Broken, Old, Piaggio Vespa

My moped is a 1981 Piaggio Vespa. I think that it is a vespa. It belonged to my cousin when she lived in France and that is where she purchased it. It has been sitting in our garage for a long time and now it wont start. I have no idea where to start looking to see if I can fix it. Any ideas??? I would really appreciate the help. Thanks

Re: Broken, Old, Piaggio Vespa

go HERE and get the Vespa manual near the bottom of the page.. Become very familiar with the bike..

Read Fred's Guide at the top of that page..

no-start after a long (or short) period of storage is undoubtedly due to old gasoline decomposing and sried resins and junk are clogging up the fuel system.. The entire system, from tank cp to carburetor should be cleaned thoroughly, first thing..

If it still doesn't start, come back here describe the trouble and ask.. and use the "Search" link above .. there's tons of specific information, questions and answers in the forum's archives.

Try this.. buy a can of Starter Fluid at the autoparts store.. Squirt a bit into the carb air-intake or into the spark plug hole.. replace the plug.

If the bike then starts, fuel supply is restricted but the bike's ignition is ok.. and the whole engine is probably in good shape too..

Re: Broken, Old, Piaggio Vespa

Thanks so much for your help. I replaced the spark plug and put starter fluid in it, as well as the carb air intake. However, it is still not turning all the way on. I think that the spark is just not catching or something. Any other ideas? Thanks again

Re: Broken, Old, Piaggio Vespa

"turning all the way on"?

If Starter Fluid gets it started for even a moment, it's done it's job.. it confirms that fuel is restricted but the ignition is OK..

Next thing would be to clean the fuel system... question is where to start. You could trace fuel flow and search for the restriction.

First remove the carburetor's fuel hose at the carb and drain some fuel into a container. If fuel flows in a continuous thick and steady stream you know the fuel tank and filters and everything upstream from the carburetor are probably ok..

So, the carburetor itself needs cleaning. It's small passages and tiny jets are easily clogged by little bits of junk.. the residues and varnish left by old, stale gasoline.. maybe rust flakes from the tank too.. or bits of rubber from a hard crumbling fuel line...

Re: Broken, Old, Piaggio Vespa

I think that it has to do with the HT Coil. I believe that that is where the points are located, within that. What I meant by not turning on all the way was that the engine doesn't seem to be turning over. If you still dont get what I mean, then I'll try to explain it further, but in the meantime do you have any suggestions with what to do with the HT Coil and or the Pointers. Thanks alot

Re: Broken, Old, Piaggio Vespa

OK Julia

We have to get some definitions here.

When you say that the engine is not turning over do you mean that the engine is not firing and trying to run or do you mean that the engine internals ase stuck and not going up and down?

Re: Broken, Old, Piaggio Vespa

the engine is not firing and trying to run.

Re: Broken, Old, Piaggio Vespa

It's good to hear that your motor is, at the very least, not frozen. Since you can get the motor spinning you can check whether or not you get a spark. Remove the spark plug attach it to the spark plug boot in normal fashion and allow the threaded portion of the spark plug to touch the motor... you're just grounding it so you could verify that it sparks. If possible use a known good spark plug. If you do not get a spark, use a file to clean the two little contacts on the "points". Although a set of points may look clean, bright and shiny they could have glazed over and not making contact so the condensor isn't getting charged.

Re: Broken, Old, Piaggio Vespa

When there's no spark, there's a natural tendancy to suspect failed ignition components.. but they rarely fail, except the spark plug itself, which can look fine externally but is unable to make spark.

Even with a good spark plug and healthy ignition components, problems with the bike's harness wiring and switches and connectors (sometimes even tail light bulbs or the horn) can prevent spark.

And although a plug and ignition is able to spark, and you can see the plug spark internallt, some carburation problems can immediately foul the plug during an attempt to start and you're back to square one.

Give everything related to ignition a thorough inspection .. read and follow the tuneup tips in Fred's Guide .. systematically eliminate all the possibilities before replacing suspected components like the HT coil.

Re: Broken, Old, Piaggio Vespa

What model Vespa do you have? What year? Some have unusual "keys" that would be needed if you are going to get a spark.

See if you can find an ID plate and see what the number is and figure out what model you have. You have a picture?

Re: Broken, Old, Piaggio Vespa


What 'keys' would you need to get spark on a Vespa/Piaggio?

I had a 1977 Bravo, and it needed no special 'key'.

Re: Broken, Old, Piaggio Vespa

The Piaggio Vespa Grande Deluxe model, 78-80 at least,(w/turn signals) has a key integrated in the headlamp assembly. I think other years and other Piaggio Vespa models had this same key. Without it inserted and turned to run or headlight/run you would not get any spark.

Re: Broken, Old, Piaggio Vespa

The Ciao models with the turn signals have the same key

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