Monday, May 22, 2017

Research, Ruminations and Issues - Ritchey Project part II

So I have this bike that is a cool frame, obviously well built and all these cool Italian components and I have no freaking idea what the models or years of manufacture are for any of them.  All of my research for old school Ritchey stuff kept referring to a website that no longer exists, and the C-Record era of Campy parts, that the bike apparently has, have no distinguishing marks that I can find and the Internets have been little help.

Cartoonish makers decal at the bb cluster 
After spending more time than I care to mention and putting on my deerstalker I was able to get to a ballpark on the frame and components.  I know from the decals on the frame that this Road bike was post 1986 and pre 1991, Sometime in 91 a Ritchey mountain bike frame was ridden to a world championship and so all the bikes after that have decals with the world championship bands on them and this bike has none, and the 86 and before bikes had the Ritchey name in yellow letters and the script was different and my script is white for the Ritchey name.  This frame is also tig welded not lugged or fillet brazed so that narrows it down a bit too.  I also reached out to the Ritchey company on their website giving them the frames serial number.....

And they were nice enough to respond and ask for pictures, specifically of brazeons and frame junctions which I have supplied them so I hope to know more soon.  I also went old school and reached out to the Classic Vintage Bike forums as I had come across some old threads about Ritchey road bikes there in my web search.   Its basically a discussion board like the early web days but with so little readily available info online I thought one of the members might have this bike or know something about them.

As for the parts I could have probably figured out more with a crystal ball,  After a LOT of searching the web, thank you velobase, I narrowed it down from a Universe to a Galaxy but not much more -I am not in a solar system yet.  These parts appear to be from the C-Record era of the late 80s to early 90s -similar to the frame - but don't quote me on that.  This is an era where even though they had different gruppos; Record, Chorus, etc, they didn't bother to mark that on the parts.  If you look at a campy part from say 2005 it will clearly say; Record, Chorus, Veloce etc right on the part but for the stuff on the Ritchey not a whiff.  It was literally down to me scrutinizing the PDF of a part in a catalog and comparing it to the parts on the bike and looking for subtleties like "oh my crank doesn't have that flair on the  cranks spider arm next to the crank arm so nope its not Record from 1991, damn where did I put that magnifying glass!   

Knowing I had an 8 speed cassette/hub helped some but not as much as I had hoped as apparently they went through a few phases of 8 speed stuff,   I found what appears to be an official Campagnolo presence on face book and shot them a message but I've only had crickets back so far.  I just found a vintage Campy group on FB too so I may ping them for some help.

By Saturday evening I had seen enough of the triathlon bars so I decided to take them off and since the shifters had been mounted to the end of them that meant dealing with the DT shifters as well.  The tri-bars gave me no trouble and since the shifters has such a long stretch of cable I decided to cut the cable and housing too as it would make removing the the shifters from the tri-bar mount easier,

I also discovered that the left (Front Derailleur) shifter which I just assumed was campy like all the other components was actually Shimano 105.  Not a big shock really as the left shifter, even into the indexed era operated on friction shifting and in theory if its friction you can mix and match the groups; Shimano shifters and Campy derailluers or vice versa, one of the things that makes friction so cool, that shifter gave me no problems and the old cable came right out.

The right hand shifter (Rear Derailleur), the Campy one, was a totally different story.  The picture above is towards the end of the story and if you click on it to enlarge you may guess part of the issues solution but I am getting ahead of myself.  Tri-bars off, shift cables cut, left shifter removed, cable taken out good to go and then I get to the right shifter and realize oh no, they fell for the classic blunder! second only to Don't get involved in a land war in Asia, is this Do NOT use Shimano shift cables with a Campagnolo Derailleur!!!  The barrel shaped cable end on a Shimano cable is bigger than its Campy counter part, and while you can jam it in there, the next poor mook who works on that shifter is going to deal with a stuck cable and then alot of blue language will ensue.

I poked, and prodded, I sprayed WD-40, and then I sprayed liquid wrench, and then I poked and prodded some more.  I walked away and came back, I wiggled and giggled it, I swore at it in Italian, ok that's not true I don't know much Italian.  And then I gave up till the morrow.

Since I was going to the farmers markets, and my LBS is smack in the middle of that block I packed the shifter along for the ride.  I stopped in and asked the head wrench if he had any solutions, and he also poked and prodded a bit with a thinner poking device but finally came to the conclusion I knew he would, the one I had avoided thinking about, the S word...Surgery, with the D word....Drilling (que dramatic music) which gets us to the picture above.  He of the steady hand and vice, got me to the point where I could take it home and punch out the remains of the cable head,  Just as I had last month with the step down ferrule I asked about payment, just like last time I was waved away even though he had spent a good twenty minutes fussing with this $%^#*ing problem.

No way I was letting him off that easy, so I crossed the street to do my weekly tasting at the Beer Junction,  My first beer, sadly, did not get photographed so you won't see the lovely IHS Triple Booster IPA from my College town of Corvallis Oregon, if there are no pictures how do you know I drank it - kind of like my friend Tim Joe's Schwinn Le Tour- its all spiffed up and complete but how do we know without pictures......?    The beer above is a tasty Beak Breaker Imperial IPA from Pelican brewery in Pacific City, Oregon - one of my favorite spots on the coast.

For my next selection I chose a hefeweizen which I can neither spell nor pronounce (Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier), hefeweizen is one of the first beers I enjoyed drinking back in my 20s so I have a soft spot for it but I find lately that its hit or miss.  I was explaining that to the barman and he educated me that what I had just had was a European style which tends to have a clove taste (not a fan) as opposed to the American style hefeweizen which is a cleaner, to my palate, taste,

After the disappointing but educational hefeweizen, I needed a palate cleanser so I had another offering from Pelican the Tsunami Stout.  Smooth like buddah, on my way out I picked up a bottle of cider and went back across the street to the LBS to drop it off as a thank you, I've said it before, no good deed should go unpunished, and with that it was time to toddle off home.  I should mention in my 2 km round trip to the market I was nearly hit by a car...twice! I got home safe but geez!  In both cases the drivers were either oblivious or didn't care as they both disobeyed clearly marked traffic signals/signs.  Its not that hard - when the light is red you stop, when it says no turn on red you don't turn on red,,,smh.

Back home I got out my special bike tools, tiny drill bit and not so tiny hammer and got to work on the shifter.

A stern talking to and a sharp blow got that oversize cable end right out of there, the irony is a Shimano cable will probably work fine now.  Its a bit worse for the wear but at least its functional instead of being a very nicely crafted paper weight.  Its set up as a indexed shifter and I noodled around with it in the stand before I took the tri-bars off and it seemed to work fine.  I am a friction fan these days but I am leaning toward leaving it indexed and if it doesn't want to work after all the trauma I have a set (3 actually) of shimano RSX down tube shifters I can use in friction mode.

I was also able to get my digital calipers back up and running, new battery, so I measured the inside of the seat tube and it appears I need a 26.0 seat-post for this bike, which I hope to confirm with Ritchey.  I plan to hunt down a used one locally and test it out.  My friend Pete is out of town but gave his blessing to the parts list I proposed, but I had an idea about a slightly different approach recently, more on that as I continue to work on the bike.   As always Ride. Smile. Repeat.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Hey I've got a bike for you...... The Ritchey Road Logic project

Yesterday I was sitting out in front of my favorite coffee shop enjoying the improving weather and got to talking with one of the other regulars, my friend Pete.  I was telling him about the silly prices people wanted for their garage sale bikes last weekend when he pipes up and says "Hey I've got a bike for you!".  It turns out his brother-in-law had left an 80s-ish road bike with him when he decided to upgrade and the old bike was moldering away in Pete's garage.  Wow, I just had a great idea for an HGTV show, "Old bike garage rescue" kind of a make over show for old dusty bikes where they go from garage prisoner to shiny fixed up bike, hmm wonder if Brooke Burke is available to host......but as usual I digress.

As it turns out its a Tom Ritchey built road bike with a few issues and challenges but an interesting project.  At some point Pete had taken the bike to a LBS and was given a quote of about $100 to fix it up and that it might be worth around $400 when finished.  His proposal to me was that he fund a rebuild and then we would split the proceeds on a sale.  Intrigued I had him send me a photo, and then further interested when I saw it was a Ritchey, I asked him to bring it by for a closer look, and I picked it up at the coffee shop this morning.

What it lacks in lugs - appears tig welded from the above shot - it makes up in interesting components and issues to solve.  You probably noticed the tri-bars. apparently the brother-in-law was an avid tri-athlete who adapted this road bike to use in triathlons and left it behind when he bought a dedicated tri-bike.  So the first challenge will be putting this bike back to its road bike roots.  That means...

from the front

From the cockpit

The tri-bars gots to go, and the nice down tube shifters will get moved back to their traditional spot on the um ..down tube.

The kind of cool co2 canister holder will probably go as well, proper frame pumps were too bulky for triathletes.

And I will remove the venerable Avocet wired cyclo-computer but if I can revive it with a new battery it might find new life on another project.

You probably noticed the one glaring deficiency for this bike, that it has no seat post or saddle.  Pete thought he might have it rattling around somewhere so there is still hope the original will be found. If not I have saddles galore and I should be able to sleuth the seat post size as I need to do some sleuthing anyway on the year of the bike and the year and model of the components.  Speaking of which..

One of the first things I noticed was the Campy components - standard road crank-set


exiled shifters - at the end of the tri-bars

Quick release skewers and hubs, always thought these looked classy.

And brakes .  This being a Ritchey built bike it does diverge from the Campy theme in one area..

only logical it would come with one of the makers flagship parts - the Ritchey Logic headset, rather than a Campy one.  There was one other thing I couldn't put my finger on immediately that seemed wrong to me..

And then it clicked, these non-areo old school bike levers had been bastardized into areo brake lever cable routing - you can see the housing coming out from under the bar wrap.  Understandable as the loopy areo cabling would have interfered with the aero triathlon bike position, but it still looks like crap.  And there are also no campy-hoods on the levers and they can be hard, and expensive to find, however..

fortunately Velo Orange has started selling campy reproduction hoods from Rustines and I had purchased some a while back for a pair of drilled campy levers I picked up on ebay years ago and they are still in the box.

Its also nice to know I'm not working on a bike with just standard old tubes, this bike has Super tubing.  As always I am eager to jump right in but before I turn a single wrench or remove a spec of dust or grease I need to do some research and also come up with a parts list so Pete knows what he is in for before I start the project.  We'll see how that goes.  Who knows maybe I will become a vintage bike consultant.

In other news we are experiencing a warming trend locally so I hope to be following my own advice in the next week - Ride.Smile.Repeat.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Fenders part 1: sizing things up

dry fit
If you intend to ride more than 3 months of the year in Seattle you have fenders on your bike, in my very first post on this blog I took a pair of very nice Velo Orange fluted fenders off my Handsome Devil and I haven't had a fendered bike in the almost 5 years since.  I am looking to change that by putting those same fenders back into service on the Passage.  The shot above is me placing the rear fender with no attachments just to see how it fits.

What I discovered by dry fitting is that a) my fender is too fat to reach the bridge just behind the kickstand mount and b) the hole on the bridge is on the Y axis and the corresponding hole on the fender is on a X axis.

When I went back to the HD to check on how the fenders would have worked on it, I discovered that the space between the stays was 4 cm as opposed to just 3 cm for the Passage and the bolt hole in the stay by the kickstand is on a X axis like the fender hole.

Fortunately I have some left over fender brackets that I think will help with the mounting and as you can see I found my original VO fender instructions which will help as well.

I also found that the original stays are kind of jacked up and although I recall carefully bagging and tagging all the fender hardware back in 2012 its no where to be found, so I placed an order with Velo Orange to get replacements.

I also had to deal with the fenderbot on the rear fender, after 5 years the batteries were deadsville, I was able to get the bot going again with a fresh set - as you can see above.  I like the fenderbot but one complaint I, and others, have is that the light is kinda weak.  Not a huge deal since I will also be running a planet bike superflash in the back, but I think Portland Design Works, maker of the fenderbot, has since updated their rear lights to be brighter.

My biggest challenge, pre-mounting, is getting this pair of fenders cleaned up, they went right from the Handsome Devil to the boneyard 5 years ago and although under cover they were still exposed to the elements.  That means cruddy on the inside and corrosion and water spots on the outside.

I usually start a clean up with the Armor All wipes which takes off the dirt and grime.  The issue I had dealing with the fenders after the Armor All treatment was "water spotting".

When I went straight to Mothers polish the results were just ok, cleaned up fender on the right, shinier but still spotty.  I tried going with Turtle-wax chrome cleaner and also rubbing compound but neither was any more effective than just the Mothers.

Not sure if you can tell from the pictures above but the part above the top blue tape has been gone over with my old friend, super fine steel wool (0000) and then followed up with Mothers the part between the blue tape has just had the steel wool treatment to remove the water spotting-clean but dull, and part below the tape shows all the water spotting.  So I am going to need to sit down on the balcony, with a beverage and do some serious cleaning before I do any more with these fenders.

By the way you know you are doing a good job polishing when your micro-fiber towel is black from taking the corrosion off, when you can buff with no black coming off you know you are done.  I might have to order a new pack of micro-fiber towels.

Once I get around to having the fenders all mounted I can break this guy out of the box and have an actual rack on the Passage.

I was watching a video from the BikemanforU on adjusting center pull brakes, he was using a Park Tool that clamps the two brake pads together (BT-1) and I thought hey that would be great!  However, when I searched for it on the Park Tool site I got no joy, they no longer make it, but Amazon had a similar tool, the third hand tool, and it was only $10 so I took the plunge.  Yesterday I was on Amazon checking something and saw that the third hand tool had been delivered and went to check my mail box.  At first I thought they had sent me the wrong thing as the package was so small, but no the tool was just very petite as you can see with the spoon for reference.

The pictures above show me testing it out on the Motobecane Grand Touring, if you have ever tried to work on center pull brakes; holding the brake pads closed, pulling up on the straddle wire while pulling down on the brake cable and then tighten things up -all at the same time, you know why I finally decided to get this tool.

Hope to have more fender action soon. Ride.Smile.Repeat.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

First Rides

I had intended to write about my experience riding to a baseball game on Monday, but those plans got cancelled to due to weather, it literally rained the whole day and night and even if I had a bike with fenders, I don't yet although I have plans for the Passage, I am not sure I would have ridden. I took transit instead.   I have a friend who also lives in West Seattle and is a regular bike commuter, he is a few years older than I am and much wiser, he told me once while discussing commuting "I will ride in the rain, and I will ride in the dark, but I won't ride in the rain and the dark".  A good philosophy and one I took to heart last night, it was also 48 degrees so dark, cold and wet.  The bike to the ballpark experiment will have to wait for the next half price ticket night, June 6th, which I hope will be warmer and drier.

I was reading an article over at Bicycle Times  and it mentioned something about learning to ride and it sparked some memories for me,

Apparently in my early days I was a fan of the ape hangers, must have caught a glimpse of an Easy Rider movie poster.

Later on it was trikes, I have realized later in life, that according to bike industry sizing, my legs are too short for my height, and this picture proves it has always been this way.  I suspect that this was one of my siblings old trikes and it was just a photo-op prop.

I went through a Go-kart phase too.  Actually this was a fun memory, I got this for my 5th birthday and family legend has it that my dad was out in the garage cursing, um I mean wrenching to put this go-kart together until the wee hours on the eve of my birthday so it would be all ready to go on that sunny, summer morning in 1969.  I was as sick as a dog on my birthday so I got the rare and unexpected privilege of getting to ride my new go-kart in the HOUSE!  I don't recall much of the being sick part but I sure remember tearing around the house on my new toy.

The real memory the article sparked though was of my first ride on a two wheeler, a hand me down Schwinn Sting Ray which as I recall had a big chunk taken out of the seat like some rabid possum had tried to chow on it, but it was cool, it was copper colored, the seat cover had that sparkle fleck in in it that was so popular at the time- and it was all mine.   I don't recall any training wheels or training sessions to learn to ride, but what I do remember was walking to the bottom of the hill we lived on to the flat part of the street with my Dad, mounting up and pedaling like mad, him pushing me with his hand on the rear of the banana seat.  I am sure in reality there was no one out on the side walk that day or perhaps one or two neighbors but I have a different and vivid memory..

I have this image of neighbors lining the sidewalk and cheering me on as, unbeknownst to me my Dad had let go and was running along behind yelling encouragement. One thing we had not discussed was turning, and my first solo ended with me running into the back of a neighbors parked camping trailer because I could only go straight, but I shook it off, I could ride a two wheeler!

The other memory it sparked was me teaching my daughter to ride, this is her flying along on her first geared bike at about age 8 or 9, I smile every time I look at this picture, it was a fun day with friends but mostly its my girl gliding along comfortable and at ease on her bike (that she was outgrowing!).

She learned to ride with a combination of training wheels and a home brew coaster bike, a freebie that I removed the crank from, and she had a lot of practice with her razor scooter too which I think helped her sense of balance.  We would practice at the local grade school be cause they had a big flat blacktop and in our neighborhood the street had an incline and uneven sidewalks.  One day as I am unloading her bike at the grade school she says "Dad can we take the little wheels off?"  I was both proud of my girl for wanting to move up to riding for real and panicked as I am not sure I have any tools with me but I scrounge up an adjustable wrench from the trunk and off the little wheels come.  Like my Dad before me I run along behind her and hold her seat and then I let go and she is going solo, what made this moment even more memorable is that the kids at the grade school had painted a mural of a map of the USA on the black top so my Daughters first solo ride was right across the states.  No pictures because I was so in the moment I didn't even think to try and take one.

This is fathers day from 6 years ago, we'll have to do it again.  Learn to Ride. Smile. Repeat.