Friday, July 11, 2014

Thoughts on 27 inch wheels

Almost all the old ten-speeds I work on come with, or are set up for, 27 inch wheels.  Since wheel building is not a skill I have acquired, yet, I have two choices when it comes to wheel-sets 1) work with the existing wheel-set or 2) purchase a new wheel-set.
New WheelMaster wheel from Amazon

The good news is that original 27 inch wheels on old 10 speeds, built with steel/chromed parts, are pretty bullet proof and in combination with most of them spending long periods hung up in a garage/shed/barn/basement means they are probably in decent shape.  This means that with some TLC they can re-used.  While I am no wheel smith I have learned some skills to put an old wheel back into service.  My usual process is to;
  • Open up hubs and clean axle, bearings and races.  (replace bearings as needed)
  • clean up rims and spokes -remove surface rust and any grime on braking surface
  • Grease and adjust hubs - no slop-no grind as my friend Hugh says
  • Drop of oil (I use 3-in-1) on the joint between the spoke nipple and spoke to prevent them freezing up
  • Put wheel in truing stand to check for true and adjust as needed
The steps above also will reveal if a wheel has any problems that might have escaped your first look.  I use Zinn and the art of Road bike maintenance as my basis for this work.

The exception to the rule of re-using the existing wheel-set is if a wheel has rust issues, I am not talking about surface rust on the rims I mean deep rust on the inside of the rim (if water has collected there) or on the spokes/spoke nipples.  If you do have rust issues then a new set of wheels is a good idea.  There are pros and cons to going the new route;

  • shiny and new
  • allow rims, alloy hubs, stainless spokes make the wheel lighter and more rust proof than the original steel wheels
  • factory trued
  • new parts haven't endured the stresses of 30 or 40 years of use
  • not too expensive
  • Tend to come with hubs adjusted waaaay too tight even a novice could tell that they are tight and not spinning smooth
  • They are miserly with the grease
  • added cost to the rebuild
With new wheels I always plan that I will need to open up the hubs to add grease, which is fine because I would have had to adjust them anyway.  Two birds with one cone wrench.  Since the bike I am working for my Niece had no wheels at all I bought new ones for the her campus bike project.  And of course the hubs on both wheels were too tight and additional grease was needed.  SOP.
Hub tools
And after a little extra work and some new rubber I ended up with well greased and adjusted new wheels for my nieces campus bike project.
new wheels and rubber and some other goodies

Thursday, July 3, 2014

1978 Motobecane Grand Touring- a few new goodies

Last month,  with my first paycheck from the new Job, I bought a few new pieces for my recently acquired Motobecane Grand Touring.  As I mentioned in my first post on it, this bike came with perfectly good tires and saddle but they were not really what I had in mind for this bike.  So I picked up a few goodies.
Supple tire and  classic look
oh yeah
Now if I was being reasonable I would take this bike down to the frame, like I do for most rebuilds, and take my time and build it back up one step at a time.  Its summer, however, and I want to ride this bike so I am going about things a bit backwards.  The complete tear down will come but not before I do some riding.  First I wanted to see if a home remedy I'd read about would remove the sharpie markings labeling the front and rear gearshifts...and tooth paste really does work with a bit of scrubbing.
one down...
Next step was to get the new tires mounted.  Based on their condition I am fairly certain the tubes that came with the Continental gatorskins that were mounted on the bike when I got it were new so I reused them.  I tend to think a tube is a tube but its nice to know these are Specialized which I think makes good stuff.

newly shod and ready to go
Then it was time for the cockpit to get a touch of class.  A Brooks B.17 Imperial model.
Hello gorgeous
I have used a B.17 for going on 6 years on the Handsome Devil and I really like it and figured that since the intent of this bike is for longer rides having a cut out would be a good thing.  Ironically, I had purchased an Imperial on sale last year but it was a victim of the great sell off while I was between jobs.  No worries, it was brown and I think the black goes better with this bike.  I also took a couple measurements from the Devil; saddle height (center of crank to top of saddle) and the distance from the stem to saddle nose so I that I could set up the Imperial in the ball park of what I know to be a comfortable fit.

My new purchases weren't all about style, I did get some new Dia-Compe "grey matter" brake pads to replace what I suspect are the original Weinmann set.

new stoppers
I have a new wide range freewheel and SRAM chain for the bike as well but I am going to hold off on mounting them for now, the existing set is in decent shape and adequate for the riding I am capable of doing right now i.e. neither far nor fast nor hilly.
these will wait for the fully monty rebuild
So, even though there is plenty more I could (and probably should) do like replace the dried out brake hoods, upgrades are in place and ready to go.

Tomorrow I plan to celebrate this nations independence by going for a short ride in the neighborhood and seeing how the new parts shake out. I hope you and yours have a safe and happy holiday.
with the new toys mounted


Sunday, June 29, 2014

1979 Peugeot Sports (UO-8) part III- Finished

In my last post I had walked away from a frustrating session with this bike, but with some time and contemplation I walked back and was able to get a 5 speed free wheel on the rear hub to work with the new derailleur.  After dialing in the shifting I was finally able to move onto to running new brake cables and housing.
neat and tidy with cable end cap
And cleaning up the shift cables by cutting off the excess and crimping the cable ends.
This is definitely more of a "franken-bike" than I am used to building up but I decided early on I was going for a functional beater bike and I think thats what I ended up with.  It has mismatched wheels (700c rear, 27 inch front) and used but functional tires.  Not one piece of the original drive train remains; a new Shimano RD and vintage SunTour FD and stem shifters replacing broken or non-existent Simplex pieces.  As I mentioned in the last post the front and rear brakes are mismatched to accommodate the funky wheel-set.  The pedals are scavenged from my parts bin.  I did however put work into the bike to make it sound functional transport;

  • New rear derailleur
  • New shift cables and housing
  • New brake cables and housing
  • New Chain
  • New bar tape
  • Headset rebuilt
  • brakes and shifting adjusted
  • Seat-post and stem removed, cleaned, lubed and reset.
Overall I think it turned out alright and its now on Craigslist where I have been honest in my description and fair, I think, in my pricing so we will see if it gets snapped up.

Now that my work stand is free,  I have my Nieces Raleigh mixte to build up and I also have a few new bits for the Motobecance Grand Touring, so I should have plenty to keep me busy on the upcoming long weekend.  Until next time

Saturday, June 21, 2014

1979 Peugeot Sports (UO-8) Part II-.....sometimes you just have to walk away

Earlier this month I revisited the Peugeot Sports.  While I knew I had money coming in from the new job it hadn't made through all the channels to me at that point so I thought I could quickly turn around the "Sports" and get some cash in my pocket.  I should have know better.   As I mentioned I got this bike relatively cheaply knowing it had some issues, and I thought, incorrectly, that I had all those issues covered.  You would think after doing the number of old 10 speed rehabs I have done that I would have a sharper eye for issues but I guess there is always room for learning and for humility.

At first things went pretty well; Pedals went on, the headset got rebuilt, I cleaned up, greased and reinstalled the seat-post and stem.  I got the original broken down Simplex stem shifters off the bike and replaced them with intact SunTour power ratchets.

The one armed bandit wouldn't work for a 10 speed
And then I got the old dried up bar tape off so I could clean up the bars.
When I got the bike it had no front derailleur and I had planned for that but before the day was through I would have issues with both the front and rear derailleurs.  I got the front mounted and thought I was well on my way.

Later, however when I thought I was ready to mount the chain I realized I had an issue with the front derailleur.
An "open" system doesn't work so well went you want to be able to shift your chain from small to large  I was able to fix this with some parts from the bin, but my troubles weren't over.  The rear derailleur which I thought was fine presented an issue when I started to run the shift cables.
The pivot in the middle of the picture above is supposed to to have a cable guide running through it but the part where the cable housing is supposed to run into was sheared off.  Fortunately I had a new Shimano 6 speed RD on hand that was intact.
Problem, but more on that in a bit.  Now I was ready to move onto the wheels.  Since I was building this up as a low cost commuter I was going to use some low mileage Specialized Tri-sport black walls 27 X 1/4" tires I had left over from the Peugeot sports.  The front wheel went off with out a hitch but when I got to the rear I realized I had over-looked something kind of important.
Yep the front wheel was 27" but the rear was 700c, they are close in size but not identical with a ISO sizing of 630 and 622 respectively.  I had other tires that could work and the different wheel sizes wouldn't materially affect how the bike worked but it did pose another issue, brake reach.  The Peugeot branded rear brake that came with the bike didn't have a long enough reach to hit the 700c rims-which might explain why it was missing a brake pad.
Once again the parts bin came through as I realized that I had a longer reach Weinmann center pull squirreled away that would accommodate the reach I needed.
my what long legs you have
Now that I had both derailleurs and the rear brake issues resolved it was time to run some shifter cables and mount the chain....and run into more issues! The free-wheel on this bike was a wide range 5 speed and the new long cage Shimano RD should have worked with it, but it didn't.  When I tried to move it into the low gear (largest cog) the whole system would jam up.  I thought I could fix that with a smaller range free-wheel so I mounted a six speed FW I had available to try it out only to realize that the extra gear meant the chain didn't have the frame clearance it needed in the smallest cog.
Not enough spacers to give the chain clearance on the smallest cog
That was the last straw and the point at which I decided it was time to walk away, so I could come back another day with no frustration, renewed energy, a fresh perspective and without the desire to break something.

With a few days away I realized I had another 5 speed FW with a smaller range cog set that might solve the issues I had experienced.
Original wide range 5 speed FW on right smaller range 5 speed on the left
Now might be a good time to share a couple tricks I have come across that can make getting a 30 year-old freewheel removed from the rear hub less of a headache.  First its important to note that there are a number of different freewheel removers out there to work with all the different manufacturers of Free-Wheels who each used a different interface to mount/remove their FW.  Standards anyone?  I have tools for Shimano, Falcon, Atom/Regina, SunTour, Maillard, and a few others and still run into FW I don't have the right tool for.  You will notice that in the shot above both FW use a two tooth interface, others use a spline some use 4 tooth and it goes on.  So step one is make sure you have the right tool, if you don't your local bike shop probably does.  Now even if you have the right tool sometimes it seems like you need to have as many arms as  Kali to hold the tool in place, secure the wheel and use a crescent wrench to apply pressure to the loosen the FW.  I find that using the quick release to hold the tool in place helps immensely, you want to tighten it enough to hold the tool firmly to the FW but loose enough so the FW can come unscrewed when you apply pressure.
The other issue is that since the chain moves clockwise it is constantly tightening the FW to the hub.  In the normal course of operating the bike thats a good thing as you don't want your FW coming loose while riding, however, when you want to remove the FW that means its on there tight!   This where the breaker bar is your friend.  I don't recall how much I paid for a length of pipe to slip over the end of my crescent wrench, it wasn't much but it was worth every damn penny.  So far no FW has been able to resist the added foot in leverage I get from this pipe.
I am close to the finish line on the Sports and hope to be able to report success in my next post.  Until then Happy Summer and remember to ride, smile and repeat.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

1977 Raleigh Record LTD Mixte -upcoming restoration project.

About three years ago I participated in a bike packing event for Bicycles for Humanity and came home with a Raleigh Record Mixte, not many road bikes make the trip to Africa because they don't do well on the rough roads.

My usual deal with the man who runs the events is I get to select an old road bike thats not getting packed off to Africa if I make a donation to the local bike co-op, which I am happy to do.  A little research showed this Mixte to be a 1977 model.
The red paint is a bit faded but I think the Meguiars 3 step wax process that I used on the Fiorelli will bring it back to a reasonable shine.

This bike is also unique for the fact that it has a Brooks saddle...that is not leather! I had never seen one like this before and didn't even know Brooks made saddles from any other material besides leather.
A vinyl Brooks!?

One reason that this bike has been in the project queue for so long is it had the dreaded stuck stem.  I tried many things to get it unstuck but finally had to resort to amputation and I still have the bit left in the fork steerer-tube to cut out so the frame has languished for a while and its wheel-set has since been used on another project.

That has all changed recently however, my Niece is going to go to grad school and needs a bike.  I would be happy build a bike up for her in any case but the fact that she going be attending my alma mater makes this an extra special project. (Editors note: she will be getting a Masters degree in English and Film at Oregon State University and teaching English Composition)

In addition to getting all the normal upgrades to tires, cables and chain we are going to go with a city bar set up like I did on her Mom's Schwinn LeTour III I am thinking something like the Wald #8095 bars.

I have also ordered up set of new alloy hub, 36 spoke 27 inch wheels to replace the long departed original set.  I recommended to my Niece we go with bolt on rather than quick release since that might be a theft deterrent.  This bike will also have a first for me, a Wald wire front rack.  I thought she would want to go wicker but she wanted something more practical so wire it is.  Like me she likes the shiny silver look.

Now I just need to spend some time with the frame and a hacksaw blade to get the old stem out and I can start building this frame back up.  Should be a fun project.  Until next time;

Saturday, May 17, 2014

1978 Motobecane Grand Touring.....A moment of weakness

I know I said I was going to compare the Peugeot UO-10 (Course) and UO-8 (Sports) in this post, and I will still do a post like that, but something happened this week that I am equal parts embarrassed and excited about.

Just Purchased 78 MB Grand Touring
I just started a new job this week, money is still tight and I should not even have been looking at bikes but I happened to be on craigslist.... and I see this Motobecane Grand Touring, in my size a 23 inch frame, for a reasonable price and think hmmm.  I believe I have professed my love of French steel bikes before and I especially like the Motobecanes.  I occasionally look for them and I find a lot of the entry level Nomades and Mirages, and even restored one,  but very rarely do I see any of the "Grand" series; Touring, Jubilee, Record  and I almost never see a Le Champion or Team Champion the race grade end of the Motobecane line.

1978 Catalog shot
When I saw this Grand Touring and confirmed it was my size I jumped on it justifying it to myself by figuring the sale of the Peugeot Sports (when its done) would offset the purchase of the GT.   Yeah, I got it bad.

Back in 2011 when I restored a Motobecane Nomade II I was shocked by how well it fit and rode and told myself I needed to find a higher-end MB in the same size.  The Grand Touring fits the bill in that the main tubes are a Vitus 172 steel, a step up from the entry level 2040 CroMo tubing but not quite as fancy pants as the legendary Reynolds 531.
what the logo should look like
the remnants of the logo on my GT
There are number of special touches on this bike that I love and are in part why I have been searching for one for a while.  A classic bike boom 10 speed for me starts with a lugged frame and chrome tipped fork.
The original bike shop even did lug lining 

Love me some chromed fork tips

A step up from entry level are the aforementioned Vitus 172 tubing for the 3 main tubes, and then some nice touches like forged not stamped drop outs front and rear.
Huret drop outs

with original adjusters-nice!
A cool engraved alloy handle bar with Motobecane specific "soft stitched sleeve" bar covers.
Cool engraving and a Rando bend

Neat stitched bar covers in surprisingly good shape
I have also always preferred down tube shifters to stem shifters although on this bike I think I will remove the sharpie instruction on which lever does what (LOL)- I just try to remember that "right is rear".
Although the bike is currently rideable I look forward to lovingly refurbing it, cleaning up the paint and making a few changes as I have the money to do so.  I used Continental Gatorskins on my Cannondale go fast road bike and really like them but on this bike I think the Panaracer Paselas would give a more classic look.
Likewise Specialized body geometry line is good stuff but I see a Brooks imperial on this bike (someday).
too cushy?
I think I can sell these two barely used items and offset my costs a bit.  Anyway thank you for indulging me in a gush fest over this new-to-me classic French ride, I'm not sure my 14 year-old self would have loved this bike new anymore than I am loving it 35 years later.  As always Ride.Smile.Repeat

POSTSCRIPT:  I was able to sell the pair of Continental gatorskins and the saddle so that brought my price on this bike down to $75 (120-45).  I feel fortunate to have found a complete Grand Touring in my size for that much and happy someones old Shogun is going to get an essentially new set of tires.