New old Vespa Moped HELP?!?

Hi All,

I have not posted here much, as up to this point the only 'skeeter class motor bike I owned was a Frankenstein bike, but yesterday I came into possession of a Beaut of an old Vespa Moped and I am pumped about it! I need your help though. It's a 1978 Piaggio Moped, model unknown. It's two stroke, has compression, but is in non running condition right now. I'm guessing and hoping that other than the flat rear tire with missing tube, the bike will respond to TLC and some careful waking up.

I got it from a flop house landlord who only knew it was abandoned by an old tenant, and was supposed to have run in recent memory (aka within the past year or two), but was down, and needed some work before it would run again.

I'm hoping if someone sees this they can assist me in obtaining a manual for this bike, or perhaps at least identify the model it is. I have been searching and finding several Piaggio models, none of which is a good match cosmetically at least, for my bike. I think the many variations share similarities in running gear, etc, but it would be nice to see a manual with MY bike pictured in it.

Also- what would you all do FIRST to get this bike into a running state? I can't wait to ride 'er, eagerly anticipating some much needed guidance. Thank-you, oh wise ones..


Re: New old Vespa Moped HELP?!?

You should be able to find more information on this bike by looking for 'Vespa Grande.' I too just got one of these but haven't had much time to look at it. If it was running somewhat recently it may just need some fresh gas and a thorough carb cleaning.

Re: New old Vespa Moped HELP?!?

That is a Vespa Grande. Looks like you are missing the battery/relay/recitifer/fuse box that runs the turn signals, though that might be a cat-eye system mounted above the handlebars there. You are also missing all the plastic covers for the side and top.

Other than that she looks ok, and I'd say she'll run without too much work, assuming the engine's not seized. First pull the spark plug out and check for spark by putting it back in the boot and holding it against the frame or head while someone pedals it over. If you have a spark then drip a teaspoon full of gas into the cylinder and replace the plug, then pedal it over a bit and see if it starts. If it does then you have a fuel flow problem and you need to clean the carburetor, tank, and petcock.

Re: New old Vespa Moped HELP?!?

Thanks guys. There is a cateye unit on the handlebars. It has no top on it and I'm certain the battery in it is dead by now. I'm off tomorrow and will probably try to obtain a fresh battery from the local vespa shop in Georgetown, if that's the kind of thing I can get there. DO I need it though to start the motor? Will the motor recharge it once fired up?

I discovered a fuel leak this morning after adding some fuel. It's located by the inline fuel filter so I will also be picking up fresh fuel line and a filter tomorrow to try to get that sorted out.

SO, if it's the Grande, I'm def missing some plastics and side covers. It really looked like there was something missing from between the saddle and the front of the frame. Anyone have good pics of theirs? I'd love to see more of them..

No keys other than the wheel lock for these things eh?

Re: New old Vespa Moped HELP?!?

Oh yeah- the ODO reads 1444miles. Is this thing a 50cc? looks like it to me. Does what, maybe 40?

Re: New old Vespa Moped HELP?!?

It's 50cc. It will probably do 30 if you're lucky.

Re: New old Vespa Moped HELP?!?

THese should help: Fred's repair guide (good for getting that old moped running again):

zippy's vespa moped page and parts:

vespa piaggio moped repair manual:

Re: New old Vespa Moped HELP?!?

Thanks for all the help and resources you guys. I will let you know how this goes and hopefully you will see me one of these days soon riding this baby.

New Old Grande- UPDATE

So, Thanks again for the good advice everyone. I am happy to report I got more good guidance from Dean over at Seattle Mopeds, and was able to repair my rear flat tire, clean up the bike, AND briefly had the joy of it firing up and pulling me down the block! I was so happy! The leakage was from the petcock right at the frame fitting, tightening it was all it took to straighten that out. I am confident that there is just a small amount of dirty old fuel in the tank/carb. My hope is that with a bit more cleaning, now focused on the carb and fuel line, she will fire again and stay lit this time.

Oh yeah, I took off the damaged blinkers, if anyone wants the old Cateye system for parts, please let me know, I will be happy to donate them to your project. Most of it is actually intact, except the left front blinker, and the lid to the system.

I was STOKED this baby ran with just a little TLC, frankly I wasn't as sure as I wanted to sound like I was!

I am looking into filing for an Affidavit of Registration only next. Any advice anyone has on making that process smoother for someone without a title, I would love to hear it.


New old Vespa Moped HELP?!?

kim jensen /

Yes that is a Vepa Grnade without blinkers. If the cat-eyes sytem works, leave it, otherwise you should be fine without it as it didn't have signals to begin with, you won't need a battery or anything. You are also missing the top cover that goes over the gas cap and the frame.

28 is about it stock, A high flow filter and slight upjet will get you 30mph, but it will tend to stall at first, a performance pipe will get you 34mph and better performance, but beware of losing take off and noisy as hell pipes.

Good luck, otherwise they are very reliable and a pretty good ride!


Re: New old Vespa Moped HELP?!?

Yeah... So the Vespa fired up again today for a few minutes, it was going pretty good after firing on it's stand, so I took it down the block, actually for about ten blocks, and almost made it back home too! It stalled coming back on the home stretch a block or two from home, and would not restart. Upon inspection, it appeared that my fuel filter was empty even though the fuel was on. I decided after a few more minutes to go ahead and take apart and clean the petcock. Yeah I took it all apart and there's lots of little parts in here. I simmered it in a water and goof off solution with a spritzer of carb cleaner for good measure for a few minutes on a pot on my gas grill outside. Now I smell like a molotov cocktail and I don't know if I can put this thing back together again.

Any feedback on re-assembly of this little gem? I'm thinking I may do without the inline filter thingy for the time being in the interest of simplicity and fuel flowing. please let me know if that is a catastrophic omission on my part.


Re: New old Vespa Moped HELP?!?

I vote you keep the inline filter unless you gain some unhealthy amount of joy from cleaning your carburetor. A good fuel filter shouldn't impede fuel flow at all, and it'll keep all the bits of stuff that would clog your carb out of your carb. Would you whip out the Mr. Coffee and make a pot of coffee without the filter in the interest of simplicity? If not, don't leave out the fuel filter. It's good insurance to keep you from getting stranded 5 miles (or farther) from your house with a clogged carb.

Re: New old Vespa Moped HELP?!?

Petcock is fairly straightforward. The gasket goes in forst, then disc with the U-shaped recess in the face, with that recess facing the gasket. Then the washer thing, then the spring, then the shaft and handle.

Hope you remember which hole the plastic straw went in. If not then turn the handle to on and put the straw in one hole. Blow into the straw. If air comes out the fuel nozzle then you are on the correct hole, otherwise put the straw in the other one.

Re: New old Vespa Moped HELP?!?

Thanks Linda and James,

I put that thing back together but indeed did leave out the inline filter piece tonight. I will go ahead and add it back to the unit tomorrow after work. I would have put it in there but I got off on a mission after I posted the last post and didn't read your replies until now. Getting fuel again now, and it appears we are making progress. I still have an inline fuel filter in the fuel line after the petcock, but of course there's always the risk of something from the tank clogging the petcock, thereby impeding flow.

So I found what seems to be some kind of choke lever near the airbox housing, which pops after the motor fires. What the heck is it and how do I adjust it? Do you need pics?

You guys are great thanks again for the help everyone.


Re: New old Vespa Moped HELP?!?

Bruce Wilkinson /

That's an automatic choke on the carb. Push it down and it restricts the airflow. Twist the throttle and it pops off. On my Vespa I need to push the choke on to start it.

Re: New old Vespa Moped HELP?!?

Thanks Bruce, so no adjustment for that auto choke then..

As for the screw on the side of the carb, I imagine it's an idle adjuster. I may give it a little twist. The bike does not want to stay fired up for long now although it starts pretty much every time. It just gets going then fairly quickly sputters and dies. With each elimination of another problem I suspect I am getting closer to the realization that I am looking at having to clean out my carb.

Re: New old Vespa Moped HELP?!?

Bruce Wilkinson /

The gas tanks on these old bikes collect a lot of rust over the years. I would take the petcock off and flush the tank over and over again with the same gas catching the rust in a coffee filter each time.

Re: New old Vespa Moped HELP?!?

the idle screw should be about two turns out from all the way in, give or take a bit. Basically you want it to idle so it doesnt spin the back wheel while idling.

Re: New old Vespa Moped HELP?!?

More good advice thanks guys. I will spend some time on it here tonight and over the next couple days while I'm off work.

When we drained the fuel out the other night so I could clean the petcock, it looked pristine coming out of there. Visual inspection also looked good inside. I think I am chasing down a dirty carb..

On a positive note, I am quitting my current job this morning to take one much closer to home with way better pay and a future. I'm sad for one of my bosses who truly rocks face, but the other is a little whore and I won't miss him in the least nor feel bad for the fact that he's about to lose me and his other key FT guy, and actually have to work for a living lol. Its gonna get a little ugly for a minute here today though, so wish me luck.

Re: New old Vespa Moped HELP?!?


She's idling out back after starting first try, and riding around the block. I sprayed some kind of napalm in where I THINK the carb intake is, and adjusted the idle up ever so slightly. She's a quiet little thing!

I am going to attempt conducting some tests. I topped up fuel and will try a short trip around the 'hood with a helmet and no plate, as the bike is still not registered. Wish me luck!

Re: New old Vespa Moped HELP?!?

It ran! Stopped and started several times today, even let the old lady ride it with me riding escort on my frankenstein two stroke bike!

Working on getting an inspection now by the 5-0, as the DOL says no record of the bike exists in the database. I'll get a plate though, just watch me do it.

Thanks all for your assistance in getting this little gem back to life.

Re: New old Vespa Moped HELP?!?

There is a little knob on the back of the tubular tank, under the seat. you need to loosen it when you fill the tank to let the air out as you fill it up. It also helps you from getting vapor lock that will cause your gas not to flow. It's a weird split tubular tank design. Turn that knob to the left and you'll probably hear some air coming out... Then tighten it back up. Try to ride it. Also it's really important to open that valve every time you fill up... I usually would fill mine until gas would dribble out of the hole in the valve then screw it tight real quick. Then you know your tank is full and no air is in there... Good luck.

Re: New old Vespa Moped HELP?!?

Actually the knob can stay tight the whole time you ride it, only need to open it at fill-ups. Even if you have a perfect seal and perfect vapor lock in the rear of the tank (unlikely), the front is still vented, so after the fuel gets down to the horizontal part it will pull from the back part of the tank.

Re: New old Vespa Moped HELP?!?

Yeah. I was just saying at fill up...


SO I was heading out to try a longer trip last evening, pushing my luck as usual. I got from my place to the Ballard Bridge, had some power loss occuring so turned off right before getting on the bridge. As I was pulling off, the motor sputtered and died. I tried restarting it, and to my surprise the pulley wheel thingy on the belt drive side (Left, rear) flew OFF!

Methinks I did not tighten the bolt holding it onto it's axle very well after repairing the flat tire a while back. I can only blame myself.

The problem I see now is I lost the little half circle metal pill thing that goes into a slot on the axle and seems to be a point of engagement for the pulley wheel thingy.

Anyone have any idea if Seattle Mopeds will have this kind of small metal bit for me or am I doomed?



ask for a woodruf key. they might have one


So- it has a NAME! That gives me power over it!

Thanks Matt!

Does this happen a lot or just to hack mechanics like me?

Re: New old Vespa Moped HELP?!?

Woodruff key ACQUIRED! Thanks Dean (and Matt!) and Tacoma Screw for having such a thing. I bought three. Already lost one lol!

Now to find a nut that matches this axle dealie-bob and maybe we are back in bidnazz!

Re: New old Vespa Moped HELP?!?

Zippy moped has the nut AND the very important locking washer. Get both.

Re: New old Vespa Moped HELP?!?

Brian Smithmeyer /

I put locktite on the rear clutch/axle nut. I lost mine once too....and I don't want that to happen anymore.

Want to reply to this thread?

We'd love to have you join the discussion, but first you'll need to login (or create an account).