Back in the Saddle

Hey friends, just wanted to write a quick update to let you know that my semester is over so I can come out of my self-inflicted break from the garage. Also for those that may read my blog, but don’t know me otherwise, I should let you know that during finals I also fell off a horse and got myself a pretty nice concussion, which was very unfortunate timing and has also kept me away. Anyway, I’m feeling much better now and slowly starting to head back in the garage (and also literally got back in the saddle on a horse) since then.

I just went back to my last post and realized I’ve actually done a few things since then without updating the blog. The handlebars are greased and back in place and spin like a dream. The gas tank got an Evaporust soak and is looking maybe a little better? Hard to tell. The engine is also mounted back in the frame thanks to the help of the hubby, hopefully where it will stay for some time. I have strung the cables through their grommet that comes out of the frame, so those are happily in place too. Yesterday I put the tire back on, which means I got to move Betty out of the garage for the first time since she came home with me! (I tried to move her before but found out the exhaust was rubbing on the tire and needed replacing, so that was done a while ago). Here she is enjoying the great outdoors (aka my backyard).


Isn’t she a beauty? I also got Betsy to sit on her for like a second, but when she jumped off she knocked the seat off (cause it’s not actually on), which startled her and now I doubt I’ll ever get her to sit on it again. We’ll see…


So here’s what I’ve got on my plate next:

  1. String and tension the cables in the engine. This one is looking like it’s harder than I thought, but I’ll get it eventually.
  2. Attach the new carb. Ben of told me there is a felt ring that goes on the manifold, but I haven’t seen any other mention of that anywhere. I may give Vespa Motorsport a ring this week to confirm that, not cause I don’t trust Ben, it just never hurts to get a second opinion. Plus if I do need one, I will need to purchase it.
  3. Install fuel tap in the tank, install in the scooter.
  4. …Run the scooter?
  5. Electrical. Bleh.

Quick question for the peanut gallery: My old boss, Greg (hey Greg!), saw a picture of my cables looking like this, and told me they need to be oriented correctly to reduce problems in the future:

That makes sense so I tried it – I took out the inner cable and twisted it and put it back in, may times, and I still can’t get them to sit right. Does anyone else have thoughts on this? Will I have problems in the future or not really? If yes, how on Earth can I get those to orient themselves correctly?

I think that’s it for now. I’m still taking a class this summer and will be focusing on my research to finish my thesis hopefully this year, so no promises about making great progress on the Vespa anytime soon. Ps. Here was a picture of my face after my fall 3 weeks ago:


Wear a helmet, folks. Saved my life.



Another Thing to Check Off the List

I [mostly] finished the cables yesterday, and I FINALLY figured out a system that works. On the last ones, of course. The reason I say mostly is a) I’m undecided about the throttle cable and b) I need to hook everything up to the engine once it’s back in place. To make a long story short, here is what happened:

  1. I ran a cable using tape, it did not work.
  2. I was told to buy Romex wire but did not know where to find exactly what I needed, so I bought other [insulated] wire that did not work.
  3. I tried to run cable using tape again, it did not work. Again.
  4. I successfully ran a cable using the wire I had bought in step 2, which was a great feeling, however the same wire was not going to work for my remaining two cables.
  5. I spent hours stripping that same wire (all 12 feet of it) to get it thin enough to go through the remaining two cables. It did not work.
  6. Kevin from Vespa Motorsport randomly called me (about an order that got mixed up) literally as I was standing with the cables about to do something stupid. He gave me two tips:
    1. Buy raw inner cable from a bike shop.
    2. Run the gear cables from the back up into the speedo cavity.
  7. I went to a local bike shop and bought inner cable for a tandem bike (aka extra long). They did not sell raw cable by the foot.
  9. I felt great.

I really liked the tandem bike cable as a solution. The only problem is it is not long enough to go through both the old and new gear cable housings and stick out either end, however it is definitely long enough to string through the majority of both of the housings, which totally served its purpose (it is marked as 3000mm long and each gear housing is supposedly 151 cm so if you run the numbers you can tell it’s pretty damn close). It came with two ends on it, so I snipped one end off and kept the other as the butt at the bottom to pull the cables through. I ended up taping that to the housing to keep it in place, as well as taping the old and new housings together so I could pull them through. I used packing tape this time and that worked the best of all the tapes I’ve used (which is too many kinds of tape). Lastly, one of the gear cables had part of its inner cable stuck inside it (no idea why), so I ended up taping that one to the other and having it go along for the ride. Here is basically a collage that depicts that last paragraph:

The last picture (bottom right) shows how the old cables are held together (and why you need to string them from the back of the scooter up the top). I ended up not replacing that piece onto the new cables because it didn’t really seem necessary, given how tight everything is in there. Maybe that was bad, I dunno.

You may also notice in the bottom middle picture that there is a handle there! After de-rusting everything, I greased it all up and put both handles back in place. Everything spins so well, it almost feels like it spins too much! It really felt like I had given new life into the bike. It was definitely tricky getting the pins back in, but with patience it is doable.



The left one looks way more impressive, but keep in mind the right one used to be completely immovable. Taking those out and cleaning them up was well worth the time and effort. I also managed to get that bottom plate out of the speedo cavity and get some Evapo-rust on that too.


(It’s wet from WD-40)


This piece I definitely could have soaked, however I had just taken the towel off the base of my handle (see below) and it still had some life left in it so I couldn’t resist reusing it on this piece before I threw it away. Obviously I didn’t do a good job of wrapping it because of the lines, but you can see what a great job Evapo-rust did even after using a towel for a second time. I know that one of those pieces is bent where it holds a cable; I actually tried heating it to see if I could bend it back a little, but was not successful. I managed to put it back in place with the inner cable still guided through there, so while not ideal, it still works.

Ps. Here is a photo of the right handle after I wrapped the base of it.



Bonus pic of Betsy aka my shadow.

Looking ahead, I have a choice to make (which I think I’ve already made). Ben of told me I should consider opening the clutch cover to see what I have going on in there. I think this is a great idea except for 1 problem: I need to take the back brake shoes out to do that and I just flat refuse at this point. I broke the old ones trying to get those out and struggled putting the new ones in, so I just really don’t want to do that right now. I know it would be way easier to do that with the engine out of the frame as it is now, but this project is supposed to be fun and that does not sound fun.

If I decide not to do that, I think it’s time to put the engine back in. Which is very exciting because then I get to put all the fuel system together and hopefully get things running! In theory that is a very close reality, in practice it may not be so easy. I’m entering finals season and have been in the garage way more than I ever should have allowed myself, so I may need to take a hiatus these next few weeks and finish up my school work. Then this summer I can really get to work.

Ps. (or is this pps since I used ps already in this post?) Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @kaitlinsvespa, where I’ve been posting stuff as I go.

Expect the Unexpected

Good news and weird news: Good news is, I decided to remove the handles to give them a good cleaning/de-rusting and I’m feeling really good about that decision. Weird news is, I’m like 80% sure there were bees living in the right handle at some point. Told you it was weird. Remember how I said there was a mystery cable sticking in to that handle and it was stuck on something? Here’s something to jog your memory:


Well I later realized it was a gear shifter cable, which goes on the left side, and no other cable even goes in the handle like that and there was nothing for it to be stuck on so it made it all very perplexing (don’t tell my old English teachers about that run-on sentence I just butchered). So I’m working on taking the handles off last night (more on that in a minute), and I’m wiggling that cable around trying to get it free and finally it just pops out and immediately I am hit with the smell of honey. I can’t make that up, I swear it smelled exactly like honey. This is what it looks like:

Once again, this 100% smelled like honey. I did not taste it, believe it or not. It was hard to get a picture of the inside of the handle, but it looked vaguely honeycomb-like. I also scooped it out and took a picture of that, too.

Sorry if the pictures are kinda gross, but it is what it is. Fun fact you may not know about me, I did a short stint as a bee-keeper! Basically when I was a teacher we had bees brought to campus, but the Biology teacher who was supposed to take care of them left and the rest of the science department was afraid of bees so I said I would do it. Unfortunately there is not a happy ending to this story because the bees didn’t make it through winter, but I loved them very much and would like to try it again sometime. RIP, my buddies. Beedies? Okay, that’s enough. Anyway, it seems very weird that they would set up a hive in such a tiny area. I guess it could have been something else and whatever organic matter was in there fermented or something and smelled sweet like honey? Also, how did the gear shifter cable get in there? I have no idea what it was and probably never will. Hey, it at least it was something that smelled good, right?

As for removing the handles, I found the task to be both surprisingly easy and difficult all at once, if that makes sense. The easy part came from the simplicity of the actual mechanisms. The pin holding the rods together is surprisingly easy to remove, and it’s kind of a neat design. I’ll try to take a good picture when it put it back together. The hard part came from how rusted it all was and therefore how physically difficult it was to get out. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by that. I did the right one first and used a lot of WD-40 and another rust penetrate, as well as plenty of patience, and finally got that on my own. The left one was in worse shape, and by then my hands were already killing me, so I finally asked Brendan to help and he literally got it off in under a minute. I worked on those things for HOURS. Ugh. Part of me wishes I had just asked him to do it in the first place, but the other part of me is proud of myself for getting the first one off on my own. Anyway, I also removed the washer pieces from inside the speedo cavity. I wasn’t sure how those were connected, but it turns out they are just attached to that handle rod by a pin. They took a little finagling to get around all the wires in there, but I managed.

I know what you’re thinking: “Kaitlin, you should have taken the whole headset off and cleaned it all out.” I am aware that there is a piece underneath the wires that hold some of the cables in place that is in desperate need of derusting. I would like to get to it, but I really REALLY don’t want to take all those electrical wires out before I know what they’re for. I just don’t need that headache in my life right now. So for now, I’m doing the best I can, which is just taking the handles off and cleaning those. I soaked everything in Evapo-Rust overnight. Here are some fun before/after pics:


(I’m kicking myself for not getting before pictures of the rods, but it was getting late so I missed it)



Notice that the right handle rod was sticking out of the Evapo-rust, so I had to wrap the base of it. I’ll remove that later tonight.

I’m really glad I ended up doing this because a) It’s important, and b) I didn’t want to at first. As I get farther along with this project, I’ve noticed that I am becoming increasingly impatient about getting to ride for the first time. Obviously that will be very exciting and is ultimately the goal, but I have to remind myself what this project was about in the first place – to learn. I’m careful about which tasks I take on, because I know if I get too deep into an issue I may not come back from it (cough cough, like taking out all the electrical right now). However, I still like pushing myself out of my comfort zone and doing things I’m not sure how to do. Taking out these handles was the perfect example. It was not particularly difficult, and I enjoyed seeing the mechanisms that held it all together. And down the road, I’ll be really glad I did this. While I was able to get the left handle to spin after a little WD-40, I decided that getting the bare minimum wasn’t enough in this case. I think passing the one year mark with Betty has been what is making me antsy, but I have to take a step back and remind myself that I took on this project on my own for this reason; I can do this at my own pace, on my own time, and learn what I can along the way. So moving forward I am going to try really hard to focus on the real reward, learning, and not get caught up in the instant gratification, riding.

P.S. I started an Instagram for my project! I used to post on my personal Instagram, but decided to do what the cool kids are doing these days and have multiple Instagrams (which turns out to be a lot more work than I thought!). I’m having fun with maintaining that and tend to post some interim stuff in between posts here, so you can follow that @kaitlinsvespa if you’d like to see more.


Since the title has no ambiguity, I’ll jump right in. I was really looking forward to using my EVAPO-RUST since I had heard such great things about it, so I decided to try it on the inside of the door panel where the battery goes. I picked this area because it is flat (easy to work with), hidden (good test patch), and very rusty. For large areas the instructions say to wet towels with the product, lay them flat over the area, push out any air bubbles, and then wrap it in plastic wrap to seal in the moisture and keep it wet. You can keep it on for 1-12 hours depending on the severity of the rust. I ended up doing this twice because I did the first patch at 6:30 pm and didn’t do a great job (plus I was too excited to take it off), so then I did another round over night. Here is the before and after:

Pretty great, if you ask me. I could probably work with that middle strip a bit more, but I’m not too worried about it. Here was the break down of my two phases of this.

Phase 1: ~3 hours

Start – Wrapped – After wrap removal – After wiping down

Phase 2: ~9.5 hours

Start – Towels laid down without air bubbles – Wrapped – After wrap removal – After wiping down

Obviously I’m getting the hang of how to use it. Anyway, I was also poking around in the handle bars last night to look for my cables and get some ideas of what hurdles I’ll face next, and the answer is rust (also that I think I am missing one of my gear cables which means I will need to string that totally blind, ugh). As I mentioned in my last post, my left handle bar does not turn. I knew this was a problem (cause the gear shifting happens on that side), but I think I was [unrealistically] hoping I would find something in the way and then it would work? Nope, it’s just rust. The right handle bar spins, but could probably use a little love too. Here are pictures from underneath the handlebars, left and right:

There are also a lot of pieces under the speedo cavity that are very rusty, and I’m not sure how to get to. Apparently these round pieces are supposed to be lubed up, which they are the complete opposite of right now:

The left one does the gear cables (notice I’m missing one), the right one does the throttle (which I’m not missing, it was just very hidden). I’m still not sure what that cable is coming out of the center of that piece.

While I was looking in there I also got a bit of anxiety about all that electrical work that needs to get done, but I guess I’ll just have to cross that bridge when I get there. I can at least get the scooter technically ride-able without electrical, so that’s all I’m going to worry myself with for now.


Doing Things Right

Made it into the garage yesterday and got a few things checked off my very long list. First of all, I went back into the back brake drum and did a cleaning, since I was told it looked oily which can be very dangerous for obvious reasons (i.e. Brake shoes work with friction, oil works by reducing friction). I refused to take the brake shoes out, but I was able to clean the drum very well and I scrubbed around the shoes pretty well.



I mostly used a wire brush, but unfortunately it was the wrong shape for getting in between the shoes. I used some Simple Green in the drum and then wiped it clean with a wet towel and let it dry. If I ever get around to replacing those shoes again, I will be sure to do a more thorough cleaning.

I also replaced my speedometer cable yesterday, and this time I did it right! The insulated wire I had bought a while ago fit nicely in the cable housing, so I was able to string that through both housings and then use it to put the new one in place.

Two small hiccups:

One, I forgot to remove the piece at the top of the old housing, which would not fit through the tiny hole at the bottom where I was pulling the cable through. Luckily it wasn’t a big deal since I had the wire strung through it all, so I pulled it back up, removed the piece, and then pulled it all back through again.


Two, I was told by multiple people that the nut on top of the speedo cable is notorious for falling down into the fork never to be seen again. Well I saw it…at the bottom of the fork where I was pulling the cables through. It was in the way of the hole so a little tricky to pull the new cable through the hole with that nut in the way, but I was able to work it through with some patience.

The left picture is trying to show that you can see the nut, and the new cable stuck behind it. The right picture is of my genius setup with my flashlight resting in place.

So the new speedometer cable is in place and now all it needs is a speedometer. They go for like $200 which I did not expect so I may keep my eyes peeled on Ebay or something. They sell ones without the Piaggio logo for like $100, but you know me, go big or go home. Also notice that my new speedo cable has a little rubber piece on there that prevents that nut from falling down, and it is also on a groove so that it can’t slide up and off the top.


My next task is to replace the gear shifter cables. Two issues that I need to sort through with those: One, the insulated wire that I used for the speedo cable will likely not fit in the gear cables, so I will need to get smaller wire (before I get tempted to tape them together again). Two, I don’t know where the gear shifter cables connect to at the top, haha. I’ve only looked around casually for them so I’m sure with a little more effort I will find them, but mine looks different from some of the videos I’ve found.


That is looking down from the speedometer opening. There is a wire that you can see looping out the top, and I have a feeling that is one of them, but I didn’t expect it to be in the right handle. Also, my left handle is completely immovable. I get this sense that that is a problem, but I haven’t been motivated to look into it much yet.

Anyway, once I get those two cables replaced (which should be pretty quick once I find them and get the right wire), then I think I should be ready to put the engine back in place. Then I’ll have to hook up the ends of the cables, hook up the fuel system, and in theory I may be ready to get it running for the first time. But I’m getting ahead of myself; For now, one thing at a time.

Quick Update 4

Got a few goodies in the mail and I’m not sure when I’ll be able to install them, so thought I’d write a quick update. Here is what I got from

I also got the little rubber grommet for the fuel tap lever, but didn’t take a picture because it’s tiny. The first two pictures are of the new tool box. It’s sort of a silly purchase, but mine fell apart and it’s fun to piece together the scooter and make it whole again.

The middle two pictures are the cable grommet. The left picture is the piece itself, and the right picture is where I believe it goes. My question is, what orientation does it go in? Does the flat side face up into the scooter or down towards the ground? (My guess is the first option). And how many cables go in there? All of them or just the clutch (because the part was called the “clutch grommet” or something like that).

The last picture is my new speedometer cable.

Lastly, I also just got back from O’Reilly’s Auto Parts where I picked up some EVAPO-RUST. I was told by Ben of it’s amazing and the cashier who rang me up also told me it’s amazing, so I’m feeling pretty excited about it. I’m looking forward to using it in the fuel tank, however the directions say to use it, rinse it, and then immediately fill the tank with gasoline to avoid “flash rust”, so I guess I’ll wait to do that for now. There are definitely a few other areas I can use it on before then.

That’s all for now. Hoping to get in the garage at some point this weekend, but wanted to jot down my thoughts before then.


Problem(s) Solved

I’m going to break this post into 2 parts, but before I do that, I need to set the stage a little. I was actually hesitant to write this because of my stupidity, which is unusual (the hesitance, not the stupidity). But I promised myself I would put it all out there for others to learn from my mistakes so here it goes.

tl;dr I made the same stupid mistake twice, but I fixed it all and hopefully learned my lesson this time. I now have the clutch cable and front brake cable done.

Part 0: Setting the Stage

Most of you know that before I was a graduate student/amateur Vespa mechanic, I was a middle and high school teacher. In a lot of ways I really loved that job. The funny thing about teenagers is that most of them go through a few instances where they do something really stupid. It’s usually cases where they were told not to do something and they do it anyway and have to learn their mistake the hard way. When I was a teenager I definitely had my fair share of these instances. We all did it and we felt like stupid idiots and then we learned and did things like that less and less. Well I’m nearly 28 now and while I still make plenty of mistakes, I would like to believe I don’t have many of those “I told you so” errors. Turns out I’m wrong; Even in my late twenties I still make mistakes that are like, “why WHY did I do that? I was told not to do that and I did it anyway, WHYYYYY??” But that is for part 2. For now…

Part 1: The Clutch Cable

I left you last time (before my anniversary post) with an issue – I began stringing the clutch cable through and lost it somewhere in the frame. After making that post I was told by Ben of that I definitely should not have taped the two cables together because the tape certainly would not hold up and they were bound to separate. Obviously I learned this lesson the hard way (or so I thought…). I got a couple suggestions of how to get the cable through and I ended up not really doing any of them and instead fidgeted with the cables a little until I could get more movement. What ended up working was pushing the rest of the cables from the back up into the frame a little (not all the way, just like an inch or so) to slacken everything in there and suddenly I was able to push the clutch cable in just a few more inches. Then I felt around through the brake pedal opening and felt something weird that hadn’t been there before and guess what it was, the clutch cable! It felt like a gift from the heavens. Here it is sticking out from the brake pedal opening, with the tape still on (which was restricting the inner cable from moving through it):


It turns out, I actually had another problem that I didn’t even know about. I had starting stringing the cable through the handle bar, but didn’t know the cable housing was not supposed to go in there, only the inner cable, and I was about to run into an issue where the metal cap on the end of the housing would not fit through the opening. Ben of (I literally know nothing else about him so his name is now “Ben of”, which fits because he is very helpful when it comes to scooters) told me that I should have fed the cable through the top where the speedometer goes, and then turned it into the handle bar. He also told me that I could gently remove the metal cap on it, push the cable through, and reattach the cap on the other side. The good news is, I was able to do just that and the issue was resolved.

The left picture is after I removed the cap, the right picture is after I replaced it. The way that I did it is that I used vice grips in my left hand to hold the cable housing, and pliers in my right hand to gently twist the cap off. I gave it a little squeeze when I put it back on to make sure it was on there.

I found it challenging to push the housing back into the handle all the way, but I think I did a good enough job since it protects the inner cable through all the hard turns and points where it might rub. Here it is back in the handle:


I really got lucky on this one, which leads me to…

Part 2: The Front Brake Cable

In his comment about what I should do about my clutch cable predicament Ben of told me how I should properly string the cables. Basically I think it involves stringing a very long wire all the way through the new and old cable housing, finding a way to secure it at the top, and then just pull it all the way through until the new housing is in place. Before I write this next part, I need to let Ben know that I really appreciated his advice and I am so so sorry for what I am about to say next. So I listened to Ben’s advice and went to Home Depot to get some Romex copper wire. But when I got there, the Romex wire came as very thick, 3 wires insulated together. To use that wire, I would have to strip out one of the wires all 15 feet down (and pay for the other 2 wires that I didn’t need). So I started talking with a guy who worked there and decided to purchase some of the wire that comes in a spool and you can buy by the foot. It was cheap so I bought 2 kinds (single wire and multiple strands), both of the smallest gage. Both are insulated. I get home, praying that will work, and guess what, it doesn’t. I tried stripping it a little to see if I could get that to work, and it still feels too tight, plus I’ll have to strip 12 feet of it, which I really did not want to do.

Cut to today; I decide you know what? I bet if I do a better tape job, I can get that to work for the front brake cable. It goes straight down and it’s shorter than the clutch, so it can’t be that bad. Plus if I wrap the tape super well on both wires, they are bound to stay together, right. I know. I KNOW. That was dumb. Like, why did I do that?!? I guess in my brain I thought I just hadn’t done it right the last time so surely I could get it to work this time. I also had ended up threading the old inner clutch cable between the two brake housings.

So I get to work. I’m making good progress and going SUPER slow and about half-way through the panic sets in. I’m like, this was not a good idea and I’m royally effed if the tape breaks off again, why did I do this? I literally took a few breaks to pace the yard and plead with any higher power that would listen to make this work. Well it’s Easter and Passover today so I guess all the higher powers were busy and my prayers were NOT answered. The tape broke and I pulled the old housing out. But here’s the good news – The inner cable was still in there, and I had made it most of the way down. So basically what I did was lots of wiggling, small movements, pushing the housing from the top, and slowly pulling the cable out of the bottom hoping it was moving the housing. Then I threaded the actual inner cable through the housing and felt it stop at where the clutch inner cable was, which made me feel like I had at least some control over the situation. Basically then I had to pull the clutch cable out, and thread the brake cable in, hoping it would pop out of the right hole. Oh, did I mention that the hole where this cable comes out is TINY. Literally it is the size of the housing, no bigger. I cannot get needle nose pliers in there while open. So to end this very long saga, using a small flashlight, whatever tools I could find, and patience, I got the inner cable to poke out the correct hole. Here it is:


The top cable is for the speedometer. The bottom hole is where the front brake cable goes and that is the inner cable poking out of it. It’s hard to show in a picture just how small that hole is, but you should just trust me that that was HARD to get the come through.

At this point, I have the inner cable running from the top to the bottom and I can grasp it at both ends. It took some finagling, but eventually I managed to get the housing through too. And so ends the saga of Kaitlin’s pure stupidity.

Anyway, at least I think I did something right this time by properly feeding the housing into the handle bar from the speedometer opening, instead of from the grip. Once I had the housing through, I pulled the inner cable out, fed it through the handle bar, and back down the housing.

That’s what that looked like. Again, I had trouble getting the housing all the way up to the end of the handle bar, but hopefully I did a good enough job. I may try to push it in a little more when I’m less emotionally drained.

I’m impressed if you’ve made it this far reading. I think I mostly use this blog as a diary of sorts, so sometimes my posts can get a little ramble-y. Sorry about that. In other good news, we got a shop vac yesterday and I vacuumed out all the dirt and leaves that were sitting at the bottom of Betty.

Before and After.

That’s all for now, folks. I’m gonna give myself a time out and think about my choices. While I’m there I will rethink my cable technique.

One Year Later

Well, today marks one year since I rented a pickup truck, drove out to the desert, and bought myself a scooter that didn’t work. When I bought it, I had no idea how long it would take me to restore it, which I said was fine since it was meant to be a fun project for myself anyway. On that drive, had you asked me where I thought I would be in a year, I think part of me would feel like I would be done and the other part of me would feel like I would have given up by then. Well, neither are true and I’m still here plugging away at this thing slowly, but surely. To be honest, it feels a little disappointing to be where I am a year later, but I have to remind myself that I am a full-time student, work part-time, enjoy spending time with my husband and two dogs (we gained a dog in the past year), enjoy going out with friends on the weekends, lease a horse two days per week, and enjoy my beauty rest. So after all those things, comes Betty.

I may not be done a year later, but I have made a ton of progress. Looking through my first few posts on the blog, I really started from zero. I spent a long time feeling like I had no clue where to begin. I was afraid to touch something or break something or do something in the wrong order. Now I am much more confident about the ins and outs of the scooter (although still have a lot of questions), much less afraid of making a mistake (maybe to a fault), and have a much better idea of what to do next. I’ve done a lot of growing over the past year, in more ways than one. In school I’ve gone from taking undergrad courses last spring to currently working on my thesis research, professionally I have worked jobs that stray away from my teaching background and are leading me into engineering, and personally I feel my confidence and ability to problem-solve has grown tremendously. This project was intended to help me do just that, so in that sense it’s hard to feel disappointed about my progress thus far.

As for tangible progress, here is a list of what I have done so far:

  • Cylinder was re-bored, piston replaced, and cylinder head smoothed out – improved compression (all of that was done professionally, I was not in a place to be able to do that myself. I did, however, put it back together)
  • Replaced HT coil – got a spark
  • Cleaned layer of dirt off the outside of the engine
  • Replaced back brake shoes
  • Replaced front brake shoes
  • Replaced tires
  • Took apart and cleaned carburetor, ended up buying a new one
  • Cleaned fuel tank (a little), removed old fuel tap (have yet to put in the new one)
  • Built rolling cart for engine to drop into
  • Replaced manifold on engine
  • Replaced rear brake cable
  • Replaced clutch cable (if you read my last post you would know this was a work in progress. Happy to report it has been resolved and I will write an update on that later)
  • Put on seat cover (still haven’t gotten foam for it, but it looks nice at least)

Each of those things seem easy enough (or maybe not, I dunno), but I was met with so much resistance at each of those steps. Working on an old scooter that sat in the desert for 27 years means A LOT of dust and dirt and rust aka SUPER stuck nuts and bolts (she is much happier in the garage now). My outlook on how to approach something that seems immovable has completely changed. Instead of, “this will not move” it is now, “how can I make this move?”. The answer is usually WD-40, LOTS of force, and sometimes a husband who is stronger than me.

As for what I have left to do, here is what I know of for now:

  • Replace the rest of the cables, I think there are 3? Possibly more?
  • Mount engine back in the frame, and put on new exhaust
  • Hook up cables onto the engine
  • Mount new carburetor onto engine. Install air filter (which was previously missing)
  • Finish replacing fuel tap into fuel tank, install fuel tank
  • REPLACE OIL (continuing to write this down so I don’t forget)
  • Electrical. This one is a broad topic which I am not ready to break down because there’s a lot to be done.

Of course there is more that I’m not thinking of and that will pop up. Who knows, maybe it will take me another year to get that done.

The one thing that has stayed consistent through all of this is this blog. I stuck to my promise recording my progress, failures, and fixes. It’s fun to keep track of it and therapeutic to write down my frustrations and worries as they happen. I’m grateful for everyone’s support, advice, and encouragement. Three people in particular who have been immensely helpful are Randy, Dr. Monce, and Ben. Randy and Dr. Monce have been following me from the start and always offer their advice, and Ben is new but has given me so much helpful information at this point he deserves a shout out (plus he doesn’t even know me, he just writes novels of helpful info cause he’s a nice person?). I’m also grateful for those who quietly follow along and read my progress, or ask how it’s going when they see me. I’m sorry I haven’t made it farther in the past year, but I hope you’ve enjoyed following along in this endeavor, and maybe learned a thing or two.

If I’ve learned one lesson and could share it with everyone else, it is that you shouldn’t not do something just because you feel you don’t know how. Everyone had to start somewhere and I may have started doing something like this a little later in life, but that doesn’t make me less capable. I especially want to encourage any girls out there who are interested in taking on a project, but feel intimidated; You can totally do it. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If they do, ignore them and surround yourself with people who will support and encourage you. A year ago I truly did not know if I could do something like this. But I took a leap of faith and put one foot in front of the other and I’m doing it. I may not be done, but at least now, a year later, I know that I can do this.

End sappy feelings. Hopefully I’ll be back in the garage today and keep plugging away at it. Thanks for everyone’s support. 🙂

Just Another Road Block

Surprise, surprise, I am back with an issue. Could use some help from those who either know cables or are just good at problem solving. The issue:

I went to change the clutch cable today; It took a little maneuvering to set myself up with the old and new cables taped together, since these ones are much longer and go through more twists and turns. So I tape them up and then slowly and carefully start feeding the new one in. I basically went back and forth from pushing the cable about an inch in at the top, and then pulling out the slack at the back. This was going well for maybe half the cable length, and then my worst fear happened: The tape came off. I could feel the old cable was suddenly very easy to pull and just a few tugs later, the old cable popped out with the new one nowhere in sight.

Here are some visuals for you. The first picture shows how I was able to sort of “stuff” the cable down the frame from the top, and the second picture shows where it comes in from.

So what I’m left with now is the new cable sticking out of the handle with about 18″ of the housing exposed. I believe I measured it to be about 62″, which means a good portion of it is in there. I’m worried it’s started buckling on itself somewhere at a turn. I tried feeling around as much as I could and couldn’t feel anything. I also tried pushing the inner cable through to get that to pop out, but it won’t budge, which tells me it is either at a hard turn or has bunched up on itself.

The picture on the left is where the cable should be coming out, next to the others (yes, I know there is a lot of vacuuming that needs to get done in there, I’ve got a shop vac on my wish list). I have tried wiggling these around a little in case the clutch cable is caught on one of these. I can put my fingers in there, but not more than an inch or two. The picture on the right shows how much of the cable is sticking out. Here is a diagram of the cables:


The clutch cable is the one with marked with yellow. You can see how tight it is in there with all of the cables running together, as well as the turns it has to go through. This also does not show the electrical cables that share some of the space. [As a side note, I’ve been learning about catheters in my Design of Medical Devices class and the cables has very much reminded me of catheters. Fun!].

So I’m asking for help on ideas of getting that cable the rest of the way through. My thoughts:

  • I could remove the inner cable and run a thin, more flexible wire through the housing to try to get that to pop out the back. Not sure what I would do after that, but it would act as a guide.
  • I could try to make a thin hook-type thing to stick up the frame from the back end and see if I can get anything to move.
  • I could pull the housing back out a decent amount and try to twist it around a little and push it back through.
  • I could hold off and start replacing the other cables (with 3 times the amount of tape) and hope the added space and movement will help the clutch cable settle.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I decided to stop because I was getting hungry and problems don’t get solved when you’re hungry.

This issue is definitely frustrating and a little discouraging, but if Betty had a motto it would be “Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way”. I have run into an issue every step of the way so at this point I know that this too shall pass. Thanks in advance for any tips/tricks.

Simple Pleasures

It’s Spring Break, friends, and while I’m not letting myself take the entire week off from real responsibilities, I am allowing myself some garage time. Today I went in there with the goal of replacing the back brake cable and guess what I did today – replaced the back brake cable! How many times have I gone into the garage with a goal and walked out having reached that goal? Probably like, once. Maybe. Now, replacing the back cable is a relatively simple procedure, which is why I titled this post “Simple Pleasures”, but it still made me so happy that I did it. Here’s how it went down:

This is how I left things last time, with the brake pedal hanging out from the frame:

The left piece is the brake cable. The right piece is electrical I’m assuming for tail light (Why are there so many wires? Must be for something else too. Maybe turn signals light up when you brake?).

So basically I was pretty easily able to remove the pin at the end that holds the cable on, which was a surprise because it has a cotter pin on it and we all know how I feel about those. The part where I struggled was that nut above the pin. In the picture it is a bit darker because I had just sprayed it with some WD-40. So I worked at it just a bit and then watched this video again and realized that piece did not exist in the video. So I took a closer look and realized I think my new cable is different than the old cable and does not require that piece. So I cut it off. It was very satisfying. I figured I could put it back in if I needed it, but upon closer inspection, it seems my new cable doesn’t even fit in there and is designed to work without it. Here is that piece cut off:

Notice in the larger picture that the end of the cable does not have a loop or anything on the end. Frankly I’m not sure if it was attached to that pin at all. Instead, I think it is squeezed together by that nut and bolt. Here is the new cable in its place:

This was me just holding it in there to see if it needed that piece. The end has a hole on it that the pin goes through, and it wouldn’t even fit through that other piece if I wanted it to. So I installed the new cable without it. Please let me know if that was bad before I try to brake while going downhill and can’t.

Okay so here’s how I did the cable. It was suggested to me by Ben of to do this technique and I am very VERY grateful for the advice. I opted to do this back cable first since it is the shortest so that I could work on my technique and that ended up being one of the better decisions I have made. Also, if you like laughing at idiots, you’re in for a treat cause I was one.

The back brake cable is relatively short and it is possible for me to sit next to the scooter and reach both ends of the cable with relative ease. So what I did was removed the old inner cable, leaving the old cable housing in place. Then I threaded the end of the new inner cable into the old housing until I had the new housing backed up to the old one. Then I taped them together, and taped the new inner cable to its housing to keep it from sliding out, which isn’t super necessary but kept things from sliding around. (I used painters tape cause I had it on hand, but I will be using electrical tape in the future because it is stickier and less bulky).

That’s what it looked like. Then I pulled the old cable housing from the back end, which fed the new cable through. It worked like a charm!

Ta-da! I know what you’re thinking, “Kaitlin, you promised I would get to laugh at your idiocy! That sounds like it went well!”. Fear not, friend, here’s where I was an idiot:

After successfully threading in the new cable (and before taking the above pictures), I realized I had forgotten to thread it through that top hole in the pedal first. Oh no! So then I was like, oh wait, I can just pull out the inner cable and leave the housing and thread it back through. Which is the correct answer, by the way. And then I didn’t do that because ?!?!?!? (aka no reason, I didn’t really think it through), so I pulled it all out without threading in the old cable to hold its place just to see what happened, I guess. Then I realized my mistake, and had to thread the cable and housing back through completely blind with no guide, even though I had just done that the right way and it was very easy that way. In the end, I was sort of glad I had to do that because I realized what a total pain it was and that I never want to do that again. I was reckless with this one since it is so short and basically goes in a straight line, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. I can’t even imagine re-threading the cables that come up to the handle bars without any kind of guide so in conclusion if you have just bought a scooter, a word of advice: Do not under any circumstances remove the cables before you are ready to replace them. When you do replace them, do it the way I described above, by taping the new one to the old one and letting the old one guide it through. Thank you, Ben, for your words of wisdom. I am forever grateful.

Alright, that was word vomit and I can’t imagine many people read that but I had to write it down because it was so stupid. If you did read it, I appreciate your efforts.

That’s it for today. I’m almost looking forward to doing the rest of the cables since I now know how to do them. I’m going to continue to take it slow so that I don’t make mistakes and cause unnecessary frustration. Thanks for reading!

Ps. Saturday marks 1 year since buying Betty, maybe I should get us a cake.