It’s the Little Things

This won’t mean much to anyone else, but it means a lot to me – I got the oil to drain! And I got a part [partially] off that I need to replace! Neither are very big feats, but remember that I’m keeping the dreams small these days.

I’m going out of town this weekend (Conn reunion!) and was feeling majorly bummed to have to leave Betty on such a low note. So I went in the garage and just looked at her, and then figured I might as well try to remove the oil plug. Yesterday I couldn’t find a wrench that fit so today I grabbed a pair of pliers and whaddya know, it moves! And there’s oil in there! Just to have some tiny reminder that this could potentially be a functioning machine was such a relief. The bolt is marked “olio”. Cute.

Next I noticed that there were two screws holding on this piece where some wires go that I want to replace, so after some maneuvering to remove them (there’s a nut wedged in a small space on the back and I only have 2 hands!), I got the piece off! The wire is still attached on the other side and I’m not sure how to remove that yet, but for now I’ll bask in the small amount of glory that this gave me.


Lastly, I thought maybe I’d be able to get that cylinder cover off too. I  was on a roll and thought, maybe this is my day. But the Vespa gods reminded me that greed is a sin and that I would not be getting that cover off today. You win this time, Vespa gods. I was able to twist it around a lot and get a feel for how it’s in there. Here’s an image from the top of how much it will twist, even though it won’t come out:


So overall not the most exciting things to get done, but to me they felt like great victories. Obviously a Vespa veteran would have gotten this done months ago, but I’m not a veteran and that’s okay. For starters, today was a reminder never to give up, but it’s okay to step away and come back. Also, I’ve never drained the oil out of a vehicle before, so that was actually a little exciting. Now I guess I have to go dispose of that properly…

Thanks for all the encouragement and sticking with me, folks. Will be back next week after I relive my college days at my reunion this weekend.


Zero Steps Forward, Zero Steps Back

I made another mistake today: I thought ahead. I looked at all the pieces that need to be replaced and all the holes where pieces are missing and felt really discouraged. I started feeling like, is this even possible? Did I bite off more than I can chew? Honestly, I think the answer is maybe I did, but I think the biggest lesson that Betty is teaching me is how to stick with something, even when it’s tough.

So let me back up. One good thing did happen today. I tried to get the last screw out of the cylinder cover and it’s really difficult to access with a standard sized screwdriver (again, stupid design) so I called Brendan in to help me or at least so I could complain to someone. He got in there and played with it and was able to release it, hurray! He’s the best. But of course with every potential step forward with this project, there is always a roadblock. I go to pull the cover off and I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get it off! Brendan was twisting and pulling at it too and we can’t figure out how to maneuver it out from underneath the lip that goes over the engine. (In the picture below you can see the cover lifted up, but it won’t come out). It almost seems like it’s not supposed to come out of there and instead it’s just supposed to twist out of the way? But that still makes it really difficult to access the cylinder head, which is ultimately what I’m trying to get at so I can replace a gasket. Very frustrating/discouraging. Eventually I just decided to walk away because no good work ever gets done when you’re feeling defeated (plus I was really hungry and no good work gets done when you’re hungry either).

So I guess the next step is to figure out how to get the cylinder head off. Also I plan on ordering a gasket (with the hopes that I will be able to replace it one day) and a flywheel holder tool so that I can remove the flywheel and decide if I need to replace the magneto under it.

And that’s it. I think I need to remember to take one step at a time and don’t look up from the task I’m working on. Overall this is a massive project that is giving me a problem every tiny step of the way, but if I can keep my head down and do one thing at a time, maybe I can get somewhere. Or maybe not. But the point of all this was to learn a few things and I am definitely learning. Most importantly I’m learning not to give up and how to approach a large, daunting problem without getting overwhelmed. I’ve been having these grand dreams of riding Betty around town and maybe instead I need to start dreaming about the smaller tasks, like replacing a gasket or just getting a spark.

Words of encouragement are appreciated, or even a reality check if needed (eg. “Kaitlin this is not gonna happen, it’s probably best you give up now”). Anyway, hopefully I’ll have something more interesting to report back soon. Ps. We were watching this dog, Keara, this weekend who is awesome and was hanging out with me today. She makes for a great shop dog.


Sometimes You Just Need a Little Teamwork

Shout out to the husband aka Spider-Killer aka Brendan! I’ve been casually asking him to get the wheels off Betty for a while because they’re very stuck and he is much stronger than me, and today I saw my window and was like, “can you take the wheels off NOW?”. Sometimes you have to stop being vague to get what you want. So we worked together to get the wheels off and were met with great success! FINALLY!! I sat on Betty to keep the wheel from spinning and Brendan acted as the muscle. IMG_5862IMG_5864IMG_5865

(Ps. Shout out to The San Diego Lions, the Australian Football Team Brendan plays with! Great group of people and apparently lots of fun, but I wouldn’t know because I refuse to go to the “co-ed kicks” because I am not sporty. At all. Their Facebook page, if you’re interested.)

So with the wheels off came finally a feeling of accomplishment, however small it may be. Also, I found out that I was right that there is another bolt holding on that cover over the cylinder, which you can only access with the back wheel off. So basically you have to take the wheel off to work on the engine. Cause that totally makes sense? Imagine if that were the case with your car… Anyway, here are the goodies that were revealed with the back wheel gone:


Obviously much work to do in there, but I will keep chugging along however slowly and continue to learn each step of the way. For now I have other obligations this evening so more work will have to wait, but feeling optimistic that I got one more baby step there! Thanks again to the hubs! Always nice to feel supported by your significant other, he’s the best. 🙂

Sending out an S.O.S.

With my schedule a little more freed up this summer, I’ve been looking forward to jumping back into the project. After having to take a bit of a hiatus to finish up my semester, I’ve been looking forward to making some real progress. Hey, maybe I’ll even be riding Betty to school next semester. So yesterday I sat down with her and reevaluated what needed to get done. After some twisting and pulling and scratching my head, I realized I’m stuck. Maybe this is why it felt pretty easy to take a break. So I’m asking for help. Basically there are 3 tasks that I would like to try to get done, and I have questions on each. I’ll break up the tasks into separate sections and attach photos of each. If anyone out there is reading this who knows how to help, please leave a comment below. Sending out an S.O.S to the internet – Please help!


  1. Replace wiring

If you’ve been following my very slow progress, I mentioned that my first step is I’d like to try to get a spark. Someone suggested I replace the wiring, which sounds good, but I’m really not sure how to do that. In this picture, you can see the wires that I want to replace, with the cap that goes on the spark plug on the right end:



The problem is where the connection points are on either end. How do I remove the existing wires and how do I put in new ones? It doesn’t help that it’s extremely difficult to get to these points. I tried to take pictures but it’s a little hard to see what you’re looking at:

In the top picture, the place where the wire connects is on the bottom left of the picture. This is the left side of the wire (opposite the end where the spark plug is). There is a cap on it that slides off. In the bottom left picture, this is a side view of the same thing from the top picture. I considered taking the whole piece off, but those small circles are either tiny screws or rivets and I’m not sure how to remove them either way. The bottom right picture is on the other side of the wire (same side as the spark plug). Looking for ideas on how to remove and replace all of that wiring.

2. Replace head gasket

Okay, this one I actually do have an idea of what to do, but mostly wanted to complain. So there is a cover over the cylinder that’s held in with a few screws. It’s the black plastic cover seen here:


I took out the screws and went to lift the cover off but it seems like it’s screwed in on the other side. So I felt around back there (very cautiously, as that seems like a very desirable home to a spider) and it seems the cover goes beyond just the cylinder and I think I need to access it from the other side. But in order to do that it seems that I need to take the tire off. Basically a huge pain in the butt just to get this stupid cover off. Maybe I’m missing something, if so let me know. As an engineering student I do think this is a good lesson in, “Don’t make things more difficult than it has to be for people doing maintenance work”.

3. Drain oil

I guess the first question here is, is there any oil to drain? But I figured I’d check since it’s going to have to be replaced anyway and that seemed like an easy enough task. Wrong. Kaitlin, haven’t you learned yet that nothing is an easy task with Betty? Ugh. So basically this is another question where I mostly wanted to complain. I look around for the screw that will let me drain the oil and guess what I find…


That gunky screw is the one that needs to come out. Not the one on the right, oh yeah, the one on the left. Now, admittedly I haven’t even tried to release it yet, but I saw that and was like, “of course.” and walked away.

So in conclusion, I still have close to no idea what I’m doing, everything is more difficult than it seems when it comes to Betty, and I need help. Any suggestions or general moral support would be helpful here. Thanks, folks.

Quick Update 2

Hi all, just wanted to say I have emerged from the darkness that is finals and completed my semester and started my internship! That means my schedule is much more predictable and I can get back to work on Betty! Woohoo! The spiders have gotten comfortable again so I’m going to need to send exterminator-Brendan in once more before I really get back in there.

Today I went out and bought a jack stand (actually I bought 2 because they come in a pack of 2) so I can get in there a little easier. The Vespa 90 has to be one of the more annoying models of the Vespa to work on because there is a lip over the engine that you can’t remove. I can’t confirm it is the most annoying model to work on for sure, but based on my observations thus far, it is.


Anyway, looking forward to getting back to work. I will keep you posted!