If like me your first scooter was a Vespa, then there’s a good chance you own a Haynes Vespa workshop manual. I had one for my Vauxhall Viva van and old Ford Escort too, and I have plenty of friends who have also owned various Haynes manuals over the years. In some circles they’ve become the norm when it comes to reference material regarding a vehicle’s mechanics, which is no mean feat.
Generally Haynes manuals are based upon taking apart and putting back together a vehicle. Over the years this has been done for new vehicles as they’ve rolled off the production line and, as anyone who owns the Vespa PX book will testify, Haynes updates its manuals too as models change. I’ve three Vespa ones now, all covered in oily fingerprints.
This latest offering, however, has hit a slight problem. Firstly, Haynes never produced a Lambretta manual back in the 1960s when they first began and so never took a brand new machine for a complete strip down and rebuild. Secondly, in that time a rather thorough workshop manual has been written by a scooterist of many years’ experience, namely Sticky’s The Complete Spanner’s Workshop manual for Lambretta Scooters. Unfortunately for Haynes’ newcomer, Sticky’s is the obvious thing to compare it to when reviewing.
For those that don’t know, Sticky’s book covers the stripping, examination and rebuilding of all models from the Li Series 1 onwards, including Spanish and Indian Lambrettas, as well as parts identification (standard and aftermarket), guidance for restoration, modifications and improvements, specifications and just about anything a Lambretta owner would want to know about their scooter, whether it is complete or starting from a box of parts. The Haynes Lambretta Service and Repair manual, however, does take a slightly different approach in that it follows the usual path of stripping a scooter down and rebuilding it. As such, the Haynes manual is aimed towards owners who have a complete scooter that they may want to service themselves at home, or fix a fault on. So if it’s a new set of clutch plates, changing the piston or indeed a complete engine rebuild then the step-by-step guide will take you through it. Having been right through the book from cover to cover, those procedures I have looked at in-depth for both review purposes and in relation to my owner scooter do seem thorough.
Unfortunately all the ‘step-by-step’ photographs are in black and white and not always that great either, which scores it down points against its full colour rival (the ‘full colour’ wording on the cover relates to just a few pages elsewhere). And while I’m at it, squeezing four wiring diagrams to a page is not brilliant either.
Another thing you have to consider is that while Haynes did seek advice and assistance from a number of scooter shops, the manual has been written (it seems) by a mechanic who is not necessarily a scooterist. That means that what you and I know as a flywheel, is referred to as the rotor, for example. Not a problem, but every now and again you’ll come across a phrase you’re not familiar with and have to adjust your mindset to that of the author.
If you’re after a manual to assist you with a nut and bolt restoration, then I’m afraid this won’t help you spot a Series 2 bridge piece from a Series 3 one, or inform you that while one photograph clearly shows where the engine side-casing nuts are that you need to undo to access the clutch and gearbox, that on late Italian GP models and Indian Lambrettas these could be (and in some instance should be) bolts. It doesn’t do aftermarket parts either, although rather confusingly does mention some here and there and you’ll also find them in the occasional photo too.
That’s not to say the Haynes manual is not well done, it just begs the question of when there’s such a comprehensive Lambretta workshop manual already out there, then why decide the world needed an alternative? Yes it should prove useful for owners who want it for what it says on the cover—service and repairs. Unfortunately however, in my garage at least, it’s the other manual that we still reach for first.