THE RESTORATION OF MY N.S.U.
After having a Vespa scooter for two years and over that time experienced several spills and slides, one of which resulted in a few days in hospital my father decided that I should have a change of machine. It was also partly because I had experienced problems with the cable gear change and clutch, and this was a machine he had purchased from me from new.
The replacement machine was a NSU bought from a place very near where my father had served his apprenticeship many years earlier. I thought this new machine in its red and cream livery was very flash. After the Vespa it seemed very stable and, with the foot gear change, much easier to ride. Provided I used the right fuel mix, it was very reliable and this increase d my confidence on two wheels. I used the N.S.U. for travelling around the
Quite different to my experiences with the Vespa.
I used the N.S.U. for four years and then passed it on to my younger brother who rode it for four years and then passed it on to my younger brother who rode it for five years before he in turn passed it on to my sister who used it for several years before she abandoned it to go to live in Barbados. The scooter had by now given many years of good reliable service and was left discarded in my father’s garage where he kept his car. This was a converted hen cabin and was not completely weather proof. It was here the scooter lay for sixteen years until the land was to be redeveloped and the garage demolished.
I kept the scooter in my garage for a few years before starting the restoration which, as the scooter had been in regular use, I thought would be straightforward but of course it wasn’t. My first move was to make sure that I could still use the original registration number which happily was possible and it was duly re-registered. I still had the original Log Book with me being the first owner and also the original Instruction Book.
When I started working on the engine the piston was quite solidly seized but with patience and a long soak in WD 40 I was able to get it free. This done I was then able to work on getting the motor to run which was not too difficult but it sounded rather rough!
My next task was stripping the scooter completely sanding and re-painting the frame which was relatively easy. I had new control cables made and then I set about the panels. There was no serious rust and little damage apart from the front mudguard. My son-in-law did and excellent repair on the mudguard which saved fitting a new one. I went to a local supplier to get a colour match of the original cellulose. On a visit to the Kit Car Show at
It now seemed that the end in was in sight but I was wrong. There was still a long way to go! The gears were not changing well and a hole appeared in the gear box casting where the cotter on the kick start had worn a hole. I bought two old engines through adverts in the Vintage Motor Scooter Club Mag and took these and my own engine to a motorcycle mechanic in Kendal who used all the best parts to make a good gear box, so now I had a sound gear box I could rely on.
At this stage I was thinking that I was ready to get it taxed and on the road though the engine did not sound well at all and it was difficult to get running smoothly. Help came from Derek a neighbour of my son who was also a motor bike mechanic and now a boat mechanic, who said he would look at the machine for me. Derek found that one of the jets on the carb, was wrong and he tried another carb which had improve the running but he also told me that the piston was in a very bad state and offered to look to the bearings as well. I had a rebore and replacement bearings fitted so now everything had been checked and replaced where necessary so it was now possible to take it on the road with confidence or so I thought!
My next discovery was a serious set back for I discovered that the brake hub on the replacement unit had worn on the shaft and whilst my original hub was a good fit on this shaft it was stuck fast, very fast! No amount of persuasion with a combination of heat, hub drawers and brute force would have any effect, and I was usable to get a hub without work splines. The only solution was rather drastic and expensive!
I took the hub and a spare crown wheel to an engineering company which had laser and hot wire cutting equipment. They were able to cut out the centre of the hub and replace it with the centre cut from the gear wheel. Because there was also wear on the shaft itself this had also to be changed for one without wear! Getting a shaft without wear was to prove very difficult. I had a good shaft from a Prima V which did seem a possible solution if used with the Prima V crown wheel. When the gear boxes were dismantled it was found that this would not work. Requests for a shaft through the V.M.S.C. drew a blank so I had to look again at my original gear box. The brake hub was fast stuck and attempts to free if had resulted in damage to the hub. With a drill and an angle grinder I cut away the gear box casing and all the centre of the hub so I could remove the shaft and hub centre. With great care I ground a slot in the hub section taking it as close to the shaft as I could without cutting into the shaft and then heated it in the fire. When it cooled I left it soaking in paraffin for a month.
After all this time and effort the shaft was able to be released and thankfully it was in good condition. At last the gear box could be reassembled by G.S. Motorcycles of Kendal and then tested and taxed. Now after years of pottering, a very patient wife and great help and advice from members of the V.M.S.C. it is again road worthy. I hope to spend summer 2007 riding around on a smart reliable
Fair play to your patience. We simply bought all the required parts for a 1959 Prima D that had been laying in a hayshed for 47 yrs and had been severely plundered, from either Jim Engineer in Bedfordshire [ex NSU mechanic] or direct from http://www.nsu-motzke.de/ Damned expensive but worth it. A thing of rare beauty now that the project has been completed.
I enjoyed the article about restoring the NSU scooter greatly. In my younger days I drove a 1960 NSU Prima D around the world for 3.5 years and managed to visit 31 countries. This was in 1962-1967. As might be expected I had to do a great deal of innovative repair along the way. That NSU is in my garage waiting for the next time I’ll get it on the road again. I will remember some of the tips of your article when I do so. I finally got to writing my book about that journey. If you want to check it out, go to http://www.Xlibris.com and search for “Hello Brother”. There is a photo of me on the scooter on the cover. It was taken in Melbourne , Australia. I’ve got great memories of the thousands of miles when my NSU was my best friend and only means of transport.
Thanks again for the tips on restoration. Gerry
“joe fritz // Sep 21, 2007 at 3:33 pm
I have a lambretta 150ld mk III 1958 with a seized piston please advise how you freed up your piston. thanks jf”
Pouring some hydraulic oil into the cylinder, leaving it for a while and then trying to work the piston loose could do the job.
Boy, talk about an arduous restoration! . . .kudos for your perserverance. What year was the NSU & model and what was the displacement? I rode one all around Europe back in the 60’s and had nothing but problems as to whether or not it felt in the “mood”! to start and never found out what the problem was but every time I took the carb off, cleaned it, it would run again, for a while, until then again . . .!
Thanks for your posting!
I have a lambretta 150ld mk III 1958 with a seized piston please advise how you freed up your piston. thanks jf