Posted by: scootswla | 27August'10

Catastropic Failure

August 22nd, 2010- A date which will live in infamy. OK, that was a little melodramatic, actually what happened that fateful Sunday morning has become all to regular of an occurrence.
I blew up yet another Vespa. Everything was going like gangbusters, the Red Vespa was feeling fine and running fairly well. We had all turned off of highway 190 in Bon Weir, Texas heading for some twisty country roads when I noticed my CHT (cylinder head temperature gauge) had spiked up to near the 200C mark. I try to keep it under 175C and like to cruise just above 150C. I eased up a but and the pulled in the clutch to take a little strain off, the temp slowly fell but spiked again when I let out the clutch. No matter what I did I couldn’t get her to cool down and stay. I had slowed to around 40, maybe less, and there was a sound like a handful of change had been tossed into a spinning fan. I knew it was all over. Here’s the gory pictures of what I found when I got her home. WARNING – Not for the faint of heart, emotionally unstable or pregnant women!

When I took the head off metal dust started falling everywhere, I didn’t yet understand.

Sliding off the jug not just metal dust but big chunks of metal started falling out. First I thought the cases had cracked, thats really scary. Then I saw the piston.

Then I saw the Crank

The first question is “what happened?” Well I really don’t know. What I think happened is the big end bearing, thats where the connecting rod connects to the crank shaft, went rouge and the
slop let the piston get in a bind, a bind it shattered under. Another possibility is that the piston heat seized, shattered and the shrapnel from it did in the crank. In either case, it really wrecked the engine.

The second question is “what do you do now?” I really don’t know the answer to that question either. The engine definitely could be rebuilt. For all the metal carnage in the crank case the rotary pad looks like it was spared. A new crank and top end and a few odds and end would put me back on the road. Anywhere from five hundred to fifteen hundred buckaroos could be spent doing that. Those of you who know me, know I couldn’t go back to stock. I could however settle for a mild performance motor.

Rest assured, the Red Vespa is not headed for the scrap heap. She’ll run again, if not for me for someone else.



  1. I hear on the street that you are thinking on moving up to a 500cc scooter. Not good, a 500 cc scooter wide open throttle will
    be a little fast.

  2. I hear from other people, but I haven’t tried it myself yet, that you don’t have to hold the throttle wide open all the time. ;p

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