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:





2 thoughts on “The Biggest Day of Learning Yet”

  1. Wow! You’re putting it back together!
    A few tips in no order:
    Brake shoe linings are assumed to contain asbestos, so wet old parts to eliminate dust & rinse away to dispose any dust.
    Eleven millimeters (11mm) is interchangeable with seven sixteenths (7/16 inch) to three decimal places!
    The brake shoes live within the brake drum; Betty’s brake drum is finned for cooling!
    Some oil in the intake is fine, but, since liquids are not compressible, its best to drain out all you can through the open spark plug hole by tilting as needed prior to rotating the engine (a lot of oil would cause damaging hydrolocking).
    In manufacturing, some initial oil or assembly lube is applied to all the moving parts, so you’re fine with some oil all over things.
    It would be interesting to see the clutch or friction drive or whatever the Vespa uses.


    1. Very helpful advice, Randy! I did not know about the asbestos…I will work on that…I think I used a 7/16 at some point and it worked okay but I feared stripping the edges so now I know I can use that! I think the amount of oil that’s left in there should be fine. I let it all drain out so it should just be sort of coated at this point. I decided not to go farther into the engine because I’m just trying to get it to start at this point and it seemed like unnecessary work for now. Maybe one day I’ll go back in there and tune her up more. Thanks!


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