Let There Be Light (And Less Smoke)
As many of you know, my 1975 Serveta Jet 200 spent much of the last half of the Summer and the first half of the Fall on the bench.
The insane ride it took down to Wildwood, NJ as part of this year’s first East Coast Classic scooter rally, put the final nail in the proverbial coffin. I got there and back safely but within a week or so of the ride, the bike was belching smoke and fouling plugs left, right, and center. These symptoms immediately pointed to a blown oil seal, the seal that among other things – and I’m over-simplifying here – keeps the oil in the crank case away from the combustion chamber.
Thankfully, we still have experts like Gene at Scooters Originali in Orange, NJ to come to the rescue when faced with repairs beyond the roadside. Gene did a fantastic job addressing the oil seal, and giving the entire bike a once over. Given I didn’t know the provenance of the engine, I was keen to know what he was going to find under the hood. As perhaps expected, he found a thirty-five-year-old engine under the hood, and the oil seal was not the only issue that needed addressing.
Given I was now looking at the costs associated with “splitting the cases” to get inside the engine, I realized that this was the ideal opportunity to invest in a popular Lambretta upgrade, the famous 12 volt conversion. The Jet still had it’s original 6 volt wiring, and even with a rare 6 volt halogen bulb in the headlamp, I could barely spit out more light than a 1990′s cellphone.
The 12 volt conversion can be performed on all battery and non-battery Lambrettas and is done by using a new regulator to upgrade the output of the flywheel an additional 6 volts. Typically this is done using a – ssshhh so you’re Lammy friends don’t hear – a Vespa PX or P200 regulator.
I’m no electrician, though it is true that I am the son of an electrician, so I can’t begin to explain the details of how this works. If you have the know-how and you’re interested in learning more, the Lambretta Club of Great Britain have a concise article on how to perform the conversion yourself.
What I can attest to however is what a difference it makes. I can’t tell you how much I was beaming (no pun intended) from ear-to-ear last night as I pulled up behind an SUV to see my headlamp reflecting back at me from their rear. The old 6V bulb barely lit past the end of the front fender.
Additionally, of course, the entire electrical system has been upgraded so that means that the squashed duck that is the Lambretta horn has put on a few pounds and squeals a little more loudly, and perhaps more important even that the headlamp, the tail and brake lights now shine out in the dark for fellow motorists to see me when I pulled over in the dark waiting to make a left-hand turn.
All-in-all, I can’t recommend the conversion enough. Unless you’re a purist looking to keep your Lambretta absolutely stock, the conversion is the way to go. I’m a daily rider and I feel sooooo much safer knowing that in a world where drivers say time and time again that they just don’t see two-wheelers, that I’m a touch more visible.
Oh. And not belching smoke is nice to. Thanks Gene.