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! 🙂