On A Roll

Great day today, everyone! Betty’s got some new front brake shoes and new wheel put on and she’s ready to roll (get it…?). Today was really exciting for me because it was probably the first time I got to do a task that I’ve done before, so I knew what to expect and how to approach it. When I did the back brake shoes it was such a pain in the ass that I put off doing the front shoes for a while. When I did the front brakes today I was ready for the headache, had the right tools and mindset, and then put them in in record time. They were very similar to the back brakes in that I snapped the old ones while taking them off, and I had to use a hammer to get the new ones on (padded with a cloth, of course cause I’m too cheap to get a mallet, apparently). Some differences were that the front ones are smaller, they overlap at the top, and this time I knew they had asbestos in them so I wore a mask, gloves, and eye protection (since chunks were flying off as I was trying to pry them off). Here are some visuals for you:

I just took a dry toothbrush to it and wiped off the dirt and spider webs, and that seemed to do the trick. I think I popped the new ones on in under 10 minutes, which is the fastest I’ve done anything on this project so far. The results:

Ta-da!!! I need to get a new split pin for the castle nut so I left the cap off as a reminder to myself. I’m also missing a few nuts for the wheel so I have to remember those too.

Today marked a few milestones for me: For starters, I can now properly wheel Betty around since she now has two brand new wheels on. Secondly, it was such a nice feeling to be confident in what I was doing today, and get it done in a reasonable amount of time. If anything I think it means I’ve learned a lot (not like I’ve doubted that), and if I were to take on another project like this, it would probably go much more smoothly. Not like I’ve been already looking around for more Vespa’s to restore or anything……..

Next up! Keep reading if you’d like to weigh in here: After I get the new carb fitted on, I’ll want to make sure the fuel tank is ready to go. I started researching about what to do with a rusty fuel tank (ie. is it fixable or trash?), and found this. The author has 4 suggestions for dealing with a rusty tank (and none of them are throw it out! Hurray!):

  1. The first option is to buy a tank cleaning/liner kit, such as Kreem or POR-15 (follow instructions on bottle).
  2. The second option is to buy some muriatic acid or CLR to eat the rust in the tank (let stand overnight).
  3. The third option is taking the tank to a radiator shop and they’ll clean it out.
  4. Take the tank to someone who can sand blast the tank out.

So I’m taking votes on which option is best, or if anyone has better ideas. Here are some pictures of the tank, obviously it’s hard to get good pictures of the inside but I tried.

All votes and thoughts welcome.

Ps. School is starting back up on Wednesday so my posts may become few and far in between again, but we’ll see. Thanks for following along!


Change of Plans

Good news and bad news: Bad news is, my carburetor turned out to be beyond repair. Good news is we’ll never know if I was full of shit about rebuilding it so we can just pretend I did a perfect job and would have had no issues. (Bonus good news is I’m writing 2 posts in 2 days!) Here’s the story:

I went back to Vespa Motorsport to pick up some things I was missing and brought the carb with me. First of all, that black aluminum piece is the throttle plate, so I wasn’t missing that and I’m a dum-dum, but I’m 100% okay with that at this point. Anyway, Alex was helping me yesterday and today (and he is very nice, btw. Thanks, Alex!) and as soon as he saw it he was like, “that’s broken, you can’t put it back on the bike.” Basically at some point, someone jerry-rigged a way of fitting the carb back on when the connection was broken. So I was shrugged my shoulders and was like, “oh well, I guess I saw this coming” and bought a new one. I was wondering how I was supposed to get that thing on there again. Here’s the broken one versus the new one:

Honestly I’m pretty excited about the new one cause it’s all shiny and pretty and guaranteed to work, and I’m also very glad I got to poke around in the old one and I ended up learning a ton. I will definitely be keeping the old one around cause it’s cool. I also want to give a shout out to my in-laws who gave me a gift certificate to Vespa Motorsport for my birthday last year, which helped me buy my new carb. Thanks, Barb and Doug! Here’s another angle of it, as well as the clamp that I also did no have:

Bonus Niko picture :). Side note: I asked for the nuts that hold the air filter on and said, “I can probably just go buy those at Home Depot or whatever, but I’ll get them while I’m here” and Alex was like, actually they are a special size and threads, not even metric or standard, so you can’t buy them at Home Depot. They are nearly $5 per nut, which Alex kindly reminded me of so that I wouldn’t accidentally lose one. Which is basically the most Vespa thing ever – We made up a nut size cause we’re special so now you have to spend $10 just to put the air filter on. But I’m the sucker in the end cause I did it.

Anyway moving on. Also while I was there, I showed Alex a picture of the existing connection to the engine now, and he showed me where it was broken, and gave me that new part as well as the rubber sleeve that goes on. I asked if I would need to take the engine out to replace those and he said he didn’t think so, but I was thinking to myself, “This dude knows a lot about Vespas, but he clearly has not worked on a 1974 Vespa 90 cause nothing is easy on this stupid thing.” And guess who was right? Me. If someone can prove me wrong and show me a way of replacing these parts without taking the engine out, I am all ears because you may remember taking the engine out with only 2 people is the absolute worst and Brendan will likely go into hiding if I ask for help doing that again.


The top two pictures are the existing connection and sleeve, from both sides of the hole in the frame. The bottom picture are the new replacement parts. To jog your memory:


The rod in the middle on the left (below the cylinder) are the items in question. If you think there’s a way to replace those without removing the engine, please let me know because I like being married to Brendan.

I knew better than to deal with that headache today so I moved on. I had also asked Alex about removing the cap to get to the front brakes, and he showed me how to do it on a newer bike and basically there is no trick, I just have an old, sandy Vespa so everything is 600% harder than it should be. But if this project has taught me anything, it’s not to give up when something seems hard, so I grabbed some tools, turned on some tunes, and went to work. And guess what, I got it! I ended up using a screw driver I got for Christmas (and the mystery tool from yesterday), so another shout out to my Father-in-Law for that, thanks Doug!

After the cap I was met with a castle nut and cotter pin, which were expected. Here’s my naive question, though: Isn’t there something better than a cotter pin? Follow-up question: Are they supposed to be destroyed each time, or is it just because mine are old and sandy? This one was very thick and bent in 2 different directions so I couldn’t straighten it out to slide it through. I ended up cutting it and hacking away at it for like a half hour until I got it out.


The picture is hard to tell, but both ends are bent in opposite directions, with the top one going a full 180 degrees, and the bottom one making a 90 degree angle. Anyway, I finally got that off and then the next hurdle was getting the castle nut off and you guessed it, that one was stuck too! Great. Brendan eventually got it because he’s a hero, and I decided to call it a day before going any further. I read that removing the drum is very difficult on old bikes, which is the next step, so I decided to try that one when I was fresh.

And that’s it. I technically know what I need to do next but I’m facing some hurdles so we’ll see how long it takes me to do them. I may start reading up on what I would like to do after replacing the brakes and getting the carburetor in.

Phew, that was a long one. Thanks for reading! 🙂

Facing my Fears

I wanted to title this post, “Sometimes the things that seem scariest are actually the easiest”, but that was way too long and not catchy, so I’ll just start with that statement instead. I FINALLY had some time to work on Betty today. I’m still technically on Winter Break, but I’ve been in the lab and also getting my life back together after being on vacation for 2 weeks, so Betty continued to be neglected in the garage. Well, I did a few things in the lab this morning and then had some time so I was like, “you know what, I’m gonna go buy some carburetor parts and finally face that effing carburetor”. The reason I was so ready to finally face my fears was thanks to this anonymous person’s beautiful article on rebuilding a carburetor. (Maybe they’re not anonymous, but I can’t find their name anywhere). If you have any interest in the workings of a carburetor or how to rebuild one, that article saved my life (okay, I’m being dramatic, but you get my point). It turns out rebuilding a carburetor is not hard at all and totally not scary. Although I guess I haven’t tried to run it yet, so maybe I’m full of shit, I guess only time will tell.

So here’s what I did today! First I went to Vespa Motorsport to pick up some small parts that I knew I wanted to replace:


Old parts on the left, new ones on the right. That black aluminum (I originally thought it was plastic) piece in the middle does not have that groove in it, we’ll see how it goes. It might just be for ease, but maybe I’ll need to return it or just use the old one. Then I basically read that article and put it all back together and actually felt pretty solid about it!

New gasket, new fuel filter, and float chamber put back together.

I also realized I’m missing the throttle plate and the cover for the fuel filter, so I will need to go back to the store, but at least I know what I’m missing now. I also tried fitting the air filter on, but I did not have any nuts to secure it, so I will need to get some of those. This is what that looks like, can someone tell me if I’m missing anything here? It looks a little too simple:

And that’s pretty much it for the carb! The throttle assembly goes on top, but since I’m missing the plate, which is like the whole point, I did not put it back on yet. I’m dreading putting the carb back on the bike because you may remember that I got it off by just yanking on it, so I’m not sure what the reverse of that is. I’m assuming I will need some kind of sleeve to go over it. Advice welcome.

So next up, I wanted to do the front brake shoes, since I was dreading those too but at least know how to do them. Turns out that’s only half true because I don’t know how to get to them! Apparently I am supposed to pop off this cap to access the brake shoes, but that is waaaay easier said than done.


The silver dome in the center is the cap in question. I tried taking a knife around the edge to clear any crud out, and then used a tool (name and purpose unknown) to pry it off, but it’s impossible to get anything under there and I’m really not sure how to get it off. I even tried twisting it in case this model had one that screws on, but that didn’t do it either. Thoughts? I ended up stopping before it got too frustrating because I wanted to celebrate getting some good work done instead. I did take off the old wheel and man that thing is nasty:


Good riddance.

I’ll leave you with an anecdote: When I told people I was going to rebuild a carburetor, many of them replied with, “Really?! YOU?!” (Shout out to those who told me I could do it! Thanks guys!). If you feel sad or surprised by that reaction, I want you to know that I (and likely many other women in the field) have faced much of that in my life. It used to get to me and maybe it still does, but as I have been working on Betty I have been learning to let it go and believe in myself more. The carb is a perfect example of something being so hyped up, and it turns out it was like the easiest part of the whole thing (assuming I did it right). That article I found made it so approachable and it really does not matter who you are or what you look like, a carburetor is a carburetor and anyone can work on one. I try to leave the gender thing out of my blog for the most part, but every now and again I think it’s important to let everyone in on my complete experience of working on this project. I have enjoyed it so much thus far and learned a ton and feel so grateful for those of you who have supported me. And honestly I think the people who act surprised when they hear about me working on it are not trying to be discouraging, they seem genuinely surprised and then usually come around to support me after the shock. Please keep in mind, though, that young girls have a hard time understanding this, so the initial support is very important.

Thanks for sticking with me and hopefully I won’t keep you waiting too long for the next update! 😀

Carb Part 1: Cleaning

Let me start by saying I sincerely apologize for being so absent lately. To be frank, while I love working on Betty, she has to take a backseat so my other responsibilities so between starting research, taking two grad classes, grading for two professors, plus being a normal adult, Betty has been neglected lately. The good news is, this is why I bought her as a personal project, so I could work on my own time and start and stop as necessary. Anyway, yesterday was quiet so I managed to spend some time in the garage and reevaluate where I’m at.

Yesterday I worked on cleaning up the carburetor some more, and trying to figure out what I need to replace and what (if anything) is missing. It’s a difficult task when you’re not entirely sure what you’re looking at, but the good news is I have some great resources who like to offer their help here. Here is what I have right now:


I’m feeling pretty proud of myself for how clean I got that cover (top middle). Also, I did not want to use carb cleaner on the float (yellow ring on the left) because it’s plastic and the carb cleaner is mostly acetone so I just wiped off what I could with a soft cloth. If I should do something else, let me know. The carb itself has a lot of sand in it so cleaned out a lot, but there is probably still more to be done. I’m using carb cleaner and compressed air to try to clean through the holes. I’m thinking I’d like to replace the little filter cap (top right), but I’m not even sure how to buy that because it’s so small and I need the correct size. My book I’m using also suggests replacing the pin that is currently attached to the float – It looks fine, but I’d rather replace it now if it will give me trouble later. I also have this replacement kit:


I already removed one of those gaskets from the cap (the largest gasket), but I haven’t even found the others. I also know where that paper gasket goes, but I’m not sure what connects to the carb there. My next step is I need to do some research on my specific carburetor, because it’s hard to work on something if you don’t know what you’re looking at.

Here are some pictures of the carb after cleaning yesterday:


And that’s it. I likely won’t make much progress for some time again, so please don’t hold your breath because you will asphyxiate. Next steps are doing some research on my carburetor, ordering some tiny parts, and then putting it back together. Thanks for sticking with me!

The Carburetor

Guys, I’m here. Betty is still in my garage and I still intend to fix her up, I just got really busy. School started and we went to a wedding in New York and then Brendan left for 2 weeks (still in the middle of that), so Betty had to go on the back burner. Believe me when I say, I think of her everyday. Well today I was feeling pretty bleh and in the middle of my class this evening I made the decision to reward myself tonight with some Betty time. The other stuff can wait.

So I title this post “The Carburetor” because this is the part that deserves a post all on it’s own. For the most part I’ve heard people telling me rebuilding a carb is a big deal and frankly they didn’t seem to have a lot of faith in me. I’ve also heard one person say that rebuilding the carb is no big deal and I can totally do it. So I am reaching out to the world to ask, what do you think? Here’s where I’m at so far:

  • I started taking apart the carburetor with no idea what it was or what I was doing while I was trying to figure out how to remove it from the frame.
  • Recently I gave the outside a good cleaning, and then tonight I completed removing all parts from it.
  • I also bought an inexpensive rebuild kit that includes a few gaskets and what not. Here are pictures from after cleaning the exterior and then removing the rest of the pieces:

So my question is, should I try to clean this and put it back together, or should I just buy a new one? Honestly I feel like I’m missing parts and definitely would need to replace a few small things, so it may be more of a hassle to buy the pieces than to just buy a new one. I think I can find one relatively cheap on ebay or from India. On the other hand, if the general consensus is that this one looks to be in pretty good shape and it’s not that bad to put back together, then maybe I should do that. Let me know what you think, please! (Can you tell I’m leaning towards just buying a new one?)

And if you saw my last post about potentially finding a new shop dog, I’m happy to let you know that I did – we adopted Betsy and she’ll be helping me see the rest of the Betty project through.


Ugh she’s so cute omg.

Meeting a Goal

I did it guys! I got a spark!! I set a goal and I met it and it feels so great!!!

I thought I was going to write a quick update today and apologize for being so absent lately (new semester started, still working part time at my internship, got a foster dog, and watching another dog….busy), but instead I get to write about how I did something I said I’d do! This feels like the day I’ve been waiting for. Here’s how it went:

I decided I’d try to rewire the junction box today so I could finally test for a spark. I first started by vacuuming out all the dead spiders out of there because there were so many for some reason, ew. Next I sat down with my picture and looked at the wires in front of me and started scratching my head. Here is the picture to jog your memory:


The reason I was scratching my head was because I couldn’t find where the wire from the HT coil went. I took out the old one and it was a straight, red wire and I could not find that in the original picture. I also counted up the wires still on the bike and they were all there, it seemed like the HT coil wire was never in there in the first place. But looking at this picture, it seems like it was:


See how the wire goes into the junction box on the right of the picture? So at this point I was downright confused, and feeling pretty hopeless since I had a bunch of old faded wires in front of me with no clue what they did. I looked up wiring diagrams online but those didn’t help either, so I decided to solve this experimentally instead of theoretically; I put all 5 of the wires that feed through the top of the junction box in, and then I took my wire from my new HT coil and screwed it into one spot at a time. Then I’d kick the kick starter and see if I got a spark. I wasn’t even sure if I would get a spark even if it was in the right spot, since it could have been something other than the HT coil. The first two gave me nothing, which I was pretty prepared for. So when I got to the 3rd one I was again expecting nothing, but instead got a loud, bright, satisfying spark!!!! Hurray! If Brendan were home I would have run into the house waving my hands in the air, but he wasn’t so instead I said “AAHH I got a spark!!!” to myself. Then of course I took a few videos of it and when I tried to take a slow-mo video I had gotten so excited that I forgot where I put my hand and ended up shocking myself. Ha! So now I have a slow-mo video of me kicking the kick starter and then dramatically dropping the spark tester.

I’m still not sure what this means for how it was wired before. Perhaps it was wired incorrectly? Now I have an extra wire that I will need to figure out what happened there, since the HT coil wire is occupying a space that was previously occupied. I guess I may have to do trial and error a few more times to wire it up.

Overall I am mostly feeling proud of myself for reaching a goal. It may seem small, but it has been a ton of learning and problem solving for me to get here, and it feels nice to set a milestone. I also feel proud of myself once again for facing a challenge and figuring out a way to solve it. On my way to becoming an engineer!

Ps. May have found myself a new shop dog. She doesn’t look like a good shop dog at first glance, but she’s pretty fearless and enjoys hanging out with me. Plus her name is Betsy which sort of works with the “Betty” thing.


How to Overcome a Challenge: Persistence, the Right Tools, and Asking for Help

BIG day in the garage yesterday. I’d like to start by saying, yesterday was a reminder that it’s nearly impossible to do this project 100% by yourself (without the right tools). Mounting the engine back in the frame is a 2 person job, and requires one of those people to be very strong. Balancing the bike while trying to mount the wheel on it is also impossible by yourself. I’m sure there are tools that would allow me to do this, but unfortunately those are likely very costly so I had to go without. SO…Shout out to Brendan, who got called away from his video gaming many times to come get me out of a sticky situation and help me, even though he really really didn’t want to. I would either be crying by myself in the garage or in the emergency room after having gotten hurt trying to do it myself without him. THANK YOU BRENDAN!! You’re the best.

Okay moving on. Yesterday started with Christmas (or Hanukkah or whatever gift-giving holiday you celebrate) in August. I stopped by Vespa Motorsport and redeemed my birthday gift from my dad, new tires. Kevin wasn’t there, but Robot (that’s his nickname) helped me out and he was super nice. There was also a nice guy in there (didn’t catch his name) working on a scooter who chatted with me about my project. He’s selling his 1980 Vespa and I want it so if anyone wants to get it for me, just send $3000 my way. So I walked out with new Michelin tires, inner tubes, and rims. When I got home, I also got my package I ordered from Scooter Mercato to add to my booty. I was so giddy I wasn’t even sure what to do with myself.


I bought the carb cleaner and compressed air a little while ago at Home Depot. Ps. the carb cleaner has a warning on it that says, “Not suggested for fuel injected vehicles”….If you’re not familiar, a fuel injector replaces a carburetor, so this warning makes no sense.

Anyway, first up: Back brakes. Brakes SUCK to replace on these things. Is this how they are regularly serviced? Omg, I hate it. Basically these two horseshoe type things are held together with a very stiff spring, and you have to pull them apart and put them in place in order to get them on. I struggled with this and finally got the stupid things apart, but I couldn’t get it all the way on the shaft it needs to sit on. I had to get Brendan to help me hammer it in to place, after struggling with it for a while myself. Here they are:


The little orange spot on the top right is from the towel I used to cover it with while hammering it in. I’m never taking those out again. Really dreading doing the front ones.

Next I put the cover back on and when it was time to put the pin in, it was all bent out of shape and nearly impossible to get back in. I ended up kind of jerry-rigging it by cutting it in half and bending it. It’s ugly, but it works, I guess.


Next was the piece de resistance: Remounting the engine. The Vespa 90 is a stupidly designed scooter (sorry, Betty, love you anyway), where the engine is so difficult to access while mounted, making it really hard to put it back in. Basically, thank goodness I am married to someone who is strong with long arms. So long story short, Brendan held the engine in while I slipped the bolts in. That’s the short, pretty version of what it actually was like. I won’t get into the long ugly version, but I’m sure Brendan had a few moments of questioning if divorce was a good option at this point. Here she is, back in place:


I’ve been really looking forward to this moment, but I gotta tell you, I’m really afraid that I did something wrong and will have to go back in there again. Fingers crossed that I don’t have to, because I’d like to stay married and I think Brendan is pretty done with taking that thing in and out at this point.

Next up: tires. The way you do this, is you first put the inner tube in (which comes flattened out), inflate it just a little, then put the rims on, then finish inflating it. Sounds easy, right? It’s not. Putting the rims on is really difficult and my tiny, un-calloused hands were not up for the task. To test Brendan’s love for me some more, I asked him for help. He did a great job, but I guess at some point decided he’d like to stay married to me and had to throw in the towel. At this point it was 6:30 pm on a Saturday evening and I was determined to get these tires on, so I started frantically calling tire shops that were still open to see if anyone could help. The guys over at Los Reyes Tire Shop told me they’d wait for me so I ran out the door and made it there 15 minutes before they closed. I figured they’d have some machine that could do this for them, but they didn’t, they’re just awesome and do it with their hands. They were asking what these were for and I showed them a picture of Betty. They asked who was working on that and I said, “me!”. They were like, “yeah, but who else?” and I was like, “just me!” (well, plus when Brendan helps me with little tasks, but I spared them the gory details). The guy asked how I knew what to do and I said just Youtube and manuals and his face seemed to change from confused to impressed and he said, “you’re very smart”. Thanks, man! Anyway, Alvaro was the one to help me with my tires (I just learned his name because his picture was on Yelp) and we got it done together. Super nice guys over there, hopefully I made some new friends.

Almost done here, people, stay with me. Lastly I wanted to put the back tire on so I could but Betty back on her kickstand. I tried doing this myself, but the engine was really weighing one side down and the jack was not stable enough to support me trying to put the tire on, so once again I had to call Brendan in to help me hold Betty steady while I put the tire on. I’m sure when he was done there he went to call a few divorce lawyers in town. Ultimately I got it on and voila, Betty is back on her kickstand with a brand new back tire!


(I have to finish putting a few bolts on, Brendan was running out of patience so I said I’d just do it later). Note that the exhaust has a piece broken off (not from me) that holds it to the frame, away from the tire. Currently it is rubbing on the tire, so I will have to figure out how to attach it to the frame. Right now I’m thinking zip ties, but if you have a less ghetto suggestion, let me know.

If you’re still here, now comes the slightly disappointing part. I went to test the compression, the thing I’ve been waiting for. After replacing the piston, rings, gasket, etc. I figured I had to get great compression. The disappointment is….it’s the same. I’m not sure if I’m missing something here, but that didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. I’m just grateful it wasn’t 0, but I was still a little bummed. Oh well. As for the spark, I can’t test for that yet because I have to put the junction box back together, but I’m not feeling particularly hopeful about that for some reason. I will keep you posted.

Overall, yesterday I faced a lot of challenges one after another, and I feel really proud of myself that I overcame all of them. In that sense, I feel that is what I have learned the most from doing this project. My attitude on challenges has changed from “I can’t do this” to “There is a way to get this done, and I will find it”. Sometimes the answer is persistence, sometimes it’s getting the right tool, and sometimes it’s asking for help. To me, this is the greatest lesson I could have learned on my journey to becoming an engineer. I can truly see the change in my thinking, and I feel really proud of myself for how far I have come.

Thanks for reading! 🙂


Quick Update 3

I know it’s been a little while since I’ve posted, so figured I’d keep everyone in the loop. Yesterday I purchased a few things online from Scooter Mercato  and I’m waiting for that to get here before I can do much (I love Vespa Motorsport, but I was sick of making the drive downtown after work and last time I went they didn’t have my part so I decided to go the slow but lazy route this time. Plus while Vespa Motorsport is amazing, they are a little pricey so figured I’d save a few bucks on stuff I felt confident ordering myself). I got back brake shoes, an air filter, and a carburetor rebuilding (gasket) kit. I feel pretty good that I’ve been gaining enough confidence to order parts online without consulting anyone about what I need. I’m wrapping my head around what needs to happen in what order. I also am going to go out and buy some carburetor cleaner and compressed air, which I will need when I rebuild the carb. So here is my plan for next steps:

  1. Install back brakes.
  2. Remount engine onto frame.
  3. Test compression (excited for this part).
  4. Test for spark. (If no spark, I think I will first look into replacing the wires that connect in the junction box, because I just looked at those and realized they may be the problem. If that doesn’t fix it then I will go under the flywheel and work with the stator).
  5. Clean/rebuild carburetor and install air filter.
  6. Start replacing cables.
  7. Continue to buy/clean up/replace parts for fuel intake, since I know there are a few pieces missing there.

Today I put the kickstarter back on which was a small, yet satisfying task. Feels good to start putting things back together. Looking forward to getting my goodies in the mail!

The Biggest Day of Learning Yet

I got to spend some quality time with Betty yesterday and made some good progress and learned a ton. And you know how we learn best? We make mistakes. More on that in a bit.

First up, I went out and bought a 23 mm socket wrench (which apparently is an unusual size because Home Depot doesn’t carry them) so that I could take off the nut to access the brake shoes. The whole assembly of this part of the scooter I really liked, as it’s very simple. Here is what I found when I removed the cover:

Those babies have seen better days. This is underneath the plate on the opposite side from the flywheel:


Here is a cropped image showing the outside. So the nut in the middle has a pin in it, and then it unscrews to release the plate (not sure what else to call it other than “plate”). The back wheel attaches to the outside of the plate. This plate is held on to the middle shaft by straight “threads” so that when the shaft spins, the plate spins (and therefore the wheel spins). I believe the way that the brakes work is that when the operating lever is pulled (by pressing the brake pedal with your right foot. Assuming the cable is connected…which currently it is not…), the shoes spread apart and push against the sides of the plate, causing it to slow. Overall a really simple design and I enjoyed being able to see it.

Back to the actual work. The brake shoes are removed by first removing little clips that hold them on, then lifting the shoes (one at a time) from either end while releasing one end from the shaft it’s on (seen at the top of the first pictures). This was much easier said than done. These shoes were so old and dirty I first had to dig around just to find the clips. I ended up having to take wrenches and pry these things off. I wouldn’t be surprised if I spent close to 45 minutes just trying to do this. They were so stuck that the first one ended up breaking, so I guess I’ll be getting new brake shoes…


Next up was the mistake. I’m not going to get into the details, but long story short, I got oil in the intake/combustion chamber. Basically the mistake happened by blindly listening to advice, and not thinking it through. I was really kicking myself and worried I made a really bad error, and had no one to blame but myself. I figured in the best case scenario I would get a ton of black smoke initially as the oil burned off, and then it would be okay. In the worst case scenario I should just give up on moving forward. After some pouting I realized that 2-stroke engines take a fuel/oil mixture anyway, so it may not have been much of a mistake at all! I let the excess drip out, so hopefully at the worst I’ll get a bit of black smoke. I’m not familiar with 2 stroke engines much, so if indeed I’ve made a terrible mistake, please let me know.

Okay, after the bad news, some good news; I put the new piston/cylinder assembly back together! It went surprisingly well and I had almost no issues. A welcome change from taking all of this stuff apart. Here she is:


I just need to get a 11 mm wrench (because apparently I don’t have one?) to tighten up those bottom bolts and we should be good to go. Really excited to test compression again.

So before I put the engine back in I’ve got to get new brake shoes and put those in, and then I should be ready to put the engine back on the frame! If anyone has suggestions on other things I should do while it’s still out, speak now or forever hold your piece. I’m feeling great about the progress I’ve made and what I’ve learned. Yesterday I truly got my hands dirty and I feel like I’ve come a long way. Mistakes were made and I’m learning from them, which was all part of the plan. Thanks for keeping up with my progress!

Ps. We’re watching Keara again and she was there to offer moral support:




Out With The Old, In With The New

Just wanted to share a quick update: My new piston is in! Vespa Motorsport hooked me up with (and by “hooked me up with” I mean, “sold me”) a new piston, rings, circlips, gasket, and rebored the cylinder barrel to make sure it was all a good fit. Ps. the gasket is paper, how crazy is that? Why did I think it would be metal? Paper seems like a weird choice. Anyway, here are the goods:


They also did a really nice job of cleaning up the cylinder head and barrel; Thanks guys! The piston has an arrow pointing which direction faces the exhaust, because apparently putting it in backwards can cause you to lose power really fast.

I’m looking forward to putting it all back together, but first I have to go to the store to get some 2-stroke oil for lubricating.

Also, my birthday just passed and I got some very nice gifts from my loving family members who are so wonderful and supportive of my Vespa undertaking! My dad printed me this homemade certificate:


(Maybe I should take him up on that new Vespa offer?) My in-laws got me a gift certificate to Vespa Motorsport (that will be used quickly!) and my husband got me a helmet!! (My mom is also wonderful and got me something too, but it wasn’t Vespa related. Love you, Mom). I’m worried I won’t be able to wear the helmet for a while but Brendan said he believed in me that I can make Betty run and was worried about my safety. He’s truly the best. I make fun of him a lot but come on, could he be any greater? The helmet might be a little small so I’ll take a picture when I find the right fit. My family is the best. How did I get so lucky?!