The King is Dead, Long Live the King

When PX200 pro­duc­tion ceased, scooter­ists ev­ery­where mourned its pass­ing but thanks to Ron Da­ley it’s still pos­si­ble to buy a new ex­am­ple of this iconic ma­chine

Scootering - - Contents -

Scooter­ists ev­ery­where mourned the end of PX200 pro­duc­tion but thanks to Ron Da­ley it’s still pos­si­ble to buy a new ex­am­ple of this iconic ma­chine.

Ivividly re­mem­ber buy­ing my first brand new PX200E. It was Au­gust 1984 and its red paint shone in the sun­shine out­side Ron Har­vey’s in Leeds. With some cash in hand, plus a loan from my dad for the bal­ance, and a slip show­ing I’d re­cently ac­quired a full mo­tor­cy­cle li­cence, or­der­ing it was one of the most ex­cit­ing days of my life to date. I’ve had many scoot­ers since then but there was al­ways some­thing spe­cial about that brand new PX200E, some­thing that’s been im­pos­si­ble to recre­ate. Un­til now…

When’s a PX200E not a PX200E?

“Let’s get one thing out of the way,” be­gan Martin Da­ley, cre­ator of these Ron Da­ley Spe­cials, “the frame came from Pont­ed­era as a PX125 and that’s what it’ll al­ways be. What we’ve done is mate a brand new frame with a new build en­gine that uses the best com­po­nents we can lay our hands on. So far as I’m aware our 200s are the only op­tion for riders want­ing a fac­tory fresh, fully war­rantied PX200E spec­i­fi­ca­tion scooter in the world to­day.” In many ways the ori­gins of the frame are largely aca­demic as purists will in­stantly note that the en­gine is based on a set of Pinasco cas­ings. In Martin’s opin­ion, not only are these the best cur­rently avail­able they’re also the only re­al­is­tic op­tion for this type of project. “We’ve never stopped sell­ing the PX200,” he ex­plained “The num­ber of our 200s out there is well into three fig­ures and if you want one build­ing there’s a wait­ing list.

“When fac­tory pro­duc­tion ceased there were plenty of Pi­ag­gio built re­place­ment en­gines avail­able from stock. As these started to dry up in the UK we widened

our search and bought them in from pretty much ev­ery mar­ket Vespa had ever supplied. Ob­vi­ously that couldn’t last for­ever and when I priced up the cost of build­ing a mo­tor from scratch us­ing all new com­po­nents the cost was pro­hib­i­tive. I thought that was the end of it but then re­alised many of the com­po­nents such as clutch, gear­box, electrics and crank were com­mon to both 125 and 200cc mo­tors. By cross match­ing these com­po­nents with those from spe­cial­ist man­u­fac­tur­ers it’s pos­si­ble to build some­thing at an af­ford­able price.”

Any dis­cus­sion about a Ron Da­ley Spe­cial, on­line or in the pub in­evitably turns to the sub­ject of cost and Martin is the first to agree that with a start­ing price of £5995 these aren’t in­ex­pen­sive ma­chines. “When peo­ple look at one of our spe­cials, of what­ever ca­pac­ity, I don’t think they re­alise the amount of work that goes into them. ‘Ex­pen­sive stick­ers’ is a com­mon crit­i­cism but not one of our spe­cials fea­tures any­thing other than air­brush work. In my opin­ion the paint on our high end spe­cials is sec­ond to none. As for the en­gine this is a full strip and re­build; ev­ery com­po­nent is ex­am­ined and any­thing even re­motely sus­pect will be re­placed. This in­cludes items fit­ted by Pi­ag­gio which, putting it po­litely, per­haps weren’t al­ways of the best qual­ity.”

Con­trol freak

A good ex­am­ple of this is the clutch, some­thing on which Martin has be­come some­thing of an ex­pert. “There’s noth­ing in­her­ently wrong with the PX’s clutch de­sign,” he ex­plained, “it’s just been poorly ex­e­cuted. Things start to go wrong at the head­set. Later mod­els were fit­ted with a bar­rel nip­ple that was too small and didn’t sit in the lever cor­rectly, plus the fac­tory ca­bles are frac­tion­ally thicker than they need to be, so they bind against the outer. Sim­ply re­plac­ing the in­ner with a pear nip­ple in­ner im­proves clutch re­spon­sive­ness. The clutch bas­ket isn’t well ma­chined; later bell hous­ings have re­in­forc­ing ‘ribs’ cast into them and when a slightly over­size clutch is ac­ti­vated there sim­ply isn’t enough room for it to work.

“This is why many PX clutches op­er­ate like an on/off switch. I’ve played with this for hours, mov­ing clutches be­tween scoot­ers. A clutch that works badly on one en­gine will work fine in an­other. It’s a nat­u­ral con­se­quence of mass pro­duc­ing com­po­nents that re­quire tight tol­er­ances. We’re not con­strained by that think­ing, ev­ery en­gine is built to the high­est of stan­dards.” To solve the clutch prob­lem Martin uses SIP or Pinasco bas­kets: “Their stan­dards of en­gi­neer­ing are su­perb, we very rarely have any prob­lems on first assem­bly.” An­other as­pect of prepa­ra­tion that goes un­seen is get­ting the Pinasco cas­ings ready for assem­bly. “As supplied, the cas­ings are com­pletely bare, press­ing in all the bear­ings and en­gine mounts is a time con­sum­ing job, but one that needs to be done care­fully. One mis­take could ruin the cas­ings or cre­ate a bear­ing that runs out of true.”

Martin Da­ley,cre­ator of the new breed.

Stan was trans­ported back to the 80s, sadly his waist­line stayed in the present day.

Num­ber 22 of the spe­cial se­ries, but Ron Da­ley’s have never stopped sup­ply­ing ‘new P2s’.

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