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 scooterhelp.com 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 scooterhelp.com (I literally know nothing else about him so his name is now “Ben of scooterhelp.com”, 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 scooterhelp.com 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.