Small Frame Fun

One of my friends picked up a 1974 Vespa Primavera with almost no miles on it from a guy in Alabama and had it shipped out via It’s a nice bike with very little body damage, almost no paint damage and from what he was told it ran well. The interesting part is that it did run well- with the choke out. It didn’t idle too well though and after a little bit of time trying to sort it he was convinced that it had an air leak. He did the simple stuff like rebuilding the carburetor and replacing the flywheel-side seal, but the problem persisted. It would die, or it would idle way, way to fast.

After pulling the engine, he brought it in and we took it to the workroom to tackle the clutch-side seal, which if you know small frames, means you know the case halves have to be separated to get in there.

Also discovered was the completely shredded rubber bumper that broke off and got chewed up by the gears. It was the top-out bumper for the kick starter, to keep it from smacking the case at the top end of it’s travel.

The rewarding part of a job like this, besides everything working like it should when you fire it up for the first time, is finding the proverbial smoking gun. When you’re looking for a bad air leak and you suspect a bad seal, it’s really nice to find something like this:

After a thorough clean up and replacement of all the gaskets and seals, we were able to button up the engine in a reasonable amount of time. Less than I thought, and much less than the owner did. Installation should happen in the next couple of days and we’ll know whether we got it then.

Small wood details on a door

My buddy asked me to look into his 10 light door. It was an old exterior door that had seen lots of weather. The small trim around a few of the lights had rotted and a couple of the panes were broken. Also, the vertical structure of the door was separating from the header and footer. While still connected, there was a lot of play in there.

Since the door is going to be part of an outdoor setup and it will be painted and set in a metal frame, keeping it original wasn’t a worry. The structures were clamped together and resin with glass filler was poured into the rather large voids to glue and stiffen the construction.

Replacement panes were a piece of cake. I found a place to cut them for me on the first try. On the other hand, the trim was impossible to find. I checked several hardware stores, lumber yards, and specialty wood shops without success. Finally, a custom cabinet manufacturer sent me off to the sash and door shop right here in town and they custom made the trim for me in about 20 minutes. It’s amazing to watch those guys work. They didn’t measure a thing. Using a table saw, router and a big sander they made 20 feet of the exact trim. Amazing. With any luck and a little bit of time the door will be painted, sealed and up in my friend’s garden in no time. The work is out of my hands now, so if you don’t see an update, it’s not my laziness at hand. Too bad I can’t say the same for everything else you see here.