The following article was written by Jamie Colen for this web site. Jamie is restoring an antique Comet Motorscooter that has been in his family for years.  The Comet Motorscooter was built pre-WW2 in Minneapolis, MN, with at least three models available. Jamie is restoring the open frame Sport model with a bicycle seat. Part One is a very nostalgic story about this little scooter with pictures of it in its un-restored condition. A later story will show the results of the restoration.

 Part One       Part Two

The Comet Scooter Restoration

By Jamie Colen

Part One

I sat on the crossbar cushioned by a pillow borrowed from the sofa, the tips of my feet pressed on the twin down-tubes, white-knuckled fists gripping the handlebars.   I was the eight year old passenger as we sped along - my brother piloting this strange two wheeled machine along a mown strip that cut between the waist high grass in the old field.  It seemed as though we were bulleting faster than a car could go.  I still can hear the sound of that motor, the smell of the weeds and mid summer flowers and feel my eyes squinting as the bugs and tall grass went flying by, my grip tightening as we hit the odd bumps in the old field.  I had hoped that these rides could last all afternoon, now it feels like it did.  These were my summers in New Hampshire, my vacation spot for two weeks at my Grandparents farmhouse. That was my first memory of my Grandmothers Scooter. 

This scooter was bought during World War II for cheap transportation to and from town, to get the mail, the groceries, or for a trip to the beach, just two miles away.  My Grandfather even fixed a big woven basket on the handlebars with leather straps for carrying loose items. Comet Manufacturing in Minneapolis, Minnesota made the stiff, suspension-less frame.  As a matter of fact, all the components came from the mid-west area, the Clinton model 701AS engine, from Clinton, Michigan, the Tillotson model ML7A carburetor from Toledo, Ohio, even the 3.50 X 6.00 Goodyear tires.  

After my Grandmother and subsequently, my brothers stopped riding it, it sat for twenty-five or so years untouched.  I always remembered it being a pea green color, with dark green fenders and handlebars, a paint job my older sister applied in the early sixties.  Though all the other photographs previous to this, in the forties, are black and white, my Dad remembers it as red, as the chips from underneath the frame and other areas tell the same tale. For years I thought of bringing this machine back to life. When I was sixteen, I made a half-hearted ‘restoration’ in the late seventies, spawned by the ‘moped craze’ that was in full gear.  This amounted to no more that the removal of the 1.5 hp Clinton engine from the frame and delivery to the local machine shop only to have them tell me it was better suited to be used as a “boat anchor”.  I eventually lost interest, though not before I sprayed the frame an ungodly medium blue and the fenders white, with drips over the pitted metal.  Terrible.  Disheartened, I sat the engine pieces in a cardboard box and wheeled the whole thing back into the barn. That was in 1979.   There it sat for another twenty plus years.

My interest was alighted in scootering when, during one of my weekly bicycle rides two years ago.  I spied the familiar curves of a 1963 125cc Vespa peaking out from around the corner in a dark dilapidated barn at a garage sale. After some bargaining, I ended up buying it for eighty dollars. I really was taken with this little jewel and still ride it regularly. 

About this time, my thoughts raced about the possibilities of that old scooter of my Grandmothers.  I realized what this little Comet sitting back in my parent’s barn meant to the scootering world and my youth.  Here begins the story of the full and much deserved restoration of this gorgeous machine.

I wheeled the Comet out of the barn (again) where it saw the first glimpse of sunshine since Carter was in office, and began to inventory the loose parts.  The bright light shone on the dusty, dripping, ugly paint that I had so hastily splattered on twenty-three years ago. I began the project by bringing the Clinton engine to a reputable local small engine shop, where it was fitted with new rings, a valve job and a cleaned carburetor. When I came to pick it up, the mechanic had the engine sitting on a block of wood with a makeshift fuel line made from clear tubing going to the carburetor.   He kicked it over and it sputtered to life for the first time in forty years!  That stirring sound again!  His only comment was, ‘It runs, but it don’t produce too much power...” Fifty bucks later I was on my way.

Now I was excited to start the focus of attention to research the frame and the rest of the running gear.  There was no real rust anywhere, just that drippy blue paint that may have saved the metal from more rust and layers of dust.  I separated all the parts: the rubber foot pegs, handlebar grips, the brake and accelerator handles, the seat, the gas tank and sediment bowl.  I categorized them all and placed all the parts into plastic bags.

 Missing pieces included the air filter (or air breather), brake and throttle cables, two of the seat mounting brackets and some of the throttle linkage. The original Goodyear ‘industrial’ tires were worn, but not too bad.  The seat was in great shape, but I needed to get the missing mounting brackets, namely the knurled inner plates that fit between the rails of the seat that mesh and tighten onto the seat post on the frame. I found a blacksmith in the area who is, fortunately, a vintage bicycle enthusiast. He said he could manufacture these missing pieces from scratch, by way of impressing the remaining outer brackets in clay, then make a cast to which the new ones could be made. 


The frame, gas tank, mounting brackets and the rims all showed signs of the original red paint.  They were delivered to an automotive restaurateur in the area, where the original red paint will be matched and to begin the refinishing process.  He will ‘media blast’ all the parts, then apply several coats of primer, the finish coats and clear coats. This should all take about one month.  In the mean time, I will be researching and cleaning up the remaining running gear.

Referring to the pre-restorative photographs, you can see the scooter in its many pieces, but you can still get a good idea of what it looks like.   You can see clearly the stinky blue paint that I hastily applied on the frame in 1979.  On some of the engine shots, you will notice the clutch housing and the kick starter arm is red.  After removing some of the grime, I found that these were the only engine parts that were painted in the original red finish.  I am still amazed at how the seat survived without a tear!  I am still missing (and searching for) the air cleaner assembly that fits onto the Tillotson model # ML7A carburetor.  I did eventually find some of the original throttle linkage, albeit a strange piece.  I am inspecting the worn areas about the metal surfaces to get an idea how this worked in conjunction with the cable accentuated hand lever on the handlebars.

I thought I should also find out what I was dealing with here, so I spoke with many scooter experts.  Many of them had promptly written back to let me know this was a pretty rare and collectable scooter!  I was thrilled to hear that, but no matter, I would have been just as determined to do a fine restoration anyway.  I was also heartily encouraged to write this article, documenting the life of this fantastic machine.


Part Two     Top of Page


Please feel free to contact me if you have any comments, questions, suggestions or part information!

scooter badge-sma.jpg (14647 bytes)
Comet Badge


scooter left upper-sma.jpg (10775 bytes)
Picture of Upper Left Frame


scooter right-sma.jpg (11005 bytes)
Picture of Upper Right Frame


scooter left engine pan-sma.jpg (11667 bytes)
Engine Pan from Left Side


Engine clutch side-sma.jpg (17628 bytes)
Engine From Clutch Side


engine kick start close-sma.jpg (15553 bytes)


engine carb close-sma.jpg (10969 bytes)
Tillotson Carburetor


Engine magneto side-sma.jpg (15578 bytes)
Magneto Side of Engine


fan belt drive wheel-sma.jpg (11758 bytes)
Rear Wheel Showing Drive Pulley

seat top-sma.jpg (8580 bytes)
Bicycle Type Seat