My Tourist 103 A0

McWilliams' project 103 A0 journal

January 23, 2011

My 1956 103 A0 came from Hinckley, Ohio. I bought the scooter in 2010.

The owner received the scooter as a gift (along with a Mercedes 190SL of the same era) from a customer. The scooter wasn't ridden much (only 980kms!), but it sustained a bit of wear and tear in its lifetime.

The nose has been damaged. Worse though, is the light sanding over most of the body. Had the owner not touched the scooter at all, it would have been amazing.

My immediate goal is to remove all bodywork, scrub off all grime, and replace wear items (cables, rubber items, etc.). Basically, to pursue the same work as on my 102 A1.

The project will proceed slowly. I have too many projects ahead of this one.

March 6, 2011

McWilliams' 103 A0 speedometer McWilliams' 103 A0 LH side McWilliams' 103 A0 RH side McWilliams' 103 A0 LH side McWilliams' 103 A0 RH side McWilliams' 103 A0 cylinder insulation McWilliams' 103 A0 stator McWilliams' 103 A0 valves McWilliams' 103 A0 clutch

I came to a standstill with another project, so I spent this weekend trying to make this scooter reliable. A few weeks ago, I was able to make the scooter run. That was a good sign. But, it needed help.

Ultimately, I need this scooter operational for HeinkelFest 2011. It may be the only running 103 A0 at the event. I've promised to have a running example of all Tourists this year.

I've been wondering if the mileage on this scooter really is accurate. A 50+ year old machine with 980Km (600miles)?

Most Heinkels I come across have 15,000+ miles. Additionally, this scooter isn't the most appealing on the eyes. The nose is distorted, chrome is pitted, parts are missing. The mileage doesn't really seem right given the overall look of the scooter.

The jobs at hand are:

This work will create a reliable scooter. I am tempted to take this one step further and start restoring it. But, I don't think I can afford it at this time.

Disassembly and cleaning occupied a good 5 hours of my Saturday. Filthy, nasty work; but necessary. Most all elements were easily removed. All except the muffler manifold nuts. These are a problem and the studs tend to break. Unfortunately, liquid wrench and fire did not conquer all. I broke one of the studs. No biggie, it is still Winter in Colorado!

Under the cylinder shrouds I found the optional cylinder insulation. This accessory usually accompanies barn find scooters. This scooter did live in a barn in Ohio.

Removal of the valve cover left me speechless. The mileage on this scooter must be accurate. I have never seen a head so clean and shiny. The pictures show the valves as I found them. I didn't even wipe them down. I found a similar look under the clutch cover. I is hard to believe that such a nasty looking exterior can hide a beautiful interior.

Since the head must be repaired (exhaust manifold studs), there is no way I can complete the work tomorrow. However, I do think I can get everything else back together.

April 30, 2011

Ready for HeinkelFest!

In between work on EuGene's scooter, and yard work, I have found time to reassemble the A0.

All three muffler manifold studs were replaced with new 6mm studs, and the muffler was painted.

I installed new tires on a new (to me) set of rims. The old rims were butchered. Somebody had decided to fill in the valve stem hole and then cut some of the center of the rim so that the stem would have a new place to go. Why do people commit these crimes against old scooters?

New cables are installed, new rubber pieces (fork boots, ignition cover, mushroom seal, gas cap gasket), new fluids and this scooter is complete (for now).

At some point, I will recover the seat. The current cover is ok, but the colors are nasty. If I pursue a restoration, I have to make that big decision: color. The last thing I need is another red Heinkel. I would really like to pursue Atlantic Blue. What do you think? No rush, I won't consider this task until next Winter.

Ready for HeinkelFest!

March 24, 2012

5 hands.

Last fall, my A0 participated in HeinkelFest, but it wasn't ridden.

Instead, it was the object of education. I rebuilt most of the motor in front of the attendees. Unfortunately, we weren't able to complete it in the time required. Two weeks or so after HeinkelFest, I completed the engine. On the following weekend, I rode it up Pikes Peak.

Normally I wouldn't take such a drastic risk for myself, but I thought it would be a good test.

The A0 performed well, but in all honesty, the four-stroke engine has a much more difficult time than their two-stroke brethren.

A few weeks ago, I started thinking about restorations. Of course I began suffering with my typical color choice drama. I am currently thinking of a 1960's VW Sea Blue. The color is close to Heinkel's Atlantic Blue, but not a perfect match.

On the topic of VWs, I am also considering a clean up similar to what local VW bus owners do. (Maybe this is widespread?)

This philosophy is something like this:

I've started the work. I figure it is a good use of my time and it will help me make a decision about pursuing a restoration.

What do you think?

April 8, 2012

Drop dead gorgeous.

Yesterday I visited a VW enthusiast in Denver. I wanted a second look at his Gulf Blue Beetle and his Sea Blue Split Window Bus. Both colors appeal to me. Neither are found in the Heinkel palette, but Sea Blue is close to Atlantic Blue.

I saw the Beetle last year at a VW show in Colorado Springs - I rode EuGene's newly restored A2 to the event. When looking at my pictures from the rally, the Beetle looked baby blue. But seeing it again in person reminded me why I liked it. It is drop dead gorgeous.

My A0 will be Gulf Blue with Gray upholstery.

April 13, 2012

The scooter is fully disassembled and at the sandblaster. I am hopeful that the powder will be done by May 4th and the paint by May 14th. If correct, I should have it assembled for Amerivespa.

May 15, 2012

Spectrum Powder Works finished the powder on May 9th. I started assembly of the frame, fenders, and forks during the following weekend.

The polished parts will be complete tomorrow and the painted pieces should be complete this weekend.

Chrome is another matter.

I sent it out 6 weeks ago and essentially had no update. On my way to Moab, I stopped by the shop in Grand Junction. All of my pieces were nicely stacked on the dirt floor. They had not touched them since opening the box. I took them with me, and found a new chrome shop the next week. If the current shop can complete the chrome by about June 6th, I should be able to complete the scooter for Amerivespa.

May 19, 2012

Recently painted legshield Recently painted nose Recently painted parts Recently painted body Recently painted body

I stopped by my painter's shop to snag a color sample (for upholstery reasons) and a few photos. If you know me, you know how screwy I can get about paint colors. I was worried that I would arrive and be shocked by my choice.


The legshield is complete. Painted, sanded and buffed. Pictured next to it is one of the side air scoops. I think the polished aluminum and chrome elements will look incredible with this blue.

The remaining pieces are sanded, but not yet buffed.

I should have brought a sample of the powder ... It would have been nice to see the Agate Gray (frame etc.) and Silver Sparkle (fenders, etc.) up close and personal with the Gulf Blue. I guess those photos will wait for another week.

One thing I learned, the dashboard assembly is magnesium. Mine had a few extra holes that required repair. My painter sent it out to his welder who quickly reported "this ain't aluminum!"

Originally I thought I would pursue upholstery similar to the VW I saw : Gray. Now I'm thinking black might be better. I worry the gray will be lost in the restoration. Black may be the better stand out color. I will choose next week.

I love this color!

July 15, 2012

Plenty has happened since my last post, but the important thing is that the scooter is not yet complete. I blame the chrome shops.

I sent my parts to a place in Grand Junction. After 5 weeks of excuses, I ended up retrieving it on my way to the Moab rally. All of the parts had been opened and laid in a pile on their dirt floor. Luckily nothing was lost.

Next up, I sent the stuff to another place in Salt Lake City. This shop quoted me a fraction of the price and a 3 week turnaround. They came through on both accounts, but destroyed my shifter and front brake brackets. I mean destroyed.

The scooter would not be ready for Amerivespa. I began my search for replacement parts. Luckily I found them in Europe. Hopefully the chrome shop will come through on reimbursing me the costs.

Rather than attempt the chrome process again, I plan on polishing the components.

McWilliams' 103 A0 clutch McWilliams' 103 A0 clutch McWilliams' 103 A0 clutch McWilliams' 103 A0 clutch McWilliams' 103 A0 clutch McWilliams' 103 A0 clutch McWilliams' 103 A0 clutch Michael McWilliams' 103A-0

July 22, 2012

I received spare shifting components from a European friend and I received the front brake bracket from the HCD. This time, they were polished.

The scooter is not yet complete, I need to finish the seat and find a bar end mirror for the LH side. The mirror that I used is temporary.

In the next several weeks I will post more of a write up. I've learned a lot with this restoration, and will have plenty to say.

September 16, 2012

I finally finished the seat, and installed the mirror.

A few thoughts about the 103A0. First, I would not recommend this (or earlier) models for your first restoration. Overall the scooter is far more expensive than its later siblings.


First - chrome. Handlebars and the components, wheels, rack, seat strap brackets, etc. all must be chromed for an accurate restoration. Chrome is expensive. Worse, finding good chrome shops in the USA is a challenge.

Second - spare parts. Bodywork and and a few trim pieces are difficult to find. Scarcity translates into higher costs for you. My A0 was missing the spare tire holder and spare tire cover. Both are harder to find. Luckily I did have the speedometer and blanking plate.

July 11, 2022

Wow, it has been nearly 10 years since I last made an update.

My A0 has traveled to California for Amerivespa, and rode with other HeinkelFest 2015 attendees to the Royal Gorge.

Was this project worth it? Yes.

I absolutely love this scooter. It is a bit more raw than the 103A-1 or 103A-2 models largely due to the motor mounts. More specifically, the lack of motor mounts.

On the 103A-0, and earlier models, the motor mounts directly to the frame. The result is an amplified vibration throughout the scooter. My daughter told me she didn't like riding it because it vibrated her feet too much. I never noticed it. But she was correct.


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