevent rust formation.
Saturday May 20th, at least, I get back the painted body! That's a Glasurit referenced Yellow (I've got the reference 2L 18CTS 1x030 written on the paint pot, but I'm unsure weither it's related to the actual color shade or not...). Superb...
Front fork details / front suspension : before and after.

On the left, the suspension box, with the spring, axis and arm removed. The grease is 44 years old, and the tungsten shots from the sandblaster got stuck into it... So I had to make a tool (piano wire with a washer welded onto it) to be able to remove the crappy grease from the fork... Do you think I should make a patent for it?... icone smiley laugh

In the middle, the aluminium cover plates. During the 50's, this was the place for funny accessories : logos, etc... I decided to get them chrome plated.

On the right, the two suspension arms. Made of casted aluminium, I polished them!
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Posted on 21/09/2005 at 11:02

Engine restoration

Engine restoration
I brought the engine back home : disassembly is going on on my terrace... icone smiley wink
Note : I found some fiberglass in the exhaust. The Lambretta Club de France's President told me this was a proof the scooter has only a limited mileage ; indeed the fiberglass was of oor quality by that time, and usually burnt rapidly...

Starting the grand cleaning of the engine... The grease coat was so thick it was hiding the screw I needed to remove to separate the transmission from the engine block!
More than 1 liter of cleaning agent was needed to give back a clean look to the engine.
The looseness on the gearbox's gears looks OK, and I did not find any filings in the carter...
The carburetor : all the parts were disassembled, up to the smallest spring, then cleaned with some alcohol, and brushed with a soft metallic modeling brush. The result is pretty good, though it took me 8 hours for the carburetor only!

Cylinder / head : they didn't look OK whn I removed'em from the engine, but here is the result after lots of patience, elbow grease and some polishing paste. I'm pretty proud of the result, the result is great!

Rear spindle : 2 ball bearing to change, they "scratched" a little. Be careful when disassembling the small seal you see on the bottom of the picture : don't loose it, it's very difficult to find another one today. When, you could make a new one from scratch anyway...

The cooling housing aluminium stuff : thos parts, pretty thin an fragile, are more and more dificult to find in such a good condition! Plus, my model (1956) requires a specific type of housing for its aluminium intake manifold. Phew, this is the right housing model, feel lucky!

The speedometer "transmitter". A Jaeger clockwork piece. Superb.
And here is the result, once the engine mounted back! I really enjoyed reassembling it, as I've got all seals as new, and all parts flagged with a tag...

Only issue : when mounting the piston, an axis blocking clip decided to take some holidays in the carter, below the crankshaft... Not tht easy to take it off! My advise : put the engine case on its side when mounting the clips to avoid this situation... If you have the same problem as I had, you can use two 1mm. piano wires to get the clip out... Some patience is required as well!! icone smiley laugh
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Posted on 21/09/2005 at 11:05

Restoring chromes and electric wiring...

Restoring chromes and electric wiring...
Left picture, the front brake and clutch commands. They were originally covered with an ugly grey rubber, I decided to polish them...
Middle picture, the chromes are back from their bath! Beautiful job, thank to Etablissements MORIANO, in St Laurent du Var. Just a free ad for them, the result is just perfect!
For example, the headlight... Compare with this picture... No comments!
And voila, a nice ID plate, same format as original one!
I cut it out of an aluminium sheet I found in an old server... Informatics applied to vintage vehicles restoration! icone smiley laugh

To paint the characters, I used some masking film, usually used for airbrush painting.
Last picture, the result once mounted, with several polishing phases to get the whole thing glossy.
The brakes light contact : only GL models are equipped with it. The fixations on the contact being broken, I made an aluminium support, epoxy-glued on the contact.

You can see the result on the last picture... When you press on the pedal, the contact extends, which closes the circuit and lights the rear brake light.
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Posted on 21/09/2005 at 11:12


Putting back the engine into the frame!
If you've got this operation to do, here is the correct order :
  1. re-mount the scooter stand to work freely.
  2. Put back the engine into the frame, with its front axis.
  3. Mount the suspension arm with its torsion bar and moreover, the junction that links it to the engine... You can't mount this part later. 34 rolls come into the ball bearing.
  4. Link back the junction to the engine... 34 more rolls to put in, I advise you use some grease to stick them in.
Make sure you follow the steps in this order unless it turns into a nightmare!
Starts looking good, uh?
The handlebar is on, with all is cables (gear selection, clutch, front brake, throttle...).
Later, I've replaced the cables by Teflon-ized models (usually used on mountain bikes). They slide much more smoothly than the Italians replicas.

The rear brake is back as well, as the glovebox and the speedometer.

Small issue during the re assembly, the fenders don't mount fine on the frame... I forgot to ask my bodyshop to adjust'em... Argh... Anyway, with a bit of patience, I made it happen.
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