Nzeta scooters –

I say “just” because there was no Kick Start. . . . .I suspect there was simply no more room for such superfluous luxuries – yes it was a “push and go” model. The only way to start it was turn on the key, open the throttle a little, run, and then jump on as soon as it fired. Strangely enough I never found this a problem and it started very easily. Perhaps the greatest danger was jumping on (or more precisely being left behind) when it fired . . . . . it was much heavier than your standard NZeta and had powerful acceleration. I can reflect with hindsight now, in horror, at the occasions I performed this exercise in the rain as I exited the Pub. . . . .

ahhh the gay abandon of youth eh.

One of my great delights was to sit at the traffic lights with a normal garden variety Scooter in one lane, and perhaps an average 4 cylinder car in the other Lane. To the uninitiated there were very little signs of the mods when it was idling. It had a couple of fairly big shiny mufflers and sounded a bit more throaty than your average scooter but that’s about all. However when the lights went green all that changed – the purr of a twin cylinder two stroke waking up is as intoxicating as a V8 getting underway. . . . .and at the next set of traffic lights. . . . .well just gaping mouths from both lanes.

This 502 model NZeta scooter, was for sale on Trade Me in Kaponga, not far from me in New Plymouth. Turns out it was owned by Roy King, bit of a legend when it comes to old cars, motorbikes, scooters, so was great to meet him and see his projects, and all the weird and wonderful vehicles in his ever changing collection. I had a 501 at the time, but had sold a bigger road bike to fund the hobby, so had more to spend, so did a buy now with Roy. It was missing a heap of parts, although the body seemed in OK nick. It basically had enough parts to make a rolling chassis, and not much more.

A chap saw me online at JawaChat site and rang up from the other side of Mt Egmont, saying he had a motor and and some other bits. The engine was covered in crap, missing the conrod and piston, but at least intact… I have seen so many engine casings with damage, especially near the front sprocket, but this one was really good. Got the rod and new piston from Alan Cleaver, as many other NZeta and Jawa bike owners have. A nice chap is Alan, always happy to help, knows his stuff backwards.

Rest of the parts came from all over. Czech auction site Aukro for the hard to find 502 chain guard, and then Motoren, Jawashop, etovar, and was in Prague a couple of years ago and met Neil, the owner of Cezeta in CZech republic, and got a few bits from him. He was at the start of putting electric motors into Cezeta bodies, so was good to talk about his ideas, which have since taken off, check his company out online.

I got the engine rebored with the new piston, made a new header pipe that avoids the side stand completely, did all the panel work and painting myself, made the wiring loom and soldered all connections, cleaned buffed and polished for what seemed forever. I am using 1x 12 volt battery and it’s working well, provided the rest of the system is clean and brushes and commutator in good working nick. I have just replaced two worn brushes and this made an instant difference to charging and dyna-starting.

The nice thing about riding this is that everything is tight, no rattles and clunks, all bearings and seals everywhere have been replaced, inside engine and all wheels etc… Brake shoes are new and the drums work fine when adjusted well ( i found some new old stock shoes still in great nick, not perished or dried out), and all rubber parts are correct except the chain guard strap.

All in all, I bought this body 9 years ago, then bought our first house and had kids. I also did a full restoration on a 501 since then too, but none of anything was really done in quick time, just when time allowed. With this 502, every now and then I gathered up new info, or spotted parts I needed for cheap… finally I got the dosh and time to finish this.

I you have been paying attention you may remember that I “finished” my N-Zeta before Xmas. It ran, but was very hard to start – only way to get it going was to squirt some fuel into the plug hole. Discussions with the local JAWArati implicated the crankcase seals, items I had not replaced during the engine rebuild. Being a 4 stroke kind of guy I underestimated the importance of keeping the crankcase airtight. I replaced the easy seal on the generator side which improved performance, but not starting. So, in January I dropped out the engine and stripped it right down – again, including removing the bearings. The strange aluminium “labyrinth” seal between the two clutch-side mains was totally devoid of oil and had chunks of metal missing from the ridges. Happily, Alan Cleaver in Cromwell had one in stock for about $15. While I was at it I decided to replace all other seals and bearings and these were all available locally – $77 for the five bearings and about $30 for the seals. The bearings were the sealed for life type so I took out the plastic rings – I think sealed bearings are only good for wheels etc. and not the higher speeds in an engine.

Another annoying little issue was that the carb would leak on standing if you did not turn the fuel off so I decided to buy a new original carb form Czech land – was not very expensive. About 44 euro. Strangely, it had a little hole in the choke tube which seemed to make it hard to start. Old carb had the same hole, but it had been sealed off – looked like form new. So, I sealed the hole with some JB weld and now it starts easily on the choke.

At this stage I was ready for the dreaded re-vinning process, but first decided to try and recover the original number plate. Land Transport said no because I did not have any papers, even although I had a receipt and a picture of the bike as received with the plate attached, and the number was available. I appealed pointing out that they had let me reuse the plate on my 1949 BSA Bantam under exactly the same circumstances. She responded, “that was a mistake”- this was the same woman from the BSA exercise! I now realise that arguing with land transport is like wrestling with a pig in mud – the pig really enjoys it.

So I was all ready to go for the re-vinning, when I partially ruptured an Achilles tendon which meant I could not even get it off the centre stand never mind wrestle it onto a trailer. Even with two good legs I have always struggled getting it on and off the stand – no idea how the pretty little Czech girls you always see in the CEZETA ads managed it. I can see why they went with a side stand for the 502. Anyway, while I waited for the tendon to heal I decided to try and fit a side stand while keeping the centre stand which is handy for maintenance. I do have an original 502 stand, but fitting it so it did not foul the centre stand looked like a bit of an engineering challenge. So, in the end I bought a nice chrome Harley side stand on Trademe and bolted that to the running board with two cap screws. Had to shorten it a bit, but it works well and flips up forward out of sight under the front guard.

Finally got to the WOF place three weeks ago. Was showing them how to work the lights etc. when the guy said “the stop light needs to operate with both the front and back brakes” which seemed like a major problem, but luckily an older and wiser inspector appeared and said back brake light only is fine on bikes of this age. I had also omitted to fit a reflector, but the let me off with that on the condition I fitted one. Found a nice little Lucas one on Trademe that fits perfectly inside the trailer hitch/spare wheel carrier. So that was it – finally legal and one more N-Zeta returns to the road. Total cost of revinning $339.82 including WOF and one year’s registration. Total cost of restoration? I stopped counting a while ago, but I think about $8,000.