We got a great email the other day from Victor Voris regarding the GTS exhaust gasket and some of the other issues we’ve been talking about. Victor’s been running Big People Scooters in Seattle since 1989, and was one of America’s most respected Vespa experts during Piaggio’s absence. When Piaggio returned to the U.S., Victor’s Vespa of Seattle was among the first dealerships to open, and one of very few to be run by someone with extensive scooter experience. Since then, both shops have flourished. I respect his opinion greatly, and like others, he feels modern scooter repair is best-left to a factory-trained technician:
There has been a lot of miscommunication and misinformation about the GT/GTS exhaust gasket and packing problems. The first thing to know about the problem is that you are NEVER to take the pipe apart. in all Piaggio shop manuals, as well as at any factory school, you are clearly told this. The reason that the pipe has this graphite one-time-use packing is that the header pipe is made of a different metal than the rest of the exhaust (I believe the header pipe is titanium). Because there is a joint there, and a clamp that can come loose, the torque on the bolt is to be checked as part of the routine service, as it can loosen over time.
In our shop we have seen exhaust systems come in that the customer has beaten apart, which will never go back together and seal, even with a new packing installed. It is by no means a design problem, any problems are coming from incorrect maintenance or repair. PiaggioUSA requires that their dealers have factory trained staff and offers training to their dealers free of charge. It is unfortunate that not every Vespa shop in the country has only factory trained technicians working on their scooters, but that is the case. There are countless other things that home-repair people and non-certified shops are doing that can cause huge damage to a modern Vespa motor. A common mistake we see all the time in the shop is the re-use of the one-time nut on the variator. If this nut fails, one of the many things that can happen is damage to the crankshaft, and installing a new crank is not fun for anyone. All of the factory shop manuals and workshop manuals are posted on Modern Vespa , and anyone working on their scooter at home should download these and read them. I am planning to offer tech classes at Amerivespa this year, and am trying to get Piaggio to send a technical representative as well.
It’s common in scootering (especially on the internet) for a scooterist (often me) to insist he knows more about scooters than the people who make and sell them. Sometimes they (I) do, but there are certain people I’d never dare argue with, and Victor is one of those people. I do, however, look forward to rebuttals.