Scooter Guy

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  1. From your tag on the frame, it left the factory configured as a model A, the first of the Doodle Bugs. Probably made in 1946 or early 1947. It sounds like the only non model A part you've got on your hands is the belt guard, which should have 5 slots on the big side. For reference, it would have left the factory with a Briggs & Stratton NP cast iron kick start engine, 1.5hp, a fluid drive clutch with a 5 slot belt guard, pointed white grips, side covers that are flared out at the bottom (not rounded off), a single control lever, fuel shut off valve in the gas tank, and the fuel filter (glass) mounted on the engine rather than on the gas tank, and a push/pull kill switch. Now that isn't to say that you don't have a model A Doodle Bug just because a model A specific part or two is missing. Parts that were broken or lost over the years may have been replaced with parts from later models. Such was the case with the model A that I have. It was so "wrong" that I initially identified it as an early model C until I looked past the parts and zeroed in on the frame tag and the other thngs that did point to it being a model A (it is). Beam Manufacturing was not very consistent about some of the details like decals and stamping the serial tag. Probably only 1 in every 10 original Doodle Bugs I've seen actually has a model number stamped on the model line. Most were simply left blank, but since the W1046A is known to signify a model A sold at Western Auto, having the model line stamped in isn't as critical. As an aside, the side covers were made in steel and aluminum. Aluminum covers are very rare and were used for only a short while on the very earliest production Doodle Bugs. Most have the steel side covers like you have. Beam actually used a pretty interesting mix of materials on the scooter that includes brass, bronze, steel, aluminum, and (if you count the motor) cast iron. Please post or send photos. I'd love to see photos of a relatively untouched machine...there aren't many of those left in decent condition.
  2. September 15-15, 2011 is the Doodle Bug Reunion at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds in Webster City, IA, the home of the Doodle Bug. The is the largest gathering of Doodle Bug scooters anywhere. The weekend structure is rather informal, but usually includes buy/sell area (and Don Jackson and Jim Kilau come with repro parts) and organized rides. In recent years the organized ride was the original test ride route through Webster City. I assume that will be offered again this year. Surving former Beam Manufacturing company employees usually attend and answer questions as well.
  3. Caddy 55, Great story! Please post photos, if possible. I'd love to have a look. Going on the the tag information that you posted, your scooter was indeed purchased from Western Auto. It was a model A, according to the tag. A scooter purchased from Western Auto would have been a "Western Flyer" badged scooter, and not a "Hiawatha," so perhaps the sidecovers are not original to the machine? Does it have a Western Auto headbadge or a Hiawatha headbadge with the Indian head on it? Do you have the fluid drive clutch? Original 5-slot belt guard? Flared out side cover? Any accessories (lights?) Original paperwork? When using the single control remember that you pull in to stop and that when you release the control lever, the scooter will take off full blast. The kick start base for the engine is hard to come by. I do not beleive that it has ever been reproduced, so you'll most likely have to locate another engine and strip it for the parts. I know I sound like a broken record saying that stuff is hard to come by, but it is.
  4. I wanted to update this particular post with more detailed and more accurate information based on two more years of research since I originally posted a reply. The information posted below is accurate to the best of my knowledge as of August of 2013 Many of the patents that were filed for the design of the Doodle Bug are attributed to Harry Mertz of Webster City, Iowa, which is where Beam Manufacturing was located. However, in all of Harry Mertz's patents, he assigned the patent to the Solar Corporation, Milwaukee, Wis, a corporation of Delaware. Per Beam Manufacturing company brochures, Beam Manufacturing was a wholly owned division of Solar Corporation that operated as Solar's manufacturing arm. The twist is that separate patents were also filed by George Fields and assigned to the Solar Corporation for the "same" scooter (which would become the Doodle Bug) and Fields filed his patent on the scooter as a whole 6 months before Mertz did the same. It is entirely possible, likely even, that these two people knew each other and were working on the same project as the were assigning their patent applications to the same company, and Mertz even cited Fields as a reference is two separate patent applications. The first was for Mertz's design for the brake control and accelerator assembly; the second for the fluid drive clutch. Mertz ended up as the person that actually received patents: the throttle/brake control mechanism, drive wheel assembly, jackshaft, fluid drive clutch, and even eventually for a complete scooter design (shown above) that is virtually identical to the production Doodle Bug scooters. Fields, on the other hand, received patents for some of the same components including another design drive adjuster (belt tensioner) / jackshaft assembly and also for a complete scooter design. While Mertz did cite Fields in two of his patent applications, Fields never did cite Mertz as a reference. The Doodle Bug patent process timeline: December 13, 1943: George Fields files for patent of his motor vehicle control mechanism to control both acceleration and braking January 1, 1945: George Fields files for patent of his fluid drive clutch design August 30, 1945: Harry Mertz files for patent of his jackshaft assembly. Mertz files a separate patent for additional brake control and accelerator control assembly October 5, 1945: George Fields files for patent on his complete motor scooter design March 18, 1946: Harry Mertz files for patent of his fluid clutch assembly April 15, 1946: Harry Mertz files for patent of his complete motor scooter design November 12, 1946: Harry Mertz files for patent of his drive wheel assembly May 6, 1947: George Fields granted patent for his fluid drive clutch assembly February 17, 1948: Harry Mertz granted patent for his complete motor scooter design November 16, 1948: George Fields granted patent for his complete motor scooter design July 13, 1948: George Fields granted patent for his motor vehicle control mechanism to control both acceleration and braking January 11, 1949: Harry Mertz granted patent for his jackshaft design July 12, 1949: Harry Mertz granted patent for both his brake / throttle control mechanism and for his drive wheel assembly design October 17, 1950: Harry Mertz grantend patent for his fluid clutch design From what I can tell, the final design of the scooter is attributed to Mertz but that Fields appears to have had the idea first and came up with a "primitive" Doodle Bug Scooter including all of the major components that were later refined and ultimately patented by Mertz. Going by that, Fields actually "invented" it and did, in fact, file for a patent for it a full 3 years before Mertz did (1943 vs. 1946). Also interesting is the fact that the Doodle Bug was not produced until 1946, so Fields' design for the scooter was evidently mothballed for 3 years and the scooter was "re-patented" by Mertz by the time production began. Also interesting is the fact that some of these patents were not granted until AFTER the production of the Doodle Bug has ceased. Further complicating the issue is that the "old timers" and those that worked in the plant claim it was all Fields. Maybe Fields had some sort of "selective memory," but in video taped interview I have of him, he claims to have invented the scooter and pitched building it to the Beam Manufacturing Company in Webster City, Iowa. This could actually be true based upon the patent timeline shown above. Fields makes no mention of Mertz or any other "help," corporate or otherwise. If that was the case, George Fields certainly had his accomplishment overshadowed by Harry Mertz who ultimately received patent credit for most of the major components and a final design that was the closest to the production Doodle Bug. Fields eventually wound up in Webster City and worked for Beam as the person that was essentially in charge of their scooter operation. I'm not sure what ever became of Harry Mertz.
  5. I've watched both episodes. A run down of the second episode (Olds 442 "restored"): "Dad" goes into his personal garage and decides to drive his Olds 442 to work. This reminds him that he's got a Olds 442 sitting outside in his private yard. He and the son disagee about the fate of the cars sitting in the private yard...son wants to sell parts, but dad wants to keep them in tact. This goes on for a couple of minutes while they look over the 442. They tow it back to the shop where they tell the crew they have 3 weeks to "restore" the car and they're told it needs to be 100% original as it left the factory..."perfect." You'll see a few shots of them working on it and it being painted, but that's about it. You really have no idea what they are actually doing to the car or where the parts are really coming from. They then make a trip to a 442 collectors house and buy a "his and hers" shifter that they have trouble installing in the car. The show morps into a comparison of the dad's (finished) yellow 442 and the white one they are "restoring" and they end up drag racing each other at the end of the show. At some point in between a customer rolls into the yard with a Chevelle SS 396 and is looking for a fuel gauge. They make a trip to a Chevelle only to discover that it is home to 5 rattlesnakes. Most of the show is then spent dealing with the snakes before they actually have the auction and also with their advertising campaign for the car. In the end, the car sells for something like $14k. Buyer and seller were both happy.
  6. UPDATE: As of Nov. 22, 2010 my original Wikipedia entry on the Doodle Bug scooter is all but gone. Most of the information in the currently available entry is incorrect. I will no longer claim any responsibility for the content and will not continue to battle with anonymous "editors" of my content that think they know better. Instead, I will monitor this thread and respond to posts and questions posted here as I am able to. This thread currently contains the most authoratative information available online for the Doodle Bug Motor Scooter. If there's something you want to know that hasn't been talked about here, please send me a private message or post your question for all to see. I'm happy to help out and hope that having this information out there keeps a couple more Doodle Bug scooters alive. From what's been posted thus far, that seems to be the case.
  7. Brandon, Thanks for posting. It appears, from looking at the photos, that the scooter is an early model C sold by Western Auto as a Western Flyer. I came to that conclusion because of the following: 1. "Horse's hoof" side panels 2. No pulley cut out on side panels (would indicate later model) 3. Handlebars that appear to be for the single control lever 4. Briggs NP engine with fluid drive clutch I can't tell what the finish really looks like since your photos are pretty small. In some of the photos the sanding that was done looks pretty serious, while in other areas the paint appears to be untouched. I would restore it, but remember they are only original once. If there is enough there, leave it in its original finish. There are very few complete machines that have original paint and such. If you do repaint it, I would order new side panels from Yesterdays rides and keep the ones that you have (at least the one with the Western Flyer decal) aside. Personally, I'd rather use a reproduction part with reproduction decals than paint over that one. It's interesting that the engine was pulled and set aside. If the numbers match the original paperwork, the engine is most likely the original one to the bike. I wonder if it was pulled due to problems actually in the fluid drive and sent out for service. The fluid drive clutches were known to be problematic and were phased out fairly quickly in favor of the V-plex. Unless your grandfather is available to tell you, it's likely that nobody will ever know exactly why it was torn apart. Perhaps someone intended to restore it at some earlier point? That might make the most sense and would also explain why some areas were sanded and why the ID tags were pulled off the frame. Do you only have what's pictured? If so, be aware that you're missing a lot of the smaller parts and "detail" items.
  8. Marc, To respond directly to a couple of things you mentioned: There are multiple versions of the belt guard, so make sure you get one for a late production Super Doodle Bug (Briggs engine). The mounting points are different for the very earliest scooters and for the Clinton Engine scooters. Also, yours should have the three slot guard. It is interesting to hear your experience with the Coker tires. They are regarded as the only "correct" available tire. I have not seen them marked that they are made in Vietnam. For what it's worth, I always save the tires (if at all possible) but it's not really very safe to even cosider riding on 60+ year old tires. Yes, paint was originally single stage "red." I've had mine professionally painted and I don't know exactly what paint code was used. Most guys that restore them have them clear coated, too. It especially helps to protect the decals which were the water slide type. I've spray painted plenty of stuff, but wouldn't do it to a Doodle Bug, personally. Maybe you're a better painter than I am, but I save the spray paint for stuff like the patio set that sits outside year 'round.
  9. Hi Marc, Neat story on how you came by your Doodle Bug. It is indeed a Super Doodle Bug as the tag indicates it is an "E," and it has the dual control levers with parking brake. Your machine actually looks pretty good in terms of what you're starting with. It has a correct Briggs NP, correct type of clutch, correct (late) carb, both control levers, jackshaft pulley, frame ID tag, and all of the sheet metal. It's amazing that you ended up with the original side skirts (they are supposed to be aluminum and rounded). A lot of folks incorrectly use sheet steel to make reproductions. Aluminum is the way to go. It looks like there is really little rust on it, too. A word of warning...don't junk any of the nuts, bolts, or screws on it yet. Some of the fasteners were made in-house only for the Doodle Bug and are darn near impossible to find replacements for. Even if it looks "gone" you may want to try to refinish it or may need to use it as a pattern to fabricate a new one. Be careful with the motor, too. They are cast iron and can crack pretty easily, especially on the head fins and around the PTO side (clutch side) if things are forced. If you really want it done up absolutely perfect, pull the motor and arrange for Raceway Services (google them) to restore it for you. They do precision rebuilds and then will refinish it as new. That level of service/restoration isn't for everyone, but if you've got the desire and the money, it will come back built better than a F1 racing engine. I would try to avoid a mower repair shop, unless you happen to find an old timer with a love for vintage engines that has lots of NOS parts on hand, which would be unusual for this model. Keep us posted on your progress.
  10. The show is reported to be called "American Restoration" and will debut on Monday, Oct. 25th sometime between Pawn Stars and American Pickers. I do hope that it is actually about restoration, but tend to doubt that sort of show would last long. Just like American's all about the drama. There is maybe 10 minutes of actual bike building that happens in a 60 minute episode. The same thing happened with the now defunct American Hot Rod series. Quite frankly I've been disappointed by what I've seen Rick do on Pawn Stars. There is the infamous Coke machine incident, for example, in which a really rough Vendo machine was swaped out for a much less interesting Cavalier machine (not even from the same decade) all while Rick is on air claiming to have completely restored the exact same machine they dropped off. The same thing has happened with multiple gas pumps...drop one off, pick up a completely different make and model later in the same episode that is supposed to have been "restored." It's his reputation, I guess, but he did manage to get a show of his own, so what do I know? His motorcycle restoration that has been done for Pawn Stars really hasn't been so great either. I've seen a couple of those bikes in person. They run and are repainted, but that's about the extent of the "restoration" on them. I'd like to see what Rick is really capable of and hope that the show goes in that direction.
  11. The real cast aluminum jackshafts are difficult to locate. My most recently purchased Doodle Bug is a Model B (the one with the Clinton engine) that the seller decided he was going to part out. Thank goodness I came across it when I did...he only sold one part, but guess what it was? The jackshaft. Don Jackson (Yesterday's Rides) is the parts source. I'm actually not sure if he has the'd need to call and ask about that. I know that, like most people in this kind of business, he has much, much more than is listed on the website. Otherwise, coming up with parts could be a long, painfull process, but no worse than those here that restore some exceptionally rare cars. You might try beating the bushes in your area a bit. I think there are many, many more Doodle Bugs out there than are currently known about. There are only about 1,000 thought to exist, but I think the number has got to be several times that. They are hidden away in garages, barns, basements. The Doodle Bug is so small that people can stash them just about anywhere.
  12. Thanks for taking the time to post pictures. It does appear to be a Super Doodle Bug, from the last production run. As the Doodle Bug was being phased out, Beam Manufacturing shipped all of the Super Doodle Bug parts to Des Moines for the New Monarch Machine and Stamping Co for final assembly. I've been told that at the very end, Monarch shipped all of the parts back to Beam Manufacturing in Webster City, Iowa and the very last of the scooters were assembled in Webster City. I'm told that NOS Doodle Bug parts were kept on hand at Beam Manufacturing Company in Webster City until they were all scrapped in the late 1950s. There are also stories of plant worker coming upon 20-something new, complete, unsold scooters in storage at the plant and offering to buy them for $20/each. The story goes that his offer was turned down and the scooters were sent to the crusher. The gas tank brackets are almost always broken off when you find a Doodle Bug. With the gas tank cantilevered off the rear end of the scooter, they were especially prone to damage. Yours has a Whizzer gas tank mounted indicating that it might have seen use as a Shriner scooter. They often rode Doodle Bugs and frequently would add Whizzer gas tanks, foot brakes, different throttle controls, etc. My most recent Doodle Bug purchase does not have a Whizzer tank, but it does have a foot brake and a modified throttle linkage.
  13. Check that link out for information on posting photos.
  14. For the coker tires, go to and click on "catalog." The jumbo jr. reproduction tires are on page 44 under a Cushman logo.
  15. Does yours still have the serial number tag on the frame? Look for it on the fork tube between the cross bar and the floor board. It should say something like: Hiawatha or Doodle Bug Model: Serial: Type: At the bottom it will either say Minneapolis, Minnesota and Los Angeles, California or it will say Beam Manufacturing Company, Webster City, Iowa. From the tag I can determine about when it was made, where it was sold, and exactly what model it is. The letters and numbers in the actual "model" line are really of little help, but if you have the tag, let me know what it says anyway. The most important info is what it says in the "type" line. Have a look for that and let me know what it says...we can go from there. If the tag is gone, the only way I could determine exactly what it is would be to see photos. The tires are available as reproductions from Coker tire. This is a HUGE, HUGE, HUGE deal for the Doodle Bug scooter world, as without them collectors would be forced to use old, unsafe, and likely dryrotted original tires, or poorly fitting go kart tires. The reproductions from Coker are faithful to the original General Jumbo Jr. tires.
  16. That is great to hear. I certainly didn't mean to insult you with my previous posting. You have a wonderful machine that sounds to me as if it is in good hands. Best, Tom
  17. As silverghost said, you need to find a conservator. Contact your local art or history museum and ask to speak with a curator or collections manager. They should be able to give you a reference to a freelance conservator. The largest museums have conservators on staff and well equipped labs and may be willing to take the project on for you, on the side, in return for a donation to the museum, or the like. Be warned though, you get what you pay for. Top drawer work isn't cheap. My wife's in the museum business (collections/curatorial), so I'll ask her tonight if she's got any specific leads in your area.
  18. I would encourage you to restore the Cushman-Vespa to original specs, as it left the factory. If you want modern electronics, lights, ignitiion, electric start, and enough reliability for an everyday rider, get a modern Vespa like an LX-150 or the Genuine Buddy 125. My "rider" is a 2002 Vespa ET-4 150cc four stroke. It's an automatic with disc brakes, electric start, etc. I can ride it and enjoy it without worrying about it like most of my vintage scooters. The Cushman-Vespa is too rare to modify.
  19. I'd love to see a photo of your Super Doodle Bug. Where did you find it? What condition is it in? Does it have the original engine? Have you verified that it is a Super Doodle Bug? If you posted a few decent photos, I could probably tell you quite a bit about what you have and what you would need to restore it, if that's your intent. PLEASE...whatever you do, don't modify it irreversibly! There are not many of these left, so please don't cut up an original frame! If what you'd rather have is a modern mini-bike for the grandkids to ride, send me a note. I'll buy the Super Doodle Bug off you and you'll have the money to buy a couple of minibikes. You'll be unlikely to find non-reproduction from fender for sale. This is for two reasons. First, not much original sheet metal survived 60+ years on a small scooter designed for kids to ride since most were run into the ground. Second, the ones that do still exist are probably still attached to bike just as they left the factory. See, the design of the Doodle Bug front fender does not allow for it to be removed without removing the handlebars and sliding out the entire front fork assembly. The jackshafts are even harder to find. You will likely have to resort to a reproduction part from Don Jackson at Yesterday's Rides Metalworks. Unless it has been all hacked up lately, have a look at the Doodle Bug Scooter wikipedia article. I originally wrote and posted the content (and periodically have to change it back). The wikipedia police don't like the fact that I don't cite and sources or give any reference material, but so what...I've got tons of factory documentation and have taped conversations from people that designed them and worked in the factory. Those are my sources. I wrote the entry to help people know when they've come across a Doodle Bug scooter. Perhaps it will be beneficial to you.
  20. Yep. I always dig through them when I come across a group from that time frame. So far I haven't spotted anything other than ads for lots of other scooters, go-karts, etc. I do have some Western Auto and Gambles catalogs with the scooters, but that's about it for original ads I have. I have photocopies of lots of stuff that I know is out there but haven't found yet. I was hopeful that someone here might have something they'd be willing to part with.
  21. They were built 1946-1948 by the Beam Manufacturing Company in Webster City, Iowa and were sold nationwide through the stores and catalogs of Gambles Hardware (as Hiawathas) and Western Auto (as Western Flyers). I would guess that quite a few folks here owned one or knew someone that did when they were growing up. The scooter pictured is a mid-production model, so I'd place it at '47-'48. The production runs didn't correspond directly to any given year, just 4 production runs of 10,000 scooters during that time frame, so except for the very early ones and the very late ones, it is almost impossible to pinpoint which year it is. All of them were red. Engines were 1 1/2 hp Briggs & Stratton NP engines with kickstarters (as pictured), but 750-1,000 Doodle Bugs were built with 1 1/2 hp kickstart Clinton engines while the Briggs engines were out of stock. Early models used fluid drive clutches and had a single hand control that operated the brakes and throttle depending on if you were squeezing it or not. The fluid drives slipped quite a bit and would overheat if the scooter was idled long, so they switched to a "V-Plex" centrifugal clutch shortly thereafter.
  22. Want to buy: Doodle Bug scooter items Seeking advertisements, brochures, service manuals, parts manuals, etc. pertaining to Doodle Bug Scooters. PM with details and I will respond as soon as possible.
  23. What is a "power frame" in reference to a Cushman? I've never heard that term used. :confused:
  24. You know, your best option may be to try to snag a parts machine so that between the two bikes you can build up one really nice one that is complete. It is about the only way to get the correct parts for these. Fortunately these aren't too expensive yet. I'd think you'd be able to purchase a parts machine for less than $250 that still have some useable items on it.
  25. Ruffcut, It's been a few months since this thread was started, so I hope you're still looking at it. You should have a look at the Doodle Bug Scooter wikipedia article (which I wrote) and at the other posts that I did here on Doodle Bug Scooters. The first thing to do is to determine if you need to find a Briggs & Stratton NP or the Clinton 710 ASLB. Only about 2% of the total number of Doodle Bug Scooters ever built, an estimated 750 machines, had a Clinton engine from the factory. The Clinton is just about impossible to find, as you indicated. Many of them were poorly built and suffered catastrophic failure at some point, plus they were not used in nearly as many other scooters as the Briggs and Stratton NP was. That doesn't mean that the NP is easy to find, though, just that 98% of Doodle Bug Scooters had the Briggs NP engine. You should also be aware that if you intend to assemble your own Briggs NP from parts that most of the stuff you see on Ebay is not correct for an NP. The engine block that it perpetually listed with a buy-it-now price is NOT the correct block for a Doodle Bug, trust me...I bought one without carefully checking to have as a spare. The factory built Clinton engine scooters had several changes that go unnoticed to most. First, the Clinton powered scooters will all be marked with a "B" on the serial number tag. The Clinton engines had different engine mounting plates and different floor boards to accomodate the different oil plug location. The gas tank straps and mounting location are also a bit differnt. There are some additional minor changes between the Clinton scooters and the Briggs scooters, but those are the biggies. There are lots of Clinton 700 series engines out there on roto-tillers and lawn mowers, but there are NOT a lot of 710 ASLB engines with kick starters. The second issue with the Clinton engine is that they used the fluid drive clutch, not a V-Plex or centrifugal clutch. Those are just about impossible to find. Cushman autoglide clutches and Salsbury fluid drive clutches are not the same. If you can tell me what your Doodle Bug serial tag says, I can help you determine where it was sold and what model it was. I'd be interested in seeing a photo, if you'd like to share, as well as hearing about the history of this particular bike. I hope that helps!