Craig Lilley (above) may well be too young to remember 1990s ravers, Altern-8, or to have owned a Vespa 90SS back in the day but he wears a facemask as well as any techno groover and can sure as hell build a very good scooter. Recently he’s turned his attention to the most sought after Vespa smallframe ever produced, the 90SS – setting out to create a very authentic replica. 


In part one Craig found a project scooter, cut it in half, resized the chassis, fitted new Vespa 90SS legshields and started the long process of getting the metalwork ready for paint. He’s no expert, or professional but Craig has picked up various restoration techniques over the last few years and puts them to good use on his own builds. 


Here’s what he’s been up to since last time…




Preparation is key when restoring from scratch
Preparation is key when restoring from scratch


Once all of the lead loading was complete it was time to start prepping the frame for paint. Even though some repairs had been done with lead I still go over it with a light skim of filler. The most common part to lose its shape on a smallframe is the left-hand side bubble. The seam at the bottom, over years of abuse, or being dropped means it loses its distinguishing feature. I have seen lots of smallframes over the years where this area is neglected. So the important task of masking up and building this back up is painstaking but well worth the effort in the long run.




It seems too good to be true


Again with the rear seam of the scooter, this area needed attention too. Obviously, the floor needed skimming as well due to it losing its shape after welding the floor struts on. Also the front of the legshields needed skimming too. 

Next, the painstaking job of rubbing the filler down starts. I spent a considerable amount of time shaping the edge of the left-hand side bubble to achieve the correct shape.   




Badged up


The next problem I had was achieving the correct position of the front and rear badge. However, I was lucky enough to encounter a young man on Facebook, who at one point owned a genuine 90SS and he had taken fibreglass mouldings of the front of the scooter and the rear where the badge holes would have been. He also did replicas and this was an important tool for him. Once all this was sorted and the dry build was complete it was time for primer. 



Prime time


The whole scooter was put in primer and then a base coat was also applied. I left the scooter for 24 hours and the next day I noticed I had had a major reaction with the primer. As stated before I’m only an amateur painter so was unsure what had caused this reaction. On closer inspection, the primer was lifting from the frame so I attempted to feather edge the primer back to bare metal but this seemed to have no effect and more continued to break away.  




Two steps forward


At this point, I decided to leave the project for a couple of weeks and was in two minds whether to sell it as I had lost interest in it. I spoke to a few good friends explaining what had happened, and they encouraged me to continue. So I decided to completely strip the scooter down to bare metal and start again. This meant redoing all the filler again and I hoped to get it right this time!


Fingers crossed when I applied the primer again everything should be ok and to my amazement it was. Once the primer had hardened I then applied a trace coat and then started flatting back to prepare for paint. 


In part three we’ll get some colour on and start the build…


Words and photos: Craig Lilley


Craig’s build photos so far

Have a look at some of our favourite products – Trust in SLUK