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1960 VNB1T Vespa Body Repairs

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enigmas Avatar
enigmas Vince Stok
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia   AUS
Alessio, a very enthusiastic Vespa owner collector called me several weeks ago to see if I'd be interested in doing some body repair work on one of his classic Vespas. Specifically, the Vespa is a 1960 large frame vnb1t 125cc 3 speed. Originally factory painted Baby Blue. Alessio plans to upgrade the engine/transmission to 190cc and 4 speeds, but there's quite a bit of work required before any of the upgrades can occur.

The Body.
Although it's all intact and at a brief glance looks presentable there are lots of extra holes, bent and torn sections and rough repairs by brazing over the top of twisted/dented panels. The use of bronze as a repair medium is a real PITA if you want to do things correctly as any attempt to weld over the bronze area (even if most of it has been ground-off) causes the repair area to spit back and flare as the bronze through capilliary action bonds with the parent steel being repaired. All these areas then need to be cut-out and replaced with fresh steel. Then the bugbear is to limit any panel warpage. The section on the front panel will require quite a lot of fettling with the 'hot-torch' and cutting disc to regain correct symmetry.

The Vespa as presented.






















Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 2019-02-02 05:04 PM by enigmas.

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enigmas Avatar
enigmas Vince Stok
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia   AUS
The following pics indicate a range of repairs carried out today. These primarily encompassed welding closed unwanted holes, tears, splits, straightening a section of frame at the rear and partial repairs to the front windshield panel. Several dents were also removed and panel finished with a file (no filler...lead or otherwise.)
Two sections of floor panel were also oil- canning and these were 'heat-shrunk (short vids of this will also be added here)



















Note the R/H section of the floor panel is bent down.








This panel was 'heat shrunk' as it was oil canning.











Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 2019-02-01 06:30 AM by enigmas.

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enigmas Vince Stok
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia   AUS
Oil Canning Floor/Foot-Board Panels.
Like a lot of older sheet metal pressed steel bodies/panels over time and througn use wear and tear takes a toll. The foot board panels on classic Vespas are of relatively thin gauge steel and can easily be stretched/distorted over a full life-times use. When this occurs the panels can often 'oil-can' due to the metal having been stretched. To restore the panel it needs to be shrunk or tightened where it bulges. The method used is heat shrinking. To do this a pin point area of the stretched section is heated cherry hot, as it bulges out it is tapped down with a hammer and then quickly quenched with water. Hitting the bulge whilst red hot forces the expanded metal back into itself...it is then cooled quickly and the panel tightens itself.

[url=]Oil Canned Panel[/url]



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 2019-02-02 05:51 PM by enigmas.

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enigmas Avatar
enigmas Vince Stok
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia   AUS
I put in a bit more work on the front panel/wind shield of the Vespa this morning. My primary focus was to weld in the small patch on the RHS where the previous owner/restorer had roughly brazing in a patch seemingly with one eye closed.
I'm repairing and metal finishing these areas/panel sections as much as possible to limit any body filler (if at all) and in my case 'lead loading' not plastic. This adds considerable extra work as finessing old thin sheetmetal can be very tedious, as it has a memory and doesn't want to yeild.
There were also several dents and creases that needed to be removed from the front panel.








enigmas Avatar
enigmas Vince Stok
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia   AUS
I put in some time today on the front shroud/windshield. The focus was on getting the curved profiles as similar as possible. To this end I made a cardboard template to replicate the curve of the RHS shield at its very top edge. Simply flipping the template over provided me with the correct profile for the LHS.
The main issue with aged, hardened and well work steel panels is to remove some of the spring or tension in the metal and allow it to relax. To do this I wedged a piece of timber between the seat frame and the shroud. This put it under tension. I then used the oxy/acetylene set to heat a large area of the panel blue hot. Then let it cool of its own accord. When I removed the timber stressor the panel had closely returned to its original profile.

NB. The template used is artist's mountboard card...so it's black on one side and white on the other.












enigmas Avatar
enigmas Vince Stok
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia   AUS
Vespa Tunnel Corrosion
If you've ever wondered what was lurking inside your classic Vespa's tunnel perhaps it's something like this (if you're lucky!)

Before I undertook this job I spoke to Alessio (owner) about checking out the internals of the tunnel that forms the spine or backbone of the scooter. The floor of this vespa was in reasonable condition with regard to appearance and age. The under floor section and cross braces appear structurally sound.

Unfortunately early model Vespa corrosion protection was minimal or nought. The tunnel area is prone to moisture and condensation erosion. Having fore knowledge of this it's well worth while investigating 'what may lurk below!' No matter how good the external repairs and how high quality the final paint work it will all be undone unless the internal corrosion is treated properly.

Check out the pix.
Once treated the top plate will be welded back in place.














enigmas Avatar
enigmas Vince Stok
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia   AUS
Getting the Curve right what PITA!
Nothing like old stretched and springy sheetmetal!

Alessio dropped by to check out the progress on his scooter. This is quite a rare scooter and Alessio wants it just right so we had a good look at the front shield radius and although close it was slightly out on the left hand side.

To correct this variation the side of the panel was cut neatly with a slitting disc, wiidened slightly then drawn together with clamps and welded. The front windshield sheetmetal is really thin so extreme care needs to be taken into account to avoid more distortion.

There's a long thin brace along the top of the shield near the steering head and its job is to reinforce the thin sheetmetal and and to also aid in maintaining the integrity of the sheetmetal curvature. This piece was also slightly compromised from the original shield damage and poorly brazed previous repair.

Removing this piece is truly a PITA as it is approx 2mm thick and spot welded to the front sheetmetal. I managed to remove it using a slitting disc (multiple careful cuts) and then finally with a very small and sharp cold chisel.

I fabricated a slightly longer brace with a slight turn down at either end as it needs to match the inner shield edge radius. This was then clamped as per the pix below. The factory would have had a very heavy duty spot welder to affix this support (2mm thick) but I'll have to plug it in position using a MIG.















Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2019-02-22 03:54 AM by enigmas.

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