My 1980 Vespa P200E 

January 20, 2000 update
Mileage: 2600 miles

Well, I seized up the trusty old girl while blasting down the freeway at about 75mph in late
October.  No big surprise- you have to expect that sort of thing with a hopped up 2 stroke.
I was lane splitting down 101N in rush hour traffic, when the motor shut down hard. It didn't
lock up completely, but it was close. It was a bit exciting getting over to the righthand break-
down lane with no power across 4 lanes of heavy traffic that was moving at 35 mph or so 
when I was coming down from 75, but I made it. After stopping I whipped out the tool bag
and started wrenching away, eventually getting the bike to start via a push after checking the
ignition, plug, and other basic checks. It wouldn't idle and vibrated badly, but she ran.
I went on to work at a much slower pace, and drove the bike 10 miles home at the end of the
day. By massive adjustment of the idle screw I got the bike to idle, but the vibration and lack
of power remained. 

I took her in to see scooter-guru Barry Gwin at SF Scooter Centre. Barry's mechanics tore
down the top end and found a surprise- this bike had an old-school  Penasco 213cc kit 
installed, not a Malossi! The cylinder was very scored, and the piston had bits of the cylinder
embedded in the skirt, as well as having the lower ring completely stuck to the piston.  It is
a testament to the basic Vespa design that the bike would run at all- and the scary part of that
is that if you'd have ridden the bike, you'd have never know the bad state it was in. It was still
faster  than a stock P200. While it's post-seizure performance  was down on power and vibration
was high,  that's compared to it's previous modified performance. 

The previous Penasco was a very mild kit with a Nikasil cylinder that can't be re-bored, so it was
dumpster food.  Apparently I was getting such great performance from it do to the skilled work
done on my crank and cases by The Scooter Shop. Penasco kits are unobtainable now, so we went
with a Polini 210cc kit, which  was expected to work well with my cut crank and ported cases.
Barry was right- the Polini worked  great, in fact, combined with the cut cases and crank, just 
dropping the Polini in would have created a monster fast race engine that would have blown very
quickly if used on the street.  Initially the cylinder pressures were over 190 PSI, where they 
should be no more than 130 for a streetable engine! Barry's mechanics tried numerous head and
gasket combinations, eventually  settling on a 200 Rally head with two Malossi head gaskets, 
which lowered the pressure to 130, still fairly radical for a street engine.  This is why it is a 
good idea to let experienced techs kit your engine- you never know how previous modifications
that may have been done to your bike are going to add up. While I'd have been more than able
to drop the Polini kit on, I'd have never thought to check the cylinder pressure, and while I may
have had fun with the resulting grenade, it would  have surely self-destructed within a very short

I'm now going through a slow  break-in on my new engine, and by all indications it should be
much more powerful than it was previously.  I can't wait to get some miles on it so I can wring
it out and enjoy this kit as much as I did the last one.

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